Saturday, January 30, 2010

Weekly Dozen @ Jan 30, 2010

Today, I am going to talk about some news items, but also some other things that my ancient brain thinks about a lot.

01. SNAP,CRACKLE,POP: This is the fiftieth anniversary of bubble wrap. What did we do without it before?

02. MARMITE: I have always heard that British people love to spread marmite on their bread. However, I have also heard that it is nasty. I had to try it myself. This morning I did. YES! It is nasty! I am trying everything I can think of to get rid of the taste in my mouth.

As a yeast product, I'm sure this product is good for you.. but apparently it requires a lot of getting used to. I'm sorry.. I'm too old to take the time to aquire a taste for it. I will stick to jam or jelly on my toast in the morning.

03. FEBRUARY 2ND: Animal rights folks feel that Punxatawny Phil should be replaced by a fake groundhog.

04. SPECIAL LICENSE PLATES FOR REPEAT DRUNK DRIVERS: A Maryland State Delegate has proposed a special plate for repeat drunk drivers. It would be bright yellow and would have the first three letters of the plate showing DUI. Some other states have the procedure in place already; for instance, Ohio and Minnesota, where cars with such special plates are avoided by other drivers. Begging some questions:

Why not expand this to include convicted felons, child molesters, and deadbeats?

What about innocent family members who have to ride in cars with such tags?

Have the delegates read The Scarlet Letter?

05. UNCONSUMATED DIVORCE: Under current Maryland law, a couple must live apart for one year before an uncontested divorce can be granted. A Maryland lawmaker wants to change that to require that a couple not have sex for one year instead. (What would Governor Marvin Mandel say about that?)

06. STRIP-SEARCHING: Last year, Maryland Senators held a hearing where women who said that they had been victimized by strip-searching were to testify. None of them showed up because of embarassment. Senators still passed an anti-strip-search bill, but it was killed in a House committee. A similar bill will be pushed again this year and it is expected that at least one woman will testify. Questions:

Will the bill address the following situation? A while ago, a judge found that Baltimore County police acted unreasonably when they searched the buttock cheeks of a suspected drug dealer in a car wash.

Should the police be given "see-through" equipment like they now have at airports?

07. ART NEWS: Somebody tripped and put a hand through a painting by Picasso. Curators are now in a quandary about how to tell what is damage and what is art.

I visited a Picasso exhibition in 1955 in Cologne, Germany, where I could have bought Picasso prints for a very cheap price. Unfortunately, I could only afford to pay for a colorful book outlining all of the works on display.. which probably still would be worth a lot on EBAY (why would I want to put a price on art?)

Also, in London, an artist's modernistic work consisting of filled ashtrays, bottles and plastic cups was swept up and disposed of by a custodian. (In this case, I think he did the right thing.)

08. IPAD: Steve Jobs introduced the new IPAD with the unfortunate name, and the catch phrase: Hold the Internet in your hands. Someone said that the IPAD looks like an IPHONE for the elderly.

I visited the local Verizon store and told a salesman that I was thinking of switching to an IPHONE and could he persuade me to buy a DROID instead. He told me that under the terms of my current agreement, if I purchase the DROID right now, it will cost me $600, but if I wait until May, I will be able to pay only $150. Now, what would you do?

09. YOUNG HUNTERS: Recently, newspapers have been publishing pictures of young hunters standing next to their "kills", some as young as nine years old.

Would you want to be walking through woods where a nine-year-old is busy stalking Bambi?

I can see a need to cull deer populations, and I think that the meat that is not needed should be donated to the poor. However, I think that the hunters of such deer should be at least 25 years old, when their medula oblongatas have matured enough so that they can tell the difference between a young child in a bright red coat and an 8-point buck.

When I was 16 years old, two of my buddies asked me to accompany them on a raccoon hunting trip. I did not own a rifle and wasn't sure I wanted to hunt anyway, so I declined. During the hunting trip, one of my 16 year-old friends accidently shot and killed my other 16 year-old friend. That cinched it for me. No hunting.

I understand that the city of Fairfield, Connecticut has opened all of their parks to hunters. Watch your children, mama.

I've mentioned before that my brother-in-law is a bear hunter. Each year, he travels from Massachusetts to Maine to take care of his bear bait trap near the bottom of the tree where he has erected a platform from which to shoot a bear. After he feels that bears have gotten used to eating the bait, he climbs up the tree with his rifle, and waits for a good shot.

I asked him: But aren't bears good tree climbers? Suppose you miss your shot.

He replied: If you miss, it might be the last shot you will ever make, because that bear can make it up that tree to your spot in just a few seconds.

So, this "bears" out the old phrase: Sometimes you get the bear; sometimes the bear gets you.

10. BIBLICAL REFERENCE: Speaking of hunting, those who do cryptic-type crossword puzzles might enjoy this clue in a 1963 puzzle by Frank W. Lewis in The Nation magazine:

Salome wasn't the type Hemingway might have hired!

The answer: head bearer.

If you want to know more about cryptic puzzles or this clue in particular, let me know.

11. REPUBLICAN MATCHMAKERS?: The new Republican Senator for Massachusetts has daughters and the new Republican Governor of Virginia has twin sons. Both mentioned their progeny in recent speeches.

12. REPTILE INTELLIGENCE: London zookeepers say that they have taught some crocodiles to recognize their names. (Remember the song: Never smile at a crocodile...")


Important things to think about: TEETH AND JAIL:

Prisoners in certain jails will no longer be able to play "Dungeons and Dragons" in their cells and Massachusetts daycare providers will be required to brush their charges' teeth each day.

Suppose that jailers had to brush the teeth of their prisoners each day. This may seem silly, but there is a big problem with the cost of caring for prisoners' teeth..

probably most prisoners are the type of people who don't take care of their teeth and then when the damn things rot, the State has to pay a lot of money to a dentist to pull them..

I have it on good authority that dentists have to triple-glove to avoid getting HIV from mouth blood...and that means that not many dentists are willing to get involved with prisons.

On that note, I will bid you adieu, mes amis.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Weekly Dozen News Items for Jan 23, 2010

I can never vouch for the accuracy or truthfulness of the items I mention, but the last amazing item (#13) today seems to be completely true, except for the comment attached.

01. Hammacher-Schlemmer has marketed a bug vacuum stick. A cordless device for sucking up little creatures. I wonder why this hadn't been thought of before?

02. A guy with the kind-of familiar Maryland name of Glen Bell just died. It was interesting to note that he founded the restaurant with the name of Taco Bell. (Old joke: Karnak's Answer-Question: What is the name of the Mexican telephone company?)

By the way: why doesn't some enterprising person start up an 11:30 pm nightly show with videos of old Johnny Carson shows? I'll bet it would get fantastic ratings.. at least with the "over 60" crowd.

03. Attendees at a Weight Watchers meeting in Sweden were surprised when the floor collapsed. Luckily, no one was hurt and they continued with their "weigh-in".

04. Fred Friendly hinted that Senators at first called Harry Truman "the Pendergast Senator" (after the influence of Kansas City Missouri boss, Tom Pendergast). (Now, after the Supreme Court ruling the other day.. we may live to see "The Exxon Senator" or the "WalMart President.)

05. Pat Robertson recently mentioned that Haitian leaders once called upon Satan to help them get rid of the French, and hinted that this is why they had the earthquake. I read that he is right about the leaders invoking Satan.. however, his "it's your own fault" attitude bothers me, as well as his assurance that he can do anything through prayer.

I seem to remember that when a hurricane was about to hit an east-coast town, he prayed long and hard that it would not hit that town.. it swerved at the last minute and the town was saved.. he took credit for saving the town through prayer and saving lives...however, the next town over was hit by the hurricane instead... What about them?

06. Kind of related: Rifles with coded Christian Bible verses on their sights have recently been provided to U.S. Soldiers serving in Arab countries. The Pentagon has now asked the company to stop the practise and provide a means to remove the words on the rifles that have already been received. Supposedly, Moslems learned about the verses and it gave more fuel to the thinking that Christianity is out to destroy them.

07. Watch out! A subway rider in the Queens is taking pictures of people picking their noses and is posting them to the web.

08. Susan Boyle was heard shouting obscenities while singing into a mop... or so it was said by a probably unreliable source.

09. During a Google study of 7-year olds using the Internet, they were asked: "What day of the week will the Vice President's next birthday fall on?" Some kids didn't get further than looking at the "squarepants" site.. but some that did use a search engine, quit after seeing the first page of results. It was noted that boys quit their searches earlier than girls.

10. A British math expert has come up with a formula for making parallel parking easy: Items in the formula that must be considered:

a. The radius of the car's turning circle.
b. The car's wheel base.
c. The distance from the front wheel to the back bumper.
d. The width of the car that is on the right.

11. In a Great Britain department store, you can have access to a gift registry for couples that are getting divorced.

12. Remember the burglar who stole a king-size bed? Well, another burglar last week broke into a house, piled up what he wanted, and then, before he left, fried up a mass of chicken, poured some beer and watched TV for a while.


13. The item I mentioned at the start:

At a Holiday Inn in England, a notorious place for cold clammy sheets, a staff person will be assigned to come up to your room before you turn in and "warm up your bed" by laying between the sheets and rolling around for a while!

(Someone on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me suggested that being a "giant British bed warmer" might be a good job for an unemployed Conan O'Brien.)


Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Solution has been Found

I couldn't wait to talk about the wonderful sales catalog that appeared in my mail box today. It's from the Duluth Trading Company ( and strangely, it is from Wisconsin, not Minnesota. This is the one catalog that every man must have.

I'll save the greatest and most creative product for the end. Meanwhile, here are a few of the "can't live without 'em" items:

01. A flask that holds 8 ounces of your favorite booze and fits in any pocket.

02. "Abe Lincoln's Cane" for old dudes like me.

03. "FDR's Summer Hat" for old dudes like me.

04. "Ogallala Bay Rum" smells like the way old dudes like me remember it from those old fashioned barber shops.. you know, the ones where women were not allowed, and where you could hardly see anything because of the cigar smoke.. and where there was only one style of haircut that you could get.

05. Powder to cure "Monkey butt."

06. Toothpick holders.

07. Lock picks. (If you had one, could you get arrested for holding a burglary tool? They work good, but so does a bent paper clip, if you know what you are doing.)

08. Smugglers' belts.

09. Side clip suspenders. Quote: "Best invention since the tea bag!"

10. "Buck Naked" (TM) underwear. Quote:"... almost as comfortable as your birthday suit (no sweat, no stink, no pinch)"

11. Quote: "Ballroom Jeans with 'crouchability'."

12. Quote: "Screw Faster! Magnetic Bit Holder means faster one-handed driving."

13. Newsboy caps.

And finally the greatest clothing invention ever: the "Longtail T ... Solution to Plumber's Butt!" This shirt has an extra 3" of shirt length, so that housewives will no longer be shocked by a sight nobody should be subjected to.

I had so much fun reading through this catalog that I will have to buy something. Unfortunately, if I wore the Longtail T, I would probably look like I was wearing a dress. Maybe I'll get a smuggler's belt to hold all my money and a newsboy cap like a wore when I sold newspapers during the "Great Depression".

Extree! Extree! Read all about it! .. Visit the website and have some fun.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

News from January 20, 2010.

I want to mention some news items that intrigue me and then I want to say something about the big event in my old home state, Massachusetts.

01. During a burglary in White Marsh, Maryland, a king-size bed was stolen! (Just think about that.)

02. Because of protests by Animal Rights groups, Austrians stopped an avalanche experiment, in which pigs were buried in snow and watched to see if they were able to survive.

03. The Baltimore Department of Recreation was burgled. The stolen items were: 30 football helmets and 80 pairs of football pants. (How can you get mad at a football fan?)

04. The wonderful USNS Comfort hospital ship (out of Baltimore) is amazing, but a diagram of the ship shows that the morgue is situated right next to the lounge and just over the cafeteria. (Doesn't that sound a bit strange to you?)

05. If you get the chance, check out the wisdom contained in Garrison Keillor's column for today in the Baltimore Sun. It's title is: Despite all the screaming, common sense will prevail. Garrison says: "Should health care be a basic right, or is it a privilege for those who can afford it?"

06. Calvin Trillin wrote a poem in the latest Nation magazine about the world's tallest building. Check it out. The last two lines go:

Dubai, though I so hate to pry,
Why build a building quite that high?

07. Finally, for those who feel that Massachusetts Independents were crazy for voting for a Republican who could torpedo Health Reform.. didn't you know that Massachusetts already has mandatory health why would that be an issue to them? Besides, the democratic candidate didn't know her Boston sports trivia.. bad news for anyone in Beantown.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Weekly Dozen 01/15/2010

Even though we are overwhelmed with sadness over the loss of life in Haiti and are doing what we can to alleviate the suffering there, we still need a slight break to think about some humorous (perhaps) or at least weird things that could be learned this week from various news sources. Let's see if I can come up with one dozen.

(Incidentally, I will be interviewed by a newspaper reporter shortly about this blog and others that I write. .. actually, everything I do since I lost 3 or 4 inches in height is done "shortly".)

01. It has been determined that hamsters who imbibe alcohol suffer hangovers the next morning. (It might be better to feed them marijuana instead...?)

02. Analyst Jose Grenado has written about some things that we have suspected for a while:

a. Googling sharpens the mind. (What about FB and Twitter?)

b. Swearing helps you alleviate pain. (What did I tell you, Elaine)

c. Doodling while in a meeting helps you keep up your interest in what is being said.

03. Water has been found on the moon. (What about the cheese that my nursery rhymes talked about?)

04. Andre the Giant once drank 106 beers in a six hour period.

05. Sarah Palin was asked once more which "founding father" was her favorite. Once again she answered: "All of them."

06. An 8-year old cub scout who travels frequently by plane, has been frisked every time since he was 2 years old. Apparently, his name matches one on the security risk list.

07. Nevada now allows male prostitution. (At least, they have made it legal.)

08. A tall cross is about to be built for a Florida church by a communications company. It will double as a cell phone tower.

09. There is a fight for the Massachusetts Senate seat of the late Ted Kennedy. Scott Brown, one of the candidates once posed naked as a Cosmopolitan centerfold, at least that was what I heard on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, and they have never lied to me before.

10. The clever Dutch have created meat using cells from a live pig.

11. A British man solved the Rubik's Cube after 26 years of trying. (When they first came out, I handed one to my son to look at. He handed it back to me in 5 minutes, solved. He's got good genes!)

12. A Polish woman is suing a hotel for causing her daughter to get pregnant while swimming in their pool. She is blaming the pregnancy on stray sperm floating in the water.

Please remember that I do not vouch for any of the items above.. I'm sure some of them are true. For more information, you can "google".. and "googling" helps your brain, as Jose G. says.

Monday, January 11, 2010

How to Understand a Woman

I was listening to a Gunsmoke radio episode from 1960 last night and noted the following exchange.

Chester: "Mr. Dillon, why is Miss Kitty so grouchy tonight? I just don't understand her sometimes."

Marshal Dillon: "Chester, save yourself some grief. Don't try to understand what a woman is thinking."

(The episode was written by a woman.)

Also, yesterday, Elaine showed me a piece of a comic strip that showed a girl complaining about her boyfriend's necktie, over and over as he tried on several. She finally said she liked the last one he tried on.. which was actually the first one he had on. He told her that he didn't understand. She told him not to worry about it and gave him a kiss.

I think that Ovid said this many years ago: "There are five facts that a man must know to be able to understand a woman.. unfortunately, no man knows any of them yet.".. or words to that effect. And Ovid was an expert on LOVE.

Elaine is watching the "Bachelor" show on TV and the women there appear to me to be complete airheads. If I had never heard of the show before and suddenly found it on TV and watched a bit of it, I would guess that it was filmed inside a whorehouse. (sorry)

Why would a woman want to demean herself by appearing on that show? One would ask: "Why do women chase after men anyway?" Ovid (again) said: "Women chase after men? Does a mousetrap chase after mice?"

Last week, after watching that Bachelor show, Elaine turned on another kind of related show which I found to be hilarious. On this show, four beautiful ladies sat facing the stage and in their hands were double-faced signs. One side said "interested"; the other side said "not interested".

As they sat there, men would be pushed accross the stage on a conveyer belt. When it stopped, they would do all kinds of "shtick" to try to charm the ladies until one of them showed the "interested" sign. Then they would be able to go into a "holding area", where they would stay until their "interested" lady got interested in a different man, who would take their place.

If the man in front of the four ladies did not interest any of them.. they would be shuffled off on the conveyer belt and another "man" would be wheeled out.

It was obvious to me that these conveyer-belt men were young actors. No man could possibly be as stupid as they made themselves out to be. But they were certainly funny. The final "picked winners" got to go on a date with the ladies that picked them. There was some funny footage of these dates.

I thought that this show was right on the money... it showed how dumb some men act compared to women.. rather than the Bachelor show, where women are showed as dummies.

'enry 'iggins sang: "Why can't a woman be more like a man?" But if they were, wouldn't that be a crazy world?

Elaine and I watched the movie "War and Peace" the other night. (I had waded through much of the book once.. and even though I had studied Russian, I could not keep the Russian-named characters straightened out sufficiently to follow all of the plots and gave it up.) The movie folks had shortened the names and kind of anglicized them somewhat, so it was easier to follow the plots.

While the Russian men in the movie acted dumb most of the time, the women in the movie spent most of their time trying to seduce the men and seemed to care little for anyone's welfare but their own. I guess that was what Tolstoy thought the world was all about.. and women were like that.. airheads.. like on the Bachelor show.

A few years ago, I read "Men are from Mars, Women from Venus" and several of its offshoots trying to understand women. It helped a little. I learned that men should not try to change women, while women must try constantly to change men, because men are just big boys, at least in the U.S.

The Europeans have a phrase for it: Europeans put the man into the boy too soon. Americans leave the boy in the man too long. (One example: the Baltimore Sun had a picture of two men who had spent 15 hours each having Baltimore Ravens symbols and information tatooed into their arms.)

Any thoughts on the subject?


Saturday, January 09, 2010

Weekly Dozen

Let's see if I can come up with 12 weird news items and random thoughts for the first week in 2010. Some of these items were mentioned in Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me and others came from radio, TV, newspaper or magazine sources.. and some from my own aging brain.

01. Why do software developers make you open a string of years to get to your own year of birth? In my case, it takes me a long time to scroll through all those years until I hit my year.

And besides, it's depressing to know that I am that old! Instead, they could just say "type in your year of birth." And why do they need to know how old you are anyway? Teenagers lie about their age to be thought older and old folks lie about their age to be thought younger.

So.. my suggestion to the software developers would be: just say: "Pick a year of birth that pleases you."

02. 3D TV is coming! Flushed with the success of the Avatar movie, some enterprising persons are getting it ready to spring on the U.S. market. (Will we have to wear special glasses? Will our cats and dogs be scared? Our cat, SuZee watches TV with us and sometimes sudden movements make her jump.)

03. I wonder is anyone has thought of a new way to fill the country's ailing coffers: selling pictures from full body scans at airports. As I understand it, faces will be blanked out, so nobody will recognize who the person in (save in a few exceptional cases).. the best buyers of this material would probably be Middle School boys, and they are the ones who seem to have the most disposable income.

Actually, to expand on that, the Government could sell viewing tickets.. or maybe, plug the scans into a 24 hour closed circuit cable channel selling subscriptions like is done for HBO and the like. Perhaps some new kind of game shows or reality TV could be developed from this. The possibilities are endless.

04. I understand that the Pope will now be copyrighted... I wonder what that means. Does that have anthing to do with being knocked down by that crazy lady?

05. Some sharks have been implanted with radio devices that automatically text where they are so that lifeguards can warn swimmers. (Texting sharks.. what next?)

06. The inventor of the McDonald's Quarter Pounder died recently. I wonder what the cause of death was.

07. Would you believe this? (Frequent flyers know this already.) Sky Mall sells an eyeball massager!

08. Due to the current cold weather in Florida, chilled iguanas are falling out of trees.

09. A Dr. Frankel has suggested that Mona Lisa's smile was caused by high cholesterol. (Hey.. maybe we all could have our pictures painted to help our doctors in their diagnostic activity.)

10. Watch out! Apparently, some jokesters are putting baking soda in ketchup bottles in some restaurants. When the cap is opened, the ketchup explodes onto your nice new necktie. (Guess what's going to happen when the word gets out about this one.)

11. Hewlett Packard has developed a new web cam that automatically follows you.. as long as you are a pale white person.

12. Someone has developed a transparent toaster. Now you can get your toast just right.


Left shoe thieves are at it again in Sweden.

Leno may be coming back to his old time slot.

After being treated for chest pains, Rush Limbaugh (multi-millionaire) says that the US health system doesn't need fixing.


Sunday, January 03, 2010

Annie, Clowns and Santas

Today, we had a great experience. We were treated to the musical "ANNIE" at Toby's Dinner Theater in Columbia, Maryland, by our friend, Jack. He also treated Mitzie, Ken and Bobbi (happy birthday!). The show was a "sellout" and 3/4ths of the attendees appeared to be around 6 years old. (Some of these kids couldn't help themselves and did impromptu soft-shoe and ballet on the stage during the intermission.)

For many years, my late wife and I attended every musical playing at the Cape Cod Melody Tent in Hyannis, Massachusetts. Most of the players there were veterans of Broadway. The Broadway players were great, but no way better than the mostly homegrown players today at Toby's. If you get a chance to see this show... go! I give it 5 stars.

Caitlin Deerin played Annie and did a fine job. Six other kids (orphans) did cartwheels, flips and their lines in a very professional manner. All members of the cast performed professionally. It is always a pleasure to observe people who know what they are doing, and are doing it well.

One member stood out physically and figuratively above all the other great actors. David Bosley-Reynolds played Oliver (Daddy) Warbucks. He WAS Daddy Warbucks. He did not need make-up or elevator shoes to make an impressive, powerful Conservative millionaire.. strike that... billionaire. We had seen Dave playing the devil in another Toby's presentation .. Damn Yankees. (That's the show that almost made a top star of my neighbor and former tap dancing teacher in New Bedford, Massachusetts, Carol Haynie.) I'll bet that Dave could become anything he wanted to be in the real world by using a combination of his devil and money-bags persona.

I guess you can tell that I liked the show.. I even shed a few tears and saw others secretly dabbing with their handkerchiefs. But it wasn't sadness.. this is an uplifting show that can make you leave there feeling pretty good all the rest of the day, singing and whistling the "topper" .. "Tomorrow, Tomorrow!"

I know, I know.. this is an old show and I have seen it somewhere before .. and I did see the movie.. but somehow, this presentation is so much better.. it is MAGIC!

I've mentioned before the "Hey, Joe Vaughan" syndrome. Today it was the "Hey, future Santa Claus!" syndrome. Marty Kurland, who has been an entertainer for years and head of the "clown club" at Social Security, spotted me and Ken at our table that was close to the stage. He thought that Ken and I might be good candidates for his "Santa Claus School". Of course, Ken is not as fat or short as I am, but he has a nice white beard as I do. Marty didn't remember me from Social Security, but I sure remembered him and members of his club. For years, he and his buddies would perform at the many functions that Social Security provided for poor Baltimore kids. I was at the same functions sometimes, representing the Social Security Alumni Association.

Sal, one of his clowns, and a good friend, spent a lot of time at one of the area's hospitals for kids with terminal illnesses. He took a special liking to one of the kids who did not have relatives and spent a lot of time keeping the kid's spirits up. When the child died, it was extremely traumatic for Sal. He was so sad that he decided not to be a clown anymore and possibly have to experience that trauma again.

Oh.. I didn't mention the food at Toby's.. they served a brunch.. breakfast and lunch food. And the salad had something that I love.. anchovies! I read where anchovies have suddenly become very expensive in some cities. So, just in case the price will get out of my price range.. I ate a bunch of anchovies so that I could always remember the taste .. yum yum!

They also served S.O.S. (or perhaps more delicately, chipped beef) that could be put on biscuits. I put mine on French toast instead and went back for seconds. Good stuff...but of course not as good as that which is made by the unshaven, fat and greasy cooks that I had in the Air Force.

What a nice day. Ain't life grand!