Thursday, February 28, 2013

Film Review: NIGHTS IN RODANTHE

The Rickety Inn on a clear day.
I've always thought it would be fun to write a really catty review about a really bad movie, but I almost never see any. Until tonight. With my husband out of town, and my Cabin Fever reaching epic proportions, I rented a chick flick that I knew Mitch would never watch under normal circumstances. "Nights in Rodanthe" stars Richard Gere the way God intended him: driving a Porsche, grey hair, white shirt and jeans, no bags under the eyes yet. (The movie came out in 2008.) It also stars Diane Lane, who is always beautiful and fun to pretend to be, especially her hair. It takes place on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where our family spent many happy summer days when our son was young and adorable. What's not to love?

Everything. Like, there's a hurricane brewing, and the Rickety Inn (not its real name) where the two stars meet is already halfway in the ocean on a clear day. Literally, it is in the water, built up on stilts out of what looks like balsa wood, making you think maybe a strong sneeze could do some considerable damage, so you know at the outset it's going to get it but good. It takes a pretty hard beating during the hurricane, but the next day there's like one broken shutter and a skateboard flung onto the sand. Oh please.

Next, she's on the verge of divorce, he's already divorced, his wife having left him even though he's a brilliant surgeon because he's being sued for a wrongful death. Her husband wants her back, her teenage daughter hates her, her nerdy 10-year-old son has severe asthma. They each have terrible problems that are very upsetting to both of them. But, they meet in a romantic setting, so of course they fall in love, and naturally they have sex--the kind where the audience has to watch her unbutton his shirt, button by button, and then watch him unzip her dress, etc. I went and got some cereal.

Diane decides to leave her husband because she has finally found her soul mate. Richard feels the same way except he has to go to South America first to patch things up with his estranged doctor son who runs a clinic in the jungle but he'll be right back so they can start their new life together. In fact, he can hardly wait! They exchange sappy love letters keeping the flame burning, and Diane starts getting better-looking just reading them, and Richard starts getting along great with the son he treated like shit when he was growing up, and guess what? Richard dies in a mudslide in South America.

Did not see that coming! I sobbed for the last 15 minutes, maybe you heard me.


Sea-Questration: No Wet Suit Required

A sea quester at work.
For a brief time I thought a sea quester was similar to a scuba diver. Sue me. I got the sports connotation from the fact that it sounds like equestrian, meaning having to do with horseback riding, which is a sport. But what's that got to do with unemployment? Nothing.  Finally I came to my senses and, for the past few weeks, understood it as having something to do with menstruation, i.e. abortion. Can you blame me? I mean, politically, most roads lead to abortion these days, and always in the most coded language. For example, "A woman's right to choose" means the process of killing unborn babies. Being "Pro-life" means opposing the killing of unborn babies, while "Pro-choice" means you think it's just fine.

My point being, polit-speak is nothing if not veiled. Long before it started showing up in the news, I actually thought "sequester" meant to hide away somewhere. So maybe women who either were or were not having their periods were hiding out from people who wanted them to have abortions? Turns out that's the definition of the verb; there is also a noun, which quite simply means, "a general cut in government spending." That's what is being bandied about by Obama and his boys these days, and is set to begin tomorrow. But I wonder, with all of us dummies out here--the politically correct term lately is "low-information voters"--why not just call a spade a damn spade and say "general cuts in government spending?"

Too much obfuscating by the government, if you ask me. We should all eschew that.





Art for No Reason

Coca-Cola Art by Keith Haring
I think my whole problem is that I don't have a Muse. I looked it up and found that it is often capitalized, giving it greater import than just saying muse. A Muse is the "sister goddess" who inspires an artist, poet or thinker. Uh-oh, don't get me started on my sister. As for goddesses, I don't have any of those in my corner either. So I am without Muse; it's little wonder I have such a hard time deciding what to paint.

It was much easier in the old days when I got paid to illustrate newspaper articles. Then the editor or writer told me exactly what to draw and all I had to do was move my hands around the paper until I came up with a solution that pleased her (or him.) Now I have to be my own editor, and it's a lot to handle. Things just fly out of my brain and onto the canvas, and often they are really meaningless, dumb, inappropriate or--dare I say it-- ugly.

But then, if you look at what's considered great art these days, nothing really is ever wrong. Keith Haring, may he rest in peace, is a perfect example. The popular artist whose work was first inspired by, and actually was, street graffiti, listed his Muses as no less than "birth, death, sex and war." No wonder he was such a hit; talk about covering all the bases! (In the example shown above, he must have been alluding to how the little people of the world run around in service to the bigger, more powerful people, until they tire and die. Or else maybe, it's a woman giving birth to quadruplets; I'm not really sure.)
"Open Window, Collioure" by Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse, on the other hand, just painted what he saw. About the painting shown at right, which he did in 1905, he said: "When I put a green, it is not grass. When I put a blue, it is not the sky." Of course, he said it in French so something may have been lost in the translation, but still--that's deep.

I have got to come up with something more than pretty colors, pots of flowers, clouds and cows grazing in the field. And soon. Perhaps today will be the day my Muse shows up. You never know.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

It Must Be the Fever Talking

If I had to come down with something, I'd choose Saturday Night Fever. That seems like it would be fun, hanging out with all those Italian guys at the disco in Brooklyn. Even Cat Scratch Fever sounds better than what I've got, which is Cabin Fever.

I looked it up to be sure, and while I don't have what you could call a classic case, it's mighty close: "Cabin fever is an idiomatic term, first recorded in 1918, for a claustrophobic reaction that takes place when a person or group is isolated and/or shut in a small space, with nothing to do for an extended period." Clearly, I've got it: I am a person. I am isolated. I'm in a relatively small space and although there's plenty I could do, there's nothing I have to do, and it's definitely for an extended period. Come to think of it, I am feeling a tad claustrophobic. The skies are either slate gray or charcoal gray. Clouds. Darkness descends. No sun. See, this is cabin fever, this inability to think clearly. No full sentences. It sucks. Anyway, the snow in Maine, sort of like the rain in Spain only colder and whiter, is driving me batty. I now hate it. I used to like it. Heck, I used to love it. Sort of like my first husband: I said "I do" but then I didn't.

We'll have to move. (Must tell Mitch.) To that end, I will begin shooting staged photos of our home, which we will be listing soon so we can relocate to Spain or Mexico or Florida or Israel or South Carolina or Georgia or California or New Mexico, someplace warm where it never, ever, ever snows. I never want to see another snowflake or snowball or snow cone. I don't even want to see any movies starring Johnny Depp or Robert Downey, Jr. I am done with snow. Enough already with the snow. I am over the snow. You see how annoying it is when something is repeated over and over and over? That's snow. That's winter in Maine. That friggin' groundhog sure got it wrong this time, since they are predicting snow for every single day this week and over the weekend. An early spring? Ha!

My cats have the fever too. They are beyond lethargic. Yesterday Lurch spent the entire afternoon sitting on the hood of my car, hoping we would leave. I swear he said, "Let's meow already!" It's sad, really. I think I'll go pop "Saturday Night Fever" into the DVD player. I'm pretty sure Lurch has never seen it.


A Kindle Doesn't Cut it


I am at that age where, upon reflection, the good old days really do seem better. This is a cliche, I know, and one I had hoped to avoid. But still...

Borders Books & Music was a wondrous place in its day, and its day lasted 40 years. It was the perfect antidote to the blues, and could be enjoyed all by yourself if you weren't in the mood to chat, or dress, or on your worst days, even brush your teeth. You could wander the aisles for hours and nobody cared, browsing travel books promising adventure and excitement or skimming diet books promising a new you. The children's section offered fun and games and toys and stuffed animals, and likely a Lego table or Brio train station that was open to all ages. Hang out reading magazines, or just make a beeline for the cafe for a coffee and a scone, screw the diet. There was no place better at Christmas, with endless rows of greeting cards, wrapping paper, calendars, puzzles, coffee mugs and those inane little books that were in the long run completely meaningless, but still earned you credit as having bought a gift. For severe depression, you could slap on some headphones in the music department and listen to the latest release from your favorite artist. 

This is all in the past since Borders closed two years ago, squeezed out by advancing technology. Now you can order up that trashy novel on your Kindle and read it on a flat screen with an eerie glow, perhaps while you're huddled over your laptop at Starbucks, answering email and texting on your iPhone. How dreary.

Of course, there are other bookstores. Where I live now, the "oldest one" is Sherman's and has a branch right here in Freeport, just a few miles from my home. I go there every so often, and never find whatever it is I'm seeking. No surprise, since the whole damn place could fit inside the cooking section of the Borders I frequented back in the day. I know, I know--there's always Amazon. But still...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Just the Two of Me

Illustration by Gordon Studer
Born under the sign of Gemini, I have a ridiculously split personality. It is possible that everyone else does too, regardless of when they were born, and that what is considered by the medical community to be an aberration is in reality perfectly normal. Whatever the case, I'm one of those human Twix bars, and it's downright annoying. For example, sometimes I think I might commit suicide in the next five minutes if only I had an easy way out, while at other times I truly want to live forever and rue the inevitability of death.

Similarly, although less dire, I want an oatmeal raisin bran muffin, several slices of anchovy pizza and a wide range of Chinese food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but the other me, who's usually in charge of meals, opts for oatmeal with blueberries, a spinach salad and another damn chicken breast instead. I'm still sad and teary-eyed that my wonderful, sweet, adorable, gentle old cat died, but she's glad that my annoying, decrepit, arthritic, always vomiting cat is gone. They were both the same cat, so it must be me. I could go on, but I won't. (See, there it is again!)

I am seriously considering killing off the "bad" me and living the rest of my days as the "good" one. Nice plan, except I suspect the bad one is the better artist, and I think she may be writing this. Not sure. Also, one of them really dislikes Mitch, something he's the first to notice when she shows up, so I have to be really careful with that.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Why Jews Love Chinese Food


I just picked up my malaria pills from the drugstore for my upcoming journey to Haiti. Oddly enough they were not covered by my health insurance, which will only pay for them after I contract the disease--is this a great system or what? 

Checking the calendar, I noticed that my trip falls during Passover. Good thing, since the whole Jewish thing is fraught with anxiety for me. This is because I was raised by lunatics who kept a kosher household but had no idea why. I still don't know, but they're all gone now so there's nobody to ask. Instead, I looked it up.

In 1965, Hebrew National rolled out its famous slogan, “We answer to a higher authority.” I still don't know who that is, but I'll tell you, he or she is quite lenient these days. Almost everything edible sports a little K inside a circle, alerting Jews they can eat it without going straight to Hell. Potato chips, cake mixes, cookies, soup mixes and soda all bear the stamp of approval from that “higher authority.” According to Kosher Today, the official monthly trade publication of the kosher food industry, 400 new products certified as kosher will be added to the more than 80,000 already on grocery shelves, just in time for Passover.
              
While many non-Jews choose the kosher way of life because of allergies, lactose intolerance, or a belief that they are healthier, the practice is growing most notably among Jews who were not raised in kosher homes and feel they missed something important as children. Just like being a vegetarian, the kosher lifestyle offers many levels of adherence. Some people are strictly kosher at home but in the outside world they will order vegetarian meals in any restaurant, whereas those more observant will not eat in any but a kosher restaurant. Others eat cooked vegetarian foods, a more relaxed choice than that made by people who will eat only raw vegetables, citing the heat as a possible conduit for non-kosher contamination. Still others, like my Grandmother, believe that God actually cannot see into Chinese restaurants, so they eat at them often and order whatever the heck they please. (This is why so many Jews eat Chinese food on Sundays.)
 
In case you don't know, here's what kosher is: No shellfish ever. No meat products from animals with split hooves (pigs). Never mix dairy products with meat at the same meal. To ensure that meat and dairy never mix, kosher kitchens must have two sets of dishes, silverware, and pots, one for use with meat and one for use with dairy. Foods that contain neither meat nor dairy ingredients are called parve, which means neutral; thus, all fruits, grains, and vegetables are kosher and parve. Like many rock stars and TV personalities, a parve item can go either way, becoming "dairy" when cooked with a dairy food and "meat" when cooked with meats. For example, those carrots and celery stalks in your beef stew began as parve, but lost their independent status by sharing the pot with the beef; now they too are "meat." Fish with fins and scales are kosher and parve; some examples are salmon, flounder, and halibut. Not kosher under any circumstances: Shark, sturgeon, catfish, swordfish, reptiles, shellfish, underwater mammals, and most insects.

Haiti, here I come. I wonder if dirt pies are kosher.

Oscar's Downward Spiral

Ben Affleck, winner and Jack Nicholson, loser.
I know that anyone who reads my blog, and that's not many of you, did not sit up late into the evening watching the Oscars award show. Lucky. Here's what you missed of import:

Our political system is now a complete and total joke. Hollywood actually is in bed with Washington, and the proof was in the evening's Grand Finale: The First Lady of the United States was beamed into the Hall of Vultures to announce the Best Picture award. Michelle Obama was actually back home in the White House, surrounded by American flags and soldiers and Secret Service, as if this moment ACTUALLY MATTERED and was of NATIONAL IMPORT!!!!!! She said some stuff about how the nominated movies were blah, blah, blah and the winner was whatever, whatever. All dolled up in a wig and a fancy dress and lots of jewelry--I guess they call it "bling"--it seemed like she was up for an award herself, playing the First Lady in a movie called "America's Royal Family: The Low and the Mighty." Not sure why Barack did not come out doing an old soft shoe; that would have been the topper!

You also missed a new girl named Jennifer Lawrence falling on the stairs when she got caught up in the drapes she was wearing as she rushed up to retrieve the award for Best Actress. That was indeed a highlight, and maybe the only one, and much more memorable than her performance in the movie she won it for. No matter; now that she won an Oscar for Best Actress, you'll never see her again.

Jack Nicholson, who was dragged onstage to introduce Mrs. Obama, looked even older and fatter and drunker and more grotesque than your wildest dreams of him. And now he wears thick Coke-bottle glasses too, completing his clown costume.  At least ARGO was named Best Picture. Go see it.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Yin, Yang and Oscar

More than some other things, snow can make you believe in God, especially when it's soft and fluffy and makes all the world look like one of those Christmas cards that come in boxes of 25, the ones with glitter on the snow--you know the kind. Funny, though, how snow can be so pretty and yet rain is often not. But throw in some frigid temperatures, themselves worthy of complaint, and a bitter rain becomes snow. And so, there it is: Inside every good thing is a bad thing, and often the reverse is also true. Some examples that come to mind are:
1. Raisinets (Needs no explanation.)
2. Parenthood (Again, fairly obvious.)
3. Dead Pets (You miss them so much, but life is so much easier.)

Another one of those "good inside of bad" things is the annual Oscars ceremony. It is almost always long and boring, and I almost never watch it. But this year's host has one of the funniest brains in captivity, which will be present inside the head of Seth MacFarlane, the man behind the TV cartoon series, "Family Guy." If you like it, you love it, and if you don't--well, you don't. But I do, and thus I want to see what he'll do in a live situation, what with his total disdain for all things phony and pretentious. So that's a good thing inside a bad thing.

The bad thing inside that good thing is that we have now had snow for the past 20 hours or so, and it's getting heavy enough to weigh down the trees and the power lines. This being rural Maine, the chance of us having a power outage is high, which means no TV tonight when the awards will be broadcast. That's a bad thing. Inside that good thing, which was the beautiful snowfall making one believe, even more, in God. But there's that Devil, too....

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Little Ignorance Can't Hurt

The inherent danger of reading a biography of someone you admire is that you will learn too much. More than you need, in fact. And then whenever you hear that person's music, or whatever it is they created that you liked, you will remember such things as, "He was afraid to go to the bathroom alone, someone always had to go along," or "He had sex with dozens of men each week," or "He spent money wildly on things he didn't need, including houses and apartments."

Sadly, that has just happened to me. I read a book called Mercury, a biography of Freddie Mercury, the brilliant lyricist and magic-voiced lead singer of the British rock band Queen. Fascinated by several things about him, among them that he never fixed his buck teeth (caused by having four extra teeth at the back of his mouth) although they were a constant embarrassment, fearing the procedure might alter his voice, and that he was born in Zanzibar and raised in India, and that he had a lifelong love affair with a woman to whom he left his fabulous fortune, even after dying of AIDS with one of his many gay lovers by his side, I ordered the book. Now I'll have to suffer the consequences whenever I hear "Bohemian Rhapsody," my favorite song of all time. I mean really, who can't go to the bathroom alone? (Freddie Mercury.)

Consider Yourself At Home

I finally figured out what's wrong with this blog: There's no advertising! It's like a fucking funeral home in here. (See photo below.) As my grandmother always said, "There's plenty of time to sleep in the cemetery!" So wake up! We need distractions! To compete in  today's super-busy, super-silly and certainly superficial global society, with images assaulting us at every turn, there's got to be more to do than just read a few words, pithy or not! So I am now trying to crap it up and make you all feel more comfortable, sort of like you're at home watching TV or eating popcorn at the movies or these days, even watching a video on YouTube. Sell, sell, sell is what it's all about.
Best Stones album ever!

To that end, I have clicked the, "I want ads on my blog" button. I hope they get some scantily clad women on here, and maybe some weight loss products, and quick--my readership is dropping faster than a Rolling Stone on bad acid. 

Call today and get a second one free, just pay separate shipping & handling. Call 800-444-4444.)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Weaklings Don't Always Weigh 90 Pounds

I went to a new exercise class this morning that did what those things usually do: Make me feel like I am completely out of shape and have about half an hour left to live. The other class members were doing great, since of course they all know the drill. But I alone was the newbie who seemed to be out of it the whole time. Partly this was because much of the exercising took place perched atop a giant inflated rubber ball. And when we weren't sitting on the rubber ball, which had a tendency to roll around as most balls do, we were standing on half of another rubber ball that was, if anything, even harder to master.

You would think the class would be called "Getting Ballsy" or "The Art of Exercising on Inappropriate Surfaces," but it was not. Instead, it was called "Integrative Strength." It was good that I went, since I found out for sure that I have none. The teacher, a gem who I liked instantly for her friendly candor, told me right off the bat, after watching me for awhile, that I have "good, strong shoulders" and "no back muscles." As nicely as possible, she alluded to the fact that my core also sucks. (It's a wonder I can hold up those shoulders.) I'm going back Monday. After all, my trip to Haiti is a month away and I have to get in fighting shape, just in case.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Avoiding the Big Picture

My particular brand of crazy is quite debilitating on some days. It is simply this: I see the whole lot of us--you, me, movie stars, politicians, world leaders, the Pope-- as ants. Or blades of grass. Or grains of sand on the beach. Of course, this is true; our separate little lives actually are all bits of a whole, the organism we call Earth, which itself is still part of something so much bigger that it makes each of us that much smaller. But if we take in the big picture, it's pretty hard to get excited about anything. I mean, do ants plan their days? Do they get up and put on little ant clothes and get out there and hunt for crumbs, then go back and put all their little feet up and rest? What are we all so busy doing and why haunts me on days like these.

On other days I take the microscopic view. I am able to get all excited about having tickets to see Jackson Browne (I don't) or finishing a painting that nobody else will even see unless I post it on Facebook (I do that often). I plan my day as if what I do during it will mean a whit at its end. I mourn my dead cat, and the other cats and dogs that have gone before him--not to mention all the humans-- as if they mattered. I avoid thinking about the ants and the grass and the sand and decide it really is important that go to that exercise class at the Y.

Those days are better. I wonder what kind of a day this one will be.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Hillary Talks! But It'll Cost You.....

What's she eating? Find out for sure!
The news that Hillary Clinton has decided on her next career move will surely impact all our lives. I know that I have been holding my breath for months wondering just what that zany lady has in store for us. Yesterday we all learned that following her stint as Secretary of State, the always altruistic and self-sacrificing former First Lady has decided to join a big PR firm and start giving paid speeches as her way of contributing to her personal bank account---oops, I mean society. The word on the street is that she can expect to earn $250,000 per speech, and maybe even a million dollars each overseas!

At those prices, I'm betting there will be some valuable inside information and plenty of juicy details. If you're anything like me, you'll start a special savings account so you can afford to attend one of Hillary's speeches. I'd certainly pay good money to hear her candid take on any of the following topics:

Dead Vince Foster: Why I Had to Clean Out My Office So Fast
Bill and Me, and Monica Makes Three: The White House Years
Botox vs. Reloxin: Pros and Cons 
Why I Always Wear the Pants in the Family
All About My "Concussion" 
Capitol Hill Capers: How to Fix Those Droopy Eyes Overnight
New York's Best Plastic Surgeons 
Surviving Washington: D.C.'s Best Pizza, Reuben, Bloody Mary and more...
How She Does It: Nancy Pelosi's Daily Diet & Exercise Regimen 
Undoing Michelle: My Plans for Redecorating the White House
Benghazi: Dead is Dead, Who Cares How it Happened? 
Fashion Secrets: Sarah Palin Doesn't Really Need Glasses
Travel is So Broadening: Chowing Down & Porking Up as Secretary of State 
The Truth About "Aunt" Harry Reid's Transgender Surgery
Barack Obama: The Man Inside the Puppet
Don't Tell Laura: My Secret Crush



Monday, February 18, 2013

Being Old Isn't When You Are

I write a blog for the fun of it. It would be nice if it made money. It does not. It would also be nice if I had a huge following. I don't. One way I could get a huge following would be if I wrote about something specific; it's called having a niche. My husband thinks I should get one. These days, one really popular niche is aging, i.e., talkin' bout my generation. The Boomers: Once we rolled around in the dirt at Woodstock and changed the world. Now we are dirt and everyone ignores us. Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber are current idols; their combined ages could be my grandchild.

Anyway, I do not want to write about how to stay young or how to feel young or any of that bullshit. You can't stay young; nobody has yet, not even Jane Fonda. (Okay, Tina Turner maybe, but then, we haven't seen much of her lately.) But there are blogs, and they are quite popular, that write about all that "you're never as old as you feel" or "you're only as old as you look" stuff, or something along those lines. One of them is called Aging Abundantly. The lady who writes it reads my blog sometimes, and I reciprocate by reading hers. She talks about how to stay young or how to follow your dreams or how not to get old before your time, or dying old people and how brave they are, or how to be creative in your eighties and isn't that special. It makes me sick. Old, shmold--can't I still just be a person? After all, I'm still here and I'm still me, I just have a lot more memories.

What Are You Doing Right Now?

Right now is all we have. In my "right now," I am writing this, and in yours, you are reading it. Right now is always filled with something, even if it's nothing. In fact, filling it with nothing even has a name--meditation--and it's considered a really good thing to do with our precious, relatively short amount of allotted time in this life. Last night I squandered two of those hours on a movie I had never seen and always wanted to see. I might want them back, but that's of course not possible.

"The Shining" has become such a part of our collective culture that I've always felt slightly out of the loop having missed it. All I knew about it was that somebody runs around saying, "Red rum," and a tsunami wave of blood pours out of an elevator and there's a pair of Diane Arbus-y twin girls standing at the end of a long hallway. Directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Jack Nicholson, how could it not be great? So, after a mean-spirited and bleak day highlighted by a power outage from an intense wind and snow storm, when the lights came back on we popped in the rented disc and watched the tale of a writer and his family holed up in an an old hotel during an intense snow storm. Naturally they all go crazy; who wouldn't? With the wind howling outside and our house literally shaking, it was quite scary, especially since I knew it was written by a man who grew up and still resides here in Maine; Steven King certainly knows all about the isolation of a long, cold winter.

Horror movies are not called horror movies for nothing; they are indeed horrible, and I am right to avoid them. Since I was forced to soothe my nerves with generous mouthfuls of gelato while watching the terrible events unfold onscreen, I realized I would be much fatter if I made a habit of it. In fact, that may be the answer to America's obesity problem right there: stop watching scary movies. The film taught me two other important things: First, if we stay here in Maine we should definitely buy a generator, since the power goes out if someone sneezes too hard down the road. And second, we have got to move to a warmer climate. Right now.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Send Bialys

If only I had a bialy....
It's blizzarding here again, and in fact I may lose power before I get a chance to post this blog entry. I am so tired of winter: incredibly over the snow, and basically done with Maine. After all, I've been here four years--enough already! Besides, unless it is summer and you are perched along the rocky coast, with plenty of mosquito repellent, and you like lobster and you own a boat, and you're white and not Jewish and not craving pastrami or maybe a bialy with a shmear, there is simply no reason to be here. And that's all I have to say about that.

But then I lived in DC for 30 years and there were bialys all over the place, with shmears, and mountains of pastrami, and not too many boaty people but tons of black people and Asians, etc., but it was so damn hot you had to turn on the AC in May and leave it on until November some years, and what with the thunderstorms and the traffic, it too was a drag after a while.

Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue. All the time. And it's not too hot or too cold and there's no crime and yet there is still diversity, but no slums. And great pizza, and an interesting music scene and good theater. And you can afford to live there. That's where I'm heading next.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sex Doesn't Always Sell

One way to pick up chicks.....
My cousin is in advertising. He is very funny, highly intelligent, and one of my favorite people. He is pissed at me for damning his profession, something I do at every turn. I would like to go on record as saying that not all advertising is bad, just some advertising is bad. And my cousin only makes good advertising, and you should buy all the products he sells. That being said, one of the worst ads out there right now is the current commercial for Swiffer mops. It makes me wonder just how misguided some people are, and just how dumb those misguided people think the viewing public is. (It also makes me wonder what drugs these ad execs are on, but I digress.)

The current TV campaign to sell Swiffer mops is simply wrong, wrong, wrong, and here's why. Let's assume your old mop sucks and a Swiffer is better. Why? They don't bother with that. Instead, we follow the old, now retired mop, which you have put in the garage or the attic, where it meets and falls in love with your old bowling ball. The accompanying music is a love song with the refrain, "Who's that lady? Sexy lady....." The narrative voice-over tells you not to worry, that your old mop will find a new life.

What the hell? For starters, if I get a new mop because the old one sucks, I am throwing the old one away, not cluttering up my house with more trash. Next, even if they did meet and were for some reason attracted to one another, which they would not be, believe me, a mop and a bowling ball could not have sex if they tried! They couldn't even kiss. The mop needs to be with an old broom or maybe a snow shovel, something similar in shape. And the bowling ball needs to be with something like an old catcher's mitt or perhaps a discarded seat cushion from some old porch furniture--something that could keep it from rolling away. Or how about an old bowling pin; at least they would have what to talk about.

The only believable part of the commercial is that the lady of the house is seen rolling her eyes at the couple; at least she knows it would never work. Someone should tell those ad guys.

Friday, February 15, 2013

I Miss Mike and Ike

Tomorrow one of my youngest and handsomest friends, who I met when he was 16, is turning 64. I called him this afternoon to offer my birthday wishes, and we had a great phone conversation for almost an hour.  Lots of laughs, which is surprising since three-quarters of the time was spent sharing our various surgeries, blood pressure stats, medications, advice on specific degenerating body parts and fears of certain and impending doom. We had a blast. Of course, on Facebook this would all have been boiled down to: "HBD, hope you have a great one, you look fabulous, not a day older," blah, blah, fucking blah.

I think I may be getting too old for Facebook, i.e. sharing the truth of my life on a public forum. Possibly it's because the details are depressing, involving the inevitable decline of health and general disrepair of my still functioning human body. (Hey, it happens to the best of us, no matter what you see on those late-night, half-hour power juicer infomercials when you can't sleep.) But another reason might be the realization that, after a lifetime of sharing, one finally understands that hardly anybody gives a hoot what happened to you today or yesterday or last week or what will happen to you tomorrow or next month, they just want to know how it will impact them.

While I do have young friends on Facebook, I have blocked the news feeds of anyone under the age of 40. (Not you, Oz.) Please, spare me--life is simply too short for silly trivia, at least from where I sit. I don't feel too old for anything else, though, at least not yet, except maybe Mike & Ike's, which I once loved but now see so clearly that they rot my insides. With age comes wisdom. But I do miss them so...

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ain't Love Grand?

This being Valentine's Day, and with Mitch coming through with the exact gift I hoped for--actually, gave instructions on how and where to find -- I'd say he's a keeper. Not only that, but never in 26 years of marriage has he even once tried to kill me, an activity that is becoming commonplace in our wacky society.

From O.J. Simpson to Scott Peterson to the latest one in the news today--South African 2012 Paralympian Oscar Pistorius--love has taken a holiday that in some cases is permanent. Pistorius, named one of the "sexiest men alive" by People magazine last year, just recently shot his girlfriend of several months in the head. Dead. In fact, everywhere you look, lovers are killing one another; women do it too. They batter and bludgeon, they stab and they shoot. They poison. One young woman on trial now apparently stabbed her honey 37 times. (He must have really disappointed her!)

Personally, I consider it a real plus that my husband has never raised a hand to me--not even a slap on the fanny. I go to sleep next to him completely confident that he will not smother me with a pillow during the night, or wrap the telephone cord around my neck and strangle the life out of me. I guess I'm one of the lucky ones.




Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I May Be Crazy, but I'm Not That Crazy

Yesterday I hit the wall. (Not really, it's just an expression.) I reached the point where I had to admit I need help. My bouncing blood pressure numbers, which often catapult wildly for reasons unknown, took off in the supermarket during the innocuous activity of purchasing cat food. The familiar ear ringing and  gentle but growing headache accompanied by mild dizziness prompted me, once safely home, to face the facts: I'm nuts. So, as anyone in their right mind would do, which I still am most of the time, I decided to seek the help of a shrink/therapist/whatever to help me unravel/understand/control these feelings of fear/dread/anxiety that are causing my numbers to soar upwards at the drop of a hat, which is also just an expression but you know what I mean.

Not being crazy enough to start commuting into Portland to do anything, let alone talk about my fears, commuting being one of them, I narrowed my search and Googled "psychiatry Freeport." Quite a few names surfaced and I settled on the two closest, one even within walking distance in case I'm feeling really nutty but my car won't start, which is stupid I know because in six years I have never had a lick of car trouble, not counting the time my son crashed my husband's SUV into my parked Saab in our very own driveway, but that's water under the bridge. Anyway, I left messages with both doctors saying I was in need. I'm pretty sure I sounded plaintive. I then had the following experiences:

Doctor A (not his real name) called me back within a few hours. He was warm and sympathetic, and asked immediately if I could summarize my issues. He asked if I had any suicidal thoughts or tendencies. He prodded me to say more about myself and my family. He was kind. I liked him. After about 15 minutes, he said apologetically that he could not fit me into his schedule for four to six weeks, and if I needed help sooner he would help me find someone else. I said I had a few other names to try, he said he would call me when he could work me into his schedule. There was no mention of money. I felt better just for having spoken with him for those few minutes.

Doctor B (not his real name) called back within half an hour. His tone was gruff. I said I was having a lot of anxiety that was causing health problems. His response was, "Do you have insurance?" I said yes. He said, "Do you want an appointment?" I said yes. He said what kind of insurance do you have, I don't take this kind or that kind but I take this kind and that kind, and it will cost this much and you'll have to pay out of pocket and then put it into your insurance yourself. I asked if he wanted to know the nature of my problems, and he said that would be the subject of our first meeting and of course he would have to charge me for that, and he could see me this Thursday afternoon or this Friday morning. I hated him.

So I'll wait. Funny they don't teach this stuff in med school.




Tuesday, February 12, 2013

All I Know About the Pope

Dan Akroyd, Papa Conehead
I grew up in a kosher home, yet I know very little about religion, even the Jewish kind. My parents must have thought it was a lot of hooey themselves, since they never taught me anything about it besides the whole bacon/milk/meat thing.

Shocking though it may be to my husband, I have never read the Bible, although I have read all of Shakespeare. And starting in my teens, my mother fed me a steady diet of Camus, Sartre, Kafka and all those other ones who think life is meaningless, so I'm guessing she did too. Bottom line: The Pope resigned--who knew he could?-- and they need a new one, and I am in the dark about the whole situation. In fact, what I know about Catholicism could fit on the head of a proverbial pin. Here's what I've got:

1. Many unattractive women who cannot get dates become nuns. They marry God or Jesus -- or both -- and live cloistered together, covering their bodies from head to toe in black robes similar to the hateful burqas worn in countries we abhor for suppressing women. They do good works and pray.

2. The Pope is the leader of the Catholic church. They find him somehow, and when the other, lesser priests agree that he is the one, they send out smoke signals to tell the world he has been located, which seems odd considering he has a Twitter account.

3. The Pope rides around in a car called the Popemobile. He wears ornate ballet slippers, tons of bling and huge, pointed hats reminiscent of Dan Akroyd and Jane Curtin's heads when they played the Coneheads on SNL years ago. (I always hated that bit. In fact, I never found Jane all that funny; certainly not like Gilda or even Laraine Newman.)

4. Whatever their real names are, the Popes are called John or Leo or Paul or Benedict, with Roman numerals after the name indicating how many have preceded him. This one is like the XXIst or XXVth.

5. Pope means "papa" in Italian, which is ironic since he is not supposed to have sex. (Who would have sex with a man dressed like that anyway?)

That's all I got. There are probably a lot of errors here, so don't quote me.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Some People Make Me Sick

My world is shrinking since I can tolerate less and less of the detritus spewed out daily in newspapers, magazines, on TV and the Internet. Most of it makes my blood boil, and with my numbers already dangerously high, boiling blood is something to be avoided at all costs. Doctor's orders.

Judy Garland singing "Over the Rainbow" does it for me.
The latest bit of detritus that caught my eye concerns the latest bit of detritus to rule the world, a woman who, by her own admission, is hugely omnipotent: "I know that, yes, I am powerful. I'm more powerful than my mind can digest and understand." Who could it be, you wonder? Michelle Obama? Close, but wrong; it's that girl named Beyonce with an accent somewhere in her name. You know, the one who lip-syncs her studio-recorded songs to save her voice. Her accompanying lights and props and electrical doodads recently sapped the power out of the stadium during last week's Superbowl. You remember her.

Today I read that she employs a photographer to follow her around every day, all day, for 16 hours a day, snapping pix for her archive to enlighten future biographers or whatever the fuck. This makes me want to throw up, and I hate throwing up more than anything. Really, more than anything I have had happen to me, including childbirth, which was no picnic. Perhaps I would hate waterboarding more, or maybe being Beyonce's mother. Beyonce is of course fabulously, ridiculously, obscenely wealthy, and for what I wonder. Her hair? Her makeup? Her body? I've heard her sing and she's certainly no Judy Garland, Eartha Kitt, Janice Joplin, Patsy Cline, Diana Ross, Barbra Streisand, Barbara Cook, Beverly Sills, Peggy Lee, Loretta Lynn, Ella Fitzgerald, Edith Piaf, Donna Summer, Cher, Brenda Lee, Bette Midler, Bonnie Raitt--shall I go on?

I guess in a superficial society, superficiality wins, especially when it's done up in thigh-high black leather boots with a slinky dress slit up to there and down to there. And a funny name with an accent somewhere.


















FILM REVIEW: Silver Linings Fever

Trash bag poncho--what a great idea!
Yesterday I saw a movie that was good in every way: Great script, superb acting, fun soundtrack, and a perfect laughter/tears ratio. "Silver Linings Playbook" was full of silver linings, which is a cheap shot I know, but still true. Our experience simply could not have been better.

First off, we parked directly across from the theater, which is a two-mile drive from our house. Buying our tickets, I saved $2.50 just for having reached the age I am, whereas Mitch, who occupied the same amount of space in the theater and absorbed as much of the film into his eyes as I did into mine, had to pay full price. Then we sat in our favorite seats, the kind that rock back and forth and have built-in cup holders, right in the middle of the middle. We would have had the place all to ourselves except for one lone woman. Fortunately she was quiet, unlike my friend Deb who shouts out to the screen as if the actors can hear her--it's quite a spectacle, really, but anyway she wasn't there and the lady who was made not a peep.

The subject matter might offend some, since modern movies are mainly for escape and mental illness is certainly a disturbing topic, even more so now than when Olivia de Havilland overacted in "The Snake Pit" back in 1948. Bradley Cooper plays a young man with bipolar disorder who is struggling to get a grip on his runaway life after a marital breakup, emotional breakdown and eight-month lockup in the loony bin. Back living with his parents, one of whom is Robert DeNiro who naturally nails the part of the sad but also crazy dad, he's desperate to get his wife back and return to normalcy. This involves cops at the door, an attractive new love interest, and a lot of Bradley running in the streets of Philadelphia wearing a trash bag. A big chunk of the film is a remake of the dance contest rehearsal scenes and final contest we saw in "Saturday Night Fever," and I'd like to say here and now that Bradley Cooper is no John Travolta.

If you have grown kids who are "finding themselves," or know anyone with mental illness or even live on the edge of crazy yourself, it's an interesting, up-close look at what some people go through just to have a day, forget having a nice one. There are a few laughs along the way which are instantly forgettable, but just consider them some of those silver linings when they show up.

Whitney Houston Still Drunk!

Whitney Houston drunk.
The most fun feature of writing this blog is checking my statistics. There is a page that tells me where my readers are, how many from which country and what server they use, and which posts get read the most every day, week, month, and over the life of the blog. It also lists the search words that have lead people to my posts. By far, the words that show up consistently and many more times than any others are "whitney houston drunk" and "whitney houston on drugs."

I did write about the once-lovely, very talented and much adored singer being dead back when she overdosed in a hotel bathtub, so I must have mentioned that she used drugs and drank. Whatever the reason, those particular search terms show up daily on my blog stats page, and lately they have been increasing. I am writing this post in service to those poor lost souls who continue to need to see pictures of Whitney drunk. As if you needed one, here's yet another downside to fame and fortune: you can't even R.I.P.


Whitney Houston on drugs.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Compared to What?

Unless you live in a hole, don't get any mail, and eschew Facebook, comparing yourself to others is unavoidable. This is bad, at least for me, since I am happiest when I am dumbest. Alone with my thoughts, I'm content: I do the dishes, pay the bills, practice my various arts, feed my cats and, aside from several annoying health concerns, am just fine. I can walk and talk, have no oozing wounds, and still know my name and address; what's to complain about? Then I open up the newspaper or go online and realize what a pathetic loser I am. People are successful! Their children and grandchildren shower them with affection! Their books are best-sellers, their art goes for millions!! They are thinner and better-looking, they have toned upper arms, and their condos overlook Central Park West!!! What a fool I've been thinking I'm living the good life...

Certainly each and every one of us would be happier if we avoided comparing ourselves to others. We'd never feel fatter or shorter or uglier or dumber or poorer or just plain lesser. We could just be, and how great is that? Of course, as my husband frequently observes, I could just compare myself to hideous gremlins and destitute lepers, but there aren't a whole lot of those featured in the Sunday New York Times Magazine.

Every few months I toy with getting off Facebook, but then I would miss my distant friends. If only their lives were worse than mine, everything would be fine.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Thanking God

Miracles do happen after all! Here we are in the grips of a record-setting blizzard and yet we still have power in our house. This is wild, since in the past we have lost power in rainstorms, wind storms, and even on one perfectly nice calm and sunny Sunday afternoon last summer. So to be in the middle of a fierce, high-wind snowstorm and not be totally freezing with candles burning all over the place is quite a treat, and indeed miraculous. I can only attribute it to prayer. I spent much of yesterday praying audibly to the Big Guy that we would not lose power so I could see what's going on in the rest of the storm area. Finally, he heard me. Or rather, He heard me.

I am quite appreciative and will follow through on my part of the bargain, of course, which means no more jabs at Nancy Pelosi's facelift. And I'll be giving a ton more to charity. Happy to do it though. Having power also means I can post pictures of the storm, which is always fun. Here are some now:


Lonely Weber Grill in Blizzard
Snow Outside My Door
Monhegan Island Fish in the Garden

Friday, February 8, 2013

Upping the Anxiety

What about Frosty?
As I write this, a winter wonderland is unfolding outside my window. It's lovely, all but eradicating the remaining pain from my cat's recent execution and another body-bruising Zumba class. But according to all reports, this storm is neither lovely nor wonderful. Instead, it's a DANGEROUS, CRIPPLING BLIZZARD! Various WATCHES and WARNINGS have been issued! POWERFUL WIND GUSTS are expected to cause WIDESPREAD POWER OUTAGES! Oy. Can't I just enjoy a nice, old-fashioned picturesque, snow-shoeing New England snowstorm with many cups of cocoa and a snowman or two, like I dreamed of having as a child growing up in New York?

Snowstorms bring out the worst in meteorologists, each one trying to top the other in the hysteria department. If it were not so anxiety-producing, at least in those who are anxiety-prone, it would be funny. Surely we have enough anxiety producers in the news, what with drones, mass shootings, terrorists, disease, widespread war and the end of cursive being taught in our schools. A fluffy little snowstorm is kind of a relief.

Even zanier are all the locals rushing out to buy things they need--like snow shovels. What the---you live in New England, it's already February, and you don't have a snow shovel? How is that possible? Do they buy disposable shovels and toss them out every April? I read a quote from a woman online saying she needs a new one because "my last one broke." Last one? We usually have six or seven on hand, having brought three when we arrived, finding three in the garage left here by the former owners, and buying a new one just for fun. (Last month we gave one to our friend Dave, but he's only 25 and living in his first real house, so you can understand.) Then there's the whole bread, milk and toilet paper thing, which people "stock up on" in a storm. God knows what they do with that combo. I guess eating a lot of bread and drinking a lot of milk at the same time, while it's snowing, makes you need to go to the bathroom. One hopes they have a toilet plunger on hand.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Life Is Beautiful; My Cat is Still Dead

Illustration by Gordon Studer
My cat Gizmo is still dead today, in fact he is deader than he was yesterday when at least he woke up alive first thing in the morning and had no idea that things would degenerate so, resulting in it being his last day on Earth. (He made it until about four in the afternoon.) I am still sad, even sadder than yesterday. There are so many people I really liked a lot who are now dead. I suppose when you get to a certain age there are more and more in that category. This is a huge bummer but a fact that if you can accept and really get it, then maybe all of life can be joyful every minute that you still have it, and those anti-depressants that cause all those horrible side effects would become obsolete.

If Gizmo could blog from the great beyond, he'd probably say: "Breathe deep. Be here now. Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life. You better do it, whatever it is, as soon as possible. You never know. Not to be a downer, but all that crap is so true."

He always was a straight-shooter.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

One Less Kitty

In case you think you're not alone, try making the decision to end your pet's life. I did that today.

Nobody could help. Not the vet, not my other cats, and not my husband and son who, besides being away, would likely defer to me were they here. Not even the cat in question, since he did not speak my language. I had to imagine that I am a cat, one that no longer can play or run or jump, or walk without pain, or eat with any pleasure. Or even pee into the litter box without missing by a mile.

Gizmo had just turned 19. He had a great life, a long life, and now it's over. That's sad and there is no getting around it. I guess I will just have to feel this way until I don't feel this way anymore.

Zumba: Use It or Lose It

Because of all the doctors who said my arthritic hip needed replacing, advice I have steadily rejected for fear of setting off airport security beepers, I am morphing into a creaky old lady. Thankfully it doesn't show--not yet. But I learned the truth last night at an exercise class called Zumba Toning. After an hour of dancing, stretching, jumping and weight-lifting set to hip-hop and disco, I hobbled home and could barely drag myself up the stairs to bed. This morning was worse: how would I get down those stairs? Pissed that we never installed an elevator, I managed, one tread at a time.

At least I wasn't the oldest person in the class of about 30 energetic, totally in-shape Zumbites. One lady, another first-timer, had me by about five or six years, and she was in big trouble for most of the hour. In fact, seeing her unruly body, over which she seemingly had no dominion, was quite motivating: I'm not there yet. My advice to anyone who wants to avoid creaking before their time, or even in their time, includes the following:

1. Never patronize a restaurant you see advertised on television.
2. Always research medical advice before following it. Remember the old saw: 50% of all doctors graduated in the bottom half of their class. (These days it's more like 75%, if that is mathematically possible.)
3. Do not knowingly consume salt.
4. Drink water constantly, alternating with tea.
5. If it tastes good, spit it out.
6. Move until it hurts, i.e., find a Zumba class in your neighborhood.

I'm going back there tomorrow night if it kills me, which it might. But still, it's not too late. The pain I'm feeling today is proof that I'm not dead yet.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Going Postal

The rural mailbox: an opportunity for self-expression.
According to Doug, who lives down the road, Polly, my cross-the-street neighbor, is already pissed at the new people, who haven't even moved in yet. Seems they parked their mailbox on her property without even asking. Here in our rural neighborhood, the mailman likes the boxes all on one side of the street, making delivery easier. And so the new neighbors, whose house is directly across the street from Polly's, had little choice but to plunk their mailbox on the edge of her lawn. Making matters worse, the ground is frozen, so instead of digging a hole and having their mailbox standing on a proper wooden post, they've stuck it in a bucket filled with stones to hold it until the spring thaw.

The alternative to having a mailbox around here is a box at the local post office. Mitch and I opted for that when we moved in, since the ground was frozen back then too, and we weren't as smart as the new folks in dreaming up a solution. Instead, we pay $70 a year for the pleasure of picking up our mail, which is in many ways the best part of living in Maine. Just the other day I overheard the following:

Crusty Old Lady: Morning, John. How's your wife doing?
Crusty Old Man: Not very good.
COL: Home from the hospital yet?
COM: Yup. Third time since Christmas. I'm hoping they fixed her up this time.
COL: Don't count on it. I had a nephew who passed from the same thing.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Only Ten More Shopping Days

There are only ten days left until the most meaningless of all meaningless holidays occurs, or whatever the word is for what Valentine's Day does.  Really, what does it do? And what's it for, and why are there so many products manufactured just for that one day, which, let me repeat, is meaningless? There are boxes of heart-shaped chocolates, and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, and certainly heart-shaped boxes of heart-shaped chocolates. The color red has its day, showing up in ribbons and store windows and advertisements for crappy jewelry from shopping malls and lovely jewelry from Tiffany's. Then there are the cards, declaring love for everyone from your spouse and siblings and kids and parents to your teacher, dog walker and trash collector. And the cakes and pies and cookies, all heart-shaped, as if the human heart is actually heart-shaped, which it is not. (See photo.) Plainly put, Valentine's Day is hateful.

On the other hand, it does offer an opportunity to get some stuff you want if your beloved takes such things seriously, and mine does--sort of. He thinks it matters, yet does nothing to get it right. Last-minute flowers and drugstore teddy bears wearing sweaters that say I LUV YOU don't cut it. Success takes planning. So I am writing this to help my husband survive what I know is a stressful time for him. I will hereby lay out explicit instructions, and let's just see how he does:

Don't buy this, I already have it!
At Maine Mall there is a store called Pandora that sells little beads or "charms" that slide onto leather or silver bracelets. (It's on the same side as the Apple store, just past the intersection of that other aisle. In fact, if you go, pick up that new iPhone you've been wanting, and Happy Valentine's day from me!) I have such a bracelet, but no beads, having bought just the leather version one day when I was downtown on Exchange Street and feeling sorry for myself. I would like a silver bead; not a glass one, and not one shaped like a frog or anything cute, or anything at all, and no hearts! We discussed this at the pool in Florida where that lady lying on the lounge chair next to us with the fat husband had one in black. She also had a silver one too, and I remarked that she must be rich, although so what, she still had that fat husband who I heard her tell, "See, if you did laps, you could look like him," pointing at you doing laps in the pool. (They also sell them at Brown's in Freeport across from the CVS, but have far fewer choices, and besides that lady in there is insufferable.)

Gemstones are fine.
Enough said. Of course, you gotta play to win, and there is no way to know if Mitch will read this, which makes it all the more fun. And P.S. to other husbands and boyfriends: This is a great gift, the leather bracelet is like $40.00 and the beads start at $25.00, so we are not talking breaking the bank.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

FILM REVIEW: Zero Dark Chocolate

What fun!
I hate when copy editors write a headline for a movie review that's a pun based on the movie's title, even when it doesn't apply. I have done exactly that here just to illustrate my point, although since there was little about chocolate in "Zero Dark Thirty," my chosen title for this post is quite fitting. In many ways, this is an educational film; I learned so much. Like, you actually can remain seated for two and a half hours and not develop a blood clot in your leg, something I worry about when I fly for that long.

The movie recounts the true story of how the CIA and the Navy Seals killed Osama Bin Laden, only, who knew-- his name was Usama Bin Laden. (There again, the learning.) And interestingly enough, neither President Obama nor Vice-President Biden was depicted in the movie since they apparently played no part in the whole caper, despite Biden saying about a million times during last year's political campaign that, "Obama killed Osama!" (He also got the name wrong.) But enough about education.

The plot is quite dark, which the title implies. If you don't like torture, and many people don't, you may want to bring a scarf or hat to cover your face for the first 30 or 40 minutes of the film because there is a ton of that going on. In case you've wondered what waterboarding looks like, you'll find out here if you can stand watching it. Turns out that America does engage in torture, although in this instance the Head Torturer is a really sweet guy with a gentle touch. He likes ice cream cones and little monkeys and is prone to growing a beard, shaving it off, and then growing it back again.

The star of the movie and head Usama-hunter is a female agent who everyone keeps referring to as "the girl." She is the mastermind of the whole plot, and seems to exist solely on cola drinks, M&Ms and Twizzlers. The movie was also directed by a woman, which is funny since it was so heavily macho-macho, what with all the CIA spies and bad guys and Navy Seals in night vision goggles and the aforementioned gruesome torture scenes. Plan for a somber time, since there was not one light-hearted moment in the whole thing, which probably means it will win the Oscar for Best Picture this year. (You heard it here first.)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

There's More to New Jersey Than Belching Gas

This blog's readership is plummeting faster than the stock market after 9/11 ever since I wrote that having gay Boy Scout leaders was a bad idea. This literally revolting development is actually kind of liberating, since the fewer people who read my posts, the more I can say whatever I want. Like the following:

1. How come it is okay to poke fun at some people but not others? This young woman named Snooki, who became famous on a reality TV show about a group of people living on the Jersey Shore--I've never seen it but am simply alive on the planet--is always being mocked for one thing or another. Nobody seems to mind making jokes about her being dumb and classless and from New Jersey. In fact, the entire state is always being portrayed as a garbage dump, even though most of it is quite lovely, hence its name as "The Garden State." But too many people only drive through the industrial morass on the Jersey Turnpike, and that's all they know of it. Anyway, I bet if Snooki were grossly overweight or gay or a double amputee, or preferably all three, she would be a folk hero and role model.

2. Why have we never had a Jewish president? Everyone knows Jews are really smart and successfully run many businesses. It seems they would be a natural fit to run the country. And yet. Where is the outrage over that?

3. How does bad art get into museums? Is it the same way bad books get into print, and bad movies get into production? What exactly is that way?

Back when I had a lot of readers--last week--I felt compelled to be funny or make an important statement of some kind. But with few readers besides my loyal friends who actually want to stay in touch with me, this venue becomes more of a personal conversation with them. So, Oz and Deneb and David and Gordon--do you have any answers for me?

Oh Shut Up Already

There is no amount of money that would entice me to appear in a TV commercial, and certainly not one for toilet paper. Yet, in an ad for one particular brand I will not name because I refuse to give it even more recognition, there are these perfectly normal-looking women who discuss it openly, as if we need their input on what to look for in such a product. One of them stares into the camera and coos, "I want to feel clean and pampered!" You could offer me a million dollars and I would not say that on national TV, or even all alone in my living room looking into a mirror.

Putting it plainly, I hate advertising. I want it to suffer a debilitating and painful disease and then die. It's everywhere, slowly but surely taking over the world. Pretty soon people will have ads tattooed on their bodies as a way to make money. Because I have such a strong dislike for it, I never buy anything I see advertised; naturally, the list of things I won't use is considerable. The only exception to this rule is our GEICO car insurance, but I purchased that about 40 years ago, long before that stupid talking gecko with the Australian accent showed up. (I compensate for this lapse by driving a Saab and filling it with Irving gasoline, neither of which you ever see mentioned anywhere, not even in the Consumer Reports automobile issue.)

Perhaps my favorite product is Comet. It really works! It really does clean and deodorize, just like it says on the can, or jar or whatever that cardboard thing it comes in is called. Yet you never see an ad for Comet. There is no Comet Lady popping out of your sink or tub drain. There is no funny cartoon character. You never hear a word about it, yet there it remains, still for sale and thus still profitable for its shareholders. If only every other product followed Comet's example, the world would be a better place. And shinier too.


Friday, February 1, 2013

One Less Noisy Neighbor

It was a Saturday night, and as usual my husband was completely ignoring me and studying for law school. With any luck he would take a break later and we'd go out for ice cream. Until then, I busied myself around our small garden apartment, trying to ignore the shouts coming through the thin walls from the neighbors. An older couple who seemed nice enough when we met them in the hall, they hurled obscenities at one another every night, fueled no doubt by the empty whiskey bottles we saw in the communal trash room each morning. "They're at it again," I called to Rick, but he was lost in a world of torts and contracts and just grunted. (This behavior may have contributed to our divorce a few years later.)

Folding laundry, I noticed the yelling getting louder. First she screamed. Then he bellowed. Then she screamed again, and he bellowed louder. There was a slap, a rumble, and then a loud thud. Followed by complete silence. Followed by more silence. That was odd, I thought, reminding myself it was none of my business, until about 15 minutes later when I heard the whirr of the garbage disposal. It ran for about a minute, then stopped. Then a few minutes later, it ran again, then stopped. This on and off noise continued for most of two hours. "Rick, I think he killed her and is chopping her up and stuffing her down the garbage disposal," I called out. "You smoked too much pot, go take a bath," was his only reply.

Early the next morning I went out to get the paper from the front stoop and Mr. Neterfort came out wearing an overcoat and a broad-brimmed hat, and carrying two large suitcases. I asked if he were off on a trip, and he said his wife was going to visit her mother. He kept walking, put the suitcases in the trunk of his car parked down the block, and drove off. Mrs. Neterfort was not in the car. He came back a week later, but we never saw her again.