Saturday, June 30, 2012

He's Got My Vote

Here we are with the Fourth of July festivities around the corner and America is still fat. I know I am, despite swearing last New Year's Eve that this year I would finally get down to my fighting weight. I have not, and I wonder why. Possibly because it's still legal to overeat.

In some circles, it's more than just unhealthy to pig out, it's fiscally unwise. Movie stars earn fabulous sums of money and build lavish homes in the Hollywood Hills with seven bathrooms and home gyms and edgeless pools overlooking the Pacific just by shunning Snickers and Whoppers and fries and nachos and deep-fried sea creatures hawked at state fairs nationwide, while the rest of us gobble it all up, feeding not only our faces but the morally bankrupt food industry. Monsanto is not the only devil; the Mars company certainly has some explaining to do. If you can stand it, take a look around and you'll see that gobs and gobs of fat are everywhere, except perhaps on singer Jennifer Hudson who admittedly looks great after doing Weight Watchers.

Americans are huge and show no signs of slimming down no matter how many pushups Michelle Obama does or how few potatoes are served in school lunches. The grim truth is that obesity fuels the American economy; a stroll through any supermarket or a quick stop at any convenience store proves that. Marijuana is still illegal, but the poisons inside all those colorful boxes with the fun names and eye-catching lettering are not. And despite the rise in our health care costs and the lowering of our physical fitness, anyone can go out in broad daylight and boldly buy Snickers, Three Musketeers, M & Ms, Doritos, Fritos, Bugles, Ritz Crackers, Gobstoppers, Twizzlers, Twix, Skittles, Rolos, Kit-Kat Bars, Coca-Cola, Sprite, Pepsi, Twinkies, Sno-Balls, Oreos and all those crappy cereals that pretend to be good for you in some way but are just as junky, only with added fiber. 

What I want from my president is a leader who truly, deeply, sincerely cares about the people. I would vote for anyone who promised to outlaw these products--and while he's at it, legalize pot. Now there's a platform.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Two Birdbrains

Painting by Maureen O'Connor
This morning, as often happens, I saw an article online that I did not pursue, called "The Power of Retweeting." Enticing as that sounded, I moved on, but not before reading the accompanying bio about the two authors-- imagine, it took two of them! One was a "professional blogger" and the other an "experienced blogger." I wondered if the former was also experienced and the latter was at all professional. Anyway, apparently they are both heavy enough into tweeting to put their heads together and write about it.

I would like to come out here and now as being very much against tweeting, except of course if you are a bird, in which case I think it is entirely appropriate and should be done whenever the mood strikes, or at the very least in emergencies. Tweeting, which involves ordering your thoughts and putting them out there for all the world to see, as long as they are less than 140 characters, seems to me the lowest depths to which humanity has sunk or will sink, God willing. Naturally, feeling as strongly as I do about tweeting, one can only imagine my disdain for retweeting. In addition, I think it should be spelled "re-tweeting," but I guess when you are counting characters, a hyphen matters.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Free Coffee and Health Care

The Supreme Court voted to uphold Obamacare, which is a good thing because it spared us all the obstreperous outrage of the Democrats who, had it gone the other way, would be whining that the court is corrupt, but since things went their way it is a shining beacon of light--or at least those five justices who voted in favor of us taking one step closer to socialism are. Despite that, it was still a good day for me personally, and after all this is my blog so naturally that matters.

Nestled among the positives was a wonderful encounter with a total stranger, a visiting Canadian here on holiday. Our meeting took place inside a Starbucks coffee shop on Portland's Exchange Street, where I was standing behind him with my friend, N. Usually a generous and giving soul, what with her hospice work and teaching little children how to read and all, today N. was a tad stingy. First she offered me her Starbucks card since she was not getting anything, but then when she saw that it had five dollars on it, she whipped it away and fished out another from the depths of her purse. Oops, that too had five dollars on it. "I'm saving these to use myself," she said, quite boldly I thought under the circumstances. The term "Indian giver" flew into my head, and it was at that very moment that our neighbor from the north turned and said, "Would anyone like a free drink?" I fairly shouted "Yes!" immediately, being low on cash and having to still pay for parking.

He said go for it, I ordered my latte, and we shook hands to seal the deal. It turned out that Graham---that's his name--was eligible for a free drink with the purchase of a pound of coffee, and he had bought two pounds of coffee, so he got one for himself and, being alone, gave the other to me. I thanked him profusely, subtly nudging N. and insinuating she could learn a few things from this guy. Graham's only request as payment was that I "do something nice for someone else today."

Now back home, I am about to go out and get some fresh litter and clean the cat boxes. I wonder, does a cat qualify as "someone" or does it have to be a human being? Anyway, I love those Canadians, they are always so cheerful. Must be all that free health care.

Oh, Must I?

Dr. Timothy Leary seeing things.
Apparently I am really missing out by not tuning in to a weekly TV series called "Mad Men." Just yesterday, after I dissed it in a blog post, I got a call from a dear friend saying it was fabulous, and that she is now totally addicted. Several other good friends claim, unabashedly I might add, that they are also addicted. That brings the tally to five people I truly respect and admire who claim the show is a "must-see!" So, will I watch? Probably not. I shy away from anything labeled "must-see," if for no other reason than it seems a bit dictatorial, not to mention insulting to the blind.  Anyway, that's another blog post; this one is about how our critics are running our lives with statements like "The MUST-SEE movie of the summer!" and the "MUST-SEE network surprise of the season!" There are also "must-read" books and "must-see" Broadway shows. What I want to know is, what happens if you don't see a "must-see" thing? Will you drop dead? Will you sicken and die? Will your hair fall out? What terrible thing will happen? Oh, wait a minute, I think I know: The producers and artists and writers will make less money. Got it.

If you ask me, there are plenty of valid "musts" that go undone, like:
1. "MUST-GIVE" to charity.
2. "MUST-CALL" your mother when you go away to the wilderness for five weeks and she wonders if there are any ziplines there. Ditto flesh-eating virus.
3. "MUST-EAT" spinach, kale, blueberries, fish and olive oil every day.
4. "MUST-FLOSS" your teeth and gums daily.
5. "MUST-IGNORE" most of what you hear and read (including this).
6. "MUST-THINK" for yourself.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The End Might Be Near

After a few days away, I came home to find a book left behind by our friendly cat-sitter.  Tom Brown's Field Guide to City and Suburban Survival is a must-read for anyone planning on being alive for the next few years. I picked it up and have been freaking myself out reading it non-stop. I am now armed with the knowledge that I am ready for exactly nothing except possibly a night out on the town.

As its author says on the first page, "Living in a house without utilities is not too different from living in a cave." Coincidentally, just last week I experienced that firsthand when a mammoth storm blew through New York's Hudson Valley, where we share a vacation home. My husband and I were just paying for our groceries, planning a dinner of roast chicken and all the trimmings for friends who were set to arrive that evening, when we heard from a neighbor that all was dark back in our little hamlet. What to do? We forged on, confident that the power would come back soon enough to cook. It was not. Mitch, a.k.a Paleo Man, was undaunted; he cut up the big bird and threw it on the Weber grill, along with the vegetables. I was impressed. But try as he might, he couldn't make water, and the pump that usually brought it into our pipes was dead. Boring details about candles and batteries and not flushing toilets can be skipped since we've all been through it, but only for a little while. What if it lasts longer than a day or two, or weeks, like after Hurricane Katrina? What if it lasts forever? As my father liked to say about almost everything, "It's possible."

According to Tom Brown, "All of us have experienced moments when  the lights flicker and we are plunged into the darkness of the past. In those moments we have only our own resources. We become islands. And without our accustomed connections, some of us survive and some of us perish. " I would perish, no doubt about it. Just this morning, back in Maine, my power went out for like a minute while I was cooking my oatmeal and I wanted to die. "Oh shit, there's no ground coffee," was the only thought I had. I fared even worse without my computer for the last five days, after it crashed no reason. Naturally I couldn't write anything, or look for freelance work online, or play any of my stupid addicting games. What would I do? How does one replace playing Words With Friends after the lights go out--not to mention heating oil, gas for the car and--oh yeah--food?

I've seen some chinks in our allegedly airtight civilization this past week, including downed trees and electrocuted fish, and have handled them miserably, so if disaster strikes, don't call me. Instead, get the book, read the book, be ready.

Those Nutty Mad Men

Several of my friends have suggested I watch a popular TV show called "Mad Men." I have not done so, mostly because it is about the world of advertising, a world I left years ago, never to return. A second reason is that I believe all advertising is stupid. If you disagree, just take a look at the talking gecko that represents GEICO insurance. Just because "gecko" sounds like "GEICO," we are supposed to respond to this nitwit cartoon character with an Australian accent who spouts inanities about anything but insurance. I don't get it, and as a longtime GEICO customer it makes me wonder if maybe I should take my business elsewhere. But then, those other insurance companies have equally silly and nonsensical ads too, so I stay put. (Don't get me started on Flo.)

A baked potato with butter on the top....
As further evidence that those Madison Avenue types truly are a bit off, let's look at the sell line for Ruby Tuesday, a chain of restaurants often found in shopping malls. Decent, unexciting food, big salad bar, the typical burgers, fries, onion rings, blah, blah blah menu, nothing out of the ordinary. As the camera pans over food you probably make at home on a regular basis, an omnipotent voicover intones, "What if there was a restaurant where eating felt more like dining?" Not to be too nitpicky but since I am, first of all it should be, What if there WERE a restaurant, not WAS. But forget that and ask yourself, what exactly is the difference? Eating is dining, dining is eating, look it up.

The inference of course is that Ruby Tuesday is so fabulous, so fancy-schmancy, that it exceeds the normal shoveling all-you-can-eat into your mouth, transforming your meal into an exclusive foodie experience similar to what you would have in the finest restaurants in all the land, which it certainly does not. Lies and innuendo, all of it. I have had two meals at Ruby Tuesday in the past year, and both times it felt just like eating. And dining too. And my baked potato was cold and I asked for it with butter on the side and they brought it swimming in butter. Oh, it was eating, believe me. Those Mad Men truly are, and not in the Madison Avenue way. Sort of like dining and eating.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Teeny, Tiny Fingers

A new day dawns and seems just like the day before. Still raining, still no computer, still trying to master this odd contraption called an iPad. My husband, being an Internet guru professionally, got this thing so he would be up to speed with the latest technology. That was a couple of years ago, and it has lain on a shelf in the broom closet since then, brought out for use during the occasional power outage or road trip. But now it is being asked to do a real job, and it comes up short. For example, I cannot load a photo, try as I might. And it is beyond me to understand how people tolerate having to switch to a completely other keyboard to put in punctuation or numbers. But enough about that.

This morning I found a dead mouse lying on the hot tub deck. He was so cute, straight out of a Disney movie. He was not only dead but also soaked, since the rain has been non-stop for days. (I suspect foul play--most probably Big Lurch killed him, since the other cats have not ventured outside in bad weather for years.) I wrapped his wet, lifeless, mushy body in an editorial from the Wall Street Journal, then put that in a plastic bag from Shaw's supermarket and placed the whole megilla in the garbage pail. I felt bad about this, seeing as how our dead fish in Rhinebeck got a decent burial, and they weren't even as evolved as the mouse. The mouse had hands and feet, and teeny little fingers. For all I know he was a pianist back in Mouseland. But I did not know this mouse! He had such teeny, tiny fingers...he would have had no trouble at all using an iPad.

Monday, June 25, 2012

I cried because I had no computer, and then I met a man who had no ipad

My computer crashed and is in the hospital, leaving me with this iPad, a poor substitute. Not really worth it, but fun to see if it is good for something. 

I realize with much chagrin and apprehension that I am an Internet junkie; life in Maine without a computer seems barely worth living. I suppose the alternatives are a rifle and a fishing pole. Must buy soon.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

I Love Little Fishies, Don't You?

When I was 10, my friend Adrienne and I were watching TV in her parents' bedroom when a bolt of lightning shot through the window and blew up the set in front of our  eyes. Besides ruining the carpeting, it cemented my fear of thunderstorms.

Yesterday afternoon I witnessed one of biblical proportions--a true killer. Without warning the sky turned from bright sun to black, changing two in the afternoon into ten at night. Water cascaded down in torrents from the rooftops, fierce winds whipped up trees, and pelting hailstones followed with a vengeance. Lightning bolts appeared perilously close to the exact spot on which I cowered, peering out a store window watching the devastation unfold on Main Street. When the rain let up enough to make a run for the car, we saw that the streets of tiny Rhinebeck village were flooded, causing havoc for many drivers. Happily, our SUV got through.

Once back home, we saw what God had wrought: A huge downed tree rested on the lawn, grazing the house. Naturally, there was no power. After a sticky, fan-less night complete with a candlelit dinner but no running water, this morning the true loss was recorded: All the fish in our koi pond were floating belly up. The very same fish--Manny, Mo and Jack-- that had weathered four harsh winters, surviving under the frozen ice and then bobbing to the surface each spring looking fat and happy, their bubbly personalities intact. According to the repair crew who worked nearby, the lightning that hit our tree had certainly traveled underground and electrocuted the poor little guys. They never knew what hit them.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Anything But Awesome

I am declaring war on the word awesome. I shall smite it, trample it, and stamp it out at all costs. Of course, if this word were ever truly extinguished it would cut the average American's vocabulary by half. Another result would be an alarming drop in comments on Facebook.  So, what might people say instead? Perhaps alarming, astonishing, awe-inspiring, beautiful, breathtaking, daunting, exalted, or formidable. How about grand, glorious, impressive, imposing, magnificent, majestic, mind-blowing or moving? No? Okay, then try striking, stunning, stupefying, wonderful, wondrous, cool, groovy, fabulous, fantastic, far out. Anything but awesome.

Try it: Dare to be different.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Library Card

Today I had one of those conversations that make me think I am losing my mind, or hope to very soon.

Several weeks ago I went to my local library and applied for a membership card. After completing the paperwork I was told the actual yellow card would be ready in about ten minutes. I browsed the stacks awhile and went back for it, but the lady said she "hadn't done it yet" because she got too busy. Apologizing, she promised it would be ready for me the next morning.

I went in to get it today. A different lady was at the desk. She could not find the card, and was positive that I must already have it in my possession. I said if I did I wouldn't be asking for it. She repeated that it was confusing to her that the last woman would not have given it to me right then. I said me too. She told me to check my purse and pockets. She had never heard of anyone not getting the card when they applied for it. I said me too. She said it didn't really matter, that I wouldn't need it to check books out because I'm in the computer. I asked why they have cards then. She ignored me. As I walked out the door, she called out after me, "Oh look, here it is. I guess you really didn't have it after all." I said no kidding. She handed it to me, saying, "You'll need this."

Once a New Yawkah.....

....always a New Yawkah. And even if I don't really talk that way, I could. Born in Brooklyn and educated at New York University, Big Apple juice runs in my veins. I've tried living in plenty of other places, and have never really fit in. And everywhere I go, people ask accusingly, "Are you from New York?"

A job too good to pass up took me to Berkeley, California in the early 1980s. Great weather, exceptional peaches and a big salary kept me happy for a while, until I went to a dinner party thrown by an editor at the paper where I worked. By then I knew a few people, but only to nod at, so I was happy for a chance to perhaps forge some friendships in a social setting. Things went fine during dinner, and then our hostess announced that it was "hot tub time." I confessed that I hadn't realized this was on the schedule and had not brought a bathing suit. She giggled, squealing, "Don't be silly, we don't need those!" I looked around and saw the sports editor disrobing. Over in the corner was the night copy editor, totally naked. I feigned a headache and left. Sorry, but where I come from, we don't group-strip on the first date.

Salt Lake City is in the middle of a dramatic mountain setting, with big skies and fabulous sunsets. A fun place to run--at a high altitude so you really get a workout--I liked it quite a bit. Until those tiny little things started irking me: No delicatessens. No black people. No Jews. Inversions in January that covered the city in fog and pollution. The nauseating "lake effect" odor of rotting plankton and brine fish wafting through our windows at night. My son being the only kid with black hair in his school. The Mormon Church buying Main Street. Little things like that. After four years we chucked it all and set out in search of a decent Reuben.

A Reuben sandwich: Worth clogging your arteries.
Returning to Washington, D. C. seemed like the right thing to do, since it offered countless work opportunities for both me and my husband, plenty of dark-haired and dark-skinned kids for my teenage son to hang with, and lots of pastrami. It was also hot all the time, and humid, with violent thunderstorms and even more violent drive-by shootings and tourists clogging the roads most of the year and those snooty bigots sequestered in the one white quarter of the city. Factor in the government and its workers slowing down everything, their inefficiency hovering overhead like a weather condition, turning the renewal of one's driver's license into an occasion for a Valium, or at least a few stiff drinks, and we were done.

Now here in Maine for the start of our fourth year, we wholly embrace its fresh air, lack of crime and traffic, stunning water views and the tastiest fish anywhere, consistently, day after day. (The crummiest haddock from the supermarket is sublime, having been caught an hour ago.) But still, there are things one could wish for. As one neighbor put it when I invited her and her husband over for dinner, "Oh, we don't do that sort of thing here." But here we are and here we will remain, for the foreseeable future. It's just too hard to give up this easy living for the frenetic pace of Manhattan. Still, it's where I feel the most at home, and I do miss those crazy cab drivers, and the street vendors and bodegas and the steam coming up through the grates on a cold winter day and the subway and museums and Chinatown and Little Italy and....oh well.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lorem Ipsum

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Fusce mi magna, viverra in rhoncus non, pretium in turpis. Nullam mollis volutpat dui, at faucibus mauris volutpat a. In vulputate neque eu libero blandit cursus. (Quisque ligula eros, viverra pellentesque ultrices ac, rhoncus et sapien.) In at arcu lacus. Donec nisl mauris, viverra in rhoncus at, scelerisque quis quam. Curabitur facilisis, tellus quis placerat posuere, magna metus ultricies nunc, in blandit nisi quam non sem!

Integer ipsum magna, tincidunt sit amet molestie quis, mollis vel erat. Nulla rhoncus congue tortor. Phasellus pulvinar felis sagittis magna egestas ullamcorper. Sed magna magna, faucibus vel mattis at, ultrices vel lectus. Ut pulvinar elit lacinia magna posuere pellentesque. Duis at ante at nibh pulvinar vehicula non non urna. Fusce et nibh augue, nec mollis velit. Donec euismod euismod odio id vehicula. Quisque sed porta erat. Nulla semper, diam a volutpat auctor, eros tellus ornare nisi, non sodales massa mi vel lorem. Nam vitae fermentum mauris.

Ut nulla nunc, posuere sit amet faucibus in, sagittis in massa. Vivamus consequat tortor eu libero laoreet rutrum. (Nam ut nibh urna, quis porta ante.) Aliquam non elit vitae libero interdum consectetur condimentum at nisl! Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Pellentesque tortor diam, ultricies et faucibus ac, sagittis at lacus: "Pellentesque tincidunt libero in purus commodo scelerisque. Nunc sit amet magna fringilla ipsum posuere egestas sed sed sem. Vivamus quis enim nisi, a ornare lorem. Praesent id leo id massa ultricies ullamcorper. Donec nec est lectus, et laoreet ante."

Nullam bibendum volutpat mi id ultrices--donec bibendum commodo commodo--nam viverra lacinia ipsum accumsan ultricies. Donec tincidunt facilisis dui, in ullamcorper mauris tristique vitae. Phasellus facilisis, ipsum vitae aliquam consectetur, ante quam euismod quam, eget interdum ligula eros quis urna! In in congue nibh. Nulla facilisi. Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas. Etiam congue, magna varius tempor placerat, neque tortor molestie erat, pharetra euismod justo purus eget erat. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Donec sodales purus id elit molestie auctor. Sed posuere urna ante!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Death Watch

Cartoon by Roz Chast
My husband's college alumni magazine came in the mail today, and he did what he always does with it: check to see if anyone from his graduating class died. If not, phew--dodged a bullet! If so, then he's slightly bummed out. This is a common mistake people make--believing that only old people kick the bucket, when we all know that any age is appropriate for moving on to the next level. Still, when we hear that someone exactly our age has died, it makes us nervous. The worst is when it's someone a few years younger, making us think we're on borrowed time.

It's stupid, given the facts, but we all do it. The other thing we do is say, "But he was so young!" when we hear about someone our age or near our age who died, even if they were like 59 or 64 or 73. Hey, guess what: that's not young! Young is 20 or 12 or 6 or 33 and all those numbers like that.

I can't write anymore, I gotta get outside and walk over Niagara Falls or run a marathon or see India or something. Whatever, I must live my life. (What's left of it.)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Peace, Man

This will not go over well, but still, dedicated to truth in all its forms, Roto-Rouda forges on, citing injustice when spotted and saying those things nobody has the courage to say out loud but still think in their darkest moments....

"Aging Hippie Willie Nelson" costume wig
I finally figured out what's the worst thing about Facebook. It's not the constant "Like" this and "Like" that. It's not the incessant sell, sell, sell of everyone's jewelry and arts and crafts and music and dancing and what have you--yes, my blog too, but at least I don't charge you for it. And it's not even the targeted advertisements running down the side, a constant reminder that They know who we are, where we've been, and what we like. NO. It's the old-timey, 1970's, Woodstocky photographs of aging--truly, some are by now aged--baby boomers back when they were hippies and had hair and were thin and handsome and pretty. Each one is usually accompanied by about 17 to 25 comments about how cool the picture is, when it's really pathetic.

Just let it go, fellow boomers. Yes, we were young once. That's gone now. Can't we celebrate who we are today, before this too is gone? After all, to an octogenarian, 65 is young.

Tuning In on Talk Radio

"Hello out there in radioland, and welcome to 'Drive Time Drivel with Roto Rouda.' If you have a burning question and want to be on the show, call us at 1-800-566-7899, that's 1-800-566-7899. We'll be happy to take your call and we are waiting for you right now, at 1-800-566-7899. Now to our first caller, let's all say hi to Patty Ann from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Hi Patty Ann. Are you there Patty? Hello? Patty Ann? Well, she must have been called away. Let's go to our next line, Todd from Bridgeport, Connecticut. Come in, Todd."

"Yes, hi Roto, first I'd like to say thank you for taking my call."

"No problem. What's your drivel?"

"Well, I wondered if you think it's true that a watched pot never boils, because I was watching a pot of water this morning while I was making breakfast--I like them soft-boiled eggs--and it boiled pretty fast even though I stood there watching the whole time. Actually it boiled too fast, because they came out a little harder than I like them---" 

"You know Todd, that's damn good drivel and an astute observation. I guess the old adage is wrong. Thanks for the call. Now, before we take another call at 1-800-566-7899, I'd like to take just a minute to tell you about a wonderful product I use every day, it's great for this time of year, it's Mosquito Madness, just one spray and bugs stay away. You can find it anywhere they sell it. Remember to ask for it by name: Mosquito Madness. Now, let's say hello to Sue in Tampa, Florida. Hi Sue, what's your drivel?"

"Hi Roto, thanks for taking my call. This is my first time and I'm a little nervous." 

"Just relax Sue, and tell us what unimportant garbage occupies that space between your ears. Millions of listeners stuck in traffic and housewives stuck at home with the kids are bored silly and eager to mock your inane question."

"Well, I was wondering whatever happened to Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann who were running for office, and now it's just that one guy Mitt Romney? It seems like politics is back to being all men again, and I don't like it. At least with Sarah and Michelle we got to see new hairstyles and makeup. And shoes and nails and stuff. And clothes. Now what are we women supposed to do? I mean, where are our role models?" 

"Good drivel, Sue. I suppose that's what the First Lady is for, and you know that Michelle Obama is quite the fashion plate. In fact, you can check her out on any of a hundred magazine covers. And remember, Hillary Clinton is still running around out there trying to look girlish, and despite those extra pounds, with her long blond hair and ruffly blouses she's doing one heck of a convincing job."

"I guess so. But still, I miss Sarah and Michelle. It's just not fair. Anyway, thank you."

"I understand your frustration Sue, we all miss those two, they sure were fun to watch. Now before we get to more drivel at 1-800-566-7899, I'd like to fill you in on a cool way to stay cool this summer, with a personal fan called Mr. Mister. Ladies, believe it or not it's small enough to fit in your purse. And you men out there, just slip one in your pocket and don't be surprised if some woman comes up to you and asks, 'Is that a Mr. Mister in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?' Now for our next caller, and if you want to be on the show remember our number is 1-800-566-7899. That's 1-800-566-7899. But first, a quick word from our sponsor..." 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Only God Can Make a Chicken

My old friend Bill, a man who has raised the art of curmudgeonry to the college level, occasionally faults me for complaining too much in this space. While I agree, and in fact wish it were otherwise, there is simply so much to complain about these days, it's almost beyond my control. And that's why everyone else is always complaining about everything's certainly not just me. (See opening sentence.) Everywhere you look--except maybe in obscure countries we don't hear much about--there are fresh examples of dumb decisions that were made by misguided people. I would be remiss to not point them out.

Here's one now: Despite the dire obesity epidemic that has FLOTUS doing push-ups on The Ellen Show and Manhattan's Mayor Bloomberg outlawing the sale of large, sugary beverages, and tubby 10-year-olds suffering from diabetes and clogged arteries, several national fast-food chains have devised an exciting new concept to further fatten up the masses: Fried chicken cut into pieces and shaped like chips, the better to dip into gooey, creamy, calorie-laden sauces. Who among us knew that ordinary chicken was so dull? Dick Lynch, the global chief brand officer for Popeye's, for one.  According to the Wall Street Journal, Dick has long felt that "chicken doesn't have a lot of flavor itself, but is a great flavor carrier." Apparently most people prefer chicken pieces that have been formed into irregular shapes rather than uniform shapes because they seem so much more natural that way. One satisfied Popeye's customer greeted the new dipping chicken with open arms-- or rather, hands--saying, "I'm always looking for something new to dip."

I wonder what Mayor Bloomberg thinks about this. And my friend Bill.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Coming to a Neighborhood Near You

U.S. Military's Predator Drone
According to our substitute postmistress, who lacks charm but certainly makes up for it with inefficiency, the Department of Homeland Security is coming for me. "They could show up at any time," she exclaimed just yesterday morning. They want details on who I am: Name, street address, driver's license number, passport, mortgage holder, blood type, DNA and RNA. (Just kidding about the last three.) This interest is sparked by my outrageous effrontery of maintaining a post office box in my little town of South Freeport, Maine, population 1,300. Let it be known: I must show a photo ID! I must fill out updated information! I must furnish answers to the following questions: Am I an alien? Have I ever been arrested? Who else lives in my house?

To illustrate just how backward things are up here in Maine, they want me to fill out a paper form--with a pen-- to provide them with these facts. How antiquated! Why, in some cities across America, all they have to do is swoop in pretty low with one of those remote-controlled, Air Force drones and snap a few pictures while you're sitting at your desk paying bills; you don't have to lift a finger, except to make sure the blinds are open and the shades pulled up. Now that's progress! Our state motto: Maine, The Way Life in a Gulag Shouldn't Be.

Monday, June 11, 2012

315 Things That Make Me Miserable

·      Big trucks on the highway
·      Bugs
·      RV’s ahead of me on the highway
·      Thunderstorms
·      Rape
·      Murder
·      Funnel cakes
·      Boils
·      Cancer
·      Skin rashes
·      Mosquito bites
·      Undertow
·      Bad relatives
·      Snakes
·      Icy roads
·      Surgery
·      People in the audience talking at the movies
·      Cancelled flights
·      Buying food and getting it home and finding out it’s spoiled
·      Rancid milk
·      Running out of cat food in a snowstorm
·      Cat vomit
·      Splinters
·      Hemorrhoids
·      Dining in restaurants with large groups
·      Holidays when the banks are closed
·      The lawn guy coming on a day when I'm trying to write
·      Sharing a lane at a public pool
·      Fat ladies naked in the locker room at the Y
·      Chunk light tuna
·      Crabgrass
·      Jellyfish
·      Sunburned skin
·      Crowds at the beach
·      Starving children in Africa
·      Pictures of starving children in Africa on the front page of the New York Times
·      Smoking
·      Cigarettes being legal
·      Headaches
·      Hiccups
·      A bad acid trip
·      Bees
·      Spider bites
·      Getting stopped by a cop
·      Car trouble
·      The fuel warning light in my car coming on
·      Hard-boiled eggs that won’t peel
·      Not getting my newspaper delivery
·      A too-easy Sunday Times crossword puzzle
·      Worrying I might get Alzheimer’s
·      The prep you drink before a colonoscopy
·      A flat tire
·      Root canals
·      Unexplained pain that goes away
·      Child abduction
·      Brainless bimbos making a lot of money
·      Dictators
·      Breaking a nail and not having an emery board
·      Having to host my husband’s boring business associates
·      Eating bad food to avoid hurting the cook's feelings
·      Playing Scrabble with people who can’t play
·      Playing Bridge
·      Bleeding-heart liberals who hate everyone who isn’t one
·      Bill Maher
·      Rachel Maddow
·      Overcooked hamburgers
·      When the waitress doesn’t see my food sitting under warming lights but I do
·      Bready pizza crust
·      Food poisoning
·      Mildew on locker room floors
·      Over-chlorinated swimming pools
·      Bush-bashing years after he’s been out of office
·      Made up names like La J’twandA or NeKeiSha
·      Women marrying for money
·      Bathing suits with skirts
·      Fat women in bathing suits with skirts
·      Flip-flops
·      Waking up from anesthesia
·      People against the death penalty who favor abortion
·      Instant coffee
·      Bedbugs
·      No air-conditioning in summer
·      Too loud air-conditioning
·      Religious music
·      Priests
·      Nuns
·      Traffic jams that  disperse with no apparent cause
·      Polyester clothing
·      Spray-painted daisies sold in supermarkets
·      Female news commentators with big earrings showing a lot of cleavage
·      Pumping my own gas
·      Bad movies
·      Bad TV
·      Laugh tracks on TV sitcoms
·      Lady Gaga
·      Frizzy hair
·      Wall-to-wall carpeting
·      Stained wall–to-wall carpeting
·      Non-kosher hot dogs
·      Mean cops
·      The flu
·      Stomach problems
·      Being nauseous
·      Bike riding uphill
·      Calling my son and him not answering and not calling me back
·      Having high blood pressure
·      Getting too stoned
·      Getting drunk
·      Bad wine
·      Instant oatmeal
·      Olive Garden restaurants
·      All-you-can-eat restaurants
·      Shirley Temple movies
·      Shirley Temple
·      Sitcoms about dating
·      Dr. Phil
·      TV talk shows
·      TV quiz shows
·      Late night comedy shows
·      Commercials
·      Advertising
·      Dead flowers in a vase
·      Swallowing water in a swimming pool
·      Noisy leaf blowers
·      Cold food that’s supposed to be hot
·      Ice cubes with a taste
·      Stale chocolate
·      Burned coffee
·      Too little sleep
·      Liars
·      Phonies
·      Bad cell phone service
·      Robocalls
·      Foreign call centers when you think you are calling locally
·      Frozen foods
·      Reading about starving children in other countries
·      Pictures of wounded soldiers in the news
·      Junk charity mail with gifts inside as enticement
·      Movie ads that say it’s great when the reviews say it sucks
·      Escaped convicts within 100 miles of where I am
·      Dust bunnies under the furniture
·      German Shepherd dogs
·      Stray dogs in alleys
·      Skunks
·      Dead animals by the side of the road, especially cats and dogs
·      Deformity
·      A long line in the ladies’ room but the handicapped stall is free
·      Non-Hellman’s mayo 
·      Stupid modern art installations
·      Performance art
·      Organized religion
·      Pretending Tater-Tots are food
·      Fat kids raised on Tater-Tots
·      Driving behind a garbage truck
·      10-lane super highways
·      Driving over bridges 
·      Emergency landings
·      Too-soft pillows
·      Bad hotel beds
·      Full litter boxes in other people’s bathrooms right next to the toilet
·      Cleaning ladies who can’t understand your instructions
·      Fortune cookies packaged in cellophane
·      Heat waves
·      Japanese beetles
·      Serial murderers
·      Jersey barriers on highways
·      Wrong numbers who hang up without apologizing
·      Tight shoes
·      Blisters
·      Very hot weather
·      Fake leather
·      Feeling full after a big meal
·      Television on in the background during a phone call
·      Black sitcoms where all the characters are stupid except the mom, who is obese
·      Do-rags on hoodlums
·      Riding the bus
·      Tsunamis that wipe out entire villages
·      Tornadoes that flatten entire towns
·      Hurricanes that destroy homes
·      TV commercials showing starving orphans
·      TV commercials showing tortured dogs and cats
·      Fat women in shorts
·      Above-ground swimming pools
·      Corn dogs
·      Deep-fried Oreo cookies
·      Cold soup that is intended to be eaten hot
·      Thomas Kincaid calling himself the “Painter of Light”
·      Paintings by Thomas Kincaid
·      Kidnap victims who stay with the kidnapper until adulthood
·      TV commercials for other TV shows on after the one I’m watching
·      Whoopie Goldberg thinking she has talent
·      Whoopie Goldberg making money
·      Sun stroke
·      Sun poisoning
·      Late-term abortions
·      Reading subtitles in movies instead of watching the film
·      Natural childbirth
·      Wrong diagnoses
·      Politicians spending millions on advertising themselves
·      Political lawn signs
·      Political bumper stickers
·      Fear of having a stroke
·      Skiing
·      AIDS
·      Gay Pride Day anywhere; what about all the other days?
·      Movies about the Holocaust
·      Bad books becoming best sellers
·      Oprah Winfrey making bad books best sellers by just mentioning them
·      My son’s girlfriends ignoring me
·      Worrying about terrorist attacks
·      Flying in bad weather
·      Turbulence on an airplane
·      Overweight stewardesses
·      Having to keep my seat in an upright position on an airplane
·      Microwaving food and having the food still be cold but the plate be hot
·      Insomnia
·      Throwing up
·      The word “vomit”
·      Marijuana being illegal
·      Guns being legal
·      Remembering my father waking up in the ICU on a respirator
·      Remembering my mother in a nursing home
·      Having a miscarriage
·      My son texting someone else while I'm trying to talk to him
·      The fact that some people are ugly and some are beautiful
·      Babies born blind
·      Children with cancer
·      Breaking a tooth
·      Not winning the lottery
·      My husband not letting me read in bed because he has to get up early
·      Brain injuries
·      Pit bull owners insisting it’s all in how you train them
·      Ghettos
·      Slums just down the road from the White House
·      Slamming doors
·      Unripe fruit
·      Jumping to conclusions
·      Coca-Cola
·      Ice cream that doesn’t melt in the dish when you’re done with it
·      Divorce lawyers who try to get you angrier at your spouse
·      Identical twins who think they’re so special
·      Men who lie about their height
·      Excess food packaging
·      Self-checkout aisles at the supermarket
·      Car alarms that go off if you walk too close
·      Sirens
·      The fact that they still teach Shakespeare in high school
·      Book clubs where nobody reads the book
·      High-pressure salespeople
·      Your husband running out of gas when you’re also in the car
·      Weeds
·      Christmas cactus that blooms at the wrong time of year
·      Everyone all over America eating the same meal at Thanksgiving
·      Sappy greeting cards
·      New Yorker cartoons with those two black dots underneath them
·      Bad art
·      Target shoppers calling it “Tarjay” as if it’s a classy French place
·      Jehovah’s Witnesses telling me about God like I don’t already know
·      Renovators at my house
·      Sand flies
·      Biased news organizations
·      Religious fanatics
·      Spam email
·      Knock-off handbags
·      Calorie-laden Starbucks drinks masquerading as coffee
·      People drinking Starbucks drinks and thinking they’re dieting
·      GAP clothing made in China, Taiwan, Majorca and the Philippines
·      Rich ladies bringing their little dogs into restaurants
·      My only child’s bleak outlook on life and blaming me for it
·      My dysfunctional extended family
·      Answering the phone
·      Getting my hair cut and styled
·      Getting wrinkles
·      Friends who talk behind my back
·      Relatives who always want to borrow money
·      Spilling red wine on a white blouse
·      Motel rooms with bare light bulbs
·      Overpriced candy and nuts in hotel mini-bars
·      Checks that bounce
·      Prowlers
·      Anonymous comments online
·      Bad novels by Nora or Delia Ephron
·      Country music about dogs that died
·      Ending your dog’s life but calling it “putting him down”
·      Too many handicapped parking spaces
·      Elevators
·      Rotten pistachio nuts in with all good ones
·      The circus
·      Zoos
·      Puppies in cages in pet shop windows
·      Commercial applications of famous paintings
·      Beatles songs used in advertising
·      Aging celebrities who get fat
·      Having to use crutches
·      Ice cubes frozen into a lump in the freezer
·      Power outages
·      Movie popcorn
·      Food with too much salt
·      Bad jokes that aren’t funny
·      MOMA in New York City charging $20 to get in
·      Bumper stickers that say “My Child Is an Honor Student”
·      Cars covered with a lot of bumper stickers
·      People who are late for appointments
·      Doctors keeping you waiting
·      Backaches
·      Fender benders
·      Driving in snow
·      Caesar salad made with iceberg lettuce and no anchovies
·      Ham 
·      Speedo bathing suits on men
·      School buses without seat belts
·      Sitting between two fat people on an airplane
·      Sitting behind someone with big hair at the theater
·      People sneezing and coughing in public