Thursday, August 31, 2017

Trending Now: Racism

An alert came up on my Facebook page about a rally to be held in downtown Portland tomorrow evening. It is being called Say NO to Racism, and supposedly if you show up there and hold a lit candle you will somehow display to all the others assembled there that you are against racism. Personally I am against racism and while I am in favor of lit candles, I am against attending rallies where I might get maced in the face (happened once, not fun) or run down by a madman (or madwoman or madthey) driving a van, so I will not be there.

Hattie McDaniel, Best Supporting Actress 1939
Instead I will stay home and be against racism in my kitchen while I cook dinner for myself and my husband, and later maybe take in a movie. But you can be damn sure it won't be Gone With the Wind, which is now being pulled from theaters nationwide because of its alleged "racial insensitivity." The 1939 film, beloved by thousands, maybe millions, for decades, and which earned the first Oscar ever awarded to a black actress (see photo), is now, all of a sudden, considered racist.

Racism is quite popular these days. It's everywhere, in places you never even suspected. Actually, anti-racism is even more popular. Either way, I would say the entire state of Maine is racist, being the whitest state in America, so simply by living here, my racism is implied. Throw in the white skin covering my entire body and I totally suck. In fact, I should light a candle and hold a vigil for myself and pray I don't burn in Hell for eternity just for staying white all these years. (If it's any help, I have never seen Gone With the Wind.)

Wednesday, August 30, 2017


Although I have long suspected it, I finally got 100% definitive proof earlier today that my adult son does not read my texts, he simply responds with non-committal words like "Cool!" and "Thanks!" so I will go away and leave him alone. This realization is both depressing and freeing, the former because I gave birth to him and it was a long, hard labor with no drugs and I deserve better, and the latter because now I can say anything I want without fear of reprisal. (Ditto this blog.)

Comfort Food at 30,000 Feet

Ever since my first commercial jet flight (at age 22) made an emergency landing in a fallow cornfield outside of Frederick, Maryland and necessitated my exiting the aircraft (along with all the other screaming passengers) via an inflated rubber chute, I have been what you might call "a nervous flyer." However, despite that unhappy experience I have flown literally countless times, up, down and across the country and over the pond, although I am never happy about it and always assume a dire outcome. So I was cheered when I spied an article with the headline, "Airline creates 'mood food' snack box to help calm nervous passengers."

I learned that under the tutelage of an esteemed Oxford University professor, Monarch Airlines has recently begun serving a mood-food snack box specifically designed to calm jittery passengers. Here's what they get: First, a dish of echinacea and licorice ice-cream to help reduce symptoms of coughs and colds. (Yum?) Next comes some lavender/green-tea flavored rice cakes to aid relaxation and counteract jet lag, washed down with herbal teas to avoid bloating. (Yuk.) Finally, sort of like a dessert, there's a umami seaweed biscuit and a caramelized bar covered in umami mushroom and tomato powder. (Barf.)

Despite my wide vocabulary and love of sushi, still I had to look up the meaning of umami, which turns out to have nothing at all to do with raw fish. Instead, it refers to a category of taste in food other than sweet, sour, salt, and bitter, corresponding to the flavor of glutamates, especially monosodium glutamate. (Yikes.) Okay, so I guess won't be booking any flights on Monarch.

Instead I'll stick with the usual suspects and continue to rely on my very own mood foods, which include one 5 mg. Lorazepam swallowed just before entering security and a Bloody Mary immediately upon boarding, followed by a stream of blatantly unhealthy snacks. These include but are not limited to a package of Chuckles, countless bags of those mini-chocolate-chip cookies and flavored popcorn and Sun Chips -- I love those -- that the flight attendants hand out, a black coffee and perhaps a bottle of water, and if it's a long flight to Europe, another Lorazepam and maybe a glass of red wine to wash it down, but only if there's turbulence. Otherwise, tomato juice. (No ice.)

That usually does the trick.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

It's Hard Being Human

After picking up my friend at the airport, we stopped for lunch on the way home. On the drive I heard all about her trip, asking more and more questions to get the whole picture. Once at the restaurant, having ordered and while waiting for our food to arrive, I told her about my own recent brief excursion to New York, even though she had not asked about it or about anything at all, in fact. Nevertheless I soldiered on until, sensing a subtle lack of interest on her part, I ended by declaring the few days my husband and I had spent visiting our friends as "a great time."

I said that because A, it actually was a great time and B, it's what you say, unless of course you had contracted food poisoning or encountered a destructive tornado or someone in your group had died. You just say "I had a great time," and leave it at that. But my friend, in all sincerity, asked, "What does that mean? How do you even have a great time with people?" Her question alerted me to the realization that she and I had never had what could be called "a great time" together, and possibly she never had a great time with anyone, and maybe that's why she asked.

Coming up with an answer wasn't easy. More and more these days, spending time with people you actually enjoy is a rare and almost indescribable pleasure. You know it when you see it, but in our oh-so-politically correct culture, when even a casual friendship places harsh demands on the participants, it's not that often. Now you've got to feel the same about politics, race, religion, climate change, food additives, free speech and gender issues, and God forbid, if you don't see a neo-Nazi hiding around every corner then you must be one too!

Say the wrong thing and suddenly there's tension in the air. The slightest hint of a difference of opinion can turn a smoldering ember into a huge, all-consuming firestorm of hurt feelings and misunderstandings. It's literally exhausting, making me suddenly comprehend that true friendship is exhilarating, and that makes all the difference.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Redefining Friendship

One of the few tangible perks of aging is that you finally stop tolerating other people's bullshit. Here at the start of my eighth decade in my current human form, I have honed my standards to a fine edge, concluding there is little reason to pretend admiration for someone you secretly dislike simply for the sake of harmony. Besides, it's not fair to them.

What triggered this musing is a recently resurfaced memory of my closest friend from my early thirties until my mid-fifties. At the time I found her funny, irreverent, refreshing and entertaining, but now I look back in horror at her often blatantly disgraceful behavior. This included a two-year affair with the husband of another close friend of mine that I was forced to silently condone, making me a willing accomplice and thus feel personally ashamed through osmosis. Also, she consistently kept an open bottle of red wine in the fridge (bad enough in itself) for six months and would actually serve it to her guests, and reused the same strip of dental floss for a whole week, discarding it every Sunday. Her lame defense for both was, "Money doesn't grow on trees," yet she came up with enough of it for a facelift, so go figure. I finally pulled the plug after more than twenty years of biting my tongue and have never regretted it.

Lately I am much quicker to pull the plug. Almost as soon as I find myself thinking only negative thoughts about someone, that's it. Unlike in my youth when my home was a revolving door for reprobates, miscreants and delinquents of every stripe, these days sluts, liars, addicts and the just plain unprincipled need not apply. The downside is that I spend a lot of time alone, but the upside is knowing that the friendships I do maintain are with people I strongly value and deeply respect.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Art Appreciation with Allahu Akbar

Once again someone did something terrible while yelling "Allahu Akbar!" Apparently a certain type of individual, and to avoid being accused of racial profiling I will just call that person a total whacko nut job, believes that even if they do a bad thing while yelling "God is Great" in Arabic, everything is cool and they will be rewarded. This time it was someone who attacked London police officers outside of Buckingham Palace with a 4-foot long sword.

This got me wondering: If someone shouted the phrase while doing something good, would it net positive results? I may try that the next time I show one of my paintings in an exhibition -- just stand there and call out the phrase and see if the painting sells. Of course that would be quite tiring, standing around all day, and what about bathroom breaks? Far easier would be to simply include the phrase in the title of my paintings and think happy thoughts. Here are a few examples:

"Only the Akbar Allahu Can Make a Cow (and a Forest)"
"Flower Arranging With Allahu Akbar"
"In the Akbar Garden of Allahu"

"Allahu Akbar Hanging Out at Home"

"One of Allahu's Akbarest Virgins"

Friday, August 25, 2017

Squawking Over Squaws

A Lakota squaw.
It's been almost 18 years since an IBM computer bested world chess champion Garry Kasparov at the game, making lots of people think that computers are so damn smart. In fact, according to Wikipedia, "chess programs running on commercial hardware - more recently including mobile phones - have been able to defeat even the strongest human players." This makes some people predict that computers will soon outsmart humans and start running things.
Well guess what: Many computers are morons. I know that's considered a bad word these days, but only when referring to a human being. I think it's okay to call computers morons because A, they are after all machines and B, they are moronic. And here's why. 
Recently playing Words With Friends, an online game I personally am addicted to, I could make the word SQUAW for 68 points, putting me well ahead of my opponent. But a message popped up saying "Squaw is not a valid word on Words With Friends." WTF, I thought. Why not? Oh right, because Nancy Pelosi wouldn't approve, somehow it might make an Indian, oops I mean Native American, feel bad, even though the definition of "squaw" is not insulting to anyone in any way. According to Urban Dictionary: "The word comes from the Massachusetts Algonquian tribe and means: female, young woman. The word squaw is not related to the Mohawk word ojiskwa which does mean vagina. There is absolutely no derogatory meaning in the word "squaw."
Nevertheless, the supposedly super-brainy computer running Words With Friends declared the word unacceptable, so I grudgingly made a different one for a lot less points. Afterwards I checked the game's feature that is called Hindsight, which shows you what word you could have played instead for the most points, if only you were as smart as the computer. In this particular case, it was SQUAW.
See what I mean? 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

A Refreshing Surpise

This afternoon I went to an art opening at a small, local museum. The artist's daughter, an attractive woman about 45 years old, was in attendance. We struck up a conversation and I asked if she had inherited any of her mother's creativity. She replied, "I guess you could say that. I'm a dancer." When I asked if she danced professionally, she said that it was a tough way to make a living and so she performed only in amateur and community productions. "Dancing is my passion," she explained with a shrug, "but it doesn't pay."

By then my curiosity was piqued, so I asked what it was she did for a living. Leaning towards me and lowering her voice almost to a whisper, making me think maybe she was a high-priced escort or perhaps a stripper, she replied, "I'm an internist."

I was shocked, and doubtful at the same time. After all, has anyone ever met a physician who didn't advertise that fact? Later on her mother confirmed that indeed her daughter was a doctor, confiding, "She tells everyone she's a dancer first. It's who she really is."

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Look Out Below!

Tourists have always seemed to like the Washington Monument. What did they know?
My nephew, smart and passionate in these matters, informed me just last night that 750 statues all around America that have ties to the Confederacy must come down, stating, "Taking them down is all about the present and the future. It's about the message given to black children today and every day they remain." So in light of the following information on Wikipedia, it looks like the Washington Monument will have to go, and possibly Washington's Mount Vernon Estate, a popular tourist attraction, slave quarters and all:

"When George Washington was eleven years old, he inherited ten slaves; by the time of his death, 317 slaves lived at Mount Vernon, including 123 owned by Washington, 40 leased from a neighbor, and an additional 153 "dower" slaves." While these dower slaves were designated for Martha's use during her lifetime, they were part of the estate of her first husband and the Washingtons could not sell them. As on other plantations during that era, Washington's slaves worked from dawn until dusk unless injured or ill; they could be whipped for running away or for other infractions.
Visitors recorded varying impressions of slave life at Mount Vernon: one visitor in 1798 wrote that Washington treated his slaves "with more severity" than his neighbors, while another around the same time stated that "Washington treated his slaves far more humanely than did his fellow citizens of Virginia."

Nobody seemed upset (by the Monument) when Martin Luther King Jr. spoke there.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Removing Statues and Brain Cells

Once upon a time I had this friend . . .
We really hit it off. We'd meet for lunch almost every week on her day off. Sometimes it would be every few weeks when our lives got busy. We always enjoyed one another immensely, exchanging books back and forth and generally gabbing for hours about literature, our kids, diet and exercise, and sometimes a teeny bit of politics. Then along came Trump.

Please understand: I am no Trump-lover, but instead of jumping on the CNN or MSNBC or FOX bandwagon, disparaging or praising the president no matter what he says or does, I prefer to hear  both sides of any issue and judge for myself. I have made that point repeatedly in this blog and I have also made it in person, apparently to no avail. One day at lunch, my always cheerful friend seemed downright grim after I said something that could be construed as my not loving Hillary Clinton and also not wishing Trump would die a horrible and painful death, which is how she felt and had made quite clear over the months of our shared Pad Thai noodles and Caesar salads since the election. That day we parted without our usual hug.

Vintage political button, circa 1980s
Since then there have been no texts. No, "Let's have lunch!" I ran into her a few weeks ago and asked, half-joking, "Are we breaking up? " She replied, "No, of course not, the kids are around, it's summer, I've been busy." Then it hit me: I'm breaking up with her. She actually likes Nancy Pelosi (how could she?) but I never considered dumping her for that. Still, she couldn't handle my independent thinking, and I was tired of hiding my true feelings just to maintain a friendship that didn't allow for differences of opinion.

Beside my husband, my very best friend in the world is an unapologetic, unswerving chronic Democrat. But he's also smart and has taught me a lot about the world, so he gets a pass. Another one is my brother-in-law, who is generally open to learning how the "other side" might feel even if it's not how he feels. He too gets a pass. Other than those two, I'm done with lemming-like Democrats who mouth what's expected without any thinking to back it up, and who now believe that the removal of inanimate stone and bronze sculptures shaped like people who lived and died hundreds of years ago can also remove the ugliest truths of our history.

The rabid left can take down every last Confederate statue in the country and it still won't eradicate slavery from our past or racism from our present. I guess what's coming next is mass lobotomies for the populace: "Step right up, ladies and gentleman, and have all that nasty history wiped out in one fell swoop! It's fast, it's easy, and you'll feel so much better afterwards!"

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Enough Already

Today's Wall Street Journal. Suitable for framing? 

According to statistics, 151,600 people die each day. 
That comes out to 6,316 deaths per hour. 
Got it?
So enough already with the 1 person who was hit by a car when a crazy person drove into a crowd of people on the street.
She was not a saint.
She was a regular person.
You wanna talk about people who died?
Let's talk about my friend Noreen Welle who I miss every day. 
She died of Multiple Myeloma in 2006 at the age of 57.  
She was a loving wife and mother of two young girls.
I knew her for 20 years and I have no idea what her favorite color was.
News of her death was not on the front page of every newspaper.
It should have been.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Stop the World, I Wanna Get Off

As of today, the amusement park ride known as America the Beautiful is going faster and faster. Too fast, if you ask me. In fact it's spinning dangerously out of control and making me so nauseous I might throw up. Certainly others feel this way; be prepared for mass vomiting in the streets. Something must be done. Surely this cannot go on much longer. Can it?

I tried to look away when The Mooch was appointed White House Communications Director. Fortunately he held the title for only ten days. But now a new one has been appointed, and she is 28 years old, a former model, very pretty and stylish, and with no experience in anything political unless you count being Trump's campaign press secretary as experience. Naturally the citizenry is aghast and agog. Tongues are wagging, rumors flying: "She's his mistress!" "He likes 'em young!" "Lookout Melania, here comes wife number 4!"

This news arrived on the same day an ordinary young woman standing in the wrong place at the wrong time was anointed as a saint, with hundreds of people in attendance at her televised (on all major news channels!) memorial service, some wearing purple because that was her favorite color and the only thing many of the mourners knew about her. Still, "she stood up for what she believed," said her mother, and next thing you know she's Joan of Arc.

Don't get me wrong: it's very, very sad that she died, run over by the car that rammed the crowd of protesters protesting the protesters in Charlottesville last weekend. But not as sad as some other deaths of true saints that went unnoticed because they served no political purpose. For example Mitch Snyder, champion of the homeless in Washington, D.C. and a personal hero of mine, committed suicide in 1990 after "saving literally thousands of lives," according to Robert Hayes, founder of the National Coalition for the Homeless and a close associate of his at the time. No big televised funeral, however.

So please, somebody, stop this ride, I wanna get off. I'll get back on when Trump is gone, unless the next POTUS turns out to be even worse, which would not surprise me one bit.

Some Statues Still Standing

Chances are high that if you spend any time at all reading the comments following many of the articles on Facebook you're afraid to leave your home. (I know I am.) There is so much hate out there -- seething, roiling and deranged -- it's bound to hit you sometime, somewhere, even if you are a nobody who never hurt anyone. So it's little wonder that these days the Trumps are always targets. Even Melania, guilty of nothing but being too beautiful and not smiling enough, is at the receiving end of hateful comments. Just today some Internet troll (judging by his profile picture) called her "a butt-ugly ho." Naturally a debate ensued, taking the conversation deeper and deeper into the sewer, with name-calling between total strangers reaching a fever pitch.

"Our Lady of Victories"
Why this is true baffles me. It's also what keeps me from going on business trips with my husband to big cities like Philadelphia and Chicago. Those meanies are out there. I prefer my controlled environment of lobster-loving tourists and seagoing fishermen. And so far no monuments in Maine have been defaced in the name of Democracy, which is nice. Shown here are some of our public monuments yet to be tumbled by frenzied hatemongers:

"The Hiker"

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (poet)
The Maine Lobsterman
Director John Ford (native son)
Hannibal Hamlin (VP under Lincoln)
Joshua Chamberlain (32nd Maine governor)
Paul Bunyan (fictional character)

George Cleeve (founder of Portland)
The L.L. Bean Boot
The Portland Fireman

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Tragedy of Comedy

I like to go to bed early and wake up early. This behavior affords many benefits, not the least of which is avoiding all those late-night TV yokels who are paid to keep insomniacs company. Judging by what shows up on social media most days, and sometimes even in the newspaper, on the radio and on the TV news, most of these alleged funnymen (and one woman) dip into the very same well for their jokes, and that particular well is President Trump.

Say what you will about the man, Trump was elected president fair and square and he's what we've got for the time being. And since our world is in chaos and so many of our citizens are hooked on street drugs and/or antidepressants (if they're not committing suicide or shooting up night clubs or mowing people down in the streets), it seems downright dumb to heighten our collective anxiety by denigrating the leader of our country night after night, week after week and month after month. How funny is that, really?

So to all those clever wits who make a living by continually mocking Trump, his family, his cabinet and in fact every last Republican, I say lay off POTUS for five minutes and hire some new writers. (Try some funny ones!)

Monday, August 14, 2017

Man on a Horse

In an article about the sole casualty of the Charlottesville, Virginia riot, a 32-year-old woman killed when a car plowed into a crowd of protesters protesting the original protesters, it was revealed that her favorite color was purple. According to her boss, she wore it to work almost every day. I'm guessing the article's author included that fact to make us relate to her. She loved purple, and now she's gone.

Apparently many people have been moved by the woman's death, enough to donate to an online fund for her family that thus far has raised $200,000. Rather than being moved I am confused, wondering why a sensitive young woman who loved purple, or anyone except a police officer on duty, would willingly venture into a gathering of racist, white nationalist neo-Nazis bent on wreaking havoc, and all because of a statue of a man on a horse erected 93 years ago.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Happy Dead Anniversary

The Happy (Dead) Couple
Many lovers of literature recently celebrated what would have been the 105th wedding anniversary of writer Virginia Woolf and Leonard Woolf, publisher and an author in his own right, who married on August 10th all those years ago but are both long dead so why bother since neither one will be in attendance at any parties in their honor. Also, who's to say that the pair would have stayed married that long anyway? After all, just a year after they married Virginia fell in love with a woman and embarked upon a brief affair. And she had other suitors as well, and Leonard didn't seem to mind. And eventually Virginia quietly scurried out of the house while Leonard was upstairs working and went to a nearby river and filled her coat pockets with rocks and slowly waded in, letting the waters fill her lungs and blot out all the frenzied voices forever, leaving behind that very husband, the wedding to whom is being celebrated, so draw your own conclusions.

This is the exact thing that my husband thinks is wrong with me. Or rather, one of the many, many things that are wrong with me. I'm not sappy. I'm too direct. I'm too hard. I'm not like other people. I don't engage in normal, expected behaviors. I ask too many questions. I don't make small talk. Instead, I make people uncomfortable with big talk. (If you are in that last group I suggest you stop reading this right now before it's too late.)

Listen, I have no idea why I was born or what I'm supposed to be doing with my life, but I sincerely doubt that my sole purpose here is to make other people feel good about themselves. If from time to time I can, by offering solace in a time of need or handing out twenty dollar bills to the homeless, I'll jump at the chance. Otherwise I have my hands full trying to make myself feel good about me, and so far I'm not doing such a great job at that.

So if you want to bake an anniversary cake for Ginny and Len, go for it. Stick in 105 candles and have a grand old time. I plan to celebrate quietly, on my own, by trying for like the tenth time to get past page 12 of To The Lighthouse, or Mrs. Dalloway, or in fact any book written by Ms. Woolf. But this time I'll drink a few cans of Red Bull first.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Truth About Old Age

I just read some fairy tale, I mean magazine article claiming to blow the lid off the myth of old age. The author declares she is committed to aging with grace and gusto: "I work out at CrossFit four or five days a week, I belong to two other gyms where I do boot camps and spin classes. Last year I became a certified senior fitness instructor and started teaching fitness drumming. I run, I bike, I hike, I kayak and I’m starting to get comfortable on a stand-up paddle board. Basically, I’m an old lady who, by virtue of persistence, tenacity and sheer cussedness, can probably kick your butt."

"Old lady," my ass! Turns out the author is 64, which is not even old, it's older, so why is she even talking? Besides, she goes on to admit that she got shots of Botox to eliminate her forehead wrinkles, so she's not exactly a reliable source. I stopped reading. As for me, at 71 years I am not only merely old, but really most sincerely old. I have wrinkles that show on the outside and all sorts of things on the inside that don't show but that are constantly messing me up, and let me tell you, it's no fun.

The truth is, Helen Mirren and Jane Fonda aside, aging sucks. And although I may appear younger than some people my age it still sucks, despite the fact that I am not fat, do not have thinning or grey hair and exercise with a personal trainer several times a week. I can do squats and lunges and all that other crap. I am strong. I don't fall down. I think young. Some of my friends are less than half my age, so I'm guessing I'm no fuddy-duddy. But here's the rub: my insides are still getting older no matter how much moisturizer I slather on my outside.

How much older, you wonder? I woke this morning and tried to stand up but the floor was slanted crazily and the walls were caving in on me. I felt so dizzy, all I could do was fall back in bed. It was another severe episode of my BPPV, or Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, which causes one or more of the crystals lining the inner ear to dislodge and float freely inside the ear canal. This results in a severe spinning sensation and completely dismantles any sense of balance. It can last from half an hour to half a day, and it precludes your doing anything except crawling. Apparently it's caused by "aging."

Besides the BPPV, periodically I get ocular migraines which last about 20 minutes and feel like you took a tab of acid but you don't get high, you just see thunderbolt-shaped flashes of neon white light throbbing in your eyeballs. (Not painful but quite annoying.) I take meds each morning for blood pressure and Miralax each night for constipation. I have almost constant tinnitus and far fewer teeth than I started with. Despite dieting, I've grown thicker around the middle. Worst of all, according to my physician, all these horrid conditions are "as common as a penny." He insists I'm in great shape, for someone my age.

So, unlike the 64-year-old young lady who wrote that article, I'll pass on the Botox for my outside. I'm waiting for the day when they can make my inside younger.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Spare Us the Details

 "Hey, great news -- this morning I had a very satisfying bowel movement. (pm me for details concerning size, consistency and color.) This is good news since I have been plagued by bouts of constipation from my blood pressure medications, so to combat that I take a dose of Miralax every night at bedtime. Some days it works really well, and today was one of those. Have a blessed day!"

Sorry, just trying to make a point. Is it just me, or does everyone agree that Facebook has become a tad too personal? People think nothing of posting the intimate details of everything from disturbing  photos of their post-surgery wounds to sappy-sweet declarations of love for their significant others. I wish they would all just keep it to themselves since few people care, especially strangers who end up reading the stuff when one of your Facebook friends "likes" it and it shows up in your "news."

For example, do you want to hear what happened to me yesterday? I was at the garden shop and they have those giant carts to put your plants in, you know the kind with wheels, and I somehow rolled it over my left pinkie toe and the nail came completely off! It was gross, there was blood everywhere, and it really hurt a lot so I couldn't reach my camera or else I would have posted a picture of it bleeding. Wow, it was a real gusher!

Come on folks -- are there no limits?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

On the Ballot in 2020

Politically, things are going from bad to worse. This morning on TV I saw that Mark Zuckerberg is making noises about running for president in 2020. He even showed up somewhere wearing a suit and tie instead of his usual jeans and grey t-shirt uniform. Similar rumblings have come from Oprah Winfrey, Kid Rock, Kanye West, Joe Scarborough, The Rock and Elizabeth "Pocahontas" Warren.

If any of this is true, somebody please make it stop. Or don't. Who knows, maybe who the president is doesn't matter much after all. In that case, here are my Top Ten Picks for President next time around, and why:

1. Louis C. K.: Hysterical, and we could all use a good laugh.
2. Condi Rice: Brilliant, knows politics, and black.
3. Laura Bush: Classy and smart and it gets George W. back in the White House.
4. Monica Lewinsky: She already knows the ins and outs of the Oval Office.
5. Trey Gowdy: Straight talker, goes for the jugular and is fun to look at.
6. Chris Wallace: Fair and honest.
7. Jackson Browne: Imagine the Inauguration!
8. Jane Fonda: Still beautiful at almost 80, won two Oscars, and has a great sense of humor.
9. Tom Hanks: Everyone loves him all around the world.
10. Liam Neeson: Have you seen Taken?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Hillary's Gone Bonkers

Since the Oscars are a long way off and I don't want to lose my catty claws, I will take this opportunity to sharpen them, although it is literally like taking candy from a baby. Vogue magazine ran the above photo with accompanying copy describing Hillary as the "best-dressed guest" at the recent wedding of some Democratic nobody in New York City.

WTF? Unless it was a lampoon issue of the magazine, I am stymied. Also stumped, stupefied, freaked, apoplectic, hysterical, chagrined, depressed and downright disgusted that anyone in their right mind would A, design and produce such a hideous article of clothing and B, charge money for it and C, have someone famous and wealthy buy it and then D, actually wear it out in public.

It looks like a shower curtain, or a tarp or a swimming pool cover. This is something I would put on if I were coloring my hair at home. Maybe. Or having a home birth, perhaps. Obviously Hillary has gone totally bonkers after losing the election to Donald Trump; who wouldn't? As for the editors at Vogue, I guess if you give them enough money they will print just about anything. Nice shoes, though.

Comfort For Sale

Of all the brilliant lyrics written by John Lennon, one line that sticks in my head illustrates how perfectly he captured so much in so few words: "I read the news today, oh boy."

I read the news today, and oh boy. While there was no mention of "4,000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire," still there was plenty of death and destruction to go around. In fact, being highly empathetic my mood gradually soured as I turned the pages of the newspaper, and by the time I reached the editorials I was weeping into my oatmeal, which actually wasn't all bad since it was too thick anyway and the extra water helped.

Pulling myself together, I forged onward and found a brief article about cuddling, a therapeutic technique developed specifically to calm sufferers of anxiety, i.e. everyone who walks upright on two feet. Business is booming under President Trump, who is making everyone nervous with his constant tweeting. Turns out being a professional cuddler is a real job -- who knew? You can work for companies like Cuddle Party, Cuddlist, Cuddle Sanctuary and Cuddle Up To Me. Following is an ad for one called Cuddle Comfort:

Are you a kind, caring and understanding person who loves to cuddle? Become a Professional Cuddler with Cuddle Comfort and earn great money as an independent contractor. Be your own boss and get paid after each session with flexibility of your own schedule if you fit these requirements:
* You have a photo to attach.
* You can be affectionate to anyone.
* You are accepting of all races, ages, genders and sexual orientations.
* You should be reliable with strong interpersonal and communication skills.
* Ideally you should be a woman -- the market for male cuddlers is very small.
* You understand and agree to the Cuddler Contract.

Do what you want, but I'm sticking with my cat. He doesn't charge and he is sooooo fluffy.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Too Many What Ifs

Yesterday my husband and I joined our friends for a ferry ride over to a nearby island in the Casco Bay, just for fun. We packed a lunch and figured we'd have a nice boat ride, then hike around the island's trails, see some nature and then head home. Except right when we arrived we passed by the adorable little post office and saw a flyer pinned up on the community bulletin board advertising a house for sale. So we went to see it, on a lark.

The owner was there and she let us in and gave us a quick tour. We liked her, and we liked her house. And now we want to buy it. Great! How fun! Except for all the what ifs.

Like, what if it turns out to be a "real dump," like Trump described the White House before moving out so they could do all those renovations? And what if all the island inhabitants turn out to be complete whack jobs? Everyone we ran into said they had grown up there, or that their parents had, and that all their cousins live there too. One lady told us she has been spending summers on the island since childhood, but that, "Even after 50 years I'm still a newbie." What if all the islanders are inbred and crazy, even more than all the typical inbred and crazy Mainers we're already familiar with?

So what, right? Everybody's crazy these days -- I know I am. And nobody was running around wielding a knife and yelling "Allahu Akbar," at least not while we were there, and that's certainly worth something. Besides, if you worry about all the what ifs, you'll never do anything, ever.

So what if we just buy the thing?

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Just Do It

Praying is very popular on Facebook. Whenever someone announces they are ill, or that their mother died or their house was flooded or they broke their ankle in three places and will be bedridden for two months, instead of actually saying something concrete, people just write "Prayers" or "Sending prayers," and think they have done something. Nobody writes, "I'm sorry you are going through this terrible ordeal, please tell me how I can help -- I'll bring you dinner or walk your dog or pick up your kids from school or visit you in the hospital, just name it and it's yours." Nope, they just say "Prayers" and that's that.

Personally I have always thought that wishing, hoping and praying are three of the most overrated activities humans engage in, and wonder if other species do the same. It's hard to imagine a squirrel sitting on his fluffy tail inside his comfy nest (or burrow or whatever it is they sit inside) thinking, "Oh Great Squirrel, please let me find a lot of acorns for the coming winter." Not likely, which is why you see them always running around, scurrying hither and yon and especially up the pole to my bird feeder, on the hunt for food.

Having done my share of wishing, hoping and praying, I am sorry to report that none of it works. For example, I hoped and wished, and finally even prayed really hard that John Kasich would win the Republican nomination and ultimately the presidency in 2016, and we all know how that turned out. I recently looked up those words in the dictionary and this is what I found:
     to hope: want something to happen or be the case
     to wish: want something that probably cannot or will not happen
     to pray: address a solemn request to a deity or other object of worship
This explains why I haven't lost those stubborn ten pounds.

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Irresponsible Press

I hate secrets, especially when they aren't even mine. Like one in particular that I have been keeping since 1983-ish, for someone I am not even friends with anymore. It's a juicy one, involving a married man and a best friend and another friend, and I'd love to spill it to someone but I promised not to so I don't, and won't. It's best that way since nobody stands to gain and everyone stands to lose.

Washington Post Editor-in-Chief Martin Baron about to puke after reading his own newspaper.

Too bad the once esteemed but now trashy Washington Post doesn't feel the same way. Claiming they have a "duty" to report the "news," actually their lone motive is increasing their obscene profits. To that end, yesterday the paper printed every word of a private phone conversation between POTUS and the leader of a foreign country that was leaked to them by some lowlife ingrate with access to the White House. 

It's bad enough that vile insiders continue to leak classified information, but not half as bad as when the press spreads it to the entire world.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Euphemisms Suck

SO MANY PROBLEMS could be eradicated if people stopped speaking in euphemisms and started speaking the truth. Euphemisms serve no purpose other than to make bad things sound nicer. And when bad things sound nicer, they are apt to continue because after all, they're not really so bad. Like saying "every woman has the right to choose what happens to her own body" is so much nicer than saying "every woman has the right to kill the new human being growing inside her," despite the fact that it's the only way we get any new human beings. Ditto saying Planned Parenthood is devoted to women's health, unless health is defined as the absence of a baby in a uterus.

Case in point: I just heard TV reporter Andrea Mitchell call Trump's new communications director Gen. John Kelly a "great guy and a true patriot. " She gave as the leading example of his patriotic great-guyness the fact that "he sacrificed a son in Afghanistan." Really? He sacrificed his own son? How? Did he have him burned at the stake, or beheaded, or what, exactly? Turns out that back in 2010, Kelly's 29-year-old son, First Lieutenant Robert Kelly, was killed in action when he stepped on a landmine while on a patrol in Sangin, Afghanistan.

So seven years ago, Kelly's son was killed in a war. I'm guessing here, but I'm pretty sure that Kelly Sr. had nothing to do with it. Certainly he did not plant the landmine and direct his son to walk over it. So how did his son's accidental and awful and gruesome death turn into General Kelly's sacrifice? (I gotta say, I have a 29-year-old son myself, and if he told me he wanted to join the military in wartime I would try to talk him out of it. If he joined anyway and went to war, I would sacrifice myself immediately by jumping off a tall building.)

A popular euphemism cost the Democrats the last election and served up President Trump on a platter when they insisted on describing Hillary Clinton as "unlikeable" instead of "unelectable, hated, despised by everyone including her own husband and most Democrats, she can't possibly win, a drunken toad could beat her." If someone in charge had found the courage to say the truth, they would have never let her run. 

Who knows, they might have come up with a decent Democrat and things might be a whole lot better today. (Just like my Daisy and Gizmo and Rufus would all be awake, if only we hadn't put them to sleep.)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Time's A Wastin'

So Donald Trump liked to see the girls changing backstage when he owned the Miss Universe contest. So he once boasted to a friend in private that women let him grab their genitals because he is famous. He called comic Rosie O'Donnell a pig and inferred that a shrill reporter was probably having her period when she was so mean to him.

Okay, maybe not nice things, but they pale in comparison to the blatant bad boy antics of so many of our past presidents. "Purported wrongdoing ranges from having a serious sexual relationship outside of marriage (Washington, Lincoln, Wilson and FDR) to fathering a child out of wedlock (Jefferson and Cleveland) to having one or more extramarital affairs (Harding, Eisenhower, JFK, Johnson, Bush Sr. and Clinton)," wrote the New York Times in 1998 at the height of the Clinton-Lewinsky mess.

Believe me, I'm no fan of Trump, and once again I will say that if you all had listened to me and voted for John Kasich when you had the chance things would be so much nicer now, but hey, the current president is not the Devil incarnate. It's crazy how, with a world population of seven-and-a-half billion people, the news continues to center on that one person. One man. Just one, or in fractional terms, one seven-and-a-half billionth of the world.

Come on on people, wake up and smell the hummus! There's more to life than Trump and his family and revolving-door staff of incompetents, or even competents. You'd be wise to drop it and start living your own life before you come down with blastoma multiforme, an inoperable brain cancer, and are given three months to live, which is what's happening in the book I'm now reading. Chasing Daylight by Eugene O'Kelly describes how his diagnosis at age 53 put everything in perspective, but just a little too late. (He died.)

Yes, he died, but you are still alive! So forget about Trump and worry about something you can actually do something about. Look in the mirror; is your face a little droopy on one side? Have you been having more headaches than usual? Are you always tired? How about that mole on your neck -- was that there a month ago? I don't think so....

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Exit The Mooch, Send in the Clowns

I had decided to title this post, "Mooch, We Hardly Knew Ye," thinking myself clever albeit a bit hackneyed, but still right on target. But when I Googled the phrase to learn its origin, I found at least seven other bloggers and a few newspaper columnists had used the exact headline, so I scrapped it. That got me wondering even more about who first said it, and I was surprised to find it wasn't from Shakespeare, which I had always believed -- something about a guy named Yorrick. But no, it was not. Turns out nobody knows for sure.

There are several possibilities, but I thought the best answer for the source of the expression is an old Irish song, "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye," a woman's mournful message to her husband who lost both legs in battle. Another possibility was the best-selling book and the subsequent movie based on it with the same title, about John F. Kennedy's first run for a congressional seat in 1946. Whatever. The bottom line is, "Ding, dong, the Witch is dead!"

I for one am greatly relieved. It's bad enough having a Pixar cartoon for President, but that Mooch guy was too much like one of Tony Soprano's henchmen to be taken seriously. (Not that any of those political types can be taken seriously.) Mooch, or The Mooch as he liked to call himself, was a clown and now he's gone and that's a good thing. Still, I'm betting there are more clowns coming.