Thursday, March 31, 2016

Just Say No to Trump, Shrillary & The Bimbos

Gretchen "Buffy" Carlson
Megyn "Tinkerbell" Kelly
Martha "Muffin" McCallum
Shannon "Dolly" Bream
Dana "Pookie" Bash
Ann "Sunbeam" Coulter
Dana "Binky" Perino
Pamela "Tiff" Brown

Laura "Little Jo" Ingraham
Every single person you pass on the street has a life, a story, a world of connections: Family, friends, colleagues, past associations, dead children, living children. Now think of a street in Hong Kong, or maybe Times Square in New York City, where you can barely do more than shuffle along with the crowds because there are so many people. It's crazy how many people there are, in fact, there are 318.9 million of them here in the USA. I say this only to point out how silly, stupid, and dumb it is for us to be so consumed with just a few people, actually more like two: Shrillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Just say no! Don't do it. Refuse to discuss them. Enough already with the fucking election, so big deal who gets to live in the White House and choose the new rug in the Oval Office and have big parties and invite Barbra Streisand and Kanye West over to sing. It matters not a whit to the lives of us little people, so why is it something we all yammer about incessantly?

The Blonde Bimbos love talking about Ms. Clinton and Mr. Trump since it requires almost no thinking on their part. So if you see one of these made-for-TV women shown above (yes, they actually are different people), and their mouths are moving, just walk away since they will be saying nothing of value. Instead, go make yourself a sandwich and read a book. Try All the King's Men, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Robert Penn Warren, for a good take on rancid politics in the South. (Based on a true story!)

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Goodbye, Patty

Social media is funny. If Kim Kardashian gets another implant in some body part yet to be enlarged, it's a story of major import. If Miley Cyrus twerks her butt or Justin Bieber gets arrested for more drunk driving, tongues wag. This would indicate that it is mostly young people who populate websites like Twitter and Instagram and Facebook. But that's not true, since many people age fifty and above hang out there too. So I find it surprising that no mention has been made by anyone online of the passing of Patty Duke yesterday, at age sixty-nine, which BTW is my age exactly and so I am of course gravely interested, no pun intended. Patty died of sepsis from a ruptured intestine, which further freaked me out as I am right now smack in the middle of an unpleasant episode of diverticulitis, which if you know anything about it, you know it feels like your intestine might rupture any minute.

Seeing double: The Patty Duke Show
But enough about me. Patty Duke began her acting career in a daytime soap opera at age twelve. She was sixteen in 1962 when she earned an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress playing the young Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker. (At the time she was that award's youngest recipient.) Prior to that she had played the part on Broadway for two years, where her name appeared on the marquee above the play's title, the first time that had ever been done for such a young performer.  She went on to star in her own TV sitcom, The Patty Duke Show, in which she played identical cousins. During her lifelong career on stage and TV, in dozens of roles appropriate to her age, she always gave a great performance. In her later years, with major film offers waning, she elevated even the shlockiest made-for-TV movies just by her very presence.

Patty Duke was one of the greats. Over the course of her career she received an Oscar, ten Emmy Award nominations and three Emmy Awards, and two Golden Globe awards. Let's show a little respect.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

What's the Deal with TV Reporters?

TV reporters are a sick breed. They are egotistical, narcissistic, superficial nitwits who suck the blood of famous people, and that's being kind. They live in their own little world, where the "news" is petty and unimportant to everyone but them. There are huge important issues facing the country, but these weirdos can only talk about the silliest, scummiest least important aspects of the campaign, like Donald Trump posted a photo Ted Cruz's wife, and Ted Cruz said he would "Blah, blah, blah," and then Trump said "Tweet, tweet, tweet." The reporters simply cannot drop it, constantly inflating this teeny, little thing into a huge, non-story they blabber about over and over and over.

Now there's this thing with Trump's campaign manager who supposedly pushed a reporter and bruised her arm.  At first she claimed he "pushed her to the ground," but when a video surfaced showing she was hardly touched at all she changed her story, and now the campaign manager is being charged with "simple battery." This is all they can yammer about, like little babies who just learned how to talk. The most egregious of them are on CNN, led by Anderson Cooper, and they include Dana Bash and Wolf Blitzer and Gloria Borger and Erin Burnett and Don Lemon and Donna Brazil and Betty Boop and Archie and Veronica and Ad Nauseum. Over on FOX they have their own lunatic bunch, as they do at a few other stations. The whole lot of them are nuts, thinking they actually contribute something to society.

If you ask me, that Trump campaign manager who pushed the reporter was indeed dead wrong! He should have punched her in the face and stomped on her a little so she would stop stalking people and go home and find a real job.

No Spring Chickens

In today's Wall Street Journal, a 57-year-old columnist discussing the relative merits of Clinton vs. Trump in the upcoming general election writes about Bernie Sanders: "What does it say about large dissatisfactions within the Democratic Party that this cranky old guy continues to pull out victories?"

I ask you: was that necessary? He didn't call Hillary "an old cow" or Trump "an old coot." Yet Bernie, at 74, is castigated for being old, that most hated of all epithets, when Clinton and Trump, no spring chickens either, would be ages 69 and 70, respectively, on Inauguration Day. 

This happens again and again when speaking of Sanders. So somewhere after the age of seventy, I'm guessing, you get too old to matter. As someone who will celebrate that milestone in three months, I find this alarming, disgusting, repellent, stupid, depressing and just plain wrong.  

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Toughening Up for The Afterlife

About a month or so ago I began working out with a personal trainer at a nearby CrossFit gym three times a week. Since then my body aches all the time and I can barely make it up the stairs to bed each night, but at least I can say it's because I pushed myself and am getting stronger every day, instead of it being because I'm almost seventy and thus getting weaker every day. Trust me, it's a lot better, at least psychologically.

I blame, oops, I mean attribute, this turn of events on my husband, who has been, since the day we met, and still insists on being to this day, eleven years younger than I. Mitch is a founding member of CrossFit, and while I often have scoffed at his blind obedience to the cult, he does seem to be in damn good shape, I'll give him that. He too is in constant pain, so now we complain together and soak in the hot tub more often. In that sense, CrossFit is helping our marriage.

The old saw, "Use it or lose it," certainly rings true for me. I have discovered muscles I never knew I had, and surely they were on their last legs before I disturbed them, if muscles can be said to have legs. Now my entire body is engaged in the aging process, and I'm guessing that can only be a good thing. I only wish I had started sooner, but at least I'll be stronger in my next life when I'm up against all those Transhumans.


As an artist, I often wonder what people do with themselves if they don't write or paint or dance or sing or something creative like that. When I am between projects, one thing I do is go to the movies, which I did last night. I saw a wonderful, intense documentary about a famous French chef who owned a restaurant in Philadelphia for forty years. The film is King Georges, the restaurant, now closed, was Le Bec-Fin, and the chef is Georges Perrier. What he did with himself was cook fabulous food.

He did it for a living all day and then he did it some more at home. It was his one true passion, except for his fluffy little dog who stayed with him, unlike his wife who left him because all he did was cook, putting in sixteen-hour days at his restaurant, one assumes six days a week. (It must have been closed sometimes.)

Perrier recognized his gift early on and never wavered. We see many old photos of him growing up in France, and learn that his grandmother asked him for cooking advice when he was just a child! Invited to America by a benefactor, he opened his restaurant and became a huge success, eventually becoming one of the greatest chefs in the world. In his prime Perrier won culinary prizes, appeared on TV and was written up in newspapers and magazines. Interviews with his grown daughter attest to his not having been much of a father all those years, but of course she loves him anyway.

From the opening scene showing Perrier shopping for ingredients at a produce market at the crack of dawn, King Georges takes you inside the heart of this great chef, as well as the kitchen of his fabulous, high-end restaurant. It's crazy in there! There's a lot of cursing and sweating and chopping and tasting. Perrier has continual screaming tantrums (English subtitles help you understand what he's saying) over burnt galettes and just about anything else. There are kitchen disasters like exploding gas burners, with eighty foodaholics in the elegant dining room waiting to be fed. There's also a lot of butter and flour, in case you've wondered why French cooking is so delicious. It seems like every time Perrier walked by a pot of something cooking he threw in a big clump of butter, just because.

Watching the movie makes you really hungry, so eat before you go. But go.

Thursday, March 24, 2016


Adorable Anna, imagining Heaven.
Okay, so it was snowing and cold and nothing else was playing in my town, see? And so despite the dumb title -- like where the heck else do miracles come from? -- I went to see this "faith-based" movie even though I am of little faith. And I'm glad I did, if for no other reason than a dynamite performance by Jennifer Garner as Christy Beam, mother of a sick child. (Garner should just be awarded the Best Actress Oscar right now before everyone forgets Miracles in Heaven, as well they should.)

The sappy tale is true, which makes it less sappy and more stunning, despite being handled mawkishly by the director. There are lots of sunlight-glinting-through-trees shots, and people looking up at the fluffy clouds, and other hints of The Big Guy, including one scene that takes place in Heaven itself, which was quite eye-opening. Turns out those fluffy clouds are hiding a solid, slick floor you could likely skate on, and the trees are various shades of pink and blue, and hydrangea petals turn into butterflies and fly away when you touch them. The whole place is quite lovely. But I digress.

Back home in Texas, on the farm with the cows and the horses and the five dogs, we're watching adorable 10-year-old Anna suffer with a horrible digestive disease that causes her to be in constant pain and be fed through a tube in her nose, which we see going in and out and in and out more times than I really needed. (Once would have been too much.) Christy finds a specialist in Boston, offering the interesting diversion of another city and the flights back and forth. Anna has two sisters and a really handsome Dad, and the whole lot of them go to church every Sunday and have a great life until that awful illness arrives out of the blue. Bummer.

Christy cries a lot, and so will you. And she stops going to church. Who wouldn't? I mean, what could make you not believe in God more than a sick child? (Nothing, that's what.) But the Lord comes through in a very dramatic and miraculous way, which we all knew would happen from the spoiler title, and Christy returns to her church with quite a story to share, the one about all the miracles. One miracle the film could do without is Queen Latifah as a Boston waitress who befriends Christy and Anna in their hour of need. I'm guessing she was stuck in there to avoid that whole "no-roles-for-blacks" thing, because her character is totally unbelievable and adds nothing to the story line.

Anyway, bring tissues.

Please, Make it Stop

If you just landed here from Mars, woke up from a coma or simply started paying attention, hold onto your hats, because following is a no-holds-barred explanation of how our political system works here in these severely un-united states of America:

The #1 Republican candidate (Donald Trump) is a childish narcissist that most people despise, except for his cracked-in-the-head supporters who love him to death. In fact, the leaders of his own political party are conspiring how to kick him out of first place instead of embracing him and helping him win the coveted prize, which is at the very least counter-productive.

The #2 guy (Ted Cruz) is a despicable sleazeball said to be "the most hated man in Washington," yet compared to the front-runner he is suddenly akin to "The Flying Nun." The party leaders want him to be the front-runner, and so to that end they are hoping the #3 guy (John Kasich), who is all sweetness and light and the closest to actually being "The Flying Nun," will drop out of the race entirely so Sleazeball can get his votes.

Here's the rub: In national poll after national poll, both the Narcissist and the Sleazeball lose miserably in a match-up with the Democratic front-runner (Shrillary Clinton), while the Flying Nun totally knocks her out of the ring, soaring straight into the Oval Office.

Just think: it's March. Only eight more months to go.....

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Things I Can't Say

A face only a mother could love.
"Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?"

If I commit myself to the preceding litmus test for discourse as decreed by my guru, Eknath Easwaran, I may not be able to write this blog anymore, or at least it won't be very funny or compelling. For example, I wanted to say that, after seeing him on TV just now, I must conclude that Ted Cruz is simply too damn ugly to become president. I mean really, do we want to look at that mug constantly for the next four years? But saying that is not at all kind, so I won't say it.

That's our girl....
As for Hillary, let's face it she is a lesbian. And while there's certainly nothing wrong with that, out of all of the women in the United States who could be our first female president, does it have to be one of those? I mean, she exhibits no female qualities, what with the screaming and the pointing and the pantsuits. But then, that's not really true, it's just what I happen to think, so I won't say that either, since I'm kind of hoping for a decent afterlife.

"Oy, give me a minute...."
And Bernie Sanders, who I love and sent money to for his campaign, might just be a tad too old to do a great job. I mean, he's five years older than I and in the morning it takes me a good while to get going. I need my fish oil and some warm lemon juice and of course a couple of cups of coffee before I can really think straight, so what about him? What if there's a crisis first thing in the morning? Would Bernie be able to jump out of bed and act, or even just jump out of bed? But saying that isn't necessary, so forget you saw this.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Words to Live By

My current guru is an Indian scholar named Eknath Easwaran (1910-1990). Even though he has been dead for 26 years, he is now my closest friend and strongest ally. I turn to him in dark moments and always find solace in his wisdom. Most recently I read his prescription for interpersonal communication and realized that almost no conversation occurring among the blabbering politicians vying for the Oval Office passes his test of worthy discourse. Put another way, Eknath would surely say that all of the candidates are pretty much full of shit. Sadly, the same might be said of much of the clucking that goes on all day and night between everyone on the planet.

To avoid meaningless chatter, Easwaran suggests that we ask these three questions about the words we are about to speak to another:
1. Are they true?
2. Are they kind?
3. Are they necessary?

By that measure, it's obvious that talking is way overdone in our culture. From now on I shall rely on grunting and nodding whenever possible.

Monday, March 21, 2016

A Trump Alternative!

The Republicans are desperately seeking a candidate to replace Donald Trump as the likely nominee at their upcoming convention. For some reason they have not noticed that Governor of Ohio John Kasich, a seasoned politician with a fabulous record of accomplishment is right under their noses, so they are casting about wildly, picking through past losers like Rick Perry and former senators with cancer like Tom Coburn.  They need a fresh face, but whose?

Despite my reticence, my desire for seclusion, my occasional marijuana use and my dislike of politics, I have decided to offer myself as that candidate, seeing as how I have the perfect plan to save our country. My slogan will be "Make America Greater Than Ever Before," which I will have printed on baseball caps and dropped from blimps fling above all the major US cities. Following are the key pieces of my platform:

1. My running mate will be that black guy in the Liberty Mutual car insurance commercial, the one with the perfect driving record until he "clipped a food truck and ruined his perfect record." I love that guy.

The new VP, and she could be something too.
2. There will be jobs for everyone at the minimum wage of $20.00 an hour, not including freelance writers who will still earn between $.04 and $.07 cents per word.

3. Everyone who wants it will have as much health care as they can stand, at no charge.

4. College will be free for everyone. All students will have to pay for their own beer unless it causes undue hardship, then they can apply for Alcohol Assistance during finals week.

5. All teachers, including the incompetent, will have their jobs for life.

6. I will appoint Oprah Winfrey as the next Supreme Court justice, making history as she will be the first one to also act as spokesperson for a popular weight-loss program.

7. The evil banks on Wall Street and all the rich people who live in Palm Beach and New York City will pay for a giant wall surrounding the entire nation. (After all, you can't be too careful.) The wall will be built by the artist Christo, made out of whatever materials he deems appropriate.

8. I will finally bring peace to the the Middle East with a bold move. Arabs and Israelis alike will be invited to a State Dinner every Friday night. The menu will alternate: one week brisket, challah, roast potatoes and chocolate babka, the next lamb curry, naan, rice and baklava, and so on. Entertainment will be provided by Bernie Sanders doing stand-up.

9. In an end to blatant racism, during my administration the mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will be re-painted and called the Black House.

The Black House will show less dirt, that's for sure.
10. On my first day in office I promise to make all abortions free, as well as all transgender surgeries, plastic surgeries and teeth whitening.

11. Donald Trump and his family, the Clintons including Chelsea, the entire FOX News team and everyone employed by CNN and MSNBC will be forever exiled to the Hamptons where they will be free to hob-nob to their heart's content and interview each other. Who knows, maybe someone can find out what happened to reporter John King's arm.

12. The war on drugs will end after all addicts are forced to watch non-stop re-runs of Gilligan's Island, Mr. Ed, The Beverly Hillbillies and The Andy Griffith Show until they quit.

13. Nobody will pay any taxes except rich people. (They know who they are.)

Silly String doesn't kill, although it will embarrass.
 14. No guns allowed anywhere. The police will be armed with cans of Silly String and learn how to use it to stop criminals in their tracks.

A Medical Emergency

Recently I received two marketing calls from vendors seeking my business. While certainly annoying this is nothing extraordinary, except for the fact that both calls came from the offices of medical doctors.

The first was from a woman representing our family physician, wondering why my adult son had not yet made an appointment since signing on with the practice over a year ago, shortly after he moved to Maine. She pointed out that "Now would be a great time for him to come in for a thorough checkup, as the doctor has a lot of flexibility in his schedule." I said that knowing Zack as well as I do I'm pretty sure he would not see a doctor unless he was sick, and even then he'd have to be really sick. She began a prepared spiel stressing the importance of regular checkups but I stopped her and said my son has his own home and phone number and maybe she should call him.

The next call came from my dermatologist's office. I had cancelled a follow-up appointment after a minor procedure  several months ago because I went to Florida, and never rescheduled. "The doctor really wants to see you," she intoned, sounding quite stern. Thinking it's supposed to be the other way around, I assured her that I'm fine and have no problems whatsoever, at least none requiring a dermatologist. She countered by saying the doctor was now booking out "as far as September," and so if I anticipated having any problems by then I should schedule an appointment now. "You never know when something will pop up," she added helpfully. I told her I would be happy to just be alive by September, and completely agreed that "you never know." She said that was all the more reason to make an appointment now. I promised to call back soon.

Either fewer people are getting sick these days or they're finding other ways to fix themselves when they do. I'd say this is a good trend, except for all the poor doctors struggling to pay their malpractice insurance. Thank goodness for new illnesses like the Zika virus or all those doctors would face financial ruin.

Saturday, March 19, 2016


The leading lady looking scared.

If we were friends I'd just tell you what happens in 10 Cloverfield Lane and say don't bother, it's dumb. But since many of my readers are strangers to me, I feel a responsibility to do more. So I'll say, okay, see it if you enjoy jumping out of your skin or at least thinking you might any minute, or if you like movies about psychopaths. In the interest of giving nothing away, since this is one of those movies where all the separate, silly parts coalesce in the last fifteen minutes into a gigantic, stupid and disappointing ending, I'll just list the good things about it, which will be a lot quicker than listing the bad things:

1. It stars John Goodman, who is convincingly scary, creepy and not even a teeny bit likable, which is sad if you have liked him up until now. (This is both a good and bad thing.)

2. The music is a fun mix of high-pitched instrumentals (common to Alfred Hitchcock movies) alerting you to be terrified, and popular oldies.

3. If you're into the acting, the performance to watch comes from a young actor named John Gallagher, Jr. Since there are just three people in the film you will spot him immediately for being not John Goodman and not the girl (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).

4. Scenes were openly plagiarized from TV's Lost, the first Jurassic Park, Independence Day and Mel Gibson's Signs, with a dash of Silence of the Lambs, so obviously this is no comedy.

5. The very best scene in the movie -- and it's a doozy -- will convince you to never even glance at your phone while driving, thus potentially saving a life and making it a good PSA.

6. The credits at the end were really great typographically, so if you are a graphic designer and are tempted to walk out halfway, hang in there.

Washington's Coming Attractions

Imagine a Trump presidency: The lies. The yelling, the mocking, the protests, the endless bloviating. A do-nothing Congress intent on blocking his every move. His detractors angry and hostile towards his fervent followers. Families ripped asunder. His hair getting weirder and weirder. His vacations with the rich and famous at Mar-a-Lago and Seven Springs. The fawning photo spreads in Vogue showing the many moods of the beautiful First Lady.

Now imagine a Clinton presidency: The lies. The yelling, the mocking, the protests, the endless bloviating. A do-nothing Congress intent on blocking her every move. Her dectractors angry and hostile towards her fervent followers. Her pantsuits getting wider and wider. Her vacations with the rich and famous in Hollywood and the Hamptons. The withering presence and steady decline of the formerly fabulous and galvanizing First Husband.

Who benefits in either case? The frenzied media, the late-night comics, and the writers at Saturday Night Live.

Next, imagine a Kasich presidency: Reason and sound judgment become the rule of the day. America's tarnished image begins to regain its former shine. People of all parties revere our leader and enjoy his homespun homilies. His lovely wife and attractive teen-age daughters become role models for women everywhere. There is little political fighting in Washington as both sides work together for the good of the nation. Old friends and families reunite.

Blitzer: Now what?
Finally, imagine poor Wolf Blitzer, Megyn Kelly, Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, Sean Hannity, Anderson Cooper, Bill O'Reilly, Jimmy Fallon and the rest of the media vultures, groping around for their next big story. Whatever will they talk about?

Friday, March 18, 2016

Stuck With a Problem

Someone should tell this guy how his hat works.
It's almost impossible to get through an entire day without noticing something really stupid. I am hoping for an intellectual revolution, forget about the Mexicans and the border and the Muslims and all the rest. When will the few remaining smart people rise up and demand less stupidity?

There is a new prescription drug being advertised quite vigorously that is expressly for people who suffer from constipation that is caused by taking prescription drugs. Apparently this is a different kind of constipation; one wonders just how it differs. I mean really, if you can't go, how different can it be? And who cares what caused it? Anyway, the normal kind of constipation already has remedies available, but for some reason they won't work for the new kind of constipation.

So I'm wondering: are they kidding? Just what drugs are those pill-makers taking anyway? How dumb are humans going to get, and will there be a pill for that? Or at the very least, a baseball cap?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Korean Meanies

"How can people be so heartless
How can people be so cruel
Easy to be hard
Easy to be cold"

Those lyrics (from the song Easy to Be Hard) have stuck in my head ever since I first saw "Hair" on Broadway in 1968. That's a long time ago, and sadly, people haven't changed a whit since then. In fact, they've gotten harder.
Whether it's ranting about Trump and his stupid supporters or making fun of some dorky kid in junior high with thick glasses and acne, young and old people alike are often just plain mean.

But they're even meaner in North Korea, where a 21-year-old American undergraduate at the University of Virginia has just been sentenced to fifteen years of hard labor for attempting to steal a propaganda banner "as a trophy for an acquaintance who wanted to hang it in her church." In North Korea, the prank is considered grounds for a subversion charge. Videos of the young man tearfully pleading for his freedom are all over the Internet.

My heart goes out to his parents, who must also be suffering terribly. But hey, who goes to North Korea on Spring Break? Hasn't the kid ever heard of Ft. Lauderdale?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Florida is Not for Sissies

If you want to avoid thinking about Death, the inevitable end of this circus called Life, Florida is perhaps not the best place to visit.

Out for my daily morning walk back home in Maine I might see a handful of people. But here in Florida I see dozens, if not hundreds, of like-minded people who are out fighting the good fight, getting their hearts pumping and blood flowing, hoping to extend their good health. Most of them are senior citizens. And despite their valiant efforts, colorful spandex tights and day-glo running shoes, the lion's share of them seem to be losing the battle.

Since all of the aging walkers are my peers, I notice I feel older here. Out on the beach or around the hotel pool, the sagging skin and assertive paunches are much more visible in skimpy bathing suits than the more forgiving L.L. Bean attire I'm used to. Meanwhile, all the young people playing volleyball on the beach in skimpy bikinis look even younger here than they do in Maine.

To be honest, a Florida vacation is not for sissies.

Monday, March 14, 2016


Photo by Heidi Ayala

For the first time in many years I am on a vacation and have little desire to take pictures. After four days, my brand new Nikon remains packed in my suitcase, right next to my blood pressure monitor; so far I haven't needed either one. Okay, so I've snapped some shots of the ocean outside my hotel room window with my iPhone, who wouldn't? Beyond that, taking pictures seems like an intrusion on my limited time in a new environment and a stunning conceit to think people even give a damn.

I've come up with three reasons for this. First is my desire to actually be in the moment where I am right now and not miss it while I'm busy miniaturizing my surroundings inside a camera frame. Second is that whole posting-photos-on-Facebook thing, wherein people put up countless uninspired and uninspiring pictures of themselves and/or places they've been or are right now, to what end I am not sure. (Are we supposed to feel jealous? 'Cause I don't.) So spare us those drab snapshots of backyard barbecues or adorable (to you) grandchildren making cupcakes or your precious kitties (I am so guilty of that one!) or doggies or your kid's graduation -- Mom, Dad and offspring in cap and awkwardly grinning into the camera -- or even you zip-lining across a blurry gorge in fabulous Costa Rica. Believe me, plenty of travel websites do it better.

Which brings me to my third reason for ignoring my Nikon this trip: Photos as fine art are another thing altogether, and lots of people do it way better than I can. To see some spectacular images by an unknown artist who deserves wide recognition, bypass the mundane and visit, where Floridian Heidi Ayala sees the world in a truly unique way.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Sleepless in Sarasota

My current week-long Florida vacation would make a good slapstick comedy, at least so far. Or else a Shakespearean tragedy, depending on how much wine I've had to drink.

My husband and I arrived on Thursday afternoon. We hadn't been at our hotel but fifteen or twenty minutes before I got stung by a Man-O-War tentacle from one of the dire, dead creatures that washed up in a bit of sea foam and caressed my bare feet as we walked along the shore. (Interesting fact: They can still sting you several days after their death, and even if it's just part of one.) There were plenty of people out swimming and surfing who were not getting stung, but I, dressed in long jeans with just the barest amount of flesh available, did. Let me tell you, it hurt like all get-out, and for hours and hours, turning my middle toe on one foot and the sole of the other a deep scarlet and ruining my dinner, my sleep and part of breakfast the next day. Then it stopped and I was fine.

"Dried Seaweed and Dead Men-O-War"
For my first day on the beach I swathed myself in sunscreen, SPF 70, just to be sure. And sat under an umbrella except when I went swimming in the pool; there was no way I was going back to that ocean, which was still chock full of the sea pests that sting. I was sure I was safe from sunburn, except as I found out later -- much later -- I had missed a huge swath of my neck and shoulder area, the skin of which became blood-red by nightfall and resulted in a second night of tossing and turning.

Then last night, I all but lost my mind when the left-wing media concocted a complete non-story over the fact that Donald Trump cancelled an appearance in Chicago because of safety concerns. Next thing you know it was blown all out of proportion, mostly by one Mr. Rachel Maddow who surely should have that transgender surgery since she doesn't have a female cell in her body. I can't even call her a bitch, so I guess she's a prick. Anyway, watching all that pompous political punditry full of lies and innuendo right before bed kept me up half the night.

I am hoping to get very drunk at dinner and sleep like a baby tonight. (FYI, we are actually in Deerfield Beach but the title worked so much better with Sarasota.)

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Getting Unstuck

It's a big world out there; why stay stuck where you landed by chance?

Born in Brooklyn, I moved to Long Island and then Manhattan, next to Washington, D.C., then California, Maryland, Utah, back to D.C. and now I live in Maine. If I were an ant, that would mean I stayed in the same ant hill all my life. That's just plain dumb. But based on the reactions of several of my friends to my intention to move to Israel next year, I can conclude that the thought of pulling up stakes and moving your tent to new territory is too wild and crazy for most people to consider. On the other hand, some brave souls find the courage to change things up and live several lives during this one we have been given for who knows how long.

There's always travel, which a lot of people enjoy despite all the hassles involved. Sure, you get a taste of another culture, but just a taste and not the whole meal. I want soup to nuts somewhere else before this life ends and I come back as a cat or maybe a centipede, or, worse, Marie Osmond, stuck losing those same fifty pounds over and over again until someone can't stand hearing about it anymore and kills me.

Of course then I'd come back as something else, proving once again that every cloud has a silver lining.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

My Last Act

If I were a tree and you sliced me in half and counted my rings you would learn that I am 69 years old. Of course it's much easier -- and far less bloody, since I am actually not a tree -- to go online and learn that information in a heartbeat. To put my age in perspective, Cher, Laura Bush, Sally Field, Candice Bergen, Liza Minelli, Susan Sarandon, Patty Duke, Suzanne Somers, Hayley Mills, Andrea Mitchell, Patti Smith and Lesley Ann Warren are also 69. Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton and Bette Midler are already 70. Ridiculously, Tina Turner is 76.

I am in reasonable shape, acceptable health, and of incredibly sound mind. That last attribute has contributed most heavily to my decision to move to Israel in my 70th year. From time to time over the coming months I will write about how I am preparing for this life-changing event scheduled for next March, I should live so long. The stodgier among you may wonder, why Israel? In fact, why move at all at this late date?

First of all, I'm a Jew, and proud of it. In fact, I love Jews. They are smart, funny, insightful and warm. It seems like a good time to live surrounded by them instead of by tight-lipped, cold-hearted Mainers who couldn't pick a decent bagel out of a lineup. Couple that with the current state of America's diminishing core values,  aided and abetted by the rise of the media class with its unceasing barrage of insidious, slanted and embarrassing self-aggrandizement rather than honest reportage of things we need to know, and I'm ready to go. And let's face it, getting old in the US is not all that attractive an idea.

All my art is for sale, cheap. I will be posting one painting a day in all future posts, with sizes and prices. Let me know if you want anything. As for today, I present a picture of what 76 years old looks like in the year 2016.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Nude Bathroom Selfie

My nude bathroom selfie.
In my effort to remain above the fray, outside the box, and beyond the pale, I try to steer clear of trending topics that are insanely popular with the public. This explains why my books don't sell, my blog makes no money, and my paintings adorn my own walls. I do not claim to "be the change you want to see in the world," but I can claim to wanting to be a teeny part of it. To that end, I try in earnest to ignore the detritus of our society, but it's hard.

For example, I just now read that the famous-for-nothing celebrity Kim Kardashian has today posted "nude bathroom selfies" online. This news is of course in no way related to my life or in fact anyone's life except maybe Kim's mommy, who surely must weep silently into her pillow every morning when she awakens about how her daughters turned out and that her former husband of fourteen years now has bigger boobs than her.

But back to that selfie: Nude I understand, but bathroom? Is she sitting on the toilet? Soaping in the shower? Or just standing in the middle of the bathroom?  I'll never know since I want to be part of that change I mentioned. Still, one wonders just how low a Kardashian can go.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Caucus Carb-loading

This morning I attended my first political caucus, or any kind of caucus for that matter, and I foolishly ate breakfast beforehand, thinking I'd be starving if the whole thing really did last four hours, which is what we'd heard. So I was surprised when I arrived at the Greeley Middle School where the event was held for our district and found a cornucopia of food.  Being a newbie, I mistakenly wandered into the Yarmouth room even though I live in Freeport, and found a virtual sea of huge boxes of Dunkin' Donuts, more than you'd find in any Dunkin' Donuts shop. There was every variety of donut and many, many boxes of donut holes. People were wolfing them down like they hadn't eaten in weeks. There was also coffee, of course, and bottles of water.  Despite usually frowning on such empty calories I opted for a plain "old-fashioned" (my go-to donut) and coffee, and once again learned that Dunkin' Donuts donuts are not very good and their coffee is worse.

Fortunately, the lady who was running our town's caucus ferried us to her classroom, where there was a considerable spread laid out including bananas, grapes, three kinds of mini-muffins (blueberry, chocolate-chip bran and corn), several varieties of homemade fruit breads, coffee, teas, orange juice and bottled water. I peeked into the Falmouth room later on and saw those same pink and white Dunkin' Donuts boxes, so I'd vote for Freeport in terms of best food choices. We all descended upon these goodies like locusts as the town's business was reported and delegates to the state convention were chosen. The combustion of caffeine and carbohydrates igniting feelings of civic duty, Mitch signed on as a delegate and I agreed to be an Election Day worker come November. (Apparently I will get paid $60 for my services.)

As for the political process, the general mood was nothing like the raucous rodeos we see on TV. People quietly found seats on bleachers inside the school gymnasium, everyone still munching on those damn donuts. (It seemed like wherever you looked, there was a donut hanging out of some one's mouth.) Each of the four remaining Republican presidential candidates had a bridge table stacked with brochures, bumper stickers and signs. Some local politician running for something or other and seeking signatures on a petition had put out a tray of miniature York Peppermint Patties that were going fast. The table for Donald Trump was completely bare, and I learned that all his materials had been grabbed early on. As the guy in charge of the Trump table put it, "it was a feeding frenzy."(He was certainly right about that.)

Eventually, a representative approached the podium and gave a boring rather than impassioned speech on behalf of each candidate. (In all fairness, the speech made by a 23-year-old college senior touting John Kasich came closest to fervor.) Then we all filed into the lunchroom, dropped our ballots into a cardboard box and exited out a back door into the parking lot. All in all I'd say the event offered too many empty calories and not enough red meat.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Nuts in the Oval Office

Obviously ordinary Americans are becoming insane. One way to tell is when you have to repeat something to them over and over (and over) because they didn't hear you the first few times, so distracted were they by all the shiny objects, like those dangling earrings the news ladies wear on TV. (What are those for anyway? Why would someone who is discussing politics or war or the killing of innocents need flashy jewelry?) 

Anyway, that's just one distraction; there are so many more. Constant advertising, booming music, blaring sirens, honking horns, flashing lights, the sound of gunshots, barking dogs and wailing babies form the backdrop of modern life. Naturally a few brain cells are bound to be lost every time you set foot outside your door.

Another sign of rampant insanity among the population is the total lack of interest in the only candidate still running for president who has no baggage, no scandals, in fact no negatives whatsoever, and that is JOHN KASICH, who has apparently been deemed "too boring" and thus receives not one bit of attention from the media, they of the broad shoulders and aforementioned dangling earrings. 

Do we really want a complete nut or a screaming banshee in the White House, or just someone who will keep us safe? After all, that Kim Jong-Un is pretty wild, maybe we should elect him! I bet he'd give Trump and Hillary a run for their money.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Lifesaving To-Do List

try to be loving
avoid news
take deep breaths
drink water
don't think about bullshit
let nothing upset me
eat well
stay hungry
don't be mean
focus on trip to Florida
play with the cat
send positive vibes
go for a walk
repeat the mantra
forget politics
brush and floss
be here now

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

What Might Have Been

While the Liar, the Homophobe, the Charlatan and the Snake Oil Salesman continue to fight to the death, good guys Bernie Sanders, John Kasich and Ben Carson will go quietly into the night. It's shocking that these three fine men, each one potentially a wonderful president capable of closing the widening partisan gap destroying our nation, have fallen short of the support required to reach that dubious high office. Instead, an insatiable media hungry for personality and pizzazz continues to inflate the already inflated egos of the remaining crass and cringe-inducing front-runners.

It's a sad truth we see enacted far too often: Nice guys finish last.

John Kasich

Ben Carson

Bernie Sanders

Poor Chris

Despite our best efforts and most careful planning, things fall apart. Life takes the wheel, pushing us into the passenger seat where all we can do is hold on and hope we survive. Just ask Chris Christie. I'm sure this morning he is wondering how he got where he is, or rather where he was last night, standing on a stage behind Donald Trump as he dug a hole for them both to jump into and wait for their caskets to be lowered into the ground.

Despite its obvious entertainment value, I couldn't watch the sorry spectacle for more than a few minutes; it was too painful. But the moment held valuable lessons for us all. Here are just a few:

1. Stick to your core values. For example, if you start out wanting to become the President of the United States, becoming the Vice-President or a cabinet member or maybe just a frequent dinner guest at the White House instead is not worth selling your soul to the Donald, oops, I mean the Devil.

2. Be vigilant. Whether you're trying to lose weight, stop drinking or kick heroin, having "just one" potato chip, Vodka Collins or snort will ultimately bring about the destruction of your goals, making you fatter, drunker or more of a pathetic loser than ever.

3. Consider the source. When the great, unwashed masses embrace someone or something, it can't be good.

4. Do your own thing. Fame is almost always a one-way ticket to humiliation. It's best to stay home, lay low, or at the very least look away when pictures are being taken.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Childhood's End

As a small child, I lived in a bubble. The people I knew were all pretty much sane. My parents had normal people as friends, and then, following their example, I chose normal people to be my friends. By "normal" I mean people who could read and write and speak and understand English, who slept in beds at night and not under a bridge, who showered daily and brushed their teeth, and who respected authority. There were three TV stations and the shows were all very similar and informative and sometimes made me laugh.

Then I got older and took LSD and smoked pot and tried some other things. This was still "normal" behavior, at least for members of my generation. I went to college and Woodstock and met people just like me. I knew there were crazies "out there" but never had to confront their craziness. I fell asleep easily at night. I never watched TV.

Eventually the Internet was created and crazy people started coming right into my house. Now it is commonplace for stupid people, morons even, to be in my face every day. They've taken over all the TV stations and are seeping into politics. People who can't speak plain English -- forget the complicated kind -- or spell the word CAT without help. They rant and rave and rage and complain about everything. They eat bacon-wrapped-double-cheese-stuffed-crust pizzas and drink cherry soda and hang out in shopping malls, sometimes even shooting people there.

My bubble has burst. No wonder I cry for no reason.

The Upside of Trump

If Whoopi and Al were aboard, I'd vote for Trump.

Whoopi Goldberg and Al Sharpton, two celebrities who add nothing of value to our society and yet stick their ugly pusses into everything, have announced that if Donald Trump wins the presidency they will move to Canada. This is really bad news, since Canada is so damn close to America. I would feel better if they were going further, like to Singapore, or perhaps Mars.

Yes, the Trump phenomenon is odd. His incredible popularity has surprised just about everyone, no doubt even him. But you must admit that in a country where someone like Whopper, oops I mean Whoppeee, dammit, I mean Whoopi -- she of the outlandish hair, silly glasses and blobby body covered with baggy clothes snatched from a dumpster -- and Al, who creates racial hatred out of thin air and consistently fans the embers of prejudice into a destructive inferno, can earn tons of money just for breathing, anything is possible.