Friday, March 31, 2017

Entire Family Going Straight to Hell

The Wall Street Journal's Mansion section, which appears every Friday and regularly publishes nauseating stories about people who are disturbingly and decadently rich, has hit a new low today. The caption informs us that Paul Ray Geiger Jr. spent about $600,000 to build this special room in his home in Richmond, Texas for his family's hunting trophies. "We go in there and remember the trips we had, the good memories." (Oh what fun they had!) The photo shows Geiger with his partners in crime, wife Shannon and daughters Isabelle and Caroline, surrounded by fifteen of the animals they slaughtered, including an elephant, a lion, an ostrich and a tiger.

I hope the happy hunters continue to enjoy their allotted time in this life because next time around things are sure to be grim; with any luck they'll all be stuffed and hanging as trophies on the wall of some animal's den. Hey, I can dream, can't I?

The Holocaust Diet

Hey, who's hungry? (Photo: Henryk Ross)
Growing up in a Jewish family, I heard about the Holocaust a lot. Like every day. The subject arose most often at meals when everyone was gathered around the table together, and possibly explains my lifelong love-hate relationship with food. I mean really, it's hard to stay focused on wolfing down some fabulous brisket with roasted potatoes while Granny reminisces about the Germans ("They should only drop dead!") making lampshades out of the skins of dead Jews. Agreed?

So excuse me if I'm not rushing to Boston's Museum of Fine Arts to see a new exhibit of recently unearthed photos of the inhabitants of Poland's Lodz Ghetto. Henryk Ross, one of two Jews given cameras to document daily life in the ghetto for use by the government as propaganda, surreptitiously took other pictures as well. A review in today's Wall Street Journal gives his show a hearty thumbs-up for the "timeless quality" of the photographs: "We look at Ross's subjects knowing terrible deaths await them and it gives them added dimension." There are pictures of the gallows. There are pictures of children in wagons being led to the killing fields. There are pictures of the starving people and carts of human feces being hauled for disposal. There are pictures of piles of the dead being taken to burial. Wow, good stuff!

Listen, we get it -- there was a mass killing in Germany back in the 1940s. Enough already. But for those of you reading this who don't get it, or don't believe it, like the two otherwise completely normal friends of mine who are still "on the fence" about whether or not the whole thing really happened, the exhibit runs through July 30 so you might want to check it out. Afterward you can experience the legendary Pizzeria Regina, a Boston institution just four miles away where the pizza is to die for. Go. Try to eat something.....

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Dr. King's Alternate Dream

The giant Bean Boot leaves plenty of room for another statue.
Over the years the city of Portland, Maine's grooviest town for sure, has won quite a few awards. Included are things like Most Liveable City (, Greenest City (Organic Gardening Magazine) one of the Coolest Small Cities in America (GQ Magazine), one of the Best Healthy Places to Retire (U.S. News & World Report) and Best Town in the East (Outside Magazine). This year a dozen of the city's chefs made it to the semi-finals for the prestigious James Beard Award.

Obviously Portland desperately wants to be cool and play with all the big cities. But with just 7% of its population being African-American, it doesn't make the cut. (Once clearly The Whitest State, Vermont now holds that dubious title with Maine a close second.) But who's to blame if African-Americans don't want to live here? After all, it's really cold in winter, which lasts several seasons, and there are basically no jobs.

Still, in an ongoing quest for respectability, and to be like all the other real cities, local politicians and a growing number of activists have been engaged in pursuit of naming or building something in Portland -- a street or park or public square -- to honor civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The trouble is, what? It's a quandary. As one columnist wrote recently in The Portland Phoenix, an alternative, free newspaper, "There just are not a whole lot of places worthy of Dr. King's legacy. To make matters more difficult, Dr. King had never been to Portland, so any choice would lack historic gravity."

Who knows -- had Dr. King, assassinated at only 39, lived longer, he might have eventually gotten up to Maine for a vacation, despite its lack of diversity. If so, he surely would have stopped in at L. L. Bean's flagship store in Freeport. And that could have changed everything.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Forever is a Long Time

Some people where I live are freaking out over the increasing legalization of marijuana. They are horrified, terrified and downright pissed off that legitimate pot distribution centers are popping up all around the state. This is silly since marijuana is a plant as old as vegetation on Earth (about 12,000 years) whereas Maine's real problem, opioid addiction, is caused by drugs made in factories beginning in the late 1960s and now prescribed by doctors for just about anything that hurts.

I take three different drugs manufactured in factories and they cause me no end of problems, including dizziness, blurred vision, weight gain and loss of libido, although that last one might just be because I'm 70 and enough already. These have been prescribed for my pesky blood pressure, which bounces up and down at random. They literally make me sick, but at least I stay alive. But like many baby boomers in my same boat, I long for the good old days when the only drugs I took were pot, mescaline and the occasional magic mushroom. At least the side effects were temporary and I could take them or not, whereas the ones I'm on now are not optional and  forever. And take it from me, forever is a long time to feel dizzy.

Oh Grow Up

It's hard to evolve when the people you habitually spend time with don't. This presents a difficult choice: A, strive for self-improvement and spend some quality time with yourself, or B, continue to avoid your demons while in the distracting company of others.

If you choose B you might have a good day or even a few good weeks.  But look out, because if and when all the people you hide behind are unavailable -- horror of horrors -- you might actually have to be alone for a whole day, or even worse, a night! And then there you are, with yourself. That same old self, maybe the exact same one you knew back in high school or college. That's a real bummer if you are now past fifty, speeding downhill into those Golden Years without any training wheels.

So choose option A as soon as as you can and start growing a better you. In the long run the rewards will be infinite. (At least that's what I keep telling myself.)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Why I Unfriended You on Facebook

I am so done with hearing that your car is in the shop. Or that you are waiting for the plumber. Or the washing machine repairman, again. Or you have to get your snow tires put on, or taken off. Or that you are sick or possibly coming down with something. Or that you had to go to the ER yesterday and you're exhausted today. Or your house is a mess and you're busy cleaning. Or that you can't make it today but you'll call me tomorrow for sure. (You never do.)

Don't you realize that I can see what you're doing on Facebook with all the people you prefer spending time with? I mean really. I don't need this. Life is hard enough.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Wake Me When It's Over

A scene from the 2008 fantasy film "WALL-E" has come true. Now all we need are the red suits.
There's a new movie theater near my house that foretells a grim future for Mankind. My husband and I went there yesterday and quickly concluded we would never see a movie anywhere else. Who would, when the perks offered at the Flagship Premium in Falmouth make you feel like you died and went to Movie Heaven? It's great!

The fabulous experience kicks off immediately, at the ticket counter. Instead of a surly, acne-faced teenager grunting at you, a self-serve kiosk displays a digital seating chart letting you choose and reserve your seat, so there's no need to rush inside to claim one and suffer through all those commercials and previews. Instead you can hang in the lobby, which is a lot like a highway rest stop, with all sorts of yummy choices at the Refreshment Center, none of them good for you. There's also a self-service beverage center where you can get unlimited refills of your sugar-laden soft drink, and a "toppings bar" with a couple of jumbo melted butter dispensers, along with salt and other flavorings for your popcorn. (I didn't have any popcorn but I might next time.)

Inside there are ten little theaters, each with only sixty seats. Well, they're not really seats, more like plush, comfy beds. They start out as seats but when you press a button they recline and a padded footrest comes up and suddenly it is 100% a bed! And with the screen placed up near the ceiling, no matter where you are sitting, or rather lying down, you have a perfect view without anyone's big hair encroaching on your field of vision. There's a cup holder of course, and the bed is very wide, with lots of room for your increasingly widening butt. You could even bring a pillow or your favorite stuffed animal if you want.

The only danger is falling asleep, but that pretty much depends on the particular movie that's playing. That, and growing fatter and lazier every day, like the rest of America.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Film Review: GET OUT

The Happy Couple?
If you're a fan of subtle horror films, the kind that start out all sweetness and light until suddenly you're tumbling down the rabbit hole like Alice after eating that crazy cupcake, Get Out is for you. Marketed as a comedy/thriller, it's more disturbing than funny but there are some solid laughs, although most of them are the nervous kind. It's the first directorial effort of black comedian Jordan Peele, and at least at some level deals with the simmering racial tensions so prevalent today. An up-to-the-minute potpourri of several memorable old movies, it's lots of fun for film buffs.

It starts out like Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, the ground-breaking 1967 film about a white girl bringing her black boyfriend home to meet the family. In that film the parents were not happy about the situation, but in Get Out everything is cool, since these parents are highly educated and affluent Obama-loving Democrats who adore all black people. In fact, they like them so much they sort of want to be black themselves. Now toss in some scenes from Rosemary's Baby and The Stepford Wives and you're almost there.

Despite the fact that the whites turn out to be evil and the blacks their unlucky prey, the film could just as easily work with either an all-white or all-black cast. Race seems secondary to what's really going on, which has more in common with Frankenstein and The Invasion of the Body Snatchers than anything else. Now you've got the whole picture.

The soundtrack is absolutely outstanding, adding measurably to the creepiness factor. And the performances are all first-rate, especially those by the male lead (Daniel Kaluuya) and his comic sidekick (Lil Rel Howery). Be prepared to jump out of your seat a few times. But relax: it's scary, but not keep-you-up-all-night gruesome. I hardly ever had to cover my eyes.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Girl Scout Cookies: The Dark Side

Going for the Bondage Badge
Girl Scout Cookie Time is upon us. Today my husband brought home two boxes of his favorite, Thin Mints. I've never liked those so I'm happy, especially since I just bought a new pair of jeans that actually zip up. Besides, the Thin Mints of today are only a distant cousin to the Thin Mints of yesteryear, back when the cookies were actually thin. Today's version is a lot thicker and way less minty, if you ask me.

The copy on the box describes the cookies as "Crispy chocolate wafers dipped in a mint chocolaty coating." I find that word chocolaty mildly disturbing, being quite distinct from chocolate, although to be fair, cocoa is listed as an ingredient, after enriched flour, sugar and vegetable oil shortening with those controversial palm oils. (Unsustainable palm oil development is said to fuel widespread rain forest destruction, human rights abuses, illegal wildlife smuggling, climate change and some other horrible things.) Peppermint oil, almost the last ingredient, supplies the mint flavor. The box also states that "Selling Girl Scout Cookies helps girls develop 5 skills that they use throughout their lives: goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics."

 Oddly enough, neither baking nor selling are on the list. That's because the girls do neither. The cookies are baked by adults at ABC Bakers/Interbake Foods LLC in Richmond, Virginia, with nary a Scout on the premises. They are then "sold" at card tables set up in front of supermarkets. "It was quite an operation," my husband recounted, with several Dads-of-Scouts handling the cash. "It was much more efficient and so much more lucrative than going door-to-door," according to Mitch. "I'd say they were selling four boxes a minute." Another way the Girl Scouts "sell" is through their parents, who take orders from co-workers at their places of business. The higher their position, the more they sell, as I recall from my working days.

Each Thin Mint has 40 calories, and the going price today is $4.00 per box, or 12-and-a-half cents per cookie.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Send Money

My husband and I are quite charitable, especially around tax time, but that doesn't stop the seemingly endless requests for a handout from people we have never met. Last night during dinner, three different beggars approached us via our home phone: Mitch's alma mater (who I suspect has us on speed dial), a cancer relief fund and a local politician. We didn't answer any of those calls but their recorded messages made it clear they weren't calling to see how we're handling all the late-spring snow.

The U.S. Postal Service offers another conduit into our bank account. A typical batch of mail contains pleas from no less than five or six organizations looking for dough. Yesterday's included requests from the Alzheimer's people, the March of Dimes, St. Jude's Hospital for Children, a soup kitchen in Washington, D.C. and George and Laura Bush celebrating the fourth anniversary of their Bush Library. We hear from most of them on a weekly basis, except for the Bushes who only write about once a month, usually including a family photo suitable for framing. I particularly enjoy hearing from the March of Dimes people since they include a real dime in their message which I pocket before trashing the letter.

At the supermarket or the drug store I am often asked to add a donation to some worthy cause to my bill. Then someone with a clipboard usually stops me in the parking lot asking me to save the fishes by cleaning our waterways or buy some cookies in support of a local animal shelter. Then there's the Internet with its Gofundme sob stories, the tip jars at all the coffee shops and lunch places, and the street people with their cardboard signs or open violin case.

These days everyone's doing it, constantly and unabashedly, and I want in. And so, what with the rising cost of living, not to mention my blood pressure, we here at The Daily Droid are asking for your help. Email for where to mail your check. (Hopefully I can find it among all the requests for money clogging my online mailbox.)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Growing Color War

A painting by a white artist that was chosen for inclusion in a prestigious art show at a major museum, the Whitney in New York City, depicting Emmett Till, the black teenager who was lynched in Mississippi 62 years ago after being falsely accused of flirting with a white woman, is now being deemed "racist" by a growing number of African-American artists, some of whom are calling for it to be destroyed lest the artist sell it and profit from spilled black blood. It has also been stated that no white person can attempt to speak for any black person or understand their plight, now and historically. Or something like that.

Causing me to wonder more and more: What country is this?

Al Franken, Neil Gorsuch and Me

Liberals have their panties in a knot over Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, who by most accounts is a jewel of a guy with incredible scruples and unassailable principles. Yet he has incurred the wrath not of the great Khan but the teeny Al Franken, he of those "Deep Thoughts" from his days on Saturday Night Live. It's all got to do with a case involving a truck driver who abandoned his cargo and drove off in the truck's cab rather than wait hours for help in frigid temperatures and was later fired by his employer for said abandonment. The driver sued and Gorsuch voted in favor of the employer, causing Franken to anoint him as "anti-worker" and calling his decision "absurd."

The face that got slapped.
The brouhaha reminded me of a similar situation when I was a high-school senior working part-time as a salesclerk in the candy department of Abraham & Strauss, the defunct but once grand department store. With Christmas just a few days away the store was bustling. In those days we used cash registers, not computers, to ring up cash sales, or wrote out longhand the items to be paid with a credit card. A woman presented herself and opted to pay cash, so I rang up her items, about a dozen in all, and announced the total. At that point she said, "Never mind, I'll charge it."

Facing a long line of impatient shoppers waiting to check out, I asked if she might step aside and let me help those other people, then write up her charges. At that suggestion she reached out a bejeweled and manicured hand and slapped my peaches-and-cream, 17-year-old face, shouting some obscenity or another. The crowd gasped, and someone shouted, "Miss, your face is bleeding!" Rushing to find a mirror, I saw a rivulet of blood dripping down my hot, reddened cheek. I felt faint. Hurriedly locking the cash register, I fled to the store's infirmary, calling out an apology to the assembled customers.

At closing time, after receiving treatment from the nurse and returning to the candy department to finish my shift, I was fired for "leaving my station." (I wonder what Gorsuch would say to that.) Since this happened in 1964 my parents didn't sue anyone, whereas today that woman would likely do time and I'd be set for life. Talk about absurd.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Experts R Us

Many people know a lot more than many other people on a lot of subjects. For example, the average person probably doesn't understand what a "black hole in space" is, or fully grok Einstein's Theory of Relativity. Experts in such esoteric fields as medicine, computer technology, aviation and all the sciences spend most of their time learning about them, and I applaud their efforts. They are awesome.

But concerning things like how to live a life, how to be happy, how to avoid depression and anxiety, how to relate to others, what to eat, how to think positively and avoid or change bad habits, there are no experts, there is only all of us. Each of us is an expert, living each day as we do from birth on. Yet there seems to be no end of people who call themselves "experts" on the subject of being alive.

Many of these "life experts" write books, give lectures, record podcasts and in fact make tons of money by telling others how to just "be." Their advice is often the same, and usually stuff we already know. For example, every new book on meditation says the very same things as every old book on meditation -- sit comfortably on a cushion or in a chair, do it at the same time every day, focus on the breath, if thoughts come just push them away, do it no less than 20 minutes a day, close your eyes or keep them open -- yet that doesn't stop people from writing another one which somehow finds a willing publisher and thousands of hopeful readers seeking something life-changing.

I am one of those hopeful readers. My nightstand is cluttered with no less than half a dozen new books on finding happiness, perfecting Buddhist meditation and Zen this or that, with even more relegated to bookshelves around the house and the worst of the bunch simply trashed. After much disappointment I'm with Denis Diderot, the French philosopher, writer and critic known for his Encyclop├ędie. Working in the late 1700s during the so-called Age of Enlightenment, Diderot declared, "I find that a meditation practitioner is often quite useless and that a contemplation practitioner is always insane."

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Why George W. Bush Paints

Forget all the damn immigrants for a minute, those huddled masses yearning to be free and grasping at our welfare handouts without doing a blessed thing to earn them, and consider this: The way old people are treated in America is worse. In fact, it's all the way to macabre. Being old myself now, I can say with pride that I have never been one to disparage the elderly, always finding them so interesting and yes, trite as it sounds, full of wisdom culled from their years of living. But most people find them annoying and useless, certainly unemployable and usually deemed unexciting as sex partners, hiking buddies and even lunch or dinner companions.
Picasso's self-portrait at 90. He died at 92.

For most of the elderly their only crime is not dying young, and isn't that what everyone, except suicides who foretell the bleak future awaiting them and opt out, hopes for at the get-go? Still, the old are treated as criminals. The weakest submit to plastic surgery, with all its inherent risks, hoping to fool themselves, along with Father Time and his golfing buddy, Death, into believing they are younger. It doesn't work.

At this very moment I am 70 and, as I read in the newspaper just this morning, can expect to live another 10 or 15 more years, although some go on for much longer. (Financier and philanthropist David Rockefeller died yesterday at 101.) I worry about getting treated worse every year by all the young people who, ironically, are hoping to stay alive long enough to be as old as I am now, at which time they will be treated badly by the generations following theirs.

It's a quandary and I have no answers. But when I'm parked in front of my easel, surrounded by brushes and tubes of paint and faced with a blank canvas, alone except for my cat and the occasional neighbor passing by my window, I am ageless. I'm betting former President Bush, who is exactly my age and took up painting four years ago, feels the same way.

Monday, March 20, 2017

I'm A Genius?

I recently wasted some of my allotted time on Earth taking one of those online quizzes. This one enticed me by saying it was about "basic things that everyone should know." Naturally, being somewhat of a know-it-all, I thought I would know them all. To my utter dismay and shock, out of fifty questions I got seven of them wrong! These were them:

1. Roses have prickles, not thorns.
2. Koalas are not members of the bear family, they are marsupials.
3. If you disturb a bunny's nest, you should immediately put the baby bunnies back into it.
4. General and Mrs. Grant are both buried in Grant's Tomb.
5. Keeping your batteries in the refrigerator will not keep them any fresher any longer.
6. You do not lose 80% of your body heat through the top of your head.
7. You should file a Missing Persons report immediately and not wait 24 or 48 hours like they say on TV.

Despite my errors, at the end of the quiz I received a score of 85% and was declared a "Genius" who knows "just about everything about everything." I wonder what I would be if I had answered all of them correctly.

Sunday, March 19, 2017


Last night I watched a movie that possibly has made me a different person today. (It's too soon to tell but I suspect that to be the case.) Following is an excerpt from a review about it that is almost as great an explanation of life as of the film itself. It was written in 2008 by Roger Ebert, the late great movie critic who died five years later, and offers the best explanation of why the movie must be seen before it's too late, which it will be any minute now, and far too soon. 

I think you have to see Charlie Kaufman's "Synecdoche, New York" twice. I watched it the first time and knew it was a great film and that I had not mastered it. The second time because I needed to. The third time because I will want to. It will open to confused audiences and live indefinitely. A lot of people these days don't even go to a movie once. There are alternatives. It doesn't have to be the movies, but we must somehow dream. If we don't "go to the movies" in any form, our minds wither and sicken.

This is a film with the richness of great fiction. It's not that you have to return to understand it. It's that you have to return to realize how fine it really is. The surface may daunt you. The depths enfold you. The whole reveals itself, and then you may return to it like a talisman.

The subject of "Synecdoche, New York" is nothing less than human life and how it works. Using a neurotic theater director from upstate New York, it encompasses every life and how it copes and fails. Think about it a little and, my god, it's about you. Whoever you are.

Here is how life is supposed to work. We come out of ourselves and unfold into the world. We try to realize our desires. We fold back into ourselves, and then we die. "Synecdoche, New York" follows a life that ages from about 40 to 80 on that scale. Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is a theater director, with all of the hangups and self-pity, all the grandiosity and sniffles, all the arrogance and fear, typical of his job. In other words, he could be me. He could be you. The job, the name, the race, the gender, the environment, all change. The human remains pretty much the same.

Here is how it happens. We find something we want to do, if we are lucky, or something we need to do, if we are like most people. We use it as a way to obtain food, shelter, clothing, mates, comfort, a first folio of Shakespeare, model airplanes, American Girl dolls, a handful of rice, sex, solitude, a trip to Venice, Nikes, drinking water, plastic surgery, child care, dogs, medicine, education, cars, spiritual solace -- whatever we think we need. To do this, we enact the role we call "me," trying to brand ourselves as a person who can and should obtain these things.

In the process, we place the people in our lives into compartments and define how they should behave to our advantage. Because we cannot force them to follow our desires, we deal with projections of them created in our minds. But they will be contrary and have wills of their own. Eventually new projections of us are dealing with new projections of them. Sometimes versions of ourselves disagree. We succumb to temptation -- but, oh, father, what else was I gonna do? I feel like hell. I repent. I'll do it again.
Hold that trajectory in mind and let it interact with age, discouragement, greater wisdom and more uncertainty. You will understand what "Synecdoche, New York" is trying to say about the life of Caden Cotard and the lives in his lives. Charlie Kaufman is one of the few truly important writers to make screenplays his medium. David Mamet is another. That is not the same as a great writer (Faulkner, Pinter, Cocteau) who writes screenplays. Kaufman is writing in the upper reaches with Bergman. Now for the first time he directs.

It is obvious that he has only one subject, the mind, and only one plot, how the mind negotiates with reality, fantasy, hallucination, desire and dreams.

"Synecdoche, New York" is not a film about the theater, although it looks like one. A theater director is an ideal character for representing the role Kaufman thinks we all play. The magnificent sets, which stack independent rooms on top of one another, are the compartments we assign to our life's enterprises. The actors are the people in roles we cast from our point of view. Some of them play doubles assigned to do what there's not world enough and time for. They have a way of acting independently, in violation of instructions. They try to control their own projections. Meanwhile, the source of all this activity grows older and tired, sick and despairing. Is this real or a dream? The world is but a stage, and we are mere actors upon it. It's all a play. The play is real.

Friday, March 17, 2017


Clearly, Amy has some serious body issues.
This morning I read that the comedian Amy Schumer is accusing "Alt-Right trolls" for orchestrating a campaign of scathingly negative reviews of her recently released one-hour diatribe on Netflix called "The Leather Special." She swears it's a conspiracy against her by those hateful prudes in the Republican Party. After all, they do all the bad stuff, right?

So naturally, already disliking her and hating her cousin Chuck (Schumer), and having access to a Netflix account and loving to write bad reviews, which, admit it, are much more fun to read than good ones, I plopped down in front of the TV with my lunch to check it out. And I'm here to say it is appalling, and you should definitely see it, if only to wallow in the fact that Ms. Schumer is a superstar among today's dreadfully misdirected youth, earning more money thus far than any of us will likely see in our lifetimes, and she's only 35.

First of all, let's make one thing clear: Despite her claim that she wears a size 6 and likes to pose nude for magazines and the Internet, Amy Schumer is a fatty. Clearly she has some body issues and also may be slightly deranged. Next, her entire act is about having sex, specifically men having sex with her, and especially with her pussy, which everyone seems to find hilarious based on the audience reaction shots we see whenever she says the word.

This got me wondering about all those women wearing pink kitty hats at that monumental Women's March who were so offended by Donald Trump saying it one time vs. the obvious approval of Amy's virtual non-stop utterance of the word. In this show, Amy says "pussy" or "my pussy" about a hundred times in fifteen minutes. She talks about waking up drunk to find a strange man licking it, and how she washes it really well when she knows it will be getting licked later that day, and how  even on a good day it smells really bad, "like a small farm animal," making me think she should schedule a gynecological appointment ASAP.

Finally she leaves her pussy behind and moves on to men and their penises and how they ejaculate all over her, especially on her "titties." This is pretty much her entire act, or at least as much as I could stomach, and it's not funny. (Not even a little.) All the while she is dressed in spike heels and a skin-tight, black leather sleeveless jumpsuit that shows every nook and cranny of her horrible fireplug body, with its protruding stomach and flabby breasts, atop which sits her little baby pig face.

I doubt any member of the so-called Alt-Right made it past the first fifteen minutes. I know I couldn't. What I hope more than anything is that Amy's mother is already dead, because if she isn't and she sees this show, it will surely kill her.

Passing Time in the Air

Flying home from Florida a few days ago, I was faced with the choice of either watching for signs of an imminent crash or submitting to the in-flight movie which was La La Land.  Tired of the former, which I had done to death so many times before, I was pretty interested in the latter, especially after all the hoopla about it at the Oscars. But after the opening scene I decided it was a real clunker and opted instead for eavesdropping as a better way to pass the time and maybe even learn something.

It was during that activity that I heard a woman behind me say to her seatmate, "That would definitely kill two birds with one stone." Then they both laughed. I started wondering how anyone could do such a thing, unless the two birds were very close to each other at the time. I mean, like basically sitting on top of each other. And by the way, those would have to be some very small birds and you'd have to use a really big stone and throw it very fast and very hard to kill them both. That seems unlikely, not to mention cruel.

I wondered what the people had been talking about, since I tried and failed to come up with any examples of how one could kill two birds with one stone unless you were discussing killing birds with stones. But then I thought of this: For people with a weight problem who are so depressed about being fat they are suicidal, anorexia is the way to go. You ultimately end up dead but along the way you drop pounds and reach your goal weight. Mind you, I am not suggesting this, merely noting that it would be an example of killing two birds with one stone.

FYI, checking online, which you can now do on airplanes, I learned the phrase has been around forever, some say as far back as Greek and Roman mythology and the story of Icarus and Daedalus. "Daedalus is said to have obtained the feathers used to make the pair's famous wings by killing two birds with a single stone. Another common theory attributes the phrase to the Roman poet Ovid." I then started to read about Ovid but found it just as boring as the opening scene of La La Land, so I stopped and now that's all I know. Still, it's more than I knew before, and that's something. 

Anyway, we landed.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Strange But True

Some people I don't know, will never meet and don't care about even a little.
It has come to my attention that Ivana Trump, the current president's first ex-wife, a woman nobody gives a hoot about besides her family and friends, nevertheless has found a publisher for her memoir about her three children entitled "Raising Trump," available next September. This amazes me, not only as a writer who cannot find a publisher to give me the time of day, but also as a reader in search of answers to profound questions and the occasional respite from that search. Who will buy such a book and spend what precious time they are allotted in this lifetime learning about the antics of little Donnie, Eric and Ivanka, three now fully grown adults who offer almost nothing to our personal enrichment or benefit to society as a whole other than fodder for the tabloids?

Apparently the publishing company is betting there will be many people willing to pay for that information. How odd, and also a little sad.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Ed Sullivan & the Ides of March

Anyone who attended school in the United States certainly knows about the ominous Ides of March and why one should beware them -- and also that they are an "it" and not a "them." It all started with the assassination of the Roman dictator Julius Caeser in 44 B.C., which happened so long ago I can't even do the math. Not really buying the whole concept of "B.C." and not even wholly embracing the existence of "C.", I did however study Shakespeare at college and read his play, Julius Caesar, wherein he detailed how Brutus led sixty co-conspirators in the bloody mass stabbing. (There was also a 1948 novel by Thornton Wilder called The Ides of March that got far less attention than his earlier masterpiece, Our Town, a play in three acts that should be read repeatedly by anyone battling depression or just plain seeking a reason to live.) 

But there's another reason the date is to be rued that is rarely mentioned: On March 15, 1971, the CBS-TV network announced the cancellation of The Ed Sullivan Show after 23 years of making Sunday nights something to be anticipated rather than dreaded by millions of faithful viewers. For me personally it was the impetus to get all my homework done by showtime, so in one sense Ed Sullivan was responsible for me even graduating high school.

Senor Wences and his talking hand.
The Ed Sullivan Show had it all, and I mean that literally. Anyone who was anyone showed up at one time or another, be they fair-to-middling oddities, one-shot wonders or lifelong superstars: The Beatles made their famous debut, The Rolling Stones appeared six times, and Elvis Presley stunned audiences with his gyrating hips. An audience favorite was Senor Wences, a comical Spanish ventriloquist who saved money on dummies by using his own hand with a face painted on it. (I still pull out my lipstick to make one of those if I've had too much wine.) Jugglers balancing plates in the air on long sticks, unicycle riders, dancing dogs, entire casts from hit Broadway shows and singers including Tony Bennett, Petula Clark, Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison and The Doors and Diana Ross and The Supremes eventually shared the hour with the Muppets, various lion tamers, families of acrobats from foreign countries and a constant parade of hilarious stand-up comedians, most notably Jackie Mason who famously gave Sullivan the finger on the air.

And of course there was Ed himself, stiffly introducing each act, looking like a walking, talking corpse with a giant bobble-head. I always suspected that after each show he went back inside his coffin where he laid dead until the following Sunday night.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A Necessary Evil

Sue me, my husband and I can afford a brand new refrigerator. Yes, I know that many people the world over cannot and my heart aches for them having to eat warm food, or no food at all. But still, our existing fridge was nearing 30, which is a fabulous age for a person but a terrible age for an appliance. For example, even when we turned the dial to the lowest setting it froze our fresh vegetables, the celery and cucumbers taking it the hardest. There were lots of other problems too boring to discuss. Trust me, it was time for it to go, and our keeping it wouldn't help any of those people without refrigerators one bit.

A few weeks ago we went shopping for one and were surprised to see how far refrigerators have come: Many models are quite beautiful, very streamlined and with special features I can't remember now but found impressive at the time. Sadly we couldn't get one of those because none would fit into our allotted refrigerator space, and it seemed outrageous to completely renovate our kitchen just to get a nice fridge. So we bought the only one that would fit, and there it is in my kitchen now, having arrived earlier this morning.

I hate it. It's huge, but not in a good way like the Goodyear Blimp. No, not at all. It's clunky and graceless with two doors that sort of puff out. The handles are Paul Bunyan-sized, and the ice-maker doesn't even work (yet) because the water line broke when the installers took the old one out, so now we need a plumber to come and fix it, making it cost even more. If you keep the door to the fridge open too long, like I did when I was filling it with food, it beeps annoyingly like your car chiding you to put on your seatbelt. And several times an hour it emits a grating sound reminiscent of an approaching Harley-Davidson. (I hope I get used to that.) Still, I know it means well and we need it and will likely embrace it as a congenial member of the family, in due time.

Until then, like I do with most bad experiences I'll view this as a weight-loss opportunity. Since right now I don't even want to look at the thing, naturally I'll steer clear of the kitchen and hopefully drop a few pounds. Honestly, it's more like ten, since we just returned from a vacation where we had gelato almost every day and when I stepped onto the scale this morning, I'm certain it laughed.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Fake Estate Agents

For about one year I worked as a real estate agent, which is a complete misnomer since so much surrounding that profession is fake. I quit when I finally understood that lying was an essential part of the job. After all, my boss explained, you need to get people to come to an Open House, and they won't come if you say the place is a dump the size of a postage stamp. So you say it's a palace. They'll find out the truth eventually so it's a victimless crime.

Fixer-upper with a view.
Today my husband and I checked out a condo in Florida, just in case we ever enact our plan to maybe someday own a condo in Florida. The place looked great online, and the agent talked it up on the phone, but she neglected so many things, like the lack of a front door into the building causing you to enter through the parking garage, and that the "great ocean view" was actually hidden behind a cement wall, and that the building's bathtub-sized swimming pool was directly in front of our teeny, tiny terrace, so close that if someone were swimming in the pool and we were on that terrace, we would likely get splashed. You know, boring stuff like that.

We left unsure of which we disliked more, the agent or the condo.

Friday, March 10, 2017


Earlier, while surfing the Internet trying to verify a rumor I heard at lunch that the former presidential advisor, Valerie Jarrett, had moved into the Obamas' new home, the better to plot against Donald Trump, I stumbled upon the following tidbit: "BBC Presenter Given Warning after Saying Transgender People Can Never Be Real Women." I was stopped cold in my search, trying to imagine if that could be true and who could argue that point? I mean really, all judgment aside, facts are facts.

Anyway, that Jarrett rumor better be false or things could get really ugly.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Vacation Blues

Palm trees blowing in the wind.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, studying which states would provide the best wind power, the five least windy states are Mississippi, Florida, Kentucky, Georgia and Alabama. That being said, having travelled to Florida with my husband two days ago to escape the frigid temperatures in Maine, since our arrival incredibly intense winds have made the whole place virtually uninhabitable, with few signs of letting up.

Years ago we were traveling in Europe and visited Provence, that storied land of fragrant lilac fields and abundant sunshine. We arrived during the Mistral, an intense wind that blows unabated for days at a time and is said to make people crazy. Before too long we understood why the French say even murder is forgiven after a week of le Mistral.

This brings up the problem surrounding the concept of "going on vacation" to "have a good time." It's a bad idea. Far better to stay home and figure out how to be happy (and remain alive) where you are.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

White People Suck

After reading today's collection of anti-Trump musings in the formerly intelligent New York Times, I threw up my breakfast and realized that daily reading of that paper is a great dieting tool. The lead article of the Opinion section asserts that since I am a white person I am a worthless cretin lacking any creativity. Only people of mixed race have any value whatsoever. Clearly, white people suck. This is why our current president sucks so bad. He is white, unlike our last president who was a multi-racial God.

I am leaving for Florida soon and will work hard at getting as dark a tan as I can over the next eight days. That might help.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Psychic and the Fat Ladies

John Edward
Last night my husband and I paid handsomely to see the former star of Crossing Over With John Edward in the flesh. I never saw his TV show, which aired from 1999 to 2004, but had heard all about the alleged psychic medium and was intrigued. And with the cloak of a Maine winter still heavy upon our shoulders, we eagerly seized the opportunity to enter another dimension, even for just two hours.

The most notable, and the day after most memorable, feature of the event, struck us immediately: The audience was at least three-quarters female, and of those women, well more than half were morbidly obese. Not just fat but all the way to ginormous. (My husband's word.) It was scary. Who were all these women and why had they all assembled in this local college auditorium at this appointed hour? Did fat women have a greater interest in communicating with the dead? Who knew? Once we adjusted to that oddity we settled in for some magic which never wholly materialized.

For the first 45 minutes Mr. Edward engaged in personable banter, sort of like a stand-up comic who wasn't trying to be funny. (He succeeded, although some of the audience members he chose to interview were a hoot.) Eventually, after telling us in stunning detail the circumstances of how his mental gifts had been revealed to him in childhood, he got around to displaying his talent. This consisted of closing his eyes, receiving instructions in his head from dead people, then asking things like had anyone in the audience ever been lost, or ever needed to be rescued, or knew someone whose name started with an S or maybe an SK sound or perhaps a B, or had ever a dog named Beau, maybe a German Shepherd. Whoever answered in the affirmative was quickly handed a microphone by one of the roving assistants and the questioning continued, with Edward telling that person things about him or herself they already knew, or maybe didn't know yet but might soon. One man was quite upset when Edward asked him, "Is your daughter Kate pregnant?" Turned out the daughter was indeed named Kate but the pregnancy, if true, was news to him.

And so on.

Not having been chosen for a reading, which was what Edward called his ability to pick random brains, I was mostly focused on how hungry I was and where we would eat after the event, although all the fat ladies dampened my appetite, eliminating pizza as an option.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Stop Russian Around

Brazen Kellyanne in the Oval Office
A dear friend of mine was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Making a bad situation worse, her husband has prostate cancer. Does this foretell His 'n' Hers chemo? I hope not. As for me, I often feel dizzy, ostensibly from my blood pressure medications. This is alternately annoying and frightening. Then there's my sister: She had a stroke late last year, and recently came down with some sort of infection. She was hospitalized for several weeks but now is back at the nursing home where she lives.

All of this causes me no end of grief, so excuse me if I don't have a cow over Kellyanne Conway putting her feet up on the couch in the Oval Office. Or pull my hair out because newly-appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions talked to a Russian person sometime last year. Actually, I don't give a hoot. And you probably don't either since you've surely got your own cancer people and stroke victims and God knows what else to deal with. I wish the media would stop with all the nickel and dime stuff and let us know when something big is already happening, or is about to.

Instead we are bombarded with "news" like Donald Trump Jr. was likely paid for a speech he gave in Paris last October to a group that was headed by a Frenchman who, with his Syrian-born wife, once met with some Russians to discuss how to help end the Syrian civil war. This earth-shattering story appears on page A-4 of today's Wall Street Journal under an incendiary headline ("Russia Ally Paid Trump Son for Talk"), but rest assured you will likely be hearing about it everywhere there's a news hole needing to be filled, soon enough and constantly. Like it matters.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Phony Baloney Liberals

Millionaire Moore even nauseates himself. Shown here, he is about to vomit at an anti-Trump rally.
The worst thing about politics is that it illuminates our personal tastes and beliefs, often exposing us for the idiots most of us are, yet lends an air of respectability to even the most heinous of creatures, making them appear thoughtful and profound. For example, the filmmaker Michael Moore is a gross pig of a man who has some serious mental issues like the obvious self-loathing that has led him to be a morbidly obese slob, yet he deflects any sort of criticism by shouting through his megaphone that Donald Trump (or any other successful person) is a gross pig of a man, thereby taking the attention off himself.

Since his hit 1989 film “Roger and Me,” Moore, a veritable God of the liberal left and self-appointed spokesman for the Common Man, has earned upwards of $50 million trashing capitalism. As of two years ago he owned nine homes.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Bad Behavior vs. Worse Behavior

President Bill Clinton, 49-year-old married father, gets repeated blow jobs (and more) in the Oval Office from his 22-year-old employee: That's fine, his sex life is his business.
Private citizen Donald Trump is secretly recorded joking that women will let him grab their genitals because he is famous: Shocking behavior sparking a national protest march.

President Obama is rewarded with a standing ovation for announcing in a speech that the wounded Congresswoman Gabby Giffords "opened her eyes."
Donald Trump is lambasted by the mainstream media for "pimping" the crying widow of a slain Navy SEAL during his recent address to Congress.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gets a pass in the murder of four Americans in Benghazi after their repeated requests to her for increased security went unanswered.
Donald Trump is accused of murdering a Navy SEAL who died in a mission that was planned by his predecessor and carried out six days after he took office.

Trump's new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is skewered by the mainstream media for being "anti-public school" because she never attended one herself.
The daughters of Presidents Clinton and Obama attended the private Sidwell Friends School ($39,000/year) in Washington, for middle and high school. Nice example!

A Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose

The Ladies in White

Nancy Pelosi in white.
Last night President Trump (that's who he is folks, deal with it) gave a speech to the Congress. It turned out to be a pretty great one, not only for Trump, who often goes off the rails with no notice, but for anyone in his position. He read his lines perfectly and was politically correct and decidedly un-Trumpish throughout. That couldn't have been easy.

Like a good boy, he kicked it all off with a respectful nod to Black History Month, which just ended. He then played nice for the next hour and threw lots of obvious bones to the Democrats. Still, did any of them appreciate it? Certainly not. They sat stone-faced and brooding like a bunch of pre-schoolers denied extra recess. The only thing Trump could have said to get any of the Democrats to applaud him would have been, "I am quitting as of tonight and crowning Elizabeth Warren as Queen."

The entire event presented a disturbingly strong visual of how just how divided our country is. One side repeatedly rose for standing ovations while the other side sat motionless behind grim expressions. But the very worst visual was the block of women sitting together who chose to wear white as a "show of support for women's rights." (Something about the suffragettes wearing white a million years ago.) Led by Botox Nancy, who continues to claim that Trump "dishonors women with his lewd behavior," the gang looked like a gaggle of lunchroom ladies on a smoke break. And for some reason Queen Elizabeth wasn't on that bus as she was wearing blue. The very second the speech ended, those ladies in white finally stood up, wasting no time getting out of there. How sad.

It was hard to watch grown-ups misbehaving that way. And the worst part is they get paid by us!