Monday, February 29, 2016

Free At Last

Today being Leap Day, I am celebrating it by reveling in my newfound freedom. Breaking the chains of past addictions, I spent the last three days in Manhattan without eating even one bite of a cupcake from Magnolia Cupcakes. (Usually I have at least three entire ones.) Then last night I was driving on the highway home during the entire Academy Awards ceremony and so did not spy one speck of that miserable spectacle, not even a teeny piece of red carpeting.

It feels so good to be in control again. Never forget: change is possible.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Move Along, Nothing to See Here Folks

When I was four years old I was kidnapped by a stranger. This event happened at Coney Island Amusement Park in Brooklyn, N.Y., which coincidentally is the city of my birth.  I remember quite clearly that I did not cry at the time. I merely assessed the situation and knew the crazy lady with the babushka who took me by the hand and led me into the crowd was not my mother, or in fact anyone I knew.

Obviously I lived. The next day we went out to scavenge breakfast, I guess, since she didn't have any food in her hoarder's hovel, and as soon as I could I took off and ran away from her. A cop grabbed me, stuck an ice cream cone in my hand, reunited me with my parents, and off we went to our home on Long Island, never to hint at the experience again. That's how my parents chose to handle a crisis situation. I never spoke of it, they never mentioned it, and I never cried about it. I never trusted my parents after that, but I assumed all kids felt that way.

So now, some sixty-five years later, whenever I have a free moment I cry. My shrink is convinced it's the four-year-old locked up inside me crying because she never got the chance all those years ago. I am supposed to embrace her and make her feel safe. But all I want her to do is shut up already. Yes, we are safe. Nobody is going to take you, I mean me, I tell her, or us.  Please stop crying. Here, have some ice cream.

The brain is a devious organ. It is my least favorite of all the organs. I guess if I had to choose my favorite it would be my pancreas, as I never hear a peep out of it. I don't even know where it is or what it does, but it seems to work just fine without any attention from me.

I would like to make my brain as quiet as my pancreas. Supposedly if I meditate every day I can achieve this. That is a worthy goal, certainly as good as getting on Dancing With the Stars or winning the lottery. After all, if you win the lottery but your brain is always reminding you of traumatic events, what good will all the money do anyway?

Facebook Feelings

"Let nothing upset you. Let nothing frighten you. Everything is changing. God alone is changeless. Patience attains the goal. Who has God has everything. Only God fills every need."

I tell myself this every morning when I wake up and at difficult moments during the day, and again at night when I am trying to fall asleep. Sometimes it works, but honestly, most of the time it's like putting a Band-Aid on a patient after open heart surgery. Life in the year 2016 is crazy, let's face it. You know it and I know it. But somehow the folks at Facebook do not know it, or at least don't want to admit it, and so they have come up a bit short with their new Reaction buttons that allow you to do more than just "Like" something. Now you can register a few other feelings, like Happy, Sad, Angry, Wow and HaHa.

I am guessing "Wow" is the one they offer to register all those other states of being that dog us through life, like Could Care Less, In the Gutter, Wish I Could Be You, High As a Kite, Considering Suicide, Sick and Tired of Your Bullshit, Not Even Who I Say I Am, Hate Your Guts But Friended You Anyway and Desperately Want to Deactivate My Account But Without It I Am Truly Alone. Now those would be some helpful buttons.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Down Side of Dogs

My dear friend's dog (part Welsh Corgi, part human), died last night. Well, not so much died as was killed by lethal injection, but that sounds worse than it really was, which is that the kindhearted vet ended Cammie's suffering with an injection that put her to sleep, peacefully and surrounded by her family in her home, and now she's in Doggie Heaven. (Hey, we should all be so lucky.) Anyway, today my friend is neither peaceful nor sleeping, she is wide awake and sobbing and feeling like shit, which is only appropriate.

I speak from experience. Pets are so much fun, and truly are part of the family. They add life and laughs and exercise, making their owners happier and healthier. Until they get sick, at which time they become a hellish nightmare lasting weeks or months that finally ends up as a bag of ashes you put in a nice vase or maybe a special wooden box and keep on your bookshelf. I tell myself this every day, often as I dust my own collection of dearly departed animals, so I won't cave in and get another dog. So far it's working. Now if only I could get myself to see the same is true for the rest of those habitual behaviors that end up hurting me, things would be great.*

* According to some learned sages, it's actually possible to have an excellent life when you put your mind to it. Instead, so many of us subject our minds to the bald-faced sham of politics, the passing parade of drug commercials wrapped inside TV shows and the manufactured lives of photo-shopped movie stars. And we keep getting more dogs.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Shameful Spell Check Generation

Either there are many, many injured football players named Brian in the NFL these days or the Wall Street Journal is in dire need of authentic copy editors over the age of fifty. Either way, the headline seen above on an Op-ed piece in today's paper does not bode well for future generations.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

What's God Got to Do With It?

Some say that God gives us what we can handle. (To believe this you have to believe there is something out there called God, so if you don't then you might as well stop reading here.) I tell myself this as I start to fall apart whenever the number on my BP monitor soars above 200.

Having an odd chronic illness where my blood pressure goes sky-high for no reason, causing my heart to race and my head to feel like a balloon about to burst, sure does suck. But my disease is child's play compared to what horrors befall others. In fact, so many people suffer so many crippling and debilitating diseases, you've got to wonder what God is thinking. It's like he's got a huge pile of Legos and just put things together willy-nilly; some people come out great and others come out a mess. I can think of no other explanation.

My particular condition arrives with no warning and stops me in my tracks, making it impossible for me to do anything else but pay attention and pray for it to go away. I pray to a number of Gods: first and foremost, the twin Gods Metoprolol and Lisinopril, shall they live and prosper. Next, the God we call Celery, with its odd ability to calm the spirits roiling about within me. (Don't ask me why but it works, something about it being a diuretic.) Last but not least, I admit to appealing to that other God, the one everyone's always arguing about. Believe in Him or not, still, I do implore Him to lay off and go bother someone else, like maybe the Clintons.

I know, what's God got to do with it? Probably nothing, but maybe everything.


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Avoiding Brain Rot

The human brain has been compared to a vast sea full of hidden monsters that roil the waters unless we figure out how to calm them down or at least float past them in a protective little boat. Or perhaps this: our thoughts are like wild stallions running hither and yon and we've got to get them back in the barn and bed them down for the night. Or something like that. Far less poetic but more to the point, I think of my brain as a trash bin atop my body. You've got to be vigilant about what goes in there or else things will really start to stink.

For example, I am careful to rinse the empty cans of cat food and cartons of milk before tossing them into the recycling bin lest they start to fester during the week preceding trash pickup. My husband finds this behavior eccentric, although he appreciates our garage not smelling like a sewage treatment plant. Yet I continually toss scraps of crap I find lying about in the gutter straight into my precious command center. So far today I have thrown in the following bits of detritus:

1. Men should make sure their belts and shoes match, especially at work, or else they will look like they are completely clueless.
2. Kourtney Kardashian has abs that will make everyone green with envy.
3. A woman in Farmington, Maine found a decapitated snake head in a can of green beans as she prepared her dinner recently.
4. Celebrities deal with hangovers by getting "facial infusions" which involve an IV of vitamins inserted into the arm while getting a standard facial.
5. Ted Cruz and Ben Carson had a private meeting and agreed to disagree.
6. Puma and Adidas, two leading sportswear companies, are feuding over which one will use what members of the Kardashian family (again with the Kardashians!) to promote their sneakers.
7. Once only available in Paris, custom-made shoes by Francesco Russo (who?) will soon be available at a store near me for $2,000 to $10,000 a pair.

Obviously, severe brain scouring is necessary for me to proceed further with my day. The only way is through meditation. It's sort of like brushing and flossing; if you don't do it you'll be sorry. As my Aunt Peska used to say, "Be true to your teeth and they'll never be false to you.


Friday, February 19, 2016

Film Review: TUMBLEDOWN

Tumbledown may already be playing on a TV set near you. It's hard to imagine it will be showing in any theater in any big city for more than a week. I saw it at a restaurant with an in-house theater on a winter's day in small-town Maine, which was fitting since it takes place in a small town in Maine in winter.

Starring Jason Sudekis of "Saturday Night Live" and Rebecca Hall who I never heard of before but apparently has been around the block a few times, just not any block I was on, it's a romantic, bittersweet, predictable look at love and grief and writing and music and mostly how adorable boxers --the dogs not the underwear -- can be. There are two of them in this movie and luckily they have tons of screen time which is a good thing since they provide the only smiles.

A young widow (Hall) living alone in a cabin in the woods (with her two dogs) is hung up on her dead hubby, a cult figure in the folk music world who died young and tragically, with only one supercalifragilisticexpialidocious 12-song album under his belt. A New York writer (Sudekis) goes to Maine to interview her for his forthcoming book on dead musicians. After much ado set against lovely postcard scenery including sunsets, frozen lakes, mountains, sunsets over mountains and sunsets over frozen lakes (see photo), the grieving widow and the visiting professor finally stop hurling insults at one another and fall in love. One can assume they live happily ever after, until or unless this guy falls off a cliff too.

Blythe Danner is featured as the widow's mother. She is, as usual, fabulous.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Measuring Up


The silliest thing you can do in life is compare yourself to others. It's pointless and thus a complete waste of time. Think about it for a minute and you'll surely agree. If the other person is taller, you're too short. Smarter, you're a dummy. Richer, you're in the poorhouse. And so on and so on. Instead, a good exercise is comparing yourself to your past self and seeing how far you've come -- or fallen behind. Either way, the measuring stick is a valid one.

To that end I present my very first blog post, written in 2007:
Passing Middle Age
I no longer take Lipitor. At least that.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Human Scumbags

Early this morning --too early-- I received a phone call from a robot. It instructed me to call back immediately as the IRS was planning a law suit against me! Of course, being of sound mind, I hung up. Two hours later another call came, only this time it was a message on my voicemail. I decided to return the call just to get a handle on the scam.

A man with a distinct Indian accent said that I owed more than $6,000 in back taxes and that the IRS was suing me. He said he could resolve the situation. I asked how. He repeated that he could fix the problem and make it "go away." Again I asked how. He then asked, "How much cash do you have?" I asked what difference that made. He hung up.

The third call came a little while ago. I had been out and returned home to find another message. Now I was pissed. What about that Do Not Call Registry I signed up for last year? I called back and once again an Indian-accented male answered. This time he said the way I could fix my IRS problem was to take off my pants and sit on his dick. Then he cackled like a crazy person, somehow maintaining an Indian accent. The phone number of this hotbed of lowlife in Seattle is (206) 257-7016. I later received more calls from the same man from the number (202) 258-0213.

I suggest calling and ordering Indian takeout, maybe some mutter paneer and naan, with perhaps some chicken tikka and rice. Raita is always nice as a side dish. As for me, the whole thing was such a turn-off that I doubt I will ever eat Indian food again. Or answer my phone. Good thing I already saw The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Repeat After Me


I have never been a religious person. Growing up in a "sort of" Jewish household --we were kosher but ate bacon -- I attended Friday night services at Central Synagogue with my parents, although mostly for the food. But more and more our world seems utterly crazy, a wild amusement park where Donald Trump as America's next president is no longer out of the question. And if it's not him then it's the cackling (and barking) witch.

I'll admit it: I need help keeping my head on straight. One thing I do to maintain my equilibrium is silently repeat the following passage. When you're feeling frazzled, try it; it works. And don't let the word "God" throw you, it's just a place-holder for something beyond our understanding, not some old bearded guy in a long white robe.

Let nothing upset you.
 
Let nothing frighten you.
 
Everything is changing.
 
God alone is changeless.
 
Patience attains the goal.
 
Who has God lacks nothing.
 
God alone fills every need.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

What's New, P***ycat?

If I am talking about my adorable kitty, Lurch, I might want to describe him as "a little pussy with a big heart." I think that is allowed. But if I am talking about Ted Cruz, I have to say he is a p***y, which he may or may not be, but still I have to write it that way because suddenly the normal word "pussy" is no longer acceptable, not even in print. Despite the fact that I have never used it to refer to a vagina, my own or anyone's, it's now a BAD WORD, joining PRICK and DICK and you know the rest (although this being a man's world, you can get away with saying prick and dick).

That's all the sex stuff, which is sort of understandable what with Protestants and Episcopalians around every corner.  But even worse are all those regular words that have nothing to do with genitalia but are in the doghouse anyway. For example, if I want to talk about the fact that linseed oil retards the drying of my oil paints, I cannot say, "The drying process is greatly retarded by the addition of linseed oil" without raising a few eyebrows. That's retarded, if you ask me. In fact, it's because the world is full of misguided souls who think the grunts coming from your mouth matter more than what you feel in your heart.

Words to Live By


Maybe you've noticed or maybe you haven't, but these days all restaurant servers utter the exact same word after they bring your order to the table and are about to step away: "Enjoy!" This is usually spoken more as a friendly command rather than a suggestion, and is often accompanied by a big smile and sometimes, in the pricier establishments, a flourish of the hand. It has become so commonplace that when I don't hear it I wonder if I have done something offensive that makes me unworthy of such enjoyment.

"Enjoy!" now takes its place alongside "Have a nice day!" and "Smile!" as directives we receive from total strangers who know nothing of our inner turmoil. Considering the current world situation, I suppose that's sweet advice and God knows we all can use all the help we can get. But still, I wish once in awhile a waiter or waitress would go rogue and say something like "I'm pretty sure there's no e.Coli in your burger" or "Let me know right away if the soup is cold." Instead, it's always "Enjoy!" One time in Quebec City it was "Enjoi!" That was kind of fun.

Anyway, my wish for you today is that you have a nice day and also enjoy it, regardless of whether or not you eat anything.






Monday, February 15, 2016

Whatever Happened to Vince Foster?


Apparently Justice Antonin Scalia "died peacefully in his sleep of natural causes." There will not be an autopsy because, as the story goes, he had a heart attack. Alone in his room at a hunting lodge, on a trip, away from his family. As the story goes. Right in the middle of this election year when the appointment of the next justice is so very important.  He had a natural heart attack. Hey, who wouldn't?  Especially with Hillary Clinton pulling some strings. Sure, a heart attack is a totally natural cause of death.  Maybe if he had exercised more and not put on so much weight he would still be alive. Or maybe they would have had to come up with something else, like having him fall off a cliff. 

















Sunday, February 14, 2016

Culture Vultures

A few days ago, driving to the post office, I swerved to avoid a dead squirrel lying in the middle of the road. Five minutes later, on my way home, I passed the little guy again. By then three crows were feasting on its carcass. Several times later that day and the next, I walked past the grisly scene and it was always the same: Huge black crows jockeying for position to get at the tastiest morsels of the diminishing dead squirrel. The birds barely even looked up as cars drove by, so intent on their prize were they.

I was reminded of that carnivorous feast when the death of Justice Antonin Scalia was announced last night, and all the politicians -- the real ones and the armchair variety -- zeroed in on the news. Even more offensive than the babble during the televised GOP debate about whether or not a new justice would be appointed by our sitting president were the remarks on Facebook from people who have achieved nothing of merit themselves, yet were quick to applaud Scalia's passing with snarky comments simply because they disagreed with his political views.

Scalia was our longest-serving Supreme Court justice. He attended Georgetown University and obtained his law degree from Harvard Law School. His long career included the practice of law, the teaching of law, and service to several presidents before joining the Supreme Court. It is simply shocking that some of the more retarded members of my husband's extended family find his death an occasion for celebration. What a bunch of bird brains!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Not All Medicine Tastes Bad

Eknath Easwaren
In my quest for peace of mind I was lucky enough to have stumbled upon the writings of an Indian scholar named Eknath Easwaren. He died in 1999 which makes me sad, for if he were alive I would dedicate myself to meeting him. His words are so plain and his writing style so simple and yet so on the mark, unlike many other writers in the crowded field of spirituality, enlightenment, mindfulness, Buddhism, and the whole "be here now" thing who are needlessly esoteric, or as Eknath might say, highfalutin.

Over the last seven years my problematic blood pressure numbers have led me down many a path lined with prescription medications, acupuncture treatments, Tai Chi classes and talk therapy. Yet just reading a paragraph or two in Easwaran's "Passage Meditation" has been the best solution to calming any runaway anxiety or heading off a full-fledged panic attack. I highly recommend it be kept on the nightstand of anyone who finds modern life fraught with horror, terror, phobias, hysteria, indecision, sadness, loneliness or just plain disappointment. Click the following link for a taste of his sweet medicine:

http://www.easwaran.org/complete-instructions-in-passage-meditation-1-meditation-on-a-passage.html

Friday, February 12, 2016

Film Review: HAIL, CAESAR!

Hail, Caesar! sucks so much that if we are all very quiet, I suspect we can hear it sucking. But in all fairness, I walked out of this movie after one hour so it might have gotten better in the last 46 minutes. I cannot remember ever walking out on a movie; it's got to be really bad for me to do that. Unsure of taking such a bold step unilaterally, I turned to ask my companion if we should leave but found that she was asleep. Hers was the deciding vote.

Here's what you need to know:
1. Josh Brolin, the star, is a better actor than his father but not by much.
2. Yes, it's the Coen Brothers, but even brilliant directors make mistakes.
3. Unless it was done on purpose, George Clooney is no longer hot.
4. Scarlett Johansson does not do herself any favors.

Available only at Cabela's.
The story is about movie-making and there are lots of inside jokes about movie-making, which of course I didn't get and you won't either because we don't make movies. And to be honest, the plot is so convoluted and stupid and punctuated never by anything even resembling interesting that I cannot say more. In fact, the only memorable thing about this film is that I left my favorite black woolen hat in the lobby (see photo). I discovered that grim fact once I had gotten to the theater's parking lot but I just couldn't go back.

Jew Trumps Female

                                                                      Josh Gosfield
Being "in the know" about politics is not even a teeny bit helpful anywhere other than at a cocktail party in Washington, D.C. Otherwise it is a total waste of time to absorb the particles of hot air spewed by the candidates grasping for the highest office in our land. Still, being a lowly creature of habit I turned on the TV to last night's Democratic debate between Bernie Sanders and Shrillary Clinton, despite expecting more of the same crock of promises we know will never come to pass. I was not disappointed.

My husband fell asleep within moments. Mitch was exhausted from his recent work travels and is also nursing a cold, so it was not surprising that he found the Battle of the Blowhards soporific, especially after a hearty repast and wine at dinner. But I hung in there and was glad I did because I got to witness this mind-blowing moment: Moderator Judy Woodruff, or maybe it was the other one, Gwen Ifill who by the way looked fantastic -- not sure if she's lost weight or had a face lift or what, but wow. Anyway, one of them asked Bernie Sanders if he felt bad for "thwarting the possibility of our nation seeing the first woman president" by running against Shrillary.

Hello? How about the FIRST JEWISH PRESIDENT? That's even more glass-ceiling-shattering, and certainly not chopped liver, which by the way could only help if they served it at some of those boring White House events. (Imagine, brisket and kugel at state dinners! Bagels and lox at morning prayer breakfasts! Passover parties where they hide the matzoh instead of Easter eggs on the South Lawn!)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Bibi for President

Him I could vote for!
Suddenly it hit me: I do not love my country. How could anyone? Things are a mess here, and the future looks grim, what with our choices for president being either A Rock or A Hard Place, no matter who wins the nominations. So, casting about for a new homeland, Israel came to mind. Last night I did some investigating online and stumbled upon an article entitled "10 Things I Wish I'd Known Before Moving to Israel." http://blogs.wsj.com/expat/2015/03/17/10-things-i-wish-id-known-before-moving-to-israel/.

Naturally I read it and lo and behold, every one of the author's complaints was music to my ears. For example, the citizens are gruff and outspoken! Me too! Everyone is impatient! Me too! Spontaneity trumps long-range planning beyond two weeks, probably because the people can't be sure they even have two weeks! Spontaneity is my middle name! The people are superstitious! Me too! (Bite your tongue.) They treat strangers like family! Great, because I could use some family! Best of all, there's tons of Jewish foods in all the Jewish restaurants, and ever better, tons of Jews eating inside them! Finally I can be one of the crowd and not "that pushy New York Jew who says whatever she thinks." (The nerve.)

All kidding aside, I am seriously looking into this. There is no way I'm sticking around for a President Trump or a President Hillary, and no way anyone here is going to elect a President Sanders. But in Israel, the president is always a Jew!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Let Nothing Upset You

The front page of today's New York Daily News is a horrific abomination, a twisted perversion of what a newspaper once was and should be. A color photo of Donald Trump in clown makeup accompanies the huge headline: "Dawn of the Brain-Dead." It also labels his supporters as "mindless zombies" and does nothing to calm the increasingly troubled waters of our political landscape. (Seascape?)

Okay, agreed -- the Daily News is nothing more than birdcage liner. Still, many people read it, and for those poor souls who are not bright enough to form their own opinions, it has weight. If only the following inspirational passage were on the front page of instead, it might help the zombies on both sides of the aisle feel better about the world:

Let nothing upset you;
Let nothing frighten you.
Everything is changing;
God alone is changeless.
Patience attains the goal.
Who has God lacks nothing;
God alone fills every need.

            – Saint Teresa of Avila

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

What Can You Say About Our Next President?


Marco Rubio: big baby, creepy, canned, smirking, smug
Chris Christie: fat, big fatty, obese, attack dog
Ted Cruz: smarmy, snarky, not nice, ugly
Jeb Bush: soft-spoken, smart, wimpy
John Kasich: smart, balanced, experienced, cool
Donald Trump: loudmouth, rich, adolescent, insane
Ben Carson: nice
Carly Fiorina: female
Hillary Clinton: shrill, dishonest, self-satisfied, full of shit 
Bernie Sanders: smart, Jewish, radical, adorable

Thank God for the Mute Button

How stupid are we supposed to be? According to the advertising agencies responsible for the blizzard of commercials pounding us daily, the answer is "pretty." How else to explain what we see and hear? For example, almost every prescription drug ad has an unseen narrator listing the drug's horrible side effects while something distracting is going on visually, as if we won't hear all the dire possibilities if there's a woman with big boobs in a bikini or a couple salsa-dancing the night away. Okay, I get that. That doesn't bother me anymore, but what really irks me is when the voice says, "Don't take Trifoxin (or Zolexa or Bifurkin or Domeldar) if you are allergic to Trifoxin (or Zolexa or Bifurkin or Domeldar)." Thanks for that tip, because as you suspect I'm a complete moron and I might take the stuff even if I'm allergic to it.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch with tongue and eyes.
Then there are the cartoon bears selling toilet paper. Certainly we all know that bears do indeed shit in the woods, but have you ever, on any camping trip, found evidence that they use toilet paper of any type, specifically Charmin? And have you ever seen a red bear or a blue bear? No.

In the world of commercial advertising, everything and anything can talk: Almonds, beer cans, bowls of cereal, the cereal itself (see photo), pizzas, cats, dogs and babies. And every happy couple is interracial. And every happy family is interracial. That would be nice, and I guess we are headed in that direction, but it's simply not true today. (In my whole life I have known two.) It's offensive and annoying to be treated like an idiot and yet be expected to buy a certain product. And if Marie Osmond doesn't shut up about those fifty pounds she lost like ten years ago I honestly don't know what I'll do. Maybe vote for Donald Trump, since I'm so dumb.


Monday, February 8, 2016

In the Doldrums

It's a whiteout again at my house and I'm wondering, again, why I live here. Yes, there's no crime and no traffic, but there is snow and a lot of it, every time I turn around it seems. Snow is just plain stupid, and that includes skiing. It piles up everywhere and then hangs around for a really long time, getting dirtier and uglier with each passing day. I'm already sick of it and it's only early February, which in Maine is like the middle of December in other places.

I concede that my unwillingness to "accept" the weather is a clear sign of how far I have to go until I can claim to be enlightened. I am the opposite, if there is such a thing -- I am endarkened. But I'm not the only one who doesn't like it. Today one of the Weather Channel reporters standing out in the storm somewhere in New Hampshire shouted over the howling winds, "Right now the snow is hitting me in the face and it's extremely painful!"

I found his statement hyperbolic. Extremely painful? Really? Snow in the face? I thought back to my 23 hours of labor during  natural childbirth and laughed. Except on the football field, men are such wimps.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Do Not Like Football

The Superbowl is what everyone is watching tonight. Some other nights it is the Academy Awards, or maybe the Republican Debate, the Grammys or the State of the Union address. In fact, with so many people doing exactly the same things at the same time, it's a wonder strangers aren't friendlier to one another.

I am not watching the game but I am sitting in the room where it is on the TV, and I gotta say it is so boring if you're not into it. Piles of men falling on top of each other. A lot of talking about the black quarterback, which is some kind of big deal I'm not sure why. Other men in odd outfits yelling. Now comes the half-time show. Oh no. Gotta get out of here.

I didn't get out in time and I am so sorry about it. I saw Beyonce and her thighs.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Reading Between the Lines


I'm glad you're reading my blog, although I'm not sure why. I get few comments and so never have the satisfaction of hearing that I informed anyone or made anyone laugh, except for one very special friend who always tells me she loves reading it and I love her and have since the 7th grade. But as for anyone else, no. On the other hand, if I were confident that my readers were total strangers I could pull out all the stops and discuss indelicate topics I avoid because friends, and this includes my son, might judge me poorly.

I don't make any money at this, unlike times gone by when I was paid to write about specific things that maybe I didn't care about much but did it for the money. Now I'm free to write about anything, except for my fear of being thought indelicate. So in the interest of growth, at the very least (and I do mean the very least) I present here a list of the Top 10 Topics I would tackle if nobody were reading:

After Doing It for Like Fifty Years, I Gotta Say Enough Sex Already
Suicide is Not Wholly Unreasonable in Certain Circumstances
It Must Be Nice to Have Parents Who Left You a Lot of Money
How Can Anyone Even Consider Voting for Hillary Clinton?
"The Onion" is Not Funny, It's Just Childish
If You Ever Stop and Think About It, Oral Sex is Pretty Gross
Sue Me, But Monogamy Is Boring
I Am So Excited to Have Obama Be Over
Some of My Friends Are Truly, Certifiably Crazy
Dumb People Should Not be Allowed to Vote, Let's Face It 
Rachel Maddow Is Sickening: Discuss



Friday, February 5, 2016

Be Kind to Strangers

Dave with his family.
I am sad today because someone I didn't know and in fact never even heard of before ten minutes ago committed suicide yesterday. Dave Mirra, a star of the BMX bike world (I had to look that up) shot himself in the head. He was 41, a handsome man in his prime, married with two young daughters. Dave had won many awards in his field and was a true superstar, considered an idol by many. He was last seen chatting amiably with a friend hours before he ended his life.

We all think of it at one time or another, or maybe not all of us, just the most sensitive among us. But what pushes someone over the edge when they have, or seem to have, everything? Surely there must have been a pressing problem. Otherwise, why? I am bereft. I don't get it. There must be more.

Perhaps all it would have taken to change his mind (and the lives of his children) was a kind word from a stranger. You just never know what power you wield.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

FILM REVIEW: Anomalisa

If you want to see teeny puppets having sex, here's your chance.
Watching Anomalisa, a sad, slow, strange movie starring puppets playing people, and not very likable people at that, one can only conclude that director Charlie Kaufman must be off his meds again. Don't get me wrong; the man is a genius. I am a huge fan of his other films (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) and may be the only person alive who loved Synecdoche, New York enough to see it twice. But his latest offering is bleak, and except for an excruciatingly explicit puppet sex scene that gets you wondering about the technology of how it was done, has little reward.

The tale begins with a successful author and motivational speaker flying to Cincinnati to give a speech. Despite a wife and son back home, his life is desperate and empty. Once there, he has an affair with one of the conference attendees. All is blah for him until he meets her, a special woman who seems different from everyone else. This may be because she is different, being the only one with a female voice; all the other characters, regardless of gender, sound like the same man. (That's because they are all voiced by the same actor.) They also all have the same perfect puppet faces, but hers is different: she has a flaw, which our hero sees as beautiful.

Sadly, just like in real life, great sex, or even great love, turns out not to be the solution to anything. What our hero really needs is a month at a Buddhist retreat or perhaps a gym membership. He is clearly in need of a reason to live and/or some serotonin.  Skip this one unless your middle name is Sundance  and you love esoteric movies that have little to do with entertainment and a lot to do with brooding intellectualism.

Flying Solo

Oops, there goes Icarus.....
With all due respect and sincere sympathy for those who have no choice, I am sick of using crutches. I think I'll try flying solo just to see if I can, or if I'll go crashing into the sea like Icarus when he flew too close to the sun, melting his wax wings. Of course all that was just so much Greek mythology, and I'm not really planning to attempt flight. But it would be nice to think I can actually live my life without dependency on doctors or medications or healers of any sort, and instead use the power of my own mind and faith in my positive choices to deliver my salvation.

What's got me thinking this way is the sudden and difficult decision to discontinue my weekly acupuncture treatments. After all, I've been going for eight months and while certain aspects of my health have greatly improved, my underlying hope is that the reason I feel better is because  healthy behaviors like eating well, exercising frequently,  practicing meditation and repetition of a mantra have worked their magic, which is really not magic at all.

Like most people who fear going it alone, which is all of us, in the past I have used many other crutches, most notably Berger's cookies (http://www.bergercookies.com/) and smoking marijuana, sometimes at the same time. Those stopped working for me long ago, and in fact may have caused that buildup of negative "qi" those acupuncture treatments released. (Sounds nutty, I know, but not any nuttier than Donald Trump leading in the polls or Hillary Clinton being on the cusp of the presidency.) We all know people whose crutches, be it alcohol, common drugstore sleep aids and painkillers, and even plain old caffeine, have caused impairments worse than whatever they got the crutches for in the first place.

As for Icarus -- his father warned him but he did it anyway, allegedly out of hubris. I had to look that word up and learned that it "indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one's own competence,
accomplishments or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power." Clearly that's not my problem.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Hollywood on the Potomac?


The word on the street is that Hillary "They Weren't Classified When I Read Them" Clinton won Iowa by a coin toss (or two or ten) and Donald "We're Gonna Build a Wall" Trump lost by a hair to someone even creepier than he is, which is actually quite a feat. The fact is, our next president will be a blowhard that the majority of people don't want or, in some cases, can't stomach. But then, I think we can all agree that politicians as a group are pretty obnoxious, far less desirable than the following Hollywood actors who have portrayed them in the past. Imagine if we could vote for one of them! Who would you choose?

Anthony Hopkins
Harrison Ford
Bill Pullman
Patty Duke
Kevin Kline
Martin Sheen
Andy Garcia
Daniel Day Lewis
Jeff Daniels
Alfre Woodard
Hal Holbrook
Michael Keaton
Kelsey Grammar
James Brolin
John Lithgow
Morgan Freeman
Jason Robards
Bryan Cranston
John Cusack
Henry Fonda
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Kevin Spacey
Beau Bridges
Dennis Quaid
Keith Carradine
Geena Davis


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Try Not to Think of Ted Cruz

For every one of us, waking up each morning is a miracle to be cherished for as long as possible; hopefully all day long. Too often it is almost immediately downgraded by hearing about, and then thinking about, how much better other people have it. (The fact that Ted Cruz won in Iowa does not help.) That's pretty much what life in America is all about, what with striving the number one activity in our culture, followed closely by broadcasting how great things are going for you. 

The surest way to feel bad about yourself is by comparing yourself to others. Thoughts like,"This one is prettier, that one married better, the other one still has all her teeth and a publisher" are never helpful, leading only to negative conclusions about the state of one's own looks, marriage or dental situation, not to mention the likelihood of your latest novel ever seeing the light of day.

A healthier approach is to take stock of what's good and true about your own life and revel in it. It's a difficult task but it can be done. Walking outside, looking at the sky and listening to the birds is a good start. The addition of a cup of steaming coffee can not be overestimated.


Monday, February 1, 2016

What Would Buddha Say?

Not only do I not know what the heck I'm doing most of the time, but I have even less of an understanding of what others are doing in this life. So many things that I see others do have me shaking my head in disbelief. Following are two examples just from the last few hours.

A column in today's Wall Street Journal touts the recent invention of "food in a pill." The author begins by bemoaning the fact that he is so busy he has no time to eat. He then goes on to write a mildly interesting (but certainly not Pulitzer-prize-winning) 800 words about a product called Soylent which delivers 400 calories in a drab-tasting, milky liquid that he can gulp in seconds and get all the necessary nutrients to fuel his oh-so-hectic life without bothering with that messy business called cooking. He quotes several people, other professional city folk with very busy lives like his, who drink Soylent for breakfast and lunch daily, saving countless hours they then can use to make more money.

A video posted on Facebook by a woman with multiple sclerosis shows her lying on a couch experiencing one of her body-ravaging seizures, just so we'd all know how terrible her disease is for her. This got me wondering if I should make a similar video of myself sitting on the toilet suffering a serious bout of constipation caused by my blood pressure medications. (I decided against it.)

At times like these my mantra comes in very handy.