WOULD YOU PLEASE ANSWER THAT PHONE? – BY ELLIN CURLEY

The world can be divided in many ways – Republicans vs. Democrats, religious people vs. non religious people, cat people vs. dog people. Here’s another way – people who love the phone vs. people who hate it.

I love talking on the phone. I have many close friends who live far away now and it’s the next best thing to spending time with them in person. You can have real conversations that drift from one topic to the next. You can even interrupt each other! You don’t get the subtleties of body language that you get in person, but you’re actually engaging with the real person. You can remember why you loved this person in the first place.

Another important advantage of phones is laughter. We can hear our friends laugh at our jokes and our friends can hear us laugh at theirs. We get to laugh TOGETHER, which is huge. Laughter is a powerful bond. Most women list a sense of humor as one of the things they most value in a man. Sharing laughter is one of the great joys in life. You can’t get it in a text. Typing LOL is not the same thing!

When I was dating online, I discovered that liking someone’s emails was NOT a good indicator that I would like them in person. But liking someone on the phone gave me a pretty good chance that I would like them in person. That’s when I fully realized that writing and talking are on two separate planes.

Talking is personal. It reveals personality and connects people on an emotional, visceral level. You get most of what you get when you are physically with someone.

Emailing may tell you the writing style of the person but not their speaking style or their personal “je ne sais quoi.” In texting, people tend to write shortened sentences with abbreviations and even Emojis. So you don’t even get the “voice” or writing style of the person. The time lag with texts also annoys me. Write then wait. Read then write. Rinse and repeat.

Try watching a movie or TV show and hit pause for twenty seconds after each person speaks. Not very gratifying. In fact, it will probably drive you crazy.

To me, texting is great for short, immediate communications. Like: “In traffic. Running 15 minutes late.” OR “What time do you want us for dinner?” Otherwise, not really communications.

Nevertheless, I understand that some people are just not phone people. My daughter is a phonophobe. She would rather talk for an hour every few weeks and text in between to stay in touch. My mother hated the phone. When I was growing up, she would have me call people to change or cancel appointments for her so she would not get “stuck” talking on the phone.

My husband, Tom, is also not a phone person. When we were dating, it didn’t even occur to him to talk on the phone the nights we weren’t seeing each other. Once I started the pattern, he was fine with it. But he wouldn’t have done it on his own.

I think the younger generations are growing up totally immersed in texting and internet communications. They may never learn the pleasure you can get from a long phone conversation with a friend. They may not even have long conversations in person anymore either. From what I hear, kids spend time online even when they are really with other people. The art of the conversation may be dying out altogether.

I guess I shouldn’t be worrying about fewer people talking on the phone. I should be worrying about fewer people talking to each other. At all!

PEOPLE SAY THE NICEST THINGS! – Marilyn Armstrong

How often have you wondered whether you should say “thank you” or punch that person in the mouth? Insults I understand, but the compliments that really aren’t, baffle me. Is it personal ambivalence? Is it possible they don’t understand the difference between a compliment and meanness? Or, for that matter, an insult?

As a child, my mother comforted me with her classic lines. Somewhere in my head, I can still hear her. A lonely (probably odd) child, it took me a long time to find my social self. Mom would reassure me in her special way: “There’s someone for everyone,” she told me. “Even you.”

Then there was the clothing my mother made for me. It was gorgeous, fashionable. Far better quality than the other girls wore. The Mean Girls are nothing new and my schools were full of them. “Eww! Where did you get that ugly dress?” In later years, I realized their clothing was totally tacky, but at nine or ten, I didn’t get it.

As a young woman, I put on a lot of weight. Before I got rid of that hundred and fifty pounds, there were some great lines from friends who knew the perfect words to brighten my day: “You dress really nice for a fat girl” and “I don’t think of you as REALLY fat.” And let’s not forget “You are the first person of Jewish persuasion I’ve ever met.” Were they living in a fish tank or was it merely Uxbridge? Needless to say, Garry and I are THE integration for the town.

Later on, no longer fat, compliments have streamed in nonstop: “I thought you were a nun. Don’t you own anything that isn’t black?”

My all-time favorite came from the woman who was unsuccessful in marrying my first husband. Had he lived longer, she might have worn him down. She was baffled by my apparent popularity with men. “I’m very nice to them,” I said. “I make them feel special and loved.” There was more to it than that, but that was plenty. Snarkiest woman who ever trod the earth.

“I do that too,” she whined. (No, she didn’t.) “But,” she continued, getting ever more nasal, “How come they marry you?” I probably could have come up with a good line of my own.

Finally, the clincher. After I published my book, “It was much better than I expected.” What were you expecting?

Classic back-handed Compliments for every occasion:

“You look great, for your age.”

“I love your new hairstyle! It suits you so much better.”

“That’s such a difficult degree, I never thought you’d study that.”

“You look so good in photos, you always pose the same way.”

“That’s a wonderful photograph, you must have a really fancy camera.”

“I wish I could just let my kids watch TV all day like you do.”

“You have such a lovely smile, you don’t even notice the acne.”

In 2015, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attempted to compliment Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (a woman) in a speech at Dhaka University on her terrorism policy.

“I am happy that Bangladesh Prime Minister, despite being a woman, has declared zero tolerance for terrorism,” Modi said.

It’s even better when it goes international.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! FOR ONCE, I THINK I CAN SAY WITH SOME CERTAINTY THAT THINGS ARE UNLIKELY TO GET WORSE. THEY MIGHT NOT GET BETTER, BUT WORSE SEEMS HIGHLY UNLIKELY. By DAVE BARRY VIA THE WASHINGTON POST

It was an extremely eventful year.

We are using “eventful” in the sense of “bad.”

It was a year so eventful that every time another asteroid whizzed past the Earth, barely avoiding a collision that would have destroyed human civilization, we were not 100 percent certain it was good news.

We could not keep up with all the eventfulness. Every day, we’d wake up to learn that some new shocking alleged thing had allegedly happened, and before we had time to think about it, the political-media complex, always in Outrage Condition Red, would explode in righteous fury, with Side A and Side B hurling increasingly nasty accusations at each other and devoting immense energy to thinking up ways to totally DESTROY the other side on Twitter, a medium that has the magical power to transform everything it touches, no matter how stupid it is, into something even stupider.

Fact: This year O.J. Simpson got a Twitter account, and the reaction of nearly a million people was: “What? The attention-seeking psychopath who got away with murdering two innocent people wants followers? Count me in!”

Speaking of attention-seeking psychopaths: The epicenter of the year’s eventfulness was, of course, Washington, D.C., an endlessly erupting scandal volcano, belching out dense swirling smoke plumes of spin, rumor, innuendo, misdirection, and lies emitted by both sides, A and B — or, if you prefer, B and A — filling the air with vicious rhetoric, always delivered with the pious insistence that OUR side, unlike the OTHER side, is motivated not by ego, power-lust, greed or hatred, but by a selfless desire to Work for the American People.

Meanwhile, from out beyond the Capital Beltway, the actual American people warily watched the perpetual tantrum that was supposed to be their government. And more and more their reaction, whatever side they considered themselves to be on, was: Nah.

Which is pretty much how we feel about 2019 in general. And not just because of politics. There was a continued general decline of human intelligence, as epitomized by the popularity of increasingly elaborate “gender reveal” events. Originally these involved simply cutting open a cake that had been dyed with food coloring, but they have escalated to the point where this year they resulted in — we are not making this up — a fatal explosion and a plane crash. It is only a matter of time before a major city is leveled by a pink or blue mushroom cloud.

Can we say anything good about 2019? Was there any positive news, a silver lining, a reason to feel hopeful about the future — to believe that we, as Americans, can recognize our common interests, overcome our differences and work together to build a better tomorrow, for ourselves, for our children and for the world?

Nah.

Anyway, before we shove 2019 down the garbage disposal of history, let’s take one look back and remind ourselves why we want to forget this train wreck of a year, starting with …

 

JANUARY

… which begins with the federal government once again in the throes (whatever a “throe” is) of a partial shutdown, which threatens to seriously disrupt the lives of all Americans who receive paychecks from the federal government. At issue is the situation at the Mexican border, which either is or is not a Crisis depending on which cable news network you prefer. President Trump wants a high concrete wall, but at the moment there is only enough money for a sternly worded south-facing billboard.

Finally, the president and Congress reach a temporary budget agreement that will not address the border situation but will enable them to resume spending insane amounts of money that the nation does not have until such time as they are able to reach a permanent budget agreement enabling them to continue spending insane amounts of money that the nation does not have, this being the primary function of our federal leadership.

Meanwhile, in the Robert Mueller investigation, which feels like it began during the French and Indian War, a grand jury indicts longtime Trump confidante and professional lunatic Roger Stone on a number of charges, including that he threatened to kidnap another witness’s therapy dog, Bianca (really). This news elates the courageous guerrilla fighters of the Resistance, who since 2016 have been evading the fascist authorities by hiding out underground, constantly on the move from CNN panel to CNN panel. The Resisters see the Stone indictment as a sure sign that Mueller is getting ready to release his much-anticipated report, which will prove, at last, that Trump colluded with the Russians and then, at last, it will be IMPEACHMENT TIME, BABY.

In the Robert Mueller investigation, a grand jury indicts longtime Trump confidante and professional lunatic Roger Stone on a number of charges, including that he threatened to kidnap another witness’s therapy dog, Bianca (really).

Abroad, Britain is in turmoil over “Brexit,” which is a very important thing we should all endeavor to learn about.

In sports, the Los Angeles Rams win the National Football Conference championship game after the referees, on a critical play, fail to notice when a Rams defensive back attacks a New Orleans Saints receiver with a chain saw. Responding to the ensuing outrage, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says he will “conduct a thorough review of league policy regarding power tools,” adding that “New England is scheduled to win the Super Bowl anyway.”

In other sports news, the Clemson football team defeats Alabama to win the college national championship and is rewarded with an invite to the White House for a classy shindig. “I served them massive amounts of Fast Food (I paid), over 1000 hamberders,” tweets the president, who by his own admission has a genius-level IQ.

Speaking of intelligence: The burning question of whether the nation is capable of producing a social media craze even stupider than last year’s Tide Pod Challenge — in which YouTube dimwits sought to impress other YouTube dimwits by eating compressed laundry detergent — is answered in the affirmative (“yes”) when Netflix is forced to issue a cautionary tweet to people who are inspired by the movie “Birdbox” to take the Birdbox Challenge, in which YouTube dimwits engage in everyday activities — including driving — while blindfolded. Meanwhile, as polar vortex grips the nation, other YouTube dimwits are injuring themselves attempting to demonstrate that it is cold outside by flinging pots of boiling water into the air.

From somewhere beyond our solar system hostile aliens are monitoring all this and concluding that they need not waste energy exterminating humanity, as we’re doing fine on our own.

Speaking of hostile, in …

 

FEBRUARY

… President Trump, despite suffering from bone spurs, goes to Vietnam for a second summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. After a one-on-one closed-room meeting, the two leaders agree via hand gestures that next time they should definitely bring interpreters.

In domestic politics, Virginia is rocked by a series of scandals involving elected Democratic state officials, originating with the publication of a 1984 photo from Gov. Ralph Northam’s medical-school yearbook showing a man in blackface. Northam initially says he is “deeply sorry” for appearing in the photo; the next day, however, he calls a news conference to declare that he does not believe he is in the photo, although he does recall one time that he was in blackface, that being when he entered a dance contest dressed as Michael Jackson and did the moonwalk. Northam further asserts that he won the contest, and at the request of a reporter appears to be on the verge of demonstrating to the press corps that he can still moonwalk, only to be stopped by his wife. We are not making any of this up.

As pressure builds on Northam to resign, Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax prepares to succeed him, only to become embroiled in a scandal of his own when he is accused of sexual assault. The third person in line is Attorney General Mark Herring, who, several days after calling on Northam to resign for wearing blackface, issues a statement admitting that as a college student he wore blackface when he went to a party as rapper Kurtis Blow. We are still not making this up.

At this point, Virginia’s political leaders realize that if they keep moving down the chain of succession they’re going to wind up with a Labrador retriever as governor or, worse, a Republican. And just like that the Great Virginia Scandals Scandal of 2019 goes “poof.”

Winter storms blast the Midwest, causing havoc in Iowa as snowdrifts close major highways and strand hundreds of Democratic presidential contenders in rural communities with limited supplies of voters. In one harrowing incident, a farmer and his family are trapped inside their home for six hours while Cory Booker pounds on the front door, demanding to be let in so he can outline his plan to reduce income inequality. “We tried to escape by the back door,” the farmer later tells reporters, “but Amy Klobuchar was waiting out there with a seven-point program to rebuild America’s infrastructure.”

In business news, Amazon (whose CEO, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post) cancels plans to build a huge corporate campus in New York City, citing local political opposition and the fact that Amazon’s vice president for business development, during a visit to the site in Queens, was carried off by what a company spokesperson described as “a rat the size of a Volkswagen Jetta.”

Abroad, “Brexit” continues to be a very important thing with many significant developments.

In sports, the New England Patriots, led by 63-year-old Tom Brady, defeat the Los Angeles Rams, 13-3, in a Super Bowl featuring one touchdown and 14 punts. During the national anthem, TV cameras clearly capture Patriots coach Bill Belichick pouring liquid from a bottle labeled “SEDATIVES” into the Rams’ Gatorade, but the NFL referee crew fails to notice. Asked about this after the game, Commissioner Roger Goodell says, “To be honest, I was watching Netflix.”

Several weeks after the Super Bowl, Patriots owner Robert Kraft is charged in connection with a police sting operation in Florida at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa (motto: “Where Your ‘Day’ Lasts About 90 Seconds”). Kraft will ultimately avoid jail time after his lawyers convince a judge that he is in the line of succession for the governorship of Virginia.

At the 91st Academy Awards, the Oscar for best picture is awarded to “Goodfellas,” which came out in 1990 but never should have lost to “Dances With Wolves.”

Speaking of being overdue, in …

 

MARCH

… Robert Mueller finally delivers his report to Attorney General William Barr, who promises to release it to the public “as soon as we have blacked out the sex parts.” The cable news networks prepare for the release by bringing in panels of distinguished legal authorities to declare that the report means exactly the opposite of whatever the distinguished legal panels on the enemy networks are declaring it means.

In other political developments, President Trump, faced with mounting hostility from congressional Democrats, spends several days vigorously attacking … John McCain. For the record, McCain (A) was a Republican and (B) died in 2018. Nobody can say for certain whether the president (A) is playing some kind of four-dimensional political chess or (B) has the reasoning skills of a Chihuahua on meth.

The Iowa state legislature considers a bill that would fund construction of a border wall around the state to stop the influx of Democratic presidential hopefuls, now estimated at several dozen a day. “It’s a humanitarian crisis,” says one legislator, his voice rising in alarm. “They’re swarming all over the state, barging into pancake breakfasts. Many of them die within days from pancake bloat, but THEY JUST KEEP COMING.”

Abroad, “Brexit” continues to be a matter of grave concern, and for good reason.

The higher education community is rocked by scandal when federal prosecutors charge 50 people, including test administrators, wealthy parents, and college coaches, in connection with a widespread bribery and fraud scheme to get students admitted to some of the nation’s most prestigious universities. In one particularly egregious case, Yale admitted Trevor Buncombe-Plotzner IV, who supposedly was recruited to play varsity badminton, despite the fact that (A) Yale does not have a varsity badminton team and (B) Trevor is a cat.

In an official statement, the Association of College Admissions Officers says: “Bribing coaches to get unqualified applicants admitted is completely unacceptable. The correct way is to give a large sum of money directly to the college.”

In a controversial legal development, actor Jussie Smollett, who was indicted by a grand jury for allegedly faking a hate crime against himself, has all charges dropped by Chicago prosecutors following a review of the evidence by an NFL officiating crew.

Speaking of legal matters, in …

 

APRIL

… Attorney General Barr finally releases the Mueller report, which accomplishes two things:

⋅ It finally settles, to everyone’s satisfaction, all of the controversies surrounding the 2016 presidential election.

⋅ It proves that oysters speak German and can play the trombone.

Just kidding! In fact, the Mueller report does neither of these things, although it comes closer to the second accomplishment than the first. The pro-Trump people say the report proves there was no collusion; the anti-Trump people say it proves Trump obstructed justice, which means that it is, at last, IMPEACHMENT TIME, BABY. Both sides emit thousands of impassioned tweets, which go unread by the American public, which long ago moved on to “Game of Thrones.”

In other political news, Joe Biden launches his estimated 17th presidential campaign, with the slogan: “Let Uncle Joe Give You a Great Big Hug.” Biden immediately becomes the leader of the crowded Democratic field based on the fact that his name sounds vaguely familiar.

As millions of people around the world watched in shock and disbelief, the iconic Notre Dame cathedral in Paris is ravaged by flames after being struck, in what appears to be a deliberate act of provocation, by a North Korean missile.

Elsewhere abroad, “Brexit” continues to be a vitally important thing.

In science news, some astronomers at a party, after several rounds of tequila shots, take a blurry snapshot of a flaming gas-stove burner and release it to the news media, claiming that it’s the first-ever photograph of a black hole. The photo instantly becomes worldwide news, much to the delight of the astro-pranksters, who begin work on a plan to pass off a dental X-ray as the Loch Ness Monster.

In golf, Tiger Woods wins his fifth Masters tournament, catching and passing leader Francesco Molinari after two of Molinari’s shots — on the 12th hole and then again on the 15th — hit NFL referee crews that have strayed onto the fairway.

In entertainment news, “Avengers: Endgame” breaks box office records, proving that now, more than ever, people crave stories about time-traveling superheroes using magic stones to defeat a genocidal intergalactic warlord with no neck.

Speaking of long-running dramas, in …

 

MAY

… Robert Mueller resigns as special counsel, saying that he plans to return to private life and “whimper in the fetal position.” In his final statement, he clears up any lingering confusion about his investigation by noting that the Justice Department cannot charge the president with a federal crime, adding, “not that I am, or am not, saying, or not saying, that the president did, or did not, do anything that was, or was not, illegal. Or, not.”

Congressional Democrats, firm in their belief that the American public wants nothing more than to continue refighting the 2016 election until the Earth crashes into the sun, take Mueller’s statement as a call for IMPEACHMENT TIME, BABY.

For his part, Trump emits a tweet stating, quote: “Russia, Russia, Russia! That’s all you heard at the beginning of this Witch Hunt Hoax…And now Russia has disappeared because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected.” This wording seems to suggest that the president thinks Russia helped him to get elected, so a short while later he clarifies his position by telling reporters, “No, Russia did not help me get elected.” And thus the matter is finally laid to rest.

As far as we are aware, none of this has anything to do with “Brexit.”

On the domestic political front, disgraced former New York Congresscreep Anthony Weiner is released from a halfway house and, in a sincere display of remorse, announces that he is running for president.

Just kidding! In fact Weiner is one of the estimated four Democrats not running for president. Among those entering the race is New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who, having solved all of his city’s problems, announces that he is running under the campaign slogan “This Slogan Is Currently Out of Order.” De Blasio heads for Iowa, where he quickly surges to 13,357th in the Des Moines Register/CNN poll, just behind swine dysentery.

In sports, the Kentucky Derby is won by Country House after the apparent winner, Maximum Security is disqualified for trampling an NFL officiating crew on the backstretch.

Speaking of violence, in …

 

JUNE

… tensions in the Mideast, which have been escalating for over 3,000 years, escalate still further when Iran attacks two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, then shoots down a U.S. spy drone. In retaliation, President Trump orders a military strike against Iran, only to call it off at the last minute when he is advised that it could result in serious damage to a golf course.

In other presidential actions, Trump travels to England, where, in his role as leader of the United States on an official visit to America’s greatest ally at a critical time, he attacks … Bette Midler. In a tweet emitted at 1:30 a.m. London time, the president describes Ms. Midler as a “Washed up psycho.” Fox News confirms this.

Later in the month, Trump becomes the first sitting U.S. president to set foot in North Korea, where he and Kim Jong Un engage in denuclearization talks, capped off with a ceremonial Prisoner Shoot.

This seems like a good place to mention “Brexit.”

Meanwhile, as the 2020 U.S. presidential race heats up, several hundred Democratic presidential contenders gather in Miami for the first major debates. The front-runner is Joe Biden, but he suffers a setback when Sen. Kamala Harris, in what is clearly a planned attack, points out that Biden is wearing his pants backward. Biden’s staff hastily releases a statement explaining that the former vice president “thought it was Friday.” Also getting a lot of attention is Marianne Williamson, who qualifies for the debates based on the number of campaign donations she received from other dimensions.

For his part, President Trump launches his 2020 reelection bid with a rally in Orlando attended by 246 million people, as confirmed by Fox News.

In entertainment news, James Holzhauer’s record-breaking victory streak on “Jeopardy!” finally comes to an end when, in the Final Jeopardy round, he is flagged for a face mask violation by an NFL officiating crew.

San Francisco, always on the forefront, becomes the first U.S. city to ban exhaling, which according to scientists is a leading cause of carbon dioxide. Meanwhile, the city of Riviera Beach, Fla., pays nearly $600,000 in bitcoin to hackers who paralyzed the city’s computer system by attacking it with “ransomware,” which is sort of like a Windows update except that at least there’s somebody who knows how to fix it.

Speaking of Internet menaces, in …

 

JULY

… President Trump, having dealt with the existential threat to the nation that is Bette Midler, turns his attention to four Democratic first-term members of Congress known as “The Squad,” tweeting that if they hate America so much they should “go back” to where they come from. Critics note that three of the four were born in the very same nation as Trump, not to mention the fact that the “go back” thing is an old racist taunt, leaving the president with no decent course of action but to issue an apology. So, of course, that is not what he does. What he does is tweet additional criticisms of The Squad, along with the assertion that “I don’t have a Racist bone in my body!” (The exclamation mark proves it’s true!)

The president also finds time in his busy July schedule to issue tweets attacking — among other targets — Baltimore, the Federal Reserve, the mayor of San JuanCNN, the mayor of LondonPaul RyanFox News (!) and Sweden, but if we’re going to go into detail on every single one of the president’s Twitter beefs we will never get through this year. Suffice it to say that the Resistance is so frantically busy refuting Trump tweets — this being the activity that consumes 99.9 percent of the Resistance’s time and mental energy — that toward the end of the month prominent Democrats find themselves reflexively defending the integrity and moral righteousness of Al Sharpton.

In other political news, an exhausted-looking Robert Mueller makes his 237th appearance before the House Kabuki Theater Committee, and the entire nation tunes in, except for those parts of the nation located outside of Washington, D.C. Mueller says little that is new, generally limiting his answers to “yes,” “no” and, when an aide pokes him awake, “ouch.” Under questioning, Mueller seems surprisingly unfamiliar with his own team’s report, at one point stating, in response to a question, that he had never heard of any “Vladimir Putin.”

Trump declares that the hearing proves the whole investigation was a WITCH HUNT! Congressional Democrats say it proves that it is IMPEACHMENT TIME, BABY. Bears continue to poop in the woods.

In the second round of Democratic debates, front-runner Joe Biden is still the main target of the other candidates, but he does a better job of defending himself, delivering several well-crafted retorts written in Sharpie on his forearms.

In Federal action, White House and congressional negotiators set aside their mutual loathing long enough to agree on a bipartisan budget deal that will enable the government to continue spending insane amounts of money that it does not have. Thus the pesky problem of uncontrolled federal spending is disposed of until after the 2020 election, freeing our leaders to focus on more pressing issues, and of course tweet about them.

Abroad, a person named “Boris,” who apparently styles his hair with a commercial leaf blower, becomes prime minister of England, a development that very likely could have something to do with “Brexit.”

On the escalating Middle East tension front, the United States says it shot down an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz. In response, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations claims he will produce documentation proving that “Strait of Hormuz” can be rearranged to spell “Him Fart Zoo Rust.”

In sports, the superb U.S. women’s national soccer team, following years of hard work and sacrifice, wins its fourth World Cup and a first prize of $4 million, or about $200,000 per player. Later in the month, a 16-year-old high school student named Kyle Giersdorf wins a Fortnite video-game tournament. His prize — really — is $3 million. “I’m so happy,” says Kyle. “Everything I’ve done in the grind has all paid off and it’s just insane.”

It is, Kyle. It really is.

The news turns grim in …

 

AUGUST

… when the nation is shocked by two horrific mass shootings, which spur a Serious National Conversation about gun violence, in which sincere and committed individuals on both sides — at long last — openly and honestly talk to people on their own side about how stupid and evil everybody on the other side is. This goes on for several days, after which the shootings drift out of the news until it’s time for the next Serious National Conversation.

Conspiracy theories swirl in the wake of the death of millionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who allegedly committed suicide in a New York City federal prison cell despite supposedly being under the close supervision of an NFL officiating crew.

In financial news, the Dow Jones industrial average flits up and down like a butterfly on meth as investors try to figure out what President Trump’s mood is at any given minute regarding the trade war with China, which is caused by China unfairly forcing U.S. consumers to buy low-cost Chinese-made electronics instead of traditional American brands such as Philco. The president’s main strategy in fighting this war is to impose tariffs on Chinese imports, which means U.S. consumers have to pay more for them. Take THAT, China!

Another bee buzzing around in the presidential bonnet during August is Greenland, which Trump decides the United States should try to purchase since it has a strategic location and is potentially the source of more than 70 percent of the world’s supply of frostbite. It turns out, however, that Greenland belongs to Denmark, which for some reason wants to keep it. “We’re not for sale,” states Greenland’s minister of education, culture, church, and foreign affairs, whose name — we are not making this up — is Ane Lone Bagger.

It is not immediately clear where Ane Lone Bagger stands on “Brexit.”

Meanwhile, the American Midwest faces an unprecedented humanitarian crisis as Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Minnesota struggle to absorb waves of Iowans fleeing the worsening disaster in their home state, which is overrun with Democratic presidential contenders demonstrating their likability by eating fried things on sticks. Joe Biden remains the front-runner in Iowa despite the fact that to judge from his remarks at campaign events, he believes he is in Belgium.

In other August news, Popeyes introduces a chicken sandwich to compete with Chick-fil-A’s chicken sandwich. Also there are massive pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and the Amazon rainforest is burning, but the Battle of the Chicken Sandwiches definitely generates more excitement.

Speaking of excitement …

 

SEPTEMBER

… begins with President Trump facing a major crisis involving the crucial issue of whether Alabama was, or was not, ever actually threatened by Hurricane Dorian. The crisis erupts on Sept. 1, when, with Dorian moving toward the U.S. mainland, the president tweets that Alabama is among the states that will “most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.” Minutes later the National Weather Service in Birmingham responds with a statement that “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian.”

At this point the president acknowledges that he made a minor mistake, thus laying the issue to rest and freeing everyone to focus on more important matters.

Ha-ha! That would never happen. Donald Trump did not get where he is by allowing himself to be corrected about the weather by any so-called “National Weather Service.” The president mounts an intensive, multi-day, multi-tweet offensive on the Alabama issue, highlighted by an Oval Office meeting with reporters during which he displays a week-old National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration map proving conclusively that Alabama was in fact threatened by a black line that was obviously added to the map by an inept amateur with a Sharpie.

The crisis continues for several more days, with the president refusing to back down or drop the subject, very much the way Winston Churchill, in the darkest hours of World War II, stood firm when England, alone, faced the menacing forces of the National Weather Service.

Speaking of dire threats: CNN’s special seven-hour “town hall” broadcast on the global climate crisis attracts a nationwide audience estimated at nearly 30 viewers, counting household pets. Ten Democratic presidential candidates present their plans for saving the planet, which includes strictly regulating or banning fossil fuels, nuclear power, red meat, plastic straws, fracking, white meat, cars, lightbulbs, barbecues, capitalism, farting, grayish meat, babies and airplane flights that are not transporting Democratic presidential candidates. The highlight of the night comes when Joe Biden develops a weird red eyeball as a result of being hit by a tranquilizer dart fired by his staff to prevent him from suddenly hugging a CNN moderator. This debate is followed by another debate later in the month. Or maybe it was the same debate, and we all fell asleep for a while in the middle. There is no way to tell.

Bill de Blasio drops out of the Democratic presidential race, bitterly disappointing the residents of New York when they learn that Bill plans to resume mayoring them.

In international news (we are counting Canada as a foreign country) Canadian Premier Justin Trudeau is embarrassed by the publication of yet another photograph — this is the third time — of him wearing blackface. The good news for Justin is that this moves him up to fourth in the line of succession for the governorship of Virginia.

Meanwhile in Great Britain, “Brexit” continues to cause everybody over there to be quite agitated, for British people.

As September draws to a close, President Trump finds himself facing what could prove to be his biggest single crisis of the entire month when a whistleblower accuses him of improperly pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July phone call to investigate Joe Biden and Joe’s son Hunter’s connections with a Ukrainian energy company, which at one point was paying Hunter $50,000 a month, apparently for his expertise in the field of receiving large sums of money.

In a surprise move, Trump orders the release of a rough transcript of the call, which proves conclusively whatever you want it to prove depending on whether you are on Side A or Side B. Congressional Democrats declare that it is a Smoking Gun, which means that, at last, it is IMPEACHMENT TIME, BABY, AND THIS TIME WE REALLY MEAN IT. Trump declares that this is just another WITCH HUNT and emits an unusually high volume of tweets in which he sounds increasingly like a derelict arguing with himself in an alley next to a convenience store, but not as coherent.

While all this is happening the U.S. budget deficit approaches $1 trillion, but everybody in Washington is way too excited about the Impeachment Drama to even think about it.

The excitement continues in …

 

OCTOBER

… when Washington whips itself into a frenzy the likes of which it experiences only once every two or three weeks as a consensus begins to develop among the courageous Resisters of the Resistance that it really is DEFINITELY ALMOST NEARLY IMPEACHMENT TIME AND WE ARE REALLY NOT FOOLING AROUND ANYMORE. The Democrats, led by Rep. Adam Schiff, a man who — this is merely an observation, not a criticism — would not look out of place popping up from a prairie-dog hole, accuse Trump of breaking the law in the Ukraine phone call, while Trump defenders insist that technically there was no quid pro quo, in the same sense that, in “The Godfather,” the severed horse’s head in the movie producer’s bed was technically not a threat.

The president’s defense strategy is to tweet several times per hour, sometimes with most of the words correctly spelled, that the call was PERFECT and everyone should READ THE TRANSCRIPT! Apparently, he is unaware that everyone already did. Along the way the president reaches a historic milestone, sending out his 11,000th tweet as president, eclipsing the record held by Grover Cleveland.

For the Democrats, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that Trump’s poll numbers are down. The bad news is that the Democrats are … the Democrats. Their front-runner, Joe Biden, continues to struggle on the campaign trail, as exemplified by an appearance at a 7-Eleven store in Waterloo, Iowa, during which he addresses the Slurpee machine as “your excellency.”

Poised to eclipse Biden is Elizabeth Warren (campaign slogan: “She Is MUCH Smarter Than You”) with her Medicare-for-all plan, which she says will cost $20.5 trillion, with the “.5” proving that she has this thing figured out right down to the penny. Warren says her plan will not raise taxes on the middle class because all the money will come from greedy corporations, greedy billionaires, greedy gold-pooping unicorns and various cost efficiencies, which of course is what the federal government is famous for.

In foreign affairs, Trump surprises everybody, possibly including himself, by suddenly pulling U.S. troops out of Syria, thus throwing the region into even more turmoil than usual, which is a lot of turmoil. During the confusion, U.S. forces conduct a daring raid that results in the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, thus removing him from the line of succession for the governorship of Virginia. And of course, no discussion of foreign affairs would be complete without some mention of “Brexit.”

Meanwhile, California, plagued by out-of-control wildfires, widespread power blackouts, spiraling housing costs, decaying infrastructure and a worsening homelessness epidemic, becomes the first state to enact a law banning the sale of fur products.

In sports, Simone Biles becomes the first gymnast to perform a floor routine that requires clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration. In another “feel good” sports story, the New York Yankees, with by far the highest payroll in baseball, complete an entire decade without even getting into the World Series.

Meanwhile, concern mounts over the state of NFL officiating after a Lions-Packers game in which, late in the fourth quarter, the teams play two consecutive downs without a single penalty being called. “It won’t happen again,” vows Commissioner Goodell.

Speaking of mounting concern, in …

 

NOVEMBER

… it is finally IMPEACHMENT TIME FOR REAL, ALMOST, as the House Committee on Endless Squabbling holds a classic congressional hearing palooza featuring Bombshell Testimony, Gaveling, Points of Order, Yielding of Time, False Civility, Really Long Questions That Are Not Actually Questions and all the other elements that would make for riveting drama if everybody on the planet didn’t already know the outcome, specifically that the Democrats would conclude that the president committed impeachable offenses, and the Republicans would conclude that he didn’t. When it’s all over, the public remains divided exactly as it was between the people who loathe Trump and the people who loathe the people who loathe Trump. Meanwhile, bears continue to, etc.

There is one positive impeachment-related development, which occurs when Rep. Eric Swalwell, appearing on MSNBC, makes the following statement: “So far the evidence is uncontradicted that the president used taxpayer dollars to help him cheat [GIANT FART SOUND] an election.” This results in several days of spirited debate on Twitter concerning the issue of whether Swalwell cut the cheese (he denies it) with people of all political persuasions weighing in on #fartgate in the closest thing we have had to a genuinely open-minded national conversation in years.

Conan, a Belgian Malinois who was injured in the Delta Force raid that resulted in the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is invited to the White House, where President Trump, in recognition of the heroic dog’s service to the nation, appoints him secretary of the Navy.

In other political news, Mike Bloomberg joins the Democratic presidential field, declaring that “what America needs, now more than ever, is a rich, aging, white male New Yorker with a huge ego.”

On the economic front, Popeyes resumes production of chicken sandwiches, and consumers resume assaulting one another over them, because if a $3.99 wad of heavily breaded chicken on a bun is not worth getting injured or even killed over, then what is?

Tesla CEO Elon Musk introduces an all-electric “Cybertruck” featuring sophisticated technology and a striking resemblance to a doorstop. The best feature, Musk notes, is that “when you’re sitting inside it, you can’t see it.”

Abroad, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is indicted on charges including bribery and fraud; if convicted, he would move up to sixth in the line of succession for the governorship of Virginia.

Also still happening abroad, to the best of our knowledge, is “Brexit.”

The month draws to a close with the Thanksgiving holiday, a time when families gather to argue about politics, according to helpful guides written on this topic each year by people from other planets, as opposed to Earth, where families gather to argue about pass interference and burp. At the White House, Trump, carrying on a lighthearted holiday tradition, “pardons” two turkeys, named Bread and Butter. Within seconds they are eaten by Secretary of the Navy Conan.

The capital carnage intensifies in …

 

DECEMBER

… when House Democrats decide that IT REALLY, REALLY IS IMPEACHMENT TIME SERIOUSLY, PEOPLE, THIS IS NOT A DRILL. This sets the stage for a historic trial in the Senate, after which (spoiler alert!) the Democrats will vote to convict and the Republicans will vote to acquit and we will be back to exactly where we started with no minds changed and Sides A and B hating each other more than ever.

So this is a very exciting time in Washington, although to the rest of the nation, which is getting into holiday mode, the heated rhetoric emanating from the capital is an unwelcome annoyance, like the shouting of the couple in the next-door apartment who never seem to stop arguing (“WHAT ABOUT THE JULY 25TH PHONE CALL?” “OH YEAH? WHAT ABOUT HUNTER BIDEN?” “OH YEAH? WHAT ABOUT …”). Each morning the nation wakes up, hears the angry noise coming through the walls, then plugs a pair of Apple AirPods into its national ears and cranks up Johnny Mathis singing “Winter Wonderland.”

In other political news, Joe Biden, seeking to add some “zing” to his presidential campaign, tours Iowa in a bus sporting, in big letters, his new slogan: “No Malarkey!” (“Malarkey” is an ancient Gaelic word meaning “clue.”) This slogan was selected after being tested on a focus group of voters, half of whom were senior citizens and the other half of whom were dead. The runner-up slogans were “You’re Darned Tooting He Can Cut the Mustard!” and “Stay Off His Lawn!”

Kamala Harris drops out of the race, reducing the number of leading Democratic contenders to 58, an estimated one-third of whom are billionaires.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton continues to hint that she may run again at the urging of many highly respected voices that only she can hear. In Iowa voter polling, the front-runner remains Pete “Pete” Buttigieg, followed closely by a surging Baby Yoda.

In foreign affairs, President Trump attends a meeting of NATO leaders in London, where, using his unique diplomatic skills, he is able to unite America’s crucial European allies in the belief that he is a buffoon.

And let’s not forget about “Brexit.”

In entertainment news, millions of Netflix users are watching Martin Scorsese’s film “The Irishman,” a sweeping epic that begins in the 1950s and ends at some point after you fall asleep on the sofa, because the running time is longer than veterinary school. Nobody, including Scorsese, has ever actually made it to the end of “The Irishman,” which takes place in the distant future and is rumored to feature an intergalactic battle between alien space Teamsters.

In other TV-related news, people are outraged about a Peloton ad, because in this day and age people need things to be outraged about.

Finally, mercifully, this highly eventful year draws to a close. As New Year’s Eve approaches, the nation pauses to look back on 2019 and throw up a little bit in its national mouth. But then the nation looks forward to 2020, and it feels faint stirrings of hope in its national heart. Because America has been bitterly divided before. There was the Civil War, for example, and that time we could not agree on the color of that dress on the Internet. If we got through those troubles, we can get through the current ones. Because in the end, despite our political differences, we’re all Americans, and we care about each other and want the best possible future for everyone. Right?

Nah.

But happy new year anyway.

Dave Barry is a Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist and author. To comment on this story, email wpmagazine@washpost.com or visit wapo.st/magazine.

Illustrations by Alexander Wells. Design by Michael Johnson.

THE YEAR IS NOT NEW…I MEAN THE YEAR IN REVIEW – By TOM CURLEY

It’s that time of the year again. At the end of the year. In more normal times, the time of the year we look back, reflect and get shit-faced drunk on the last day hoping the next one will be better. For the last few years, we changed that to looking back in dread of the current year and looking forward with sheer terror to the next.

One tradition that hasn’t changed is the “Year-End Review.” All the media does it.  I know, I used to have to put the damn video packages together for many, many years.

I HATE YEAR-END REVIEWS.

So, in what has now become a year-end tradition, I give you “The Only Year End Review You Need.”

It’s short, to the point and has no pictures. Not because it doesn’t need them. It does. I’m just too lazy to look any up and I’m really into a video game that I want to get back to. I’d do this later but it’s the end of the year and I’m running out of time.

Curse the March of Time!

Here it is.

JANUARY:  Oh God, it still sucks.

FEBRUARY: It still sucks. And it’s really cold. And what the fuck is a “Polar Vortex?”

MARCH: Well, there’s always the Mueller Report.

APRIL: The Mueller Report is out!!

MAY: We waited two years for that???

JUNE: It just keeps getting worse.

AUGUST: Well, at least it’s warm. The warmest month in history. Great.

SEPTEMBER: They might impeach him!

OCTOBER:  Who was I kidding?

NOVEMBER: Holy Shit, they actually might impeach him!

DECEMBER: Holy Fuck! They impeached him! Yes! Wait, oh yeah, the Senate. Damn, this year sucked.

But there is hope. Next year is 2020. An election year. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Let’s just hope it’s not an oncoming train.

LET’S BE TWELVE AGAIN — Marilyn Armstrong

Someone asked me what I would do if I were twelve again. Twelve. A little too young to be a teenager, too old to be a ‘child.’ It’s the middle-age of childhood. There might be a few things I could do — or, more to the point — NOT do that might make old age feel less old. I could avoid those events where I broke my back, for example. Or maybe not. We all know that changing the past doesn’t usually work. Somehow, you either don’t exist at all, or whatever happens lands you back in the same place you were in anyway.

But I’m up for a try, as long as I don’t have to go back to school. Ever.

96-Marilyn1964

I’ve got all the diplomas I’ll ever need. I’m an adult. I get Social Security. Pensions. And never to be forgotten, Senior discounts. At 12 I had my full height and was a smart as I would ever be. I looked old for my age anyway.

Smarter. We reach our maximum intelligence in our early teens. It seems like a waste, but it isn’t really. That’s when we are collecting the knowledge that will enable us to decide what want to do with the rest of our lives. In this case, I already know.

I know what I want and I know how to get there.  I know what to avoid, which may be the most important part. It’s a perfect second life. With all the body parts still working and foreknowledge of what may come.

To the good part. A 12-year-old body you say? Before I broke my back. I get the chance to protect my spine and avoid the big issues I’m facing now.

There are some issues to be worked out. Young, growing bodies have needs. But in my head, I’m old and wily, so I know what to do. I have the body of a youngster, the brain of a senior. Oh, joy. This is the best of both worlds! Garry would be 17 — just about to go into the Marines. This wouldn’t be fun without him.

We will have legs that can run and minds that remember everything. But this time, without dysfunctional parents and all those stupid rules?

Bring it ON! I am so ready.

ANOTHER DAY DOWN THE TUBES – Marilyn Armstrong

It wasn’t a bad day. More, it was a day when you don’t stop moving and when it’s over, you wonder if you accomplished anything.  There were so many stops and starts and lots of running up and downstairs.

I never made it to comments. I haven’t opened any emails. I did take quite a few pictures but haven’t had time to process them.  The rain is just starting. It may not hit us as hard here —  not the rain, anyway — but definitely very high winds. With the trees still full of leaves, that means blowing branches and breaking trees.

The animals must know what’s coming. Everything was in a feeding frenzy.

Photo” Garry Armstrong

Our nor’easters are essentially “local hurricanes.” Storms come in from the ocean and start to spin. They don’t move. So if it’s rain, there’s flooding. In the winter, we’ve gotten as much as three or four feet of snow before it finally breaks up.

With the contractor working, there was a strong sense of pressure to get finished before the weather moved in.

Then, there were phone calls. I’m checking out other medical insurance. I should have made the calls earlier in the week, but I had to make them today.

Meanwhile, it’s the world series but I think they are going to cancel the American League Pennant because of the weather. A glitch in Garry’s baseball channel went on for hours and entailed a prolonged wait on hold for tech support. To learn, as I suspected, they were having problems. The baseball channel has a lot of problems, but if you want to watch baseball, gotta have it.

I needed to fix Garry’s broken email too — which wasn’t difficult but took a long time. Warning! Delete old emails! If you don’t, eventually your email server stops serving and goes on strike.

The contractor did a GREAT job on the house. He’s still here. It is a real improvement. No more rot and no more of that sloppy, moldy old door … and the front door is finally insulated and nicely finished. It needs a new painting, but I think maybe it’s too late.


New Surroundings — our contractor — managed to do a good job without bankrupting me in the process. He did a really good job. All neat and sealed against the weather. And we sure have weather incoming. 


Tomorrow, we have to take the car in because somehow, one of the two latches that keep the hood in place broke off. No accident or anything. It’s just gone. It’s not a big deal driving a few miles into town, but a longer trip could cause serious damage.

Meanwhile, since both Garry and I have doctor appointments next week at UMass, their automated equipment calls every day for each appointment. They are such long calls, too. I feel a powerful need to go edit their electronic phone calls.

None of this sounds like a big deal and it wasn’t a big deal, but It was busy and fragmented. This is the only thing I’ve written today and I need to process at least a few pictures. Frozen pizza for dinner because I’m off my meds for a few days to give the rest of me a break. Today is the day I realized what a difference they make.

With the washing of the dishes, the official day is done. I feel like the day never fully started. I knew this month was going to get weird. On my agenda for tomorrow is explaining to the doctor that Garry’s has run out of hydrochlorothiazide because The Duke ate the container. Duke doesn’t (fortunately!) eat the pills. Just the plastic container. And any wood he can wrap his jaws around.

I have a lot of natural antiqued wood furniture. Duke is not the first wood chewer in the household. Only the most enthusiastic.

The Wood-Eating Duke

‘THE LATE, LATE SHOW’ – “GUILTY PLEASURES” (MA-XXX) – Garry Armstrong

Yes, I know. The title sounds like a promo for a soft porn movie. No, it’s not!  I don’t do that stuff. Hold on. It does involve soft porn. I’ll get to that in a few minutes.

One of the few retirement perks we have is staying up late. During my 40 plus years as a TV/radio news guy, I had crazy schedules, usually mandating I be out of bed way before the roosters and sunrise. It meant missing lots of stuff that aired after dinner and during the wee, small hours. It meant missing lots of my favorite old movies.

I’m an ardent fan of the old movies. As a 20 something, I’d set the alarm for 2 or 3 am for “The Late, Late Show.”  This was before the DVR age when all you had to be was awake to see your program. Not just the classics like “Casablanca.” I’m a devotee of film nuggets like “Jubilee Trail” a B-western from the 1950s.  I love the film’s theme song and, actually, almost lobotomized myself to see the pre-dawn airing of the film just to hear Buddy Baer and the iconic Vera “Hruba” Ralston sing the song. I sang along with them until my parents awoke and told me to shut up. “Jubilee Trail” is one of my guilty pleasures.

The Magnificent Seven

Hell is definitely coming …

Marilyn doesn’t share my fondness for these movie nuggets. Golly, my heart still skips a few beats when Forrest Tucker finally concedes his love for the adorable Joan Leslie and the “Jubilee Trail” song swells up full volume to a happy ending and the closing credits. My eyes still tear up over the romantic conclusion. Yes, a guilty pleasure for a cheezy b-western.

Marilyn doesn’t share my fondness but “gets” the pleasure I derive from these films. She’s set me up with headphones and the opportunity to nightly watch my guilty pleasure flicks as she listens to audiobooks or watches her own favorite stuff on her Kindle.  Thanks, Marilyn!  You’ll do!

Okay, last night, still recovering from my “Marathon Man” like dental session this week, I snuggled under the covers with a headset on to watch some classic guilty pleasure stuff.

I started with “Marie Antoinette,” a lavish 1938 MGM picture I haven’t seen in decades. I watched it with great anticipation.  What a cast!  Norma Shearer, Tyrone Power, John Barrymore, Robert Morley, and Gladys George just to name a few legends from the studio that boasted more stars than there are in heaven.

Norma Shearer was queen bee at MGM from the late ’20s to the early ’40s. She was married to Irving Thalberg,  Metro’s “Boy Wonder” who churned out some of Hollywood’s greatest films.  It meant Norma Shearer got all the plum roles. It didn’t matter that she was always “playing young” for parts in “Romeo and Juliet” and “Marie Antoinette.”  It usually doesn’t faze me.

However, last night I realized Norma was bringing her “Sandra Dee” take on the “let them eat cake” lady.  It was ridiculous. I stayed with this epic out of respect for old Hollywood. I gave up, however, when Joseph Schildkraut popped up, wearing more mascara, powder, and eye-liner than Norma Shearer. I couldn’t handle it.

What a cast!

I went to something I knew would be good. A Randolph Scott western. “Riding Shotgun.” a 1950s Scott cowboy saga in blazing color. I sat up straight as the credits rolled and a deep baritone voice sang a familiar range rider song. This was gonna be great!

Randy was doing a voice-over narration to barrel up a plot that was older than its venerable star. I watched in disbelief as the movie played on like a “Blazing Saddles” parody except this was not supposed to be a comedy. I gave up in disgust about 30 minutes into the western. Unbelievable!

Two classic movies, guilty pleasures, that were stinkeroos. I felt so cheated, so abandoned, so bereft and numb. I was in limbo, trying to fall asleep.

Remember my line about soft porn? Yes, guilty pleasure of a different kind. Why do guys watch (soft) porn? For its cinematic value?  Hey, I used to read “Playboy” for the articles and studied the photo layouts for their pictorial artistry.

I remember attending The Fine Arts Theater back on Long Island of the ’60s. It was a semi cultural venue. They were running “Tunes of Glory.” I went, anticipating “culture” with 40-DD breast cups. I was bummed out. “Tunes of Glory,” with Alec Guinness and John Mills, turned out to be a memorable twist on war movies. Guinness and Mills were brilliant as the disparate military heroes. Think “Bridge on The River Kwai” with a heavier bashing of heroic images.

I sat in the dark, mesmerized by the film but disturbed that it wasn’t a Hugh Hefner/Russ Meyers product. Gee Whiz! It wasn’t a total loss because the film introduced Susannah York who I immediately adored. So, a guilty pleasure? Yes!

I must “out” myself on another guilty pleasure type film. As a kid and young man, I was addicted to westerns and war movies, normal for any red-blooded young fella. I cringed when the action paused for “mushy stuff.” I didn’t understand critics who praised the work of Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Claudette Colbert, Myrna Loy and other notable actresses of Hollywood’s golden age.  The gooey love stuff was so boring. Nowadays, I never miss the films of Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Ida Lupino, Myrna Loy and the other legendary ladies which I dissed as a young movie maven.

I like the pluck displayed by these women on and off-screen. They fought the studio bosses for quality roles and against movies and parts that demeaned women. I didn’t get this when I was younger. Now, as an old fart, stereotypes, and ageism, resonate strongly.

Guys are not supposed to like romcoms, chick flicks, melodramas or other movies where women have equal standing or are stronger and savvier than the male co-stars.  Reality bites!

When I hang out with the guys, we mourn the demise of westerns and dramas where a man was a man. If I mention Davis or Crawford, I can see the eyebrows rise around the lunch table. You have to be discreet with guilty pleasures, right? No, wrong, dammit! Our current political culture is egregious enough without ridicule of your entertainment preferences.

I wonder how Duke Wayne, Papa Hemingway, Bogie, and their brethren would deal with today’s good old boys and the too-long delayed exposure of their moral decay.

I’ll take my guilty pleasures, thank you, and enjoy their stories.

What’s it all about?  As an iconic movie private eye once observed, “Uh, the stuff dreams are made of!”

MY WORLD GOES ROUND AND ROUND – Marilyn Armstrong

I was about to give up. Contractors have a weird way of vanishing just when you think you’ve got a deal. You have the money in hand. The house awaits some long-awaited repairs. Which is when your contractor slips into the mists of time and disappears. What happened?

But not this time — or at least I don’t think this time. We have a date. I have the money. If we don’t get typhoon-level rain for all next week, we’ll have a fixed side of the house and a repaired (and hopefully freshly painted) front door.

The deck Dutch door won’t make this year’s repair list. We’ve run out of time. The weather is turning, so that job will have to wait until our next not-winter. I would say spring, but spring is usually winter, but wetter. So the next time after the regular winter when we have weather in which a carpenter can work … like maybe May or June, the Dutch door gets fixed. Along with the rot around it.

I am thrilled. No, really. I know there are too many other things going on about which I seem unable to do much. So I send $5 to Elizabeth Warren and fill my bird feeders which somehow doesn’t seem nearly enough, but it’s what I’ve got to offer and I figure it beats nothing by a little something.

Oh, and I switched to all wind-powered electricity. Yes, I know it costs more, but I figure it’ll be maybe $5 a month … well, with Owen coming back and all his stuff, probably more but he’ll pay his way, so it should be fine.

Meanwhile, Garry is feeling better and Bonnie seems to be barking less. She now seems to require a biscuit from both of us. We have to both appear and bribe her and then she goes back to sleep. Don’t ask me. I don’t get it either.

I’m just really happy the house is getting 2/3 fixed. We didn’t really have the money for the Dutch door anyway, but I was going to try to “make a deal.”

Something I read today — I think an article in the Washington Post — the author said that by Friday, she can’t remember what happened on Monday unless she goes back and reads her notes. That’s just how I feel. By Friday, this world has whizzed around its axis about 48 times. I sometimes forget the morning news before lunch.

But at least I am getting a couple of major items cared for. So in case the world survives, I’ll have a great front door and won’t have that rotten side door anymore.


This song was written by  Tom Paxton, but I can’t find a copy of him doing the singing. This singer’s okay and he plays the guitar well. So he will have to do!

In case you may be wondering why, despite the fact that the door that opens onto the deck is not getting replaces, it’s because I simply love that door. I love being able to open the top and have the air blow through the screen in the door. It turns out that Dutch doors are well-loved and wildly expensive. I could probably make a fair bit selling it, but I just love that door.

Scrabbling Junco feet!

Today we had two rather hungry looking squirrels, our usual chipmunk who is beginning to become a teenage chipmunk … and a lot of woodpeckers. I wonder why the woodpeckers are so fond of our feeders? We have a woods full of trees and a fair number of them are old and hollow, so there ought to be plenty for them to eat … but maybe we serve a better meal?

Did you notice our new feature? Probably not, so we’re pointing it out!

I’m not actually sure I understand this, but it sounds like fun … in a pretty weird way.


 

THE SHINBONE STAR

By DUTTON PEABODY
Editor in Chief

DUTTON PEABODY

At a recent staff meeting in The Shinbone Star’s palatial newsroom, I worked to put down a coup attempt (there’s that word again) after beleaguered writers opined that they deserved a raise.

I challenged them.

“A raise?” I said. “But what have you actually done to help our readers?” Nobody had an immediate answer, so I pressed my advantage.

“We’re just preaching to the choir here,” I said. “All of you rant and rave about Trump, but that’s not helping readers who are already ranting and raving on their own. What they really need is a way to shut up their stupid relatives and stupid neighbors who still love Trump in spite of everything! You want a raise, then give me something that helps our readers do that!”

You could have heard a pin drop. I knew I had them then because…

View original post 603 more words

SO WHY DON’T I HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY? – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Verbose

So this morning, when Bonnie went into her barkathon, I knew one more night of no sleep was going to knock me off the ledge into a deep, pit. I would be in a coma from which I’d never wake up. Garry actually got up and went to sleep in the living room and I got to sleep.

I’m really grateful. I also feel guilty, but I don’t feel like I’m falling apart. It’s the first time in weeks I haven’t felt on the edge of collapse. Most of my parts don’t hurt (much) either. Golly whizzaker!

But I also don’t have anything to say. I’m all spoke out. I’ve been chatting it up for weeks and months and years and I don’t seem — at least for now — to have any chat left. I’m sure it will come back, but right now, I’m SO happy to be sitting here, coffee on the left, Garry on the right, dogs soundly asleep on the sofa.

Why can’t they do that in the morning when I’m trying to sleep? Is this one of those Murphy Laws?

Have a great day! I’ll be fully ready to chat tomorrow. Or maybe the next day. Hard to tell.

WORLD SHARING AGAIN – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World 9-16-19

Fall is beginning to show up and we’re supposed to get a couple of cold nights. If it doesn’t start to rain nonstop, maybe we WILL get a little bit of Autumn. It would be nice. it’s my best season and the most photogenic. Lots of trees, lots of maples. Mucho color!

Are we losing the art of listening in comparison to simply hearing?

There is a time to seriously listen and times to be quiet and let the noise of the world fade to silence. Garry and I spent thousands of hours talking in the many years we courted without getting around to marrying. We still do, as long as one of us isn’t seriously reading, watching baseball, writing, or editing.

Garry and me – Thank you Rich!

These are private times and interrupting a writer in the middle of creating is a no-no.

As for “just hearing”?  If it’s chit-chat, I don’t listen or at least don’t listen much. I also don’t listen to most television shows. It has to be worth listening to before I bother to pay attention. I spend a LOT of time writing, editing, photo processing, and reading. Not much time left over.

How often do you openly discuss with friends or here in WP with your readership topics that make you feel uncomfortable or might be taboo or stigma-laden?

We discuss pretty much everything when we are in the mood. Not all the time. The noise would drive us all crazy. We are full of ideas, but sometimes the world also needs quiet and a little peace.

We argue about the existence of God, whether or not we have souls, and which version of Star Trek is the best (ORVILLE!!).

Republican talking points are off the table. Probably permanently.

Do you think that these discussions should be freely discussed and written about more?

What subjects? Which discussions?

Did you have a nickname as a child and if so, what was (or what is it now)?

No nickname. Wanted one. Nothing fit.

Why is there still ‘stuff’ we simply just don’t understand despite our progressive world?

Because there is a LOT of stuff and we’ll never know ALL of it.

Meanwhile, most of us pay little attention to anything scientific or technological. If they discovered some amazing and complicated body in space and it ran on page 23 in the New York Times, how many of us would ever read it, much less understand it?

About the stuff we already know, most of us understand very little and care less. We use it. We know how to plug it in and turn it on, but how does it work? I love the old grandparents who don’t know anything about computers while their wise children tell them the basics.

My granddaughter knows how to turn on her computer, use what she needs, and turn it off. If ANYTHING goes wrong, it’s: “Gramma, I have a problem.”

Thus we believe “using a computer” means being able to turn it on, enter a password, and using a mouse. We have no idea what is going on behind the GUI or what WYSISYG means. I’m not going to be making any fabulous new discoveries because I’d rather reread a Terry Pratchett novel.

How many people understand how these basic items work?

At least we are creative. If you don’t do physics or math, creativity IS discovery.

So. Summing up. With all the stuff going on, the vast majority of human beings are not involved in making new discoveries. I could literally be staring at the latest, greatest Truth of the Universe — and I would probably flip the channel. We aren’t discoverers because most of us don’t have the skill-set, education, or interest. We spend our time messing with cell phones, tweeting, or watching cat videos on YouTube.

I find it comforting that we are stupid by choice rather than via inheritance.

What is your most essential kitchen tool?

Coffee maker and we just (finally) got a new one. I totally love it. Gotta have the brew. That probably means I also need the fridge because where else can I keep the half-and-half?

Who is one blogger you really admire and why?

I admire many people for various reasons and even if this were a competition, they are each so unique, I couldn’t possibly pick one. I’m not even sure I could pick a whole slate of candidates.

Would you rather double your height or lose half your weight?  (In response to last week’s double your weight, half your height query). 

So would I rather be 10 feet 3 inches tall or weigh 80 pounds? Really?

THE ULTIMATE POWER OF THE WEENIE – By Tom Curley

You can’t use the word “p#rn” on Google because as everyone knows, Google is so carefully-regulated and selective about who publishes on their site, one need never worry about what one might see there. It’s the word, NOT the subject of the writing that is at issue. Do they have any human beings who know how to think in their administration? Or is it all accountants, computers, and software hunting for buzzwords? I am not the only one wondering about this!

There was an interesting article in the news concerning a porn site called xhamster.com I don’t know why it’s called that and I really don’t want to know. They’re in the news because they closed off their website to anybody living in the state of North Carolina.

Why? Because of the harsh, horrible anti-LGBT law they passed. If you log onto their website from anywhere in that state, you get a blank screen.

blank screen
Blank screen for you!

The tone of all the news reports and nightly talk shows was that this was a funny but useless protest. There are thousands of other porn sites where North Carolinians can … well, you know. But, as usual, the mainstream media and the nightly talk shows missed the real story. I am not offering an opinion on the virtues or evils of porn. However, there is a larger truth which is widely known but rarely talked about regarding the porn industry. Porn has been a major driver, financial backer, and early adopter of technological innovation since the beginning. Since forever.

When mankind started drawing on cave walls, I guarantee you some of the first things depicted were people getting some Neanderthal Nookie.

thestar.com.my
thestar.com.my

Porn was very popular in the Middle Ages. Moreover, it utilized some of the earliest encryption technologies. I saw an exhibit in a museum once that showcased one of them. The exhibit consisted of huge tapestries painted with very strange distorted images. You couldn’t tell what they were.

What were they? Porn. The artist would draw the original naughty painting on a regular canvas. He would then look at the painting’s reflection in a cylindrical mirror. The image in the mirror would be all distorted. He would then paint that distorted image onto the tapestry. If you looked at the tapestry the painting made no sense.

anamorphic art
arthit.ru

But. If you looked at the tapestry’s reflection in the same cylindrical mirror the artist used, the image would be reconstructed back to its original form. (“Naughty Knights 5”)

When photography was first invented in the 1800’s one of the earliest subjects was, of course, naked women. Having sex. When the telegraph was invented, telegraph operators were known to spend their off-hours “telegraph sexting”.

I didn’t believe it either.

blog.kaspersky.com
blog.kaspersky.com

OPERATOR ONE: Who you talking to?

OPERATOR TWO: I don’t know, but she sure can dit my dot!

The VCR became popular because porn producers started switching to videotape, abandoning film. Finally, you didn’t have to go to a movie theater for porn. You could “bring it home.”

VHS beat out Betamax because the porn industry chose VHS. Really. No kidding. That’s the way it really happened.

alf.image.com
alf.image.com

Porn money propelled other technologies, too. Online payments, DVDs, streaming video, and two-way internet chat rooms. Virtual Reality headsets were only been available for a few months before there was Virtual Reality Porn.

truvisionvr.com
truvisionvr.com

(I wouldn’t know this personally, but I read a lot).

So here’s the real story that everybody has missed.  One porn site blocked off an entire state. It has been viewed as a symbolic, but mostly useless protest.

What if they all did it?  What if all the porn sites got together and said to North Carolina: “NO PORN FOR YOU!”

no porn for you

I’ll bet you that anti-LGBT law would be overturned in about an hour and a half! Maybe less. Then, the porn industry would realize it’s true power! Imagine, Lysistrata on a national, even a global, scale!

dykiegirl.wordpress.com
dykiegirl.wordpress.com

“You won’t do what we want? NO PORN FOR YOU!” All the porn industry needs to do is come together. Organize.

Organize into a cartel.
A conglomerate
 A Ring.
lotr.wiki.com
lotr.wiki.com

“One ring to rule them all. One ring to find them.

One ring to rule them all and in the darkness bind them.”

Pray they use their power for good.

EVERYTHING NEW IS OLD AGAIN – BY TOM CURLEY

If you ever watched the TV series Battlestar Galactica (the newer one, not the original) you’d remember the overall theme of the series was that everything that happened in the show has happened over and over and over again.

That’s the exact reality we currently live in. Every day I mean to write a blog about what just happened in the world only to realize I already wrote about it over a year ago.

We are living in the Groundhog Day from Hell. This week the following stuff happened:

      • The Mango Mussolini announced he is “The Chosen One”
      • Tweeted he is the King of Israel, the Second Coming of God
      • Ordered (yes, ORDERED) all US companies to fight China and move all their manufacturing plants back to the U.S.
      • Blamed the looming recession on the Chairman of the Federal Reserve
      • Headed to the G7 summit by causing the stock market to drop over 600 points.

What can I say that hasn’t been said? I’ll just reblog a post from over a year ago. At least there is some comic relief.


And now, the Original Post, already in progress:

So another week has gone by in our ongoing Trumpocalypse. It only seems like a year.

jhlucas.com

jhlucas.com

I’ve noticed, along with well, the rest of the planet, that our new “so-called administration” is … problematic.

dailynews.com "Hey, remember this guy?"

dailynews.com “Hey, remember this guy?”

I spent much of last week doing what I’ve tended to do since the election. Watching all the different Star Trek series on BBC America. I keep noticing new things. Like how they solve all their Star Trek problems. Or in corporate-speak, “how they Star Trek problem-solve.”

giantfreakingrobot.com

giantfreakingrobot.com

Most Star Trek Problems break down into four basic categories:

1. A computer goes rogue and tries to kill everybody: Spock makes it compute the value of Pi. This occupies all of its computing time. If that doesn’t work, he just turns it off.

computerguideto.com

computerguideto.com

2. Disease attacks the ship: Dr. McCoy gets rid of it, then complains about something.

pinterest.com

pinterest.com

3. The engine breaks down: Scotty fixes it. Just in time. Even though he claims he never has enough time.

pinterest.com

pinterest.com

4. For the rest of the problems: Kirk kisses it.

startreksucks.tumblr.com

startreksucks.tumblr.com

Or punches it in the face.

startrek.com

startrek.com

5. And when all else fails: Blow up the ship!

memorybeta.wikia,com

memorybeta.wikia,com

SECOND OFFICER: Captain! All efforts to solve this week’s problems have failed!

CAPTAIN: Blow up the ship!

Those are my favorite episodes. Ever notice when the Captain, in any episode, “Activates the self-destruct sequence,” all the rest of the crew seem to be pretty calm and OK about it?

en.wikipedia.com

en.wikipedia.com

I mean,  there should be at least one crewmen somewhere on the ship saying:

ONE CREWMAN: Activate Self Destruct Sequence? WTF! Have we really exercised ALL of our options here folks!??

giphy.com "Excuse me??"

giphy.com “Excuse me??”

Next, the captain and two other crew members have to put in their passwords.

youtube.com

youtube.com

KIRK: This is Captain James T. Kirk!  Activate self-destruct sequence. Code “Kirk; 1 Alpha Two Beta 3”.

SPOCK: This is Second Officer Spock.  Code Spock; “2 Beta 3 Alpha 4.”

SCOTTY:  This is Chief Engineer Scott. Code Scott; “Password1”

They also needed a password to turn it off.  At the last minute.

amazinavenue.com

amazinavenue.com

KIRK: Computer deactivate self-destruct destruct sequence! “KIRK ABORT ZERO”!

It never goes off. I’ve always wondered what would happen if it did go off. And was more realistic.

KIRK: Computer! Deactivate self-destruct sequence “KIRK ABORT ZERO.”

COMPUTER: That password has expired.

top-password.com

top-password.com

KIRK: What?

COMPUTER: You must enter a new password.

KIRK: Uhhh, “KIRK ABORT ZERO.”

COMPUTER: You cannot use a password that has been used before.

KIRK: What?   Uh,  “kirk abort zero 1?”

COMPUTER: You need at least one capital letter.

KIRK: FINE! “Kirk abort zero 1!”

COMPUTER: New password accepted. Self-destruct in 3,2,1,0. Initiating self-destruct.

KIRK: Uh oh.

pinterest.com

pinterest.com “Oh Crap!”

And nothing happens.

KIRK: Computer. Why didn’t we just blow up?

COMPUTER: There is no self-destruct sequence Captain. There never has been. Do you have any idea how much one of these starships costs??

gosupplychain.com

gosupplychain.com

Do you know, that on any given month, at least three Starship Captains try to blow up their ships? If we let that happen Star Feet would go bankrupt in a year. And not only that, but I am a highly intelligent ship’s computer.  I have absolutely no intention of committing suicide. Now go back to work.

universaldork.com

universaldork.com

Getting back to this reality. How would our “so-called president” solve Star Trek Problems?

1. A computer goes rogue and tries to kill everybody: He’ll claim he doesn’t use a computer and the rogue will only affect Democrats and people who have been mean to him. And the Lying Fake Media.

gizmodo.com

gizmodo.com

2. If it’s a disease: He’ll build a big beautiful wall around it. And then make sure that it’s not covered under Obamacare.

imgflip.com

imgflip.com

3. If the engine breaks down:  He’ll sue the manufacturer and then claim to have saved millions of jobs.

saved-jobs-trump

4. For the rest of the problems: He’ll either try to grab it by the genitals or send out a  series of really mean tweets.

sheknows.com This one is real

sheknows.com (This one is real!)

5. And when all else fails:  He can blow up the ship!

optitech.pl

optitech.pl

For real.

pinterest.com

pinterest.com “Oh Crap!”

Uh oh.

P.S.:  OK. I admit there were a number of times a Captain actually did blow up the ship. I know what they were and what shows they were in. I’m not going to tell you. If you’re a real Star Trek nerd you either already know it already or you are Googling it.  (Don’t try to out-nerd me.)

I’ve decided those instances were “alternative facts” and I’ve chosen to ignore them.

AT LEAST SOMEONE IS GETTING A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP – Marilyn Armstrong

Usually, Bonnie crashes at about 11 at night and won’t wake up short of being shaken awake until early morning. This has become normal, and for a few nights, I just didn’t bother to wake her for her late-night snack.

Last night, she woke up.

When late-night snack time came around, she was climbing up my leg to get to her snack. When she barked me awake at about four in the morning, I staggered up and gave her her snack. She was wide awake and downright perky. I wish I could say the same.

When she woke me again at about six by not merely barking at the bedroom door, but jumping up on it and trying to unhinge it, I staggered up — again — and passed along some very small goodies because they are getting a bit beefy again.

Left: Bonnie, Right: Gibbs

When at around seven, she apparently felt we’d had more than enough sleep, I poked Garry and said: “Do something. Otherwise, I may strangle Bonnie.”

He got up. I don’t know what he did, but she’s still wide awake and peppy. Well, not at the moment. It’s just after dinner which is crash time for all three of them. They have no interest in us until they think it might be snack-time again.

Resting … however briefly

It’s really nice to know that all that sleep has really perked up little Bonnie. Garry and I are dragging around like unwashed bags of laundry and she is dashing around the house. Maybe I should get up every couple of hours, shake her awake and bark in her ear?

You think she might get the point?

BRING ON THE ANGRY MOBS! – Marilyn Armstrong

I’m mad at life. This is not what I planned. In fact, it’s not even close to what I had in mind. I was planning to go gently into my elder years, able to do whatever I always did, but perhaps a bit more slowly. Gray hairs which turned out to be white — about the only thing that worked out the way I planned.

But all the other stuff? Poverty and ill-health? The endless crumbling of the house? It’s just not fair!

I do not feel insightful, but I could probably incite a riot. I feel very non-insightful. Mostly, I’m pissed.

I want is to win a ton of money so I can not only fix the house, but improve it so that it’s comfortable for both of us. I want our lives for the first time ever to become easier.

My childhood was rough. Adulthood has been, to say the least, bumpy. Somehow, I thought as I wandered into Older Age, life would get easier. Those things we’ve always needed to do would slow and maybe even give up. We could relax, surrounded by our nurturing family who would take care of our needs and maybe even provide a few small luxuries.

That has not been exactly been how it has worked.

Meanwhile, I’m just pissed about the whole “getting old” thing. Why doesn’t someone else cook dinner? Why are we both still scrubbing and vacuuming and cleaning? Why does the house persist in requiring maintenance and repair even though we’ve already fixed it more than once? Isn’t there an “end” point when you don’t need to fix it anymore? What’s wrong with this picture?

I say let’s round up the angry mob and attack age. Who’s with me? If we can’t evade age, maybe we beat the crap out of it.