Tuesday, May 31, 2016

What If

What if I hadn't been kidnapped by a stranger when I was four?
What if I never saw my six-year-old playmate 
hanging by his bathroom belt 
from a shower rod 
when I was nine?
What then? 
Would I be happier today? 
More trusting? 
Less fearful?
Might I have been a better mother? 

What if I hadn't spent twenty years 
running through the city streets on cement?
Would I still need hip replacement surgery right now?

What if I hadn't married my first husband and moved to Washington, DC? 
Would I have met my second husband? 
Would I ever live in Maine?

So many what ifs. 
So many possibilities. 

We struggle to gain control, to keep control, to not lose control. 
But really, our lives are little more 
than one chance occurrence 
piled onto another.

I Am Not Donald Trump

I am not Donald Trump, but I feel his pain. Somehow, since announcing his intention to run for president just about one year ago, he has been surprised by two things he likely did not count on. First, lots and lots and lots of people love him, want him to win, support him to the death and think he is their savior. Second, he has gotten lots and lots and lots of non-stop media coverage from reporters, newspapers, network and cable TV stations and radio hosts who realized early on that the mere mention of his name increased their ratings.

And for those two sets of naturally-occurring circumstances he is hated and berated by a random group of non-supporters who mock everything about him including his hair, the color of his skin, his sexy wife, his beautiful kids, his wealth and most of all his success. Not sure why. Seems crazy.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Man's Mean Streak

A beautiful and rare silverback gorilla who had just celebrated his seventeenth birthday in captivity was shot and killed by zookeepers after a three-year-old boy whose distracted mother had too many other kids to care for fell into the gorilla's own territory at the Cincinnati Zoo. While a video of the incident shows the beloved 450-pound Harambe appearing to protect the child from harm at one point, still the decision was made to take him down because the boy's life mattered more.

Once again we are reminded that the only reason Man is at the top of the evolutionary list is because he wrote the list. Obviously, the kid's mother should be somewhere near the bottom.

Friday, May 27, 2016

If Your Phone Rings, Don't Answer

"From now on, hold my calls!"
New studies have found with 100% certainty that cell phones cause brain cancer in rats. This leads any intelligent person to two conclusions: First and most obvious, if you have a pet rat do NOT buy it a cell phone, or even let it use yours occasionally. If you already have been doing so, get ready for a pretty sick rat in your future. Second, and more important, it's a good idea to stop using a cell phone yourself.

Since most people continue smoking despite the dire warnings associated with that practice, chances are there will be little drop in cell phone use among the general public. Seeing as how I already worry that I have brain cancer, being severely neurotic and dizzy often and just plain unlucky health-wise, I intend to cut my use down considerably. After all, who needs that?

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Film Review: HIGH-RISE

Leading man Tom Hiddleston paints his new apartment. (And he's the most normal one.)
The only redeeming quality about High-Rise is that it has no redeeming qualities, quite an achievement for a film that's been in the works for thirty years. Based on JG Ballard's 1975 sci-fi novel once deemed "unfilmable," the futuristic story is set somewhere around 1970s London, although you never see London or anywhere else since all the revolting action transpires inside the high-rise of the title. It's a tale so tall that honestly, it's just plain dumb. Much of the dialogue is incomprehensible, owing to all the British accents or just plain mumbling, but it hardly matters since whatever the actors are saying cannot possibly justify, or even explain, what you see on the screen.

If you must know, High-Rise attempts to be an allegory about the age-old struggle between the rich and the poor, I think. Inside a brutalistic, ultra-modern (back then) apartment building, the tenants are richer the higher up they live. Within weeks of occupancy by a bunch of sex-crazed lunatics things go awry when the electricity falters and the high-floor people get more of it than the low-floor people. Tempers flare, and I do mean flare, and suddenly people are eating their pets, drowning in the swimming pool and beating the shit out of their neighbors, unless they are raping them. Amidst all the mayhem a suicide is completely understandable, and in fact I envied the guy for getting the heck out of there.

The building's architect, played by a shockingly frail Jeremy Irons, lives in the penthouse which has an outdoor terrace the size of Central Park, complete with the trees and a horse or two. Apparently his wife is into riding. She's also into other women, but then everyone is into everyone, literally. As the chaos grows for reasons we never understand, orgies proliferate in every nook and cranny, so if you're shy about sex scenes stay away since there's always someone screwing someone somewhere in this pre-AIDS, free love culture where every last person smokes cigarettes, sometimes during sex.

People die, there's lots of blood and gore, and absolutely no logical story. If you are a weird pervert, or even just a run-of-the-mill pervert, you'll love it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Stuff Your Face While Watching Game of Thrones

I think I'll try writing a popular blog for awhile, just to see what happens. Who knows, it might make me happier. And as the Buddha said, the purpose of life is to be happy, so it would be a very enlightened thing for me to do. I'll have to start binge-watching Game of Thrones to catch up, which seems like a real drag, but if you wanna throw a party you gotta pay the band as my husband likes to say. This is far better than his other favorite expression, "The only way out is through." I hate that one, especially when he said it during the whole nine months of my pregnancy and repeatedly while I was in labor. That was not what I wanted to hear for those twenty-three hours.

So, back to my plans for a happy, popular blog. It will discuss TV shows, of course, and say things like, "Can you believe she got kicked off DWTS when that other one was such a klutz?" (Note to self: Check whether DWTS is still being aired.)

I will also begin printing recipes for chocolate cupcakes, chocolate cookies, chocolate mousse, donuts, pancakes, waffles and whoopie pies. I may even change the name of the whole damn blog to Yummy or Yum Yum or Stuff Your Face. Maybe Stuff Your Face With Pizza, I'm still in the testing stages. (Hence the title of this blog post.)

I hope this doesn't sound like sour grapes to you because it's not. I do have plenty of dedicated readers, it's just that I am so out of the loop, and I want to know what it feels like to be in the loop at least one more time before I die. Years ago I was securely in the center of the loop, back in my twenties, but I didn't write a blog then. I was too busy getting high and going to rock concerts, and besides, there was no such thing as a blog. It would have been great. I could have written about that Janis Joplin concert in Madison Square Garden when she brought out a few of her surprise guests. She was really drunk but still so fabulous. I miss her.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Who Would Buddha Vote For?

Things cannot go on this way. I think we can all agree it's time for a major change. Enough with the "same old same old" in the world of phony politics and phony politicians, none of whom have any idea of what it means to work for a living, unless you consider flying around the world on a private jet that has a shower and a kitchen and beds and staying in 5-star hotels and never needing to carry money or drive in traffic "working for a living." So, much to my own surprise, I am slowly coming around to being able to entertain the possibility of voting for Donald Trump as president come November.

For many people I know, this decision is considered a "no-brainer" in two distinct ways: First, that to vote for Trump one obviously must lack a brain. And second, since the only other choice will be Hillary Clinton, a lying, scheming, pompous, self-satisfied, screaming harridan who has gotten where she is by clutching onto her husband's flapping coattails and is, without him (and by the way Bill seems to have some health issues so who knows for how long he will be of any help) unworthy to hold the office, obviously voting for her indicates a lack of good judgment, making a vote for Trump a "no-brainer" in the traditional sense.

According to Buddha the purpose of life is to end suffering and be happy. Based on that premise he got pretty damn big and now has billions of followers. So I say we would all suffer less with Trump as president, since I truly believe he's got what it takes to prevent ISIS from cutting off my particular head, and yours too. Besides, what fun watching Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews and Wolf Blitzer all having cows together on election night! And imagine Hillary's concession speech -- now that will be something to see. Makes me happy just thinking about it.

Monday, May 23, 2016

This Too Shall Pass

Of these choices I like #2 the best. What fun the Future will be!

I am sick to death of the Internet. Sick. To. Death. Aren't you? Of course if you were born after the Internet was invented, then you have no memory of what real life was like before. Well I'll tell you: it was better. So you are probably thinking, "Well Andrea, just get rid of your Internet. Throw your computer away, get rid of your service provider, and just become a Luddite." Okay, to be honest I don't know what a Luddite is, not really, so I'll just Google it and be right back......Okay, so now I know. And yes, I am one.

Of course, the fact that it took me only seconds to find out what it means instead of two days is good, I guess. But then, having to go to a library instead of remaining stuck on my living room sofa might also be a good thing. I might meet new people. I might even make a new friend. Although, concerning friends, don't get me started. There are no friends anymore, not since the Internet. People don't call when they can just look for you on Facebook and find out everything they need to know. And forget getting birthday cards in the mail, that's done. Now it's just those automatic "Happy Birthdays" on Facebook, like that's supposed to count for anything.

And this blog. What is it? If I stopped writing this blog I might be doing something real instead, and by real I mean something that pays. And what the heck are you accomplishing by reading it? Nothing. Not one thing, except maybe my friend -- my real friend, from real life back in junior high school -- Melva in Florida who loves reading it and lets me know, and sometimes we even talk on the phone, with our real voices.

Okay, I'm done complaining since there's no turning back. I get some comfort from the thought that the Internet will be old hat someday, with future generations of multi-sexed humanoids amused at how primitive it was compared to the computer chips implanted in their brains at birth. I'm sure I'll be long frozen by then, and believe me I am not getting thawed out until the day when real people answer the phones instead of those robots that tell you to "push 1" for this and "push 2" for that. And when I do come back, I'm definitely choosing a different head.

The Joy of Spring Cleaning

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter.
If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.

The preceding poem, "Ten Thousand Flowers in Spring," was written by Wu-Men, a practicing Buddhist and the head monk of the Lung-hsiang monastery in China. He lived from 1183 to 1260. Imagining how many fewer "unnecessary things" there were available to cloud the mind when he wrote those words makes me laugh out loud. No wonder we all suffer from so many ills today, some of them of our own making.

I've consistently found that frequent cleansing of the mind through meditation, even for a brief spell, can do wonders. Sure it's a pain in the neck in the beginning, and it doesn't seem very exciting, but once you've mastered the habit it works like a charm. The best part is that there's no wrong way to do it.

Wu Men (also called Mumon) was a head monk of the Lung-hsiang monastery in China. - See more at: http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com/blog/2011/02/11/wu-men-ten-thousand-flowers-in-spring/#sthash.CtnS8KTS.dpuf
Wu Men (also called Mumon) was a head monk of the Lung-hsiang monastery in China. - See more at: http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com/blog/2011/02/11/wu-men-ten-thousand-flowers-in-spring/#sthash.CtnS8KTS.dpuf
Wu Men (also called Mumon) was a head monk of the Lung-hsiang monastery in China. - See more at: http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com/blog/2011/02/11/wu-men-ten-thousand-flowers-in-spring/#sthash.CtnS8KTS.dpuf
Wu Men (also called Mumon) was a head monk of the Lung-hsiang monastery in China. - See more at: http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com/blog/2011/02/11/wu-men-ten-thousand-flowers-in-spring/#sthash.CtnS8KTS.dpuf

Sunday, May 22, 2016

What's Your Hurry?

Many years ago I had lunch with a dear friend and former coworker who confided that he had finally fulfilled all of his goals. Bruce was only thirty-five, but even so, he was sure that his happiness was complete. A few months earlier he had opened his own graphic design business in a newly-renovated condominium located in a trendy, though still "changing" neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Even better, he had quit drinking once and for all and  had reconciled with his wife after their painful two-year separation. Jokingly he said, "Now I can die happy." As it happened, three days later on a sunny Friday afternoon as the couple was busy moving some of Bonnie's things into the apartment, they were both murdered in a home invasion robbery.

I've tried hard to lose that memory, or at least pack it away in a far recess of my brain, but it pops out whenever I hear someone say they have "fulfilled all their goals." It did so today when I read about a young Dutch mountaineer named Eric Arnold whose lifelong goal was reaching the summit of Mt. Everest. He finally achieved it last Friday at age thirty-six, after three previous failed attempts. His joy was short-lived as he died on the descent from altitude sickness.

Make of it what you will, but suddenly I feel quite fortunate to still have so many unfulfilled goals.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Your Life, Only Different

What if Trump wins? Then what? Is America an even crazier place, doomed to constant demonstrations, violence in the streets, brother pitted against brother? Certainly our lives would be different, if not overnight than surely over time. Hey, it could happen. Any little thing changes a lot of other little things, until a really big thing is completely altered. Think about it:

What if you had kept the baby?
What if you had married somebody else?
What if you had graduated from college?
What if you never went to college and took that job overseas instead?
What if your doctor was wrong?
What if you wrote the Great American Novel?
What if you never had that nose job?
What if you finally lost all the weight?
What if you weren't such a know-it-all?
What if you hadn't started doing drugs in high school?
What if you finally admitted you have a problem?

What if you found out your husband had an affair with your friend's friend?
What if your credit card debt lands you in jail?
What if he finally did leave his wife?
What if you just keep getting fatter and fatter?
What if your kid gets cancer?

What if you accidentally swallowed a bee?
What if your parents had been smarter?

What if you stayed at that job?
What if you hadn't been born rich?
What if you had been an only child?
What if you had been one of ten kids?
What if your mother had taken Thalidomide?
What if your husband finally quit drinking?
What if your house burned down and everything was suddenly gone?
What if you had stayed in Israel?
What if you gave up smoking, started meditating, eating well, exercising and feeling good about yourself and had nothing left to complain about?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Probiotics R Us

I have a crystal-clear memory of being a very young child and having my mother chase me around the house, impressively balancing a teaspoon of Pepto-Bismol without spilling a drop. Desperate to get away from her and the horrid stuff, I was ultimately outsmarted when she trapped me under the dining room table and poured the pink goo down my throat. Yuk! To my five-year-old self there was nothing worse.

Flash forward six decades to last night, when, a few hours after a festive family feast of Chinese take-out, I ruefully emptied the last of our Pepto-Bismol, licking the inside of the bottle cap for a few extra drops and desperate again, but this time for more of the soothing elixir. Settling for a few Tums, and stale ones at that, I took my upset stomach to bed and prayed for sleep to come quickly.

When it comes to upset stomachs, I am certainly not alone. As many of you have likely noticed, eating is big and getting bigger every day. It's become something of hobby for many people and a veritable religion for others, whose followers pray at their local Whole Foods each weekend. Cooking classes, gourmet foods, trendy bistros, tasting menus and celebrity chefs dominate our culture. "Where should we eat?" is doubtless the most uttered phrase in the English language, certainly on a Saturday night when restaurants are packed tight and waiting an hour or more for a table in a popular dining spot is considered no big deal, and that's with a reservation.

Coincidentally, another hobby increasing in popularity is sitting on the toilet, thanks to the increasing incidence of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), spastic colon, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis and celiac disease. The number of people with Crohn's disease is growing as well. You see more and more commercials on TV for these popular illnesses, or rather, for the endless supply of drugs to fix them. Once a rarity, probiotics -- microorganisms that are believed to provide health benefits when consumed -- are now a common household staple. Funny, I get mine at Whole Foods.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Things Are Looking Up

I wish all those nerdy scientists would stop trying to cure diseases. After all, there are so many why bother, since if you don't get one you'll likely get another. Instead they should knuckle down and concentrate on making our lives easier, which is especially important if we get one of those uncured diseases, by the way. Fortunately for us, some of them are trying.

An article in today's Wall Street Journal details how much effort is being put into solving one of life's peskiest problems: folding laundry. Thank goodness the great minds over at General Electric and Samsung have their priorities straight, since studies have shown that folding laundry is on everyone's hate list. In fact, many people, fed up with the Sisyphean task, have simply stopped doing it altogether, opting to dump out their freshly laundered clothes in big piles and live the wrinkled life.

In the very same paper there is breaking news about a new product from Google that will do just about everything else for you, saving you countless hours to sprawl in front of the TV or do whatever. The virtual assistant is voice-activated, so you can just yell over to it to make a dinner reservation while you do more important things, like take a bubble bath or nap.

I am pretty excited about all these advances and look forward to a day in the not-too-distant future when I can get some app to write this damn blog. Then I can sleep in, and when I do finally get out of bed I can focus on eating snacks, which seem to get better every day. I am particularly interested in those new Cheetos I saw advertised that now come in different shapes! (See photo). Apparently they are also extra-cheesy!


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Cultural Potpourri

This morning, sitting in the waiting room of a medical office while my husband was undergoing a recommended outpatient procedure that required he have a ride home, I had the chance to scour some of the finer periodicals available to the discerning reader.  A few things caught my eye.

Yeah, but does it taste like fried chicken?
See the movie.
That Jodi, she's a pistol!
A new twist on "til death do us part."
What about the hair?     
Available at Denny's.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

How to Make America Great Again

Typical TV commercial eradicating a child's perfect brain.
Donald Trump promises he will "make America great again." I'm not sure what he's got up his sleeve besides that giant wall on our southern border, but I have a few suggestions for him:

1. Outlaw remote control devices, forcing people to actually move their bodies to change the TV channel. This will greatly impact the obesity epidemic overtaking America, with 70% of all adults over the age of twenty now classified as being above a healthy weight.

2. Outlaw all prescription and over-the-counter drug commercials on TV. This will have a positive effect on the growing drug problem in America, with the number of fatal drug overdoses climbing steadily. Last year, 47,055 people died from drug overdoses -- 1.5 times greater than the number killed in car crashes.

3. Outlaw TV. This will greatly reduce the number of brain-dead Americans roaming the streets, many of whom live in states where it is legal to carry a concealed weapon. Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho (effective 7/1/16), Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, Vermont, West Virginia (effective 5/24/16) and Wyoming are fully unrestricted.

Monday, May 16, 2016

What's A Voter to Do?

OMG. According to the New York Times, presidential hopeful Donald Trump kissed women on the mouth when he was a married man and running the Miss World beauty pageant, or whatever "Miss" it was. The paper began this sordid tale on the front page yesterday, a Sunday, the day everyone reads the paper even if they don't all week long, and then jumped it to two full pages inside. With huge photos of the defiled women. Yikes!

Funny, I don't recall them doing that when Bill Clinton was the President of the United States, shoving cigars up the you-know-what of a young female intern, whose famous blue dress got stained with his you-know-what somewhere inside the White House. Or writing about the several women who accused him of rape even before he became president. I guess the editors at the Times found all that Clinton stuff too despicable to publicize, their motto being "All the News That's Fit to Print."

So now we get to choose between having a serial kisser or a serial rapist in the Oval Office come January 2017. (I know -- Hillary Clinton is pretending to run, but she's already promised Bill will "handle everything to do with economics.") Tough choice.


The congressman, the librarian and the beautiful island.
The biggest question this film raises is, why haven't we seen more of Treat Williams? The seasoned actor who burst onto the scene back in 1979 (in the film version of Hair) has done a fair amount of work since then but kept a very low profile. He's certainly visible here in the title role of The Congressman, included in just about every scene and pretty much the only recognizable face.

The story is fairly old news: Williams plays Charlie Winship, a newly-divorced congressman from Maine who has way more scruples than everyone else. The heartless creeps in Washington dog his footsteps for failing to stand for the pledge of allegiance during a congressional session, a sin caught on camera and spread by the even more heartless members of the media. Fortunately, Charlie is scheduled for a visit to an island off the coast of Maine to meet with a bunch of irate lobstermen from his district who are in the throes of a dispute over fishing rights. It's a nice island where he gradually unwinds and glimpses a different kind of life. He meets the town librarian. They flirt. She makes him dinner, they sleep together, and that's pretty much it for Charlie and the hallowed halls of Congress.

Forget the plot and go for the scenery. The fake beautiful island off the coast of Maine is played by a real beautiful island off the coast of Maine called Monhegan. It's the true star of the film. You'll want to go there.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Fatty McFat Fat

"Fat Ladies" by Annemarie Venter
Nothing gets a fat woman crazier than using the word "fat." Earlier today I learned this truth anew when I commented on a Facebook video posted by a popular overweight comedian, in which she herself admitted she is overweight. Her rabid fans drifted into fantasy land saying she was not at all overweight, and besides, so what if she is? I put in my two cents, and in so doing made the mistake of calling her a "fatty." Jeeee-sus! You'd think I had advocated the drowning of puppies in acid or something equally heinous. The nasty comments are still pouring in. Some of them have gone so far as to Google me and are talking about my having a child as being a shame, considering I engage in "hate speech."

Ladies, ladies, calm down. If you are fat, and obviously you are since the only people who defend the obese are the obese, gluttony being one of the Seven Deadly Sins, calling yourselves "big" or "plump" or "curvy" or "voluptuous" will not make you any less fat. Only diet and exercise can do that.

What's for Dinner?

My brain is definitely my favorite body part, and I bet it's yours too. Even though Death is all around us, turning daily life into a walk through a war-torn minefield, we stride right through with nary a thought to the possible explosives we might set off, eager for our next meal, our next new party dress or rock concert or hair color or job promotion. I say this because the news each day is grim, yet we remain untouched and for the most part unafraid. I can't speak for all those agoraphobics locked inside their homes since I don't know any, but besides those ultra-sensitives, most of us are pretty good at ignoring our fate and carrying on with gusto.

Like just now, on this relaxing Sunday morning with nothing to worry about except whether we should put the tomatoes in -- they are predicting 38 degrees tonight -- I read about a bus full of partying tourists happily going off to gamble at a Texas casino, only to have their bus flip over en route. Now eight of them are dead and many more hospitalized. (Oops.) A related news story reports a similar tourist bus crash, this one involving an SUV, just outside of Walt Disney World in Florida. Nobody died but eleven people were seriously injured, thus never making it to either Magic Kingdom.

And that is a just a teeny, tiny tip of the iceberg comprised of who will die today; statistically, that's 100 people per minute around the globe. I am hoping it won't be me or my darling husband or our beloved son, or anyone I know (okay, maybe a few people I know), but you get my drift. The human spirit soldiers on despite that dastardly possibility, and for this I'm grateful. I stand in awe of my brain's ability to keep Death under lock and key in its deepest recesses, allowing me to glibly wonder if I should go for a walk now or later and what to make for dinner, confident I will still be around for dinner.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Going Potty

This whole gender thing is out of control. A female friend of mine -- and she's very female-looking, quite pretty with long hair, and nobody would wonder if she's a girl or a boy -- recently went to Planned Parenthood for a pap test, one of those services they provide for women's health other than killing unborn babies. And the very first thing they asked her was, "What gender do you associate with?" Really? She's there for a pap test and still they ask that?

These days the government, a.k.a. Obama, wants to get involved in every single aspect of our lives. Now he's "issuing guidance" on the whole transgender/bathroom thing. It's annoying, if you ask me, and surely not even mentioned in the Constitution (which by the way is hundreds of years old and was written by men who wore high heels, white tights and fancy wigs tied up with pretty bows) who should go into what bathroom. In all honesty, I have gone into plenty of men's rooms when A, the line to the ladies' room was too long or B, the only one was occupied and I really had to go, and on not one of those occasions was I drunk, or even stoned. (Okay, maybe once or twice I was stoned.) Nothing bad happened and nobody cared.

Do we really need a law about this? Are we idiots? I say if anyone is "confused," take a good long look at your genitals and then check any anatomy book and you'll find out what gender you are. Go into that bathroom. (Unless it's occupied, then go into the other one.)

41 Movies to See Again (and again and again)

Apollo 13
A Star is Born
Cast Away
King Kong
The Help
Inglorious Basterds
The War of the Roses
Liar Liar
The Truman Show
The Philadelphia Story
Thelma and Louise
Defending Your Life
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Annie Hall
The Matrix
Saturday Night Fever
The Terminator
Five Easy Pieces
The Hours
 Coal Miner's Daughter
Bye, Bye Birdie
Heaven Can Wait
The Parallax View
Play Misty for Me
Fatal Attraction
The Big Lebowski
Synecdoche, New York
Turner & Hooch
Groundhog Day
An Affair to Remember
Toy Story
On the Beach
Death Becomes Her


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Nobody Cares What You Think

Dueling opinionators
A woman aged seventy-two had a baby last month in India. She and her husband (himself seventy-five or seventy-nine depending on the news source) had tried for all their forty-six years of marriage, with no luck. Finally, through the miracle of modern science, it happened: In vitro fertilization paid off! 

Here's what I have to say about that: Nothing. My opinion on the subject matters not one bit, and in fact I don't even have one. You can look at it this way, and then again you can see it that way. Yet people everywhere -- mostly on the Internet where, aside from at Donald Trump rallies, our most inane rabble-rousing occurs -- feel it is their civic duty to weigh in on every last thing that happens to people they don't know, will never meet, and could care less what they think. They post comments like: "It's terrible, a shame, disgusting! It's a miracle, God provides! They will both be dead soon and the baby will be an orphan! Science should be solving problems like the lack of water in India, not making babies! Science is incredible! Love never dies! What will be will be!"

I say blah, blah, blah and yada, yada, yada. Spare me, and all the rest of us, your opinion (defined as "a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge"), most especially on matters that have nothing to do with you. And that goes for just about everything.

(Yeah, yeah, I know what you're thinking: This is all just my opinion. Well guess what? This is my blog.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

In the Middle of the Night

Television fare is less than stellar during prime viewing hours, but around three in the morning it is downright awful. Last night, sleepless after too much late-night caffeine, I turned it on hoping to stumble onto something soporific, maybe an old Chevy Chase comedy or a documentary on the Third Reich, but instead was shocked to see that the political talking heads were still going at it like it was daytime! It was "Trump" this and "Trump" that, "Hillary" this and "Bernie" that, all over the place. And despite the hour, all the news gals still sported those cleavage-bearing slut dresses and giant hoop earrings that have become so popular lately. (One would think the dress code would relax after midnight. Couldn't these women deliver their scripted commentary in jeans?)

New at IHOP: "The Cupcake Pancake"
Anyway, naturally I did lots of channel surfing and saw a boatload of commercials, but two in particular stuck in my mind and are still in it this morning. One was for IHOP, the chain restaurant that specializes in giving people heart attacks on the weekends. They rolled out their latest concoction, called simply a Cupcake Pancake. (See photo.) Shown enjoying these huge Frisbee-sized treats infused with colorful sugary sprinkles and topped with vanilla icing and fake whipped cream were happy families -- Mom, Dad and the kids laughing gleefully as they purposefully set about clogging their arteries.

The other featured a narrator who intoned in a serious voice, "The average funeral today costs over $7,000, and yet the government only pays you $250...." Who knew the government paid you anything?And why would you spend so much money to dispose of a dead person? (Sorry, that sounds so cold, I should have said deceased.)

Now it's a new day, and I plan on taking a swig of Nyquil before bed this evening to avoid a repeat performance.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Give Death a Hug

Everyone dies. Face it. In fact, if and when you finally do face it, embrace it, own it, things get so much easier. Or so I hear. Not from anyone dead, but from living sages, mostly of the Buddhist variety, who swear that accepting death is one of the surest ways to get the most out of life. I would try harder but the subject is widely considered to be such a bummer, it's hard to get a decent conversation going.

If you do try, like at a dinner party for example, most people will shun you. In fact, the last time I got into the subject with gusto was with my shrink, the last time I saw him, and I mean literally the last time. This was someone I paid to listen to my deepest, darkest thoughts. He said I was depressed and probably needed medication. (So much for plumbing the depths.)

I'll leave it at that. Since we are currently alive, I suggest going out and enjoying the day. Perhaps a bike ride. Or maybe make yourself a nice sandwich and a milkshake and watch a movie. You know, whatever seems like fun. Because it will not always be an option, if you get my drift. Still, you might want to do a little reading on the subject, just so you're ready.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Brain Power

Cartoon by Doug Savage
I read on the Internet that the length of my ring finger could determine my whole personality! Well, not just mine, but yours too, since according to scientists, this is true for everyone with a ring finger. I did not click on the link to find out what sort of scientists spend their time on this sort of silliness, but just reading that headline sent my head spinning. I thought that if I had gone to school for enough years to end up being called "a scientist," I would surely want to devote myself to more important things. Like maybe childhood cancer, a true scourge upon our species. Or maybe how to stop global warming and save the planet from extinction. And also, doesn't everyone, certainly by the time their ring finger is finished growing, already know what their own personality is? So then who cares?

All this thinking took place within the first ten seconds after turning on my computer this morning. It's a wonderful thing, the human brain.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

What's a Mother to Do?

This place was so great, people actually referred to it as "Famous Raay-Nors."
Today is a Sunday in early May. It's drizzly and overcast where I live, but I managed to get in a hot tub soak before the real rain that's predicted for later on arrives. I've already looked at the Sunday Times crossword puzzle and had my meager, gluten-free breakfast. So far things are normal. Yet this particular Sunday is deemed "special" on our calendar. Proclaimed Mother's Day by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914, hardly anyone has ever known what that means or how to celebrate it since.

My own mother, who died in 1981, wanted a big fuss to justify her having birthed two babies. Each year we brought her breakfast in bed. My sister and I purchased gifts and glittery Hallmark cards. The whole day was built around Mom, culminating in dinner out at Raay-Nors Cabin on Sunrise Highway, a long-defunct restaurant I would give my left arm to eat at again. Famous for their fried chicken, they excelled at fried fish as well. And don't get me started on their corn fritters. Their secret-recipe salad dressing, bright orange in color, was so universally loved that they sold bottles of it; we always had one going in our fridge. (Okay, now I'm hungry.) Besides the excellent food, the ambiance was a mix of down-in-the-holler comfort and upscale nonchalance, allowing you to pretend you were at your own vacation home in the Adirondacks decorated by Martha Stewart.

Anyone who grew up on Long Island in the fifties, sixties and seventies will recall Raay-Nors as unique, evidenced by the long lines of people waiting to get in. It was my mother's favorite place, and thus mine, until my father, sister and I ruined it by eating there one Mother's Day after visiting Mom in the nursing home where she languished with early-onset Alzheimer's for thirteen months, eventually dying at the age of sixty-two. That terribly depressing meal wiped out all the good ones that had come before. (I can't imagine what we were thinking!)

Since I can't have dinner at Raay-Nors I want nothing special today, at least not anything anyone can get for me. I do hope for normal blood pressure readings, no pain in my fickle arthritic hip and the absence of digestive problems, but those things have little to do with my being a mother. As for my only child, I'd like him to truly understand that I love him more than anything; if that knowledge can help him somehow, I'm happy. Otherwise, he need not do anything. After all, it's just May 8th.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Film review: THE JUNGLE BOOK

Human child and computer-made monkeys.
Having had a decidedly deficient childhood, I somehow missed reading the book or seeing any filmed or animated version of Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Book" until earlier tonight, when I caught the movie of that name  currently in theaters now. Directed by Jon Favreau, it features hundreds of realistic, computer-generated creatures running around a very realistic, computer-generated jungle. In the middle of it all is one live actor named Neel Sethi, an incredible youngster with a cherubic face and lots of talent. He plays Mowgli, an abandoned orphan raised by wolves and befriended by all the animals in the jungle. Voices for these animals are supplied by some of Hollywood's finest, including Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley and Christopher Walken in memorable leading roles.

Supposedly made for a target audience of children, the film is often very dark and scary. For example, a truly menacing tiger lurks in the jungle, bent on killing our young hero for the sin of being a human. Looking not at all computer-generated but instead like he could and happily would tear you limb from limb with his hideous, giant fangs, he is but one among several reasons I caution you not to bring very young or very impressionable children to see this film. Even an impressionable adult might find it difficult to watch the violent and bloody interactions between warring animals. Falling into this category, I had to cover my eyes more than once.

Fortunately I remembered that it was all done by computers and that animals don't really talk, so I stayed until the end and I'm glad I did. While the movie is mostly a blast to watch, it pales in comparison to the final credits which are definitely of "must-see" caliber, especially for fans of Christopher Walken. And in case you care about such things, the list of names of the people involved in making the film equals the population of a small city. It's fascinating to watch them as they scroll by, and takes a good long while.

Under the Big Top, 2017

Admit it: The winner of the next election will offer little more than entertainment for most of us. Our very own Royals, we will be bombarded with photos of the so-called "First Family" ad nauseum. Who would you rather watch? Just imagine:

If Hillary wins we'll see her bulldog mug constantly, barking out carefully-worded yet empty speeches written by teams of Millennials or growling orders to her groveling minions. The bags under her eyes will grow bigger and droopier, and then every so often recede completely after a presidential Botox treatment. She will get fatter with each state dinner, her endless supply of designer pantsuits gradually morphing into Mama Cass caftans. We will watch First Husband Bill grow thinner and more feeble, and if the excitement of returning to the White House doesn't kill him we will doubtless hear rumors of how the old wolf is still chasing interns up and down the hallowed halls. First daughter Chelsea will be around a lot, and so will her kids -- surely she will have several more to fill out her eleven-million dollar condo in Manhattan. Volcanic Hillary cheerleader James Carville will be spewing about something new every day, and Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews will be having constant orgasms, not together of course, on their TV shows, crowing about how wonderful Hillary is.

If Donald Trump wins, every day will be different from the day before. You never know what he'll say next but it will at least be authentic and funny and slightly nutty. The beautiful First Lady will grace the covers of every fashion magazine and possibly the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated. His equally beautiful daughters will also become fashion leaders, while his sons will fade into the background, busy running the family business. Trump will surround himself with colorful characters, and the whole administration will be one gigantic reality TV show. The writers at Saturday Night Live will lampoon Donald and Melania constantly, thereby birthing some new comic stars we have not yet heard of, just like Tina Fey was born of her resemblance to Sarah Palin and Dana Carvey's popularity grew from his similarities to George Bush Sr. Following politics will be fun at last!

Choose one this coming November at a ballot box near you.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Mind Your Own Minimum Wage

I am upset when I weigh more than 140 pounds. This is because I am happiest when I weigh 135 pounds, and so my rising weight serves as an indicator that I'm getting unhappier every day. The fact that many other women weigh 125, 110, 250 or 375 pounds, or that the average American woman today weighs 164 pounds, has absolutely no bearing on me and my personal 140-pound limit. How could it?

So it was with some surprise that I read about a study done by two economists on how people feel about their income. They found that "people derive more happiness from pay when they know they're earning more than coworkers." In the 1998 study of 257 subjects by Sara Solnick and David Hemenway, half of those surveyed said they would "rather earn $50,000 a year when their coworkers were earning $25,000 than earn $100, 000 if their peers were earning $200,000." That's just nutty.

Years ago I quit a job as art director of a major daily newspaper because I was earning more money than almost anyone else on the staff. When I got hired I had been told to keep my salary a secret but it got out somehow (that bitch in payroll?) and pretty soon I was a pariah. That was out in California, and since I never got quite comfortable waiting for an earthquake or mudslide or forest fire or serial killer to ruin my day it didn't much matter. But once I was safely back home on the east coast, I never understood why anyone cared how much money I made or how it impacted them.

The Cost of Laughing

Jerry Seinfeld is coming to Portland tonight. The show will be ninety minutes long with no intermission. There will be an opening act, so it's likely Jerry will talk for about fifty of them. So basically out of the whole day ahead, I am assured that for at least three-quarters of an hour I will not worry about my health, my family, the next president or acts of terrorism. For that, my husband and I have paid $159.00 apiece.

Okay, sure, it's a crime and we should be embarrassed and people are starving, but that's what a good laugh costs these days, including service fees and for decent seats. A good shrink charges that much for the same amount of time and usually offers much less relief.

(I sure hope he's funny.)

Thursday, May 5, 2016

A Winning Ticket

Now that he is almost certainly the Republican nominee, The Donald has started putting out feelers for his VP. Based on a recent poll (taken at my house), fifty-percent of voters think Caitlyn Jenner would be an appropriate choice for his second banana, no pun intended.

Caitlyn is all things to all people: A man, a woman, and as an added bonus a tranny, thus assuring the entire LGBT, QRST and WXYZ vote. "She" is sixty-six years old, grabbing the senior citizens while at the same time winning over young people eager to rebel against the Establishment. And finally, she's got her own reality TV show, so between her and Trump they have tons of experience in front of the camera. Plus, her upcoming nude Sports Illustrated cover should rake in any stragglers.

Remember: You heard it here first.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Look Away, It's Hideous

It's not the end of the world, really. In fact, it matters to me hardly at all who becomes the next president. I mean, it's nice for them and their friends and family, all of whom get to ride on Air Force One and meet Kanye West or Barbra Streisand or whatever big celebrity happens to be performing at the White House, and consume lots and lots and lots of jumbo shrimp and Beluga caviar and Kobe beef and lobster tails and petits fours, all at the taxpayer's expense which is truly sickening but that's another blog post. But for us, all the little people -- and by that I don't mean Little People as in height although they are included -- the outcome of the November election will change nothing.

Yes, gays can now get married. But even back before they could they still got to sleep together and live together and love each other and pick out china together and even adopt children. So now they get to visit each other in the hospital when they're dying and get all their spouse's money after they're dead. That's nice, I guess. And let's face it: abortion will never again be illegal, certainly now that Ted Cruz is out of the picture, so what's everyone so worried about? Go ahead--continue to abort with abandon!

In fact, if you just stop watching TV and reading the paper, you'll barely notice whether it's Hillary and Bill Clinton once again living the high life at your expense, or Donald and his already-privileged brood. I think that's best, don't you? So, my advice to avoid apoplexy, depression, disgust, or just plain dismay is to simply look away, because no matter the winner, the situation will indeed be hideous. But not, I repeat, the end of the world.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

What About the Guy?

Even though he's a lot younger, and anyway I'm married, I sort of have a crush on that Liberty Mutual guy. You know, the male half of the black couple who got kicked out of their insurance company even though they had a perfect record until one of them nicked a food truck. ("Perfect!") So even though all the rest of those commercials are so terrible that I have to change the channel when they come on, that one I watch. My confession is not for nothing, there really is a point.

I wanted to know who the actor is, to see if he is in anything else, like a movie or a TV show. So I Googled, and all I could find was information about the female half of the couple. In fact, there was a ton of information about her, like everything she's ever done since birth, and her personal website, and her agent, blah, blah, blah. Her fans had written that she's "hot" and "sexy" even though she is not either of those things in the commercial. But I was unable to find out anything about the guy.

I say that's discriminatory. What are men, chopped liver? This may be exactly why Bruce Jenner became Caitlyn.

Catfish, the Verb

The great thing about being alive today is that you can learn so much in just a few minutes online. You don't even have to get dressed and drive somewhere and sit in a lecture hall to get an education. Like today, for instance, still in my jammies I logged on to check my email and then went to Craigslist to see if my seven-year nightmare of being a writer in Maine had finally ended and there were some freelance writing jobs. (It hadn't and there weren't.) It all took about fifteen minutes, but even in that short time I learned the following:

1. No longer just something to eat (preferably fried and served with a ton of French fries, a couple of biscuits and side of slaw), the term "catfish" now refers to someone who pretends to be someone else online. It can be a verb, as in "I was totally catfished by a hot babe who turned out to be a creepy guy!" Apparently it comes from a documentary film (Catfish) that led to a TV show of the same name that was on a few years ago. I knew nothing about it then and still don't. But I do know what the verb "to catfish" means, and now so do you, in case you didn't already.

2. If you order a year's subscription to The New Yorker they will send you a free tote bag with The New Yorker written large on it. This makes a perfect beach bag, letting all the other beach-goers know how smart and well-read you are. I learned this after Googling the word catfish. Turns out The New Yorker did an article about "Catfish," the TV show, way back when.

3. A girl who starred on the "Catfish" TV show died over the weekend. She was twenty-three and the cause of death is unknown.

I feel much smarter now and am seriously considering getting a subscription to The New Yorker again. I used to have one years ago, but those damn magazines come every week and it was so hard to keep up. Also, it's a shameless liberal rag now. But still, they used to publish my drawings so I might forgive them.

Monday, May 2, 2016

It's 2016 and They Still Have Mother's Day

It's funny how there is National Pet Week, National Dog Week, National Public Health Week, Deaf Awareness Week and even School Library Month, yet still today, in 2016, mothers only get their one pathetic day. Oh well. Anyway, years ago when my son was a toddler, we read a book together about Mother's Day. The story revolved around Elmo from Sesame Street, or maybe it was Bert or Ernie, or Oscar the Grouch -- one of those guys. (Or maybe none of them, after all memory fades and it wasn't exactly a Pulitzer-prize winner.) Throughout the book the kid frets over what to get his mother as a gift, and at the end she says she doesn't need a gift because, "You are my gift!"

I used to feel that way too. Every year I told my son, when he asked what he should get me for my special day, "Nothing, you are my gift!" Well guess what -- now he's twenty-eight and I no longer feel that way. Now I do want something from him, in fact there's quite a long list, and one that is likely shared by all mothers everywhere:

1. Find joy or at least satisfaction in your work or art.
2. Maintain friendships only with people who have your best interests at heart.
3. Choose a partner who sees you as the sun, moon and stars all in one brilliant, fantastic package.
4. Have faith in yourself and in something outside yourself to get you through the tough times.
5. Greet each new day as something glorious, without yesterday's disappointments dragging it down.
6. Count your blessings.

So, that's what I want this year. Not all of it, understand, just one or maybe two things from that list. That will make my day. That and a Jaguar. (The one shown above is used and under $2,000!)

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Overcoming Bias

Dueling Governors: LePage makes Chris Christie look almost gaunt.
I am tired of reading about what a racist Maine's Governor Paul LePage is. He was elected the first time and then re-elected four years later, so if anyone's a racist it must be all those Mainers who pulled the lever for him. The same can be said of Donald Trump who seems to have earned that moniker as well, although I'm not sure why. But that's besides the point; if Trump is indeed a racist and yet has risen to become the Republican front-runner in the campaign for president, blame his followers, not him. After all, he's only one man and they number in the millions.

I assume that just writing the preceding paragraph makes me a racist to those who see things in black and white, no pun intended. And just what is racism, anyway? People base their feelings about others who differ from them on a lifetime of experiences that cannot be legislated away. If your best friend was murdered by an African-American in a robbery, you might tend to shy away from African-Americans. Seems like that's your prerogative, and a visceral response can take years to overcome. The fact that our President, a soft-spoken gentleman who I imagine would not even swat a fly, is also African-American should help to quell those feelings over time. (We can only hope.)

The thing is, everyone is different and has come by their beliefs first-hand. If all people were nice to all people, there would be no such thing as racism. All these years later I still know many Jews who don't trust Germans! I am not one of them, but believe me, I've met them and they are numerous. And by the way, if your entire family was wiped out in the Holocaust by Germans and now you won't even eat a bratwurst, is that racist?

I can honestly say I am not a racist except when it comes to the obese, who sort of are like another race if you think about it. In fact, that's why I don't like Governor LePage -- he has obviously had way too many whoopie pies. Meanwhile Donald Trump is looking pretty porky these days too, as is Hillary Clinton. I say, vote for the thinnest person running.