Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Everyone Can Use a Little Help

This morning I saw my shrink, who is not really a shrink but a cognitive therapist with an LCSW degree. She was very helpful years ago when I was in the middle of a crisis I now forget, so I have continued seeing her since I don't know anyone mentally healthier than myself who would listen to my complaining for free. Then there is my acupuncturist who has done wonders in just a few weeks in getting my internal organs back on track, including lowering my blood pressure and avoiding a stroke by doing something with my energy levels I don't pretend to understand. Besides seeing him, I recently added a weekly double dose of yoga to help control my anxiety, stretch my muscles, increase my core strength and get more in touch with my body.

I have assembled this team of experts at considerable cost to counteract the craziness that goes on all around me and over which I have no control. I'd say they are all doing a pretty good job since I'm still functioning while many others, far younger, have already kicked the bucket, some by their own hand.

A larger team will surely become necessary if Donald Trump becomes president in 2016, which I can now see happening since the very fact that he is running and with a strong following seemed impossible in the past. Even if he loses and some other joker wins, based on those running at the moment I'm pretty sure I will have to expand my payroll considerably. These days, even on a beautiful one like today, the road is filled with dangerous land mines. You simply can't go it alone.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Choose Chocolates

Some people act all sweet and smiley on the outside and fool everyone into thinking they are actually that way through and through, even when they are more like a cactus on the inside, not the least bit charitable and thinking only of themselves 24/7. Others can be brutally honest and prickly on the outside, but inside are like a box of mushy chocolates, doing things for others without hesitation or reward. It can take years to figure out who's who, but once you do it will change your life for the better. The secret is to pay close attention, since the last thing you want is a false friend.

Sunday, June 28, 2015


Never one to embrace modern times, I have serious disdain for Twitter, despise that inscrutable hashtag and repeatedly drop my iPhone in the toilet, an obvious Freudian slip. But I absolutely love Netflix. I would marry it if that were permitted, but alas it is still illegal in this country to marry inanimate objects and/or concepts, although surely that day is not far off.

Last night, in the comfort of my own home and with a cat on my lap, I watched an incredible movie that I just might have to see again today. K2: The Siren of the Himalayas is a 2014 documentary about a climbing expedition on that famous mountain, second in height to Mt. Everest but first in danger and technical difficulty among all other mountains on earth. While newbies and novices with enough cash are constantly ferried up Everest like kids getting towed up the local sledding hill in winter, even the best of the best international alpinists, an elite group if there ever was one, fail to summit K2 year after year.

"I liked it. You really got a sense for what 
it was like on the mountain. You could imagine the 
people falling 5,000 feet to their death."
                   --Mitch Rouda

This film gives a thrilling up-close and personal account of a team attempting to summit K2 in 2009, just a year after a horrific jumble of accidents on the mountain that killed 11 climbers. Still, off they go, spending months traveling in Pakistan just to get to the bottom of the beautiful beast, the starting point of their dangerous, 60-day pursuit of pain, hardship, fatigue and possible death (statistically, one in four die trying), all to avoid the boredom of the everyday and experience life "focused on the moment." Many of them regard the trek as a form of "walking meditation."

Aided by stunning cinematography and interspersed with a good bit of history about earlier expeditions, the film is immediately infectious. It's hard not to be envious of these intrepid climbers who at the very least have found something to live for, even if they die for it. I was jealous, wishing I could join them even as I concluded they were all downright nutty. Still, if movies are supposed to transport us to a different time and place, and hopefully teach us a few lessons on the way, K2 achieves that brilliantly. Like most documentaries it was hardly seen by anyone when it played in theaters for a short time, but now Netflix will bring it right to your TV or laptop for a small fee. Go there.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Hardy Har Har

"Doctor, something's wrong! I'm shrinking!"
"Take it easy sir, you'll just have to be a little patient."

How many performance artists does it take to change a light bulb?
I don't know, I left at intermission.

This duck walks into a drugstore and says, "Gimme some Chapstick-- and put it on my bill."

What do you say to a hitchhiker with one leg?
"Hop in."

Did you hear about the two antennas that got married? The wedding was terrible but the reception was great.

What has four legs and one arm?
A Rottweiler.

If the black box survives a plane crash, why isn't the whole plane made out of the stuff?

Two penguins are standing on an iceberg. One penguin says to the other, "You look like you're wearing a tuxedo." The other penguin replies, "So who says I'm not?"

What do you call a boomerang that doesn't work?
A stick.

Before You Say "I Do"

Please don't conclude that I don't love my husband, but I sure don't see why all the gays are so happy they can get married. Sure, they want and deserve the same legal rights and financial perks as anyone else, but the rest of the deal is dubious at best. For example, you always have that same person there all the time. And if they have annoying habits, which can surface after a given amount of time, like to pick a number at random say 28 years, those habits can get pretty damn annoying.

You have to discuss everything, like the color of new carpeting in your bedroom. And if they want to go out on a sunny afternoon because "it's such a beautiful day" but you want to stay inside just because that's what you feel like doing, somehow you are letting your partner down. And if they call out someone's name in their sleep and you ask them about it and they say they don't know anyone by that name, it's somewhat troubling if you are married whereas if it were just some one-night stand you wouldn't care at all.

These things must be considered.

Just saying.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Another First Lady Contender

Next Tuesday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will formally announce his intention of running for president in 2016, the 14th Republican to do so. So far all he has done is informally announce it. I'm not sure what the difference is, or why he is bothering since he does not have a prayer of getting the nomination, but whatever. Anyway, his wife missed being included in yesterday's pictorial roundup of potential First Ladies, should Hillary Clinton fail to win the coveted crown.  To keep current, here she is:

Mrs. Christie

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Still Irreplaceable

Two legendary talents gave the world unforgettable music. And now we have .... Taylor Swift?

What Matters Most

So many Republicans are running for president it's hard to keep them all straight. What's a voter who hates Hillary Clinton to do? Obviously, vote for the one with the prettiest wife. (Lindsey Graham is not married and Carly Fiorina has a husband.) Following are the contenders in no particular order, although it's easy enough to spot the real dogs who have no chance of becoming America's next First Lady. Also interesting to note is the fact that the biggest boob of them all is married to the woman with the biggest boobs:
Mrs. Rick Santorum

Mrs. Rick Perry
Mrs. Mike Huckabee
Mrs. Ted Cruz

Mrs. Donald Trump
Mrs. George Pataki

Mrs. Bobby Jindal

Mrs. Rand Paul
Mrs. Ben Carson
Mrs. Marco Rubio

Mrs. Jeb Bush

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Four Seasons

For a few brief weeks it was spring and all was right with the world. For another few brief weeks it will be autumn and glorious. I wish I could remember to grab the good times when they're here, but I always forget they are so fleeting. Now here it is again: Summer in Maine.

One way you know for sure is that it is not snowing. That's a nice change, but the ice dams on the roof have been replaced by black flies, mosquitoes and constant itchiness. Late afternoon thunderstorms knock down trees and cause power outages, bringing with the inevitably muggy darkness that grating sound of generators in the neighboring houses occupied by native Mainers who know what's what. The persistent noise keeps us dumb New Yorkers from opening our windows, causing suffocation and bad moods.

The problem is the same year after year: We should have a generator but don't. Just like getting snow tires in winter, it's on the list but never a priority until it's needed, and then it's too late. We say we'll get one this weekend but we won't because who wants another gas guzzling or propane sucking machine fouling the environment? Besides, walking around in circles at Home Depot trying to find someone who works there makes me dizzy.

Fueling Tomorrow's Nightmares

Coney Island' s Wonder Wheel is teeny-weeny compared to the latest crop of high-tech Ferris wheels.

How boring must ordinary life be, with the sun and the moon and the planets and the four seasons and flowers and babies growing inside of average women and then bursting forth as a whole new person that will eventually walk and talk and do everything we all do, that millions of people seek out manufactured thrills lasting but a few minutes? Pretty boring I guess, since the world of amusement parks is almost as big as the world of non-amusement parks. Even luxury cruise ships, where one can gaze out at the pristine waters and contemplate God in the heavens or the mysteries of the deep are now equipped with roller coasters, water slides, putting ranges and rock-climbing walls, lest a paying customer complains over not having enough "to do."

The planned Staten Island behemoth.
But that's old news. Now the War of the Ferris Wheels is heating up, with a new one being built on the shores of Chicago's Lake Michigan. It will have glass-enclosed, air-conditioned gondolas complete with TV screens and reach 196-feet into the sky. That sounds like a pretty big deal to me, but turns out to be just a so-so deal. In 2017, a 630-foot tall wheel will open in Staten Island overlooking New York Harbor. As tall as a 58-story skyscraper, it will have 36 "capsules," each holding 40 people for a total of 1,440 passengers per ride. A ride will take 38 minutes, so be sure to go to the bathroom first and don't forget to pack those extra tranquilizers, whatever brand you like. The cost for this silliness is estimated to be 500 million US dollars, including 7 million just to light the thing up at night. Sadly, the coming Staten Island monster will not be the tallest Ferris wheel in the world, as construction on a 689-foot wheel in Dubai is already underway.

I was just short of permanently scarred as a child by too many rides on Coney Island's Wonder Wheel, now a mere joke by today's standards: "Standing 150 feet tall -- the equivalent of a 15-story building -- and weighing 200 tons, the WONDER WHEEL has 24 cars, of which 16 are swinging and 8 are stationary. The swinging cars slide on a serpentine track towards the hub of the Wheel, and as the Wheel turns they slide towards the circumference. Each car holds 6 people for a total ride capacity of 144." Wimpy as it now sounds, I still have nightmares about that ride, mostly involving the swinging car coming loose and sliding off into the Atlantic Ocean below. Lord only knows why my parents always chose the swinging car.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Happy Every Day Instead

More and more I am finding birthdays extraneous. One day you're 45, the next day you're 46. So what? What are we, trees? So starting now, or actually yesterday when a friend had a birthday and I did nothing about it, not even lifting a finger to make that automatic "Happy Birthday" message pop up on her Facebook page, I will no longer be wishing people a happy birthday, the one exception being my son since I was there for his birth and I still consider it a miracle I survived it, what with the no epidural. Besides him, however, what is it my business how long someone has been alive? As for the practice of giving gifts, isn't the very fact that someone has not yet died enough?

I am not insisting, or even suggesting, that everyone do this. In fact, considering the sales of greeting cards, wrapping paper, ribbon, balloons, flowers, birthday cakes, candles and dumb gag gifts, the constant celebrations support a monumental industry. If we all stopped at once our economy would surely crash, so please, party on. As for me, I'm going with the Christian Scientists who believe "the measurement of life by solar years robs youth and gives ugliness to age," and who needs that?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Come On People, Get a G-word!

President Obama, who is himself a black man, in discussing racism in America, used the N-word! Oy! The news media is going crazy! They bleep it out when they show him saying it!  Following the massacre of nine people in a church in Charleston by a F-wording M-word, the president said "nigger" while discussing the sad reality that racism still exists in America despite all the progress that has been made since the days of slavery. But the fact that he actually uttered that six-letter word does not mean he hates black people! He is one! His wife and daughters are also!

Obviously the world has gone C-word over the N-word. People are A-words, and getting D-worder and D-worder every day. Honestly, I am embarrassed to be alive in this I-word country full of B-word-D-worded M-words.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

How Stupid Can You Get?

Growing up I had a first cousin a few years older than me who I always loved. Allen's mother and my father were siblings. I loved his mother almost more than any other relative, and his sister was great too. They were a grand bunch, and I was always happy to see them. Later on, as adults, Allen and I reconnected from time to time, usually over the death of a family member. Eventually Facebook kept us in touch, and we chatted happily on the phone every few months.

I visited with Allen and his wife a couple of years ago on a trip to Florida and it was a heartwarming reunion, if nothing else. We had become different people, still our childhood ties and deep affections remained strong. But then I wrote a blog post that said something negative about a Democrat -- what else is new -- and my cousin's grown daughter, a knee-jerk liberal (and I do mean jerk) who I never met took offense and left a nasty comment. I returned her serve and next thing you know, Allen decided he could have nothing more to do with me because he had to "side with his daughter."

I often wonder if Allen, no spring chicken even then and not in the best health, is still alive. It's a shame that we were denied the opportunity to share our Golden Years because of petty differences about silly politicians to whom we mean nothing. For example, I'm pretty sure that Hillary Clinton will not be attending Allen's funeral. And now, neither will I.

Why I'm Not Running for President

Being president seems like a drag because: 
I would never make empty promises written by other people.
I hate getting dressed up and fixing my hair every day.
I'm used to paying my taxes every year.
I could never have anyone killed.
I have never bribed anyone for my own personal gain.
I would hate having people following me all the time.
I find constant travel silly.
I couldn't stand hanging around with all those old coots in Congress.
I would hate living in the White House.
I like cooking my own meals.
I avoid fancy parties whenever possible.
I like driving my bright red Audi.
I need a lot of down time.
I would never be a guest on any TV show.
I cannot stand Oprah Winfrey.

On the other hand:
I would kvell to have brunch with Benjamin Netanyahu.
It would be fun to meet the Pope and ask him why he dresses that way.
I could have Jackson Browne over to the house for a private concert.
I would have Louis CK open for Jackson Browne.
Flying on Air Force One seems a lot better than the middle seat in coach.
It would be fabulous to have a private movie theater in my home.
I would have high tea with David Cameron and invite Helen Mirren and Mick Jagger.
I would nuke all the countries with branches of ISIS.
I would tell Netanyahu I was planning this over that brunch.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Make Better Choices

Some things in life are not optional; we have no say, like it or not they will still happen to us. These include hunger, sleep, all the usual bodily functions, and of course death. Everything else we do is a matter of choice.

Imagine making only good choices! Don't eat that crummy junk food that will gunk up your insides, eat this healthy stuff instead and improve your digestion. Don't watch that scary movie that will keep you up nights, see an inspiring one that will help you be your best self. Don't go boating in a thunderstorm, check for ticks after a walk in the woods, take your medications on schedule, avoid taunting pit bulls, don't try heroin even once, steer clear of shark-infested waters, take a map and a candy bar, always meet the parents, etc, etc.

But for some unknown reason, I and many people like me make horrible choices and then complain bitterly about the vicissitudes of life. This behavior must stop right now. The clock is ticking.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Right or Wrong, We're All Gonna Die

Dark Check Homing Pigeon
Who cares what you think? And who cares what I think? There are billions of people covering the planet and they all have their own opinions. Is any one of them more valid than another?

Last week I had dinner with a small group of women, all of us former newspaper writers and editors. In conversation I said something about how I would "hone in on" something. One of my dinner companions corrected me, saying that what I meant to say was "home in on." She followed up with an email the next day, explaining "you can hone your skills, meaning sharpen them, but you home in on something (think of a homing pigeon--that's what it's from)." Fine, that was her opinion, I thought. I kept mine to myself. I did it again when she corrected me about Google, which I recalled as a completely made-up word the first time I heard it while she said it was already a real word, obviously confusing it with "googol," which means 10 to the 100th power, whatever that is. Still, she was sure of herself and I was not.

Then this morning, my husband, a former Editor-in-Chief of several serious publications for about 20 years, recounting an anecdote used the term "hone in on." I asked him about it. He validated my opinion. Aha -- vindication! But you know what? Who cares. My life is unchanged whether I was right or wrong. And yes, here I am writing about being right. Still, my days are numbered either way.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Brooklyn Genes

The original Nathan's in Coney Island, site of my kidnapping at the age of four but I love it anyway.

If only I had been born somewhere else, I'd be so much healthier today. For example, using data culled from the World Bank and the World Health Organization, Qatar has been rated the healthiest nation in the world, sharing the Top Ten Healthiest Nations spotlight with Japan, Australia, Sweden, Norway, Austria, Iceland, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Singapore. Alas, I was born in Brooklyn, which while not technically its own country, should be.

Living in Brooklyn contributed early on to my poor health with establishments like fabulous pizza parlors on every corner, Junior's Cheesecake which is unparallelled on any planet and Nathan's French fries and hot dogs, a legend in their own time. While I only lived in that famous borough of New York for the first year of my life, my parents lived there for many years before my birth and surely had dedicated fat cells well established to accommodate these foods. Naturally they passed those on to me. While I'm not fat, I have plenty of other things wrong with me, likely dating back to infancy and the abuse of my otherwise perfect cells starting on Day One.

If I could do it all again I would be a baby vegetarian and have kale smoothies in my bottle. But I can't, so instead I take three kinds of medications daily which haven't really done much in the way of curing what ails me. Frustrated and tired of not feeling better, I recently began seeing an acupuncturist and just returned from my third treatment. Before I went today, my blood pressure reading was 206/95. When I got home it was 104/66.

In case you wondered, acupuncture does not hurt, not even a little. It is very relaxing. The cost is covered by some insurance plans but not all. Besides making you feel better instantly, you get an emotional boost from feeling open-minded and brave and a tad cutting edge. It's only about a thousand times more satisfying than going to see a traditional doctor and leaving with a prescription for something that might make you feel worse even while it makes you better. On the down side, it does not taste as good as a hot dog and fries and pizza and cheesecake. But then, nothing does.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

When It Comes to Horror, You Can't Trump Donald

"I am worth over eight billion dollars."
Oh God. Donald Trump, who makes Sarah Palin look like a Rhodes scholar, has announced that he is officially running for president in 2016. This makes me sad for my son and my as yet unborn grandchildren. Not that Trump will win, certainly, but that there are living, breathing people who are cheering him on. That he thinks he can do it. That's how low the office of president, in fact all of politics, has been dragged down. Not pointing any fingers at which White House occupant has done the most dragging, but you all remember I'm sure.

Donald does have his good points, I suppose. He's rich enough without us forking over a dime, in fact his campaign slogan is "I don't need anybody's money." He speaks his mind. He's brash and aggressive. He never shuts up. I can imagine that after he takes office in some nightmare scenario and is beheaded by ISIS who will surely find his hair objectionable and go after it, he will probably keep right on talking.

Ordinary People

I have not yet changed my gender and don't plan to. I have never lost any limbs to sharks and gone on to live an exemplary life. I have not been held captive in a basement by a madman for years and lived to tell the tale on "The View." I was not sexually abused by a priest as a child, or in fact by anyone, at any age. I've always had a roof over my head, suffer no debilitating diseases, and unless you count my first marriage, have not overcome any unusual hardships. I am ordinary, thus unsung. I assume I will remain so. This bugs the hell out of me, because I feel so extraordinary much of the time.

For example, I seem to be the only person who refuses to say "at this point in time," believing it means nothing more than saying "now," or even "at this point." I have never said and will never say "It is what it is." That is just plain dumb, yet very popular. Even some people I am married to say it in earnest and not in jest, like it actually adds something to the conversation.

I do not want to remain unsung, but I also do not want anything bad, or even good, to happen to me to make me famous. In fact, the thought of becoming famous for anything at all is appalling. Still, I hate being average. Even more annoying, I'm pretty sure everyone feels this way.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Letter from Washington

Tourists enjoy a lot of options getting around the nation's capital city.
It's funny: Here I am with Washington at my doorstep, and all I want to do is hang inside my air-conditioned hotel room and write a blog. To be fair, I did venture out earlier to a nearby Starbucks for a hit of caffeine and a smattering of the local feel. Settling down among the well-heeled city folks, all on iPhones or iPads or computers, I leafed through a copy of Politico, a local newspaper dedicated to politics, natch. I read a lot about Hillary finally giving a speech, coming out with pithy things like, "I will do whatever it takes to keep America safe." Wow, that is wild--whatever it takes! Imagine. It's gonna be tough to top that. I guess a savvy Republican opponent could always say, "I'll do whatever it takes, and then some, to keep America safe."

When I first came to Washington as a college student in 1964 you could drive right by the White House, even pull over and park in front to snap some photos. Pennsylvania Avenue was just another street. Last night, as we drove around the city to see how it's changed, we were somewhat appalled at the Kremlin-like feel of the area surrounding the Presidential Palace today. Gates and cement barriers prevent cars from passing by the front or the back for several blocks, and parked police cars, their red roof lights blinking, hang out at every corner in all directions in the general vicinity. (How anyone would want to become president and live in that milieu is beyond me.)

What were once considered "bad" neighborhoods full of druggies and hoodlums and rapists have been transformed into spanking new "good" neighborhoods full of high-rise condos, trendy natural food markets, spiffy bistros, cool shops and of course affluent white people. I do wonder where all the former inhabitants have gone in search of new bad neighborhoods further out from the city's center, and just how and who got them to leave.

The Capitol dome under scaffolding.
Visually, things are awry right now in this usually beautiful city. The formerly grassy Mall looks like a giant's sandbox as work proceeds on installing a new irrigation system underneath it. An enormous new museum currently under construction directly in the shadow of the Washington Monument is in a particularly hideous stage, although I'm betting that when it's completed it will be just as hideous and even more enormous. And the lovely Capitol dome, that symbol of freedom we all know and love, is having something quite serious done to it and now resembles an adorable sixth-grader with head gear and a mouthful of braces.

The good news is that most of my best friends live here and I've been having a blast seeing them. For me D.C. truly is a great place to visit, but considering the daily afternoon thunderstorms almost phony in their intensity, like computer-generated special effects in an end-of-the-world movie, and the bumper-to-bumper traffic crawling from anywhere to everywhere else, and the recent influx of 150,000 yuppies who've arrived to join the government and devise new ways to spend our tax dollars, upping the housing costs to ridiculously unaffordable while they're at it, I'm pretty sure I no longer have what it takes to live here.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Too Damn Hot

I am in Washington, D.C., or at least the metro D.C. area, and I have to say it is too damn hot here. It is brutal. It is ungodly. This is probably why the politicians are at each other's throats all the time, or at least for more than half the year. If they moved the capital city to Maine, I bet the Democrats and Republicans would all get along a lot better.

It's just too hot. It fries your brains. That must be what happened to Hillary. And those pantsuits! They are really hot. How does she not put on a dress once in a while?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Tired of the Stupid

That's it, I'm through. Today I went to have a procedure I won't go into because I didn't have it, although I spent an hour and a half in the doctor's office leading up to getting it, and had many drops put in my eyes to dilate them wildly and for the rest of the day, requiring my son to take off from work to drive me there and home again, and had bright runway lights shined in my eyes, and several kinds of examinations, asking me to blink twice, now hold still and open wide, and look over here, and more drops for numbing, and more lights, and another kind of exam and a pressure test and now we're ready but hey, wait a minute.....oops, you don't really have what we thought you had. So never mind, come back in six months you might have it then, and would you like to schedule that appointment today, is morning or afternoon better for you?

From now on it's acupuncture, sweat lodges, herbal teas, eating dandelions, voodoo, whatever, but not any of those dummies with framed diplomas from medical schools hanging on the wall.

Another Way of Life

If you search for "uncontacted peoples" or "unknown tribes" you will find a Wikipedia page all about them. This is pretty funny since they are uncontacted, so what do we know? We, the extremely contacted people, are fascinated by their very existence. Adventurers and anthropologists have sought them out, snapping aerial photos of them living in the densely forested regions of places like Brazil, Asia and Oceania. This reminds me of the old "hippie tours" of the 1960s back in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco, when busloads of straight tourists from Iowa and the like would pay money to be driven through the streets and gape at the stoners.

Civilized man's knowledge of the existence of indigenous tribes comes mostly from infrequent and sometimes violent encounters with them, and from aerial footage. Since members of these isolated tribes probably lack immunity to our common diseases, contact with them can kill a large percentage of their people. (How nice of us.)

It's interesting to wonder what those people do all day. Even more interesting is wondering what we would do all day if we did not have shopping, TV, computers, video games, Disneyland, hair salons, movies, Planet Fitness, cars, cruise ships and cataract surgery. That last category has taken up far too much of my time lately and is quite tiresome. I'm pretty sure that if I belonged to one of those lost tribes, I would not be about to undergo another eye procedure to fix the one I had months ago that didn't work. I would likely have just kept my cataracts and my slightly blurry vision. So maybe I wouldn't see that lion coming at me, but for all I know the lion would be my pet.

Mostly I wonder how those tribal people get going in the morning. Do they have coffee? Maybe they have something better. I used to pull up the dandelions that dot our lawn each spring, believing them to be nothing but unsightly weeds. Then my son, wise in these matters, showed me how to prepare them and eat them. What a fool I was.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Heading Into the Future

Michael Jackson would have loved it!
Head transplants are no longer the stuff of science fiction. Chinese surgeon Xiaoping Ren has performed the 10-hour procedure about 1,000 times on unsuspecting mice who ended up with different color heads and bodies: brown on black, white on brown, black on white, etc. Unfortunately the poor guys only lived for a short time with their new heads, but doctors are working on that annoying little glitch as I write this. Next up is a Russian man with a muscle-wasting disease who is hoping to get a healthier body while he keeps his original head.

Head transplants are different from brain transplants in that they involve decapitation of the patient. Considering that I am still sad over my cataract surgery last February, I'm pretty sure I won't be having any of this. Still, for the bravest among us, once head transplantation is perfected it will truly revolutionize the fashion industry, not to mention confusing the police and possibly putting an end to racism once and for all. Sadly, new heads will only be available to the wealthy as the surgery currently costs about $15 million. Michael Jackson would have loved it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Just for Fun

The final step in the birth of a Twizzler at the candy factory in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Twizzlers were hands-down my favorite movie candy as a kid. They don't melt, they don't make noise, and there are plenty of them to share without having to break anything in half. Out of 1,815 people voting in a recent survey, Twizzlers ranked sixth among favorite movie candies. I always preferred the black ones, believing they were licorice. Several decades ago that was true, and since I am more than several decades old, back then I was right. But today's Twizzlers have nothing to do with licorice, yet the perception remains. Ask anyone you know, and they will immediately say Twizzlers are licorice. But now you know better.

Actually, this is a good thing since real licorice is bad for you. Eating it can cause dangerously high blood pressure and dangerously low potassium levels because of something called glycyrrhizinic acid, which "sets off a chain reaction of biochemical events in the body that increases blood pressure." This is not likely to happen to a normal person, since you'd have to eat a ton of the stuff in one sitting or eat it every day for a couple of weeks before the acid builds up enough to become dangerous. But if you do that, or take daily herbal pills containing licorice, overdosing is certainly a risk.

It takes about 15 hours to make a real Twizzler, although there are several YouTube videos online that show you how to make them in your own kitchen in about half an hour, so who knows what the heck goes on in that Twizzler factory in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. (I guess they get paid by the hour.)

The ingredients are corn syrup, flour, sugar, cornstarch, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, salt, artificial flavorings, citric acid and potassium sorbate. The cherry and strawberry flavors include red dye #40; the black ones have licorice extract. Clearly they are not what you would call nutritious. Not that I eat Twizzlers anymore. I no longer do anything that's bad for me, which is one reason why getting old sucks. On the plus side, I'm healthier than the average teenager.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Something to Talk About

Latest fashion trends
New movies
Illustration by Julie Bergmann
The lives of celebrities
Transgender surgery
How FOX news is biased
Anything about Donald Trump
Taylor Swift's latest
Israel, the West Bank, Palestine
Baltimore's soaring crime rate
The Boston Bomber
Legalizing marijuana
Reality TV

Unknown tribes
Diseases that are coming
Silent movies
Feral animals
The next big thing after tattoos
A new religion
After Facebook
Dream machines
Global freezing
The resurgence of doo-wop
Head transplants
How to make a Twizzler

Sunday, June 7, 2015

This Does Not Count as a Vegetable

Since everyone now thinks I am the meanest person on the planet because I wrote a negative review of a revered local restaurant, I will do something nice to redeem myself and share my secret recipe for the World's Best Carrot Cake. I have been baking it since 1974, when I got it from the mother of a dear friend. It is truly fantastic! I made one today for my nephew's graduation party (it serves a big crowd) and it got rave reviews, as always. This is because it tastes delicious, which is what food, especially dessert, is supposed to do, certainly in order to get rave reviews. They should try it at Hugo's in Portland; they sure could use something tasty on their menu.

Mrs. Vick's Carrot Cake
1.5 cups corn oil
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 cups flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp.vanilla
1 tsp. salt
1 cup shredded coconut
2 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 small can crushed pineapple

Mix all dry ingredients together. Whisk together eggs, vanilla and corn oil and combine with dry ingredients. Add remaining ingredients.
Bake in a 9 x 13 inch pan for one hour at 350 degrees.

8 ounce package Philadelphia brand cream cheese
1 stick butter
1 cup confectioner's sugar

Blend with electric mixer if you have one; if not, do it by hand -- but no lumps!
Allow cake to cool completely before frosting it.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

A Real Rocky Horror Show

For my birthday celebration my husband took me, our son and his date to Hugo's, Portland's #1 restaurant and past proud winner of the James Beard Award, assuming it would be a memorable and exciting evening. We learned the truth of the saying, "When you assume, you make an ass out of you and me." In truth, it was memorable --  for being the worst meal I have ever eaten, at home or abroad and including Haiti. The only excitement came when it ended and after more than two hours inside we were discharged. The night air felt especially good as I realized that I was finally free.

Not only did most of the offerings taste bad, the only exception being a biscuit and some terrific butter, but it all looked so unappealing. Forget fancy china, everything at Hugo's is served on pieces of subway tile or slabs of slate or I'm guessing whatever is handy out back. Even the napkins and silverware were played with, arranged artfully and oddly on the table. Absolutely nothing was normal. (You may have already been there in a nightmare.)

At the end of the exhausting meal we opted to try all four desserts hoping that at last something would be yummy, or at least festive. Wrong again, they were served together on a long, wooden board suitable for beating a rug. Clumps of odd-colored sherbet and mounds of wobbly gelatinous forms with bubbly white sauce oozed over piles of harder unknown things. I swear it all looked like cat throw-up.

The tab was upwards of $400. Throughout the meal, various servers explained the mostly unrecognizable morsels of what was once real food, adding to the macabre event. Nice wine, though; I should have had a second glass.

Following are some photos I took with my iPhone during the meal. Due to the low lighting in the restaurant they are of very poor quality, which is quite fitting. The food was about as good as these pictures:
Mystery fish with green gelatin, black seeds and white cubes.

Lobster tempura, asparagus, red sauce and shredded weeds.

Veal balls in broth, sliced veal and street weeds on slate slab.

Monkfish lump presented with cubes of beets and tired chard.

Poached egg with creme fraiche, greens, turnip and cat vomit.

Cheese bits with gelatin and pistachio nuts on bathroom tile.

Desserts, honest. Nightmare on the left, brownie on the right.

More dessert, I am serious. This is how it arrived. I have no idea.
The best thing about the whole dinner was I got to look at this guy.

Friday, June 5, 2015

What's for Dinner?

Yeah, yeah, I know -- I said yesterday that I wasn't going to write this blog anymore. So I changed my mind, what else is new? Anyway, today is my birthday and tonight my darling hubby is taking me out to dinner at what is surely the most hip, up-to-the-minute, see-and-be-seen restaurant in Portland, if not the world. I checked out the menu in advance to see if there would be anything I could eat that would not send me to the emergency room, salt-wise. However after reading it I still don't know since it is written in another language, part Cantonese, part pretentiousness, called pretensionese.

Following are just a few of the offerings off their menu that we can look forward to sampling tonight, and all for just the cost of an arm and a leg:
pork katsu
yuzu kosho emulsion
beet agrodolce
scallop crudo
ramp puree
trout lily
octopus escabeche
stewed chicharrĂ³n
smoked carrot
braised dakon
spring dug parsnip agnolotti
caramelized whey
hakurei turnip


Fortunately today happens to also be "National Donut Day," which falls on the first Friday in June every year, so we can stop off for a free donut on the way to Hugo's and not be too hungry when dinner, whatever it is, is served.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Goodbye to All This

Dear Loyal Reader: 

I simply cannot write this blog anymore. Mostly because I can't look at the Internet anymore. Which means I can't play Words With Friends anymore. I'm not sure just what I can do, but all this electronic nonsense is just that: nonsense. 

If you are reading this on a computer or a cell phone or any sort of digital device -- on a damn wristwatch for all I know -- just stop it right now. Turn it off, go outside, go for a walk or a swim or a run or a bike ride. For those who cannot due to physical limitations, I offer my deepest sympathy and suggest you read "Ulyssses" and "Moby Dick" instead; that should fill up the rest of your time here. 

Here is my final advice about how to get through this thing called Life: Use your own brain, think your own thoughts, eliminate all idle chatter and gossip and for God's sake, turn off the TV.

All the best, 
The Daily Droid