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Monday, December 27, 2010

WINTER WOES

It's official -- I hate winter and snow and cold and everything that goes with it.


We just got walloped by an early winter blizzard and right now there are piles and piles of the white stuff around, and the winds are howling.


It took me two hours to free my Miata from the Great Wall of Snow that the department of public works had built around the perimeter of where the car was parked. Let's not talk about the icing on the cake, more accurately the other ten or so inches of snow that were attached to the roof, trunk and hood areas. 


Last night two neighbors struggled to get their truck off the street and parked safely. It took them over an hour.


Meanwhile I'm on Facebook and keep reading a bunch of these cute statements by the Abominable Snow People who see all of this as a winter wonderland in their addled minds.


Really. You people are nuts. Who in hell wants to be cold? This is your concept of fun?


The wind chill is low enough so that first thing that happens when you walk outside is your eyes widen in shock and they stay frozen that way. No matter how many layers of clothing you pile on, your shoulders instinctively rise up in surprise, where they stay until the spring thaw.


Let's not talk about the sheer joy of trudging along over the snow covered streets, the pleasure that only can be experienced when a clod of it breaks off an overhead tree branch and hits you on the head.  And, oh, yes, the sensation of achievement when you finally manage to see your car under the snow. Gotta love that.


Give me warm sand, a blue sky, palm trees swaying in the breeze and a gorgeous turquoise ocean in which to dip my feet. 


Whenever you speak to New Englanders they always give you that baloney about how much they like the seasons. They couldn't imagine life without the winter, they claim.


And yet these are the very same people who go completely bananas on the first warm spring day,  yelping like howler monkeys and throwing on shorts and t-shirts.


By the way, when I finally do move to the Caribbean, it won't surprise me that the first persons who will want to visit are the aforementioned maniacs who think blizzards are fun. 


Bet ya on this one.


Amen, and pass the mustard.



Friday, December 17, 2010

HATING HATHEAD

Thanks in part to the ridiculously low temperatures this morning, I opted to wear a hat.

Now mind you it's a pretty stylish hat, a black, loosely knitted cap with fur all around the edge for a dash of something something. If I ever go to Moscow, I'll definitely wear it and go by the name Natasha. That's what someone at work was calling me.

The downside of this "I wanna be a fashionista winter statement" was that soon as I took the blasted thing off, my hair stood up on end and, well, looked like most cats do when they freak themselves out over something or other.

So in order to avoid looking like a Glamour Don't (you know, those pictures in the magazine in which a woman wearing something totally atrocious has a large black bar across her face so nobody recognizes her) I ended up putting the hat back on while I sat down to work.

Except I couldn't stand it. Not for longer than say, five minutes at a stretch.

I hate putting ANYTHING on my head. I hate headsets, headphones, wigs, fake hair pieces, hats that are too tight. Garrottes, that's what these items remind me of, and my scalp will agree.

Current fashions, however, are not on my side. I can't tell you how many people I see comfortably wearing a baseball cap or a woolen hat indoors for the duration of the day, even in sometimes hot weather. It makes no sense to me.

I went out with someone who used to wear baseball caps year round, a curiousity considering he had a marvelous head of hair that most men would have showed off proudly. But then again, the whole thing was doomed from the start -- turns out there wasn't much underneath that hair except a hamster going around in a wheel. But that's another story.

Amen, and pass the mustard.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

PUCKISH PEEVES

I am feeling puckish. 


Considering that Thanksgiving is tomorrow, I should be focusing on the positive aspects of life, certainly not those things that make me feel puckish. 


I would feel less puckish if there were some major aspects that we could all be thankful for tomorrow -- other than of course the things that we take for granted, such as our lives, our health and our families and friends. 


I would feel less puckish if there were more people working. 


I would feel less puckish if there were fewer families worried about losing their homes. 


I would feel less puckish if there were fewer soldiers fighting anywhere, for any reason.


I would feel less puckish if people could get on an airplane without strangers patting their privates.


I would feel less puckish if people paid more attention to what's happening around them than the lives of lame reality show stars or a televised dancing competition.


I would feel less puckish if people stopped freaking out because someone speaks a different language or wears something around their head because of a personal belief system. 


I would feel less puckish if maybe tomorrow everyone got into the spirit of that original Thanksgiving and what the occasion really signified -- instead of the football and tryptophan laced extravaganza into which it has morphed. 


Thank you. 


Amen, and pass the mustard.







Tuesday, November 16, 2010

ROYALLY BORING

William is marrying Kate. 


In a curious case of deja vu, those who obsess about those kinds of things got an eyeful of photos, videos and news items posted all over the globe. 


The hype today following the engagement of Prince William to Kate Middleton was nearly overwhelming, given that this "news" really should come as no surprise to anyone.


This duo has been dating for nearly a decade, which considering their age bracket is a pretty long time in this day and age. But then given the roller coaster ride that William's parents -- Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer for anyone who has been in a cave for the last twenty years -- it's no surprise that the Brits chose to bide their time before formally breaking the non-news.


I mean let's face it -- Charles and Di's wedding was a spectacle that set the stage for what was supposed to be a fairy tale happily ever after -- and we all know how that went.
The whole family can't afford another public relations nightmare like that one again, especially since the entire "royalty" scene is one of the most oxymoronic expenses imaginable at a time in history when a whole boatload of people are doing without.


William will one day be the King of England, and maybe Kate might get to be his Queen, both titles that serve absolutely no practical function whatsoever except for the expenditure of money and whatever "news" their doings may generate. 


Haven't we got better things to do?


Amen, and pass the mustard.



Tuesday, November 9, 2010

NEWS BLUES

I spent a few years of my life in the news business, and no lie -- journalism, good journalism, is something I value dearly. So imagine my dismay when I overheard some guy a couple of minutes ago blabbing about how he spent a bunch of years in broadcasting because he was a frustrated actor and "didn't give a shit" (his words not mine) about the news.


Stabbed me to the quick, I wanted to put out his lights. Dude, people have died in the pursuit of news. 


I know some who would probably join me in my imaginary lynch mob. That guy is exactly  the reason why many have left the industry. It's less about substance and much more about style, and not in a good way.


Journalism at its core demands an incredible amount of work, self-discipline and an ability to keep one's emotions out of the story in order to present the facts straight. That's hard to do as anyone knows, and there are a large number of yodels out there who don't check facts, hardly do any research and on many occasions just basically rework a story and then use the caveat, "according to reports." 


The internet has given rise to a host of "news" websites in which sometimes rank amateurs put up whatever they deem fit, and readers take a great deal of it as gospel. 


These ersatz "journalists" are in part celebrity hounds who like that their name is in print or that videos of themselves playing the part are on the internet for anyone to see. One site touts itself at the forefront of journalism and frankly much of what I see published there are reworked stories from other sources or verbatim press releases.


Being good at something means a lot less than being recognized these days: witness TV shows starring the Kardashians, the Gosselins and the Jersey Shore nitwits. All are recognizable household names, all are people who have done absolutely nothing of value other than just showing up on a lame TV show.  


Indeed, if you ask people who Daniel Pearl is, they will most likely give you a blank stare. It gives me pause. He earned his stripes.  The last photos of him are grisly reminders of how much those stripes cost him. 


Which is why I'm sending kudos to anyone who still considers himself or herself a journalist in the truest sense of the word, still duking it out in the trenches, not wasting time posing for group shots at cocktail parties. 


This is a pat on the back to some of my former colleagues who still carry the standard. 


You know who you are.  And that's the way it is. 


Amen, and pass the mustard.







Wednesday, November 3, 2010

ELECTION POST PARTUM

They are over, finally, though at some points I thought the elections would go on forever. This year more than some of the races were hotly contested on many levels, locally and nationally.


Watching the results last night, I found myself on pins and needles, particularly in my home state of Rhode Island. I would walk to the kitchen for a glass of water and the results would have changed -- with candidates flip flopping in status as the votes were counted. 


I noted curiously how much that flip flopping on the TV screen resembled some of the campaigns -- statements made, statements reworked, statements sometimes retracted. It was like watching a ping pong match -- a small little ball zooming by so fast that it was a blur some of the time.


I've covered such things in the past, though this time I was at home, watching the goings on in the background as the various talking heads spewed this and that, killing time waiting for the candidate to arrive. I saw a boatload of people I know, some notorious for showing up at these things year after year, backing their candidate du jour, a handful of them hoping for a handout.


Some things never change.


That said, I do hope for one change this time around -- that those same party goers who were dancing around and yelling the name of their candidate with arms upraised will take it one step further and continue their involvement. 


NOW is the time to give the candidate/winner your full support -- when the job actually begins. This is the tough part, in which the rush of a campaign is gone in the day to day drudge of getting the work done. It is not glamorous, it is not sexy, and it IS backbreaking most of the time.


But it needs to happen. As Captain Picard always told his Star Trek crew, "Make it so."

Amen, and pass the mustard.

Friday, October 15, 2010

CHILE CHIC

"Chi chi chi! Le le le!"


Who doesn't know that chant? 


Who doesn't know the story of "los 33," the Chilean miners trapped underground for 69 days while the world watched and waited? And who will forget the images of each rescued man walking into the arms of loved ones?


You can thank Reinaldo Sepulveda. 


He's the media director for Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, himself a former TV station owner. Although Sepulveda produced other major events, this may be his tour de force, his finest hour. Some may argue that the event was masterminded to augment Chile's and Pinera's image, but it was a calculated gamble if that was the case, because it  could all have gone so terribly wrong. President Pinera is not eligible to run another term,  so it's not as if he was looking towards a re-election bid down the road.


Not to mention, what if a freak accident occured and "los 33" were entombed for good? On live TV and on the internet?


The eyes of the world were watching and the pressure was on. 


Chile delivered, with help from friends of course. But it was their willingness to reach out for that help, and the transparency which the entire ordeal was handled on live television and the internet that cannot but fail to impress.


Contrast this with Katrina and how George Bush took awhile to get with the program. Ditto for BP with the Macondo blowout.

Maybe the United States needs to hire Sepulveda and Pinera to boost our image. 



Amen, and pass the mustard.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

BIRTHDAY BALLOONS

A few years ago my mother called me early one evening. She lived far from me and it was customary for her to give me a buzz on occasion when she felt chatty. I'd call her back on my cell so that she would not incur long distance phone bills.


The call didn't surprise me but the hour did, since she rarely phoned until she'd finished watching a batch of soap operas of which she was very fond. That night, though, her voice was a little different, and on questioning, I found out what was the matter.


One of her neighbors, whose young daughter had died recently, had a "birthday party" for the child that afternoon. The celebration consisted of the parents releasing a batch of pink balloons into the heavens, pink being the child's favorite color. This seemingly nonsensical act touched my mother deeply.


It was, she told me, something she thought I would like, something she thought I would do. I hate to say this but I didn't respond much to the conversation at the time, somehow made light of it. But last year, after my mother had died and her birthday had rolled around, the balloon story reared its head in my memory, and I acted on it, much like I did today, what would have been my mother's birthday.


I purchased three orange balloons (my mother wasn't a pink person, she was an orange sort) and headed towards the beach. The sky, bright and October brilliant, the sun blazing overhead, the wind just right; I released them and watched as they flew high, high, higher until they were just small specks.


Happy Birthday, Mami.


Amen, and pass the mustard.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

MCPLASTIC MEALS

Step right up and eat your McPlastic meals, kiddies!
Sally Davies, an artist in New York City, hung onto a McDonald's Happy Meal for six months and to her surprise, not much about it changed.
Calling it the McDonald's Happy Meal Project, photographer Davies chronicled the life and times of the hapless burger and fries by posting her shots on Flicker. I just looked at them and grossed myself right out.
Although I'm not a complete vegetarian, I don't eat much meat. Last time I had prime rib was at the wedding of two friends of mine, George and Molly -- folks who I believe are now grandparents. Yep, that long ago. And I will admit that on occasion I've downed some fast food, including from McD's and Burger King, though I can't say that any of these "meals" brought much gustatory enjoyment as opposed to tiding me over until I could get real food.
But after reading about Ms. Davies' experiment, nothing, nothing on this earth will ever get me to eat anything at one of these establishments again. 
Six months and it still looks basically the same as it did at the onset? 
Amen, and .... well, maybe this time don't pass the mustard.

Friday, October 8, 2010

STRANGE DAYS, INDEED

John Lennon would have been 70 years old today, were it not for an assassin's bullet. My father would have been 87 years old this month, were it not for the cancer that claimed him 25 years ago.


Thinking about these events is making me very angry today.  I got screwed out of a whole bunch of things that both of these men could have given me had they more time, and I'm not liking it at all.


My dad would have dug the internet, this blog even -- as an electrical and mechanical engineer he was into every bit of gadgetry he could get his mitts on. I recall when he bought a super sound system eons ago and decided that the acoustics in the house weren't good enough. So he conscripted every blanket out of my mother's linen closet and nailed them up on the living room walls, eventually forming a soundproof cocoon.

I happened upon him that afternoon, sitting on the couch, holding one of the blankets over his head in a half-shell form, listening to Beethoven's Ninth at the full capacity of his speaker system. "Sit here, sit here!" he said, and I was flabbergasted at how the makeshift arrangement made it seem as if the orchestra was in that very room.  The blankets came down later that day, but not before I'd conned my dad into playing one of my Beatles' albums full blast. Incidentally, he liked the Beatles, used to call them "the hairy ones."



I often think of how many such events I missed out on over the last quarter century since dad passed, just like today I'm thinking about all of the music that we missed out on, tunes that John would have banged out from that mind of his. I like to think I might have listened to some of those with my dad, perhaps not under a bunch of old blankets,  maybe in my living room this time.


Nobody told me there would be days like these. Strange days, indeed.


Amen, and pass the mustard.







Friday, October 1, 2010

GETTING PLASTERED

My bathroom walls -- what were you thinking?


It started with horrific wallpaper -- amorphous pink flowers on a hunter green background-- that was so bad I ripped it off in the middle of the night once in a total fit of pique. Those flowers were screaming at me. LOUD.

Underneath the paper was an equally bad wall -- which meant that if I wanted to paint the bloody thing I'd have to skim coat it.


Skim coat, for the wall-challenged, is a thin coat of plaster material smeared over an existing wall in an effort to hide the divots and cracks that are endemic in older homes. 
Most people get professionals to do this sort of thing, but we've already established that I am not most people and of course, I set out to do it myself.


There was no room for my ladder in the bathroom so I ended up having to jam a small chair in there, or else stand on the toilet to reach other sections. I own one of those industrial type extension poles, the types that fit into paint rollers, so I was able to hit most of it.

I said most of it.


It was getting late and I was getting very tired, so I resorted to using a wooden spoon as a catapult, lobbying large hunks of the stuff towards the wall and then flattening it with my extended contraption.


That went well until the very last one -- which of course I'd loaded up well as the whole thing was wearing very, very thin.


As if in slow motion, the blob sailed in a neat arc straight at the wall and the bulk of it stuck, but a marble sized piece separated from the original and following that same arc, fell back down and... BLAM!!!


You got it.


Right on top of my head.   There are no photos. You will just have to imagine.


Amen, and pass the mustard.

Friday, September 24, 2010

GOING CRAAAAAAAAAABIN

My friends Lucy and Ricky (names changed to protect the innocent) dragged me out "crabbing" the other day.

We live in a beautiful seaside town and waterbased activities abound, including the standard boating and swimming. A growing number of people, however, take a more primal approach to the ocean, and choose instead to spend their time in the pursuit of that night's dinner. Some fish, some go digging for clams or mussels, and still others engage in the peculiar activity known as crabbing. You have to drag out the A and say "craaaabing," though.

Armed with a pail, a large net, a spool of string and about half a dozen uncooked chicken drumsticks, the three of us set forth down towards a marshy section of the beach, where the locals know the blue crabs hang out. I was totally unprepared for the squishy mud and within a couple of steps had managed to get my flip flops stuck in the dirt and pulled up a boatload of mud, all which landed on my back. Ah, Nature.

First, you cut a length of string say 20 feet long, then take one of the chicken drumsticks and tie that to one end. Like a cowboy trying to lasso a steer, you whip the chicken/string over your head until it gets up some momentum and let it fly. Good idea to hang on to the other end, incidentally.

Three fully grown adults, standing in grey muck, each with a piece of string with a chicken drumstick attached to the end, waiting. Eventually, if you are very lucky, you feel a slight tug on the string, meaning that one of the more stupid crabs is chomping your chicken. Thus begins the slow, and I mean slow, one hand over the other drawing in of the string/chicken/crab, in hopes that you get the whole shebang close enough to shore so that one of your co-crabbers can swoop it into the net while you are coaxing it along.

The smarter crabs are onto you, and most likely stay clear of the enticing treat. Plainly it's the stupid ones, or some juveniles, that walk along the bottom of the shore and sniff an unexpected food source, thinking in their little crab brains that they have struck a gold mine and of course, they go for it.  We kept pulling up our chickens with two, maybe three miniscule crabs hanging on for dear life, which of course we had to throw back.

Ricky ambled along the mud to get another vantage point when suddenly he was down on one knee in front of me, as Lucy looked on from about ten feet away. Considering he had just given her a honking diamond ring for their anniversary, I looked down at him and said he'd better have a pretty good rock for me, too, if that's where he was heading.

Truth was, Ricky had stepped into some soft goo and his foot got sucked in up to his knee. It took us a bit to maneuver him out without injury, and to his credit he never once let go of his chicken.

Some hours later, tired, achy and reeking of mud and slime, we threw our chickens back into the water and picked up the bucket, with all of nine crabs in there for that night's dinner.

It might have been simpler if we had just cooked the chicken.

Friday, August 27, 2010

OUTING BEDS IN A BAG

I've been doing some rearranging of my household lately and decided that it might be time to spruce up my bedroom linens.

So I trotted off to one of those home stores and promptly made my way over to the bedding department, where I spent quite a bit of time browsing. There I happened upon those obsequious items that never fail to fascinate me for some peculiar reasons -- the Bed In A Bag.

Literally, these mammoth plastic bags allegedly contain all you might require to properly dress your bed, including such niceties as sheets, pillowcases, maybe a comforter and perhaps even a bedskirt, all zipped up nice and tight.


Some Madison Avenue braniac came up with this notion, one of those types who tout themselves as capable of getting "results" or "solutions" or else inventing innovative "concepts."


So here's the rub: what happens to the Bed In A Bag when you take it out of the bag? I don't know about you but I think that the moment you unzip that bag and remove the contents, it ceases to be a Bed In A Bag and becomes a Bed Out Of The Bag, a totally different product.


It's all false advertising from the onset, and if I were you and had bought one of these things, I'd march myself down to where I bought the item and demand my money back.

Amen, and pass the mustard.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

HAWKING PERSEIDS

Okay so we are supposed to be craning our necks upward tonight in hopes of catching a shooting star, part of that yearly ritual called the Perseids Meteor Showers.

It's a cool notion that as Earth is zooming around the solar system about this time each year it encounters billions and billions of particles of intergalactic space dust left behind when the gods and goddesses swept their floors eons ago.

Word has it tonight's show may be more spectacular than most.

Curiously, this news coincides with the newest spoutings from Stephen Hawking, the mega-mind Brit cosmologist who spends his time thinking about black holes while most of us simply live in them.

In a recent interview, Hawking said "If we can avoid disaster for the next two centuries, our species should be safe, as we spread into space."  Hawking believes that the only eventual solution to this mess is for the human race to beat feet and live amongst those aforementioned particles out in space.

Presumably, unlike the brilliant Hawking, we humans are morons and likely to blow ourselves up into billions and billions of particles of intergalactic dust (okay, Cabrera, stop spouting Carl Saganisms) or wreak ecological havoc rendering Earth unihabitable.

Incidentally, this past spring Hawking postulated that we earthlings best not mess with any beings from outer space because it's likely they won't be very nice.

So do we stay or do we go, Steve? I'm confused. Drop me a note and 'splain, please.

Friday, July 30, 2010

ANNE RICE & LESTAT

The Christian Science Monitor today published an interview with the vampire creator Anne Rice, in which she states emphatically "I quit being a Christian. I'm out." This follows a posting on her Facebook page something to that effect.

Now before I hear from right, left and middle groups, I'm not questioning ANYONE'S religion. There are too many mysteries that this single human cannot comprehend, including the varieties of spiritual belief systems that occur in the mass that is humanity.

What I questioned, however, is the writing of novelist whose works I have devoured (much like her vampire characters drain the lifeblood of their prey) over the years, hard cover volumes collected and lovingly stored on my bookshelves. Anne Rice found Christianity sometime around 1998-- and right about then her writing went in a direction that turned this writer off completely. She made it clear that she would never again resurrect Lestat -- in Memnoch The Devil, the book's final cryptic words "Adieu, mon amour" made that very plain.

To make matters worse, usurpers (yes, here goes the Stephenie Meyer rant again) churned out a series of books that made me gag -- sophomoric, juvenile tales about this dimwit Bella Swan with fourth grade dialogue at best. Dreck, pure dreck.

There is hope -- word has it that Anne wants to see Lestat again on the big screen. This is a curious development -- as two of her major novels were already made into films (the Queen of The Damned was a disaster on all levels but that's another story).

Will she do what she says she won't do again -- write another Lestat storyline?

Hola, mi amor.


Amen, and pass the mustard.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Gilligan's Island, Sort Of

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale
A tale of a fateful trip
That started from Sherman Avenue
Onboard a rubber ship.
The mate was no mighty sailing man
The Skipper just the same
Two nitwit chicks set course that day
For a short river cruise,

The owner of the "boat" with identity protected.
A short river cruise.


The water started getting rough
The blasted boat just spun
Around and 'round the channel
'cross the Kicky, heading west
The Kicky heading west.


Three ladies in a tiny dinghy
Saw the pair floating away
Said "Do you need rescue?
Or is everything okay?"
It didn't look okay.


The pair hung on as the boat got tossed
While it was getting towed
Back to the calmer waters
Of the shallow river shore
The shallow river shore.


The two swore up and down that day
to get a bigger boat
or risk winding up as castaways
maybe on Prudence Isle!


Amen, and pass the mustard.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

TUNA BIRD CHICKEN FISH

I heard it again five minutes ago – someone jabbering about how she had a “tuna fish sandwich” for lunch. Now it may be the sweltering summer heat (it's about 90F outside now) that's causing me to crack at this juncture, but I simply cannot help it.



As a related aside, the heat (and breakdown of the AC in my Miata) forced an ugly episode of road rage two days ago, during which I hurled invectives at nearby motorists incapable of figuring out the light was green. This was witnessed by some coworkers riding in another vehicle, close enough to quote me the following day.


This is a totally different rant. It's about tuna. (This is where I work in the stupid joke by my friend Candy who always tells me you can tuna piano but you can't tuna fish.)


Tunas are fish. Tunas are NOT birds, at least not in this dimension. So why do some people talk about their tuna fish sandwiches?


Why don't they feel the urge to qualify their chicken bird sandwiches? Or their meatball cow sandwiches?


In what planet, in what dimension, are tunas birds? Am I missing something here? Or have I finally reached the stage where I am past half baked, and heading straight to crispy?


Somebody hand me my tuna sandwich, please. Amen, and pass the mustard.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

SOAP OPERA

It was a dark and stormy night. A small group of family and friends were gathered at a pretty seaside home by way of an anniversary celebration.



Things were going along as these things are supposed to go along -- music blares, food gets passed around and both conversation and wine flows.

By all accounts, the evening was going swimmingly, and one of the husbands present decided it might be a good move to wash some dishes. So he dutifully went around the house, picked up strays here and there, and popped them all into the dishwasher.

One good squirt of liquid soap, a flick of the on switch and he was back in party mode. 

NOTE: Here's your lesson for today.Today's dishwashing detergent is not your grandmother's handmade lye soap. Today's dishwashing detergent is not today's dishwashing liquid. The latter's containers are definitely shrinking even as the potency of these concotions grows -- so much so that your average dishwashing liquid is used to remove oil spill sludge from assorted things, even cute little ducks like in the TV commercials. In contrast, dishwashing detergent comes either in powder or packet form and is formulated to remove grime with a minimum of suds. The amount of surfactants and sudsing agents are what differentiates the various formulas, and of course, the amount of bubbles each will produce.




Moments later on the way to the ladies' room "somebody" walked by the kitchen counters and nearly slipped and fell backwards on what was a fairly large amount of soap suds on the floor right in front of the dishwasher. 

Guffawing and hollering a warning to all present, "somebody" went to get her camera. This was too good to pass up.

The BLOB was growing, pronto, undulating slowly over the colorful cotton rug in front of the sink and making its way down towards the side door of the house, intent on a getaway.  Soon, the motley gathered around the beast, at first pointing but doing nothing about it. About five minutes passed before one of the wives picked up a cotton towel and went about trying to clean up the soapy mess.

"I just used a little soap!" said the guilty husband, after everyone catcalled and laughed some more even as Mrs. Clean was somehow managing to get rid of a bit of the suds.

"I just used a little!" Yeah, right.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

WOOLY BOOLY MAMMOTHS

There's a certain "cool factor" about how a team of multi-national scientists have managed to cook up a batch of wooly mammoth blood from DNA culled from a carcass unearthed in Siberia.

This is the stuff of which legend is made -- not to mention really bad movies starring Jeff Goldblum. 

However, once we all stop shaking our heads and mouthing "wow," when is it time to think about the value of this endeavor?

I'm the first one to support researchers -- after all, scientific study has lead to untold improvements for the human race. Starting with fire, for instance.

Given all the money, time and energy that this endeavor must have cost -- how did someone first decide to go mucking around into the life of an animal that is now extinct, and with possibly good reason? Very recently, folks at Penn State sequenced a mammoth's genome from some stray hair -- and postulated that if somebody gave them say ten million dollars or so they conceivably could clone one.

As mind boggling as it might be to stare at one of these creatures in the flesh, I can't help but think that in this economic day and age spending even one dollar on such a project is a gross waste of resources, no matter what the cool factor.

But then again let's not forget the public's willingness to pay big bucks to see something like that, a la Jurassic Park, so it should come as no surprise if we learn in the near future that somebody already is working on recreating the critter. 

And no, it won't look like Manfred the Mammoth on the Ice Age films. It will be huge, possibly ill tempered, nasty smelling and a sad and solitary creature indeed.

Amen, and pass the mustard.









Tuesday, April 27, 2010

THE CONE REDISTRIBUTION PROJECT

I'm one of those people who just loves to cause a ruckus, the louder, the better. (My friends are now saying, yeah, that's news.) I wish I knew where I got this from, because both of my parents were both very sweet people who did everything possible to keep my proverbial cup from running over, and believe me, it DID.


Give me a rubber band and I will pull both ends until the thing snaps.  Countless balloons fell prey to my childish hands; of course since I was little I had no access to sharp objects, but that didn't stop me from squeezing them until they exploded.

As an adult at a posh gala I organized a motley which took the centerpieces (huge gaudy orbs filled with helium) and shoved them out under the tent walls until they "escaped." We were really, really bored.

Next day there was talk that some tables were decorated and others were not. We never got caught. The balloons must have hit the stratosphere.

I gravitate towards persons of similar ilk, or maybe they gravitate to me, who knows, I haven't quite figured that out. It's been quite awhile since I masterminded any such silliness-- matter of fact the last caper was ultimately dubbed "The Cone Redistribution Project."

It was a simple enough premise at the onset-- find an orange road cone and deposit the thing on someone's front porch. Technically, you could say we were stealing, but instead we preferred to think about it as "harvesting" the cones, wrapping them in protective blankets for safe transfer and then "reseeding" them elsewhere.

It started one night when I wanted to goof on a couple of friends -- and before I knew it a boatload of people were talking about the mysterioso appearance of the cones on their porch. It quickly skyrocketed until the "conings" involved multiple cones, and several people to pull off the heist. Nine arrived one night (I was in Florida but had conned someone to do it for me so that nobody would suspect me), and the hapless couple totally wigged out.

It didn't take long before The Cone Redistribution Project got completely out of control and there were copycat conings everywhere. They showed up on cars, in the middle of the roads, in public and private buildings, and in one particularly brilliant stroke, someone received a video of a cone. Some of us coned the parking lot of the state capitol building.

Needless to say there were countless hours wasted riding around "harvesting" the cones until I had collected enough to make a showy display.  What's interesting is just how many people were game to go with me -- I rode shotgun while my cohorts would leap from the vehicle, grab the cones and jammed them in the trunk of the car. I had another crew with a large garage where I was allowed to store a number until we had "harvested" an alarming amount, the better to freak out the next patsy.

Those were good times.  Sigh.

I hope that anyone who reads this doesn't get crazy ideas (HINT! HINT!) and revive The Cone Redistribution Project. It is such a silly, silly, silly thing to do.

Amen, and pass the mustard.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

EARTH DAY


About forty one years ago, Ohio's Cuyahoga River was so polluted that sparks from a nearby train set it on fire.

(I can hear the stoners looking askance, "Wow, man, fire in the water, heavy.")

Not much after, inspired by the freaky flames, Wisconsin's U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson did something that was pretty typical during the seventies -- he whipped a bunch of people into a frenzy and got them to take to the streets, nothing new in that bed in, peace in, love in era.

What was new -- the issue in question, namely the conservation and preservation of our Mother Planet.

Thus, the birthday of Earth Day.

These days, like everything else that is born of good intentions, Earth Day has turned into as yet another one of those gigs: platitudes from politicos, t-shirts and mugs with earth logos, TV news networks churning out stories with videos of smokestacks and small ducks coated in the black detritus of an oil spill.

And everyone goes to bed that night feeling good about themselves. They get a sense of having "done something" for the planet, even though tomorrow morning they will go right back to drinking their lattes out of a styrofoam cup or heating up lunch in a plastic microwave container.

We've reached a stage where some pretty drastic measures need to happen.
For starters, plastic. We should do everything in our power to use as little of it as possible. I recently purchased glass containers in which to store my leftovers in the fridge. There are no plastic chairs on my porch, instead I have wicker and wood, both materials that will eventually biodegrade. And though I have a real affinity for Evian, I've given that up in favor of the Britta system.

Bye bye plastic bottles.

Every trash day I look at my neighbor's piles of junk and am simply agog at the sheer volume of throwaway that each and every house on my street generates. We buy, and buy, and buy stuff, stuff and more stuff -- and then without much thought, throw it away.


I foresee a day in which we simply won't have any more room, and will begin jettisoning some of this junk by putting it into a space capsule and shooting it out through the atmosphere. It's not such a foreign notion -- the first time we visited another celestial body, the moon, what did we do?

Yeah, left behind some of our junk.

Earth, love it because we can't leave it.


Amen, and pass the mustard.