Friday, February 28, 2014

Happy Rare Disease Day

Today is Rare Disease Day. It's actually the seventh such day, coming each February, although I never heard anything about the last six. We are all supposed to think about rare diseases today, which, although rare, do impact the lives of one in every 1,500 people in the United States.

There are 6,000 rare diseases, most of which are unknown to the general public. Leprosy is the most popular, and we all know that is a total bummer. In fact, the whole topic is depressing. People would much rather talk about the upcoming Oscars awards ceremony scheduled to air on TV this weekend. If there were a movie called "Rare Disease" starring Jenifer Lawrence or Amy Adams, Hollywood's latest hot chicks, then perhaps the public might care. Otherwise, the general water-cooler conversation is about trivial pursuits, the only kind of pursuits that ever get our attention.

I am sad for all the people with rare diseases and you should be too. To further bum you out/inform you of the situation, you should know that:
     Most rare diseases are genetic.
     Around 75% of rare diseases particularly affect children.
     Thirty percent of those diagnosed with a rare disease will die before age five.

Try and celebrate. That would involve thanking God you don't have one, being kind to someone who does, and sending money to aid research in curing a rare disease. Have fun!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Man Behind the Curtain

With the exception of atheists, who blindly believe there is absolutely no God (and with just as much evidence as the complete opposite), most of us sort of think there might be a God, but we're just not sure. The thing is, we have no proof. Today I think I got some.

In our bedroom there are three large windows, which directly face our neighbor's house. Not that she's sitting there with binoculars, and even if she were there's a stand of trees between us, still we opted to hang shades for privacy. About two weeks ago, the shade covering the largest of the three windows, which goes almost from the floor to the ceiling, broke. A marvel of simplicity, it was operated by pulling it down or pushing it up. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, the strings that made it work were visible, hanging loose and spilling over the top. It was clearly a goner.

This was a drag for many reasons. First, we couldn't remember where we bought the shades years ago, so replacing just one of them seemed unlikely. Second, dealing with it seemed like more trouble than it was worth, considering all the other things in our house and our lives in need of repair. So we just left it down. But that soon proved depressing, with the bedroom always dark and dreary. So I fooled around and devised a way to push the shade up manually, stopping halfway and tucking it into the top of the double-hung window, so at least half the amount of daylight poured in. And believe me, in Maine in winter, you'll take all the light you can get.

This morning, as I was carefully pushing the broken shade up to its resting place halfway up the window, I had the thought, "God, I wish this would just get fixed!" Right then a loud "whoosh" sounded, followed by an equally loud clicking, and suddenly the strings that had been hanging loose at the top were taut and the shade was repaired.

Upon reflection, I concluded that all those times I had prayed for God to fix this, that and the other, He was busy helping other people. Just my luck He heard my prayer about the shade and not the one about my hip surgery or my dying father. Anyway, I think He might be out there, and what He hears or doesn't hear is random. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Dirty Talk

It's all in the title. I'm pretty sure that if I had called my last blog post "Phony-Baloney Bullshit" I would have attracted many more readers than I got with "Keeping Up With the #." But it's a delicate balance between being sensational and maintaining a shred of dignity. Until now I have opted for dignity, but these days dignity gets you nowhere, which Miley Cyrus has certainly proven beyond all doubt. So I am determined to try harder to be trashier. To that end, I will write the following posts in the coming weeks, and ask my readers to choose which titles would most grab their attention:

How I Almost Gave President Clinton a Blow Job
Walking Around Naked at Home
My Boobs Are Too Big
Men and Their Penises: Enough Already!
Sex, Sex, Sex Over Sixty, Seventy and Eighty
Eating in Bed Saves Time
Heroines On Heroin
I'm Having a Facelift
The Truth About Bikini Waxes
Pissing Off Reverend Sun Myung Moon



Keeping Up With the #

#hashtag backache #hashtag new job #hashtag laundry. #hashtag snow #hashtag winter.

I think I am finally getting the hang of this hashtag thing. (Secretly I think that it, along with Twitter, is an indication of the snowballing mental slide of Man into the primordial ooze that will suck him back into Mother Earth, allowing the forests to return and the air to clarify.) You just put # in front of whatever you say and you are instantly cool and with it, allowing others of your generation to trust you, like having long hair and wearing pea jackets back in the Woodstock days. Although you have to not say things like "cool" and "with it," and never mention Woodstock. But what if you put # in front of those things--would they become the new cool things to say? Try it:
#hashtag feeling groovy
#hashtag right on
#hashtag later, alligator
#hashtag don't Bogart that joint
#hashtag get down
#hashtag far out
#hashtag peace, man

As you can see I still don't know if you need the # with the word "hashtag" or just the #, which I guess makes me a #hashtag dork with a flip phone.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Grab Bag

                                                        Gordon Studer
Thank God Piers Morgan got fired without me having to call for his assassination. I don't care who replaces him, just as long as the person speaks normal English and it's not Keith Olbermann. 

Some guy on Facebook-- a friend of a friend of mine-- keeps insisting that Harold Ramis, the actor who died yesterday, is not dead and that it's all a hoax. There are obituaries for Ramis everywhere you turn. What is wrong with that guy?

In America it's 2014, The Year of the Obese. Why do the Girl Scouts still sell cookies when they could set a good example and do something actually beneficial for society to raise money? Who runs that organization, the Pillsbury Doughboy?

Yesterday I was trying to locate a counselor for a dear friend who is depressed. I called a guy recommended by my own shrink and he said right off the bat that he doesn't see people with serious problems, explaining, "I'm not prepared for that." I responded, "So you just see people who are in a bad mood? " He said, "I see people who want to make some changes, but aren't too unhappy. I can't handle it." I'm thinking one change his patients might consider is finding a better shrink.

If only the weather people would just say it will be cold next week, instead of saying that another polar vortex is coming, I could take less Lorazepam. It sounds so scary, and since we already have so much else to worry about in the world, it's downright rude.

I don't know much, but one thing I know for sure: If you fracture your ribs you will immediately forget all your other problems. After about two weeks you will start to remember them, and also be quite a bit fatter.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Even Seinfeld Gets Old

Some works of art just never get old: No matter how many times you've seen the film, read the book, watched the ballet or heard the symphony, it remains thrilling. I find this true for Edith Wharton's novella Ethan Frome, which I have read countless times since the tenth grade. (It's only 77 pages, so it's not too big an accomplishment.) I just picked it up again and the tale seems brand new. We all have the same experience with many movies, and despite knowing how they end, the watching is absorbing each time.

Then there are other works of art that make you say, "Been there, done that." Sadly, comedian Jerry Seinfeld's performance last night fell in that category. While he was certainly funny and everyone had a good time, some of the laughter seemed forced--I know mine was--stemming only from pure love for Jerry. The audience of baby boomers who grew up with him doing stand-up comedy and younger folks who were raised on Seinfeld came psyched and ready to laugh til it hurts. But like the sitcom, many of the bits were reruns, some dating back a dozen years or more. That was fine if you were seeing him for the first time, but for those of us who had trekked to the Merrill Auditorium two years ago, and two years before that, many of the stale punchlines packed little punch.

The evening was disheartening, since I've always counted on Jerry to offer a fresh look at life through his own twisted prism, acting as somewhat of a good-natured chronicler of our times. But last night he seemed more intent on the pitfalls of marriage and times gone by. And seeing him looking less fit and balder, and sounding downright angry, one had to simply face facts: Jerry is now 59, and what's so funny about that? Apparently, less and less.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Jerry's Coming

Today is a rare day as it will culminate in my going out and actually having a good time. This happens less and less the longer I live in Maine, as the few things there are to do here have become old hat by now. Don't get me wrong--the lack of crime and traffic is still an up, and one I appreciate every day. But tonight, Jerry Seinfeld is coming to perform at Portland's Merrill Auditorium--for all I know he's already here which would explain why the sun is shining and it's a beautiful day--and I've got tickets. Seeing as how I have to prepare myself for this event, today's blog post has been cancelled, but check back tomorrow for a review of tonight's show. (Here's a preview: Hahaha, hahahahaha, haha, hahahahahaha hahaha, hahahhaha!)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Hashtag Just Shoot Me

When you live in Maine you need a plow guy. We got here four winters ago and all the good ones were taken, so we had to take what was left. Today I needed my plow guy to show up, just like all the other good plow guys who showed up at all the neighboring houses, since it snowed all day yesterday and dumped a lot of new stuff on the driveways. But our guy, the bad one, did not show up. And so our driveway was impassable.

This story gets more boring, so quit now if you have something else to do. Anyway, I needed cat food and coffee, two things you cannot live without in a snowstorm, and we've got another one coming tonight, so it was imperative that I get out while the sun was shining. It was touch and go, but I managed. Still, after doing my errands, I couldn't get back in. Trapped in the deep snow and the big hump at the end of the driveway, my spinning wheels just made it worse. With no choice, I got out and shoveled, disturbing my already broken and until-today mending ribs in the process. But I did it.

Once inside my home, weeping as usual, I called the plow guy whose name I have not wanted to utter but it's Vince. First off, he didn't know who I was, a bad sign in a plow guy in the middle of a snowy February, especially when you've been sending him regular checks with your signature since November. I gave him the address, adding, "You know, the people who pity-hired you to paint the exterior of our house two years ago? The beige one that's peeling already?"

Putting two and two together, Vince said, "Oh right, so do you want me to come over?"
"Uh, well, yeah, it snowed a lot yesterday, did you notice?"
"My truck caught fire last week so I'll have to borrow one from a friend."
"Okay, so are you not plowing anymore?"
"No, I am, but I have to borrow a truck."
"Okay, do that."

Hashtag Moronic

Okay, I give up. I am officially waving the white flag. I hereby announce my resignation from the chaotic mess called Modern Life. This already swayed camel's back was broken with the final straw contained in this morning's news concerning a new "app" -- shorthand for "application" but God knows we haven't time to say the whole word -- which Facebook purchased yesterday for $19 billion in cash and stock. It is called, ironically, WhatsApp, which would be fitting if it meant What the fuck is an app? but instead it's a play on Wazzzupp?, which is how they say it now, they being the young'uns and anyone else under the age of reason, or wanting to appear so.

Still mystified by the meaning of the hashtag and panicked over falling further behind, I researched this thing and learned that it is yet another instant messaging service, akin to the moronic Twitter but even better. This one also allows kids to chat with each other instead of doing anything real, like homework or chores or bringing alms to the poor, but now they can erase the chat so nobody can see it. This is of course a major concern among the prepubescent set: Privacy. (God only knows what would happen if anyone found out that she likes him but he smiled at her best friend, only they maybe did it and Justin Bieber is a scumbag.)

Despite the privacy issue, I found the following samples of Whatsapp chat on Wikipedia:
Nikhil chaudhary  sup dude
Leeela Kurian  Good night:) take care!
Ariyaa!  Ok. !
Manikutty  :)
Joshua Quadros  :(
Gnlu vir britto  My room*

After seeing these important messages coming from the youth of today and the leaders of tomorrow, I'm pretty sure you'll agree that global warming is not our biggest problem.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Why Mainers Are So Grumpy

It's amazing what a couple of fractured ribs will do to your life. Basically, they will ruin it. It makes one wonder how Stephen Hawking gets so much done without wallowing in self-pity, which is what I have been doing for the past 10 days. So today I decided to kick the laying-around-sucking-down-Advil habit and get back to the land of the living, the land of the get-up-and-going. To that end, I set out for the post office, albeit in my car since the eight or nine inches of new snow we got yesterday from winter storm Rex or Pax or whoever that was made walking out of the question.

So I slid behind the wheel, which was quite a feat in itself, backed out of the garage, and drove the 6/10ths of a mile to the post office. Then I carefully went inside, got my mail, and drove back home, excited to have actually done something without further injury. Sadly, during my short absence the town plow had come along and created a two-foot wall of freshly-plowed snow blocking our driveway, which offers the only access into our house. Under normal circumstances I would have grabbed the nearest snow shovel and dug my way in, but alas, that was not possible with my busted ribs.

The plow was still visible, so I flagged it down and pointed out the problem to the driver. The funny thing was, he wasn't at all apologetic, as if what he had done was perfectly appropriate and not at all inconsiderate. Like, what if I had gotten home five minutes later and he was gone and I was pregnant or on crutches or worse, had no legs at all, or had six bags of groceries and a sick St. Bernard to get inside the house? Anyway, none of these were the case, and once he got off the phone with his girlfriend he agreed to help. Nevertheless, after all his fussing with his blades and backing up and going sideways, he still left behind a sizable hump that my low-to-the-ground Saab can just barely scale. By tonight the hump will be a major hill, since it's snowing hard, and that plow will be back for sure.

It doesn't matter though, because I'm staying home until spring.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Real Men Don't Use Vagina Soap

There is a commercial on TV advertising a brand of body wash that is specifically intended for a woman's vagina. As if that isn't a ridiculous concept to begin with, like soap can be for one gender and not another, they have gone one step further and named it "Summer's Eve," whatever that is supposed to indicate. I mean, it's winter right now and the ad is running, so you tell me.

Anyway, the situation is that the husband is in the shower lathering up with the stuff, and the wife is outside the shower standing at the sink, and she says to him how the soap is so mild and hypoallergenic, making it "perfect for a woman's V." Then he freaks out because he has been using it without realizing it was a "female" product. The husband is then seen running around like an idiot, chopping wood and drinking beer and doing other manly things to compensate, I forget what but there are quite a few. But here's my question: why couldn't the wife say vagina? She's got one but she can't say what it is? Who the hell calls it "a woman's V?"

It becomes increasingly more embarrassing  to be a human every day.

Tears On My Pillow

Whatever problems we may have, eventually a new one comes along and commandeers the top spot. For me this happened nine days ago when I fell on the ice and cracked my ribs. Since then, in severe pain and unable to move in any complicated way, a secondary problem has evolved which is weight gain from lack of exercise. Throw in a few snowstorms and some zero-degree weather, and my current situation sucks so loud you can hear it. Because of this, these days my tears are all for me. As for the rest of you--homeless, jobless, friendless, infirm-- take a number.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Boycott NBC

Just in case we didn't already know, NBC's Olympic coverage and specifically last night's appalling interview bringing ski great Bode Miller literally to his knees gave us proof that the media is nothing more than a pack of gravy-sucking pigs. The network had a whole day to edit the tape and not include it in their prime time coverage, yet they chose to keep it in. (What fun: Bode crying! Boo-hoo. The reporter badgering, "Your brother's dead-- just how bad do you feel about that? Show us Bode!!!")

It's sickening.The worst part, if there is a worst part, is that the interviewer is a former Olympian herself who now runs around, like most of them do after their prime, doing commentary. The particular sport in which she excelled was apparently Beating People Over the Head With a Club. ("Bode, when you look up in the sky do you talk to your brother in Heaven?")

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Another Dumb Commercial

She's pretty happy about losing control of herself.
Mostly the world is about advertising these days. You can't do anything or go anywhere without having to sit through some silly story about how this product or that product will change your life for the better. It's offensive, especially when you've plunked down nearly ten bucks to see a movie of your own choosing, and have to watch all those commercials first. Lately the theaters have been showing one for Google, as if the Google people cannot believe you left your computer screen for two hours and did something else.

Until recently, the commercial I found the most offensive was one involving cartoon bears extolling the virtues of toilet paper. While we all can agree that bears do in fact shit in the woods, I would bet the farm that they do not use toilet paper. In fact, if a bear found some toilet paper left in the woods by a camper, he would probably eat it.

I said "until recently," because now there is an even worse commercial playing on TV.  It is for adult diapers for women who can no longer control their bodily functions and so urinate any old time, not necessarily into a toilet. This is a sad state of affairs and one best discussed, if at all, in private, preferably with one's doctor. Instead, this commercial shows three women -- all of them tubby of course because we are supposed to believe that women over a certain age are fat-- ecstatically happy and dancing joyfully because they now have these great new diapers that fit really well, and so they can get out there and live life again without pee stains on their clothing.

Certainly this is a good thing, and if I had such a need I would maybe use that product, but I would never be all that excited about it, dancing around as if I had just won the lottery. It is also insulting that the particular dance the women are all doing is The Twist, which was popular 50 years ago. But why stop there--why not show them doing the Charleston? Surely there are plenty of centenarians out there peeing uncontrollably.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Moving Along

I am not an expert on much, but this much I can say for sure: If you lay around doing nothing but eat and sleep, you will put on weight.This unfortunate chicken has come home to roost since I cracked a couple of ribs last Sunday night, and I don't mean the barbecue kind. Laid up since then, four new pounds have shown up. This dire situation has come about by following my doctor's orders: In order for my ribs to heal, I was instructed to move around as little as possible. As a result, the most rigorous exercise I've gotten all week is deep weeping, with the occasional sneeze or cough thrown in to the mix. 

Buy that's it-- I'm done. I don't want to be fat because as we all know, being fat is bad. This is not just my opinion: People get surgery for it, and have their stomachs stapled, cut in half or removed entirely for all I know. Some choose to have their jaws wired shut so they can't insert food into their mouths. Hoping to avoid those extreme measures, my period of recuperation is officially ending right now. Now-- where are my shoes?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Just A Moment

Think about a second. That's not much time. Like, it's really almost nothing. Honestly, you can't do much with it. So then think about losing an Olympic medal by 4/100ths of a second. Is that stupid or what? I mean, would you feel bad? Would you feel like you lost? Better yet, if you were the person who won a medal by 4/100ths of a second, would you feel proud? Like, wow, you are so much greater than that person you beat? It's so dumb.

Closing the Book on This One

The dark lyrics of singer-songwriter Jackson Browne always did hit the nail on the head. In his 1974 hit, "Fountain of Sorrow," he described the sensation of realizing the person you have idealized in love is in reality a doofus. Browne puts the moment of realization this way: "When you see through love's illusions, there lies the danger, and your perfect lover just looks like a perfect fool." Last night I realized that can also happen with things other than people.

I've been reading a book that I loved at the outset, but somewhere around page 246 I sort of stopped even liking it. By page 252 I openly detested it. In fact, I had read quite enough, thank you. With that feeling of relief that floods over you when you wake up from a bad dream, I suddenly and gleefully realized, "Hey, I don't have to read this anymore! I can just stop and get back to my real life, the one without the depressing, abandoned, dirty and hungry teenage boys with their drug abuse and alcoholism and petty thievery and pathetic, lost, loveless lives." I tossed it aside and poured myself a celebratory glass of wine, happy to not be one of those people who "have to finish" a book, even when they aren't enjoying it.

Just out of normal curiosity, I called a friend who had read it all the way through and begged her to spare me the pain of the next 500 pages. She brought me up to speed in no time, making me glad for my decision since where it was going was even worse than where it had already been: heroin, hit men, deaths and despair, sadness, mental breakdowns, drowning....please, I read to feel better, not worse.

The book is a best-seller still in hardcover called "The Goldfinch" and there are about 20 mind-blowing pages in the beginning describing what it's like to be in an explosion. If you can get hold of a copy, read that part. Or just wait for the movie, I'm sure it's coming. As for me, I feel liberated. I may start Thoreau's "Walden," which I somehow missed, just to get some fresh air in my brain.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Nothing Says "I Love You" Like Nothing

Valentine's Day is a day away, and I plan to give it the same treatment I inaugurated last October when I turned off the porch light on Halloween. Not giving out candy to children was incredibly liberating. After that, hooked on holiday avoidance we snubbed our noses at Thanksgiving and fled the country in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Holidays are often an easy way out for people who lack imagination: Just follow the prescribed plan, dispense the suggested gifts, cook the appropriate menu and you can be assured you'll be right instead of wrong. (After all, being wrong is never right.) As for tomorrow, thus far I have done nothing, mostly because I've been hobbled by a few fractured ribs and can't run around gathering cards, balloons, chocolates or whatever trinkets might make my husband feel loved, as if the fact that I've lived with him for 27 years and tolerated his adorable quirks, interestingly odd habits and commanding personality hasn't yet proved the point.

Still, the gifting of chocolates is supposed to make one feel appreciated, and Mitch does love his chocolate. But it's snowing, and my ribs... Surely he'll understand, what with obesity, diabetes and heart disease running rampant, that the absence of candy is the real proof of love. To that end, I hope Mitch helps me celebrate Valentine's Day by bringing me absolutely nothing.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Don't Believe Everything You Read

("She can't find anything good to say about anything," you're probably thinking. Not true. It's just that the things I like and the people I hold most dear do not get written about on this footpath leading to the dirt road leading to the service road leading to the Interstate going to that tawdry freak show called the Internet. Thus, I am forced to blather about the negative, and blather I do, to my heart's content. Read it and weep, or don't read it at all.)

The other day, before I cracked some of my ribs and lost all interest in living, I was reading an article in the current issue of National Geographic TRAVELER that attempts to describe the Berkshires--a ho-hum mountain range in Western Massachusetts-- as a destination worthy of note. Part of the sell job included a brief review of Ethan Frome, my favorite novel of all time written by Edith Wharton in 1911. It tells the somber story of a man trapped by circumstance in his rural New England town, first caring for his ailing parents and then for his ailing wife, who has a glimpse of happiness basking in the reflected glow of his wife's young cousin who comes to live with them, before tragedy strikes and everyone ends up crippled and more miserable than ever, forever. Before the horrid event, Ethan and the cousin might or might not have had sex, or what passed for sex between unmarried people in 1911--maybe they just hugged, or kissed, or thought they did-- the reader doesn't know. Anyway, the magazine describes the book as "a page-turner about adultery, set during a blizzard in a fictional town inspired by Lenox."

Ethan Frome a page-turner about adultery--hahahahahahahahahaha and give me a break. Sex sells. Yeah, we know. But sometimes it's just rude.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Beyonce: Whose Role Model Is She?

Today's most successful black woman sure looks white to me.
Probably a lot of people will consider the very act of presenting this photo with that caption to be what is called "racist," meaning intending to cast a negative light on black people. When actually, it is quite the opposite. I merely ask the question--Whose role model is she?-- because if I were a young African American woman, with dark skin and dark hair, I would be pissed to high Heaven that one of my black "sisters" wants to look just like a white lady with blonde hair. (Is that Kate Hudson?)

It's like Jews getting nose jobs. Just be who you are people.

Old Man Winter Is for the Dogs

Despite my being overly cautious and tramping around in boots with tire treads on the bottom, Old Man Winter got me good two nights ago. As a light wintry mix further disguised the landscape -- in this case a restaurant parking lot -- I inadvertently stepped into a snow-filled, ice-topped pothole, sliding backwards and landing flat on my back, which made strident contact with a cement curb smack in the vicinity of my left lung.

Thereafter, several things happened: First, I finally understood that "having the wind knocked out of your sails" is more than just an expression. Next, fear took over, leading me down a black hole to collapsed lungs, spinal cord injury and impending death. Awaiting further proof of any of those things, and to get out of the bowl of ice water into which I had become submerged, I allowed my husband, who's tough but still no match for that Evil Black Ice, to hoist me to my feet and guide me to the car, drive me home, make me some tea and toss a load of ibuprofen down my gullet.

Sleep was evasive, fitful and short-lived, and soon enough it was morning when it became obvious from the throbbing pain I felt that I had not died and still inhabited the battered, worn container known as my body. Further inspection by a physician revealed that both my lungs were intact but that a rib or two likely were not 100%. The prognosis: Severe pain for the next week or so, followed by less severe pain for several weeks, until fractures knit and muscles relax.

Even watching the Olympics is out of bounds for me now, what with those limber skiers, skaters and snowboarders flinging themselves around without suffering so much as a twisted pinky. Fortunately the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was on TV last night and will be again tonight. Watching those adorable doggies from the comfort of my own home is just my speed right now.



Saturday, February 8, 2014

Who Needs People?

They say money can't buy happiness, but it seems to me, not having much, that it could go a long way towards getting some. For example, if I had lots of money right this very second I would certainly be having a better afternoon, and not be sitting in my house writing this blog. I might be out sailing on a yacht in the Greek islands, or perhaps working with my architect on the finishing touches for that children's hospital I would build. Or I might be at a Broadway matinee, since besides my home here in Maine I would also have an apartment in Manhattan for a weekend getaway. I could go on, but you get the point: money might not buy happiness, but it sure does buy a good time. So I find it surprising, in light of all they have and all they can have, that so many celebrities are so desperately unhappy, and not having any fun at all.

Take, for example, the Woody Allen/Mia Farrow sex abuse saga, wherein she says he molested her daughter 20 years ago and he says of course he did not. This monstrous allegation coming right on the heels of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman's overdosing on heroin must have made for quite a few late nights over at People magazine last week. The current issue has all of them on the cover, with Hoffman front and center ("His Tragic Final Days") and Woody over to the side ("New Details: A Family at War"). I'm not ashamed to admit that I bought it, mostly because I am a big fan of Hoffman and wanted to somehow register that fact, perhaps making his death an all-time bestseller in their history of dead celebrities. Also, there was a fairly long line at the supermarket checkout and reading it helped pass the time.

But once I got home, I reconsidered the wisdom of my purchase. (With a weekly readership of 46.6 million adults, People has the largest audience of any American magazine, so they don't need my business, that's for sure.) Besides the awful descriptions of Woody's mess and Hoffman's death, there were scads of photos of beautiful, smiling celebrities partying up a storm in fabulous clothes and glamorous surroundings, seemingly over-the-moon happy. There were no photos of them snorting cocaine, lying face down in a pool of vomit, drinking themselves into a stupor or crawling into rehab. Maybe if some of those moments were shown to an adoring public, fewer celebrities would end up in such dire straits.


Friday, February 7, 2014

Time Passes

                        Gordon Studer
It's happened: I have turned into one of those people. You know, one of those "back in my day" people. But given the situation, it's hard not to.

Yesterday: Fifty years ago, The Beatles arrived. That's a long time ago, but I still know all the words to all their songs and in which order they came on what album. They were so nice: their first big hit was called "I Wanna Hold Your Hand." (Ha!) Back then, people kept all their original body parts, and you could tell right away who was old and who wasn't, and what gender they were too. Air travel was fun and exciting and you got dressed up for it, instead of taking off most of your clothes in public just to get on the plane. Broadway was serious business, with its own set of distinctive performers. Conversation was an art, practiced openly and without shame by just about everyone.

Today: Language has been distilled to the barest of essentials. LOL is what you do instead of laugh. Tweeting thoughts of 140 characters is common, and something called a hashtag placed in front of a single word speaks volumes. Cursive is no longer taught in schools, although oddly enough, there are still schools. I'm getting a new hip installed one of these days, just because the old one is worn out. Everyone's getting one--or two--along with new knees and butts and chins and breasts, and it seems like they're all pretty happy with the results.

Tomorrow: Total body transplants. Food pills. Personal intercranial computers. God only knows. I won't be here for it, but I hope my son likes it. If liking is still done.







Thursday, February 6, 2014

Yum--and No Veggies!

Maine continues to be the "fattest state" in New England. I think I know why.  The following snippets are excerpted from the news column in today's very local paper:

The Freeport Community Library will host the 13th annual Chocolate Bash on Wednesday, February 12. This popular event includes a buffet of chocolate temptations to be sampled. $2 per person.

The menus at the Valentines' Dinner at The Masonic Lodge will feature 
 baked ham, mashed potatoes, desserts and beverages.

A Bean Supper will be held at the First Parish Congregational Church. The supper will feature three kinds of beans, American chop suey, macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, dinner rolls, cole slaw, beverages and desserts.

Food historian Sandy Oliver will present a program called "Comfort Food: Now and Then." Oliver will discuss the concept of American comfort foods such as macaroni and cheese, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, and spaghetti and meatballs, and sign copies of her new book, "Maine Home Cooking."

The Freeport Elders Pancake Breakfast on the first and third Saturday of each month offers deluxe pancakes, sausages, biscuits and eggs for $4.50, and regular pancakes for $3.50. 

One town over in Durham, a Valentine Soiree to benefit the food pantry will include sparkling cider, mashed potatoes and gravy, dinner rolls, tomato soup with crackers, pudding, baked ham with pineapple and roast turkey with stuffing.

The First Congregational Church of Durham is hosting an all-you-can-eat baked bean and ham supper, including baked beans, ham, cole slaw, potatoes (sweet or white) pies, rolls and beverage.

The Interact Club of Freeport High will host a spaghetti supper as a fundraiser. 
$7.50 per adult.

And in nearby Pownal, the United Methodist Food Pantry wants to help the poor. While organizers never know what they will be getting each week, there are usually several kinds of breads and desserts available.

Why Do Today What You Can Put Off Til Tomorrow?

The huge drugstore chain CVS has announced it will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products by October of 2014. There are two possible reactions to this news: #1, "Duh," and #2, "Why wait?"

If you read between the lines of all the excited reports, it's not because they don't want people to get cancer or emphysema or any of the hundred other monstrous diseases smoking causes, but because the move will give CVS a "competitive edge" over other pharmacies in  forging "stronger alliances" with hospitals, insurers, physicians and and over-the-counter drug manufacturers, making even more money in the long run. Still, it's a good thing. And every day until October, we can expect to hear about it non-stop, with stories in the newspapers and on TV and on the Internet about what great people they are over at CVS. That's the American Way.

Now I have a similar announcement, albeit one that will impact far fewer people. Okay, just me. I will lose 15 pounds and start exercising daily, weight-lifting and running (after that hip replacement surgery) too. I will accomplish this by October of 2014. Since this is only February, today I get to lay about the house and polish off that giant bag of Swedish Fish I bought to get me through the recent snowstorm. I may even drive over to the CVS and buy a pack of smokes, even though I don't smoke. In fact, I'll stock up for after next October, when I'm in shape and they don't sell them anymore.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

I'm Spineless, Please Help

In the old days, before the invention of Internet, you never really knew what a mess other people had made of their lives. You knew about your own mess and your family's mess, and those close friends who were honest enough to share theirs with you. But now, thanks to Bill Gates or Steve Jobs or Al Gore for all I know, we are privy to every little teardrop shed by every other person having a bad day.

This morning, as I do most days, I logged on to Craigslist.com searching for freelance writing assignments or maybe even a job. What I found listed under the category called Volunteers was a plea from some lady whose husband had died, asking me to send her money so her two sons could pay for college since Dad had been the sole earner in the family. She says even some spare change would be appreciated. Oh please.

Has she considered another avenue, one with almost no traffic on it so it's smooth sailing, which is taking personal responsibility for her own problems, instead of stretching out her open palm and sticking it under my nose? Oh yes, I know that's what's done these days, what with creeping socialism about to smother us all under a big government safety net. I suppose it's easier to write an ad and start an online begging fund, which she has done, than to stand out in the weather with a cup and a cardboard sign. Still, it's no different. (Perhaps she should call the White House direct.)

So now, along with all the sadness I already absorb from people close to me, that I wring out each week in the office of a lady I pay to help me mop it all up, I'm supposed to worry about a complete stranger and her two sons, and give them some of my husband's hard-earned money so that they can go to college which has been all but proven to be a waste of money anyway. Yikes. Hey, charity is my middle name, but this is ridiculous.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Dogs Are Better Than Russians

TV doesn't get better than this!
The Olympics are coming, or is it is coming. I'm never sure, kind of like with the Beatles. Anyway, after six years of planning and building and making mountains where there were none and fixing others that were already there, they have spent 50 billion dollars-- or maybe it's rupees, or rubles-- but whatever they are, they spent 50 billion of them. So this had better be one damn fine Olympics show, considering the Chinese spent 40 billion in Beijing for those summer Olympics that blew all our minds, and the Vancouver winter Olympics cost a mere seven billion and they were just fine.

So with people starving the world over, and all those babies with distended stomachs and missing their upper lips, and cancer and AIDS still running rampant, how is it possible that the People in Charge of the Planet think having these sporting events and getting a lot of us to sit on our butts and drink in all the commercials which we then tweet about--not me, I don't tweet-- and talk about at our office jobs the next day is the way to to go? This must be what happened to the dinosaurs. Bad decisions.

If you must sit in front of your TV and watch a spectacle, go for the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show next Monday and Tuesday, February 10 and 11, from 6-11PM on both nights. I am very excited about that. It cost about $300,000 to produce which is still a lot, but if you are a mathematician which I am not, you can figure out that it is a teeny, tiny, teensy-weensy fraction of 50 billion dollars, or even rubles.

Still need convincing? The dog show loves gays and is full of them, while Russia hates gays and in fact outlaws them. I say screw those Russkies and watch the doggies instead.


Monday, February 3, 2014

Goodbye Phil

Sometimes going to a movie can make you feel like a big boob who is lining the pockets of those rich Hollywood producers, all laying out by their swimming pools, smoking cigars and making deals, palm trees swaying in the breeze, while you are shivering in zero-degree weather in some crummy, under-heated theater eating stale popcorn and wasting your life. This feeling is fairly common, especially when the dumb plot and even dumber script are accompanied by lousy performances and a too-loud score of bad music. I hate those times.

Then there are the times when going to a movie feels like a worthy endeavor. An education, even: you're smarter afterwards, having learned something new. Even better, you're more in touch with the world around you, and yourself. Great acting has unlocked a new emotion you've never fully explored. You leave the theater in awe, eager to mull it over. Chances are that movie starred Philip Seymour Hoffman, a brilliant actor who had the uncanny ability to "be" every person.

The fact that Hoffman died yesterday -- discovered by a friend in his rented Greenwich Village office with a needle in his arm and a bag of heroin nearby -- is sickening, sad and shocking. I am stymied by how someone of his caliber could have sunk so low, with so much going for him and with three young children and a beautiful partner sharing his life. The movies are forever dimmer.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Film Review: AMERICAN HUSTLE

Some poor guys have to work at curly hair.
In a year of superb movies, "American Hustle" is another great one. You'll have fun, I promise, just as long as you're the kind of person who can sit back and relax, go with the flow and hang loose. Forget asking dumb questions like, "What's going on?" It doesn't really matter, and besides, the film just might win this year's Best Picture award, and then you'll definitely want in.

Impressive dramatic performances and the occasional laugh-out-loud moment are accompanied by a nostalgic score of all your favorite songs, or at least all of mine. The story is loosely based on Abscam, an actual FBI sting involving senators, congressmen and a fake Sheik of Arabee back in the '70s, so you get to see what life was like back in the '70s. It's always amusing to see how far we've come in terms of the hair, the cars, the clothes, the furnishings, and--worth repeating-- the hair; the opening scene, even before the credits appear, showing how to fairly effectively hide your bald spot, is at once hysterical and awful.

A jumbled plot is thankfully half-explained by a continual voice-over narrative spoken by different characters at different times. Besides the sting, reminiscent of Sinatra and his Rat Pack, there are lots of sexy-ish scenes, mostly involving Amy Adams showing off what are supposed to be her voluptuous breasts peeking out of low-cut dresses but look more like those pancakes they bring you with moo shu pork. Anyway, she's definitely "hot" and shows a lot of skin, as does Jennifer Lawrence, the other "babe" who sadly seems more like a "baby" but who my husband said had the better breasts. Both male leads, played by Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper, never disappoint, and in fact at times stun you with their brilliance.

I'm not really sure what happened every little second, or really a lot of the time, so I'm going back to find out. It's that good.

The Blonde Report

The following statements are true and unexpurgated--not that the expurgated version would be any different. Anyway, exactly eight days ago I became a blonde, just for the heck of it. It was time for a change, and since I could get one while remaining completely awake and with no stitches afterwards, I plunked down my 50 bucks and told the stylist to just "bleach the hell out of it." No cut; just color.

Besides that one thing I have not changed myself in any way. I have not started dressing better--in fact probably a little worse since my husband was gone almost all last week and I hardly even look in the mirror when he is. I spent several days in my studio, running out in my painting clothes to pick up the mail, buy cat food, go to the bank, etc. And here is what I can report: I was treated a whole lot better by the male population! Doors that normally slam in my face were held open, typically mute Mainers said hello and actually smiled at me, more eye contact was made by just about everyone, and one man even offered to pump my gas on a particularly cold day. Yesterday at Ace Hardware, two different salesmen competed to show me where to find the paint thinner and nails, even though I said I knew where they were. (Still, one of them escorted me all the way to the back of the store to the nail department, like I might not have been able to find it myself.)

So, as my sister-in-law Jackie would so aptly put it, there you have it. Draw your own conclusions.