Thursday, December 31, 2015

Ready for The Big Night

Having lost all contact with my old friend Bill who used to read this blog and hated when I wrote about the "obvious" topic, letting me know in no uncertain terms that it was lame, I am now free to write about the obvious topic, which is that today is the last day of 2015, making tonight "New Year's Eve."

Despite the fact that when we all wake up tomorrow nothing will be any different except our wall calendars, it has always been quite popular among some segments of the population to party til dawn on this date simply because the planet is still spinning on its axis. I have never participated in this odd ritual, even back in my heyday as a hot single chick. Instead, I prefer to stay home and avoid the possible car accidents and terrorist bombings that sometimes accompany mobs of people, tons of alcohol and a random, deranged terrorist here and there.

However, in a nod to the celebration, earlier today I purchased a frozen Sara Lee cheesecake. Sometime before midnight I plan to let it thaw, then smother it with fresh berries and, along with my husband and a champagne toast, usher in 2016 with additional calories contributing to those eight pounds I've resolved to lose in January.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Hot Tub Dreams

Here in Maine it is snowing for the second day in a row, and I am pissed about it. All the true Mainers are ecstatic that winter has finally arrived. My neighbors glide by on their snowshoes and their skate skis, huffing and puffing in the frigid air, making me feel like the loser from Brooklyn that I truly am. But hey, I'm writing a book, so sue me -- I've got it going on.

Still, I'm beginning to understand why all the Jews move south when they hit a certain age. Why there are so many delis in Boca. And golf courses. Suddenly I'm ready to trade in four or five blizzards per year for a couple of Category 3 hurricanes. But not today.

Today I shoveled a path to our hot tub, climbed in, closed my eyes and fantasized. About the hot sand under my feet and the sound of the pounding surf. Finding seashells on the beach. Palm trees bending over, artfully, in those strong breezes coming off the ocean. Kites. Dogs chasing the tides, in and then out again. Lazing under those blue-and-white-striped cabanas we rented when we were in Deerfield Beach the last time. I threw in a couple of mojitos and some conch fritters from Key West just for fun. The smell of sunscreen. Heck, even the sound of all the air conditioners seemed appealing, a hum rather than a racket in this particular fantasy. It worked for awhile, but then it started snowing harder.

"Be here now," I keep telling myself. Be here now. Be here -- in the snow and the ice and the frigid temperatures and the shoveling and the poor cat can't go outside -- now (and for the next few months).

I may need a new mantra.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Tribal Ties

People are always saying that "family is everything," and I'm not just talking about the paid copywriters at Hallmark Cards. Philosophers, authors and even your average Joe have all proclaimed that "family" is what it's all about. Here are a handful of examples:

“Without a family, man, alone in the world, trembles with the cold.” 
-Andre Maurois

“Family is the most important thing in the world.” -Princess Diana

“The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.” -Confucius

"What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family." -Mother Teresa

"You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them." 
- Desmond Tutu

"Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten."-David Ogden Stiers

"When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching--they are your family.”-Jim Butcher 

"I sustain myself with love of family." -Maya Angelou

"The only rock I know that stays steady, the only institution I know that works, is the family." - Lee Iacocca

Blah, blah, blah--you get the point. But for some reason, these days it is simply not cool to live with one's family after a certain age. In fact, it's seen as a real shortcoming, a sign of failure if not clear-cut mental illness. In today's Wall Street Journal, an article bemoaning the lack of millennials jumping into the housing market begins this way: "More adults between the ages of 18 and 34 are living with mommy and daddy than ever before." It could have been written this way: "More young people between the ages of 18 and 34 are living with their parents than ever before." Instead the decision was made to denigrate those who either cannot afford to live on their own or choose not to by inferring they are immature babies.

My own millennial son is 28 and has been living on his own for quite some time. He's out in the world, working to pay his rent and maintain the right to be master of his domain. Good for him. Still, there was a time when several generations lived under one roof and were praised for it rather than demeaned. Young people today have enough insecurities to deal with already; they certainly don't need smug newspaper editors making them feel even worse.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Happy Birthday, Dadddy

Today is my father's birthday. I would call him to say "Happy Birthday" except he died on April 3, 1987 at age 72 or 75, depending on what document you look at. I still know my mother's birthday, my parents' anniversary and the date my mother died. Why do I remember these dates? This is completely useless information that remains etched into my brain, despite the fact that tons of other information I could really use is gone.

Zachary Solomon Schamis
My father is the number one person I would want to come back from the dead for a few days if that were a possibility. (George Harrison is a close second, but since I never knew George in person I'd choose my father. Still, imagine if George could just write one or two new songs!)

My father was a great guy who I never really knew very well, mostly because my mother drove a wedge between us for God knows what reasons. She died on November 20, 1981, so he and I had some time without her around to get to know one another.

He had beautiful blue eyes which unfortunately I did not inherit. He also had a great sense of humor, which I did.

His name was Zachary but everyone called him Zack. During his lifetime his name was special and thus very cool; he was the only "Zack" anyone knew. In fact, he died never meeting one other person named Zack. I named my son, who was born the same year he died, after him, but nowadays it seems like everyone and their brother is named Zack.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Waking Up and Moving On

The new owner can do whatever he wants with the tree stump outside the front door.

Yesterday was Christmas. As usual, being Jewish, it was meaningless to me. But one good thing about it was the total lack of traffic on the highway. That was terrific. My husband and I drove from southern Maine to New York's Hudson Valley with nary a truck on the road, no construction work and no unexplained traffic jams. It was smooth sailing all the way, and with everyone home opening their presents or eating plum pudding or worshiping the baby Jesus, we made the trip in record time.

Our mission was a sad one: closing down a dream. Ten years ago we bought a second home in a lovely rural setting that we thought might someday become our first home. A rambling old farmhouse on thirty acres of land, with a barn and a fish pond and woods as far as the eye could see, it offered us a welcome respite from the crush of urban life in Washington, DC. We spent the first few years working on it every chance we could. But somewhere along the line, random events changed our everyday reality. We moved to Maine and suddenly our regular life was just as relaxing (more, maybe) as being at our country getaway. Plus there was that long drive. We went there less and less, and finally made the hard decision to sell the place.

Now we're here to pack things up and wake up from the dream. It's sad to leave it all behind, especially the swimming pool. On the other hand, the next time a dying tree falls on the front lawn, we won't have to cough up $2,000 to chop it up and haul it away (and spend another $900 if we want the stump gone). And, as Mitch pointed out, now he's got some extra goggles for swimming at the Y.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Filling in the Gap

College graduation should never interfere with college drinking.
Graduating high school in June of 1964, I started college two months later. It was the thing to do. In fact, I had no options since back then there was no such thing as a "gap year." Had there been, I would have jumped at the chance to work as a nanny in Provence, or travel for a year right here at home. Visit several big cities, get a job as a waitress or sweeping the floors in a hair salon. You know, get a sense of the world. Meet people from other cultures, teach kids art, read books of my own choosing. Who knows where I'd be today?

Instead I went directly to New York University in lower Manhattan. I read books, some of which I hated and forgot right after the final. Even though I majored in fine art, I was required to take economics and history and chemistry. (Ha! Don't ask me anything about that stuff -- I still can't fill in all the states correctly on a map of the US.) Since this was in the late sixties I missed out on the whole binge-drinking, binge-TV-watching, coed dorms, "friends with benefits" thing. Basically I went to class, one of which required me to read everything Shakespeare ever wrote. (I definitely could have used some binge-drinking to get through that one.)

The painful truth is that today, attending college is all about jobs. It's aimed at making new worker bees to fuel the economy, pay the taxes and keep the hive humming. The official word from our Queen Bee, a position currently filled by President Obama, is that you need it to survive: “Higher education is not a luxury. Earning a post-secondary degree or credential is a prerequisite for 21st century jobs, and one that everyone should be able to afford. It serves as the gateway to better options and more opportunity." Reality check: Today’s crop of new B.A.s are staring at roughly 8.5% unemployment and 16.8% underemployment. Close to half of those who find work won’t even find a job that requires their degree.

To hide this dirty laundry, education experts come up with plenty of reasons to take out loans and and owe huge sums of money for the housing, food, books and travel to and from home that college students require. They say students have the opportunity to read books and listen to the lectures of top experts in their fields. Hey, guess what: Books are available everywhere, and so are TED talks on the Internet. In fact, the entire Internet is an education, and reading Wikipedia for several hours each day is totally free.

They say that the stimulating environment on campus encourages students to think, ask questions and explore new ideas. Not so anymore, since in these days of political correctness, college presidents everywhere are simply banning ideas that are considered to be too radical or different, or which may trigger uncomfortable feelings among the pampered student body. 

They say a college education provides the opportunity to gain valuable resources you'll need later on. "The more connections which are collected during your college career, the more options you will have when you begin your job search," says one expert I never heard of and neither have you. But today, unemployed college graduates living with their parents and playing video games while they look for jobs that don't exist to pay off their enormous student loans would dispute that claim.

Clearly the "gap year" is the way to go. Or better year, gap years... maybe two or three. After all, college will always be there, and the older you are when you enroll, the more you'll get out of the experience. If you're interested in this idea and need more encouragement to buck the establishment, read Vagabonding by Rolf Potts and Gap Year: How Delaying College Changes People in Ways the World Needs by Joseph O'Shea.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Presidential Slide

Growing up in the fifties, I thought the President of the United States was a holy man. The first one I can recall is Eisenhower, a somber sort who seemed to exist on another plane from the one I was on. I knew nothing about him other than that my parents didn't like him very much, but only because he was from the other team. Still, they never said anything disrespectful about him in front of me or my sister. He was the President, after all.

I really got interested in politics when JFK was running. I was a teeny-bopper by then and like all of my girlfriends, I thought he was soooooo handsome! My mother, a grass-roots political type, worked hard locally to get him elected. Somehow she found out where to go and got the two of us right in the front of the crowd as he was passing through our town. Kennedy shook her hand and smiled at me, and both of us were thrilled. After that I handed out leaflets for him all over our neighborhood. When he won, I took some credit for that; after all, I had helped! Then he got shot and I felt like a sucker. No more handing out leaflets for me. At 16, I was done with it all.

Clinton campaigning.
The presidential parade continued without me, each Oval Office occupant getting steadily stupider to my mind. LBJ showing off his stomach scar. Jerry Ford falling off a podium. Jimmy Carter with his sweaters and malaise. Dan Quayle and Al Gore as backups, should the worst happen. Sure there were a couple of good ones in there, but then Bill Clinton hired Harry Thomason (an L.A. producer and director best known for the TV sitcom Designing Women) as his "image consultant." Thomason designed his Inauguration, choosing a then-current hit by the rock group Fleetwood Mac as the Clinton administration's theme song. A theme song? Fast forward to Monica Lewinsky and the blue dress.

So it's no surprise to me that today the two leading contenders are a crude boor throwing his schlong around and a lying shrew shredding her secret emails. Hey, I can handle it -- I'm just sad that our country has fallen so far since the days when I thought the President was a holy man.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Gays, Vampires and Tattoo People

Just in case you are a vampire and were planning to give someone blood for Christmas, there's something you should know. Yesterday the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) lifted its decades-old ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood to their local hospitals or the Red Cross in these times of world crisis when more blood is in demand. "It's about time," you're probably thinking. But wait....

Before you tell all your gay friends, vampires or not, to roll up their sleeves and get to the nearest blood bank, you'd better read the small print: The old policy is being replaced with one "barring donations from men who have had sex with a man in the previous year." So basically, if you are gay or bisexual you can give blood freely only if you are a hideous troll with no sex life. Otherwise, forget it.

Meanwhile, all you straight people can donate blood even if you've slept with every one of the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, unless you have a tattoo, which lands you back in the holding cell with the gays and bisexuals. A one-year wait is required if the tattoo was applied in a state that does not regulate tattoo facilities. Currently, these include Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wyoming and the District of Columbia.

Who knew saving lives was so complicated? 

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Simple Question

An intriguing headline on the Huffington Post shouted "CHELSEA CLINTON MAKES BIG FAMILY ANNOUNCEMENT." Hoping it was that her mother had choked on a chicken bone and was no longer with us (just kidding), or that her mother had tripped on a banana peel and was in a full body cast (not really), or that her mother was just diagnosed with dementia (it's possible), or that her mother had come to her senses and realized she is not fit to run the country (if only), I bit. It turned out that the "big announcement" was that Chelsea had sex again and got pregnant again and is having another baby. And I wondered, this news impacts all of us how?

I am constantly trying to figure out how the lives of celebrities have anything to do with me, and why should I care that Charlie Sheen slept with thousands of women and is HIV positive and didn't tell anyone (oops), or that Bill Cosby, surprise, is and always was a sexual predator (I never liked him) or that any little thing that happens to some actor or actress or TV personality or talk show host or millionaire or billionaire who I do not know personally or is not responsible for running this country or another country or is not working on a cure for cancer or does not impact the lives of any of my friends and family in any way matters to me. Yet there it is, inane news about silly people, spread out for all the world to see, day in and day out.

Here's the simple question: Why is that?

Oh Grow Up

I am often unhappy. My shrink thinks it's because I was kidnapped when I was four and that the experience has colored my every waking moment, but my son says I should get over it already, that really, nothing bad happened and it was just one day, a long time ago. Who's right? No telling.

Still, when I hear other adults complain about their childhood traumas or their mean parents or whatever the heck it was that happened to them fifty years ago, I think, "Why lick old wounds when things are bad enough in the here and now?" ISIS is out to get us, Trump is ahead in the polls and Hillary awaits her coronation, so go out for a walk or whatever it is that turns you on, since today is the first day of the rest of your life. (Blah, blah, blah.)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Dream Eating

This time of  year my will power weakens and I find myself wanting to eat badly and thinking about food more than usual. Partly this is because our teeny, tiny post office puts out "holiday goodies" made by the locals, twice a day, so when you go get the mail in the morning there's that stuff staring at you. And then you go back to see what the afternoon offering is. In fact, this coming Tuesday is my day and I will be putting out my own Christmas sugar cookies, which are to die for if I may say.

Following is the list of what I never eat but would if I could just stop caring (like Hillary Clinton apparently has, did you see her at the debate last night?) about getting fat or having a stroke or not being able to fit into any of my clothes:

Mallomars (whole box)
Drake's Coffee Cake (several minis)
Potato chips (Barbecue flavor)
Sara Lee Cheesecake (Everyone likes it)
Entenmann's chocolate-chip cookies
Freihoffer's chocolate-chip cookies
Chocolate truffles (Expensive kind)
Fritos with Lipton's Onion Soup sour cream dip
Egg rolls
Chicken pot pie
Butterfingers candy bar
Three Musketeers candy bar
Cheez-its (whole box)
Bagel, lox and cream cheese
Key Lime pie
Mike & Ikes
Peanut M & Ms
Auntie Anne's pretzel with salt
Kosher hot dog on a bun 
Nathan's French fries with ketchup
Glazed honey wheat donut (or stick)
Anchovy and black olive pizza
Peanut butter & jelly sandwich on white bread
Grilled American cheese sandwich 
Any kind of sandwich at all

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Baba Ganoosh

The truly fascinating Gilda Radner as Baba Wawa.
Barbara Walters, also known as Baba Wawa to my generation, was once a groundbreaking journalist, the first woman to really make it big in the world of male-dominated TV news. Now she is 86 and clearly out of her mind. But she still gets to be on TV, since TV itself is an old and outdated hag. A few nights ago, the aging doyenne took to the airways and named Bruce Jenner, the former Olympian who got boobs but still has a penis and now wears sexy dresses and tons of makeup and insists on being called Caitlyn, "The Most Fascinating Person of 2015."

With a presidential election in the works full of people who actually are pretty fascinating (Dr. Ben Carson, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders), she got it so wrong that one wonders how. But since her list of the ten people who supposedly draw the attention and interest of everyone this year included actor Bradley Cooper (hot but not fascinating), comedienne Amy Schumer (foul-mouthed but not fascinating) and ex-comic Tracy Morgan (still alive but not fascinating), chances are Baba simply doesn't know the meaning of the word.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Be the Walrus

Yesterday I was weak but today I will be strong. One of the ways this will happen is that I will pray to be self-actualized, whatever that is.

In case you are wondering, I was not recently hit over the head with a cast-iron skillet, I just watched a few minutes of a YouTube video starring a woman named Marianne Williamson, who was introduced by Oprah Winfrey to a packed audience as "the most important woman in spirituality today." A pertinent fact is that at sixty-three, Marianne could be a cheerleader for the Dallas Cowboys, meaning she looks damn good for her age, or any age for that matter, causing me to wonder if she's had a spiritual facelift or uses spiritual Botox or is it just prayer that does that to a person.

Anyway, according to Marianne, we are all each other. No telling whether or not she was influenced by the Beatles, whose song, "I Am the Walrus," was written in 1968 and starts out with John singing "I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together." If so, that only makes her cooler in my book. And speaking of books, I'm buying hers today since who wouldn't want a year of miracles?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Don't Be a Has-Been

An ad now running on the Internet for acting lessons taught by Dustin Hoffman touts him as the star of The Graduate, Tootsie and Rain Man, movies made in 1967, 1982 and 1988, even though he's been in about fifty more since then. Okay, fine, so those were blockbusters, but who wants to learn acting from a has-been whose last success was almost twenty-eight years ago? That got me wondering: Am I a has-been? If so, I'd like to stop being one right now. After all, today is a perfectly good day, no more or less valuable than any other day in my life, not counting the music.

Okay, that day in 1979 when I had my first solo art opening in an eminent D.C. gallery -- that was a great one for sure. So was the one in 1987 when my son was born, and that other one in 1997 when my first column appeared in print and I ran around Salt Lake City buying up all the newspapers to send to distant friends and family. Those admittedly were good days, more memorable perhaps but not necessarily better than all the others. Still, I must have had special days since then, and maybe if I think about it long enough I'll come up with some.

Anyway, I may be old but I'm not dead, and I'm hoping to have another blockbuster or two myself.  Maybe even today.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Vegas Auditions

Last night I watched the Republican presidential candidates debate one another, if you can call it that. It was more like grade school kids name-calling on the playground at recess. The obvious big bully, Donald Trump, had everyone frightened that he might pick on them, although he seemed to be in relatively good spirits and only made fun of Jeb Bush, the namby-pambiest of them all. Jeb looked like he might cry a couple of times but still managed to get in a few good rejoinders, although it was hard to hear him over the boos, jeers and cheers of the raucous audience members, many of whom likely got juiced up beforehand at the Las Vegas casinos.

Ben Carson, a sweet and gentle man who saved the lives of many children during his long career as a pediatric neurosurgeon, repeatedly called moderator Wolf Blitzer "Woof." Not sure if he has a speech impediment or if he was inferring that Blitzer is a dog, but either way it seemed wrong. Also, Ben chose to use part of his 90-second introduction on "a moment of silence in memorance of the San Diego victims." Ben, sweetheart -- not only was it dumb to squander your pittance of allotted talk time on silence, but "memorance" is not a real word.

Carly Fiorina should just shut up already about how she was once a CEO of a big company (she got fired) and still knows lots of important people in Silicon Valley who could help the government if only they were asked, and she will ask if she gets elected and they will say yes because they all like her so much. (Smiley face.)  She also trotted out a new slogan and promised to "Take our country back!" about a hundred times. I couldn't help but wonder from where.

Quite some time ago Chris Christie underwent some kind of surgical procedure to lose weight and apparently it didn't take because he is still so fat it is actually distracting from his main message, which is that he is the governor of New Jersey and thus knows all there is to know about running an entire country. New Jersey is home to Bruce Springsteen (a rock star) and Tony Soprano (a fictional character), let's all remember. Besides that, I think Christie is a hoot and would be fun to hang out with.

The youngsters, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, both 44, tried to out-ethnicize each other. (I think Rubio might be 5% more Cuban.) But it's easy to tell them apart: The handsome, smooth-talking Rubio looks like a model for the Hair Club of America, while Cruz could convincingly play a young Frankenstein, if that counts for anything. They got caught up in the weeds of some legislation or other, so I went and did the dinner dishes and missed most of what they said.

Rand Paul and John Kasich occasionally piped in with pithy comments when they could but got little air time since their poll numbers are so low. Nevertheless, if you ask me (and my husband), either one of them would make a better choice than all the others. Sure, Kasich is boring and yes, Paul is self-righteous, but they are both smart and certainly would keep us safer than that cackling witch who will be representing the other team.

Sadly, the popular tag line "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" is not true.  Instead, a lot of what happened in Vegas last night is headed straight for downtown D.C. and the hallowed halls of Congress. Pray for us.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Can You Spot the Future Terrorist?

Adam Berry,Getty Images: Front page of today's Wall Street Journal, inside Berlin migrant shelter.

Right-Wing Anatomy Lesson

Believe me, I am no right-to-lifer. (Hah, quite the contrary!) Still, I find it annoying that there is a "thing" going around Facebook declaring, "No one harasses men on their way to a vasectomy." I assume this is a dig about women getting an abortion and how people may try to dissuade them beforehand.

This is stupid. It might as well say, "No one harasses men on their way to getting their tires rotated."

A vasectomy impacts one man and his inner workings, while an abortion impacts one woman and the living being growing inside her, which is the only way new people can get here. Those against abortions are speaking up for the fetus, which cannot talk yet. The bottom line: In a vasectomy, nobody dies. (See photos below if you are still confused.)

In 2012, the most recent statistics I could find, 699,202 legal induced abortions were reported to CDC from 49 reporting areas. The abortion rate for 2012 was 13.2 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years, and the abortion ratio was 210 abortions per 1,000 live births. I was unable to find statistics on the number of vasectomies performed in the US annually.


Monday, December 14, 2015

Don't Get Mad

Not to bum you out, but this could be the last one of my blog posts you ever read. I could die before I write the next one. Better yet, you could. With that in mind I'm trying to think of what wisdom I can share from living on Earth all these years, at least this time around. There must be something that I know that nobody else knows. There has to be, since we are each unique and have very different life experiences.

Okay, here's something. Earlier today I had an odd thing happen, and what made it odd was that it happened three times in a row, bam, bam, bam, within about two minutes total. I was just about to park my car at my local supermarket when a woman in a grey van sped up and cut me off, taking the very spot I was about to enter. "Huh," I thought, "that was weird. Oh well," I continued thinking, "maybe she has to pee and needs to get inside fast."

Then I spied another spot right nearby, and I was perfectly aimed for it and started right for it when a guy in a maroon sedan floored it and got there first. "What the heck?" I thought, chalking it up to the Christmas season. So then I drove around and there was someone pulling out of a spot and I put on my blinker and waited as the guy pulled out, when a blue truck on the other side of him who had just arrived on the scene slid right in.

That did it. I was pissed. I started screaming obscenities into the air, yes the F-word if you must know, and I could feel my blood pressure rising with my anger. And even though I got really mad, it didn't get me a parking spot.

Eventually I found one. But I understood two things very clearly: A, many people in Maine are oblivious and B, getting angry does nothing to alter one's circumstances.

Trump Trumps Fat, Sexy Gore

Wanting to write a post that will attract more readers than any I have ever written, I studied my blog's statistics to learn which topics have grabbed the attention of the most people over the last seven years. Despite more serious posts about health issues, the afterlife, meditation and the obvious dumbing-down of society, several of my least intellectual posts bubbled to the surface immediately. As the year winds down, I present you with an end-of-the-year summation of your favorite topics. To make it more fun (for me) even though it might be more confusing (for you), I will accomplish this feat in one sentence:

For most of the population, being grossly overweight surpasses both death and ISIS (including death caused by ISIS) as everyone's #1 fear, making it the story with the highest click rate, especially when accompanied by unflattering photos of the grotesquely obese, followed in no particular order by gory details of sensational and ultra-bloody murders committed by attractive young women, goofy put-downs of President Obama's big ears, harsh criticism of Hillary Clinton's cankles, anything that smacks of racism or mentions Al Sharpton, celebrity scandals involving sexual identity, transgender surgery or the Kardashians, any and all movie reviews, and most of all, lately, the teeniest, tiniest hint of a possible mention of Donald Trump doing anything at all.

Al Gore gets no clicks, although "climate change" and "the Internet" do.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Third Time's the Charm

I desperately want to quit Facebook -- again. This is the third time I will have tried and each time before I have returned. But maybe this time it will stick. It seems like such a time suck, and can be mighty depressing to boot: The constant comparisons of one's own life to the overblown facts of other people's lives can only lead to feeling smaller and less significant. Then too there are lost minutes, which can easily add up to lost hours. And the insidious advertising must be avoided at all costs!

Admit it: There's not much good to recommend it. The Internet is still out there if you need information, as are my personal blog (which nobody reads except my Facebook contacts), email address ( and phone number (available anywhere) for anyone who wants to contact me. As for Words With Friends, thank goodness I can play on my phone. That's really all that matters, after all.

I guess the best I can hope for is greatly limiting my time on Facebook. I'll get in, post my blog, and get out.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Wake Me When It's Over

Sophie's Choice circa November 2016
People seem to love disasters as long as they're not in them. Earthquakes, traffic accidents, mudslides wiping away entire villages in foreign countries, terror attacks, and Brian De Palma and Quentin Tarantino movies--the bloodier the better-- are all magnets for our basest instincts. We watch in horror but still we watch, fascinated and titillated and relieved it's not us.

The same is true of Donald Trump and his steadfast quest for the presidency. Americans can't seem to get enough about this man they say they detest, yet they continue to salivate over his every word. The media, claiming disdain, builds entire broadcasts and panel discussions around him. Even this teeny little thing, my personal blog, sees  skyrocketing readership numbers when I put Trump's name in the title.

Come on people, grow up: We all know he won't be our next president, so what's all the fuss about? Maybe if everyone started ignoring him he'd go away. And if he doesn't, remember this: "Toute nation a le gouvernement qu'elle mérite."--Joseph-Marie, comte de Maistre

Friday, December 11, 2015

Reading and Writing

I love to write. In fact that's all I really want to do these days. But the funny thing is, I no longer like to read anything written by anyone else. I read the news just to keep up, but even then I always find fault with the writing, and that's annoying. Typos, split infinitives, dangling participles and just plain wrong words bum the heck out of me. New fiction is the worst, with convoluted stories about epic adventures usually involving Chinese families dating back centuries are a particular turn-off, as are those hip, breezy comedies set in Manhattan about modern love triangles or a crumbling 25-year marriage that's falling apart in the Connecticut suburbs.

No wonder it's a dying art; young people have no more ideas because they're all too busy tweeting and texting their friends. And don't get me started on those so-called "beach books." So I just write, and read the same books over and over again, the ones that are flawless and never disappoint. Here's my personal list, alphabetical by author, for the best books ever written:

The Sweet Hereafter (Russell Banks)
Mildred Pierce (James M. Cain)
Mrs. Bridge (Evan S. Connell)
Mr. Bridge (Evan S. Connell)
The Hours (Michael Cunningham)
White Noise (Don DeLillo)
An American Tragedy (Theodore Dreiser)
Being There (Jerzy Kosinski)
Into Thin Air (Jon Krakauer)
Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer (Steven Millhauser)
Too Late the Phalarope (Alan Paton)
Maus (Art Spiegelmann)
Ethan Frome (Edith Wharton)
The Bonfire of the Vanities (Tom Wolfe)


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Mad About Trump

In print and on TV, the pundits and politicians are simply aghast at Donald Trump's behavior. They say he incites hatred. They say he's a racist and a bigot. That he's a loudmouthed, know-nothing moron. I say stop worrying about  Trump; after all, he's just one person and he's entitled to his own opinions. Instead, worry about the fact that he has so many supporters. (See photos below.) There are thousands of people out there who adore him, hanging on his every word, waving banners and going bonkers at his rallies. They truly want him as their next president. Worry about them.

No matter who gets elected in 2016, those folks will still be out there.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Embracing Fashion on the Potomac

Justice Kagan communicating.
One of the things that has always bugged me about Hillary Clinton (besides the constant lying and having Vince Foster murdered) is how ugly her clothes are. I understand that she's a tad lumpy and thus wants to keep herself well-covered, but still, that's no reason to walk around in trash bags accessorized with big jewelry. Then I came across an article about her "$1,400 pantsuits" and I was stunned. I did some digging and learned that many of Hillary's getups come from designer Nina McLemore and cost between $500 to $1,000 for a jacket and $400 for matching pants.

McLemore explains her prices by saying she is selling "more than just clothes," but instead "encouraging women to embrace fashion as a powerful communication tool." Some of her other customers are Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, certainly three women who immediately come to mind when one thinks of looking fashionable. (See photo.)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Sorry, No Entry

Stay away.
Donald Trump is at it again, stirring up a hornet's nest of controversy. It's dumb, really, since his plan to restrict all incoming Muslims in fear that some of them may be radical and are planning to do harm does little to keep us safe from the relatively few who are already here and planning to do harm, so what's the point?

But what do I know? I am not running for president, but if I were there would be quite a few groups I would ban from entering the United States, and in fact I'd get rid of many who are already here. Here's my short list:

1. Nobody with nose rings. You know the kind, with those balls at the end that look like snot running from your nose. Not allowed. Period. Too disgusting.
2. Ditto double lip piercings, multiple eyebrow piercings, and those giant holes in the earlobes. All of those cause nausea in the viewer and the last thing we need is a lot of vomiting in public.

All else are welcome.

Brothers From a Different Mother

What with all the fuss lately, I thought I'd better do some reading about Muslims and Islam and the whole business. I learned that all Muslims believe in the concept of Al-Qadar, which means Divine Predestination. This includes four basic ideas: 
1. God knows everything: He knows what has happened and what will happen.  
2. God has recorded all that has happened and all that will happen.  
3. Whatever God wills to happen happens, and whatever He wills not to happen does not happen.  
4. God is the Creator of everything.

Just what is Santa reading?
This reminded me of something, and for a while I was stymied as to what it was. Then it hit me. Following are the lyrics to Santa Claus is Coming to Town:

You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not pout
I'm telling you why

Santa Claus is coming to town
He's making a list
And checking it twice;
He's gonna find out
Who's naughty or nice
Santa Claus is coming to town
He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows if you've been bad or good

So be good for goodness sake!

The song, written by John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie, made its debut on Eddie Cantor's radio show in November 1934. It became an instant hit with orders for 100,000 copies of sheet music and more than 30,000 records sold within 24 hours. Meanwhile, Al-Qadar dates back to the 7th century, making it pretty clear where they got their material.


Monday, December 7, 2015

The Last Days

There were few people left. Most had opted to leave and go to Zaptar years ago. After all, Earth had become an unfriendly place to all but the ridiculously good-looking, the very young and the super-wealthy. Everyone else was chopped liver, scrounging around for a handout or a pat on the head. So when the government offered free rides to Zaptar, no questions asked, most average people went, hoping to at least be able to live out their lives in peace and maybe hear some music on the Intercom and get a candy bar every once in awhile.

Barlow had stayed. He was very handsome and tall and muscular and completely hairless, with beautiful green eye implants, just like all the other men on Earth. (See photo above.) In fact, everyone looked pretty much the same, with a few differences here and there supplied by tattoos and body piercings. His wife Grenada was of course also beautiful, with long, flowing hair and a generous bosom. Together they had three gorgeous kids who all attended the School and were studying to become broadcast journalists like their parents. With non-stop news running 24 hours a day, seven days a week on the huge monitors that were everywhere, it was quite a lucrative profession, even more prestigious than becoming a movie star, lawyer or plastic surgeon.

Most of the news they reported had to do with who was dating who, the newest advances in Youth Surgery, and most importantly, the latest fashion trends. Shoes had become very important, and anyone not properly shod risked ridicule. People of all sexes wore high heels, and the higher the better.

Everyone was sent to Zaptar on their 36th birthday on what was called the End of Life Flight. On Zaptar, nobody wore makeup and many people still wore sandals and denim jeans, both of which were outlawed back on Earth.

Everyday Magic

It is now 52 degrees here in Freeport, Maine, and that's just crazy! Last year we got snow three days before Halloween and never saw the grass again until May; this year we have not yet had one flake. Everyone is buzzing about it, wondering if this is global warming rearing its ugly head, but I know the truth.

When I was growing up, before my mother learned to drive (when I was 16 and she was ashamed because I got my license and she didn't have hers), we took the bus everywhere, except when we took the train.  On a typical afternoon we'd be waiting at the bus stop, and waiting and waiting, until finally my mother, frustrated, would pull out one of her Kents and light it up, saying, "Watch this, now the bus will come." And it pretty much always did, pretty much right away, causing her to grumble about wasting a perfectly good cigarette.

So this year, after the last six winters of getting stuck and being afraid to drive in a blizzard, I finally gave in and spent $1,000 on snow tires ($1,120 counting labor). So far we're well into December and we haven't seen as much as a frozen raindrop. If I knew I had inherited my mother's powers I would have used them long ago.

Top 10 Reasons Obama Sucks (IMHO)

The Leader of the Free World out for a spin.

1. He continues to say "ISIL" even though the rest of the world (except his underlings) says "ISIS," yet offers no explanation for his deviation from the norm. Just tell us why, once and for all!

2. His ears are way too big, making him look just like Curious George, a fictional character. This is distracting and makes it hard to pay attention when he gives one of his boring speeches or attempts to give a bumbling news conference without a script.

3. He abruptly ended his 20-year-long friendship with a man he had respected for 20 years (yes I know I already said that) because it made him look bad. The Reverend Jeremiah Wright often spewed hatred against white people in his weekly sermons, yet Obama later claimed in his own defense that he "wasn't listening." Well then what was he doing there anyway?  

4. He looks very silly when attempting anything remotely physical or athletic. (See photo above.)

5. He hates Israel and Bibi Netanyahu. As a Jew, this offends me.

6. He sent his daughters to a ritzy, ultra-private, over-the-top expensive middle and high school in Washington, D.C. instead of setting a great example and uplifting every single African-American citizen in the nation's capital (and the entire country) by sending his kids to the mostly-minority public schools, like former president Jimmy Carter did with his daughter Amy.

7. Talk about low energy -- he often seems like he took too much Valium. This might explain why he comes off as weak, ineffectual and sort of girly (not that there's anything wrong with that) most of the time.

8. He married Michelle, a woman who admitted she was "never proud of her country" until he was elected. (WTF?)

9. His middle name, Hussein, is off-limits. Years ago, when he was first running for office, his opponent John McCain was asked by a reporter if it was ever appropriate to use the Senator's middle name. McCain said, "No, it is not. Any comment that is disparaging of Senator Obama is totally inappropriate." So just saying his middle name is disparaging him. Huh?

10. I'm pretty sure he's a radical Muslim terrorist.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Dumb Laws

Have you noticed that every single legal prescription drug advertised comes with a long list of negative side effects, including a warning that it "may cause suicidal thoughts or actions," while smoking marijuana causes one to be mellow and relaxed and yet it remains illegal? With 40,000 suicides annually, translating into one every thirteen minutes or so, we can only surmise that our government is using prescription drugs --there are currently more than 6,600 on the market -- as a form of population control. (Oops, there goes another one.)

Saturday, December 5, 2015

A Look on the Bright Side

All those pundits are quick to find fault with politicians. Well I for one am sick of all the negativity. For a change, instead of tearing them all down I will say something positive about every one of the candidates currently in the running. After all, one of them will surely be our next president, so we'd better start liking them now.

Hillary Clinton owns four multi-million dollar mansions, and one 0f them is in Chappaqua, NY. That's a lovely town, I spent a bit of time there back when I was married to my first husband whose father often missed the train in Armonk and so then we would race to Chappaqua for him to catch it there. He was such a great guy.

Donald Trump has made a lot of money, and many people talk like that's a bad thing. But money is great; you can buy anything with it, like all those mansions Hillary Clinton has.

Chris Christie is not as fat as he once was, and I am envious. I have been trying to lose five pounds all year and here it is December already and instead I'm up two. Christie's got it all over me!

Ted Cruz is Cuban and my parents went to Cuba on their honeymoon. They had a great time, and I loved them both dearly.

Marco Rubio is also Cuban, and Cuban food is the best. There was this Cuban restaurant in Washington, D.C. called The Omega, and this one dish, called "morsels of pork," was to die for.

Jeb Bush looks, acts and sounds just like his mother, Barbara Bush, and who doesn't love her? There is the Barbara Bush Pediatric Center at our local hospital here in Maine, and she drops in from time to time to visit the kids. What a great lady.

John Kasich is governor of Ohio, a key swing state. I love swings; they were always my favorite on the playground as a kid. Much safer than the monkey bars or the seesaw, which is also known as a teeter-totter.

Bernie Sanders is a Jew. Oy, finally! Need I say more?

Carly Fiorina looks damn good for 61, or any age, really. There's all this talk about her face not being right, but admit it -- she certainly has a rockin' bod.

Mike Huckabee used to have his own TV show on Fox News, and I like Fox News. Say what you will, but I think all the media is slanted in one direction or another. For example, have you seen Rachel Maddow? Now she is ridiculously slanted.

Rand Paul once gave a speech to Congress for almost eleven hours. Presidents need to do a lot of talking, so he's obviously up to the job.

Good thing this list doesn't include Obama, because I can't think of anything good to say about him.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Who's Buying Baby Parts?

There's been a lot of commotion over videos allegedly showing employees of Planned Parenthood "selling baby parts for profit." The whole topic has become a political football, with one side claiming the practice is barbaric and reprehensible, calling for the organization to be shut down, while the other side ignores it and instead focuses on all the good the organization does for women's health. But as often happens when journalists slant the news to fit their own agendas, many pertinent questions remain unanswered. Here are two I am dying to know, and I'm sure I'm not alone:
1. Just who is buying these baby parts?
2. Exactly what are they doing with them?

My suspicion is that they are being used for research purposes to help find cures for diseases that plague our society, but nobody ever says this. Someone should get on that right away and calm everyone down. Inquiring minds want to know.

No News Is Good News

Our home-delivered newspaper awaits at the end of the driveway. 
Every morning I go out there and get it. That two-minute walk is usually the best part of my day, before I open the paper and read the news.

  Usually the front page shows something horrific; dead people or a 
war somewhere. But here in Maine where all is peaceful, 
knowledge of distant horrors helps nobody, least of all me.

I'd like a newspaper with pretty pictures on the front page. 
Maybe then I wouldn't need three kinds of medication for high blood pressure.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Silly, Sappy, Lovey & Dovey

Much better photo than you and your sweetie pie hugging.

Facebook profile pictures of couples hugging make me nauseous.

Okay, so you have a boyfriend. Or a girlfriend, or a whatever-it-is. How nice for you both. We're all so pleased. Not really, many of us couldn't give a damn since we're busy fighting cancer or trying to pay the mortgage or dealing with a bad boss. But there you are, a-huggin' and a-kissin' on Facebook, for all the world to see. Why is that? Have you no sense of dignity? And besides, are you no longer an individual?

What compels people to post those sappy photos, or to write things like, "I love my sweetie with all my heart and just want to say to the whole world that I wish him/her a happy birthday and could not live without him/her." It's embarrassing and it's got to stop. You look like a couple of fools, especially after you break up.

What's So Funny?

Yesterday when I picked up my mail at the post office, the current issue of The New Yorker topped the pile of unwanted magazines. This is where I toss my copy of Wine Spectator when it arrives each month despite my begging their head of circulation to stop sending it. Anyway, I grabbed The New Yorker since A, I am a New Yorker and B, I used to enjoy it back in the days before it became a liberal rag with an agenda and the cartoons were almost always funny. Turns out the cartoons are no longer even a little funny, the movie reviews are even more obtuse than I remember, and the one column labeled "humor" did not solicit so much as a grin.

This made me wonder if comedy is no longer funny because the world is in such a mess or because I am older and actively aging and what's funny about that? (FYI, nothing.) Added to that, political correctness has robbed us of some of the best material. This explains why new superstar comic Amy Schumer has risen to the top talking about anal sex, oral sex, in fact any old sex at all, stringing together dirty punchlines with words like shit, cunt, fuck, ass and pussy, ha ha ha. Give me Henny Youngman, the "King of the One-Liners" any day. Here are some of his old jokes:

A man calls a lawyer's office. The phone is answered, "Schwartz, Schwartz, Schwartz and Schwartz." The man says, "Let me talk to Mr. Schwartz." 
"I'm sorry, he's on vacation." 
"Then let me talk to Mr. Schwartz." 
"He's on a big case, not available for a week." 
"Then let me talk to Mr. Schwartz." 
"He's playing golf today." 
"Okay, then, let me talk to Mr. Schwartz." 

My wife got a mudpack and looked great for two days. Then the mud fell off. 

The doctor says to the patient, "Take your clothes off and stick your tongue out the window."
"What good will that do?" asks the patient. 
The doctor says, "Nothing. I'm mad at my neighbor!" 

People ask me the secret of my long marriage. It's simple, I say. We take time to go to a restaurant two times a week: a little candlelight, dinner, soft music and dancing. She goes Tuesdays, I go Fridays.

My wife will buy anything marked down. Last year she bought an escalator. 

A man goes to a psychiatrist. The doctor tells him, "You're crazy." 
The man says, "I want a second opinion!" 
"Okay, you're ugly too!" 

Recently I read about the evils of drinking, so I gave up reading.

A bum on the street approached me and said, "Give me $10 till payday." 
I asked, "When's payday?" 
He said, "How should I know, you're the one who's working."

Those two are a fastidious couple -- she’s fast and he’s hideous.
My wife and I went back to the hotel where we spent our wedding night, only this time I was the one who stayed in the bathroom and cried.

My doctor told me I'd live to be 60. 
I told him, "I already am 60!" 
"See," he said, "I was right."
I told my doctor I broke my leg in two places. He told me to quit going to those places.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Customer Disservice Wednesday

The world is truly going to Hell in a handbasket. (I have no idea what a handbasket is, or how it can hold so much stuff, but my husband uses that expression all the time and I like it.) The point is, besides wars, terror attacks, fleeing refugees, homelessness, drug addiction and disease, civility and basic decency are in the toilet, and I don't just mean Donald Trump.

Wanting to participate in Small Business Saturday since we had blown off Turkey Thursday and Black Friday, and seeking new carpeting for our bedroom since what we've got now is twenty years old, vomit-stained from three cats, and ugly besides (it came with the house), my husband and I went to a local flooring place instead of a big box store like Home Depot. We spent almost an hour there and finally chose two contenders, leaving with carpet samples and a promise that someone would call us Monday morning to arrange a meeting with an estimator in our home and get the ball rolling.

Monday morning nobody called, so I phoned the store around noon. The woman who answered said nobody was there to help me but could she have my name, address and phone number and someone would call me later that day. Nobody did. So I called back on Tuesday. A different lady answered, put me on hold, then came back and requested my name and phone number, assuring me someone would call later that day to set up an appointment. Nobody did.

A sucker for punishment, I called again this morning and was put on hold for about ten minutes while the receptionist went to "find" the person who could help me, which I didn't quite understand since the store is about the size of my garage so how hard is it to find someone? Finally she returned and said someone would call me back but could she have my contact information since she couldn't find any record of me in their system. I said that was alarming since I had given it three times already. I then said goodbye.

Ten minutes later a man from the carpet store called and said they were very busy, had all the work they needed, and suggested that if I was "already upset going out of the gate," maybe I should go elsewhere.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Second Opinion

A specialist in tooth and gum problems who I like a lot has declared that I am in need of a tooth-pulling, to the tune of $3,000. It seems the tooth is fine but the surrounding gums have a problem. The plan is to get rid of the tooth, then fill the resulting hole with bone from someone else (God knows who), allowing my own bone to regenerate and eventually support a screw which will, many months from now, be the base for a new, albeit fake, tooth. This all sounds horrible to me. But hey, I'm no expert, and so I agreed to embark upon this nightmare scenario scheduled to begin in three days.

The sad part is that right now I have no pain at all and starting Friday I will have plenty, requiring massive doses of painkilling drugs and ice packs and sedatives and whatever else it takes. Sounds bad, doesn't it?

Unlike my standard procedure with everyone else who tells me anything at all, when it comes to doctors I just accept their word as gospel and go with their plan, despite the fact that my personal history has repeatedly proven that "plan" to be desperately wrong. Then yesterday, a wise friend of mine pointed out that just because the doctor involved is a great guy with a sterling personality doesn't necessarily mean he's right. So for the first time in my life, I'm getting a second opinion. (I hope I like it better.)

The Higher You Bid, the More It's Worth

Alligator handbag with gold finish by Cartier: $27,000 People value strange things. Especially rich people. For example, a woman's ...