Friday, May 31, 2013

Pet Peeves

Is it just me, or do our pets make all of us miserable? I ask because my cat spent last night outdoors, and I got up three times during the night, groping my way down the stairs and out to the back door, to see if he had returned. He had not. Then I woke up at 5:20 this morning and expected to see him meowing for breakfast, but he wasn't around. Still isn't. Is he lost, dead, trapped? Hit by a car, eaten by a predator, shot by a hunter? You see those signs on telephone poles all the time: Cat missing, very friendly, please call. I could go on, but it's too neurotic.

My neighbor, a single woman exactly my age, bought an adorable puppy about a year ago. She was replacing her two ancient dogs, both of whom had to be euthanized within months of one another, so naturally she was excited the day she brought the new little guy home. Since then, her life has been what one might charitably describe as a Living Hell. Bailey was cute at first, but he grew and grew and grew--in fact he got to be much larger than is typical for his breed. I see her walking him morning, noon and night, and often in-between, in rain and snow and heat of day. He is enthusiastic to a fault, and when he jumps up to greet you, which he does with abandon, he's as tall as the average human. He spends his indoor time living in a huge crate in the kitchen. I would go on, but it's too depressing.

Years ago, a friend of mine had a cat she adored. Spike was a huge Maine Coon, and I sort of had a crush on him--he had a great personality, and was also very handsome and considerate. Anyway, Spike spent his time roaming the nearby woods, but always came home at night. Until he didn't. So Nancy went looking for him, and ultimately she found him---hanging from a fence, his collar caught on one of the pickets. Dead. I would go on, but it's too gruesome.

Once we had a pug named Tank. He was too adorable for words. He had an ear infection that would not clear up with antibiotics, so our vet suggested we flush it out with water. "We'll just put him under for about seven minutes with a light sedative, and then it's gone," Dr. Wilson said. That sounds easy enough, I thought. Except Tank never woke up. He was five. His ashes are in a box on our bookshelf.

Even fish are a drag. Last summer a flash of lightning took out the residents of our koi pond, of whom we had grown quite fond. They had names and everything. They didn't die right away, but the next morning we found them bloated and floating, really and most sincerely dead.

Now Lurch is out there somewhere, and I find I can't do much besides walk around outside and call his name. This is bad, as I'm in the middle of painting our bedroom and was hoping to have the job done by the time my husband gets home from a business trip tonight.

I hate those "missing" signs.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sayonara, Smithfield

Fire up the chopsticks...
For all you folks out there who love Chinese food, rejoice! Now there will be even more of it than before, with the takeover of Smithfield Foods by Shuanghui International. Personally I don't eat ham and steer clear of pork, so it won't really impact me much. And don't get me wrong, I love Chinese things--in fact I employ chopsticks every chance I get. It just makes me nervous when I remember those recent news reports about the 16,000 dead pigs floating in the Chinese rivers, mucking up the water supply to several major cities. I'm pretty sure there were some ducks too.  Anyway, they've likely cleaned all that up by now.

I checked out Shuanghui and they seem nice enough, and in fact they promise to uphold the highest of standards. And really, they won't be sending us any dead pigs, they just want to sell our healthy ones over there.

Still, even though they call it a "merger," it is the largest takeover of an American company by China. It reminds me of the plot in the Albert Brooks novel, Twenty Thirty: The Real Story of What Happens to America, which was a flop a couple of years ago--I may be the only person whoever read it. In it, China rebuilds Los Angeles after a terrible earthquake destroys everything in the year 2030. They do a great job, of course, and it's the best city in America. Too bad China owns it. That's fiction, but this is fact: your next Thanksgiving Smithfield ham will be part Chinese. I wonder if that means you'll be hungry an hour later.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pity the Rich

Call Me Madcap! gets scores of letters from the very wealthy, bemoaning the fact that they are constantly belittled in this blog. "Hey Mad," starts one of them angrily, "we are people too! It's not our fault we're rich. Cut us, do we not bleed?" To see, I asked one of my wealthy friends to cut himself. He balked at first, but then when I said I would pay him he relented and, waddya know--he bled! That little experiment changed my attitude, and since then I have taken to solving the problems for which the rich seek answers. A few examples follow:

Dear Madcap: My husband and I are celebrating the purchase of our new yacht with a maiden voyage and party for 50 of our closest friends. I think we should start with an appetizer of Shaved Pig's Head artfully presented with braised red cabbage, sauce gribiche and grilled brioche. My husband says this will offend our rabbi, and suggests instead a platter of Miso Salmon Tartare with a sesame chile dressing and cucumber yuzu slaw. My feeling is that, since we are Jewish, the salmon tartare could come off like lox trying to pass as goyish sophistication. What do you think?-- Closet Jew, Newport, RI

Dear Closet: You are right! Any shred of salmon, smoked or otherwise, on your table, and before you know it, people are humming the score from "Fiddler on the Roof." Steer clear of that nightmare with a simple, though still artfully displayed, platter of Smoked Trout Panna Cotta with citrus creme fraiche and steelhead trout caviar and fennel crisps. And about the boat: Mazel tov! 

Dear Madcap: Besides our unbelievably huge contributions to several charities, we also give generously to our community, expecting nothing in return except maybe a little recognition once in a while. Our planned donation of two million dollars will build the new psychiatric wing at the local hospital; is it asking too much that they name it after us? We have been told it would not set the right tone.--Mr. & Mrs. Loony, Irvine, CA

Dear Loonies: I see their point. Perhaps you could earmark your donation for another branch of medicine that would better reflect your surname. Picture it: The Loony Plastic Surgery Center. It fairly sings.

Dear Madcap: My husband and I are planning a six-month world tour, and I'm wondering how to pack lightly since our jet, while roomy, has a relatively meager cargo space. Should I limit myself to just one mink? How many dozen boots and shoes? And how much staff is considered appropriate? Your help would be appreciated. --Mrs. D. Trump, FL

Dear Mrs. Trump: Silly you! Don't pack anything, just shop as you go and leave the extra clothes in your hotel rooms. Those chambermaids will appreciate it. As for staff, leave them home--there will be plenty of underlings to do your bidding along the way.

Dear Roto: I think our maid is stealing from us, but I can't be sure. We pay her minimum wage and give her a nice Kwanzaa bonus every year, but still she's always complaining that her children have no shoes. (Boo-hoo--did we tell her to get pregnant at 16? No, we did not!) Anyway, would it be wrong to install hidden cameras throughout our mansion so we could see what she does when we're not around? --Suspicious in Shaker Heights, OH

Dear Suspicious: These days, you can't be too careful no matter what your income--so I recommend hidden cameras for everyone. If you want to do it yourself, there are many fine kits available, allowing you to hide cameras in just about anything--alarm clocks, coffee pots, and of course, nestled among the family jewels. For tips, I suggest renting "Meet the Parents," which features hidden surveillance cameras placed by a rich guy to watch anything and everything that goes on in his home. Starring Robert DeNiro and Ben Stiller, it's funny too.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

On the Road Again

In the car. How odd is that? Mitch is driving, of course too close to the car ahead.  Mitch thinks I should try harder to stifle my screams. Passing a truck, I hate that. I think 18-wheelers should be outlawed, end of story.

A few minutes ago we saw a cop pull over a speeder, which is why he did not see us going 80. Then we passed a car with the bumper sticker: HONK IF YOU DON'T EXIST. What does that even mean? Of course, Mitch honked repeatedly, and then she smiled as we passed by and waved, so she knew for sure we do exist.

Our E-Z Pass thing didn't work, and we went through and it was still red, so we backed up and had to get some special ticket from the toll clerk and then do something else at the next toll so we would not be charged.

Up ahead is one of those trucks that have lots of cars strapped on them, for transport. Those are the worst to be behind. Imagine the scene if one of those had an accident, suddenly you're in a 10-car pile-up.

I wish I had some Twizzlers or Chuckles but I don't eat those anymore.  More than two more hours of this. Oy.

Normally I take pictures out the car window on long trips like this, but my camera is broken, actually it was broken by Mitch--it was an accident but still it's broken, and he did it, sue me--but since my computer works I am blogging instead. (Idle hands are the Devil's workshop.)

Time On My Hands

It's amazing how much extra time one has to do other things when food is not used for recreational purposes. It's sort of a drag and sort of a gift. Now that I am no longer eating any grains, I marvel at how those minutes spent waiting for the toaster to turn my seeded wheat bread to the exact shade of burnt umber added up. All these extra minutes allow me to do really important things, like make lists such as these:

Top 10 movies I can watch repeatedly without getting bored:
1. Adaptation
2. Tootsie
3. The Queen
4. Saturday Night Fever
5. Little Shop of Horrors
6. A Place in the Sun
7. King Kong (original version)
8. The Matrix
9. Rocky Horror Picture Show
10. The Last Waltz

Top 10 horrors of modern life:
1. TV laugh tracks
2. How some people are homeless while others have multiple mansions
3. Airlines charge for pillows, blankets, food and luggage, despite high ticket prices
4. Pit bull owners who insist they are sweet and adorable if you raise them right
5. Saab, the maker of the best car ever, went out of business
6. People take their kids to Disney World and Disneyland but never to Haiti
7. Drivers who kill deer on the highways just leave their bodies lying there
8. Al Gore sold his cable TV station to Al Jazeera
9. Twisted murderers become celebrities and get fan mail
10. Everyone is so fat and still there are All You Can Eat restaurants



Monday, May 27, 2013

The Devil Within

Today may be a national holiday to commemorate all the dead people who thought shooting strangers was an acceptable way to solve the world's problems, but since I am a pacifist I don't observe. But for those who do enjoy celebrating such things, have fun.

For me, the day is important for it marks the start of the second week of my strict observance of The Whole 30 diet. I went seven whole days without cheating at all--until last night when I broke down and had a glass of red wine with dinner, followed later by six pretzel nuggets. Clearly the wine served as a gateway drug, opening the door to the pretzels. Fortunately, out of the habit of drinking, the wine made me unduly sleepy and I passed out before I got to those brownies, brought by a friend and sitting right out there on the kitchen counter.

When you stop eating badly, just like when you stop smoking, you see the habit for what it is: the Devil's handiwork. (I'm pretty sure he has something to do with war, too.) Since I'm not "allowed" to weigh myself on this diet I have no hard evidence of weight loss, but I do know I feel better about myself since I started it, and that's reward in and of itself.





Saturday, May 25, 2013

There's Something About Jodi

Jodi's fans outside the Phoenix courtroom react to her "guilty" verdict.
According to independent research, readers of Call Me Madcap!, and thus people in general, care not a whit about the upcoming mayoral race in New York City, something I recently wrote about that attracted only a few readers. What they do care about, still and unbelievably, is Jodi Arias--crazed murderess and drowned rat though she be. My two posts about her, one written back on March 14, still get lots of clicks each day.

It's funny: Jodi did her horrible deed and gets lots of fan mail, TV coverage, and almost royal treatment by the press, who compete for interviews with Her Lunacy. What does that say about us? That violent women are sexy? That any woman in an abusive relationship has the right to kill? That men are evil and deserve to die? What's she got?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Fog

Believe it or not, there's an ocean out there.
One of the bad things about living in a small town is how lazy one, meaning me, has gotten regarding entertainment outside of one's own four walls. Naturally, weather permitting, there is the great outdoors in all its glory, with hiking, biking, sailing, kayaking, blah, blah blah, all just steps away. But it rains a lot, like every day this week and at this very moment, and at times like that it's hard to ignore the fact that in our small town of Freeport there are just two distractions: go to a movie or go shopping. There is no theater, no music, and the art museum is a 20-minute drive away in the big city, so it doesn't really count; you've got to actually comb your hair, change your clothes and gas up the buggy to go there. Locally, there are only a handful of restaurants that serve okay food in not-okay environments, and one good restaurant that serves great food in a so-so environment.

On the other hand, fog is a constant and it is beautiful beyond description, although it does make it hard to see things. Carl Sandburg liked it enough to write a poem about it, which I print in its entirety below. It's short, the way any poem that expects to get read by anyone should be:

The fog comes
on little cat feet. 
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on. 

I Give Up

I recently read of an artist with a show in New York, or somewhere just like it, whose work consists of his throwing tomatoes at blank canvases and then hanging the result on the wall. This is annoying to say the least. Dead cows floating in tanks of water, smashed tomatoes--what chance do I have with my normal paintings of cows in a field or flowers in a vase? Why bother? In fact, why bother doing anything when there's always someone doing it way worse but succeeding at it way better? There are blogs about donuts that make a fortune. Donuts! So I have decided that this blog which doesn't make a dime, and which has very few readers anyway, should be much worse in order to be much better. Starting today, right now. (Don't you just hate/love this?)




Thursday, May 23, 2013

Guess Who's Running for Mayor of New York

The best depiction of a weiner I've ever seen.
Mayor Bloomberg is leaving at the end of his term. He plans to spend his retirement drinking extra-large sodas. Out of all the possible dedicated politicians who could run for his vacated office, one of the following has just declared his candidacy for Mayor of New York City. Can you pick who?

#1. He's boring, haughty, imperious, has big ears, and lacks even a hint of humor. He wouldn't know charisma if it came up and bit him in the ass. Is it him? (No, he's got a job in Washington until 2016.)

#2. He's funny, and always has a mischievous grin. He says what he means and even if he sometimes gets the words wrong, they are always heartfelt. Is it him? (No, he lives in Texas and is done with politics.)

#3. She's dumpy, dowdy, and has droopy bags under her eyes some of the time, but then suddenly they're all gone. Some people call her "the smartest woman in the world," but she stays married to a man who has cheated on her publicly forever. Is it her? (No, she's holding out for a bigger job.)

#4. He's young, smart, articulate, brash and carries a copy of the Constitution in his back pocket. He learned it all from his father. Is it him? (No, he's too conservative.)

#5. He took photos of his own penis and inadvertently tweeted them to his entire address book. Turns out he was also "sexting" young girls. He quit his job as Senator in shame. Now he wants to come back. Is it him? (Yes it is. Could it be? How could it be? Are you kidding me? Give me a break.)

Oreos and Other Evils

A future fatty enjoying her Oreos.
Oreos turned 101 this year. No longer an only child, the original Oreo now has plenty of company with its siblings Double Stuf, Mega Stuf and Mini. You can also get them chocolate-covered, vanilla-cookied and peanut butter-filled. The newest member of the family, conceived to celebrate this year's benchmark birthday, is called Wonderfilled--as in, "I wonder what this filling is?" It even has its own song, written specifically for all the little children who are not yet fat but will be soon enough. The first line of the song says that if someone had given the Big Bad Wolf an Oreo, he might have been nice to the Three Little Pigs and helped them decorate their houses instead of destroying them. (Subliminal message: Who needs a gun if you have some Oreos on hand?)

Coincidentally, thanks to Oreos and similar crap, there are a lot of fatties out there. The statistics are available with a click of your mouse: More than a third of adults in America are obese. Because of that, they suffer and die from heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers. Their treatments cost billions of dollars, making my insurance--and yours--more expensive. Why? The simple answer is, they shop in supermarkets. These Houses of Horror are filled with rows and rows of poison, all marketed in pretty packages and with fun names to make them palatable. But once you do some research, you will learn that inside those boxes is nothing worth anything.

So here's what to do: Shop only in the smallest store you can find. If there are no small stores nearby, shop only the outer perimeter of the supermarket. Never, ever go down any of the aisles in the middle; that's where they keep all the poison--and all the Oreos. Don't buy anything that is wrapped so that you can't see it. Eat only real food you can pronounce. Starting immediately, you will lose weight, have fewer aches and pains, and feel better about yourself and the whole world in general. Really.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How Far to Nirvana?

If I could change one thing about myself, besides my height which of course is set in stone, it would be my inclination to become annoyed by everyday things, things that other people seem to let slide. This personality trait is keeping me from reaching nirvana, a place I would really like to reach. For example, I hate when I post a comment under a photo on Facebook, and the next person writes the exact same thing. Example: I write, "Beautiful cake, looks yummy!" The very next person writes, "Looks beautiful and yummy." Then the next person writes, "Beautiful and I bet it's yummy too!" Did nobody read what I just wrote? Or did they, and they liked it so much they wanted to say it too, not understanding that it would be redundant? Had they nothing else to add?

Or this: When I dine out, I am expecting to be served. That's why I went I--I can cook and I have food in the fridge; I went out for somebody to take care of me. So then when I arrive and nobody even looks at me for five minutes, I get pissed off. Hello--a glass of water would be nice. Eye contact would be nice, a "Hello, how are you?" would be nice. I had a friend once--of German descent and believe me that won't happen again--who said one night at dinner out, when I became annoyed by the lack of attention from anyone on the restaurant staff after like 15 minutes, that "We don't do that. We just relax and enjoy the company and the ambiance of the restaurant." Well whoop-de-doo, Hitler gassed all the Jews in Germany, did you relax about that? (Another story I know, and an old one, but one that I still find quite annoying.)

I am not proud of my high annoyance factor. Remember, I started this by saying I would change it, now I am simply explaining it, so stop being so judgmental. Here's another: Our new next door neighbors take out their two industrial-size ugly trash bins for the garbage pickup on Monday morning, then leave them sitting there on the street for days. Like until Wednesday, and once Thursday. Several questions: Don't they need them up at the house, which is at the end of a very long driveway? And where are they putting all their garbage? They must have plenty, what with a kid still in diapers. The mind boggles. Besides, do they not notice that everyone else in the neighborhood takes in their trash bins within hours of pickup and that's why our street is so lovely and bucolic? What goes through their minds?

I also find it annoying when writers try to tie everything up at the end of an article and finish with a zinger. I don't do that.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Down East Etiquette

"That's wicked good lobstah..."
I hate the anonymous online commenter. Is there a greater coward anywhere today? I think not. That's why I always sign my name when I have something to say. You'd think that would earn me brownie points, but instead it has gotten me banned from leaving any of my critical input concerning a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, rabid, left-wing columnist named Ed Beem, who writes for a silly little local birdcage-liner here in Maine called The Forecaster.

I found this out just moments ago and so maybe it's the anger talking, but when I attempted to add my two cents, I got the message that I, specifically, was "not permitted to post any comments on this stream." (And what a stream it is, if you get my drift.) That's annoying--and possibly a partial explanation of why Maine only has about a million residents. You simply can't be honest here, you're supposed to keep your thoughts to yourself, unless they are along the lines of, "that's wicked good lobstah." 


These Days, Being Daft Is In

Two quite daft Daft Punk helmet wearers.
I can't decide if I am out of the loop or if I am just in another loop, but something I knew nothing about until this morning is a Daft Punk helmet, and it's already important enough to have a front-page article written about it in the Wall Street Journal, which is more than I can say about myself.

Apparently such helmets are worn onstage by the French singing duo named Daft Punk, another thing I have never heard of until today. Knock-offs of the unusual helmets, which cover the wearer's face, have become a must-have status symbol among fans. They don't come cheap, ranging from $200 to $2,000, or more. Some people make their own, while others hunt them down on eBay or buy them from fan sites. These helmets serve no purpose whatsoever, and are simply further evidence of the downward spiral of mankind into the Pit of Desperation.

Twenty years ago, as the mother of a sophisticated little boy living in a major metropolitan area, I was deeply embedded in the loop. To stay there, I spent lots of time hunting down the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle thing, or the newest Goosebumps book, or that Razor scooter, or whatever fad came along. I'm glad my son is now past all that, and instead is busy learning how to live a healthy farmer's life off the land, off the grid, and definitely out of the loop.

Monday, May 20, 2013

30 Days to a New Me....I Hope

Okay, it's time to take the bull by the horns--not that I have a bull, or even if I did, that I would ever take it by the horns, which seems like a really crazy thing to do. What I mean is it's time to get cracking, although I'm not sure what and why cracking it would be good. Okay, it's time to get on the stick--what stick, don't ask me. No wonder it's so hard for immigrants to learn our language. Anyway, it's time to get serious about losing the excess poundage that has made itself quite at home in my body over the last few months, making it harder for me to feel comfortable in my own skin, seeing as it is stretched way too tight.

Starting today, Mitch and I are committing to something called The Whole 30, which is a good-food, healthy eating plan that will also shrink us down to fighting weight. It has been years since I tried a weight-loss "program," but desperate times call for desperate measures. It sounds easy enough, except for no alcohol for the next thirty days, so you can expect my blog posts to be crankier than usual.







Sunday, May 19, 2013

Obama: Asleep at the Wheel

It is becoming more obvious daily that finally everyone else is noticing that Obama totally sucks as a president. I say this because of recent evidence that the upper echelons of his administration are as effective as Manny, Mo and Jack, or maybe Mo and Larry, or maybe Lucy and Ethel, or perhaps Martin & Lewis, or Harpo, Chico, Zeppo and Groucho would be if they held high office.

Here's the deal: Obama chose most of them, and guess what--he's even worse than they are; at least they go to work every day and make all those bad decisions, whereas Obama is obviously sleeping in and not even keeping current. When he shows up at all, he's always stunned, saying he has learned about each new problem the very same day we all did.

Does he even know he is president? Perhaps he has had a recent head injury, a la Hillary Clinton on the day of the first Benghazi hearing. (Hey, it worked for her.) Obama's feigned ignorance of the evil surrounding him reminds me of an old joke: Two senior citizens, Sadie and Mabel, are driving to Bingo. Sadie, at the wheel, cruises through a stop sign. Luckily nobody was coming, and Mabel lets it slide. But a few minutes later when she goes through a red light, Mabel is quite alarmed. She says to Sadie, "Sadie, when you went through that stop sign I didn't say a word, but when you go through a red light, I have to speak up." Sadie, surprised, turns to her and says, "Oy, am I driving?"

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Unemployment Woes

Every day I look for work online. Since I live in Maine, and since the print world is shrinking, and since I refuse to write for free or for less than a penny a word, or even a penny a word, I never find anything in my chosen profession. So I look in other professions.

This morning I was intrigued by an ad for a full-time, automotive, entry-level parts counter person. I know it sounds bad, but I could walk there. It said that the applicant "must possess above average work ethics." That got me wondering why they needed someone with above average work ethics. Not just good ones, but really extraordinary ones. I felt they were asking too much, it being an entry-level position. Couldn't you start off with just average work ethics and improve upon them over time? Ultimately I felt that, besides not knowing anything about automotive parts, I have only average work ethics and thus if I even applied for the job I would be lying, which would be an example of below average work ethics even before I got hired.

Another job for a sales associate in an upscale gift shop in a trendy little touristy town nearby sounded promising, except at the end it said that "offering samples of food products is a must." Too dictatorial. Besides, who wants somebody shoving food in their face while they're shopping?

So it's back to square one.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Keeping Current

Here is the Giant Yellow Ducky in Sydney Harbor. (He gets around.)
I know, I know: Just two days ago I said no more news. But today there are such great stories to share, I would be remiss not to pass these along to my friend who does not read the newspaper but does read this blog. After all, there are things worth knowing that happen outside your own four walls, Debra! Like these:

1. A Saudi man was apprehended and arrested at a Detroit airport for having a pressure cooker in his luggage. Naturally Hussain Al-Khawahir knew nothing about the Boston bombings--duh--and insisted it was a gift for his nephew, Nasser Almarzooq, a college student who wants to cook lamb in his dorm room.  What can we say except hahahahahaha Hussain, that's a good one?

2. A giant, inflated yellow rubber ducky is taking Hong Kong by storm. Hordes of tourists are booking rooms overlooking the harbor where the duck is now installed. He is thrilling to behold, by all accounts. Restaurants are serving duck-shaped foods, yellow bread, and of course, duck. I want to go.

3. Since water is so healthy but so boring, tasting as it does like water, there are now scads of new drinks on the market offering water with artificial sweeteners and coloring. Marketed with names like Vitaminwater, HintWater, Smartwater and Fruitwater, they are catching on big-time. Coming soon, only with real sugar and some bubbles: Cokewater.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Facebook Is Down!

Facebook is down, and has been all day, at least in my neck of the woods. And I must say, it is revolting. I checked online and it is back up for most people. But I am not one of them. Exactly how am I supposed to play Words With Friends? And Scrabble? Huh? As my grandmother said approximately 10 minutes after my grandfather died, "What about me?"
 
I am completely cut off. Cold turkey. Okay, I'm addicted. Of course my husband knows, and he grumbles about it, but then he says I should get an iPhone because then I could play on my phone, Facebook be damned. And I say no, never, I will not succumb to that technological crack cocaine. At least with my little AT&T flip phone I can maintain a shred of dignity. But now, I'm not so sure.

Monday, May 13, 2013

I read the news today, oh boy

As of right now, I am convinced that to feel better and live a more productive life, one must stop reading the news. It has taken me years to arrive at this truth, feeling in the past that one must stay current, keep up, be in the know, etc. Now I think it's all poppycock, hooey, and garbage.

The low quality of today's news stems from several factors. First, people are simply getting crazier, wackier, and more desperate, thus exacerbating the downward slide of humanity into the primordial ooze from whence it sprang. And even though I have no idea what primordial ooze ever was or if there is any left today, it seems right somehow, having something to do with people behaving badly. Consider the random shootings, the rampant killings, the taking and keeping of hostages, the collapsing of factories, the bombings, the slashings, the exploding of body parts, the rapes and the rioting, the fires in the streets and in the hills of California. Not good.

And when the facts themselves are not bad enough, there are the newscasters intent on making them sound even worse. The journalists, the media--those leeches who want so much to keep us informed while selling us sleeping pills and insurance and walk-in bathtubs by shoving microphones into the faces of the grieving widows and the crying parents and the crazed mothers of the twisted terrorists, asking them, "How does it feel? How sad are you, how sick to death, how torn up inside? Please tell us, our viewers back home in their living rooms eating chips and guacamole right this very moment want to know." The blonde bimbos in their low-cut satin dresses and Jimmy Choos and the handsome men embalmed with pancake makeup sit smugly reading the reports of death and destruction straight into the camera--look Ma, I'm on TV!--try to seem caring, but really they're thinking about lunch with the boss at one of those just-minted restaurants where a salad of mixed, local greens with a raspberry reduction and an artful sprinkling of organic goat cheese and toasted baby walnuts costs more than many people earn in a week.


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Drink Before You Go, Old Sport

In 1940, after years of drinking and generally poor health, writer F. Scott Fitzgerald died suddenly of his third heart attack at age 44. Certainly we can assume that if he were still alive today and could see the latest film adaptation of his classic masterpiece, The Great Gatsby, he would immediately drop dead. Hopefully he would make it through the credits and the opening scene, which made the wearing of the 3-D glasses almost worth the annoyance. (I said almost.) After that--despite the noise and the chaos and the various floating things coming at you, and through it all Gatsby's noisy yellow Duesendorfer or whatever the heck kind of car that was roaring around--it was a battle to stay awake.

I lost that battle several times, but no matter--a few minutes of shuteye here and there throughout this film can only help. To be fair, the bad acting and sappy script were balanced by a hip-hoppy score and plenty of scenes of old New York during the Jazz Age. The story was all about prohibition and illegal booze, so of course everyone was ridiculously drunk constantly--think Animal House with money-- except for Gatsby. As played by Leonardo DiCaprio, the actor was almost too sober the whole time, although since the film's release he has likely been lying drunk on his bathroom floor sputtering, "I'm sorry, old sport, they made me say it. Old sport."

I could go on, but it's not worth it. The bottom line: Read the book.

Just the Facts, Mom

Tomorrow is Mother's Day. Many people call it "the Hallmark holiday," believing it was started by that corporation just to sell greeting cards and related ephemera. I too thought that, but a little research revealed I was wrong. In fact, a West Virginia woman named Anna Marie Jarvis was the creator of Mother's Day. She first celebrated it herself in 1907 to honor her own mother, and by 1914 it was a national holiday. Jarvis never married and had no children herself.

It is fitting that Hooters, the restaurant chain that became famous for employing large-breasted waitresses in tight t-shirts, will be serving free entrees--worth up to $10, so feed Mom a little snack beforehand--to all mothers tomorrow. As usual, the fathers can gawk at the staff for free.
Fun fact: Shari's "chocolate" berries contain no cocoa.

In each year between 1976 and 2007, an average of 113 offenders were arrested for killing their mothers. Last week there was one such murder in Falmouth, Maine, not far from where we live. A 46-year-old man shot his mother by firing a single bullet into the back of her head. He had been living with his parents since his divorce six years ago.

Actress Katherine Hepburn is quoted as saying, "I would have made a terrible parent. The first time my child didn't do what I wanted, I'd kill him.” 

Of all the misguided attempts at honoring Mom, the worst has got to be Shari's Berries, wherein supersized strawberries, by themselves quite healthy, are covered with a grotesque mixture of lard and pretend-chocolate and shipped to her door.

By 1920, Anna Jarvis had become disillusioned by how commercial Mother's Day had become, saying, "A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world." (Personally, I am hoping for a text.)



Friday, May 10, 2013

Over 60 and Afraid

Several people I am no longer speaking to have accused me of being unduly neurotic. I disagree; I believe I am duly neurotic and worry only about things that could really happen. Lately it has come to my attention that one of the things I should be worried about is contracting shingles, and if you are over 60, so should you. According to the TV commercials, if you had chickenpox as a child the virus is already living inside you! That's a low blow aimed right at my generation: "The call is coming from inside the house!" was a famous line in the 1979 horror movie, "When a Stranger Calls." I never saw it because I need my sleep, but still, I heard that line plenty.

Shingles, a.k.a. herpes zoster, is a painful, blistering skin rash due to the varicella-zoster virus, the very same virus that causes chickenpox. The sales pitch for the drug that you need to prevent getting shingles, which is apparently incredibly painful and much worse than childbirth or anything you can imagine, is meant to scare the living daylights, whatever those are, out of you. And it's not just on TV; once in a while a casual comment will alert you to the danger lurking within, like when my friend Bill suggested that upon my return from Haiti I should immediately get a shingles vaccine because a friend of his had it and it was really horrible, and also terrible. I asked if that friend had gone to Haiti beforehand and he said no, it was not related at all, it was just a thought. (Bill is exactly my age.)

The irony lies in the fact that when I was a kid, my parents sent me to a "chickenpox party" in the neighborhood so I could catch it early and thus get a milder case. Naturally I did the same thing with my own child, and at age four Zack got it from Katie across the street. I was so happy! Now I'm worried that he has the shingles virus living inside of him too, which by the way is a perfect example of being unduly neurotic.

Anyway, I called my doctor and the nurse I spoke with immediately asked if I have health insurance since the vaccine costs $260 and not everyone covers it. I said I would pay out of pocket to save myself from the horror and dread of such a debilitating disease that also never goes away, and she said she still has to know about coverage because if I don't have any I'll have to pay before I get the shot. I jokingly asked if the shot could kill me and that's why I'd have to pay first, but she didn't laugh. Instead, she said the vaccine "Only works 50% of the time, but it does make the severity less severe." Which I thought was an interesting way to put it.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Life As Mobius Strip

Illustration by Scott DuBar
I went to Haiti and nothing happened. I was not changed. I was not tapped on the shoulder. I do not want to dedicate the rest of my life to helping the starving children. This is due, in part, to the fact that I did not meet or see any starving children while I was there. If I had I might feel differently, but as things stand I might not even want to go back there. Consequently I am once again facing the dilemma of how to best use the rest of my life. So far I have volunteered for too many organizations to count here in the United States, and I have never once felt that my efforts were necessary. All too often, volunteer programs exist to help the people who are doing the volunteering feel valued rather than helping anyone else.

The good news is that earlier today I read in a magazine--admittedly the lowest form of reading but still we do have them lying about following a fundraising effort on the part of some local high-school students last year--that the number one purpose of life is to enjoy it. The bad news is that to enjoy it, some people need to feel as if they are  fulfilling a purpose other than mere self-gratification. I am one of those.

Bummer.

Why I Hate Coke

Proof that not all addictions are narcotic.
There are few feats I can claim with any certainty, but one of them is this: I have never had a Coke. Oh sure, I've tasted it, had a sip when I've been nauseous or unduly thirsty and nothing else was around, but I have never consumed a whole glass of one as apparently many people do, with 1.2 billion 8 oz. servings of Coke consumed daily worldwide. Mostly it's because I grew up in a seltzer family and that's all we had, until my mother went nuts at about age 57 and started drinking Fresca; she died five years later of early-onset Alzheimer's. (Not sure there is any connection, but I'd steer away from sodas if I were you.) I grew up Coke-less and eventually married a man of similar conviction, and together we had a son. He was raised Coke-less, and today at age 25 he still has not one cavity, while his Coke-drinking friends had far too many to count by the time they reached the first grade. (Katie and Richie must surely both have false teeth by now.)

The primary ingredients of Coca-Cola syrup include high fructose corn syrup or sucrose from cane sugar in certain markets, caramel color, caffeine, phosphoric acid, coca extract, lime extract, vanilla and glycerin. A 20 oz. bottle of Coke contains the equivalent of 15 teaspoons of sugar. Despite its name, the beverage does not contain any kola nut extract. In fact, there is nothing "kola" about it.

According to several studies by nutritionists and dentists, Coke leads to more rapid tooth decay than any of the other sodas tested. As one dentist explains, "Coke seems to be a brew designed to create caries. It is not only the sugar, it is also the Phosporic acid used as acidulant. Is the same acid we, the dentists, use for etching the enamel prior to the insertion of a composite (white) filling. And it works. Phosporic acid corrodes the surface of the enamel, clearing the way for the microorganisms."

Make sure your kids don't see this ad.
A full-page color ad in the Wall Street Journal costs $312,283.13. Today there is such an ad on page A7, in which the Coca-Cola company declares its commitment to helping people lead happier lives. They say they will do this by stating the number of calories in their drinks right on the package, which by the way became law in 1994. They also will support physical activity programs in every country where they do business, and will not market to children under age 12.






Wednesday, May 8, 2013

They Report, You Decide

Before 9/11, I rarely watched TV news. But that morning we were totally caught off-guard, with my husband walking out the door to catch a flight to LA, and me just getting back from dropping off our 8th-grader at school, when the phone rang. It was a friend telling us a plane had just struck the World Trade Center. The rest, as they say, is history.

Since then I am in the habit of turning on the TV every morning, once mid-day, and again at night, just to be sure there are no towers falling, storms coming, bombs dropping, or what have you. So I am pretty much up-to-speed on the different news organizations and what they deem important. Today on CNN, still considered to be the "best" and "unbiased" source of news, despite their abysmal ratings and obvious hard-on for President Obama, the reporters are out in force, all focused on those just-released women who were abducted ten years ago by three scumbag brothers. Cameras and crowds of supporters fill the streets of the ramshackle Cleveland neighborhood, now somewhat cheerier, festooned as it is with balloons and teddy bears. Suddenly we are all supposed to care deeply about those sordid, terribly tragic lives that have absolutely no connection to ours.

Over at FOX News, the purported bad boy of journalism, there is non-stop coverage of the second hearing on Capitol Hill concerning the deaths of four American at the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi last September. The Senators are trying to determine who was responsible, what went wrong, and how can such nefarious activity be avoided in the future.

Which story matters most? You decide.

Support Our Transvegetables

A radish trapped inside an ear of corn.
These days it is all the rage for Democrats, besides hating Republicans and the NRA and all things Bush, to also hate Monsanto, a corporation that describes itself as "devoted to helping farmers achieve agricultural sustainability," and who doesn't want that? After all, sustainability is the buzzword of the moment; even my new shampoo says right on the label that is is Now Even More Sustainable, causing me to wonder exactly how, but that's for another time. Anyway, my husband works peripherally in the farming industry and thus has met some of the folks over at Monsanto, and says they are not the devils as portrayed by the media. In fact, many if not most of them are earnestly working hard to feed an ever-expanding global population. One way is through genetically modifying foods (GMOs) to make them grow bigger and better, an activity considered by the loony left to be as despicable as Hitler's Final Solution.

The definition of a GMO is "an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques." Organisms that have been genetically modified include micro-organisms such as bacteria and yeast, insects, plants, fish, and mammals. One addition to that list could be Chaz Bono, who was born female and is now male, sort of, I am not sure of all the details, but anyway, if that's not genetic modification I don't know what is. Yet transsexuals are heartily embraced, endorsed, adored and applauded by the very same people who abhor messing with an ear of corn.

It makes you wonder just who sits on the Board of Political Correctness.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Voyeurs R Us

Despite living in rural Maine and having few diversions, I have never been sucked into the lives of people who murder and rape and otherwise engage in depravity. I'm not sure what the appeal is, but it seems to have quite a lot. But with so many things happening around the world each day, it's tough to keep up; some stories just slip by. One of those for me is the current Most Popular Crime involving Jodi Arias, a young woman who claims she is innocent and that she killed her boyfriend in self-defense. I repeat: I know nothing, but what I've heard suggests that's insane, since the poor guy was stabbed multiple times, had his throat slit, and was also shot in the head, and Jodi, who looks somewhat like a drowned rat and certainly is no stranger to anorexia, was the only one around. I say off with her head, and as soon as possible, but then I am not on the jury which is still out deliberating.

To be honest, I don't care about Jodi. But I do care about the fact that a crowd has gathered around the courthouse, and that tickets are going for $200 for the privilege of being right there when the verdict comes through. Jodi is a media star, just like that Anthony woman who murdered her child last year, or three years ago, or didn't murder her child, you know the one. And Amanda Knox, the American student living in Italy who did or did not kill her roommate several years ago, and went to jail but now she's out and just wrote a book about the whole sordid affair.

You just gotta wonder: What's missing from our own lives that allows us to become so fixated on others? And such bad ones to boot.


Distress Signals

The World's Most Pierced Woman, circa 2009.
Call me madcap, but I prefer skin plain. In fact, the closer it is to a baby's bottom, the better. This odd fetish of mine is becoming rarer every day, with body modifications springing up like crocuses everywhere you turn. And while they are considered by some to be cutting-edge, to me they seem like nothing more than desperate cries for help.

Once limited to tough guys and sailors, it seems like every modern teen has at least a couple of tattoos, and often their parents and grandparents do too. And while a tasteful cherub adorning a delicate wrist or a snake encircling a well-formed bicep can be a beautiful thing, some of the grotesque and outlandish designs are disturbing and disgusting, to say the least.

But tattoos are child's play compared to body piercings, which are also going mainstream. The need to be different from the next guy or gal does not fully explain how some people can endure the pain involved in the process. My own foray into self-adornment starts and stops at the ears, with one hole in each. I got them in my senior year of high school and I fainted during the process, so you can only imagine my shock and awe at the lady pictured above. (Now that's what I call a fashion statement.)

So what's next? Those giant holes in the ears are already being sported by teens around America; will that African lip-stretching thing also show up on this continent? Just how far will people go to express themselves? For me, wearing plaid with polka dots is enough.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Nowhere to Hide

I just got off the phone with a dear friend who I love, and she recommended that I get myself to a city because my blogs are "too cranky."

I might point out that she is A, a New Yorker and B, an adorable, cheery sort who has always--I met her in the sixth grade--had a smile as her umbrella. What Diane doesn't realize is that even if I "got a life," which she suggested I do, and moved back to New York, which she would heartily endorse and which would be great fun because we could do some stuff together, I would still be cranky. Because despite all the Pilates classes and the museums and the theater and the opera and the symphony and the restaurants, there would still be crazy bombers and war everywhere and 615 dead people in that collapsed clothing factory in Bangladesh. And I think that's why I'm cranky most of the time.

In Love With Love

Photo by Laurel True
My friend Laurel, who I love, took the photo above and posted it on Facebook. Naturally it was well-received, with many people commenting on its coolness and what a great message it is and how it's a sign, etc. I spoiled the fun by pointing out that some conspiracy theorists believe chem trails to be evidence of government evil and are actually chemicals sprayed to subdue the populous--that's us-- into submission. While I don't really believe that, I do look at them somewhat differently now, and wonder: how come all airplanes don't cause those streaks in the sky?

Whatever. More interesting is how the word love has become the number one expression of affection in our society, applied to anything and everything with equal fervor. Just like certain bad words cannot be spoken, that particular one is uttered about a million times a day by everyone and their mother. I am guilty of this for sure. Following is a list of things I absolutely love:

Blueberries
My son
My husband
Tommy Lee Jones
"Adaptation"
"Ethan Frome"
Anything written by Edith Wharton
Peepers
Peeps
Roasted marshmallows
Michael Jackson's voice
"Thriller"
New York City
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Almond butter
The Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle
Helen Mirren in "The Queen"
Landing safely and getting off an airplane
The Staten Island Ferry
Losing weight
Finding typos in the newspaper, or even better, a book
Chianti
"Inglourious Basterds" 
My true friends
Painting
Hot chocolate in winter
Ibuprofen
"Bonfire of the Vanities"
"White Noise"
Queen
Freddie Mercury
"Bohemian Rhapsody"
My hot tub
Blogging
Sleeping
Coffee
Rolos
Anchovy pizza 
The ocean
Word games
Nathan's French fries
Ringo's drum solo on "Carry That Weight"
Oldies
George Harrison
Taking showers
Reruns of old sitcoms
Karen and Jack on "Will & Grace"
The Young @ Heart chorus
Autumn
Swimming
Stewie and Brian on "Family Guy"

So I suppose I feel the same way about my husband as I do about a French fry.











Sunday, May 5, 2013

Not About Sex

I know for a fact that if I wrote about my sex life I would have many more readers. In fact, if I turned this blog into a forum about sex among baby boomers, I could probably put ads on it for things like Viagra and Cialis and Depends and make a lot of money. I am not going to, mostly because I'm a dummy who cares less about making money than retaining a shred of dignity.

These thoughts were triggered by a rave review of a new Austrian film entitled "Paradise: Love." It is supposedly great because it's all about lonely and pathetic middle-aged American tourists who travel to certain parts of the world and pay for degrading sex in foreign countries, and how sad their lives are and how degrading the sex is, and how it must have been so hard on the actors too because they were also degraded just by performing some of the degrading acts, but it's such a great movie. Huh? Great movie about horribly sad and degrading subject? Oh right, sex sells. Anything, all the time, to whomever, for reasons I don't understand.

Don't get me wrong; I like sex. In fact, if I didn't, and I wrote about that, I would also get me some readers. People are screwed up and love to read about other people who are screwed up even more. Do it in the nude and you've got a hit. If only I had the nerve...

Friday, May 3, 2013

It's My Party (and I'll Cry If I Want To)

Last year the Golden Gate Bridge was the last stop for 33 people.
If you threw a party and nobody came, you'd likely assume they had other plans, or else maybe they got the date wrong. But what if everyone showed up, but many of the guests just had such a bad time, they left early? You might rethink your party plans next time around. Here at the party that we call Life, people are leaving in droves. No doubt about it--suicide is gaining momentum. In the last decade, the number of people voluntarily leaving this party early was greater than the number of people killed in car crashes on the way. In 2010, that number was 38,364, about 5,000 more than accident victims. 

The dead are mostly working-age men in their 50s, many of whom suffered great financial losses in the stock market, or lost their jobs and suddenly were homeless and heavily in debt. In the Obama administration's budget for next year, an extra $2 million has been earmarked for trying to help some of that demographic in some way. That's nice, but when you consider that the very same government spent at least $4.5 million on ads that ran during the two weeks of the London Olympics, or $2.7 million to study why lesbians seem to engage in hazardous drinking more than other people, or $3.6 million annually supporting the lavish lifestyles of former presidents such as George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, it's not that nice.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Grass Skirt Not Included

It is said that we never recover until we forgive. Forgiveness is a big deal, and something that is hard to come by most of the time. Few among us seem to be able to cough up the words, "I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you," when they're needed the most. Supposedly, repeating this Hawaiian mantra several times in succession can calm you down better than alcohol, while simultaneously easing anger and lowering blood pressure. Hey, practice makes perfect; it's worth a try.

"I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."
"I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."
"I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."
"I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."
"I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."
"I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."
"I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."
"I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."
"I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."
"I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."
"I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."
"I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."
"I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."
"I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."
"I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."
"I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."
"I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."
"I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."
"I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."
"I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."
"I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."
"I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."
"I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."
"I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."
"I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."
"I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."
"I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."
"I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."
"I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."





Gotta Love Google

In case you are making a bomb and screwing your detonation device into some store-bought fireworks, then plopping it all into a backpack, be sure to cover the screw with Vaseline first so the metal doesn't spark while you screw it together and cause it to go off and explode in your face. That would be bad, and such a waste.

I heard that handy tip today while I was toweling off after my shower. Thank God for those morning TV anchors who dispense this sort of homespun wisdom, or else how would our young people learn? Of course, they could just Google "making a bomb" and get step-by-step directions in no time.

One of the best bomb-making sites is called "Making a Bomb from Household Items." But don't worry, they mean no harm; after all, it says right up front: "This thread is purely for informational use. Do not do anything illegal with this information. This guide will show you a few ways you can make a bomb out of items easily found in most houses. If your house doesn't have these a trip to Home Depot or Wal-Mart should make up for that."

Kids have it so easy these days.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Getting Younger: Do the Math

Yesterday I received a really good compliment. Okay, so it was from my own son, but that makes it even better since he rarely says anything nice to me or about me. But he said that Mitch and I, his parents, are "two very cool people." He even repeated it, giving some examples of other parents he knows who are not cool at all, in fact who are all the way to dorky. ( I had to agree.) Then I took one of those online RealAge tests and answered it completely honestly, and it turns out my inside is eight years younger than my outside. Throw in those ads that say, "60 is the new 40," and with a few quick calculations, suddenly I'm paying full price at the movies again.

Besides all that, factoring in my husband's immaturity and how he is always saying, in defense of some particularly childish behavior, "Lest ye be as little children, you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven," which is what Jesus said to Matthew--probably under similar circumstances-- on my next birthday, which is now aimed right at me, I will be turning either 38 or 41.

I'm excited.