September 30, 2014


We’ve come a long way in the last 200 years, haven’t we?  Now we can spend more time doing what we want to do as a result of all the labor-saving devices we’ve invented.
Take the vacuum cleaner.  Of course, we didn’t need vacuum cleaners before the advent of throw rugs and carpeting, but we now have vacuum cleaners to keep these justifications for vacuum cleaners clean… unless, of course, the belt breaks or the canister explodes.  Then we have dust, cat hair (even people with no pets at all end up with cat hair in their rugs.  I’ve never been able to figure this out), and unidentifiable brown crumbly things littering the carpet our forefathers had no use for and no labor-saving devices to clean up the amazing mess that the labor-saving device made.
Then we have dishwashers, to save women everywhere from “dishpan hands.”  That is, until it gets clogged and spews hundreds of gallons of scalding water all over the house, creating an effect similar to the Mississippi delta in the area your labor-saving vacuum cleaner threw up ten minutes ago.  And though you don’t have dishpan hands, you do have washerwoman’s knees!
But wait!  We have WETVACS to clean up the water with which your labor-saving dishwasher so thoughtfully created that sunken living room you’ve always wanted . . . until it shorts out and sends 200 amps through the saturated carpet, electrocuting your Chihuahua.
Moving right along, we have the washing machine.  You just drop in the dirty clothes and some laundry soap and, twenty minutes later, you have clean clothes.  Of course, during those twenty minutes, the plastic blade guard shakes loose and what you are left with is a load of clean, but unrecognizable, rags.  You can dry them automatically, too; then you’ll have DRY unrecognizable rags.
Ah, but we have a labor-saving sewing machine to stitch back together the rags created by your labor-saving washing machine.  The sewing goes well until a strange sound from your labor-saving trash compactor momentarily distracts you and you run the needle through several fingers, calling for a trip in your labor-saving car to your labor-saving hospital, where you will get a tetanus shot.  Unfortunately, your labor-saving car is struck by another labor-saving car on the way, so you arrive at your destination by way of a labor-saving ambulance.
So, people, before you pick up that blow dryer, do yourselves a favor--make sure your insurance is paid up.

September 22, 2014


I received this thank-you note after a dinner party I threw recently.  I feel that, if creative, and probably the truth, it is unnecessarily harsh.


THE DINNER  (with apologies to Edgar Allan Poe)

Once upon an evening nauseous, over hors d’oeuvres, weak and cautious,
Wondering if I should continue to eat or toss them on the floor.
While deciding, enter Carson, toting cocktails fit for arson,
Because to drink them would bring my acid reflux to the fore.
’Tis not nice to drink a drink and bring my reflux to the fore.
Shook my head and ate some more.

 How clearly I remember this dinner party in September,
And each separate groaning member lined outside the bathroom door.
Eagerly I wished to borrow Pepto Bismol;—to my sorrow
They were fresh out—I feared the morrow—
The amuse bouche wasn’t funny and my stomach let me know
Casualty of rancid roe.

And the copper clad slow cooker, huffing, puffing like a hooker
Scared me—the soup course followed cocktails, so I headed for the door.
“Oh, hey, you can’t be going,” Carson hollered, looked all-knowing,
“I’m just about to serve the soup.” Sweat broke upon my brow.
Seven dreadful words were spoken that caused sweat upon my brow.
“Be right there.” Lord, kill me now.

Hesitating then no longer, wishing that my will were stronger,
I shuffled back into the room where everyone was green.
“This soup is so delicious!”  No, ’tis closer to ‘malicious,’
Or perhaps more like ‘pernicious.’ At the very least, it’s ‘mean.’
I dislike eating anything that makes me think of ‘mean.’
Pass the dreaded soup tureen.

Ladled soup into my soup plate, understood I tempted a fate
Worse than maiming, death, and dying—inhumanity to man.
Because Carson’s making dinner we will all become lots thinner
If we don’t end up in ICU with a volume discount plan.
Yes, if we’re not on Medicare, then a volume discount plan.
Carson’s cooking should be banned.

Swallowing the horrid soup, the wet and mildew-tasting goop—
My life, it flashed before me.  Unfortunately, it bored me.
Soon again I heard the bathroom, it was calling out my name.
I rushed to sanctuary, second course no longer tarried,
But swirled down the porcelain drain—glad to see it flow.
Two courses down and three to go.

My salad course was waiting, all the diners cogitating
About advisability of eating something more.
Two were dead and more would follow, it was like a horror novel.
Salad dumped in napkins, wrapped, and placed upon the floor.
Delighted hostess, from the kitchen, cries, “I bet you all are itchin’
To try my newest recipe, pan-seared cellar door.

On the side we have potatoes, oven-roasted in tomatoes,
With basil, cream, and sealing wax I purchased at the store.
There’s some lovely summer squashes, stuffed with cat hair and galoshes,
And for dessert, there’s homemade apple pie—you’ll need much stronger knives."
I never thought that apple pie required stronger knives.
We ran then, fearing for our lives.

Carson’s kitchen now is shut down, health department had a go-round
And condemned that ptomaine palace for an evil place forsook.
As for Carson, she is mulling over recipes and lulling
Herself into the fantasy that she knows just how to cook.
Forget the affidavit that she knows just how to cook, or you’ll
Be dying in her breakfast nook.

September 15, 2014


        When you stop and think about everything we go through to maintain our hair, it becomes less and less of a mystery why old people just stop bothering.  They’re tired of it.
Think about it.  How much of your morning does hair maintenance consume?  Thirty minutes?  An hour?  More?  
And the money we spend on hair maintenance products!  Shampoo, conditioners, hairspray, styling gels, mortar and cement, Elmer’s glue, roof tar, hair dyes, hair treatments, root touch ups, fireproofing, rinses, hot oil treatments, banana and Windex treatments, sauerkraut and grass clipping treatments, oh, and let’s not forget the Pillsbury hot cross buns, lard and pureed gerbil treatments. 
The question is, why are we so obsessed with our hair that we endure this kind of cash outlay without a blink?
I blame Samson, and I believe that Hair should be the eighth Deadly Sin.
Would it really be so bad if we were all bald?
It would certainly add more hours to our days.
If I guy goes bald, it’s to be expected; he does the ‘bald guy comb-over’ and that’s that.  If he has more money than brains, he goes and gets a toupee or, for something more permanent, a hair transplant and hopes the hair isn’t from a Chihuahua.  I mean, they’re transplanting pig hearts into humans now, why not exotic hair for the top of the balding man’s head?  Imagine how your husband or boyfriend might look with Pomeranian hair.  It would be thick and red, but he’d have the urge to bite your ankles every time you walked by.
Okay, so not a Pomeranian, then.
What about a Hungarian Puli?  This type of dog hair would be ideal for the Bob Marley fans out there—instant dreadlocks.
And if you’re into curly, Poodle hair is the only way to go.
But the biggest problem with transplanting dog hair is the way it smells when it gets wet.  I understand they’re working on that, though.  Monsanto is, even as you read this, genetically modifying transplant dogs to smell like flowers when wet.  It solved the odor problem in test subjects, but they have no idea what to do about the hummingbird attacks.
Monsanto has also attempted to engineer the hair to release a fragrance similar to a fresh mountain stream when damp.  What they got was hair that smelled like a fresh mountain stream full of dead fish when damp.  But if you’re looking for a cat to follow you home in the rain, this is the hair for you!
When a woman goes bald, it’s time for wailing, rending of clothing, and gnashing of teeth.  It is some kind of cosmic high crime and she will regard it as a tragedy equal, or even worse than, being left at the altar.
Ah, but women have wigs, don’t they?  They can go out and buy a full head of hair.  So what’s the problem?
Ever seen the wigs on offer?  Take a look at a catalog sometime and you’ll see what I mean.
You, too, can go from a balding woman to a new woman overnight.  From thin or next-to-no hair to a wig with enough hair in it to make knit caps for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  You could thin it out and re-stuff your mattress with it.  You could style it into a spare tire for your truck.
And the folks who market these children of Cousin Itt swear that no one will ever know you’re wearing one of their wigs.
The only way this will happen will be if you have a smoking hot body, put on their wig and nothing else, and leave the house that way.  No one will notice whether or not you even have a head, let alone are wearing a wig on it.
I saw a woman the other day who had finally given up trying to look natural and had combed and styled her wig into a flattened rectangle upon which she posted a ‘This Space Available’ banner.  Last I heard, Bosley Medical and The Hair Club for Men were in a bidding war for it.

September 8, 2014


        It staggers the imagination how our human quest for variety has spiraled well and truly out of control. Animals don’t worry about this sort of thing; and though they do not live as long as we do, I have no doubt they are much happier than we are.

It’s becoming impossible to send someone out with a shopping list, just to pick up a few things, anymore.  For example, last week, I was tied up with deadlines, so I wrote Stij a list, and off he went.
Fifteen minutes later, I got a phone call. 
“Hi hon.  Miss me?” I said.
“Tee hee, very funny. This list says you want sliced turkey breast.”
“Uh huh.”
“Yes, but you didn’t tell me what kind you wanted, oh woman of words and specifics.”
“What do you mean, ‘what kind?’”
“Oh, my dear, we have a veritable Disneyland of choices here.  You can have your turkey rotisseried, smoked, oven roasted, barbecued, organic, cage free-natural, dipped in honey and swung about the head and shoulders, seasoned with cracked black pepper and aged in Gordon Ramsay’s armpit, or marinated in a stunning mélange of Channel No. 5, attar of roses, and outhouse runoff.  That last you just buy, bring home, and throw out.  So what’ll it be?”
“Is the guy at the deli waiting for you to make up your mind?
“Get out of the line.  Did you find everything else?”
“I have only just begun.”
It was going to be a long phone call, I could tell.
“What’s next?”
“Now, you know in the best of circumstances, I do not like buying feminine hygiene products, but you are going to bleed to death before I can figure out what to get.  There are three aisles of this stuff!  They even have one with ‘wings.’  Is that the one you use when you’re planning on flying somewhere?”
“Just pick up a box of sanitary pads—how hard can that be?”
“I’d rather take a chance dodging traffic on the 101. . .at night. . . drunk. . .and blind.”
“Look, it’s simple…”
“No, it’s not.  Let’s make a deal right now—I won’t ask you to buy jock itch stuff for me, and you don’t ask me to buy this stuff for you.  You wouldn’t believe the headache I have.”
“There’s Midol for that.”
“Do you want me to hang up?  Do you really want me to hang up?”
“Sorry. Okay, skip that.  What’s next?”
“Why is that hard?”
“Oh, medium, large, extra-large, jumbo, hard-boiled, organic, cage-free, all-natural, organic, slightly organic, kinda organic, a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll, Omega-3s, 6-pack, 10-pack, dozen, 18-pack, two-and-a-half dozen, five dozen, brown eggs, white eggs, green eggs and ham.  Whaddya want?”
“A dozen large white eggs.”
“They’re all out.”
 “Pasta sauce.  Here we have the following choices:  marinara, tomato and basil, alfredo, creamy alfredo, four cheese, sausage and peppers, garlic and basil, pesto, tomato pesto, sundried tomato and basil, white clam sauce, tomato with white wine, tomato with mushrooms and motor oil, tomato with shredded carp and Mah Jong tiles, and tomato sauce with grass clippings from the 18th hole at Pebble Beach. There’s even a No Tomato tomato sauce!”  By now he was bellowing to the point where I could have heard him without the phone.
“Stij, I really have to get back to work…”
“Oh, no, you don’t!  If I’m to be forced into insanity, I’m taking you with me!”
“Please, hon, just do your best, okay?  See you later,” I said, hanging up and turning off my phone.
After a short while, I heard his truck pull up.
He walked in with a bag of fruit, veggies, and meat and plunked it down on the counter.  He then stalked to his office and slammed the door so hard that it rattled the windows.  I unpacked his purchases quietly.
I didn’t have the heart to tell him that everything he bought had expired three months ago.

September 1, 2014


         One might think that every song that can be written has already seen the light of day.  I contend that this is incorrect, and I have a list of songs, mostly of the Country/Western ilk, that haven’t yet been written, but really ought to be.  They are as follows:

There’s a Dragnet Out for Grandma

It’s an Icky, Icky Feeling

Do We Have a Salami?

Whatever Happened to S&H Green Stamps?

Let’s Take a Left at Des Moines

Sunshine on my Loan Shark

I Got My Dog, My Wife, and My House Back, But Now I’ve Lost My Memory

Could This Be Love or is it Diphtheria?

How Can I Miss You if You Won’t Go Away?

I’d Like to Get You On a Subway to Vicksburg

As Long as You’re Leaving Me, Would You Mail These Letters on Your Way Out of Town?

Let’s Fall in Love or I’ll Slash Your Tires

Everything is Mediocre

I’m Gonna Drink Until You Look Good to Me

I Don’t Know How to Tell You You’re Infected

All I Need is a Restraining Order

I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up, so I’ll Just Lie Here and Watch the Soaps

My Boyfriend’s Gone and the Cesspool’s Forgotten

Lake Winnipesaukee and Perogies by Moonlight

I’m Coming Back Home to Throw You Down the Well

I was a Frog, but Now I’m a Prince Who Can Swim Really Well

Don’t Leave Me Unless You Take the Kids, Too

Boogie-Woogie Tater Tots

Scrape Off the Truck Tires, We’re Eatin’ Good Tonight

Classical Gas Pains

Doublewide Duet for Alto and Tenor Sump Pump

           Okay, you record label bigwigs—the lines are open and operators are standing by to take you.