Tuesday, March 31, 2015

My Personal Best Something or Other

Come on folks, help me out here. If just a few more of you land here today I will break my all-time record for monthly readership since starting this blog in 2007. And that will mean exactly nothing, but for some reason many people think breaking records and setting records and personal bests are important.

Not naming any names but someone I live with belongs to an exercise cult -- again not naming any names -- that makes it a practice of keeping score of every last thing every participant does, how many times and how fast they do it, and posting it online. That person I live with checks his stats frequently, and if he breaks his own personal record for something, be it how many times he hiccuped in a ten-minute period while standing on one leg and holding a barbell overhead, he is thrilled. I mean really happy! (I could hit him up for anything at that moment and he would say yes.)

As for me, I just want to have a nice day and have my son have a nice day. In fact, if my son is having a nice day and I hear about it, then my day is immediately nicer. But if I walk further than yesterday or weigh less than last week or meditate longer than somebody else or even myself, I don't really give a crap. Still, there is that record I was looking to break, and since you clicked you helped, and I'd like to say thanks.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Mother's Little Helper

I am currently 68 years old. Surely if I left it alone, my hair would be gray by now. But I don't leave it alone, I color it. This is a very un-Zen practice, since to be enlightened I must forget about "me" and just Be One With The Universe. Although that does sound nice, and honestly I am dying for some inner peace and to that end have started engaging in daily meditation, I make this exception for several reasons.

It has little to do with looking younger, since I look older every day despite my hair color. That's because I am older every day, just like everyone else, although admittedly "gray-haired old lady" sounds worse than "red-haired old lady" or "old blonde." Mainly I do it because it's fun: New hair is just about the only thing I can do for little money and with immediate results to keep me interested in that face in the mirror.

Lately I have toyed with the possibility of going natural, since the one color I have not yet had is gray. But I'm just not ready.

So it's now time to choose a new color since my current shade is faded and drab. If I were younger I might go with green or magenta or blue, or maybe even hodgepodge (see photo). But I am after all 68 and so will once again choose something "hair-colored." Mick Jagger said it best: What a drag it is getting old.





Sunday, March 29, 2015

Film Review: THE INTERVIEW

A few months back there was a big to-do over this film about a planned assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. The fear was that its release would set off World War Three. At the time I paid little attention since fart jokes are not my thing. Somehow an international fracas was avoided and the movie slunk quietly off to Netflix, which is where I found it last night. Call me madcap but I loved it, laughing all the way, and really, what else is a comedy for?

Admittedly the script is gross and off-color, so if you're squeamish about bodily orifices and/or sexual innuendo, steer clear. Then too, there are a few fingers bitten off and a lot of fake blood around that, but simply covering your eyes works there. Otherwise, this fable about a pair of loony guys who end up working for the CIA is a non-stop hoot.

If this picture offends you, do NOT see the movie!
The plot is clever: Dave Skylark (James Franco), a late-night TV host sick of doing celebrity puff pieces, and his longtime producer pal Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen), decide they want more respect from their peers, those rarefied souls who work for the likes of "60 Minutes."  So when they hear that North Korea's leader is a huge fan of their show they decide to fly to Pyongyang and interview him, thus wowing the world with their brilliant expose of the real Kim. After announcing the upcoming interview on-air, the duo is visited by two CIA agents who recruit them to "take out" the crazy dictator. ("You mean take him out to dinner?" asks the clueless Rapoport.)

The proceedings are admittedly slapstick and exceedingly adolescent, but the whole thing works. Franco is flat-out hysterical, much better at comedy than drama. The actor who plays Kim (Randall Park) could be elected immediately, if they have elections over there, since he's perfect for the job. And Rogen, who also wrote the story and produced the film, is clearly a comic genius of his generation. In addition to the stars, a memorable cameo from Eminen and great supporting performances from everyone involved make this a worthy cinematic adventure, despite what all the snooty critics said.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Buyer's Remorse

Can one see things too clearly?
Before my recent cataract surgery I couldn't see anything very far away but could count the legs on a centipede, should that ever become necessary and if I were not so afraid of bugs. After the surgery I can see from here to Texas but couldn't remove a splinter from my own finger (not that I would since I always let them just sit there and fester) since I can't even see my own finger. As for eyeglasses, which I have worn since age 13 and supposedly would no longer require, I still need them, but not all the time; just for eating and reading and working on a computer and grocery shopping and paying bills and shaving my legs and cutting my hair and, well, you get the point. Pretty much everything but seeing to Texas.

What did happen was my eye doctor and my optometrist each made a lot of money. Both are likable chaps and I hold no grudges against them. It's just that I wonder how many of those "necessary" surgeries are only necessary for the doctor performing them. Had I left my cataracts in place, gradually my vision would have grown dimmer as I age. But maybe that's not so bad, considering what I see when I look in the mirror these days. One thing can be said for sure: cataract surgery does not decrease wrinkles.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Pill-popping Atheists Unite

I heard we are getting more snow tomorrow and now I'm sort of depressed. I'm starting to feel like crashing a plane loaded with 150 innocent people into the side of a mountain. The thing is, I don't have an airplane, don't know how to fly one if I did, and am not a Muslim terrorist. I'm just a nice Jewish girl from Long Island. I guess I'll just take one of my anti-anxiety pills, go for a brisk walk in the fresh air and not kill anybody instead.

(Translated from a German website this morning: All evidence indicates that the copilot of Airbus machine in his six-months break during his training as a pilot in Germanwings, converted to Islam and subsequently either by the order of “radical”, ie. devout Muslims, or received the order from the book of terror, the Quran, on his own accord decided to carry out this mass murder.)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Those Nutty Arabs!

Last night I returned from a short vacation to find a message on my home phone from an Arab-sounding man who said his name was Officer Roy Martin and I had better "call back right away or you will suffer the consequences, and may God help you." He said he was from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and that he had received several complaints against my name and unless I called back immediately I was going to be in very big trouble. And another "may God help you."

Naturally I called back at the number he left, which is (646) 583-1335 in case you want the bizarre experience yourself. Alas, Mr. Martin was in a meeting but would return my call shortly. Two hours later I called again, and again Mr. Martin was in a meeting with "the authorities." I asked which authorities, and was told they were the "big authorities" by the Arab-sounding man who could barely speak English. I asked what this was about and who they were. He said they were "the Federal Bureau of the Investigating of the Internal Revenue" and that I had many mistakes on my tax return and they would subpoena me and seize my property at my home address, which he repeated so I'd know he knew it. I asked if they were located in Manhattan and he said no, that they were in New York City. I asked if he had ever heard the word Manhattan and he skirted the issue, asking instead, "Why you talk to me this way like I am your friend or family, I will have you arrested!"

I try to like those folks, really I do, but what with the beheadings and the stoning of women and the chopping off of body parts and the bombings and the burning people alive and of course 9/11 and Charlie Hebdo and ISIS and now this, I just don't. I can't. Maybe it's racist of me or maybe I'm just smart. Either way, sue me, but don't count on getting much since all my property is about to be seized.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What's to Like About Flying?

I am on an airplane this minute. It sucks so bad I want to document it so that when I am off, if I ever feel unhappy I can read this and remind myself what true Hell is and then feel better about whatever is going on right then.

There are two babies on board. One has not stopped screaming since we were boarding three hours ago. Really. What is wrong with his parents? Are they really his parents? Maybe he is being abducted, because I took my baby on a cross-country flight when he was three months old and he cried for like ten minutes but I was prepared to make him happy and so he shut right up.

There is turbulence of course. There is no movie, even though the flight is five hours long. There is no food, no pillows, no nothing but the screaming of the baby. There he goes again.

Making matters worse, there was a huge plane crash in Europe yesterday. No survivors. I learned this on the way to the airport today. Why does everything happen to me?

Now I have to go to the bathroom but I am in a window seat. What a hassle getting there, and so little reward.

Climate Change

Today I will go back into a little tube and fly across the sky to where most of my belongings are stashed. My cats, my clothes, my furniture, my art are all in a house in Maine where it is still winter and cold and mean-spirited. But vacation is over and one cannot live in a fantasy permanently. I am leaving blooming flowers and warm sun. Barring unforeseen circumstances, I will once again be buffeted by cold winds and surrounded by glaring snow and ice when I wake up tomorrow morning.

They say it is brutal here in Arizona for five months of the year, with temperatures as high as 120 or even 130 degrees. That you can't even go outside. You have to stay in air-conditioning. I take comfort in that.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Why Me? (I Don't Even Like Football)

Setting up for one of the many nighttime parties for the NFL executives takes all day.
I have endured many tragedies over the course of my life. The assassination of JFK when I was 16 hit me hard. Later came more of those, and then the murder of John Lennon. The horror of 9/11. And now this.
 
Lucky enough to be staying in one of the most beautiful resorts in the country, we have only a very few days to enjoy it. The tragedy is that our visit coincides with the Annual Meeting of the NFL owners. (That stands for National Football League, which I had to ask.)

Screens for projections span the palm trees.
Considering what is going on here, you would think it were a summit meeting of top world leaders, or maybe aliens from another world meeting with our people. Not one inch of this lovely, serene, peaceful place remains untouched by the hordes of media, consultants and hangers-on here to interview football coaches and their staff.

There are lights, cameras and action snaking over and through the grassy gardens. Mobile newsrooms are set up on the manicured lawns for round-table discussions of god-knows-what. There are paparazzi everywhere, along with tables laden with coffee urns and water bottles wherever you look. There are gigantic amps and speakers and lights and projection screens obliterating the natural beauty of the vegetation. Yoga mats and exercise bikes for workout sessions dot the landscape. And that's just outdoors.

Tubing fun for the NFL kiddies.
Inside, every inch of available wall space is crapped up with signage declaring,"This way to the Annual Meeting" or "That way to the Annual Meeting." More tables with water and coffee. And of course, big burly men in various team t-shirts and littler men in suits and fancy ladies in 6-inch heels and news anchors and official people with dangling badges are thronging about at every turn, if one can throng.
Little "rooms" are created all over the lawns for schmoozing.

Yoga mats and exercise bikes available for the NFLers.
Even the room keys boast the NFL logo and the words ANNUAL CONFERENCE. Such a big deal! They'll all pack up and leave on the same day we do. As my yiddishe grandmother would say, it's a shonda.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Tough Choices

It's funny how you go along thinking this is how things are and that's that. For the last few months, since that first snowfall back before Halloween, I've just accepted the fact that it is bone-chilling cold and the roads could be treacherous and there are piles of frozen snow everywhere and it takes ten minutes getting dressed just to go to the end of the driveway to get the newspaper in the morning; that's just Maine in the winter, and even into the spring. I'd forgotten all about that other stuff, like the smell of bougainvillea and the way the sun feels on your skin. And sandals and green grass, in fact green anything, since white is the color of everything back home.

Then I came to Arizona. The people all smile at you and say "Hi!" I guess it's because they are not frozen solid inside. Flowers are blooming and things seem happier in general. On the other hand, Arizona gun control laws are among the least-restrictive in the United States: Any person 21 years or older, who is not a prohibited possessor, may carry a weapon openly or concealed without the need for a license. Hence, there are guns and ammo stores all over the place.

Decisions, decisions.




Saturday, March 21, 2015

Terror in the Skies

Yesterday I spent five hours trapped inside an airplane. In coach. In the teeniest coach seat I have ever had, by the way, so if you can avoid USAir, do. The entire experience, except for not dying, was bad.

At the gate while waiting to board I noticed two bearded and burly men who were obviously terrorists. We boarded anyway as Mitch said they looked more Greek than Arab. (Sue me for racial profiling.)

I was in the middle seat. On one side was my husband which was nice, but on the other was a man who coughed the whole way across the country and hogged the armrest. He wore earphones and an eye mask the whole time, and when I wanted to get out of my seat to walk around so I wouldn't get blood clots in my legs he refused to stand up and I had to crawl over him. It was quite intimate.

The stewardesses were both older and unattractive. I stared at a sign on the seat in front of me that described how to use the cushion as a flotation device, only we were going over mountains. Directly in front of me was a woman with a therapy dog. The dog, a boxer named Paloma I learned, was adorable, but I could not help wondering what was wrong with the woman that she needed a therapy dog with her all the time. Was she nuts? Would she crack on this flight? Oddly enough, there was another therapy dog on the flight, and that one was a German shepherd. Thankfully he was in First Class, very far away.

After a couple of hours we hit turbulence and it was bad enough for the pilot to tell us about it, as if we didn't notice. It would continue, he shared with us, so we'd better stay put and keep those seat belts tight. At this point I started to panic and my husband, in an effort to calm me down and playing with his cell phone, said, "Here, let's ask the Magic 8-Ball a question." I asked the app tearfully, "Will we land safely?" The Magic 8-Ball said, "YOU MAY NOT RELY ON IT."

Friday, March 20, 2015

Movies That Never Get Old

You can see "The Matrix" 100 times and still be confused.

Apollo 13
The Hangover
Idiocracy
Jaws
Adaptation
Big
The Fugitive
The Coal Miner's Daughter
A Star is Born (Judy Garland)
The Last Waltz
Inglorious Basterds
Unfaithful
The Terminator
The Matrix
The Truman Show
Fatal Attraction
The Godfather
Rear Window
The Birds
The Wizard of Oz
Rain Man
Taken
Sleepless in Seattle
Mrs. Doubtfire
All That Jazz
Die Hard
Defending Your Life


 

If I Were Hillary

I'm going on a trip today but I won't say where. It's my business, after all, not yours. Let's just say it's warm there. I am bringing a bathing suit and sunblock. I will be meeting with people but I won't say who, it's private. And personal. I'm not going alone. I may or may not write any blog posts before I return sometime next week. Not saying when. At this point, what difference does it make?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Too Many Friends

Today I had to once again "unfriend" someone for the sin of having too many friends on Facebook. He has 1,649. I did the same last year with a woman who had over 4,000. If they have that many they are obviously undiscerning and I just don't want to be one of their flock.

I also unfriend people for being mean, for never contacting me or posting anything on their page, for committing suicide and for being an asshole. I have been "unfriended" by people for reasons I never knew, although I suspect the asshole rule might have been in play. (Me, not them.) Anyway, I take the word seriously, both in real life and on Facebook.


Maybe Brooklyn is Expanding

Find his music online, it's a healthy change of pace.
There is a scene in the iconic film "Annie Hall" where the young version of Woody Allen is taken to a shrink by his mother because he is obsessed with the fact that "the Universe is expanding" and thus bad things will eventually happen that will impact everyone. His mother, frustrated, yells, "What is that your business? Brooklyn is not expanding!"

My own son has a focus similar to that young boy. No longer a child, he is now a prophet, and not for profit. He sees the truth and sings -- actually raps -- about it. Naturally his music is far less popular then the music of others of his generation who sing about having sex, being sexy, using drugs, being high, achey-breaky hearts and all those other distractions from the sad reality that half the globe is at war, billions of people are naked, starving and sleeping on dirt, rich rulers everywhere are abusing the little people while every day, thoughtless humans are abusing the planet in pursuit of pleasure.

Sadly, these truths are not that easy to dance to and thus my son's music never makes it to Billboard's Top 40.  Still, I am proud of him for remaining above the fray and insistent on getting his message out. I'm sure I don't have any solutions, but perhaps being mindful of our behavior will help a little. As for Brooklyn, it may or not be expanding, but it definitely needs some attention.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Oh My God This Is Huge!

Finally, I can hardly believe it. I have been waiting and waiting and today, just now, I read it online and I am so excited!!!!!!!!! Kate Middleton, that's Princess Kate to you, has just revealed her DUE DATE for her second child! I have been going nuts in anticipation. It's in mid-April, so I still have time to shop for the perfect gift and get it over to the palace, but I guess I'll have to get an extension on my taxes since I can't do both. After all, I am not Superwoman.

At least tonight I will get some sleep.

One Man's Emergency Is Another Man's Boo-boo

Last night at the Emergency Room of Maine Medical Center, the state's biggest hospital, I got a first-hand look at the grim reality of health care in this country. The time was 9PM on a Tuesday, which is far different from a Saturday night in any ER in Washington, D.C., where I found myself on several occasions while raising a young child in that city. Last night there were no shooting victims, no blood-gushing stab wounds, no mangled accident victims or black-eyed wives, not even any drug overdoses. Instead, I saw the following:

A bag lady with no visible support of her mammoth breasts, or any other part of her actually, and without teeth, complained bitterly, audibly and non-stop that she had been waiting unattended since 6PM. She was repeatedly corrected by the desk clerk who insisted she had only been waiting for two hours, which he said was reasonable and certainly to be expected. "We take people in order of how sick they are, not how long they've been here," he explained. Still, she continued muttering. I finally asked the nature of her affliction, and she said, "I've got a bad back. I think it's herniated."

A middle-aged woman in a wheelchair and a woolen hat with a pom-pom who had a bag of ice wrapped around her wrist seemed very out of it, her eyes glazed over and her head bobbing. She claimed she was having a "Goddamn stroke." Nobody seemed to believe her, as there she stayed.

A youngish blond woman who looked perfectly fine arrived alone and announced she was having "trouble with her heart." She was ushered inside immediately. Ditto a young man ferried in by four friends, one of whom explained he was "threatening suicide."

A fat lady, also in a wheelchair, seemed fine but for a case of the sniffles. She was accompanied by a relative who had brought along her 8-year-oldish daughter. The little girl never stopped running around and around the waiting room, yelling loudly, singing and talking a blue streak. She was cute, but I hated her guts.

A twenty-something woman was wrapped in a blue blanket and lying on a couch next to her mother. She looked fine to me, but apparently she was not feeling well.

A boy who was walking funny and with a dazed expression was taken in before all of the others who had been waiting for hours, including us.

A young person of indeterminate gender with wild orange hair, lots of makeup, giant hoop earrings, tight jeans and a bright red ski jacket arrived with some amount of fanfare and spoke to the desk clerk for several minutes. The toothless bag lady announced to everyone within earshot and in no uncertain terms, "that's a guy, a real flamer." She explained that she was from the Cape Cod area and thus could "spot one of those a mile away."

I finally went up to the admitting desk and asked how long it would be until our party would be seen by a doctor, or even a nurse or maybe just someone's wise grandmother. He said the average wait time was two hours but you never know, an ambulance could arrive any second and all bets would be off.

A TV suspended from the ceiling was tuned to a dumb sitcom. It was way too loud.  After an hour and a half we left untreated, and more than a little afraid.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Good Pancakes, Bad Mommy

A recent news story has me scratching my head, and no, it wasn't about head lice. It's about a very bad mommy who better get a very good lawyer.

A 16-year-old boy with a severe allergy to dairy went out for breakfast with his parents. He ordered pancakes. The parents asked the waitress to be sure there were no dairy products in the pancakes. The boy ate the pancakes and started feeling sick within minutes, but oops, he had left his Epipen and nebulizer at home. Big mistake.

They all drove home in the family auto, not an ambulance. He got worse. Then he was airlifted to a hospital where he died three days later.

Now the parents are suing the cafe where they had breakfast for having served him bad pancakes. They are also soliciting funds online from strangers to help with all the medical bills.

Here is why I am scratching my head: You need a license to drive a car and fly a plane and pilot a boat, but any blooming idiot with ovaries who has access to some sperm can be a mommy. Why is that?

Maine's March Madness

The Casco Bay, my neighborhood swimming hole, yesterday afternoon.

Today is March 17 and the snow surrounding our house still holds us hostage. I mean deep snow, like thigh-high. And chunks of ice. Big chunks of ice. Besides those indignities, there is snow in the immediate forecast. Not to mention homeless heroin addicts.

Sure, Maine does have some things going for it: There is little crime. You can always find parking. The movie theaters are never sold out, and often empty. There are lots of rocks. And plenty of lobster. And lots of time to be alone. Lots of time.

Probably the best thing is the fish. It's very fresh. I prefer haddock, but the halibut is nice too.





Monday, March 16, 2015

Nobody Knows Anything

These days, reading other people's thoughts holds less and less appeal for me, since most avowed "thinkers" turn out to be no smarter than the typical man on the street.

For example, my husband has been dealing with an odd set of physical symptoms for several weeks. Two separate weekend visits to the ER have netted two different diagnoses and two different prescriptions for two different drugs. And these are the doctors--the smart ones who went to college for four years and then medical school for another four. So imagine how little the average person, maybe someone like me who only went to college and majored in painting for God's sake, can teach you.

The reams of analysis printed in hundreds of magazines and periodicals and the thousands of words filling countless newspaper columns and those self-important political pundits shouting over one another on TV amount to little more than a whole lot of "Blah, blah, blah." Nobody knows a lick more than you or me about what happens when we die, and really, what else matters?

In fact, I can't believe you're reading this drivel right now. Go write your own blog.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Don't Forget to Feed Your Brain

This morning, at the supermarket early to pick up some cat food--what else--I stood behind a young couple in their mid-to late-twenties and got a chance to study them for a long time, seeing as they bought out half the store and the checkout girl behind the register wore a button declaring her name was Ashley and that she was "in training." 

The woman was wearing leggings and UGG boots and was obviously pregnant. Her mate's baggy jeans were halfway down his butt so I could see he wore boxers from the Gap. They each had a couple of tattoos and she sported a gold nose ring.

Their groceries consisted of mostly junk food. Almost every last thing they purchased came in a box, bag or carton; the only fresh food was a package of two pork chops, a pound of bacon and 18 eggs. There were several varieties of sodas, all the giant size, and in fact Boxer Boy was chugging a Coke while his groceries were being checked out. A huge bag of potato chips and another of pretzels made me think, or at least hope, that they were having a party. There was not a piece of fruit anywhere, and the only vegetables were a box of frozen corn and another of peas. Three jumbo loaves of white bread and a collection of frozen pizzas supplied any missing carbs nicely.

All I could think was "this is scary." The brain must be fed, not to mention that growing embryo! Maybe this is why so many young people are running off to join ISIS. I wonder if they eat better in those training camps.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Packing Hillary's Bags

I wish everyone could just play nice. And that includes you too, ISIS. What the heck is wrong with people that they have to be right all the time, or be in charge of everyone else, or have their guy win at the ballot box? It's sickening what goes on between the Democrats and the Republicans right here in our own country, and often even within families.

This lady needs a nap.
Personally I don't care who runs things, I just don't want anyone to chop off my head. Or even saw it off slowly, or remove it in any manner whatsoever. So in the next election I will vote for the candidate who most seems like they will keep the barbarians from the gates. And speaking as a woman roughly her age, I doubt Hillary Clinton has what it takes anymore. Those bags under her eyes tell me she needs to retire and enjoy her Golden Years, not lay awake nights plotting how to keep the world from destruction.

One of the joys of aging is finally understanding that "nothing really matters, nothing really matters to me." Singer/songwriter Freddie Mercury understood this at an early age, being only 29 when he wrote those words to "Bohemian Rhapsody." But most young people really do get caught up in the battles and find them meaningful, and I say let them have at it.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Speaking of Born to Run....

Springsteen in 2016? At least he was born in the USA.....
Last week one of my young friends on Facebook wrote the following post: "I was listening to the radio and heard this guy having a stroke. I look down at my radio and noticed its just Bruce Springsteen singing a verse from Born to Run." His comment got 23 Likes and the response, "When he or AC/DC comes on the radio I immediately change the station haha. Hilarious."

Ben is 27-ish and a great musician in his own right, and so are a few of his friends. I applaud their changing taste in music, especially since many in my generation still regard Springsteen as a GOD. Personally I was never a fan, preferring instead people who could actually sing, but my husband has always believed Bruce walks on water, and for all I know he might. Still, times have changed and the younger generation, with their tinnitus-free ears, see right through Springsteen's antics-- the rolled-up sleeves displaying the Popeye biceps and the blue-collar, tough guy attitude -- distracting from what is basically shouting and growling into the mike at close range. 

Is Springsteen truly great or has he become a joke? This disparity brings to mind today's political landscape, specifically the 2016 race for the White House. If only today's young voters would pay close attention and see past her act, recognizing Hillary for the has-been she now is, things would likely turn out better for all of us in the next election. But apparently the royal Clintons still have their ice-cold grip on the throats of all those non-thinking Democrats who "Baaaaaaa" their respect at every opportunity. 

Come on, people, it's time to change the station. Hillary for president? Haha. Hilarious.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Scary, Growing, Unstoppable IOE

It's tough to be proud of our species when you see what some of them are doing. The liars and swindlers become the authorities, making self-serving laws and leading us into battle wherein many of us are killed or just scarred for life. The pretty ones become the preeners, allowing the plainer among us to gawk at them for a fee. The smart ones become the scientists and engineers, and while they are admittedly several cuts above everyone else, still they do strike the occasional sour note.

In the "How-Could-They?" department, scientists in Australia have been busy breeding mice with Alzheimer's in order to test possible cures that might work in humans. That sucks for the mice, but since they are too small to amass armies they have little chance to defend themselves -- and even less now that their brains are addled. As for the engineers, those best and brightest we count on to save mankind from destruction, they have already created an Internet-connected crock pot you can control from the other side of the world, in case you are in Beijing and you want that pot roast ready for dinner back home in Kansas City. After all, you'll be craving normal food after weeks of pickled Chinese iris with blood-filled pig's intestines and fried dog soup.

Besides the crock pot, the new Apple iWatch slated for delivery on April 24 promises to be the next sure sign of man's declining intellect. It's a tiny computer/phone/video game/music device/heart monitor/calorie counter/link to the Internet that one can wear on one's wrist should one already be a complete asshole or simply aspire to be one. If you ask me it's pathetic, in that you actually have to go to all the trouble of strapping it on every day. Why not  have it implanted, like a pacemaker? It could schedule your bowel movements and pee breaks so you wouldn't have to miss a minute of "House of Cards" or "Downtown Abbey." Now that would be the Internet of Everything (IOE).

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Political Quiz

Hillary Clinton is the quintessential politician and likely will be elected the next Wizard of Oz.
Forget who -- just what are politicians? They seem almost like a different species, which would explain why so many of them end up doing time in prison, are embroiled in lawsuits, are called to testify before Congressional hearings, and are found guilty of bribery, corruption, extra-martial affairs and the general nastiness often revealed inadvertently on an open mic that mistakenly broadcasts what they really think about the little people they allegedly serve.

But besides pure evil, just what motivates them? And how much do you know about their world? Take this simple quiz to assess your political savvy:

True or False: 

_______Politicians are insecure egomaniacs interested in making money, spending money, gaining power, being famous, going to all the best parties, flying on Air Force One, meeting Hollywood celebrities, attending White House dinners and hobnobbing with visiting heads of state.

_______The most successful politicians who go the farthest are lying, cheating scoundrels who make secret deals to increase their power.

_______The path to greatness in Washington, D.C. depends on devising unique ways to hide the truth from the American people, like faking a head injury to avoid a Congressional hearing or invading a foreign country to distract attention from your impeachment.

_______Despite all the Botox injections, multiple homes, annual facelifts and vacations in sunny locales, all politicians eventually will die just like the rest of us, even Nancy Pelosi.



Tuesday, March 10, 2015

On the Cutting Edge

My second cataract surgery took place earlier today. It was quite similar to the first, wherein many little people clad in blue pajamas, paper hats, slippers and face masks fussed all around me, slowly injecting various cold liquids into my body that made me think it was all an episode of "Grey's Anatomy." I laughed out loud and jokes were told, some by me I learned later. Now back home, my eye is slammed shut and will remain so for several hours, so I am still one-eyed and have no idea how it will all turn out. I assume my vision will be improved and I will not go blind, which was the reason I opted to go this route.

Normally I avoid surgery unless they say I will die without it. But lately just about everyone I know is being cut open or otherwise under treatment for one debilitating ailment or other. One dear friend had back surgery just yesterday and another is scheduled for the same thing a month from now. Yet a third is in the hospital following her surgery as part of her cancer treatment. Still another of the fallen is my very own husband, who came down with shingles over the weekend, and I don't mean the kind on our roof although that would not surprise me one bit, seeing as how there are ice dams all over it. He is expected to survive, but painfully, and since the outbreak of blisters is on his normally beautiful bald head, he will have to cancel all modeling assignments for the next few weeks.

If we baby boomers persist in getting older and not dying, we'd better come up with some coping strategies for all our upcoming surgeries. I find a combination of meditation and Lorazepam the night before works nicely. And propofol, the drug that killed Michael Jackson (although not so much of it), is absolutely fabulous during. They gave me some today and I found the whole ordeal to be a boatload of fun. I just couldn't understand how all those people got into my bedroom.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The New F-Word

New emoticon for "I feel piggy."
It's only a matter of time. Soon, uttering the word "fat" will be considered more heinous than saying that other F-word, which is already so common it barely registers anymore. The latest controversy involves a Facebook emoticon of a chubby-cheeked happy face meaning "I feel fat." This silly little bit of nonsense has the denizens of social media outraged, calling it "insensitive" and "body shaming." There is even a petition afoot to have the offensive image removed from the site, but Facebook is standing firm.

So now you can't say "I'm feeling fat" after downing three slices of pizza and a large Coke without hurting some fat person's feelings. Not sure whether you can say it if you actually are fat or if there are no fat people within earshot. Too bad nobody has come up with a petition against being fat.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

FILM REVIEW: "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"

Judi Dench and Bill Nighy on a date in India.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"is aptly named. You'll wish you were watching the first, but this will do in a pinch. Like the sequel to the best one released in 2012, it's a sometimes happy, sometimes sappy take on getting old without giving up. The plot revolves around the opening of another hotel, since business is booming at the first Marigold. Indian actor Dev Patel is back again as the young hotelier Sonny Kapoor, and he's as ditzy and endearing as ever. He is also getting married, and his wedding plans are woven throughout the other 15 or 20 subplots involving everyone else. Imagine a year of daytime soap opera stories -- think The Old and the Restless -- packed into two hours.

The cast, most of whom were in the first film, is full of frankly old actors (although oddly enough, not one of them wears glasses). Some of them make aging look like fun and others make it seem scary. On the fun side is Evelyn (Judi Dench), who at 79 has started a whole new life in India. She has just landed an exciting job that requires frequent travel around the country, and is involved with Douglas (Bill Nighy) who, besides being sexy, handsome, funny, sensitive and available, has a motorcycle. Beat that for an old lady's fantasy!

Those two are still in the hand-holding stage, but the rest of the gang is horny as hell. (Perhaps it's the hot climate or the spicy food.) One who's not is British transplant Mrs. Donnelly (Maggie Smith), who instead of a love interest has been given all the best lines, which she delivers with a tart tongue and imperious expression. But hers is a sad tale sounding the film's only sour note. (Poor Maggie was chosen to play the one character who really does act her age.)

The best part is the setting: India sparkles, and there is not a beggar to be seen anywhere. Ditto anyone getting diarrhea from the food, which was at least touched on in the first film. In this version, India looks more like Miami Beach, all bright lights and glittering restaurants. Except for the occasional elephant on the street you can hardly tell it's all taking place in one of the worlds poorest nations.

Richard Gere has been added to the cast, but not so's you'd notice.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Worst Human?

When you hear the term "The Worst Human" several names may come to mind, but really there is only one alive at the moment. This guy is really bad news. Wherever there is a small brush fire, count on him to fan the flames into a huge conflagration. He makes everyone feel worse, even the people he is supposedly trying to help. He screams about atrocities that often do not even exist. Who is he? It's Al! Al Sharpton, you know, that skinny old guy who is black for a living.

Now he's all pissed off because some of "the Republican leadership" did not schlep down to Selma, Alabama to celebrate what happened there 50 years ago. Fifty. Count 'em. We've got ISIS on the loose and Iran threatening to make nukes and all sorts of trouble all over the world, but according to Al, those darned Republicans suck because none of the important ones got down to Selma to speechify last week.

Somebody needs to tell Al that the current President of the United States of America is a black man who was elected and then re-elected, so he should really just ease up about the whole issue. Instead, his one and only goal in life is to make everyone believe that racial bias is just as bad as ever here, if not worse, and it's all thanks to the lousy GOP. How does that help anyone?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Call 1-800-KIL-LFLO

That Flo is out of control. She is now everywhere. Worst of all, she has invaded my only sanctuary from real life, Words With Friends on Facebook. That is a low blow. There is her stupid ugly face, next to the "word of the day." Like I need Flo to tell me what "glee" means. And those horrid TV ads have expanded into mini-dramas, where Flo plays all sorts of other characters dressed in crazy outfits.

Somehow this idiotic spokeswoman is employed to sell car insurance for the Progressive insurance people. Instead it makes me hope the company goes bankrupt and that someone with guts and drive, possibly a newly-impoverished stockholder, takes out a contract on Flo, since I could never personally be involved in anything violent, besides screaming and throwing dishes.

But hear this: If that dumb bitch comes anywhere near me, I will finally get some use out of all those fancy Dresden china Passover dishes -- service for eight -- my parents left to me, one dinner plate, salad plate, dessert plate, soup bowl, tea cup, saucer, soup tureen, gravy bowl, meat serving platter, smaller serving platter and covered vegetable dish at at a time.

Finding Perspective

Today was going to be a banner day for me. I was looking forward to it because finally I will only have to put one drop a day in my recently operated-on eye instead of the three different drops, three times a day I've been using for the last ten days. This lovely state of affairs will be short-lived, as starting on Sunday I will begin putting five drops a day in my soon-to-be-operated-on other eye, plus continuing the one in the first eye. (Boo-hoo, my life is horrible.)

Then last night I learned that an old friend of mine, recently diagnosed with breast cancer, is having a double mastectomy today. This loveliest of all women has already been through Hell: Shortly after losing her loving husband to cancer early in their marriage, and while caring for their two young children, her own health became an issue and necessitated a liver transplant. Since then she has endured illness heaped upon illness, surviving with grace and a smile and maintaining her career along the way. The two boys grew into wonderful young men. She was through the rapids and into still water at last. And now this.

What a jerk I am for complaining about cataracts. Maybe things in your life aren't really so bad either.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Who's Afraid of Hillary Clinton?

Reese Witherspoon, scary in "Election"
Not long ago, a raging snowstorm rattling the windows and my husband out of town again, two common situations around here, I watched the old movie "Election" to keep my mind off the possibility of the roof flying off or the power going out. I remembered it as being a comedy and thought it was just what I needed to deflect my anxiety. Well, too bad for me, I remembered wrong.

Released in 1999 and starring Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick, the film is concerned with a small town high-school teacher's growing involvement with the election of the senior class president. Like in all elections there are dirty doings afoot, and Ms. Witherspoon as the leading candidate reminded me of nobody more than Hillary Clinton. A cute little blond with a ready smile and a heart of steel who is not above buying votes by any means possible, she scares the daylights out of everyone in her path and inspires hatred in more than a few poor souls caught up in her whirlwind. Ultimately she is victorious, and despite ruining several lives to achieve her goal she comes  out smelling like a rose. In the end she goes to Washington, D.C. to pursue a career in politics.

Hillary Clinton, scarier in real life.
This seems to be the real-life trajectory of Hillary as well. Despite all her dastardly doings, and there have been many, a huge faction of the American public seems not to care that she has lied her way to the top. Her latest fumble, just uncovered, regarding her using a personal email account for government business during her tenure as Secretary of State -- which besides being sneaky is flat-out against the law -- is further proof that she makes her own rules. (How very Clinton of her.) God help us all if she is our next president.


Effed-Up Modern Life

Every day at roughly the same time I receive a phone call from a robot. According to caller ID, the call originates in Buffalo. Every day I answer the phone and there is nobody there, just dead silence followed by a dial tone. Today I took the bull by the horns and called back, planning to unleash some nasty invectives if you must know. I learned the robot is employed by COMCAST, the company that provides our TV and Internet service.

A recording states that if I want to be put on their "Do Not Call" list I should enter my 10-digit phone number, starting with the Area Code. You'd think they'd know it by now, but anyway, I did. A new robot then informed me that the "do not call" service would only apply to one of their services, something called Contact America. I don't know what that is. I couldn't ask since it was a robot on the other end.

If you have nothing to do and want to be annoying to a robot, call COMCAST at (716)796-6406. I suggest repeated callings, like every day for two or three months or so. Tell them Andrea sent you.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

People of the Lie

Over the past few weeks, every single time I mentioned my impending cataract surgery the response was the same: "Oh, my sister (best friend, mother, grandmother, husband) just had it and it was nothing! It doesn't hurt at all. It's no big deal." All I have to say about that is "Hah!"

Here are the facts: Yes, the actual surgery, which takes about 15 minutes, is no big deal because you are knocked out during it. It's when you wake up that the actual deal starts, and let me tell you, it is not only big, it is giant, especially (and perhaps only) if you have a vision problem in addition to the cataracts. In my case I have always been very nearsighted, and so now the one eye that was "fixed" can see perfectly while the other "old eye" is still myopic. There is a mandatory waiting period of two or three weeks between surgeries, during which you can not see much of anything. There are no glasses that work. You just wait.

And while you wait you can't really read or watch TV, unless you cover one eye or close it since a patch is forbidden on the eye that had surgery. During this hazy, crazy, blurry period you must also apply medicinal drops to your eye: three different kinds, three times a day, for five weeks. Some of them sting. All of them are annoying. Sometimes your eye itches, but whatever you do, DON'T RUB IT!!!!!!

The whole lousy, stinking ball of wax results in headaches, confusion and general crankiness. It also causes a decreased appetite, so count on losing five pounds or more during the process, the only silver lining in this very cloudy experience. That and not going blind someday.

Just wanted you to know: cataract surgery is not nothing. It is something. Be ready.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Film Review: STILL ALICE

Julianne Moore earning her Oscar.
If you are brave enough to face a possibly bleak future, you might be able to sit through Still Alice without becoming deeply disturbed or downright depressed. Concerned with the ravages of Alzheimer's, in this case the early-onset variety, it offers little else besides watching actress Julianne Moore win her well-deserved Oscar for this year's Best Actress.

A sappy musical soundtrack and intermittent flashes of gauzy old home movies accompany Julianne's seemingly quick slide from a beautiful, articulate and brilliant Columbia University professor into a non-functioning, pants-wetting amoeba who can barely form words. Her husband, played by Alec Baldwin in a virtually non-speaking role, is around, but just barely. He seems quite unconcerned with her illness and is instead focused on his own career, spending most of his time answering e-mails on his computer. Young actress Kristen Stewart of vampire fame plays one of their three children and turns in the film's only other worthy performance.

Unless you are Julianne's mommy, or maybe Kristen's, there is little to recommend this movie other than personal reasons. I chose to see it because my own mother had this very disease and died at age 62. According to the film, there is a 50% chance of it being passed on to the children of those who have it. Thankfully I am already way too old to have early-onset anything.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

I Hope I'm Not Beheaded

The continuing rise of ISIS has me worried, possibly even more than President Obama who seems only nonplussed. I guess that's because he knows something I don't, being an insider. Anyway, I am concerned that someday I might be in a shopping mall, which I am only rarely but in fact was just yesterday afternoon, and a religious zealot brandishing a scythe will come running by and chop off my head. While this fear does not yet limit my activities, I'm guessing that if the random deaths and atrocities at the hands of these folks continues, it will rise.

If only I had faith that our government will protect us instead of doing what it does really well which is piss us off by squandering our tax money. Forget all the new roads and free health care for illegal immigrants and fancy champagne glasses for state dinners at the White House -- just provide every citizen with a protective neck scarf. These might be made of some sort of metal-infused material. Someone should get on this right away: hopefully Jeb is already working on it.