Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year and Goodbye

Cartoon by Mark Winter
Today is the last day of the year we call 2013. It coincides with the last post in the blog I call Roto-Rouda. Something else is sure to follow, although right now I have no idea what it could be. What I do know is that lots of people make lots of money by writing blogs, but I have never earned one thin dime. Or even one fat dime, or one thin nickel, or even an emaciated penny. The many ladies who write cupcake blogs seem to do quite well, attracting lots of comments and with ads all over the place. And the people who tell you how to invest your money or who to vote for also do nicely. I, on the other hand, have nothing to share of any import, or at least if I do I don't for fear of getting in trouble with the law or various family members.

As for the approaching holiday: I bought a bottle of champagne for tonight, even though I know we won't last until midnight and we don't particularly like champagne; who does? It's sort of bitter, unless you spend a fortune on it, and I just got mine in the fancy supermarket's wine department. I wondered why and how the tradition of toasting the new year began, and so I did a little research online and found the following answer at a website called Ask.com: "Drinking champagne on New Year's Eve is a tradition that was passed on from other living generations that lived before."

Ask.com has 8,204 followers on Google +, whereas Roto-Rouda has zip. Emboldened by that fact, the management here at RR--that's what we call it--is committed to returning. Our new venture will be much bigger, brighter and dumber than ever, with lots of ads, tons of investment advice and the occasional cupcake recipe. Look for it.

Monday, December 30, 2013

It's Organic--and Inedible

These being the last days, I thought I'd leave my loyal readers with a final bit of wisdom: Do not buy Stonyfield Organic Blends Yogurt. Well you can buy it but don't eat it, or you can try to eat it but I dare you to finish. I just had to pour more than half of my 6-ounce cup of Fat Free Lemon down the drain and I still feel sort of queasy, with a chalky taste in my mouth. I think it's because they don't use any toxic pesticides, a fact they proudly proclaim front and center on the label, right next to the words USDA ORGANIC. Ditto artificial hormones, antibiotics and GMOs.

I have mixed emotions: On the one hand, I feel like a better person for supporting what is basically a local producer--they're in New Hampshire which is just down the road a piece. But on the other, I paid good money for some yogurt I could eat and that was definitely not it. Could it be those missing persistent pesticides make it taste better? And do I have to eat only bad-tasting things to be a good person? And how come everyone is so anti-GMO, but all in favor of transgenders? Really, when you stop to think about it, tampering with a little corn is not half as weird as completely altering a person's genitals.

These are questions to consider, but I wanted you all to know about that Stonyfield yogurt. At the very least, steer clear of the lemon flavor.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The End is Near

Sadly, the time has come to put Roto-Rouda to rest. We've mocked every last thing there is to mock, and after watching our numbers rise and fall with seemingly no rhyme or reason, and our reader comments shrivel to naught, the management has decided that since all of our days are numbered, there are better ways to spend them. And this being the end of another Earth Year, Roto-Rouda feels it is an appropriate time to pull the plug. But, like a phoenix rising from the ashes (see photo, left), something will surely come of all the nonsense, folderol, twaddle, balderdash and hoo-ha that has appeared with amazing regularity under this title since 2007.

Wishing all my loyal readers a happy, healthy and safe New Year, I will raise a glass of bubbly in your honor, with a special thanks to my friend Gordon Studer, whose brilliant illustrations have often brightened these otherwise frivolous ramblings. To see more of his work, visit his website at www.gordonstuder.com.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Petrified Woodstock Generation

Some blonde actress I never heard of died in her sleep last night. She was very pretty although a tad anorexic, and just 43 years old. According to my son, who is 26, she was much more famous than Cissy Spacek, the Oscar-winning actress from my generation who is still alive, having lived until the age of 64 without starving herself to death or drinking herself to death or overdosing on drugs or getting arrested for DUI and spousal abuse, or anything at all tawdry. But these days, being tawdry definitely trumps feeling groovy.

The dead woman, whose name escapes me but I think is Lisa something, matters much more to today's generation, I am told, although I am unclear why one generation is considered to be "today's generation" when everyone alive today is in a generation. The bottom line, I am told, is that nobody cares about Cissy anymore, despite her amazing talent as evidenced in mind-blowing movies like Badlands, The Coal Miner's Daughter, Missing, In the Bedroom, Carrie, The Help, and a ton more. But then, nobody knows who Bob Dylan is anymore. It's over for the so-called Woodstock Generation. This is sad, but hey, I'm ready. I thought I wanted to live to be really old, but not if all my heroes are trashed.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Say What You Mean, Only if You Dare

One of these guys is Phil, but I bet they all hate gays.
I remember the first time I went to Europe, which was 40 years ago, and there was almost nothing recognizable. It was truly magical. Then last week I went to Spain and found Starbucks and McDonald's and Burger King and Dunkin' Donuts and Foot Locker and Subway and more.  Now Europe is just us, across an ocean. In much the same way, political correctness is robbing each of us of our individuality.

Imagine you are a continent: Once, when you were little, you had likes and dislikes and ways of being and thinking that made you unique and interesting. But no more; wise adults know those differing opinions must be shut down, or else ye shall be shunned, or they shall smite thee, or even worse: ye shall be kicked off your own TV show like that Duck Dynasty guy.

His name is Phil. He may or may not have any teeth and he certainly doesn't seem like the sharpest knife in the drawer. Still, he's rich and famous, and he said publicly that he doesn't like homosexuality. That's his problem. It's also his prerogative, his opinion, and none of my damn business, yet he was fired from his job because of stating in an interview that he would "rather have sex with a woman's vagina than a man's anus."

The guy is no poet, that's for sure. But still, whatever happened to freedom of speech? Do we all have to follow the same script? Where do we get it? Mine did not come today.

Smarten Up in 2014

                                                                             Gordon Studer
I may be alone in this, but I'm getting downright sick of the Internet. It seems to be going the way of television, which is to say full of junky, inane, stupid stuff--this blog is part of it, lest you were having that same thought--that purports to be so important but rarely is. For example, it cracks me up when I see story headlines like, "The Secret to Perfect Turkey Gravy." If it's such a damn secret, then how can it be in that article? And really, who cares, and if you do, get a cookbook.

Today I saw one entitled, "7 Secrets to Liven Your Libido." Again, not too secret if it's right there on the Huffington Post. Anyway, I didn't click since I hate the word libido; why not just say sex life? Who am I, Sigmund Freud? Besides, my libido is unlike anyone else's, which is true for all of us, so how would they know what will turn me on? Maybe I like men in clown suits, which by the way I don't so save your money, Mitch.

Anyway, in the interest of de-junking the Internet, next year The Daily Droid will begin to tackle serious subjects with the intention of adding a dollop of intelligence to the virtual world. Until then it will continue to be meaningless drivel like it is right now.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

I'll Take the Placebo, Thanks

According to an article in today's Wall Street Journal, a study involving 146 patients with knee problems has proven that fake surgery works just as well as the real thing. This is exciting news that just may revolutionize the entire medical world. It seems that the recipients of the real meniscus repair surgery were exactly the same in terms of pain and quality of life after one year as the control group of patients who received "placebo surgery," which was nothing more than doctors pressing instruments firmly against the knee to simulate the procedure. The study was done in Finland, so I assume it would also work in Maine since it's similarly cold, bleak and Ibsen-like here as well.

Since I'm scheduled to have hip surgery in a couple of months, I'm going to ask my doctor, who is at the forefront of all things surgical, if he can do this for me. After all, a hip is sort of like a knee; they're both in the leg, and they move. Anyway, it's worth a shot. If he agrees, I'm hoping he'll accept a fake fee as well.

To Tell the Truth

One of my favorite TV shows growing up was a quiz show called "To Tell the Truth." Anyone reading this knows what it was, so I won't say more. Anyway, I think I took it way more seriously than it was intended, and since then I have always tried to tell the truth, unless of course I am speaking with someone I value not a whit, and then I can lie like the best of them.

I'm pretty sure I was supposed to return from our trip to Europe and say it was great, it was fantastic, and that we had a wonderful time every magical second! I think that's what we are all supposed to do--stifle our true feelings about everything and thus make everyone else think we are having a fabulous life that's much better than theirs, and somehow that's supposed to make us happy. For most people, that behavior begins in high school and basically ends at death. Sadly, I'm bad at it; try as I might to hide it, the truth seeps out. And here in my blog, which I write for myself because your reading of it nets me absolutely nothing, I say what I feel almost all the time. Naturally I hold back a little because I don't want to lose every last one of my old friends who may happen by.

So, Spain was a big bore. It took a whole lot of time and money to get there and find all the same things we have here in America except I couldn't understand a word anyone said. Who knows--maybe the people are more honest there, but I had no way of knowing. And perhaps if Barcelona were just one or two towns away instead of across the ocean on a whole other continent, I'd have liked it better. I certainly wouldn't go there for dinner, though.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Who Says Getting There Is Half the Fun?

We made it home after a full day of what is euphemistically called "traveling." Calling it that is sort of like calling abortion "a woman's right to choose." Traveling sounds so romantic--daring and dashing and adventurous, like you're Errol Flynn or some jet-setter, wind whipping your hair as you dart across yet another continent. In truth, the actual travel part of traveling is more mundane, at times blatantly unpleasant, and nothing at all like Mary Poppins with her umbrella. (Now that would be fun.)

This morning we took a cab to the airport in Lisbon, then waited in the too-hot airport lounge until it was time to board, then walked for like a mile and a half to get to our gate, where we were packed inside an even hotter bus--standing room only, reminiscent of those train cars in Germany they used to transport the Jews-- which drove for like ten minutes out to the farther reaches of the airport. Just moments before I dropped to the floor in tears we were allowed to leave the bus and enter the narrow, claustrophobic tube we would then occupy for the next nine hours, give or take.

There was no wind whipping your hair. There was no wind. You were in an airplane. It was dire. The only fun part was one stewardess who announced, during the cheery safety instruction lesson about using your seat as a flotation device, that, "Smoking is not allowed in any part of the airplane. If you must smoke, step outside and see "Gone With the Wind."

Anyway, you get the point. Being in new places is exciting; getting to them is less so.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Time to Go Home

Constelaciones, by Joan Miro, 1940

A few nights ago, as I picked the wilted vegetables out of the kitchen garbage pail in our Barcelona apartment for my meager dinner (a lettuce and cucumber sandwich), my husband groaning in the next room with a bad case of food poisoning, I realized I might finally be done with Europe.

We are returning to the U.S. tomorrow. Despite Lisbon being an incredibly lovely city that looks as if it were created by a team of Disney animators, I'm pretty happy about it. Mostly I miss my cats; I have long suspected that life without cats is simply not worth living, and now I'm sure of it. Also, I look forward to eating any and all food without fear, speaking the language of the people around me, having coffee that tastes more like coffee, and painting pictures like Joan Miro.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Lisbon Trumps Barcelona

Happily, we left Barcelona this morning. Fortunately my husband was well enough to board a plane, after 24 hours laid low with bad food poisoning. It's a wonder I did not also succumb, considering that almost every crummy morsel of food I ate there was atrocious: not tasty, poorly prepared or downright unrecognizable. Expensive too, literally adding insult to injury.

Hating all of Europe after a week in that unfriendly city where nobody makes eye contact and nobody speaks English, or French for that matter, and toying with returning home early, we instead plowed on to Portugal, and thank God we did. Lisbon is a wonderland, and I think maybe we will just send for our things and stay here forever. Or at least until we sample all the pastries.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Words to Avoid

According to a recent public opinion poll conducted by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, 38% of Americans dislike the word "whatever," and have chosen it as the most irritating word in the English language for the last five years. Like most polls, this particular one asked a relative chosen few--in this case 1,173 people--what they think, and then published the results as if God had spoken. I'd like to know just who they asked; nobody called me, and I'm a big fan of "whatever." In fact, I can hardly remember what I said before it showed up; now I use it liberally and it seems to do the trick in most conversations. It can end an argument like nothing else, and that's always a good thing, especially when you're talking politics.

And too, just who are these Marists? Their institute is based in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., a lackluster town one can never leave too soon. It's hard though, because driving there you get caught up in a traffic circle that keeps you going around the same streets over and over trying to find the main road out of town, but you keep missing it. (I know, having been trapped there more than once.)

I find "whatever" much less offensive than some other words that spring to mind, like "food poisoning," and "strange sausage," or "We were planning to have breakfast out on our last day in Spain but my husband got sick from last night's dinner so we can't." Now those are some irritating words.

Friday, December 20, 2013

El McDonaldario's

Spanish French fries are better than French ones!
I miss my cats. I miss my coffee pot. I just discovered, after almost a week, that the big, round, yellow thing outside our apartment I thought was for recycling is actually a mailbox.

Travel is supposed to be broadening, despite the fact that life seems pretty much the same everywhere, with some exceptions of course like Haiti where many people live in paper boxes and have no food. But here in Barcelona, life goes on just like in America but without the constant mention of Obamacare, admittedly an upgrade. People shop and drink and eat and work, and do a lot of running around. One obvious difference is that smoking is still very popular here: Everyone seems to do it, young and old alike, right out in the open, unashamed and with abandon.

Another difference is mundane, to say the least, but worthy of mention. Yesterday, in an act of desperation, we lunched at McDonald's, where we learned that they offer two kinds of fries here: one for the Americans--the long, skinny ones we are used to--and another for the locals--fatter, and much tastier. As a result, French fries will now forever remind me of Spanish fries.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Eat Before You Go

The main ingredient of everything served here in Barcelona restaurants is olive oil. I remember a time, about a week ago, when I loved olive oil, but oh please.

I speak very little little Spanish, but I'm pretty sure paella means "big pile of oily rice" and tapas means "little piles of oily whatever." Yesterday for lunch I opted for a tuna salad with egg sandwich, thinking it would be a tuna salad sandwich with some chopped hard-boiled egg in it, but it turned out to be runny, olive-oily egg salad with bits of oily tuna in it. And dinner last night was mussels with olive oil and some paella with olive oil. I have also had liver and onions cooked in olive oil, and bread and tomatoes soaked in olive oil, and of course olives sitting in olive oil. That last dish is quite popular.

Tonight: Dinner at Burger King. (No kidding.)

Monday, December 16, 2013

No Comprende

The control panel of our washer-dryer, set for I have no idea.
There's nothing like a short stint in a foreign country where you don't speak the language to make you feel like an idiot. And what's more, whatever you do know in your own language won't help you one bit if you're trying to wash clothes in another. For example, I am often chided--I won't say by who--for not being able to pinpoint Kansas on a map of the United States. Ditto North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Georgia, Tennessee, Indiana, Nebraska and many more, in fact all of them but the biggest ones. But here in Spain, if I knew where all those places are I still couldn't use the washing machine in our apartment without a master's in engineering.

It's one of those wash and dry in the same machine types, which seems wrong from the start if you ask me. The nice cleaning lady who speaks no English came in for a tutorial this morning. She showed me what to do and said, "Si, si" a lot. I pretended to understand and said, "Okay, okay" a few times. I liked her. She had no idea how ignorant I am of American geography.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

No Hablo Espanol

Flowers and graffiti fight for dominance in Barcelona.
I came here expecting to see matadors and snorting bulls in the streets, and so far I've seen neither. Instead, Barcelona looks like every other big city visited by top executives from McDonald's, Burger King, Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts. No matter, there's plenty out there to discover, and once the jet lag lifts I plan to see it all.

So far our biggest adventure transpired inside a supermarket where we spent half an hour trying to find cream for Mitch's coffee, despite my advice to always drink it black for just this very reason. Since we speak no Spanish, and these backward people seem not to speak any English, we had to just keep looking until we stumbled upon it. Oddly enough, it was nowhere near the milk.

We have much to learn about their customs.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Beds on a Plane

Flying torture chamber/sleeping pod
My husband flies constantly, to somewhere. His job requires it. So naturally he has accrued many frequent flier miles, which means that when we fly to Spain later today we can go in first class. And these days, in first class, they have seats that change into beds for overnight flights. That's supposed to make me feel better--the fact that I can actually stretch out and curl up with a cozy blanket and soft pillow and go to sleep. Sounds good, except for the bed being 30,000 feet in the air and moving at a speed of 600 miles an hour, for too many hours to even think about without sobbing.

I told Mitch that, to me, beds on a plane are as comforting as snakes on a plane. He doesn't get it. In fact, he loves to fly, mostly because he has now achieved Super Flyer Status, or some such thing, on a particular airline. This means he goes through security without a hitch, does not take his shoes off or any such nonsense, boards early, blah, blah, blah. To keep this status he must take 120 flights per year, and he is, to date, at 119 and a half. Thus, he will lose it all if he doesn't take half a flight somewhere between now and December 31. He is grappling with where to go when we get back from Europe on December 24th. That half-flight should be interesting.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Spain Brain

Tomorrow I am flying to Barcelona and so all I can think about today is the fact that tomorrow I will be flying to Barcelona. This seems odd to me, sort of like robbing Peter to pay Paul. Today, after all, is a day too, and a perfectly nice one here in Maine. Just because it's arrived right before another one with something bigger scheduled, it seems wrong to ignore it, yet it's to be spent entirely in service to tomorrow, with packing and laundry the only planned activities.

I have never been to Spain. I abhor bullfighting and I'm not crazy about Spanish food either, but by all reports the art and architecture to be found there are astounding and the city is beautiful, the natives friendly. There I go again. I guess there can be no blog post today, with only Spain on my brain.

I hope not to squander too many more todays because of better tomorrows. It's a bad habit.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Kindness of Strangers

It's sad when things start out great and then, over time, wear out. This happens with shoes, clothes, cars, welcomes and apparently Craigslist. Time was you could log on and find an apartment, a job or whatever. Lately it's been flooded with all sorts of nonsense, making it tough to find what you need.

For example, as a writer I check the categories of "writing jobs" and "writing gigs."  Once upon a time that's what was advertised, but recently the website has been littered with complaints about jobs not found and others taken, but with an unhappy outcome. I'm sorry it didn't work out, but hey--do I really need to know?

The other category I always check is "Volunteers," leading to opportunities for helping others while affording an outlet for one's creativity, or just a path to replacing boredom with something positive. Now it's more like you've stumbled into a community of beggars huddled around an open fire under a bridge in downtown Detroit. Tired of standing out in the cold holding a sign, they huddle instead in the comfort of the local Starbucks-- I'm guessing, since they're always homeless--and ask for money for a variety of reasons: "My wife stole my kids and I need to hire lawyer to get them back," or "I have no money to buy my four children (all under the age of three) toys, and here's what they each would like--give us Christmas," or "I lost my job and my house and all I need is a little something to tide me over," and "My friend/son/husband/child could really use a new kidney, God bless." Today I thought I'd try one:

Pathetic Artist Needs Your Help
I have so many paintings in my house, on the walls and in the closets, I barely have room for one more. Yet, being mentally ill I am compelled  to paint new ones. Won't you find it in your heart to buy one, or maybe two? That would help me so much, and give me money to buy more paint and canvases. Also, I have two cats and they eat a lot and it seems like I am always having to go out, even in bad weather, to buy more cat food and litter. Could you please drop some off at my house, saving me all those trips to the store? They eat Fancy Feast, but not the Sliced kind, they hate those. Lastly, the battery in my smoke alarm has started beeping, which I know means it needs to be replaced, but I have no idea how to do this and my husband is away. Please help, and Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Dinner at Uncle Boons

There was a time when I believed I was sophisticated. This feeling was instilled in me early on by my mother, who was quite avant-garde for her day. A strict anorexic/vegetarian, she often ran through the streets in black tights and a leotard in the early 1960s. She did it for exercise, but it was well before the running craze and I'm sure many people just thought she was nuts. I knew, of course, that she was ahead of her time. She also was very close friends with a gay couple; she and my father would meet Bill and Lanny for dinner in Greenwich Village every few months.

She raised me to think I too was sophisticated, since I was a native New Yorker. I bought her story, and always felt borderline-smug about it. Until now. Actually, until about an hour ago when I read an article in Travel + Leisure magazine--we won a subscription and I can't wait for it to end--about a restaurant in Nolita--at least I know where that is-- that is very cool and tres chic, and which everyone loves because of its excellent home-style Thai dishes like charred blowfish tails.

Now, I have never eaten any part of a blowfish. To be perfectly frank, I was not sure what a blowfish was so I Googled it and found the picture shown above. I don't find it appetizing at all. If I were forced to eat part of one, it would likely not be the tail, which looks skimpy, and certainly I wouldn't think of having it charred. I would also never call it home-style, although I guess it is if your home is in Thailand. But what do I know? Nothing, obviously. What a fool I've been with my silly grilled swordfish steaks.


Okay, so my husband supports me--sue me. Still, I have always worked at something, and since moving to Maine have tried a myriad of ventures leading nowhere fast. Since I won't sell lobsters or paintings of rowboats nestled against a dock with the sun setting behind them and some pine trees off in the distance for a living, I still seek employment. I do this daily. Lately things have gone from bad to worse, owing to the nature of the economy I guess, but also because this little corner of the world, while peaceful and scenic, has no idea what professionalism requires. They must have been out that day.

My tales from the front continue to be appalling. Fishing for work about a month ago I landed a good one, writing for a local entertainment magazine. I applied, they said come for an interview. I went; they hired me. I wrote a few things. After about a week, the managing editor who had hired me and given me a few writing assignments was fired. She let me know, and gave me the email address of another staff person who was filling in for her. I wrote. He never answered. I wrote again. He never answered. Then I wrote to the publisher, who never answered. I slunk off, unpaid.

This reminded me of the job I accepted at the local paper that paid me $20 for a weekly column and photos. I got lots of praise--well, some praise, twice--but when I asked for more money (hey, gas is expensive) the publisher said take a hike. And the job interview at the glossy, over-designed city magazine where I arrived on time and found the building locked up tight and nobody answered the phones, ever. And the many jobs I have applied for since then that never got any answer at all. And the one last week where the guy hired me, but then I did some research and found Internet complaints about him from scads of other writers saying he never pays and to watch out.

So if you're a writer moving to Maine, bring your own job.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Not Too Crazy

Many years ago I believed I was the world's piggiest person because I would eat an entire box of Entenmann's chocolate chip cookies in one sitting, and then maybe even have some ice cream afterwards. I would do this perhaps once a month, usually on a dateless Saturday night. It was my dirty little secret. Finally I mustered the courage to tell my shrink about it. He laughed, and said, "That's nothing! I have patients who eat a hundred times more than that every day of the week, week after week." I felt a lot better finding out I wasn't completely out of my mind, except for feeling worse because I couldn't even excel at being crazy.

Then I thought I was a total nut for being afraid to fly. I couldn't even consider boarding a plane without a Valium in my purse. I never actually took the Valium since I didn't want to be spaced out when the plane crashed, but knowing I had one to take if my anxiety became overwhelming gave me courage. One time, leaving New York City and about to fly back to DC, I realized I had lost my one and only Valium and had to take the train instead. This was a major hassle involving getting from LaGuardia Airport into Manhattan and over to Penn Station. Between hauling my suitcase--this was before wheels on luggage--and enduring a crazy cabbie in rush hour traffic, a plane crash would have been more pleasant.

Once safely back home, I told my shrink about the whole experience. Again he laughed, saying, "I have patients who won't set foot on an airplane even if it's not going anywhere. I have other patients who are afraid of taking pills like Valium, and still more who can't sleep at night because they worry there are bugs crawling around in their garbage disposal. Believe me, you're fine."

So last week I was taking one of my typical long showers. Sometimes I stay in there so long I think I'll never come out. I thought, I bet I could stay in the shower all day long. Then I thought, hey, I could take the longest shower in the world and get in the Guinness Book of World Records for it. Maybe that's my craziness!" But before I embarked on this exciting venture I checked, and learned that the record for the longest shower was set in 1985, when a college student spent 14.2 days, or 341 hours, in one non-stop shower.

That's two weeks, and I was thinking I could do maybe a whole day. My shrink is long dead, but if he weren't I bet he'd laugh.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Who Can Blame Sad Santa

Drawing by Oz Thomas
It's probably way too late to be saying this, and I apologize for not getting around to it sooner, but really: Do NOT send out inane Christmas cards with those silly pictures of your family all lined up wearing red sweaters, or any sweaters for that matter, or lined up in any way, or even just the one of the new baby or the toddlers and the dog. Simply put, they suck. They are narcissistic to the max, as if all we want for Christmas is a picture of you and yours suitable for framing. In this day and age of Facebook, it's just not necessary since people who send those probably post pictures online of every family occasion anyway, so it's redundant at least, and if you ask me, downright sacrilegious.

Being a Jew, I rarely send out Christmas cards. This is one year I am planning to do so, mostly because I bought a great box of cards on sale at the art museum gift shop back in August, and I'd like to share it with some friends. Besides, it makes me feel connected to people far away, which matters for some reason I can't pinpoint but there it is. Shown below, it bears a great shot by the wonderful William Wegman, and I'm betting a few people might even keep the card beyond the holiday, just because.

Shown above is a handmade card I received from an artist friend. Now that's a card, sent straight from the heart. And his depiction of a distraught Santa is all too accurate, what with Black Friday starting on Turkey Thursday and blending into Small Business Saturday followed by Cyber Monday and then bursting into the day before Christmas sales which are followed by those day after Christmas blowouts. Anyway, 19 of you will be getting a card from me, and one of you already has. I hope you like it.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Liar in Chief

I don't care a whit if Obama met his uncle or never met his uncle, or if his uncle was deported or should be deported or lives in a hut in the middle of Boston or a mansion in Beverly Hills. But it scares me that the President of the United States is always claiming he "never knew, he wasn't told, he hadn't heard" about every damn thing that makes him look bad. Where is he all the time--in the bathroom? Taking long showers? Out on the golf course? How does he miss so much when ordinary citizens hear about all this stuff all the time?

The latest kerfuffle involves his deadbeat Uncle Omar who was arrested for drunk driving in 2011 and had a deportation hearing this week that might have resulted in his being tossed out of the country. Obama said they never met, but it turns out he lived with Uncle Omar for a month while he was a student at Harvard--if he ever really was a student at Harvard, or anywhere--but he forgot. Oh no, he was never asked, that's it, and his press office said that. They hadn't researched it enough. Or something. It's like having Jon Lovitz for president. Yeah, that's what it's like.....

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Who Do You Hate?

My son just came back from spending a month in Israel. During that time he also went to Palestine. He saw up close how much each group hates the other. The Jews hate the Palestinians, who hate the Jews right back, or is it the other way around? It sounds awful, with a wall around the West Bank keeping the Palestinians inside, or maybe keeping the Jews out.

Zack's news from the front sparked a heated debate on the prevalence of racism regardless of the issues, bringing to mind Ireland, North Korea and South Korea, black and white America, Nazis and skinheads, radical lefties and the religious right zealots, and all the rest. Blah, blah, blah...you know who.

So who do you hate for no good reason? My list is not political at all, and I have no problem with skin color; for me it's poor judgement. My prejudices are deeply rooted, and it's almost impossible for me to get past them. I immediately think ill of the following groups:
     1. Women who wear panty hose with sandals. This practice sickens me, and makes me think the person is an idiot, since the whole point of sandals is to uncover the feet so they can air out, so to speak, and the whole point of panty hose is to cover the skin. What the heck are they doing?
     2. People who talk in the movies during the opening credits, believing the movie hasn't started yet. Then they leave during the closing credits, as if it doesn't matter at all who made the damn thing they just spent two hours watching.
     3. Obese people eating cotton candy in public. I mean, come on, at least go hide somewhere to stuff your fat face into a giant wad of artificially-colored spun sugar.
     4. People in the supermarket who come up behind you on the checkout line holding one or two items when you have a cart full of stuff you have not yet unloaded. They always look at you with that sick puppy stare that implies, "I just have these two little things, surely I can go ahead of you since you must not have a damn thing to do in your life but go home and put the groceries away," but they never ask and you are supposed to offer. (I usually point them to the express line, and they always walk away mad.)

Sue me, I'm a bigot.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

What Obama Hath Wrought

Today I drove into Portland for an appointment and took the Interstate. At the exit leading into the city, there were no less than six people, all under the age of 40, standing at different corners and holding signs that said things like: "Homeless,"  "Homeless not Hopeless" and "Need Help Whatever You Can."

When I got back home I did my daily search online for writing jobs, and came across the following under the heading of Volunteers:

Pertaining to wealthy people

Hello I am asking for a donation of money if possible. I am trying to start my own business but it's very complicated because I am on SSI and I can only keep up to 2,000 dollars in the bank (until I am off). It also makes it hard to get enough money to eat and survive because I can't have a job, save money, or do anything to risk the SSI, or I wont be able to continue school (with a grant). So I am attending classes underfunded and I can't really afford much food and keep getting stuck in bad apartments --- anyways I am really ready to start my own business but I have no way of getting up there on SSI -- and I'm not getting rid of SSI, because then I would have to pay for my school on my own. I'm hoping someone can give me a bunch of money so I can be all set and leave all this hassle alone. Thanks 

 You just can't make this stuff up.

The Facebook Zone

Which ones are their real faces?
It's weird when one of your real friends on Facebook likes something that another one of your real friends posted on Facebook, and so for some odd reason sends them a friend request. And the friend who was asked doesn't want to hurt your feelings, so he or she  accepts your friend as his friend, and suddenly it's like they are really friends. Then every time your real first friend posts something on their page, your other real friend who never even met that person likes it or comments when you know that they have no idea what the first friend is talking about. I find that weird.

It's also weird when someone you actually consider to be a friend has like 4,000 friends on Facebook, and they post something and 86 people click "Like" and you know that half those people don't know what the heck is really going on. Then you feel like you are in the Twilight Zone. Or you wish you were.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

For God's Sake, Don't Sit Around Crying

Gordon Studer
I just read the worst thing ever, which is not all that surprising since it was on Huffington Post, that cesspool of information that dresses better than the other hookers and thus appears to be legitimate. I was snagged by the title: "11 Things You're Doing That Could Shorten Your Life." Hey, who doesn't want to live longer? So I clicked, hoping I would learn some helpful tips on longevity, like eat more yogurt or don't crack my knuckles, something I have never done but that's the kind of thing I was expecting--practical tips I could enact immediately to improve my chances of seeing a grandchild someday.

No such luck. Instead, they could have called the whole thing: "Don't Be Unhappy." The 11 things included having more sex, and not just any old sex but those orgasms better be damn good ones, and don't watch a lot of TV, or if you do stand up because sitting for more than an hour at a time shaves minutes off your life. In fact, every hour of watching TV reduces your life span by 28 minutes. You should also have more friends and be nice to them, don't be sad, get along with your co-workers, of course have a job and if you don't then for god's sake don't be unemployed for more than a few months. Always be in a loving relationship and get married right away since being single is a one-way ticket to the grave; really, it could cost you a whole decade! Oh, and if you have a job, which you better or you're outta here, don't commute to it, certainly not if you are female, since that is another indicator of certain death.

And by the way, never fear death--that's really bad because that can lead to heart ailments. (Apparently Death is like dogs who smell fear and then attack you; it's a real Catch-22 situation.) And be sure to get plenty of sleep, but not too much; less than five or more than nine hours a night and you're a goner.

So, was that article helpful? Actually, I found it quite depressing thinking of the millions of loners who are out of work. Hopefully they are too poor to have Internet access so they can't read this death proclamation. Anyway, I have to stand up now. It's a good thing I don't have any co-workers to argue with, since not having their support can result in 2.4 times the chance of my dying during the study period.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Sloths Are Good, but Killing Keith Olbermann is Better

I guess this is one of the 3-toed kind.
It seems that over the last few years the desire for privacy has flown out the window. The very same window, in fact, that my parents shut tight so the neighbors couldn't hear. Since they never fought unless the windows were closed, things were much more harmonious around our house in the spring and summer months. And God forbid a million times if you got sick, nobody should know: you didn't advertise it. Certainly the word "cancer" was always whispered. But now everyone knows everything, and nothing is more desired than "going viral."

To that end, ordinary people send nude photos of themselves to other ordinary people, hoping to get famous. Celebrity sex tapes show up on YouTube, while hoarders and fat people and heroin addicts strut their stuff on TV and nobody blinks an eye. It all reminds me of little kids playing doctor, saying, "You show me yours and I'll show you mine." Doesn't anyone grow up anymore?

By the way, writing about sloths, those medium-sized mammals belonging to the families Megalonychidae and available in a 2-toed or 3-toed model, is better than writing about cats if you're hoping to go viral. So says an article in today's Wall Street Journal about how the head writer at Gawker decides what stories to post in order to get the most readers. Still, my money is on calling for the assassination of Keith Olbermann, a tried and true method. (It worked for me.)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Joan and the N-Word

Joan and her potty mouth.
Last week I went to see Joan Rivers do her thing in downtown Portland. The 80-year-old comic sashayed out in a flashy magenta sequined coat accented with white feathers, which nicely set off her bleached blonde hair and Hollywood makeup that had been liberally applied to the lovely smooth skin pulled taut from so many facelifts. She looked, in a word, absolutely fabulous. (I know, that's two words.) The audience freaked out, and greeted her with a standing ovation.

Running around the stage like a gymnast far younger, Joan clearly had lost none of her energy, or, it turned out, her acerbic wit. To get things going, or as she said, "before I forget," she strutted back and forth yelling, "Nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger! Kike, kike, kike, kike, kike, wop, wop, wop, wop, spic spic spic!" The audience howled. That Joan, what a hoot -- she sure showed us how silly we are with all those forbidden words we can't say but she can! Plus she gets paid to say them, and nobody is horrified.

Now imagine if you were at a dinner party at a friend's house, and somebody had the bright idea of doing that. All Hell would break loose. There might be punches thrown. In fact, somebody reading this right here and now might even be offended that I put "nigger" in print. As for me, I think saying "N-word" is far worse, implying that people are so duped by the substitute slur that no offense will be taken. 

Anyway, leave it to Joan to shine the light in all our darkest corners, making us laugh all the while. The only down side was my face hurt when the show was over. (From all the laughing.)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Books Are Expensive

A long time ago I wrote a novel. You can buy it online at Amazon. It has not been selling. Today I checked, and I think I know why: A new copy costs $526.06. You can get it used for $2.15, but if you're like me you don't want a used copy because it might have cooties. Still, $526 and change seems like too much for any book, even though it is rare.

I don't set the prices.

Movies I Haven't Seen

Today seems like a great movie day. It's quite cold outside; we've stuffed ourselves silly for two days now so dinner out is unappealing; and being Jews, we don't have to shop. In addition, there's a whole new crop of films released in time for the holidays. But perusing the reviews, I came up empty. Therefore, inventing a whole new genre of critical writing, I present reviews of films I have not seen.

"All is Lost," or Robert Redford in a Boat: I never cared for the actor even when he was young and supposedly handsome, although he was great in "Three Days of the Condor," but that might have been the script and the supporting cast including the great Max Von Sydow and Faye Dunaway, or maybe it was Julie Christie-- I always got those two confused. Now 77, Redford looks old and withered but sports those silly new pearly whites that look like nothing as much as false teeth. What is it with that? Don't people know how obviously fake their teeth look when the rest of them is decrepit? Anyway, the plot is about how a man is lost alone at sea--not sure why although my money is on a storm since the promos show him looking quite wet. He never speaks, which likely makes it much easier to sleep, but there is a narrative voice-over giving some sketchy details about his life. Don't know if he lives or dies, and I don't care.

"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," a. k.a. Jennifer Lawrence's Career is On Fire. Ever since she won the Best Actress Oscar last year, this yawn of an actress is hot. That will fade soon; just ask Halle Berry. Anyway, she is cute I suppose, but she's no Catherine Deneuve or Ingrid Bergman or even Charlize Theron, and I never noticed any great acting ability, certainly not in that movie she won her award for where she was supposedly bipolar, something I never even noticed the whole time and had to be told afterwards. She debuted in the first Hunger Games as a teen, and now she's back in more games. These have a lot of torches in them, and I am betting a ton more bows and arrows. Again, don't care.

"Philomena" stars British actress Judi Dench (a.k.a Dame Judi Dench so I suppose that means she is some dame) as an old lady. Since she is an old lady in real life that doesn't seem like much of a stretch, so forget going for the acting. It's one of those heartwarming stories about someone who gave up her kid as an an unwed teenager and now goes looking for him. There are trains, and she's got a gay reporter with her covering her story because it is so damn heartwarming. There is also some snide stuff about the Irish Catholic nuns who made her do it, and some Catholic groups are hot and bothered about it. It is apparently quite sad and yet beautiful, and again, heartwarming. They end up in Washington for some political reason having to do with homosexuality, and it's always fun for me to see shots of my old home town, so I may watch it when it gets to Netflix.

"Dallas Buyers Club" is the most appealing, although it sounds quite heartwrenching, which is very different from heartwarming despite involving the same body part. Starring Matthew McConaughey in a tearjerker about death and dying and bucking broncos, it opens with a raunchy sex scene involving him and two women, so if you are into that kind of thing you may want to go. He's a wild ladies' man who comes down with the flu that turns out to be not the flu, and that's where things go south. Matthew lost 40 pounds for the role, and if the movie were about how he did that, I would definitely go see it. Instead it's about him dying of AIDS and looking gaunt, and trailer park trash and rodeos. However, he will certainly be nominated and I predict he will get Best Actor for this career-turning performance.

Mitch and I are staying home and may watch "Inglourious Basterds" for like the fifth time. That part where they blow up all the Nazis locked inside the movie theater never gets old, and it is, after all, Hanuka.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Whither Perfection?

Remember my name?
I just read an ad on Craigslist for a new magazine seeking writers. They say they are fabulous, and that they have tons of readers, and that your work will be seen by millions. They say they will pay you for your 1,000-word articles someday, as soon as they turn a profit, and that you don't even need any experience to write for them. So I checked out their website, and the very first story I read was about how Kelso Kramer, that nutty friend of Jerry and George and Elaine on Seinfeld, blah,blah, blah....

It's Cosmo Kramer, not Kelso. Kelso is not even a name. They should be seeking  proofreaders, not writers.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Gray Thursday

I'm roasting a turkey today, just like I have for the past 30 years or more. But now, suddenly, I find myself searching the Internet for tips on how to make it better, since the wisdom of a thousand good cooks is readily available. Apparently I need to:
1. Baste it every 45 minutes during cooking
2. Baste it every 30 minutes, but no more, during cooking
3. Not baste it at all, but cover with foil for the last half hour of cooking
4. Loosely tent it with aluminum foil and let it sit for 30 minutes after cooking
5. Cover it tightly with foil and two bath towels and let it sit for 30 minutes after cooking
6. Not stuff it, so it will cook evenly
7. Stuff it, since that's all people really want to eat

So now I'm confused. To make myself feel better, I might go shopping before our guests arrive, on what we in our house call Gray Thursday. I know what you're thinking: But Andrea, all the stores are closed until the official start of Black Friday tonight at 8 pm. Wrong. Here in Freeport, Maine, L. L. Bean's is open right now! All day long, into the night and on to tomorrow. While you're wasting precious hours being thankful and eating turkey and enjoying leisure time with friends and family, Mainers are already shopping. (Suckers.)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

That's Not Me

The Internet says she is me. (She's not.)
Lest you put too much stock in the Internet, here's a bit of misinformation I found therein moments ago. For a change of pace I Binged myself; usually I Google. The first thing I learned is that I am the owner/operator of The Wonderful Gallery, which is located in the Washington, D.C. metro area. But it's confusing because then it said I am the owner of The Wonderful Gallery in Freeport, Maine, and have been for the past four years and nine months. (Wow, I am successful online, with not one but two art galleries!) I am also a Tea Partier who called for the assassination of Keith Olbermann, a pawnbroker living in Freeport, Maine, and a Realtor working in Washington, D. C. On all the the other days I live in Oakland, California.

The only thing they got right is my age. (Dammit.) As for photos, there are many different ones, none of whom are me. And the one I found and posted here is just plain ridiculous, since my hair is so much shorter now.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Open Letter to Kellogg's

Dear Kellogg's CEO:

Your repeated and incessant running of an Internet ad for Raisin Bran makes me think that you think I must have a raisin for a brain. Otherwise, why would you do it?

Let me explain. My mother died of early-onset Alzheimer's at age 62. Lest it be inherited, her doctors at the time--and all the evidence since--suggested I keep my own brain busy with reading, writing, study, crossword puzzles and the like. I do this as much as I can; one way is by playing Words With Friends. Besides the possible mental health benefit, it's fun. Or at least it was, until your company bought the advertising rights to my game. Now every time I make a word, the SAME EXACT AD  PLAYS FOR 30 SECONDS.  Not a different ad about the same cereal, or another ad about a different cereal, but the same damn ad, with the Dad eating breakfast and the snarky teenage daughter asking did Mom make you eat that, and him saying I actually like raisins, and blah, blah, blah.

I mute it. I close my eyes and meditate. I walk away. I get more coffee. But most of all I vow never to buy that cereal, or any cereal made by Kellogg's, for as long as I live.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy Friends & Family Day

That damn Granny makes you eat off real china!
In their ongoing effort to distance themselves from us geezers, today's young people are opting to forgo the traditional Thanksgiving holiday with their hated families and instead spend it with their friends. They even gave it a new name: Friendsgiving. That makes perfect sense, since in these Facebook days, friends are everything: How many you pretend-have counts, even if most of them aren't worth a damn and would not lift a finger for you, forget helping you move. (I know this is true because my son is one of them and I hear stories.)

Anyway, I first heard the term last week when the 23-year-old daughter of a neighbor said she was having 20 people over for Friendsgiving at her house, but she was planning to use paper plates because she damn well wasn't going to waste all that time washing dishes. (Her mother and I tried to dissuade her, to no avail.) Soon after I read an article online advising that for Friendsgiving--the very word is hard to say and so pretentious I may toss my stuffing-- everyone should divide up all the work or else "it could be a real shitshow." Having never before heard or read that expression, I thought it was just something the writer came up with, but I looked it up in the urban slang dictionary and learned it's been around since 2005. It means "hectic and frenetic," or "a mess." If you ask me, with words like that entering the lexicon, the human race is definitely one of those.

And just for the record, all you Gen Xers or whatever letter they are now, we Baby Boomers have been inviting our friends for Thanksgiving since Eve popped out of Adam and we never called it anything else, since having friends who feel like family is what friendship once was in our day.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

How the Mighty Have Fallen

The New York Times, Sunday, November 24, 2013

The New York Times, once considered the greatest newspaper in the world, has sunk to a new low. It's now way below sea level, as low as the Dead Sea, which is damn low since it's the lowest place on earth.

Today's front page features a huge color photo of a dead woman lying on the ground, with some guns and other stuff strewn about, and the feet of a man (a cop, perhaps? the perp?) standing next to her. What were they thinking? It's sad that this former pinnacle of intellect, and still the mouthpiece of the liberal establishment, now swims in the same muck as those supermarket checkout tabloids.

Rupert Murdoch gets a bad rap, but he never did anything like this to the Wall Street Journal.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Wake Up, Fat Americans

Surely this is not what God intended.
This evening I had an alarming and disturbing experience: I saw, as if for the first time, just how fat most Americans are. My husband and I had gone to see comedienne Joan Rivers perform at the local concert hall, the Merrill Auditorium. The place was packed, and I do mean packed: at least two-thirds of the audience was hugely obese. I'd never seen so many bad bodies collected in one place, including at all my old Weight Watchers meetings. It was like being in a circus sideshow tent, or maybe a bad dream that wouldn't quit.

Everywhere we looked, fat people were waddling up and down the aisles, struggling to squash their ample backsides into their seats. The hefty guy wedged in next to Mitch literally spilled over onto him; luckily the seat next to mine was unclaimed, so we moved over and Mitch was not suffocated to death.

Just when I thought I might be imagining it, a grossly overweight woman approached a seat nearby and discovered she simply could not fit into it. She then waddled over to complain to a group of tubby ushers and, after a heated conversation, waddled out before the curtain went up. I mean really, what did she expect could be done? It's tough to get a carpenter on such short notice, and it is the start of a weekend, after all.

The theater's seats seemed tiny, so I did a little research when I got home and learned that the Merrill was built in 1911, when the average woman was 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighed 133 pounds. Today the average woman is still 5 feet 4 inches tall, but now she weighs 165 pounds. I'm glad to say I am not average, but tonight I wore a pair of slacks that were way too tight that I hadn't worn since they'd been way too loose. I was uncomfortable all evening, making me realize once again that all those "fat acceptance" people are lying to themselves. Besides being unhealthy, unattractive, unsavory and downright gross, being fat feels bad. And by the way, Joan Rivers was a hoot, and at 80 years old, quite trim and in great shape!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

It's A Big World Out There

                                                                                          Gordon Studer
Now that my son is out there somewhere in the West Bank, I'm sorry I haven't paid more attention to Israeli politics--actually, any attention at all--since I have no idea if he's in a haven or a hotbed; depending on who's talking, it's both. When I asked if he would be safe there, Zack replied that his beard is pretty big now and that he sort of looks like an Israeli but he also looks like he might be a Palestinian. He tried to make it sound like that would help, and I guess if I knew more about the situation I could see that. But being clueless, I was not comforted.

Traveling around the world these days is scary, even though "normal" people do it all the time with nary a second thought. Not me, though, since I am seemingly addicted to second thoughts. I'm having some concerning the fact that in less than a month I'll be leaving the security of Maine for points unknown. Well, unknown to me. And while going to Barcelona seems less threatening than going to Haiti as I did last March, requiring no inoculations or preventive measures of any kind, it's a whole lot farther away. Maybe while there's still time I should see what's going on over there. Like who's in charge, are there any coups planned, what's the deal with bullfights, and exactly what is paella.

At any rate, I hope I can get back.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Jungle Bells

Just when you think advertising--and mankind-- has sunk to the lowest point possible, another commercial comes out to alert us that we're not there yet but we're well on the way. This year, the nutty folks over at Kmart are reminding us that Christmas, once a holy celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the son of God, is nothing more than a cruel hoax to sell more crap nobody needs.

No longer anything remotely religious, until now the holiday has at least retained overtones of wholesomeness, bringing to mind steaming cups of cocoa shared with family and friends around a cheery fireplace, expressions of kindness and charity with those bell-ringing Salvation Army folks, and general "Ho-ho-ho-ing" among family and friends. Those days are over.

Circa 2013, Kmart's bell-ringers are a squad of hunky, half-dressed men sporting colorful boxer shorts, twerking (rhythmic gyrating of the lower fleshy extremities in a lascivious manner with the intent to elicit sexual arousal or laughter) their bottoms in time to the tune, "Jingle Bells," and reminding us that--Christmas or not--it's a jungle out there.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

FILM REVIEW: Captain Phillips

These are some bad dudes...
Even though I'm safe inside my home on dry land, still I'm locking the doors in case there are pirates lurking in the surrounding woods. My jitters are the result of just having seen the new, hyper-intense Captain Phillips, a film based on the book written about an actual shipboard hijacking in the Indian Ocean in 2009. Two words best sum it up: See it. But take the following precautions: Bring a hankie because you'll cry at the end--even you guys. And take a deep breath before it starts, as you may not take another one until it's over.

The intensity starts with the opening scene and never lets up, as Captain Phillips, played by Tom Hanks in the finest performance of his admirable career, prepares to leave his home in bucolic Vermont and fly off to board the huge cargo ship he rules with a humble yet firm grip. His wife, played by Catherine Keener in what is surely the shortest performance by a major movie star on record, drives him to the airport and they hug their goodbyes. End of normalcy. From there we cut to a crowd of feral-looking Somali men, all of whom are in need of some dental work and a decent meal, jockeying for positions on two small motor boats headed out to do some dirty work on the high-seas.

No time is wasted, and sooner than you can ask "how is that possible?" four skinny bad guys are on board the huge container ship, ruining everyone's day. These pirates are not the eye-patch, bandanas-and-beads, Johnny Depp kind. They do not swashbuckle. Instead, they're desperate young men who have sworn to make millions for their warlord boss back home. Dressed in rags and high on a chewable weed called khat, they're the only ones with the guns, so despite the ship's bells, whistles and water hoses, the bad dudes take over in what seems like seconds. All anyone else can do, including the 20-man crew hiding below deck and you quivering in the audience, is sit still, hold their breath, pray for help and hope it's over soon.

The film has much to recommend staying off the water forever and as far away from Somalia as possible. It also assures Tom Hanks, a.k.a. Our National Treasure, of another Oscar, this one for Best Final Scene in Any Movie Ever. Clumsy title, but you'll know it when you see it.

Parents Have Enough to Do

"Mommy said I could..."
This morning's news includes the fact that very young children are eating those laundry detergent pods, mistaking them for snacks. Naturally they get very sick soon after, and tragically, one child has died from doing so. Now the manufacturers are being blamed for making a product that looks like candy, with parents taking no responsibility for storing those detergent pods in a safe place, up and away from the kids. Those are the very same parents who let their kids freely eat other poisons that are packaged in bright colors, but which just take a longer time to sicken the children.

These include Snickers, Three Musketeers, Tootsie Rolls, KitKat, Twix, Rolos, M & Ms, Butterfingers, Starburst, Gobstoppers, Swedish Fish, Caramello, Sky Bar, Chuckles, Junior Mints, Whoppers, Milky Way, Twizzlers, Reese's Pieces, Baby Ruth, Charleston Chew, Mr. Goodbar, Mounds, Almond Joy, and Skittles, to name but a few. Perhaps the manufacturers of all those should consider new packaging to discourage youngsters from eating them too, relieving the parents of yet another heavy burden.

Monday, November 18, 2013

After the Monster Storm, Monster Reporters

He's on the scene, but she's going dancing after the news.
Tornadoes destroy homes. Rooftops fly off and trees are uprooted. Power goes out. Twisted metal, shattered glass, lives in ruin. Giant twisters. It's very windy. Dangerous, oh my God. Every tornado that hits a town destroys it. People caught in the path lose their homes, their cars, and sometimes their lives. Sad but true. We all know this.  It never changes, it's always the same.

And then come....the reporters. Like locusts, they descend upon the scene of a terrible tragedy and describe it. They ask the survivors:
What did it feel like? (An eternity.)
What did it sound like? (A train.)
How do you feel now? (My home is gone, my dog is dead, my kids are missing, but not too bad otherwise.)

Nosy gossips who earn huge salaries to put themselves in harm's way, I don't understand how they have risen to such heights in our society. And why they have to wear so much makeup. I just wish they would all stay home.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Charity Begins at Home

I'm unhappy because of a lot of things, but fortunately they are all fixable. But I better act fast because my current health care runs out January 1 and after that I'll have a much worse policy thanks to stupid you-know-who. First off I'm getting my lips plumped, which apparently you need these days in order to be happy. You see ads for them everywhere. Maybe I'll get the pouty kind like Angelina Jolie has, although I'm not sure I really want to go that far. Certainly not Meg Ryan; we all agree she ruined her face and is now retired from acting. Living in New York City and claiming she loves ferrying her kids around and that's enough for her, it's sad really. Maybe I'll hold off on the lip thing altogether.

Then there are my eyelashes which are skimpy at best, and my brows are way too light. I could get permanent eye makeup surgically implanted, which sounds painful but I could do it when I have my cataract surgery and hip replacement which I will surely need any day now. And while I'm at it, maybe one of those Lifetime Lift facelifts on my lunch hour and I can be back in work in an hour, which would be really great since I don't have a job right now and I need one.

Then I'll get a manicure and pedicure, and some blonde highlights. That should do it, unless there's an earthquake or a tornado or another typhoon or tsunami, and I'd have to send more money to all the victims who have no food, water, shelter, clothing, medical care, mommy or daddy. That would ruin everything.

One is the Loneliest Number

My husband is off on a road trip for the next three days and once again I am exploring the possibility of polygamy. I honestly see nothing wrong with having more than one mate. What could be bad? Especially now, when anyone can marry anyone, and transgendered folks can use the Men's room or the Ladies' room depending on their outfit that day, and there are nude coed dorms in colleges--what's so terrible about a little extra-marital friendship? Of course, here in Maine the pool of potential candidates is quite shallow. Still, if I put my mind to it I might unearth a decent sort who would be willing to hang out with me while his own wife is away, or maybe she's dead and he's alone and would love some company and killer food in exchange for fixing the toilet or what was that noise or there's a giant spider in the bathroom, please kill it.

I have shared this desire with my husband and he seems to think I might score if I go out to dinner alone and sit at the bar. Sorry, but that is not my style, especially nowadays with those giant plasma TV screens with the hockey and the football going all the time. Then too, he suggests I join some clubs and get out there and "meet people." Never much of a joiner even in a normal city, for me clubs in Maine are out of the question. Also, nobody would let me in, being as I am from Away.

That leaves my doctors and dentists, all male. I do have a particularly endearing periodontist I see once every three months who likes me a lot; I can tell because he spends way too much time pretending to check my pockets. But he is younger by many years and happily married with three kids. I'd hate myself. Another possibility is my hip surgeon, who is really funny and quirky. But getting a new hip seems risky enough without adding possible lover's quarrels into the mix. Besides, surgeons are notoriously narcissistic--this one sure is-- and who needs that? After all, this is my fantasy.

So I'm alone and I have to get used to it. Each time Mitch leaves, I set a goal for how to use my time: make a new painting, paint a room in the house, go on a juice fast--that sort of thing. I guess I'll put in all the storm windows-- I've been meaning to do that. And as luck would have it, I am going to the periodontist tomorrow....

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Stephen King Was Born Here

For the last four years plus a little, I've lived in Maine. Before that, I lived in New York, D.C., Berkeley, Baltimore and Salt Lake City. And while I am hardly a globetrotter, I've traveled to quite a few foreign countries. I am now ready to make a pronouncement: people are the same the world over, except in Maine.  Putting it plainly, Mainers are weird. They're odd. They're not like other people, unless you mean The Others on the TV show LOST. A few more adjectives that describe them are mean, gruff, closed, cold, unsophisticated, small-minded, uptight, fearful, inhibited, boring, humorless, unimaginative and selfish.

Still, it's very pretty up here, and as I have said many times, there's no crime and no traffic, so I'm staying. Besides, scads of non-Mainers come to visit, and plenty of normal people from what the locals call "away" also live here. But those natives--they're something else. I have only met one who is a regular person, and that's our vet: She is great, and warm and sincere and open and funny and caring. (I was actually shocked to learn she's from Maine.)

Anyway, I just wanted to advise any of you planning a trip to these parts to be sure and bring a camera, but don't bother packing your personality. You'll never use it.