Wednesday, October 30, 2013

No Pickles for Me

While there certainly are many, the biggest problem with being 67 is that your peers are old fuddy-duddies. Of course there are exceptions--you know who you are--but in general, people my age are not fun. The men all look really bad (again there are exceptions, Tony), having gotten enormously fat and out of shape, not to mention stodgy. If you ask me, stodginess is to be avoided at all costs, yet my generation is nothing but, except for a few rare gems who seem not to age at all. So I usually hang out with people who are much younger, including my husband who everyone knows was more than a decade younger than I when I robbed him from his cradle 27 years ago, and is even younger now, thanks to buffing up at CrossFit and refusing to mature. This is great for him, but makes me feel even older. It's a pickle.

Speaking of pickles, they are sort of off-limits for me since they contain moderately high levels of sodium: One serving of dill pickles has 678 mg of sodium, while sweet pickles contain 350 mg of sodium per serving. Consuming more than 1,500 mg of sodium a day can trigger high blood pressure and fluid retention, which is something I have to worry about now that I am this old.

Oh to be young and eat pickles with abandon.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mindful Giving

Considering this blog as a cross between a public service and a desperate cry for help, I like to, as the holidays approach, aid those harried shoppers who celebrate Christmas in finding just the right gift for the loved ones on their lists. To that end, I cull the many catalogs that cram my mailbox and study them, usually while sitting on the toilet. In step with today's political correctness, all the items come from Uncommon Goods, whose stated mission is "to wow you and yours with creative and thoughtful gifts." This year's selections are chosen with specific family and friends in mind.

Vegetable Cuffs
For the Fashionable Foodie: Vegetable Parchment Cuff, handmade from fruit and vegetable slices that are cured, pressed, dried and fused onto copper. Choose Beet, Watermelon Radish or Purple Potato. $40; also available in earrings.

Duck Family
For the Just Plain Dumb: Reclaimed Wood Duck Family, hand-carved by Indonesian artists from recycled bamboo root and teakwood. In case you didn't notice, they are wearing raincoats so they are perfect for outdoors. $20-40.

For the Enlightened Idiot: Spirit Candles carry a secret deep within--an elegant bronze sculpture that is revealed as the wax melts. Choose Embrace, Dance or Rejoice. $24, 6" high.
Spirit Candles

Oil & Vinegar Set

For the Animal Lover: Weiner Dog Oil & Vinegar Set
Little corks and a funnel for filling these glass bottles shaped like dogs "help prevent embarrassing puddles." $30.

For the Gullible Sports Nut: Baseball Bat Bottle Openers, handmade from authentic, game-used bats
Baseball Bat Bottle Openers
swung by major league players. $85-$125.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Talk About a Handicap

Obama working in the Oval Office.
Now I know for sure I could never be president. I've always suspected it since I don't play golf, hate dressing up for fancy dinners and would never tolerate having a bodyguard following me around. Also, all that hand-shaking and baby-kissing seems like a one-way ticket to Infectionville. Still, I could imagine that if nobody else wanted the job I could be pressed into service for the good of mankind. But--and it's a big but--I'm sort of a stickler for details, and thus would certainly want to know things, like what the heck is going on in my administration. (In the past, whenever I was "the boss" at various organizations, I always knew what was what.)

Apparently that is no longer part of the job description. Certainly our current president does not have his finger on the pulse, leading to the current situation summed up by the banner headline in today's Wall Street Journal: "Obama Out of Loop as U.S. Spied on World Leaders." I guess he was spending so much time perfecting Obamacare--and his golf swing--that this teeny, little spying thing slipped by him; his aides say he went nearly five years without knowing his own spies were bugging the phones of world leaders. This causes me to wonder two things:
     1. Does his left hand know what his right hand is doing?
     2. Is his wife still as proud of her country as she was when he was elected?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Beards and Baseball

One of the Boston Rabbis checking his glue...
I've been watching the World Series, since baseball is one of the few sports I actually understand, but this year it's hard. The Boston Red Sox have some weird beard thing going on, and the St. Louis Cardinals aren't exactly hairless. It's like watching a ragtag band of Hasidic rabbis, or maybe Amish hillbillies, playing against the Hollywood Hair Club for Men. It's distracting; I can't focus. All I can do is marvel at the hideousness and wonder if those things are real or just stuck on for the game.

Facial hair is an odd concept for most women, since we don't have any--or shouldn't. When we do we shriek in horror, cover the mirrors and get out the Nair. But for men, looking like our ancestral apes must be considered evidence of extreme virility, so I guess we can conclude that those Boston players are manly men. (Even though they're losing after the first three games.)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Open Letter to My Democratic Friends

Dear Sam, Patsy, Tony, Martha, Art, Debra, Sue, Bill, Ira, Rick and Keith:

I'm hoping one of you can help me out.  I wish I liked the new health plan called Obamacare, really I do, but what's to like? As far as I can tell, the new health plan:
1. is no better than the one I have now
2. may cause me to be dropped by my current insurer
3. may cause my current premiums to go up
4. forces poor people to get insurance or pay a fine

What was wrong with the way things were? We already were paying for poor people to get medical care, under Medicaid, and Medicare was already helping older people pay their medical bills. What will be gained, even if this program ever gets underway after all the glitches are ironed out by all those government contractors who are making small fortunes trying to fix the website that doesn't work, even though it's apparently nobody's fault that it doesn't? I am genuinely confused as to why you all thought it sounded like such a good idea. Help me to understand.

Who among us doesn't want to go forward?
And help me understand why you all love Obama so much. I know, I know--it's very cool to have a black president, I agree: It makes us seem so much less bigoted as a nation, despite the fact that we are such a bigoted nation. But really, he has not done a very good job, has he? So far all he has done is force-feed this health care program down our throats, and now it doesn't even work and he says it's not his fault. And besides his other mistakes, like spying on ordinary American citizens, now he's even gotten Angela Merkel, that nice German chancellor, angry because he's listening to her cell phone calls.

I'm so confused. Help me. Please. I'm begging.  After all, I want to go forward too.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Eating for the Common Good

Popular lunchbox sandwich (archaic)
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are no longer a staple lunchbox treat because little Appolo or Lemon Sky might be allergic. This tragic news has plummeted me into a pit of despair. What is childhood about these days? Saving the planet via no plastic baggies, no plastic bottles, no juice boxes and composting leftovers. No trades because one kid's treat is another one's poison. Fruits and veggies, even sushi rolls, have replaced candy in lunch boxes. Yikes--just when they need it the most, trapped in the classroom all day, strapped into a teeny desk learning boring facts they don't care about and will forget asap--who couldn't use a KitKat bar under those circumstances?

An article in today's Wall Street Journal runs the following headline above the masthead, in large white letters on a black background:


What could it be, I wondered: The last meal of a tot convicted of murder and about to be executed? Or maybe for a sick child having a feeding tube installed? Nothing so dire, it turns out it's the ordinary brown bag lunch for grade-schoolers that has today's young parents in a tizzy. One loving mom even goes so far as to declare, "I pack my son a lunch every day and I hate it." (How nice--I certainly hope he forgets that comment by the time she's in diapers and needing someone to spoon-feed her Ensure.)

It was 20 years ago, but the memory is fresh: I loved making my kid's lunch. Little notes, some surprises, drawings with Xs and Os all over the place. Healthy of course, but always with a special treat. And my husband still talks about the lunches his mom made every day, and twice, since he's a twin: each item wrapped in tin foil so he never knew what he had, a veritable treasure hunt each noon that he looked forward to. Of course today he might be suspended for all that tin foil, and his mom's blatant disregard for the rest of the world would be the talk of the town.

Sad times we live in.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Emptiness of Words

"I love you."
"I'm sorry."
"Forgive me."
"Forget it."

Please don't say those things to me. Like the dollar, they have lost their value due to overuse. How happy should I be to hear that you love me when you also love hamburgers, Niagara Falls, pizza, The Three Stooges, your golf buddies, hiking, Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey ice cream and the Red Sox?

How convinced am I that you're sorry you hurt me when you are also sorry that your modem is dead, or that you went off your diet or had a flat tire on the way to work, or because you lost your favorite hat or ate the last of the chili, and especially because your cat killed a squirrel before breakfast?

"Forgive me" is what I heard you say to the stranger in the supermarket when your cart hit her heel, and to the clerk at the convenience store when you gave him the wrong credit card, and to the fat guy you accidentally cut ahead of at the checkout in L. L. Bean's last week, so please don't say it to me after you have shattered my heart into a pile of shards. I'll say "forget it," but I promise you--I won't.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Is Anybody Listening?

It's getting sort of annoying that God has never spoken to me personally. After all, he talks to others: Several of my friends, and even my own sister, have recounted instances when they heard his voice and were instructed to do such and such. All kinds of people believe he exists, and in fact go to special buildings to worship him and receive instructions. And there's the Pope, of course, who's got a direct line, and all the other devotees who spend their lives in service to him. There are people who are cured by God, or saved from bad behavior like the alcoholics with the 12-steps, and blah, blah, blah, but I have never seen the slightest shred of evidence that he is out there.

And why not? What's wrong with me? I'm nice, despite the fact that I called a snooty woman who lives near me "snooty," which she is, believe me. That kind of straight-from-the-hip talk is my worst offense. Besides that, I'm a pretty good friend to Man: I give to charity, help those in need, lend a sympathetic ear--sometimes two-- and love animals. I don't kill bugs even though I hate them with every fiber of my being. I can't think of one person I have ever knowingly hurt, besides my old friend Richard who got so angry when I said it was ridiculous to believe those church wafers are actually part of Christ's body that he ended our 30-year friendship.

I say all this because I would welcome a little proof that somebody up there likes me. I think we all would. It's time for some divine intervention, with much of the world in ruins, suicide rates rising and global suffering growing daily. So I am calling on God for a sign--something--anything-- that he's got a plan. Of course, there's no reason to think he reads my blog, so this is likely falling on deaf ears--if he has ears.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Stupid Internet's Stupid Stories

I'm not sure how it happens, but average people who do ordinary things of little interest show up in the news all the time. I rarely click on stories that begin, "Man accidentally kills wife with blender," but it's amusing to imagine the plight of the editors charged with finding these stories and blowing them up out of all proportion. This recent incident from my own life is of no importance whatsoever to anyone--even me--but since I can, I post it here for no good reason in that nutty, Huffington Post style:

Bored Cat Plots Owner's Death
In a stealthy act of pure selfishness, a formerly loving domestic short-haired tabby sought revenge for her 18 years of captivity. Known simply as "Daisy," the animal woke up her devoted owner at four in the morning with piercing cries of distress. Fearing the cat had been caught in some sort of trap (there are none in the home) or perhaps was being eaten by a wild animal (also impossible), the myopic woman rushed from her deep slumber to rescue the once-adored pet. In her haste she neglected to put on her glasses, and instead blindly ran toward the deranged shrieking. Her myopia exacerbated by the total darkness, she missed the last step and fell backwards onto the stairs, bruising her body painfully in several places. Daisy finally shut the hell up as the woman burst into tears, struggled to her feet, and limped back to bed. The cat was fine--she just wanted some treats.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Boo, Humbug

Here it is with October half gone and I still don't have one pumpkin out front; usually by now there are several of varying sizes artfully nestled among a riot of potted chrysanthemums. That's what you do this time of year. But I'm done with the whole Halloween thing, up to and including the dispensing of candy to the future diabetics of America. Lest you find that mean-spirited, think for a moment about the popular definition of stupidity: Doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. It's time to get smart.

In the past I have gone all out, what with the carved Jack-o-Lanterns, the aroma of roasted pumpkin seeds, the scary lighting and mood music, and even the occasional application of outlandish makeup and a wry costume. In years gone by, living in urban areas like Washington, DC and Salt Lake City, we've often run out of candy and resorted to emptying our cupboards of staples, but here in Maine, nobody comes. Ours is simply not a trick-or-treat kind of neighborhood; lacking street lights, the dark lanes and long driveways are less than inviting. Instead, the excited young celebrants ambush the picturesque village half a mile away, where the houses are clustered together and the residents are prone to hanging ghosts fashioned from bedsheets in their trees.

And so we are left with bowls and bags of colorfully packaged toxins in fun sizes with names like Twix and Kix, Snickers and Whoppers, Twizzlers and the like. These are usually consumed over a period of weeks by members of our family who shall remain nameless, accounting for the slow slide into the massive weight gain that is the hallmark of the holiday season. Refusing to repeat that mistake, I have started at the front door. This year there will be no exterior pumpkins, although there are a couple of mums out there because, besides being pretty, flowers are not fattening.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My Brush with Stardom

Hollywood's Walk of Fame
Last week I answered an ad I saw online for a reality TV show looking for "seriously good home cooks." I decided I might qualify, and thinking who knows where it could go, I emailed. They called. After a brief phone interview, guess what: They wanted me to come on the show and be one of the spatula-wielding gladiators who would be pitted against one another in the style that is so popular these days. If I lost the first round, it would be over. If I didn't lose I would go on to compete again, in a smaller group, until eventually I would either lose or win a cash prize and a chance at stardom! Then what: My own cooking show? A magazine perhaps? A line of dishware like Rachael Ray?

The sky was truly the limit. I'd have to go to New York or maybe LA for the taping, which was no big deal. Fine. Then they told me the dates, and it was exactly when my husband and I are going to be in Barcelona. We have our tickets and hotel reservations and guidebooks and maps, and we're even learning Spanish. So I said no. Besides, who wants to look like an idiot on TV? Especially now, with my new hideous hair color that I got yesterday. Not me.

Bagels for Goyim

A bialy trumps a bagel every time.
Jews are disappearing and soon they will be gone from the planet--except maybe that bunch in Israel--or so says an article in The Week. Apparently, "young American Jews are marrying at an astonishing rate and no longer practicing Judaism." It goes on to quote percentages and ages and blah, blah, blah, but the bottom line is that the Jews are facing "a dismal future."

This will be good news for some, as it's no secret that certain people actually dislike Jews, God knows why. I'm not too worried though, since the article was full of mistakes. One that jumped out at me was the idea that you can be a "cultural Jew if you like Seinfeld and bagels, even if you ignore the practice of the religion." This is something I take issue with since there is so much more to being Jewish! Bagels are the tip of the iceberg, and pretty much the domain of non-Jews anyway since Harry Lender and his evil son Murray invented the pre-sliced, frozen bagel in the 1960's. This was followed by other abominations like the blueberry bagel, the chocolate-chip bagel and the cinnamon-raisin bagel in the late 20th century, after which all hell broke loose. Pretty soon, fluffy round things shaped to look like bagels were being sold in supermarkets and even at McDonalds, which if you ask me is a shonda for the goyim. Besides, any real Jew wants a bialy.

And if for some reason you want to know for sure what you've got is a real Jew, put out some gefilte fish, kishka, kreplach, schmaltz, schav, kugel, gribenes, tongue, p'tcha, mamaliga, maybe a bissel herring with cream sauce, some homentashen if it's that time of year, and see what happens. And please, if you're having a fancy party and putting out a big spread, do everyone a favor and toss the nova and put out some belly lox--what is this, a country club?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Hoping for the Best

That Obamacare website really is messed up. I tried it just to see what all the fuss is about, and after 45 frustrating minutes it kicked me off for refusing to say whether I'm an Alaskan native or an American Indian. 

Sue me, I'm interested in health care. Half the time my husband thinks I'm a hypochondriac; I'm pretty sure he's schizophrenic, which would explain the other half. Mitch started feeling this way early in our marriage when he discovered that my preferred bedside reading was the Physician's Desk Reference. So he wasn't surprised when, after a recent woodsy hike around Casco Bay, I awoke from a fitful sleep, my scalp on fire. "Wake up, I might be dying," I cried. "My brains itch. Is it a tumor? Could it be scalp cancer?" He seemed nonplussed, muttering something about mosquitoes.

In my own defense, I come by my neurosis honestly, hypochondria being our back-up religion when I was a kid. The family crest--a feeding tube inside a funeral wreath, inscribed with the words "All Roads Lead to Cancer"--enlivened all our table linens and dish towels. Somebody was always whispering that somebody else had a lingering illness that "didn't look good," and that it was "only a matter of time." My mother was one of the ringleaders, constantly searching for and usually finding the cloud inside every silver lining. I was hospitalized for chicken pox at age two. At four I had a tonsillectomy and they gave my mother the sedative. (She asked for a general, but they refused.) When I was twelve, my parents rushed me to the emergency room for hiccups; seventy-five dollars and a glass of sugar water later I was cured.

Naturally our family doctor hated us. His ridiculous handlebar mustache made him look like the Sheriff of Dodge City, prompting me to say, "Howdy, pardner," every time I saw him. He got revenge by keeping his stethoscope on ice, then insisting I remove my blouse for every examination. I got revenge back by fainting during my ear piercing, which he only agreed to do because my father was the president of their bowling league.

I hope they fix all that Obamacare stuff before I keel over.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Kitchen Kapers

Even if you have no problem ingesting something that once had parents, you've still got to pity the poor lobster. When he's not being boiled, broiled, steamed, grilled, baked or stuffed, which here in Maine happens every minute of every day, he's having his claws broken like some poor slob who pissed off Tony Soprano.

I know, I know-- people the world over consume chicken wings and baby back ribs and legs of lamb and all the other body parts of all the other animals all the time. Despite all that, a recipe I read in the New York Times for something called "Lobster Cappuccino" seemed unduly cruel. After luring the dumb creature into your home and completing the author's first two opening salvos, Step 3 advises:  
"To make the lobster broth and garnish, lay the live lobster on a cutting board. Place the tip of a large, heavy knife at the indentation where the carapace meets the head of the lobster, making sure the cutting blade is facing the lobster's eyes. Swiftly and forcefully, plunge the knife through the lobster until the knife hits the cutting board."

Assuming you are not Nancy Pelosi but are human and yet go forward anyway, Step 4 has you "twist off the claws and tail, split the lobster in half, discarding the innards after scraping out the roe." This got me wondering--besides whether or not you can get into Heaven if you make Lobster Cappuccino--if lobsters feel pain. Searching the Internet I found roughly a million lobster sites, each one addressing how to cook them, where to buy them and when to trap them. Could an entire species exist just for Man's consumption?

Fortunately I stumbled upon a website run by Robert Huber, a.k.a. Lobsterman. A biologist at Bowling Green State University, he graciously took the time to answer my e-mailed questions, one of which was: Do lobsters feel pain? According to Huber, "All vertebrates have pain pathways in the brain. Some pains may actually be something we go out of our way to experience, such as eating hot chili peppers. Having a knife stuck into your body does not usually come to mind in that context. Lobsters, like any vertebrate, will dislike having their bodies chopped in half and will presumably also find unpleasant a breach of the body wall or the tearing off of a limb."

This teaches us two things: First and most important, never quote a biologist in a humor column. Next, if you insist on following a recipe in which you've got to tear something limb from limb while it's still breathing, plan ahead and have some anesthesia handy. I suggest a glass of red wine. And while you're at it, pour some on the lobster--he needs it more than you do.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Small Town Secrets

My blog stats are up again, since yesterday I wrote about an associate of that pack of Freeporters known here as Frumpy, Dumpy and Lumpy. They must have alerted her, and so today I have lots more clicks than usual. Once again, all I did was call a spade a spade, and in so doing outed someone for a minor infraction that was important only to me. Still, the truth is often met with disdain.

Here is why honesty is the best policy: because someone is always watching. This fact is brought home in a haunting novel I first read in the 10th grade entitled "Too Late the Phalarope," by the esteemed South African writer Alan Paton. In it the protagonist, a lovely and endearing family man and community leader, is brought to ruin by his own inability to come clean about who he really is. Eventually, a watcher in the shadows tells his truth to the world.

I am not a watcher in the shadows, and in fact I am kind of afraid of shadows and thus would never be hiding in them. But I do see what's what and have few compunctions about outing people who have done wrong, and by that I mean done me wrong. Not always, of course, and a few confided secrets have been safe with me for 30 years or more. (If you ask nice, I won't tell.) Still, I'm wondering if I dare change the name of this blog to "Freeport Place" and divulge some even juicier stuff...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Selective Memory

Ah, the human brain--what a complicated and sly little trickster! Equipped with a Memory Box, it has a mind of its own when it comes to which ones get stored and which ones get tossed, and far be it from us to understand the criteria for each. A dear friend and I just had a little exchange about a dramatic incident occurring 30 years ago, and while he was merely a bit player and not the lead, he doesn't recall any of it while I clearly remember him as having a speaking part.

No matter, it's long gone--but it got me thinking about how we gloss over the facts and rewrite history whenever it suits us. Were it not for a little memory or two, entire lives could be different. Who knows--I might still be pals with my ex-business partner were I able to forget the hilarious sight of her undercover tag-team operation during the waning moments of our first and only company Christmas party. With her complicit husband waiting outside, she surreptitiously ferried an untouched platter of catered shrimp to his waiting hands as if it were the Olympic torch. But really, half of it was mine; would it have been so hard to say, "I want the shrimp, you take the leftover wine"?

I think of Operation Shrimp Run whenever I see her around town and it still cracks me up each time, so I guess it was worth it after all.

See Food Differently

Dammit--why are all the good jobs always for men? Today I found this ad on Craigslist: 

5 guys needed! (southern maine) 

looking for five guys to be in a short film based on fornicating food.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

On Forgiveness

Along with some other things my son is a waiter, or as he likes to say, slave. He often shares anecdotes of awful behavior exhibited by diners on his watch. I'm sorry for him, but hey--servers can be a pain in the ass too. In fact, a bad one can ruin an otherwise good meal, and you still have to leave a tip or you go straight to Hell, I've been told.

At a recent dinner out, our waitress acted as if she were our long-lost firstborn just sprung from a Turkish prison. She nattered on so much about things other than what's on the menu that I forgot for a minute and thought she was selling us a timeshare at the beach instead of a lousy plate of pasta. But she was so cheery, it was unthinkable to tell her to shut up and and just bring the food-- and some water and maybe while you're at it, the salt and pepper. And we're missing a napkin. And what happened to that wine we ordered. And by the way, "My name is Deedee and I'll be your server for the evening" doesn't get the food into my mouth if I have no silverware.

Also annoying is when they tell you the specials, which in some places can take as long as a reading of Beowulf.  Then when you ask if this is good or that is good, everything is "fabulous," which you know is not true. So they lie. And then they disappear when it's time for the check. I could go on but I won't, since I just want to make the point that there are two sides to every story, and because of that I forgive Deedee. Because we never recover until we forgive. Even though I see no reason why I had to hear that her daughter wasn't feeling well that day and missed school. Is that really something I needed to know? Oh right....forgive. Recover.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Me Don't Get It

                                   Gordon Studer
Continuing its slow, daily slide into the muck of popular culture, today's Wall Street Journal contains an article asserting that the more someone uses the pronoun "I" in conversation, the lower their status. It turns out that one tiny word signifies a lack of self-esteem on the part of the speaker, combined with a feeling of powerlessness and subordination to the listener. If you find this interesting--and who would--you can read an entire book on the subject, aptly entitled, "The Secret Life of Pronouns." In an odd twist, studies have also proven that those who avoid saying "I" are generally more dishonest, since avoiding the first-person is "distancing."

Now me confused. I'm not sure what to say.

Monday, October 7, 2013

I Guess That's Why They Call it CHASE

Like everyone, we get a lot of bills each month: car, house, insurance, utilities, phone, credit cards, blah, blah, blah. I pay everything on time or early, since I am neurotic that way. Every so often, like once a year, I overlook a bill, probably because it got lost somewhere in our home or even worse, ended up in my husband's briefcase and stayed there if he picked up the mail that day. Anyway, we are fabulous debtors.

So last month I must have lost the mortgage bill for our second home, which we share with a friend, in upstate New York. I never paid it, which I learned via the new bill for the next month. Wrongly believing my earlier payment would show up, I just paid the new bill. So then I went to the post office on Saturday and had to sign for SIX CERTIFIED LETTERS FROM CHASE BANK IN NEW YORK SCREAMING THAT I COULD LOSE MY HOME!!!!! The letter also contained a list of housing counseling agencies to help me out of what must be a messy downward spiral to the gutter. It said I had until the first of November to pay up, or else.

So then at 7:50 this morning I got a call from CHASE BANK IN NEW YORK, and a nasty man asked for my husband, saying, "HE MIGHT BE IN TROUBLE!!!!!!!" I explained that I pay the bills, and my husband was out, and please give me an update, and he said since I am not listed on the loan he could not talk to me, even though I got two certified letters personally addressed to me. He insisted that MITCHELL BETTER PAY UP OR HE IS IN VERY HOT WATER AND AT RISK OF LOSING HIS HOME...

I suggest another way: Have some nice lady or gentleman call and say, "It appears you overlooked your last payment, perhaps you could send it along." Maybe then there would not be one suicide every 40 seconds in this country.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

FILM REVIEW: The Wrong Stuff

George and Sandra sharing a bit of bad dialogue.
Being one of those suckers born every minute you hear about all the time, I could wait no longer to see the latest, hyper-hyped movie and so went this afternoon, just two days after it hit the theaters. "Gravity" is a suspenseful 3-D space odyssey that stars Sandra Bullock, and when I say it stars Bullock, I mean if you are Sandra's mommy this movie is for you. It's All-Sandra, All the Time, and if you don't like her already, this movie won't win you over. Fortunately I went in as a fan, and I came out feeling sorry that she probably thinks she will win an Oscar for this performance, but guess what--she won't be. (Naomi Watts acted a lot harder in that tsunami movie and she wasn't even nominated, so Sandra should just accept it now and move on.)

Along for the ride is everyone's buddy, George Clooney. He portrays the captain of the mission gone awry in an affable, Houston-we-have-a-problem sort of way. Despite floating around the interstellar nebula permanently installed in a Barcalounger spray-painted Milk of Magnesia white, and with a gigantic tool chest strapped to his chest, Clooney remains nonplussed and downright jovial for the duration. (Spoiler alert: Not that he's around for the duration.) Anyway, the photogenic twosome are engaged in banter and chitchat while on some everyday assignment when a major goof by those damn Russians--who else?--ruins everything and outer space gets broken. Things fall apart. There is floating debris. Houston does not copy. The script worsens.

The 3-D part is pointless as usual, except for one time when Sandra is crying and one of her tears floats into space and you start watching it instead of Sandra working for that Oscar. That's a good moment, offering a needed break; the tear comes at you, growing bigger and bigger. It's all got to do with gravity. And then too. there is the gravity of the situation, which is that Mitch and I shelled out $21 bucks for the experience, not counting the popcorn. To be fair, it's fun to see outer space and rocket ships and all that astronaut jazz up close. It's just sad that you can't turn the sound off.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Pizza for Breakfast

Even though today was supposed to be the first day of my Really Getting Serious, Lose 10 Pounds by Christmas Diet, I woke up and went downstairs and straight into the garage to throw away some cat litter and there it was, stopping me dead in my tracks: an empty pizza box from OTTO. This is a rare and beautiful thing. My heart pounding, I raced to the fridge and found an entire--okay, less than entire but a lot left--pizza wrapped in copious amounts of aluminum foil. If you have never been to Portland, and many have not, you might not know that OTTO is the God of Pizza and He lives up here, splitting His time between two locations, with talk of a third.

I grew up on Long Island outside of New York City, and as a child believed that La Bella Notte in Baldwin was where He lived. Then I matured and went to college in Greenwich Village, and late one night stumbled into John's on Bleeker Street. Again, I was convinced I had found Him, until I moved to D.C. and knew in my bones that A.V. Ristorante Italiano--known to the congregants simply as A.V.'s-- housed the deity, who often vacationed at a restaurant in Brooklyn I never knew the name of but it's down the street from my brother-in-law's house. Anyway, all that falderol ended when we moved here four years ago and I discovered OTTO, which is the best thing in Maine, except perhaps its rocky coastline. The search is over, and like most spiritual quests it has taken the better part of my life, but I know Him now, and He is in my fridge.

So there it was in all its glinting, triangular-shaped glory, obviously smuggled into this house by one of the occupants long after I went to bed. On closer inspection, I determined it to be a stellar choice: sausage and white bean. Instinct overtook reason and I did not hesitate but instead dragged out the toaster oven and got busy. And now the day is ruined and it's only eight in the morning. I guess I'll start that diet tomorrow.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Last Supper

These days I can't seem to get hired for so many reasons, it's not funny--not that it would be funny for fewer reasons either. Whatever the cause, I'm thinking my blog needs a "niche," since the only way I can make money is through writing, and the only thing I want to write is this blog. If I could distinguish it from the 60 billion other blogs out there, I could get attract more readers, fill it with ads and make money writing it. (Hang in, this part is boring even to me.) Anyway, my niche. Some things that are popular that I know a lot about:
1. Cooking
2. Suicide
3. Cats
4. Art
5. Boring jobs
6. Dysfunctional families
7. Dieting
8. Life in a small town
9. Literature

Since I wrote cooking first, that must mean something. Okay, so I'll have a cooking blog, but it has to be something different since there are so many already. How about Cooking for Dysfunctional Families. Artful Eating. Cooking for Cats. Cooking the Books. Food for the Suicidal, or What to Eat for that Last Meal. Or maybe just: The Last Meal. Diets be damned: What to eat when you are suicidal. That's it! Everyone loves to eat, except for anorexics and they're completely nuts--and besides, they have plenty of their own blogs already, whereas there are hardly any for the suicidal, which many people are, like about 30,000 annually just here in America. And the World Health Organization estimates that each year approximately one million people die from suicide, which represents a global mortality rate of 16 people per 100,000 or one death every 40 seconds. It is predicted that by 2020 the rate of death will increase to one every 20 seconds. That's a lot of readers, and they all have to eat something, since hardly anyone chooses starvation as the final solution.

Now I'm wondering what I would have. Hmmm, it's so hard to imagine not being worried about dieting since I haven't eaten a meal in more than 50 years without obsessing on calories contained therein. Anyway, my blog will focus on what to eat before you:
1. jump off a bridge (nothing too heavy)
2. sit in the car in the garage and turn on the motor (beef stew, pot roast, comfort foods)
2. shoot yourself (cheesecake, maybe a Whopper and fries)
4. overdose on sleeping pills (anything with vodka as main ingredient)
5. hang yourself (who could eat?)

 Needs work, but I may have found my niche. Certainly nobody else is doing it.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Shutdown Blues

Here's a photo of a new Chinese panda cub to tide you over...
I heard an amazing statistic earlier today: 80% of the seafood consumed by Americans is imported. I was skeptical, since most of the fish we eat here in Maine comes from local waters, some just down the road a piece. Intrigued, I did some research and found that in reality, 86% of our seafood is imported. Even worse, less than 1% of it is inspected by our government, and those inspections will now cease with the current shutdown. Shocked by that statistic, I wondered about the amount of beef we get from outside sources, but when I tried to check, a notice on the website with all the answers declared, "Due to the government shutdown, we're closed."

First no Panda Cam, and now this. We might as well be in Siberia.

Things You Should Know

A new black coat with an old black belt.
This morning, over coffee, I read some grim news: All of our national parks will close, except for the Grand Canyon which will remain open because they couldn't find a tarp big enough to cover it. And while many government employees are suddenly without jobs, members of Congress will still get their full pay, according to a law written by members of Congress that they will always get their full pay no matter what.

Then I came across some real news: This year, the Embellished Coat will be the "must have" wardrobe item. In fact, according to a top fashionista I never heard of, "Nothing is more stylishly transformative than a drop-dead embellished coat."

Confused, I looked up "transformative" in case it had another meaning than the one I know. It doesn't. Then I had to look up "Embellished Coat" for the same reason. Again, no--it's just a coat with extra stuff on it. Here in Maine, where the only embellishment any coat "must have" is a ski lift tag, I'm already out of style since I don't ski. But this year, women's coats will sport shiny objects, glittery geegaws, sequins, bobbles, non-functioning buttons and embroidery. Once the coat has those things, it will be turned into something else. Also, you should know that burgundy is the new black. (See photo)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Articles I Didn't Finish Reading

In today's Portland Press Herald, a local newspaper I check out sometimes online to see if anything crucial is happening in my area, I started reading an article about how nonverbal communication can impact others around you. A short introductory paragraph is followed by a list of examples, beginning with:  

Domineering Nonverbal Communication:
Speaking in a voice that is unusually loud or overly soft, with carefully enunciated words.

Why go further?