Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Playing to Lose

Ever since I picked George as my favorite Beatle and not Paul or John I have suspected that I am not normal. The evidence has mounted since then, and now I know it for sure. If I were, there would be no Olympics. Not that I don't want the Olympics to exist, but if I were the norm then nobody would watch, nobody would go, nobody would care, and the athletes would only do it for the pure joy and exhilaration of their own achievements and not to win medals or endorsement contracts or beat someone else. 

It seems to me that all of life these days is about competition, winning, being the best, and I just don't relate. I have never been competitive, which is surely why I haven't done very well in terms of financial success, fame or whatever the yardstick is that signals "success." In fact, anytime I am doing well at whatever it is I am doing, the mere presence of a competitor knocks the wind out of my sails. It's when I notice that someone else is in the race that I lose all interest. This is not a literal race I am talking about, although it happens then too. Out walking in the morning, I go along at quite a clip, trying to do better than I did the day before, but if someone else shows up on the path behind me, I slow way down until they pass by. Hey, I'm not going to play that game!

My husband is the complete opposite, spurred on by the mere presence of someone he can best. This explains why he is so devoted to his fitness cult called Crossfit. Not only do all the other cultists work their butts off trying to do well, but the day's results are then posted on a big "white board" at the gym and also online, so everyone can see just how they performed in relation to everyone else, as if their own performance is made better or worse because someone else did better or worse, if you know what I mean. It's just plain dumb.

I have not yet watched any of the Olympics now underway in London. All I know is they cost billions of dollars to produce and Mitt Romney went there and said one tiny truth about how they weren't all buttoned up, and the next thing you know his truth is being called a "gaffe"--which tells you all you need to know about politics, doesn't it?--and the whole world is watching, except of course in India where 600 million people are without power, and someone named Ryan Lochte swam better than Michael Phelps did last time, so soon enough this Lochte fellow will be hawking something that we all better buy or eat or do if we want to succeed. Maybe this time I'll try some of whatever it is and see if things get better for me.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Get With the Program, Tubby

Anonymous has reared his/her ugly head again, with a comment suggesting that my personal obsession with obesity and weight loss is trivial and I should get over it already. I beg to differ. Weight loss products, weight loss programs, weight loss problems, overweight, obesity--all that jazz--costs each and every one of us a ton-- no pun intended. In April, Reuters reported that obesity in America is currently adding "an astounding $190 billion to the annual national healthcare price tag, exceeding smoking as public health enemy number one when it comes to cost." So there.

Besides being unattractive and unhealthy, being overweight is a pain in the neck for the tubby one--I know this from personal experience. While I have never quite been circus material, I have tipped the scales at about 25 pounds more than I do now, and still remember all too well how much harder it was to climb stairs, walk around the block, do my daily chores, whatever. I also remember the uncomfortable feeling of too-tight clothing, with the waistband of my jeans digging into my skin. Then there is the humiliation factor, nothing to sneeze at. On the beach, at the gym, in the dressing room at Loehmann's--a giant, mirrored common room that always made me feel like I was in the showers at Auschwitz--being fat is downright embarrassing.

Admit it: Fat feels bad and cookies taste good, the choice is yours. And please, if you've got a bone to pick with me, just sign your name--I love nothing more than a good debate. (Except maybe Key Lime Pie.)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Simple Diet Trick Works Every Time!

Finally, a diet that works! 

You've tried other diets but to no avail. You've all but given up, resigning yourself to getting fatter and fatter until they'll have to bury you in a piano box. But stop--now there's hope! This one simple trick can help you get the body of your dreams. Follow these steps and lose all the weight you want, for free!

1. Prepare all your favorite foods, including pastas in rich sauce, prime ribs, potatoes au gratin, fried onion rings, or whatever you like. Desserts can be sinfully rich, including cakes, pies, or even Baked Alaska!

2. Serve yourself three meals a day--or thirty if your budget allows.

3. Just before you eat, allowing the tantalizing aromas to waft through the room and enliven your senses, place a large piece of duct tape over your mouth. Carefully scrape all foods into the garbage disposal, making sure to remove any bones or pits in advance. Grind 30 seconds.

4. Remove tape, drink two 12-ounce glasses of water and do all the dishes.

Comes in black, gold or silver to compliment any outfit!
Works every time!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Parents Are Forever

"In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since. "Whenever you feel like criticizing any one," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had."

So says Nick Carraway on the first page of  "The Great Gatsby," F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel written in 1925 and yet to be topped. I try to remember that sentiment, but I usually am waylaid when I recall that such a father was one of the advantages I lacked. While my own father was a sweet guy with excellent comic timing, he never passed on one deep or meaningful life lesson, except perhaps that when you get a stain on your clothes you have to respond immediately, like if you're at a dinner party and you spill red wine on a white blouse, just rip it off right there and then and ask the hostess for something to wear and throw it in the washer or else it's ruined forever. (He was in the dry-cleaning business.) That, and how to follow through with your arm when bowling, holding it straight out ahead of you until the ball makes contact with the pins.

Anyway, Nick's father was right, and it's an important lesson we all have to learn over and over. Which is why I am withholding judgement against the poor, misguided young man who went nuts in Aurora last week, wanting to learn more about how his family treated or mistreated him and what he lacked growing up that made him come apart like that. I do believe that families play a big part in how we turn out, which is why I am continually stunned by friends who say, when I mention that our son is coming to stay with us for awhile, things like "Oh, you don't want him living with you," and "You better show him the door pretty quick."

In tribal societies, generations lived and still do live together. That was true here in America at one time also, and still is on farms and in rural areas. But in the big city, where we are all so sophisticated, we're supposed to shoo those birdies out of the nest as soon as possible, never to share a roof again until we are too old and frail and sick for any of the parties involved to enjoy one another.

I never lived with my own father past the age of 19, and only spent quality time with him for the last three months of his life when he was 72, bedridden and weak from surgeries and cancer. We had some good times then. I wish there had been more, like all those years when he was healthy and strong and I was finally not a smart-ass and could have enjoyed him, and we could have gone bowling together and he could have taught me to play golf, but instead I was stoned at rock concerts with my peers because society frowns on parents and adult children living together in the prime of their lives. How odd, and how sad.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hey, It's Punxsutawney Sean!

I may have finally figured out why Democrats hate Republicans, and it all boils down to two words: Sean Hannity. There are some other words too, like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly, but they at least have functioning brains whereas Sean Hannity clearly does not, a conclusion one may draw based on his hairstyle alone. (What century does he think this is?) Anyway, Sean is crazily focused on one thing and one thing only, and that is to get Obama out of office. In fact, he says so right at the beginning of his three-hour daily radio rant: "Welcome to the Stop Obama Express!" The man is out of his gourd, plain and simple.

Every day is Groundhog Day for Sean, and the result is always the same: He sees his own shadow and there's four more years of Obama. More evidence of his mania lies in the fact that he denies the President any shred of a chance to perform well, and refuses to report on any good Obama ever has done or promises to do. He is still harping on Reverend Wright, still hints about the birth certificate issue, and loves Sarah Palin, hosting her often and calling her Governor! Need I say more?  His behavior is not normal, if you ask me. The last person we saw so rabidly wedded to and blinded by his own opinion was Keith Olbermann, and we all know where he ended up: The glue factory.

Imagine if we were left to consider the issues by ourselves, without the incessant yammering of Sean Hannity, Rachel Maddow, Bill Maher, Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter, Jon Stewart, Donald Trump, that weird Ed guy, and all the rest of the tilted, jilted, jaded and slanted sociopaths in the media who earn their keep by distorting the truth and creating polls to support the distortions. For all we know, the Democrats and the Republicans might not be as far apart on the issues as they tell us we are are. (Except for Sean, of course, and my husband's rabid cousins who are knee-jerk Democrats--and I do mean jerks.)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Seeking Justice

The start of what will surely be an avalanche of lawsuits related to the Aurora theater shooting has begun. An attorney for one of the survivors says his client plans to sue the Century 16 theater for having an exit door that was not equipped with an alarm or guarded, allowing the shooter to return with his weapons. He will also sue Warner Bros. for releasing violent movies that may have inspired the shooter, and the suspect's doctors for failing to accurately monitor the suspect's mental condition. This makes me see that I too have a case.

Yesterday morning I fell while getting out of the shower, suffering what, at the time, I thought were minor bruises and humiliation. But today, after a sleepless night, it has become all too clear that my injuries are a lot worse, making for a classic Slip and Fall lawsuit. (See photo, Exhibit A) My left shoulder, which was twisted in a weird way as I tried to break my fall, is unbearably painful and seems almost immovable. Also, there is considerable discomfort in my left side along the rib cage and my right gluteus maximus, making sitting down difficult. Obviously, if I had a job I would have to miss work, which might even threaten my employment. And if I had continued with my swimming every morning, which I was just about to start back up, I would not be able to go because of my arm, so my quality of life is impacted. Thus I plan to sue the following people:
     1. The towel manufacturer, since I stepped from the tiled shower onto a towel and it moved, failing to properly grip the floor, and caused me to lose my balance.
     2. The floor manufacturer, as the very slippery nature of the floor was the root of the problem. (Since when is a bathroom floor supposed to be slippery?)
     3. My husband, who had just left the bathroom at the time but should have realized when he heard the water turn off I that I was about to exit the shower and might very easily fall, what with the non-gripping towel and the slippery floor, two things about which he had prior knowledge. He should have been there to break my fall.

Not sure I have a case but I'm damn well going to try. After all, this is America.

What to Do With a Newspaper

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. In today's Wall Street Journal there is an illustrated article about "five novel uses" for rubber bands. Not only are all the suggestions inane, but really--are illustrations necessary to explain how to wrap the rubber band around a hard-boiled egg--and thanks for that tip- to make stripes when dying Easter eggs? Once the epitome of intellectual journalism, today's Journal is desperate for readers and thus caters to anyone who will listen. Other articles in the same edition detail how parents can let go emotionally when their kids go off to college--phone calls, emails and texts can help them stay in touch-- and how some people actually have both an iPhone and a BlackBerry. I ask you, are we morons? The answer is no, we are not.

Everyone knows the Internet rules, but newspaper publishers just don't want to admit it. For every dumb article in a newspaper, there are like 200 more online, and a lot of them are way dumber--what's not to love? Yes, we still need newspapers, but not to read-- they might as well just print the masthead and leave all the rest of it blank, except for the advertising which is quite entertaining. Like today, on page A3 there is an ad for a Chanel handbag made of calfskin and tweed for $4,200. See, now that's amusing--just knowing that there's a handbag out there that costs as much as my mortgage, car payment, utilities, phone and enough gas for a month makes me giggle.

Don't get me wrong: The paper itself is great for wrapping dishes and glassware when you're packing to move, invaluable in the pet department what with lining of birdcages and paper-training of puppies, and without peer for stuffing into those charcoal chimneys for a barbecue. It's the news part we no longer need.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Here Comes the Five-Ring Circus

Mary Lou Retton ended up on cereal boxes, Nancy Kerrigan became a punchline ("Why me?"), Michael Phelps hawks Subway sandwiches and Mark Spitz just got old. Ex-Olympians are nothing if not pathetic. We meet them in their prime, watch them soar to unbelievable heights of athletic perfection, and then stare in awe as they plummet headlong into commercialism and old age, all the while feeling our own imperfect bodies degenerate more acutely in comparison. For these reasons and others, I look away from the whole shebang.

In the beginning they must have been something, but since their inception in 1896, the so-called "games" have degenerated into a gigantic opportunity for advertisers, and most especially the host city, to sell key rings, mouse pads, t-shirts, hoodies, flip-flops, laptops, caps, cups, mugs, restaurants, hotel rooms, country inns and second homes imprinted with this year's hottest logo. Lately, with the 2012 games about to begin in London, everyone and their brother is looking for a tie-in. Even St. Jude's Hospital for Children is not above this ploy, with a recent ad campaign wherein they picture children ill with cancer languishing in bed, and the accompanying sell line something like, "Little Natasha is dreaming of conquering the balance bars but right now she's battling cancer." Oh please.

Yeah, yeah, I know--I'm always complaining about something,  but usually with good reason; the pimping of our athletes, all dressed up in their sweatshop uniforms, seems like an appropriate occasion for whining. Besides, is beach volleyball anything more than fit women in teeny bikinis bobbing up and down with balls? And admit it--the opening ceremonies, tickets for which cost your basic arm and a leg, have gotten pretty out of control, with the parade of athletes more like the Miss World Pageant on steroids. One can only imagine how anyone can top the Chinese in Beijing four years ago, but I'll bet they're going to try. In fact, that's the one part I'll be sure to watch.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Stuff of Dreams

Lunesta is a prescription drug that is supposed to help you fall asleep. So you take it if you are someone who has trouble sleeping, to calm yourself and lessen the anxiety that causes wakefulness. First you have to tell your doctor that you have this problem, then you have to pick up the prescription from the pharmacy, so everyone who works there will also know you have this problem. (Try not to think about that, it could keep you up nights.) The commercial for Lunesta shows a butterfly flying around people's bedrooms at night, while a voice says that, besides thoughts of suicide, the drug might also cause "tongue or throat swelling, which could be fatal."

How could anyone go to sleep after taking that and hearing that? Don't you think you might be too nervous to fully relax? Personally, I might try a cup of warm milk or some herbal tea with honey, and maybe half an hour watching QVC. It seems much safer and probably works just as well.

The Clam Festival

FOR three days, normal life in our quiet little corner of the world is totally eclipsed by the Yarmouth Clam Festival, an annual church and school fundraising event one town over from where we live. It sounds like fun, doesn't it? Imagine, as I did when I moved here three years ago--a festival of clams, bringing to mind clam-eating contests and shucking of and perhaps bobbing for clams, and clam races and revelers dressed up like clams, and maybe even an opportunity to actually go clamming, something I have never done but which sounds exotic and so New Englandy. But it's not like that at all. What it really should be called is the All-You-Can-Eat-and-Spend Fried Foods Festival.

Yesterday afternoon, a lovely sunny day that was not too hot but almost, my husband and I did our part for the high school ski team and attended. After all, we are now fully vested Mainers and this is literally the Biggest Event around these parts. Besides the food stands, there are food stands, food stands and food stands. There is also a Funway with carnival rides and games, and an area for artists and crafters selling their wares, some of which were wonderful--we got a handmade lampshade that's a doozy. All of this activity was accompanied by a soundtrack of live music by local musicians playing at various times under big tents. But wait: there's even more food, with free samples offered by purveyors of jellies and jams and salsa and hot sauces and mustards and pickles and relishes and fancy olive oils, all of which can be applied to chips and breads and pretzels and crackers supplied for the dipping into and spreading upon of said condiments.

During our approximately three hours there, I ingested the following: a little paper boat full of fried fish called Haddock Fingers, one of Mitch's fried clams--I hate them but he insisted I try, claiming they were quite good but still I had to spit mine out into a napkin--a large boatload of French fries with salt and ketchup, half a spicy sausage and pepper and mushroom hero, countless corn chips smothered in a variety of the aforementioned dips, a huge chocolate chip cookie and a handful of Bing cherries that were really good but turned our teeth and tongues blue, which sort of ruined them for me, and a large water.

Mitch saw me bite for bite, and raised me on the tasting of hot sauces. By the time we got home we were besotted with carbohydrates and literally passed out, he on the living room sofa and me on the family room sofa. I worried we had food poisoning from the sausage, but that never came to pass. Today I awoke with a feeling of relief that the experience would not be repeated for 364 days.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Out of the Loop

I should be embarrassed to admit this, but I just heard about edible balloons like ten minutes ago, and that was purely by chance. I turned on the TV news to see if any more office towers had been hit by planes overnight or any more crazed gunmen had splayed bullets into crowds of innocent bystanders, and happened upon a report about a hot young chef who uses science in the kitchen to create fabulous creations served in his trendy Chicago restaurant. He looked to be about 17 or 18, and is already way more successful than I ever have been or will be, and one of things he has done is bring us the edible balloon. Intrigued, I searched "edible balloons" online and learned that they were totally reported on and written about last February, which means I certainly cannot write one more word about them now.

Where have I been, and more to the point, what have I been eating? Just the usual protein and veggies and fruits and fiber, fuddy-duddy that I am. But food today is so much more than sustenance--it's art! The fact that I eat mostly to remain alive instead of to impress people with my sophisticated palate just goes to show you how much of a dinosaur I am. There are other things, of course, like knowing who Henny Youngman was-- and finding him pretty hysterical, at that--but this balloon business makes me wonder how many other things are out there that you can eat that I don't know about.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Not About the Shooting

By now you have heard about the latest mass shooting by a crazy person, which took place in a suburban Denver movie theater not far from Columbine, the site of another such occurrence many years ago. Naturally it's all over the news, sensationalized to the max by the ever-hungry, ever eye-shadowed and cleavaged and coiffed female announcers who dominate the daytime. By tonight it will be an even bigger story and in the hands of the men, who lack cleavage but make up for it with Botox. Over on FOX TV the tragedy already has a name--"Horror in Theater Nine"--making it just about ready for the fictionalized account that will doubtless be playing in theaters everywhere in no time, although probably not in any named Theater Nine. But that's not what I'm talking about today, because to do so would be stooping to their level and I want to be above all that.

Instead I will focus on the fact that I got a clean bill of health this morning from a PA, or Physician's Assistant, who I went to see regarding a personal problem that's none of your damn business but was causing me much discomfort. When I called for an appointment a few days ago I was told that the doctor was booked for several weeks but the PA had some time today. And guess what? She was great, and in some ways even better than the doctor I usually see who was so busy. Plus the fact she was not at all snooty and full of herself and all her diplomas like many MDs tend to be. I have to admit that I was a tad reluctant at first, thinking I wanted a real doctor and not just an assistant doctor. But now I'm over that, and think perhaps that more of those might be one solution to our rising health care costs.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Bean Boot

Living way up here in Maine, where the whole entire state has only one-eighth the population of New York City, can sometimes make you feel like you're on a different planet than the rest of the country. For example, the Weather Channel barely knows our name, calling us "north of Boston" when anything happens around here. We could be having a total blizzard and they'll say, "the snow has finally ended in the northeast." Hello? I can't see out my windows, what about us? But I digress....

So it's fun to go over to the L. L. Bean Mother Ship--actually it's called the Flagship Store but Mother Ship is so much cozier, don't you think-- to get a dose of Americana and remind yourself why it's good to be here. Just like they say about New York's Times Square, everyone who comes to Maine goes to Bean's. Plus it never closes, ever, so if you're feeling lost and alone because your husband is out of town, just to pick something at random, you can go there and find comfort among all the smiling salespeople and goods we import from sweat shops the world over.

Today I was craving a Starbucks skim milk extra hot latte, so I drove the two and a half miles into town and got one, then moseyed over to the Bean "campus" to join civilization for awhile. There are lots of tables and chairs and benches all around, making it quite conducive to set a spell, and so I plunked down in view of the famous Bean Boot, which is a 22-foot tall replica of the, well, the Bean Boot. Next to it is a sign that says, "For your safety, please do not sit or climb on the boot." Naturally everyone sits and climbs on the boot. The other thing everyone does is take a picture of themselves, their kids, their gramps and grannies, their dogs and their nannies on the boot, leaning against the boot, and standing in front of the boot. Personally, I was stunned. I'm no statistician but I'm guessing that in the half hour I was there, 90% of all visitors who came along took pictures of the boot. Couples who were alone stopped total strangers and and asked them to take their pictures.

I found that interesting and I thought you would too.

Waiting for the Other Shoe

I'm always hoping that today's the day, but it never is. The day for what? For anything. For something new, something exciting, something that will transform my humdrum existence into one that's wildly unbelievable, like in the movies. In "Liar, Liar," Jim Carrey can suddenly only speak the truth. In "Big," Tom Hanks turns from a kid into a grown-up overnight. Johnny Depp has scissor-hands; Dorothy goes to Oz. Something along those lines would be nice. Thus, I look for clues, am always alert for hidden possibilities: This might mean something, or maybe that means something.

This morning I went for my usual 45-minute walk, downgraded from a run by my slowly disintegrating hip. Anyway, glad that at least I can still walk, I set out with more than a spring in my step owing to a break in the hideous heat of the last few weeks. There was even a breeze! I had gone only about a quarter-mile when I became aware of a stone, or whatever, in my right shoe. I kept walking, not wanting to slow my pace, but the thing was annoying. I tried sliding it into the arch area, where I might not feel it too much, but still it was distracting. I stopped, untied my shoe and looked inside, expecting a pebble. It was a bug--a living, breathing creature I had inadvertently carried so far from his home. I felt bad about that, but was happy that at least he was still alive. I coaxed him out and left him running around the South Freeport Cemetery, and continued on my way. But I thought about that bug for the next mile or so, thinking it was odd that he was in there, and that he hadn't been crushed to death, and that he hadn't bitten me.

Before long I turned onto Park Street and there before me, in the road, was a woman's shoe. One shoe. A black velvet, high-heeled clog with a silver buckle and a wooden wedge heel. Standing upright in the middle of the road, as if it were posing for a fashion shoot. I looked around. There was nobody. No other shoe. No signs of foul play. I wondered how it had gotten there, and how come it hadn't been run over, and where was the other one. I continued on, leaving it undisturbed in case the owner returned, looking for it. But still, I thought, huh, that's odd: first there was a bug in my shoe, now there's a shoe in the road. What could it mean? Maybe something was about to happen, maybe these were omens, maybe bugs and shoes would come together and change my life somehow.

I finished my walk and waited for something else and nothing else came. There was just a bug in my shoe and then a shoe in the road. Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What To Say Instead of the Truth

I can't talk right now, I'll call you tomorrow.
I'll fax it in the morning.
I'm dieting.
I just ate.
I think I have the flu.
My kid has the measles.
My kid has a game.
My phone's out of juice.
There's no cell service.
I have another call.
My dog just died.
My cat is sick.
I'm fasting.
It's a Jewish holiday.
I have to work.
My car won't start.
It's supposed to rain.
My son is visiting.
Our taxes are due.
I lost my wallet.
My daughter is depressed.
I have a doctor's appointment.
I have a dentist appointment.
My grandmother is sick.
We got a new puppy.
We're watching our grandchildren.
My husband needs me to fax something.
Our taxes are overdue.
My Internet was down all day.
My computer is broken.
My email account was hacked.
I left my wallet home.
I wish I could but I have a previous engagement.
Too bad, we're out of town that weekend.
We already have tickets to something else that same night!
I'm allergic to lobster or I'd be there for sure.
I'm really hung over.
I don't drink.
You look great.
I'm an idiot, I totally forgot!
Have you lost weight?
My car has a flat tire.
My battery just died.
I already saw it, but you go, it's great.
I have a migraine.
I just had a root canal.
I just got my period.
I think I might be pregnant.
I'm in the middle of painting my bedroom.
We're in the middle of renovating the bathroom.
Our basement is totally flooded.
I feel like I should stay home.
I'm waiting for the cable guy.
I spent all night in the bathroom.
I spent all night in the ER.
I didn't sleep a wink.
I'll call you next week.
Let's talk in a few days.
Call me when you get back, we'll make it work.

A Politically Correct Primer

Apparently there are people you can denounce publicly and people you cannot denounce, publicly or otherwise. A list follows, just so you don't incur the Wrath of Khan, the wrath of Suzie, or the wrath of anyone else for that matter:

1. Mitt Romney
2. All Romneys
3. All Republicans
4. All Mormons
5. Anyone from the Tea Party
6. All Scientologists
7. All wealthy CEOs
8. All Bushes
9. Deadbeat dads
10. Joan Rivers

Not Okay:
1. Barack Obama
2. All Obamas
3. All Democrats except Nancy Pelosi and John Edwards
4. Single moms, welfare moms and pregnant teens
5. Gay married couples
6. The morbidly obese
7. Bill Clinton
8. All Clintons
9. Tyler Perry movies
10. The recently deceased except Michael Jackson

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Survivor: Why Barry Wins

Imagine if a broken-down loser with bad teeth and little income, but still really smart with a lot of good ideas anyway, tried to run for office. Ha! He'd hardly make it past the first debate. We want someone attractive, someone successful, someone we can envy. His wife better be pretty too, and some decent kids wouldn't hurt. After all, "The White House" is the longest running reality show on TV, predating even "Survivor," where the slightest defect gets you kicked off the island.

Right now we've got a decent-looking guy in there, a tad boring but with the added bonus of being black. He's in great shape and his wife is photogenic and never met a camera she didn't like. The private-school daughters, the pedigreed dog--it's all picture-perfect. Plus the fact, he never made a whole lot of money before he became President, so he can be trusted; after all, he's not that much better than us.

Then there's Mitt. He's handsome, but maybe too handsome, in a Brooks Brothers-model, greying-at-the-temples, still looks good in jeans sort of way. His wife is pretty, but maybe a bit too snooty-blonde-country-club looking, although she does have MS so let's give her a few points for that. The five kids are all gorgeous, and what's to like about that? Nothing, that's what. And he has been wildly successful--way too successful--for all his life, making tons of money and doing quite well in many areas, both in politics as a Governor and a CEO in the private sector. Screw him, who does he think he is? He's way better than us.

So Barack wins, and if only he'd call himself Barry and lose that Hussein business, he might even get some Republicans to vote for him.

Unmasking the Truth

When searching for lost objects, I have long been a believer of the familiar adage, "it's always the last place you look." Duh---of course it is, since you stop looking when you find the thing, right? Well, guess what: Sometimes it's the first place you look, but you just didn't look hard enough.

I found this out for sure the other day when I needed an old Halloween mask I had packed away last year after the festivities, such as they were, ended. Right off the bat I tried the closet in my art studio, certain it was in there. It wasn't. After that disappointment I was virtually flying blind. With no other idea of where it could be, I was forced to look everywhere and anywhere, even in dumb places where I never would have put it unless I had suffered a stroke or taken some bad acid. I spent about 20 minutes rummaging around in places it could not be, then in desperation went back to the first place--that closet--and there it was, stuffed inside a shopping bag full of assorted trivia. Ha, I was right all along! Naturally I stopped looking since I had found the thing, and the first place I looked morphed into the last place I looked.

Armed with proof to the contrary, I understood how my unquestioning belief in that untruth has probably wasted hours of precious time during the course of my life, making me not look very hard in the very first place. This makes me wonder what other things I think are true are not. Does a stitch in time always save nine? Is it really better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? Perhaps it is better to leap without looking first...it's certainly less scary. And what about that whole cleanliness-Godliness thing? The mind boggles.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Christmas in July, or Late Bloomer

Three years ago I bought a beautiful plant called a Christmas Cactus, so named because it blooms in time for that holiday, or thereabouts. It was blooming when I bought it, and then it never did again. Christmas came and went the next year, and the year after too, with nothing--no sign of anything resembling even the teeniest, tiniest hint of a bloom. It just sat there, with its plain green leaves, sort of funny-looking leaves at that. I moved it over here and then moved it over there, thinking it needed less light or more light, less heat or more cool air. Finally, a few months ago, I thought maybe it needed re-potting. But then I thought no, what it needed was throwing away.

I hated it. It mocked me, especially whenever I went to visit my friend Jackie and saw her goddam Christmas Cactus that seemed to bloom for all major holidays regardless of the season. I didn't bother to repot it, not wanting to waste perfectly good dirt, and instead stuck it out on the back porch and stopped watering it, hoping it would die of natural causes. Two weeks ago it perked up. Today it is glorious, in fact more beautiful than any of the other more compliant ones I had in the past that did what they were supposed to do right on schedule each December. I guess it's what they call a "late bloomer." Its very existence gives me hope that life holds more in store for me, making me think it might be time to send my newest novel, a work in progress, out for a round of rejections. Who knows, maybe I'm a late bloomer too.

Helpless, Helpless, Helpless

The great thing about being alive in the year 2012 is that you don't have to do a thing for yourself, giving you lots of free time to watch movies and play video games and eat pizza, which these days even has cheese inside the crust. If you get too fat from all the pizza, all you have to do is sprinkle some magic flakes on your food and the pounds will melt away. If you want better abs, you can just wrap a belt around your middle and it will squeeze away the excess fat, or else you can just shake some hand weights in time to your favorite music and get toned that way. If you need money, you can go online and open a Kickstarter campaign and people will just mail you money to do whatever it is you have in mind, as long as you call it a Project. Or else just get a webpage and say at the top "Donate to my cause."

If you are lucky enough to live in America, there's unemployment for a year or more if you don't want to work, and you can get food stamps to get free food. If you are sick, just walk into any hospital emergency room and get taken care of, although you will have to wait awhile. If you are too stoned or drunk to go to the trouble of signing up for any of the government handout programs, you can just write a sign on a piece of cardboard that says, "homeless, hungry, please help" or "ran out of luck, need money," and stand at a crowded intersection and the rich people in fancy cars who all have jobs and swimming pools and extra houses and expensive clothes and pedigreed dogs who eat better than you do will feel ashamed and just hand you money when they stop at the red light. If you are unhappy you can just take anti-depressants and if you are anxious you can take anti-anxiety pills, both of which you can get at those free clinics. And if you like soup, there are plenty of soup kitchens in every city where you can get some, with bread too, and at Thanksgiving there are entire turkey dinners with all the trimmings--all for free.

After all, you're entitled.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Won't Somebody Make Them Stop?

If you are anything like me, you wonder how celebrities, like Bill Maher and similar foul-mouthed pundits on the late-night circuit, get away with what they get away with, when all of us little people are taken to task for the slightest things. For example, Barack Obama, our current Commander in Chief who you'd think would be above such things, is constantly jawing about how Mitt Romney screwed up when he was working at Bain Capital so many years ago, instead of revealing what he will do to help the country prosper in his second term. And Mitt Romney keeps blabbing about all the mistakes Obama has made instead of concentrating on how he will avoid making them himself.

But what really pisses me off is if you search my name online, all you find is that trash fallout from a blog post I wrote years ago. This has caused me no end of troubles, most especially in the finding-work department. Future employers see that stuff and burn my resume. It's like the time my purse was stolen in Macy's and the thieves got my credit cards and checking account number and driver's license, and my life took a three-year nosedive while I tried to clear up my credit.

All I said was, please, won't somebody make him stop. I say the same now about Obama and Romney. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

What I Do for Love

I have been a misfit for most of my life. When I lived in Salt Lake City, I did not ski. After two lessons I decided it was a pain in the ass and spent the snowy months indoors. This caused much consternation among the locals, who were always aghast at the news, taking a few steps back and fairly shouting, "what do you mean, you don't ski?" My husband, a true man of the people, took more lessons and stuck with it. Even though he also was afraid he would end up writing with a pen in his mouth, he persevered, because that's what you do in Utah; you ski.

Now I live in Maine and it's summer. Summer in Maine is supposed to be grand, the linchpin in the whole "The Way Life Should Be" thing. In fact, people from other places come here for vacations, traveling long distances for a week or two at lakeside cabins or beach cottages, their kayaks and bikes adorning their cars like flags. They eat lobster rolls and enjoy water sports, and while I do enjoy a good boat ride, I don't eat lobster. In Maine, this is against nature. Besides which, I find summer nauseating, what with the heat and the bugs and the itching and the sweating, and it's really not much better here than anywhere else. However, I am married to a man who loves summer, loves the beach, swims in the ocean even though he saw "Jaws," doesn't sunburn, and thinks sweat is sexy.

Today the prediction is for 90 degrees and so naturally we are going to the beach. I will load up my L. L. Bean canvas tote bag with towels and sunblock and bug repellent and a beach blanket and some books and magazines and get out there and bake with the rest of the flock. While this alarms me, especially with my recent bout of basal cell carcinoma, as half of a married couple, it's what I do.

Friday, July 13, 2012

I Hate Flo

I know what you're thinking: Hate is such a strong word. And then too, you might also be thinking, Flo is not a real person. But still, I hate her.

In case you are some holier-than-thou type who never watches TV and never looks at the Internet, which you couldn't be because then you wouldn't be reading this, but just in case--Flo is that stupid, silly, fictional salesgirl cooked up by some stoned ad executives who lucked into the Progressive Insurance account years ago. Her ads play day and night. She wears too much lipstick, her hair is weirdly ugly, and if you ask me, she is ugly. Her parents must be mortified--"Yes, it's true, our daughter is Flo, the Progressive Insurance girl"--except she is probably paying their mortgage and maybe even bought them a yacht with her earnings. Here's my question: How does she do it? Is she proud of her accomplishments? Is that why she became an actress? And what does it all have to do with car insurance?

Besides dominating TV, where I venture less and less often but still do go once in awhile to catch the weather or the breaking news, Flo is now online too, where I spend a lot of time writing and waste a lot of time playing Words With Friends, so I can't avoid her without completely altering my life. And living up here in Maine with few close ties, on some days my Words With Friends friends are all I got! (I know that's grammatically incorrect, but there for emphasis.)

I hate Flo. Make her stop, please, somebody. (No, I am not calling for her assassination.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Just Say What You Mean

There was a time when I constantly felt pressured to have a nice day. Even strangers demanded it, like shopkeepers and supermarket baggers and checkout people, and every receptionist in every office. At first I found it annoying, and a tad presumptuous: who were they to tell me to have a nice day? They don't even know me! They have no idea what kind of shit is going down in my life, but still I have to have a nice day? Sez who? But I eventually accepted it as just an expression, understanding that they didn't really want me to have a nice day; they didn't care one way or another. But now, those very same people--all those strangers-- are suggesting that I "have a good one." The nice days are over, and now the sky's the limit! Now I should have a good one! A good what? A good one, leaving the door wide open for anything. That's fine, but what if I want two--or three? Why can't people just say "goodbye" when they're leaving? Why say, "See you later," when you know and they know that you will not be seeing them later? And what the heck is a "high-five" anyway? I think it means "Congratulations!" Just say that and be done with it.

To Russia With Love

Julie Christie and Omar Sharif keeping warm in their furry hats.
According to the analytical statistics related to this website, 42 people in Russia have read my blog today. I am surprised, and also confused, flattered, stymied and stunned by that information. So many questions come to mind, like how did they find me and why would they bother and do they even get my sense of humor? I have not read any Russian blogs and cannot imagine doing so. In fact, I am almost 100% ignorant of Russian culture. All I know is that they drink vodka and in winter they wear those big fur hats that look like erasers. I also enjoyed Dr. Zhivago, but that was years ago. I suppose I'd better brush up on this stuff if I want to keep those readers. Until then, I will translate what I have written thus far into their language to make them feel welcome:

В соответствии с аналитической статистических данных, касающихся этого вебсайта, 42 человек в России, читать принадлежащий мне blog сегодня. Я удивлен, а также путать, которой, блокируется и потрясены тем, что информация. Поэтому многие вопросы приходят на ум, как того, каким образом они не нашла меня и почему они раздражает и они даже получить у меня такое чувство юмора? Я не читал любой русский blogs и не можем представить себе такую возможность. По сути, я почти 100% знают русской культуры.

I love how "blog" is still "blog" in Russian!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


I think we can all agree that falling asleep during a movie is a bad sign. This only happens to me when I've had too much wine or have gone to a midnight show and it's not Rocky Horror. Neither of these things were the case today when I saw a matinee of "Moonrise Kingdom" at one in the afternoon, after several cups of coffee and not a speck of alcohol since dinner last night. There's only one explanation: The movie's a dog.

The talents of a stellar cast-- including Frances McDormand, Bruce Willis, Ed Norton, Harvey Keitel, Bob Balaban and Bill Murray-- were squandered on this oh-so-quirky modern fairy tale from Wes Anderson, a director with cultlike status among film buffs. It was a hit at Cannes last year, which should have told me something. Anyway, the rave reviews got me there--that and my friend N. who also had heard it was good. She certainly liked it better than I, staying awake for the whole thing.

The story centers on the burgeoning romance of two pre-teens, and there's the rub--there are an awful lot of kids in this movie, most of them in odd little uniforms. So many, in fact, that watching the film feels like being a counselor at a Boy Scout camp. The young unknown stars portray a couple of dorky misfits who develop a relationship and decide to run away together, escaping their weird parents. (Yawn.) Off they go through the woods, maps and binoculars in hand, and set up camp on an island that is ostensibly in Maine but turns out to be Rhode Island in the credits. Naturally, all the grown-ups look for them. That's the plot. Just for fun and to have something exciting going on, there's a storm brewing for the entire movie, but alas I slept through it and woke up only in time to see the damage. (Didn't look too bad, a building or two were felled.)

Be forewarned: Bill Murray looks really old and is not at all funny. Frances McDormand has about six lines. Bruce Willis is great but not nearly the man you love. A cute dog dies, and I'm hoping that was a stunt. Everyone looks dumpy and dowdy, the film quality is dark and dreary, the dialog is muffled and garbled, the sound track is classical music, the seats are so comfy and......zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Walking With Sarah

Exactly one week has passed since a friend opted to end her life with a bullet. The shock is beginning to wear off, and for all but her family and closest friends, the ripples Sarah caused in our little pond slowly subside and life goes back to normal. The facts of it linger in conversation, but I feel it's time to stash them in that never-opened brain file marked "Keep Out." But just having that thought saddens me; is that all she gets--a week of grief and then it's back to business?

Determined to shake it, I go out for a walk. It's a beautiful day here, almost perfect, sunny and breezy, not too hot but certainly not too cool. Early morning, and lots of people are out running, biking, walking. I flash on Sarah, thinking if she had just waited, that bad feeling surely would have passed. She could be out walking with me this morning! Even the Mainers, naturally reticent and somewhat unfriendly, smile and say "hi" and "good morning" as they pass by. Surely that would have cheered her up. And me too, since walking alone a week after someone you know dies is an opportunity for uninterrupted melancholy, and Sarah was always cheerful and smiling whenever I saw her.

Behind me are footsteps that get closer quickly, which is not surprising since I have what they would call in the Old West a "bum hip." As the cheerful young woman comes up beside me we exchange pleasantries. I warn her of the dangers of running daily for 20 years. She nods in agreement and says she's mostly a walker. That opens the door to further conversation.  She's one of five siblings; there were six, but a house fire in childhood killed her 8-year-old sister. Now she's a new mom--just three weeks ago her first child, Cecilia, was born. I share some of my own experiences, both good and bad. We bond. Turns out she is a near neighbor, and we promise to meet again and walk, and next time she'll bring the baby. "By the way," she says as she's leaving, "I'm Sarah."

Monday, July 9, 2012

You Can Think It, But Don't Say Gestapo

While comedians and late-night talk show hosts can and do say anything they want, usually resulting in higher ratings, politicians land in hot water when they speak out of turn. Maine's Governor Paul LePage learned this lesson anew after a recent speech wherein he referred to the IRS as "the new Gestapo." As a Jew who was not offended and did not think his use of the word denigrated the entire Holocaust and its few remaining survivors, I was surprised that so many people were offended. So today the Governor's office came out with one of those blanket apologies, saying he didn't mean to say ______ and offend ______and he's very sorry.

I heard about LePage's faux pas on NPR, where it was dissected by one of their holier-than-thou announcers who all sound constipated--in fact, I may just send over a case of Miralax and a carton of prunes to the radio station. After the announcer finished trouncing LePage, he went on to bemoan a recent report issued by the Center for Public Dignity--and who knew such a group existed, and if so what the heck do they do since there is very little public dignity anymore-- about coal miners and how hard they work and how bad the air inside coal mines is, just to raise the level of discussion to something we can all wag our fingers about and blame on Mitt Romney, who of course could not care less about the coal miners because he has millions of dollars and thus is so out of touch.

Anyway, although this is a free country there are still things you can't say--like "midget" and "retard" and now "gestapo"--without getting in trouble with the folks over at Public Dignity, at the very least.

Adult Books for Adults

You all certainly know what Americans are eating--including but not limited to burgers, fries, pizza, pasta, lobster, ice cream, cookies, cakes and candy, foot-longs from Subway and lots of deep-fried anything--but are you up to speed on what Americans are reading? I was not, until I overheard a conversation about a salacious novel that has won this year's Beach Blanket Bingo. Convinced it was only a rumor, I checked yesterday's New York Times and found out the awful truth: it's the awful truth. The top three spots on the national best-seller list are occupied by one author, who wrote a book called Fifty Shades of Grey and followed its wild success with Fifty Ways to Fleece the Public and Fifty Ways to Spend My Fortune. (Not really, but those are more accurate than the real titles.)

It seems that the "erotic trilogy" is all about a young woman and her sadistic lover who is into bondage and other party games. It's chock full of lurid and detailed descriptions a.k.a. instructions of their sexual encounters, verging on what one reviewer called "soft porn." I will not be reading any of the Fifty Shades because A, I don't read at the beach and B, unless I'm directly involved, sex is boring. So I checked further down the list to see what else is out there. The current best-sellers include tales of a young woman who disappears on her anniversary and may have been killed by her husband, two lunatics who are obsessed with each other, rubbernecking at a deadly car crash on Nantucket, and Abraham Lincoln's little-known vocation as a vampire killer.

Just say no to all those, and instead read any or all of my suggested Great Books. You'll be out of the loop at the beach, but you'll be much wiser in the ways of the world.
1. White Noise by Don DeLillo
2. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
3. Too Late the Phalarope by Alan Paton
4. The Sweet Hereafter by Russell Banks
5. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
6. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
7. We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates
8. The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
9. Maus by Art Spigelman (a graphic novel)
10. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman (non-fiction)

Sorry to say that there is no sex to speak of in any of these, so you'll have to figure out how to do it on your own. As for reading at the beach, take a stab at A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle, followed by the next two in his non-erotic trilogy, Another Year in Provence and Toujours, Provence.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Chainsaw Massacre

Painting by Veronique Radelet
It's been said by many more articulate than I that much of modern life is folly. The most obvious illustration is how much leisure time we have, some of which we squander sitting on our butts in front of screens. Be it a television, computer, or cinema screen, it's little difference to the body; all it knows is that it's sitting. And then to make up for all that down time, we drive over to the Y or a gym and sporadically exercise, using various machines that mimic real life, so that our arteries don't clog and cause our hearts to attack us.

Today my husband and I had a taste of what life must have been like before it got so ridiculous, and what it might still be like for those farmers and country folks who literally work for a living. One of our trees was struck by lightning last year, losing a large limb. We thought that was the only damage, but it slowly died over the winter. This spring the truth of the matter was revealed, and the dead tree was quite an eyesore out there on the front lawn, nestled among the living trees surrounding it.

Happy for any excuse to use a chainsaw, Mitch rose to the occasion and chopped the thing down yesterday. Today was the day we had to haul it to the burn pile about 40 yards away, and it was no small task. In fact, it took all afternoon and, in the heat of a summer day, was quite exhausting. Blisters, cuts, bruises, scrapes, chafes, sweating and swearing were involved, although fortunately nobody was decapitated. The end result was a feeling of accomplishment that we would have missed if that tree guy I called a week ago and left a message on his machine but he never called me back had actually called me back. We also have aches and pains in muscles that have been ignored since another tree needed the same treatment a year ago. If more things needed doing around here I could eat a lot more gelato and still stay in shape.

A True Gelato Fiasco

I have been trying to lose three pounds for the last year and a half. Sounds crazy, I know, but still---that's what's going on. And I have failed because of one miserable truth: food is delicious. If only it tasted bad, we'd all be thin and there would be no disease.

My particular Achilles heel of late is gelato. Somehow I don't care much for ice cream, but the Italian version is a horse of a different color--bad analogy I know but anyway, you get the point. Here in Maine there is a chain called Gelato Fiasco, and I understand the name all too well: just walking by the shop results in a fiasco for my figure. I went there last night and overindulged as usual. The problem is all the flavors--there are like a hundred of them and they are so unique and you can taste each one if you want, which I do, so by the time you make your decision you've already consumed quite a bit of the stuff. Caramel Salt! Chinese Five Spice! Peanut Butter Whoopie Pie! Espresso Chip! Key Lime Pie! Who can resist? And why would you, with life being so short and you only live once and if not now when, etc., etc.

Last night my husband did the unthinkable and registered for membership in the Red Spoon Society, which means that after buying several gelatos you can get one for free. Now we have to keep going; as Mitch says, "who doesn't want free gelato?"

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Coffee, tea, or who the heck knows.....

A full-page ad in today's Wall Street Journal, which likely costs way more than an arm and a leg and may involve part or all of a torso, promises that in just three days, Starbucks will rock our world. The headline shouts, "The newest thing in coffee tastes nothing like coffee." What? Huh? How could that be? Lower down on the page it says "Rethink, Refresh, Re-Energize. July 10, 2012." The tippy-top of the company's logo appears below that. It doesn't say Starbucks anywhere. No need.

As a devout coffee drinker I am admittedly intrigued, even though I never liked Starbucks coffee and have always agreed with my friend Martha who right off the bat called it "Charbucks" because of its somewhat burned flavor. But stuck in the car on long road trips or while navigating around a strange city, the sight of that green logo offers a welcome feeling of familiarity, and I've been known to indulge in more than a few "skinny" lattes in my day. Still, it's just coffee to me, not dessert. Yet they have strayed deeper into that territory every year, now offering things like Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino (480 calories) and Double Chocolatey Chip Creme Frappuccino (410 calories) along with their ice cream, scones, cakes, pies, cookies, tortes, tarts, croissant sandwiches, paninis, biscottis and the like. In fact, I am betting that many tubbies can trace their obesity to a local Starbucks outlet--after all, it's just coffee, how could it be fattening?

So now I am on the edge of my seat wondering what they've got planned. What could taste nothing like coffee but be the newest thing in coffee?  I asked Mitch what he thought. He too was stymied, and offered the possibility that it could taste like hair spray or maybe lawn furniture, just two of the things that taste nothing like coffee. The mind boggles.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Other Mosquito Coast

I am far less productive in summer than during the rest of the year because I am so busy:
1. scratching mosquito bites.
2. showering to ease the itching of mosquito bites.
3. applying creams and lotions to  mosquito bites.
4. swatting mosquitoes.
5. crying.

People who seem to know about such things say that if all the insects died--a situation I have prayed for nightly since childhood--our entire ecosystem would collapse and all life would cease. I am now wondering if it would be okay if just the mosquitoes died. If anyone knows the answer, please tell me. Then tell me how we can kill all the mosquitoes.

Brain Drain

One day last week I posted a comment on my son's Facebook page to register my joy over something he said. "Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!" expressed my feelings exactly. Soon enough a friend helpfully pointed out that I had misspelled the word "fabulous." I explained that it was a line from the poem "Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carroll. I thought everyone had been made to memorize it in high school, just like me. Later that day I asked my husband if he knew the reference. He did not. I prodded him with, "twas brillig and the slithy toves....." Still nothing. Armed with this new information I briefly wondered how we could remain together, but decided that he had so many other good qualities, divorce would be an over-reaction. Nevertheless, I was disappointed.

This morning, as Mitch was cooking his eggs, he began to recite a long poem. I was impressed, thinking, "Aha, he is not illiterate after all!" But then he got to the part about Jeb becoming a millionaire. It turned out to be the opening jingle to the old TV show, "The Beverly Hillbillies." Mitch knew every word. In fact, as he demonstrated during breakfast, his retro-TV show repertoire also includes all the words for "Flipper" and "Mr. Ed," two shows I never even watched, forget learning the inane jingles.

I am convinced that the brain has limited space and should be cleared out from time to time. I am keeping "Jabberwocky," but I might get rid of some other stuff. What's clogging yours?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Say Cheese

There is a possibility that depression is caused by a parasite in cat feces that one contracts from handling cat litter. Since I have three cats, I am at high risk for T. gondii, which increases the likelihood of attempting suicide, according to a Danish research study of over 45,000 women. The funny thing is, I am currently depressed because of my friend who killed herself two days ago, and she did not have any pets. And while I don't actively enjoy dealing with cat poop, it never depresses me but instead makes me feel like a responsible pet owner. After all, they can't change the litter themselves.

What does depress the hell out of me is the news that more and more middle class Americans are hiring photographers to document their vacations. Many hotels now offer two- and three-hour photo sessions as part of their room fees. One honeymooning couple had photos taken of themselves on bicycles, lounging in a hammock and on a dock at sunset. (What, no bedroom shots?) The groom, Chad Bradford from Arlington, Virginia, explained that they "appreciated having one less thing to worry about on our vacation." Today photos are a big part of socializing, with many being posted on personal Facebook pages and sent to friends and family via iPhone and email. Some professionals will shoot YouTube videos of you and your kids enjoying Disneyland or running around New York City, at a cost of $100 to $800 an hour. Clients may opt to have some photo retouching done--heck, it's cheaper than plastic surgery and far safer. One pregnant vacationer recently told a busy Caribbean photographer who works in Nevis, "I don't want my thighs to be that big."

Now that's depressing.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

News You Can't Use

There is exciting news today, which I read about on the Internet. Apparently scientists in Great Britain have finally found the Higgs boson. (I know, I could hardly believe it either.) The boson, which I think is far smaller than a bison, was named after a physicist named Higgs who has been searching for it most of his life. If his name were Goldblatt it would be called the Goldblatt boson, so thank goodness for that. Anyway, it is no less than a particle that holds the entire universe together! I'm not sure why it isn't called the Higgs particle since the words seem interchangeable, but as my sister-in-law would say, "there you have it."

Without the boson, the universe would be the consistency of Campbell's Tomato Soup, or actually any soup, that one just popped into my mind. It was my favorite when I was growing up, although I always had a hard time deciding whether I preferred the plain kind or the Cream of Tomato--they were both quite yummy. This chap Higgs is now 83 and is very happy the boson has been found while he is still alive. He is quoted as saying that he will ask his family to put some champagne in the fridge. (One wonders why he can't get it himself.)

FYI, before you start celebrating, you should know that one scientist involved in the research admitted that it was not a done deal. He clarified, "It is very much a smoking duck that walks and quacks like the Higgs. But we now have to open it up and look inside before we can say that it is indeed the Higgs."

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Who Cares How You Look in a Bathing Suit?

There is such a thing as too much time on your hands. There is also such a thing as too much expendable income. Those things come together in the form of a new cellulite treatment called Cellulaze, a laser machine that "burrows under the skin" and promises to eradicate the dimpled fat that 85% of all women and 5% of all men develop as they age. It is done by a plastic surgeon under anesthetic and costs about $7,000 for two thighs and $2,500 for each extra area. Of course, the procedure has not yet been perfected and some patients may develop nasty infections called seromas, characterized by a buildup of fluids that need to be drained. (Are you feeling nauseous yet?) There may also be temporary bruises and scars, and patients may not want to appear in public wearing shorts or a bathing suit for a long, long time--if ever.

I learned about all this in today's Wall Street Journal, in a section they call Health & Wellness but perhaps more aptly should be titled Modern Insanity. Our superficial society has certainly lost its way since caveman days; fretting over cellulite seems nutty in light of our global problems, not the least of which is the very air we breathe. Yesterday, on a lovely summer day here in Maine, with bright sunshine and blue skies punctuated by sporadic periods of intense rain, a beautiful woman I know opted to end her life. It was not because of cellulite on her thighs, rest assured, but it may have been because of the very fact that such worries exist and such solutions are offered. Today a new day begins without her, and I am determined to honor her memory by appreciating what's good in life, fat cells be damned.