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Wednesday, December 28, 2011


This piece first appeared as a column I wrote for The Kent County Daily Times many years ago. It is included here verbatim, with fond greetings to those who worked with me in the newsroom back then, folks I consider very dear friends today.

I've already seen one.
It was on the sidewalk, a sad husk lolling to and fro in the slight wind.

And soon, there will be many more.
They are a type of shrub called "Holidayus Tumbleweedus," or something like that, but I've never seen them in plant books. "Holidayus" resembles those bushes in Western movies, the ones that roll around in a puff of dust down a deserted street, just before the shootout.

"Holidayus Tumbleweedus" appears quickly after December 25th, sometimes in the middle of the night. They sprout hugely around New Year's Day, and the growing season ends about two weeks later, give or take a day or two. Weather has no effect on the shrubbery, as it seems to thrive under all types of adverse conditions.

They have an incredibly strong resemblance to another type of vegetation often seen growing on top of station wagons and mini-vans, but that variety appears in early December and those plants look healthier than "Holidayus." 
You might see an occasional "Holidayus Tumbleweedus" in February, but those are extremely rare.

"Holidayus" comes in all shapes and sizes, the greenery more abundant in some specimens than in others. If you look closely enough, many have little bits of a tin foil type of substance clinging to the branches. It is not clear to me what causes that.
Unlike the common, ordinary tumbleweed (which appears to live predominantly in old John Wayne movies), "Holidayus" lives all over the country and travels at varying rates of speed.
Most of them live out their drab existences in front of houses, on occasion dangerously close to the curb. And that's where most of them stay.

A few errant varieties of "Holidayus Tumbleweedus" make a run for it, however, after the wind hits 10 knots, and those are the ones that cause serious mayhem.
I've seen "Holidayus" rolling down the road at breakneck speed worthy of all the Andrettis combined. Cars must swerve to avoid hitting the pesky plants and getting into collisions with other vehicles.
During the peak of "Holidayus" season, driving down the average street can become a deadly game of chicken for the inexperienced. And even for those of us accustomed to "Holidayus Tumbleweedus" and its peculiar habits, this is a period of time we absolutely dread.

Unfortunately, "Holidayus" season is here again, and there is nothing we can do about it. Their numbers will increase in the coming days until for some inexplicable reason, they disappear as mysteriously as they arrived.
Until then, we will all just have to cope. (Or maybe we can recycle our Christmas trees by calling up the folks at the Department of Public Works?)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


My apologies in advance that I'm about to revisit one of my former rants, but when you see your life flash before your eyes, it's time for a re-rant.
To the woman in the white SUV who nearly crammed the front end of her behemoth into the rear of my little car: GET OFF THE ROAD YOU IDIOT and yes, I shouted.
There are people who should never be allowed to drive a vehicle of any kind, and she's one of them. Via my rear view mirror (where I was staring in a major panic thinking this dumb bunny isn't ever going to hit the brakes) I saw that she was engaged in lively conversation on her cell, simultaneously fishing around the passenger's seat for who knows what.  
Meanwhile my eyes nearly popped out of my head as she careened closer and closer to me (we were at an intersection and the light was red) meanwhile searching out of the corner of those eyes to see if there was any way in Hades I could scoot out of the way in the seconds left to me before the BIG BANG happened. 
Mercifully, someone was looking out for me because she stopped short, her own eyes opening wide and then she slumped back into her seat.
When the light changed I rolled down my window and communicated digitally (the old fashioned way using one of my fingers) just exactly what I thought of her. 
The kicker? As she turned the corner I noted various marks and bruises around the bumpers of the truck and ironically, one of those "Baby on Board" signs flapping on the window, which only meant that she had made another dingbat just like her. 
And I didn't have kids? Heaven help the planet.
Amen, and pass the mustard.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


When it comes to home decor, I'm a sucker for all things unusual or pretty. My taste runs from the conservative to the ultra modern, and everything in between. Anyone who has ever visited my various digs can testify that to me a house is nothing but a stage in which to live my life, and the more it looks like a movie set, well, the better. 

That said, the other day I ran across an item that even I had to look at twice and wonder what in the world the designer was thinking when it was created.

Tah-dah, roll them drums, behold the Birdcage Chandelier. 

Now a brief survey of my home will turn up quite a few bird motifs -- I adore birds -- but in the wild, viewed in their natural habitat, preferably in flight. The notion of keeping birds inside the house in a cage, no matter how pretty, horrifies me.

Imagine my confusion when I happened on these pretties on a website -- a chandelier that lives within a birdcage. The oxymoronic nature of the concept mystifies me - it's not as if the chandelier was going to fly away from the owner anytime soon. 

Do the buyers of these contraptions feel that the crystal is so precious that prying fingers must be kept away at all costs? Or are they indulging in some peculiar bondage fetish that some of us just don't understand? 

While I'm happy that these folks are not keeping a little animal trapped in such a gilded palace, the fact that they have to keep an inanimate object held captive says something very odd about them indeed. 

Somebody should call the chandelier police and press charges.

Amen, and pass the mustard.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


The Japanese and the Russians are at it again -- yapping about how they may clone a wooly mammoth in as little as five years.

This is not my first rampage about the stupidity  of perpetuating pseudo-pachyderms: my mammoth musings are miniscule given other, more elephantine problems we all face.

But seriously?

Pyrenian Ibex
Scientists already cloned the extinct Pyrenean Ibex, but the poor creature lived only minutes after it was born because of apparent defects. Bear in mind, however, the Ibex did not have mammoth proportions. One of the issues faced by the researchers is just what sort of animal would carry the clones -- even today's elephant might not be up to the tusk, er, task.

Bottom line they would end up with a hybrid at best.

Given the potential danger (runaway mammoth on I95!) and the expense, why bother?

Amen, and pass the mustard.