Thursday, August 16, 2007


In anticipation of vacation, and the promise of being on the beach again, I find my mental faculties waning. Just imagining the breeze, remembering the briny smell, and looking forward to perfectly barbecued bluefish has rendered me a bit brain-dead ahead of time. Not to mention the irritation of making lists of things that need to be taken. I'm a terrible list-maker and no matter how many days I chisel away at the list, I will invariably forget something important.

Therefore, since I can't think, I have nothing original to say today. But a friend sent me one of those "viral" e-mails (not an e-mail containing a virus!) that gets forwarded all over the internet, and this time it was a good one that really made me laugh. So I'm going to spread it further.

It's a shame that people don't seem to be this witty in our era. Following are many examples of proof that the "diss" really is an art.

When Insults Had Class:

"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." -- Winston Churchill

"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure." -- Clarence Darrow

"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary." -- William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it." -- Groucho Marx

"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it." -- Mark Twain

"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends." -- Oscar Wilde

"I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend... If you have one." -- George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill...

followed by Churchill's response:

"Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second, if there is one." -- Winston Churchill

"I feel so miserable without you; it's almost like having you here." -- Stephen Bishop

"He is a self-made man and worships his creator." -- John Bright

"I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial." -- Irvin S. Cobb

"He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others." -- Samuel Johnson

"He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up." -- Paul Keating

"He had delusions of adequacy." -- Walter Kerr

"Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?" -- Mark Twain

"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork." -- Mae West

"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go." -- Oscar Wilde

Lady Astor once remarked to Winston Churchill at a Dinner Party "Winston, if you were my husband, I would poison your coffee!" Winston replied, "Madam if I were your husband I would drink it!"


Monday, August 13, 2007

What's the Diff?

Tyke: Mom? Dad? What's the difference between "incarcerated" and "incinerated"?

Mom & Dad [prolonged laughter followed by apt explanation]

It was an amusing moment, but I shortly thereafter I had another, much more sober thought. In at least one situation, I wish incarceration and incineration could be combined. When it comes to the case of the inhuman scumbags responsible for a recent unspeakable crime, I think there are isolated situations for which the death penalty should be reinstated in Connecticut, and these sick bastards--inexplicably free as birds on parole at the time--should be burned alive on the town common. The only problem is, there's not a town common big enough for the huge crowds who'd gladly race to the site to cheer it on. I'm sure the draw would be bigger than Rolling Stones, U2, and Police concerts combined. Maybe the event--undoubtably overflowing--could be held at Rentschler Field.

The crime: Two life-long criminals recently out of prison, who apparently met at a halfway house where they had both stayed in the past, go on a crazy protracted spree similar to that of the Manson gang in the late 60's. They rape, beat, strangle, bank-rob and tie up a family, set the house on fire when at least three are still alive inside, and then deliberately crash and wreck police cruisers upon attempted escape in--what else--the family's car, which they've stolen. Accidentally, there's one poor survivor. He undoubtedly wishes he didn't live through it.

Oh, and so far all that's come out of this is the news, revealed today, that parolees who meet certain criteria (like these guys) will be required to wear GPS devices. Yeah. So that the next time a parolee decides to go on a spree, the "authorities" (as if they're looking anyway) will know where they're out continuing to commit crimes. And if their free space is limited to their neighborhoods, their neighbors will get to be the lucky victims.

For some crimes, there should be absolutely no "salvation" or "forgiveness," or "mercy," and unfortunately there is no punishment yet devised that is bad enough to fit. We, the taxpayers, get the privilege of footing the bill for serving them "justice." They get to be fed, clothed and sheltered for free. They get TV, cigarettes, libraries, internet. (Frankly, I hope they partake of lots of cigarettes and die slowly in great suffering.) While incarcerated, they clearly can't work, so aren't paying taxes back into the system that supports them. Meanwhile, legitimately homeless people unemployed due to a Bush economy--or bankrupted by scam mortgages or astronomical medical bills thanks to our excellent health care system--are viewed as social pariahs to be shooed off the street. Why are people who clearly could not have done such a thing if they thought they had anything worthwhile left to lose anyway entitled to justice? They didn't think their victims were entitled to anything.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007


This morning, while driving Tyke to his trumpet institute at the university, we got stuck behind a large commercial diesel truck for a while. We were listening to NPR and I forget the context, but the speaker said, "They'll have to call in a fumigator." After a couple of minutes we started moving again, and

Tyke: Mom, is a fumigator an alligator that eats fumes?

Yeah, kind of like the opposite of a fire-breathing dragon.


Monday, August 06, 2007


Every now and then--though frankly not very often--I get lulled into the false sense that my teenage son is developing just fine: decision-making, grades, talents, logic, and ability to communicate with others all seem to be gradually and demonstrably inching up with each passing day.

But yesterday I was rudely yanked out of said comfortable lull, and quickly remembered that what Dr. Phil says is absolutely true: the part of teenagers' brains that helps regulate judgment and reason just isn't developed yet. I just got MORE absolute PROOF.

Despite many caveats from family and doctors, Kid has feigned obliviousness to the fact that he is becoming overweight and, except for dance, hardly ever exercises at all except whatever they make him do in gym at school. But now it's summer and there's no gym. His only exercise is digits at the keyboard and an occasional romp in a friend's swimming pool. I respect and heartily promote his interest in all the arts and don't care at all if he chooses not to participate on sports teams. That's just not who he is. But the weight gain is concerning, and so are the poor eating choices and lack of exercise. If they don't change, Kid's going to have a heart attack during his first year of college because he'll go buckwild crazy eating the wrong things with no supervision.

And that, friends, would really piss me off, because we have put an extraordinary investment of love, time and money into Kid. And he hasn't exactly been an angel--far from it. A pain, oftentimes. If I only had a nickel for every tortilla and four dollars back for every six-dollar brick of cheese and gallon of milk he's consumed over the past two years, I could pay for that extra year of college he'll need after screwing up freshman year. Not to mention how much pizza (or--should I say--how many whole pizzas) he's eaten while we weren't taking inventory.

If we are what we eat, he's The Big Cheese. He eats however much there is, including what I hide in the freezer. I keep trying to have cheese so that I can use it for specific purposes in planned meals, but by the time I get to the day of the meal I've planned, the cheese is always gone and I can't cook what I planned. Pretty much everything from the grocery store disappears within two days after it's purchased. If I buy one pound of something, he eats one pound. If I bought 89 pounds of something, he'd eat 88 and not leave enough to do anything else with. Whatever there is, he eats until it's gone.

Clearly I am a Dangerous Enabler. It's up to me to stop buying tortillas and cheese! It's up to me to quit buying any groceries at all! If we just didn't have any food in the house, he wouldn't have a problem.

Anyhow, on the weekend I noticed Kid at the computer, honest-to-goodness actually looking up the new FDA recommended food pyramid ( He's taking an American Government course in summer school, so my bet is they talked about regulatory bodies such as the FDA. Bodies. Hah.

(I must say, in my opinion, the "new" food pyramid is completely nonsensical and fails as a piece of "graphic art." To me it communicates nothing but a marathoner running Capitol steps for some cause-- rainbow pride?--but I digress.)

Kid was making a list of recommended foods and servings. This is what he ultimately came up with for a full day worth of meals (he typed up a list and printed it):

3.3 oz. whole-wheat grain bread
1 oz spinach or lettuce
1 oz. carrots or sweet potatoes
1.5 oz. black beans or kidney beans
3.5 oz. corn or potatoes
2 oz. green beans, beats [sic], or asparagus
2 oz. tomatoes, eggplant, or mushrooms
.5 oz. olive oil
7 oz. beef or chicken
4 oz. cheese
4 oz. milk
3.5 oz. banana
3 oz. apples

45 minutes fast biking or running
7.5 min push-ups
7.5 min sit-ups
strech [sic]

I thought that was okay, except the "fast" exercise, which he hasn't gradually trained for. But at least he was thinking about taking responsibility, and putting forth some effort to figure out his needs.

Then I discovered the actual plan. As I watched him carefully weigh the items on the kitchen scale, I realized his gathering wasn't a day's worth of itemized, meal-by-meal eating. He went into the cabinet and got out the blender. Yes, he was going to make a day's worth of sustenance all in one fell whizz.

Before I could prevent it, he dumped it all in; asparagus, frozen corn, milk, bread, cheese (of course!), tomato, carrots, banana, olive oil.

Quickly I felt both faint and sick, and left the room. Little brother was shrieking, "Nooooo!! That's groooooossss!" Kid turned on the blender, and that was it.

He poured it into a big plastic glass and started walking around the open floorplan with it, sipping as he ambled. He said, "See, it's not bad! In fact, it doesn't taste like much of anything at all!" as the rest of us turned our heads.

Later, I made him clean up the huge mess he'd made (including spraying puke-colored blended gook all over the kitchen door and its window panes). I also noticed some items in the refrigerator. One was the less-than-half-empty cup, with plastic wrap floating over the top. The other was a Tupperware container spilling over onto the shelf with the remainder from the blender.

I'm guessing this diet will go well. If anything could put a person off his appetite, that would be it. And, someday--perhaps soon--maybe he'll go back to eating his veg, fruit, bread, milk and cheese separately, or in sensible combinations and quantities. And I will remember as a mantra, every day, what Dr. Phil said.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Creative Reading

Tyke [looking at rather poorly printed text at bottom of a restaurant receipt]: Mom, who's Cash Tender Ed? Was that our server?