Some of Y’all Need To Pay More Taxes

I wrote this piece a couple of years ago, and WordPress was kind enough to choose it for Freshly Pressed.   Here it is again, in honor of our national day of financial mourning.

Washington has never called about implementing these great ideas.  If you’re chummy with any of our elected officials, pass this on, OK?

If you do the crime, you pay the fine.

What’s wrong with America is some of y’all need to be paying more taxes.

Taxes raise money, sure, but the government also uses them to change our behavior.  We are encouraged to do some things (buy houses and windmills) and not do others (smoke, drink and drive cars).

I’ve come up with a comprehensive tax plan that expands on that idea.  It will bring in much needed cash, and encourage everyone to follow the “right” path.

Here’s a partial list of my proposed taxes:

Individuals

  • Me No Like-y Tax:  Each time the word “like” is used, except to express a preference, or to compare things, it will be taxed.  Tax collectors will be stationed in junior highs, high schools and malls on a Saturday afternoon.
  • Scanties Tax:  This fine is imposed each time we are forced to look at someone’s underwear because his or her pants are too low.  It is waived if the person is a professional underwear model. The fine will be doubled if the low pants reveal an area that SHOULD be underwear-clad, but isn’t – the BCC addendum (butt-crack cleavage).
  • Tortoise Tax:  This is levied against anyone driving more than 5 miles below the speed limit.  Tax doubled if it is rush hour, if there is only one lane available, or if the offender is hanging out in the passing lane.

Businesses

  • Murdering the King’s English Tax:  Imposed on businesses that deliberately misspell, misuse and generally slaughter the English language.  This will be levied for:
    • Using dumbed-down synonyms like: lite, rite, hunny, nu, ez
    • Adding “e” to words to make them looke olde
    • Substituting “k” for “c” to kompel kute alliteration
  • Nobody’s Home Tax:  Imposed on businesses that use computer telephone answering systems without the option to press zero to reach a human.  The tax is doubled if the phone recording is set for “folksy” and says things like “OK, let me look that up for you.”  Nobody is looking anything up.  Don’t you think we get that this is a computer?
  • Green Is The Color Of Money Tax:  Fines are levied on companies for changing the packaging or advertising on the same old stuff, solely to jump on the “green” bandwagon.  A corresponding tax will also be levied on the consumer who buys stuff to give the appearance of caring for the environment, without having to do any heavy lifting.

I was thinking of a flat 10 cents tax per infraction, but we can work out the details later.  I welcome input as we get the dialogue going.

I welcome constructive input, that is.  Some critics have said this is nothing more than a scheme to punish people who do things that bother me.  To these cynics I say; let me introduce you to the Smart Ass Tax.

That will be 10 cents each, please.

Posted in General Ramblings | Tagged , , , , | 68 Comments

April Showers Bring Melon-Ball Doohickeys

I'm SINGing in the rain...ouch!  ouch!

I’m SINGing in the rain…ouch! ouch!

The other day I was scrubbing a cookie sheet that had gone from gun-metal gray to mottled brown from years of hard use.  I couldn’t tell if what I was attacking was cleanable dirt, or if cooking alchemy had transformed it at the molecular level to a new kind of metal.

I paused in my labors, still clutching a soapy Brillo pad, and took stock of my kitchen. After more than 30 years, 80% of my utensils, pots, pans and towels wouldn’t pass the Goodwill test: even poor people wouldn’t want them.

I need a shower.

I’m talking about a wedding shower.  The custom started back when a young lady moved straight from her parents’ home to her husband’s, and friends and family gathered to give her the small, practical things she would need to outfit her kitchen and linen closet.

Times have changed, and current customs no longer work.  Today’s bride has often been on her own for years.  Chances are that a 30-something woman already owns basics like a cheese grater.  Her gift registry is a wish-list full of move-up items like $500 Baccarat high ball glasses.  That’s not my idea of a shower gift.

What about women who don’t marry?  They are totally neglected by the current system.    If they want a melon-ball-maker-doohickey, they have to go to a Pampered Chef party and spend $74.99 to buy one.

I propose a change to a two-tier system:

Leaving the Nest: When a young woman gets her first place.

This is typically at graduation; high school or college.  Loved ones will gather to outfit a young woman with the little things she will need for her home, whether or not she marries.

Re-feathering the Nest:   When a young woman turns 50.

Everything in the house is now old and broken down. The once-fluffy bath towels are scratchy as sandpaper, the business end of the potato peeler is attached to the handle with twist ties, and the kitchen towels’ formerly bright, yellow chickens are so faded and stained it looks like the poor birds are molting. Time for another shower.

With my new shower system, no other woman will ever suffer the pain I have known; that of having her husband mistake her once-fancy, powder-room hand towels for rags suitable for use while fixing the lawn mower.

I’m free most Saturdays next month and my bathroom is blue.

Postscript:  I didn’t forgot about the guys; that’s deliberate.  Since men  can “get the milk for free without buying the cow” nowadays (to quote my mother,) they need an incentive to get married.  I’m confident that if marriage is the only way men can snag kitchen towels with a button crocheted on one end to hang on the door of the fridge, wedding rates will skyrocket.   The number of couples enjoying wedded bliss will soon be right back up to June Cleaver-era levels.

 

Posted in General Ramblings | Tagged , , , , , , | 112 Comments

Dormant, Not Dead

dormanttrees

A couple of weeks ago I took a hike in one of my favorite parks.  A bad storm came through the area last summer and the park was closed for several months because of all the trees that were knocked down.   In many spots on the trails you have to walk through 3-foot gaps that have been chain-sawed out of fallen trees.

Some trees have been entirely ripped from the ground.  Their gnarled roots point up to the blue sky instead of down into the rich, black soil that was their home.  Some of the trees are leaning, and it’s hard to know if they will recover.  Every tree in the park looks dead, however, whether standing tall or almost horizontal.  They are still in their winter dormant period, resting and waiting.  It’s nature’s way.

So it is with people.

Faith – The strongest faith can have periods of doubt. Maybe you’re just not feeling it. Keep praying, keep trying. Even if it seems you are merely going through the motions, there is merit in the exercise. It helps keep you close so you can hear the call when it comes again.

     Don’t give up on faith.

Hope – Life is not easy. Much of it is plain hard. But it is also made up of many, many small moments of quiet contentment, laughter and connection. Something as simple as a favorite, old song coming on the radio can raise a smile.  A wave of pure joy can rush in when you least expect it, rush in to lift you up.

When despair threatens to swamp you, remember the good times. Look for them because they will come again.

     Don’t give up on hope.

Love – Every relationship goes through a cooling period. The ordinariness of everyday life can smother passion. Love changes with time, and when it does, you may not recognize it. Realize that love may still be there, just different.

Romantic love may not be for you. There are other kinds of love that are no less precious: love of family, for a child, for friends, and the love of God, which is evergreen.

     Don’t give up on love.

When it seems that faith, hope or love is gone, cling to the belief that they are dormant, not dead. As long as life remains there is the possibility that tomorrow will be better.

Don’t give up – spring will come.

 

Posted in Cancer Schmancer, General Ramblings | Tagged , , , , , , , | 73 Comments

Once You Bite The Head Off The Bunny, You’ve Gone Too Far

Easter Rabbits

For someone like me who has a serious sugar addiction, major holidays mean major problems.  Some holidays aren’t so bad: St. Patrick’s Day is all about the booze, Fourth of July is all about the burgers, and Presidents Day is all about mattress sales. The big three for sugar junkies are Christmas, Halloween and Easter.

Here we go again.

When our kids were little, my Easter bunny process went like this:

  1. Buy supplies at least a week early so I don’t end up at the store the night before with empty shelves devoid of all but a few overpriced and/or inferior candy selections.
  2. Eat all the supplies.
  3. End up at the store the night before with empty shelves devoid of all but a few overpriced and/or inferior candy selections.
  4. Pin the checkout girl to an end-cap with my forearm across her throat screaming, “What do you MEAN you’re out of Cadbury Crème Eggs? I GOT to HAVE those EGGS! Go to the back room and find me some #&^%$ eggs!!!”
  5. Dash out of the store with my second-rate purchases before the police arrive.
  6. After the kids go to bed, bring out their baskets and plastic eggs and distribute the candy:
    • One solid, milk chocolate bunny for Lizzy’s basket
    • One solid, milk chocolate bunny for Gwennie’s basket
    • One solid, milk chocolate bunny for Mommy
    • A handful of jelly beans for Lizzy’s basket
    • A handful of jelly beans for Gwennie’s basket
    • A handful of jelly beans for each of the plastic eggs
    • A handful of jelly beans for Mommy
    • Repeat with all available candy items
  7. Hide the baskets and eggs around the house while consuming half a bag of Reese’s Mini Peanut Butter Cups in the pastel, foil wrappers.
  8. Wake up early to witness the children’s delight as they hunt for their baskets and eggs before church. Except I usually missed this part because I was in the bathroom with morning-after digestive problems and a killer, sugar hangover.

The kids are out of the house now. I still want to mark the occasion by making baskets for them, but now I do Easter Priority Mail Boxes. I’ve gotten a little smarter about the process and have set some rules for myself to avoid a sugar overdose.

  1. Buy the candy the night before I plan to ship it.
  2. Leave the goods in the car. Do not, for God’s sake, DO NOT BRING THE CANDY INTO THE HOUSE!
  3. Make the boxes up at my office where I’m less likely to lose control.
  4. If I eat a couple of jelly beans in the process, that’s OK.
  5. If I bite the head off of a chocolate bunny, I have gone too far. Do NOT mail that one.
  6. Ship every piece of candy (except those with teeth marks) and do NOT keep any around the house or office.
  7. Do NOT go to the store next Monday to stock up on ½ price clearance Easter candy. That’s not fooling anybody.

I got the Easter Priority Mail Boxes out yesterday, and I’m sure my girls will be touched.  I wish I could see the look on their faces when they open them on Easter morning, but we live too far away now.  Besides, after church I will be busy enjoying my new favorite treat since I’ve tamed the sugar addiction – Bloody Marys.

I was talking about my problem with Easter candy with my sister Libby, and she’s the one who said the line that inspired this post and became the title.  I ’bout spewed coffee out my nose.

Posted in General Ramblings | Tagged , , , , , , | 92 Comments

March Madness For Dummies

spartybracketmath

Here’s a fun fact that you may not know about me; I am a Spartan.

No, I don’t mean that I am spartan: marked by simplicity, frugality, or avoidance of luxury and comfort. In that regard I am more of a sybarite: a voluptuary or hedonist.

I mean that I am a proud graduate and loyal daughter of Michigan State University. And just because I don’t follow college sports and, as a matter of fact, don’t know very much about such things, that doesn’t mean I can’t claim full bragging rights because the MSU men’s basketball team has made it to the Fantastic Four.

Go Green!

For those not familiar with this great tradition, a fever grips colleges all across the land at this time of year.   Students abandon their scholastic pursuits and get drunk because it is spring break. But that does not concern us right now.  They also abandon their scholastic pursuits and get drunk when it is Thursday.  We’re not getting into that, either.

I want to talk about this magical time for college basketball that is known as The Spring Fling.

The NCAA (National Council on Avoiding studying in April) breaks the country up into 4 divisions: East, Midwest, South and West. There is no North division because the northern schools’ only sport is playing hockey against Canada.  Each college plays the other schools in their division until each has a winner. Michigan State, for example, which is generally considered be in the Midwest of the contiguous United States map-wise, is in the Eastern division for basketball purposes. We play all the other Eastern teams like the one bordering the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana.

Before any games may be played, however, every adult male in the nation (and many intrepid females) must formulate their brackets.  This is a complicated process which involves calculating wins divided by losses multiplied by free throws, all carried to a power equal to the number of tattoos the point guard has. Sports fans are cautioned to keep in mind the Order of Operations rule, working from left to right except that equations within parentheses and brackets come first. That’s how they got the name.   At the end of these logarithms, each person winds up with their own, personal ranking of teams going from dead last, which position they call Unable To Get Alumni Donations, to the team they think will win the whole tournament, called The Big Kahuna.

This process is so complex that many men find it necessary to abandon their work pursuits and get drunk EVEN IF THEY ARE NOT IN COLLEGE!

Formulating and betting on brackets is a vital part of the U.S. economy during this time, and it accounts for a full 67% of the Gross Domestic Product of Las Vegas. Every time anyone anywhere says they bet their team will go all the way, they have to send $50 to Antonio “Sonny” Parmigiano-Reggiano at the Sands Hotel & Casino.

The first round of games is called the Sudden Death Double Elimination. That’s also what they called it during the playoffs sophomore year, when I spent the night on the bathroom floor with a bucket after I had enjoyed the Little Caesar’s 2-for-1 anchovy pizza deal along with 5 shots of tequila.  But I don’t want to talk about THAT, either.   All you have to know is that MSU beat Virginia in this round to get into the Sixteen Candles.

Go White!

Michigan State was unstoppable as they whupped another East coast powerhouse, Oklahoma (formerly known as a Great Plains state before they migrated East,) to advance to the Crazy Eights.

Go Green!

Then came Sunday’s nail-biter. That game went into overtime before MSU emerged victorious over Louisville to earn a place in the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Go White!

This weekend will be major. No, I’m not talking about the events marking the passion, death and resurrection of our lord and savior, Jesus Christ, although that’s big, too.   I mean the two games on Saturday that will determine who goes to the final showdown.  If MSU wins, we play for all the marbles on Monday as one of the Dynamic Duo.

This is big.

Of course it’s not as big as in 1978-79 when MSU won the Big Ten championships in football, baseball and cheer-leading, and went all the way  to #1 in the country in basketball.  I’m sure all the athletes worked really hard that year, but was it merely coincidence that I had just transferred in to MSU at the start of that Never-To-Be-Repeated-Year-Of-Glory?  You decide.

Be sure to cheer for Michigan State this weekend.  All of us loyal Spartans will sing the fight song loud and clear.  And if anyone still wonders why the song is “fighting with A vim” (as in only one vim; wouldn’t it be better to have a whole bunch of vim (vims? vimi?) for the big game?) that won’t diminish our enthusiasm for our team.  My money is on MSU to go all the way.

(The $50 is in the mail, Sonny.)

Go Green! Go White!

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Good Writing vs. Kim Kardashian’s Butt

WordPressStatsKardashian

 

It has been a heck of a week.

An old post of mine, R.I.P. Bunny Bixler, went mini-viral last week. Someone with a lot of followers pushed a link to this post on Facebook, and I still don’t know much more than that.  Things are getting back to normal around here now, like Fort Lauderdale after the frat boys go home.  As I walk around picking up empty beer cans, I’m asking myself, “what’s it all about, Alfie?”

My best single day for traffic on the blog happened 3 years ago when a Freshly Pressed piece got 4700 views. Now the number to beat is 5500 and I hit that two days in a row. Bunny Bixler is my top post of all time with more than 17,000 views. That may be chump change to you, but it’s a whole lot to me.   Major.

Above is a graph from my stats page.  See the numbers that came before last week?  It looks like this joint was a ghost town until then.  Yet those blips represent solid blog posts: pieces that I was rather proud to run, and that got a respectable number of views from a number of respectable viewers.  They’ve been reduced to nothing more than the tiny bumps of a hopeful, 12-year-old girl compared to the Dolly Partons that follow.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m grateful for the tourism.  I want to attract lots of visitors.  This means there’s a chance that when WordAds pays me for running their commercials on my page, the next check will arrive in less than the 2 years it took to get the first one.

But this numbers business has me conflicted.

I can’t help thinking that the Kardashian Machine built an entire empire out of nothing by pushing up their numbers. They now have a separate brand for:

  • The Kardashian family
  • Kim and her sister Chloe
  • Kim and Bruce Jenner
  • Kim and her skinny, underage model sisters
  • Kim and Kanye
  • Kim, Kanye and Cheesepuff, or whatever they named that poor kid
  • Kim
  • Kim’s butt.

Each brand has its own TV show (past, present or in negotiation,) its own perfume, and its own publicist whose sole job is to ratchet up their numbers, which they got because they’re famous, which they are because they ratcheted up their numbers, which they got because they’re famous, etc. It’s like that Escher print of the continually looping staircase and it makes my brain hurt.

I signed up for Twitter a couple of weeks ago to build MY numbers and get in with the hep cats and cool dudes. I haven’t done much since then. One blogging friend retweeted one of my tweets so, not knowing the etiquette, I replied with a thank you. She was kind enough to let me know that what I actually did was retweet and thank MYSELF. She thought I was being funny. I knew I was being clueless.

I’m somehow following or linked in to all kinds of people I don’t even know and I’m supposed to feed this ravenous Twitter engine with an endless supply of tweets, favorites, retweets, and hashtags.  It’s got me totally flummoxed. #stoptheworldIwanttogetoff.

One recent tweet from a friend of a friend was a link to a post that explained how to grow your blog using Twitter. The post said you need to do hashtag reposts on Mondays, rehash tag posts on Tuesday, corned beef hashtags on Wednesday, on and on throughout the week. She freely admits that she doesn’t have time to actually READ any of the stuff she’s recommending to everyone – how can you read 150 pieces every day? But if we all push one another’s stuff, we’ll jack the numbers and build community.

That’s not building community, that’s blogging by the numbers.

I love my online community.   These are people I like and people whose work I like. Oftentimes I’m lucky and they’re the same person.  I’m always open to meeting and liking new people, but I won’t pretend to be besties with 17,000 strangers.

Here’s what I want.  I want…

1) Fame & Fortune.  Yes, I do.  I want it a lot.  But I want to earn it because people like the things that I…

2) Write.   I want to write good stuff.  I want to make folks laugh or think or merely experience a mild twitch of the lips because, “gee, that Peg has a tidy way with a phrase.” I want to write things that people want to…

3) Read.  I want people to read my stuff. I want EVERYone to read it and tell their friends. Once everyone on earth is reading and loving my work, I’ll arrive at item #1.

I’m going to keep trying to do my best work so people will want to read it and share it. If I do this right, someday the Peg-o-Leg brand will be as famous as Kim Kardashian’s butt.

 

PS If you have managed to figure out Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Press This, Pinterest and such, feel free to look through my archives, choose your favorite posts and push the hell out of them.  In the interest of building community.

Posted in General Ramblings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 120 Comments

Who Are You, And Why Are You Here?

Wish I'd had an Auntie Mame.

One of my idols.

I am a deep thinker.  Sure, my main thing is humor, but I’m also a thoughtful gal – like a still pool in a forest glen, I’m deep.    As a matter of fact, one of the posts I am most proud of asks the existential question, “why am I here?”  But that’s not important right now.

I’ve had over 12,000 hits on an old blog post in the last 2 days, and I want to know why.

The post in question is R.I.P. “Bunny” Bixler.  This was a tongue-in-cheek obituary for a fictional character who is mentioned, but never shown, in the delightful 1950s Rosalind Russell movie, Auntie Mame.  I really like this movie.  A lot.   I always wanted to BE Auntie Mame, but the closest I’ve come is doing a pretty good rendition of Little Glory recounting the ping-pong incident.

I wrote this post in January of 2011 when I had been engaged in the blogging business a grand total of 3 months.   In that short period I had figured out how to upload pictures, embed movies and curb the impulse to make every post a novel.  I think most of my 7 readers liked the piece – I did.   But what I want to know is why everyone and their brother is reading it NOW.

I’ve been doing some sleuthing and there are a couple of possibilities.

1) A couple of months after I wrote this, I discovered the existence of a Pittsburgh drag queen who had adopted this stage name.  Fearing the “real” Bunny Bixler had died, last night I rushed to her Twitter page to check.  Based on her “favorite” response to my inquiry about her health, she is still very much alive.

2) Several people have tweeted links to this post.  I asked one how he had come to me, and he said my post had been shared on Facebook by Bobby Rivers.  I assume that would be the movie critic, talk show host and onetime Food Network host, but I don’t see anything about me on his page.

I’m not complaining about this mini attack of going viral – au contraire! (that’s French for “hell no.”)  It’s just that I need to know the source of all the attention so I can figure out how to exploit it.  Oops – didn’t mean to say that.  I meant so I can say thank you to my kind benefactor.

Given the number of subscribed readers I have (who are the best on WordPress, by the way.  Have I told you that lately?) you would be excused for thinking that every post gets 12,000 views.  Hell no!  (that’s American for “au contraire.”)   The sad fact is that only about 2% of readers usually bother to READ the drivel I put up here.  Even Freshly Pressed posts don’t gather that number of reads.

I’m stumped.  Delighted, but stumped.  Any ideas?

 

 

 

 

Posted in General Ramblings | Tagged , , , , , , , | 93 Comments