Friday, November 11, 2005

Intelligent Decline

I found myself ironing a tablecloth this evening. You heard me right: ironing a tablecloth. A friend of ours is pregnant – yes, we know who the father is – and my wife is throwing a shower for her tomorrow morning. So, on Shower Eve, our home is aflutter with activity in anticipation of 30 or so women to parade through here and wonder, “What possessed these people to paint their living room that color? The husband is either a confirmed psychotic or the wife forgot to read Martha’s latest treatise on ‘the calming hues’.”

Amid that flurry, I am standing beside an ironing board with a Rowenta in hand trying to press out manufacturer-induced wrinkles. Mind you, the tablecloth is something like 75 feet long by 12 feet wide, and the ironing board is . . . well, it’s an ironing board, and I’m supposed to keep this tablecloth off the floor and in pristine shape while I perform this seemingly Sisyphean task. (For the uninitiated, Sisyphus was a Greek lad who lost a drinking game at a frat party and had to choose between playing the sixteenth hole at St. Andrews with his pants down around his ankles or pushing an enormous rock up a hill. He chose the latter because the bunkers around the sixteenth green at St. Andrews are bigger and more distracting than the beaches of Rio de Janeiro during Carnival – regardless of the position of your pants, for playing golf that is.)

As I spread the tablecloth, a warm chocolate pastel, over the table and evened it out on the sides and ends, I looked at my work and saw that I had done nothing more than really “soften” the wrinkles. After pointing this out to my wife, she confided in me that this was really the best I could do because the material was merely cotton and not linen. This is either the truth or it’s code for “I didn’t marry you for your ironing skills, honey.” Either way, I was ready to call it good and go to bed.

However, I stood there for another minute or so and reflected on the situation and began to think about the current debate of “Evolution versus Intelligent Design”. (Is it really that big of a jump?) Let me sum up both sides here, for comparison’s sake: the former wishes to “prove” that, basically, our ancestors at some point decided they were tired of living like their parents so they moved out of the jungle and into the suburbs to get better-paying jobs and join the Rotary Club; the latter wishes to “encourage” the general populace to release themselves from the strictures of cold science and accept a higher power that guides the universe – and I’m not talking about the IRS.

Fueling the debate is a mutually shared desire to wholly discredit the other side; in essence, the Evolutioners want the Designers to look like they have no intelligence at all, and the Designers want to make the Evolutioners look like utter monkeys. After carefully considering the merits of each party’s arguments, I’ve come to a profound conclusion: WHO CARES?!

Would the Unabomber have turned out to be a florist if Intelligent Design had been part of his biology curriculum his junior year in high school? Would the Pope be “soft on sin” if the nuns at his high school incorporated Evolution in their lesson plans? Is your accountant going to tell you she can no longer prepare your taxes for you because your opinions on the Origins of the Human Species conflict?

Following that line of reasoning, I’m confident that at the end of the shower tomorrow none of the women will say, “The quiche was heavenly, and the frozen beverage was delightful, but I couldn’t take my eyes off that @#$! softly wrinkled tablecloth.”

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Under Pressure

I read the other day that David Letterman, long before his “Late Night” times, was fired from his job as a weatherman for congratulating a tropical depression on being upgraded to a hurricane. (The people who fired him are probably the same people who thought parachute pants were a good look for the American fashion plate – but that’s for another time.) You can’t seriously think your local weather person sat with her/his high school guidance counselor and plotted a career path to become a weather person. (What kinds of classes would the counselor recommend? Guessing 101? Looking Good in Galloshes 253?) Sure, there’s the occasional visionary out there who figures it would be a cake walk to “forecast” the weather on one of the local stations in San Diego. “Today, it will be a high of 75 and a low of 60. Tomorrow, it will be more of that, and the next day will be more . . .” Besides my mother-in-law, who truly digs the weather, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone with weather in their veins. (I seriously wrote that last sentence with absolutely no intentional play on words – but you gotta admit, it was pretty funny.) Using my mother-in-law as an example, no matter how questionably grooved she gets on tracking barometric pressure, she has a real job.

Take, for example, the job title: Meteorologist. First off, I have never turned on the six o’clock news to find Ms. Shiny Smile telling me about a low-pressure system exacerbated (I’m not sure if they’re allowed to use that word before prime time) by a couple of errant meteors zeroing in on Ames, Iowa. Secondly, how many times have you watched a movie whose clever plot line details the efforts of the Global Village coming together, despite centuries-long differences of religion and regionality, to devise a plan to destroy an earth-shattering meteor, and the Lindsay Wagner character pipes up and says, “You know, we’ve smoked enough cigarettes and downed enough anti-depressants to make this place look like the backstage of a fashion show. And we’ve gotten nowhere. We need to call a meteorologist.” And then she crushes the office chair next to her with one hand, in slow motion.

Think about the word “meteorologist”. The Latin root “logist” denotes someone who is absolutely powerless but thinks he’s a smarty pants (loose translation). A meteorologist has absolutely no control over the weather. With all the recent hurricanes, you have your local “meteorologist” giving you very specific detail: “As you can see from the radar image, Hurricane Chuck will proceed in a north by northeast direction for 17.2 miles. At that point it will stop at Key West for a few drinks at Margaritaville and then proceed due north to catch a Miami Heat game. He’ll be joined by Anna Nicole Smith courtside . . .” Come on, this is the same guy who can’t even tell you if it’s going to rain in Seattle tomorrow.

As I said, “logist” is society’s way of saying “Nice Try”. Think of some of the other “logists” out there: astrologist (oh, yeah, that’s a helpful line of work); psychologist (they didn’t quite make it to psychiatrist); and scientologist (heck, they can’t even control Tom Cruise’s zaniness).

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Gettin' Limber

Driving west on Interstate 10 today, I came upon a navy blue Dodge Neon with a very large sticker in the rear window. Approximately 18 inches high by 12 inches wide, this sticker depicted a hand giving all who looked upon it the single-digit salute. On the left side of the car, from the front portion of the rear door to halfway through the rear quarter panel was a very large dent. Obviously, someone was deeply offended by this sticker . . . or someone like Martha Stewart was trying to get a closer look to see if the middle finger had bad cuticles.

Speaking of Martha, I heard a news story a few weeks ago that her probation may be extended because she went to a yoga class. I personally have never attended a yoga class, but I’ve seen yoga on television – the joys of multi-channel cable! (In my hotel room, of course. I’m too cheap to order cable for the house.) From what I have been able to gather by watching these exercises, the government’s got it all wrong: yoga should be the choice form of probation. Sure, the people on the program I watched seemed to be enjoying immensely bending body parts in directions God never intended, but we all know these people are genetic freaks whose DNA was mixed with melted rubber bands and slinkies.

Imagine the horror of Jimmy "Two Fingers" Figorelli at his sentencing hearing for whacking Vinnie "Bellybutton" Giacono when he’s told that he’s going to spend the next twenty years doing the Barking Sunrise. (Actually, he won’t be at all horrified because he’ll at first think that this means he’s been consigned to nightly keg parties, and he’s being promised the mornings after won’t be pretty. But then, his attorney will show him a picture of different yoga positions – Lotus Reclined, Chocolate Groinpull, etc. – and he’ll be reduced to tears and a snotty nose.) This would send shock waves throughout the criminal community. Gone would be the Hollywood glamorization with tough guy Colin Ferrell’s hardened character telling the interrogating officer, Dustin Diamond (Screech from "Saved by the Bell"), that his Bad Cop intimidation won’t work on him: "You aint gettin’ nothin’ out of me. No deal! I can stand on my head for twenty years in the joint if I gotta." Because with yoga, that may be exactly what they’d be doing – I believe that move is called the Hurling Kitten. Anyway, back to Martha.

I can see why the government is so keen on making an example out of Martha. A woman (or man) who can magically construct a Shaker-style end table out of coffee grounds and four popsicle sticks is a maniacal beast on par with the world-domination-obsessed villains from James Bond movies. Clearly, a person like this finds daily enjoyment at thumbing her nose at the justice system – and it’s a jaunty thumbing at that! But there must be more to the government’s hell-bent drive to keep Martha under their thumb.

Have you ever been on the golf course and hit a beautiful drive down the middle of the fairway, watching it come to rest – in plain view – about 250 yards away? However, when you drive up to the spot where you know you saw it stop, the ball is nowhere to be found. Your first thought is gophers, then the Keebler elves. But then reason takes over, and you realize gophers have no desire to take your golf ball – they’re too busy hunting down the Keebler elves and eating them. It’s Martha. The little minx stole your ball! The dimpled surface, in her opinion, is an affront to any respectable decorating genre or medium.

Ever opened your dryer to find only one sock missing? It’s Martha, I’m sure. She’s convinced that the sock that remains – the one with the hole in the big toe – will now be discarded.

Rafael Palmeiro, in response to Major League Baseball’s finding steroids in his urine, says that he never knowingly took such a substance – I’m talking about steroids, not urine. Again, it was Martha. Believe it or not, she’s a huge baseball nut. She wants to see as many homers jacked out of the park as the guy sitting next to you at the game who paints half his body blue and the other half lime green – even though the team colors are black and red.

Lastly, we all think the Berlin Wall came toppling down in the face of Reagan’s staunch opposition to Communism. Nope. It was Martha. She’s the one who really toppled the Berlin Wall – not out of some desire to liberate or unite but because she thought the brick created the wrong aesthetic for the Bauhaus-inspired neighborhood nearest to it.

I’m all for throwing her back in the slammer. I’ve "lost" my share of golf balls, and I’m sick of my pile of mate-free socks. Sentence her to twenty years of yoga – the Goat Kick to the Hindquarters would be an appropriate position to start off with.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

People Are Strange

I just finished reading the sixth Harry Potter book (a great read). While in the midst of the story, an epiphany came over me (not to worry, I’ve been immunized). However, before I impart my morsel of insight to you, allow me to catch up the uninitiated.

The main story line woven through the novels is one young Harry Potter has the uncanny ability to pick the winner in every horse race at Aqueduct, Churchill Downs, and Santa Anita simply by smelling the jockeys’ riding crops. Lord Voldemort, owner of a stable full of spirited young fillies (no, this is not a metaphor for a bordello), wishes to thwart young Mr. Potter’s predictions by soaking all riding crops in a curious admixture of three parts cod liver oil, two parts shoe polish (Oxford black, by Kiwi), six parts cherry Kool Aid, and one part phlegm from either Jimmy Hoffa or Jim Henson – the key to obtaining this final substance is finding Jim Morrison alive and well somewhere in New Jersey. As those who have already read these books know – and those who haven’t may already be guessing – the race is on between Harry’s posse to assure they reach The Lizard King (Morrison’s cute nickname from birth) first to keep the phlegm from falling into the wrong hands (that phrase says so many things on so many levels) and Voldemort’s army of acne-ridden, slack-jawed hillbillies. (As with all great literature, this is the "true meaning" of the saga – the whole wizards and witches thing is merely a metaphor. You know, kind of like how Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings books were really about Nazism and Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment was really about the evils of Weight Watchers.) Now to the earth-shattering insight.

As is true in the world in which we live, evil is always united in its designs: hate the do-gooders and destroy them by any means necessary; conversely, those wishing to do good and overcome evil can hardly agree amongst themselves on what is the most appropriate dress for a black tie affair at a country club. (We all should know that it’s the white dinner jacket with black tuxedo pants and matching cummerbund and bow tie – just like James Bond.)

This dissension among the "goodies" is bred from myriad questions so many force themselves to ask before acting:

1. How evil are they? Are they so evil that you pronounce the second syllable with decided emphasis on the letter "i" and lingering on the letter "l" as if there were two of them?
2. Are there extenuating circumstances? Didn’t they save a small animal from drowning when they were younger? (Yes, so they could put it on a leash tied to a stake and shoot at it with a BB gun.)
3. Shouldn’t we give them fair warning that we’re going to attack them? Wouldn’t that be a far more humane way of going about killing them?
4. What would I do if I found myself fully wrapped in explosives with an ignition switch in my hand in the middle of a shopping area?

All of this self-reflection goes nowhere. It only weakens the collective resolve of the "good guys" and leaves an even greater opening for the opposition.

Let’s sit in on a terrorist meeting for a moment:

"OK, let’s quit the chit chat and get this meeting started. First of all, whoever’s driving a white 1972 Ford Pinto: you’re lights are on."
"Now that we have that matter out of the way, our first and only item on the agenda is our hatred for the Western civilization. Are we all agreed on that? If yes, simply nod, click your tongue twice and pull on your left ear lobe, or let out a blood-curdling scream that violently shakes your uvula."
"OK, so we’re all agreed. Let’s get on with the refreshments. Who’s turn was it to bring the fondue tonight?"

So the next time you’re watching the news (and it’s not the Fox News Channel), rather than believing the "even handed" and "impartial" views of the media concerning the lack of progress being made in the war on terror, set aside your political leanings for just a moment, and ask yourself one simple question to which you can only answer "yes" or "no": Do I enjoy allowing a group of wackos – who falsely hide behind religion – to control my safety in the world? That’s all you need to ask!

Friday, June 17, 2005

Elder Abuse

Grocery shopping is something that just about every person does, and not wanting to be labeled as a Heretic of Commerce, I do it, too. Now, the supermarket at which I regularly shop seems to be a bit particular as to who is allowed to shop there and bottleneck the checkout stands. This market allows ugly women with barbaric children, men named "Gordon", out-of-town fools who don’t know any better, and senior citizens. (My family and I were able to get an exemption.)

Before I proceed, I just wanted to say that I have nothing against senior citizens. I have many a family friend and relative who rank among the Seniors, and I will be one some day sooner than I think. My only objection is that they shouldn’t be allowed to congregate in one place in groups of three or more. They get dangerous and somewhat obstreperous.

Now, take my local supermarket as an example. You can be heading down the paper towel aisle without a care in the world, but once you round the corner into the dairy section, you can kiss the rest of your day goodbye. There are more senior citizens in that one tiny aisle than there are in an entire concert hall hosting a Frank Sinatra show. The reason I say they’re dangerous and somewhat obstreperous is that they think there is something written in the United States Constitution stating that it is their inalienable right to make the dairy section (and the tuna fish aisle) their homestead. And if you try to get around their cart or ask them to please move, forget about it or else you’re asking for the business end of an onslaught of canes and walkers. I saw it happen to one of those ugly women I was talking about earlier, and these people had no shame concerning her barbaric child. They just gagged him with a low-fat, no-cholesterol cheese and stuck him between the cottage cheese and sour cream.

Well, if you’re smart enough to avoid the dairy section and the tuna fish aisle altogether, you still have to face the checkout stands. I’ve seen more organization at a 10-car pile-up during rush hour in Los Angeles. This is not wholly the fault of the seniors. It doesn’t help when the cashiers don’t know the difference between produce and cat food or how to type "$2.19" into the cash register. Back to the seniors: It doesn’t help, though, when they’re in the middle of the line and suddenly remember that they need some Efferdent.

The reason I am so harsh on these people is that I think they plan it. They take turns staking out the dairy and tuna sections while the others stand in the lines continually forgetting something. They have community meetings for this. We all think they get together to plan trips to Atlantic City or Las Vegas. Wrong. They get together and schedule who’ll work what sections of the supermarket and at what time.

They group together and rally for more dairy sections and write letters to Bumble Bee and Starkist complaining that there’s not enough cans of tuna being produced. They do this. I saw it in a movie once.

People, beware! Keep your elderly loved ones as far away as possible from other elderly people. It’s like adding too much fiber to someone’s diet: things can get very messy.

I can see it now: "OK, Edna. You and the Geritol Gals take dairy, and Bernie and I will take tuna. The Efferdent Gang will be on checkout stand duty. And remember, never say ‘die’."

Monday, June 13, 2005

The World is Too Much

In my 35 years thus far on the Big Blue Marble, I have only seen a handful of Alfred Hitchcock movies: Psycho, The Birds, Vertigo, North by Northwest, and Rear Window. I can honestly say I really don’t remember much about Vertigo and Rear Window, but I can make the claim to having seen them. Be that as it may, I’ve never felt like I had a huge cultural chasm in my soul for not seeing more Hitchcocks, but I was induced to see The Man Who Knew Too Much last Saturday evening. As far as flicks go, I was entertained. (There was no Jar Jar Binks or Cher in the movie, so Man definitely had a few stars coming to it before it even began.)

At any rate, not far into the movie the main characters, a Dr. and Mrs. McKenna (played by Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day) are seen traveling through Morocco on their way to Marrakech with their son Hank. They befriend a smarmy Frenchie who seems to insinuate himself into their evening’s plans, and as the movie cuts to the scene in which the McKennas and Luis Bernard (that’s Frenchie’s name) are preparing for a night out on the town, you see Doris Day helping Hank put on his pajamas (with a robe and slippers – I was waiting to see if the kid was going to light up a pipe and start reading the evening paper). The two of them, mother and son, are singing "Que SerĂ¡, SerĂ¡" (which, by the way, is Spanish for "I feel like a complete moron wearing a robe and slippers in the middle of Morocco"). You quickly learn that the parents are getting ready to go out, and the son is about to be babysat by someone in the hotel’s employ. Red flag! It should come as no surprise to learn that just a little while later in the movie someone to whom the parents casually entrust their son subsequently kidnaps the boy.

I’m probably not the first to think this, but I may be the first to verbalize it: Hitchcock was a nefarious knave whose primary goal was to advance the agenda of a powerful triumvirate composed of Henry Ford, Coco Chanel, and The San Diego Chicken. It’ll all be abundantly clear in a moment.

Henry Ford: he perfected the assembly line to mass-produce his automobiles. If your child is abducted, what better way to cover ground quickly in your search than an automobile? (Let’s remember, the movie took place in the late 50s.) Following that same logic, what better way to be prepared for such an abduction (in Marrakech or elsewhere) than to purchase a handful of Ford’s vehicles and have them at the ready?

Coco Chanel: she was French. But it goes way beyond that! No matter how sweaty you get, you must smell good. You didn’t see people passing out when Doris Day’s character entered the room after an exhaustive search – they embraced her and wished to be by her side. Dainty, genteel, and feminine all go out the window if you smell like an outhouse.

San Diego Chicken: I know what many of you are saying. "The San Diego Chicken didn’t even come into existence until the late 70s, and Hitchcock was in his heyday in the late 50s and through the 60s." Why do you think you’ve never seen the face of The San Diego Chicken? There’s a whole army of individuals who portray the Chicken; it’s gone through generations of certain families, and the machinations of the Chicken (along with Ford and Chanel) were alive and well at the time of The Man Who Knew Too Much. By getting the world to accept that the world was an unsafe place basically ushered in a mania ready to embrace dancing poultry as entertainment. It all fits.

If you think this is a stretch, simply take a look at the world today: people pay extra money for hubcaps that spin around like a Cuisinart blade ready to slice carrots, Pauly Shore is about to get another TV show, and Hillary Clinton was elected Senator of a state in which she never lived previously.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Truth in Advertising

On a recent trip up to the Mogollon Rim in Arizona, traveling on Highway 260 just two or three miles east of Payson, I passed through the lovely little hamlet of Star Valley. Basically, Star Valley is a suburb of Payson, where people are moving to escape the urban decay and evil trappings of metropolitan Payson. But I digress.

As I came around a bend in the road (as one is wont to do when traveling through the country), I spied a tall pole on the south side of the highway on which were affixed different signs advertising various business establishments. Occupying the very top of this pole was a rather sizable statue of a cow. (I am fairly certain it was a statue as it remained deathly still; not moving in the least, which is completely contrary to what you would expect a live cow to do with a large pole sticking in its belly.) This didn’t seem altogether odd until I read the sign immediately below the statue. Written in large, red letters (in an Old Western style font) on a white background with a red border were the words "Topless Cabaret".

Not being from Star Valley or Payson, I was a little bewildered by all of this. The possibilities that ran through my head were the following:

  • They had dancing cows that performed topless. This, of course, is the obvious conclusion, but it begs the question: "Do cows normally wear tops? If so, what would a topless cow look like?" I watched many years of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, and I can honestly say that Marlin Perkins and Jim Fowler never did a story on a topless cow. Of course, those were more innocent times, and the moral standards of your average cow were much higher in those days. (I can remember when cats and dogs once thought it abhorrent to sleep in the same room.)
  • In some sort of bovine-inspired Ichabod Crane fantasy, the dancing cows actually have no heads. This seems far less likely than the first option given the fact cows aren’t known for being fleet of foot or extremely agile, and taking away their vision is not going to make them any more graceful. This would be choreography hell!
  • Lastly, the building itself has no roof. The more I pondered this option, the more it made sense. Unless the cows were house broken or wore diapers (which the latter would really cut down on the "show" factor for a cabaret atmosphere), it would be wise to have really good ventilation. And on those evenings when it’s raining, you instantly have the whole Flashdance thing going. Genius!

Being en route to a destination, I didn’t have time to stop, so I had to devote a great deal of mental energy to this . . . issue. Think of the thousands upon thousands of hours motorists like myself have wasted in either trying to figure out what the signage meant or stopping to see what was being advertised. (If you’re in the latter group, you should be ashamed of yourselves! You’re only encouraging good cows to be bad.)

Here’s my point: let’s be more clear in the "messages" we send. I’ll give you a perfect example: one day while driving on the freeway, I came upon a car driving in one of the middle lanes with its emergency flashers blinking. As I passed this car, I noticed the driver was a shriveled old man with Coke-bottle glasses and a bead of sweat painted across his upper lip. The message was clear: he was terrified to be driving, so give him a wide berth. Until I’m endowed with the authority to remove drivers from the road at my discretion, I can accept that.

Monday, June 06, 2005


You know you’ve turned into your dad when you hear yourself uttering the following phrases with absolutely no forethought:
  • "I don’t care who started it. I’m ending it."
  • "I’m your father, and I said so."
  • "No, you can’t use your brother’s head as first base without his consent."

However, you know you’re fully entrenched in parenthood when you hear the following phrase leak from your lips: "Okay, Jack, don’t put your foot in the toilet anymore. Okay?" This is further underscored by the fact you uttered these words in a very matter-of-fact voice – no venting of frustration, no exasperated tone – just as if you’re asking the pimple-faced clerk at Albertson’s where the non-fat milk is located.

Let’s analyze these sentences for a moment. The first word uttered is "okay": this would signify a direct and unmitigated acceptance of what just took place. Next, the verb "put" is used – not "jam", "dunk", "stick", "shove", etc. – which is an innocuous way of addressing the action. There’s not surprise or fear of imminent danger associated with the word "put". One "puts" socks in a drawer, keys in a pocket, tires on a car, etc.

Obviously, the words "toilet" and "anymore" should never be used in a sentence side by side. Consider the possibilities: "Frank won’t use the toilet anymore." "Frank doesn’t flush the toilet anymore." Ouch!

The final word is "okay" again. This would signify that you’re making some type of reasonable bargain. In a reasonable bargain, generally reasonable actions have preceded the pact. In some strange parental way, by use of "okay" at the end of the discussion, one has either implicitly or explicitly accepted these events as normal.

Just remember: Parenthood is an exploration of the many grades and variations of normal.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Half Baked

I read an article recently that stated that homosexual men and heterosexual women responded similarly to male-hormone-related odors. (I’ve been in my share of locker rooms, and I must say the odors emanating from within would cause identical reaction from any gender, preference, or even species – dry heaves.) At any rate, apparently the study involved "manufacturing" odors that mimicked male perspiration and female urine. (As a side note: can you just imagine the pride of the parents of these scientists? "Big deal, Martha. Your son may be a Supreme Court Justice, but my daughter can create substances to smell just like urine. Top that!") For some reason, there are many in the world who believe that the "discovery" that homosexual men and heterosexual women responded similarly is earth shattering. My reaction was more along the lines of "No duh". Perhaps these same scientists can conduct studies to determine if dogs bark or if Las Vegas casinos have better odds than the individual gambler.

I use that segue to ask the following question: Have the people of Arizona lost their minds? It’s now May, and the weather is getting very hot – it goes along with the whole dogs barking and casinos’ odds reasoning. However, each and every local newscast has the "meteorologist" looking to the anchors with a pained look on her/his face and saying something along the lines of "Well, Hal, it looks like it’s going to be another hot one today. And I’m not really sure when this ‘heat wave’ will end." How about October, folks?

And to add stupidity to moronics, we are now having "Heat Advisories" in Phoenix. There’s a reason it’s called the Valley of the Sun – we live in the same neighborhood as the bright yellow orb. At each Port of Entry on the Arizona borders, the officers should administer an IQ test. If the individual wishing to enter our fair state doesn’t rate high enough on said test and is too dense to know that you need to drink a lot of water and stay in the shade as much as possible should be forever exiled to Fargo, North Dakota with nothing but a Speedo and flip-flops.

Someone's Gotta Do It

You can call GW an idiot if you like. It’s a free country, as they say. However, before you go about shooting verbal darts at the leader of the Free World, let’s review history for a moment.

When I was a freshman in college, there was a popular club song called "American Soviets" by CCCP. It had a solid baseline and a catchy beat that you could dance to, but that’s beside the point. CCCP, as you may recall, were the initials you always saw stenciled on the side of every nuclear missile the Soviets paraded out there in front of the Kremlin in news clips. If I’m not mistaken (and believe me, I’m not) CCCP stood for "Communists Can Cultivate Plutonium." One of their whacked-out hippie physicists recommended the initials PCP, which he thought was a great inside joke (you gotta hand it to the Russians for their sense of humor), and he told everybody that it stood for "Plutonium Cills People." Unfortunately, he wasn’t intimately acquainted with the rule in English that the letter "c" doesn’t make a hard "k" sound when followed by the letter "i". One of the Politburo said "nyet" to that, so CCCP became the nom de guerre (which, I believe, is French for "we surrender"). At any rate, I digress.

The song "American Soviets" typified the "political climate" on the university campuses across the United States in the late 1980s: Tad and Jenny, clad in argyle sweaters and penny loafers – he in finely pressed khakis, she in a smart denim skirt – walking through campus discussing Dr. Feldman’s hair piece. My point, and I do have one, is that we thought the Evil Empire was as much a part of the landscape as the sun rising over the fountain in the quad – it wasn’t going away so go ahead and write catchy tunes with some sort of hidden agenda, and we’ll go on blissfully with our lives. However, on November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall came down; and a little over two years later, on Christmas Day in 1991, the Soviet Union officially ended its existence. Would Tad and Jenny have seen that one coming in 1986 when "American Soviets" was first released? Would you?

In November of 2000, when you were biting your nails and hoping the American election would come to a reasonable resolution, did you think at that time that Saddam Hussein would be found cowering and bewildered in a "spider hole" on December 14, 2003? I sure didn’t.

Speaking of soulless dictators, Hitler was essentially turned loose on Europe by the other predominant world powers because they didn’t want to get involved – the U.S. included. In fact, in 1940 Hitler tried to "make peace" with England, but Churchill would have none of that. Churchill did his very best to keep that "news" from the people of England because he smelled a rat in the plan and knew that without the will of his people, he would not be able to stand against Nazi aggression. Many contend that Churchill’s actions were tantamount to treason and that he should have been removed from office. Good thing he wasn’t!

At the end of World War II in Europe, the major players got together and basically divvied up the "spoils" of German occupation. This was, in essence, the birth of the Soviet Union as we knew it up until 1991. What would have happened if Churchill and FDR had stood up to Stalin and told him "No way, Jose" (Stalin’s pet name for himself) and insisted that he take his toys and go on back to the Moscow sandbox, leaving the conquered countries to govern themselves? At the time, that would have been an extremely unpopular stand because of the added battles and conflicts, but can you imagine the landscape of democracy that would have resulted?

A few months ago, I was driving along the freeway when I came upon a car with a bumper sticker that read, "The French Were Right." Being plastered on the window of a Volvo, I was pretty sure this was an anti-Bush message. Although I don’t personally agree with the sentiment, I thought, "If all you ever do is stand around telling the world that you’re not going to get involved, you’re bound to get it right, maybe, one time in a thousand." But what about the other 999 times, eh Pierre?

It’s hard to argue with history, and I’m sure some of you are beginning to think, "Maybe I should cut George some slack." But then the little devil (Ted Kennedy, possibly) appears on your left shoulder and says, "Come on, the guy uses words like ‘strategery’. He’s a boob!" (If it is, in fact, Teddy on your shoulder, you might want to ask him about his driving skills.) I’ll leave that up to you to decide, ultimately. But remember, the Edsel was supposed to be the car of the future, and Post-It notes were an accident.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

When the World is Running Down

These are the signs of the times, folks. Let me be clear: I’m not referring to Apocalyptic harbingers but signals that the world has reached that mental point of no return. It’s checked into Happy Acres, and the prognosis is terminal. However, before I get to humanity’s nosedive off the Cliff Reality, I’ve got a quick side note to share.

The Catholic Church now has a new Pope. I think he’s calling himself Benedict XVI. There is clearly some religious name-change tradition here to which I’m not privy, but I’ve got to say we could use that here in the US with our politicians. Such a pseudonym-adopting process would empower the American electorate to further withdraw itself from any personal liability or responsibility when their favorite son falls from grace. How else can you explain the re-election of Bill Clinton? Follow me here: Given the fact Old Billy was constrained to keep his "elected" name, people who voted him into office for the first term were pride-bound to keep him there. They had to continue backing their adulterous horse and saying, "He’ll do better this time around. He’s learned from his missteps." ("Missteps" is a great euphemism for "completely fouled up the country.") Had William Jefferson Clinton been able to adopt a Presidential Pen Name, the shame-faced, swayed-by-saxophone-playing-on-Arsenio-with-outdated-Raybans, misguided MTVers could have approached the 1996 election completely absolved with the disclosure, "I didn’t vote for that guy." Responsibility becomes a non-issue.

Anyway, back to the Pontiff. His given name is John Ratzinger. When the conclave convened and the talking heads’ tongues started wagging, I kept hearing about this John Ratzinger. I mean no disrespect, but the visual image that I kept getting was "Cliff Clavin" from Cheers (John Ratzenberger). I’d probably change my name, too. Now, with these Papal names, do those closest to the King of the Church call him "Benny", "B16", or "B.S." (Benny Sixteen)? Just curious.

As I was saying, the world has taken its last tiptoe through the tulips of sanity. In Sheboygan, WI, a proposal has been put forth to allow the hunting of feral cats. You read that correctly: feral cats. First off somebody has taken the time to put together a formal proposal to be heard by the Wisconsin Conservation Congress to legalize what many prepubescent boys already do when mom and dad buy them pellet guns and tell them, "Now, you’re only to shoot pop bottles and cans." But no, apparently the Sportsmen’s lobby feels as though it’s being discriminated against because of their age, tendency to have beer guts, and the proclivity to wear silly hats that look only proper on Elmer Fudd. I can hear the low-voiced chatter in the "cat stand" now: "Filbert, I swear that ravenous tabby – the one they call Mittens – has a mean streak in ‘im. It’s kill or be killed, hombre. You know why they call ‘im Mittens? Three of his four paws are covered in white fur, coyly camouflaging claws that could shred taffeta curtains in a matter of seconds. You be careful out there. Here, put some more cat urine on the back of your neck."

Almost equally disturbing about this feral cats issue is that the reason it made the local paper here in Arizona was that someone (or some group) had jumped the gun – no pun intended, really – and gone ahead and killed house cats in their misguided, blood-thirsty rage to rid the world of one of its many banes: feral cats. Let run rampant, these feral felines (the alliteration sounds better, I admit) may throw the milk saucer market into a tailspin or force society to acknowledge their right to the lands stolen from their forefathers. (The latter may be a more difficult point to press due to the grossly lacking genealogical skills possessed by most cats – feral and domestic.)

If all that weren’t enough to prove my theory, on the same page of the "cat" report I found a story of a Mexican conservationist group (do you see a pattern here?) decrying the consumption of sea turtle eggs as a sexual aid – Poseidon's little pick-me-up, if you will. That last sentence speaks volumes for itself. So, at any rate, it causes me to ask the question you're all asking yourselves, "At what point, and under what circumstances, did someone ‘discover’ the libido-enhancing qualities of sea turtle eggs?" All I have to say is you better keep these things away from those feral cats!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Jude the Obscurist

Obscurity. I honestly feel this country was founded upon the ideal of obscurity. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the framers of our constitution and government must have been a bunch of guys with twisted senses of humor. Everything in the US is founded upon the principle of not knowing until it’s too late. Following that, I present to you Bill Clinton. People just weren’t reading the political road signs, or at least they didn’t see them in time.

Besides politics, "obscurity" is alive and well in the highway maintenance departments across the country. I am under the strong conviction that our gasoline taxes aren’t going to road improvements but to screw up the drivers. I believe, and I’m not alone on this, that there is a small committee of "obscurists" that is in sole charge of all road signs: the nemesis of all modern drivers.

Road signs need to be more specific, larger. They need to replace billboards. Who cares if National Bank has lower rates? Watch TV for such information! We need signs that instead of saying, "DIP", they say "Slam on the Brakes NOW or Kiss it Goodbye." The road signs we have now are about the size of a 3 X 5 card (at least they seem so when you’re traveling at speeds of 60+ mph), and they’re just too vague. Sometimes, they’re vague because they’re too specific. How’s that for a conundrum?

Traveling down the road in Pelham, NY, I came to such a "specifically vague" sign. I was travelling at approximately 35 mph in a residential area (don’t rat me out to the cops), and as I approached the intersection I spied one of those obnoxious red-circle-with-a-slash-through-it signs signifying that to attempt a left turn could result in immediate decapitation. But as I came closer, and the light being green so I could blow the intersection, I noticed the word "EXCEPT" written about the size of the Surgeon General’s warning on cigarette packages. Under it were listed the times and exceptions to this decapitation threat – and they were written even smaller.

Now, aren’t road signs supposed to facilitate the driver and keep traffic moving in a regular fashion? That’s what I thought. So, I called the highway department and asked the very same questions. The woman on the other end, one Kate Persnickety, just couldn’t stop laughing. The laugh still haunts me.

This sign was so specific that it raises doubts in one’s mind. This can be very dangerous when traveling in large, metal heaps at speeds over 10 mph. I can see it now: a line of cars stretched back to Cleveland because the person couldn’t figure out if one of the exceptions was in effect because he/she feared decapitation far more than the wrath of his/her fellow drivers.

This is not the only example of the obscurists’ work. I’ve seen it all over. I once saw a sign at the bottom of a hill that read "HILL", which I guess is supposed to warn you of a possible speed increase. Well, too late. Due to my ignorance and the absence of a sign at the top of the hill, I was already travelling at the speed of sound, and I had a stop sign, which was conveniently obscured by a tree, to stop for in 10 feet.

This all brings me to my point: we need to do something about these people. We can’t just accept these idiocies anymore. So, I propose we hunt down these obscurists, catch them, and hang them from their signs. If we all put our efforts together, we can show that the American people will not be pushed around. We want hassle-free dental appointments, novels with fewer pages in them, and road signs that make more sense than our elected officials.

Hortence's Revenge

Throughout the centuries, names have been of great importance in denoting royalty, signifying origin, and seeing if your parents were highly medicated (or should have been) when the naming chore rolled around. Someone really should be put in charge of giving an OK on names, and this person should have a tremendous sense of humor due to some of the sillier names that linger even after the Clinton administration.

My proposal is to create a bureau of the government (thus increasing an even heavier burden on the American taxpayer) in which once a child is born, the parents have three days to come to the bureau and fill out paperwork "registering" the child’s name. These offices should be conveniently located in 7-11s and Circle Ks. (Side note: if the parents don’t come within the three days, the child’s name will immediately be "registered" as Orville, regardless of gender.) Countless numbers of clerks will shuffle the paperwork to insure the process is long and expensive. Don’t worry, you can get a burrito and a slush while you wait. Finally, it will land on the desk of the Regional Nomenclature Designation Czar (it’s all in the name, of course.) He or she will look over the paperwork, which consists of the child’s name-to-be, the names of the parents (for obvious reasons), and an essay of 50 words or less as to why they want to give their child that particular name. Having quite a sense of humor and a very haunting laugh, he/she reviews the paperwork and decides if the child is worthy of that name. For example, if the parents were trying to name their child, say, Hortence, they would most likely need to include in their essay that she kicked a lot in the womb and the labor was 75 hours long – justification. If approved, he/she simply stamps OK on the application and hands it off to Claire (an unfortunate name, to say the least) or some other clerk. Here’s where the haunting laugh enters the picture (you know, the kind that the guy living in the dorm room next to you in college had and kept you awake at night; the kind that made the nipples on your chest quiver). If the requested name is found to be truly absurd, banal, or just plain stupid, he/she personally walks over to you, throws the application in your face in the form of a paper airplane, and delivers a heart-stopping, nipple-quivering laugh. I suggest that people with pace makers and anxiety have their spouse do the filing.

With that said, parents must think about what they’re naming their child. Who cares if it’s been a tradition to name the first boy in the family Waldo since 1653, or that the name means "smarter than a carpet tack" in Armenian? If it’s a stupid name, don’t saddle your kid with that name. (Don’t even get me started on the made-up names we hear so frequently now.) They’ll go through life thinking they have "Just call me ‘dork’ and laugh at me when you meet me" written on their forehead in fluorescent yellow.

My parents chose to name me Grant. I’m told I got this name from the guy down the street. For all I know, my parents could have picked it out of a phone book or an Elks’ Lodge register – personally, I think my dad lost a bet of some sort. With a name like Grant, my adolescent years weren’t exactly easy. The cute girls (who so enjoyed teasing the little squirts such as myself) would call me names such as "Granty", or they’d all get together (and I swear they had a choreographer help them with this) and do this little swaying sort of jig as they chanted, "Grant, Grant, the big fat ant!" Some thirty years later (and myriad hours of needed therapy), those chilling words still echo in my mind. Can you imagine what it was like live? I’m not even going to go into the things people did, and still do, with my last name Greene.

I have to admit it would be tempting to play with the names of your children. In my younger days, I always thought it would be cool to name my first son "Gang", and if I had a girl, "Salad." It would be interesting to see if "The Bureau" would pass them, but I don’t think my nipples could take it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Watching Waistlines and Borders

Sitting in my hotel room when I’m on the road, I watch a lot of TV. Some would argue that I could make better use of my time (e.g. teaching personal hygiene classes at the local Y, reading to the deaf, herding cats, etc.), and they may have a point. But after reading this, you’ll be glad I wile away the hours glued in front of the boob tube surfing like a maniac. I’ve unearthed a conspiracy that is more vast and pernicious than Dan Rather’s toupee. Indulge me.

In the same night of viewing, I saw a brief news story on CNN detailing the unprecedented rise in obesity rates among illegal aliens. (Apparently one government agency can get close enough to illegal aliens to measure their body mass indexes, but the Border Patrol is completely befuddled by this elusive cadre of sojourners.) Then, two or three minutes later, MSNBC aired a report on a new link being scientifically established between obesity and dementia. My mind started racing upon hearing the details of this second report. I was having visions of thousands of illegal aliens just snapping and taking to the streets. Before I let myself get caught up in the hysteria, I flipped the channel to one of the local news stations.

After returning from a live remote about a dog who could pick out Democratic presidential candidates from a photo array by peeing on them (the photos, of course), the anchor screwed up his face into the most somber, gravely serious look he could muster. He looked straight into the camera, as if he were peering into my soul, and reported that there was a shortage of lard in the U.K. Oh, the humanity! What would the world be like without the culinary buzzkills of English gastronomy? Quickly, I thought of ways to stem this horrible tide of evil. A worldwide benefit concert – Lard Aid – might do it. Or perhaps have elementary school children bring in cans of Crisco to be loaded and shipped off to Britain. However, in the midst of my brainstorming session, I felt the need to continue flipping channels either for a cathartic soothing or a means to find an answer.

Screaming past a movie about a woman in peril (Lifetime, I’m sure) and the blatherings of a middle-aged man over how toile was the bull in the interior decorating china shop (I swear he said that), I stopped at Fox News. I caught the tail end of a story about sea slugs being used for memory enhancement, and that’s when the night’s viewing came full circle. The epiphany figuratively hit me like a crazy, obese Guatamelan man eating a pasty (but not wearing one, thank goodness!): more ruthless than the mafia, more bent on settling scores than the IRA, and more annoying than a car full of four-year olds hopped up on Orange Soda and chicken nuggets asking you how much farther, it’s the French! They’re behind all of this madness!

What’s one of the most fattening and addictive foods readily available to young and old illegal aliens alike? French fries. If we’re preoccupied with keeping the streets free and clear of overweight lunatics (illegal, naturalized, and US-born), who’s going to have the time to help Boeing fend off the French government-sponsored Airbus from taking over the aircraft manufacturing industry? (Do we really want to fly in airplanes brought to us by the same country who brought us Le Car?) Sure, our friends the British would be willing to help, but the French have deftly shorted their lard supply. The Brits have their own set of hand-wringing problems now.

I realize all of this seems a stretch, perhaps circumstantial. I was leaning in that direction, I’ll admit, until I saw the last bit on the sea slugs. What other mollusk (of the gastropod genus) is similar to a slug? Do I even have to say it? Yes, it’s the snail. And who tries to sell the world on how posh and debonair it is to eat snails? Yes, the French! They control the mollusk market, and they’re holding it over our heads. Our own government knows it, but it’s all very hush-hush.

If the French were to make sea slugs readily available to the world thus enabling all to have free access to memory enhancement, we would all be able to recall that the food pyramid did not have a base of Ho-Hos, Twinkies, French Fries, and Moon Pies. By remembering these fundamental dietary truths our grade-school teachers spent hours trying to drill into our heads while we ate paste, we would all begin to slim down (illegal aliens included), and obesity-related dementia would be a thing of the past. (However, crazy or not, we would all continue to know that lard-laden English food tastes like the paste we ate in our younger years and avoid it like the French avoid combat.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Village Idiot

Story, Indiana is onto something: every year, they "elect" a village idiot. Whoever does the dumbest thing(s) over the course of the year (e.g. unsuccessfully outrun Farmer Calvin’s bull, pee on an electric fence two days in a row, etc.) receives this dubious honor as bestowed by his/her fellow townsfolk. I’m not sure if this person walks around the next year with a large letter "I" emblazoned upon his/her chest, or if the locals are allowed to fling cow manure in his/her direction at whim, but this is a great idea nonetheless.

Here in Queen Creek, AZ, we need such a "title" if not for the sheer fact the specter of being named the "village idiot" would discourage asinine behavior, it would at least help weed out those who choose not to exercise their innate common sense from the rest of us. You can’t tell me the business community wouldn’t embrace this: "Well let me see here, sir, we shouldn’t have any problem approving your loan for a . . . Pacer? Wait a minute, you were the ‘village idiot’ last year, weren’t you? Of course we’re not going to approve such a loan because if we did, our Branch Manager would be named the idiot this year."

Given the fact Queen Creek is actively seeking more businesses to move to this little corner of the Garden of Eden, I thought the "village idiot" program would be the perfect cornerstone for the Chamber of Commerce’s marketing initiative: "Queen Creek, AZ: We’ve Pre-Screened the Idiots for You." So, I called the Chamber (that sounds sort of ominous, doesn’t it) and spoke with Francine Salisbury. By the sound of her voice, Francine had either dated Methuselah in her teen years or she’s a twenty-five year old woman who smokes three cartons a day. Grrrrr.

I brought her up to speed on my idea and asked if I could schedule a meeting with the folks down at the old COC – that’s insider jargon, of course, for Chamber of Commerce. While she didn’t cotton to the idea as a marketing plan, she did say she had an uncle who once tried to marry a mountain goat. I asked her if she mentioned this because she felt her uncle would qualify for the title of "village idiot." While clearing her throat of phlegm, she said, "No. I just think of old Uncle Jasper at odd times. Some say it was a ruse for the IRS, but it was true love. You should have seen the way Clementine would look at Jasper." Just imagine.

Francine prattled on some more about a boy she knew in third grade who ate dried cow patties without any water to wash them down. "Now that boy was the village idiot, in my opinion. Doing that nonsense without any water. This is Arizona for heaven’s sake." Before I got myself caught up in a "Twilight Zone" episode trying to explain to Francine that water probably wasn’t the crux of the problem, I politely thanked her for the time and got off the phone. Imagine what people would say about me had I stayed on the phone.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Sappy Holidays

Christmas 2004

You can view this letter as a brief, informative update on the comings and goings of the Greenes, or you can view it as one of those obnoxious cell phone calls you "overhear" because the person standing in the middle of a crowded room with a small one-piece headphone stuck in his ear (and thus looks like he’s talking to himself) decides to speak at the decibel level of a Boeing 737 and announce how happy he is that the doctor has declared him rash-free for ten days now. If you choose the former, we hope it accomplishes that task; the latter, therapy might be in order – along with some Calamine lotion. At any rate, happy holidays!

Sam started pre-school this year over at the local elementary. It’s a district-sponsored program, and come to find out the prerequisite was that one or both parents had to show some type of mental deficit. Although I’m not threatening to join MENSA in the near future, we were still wondering how we qualified for the program. I asked the coordinator if perhaps there was a mistake, and she asked me if I was, in fact, the same Grant Greene who moved his family from bucolic Northern California to the inner circle of the sun. Bemused by the odd, if not accurate, statement of fact rolled into her question, I nodded in the affirmative. But I quickly gathered my senses and asked why that mattered. Her reply was that the school board assumed I must have had a lobotomy at some point to make such a move. Be that as it may, Sam’s loving pre-school and all the new things he’s learning: reading, writing, Morse code, dentistry with small, blunt objects, knitting a sweater out of cat hair, etc. Place your orders now to make sure you get a sweater in the color you want. Calico is going fast.

Our new home is located in what some would classify as a "rural" area. We do have running water, indoor plumbing, and our neighbors have all their teeth, not to worry. However, soon after our move to Hooterville, we were driving past one of the farms when Erin noticed Jack was looking at the animals very intently. At first we couldn’t tell if Jack was bracing for a possible ambush from a highly trained group of attack chickens lurking in the shadows or whether he was trying to determine which horse looked the most like Eleanor Roosevelt. Before we could ask him what was the focus of his attention, he turned to us and said, "I’ve noticed something: cows aren’t very social. They mostly just stand around eating grass and minding their own business." Don’t you wish some of your co-workers were more like these cows? At any rate, Jack is enjoying second grade and working on his new book chronicling the evolution of the can opener. Fascinating!

Erin, we’re sorry to report, has had to seek some pretty serious medical attention as of late. The complete diagnosis is still pending, but we believe she has imbedded somewhere inside her a giant magnet that attracts "party" invitations ad infinitum (that’s Latin for "a boatload") to come and buy every candle, cold cream, jelly jar, beaver trap, and faux-19th-century bidet someone has decided is a must-have item for the home or as a personal accessory. If the diagnosis is correct, they’ll have to perform a "crapola-ectomy". We’re hoping the insurance company won’t balk at the cost. Despite the extensive testing and doctors’ visits, Erin finds enough time to volunteer at school for both Jack’s and Sam’s classes, work at church, and catch and shave neighborhood cats to help Sam in his burgeoning knitting business. She keeps quite busy – and she’s scratch-free.

With the move to Arizona came an increase in geography to cover, so I fly almost every other week. And in my travels, I’ve learned that overhead bins in airplanes, for some reason I have yet to discover, are like funhouse mirrors: they make people think that their larger-than-a-Suburban "carry on" bag is the size of a woman’s clutch purse. So, once when a fellow passenger of mine was trying to lift and cram her bag in the overhead bin (with a line of 75 people behind her, mind you), I told her it might be easier if she climbed up into the overhead bin and pulled it up. She looked at me like the nut job that I am and said, "I won’t fit up there." I looked at her, then at her bag, and then back at her, and said, "But the golf bag will?"

As I close this Christmas card from the edge of reason, I’m reminded of the words of a famous poet: "I am not Chinese." Not that there’s anything wrong with that; I just wouldn’t want to give anyone the wrong impression. And remember, if you don’t use your vowels every day, you could get severely consonated.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Put that Thing Away

I'm 35 years old. I grew up in the 80s. I'll admit to that. That little piece of information may help you understand where I'm coming from -- or at least it'll explain my lack of understanding.

Here's the deal: I'm sure I missed the memo from . . . whomever's in charge of these things, but I can't quite put my finger on the exact date and time when it was decided that men and women of all ages should flaunt a gut. (Let me disclose here that I do not have the body of a cover model, and my waist is five inches bigger than it was when I got married.) And when I say flaunt, that is exactly what I mean: baring it with total disregard.

On the one hand, I applaud their heightened sense of self confidence. I was far more "frail" in regard to self image even when I was younger and thinner, and the majority of my peers (male and female alike) "suffered" from the same lack of confidence. We wore clothes that accentuated the positive and camouflaged the rest. We're just a bunch of narcissists!

Now, on the other hand, the last thing I want to see after I've stopped at the local Dairy Queen stand in the mall to get a chocolate milk shake (made with chocolate ice cream) is the rolling pudge sitting atop the waistband of a 14-year-old girl's pants and peeking out below a t-shirt that's three sizes too small -- sickening for so many reasons.

My lack of "hipness" in this regard is not reserved for females. I'm equally astounded by those myriad men who wear polo shirts, for instance, that have shrunk up above their belts to reveal a love-handled hairy navel that looks like a peat moss farm. I can safely say "sexy" is not the first thing someone thinks when they see this. "Cummerbund" is a word that leaps to mind for me!

Let's do each other a favor and put that thing away!

Mind-blowing excitement

Monday, February 21, 2005

Probably not far from the Garden of Eden -- halfway between Kingman and Yucca, AZ.

Social Security's Problems

First off, let me make this clear: I don't expect to see a dime of the social security funds that are being taken out of my paycheck every two weeks. With that said, in principle, I'm all for allowing individuals to invest those bi-weekly withdrawals in an account or some other interest-bearing vehicle of their choosing. Heck, they could cash it out in ones and fives and make a leisure suit out of them -- it might improve their chances of getting a date.

Nevertheless, in reality, I'm against allowing individuals to invest their social security funds at their own discretion. Why? Because there are far too many people who would, metaphorically, take me up on my leisure suit suggestion and the government (this applies to all parties) hasn't the backbone to tell these people that they were just too stupid for their own good and they're clean out of luck. When people have completely cleaned themselves out and they go to the government, our little friends in Washington will then come to those of us who had the foresight to save and invest wisely and tax our wisdom so we're all clean out of luck.

Bottom line: stupidity is the strongest trump card of all in matters of governance.