Monday, February 28, 2011

I Was Using Body English

Maybe it was more "mind" English.... but it worked.

With all my telepathic energy (and that of the whole female population of the world), handsome, clever and talented Colin Firth got his Oscar. And, while there were a number of "ums" in his acceptance speech, there was not a single stutter or lisp or filthy word. It was intelligent, funny and, given his obvious sensitivity (he can cry real tears on cue), it was designed to be satisfyingly modest and unassuming.  And it succeeded.

And, as my smartass daughter, Paige, says...."He got his Firth Othcar."

While I  am not one of those perennial Oscar-bashers, I have to wonder what the matter is with these professional actors whose sense of timing should be grand. There are too many who seem to feel that once the spotlight is on them, they must hold onto it..... until we cry "uncle."

Anne Hathaway is very talented. The fellow with her...Franco?...was sonambulent.

And the women who do the interviewing on the Red Carpet....why do they feel they must compete with the actors they chat up? It looks like a variant of penis envy. A nice little black dress with pearls would do,  along with some less hackneyed questions. No need to outshine the shiners. It's THEIR night.

There has been in recent years a move by the males in the performing arts to shed the uniform of standard black tie and dinner jacket. On the other hand, the females have all turned into sheep. This year the ewes, in depressingly large numbers, were showing one bare shoulder. And it was usually the same damn shoulder!

And when there was a really stunning dress, too often the head presiding over it was shaggy, spikey or just plain uncombed. It's as if they want you to think, despite the wardrobe choosing and fitting that must have taken several hours, or even days, that they aren't so self-obsessed that the planning includes their hair.

My mother, who I have mentioned before as being very germ conscious, would have had apoplexy if she had seen those long dress trains dragging over the ground where all those germy feet have been tramping. Filthy business, that!

Did I say I wasn't a perennial Oscar basher? Well, I lied.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Georgie Porgie Ran Away

The mile-high city of Denver, Colorado could have been lucky enough to host former "young prez" George W. Bush this weekend. However, 43's sensibilities were offended when he learned that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was invited to attend one of the same events as the former president.

"Bush planned to be at a Young Presidents' Organization Global Leadership Summit Saturday but backed out when he learned Assange was invited, Bush spokesman David Sherzer said.

"Sherzer said Bush doesn't want to be part of a forum that invited someone who has 'willfully and repeatedly done great harm to the interests of the United States.'"

Considering that England and Sweden are playing badminton with Assange at the moment, he obviously wouldn't have been there, at least not in person, but W let it be known that he would not, could not besmirch his honor and reputation by being on the same program as another young prez who appears to be guilty of........revelations that might call a halt to the kinds of insanity Bush & Co. visited on the world!

Just for the record, lets look at some numbers W has racked up and not only views without shame,but over which he apparently holds himself harmless:

Estimated number of Iraqis slaughtered since the U.S. invaded Iraq: 1,421,933.

Officially acknowledged military personnel slaughtered in Iraq:  4,757

International Occupation Force Troops slaughtered In Afghanistan: 2,341
Cost of War in Iraq and Afghanistan: $1,157,420,329,819
If the cost in human life is not sufficiently shocking, how about the wasted cash?

That last figure is one trillion, one hundred fifty-seven billion, four hundred twenty million, three hundred twenty-nine thousand, eight hundred nineteen.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Memories Are Made of This

I don't like weekends. You can tell I'm no Tillie the toiler looking for a two-day respite. But, even when I numbered among the Tillies, Sunday was always my most unfavorite day of the week.

First of all, I hate when things stop! I like the continuity of my news programs with my favorite news anchors, and on Sundays, they aren't operating. Besides their disappearance, news itself seems to stop. Nothing ever happens on Sunday. Politicians and other unsavories always drop their scandals on Fridays, hoping they'll fall into the yawning maw of the weekend blackout - and they usually do.

To make the day even worse, all I have to do is catch a 30-second sound of a ballgame in progress and I want to hide under a bed and suck my thumb. Ballgames depress me, mightily. They bring back childhood memories of wanting to DO something FUN, but being thwarted by my daddy's Dodgers.

The mind with its associated senses is a memory trap...often a useful gadget, but sometimes a cache of unwanted feelings.

My first drink, at age 16, was "rye and ginger." Yuck. I was so sick I have never been able to tolerate even the smell of rye whisky, and it's taken decades to re-establish friendly relations with gingerale.

Another drink odor that brings back good memories is the combination of scotch and lemon peel. At 21, I had graduated to a more sophisticated libation. J&B with a twist evokes fun weekend plan-making under the clock at the Biltmore.

Schools, especially the cafeterias, are neutral on the hate meter. But it amazes me that they all possess the same combination of scents. You can be blindfolded and dropped into any public school in the country and I guarantee, if you ever attended one, you'll know what kind of building you're in.

And then there are other neutral associations that are just fun.

Don't ask me how I know this, but almost any dog's footpad smells just like Fritos®. Check it out, Lay people.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Twisted! Beyond Understanding

I heard, but am finding it hard to absorb, that the U.S. House of Representatives, in its infinite insanity, has not only voted to defund Planned Parenthood  and nixed funds for educational TV (let's drown those intellectual elites in the same bathtub we drown government, eh ?) but they have voted to support NASCAR to the tune of $7 million.

Burn up fuel; it's only $4 a gallon and headed to $100. Burn up the environment; who needs an ozone layer. Burn up our brains inhaling motor fumes while  drooling over the likelihood someone will crash and burn.

Beyond this, the Pentagon has made psy-ops forays into influencing Senators to continue funding the war in Afghanistan.

And the fellow who stands the best chance of mounting a challenge to this lunacy is babbling on about whorehouses in Nevada.

This was just a tiny bit of this week's news...and the week isn't over.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Doughnuts Didn't Fail Me

I've been trying to compare disappointments.

Is the denial of a child's joy in a new anticipated pleasure a greater letdown than an adult's disappointment in the denied renewal of a long-remembered delight?

As the disappointed adult, I believe mine was greater.

Returning from a wedding in the place we lived two decades ago, my daughter bought me three things I once loved but have not even seen in that long. The Sunday New York Times, chocolate-covered custard doughnuts from Swan's bakery, and two smoked eels.

Only the doughnuts did not disappoint. Magnificent. Bigger and containing more custard than ever. A complete and total bust of my week's calorie count. But delicious, and once in 20 years is fine.

The eels were not plump and succulent as my memory attests. They were small, dried out, over salty and likely been around for a number of weeks. I would like to believe they would never have been offered for sale in my new hometown. Disgusting. But my craving for them is gone.

But it was the Sunday New York Times that nearly made me cry.

Because the print news business is in financial trouble, it is understandably smaller in size. But it was much reduced in quality. And I am not necessarily talking content. The Style and Arts section had whole columns that were blank. The paper felt awful and nothing held together.

I think I am ready to vote for the trees and nix paper consumption.

The book section was the worst. The fold was uneven so the right side of the pages were almost an inch narrower than the left, making turning the page difficult.

And the list of bestsellers! What a nightmare. In case you, too, have not glimpsed the NYT book section in many years, be forewarned.

There are two lists each of fiction and non-fiction, from 16 to 25 entries long in the following categories:

Combined Print and E-Book Best Sellers
Print: Hardcover Best Sellers
E-Book Best Sellers
Print: Paperback Best Sellers Trade Fiction
Print: Paperback Best Sellers Mass Market Fiction
Print: Advice, How To and Miscellaneous
Children: Picture Books, Chapter Books, Paperback Books, Series

Who uses this information and why?

It's just another thing to divide us and drive us crazy with too much data. I swear there is some conspiracy set to make our brains explode.

I'm glad I live in the country in another state and read Frank Rich on my computer.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Case for Planned Parenthood

If you have seen the film, Idiocracy, you can believe that this is an example of the path we are on:

I probably would have noticed her even if she hadn't beaten me to the checkout counter.

A woman of indeterminate age with doughy thighs that extruded from very tight, very brief green shorts over which a bright yellow spandex top revealed several indentations - any one of which might have once been a waistline.

Her head was a mass of pink rollers that held dark-rooted orange hair in tortured captivity.

Oblivious of me and my sweating container of milk and carton of eggs, she removed everything from her cart except a sticky, runny-nosed toddler.

She divided her purchases into two piles. One contained four six-packs of Budweiser, six plastic containers of orange drink and two cartons of Marlboros.

The other pile looked like a heist from an abbatoir. Four plastic-encased packages of loin lampchops, several sirloin steaks, some kind of enormous roast and at least six packages of hot dogs, along with a corresponding number of hot dog rolls. The only vegetables I saw were frozen french fries.

Opening a wallet with a pink poodle on it, she peeled off some 20s from a wad of cash. These she placed on top of the beer. Next she dug into her pocketbook and pulled  out an envelope containing food stamps. These went on top of the steaks.

Meanwhile, three boys - about five, six and seven - were playing Maim the Senior Citizen with the shopping carts. After one scored a direct hit on an elderly couple, she yelled, "Cut it out, Jimmy, or I'll crack ya'." Jimmy looked up to see if she meant it. When his obviously practiced eye determined that she did not, he hastily retrieved the cart and backed up for another run.

I encountered them again in the parking lot. The boys were climbing into an old rust-ridden, motor-running Cadillac. Already in the car were a bored-looking man, two pre-pubescent, gum-chewing girls and a shrieking infant. While the woman hefted the groceries into the trunk, one of the boys complained that she hadn't bought Kool Aid.

Admittedly, I was fascinated by this whole display and instead of driving off, I followed them as they left the parking lot. On their bumper were pasted stickers that proclaimed them as Pro Life, Pro NRA and 2008 supporters of John McCain and Sarah Palin.

What has scrambled their brains? If their candidates of choice had been elected, would they be eating so well?

Am I a snob? Probably. But I don't really care if you are slothful, slovenly, unthinking, uncultured, unread and reproduce your kind by the dozen ....JUST DON'T VOTE!

Feelin' Lowdown and Mean

Let's see....I've plumbed worms, germs and bugs. Looks like I've got a theme going.

Lawrence O'Donnell entertained Anne Coulter on his MSNBC The Last Word program Thursday night. Coulter! Now there is a stick insect if ever there was one. And, as is the case with a lot of insects, it's very difficult to determine the sex. Without the false eyelashes and the long blonde mane, your eye would be driven to "her" Adam's apple. It's really, really big. Could "she" be a cross-dresser?

I don't listen to him, but I get occasional glimpses of lumpy Limbaugh when some comedy show provides a clip of something outrageous he's broadcast. Try as I might, I cannot list him in my chosen category. I think we may have to move to another kingdom...and phylum....a whale-sized one.

Then there is Glenn Beck.   A slug!  Except. I don't think a slug fits the category any more than a whale does. Like Glenny, slugs are gross, pasty and covered with slime but, even were it on speed, a slug seems too thoughtful.   

Ah! A virus! That's his obvious category.

And then there is Big Ed Schulz. He seems a nice guy but he's always mad. Maybe we'll make him a hornet.

Chris Matthews is easy. He's a cicada. He never shuts up. I can't think  why anyone agrees to be on his show. Not only is he so sure he  knows everything, he wants everyone to know he knows everything. He can do the asking AND answering.  Why bother with a guest.

And then there is BOR. I only just discovered that's how some people refer to Bill O'Reilly.  Totally apt. But he'll always be Skippy to me.

I think we'll make him a praying mantis. (I CAN explain that.)

Basta creepy crawlies! Out of the muck and mire and on to better things.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Bees! You Got Bugs? Course I Are. Everybody Do!

Sometime in the 90s, our farrier left to return to his home in the Midwest.

"Too damned many bugs in Virginia," he told us.

As a former resident of Long Island's South Shore, where we were 100 yards from the Bay and various coastal boggy areas, we were frequently inundated with mosquitoes and, those of us with dogs and cats, sometimes sandfleas.

I didn't think there were too damned many bugs in Virginia.

But now I may be changing my mind. A few years ago, cool September days brought us the thousands. And they came into the house and camped out in corners of our ceilings. My vacuum would suck up little dead orange bodies by the dozens.  I felt so awful about them dying in such numbers that I trapped as many as I could and put them in a jar in the refrigerator.

It worked. They survived the big chill in a dormant state and I released maybe 50 of them in the spring. Talk about bailing out a boat with a teaspoon.

Ladybug invasions became so frequent in the next few years that I stopped my Florence Nightingale efforts and let the little buggers fend for themselves.

This year I have new bugs. They're called box elder beetles. They are hanging out in my downstairs south-facing bathroom window. After several weeks of finding them in my bathtub and sink and drowning in the toilet, I realized they were looking for water. I put a mug full of water on the sill and they flocked to it by the dozens. In the evening, they'd crawled back into the crevices of the window where they have taken up residence, but the cup was down by 1/4 inch and there was frass all over it.

After a week, they even seem to have increased their numbers. Success! However one determines what success is.

I know I sound like a kook, but it's a big house. There's room for all of us.

Besides, I am sure they will move out in the spring.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Worms and Germs

My mother, a true daughter of the early 20th century, was very germ conscious. As soon as she was able to find a pair of gloves to fit my two-year-old hands, I never left the house without them. And despite this protection, I was admonished to never "touch" ANYTHING! Bannisters and the undersides of theater seats were especially bad...and public restrooms? Forget it. Better I pee in my panties.

Were she still alive she would own many shares in the company that produces Purell.

Admittedly, her early training was not lost on me. I carry Purell in the car and use it after I have touched ANYTHING other people have touched.

However, my daughter, Paige, has a theory about our antiseptic approach to life....our bodies are going to lose their ability to naturally protect us from the worms and germs that nature intended us to play host to.  Witness all the weird ailments that seem to be visited on kids of today.

I'll let that theory play out and let the rest of the world worry about it since I have, so far, lived a long and incredibly healthy life.

For your amusement and edification, I am including a poem I learned at a very young age. To wit:

 Strictly Germ-proof
Arthur Guiterman 1919 

The Antiseptic Baby and the Prophylactic Pup    
Were playing in the garden when the Bunny gamboled up;    
They looked upon the Creature with a loathing undisguised;—    
It wasn’t Disinfected and it wasn’t Sterilized.    
They said it was a Microbe and a Hotbed of Disease;           
They steamed it in a vapor of a thousand-odd degrees;    
They froze it in a freezer that was cold as Banished Hope    
And washed it in permanganate with carbolated soap.    
In sulphurated hydrogen they steeped its wiggly ears;    
They trimmed its frisky whiskers with a pair of hard-boiled shears;      
They donned their rubber mittens and they took it by the hand    
And elected it a member of the Fumigated Band.    
There’s not a Micrococcus in the garden where they play;    
They bathe in pure iodoform a dozen times a day;    
And each imbibes his rations from a Hygienic Cup—    
The Bunny and the Baby and the Prophylactic Pup.      

Book -The Gospel of Germs: Men, Women,
and the Microbe in American Life
by Nancy Tomes  1998
(Available at
Truncated Review by J.A. Walker-Smith, M.D.
for The New England Journal of Medicine

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Woman of the World

 About me: When I was a girl, this declaration would not have been looked on as a plus. However, I freely admit to being a woman of the world. That means, among other things, I have had husbands, lovers and children....not necessarily in that order. 
Beyond that, I have traveled extensively, although I have missed the whole far eastern half of the hemisphere. I've eaten well...too well in the last few years. I've dined in some of the world's finest restaurants and in some dives.

I've climbed a volcano; searched the Amazon for pink dolphin; water skied  in a moat at the Danbury State Fair; had a life-sized photo of me in a bathing suit erected at the New York Boat Show touting Tuffy Pumps (much to my mother's dismay), sailed all the windward and leeward Caribbean islands and been to nearly every state in the U.S.
I've lived in Manhattan, been to boarding school, went  to tea dances at The Pierre, cocktailed at Toots Shor's and 21, dined at the Stork Club, dated boys from Princeton, Lehigh, Lafayette and Annapolis, worked for Hy Gardner on the old Herald Tribune, did some P.R., wrote advertising copy,  wrote for newspapers and magazines and then lived a thoroughly modern small-town life of a young matron doing all the small town society thing.

I've had two husbands and three children....not to mention a veritable league of dogs, cats, fish and birds.

At the itchy age of 40 something, I exchanged my upscale suburban home, replete with amazing new kitchen and kidney-shaped swimming pool, and bought a Virginia farm a stone's throw from Monticello where I labored for a number of years mucking manure, pulling crias out of llama mamas, and arguing with hay dealers.
And now I am a widow and a very content lady of leisure, having passed all my responsibilities (except for my Pyr and my cats) onto my daughter's able shoulders.

To be happy, all I need is a never-ending supply of books and occasional lively conversation...which I sometimes find on Facebook!
If I am not a woman of the world, could anyone tell me what I have missed...and how I go about finding it?


Monday, February 14, 2011

Heart of Darkest Darkness

Stupid holiday. Designed to make most of us feel unloved....except for those who produce roses, chocolates and saccharine sentiments for cash.

It seems benign enough in kindergarten when you are knee deep in red contruction paper, library paste and blunt-nosed scissors..... and pretty much left to your own devices.

But you grow older and so do your expectations....and they rarely mature into satisfactory results.

You cannot love on cue. And you should not be coerced into declarations you don't happen  to feel on February 14. Maybe you felt something affectionate on January 26, and maybe passion will develop on May 13....but February 14...phooey.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Magnificent Mad Men and Machine

HuffPo reminded me this morning that the "Watson" - IBM's new super computer, named for Thomas Watson, Jr. and Sr. - will soon go into competition with Jeopardy winners. I suspect Jeopardy will never have a bigger audience.

Of course, there could not be a more apt name for this marvelous "mental" machine, the Watsons being the soul of IBM.

When I was working on Madison Avenue in the 60s. Martini lunches were rampant on the Avenue and Watson, Sr.'s admonition was still in effect,  even though he died in 1956.

The Watson decree was, IBM reps should not drink alcohol during the day. So the IBM reps started drinking vodka to mask the "illegal" activity. Ultimately Watson issued another decree,  "drink gin martinis at lunch instead of the less fumy vodka martinis so that your afternoon clients will know you are drunk and not stupid."

Elementary, my dear Watson.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Group Think

For those who criticize social networking, think of the myriad reasons to be grateful. Almost daily I see something wonderful; I learn something new; I am touched or inspired and I meet people I never knew existed. And if I'm hurt or angry or giddy with joy, I can yell and stamp my feet...and see it right there on the page! It's all good!

But some warn us that we are in danger of becoming drones. That a hive mentality will rob us of our ability to analyze situations and we will function only by consensus. Maybe. But more likely not!

Perhaps the wide acceptance of the Facebook model, and the recent demonstration of its power in terms of connecting people to information, and to one another, has alarmed some pedantics. But to equate the interchanges I mention with the beginning of a hive mentality seems a little hysterical. Particularly since we are not cheek by jowl to one another...literally or figuratively.

Perhaps some will choose to be led about by views that are predigested and distributed in soundbytes, but this is always the case with the masses. I see myself as very individual...and prefer to associate with individuals of similar disposition.

To me, this phenomenon is a universe of doors. And as is the peculiarity of doors, they open and they close....and we decide their attitude.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pearls Before Swine

Poor Kevin Blackistone. I just read his column where he suggested that our national anthem is perhaps too warrior-like....particularly sung before sports that are meant to be enjoyable competition, not killing fields.

I, too, have long wished that John Lennon's Imagine could be our anthem. That will never happen in my lifetime....and, likely, no one alive today will see such a move to  a beneficent point of view.

However, what struck me, and depressed me more than I can say, were the comments that were posted following the piece. It accused him of every vile thought and action known to man....but especially the probability that he was a "lousy librul."

If there truly were a God, people like that simply would not exist.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Hair-um Scare-um

For a child of the 40s, with straight, fine and stubborn locks, I am gob-smacked by the hair care products available today. A slave to nightly pincurls - that unfurled at the slightest sign of humidity - my young years were spent dreading activities that were carried out while exposed to the elements.

Viewed from the vantage of several decades removed from those years, and in light of the popularity of the ragged, jagged hair styles, I can't believe I wasted so much time worrying that every strand was curled and in place. But I did, and apparently I was not alone because there is now a pantheon of glorious remedies for whatever ails a variety of tresses. There are magic rollers, sprays, lotions, mousses, creams, rinses, extensions and packs in numbers to numb the mind.

To think that I once rinsed my hair in beer, rolled it in rags and set it in sugar water is beyond quaint. It makes me marvel that I was never, to my knowledge, pursued by flies.