When It Comes to Reality TV, The Secret to Success is Crystal CLR

Professor Peg schools some wannabes.

Professor Peg schools some wannabes.

Reality television is now an established staple of the American viewing diet.    Although many can’t understand why anyone would want their dirty laundry and bad behavior exposed for the world to see, it’s obvious the reality TV industry has an unlimited pool of talent (?) from which to choose.

Do you want to be a reality TV star?  Are you looking for a way to break through the log-jam of other wannabes like a shark plowing through throngs of swimmers at the beach?

I can show you how – the secret is crystal CLR.

The Peg-o-Leg Institute of Lower Learning is pleased to present our latest course:

                Reality TV 101 

After years of exhaustive research (aka watching TV until my eyes crossed) I’ve developed a soon-to-be-patented formula for getting to the top in this competitive industry: the CLR Method.   It’s all about being Crude, Lewd & Rude:

Crude:
1) very simple and basic: made or done in a way that does not show a lot of skill

2) rude in a way that makes people uncomfortable; especially, talking about sexual matters in a rude way

No brains? No talent?  No problem!  We’ll explore the many ways you can turn your total lack of any traditionally admirable traits and achievements into reality gold by exposing your stupidity to the TV-viewing public.

Lewd:
1) sexual in an offensive or rude way; obscene, vulgar

You’ll spend hours in the speech lab perfecting techniques for dropping enough f-bombs (and other obscenity grenades) to boost ratings, but not so many the viewer can’t understand what you’re saying.  We’ll also explore the fine line between oozing sex and being too raunchy to get past what little censorship still exists on modern television.  We’ll show you how to walk that line for profit.  After all, the goal is to be a reality star, not a porn star.  (Porn star skill-sets are covered in our 200-level courses.)

Rude:
1) not having or showing concern or respect for the rights and feelings of other people; not polite
2) relating to sex or other body functions in a way that offends others
3) happening suddenly in usually an unpleasant or shocking way

You’ll learn to show a total lack of interest in anyone else’s feelings and focus exclusively on your own, petty, first-world problems.  Extra emphasis will be placed on obsessing about your increasingly artificial physical appearance.  Study will lead progressively to more advanced techniques, like how to express your feelings by tipping over tables and throwing chairs.

With our personalized instruction and hours of hands-on lab practice, you’ll soon be acting crude, lewd and rude all at the same time – the trifecta of reality TV.

Reality TV 101 is a core class in our (Crimes Against) Humanities Department, but may be taken on its own as an adult education class.  Tuition is only $20,000 per semester.  This paltry fee may easily be covered by a student loan guaranteed by the federal government (aka the American taxpayer.)  Don’t worry about paying it back – that will be a piece of cake once you’re rolling in the dough as the star of your own reality TV show.

Call The Peg-o-Leg Institute of Lower Learning today, and soon you’ll be on your way to an exciting career as a famous reality star using the CLR Method.  Have your credit card  handy* – operators are standing by!

 

*If your credit card limits aren’t high enough, or are already maxed,  The Peg-o-Leg Institute of Lower Learning has made arrangements with outside vendors for alternative financing:
–   Dewey Cheetum National Bank: Have full financial information ready to complete a second mortgage application.
–  ACME Organ And Pawn Shop:  Have full medical information ready and be prepared for a physical.  ACME is offering an extra 15% for kidneys during their back-to-school special!

Posted in General Ramblings, Peg-Co Catalog | Tagged , , , , | 43 Comments

Life Cleanup On Aisle 4

Try not to cry.

Try not to cry.

Maybe it’s just me.  But I suspect I’m not the only woman who’s merely one bag of beef jerky away from a total meltdown.

I was fresh out of inspiration for dinner when I stopped by the grocery store on the way home from work the other day.   It had been a long and difficult day; every cranky, rude and clueless person within a 25-mile radius made it a point to cross my path.  I didn’t really need food since our freezer is so loaded it would take a Shackleton expedition to explore its depths, but I didn’t want to work that hard.  I was looking for the Abominable Snowman of dinner options; something tasty, easy, fast and healthy. You hear that combo talked about a lot but, like the Yeti, confirmed sightings are rare. I also wanted to stock up on low-cal snacks to combat my Little Debbie addiction.

I don’t do all the cooking at our house; my husband often fixes dinner.  That may be primarily because he doesn’t like what I make, but it still helps.  I’m not a bad cook so much as uninspired.  Nonetheless, I am still the chief cook, bottle washer, laundress and general maid-of-all-work around our place.

Most of the other shoppers in the store that evening were women and, judging by their clothes and attitudes, most were also on their way home from work.  Some had small children in tow. We had all stopped to pick up some get-me-the-hell-out-of-here-so-I-can-go-home-and-put-up-my-feet.

A young mom in the dairy aisle had a cart full of crying toddler. They were both staring down at the puddle spreading out from a milk carton I assume the child had tossed onto the floor.  From the look on Mommy’s face, she was an inch away from flailing around in the puddle in a screaming, kicking tantrum that would put her child’s to shame.

An acquaintance in the produce aisle said she had dashed in to buy cauliflower to go with the pot roast she had in the oven.  She had already prepared peas and potatoes, which her husband insisted on, but her grown son was coming over for dinner and he was on a no-carb diet.  She was going to mash the cauliflower to tempt his palate with faux-mashed potatoes.  The key point here is that this woman, who works out of her home, was making her family a pot roast dinner with a full menu of side dish options and it wasn’t even a special occasion.  It was a Wednesday.

I also knew the woman in front of me in the checkout line.  She unloaded 10 cartons of chicken stock onto the conveyor belt.  She said it was to go with her homemade ravioli and added, apologetically, that she knew this was terrible.  She looked as guilty as if she had been caught coming out of the back room at the video rental store with her arms full of porno DVDs.

I was so lost in wonder at the concept that all ravioli didn’t come in a can labeled “Chef Boyardee” it took me a minute to figure out what was so terrible.  This woman (who works full time in her family’s business, has a teenager still at home and is helping raise her twenty-something’s baby) was afraid of being labeled a slacker for using store-bought chicken stock.

I solemnly promised under pain of torture to swear she had personally wrung the chicken’s neck for the broth.

After checking out I trudged to my car with turkey burgers and salad for dinner, and beef jerky for a snack. I was starving so I tore into the jerky as soon as I got in the car.

Correction: I tried to tear into it.

The jerky was in a thick, plastic bag heat-sealed above a resealable zipper.  There was a little notch cut out of each side for opening and that’s where I ripped across.  It removed a triangular piece of bag.   I turned the bag over and tore at the notch on the other side with the same result.  I now had a hill of fused plastic above the zipper part.  The bag remained sealed.

I pulled at the sides in the middle of the bag, hoping to force the top apart.  I pulled with all my strength but no go.

I gnawed at the side of the plastic triangle like a desperate beaver, hoping to get a new tooth-hold to grab and rip across. No help.

Apparently I had selected an Armageddon-proof jerky package.  The bag itself was a test of survival fitness; if you couldn’t manage the simple task of opening this little, plastic bag, dammit, you did not deserve to survive.  It would be the snack of choice come The Rapture.

I gave up on preserving the zip lock feature and dug around in my purse for a sharp object to use as a bayonet.   The best I could find were house keys.  There was a mere half-inch of product in the bottom of the bag so I stabbed into the big, empty space above it (contents may settle during shipment) and twisted madly.  Turns out my keys aren’t very sharp.  Note to self; sharpen keys.

No dice.

No opening.

No jerky.

That was when I lost it.

Guttural sounds rose from deep within me and erupted as I beat the bag against the dashboard. Some sounds were actual words which would have caused 9 out of 10 moms surveyed to wash my mouth out with soap.  I retained enough self-control not to scream at the top of my lungs.  I was parked at the edge of the lot, but a full-throttle scream might be overheard by the shopping public.  It was more a hoarse whisper accompanied by tears of rage. I was utterly defeated.

Jerky – 1
Peg – 0

Obviously the jerky wasn’t the main issue; it was just the tip of the frustration iceberg.

For most women the end of the workday in the outside world marks the start of their other full-time job: caring for children, cooking, cleaning and running a household.

I know there are exceptions; there are stay-at-home dads and men who help out a lot – I get that.  I’m not saying this is strictly a woman thing, but the fact is, it mainly IS a woman thing.   Even the words we use illuminate a basic difference in attitude about household tasks –  he’s babysitting or helping out; she’s living.

I grew up at the end of the modern women’s movement.  Older women, fresh from the trenches, handed the new mandates to my generation when we came of age, like a shining gift on a silver platter.

“See what we did for you?  You can have it all,” they said.

But they didn’t really mean “all.”  They meant big, new, exciting experiences in the work and wider world.  Hillary Clinton’s sneering comments about staying home and baking cookies were typical of the condescending attitude many women had at that time toward their stay-at-home sisters. The message underlying all of that empowerment was that you were a traitor to your sex and their sacrifices if you chose to be a homemaker.  At least that’s the message I heard.  It never occurred to me that raising children could be a serious career option for a serious, modern woman.  I regret that.

They said we could now have it all, but at what cost?

Our new expectations were perfectly summed up by a perfume commercial that aired while I was in college.  A seductress in a business-suit strutted across the screen brandishing a frying pan, and as she vamped she warbled:

“I can bring home the bacon,
Fry it up in a pan,
And never, ever let you forget you’re a man,
‘Cuz I’m a woman!”

It was always a woman’s job to fry up the bacon.  That part wasn’t new. And heaven forbid we let him forget he’s a man; that was a given.  But that wasn’t enough anymore.  Oh, no.   Thanks to the women’s movement, now we also had to go out and earn the money to buy the goddamn bacon before we cooked it.

This is a great advancement for women how, exactly?

I’m not blaming men for piling the load of new expectations upon us.  We wanted to be able to do meaningful work, and rightly so.  But we didn’t give anything up in our zeal to be Superwomen.  The flip side of our great expectations was the lowering of expectations for men.  The society-destroying concept that it was OK for a man to be merely the sperm donor and (I hate this term) baby daddy was still relatively foreign to us 35 years ago, but it gained traction with lighting speed.

I see young moms juggling jobs, home and kids (each of whom have their own Outlook calendar full of activities) and I wonder how they do it all.  I wonder how I did it all. Why did I HAVE to do it all?

Life is much easier to manage now that my kids are grown, which is great because my energy level has sagged along with my body parts. But after 35 years I still ain’t doing so hot at living up to any of the great expectations that Enjoli woman seemed to have mastered.  I’m not a gourmet chef, a captain of industry or a seductive sexpot.  Never have been.  The best I could ever manage in those subjects was a C+, and that’s only if we’re being graded on a curve.  I feel like a failure, and I’m sick and tired of feeling that way.

Here’s hoping that things are better for the next generation.

I hope my daughters and their someday-partners will feel they have a real choice whether to parent or work or any combination thereof.

I hope they will truly share the joys and burdens of those choices.

I hope they will feel whole and worthy regardless of what they choose.

And I pray that, unlike many women of my generation, they cut themselves a hell of a lot of slack because they did their best.

 

 

 

Posted in General Ramblings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 61 Comments

Madison Avenue’s Artisanal Scam

Pay no attention to anything going on behind the curtain.

Pay no attention to what’s going on behind the curtain.

An old man works at an ancient, wooden table in a murky room illuminated by sunlight from a single window.  He meticulously crafts a perfect wheel of creamy, yellow cheese… just for you.

A little girl presses her face against the window of a shop so Alpine cliché it’s straight from the Heidi’s Bavarian Goat Herder ride at Disney World.  A gorgeous male model in a white chef’s hat is hand-rolling caramels on a buttered marble slab inside the shop.

A brawny cook lifts a steaming pan of golden, roasted turkey from a wood-fired stove.  The cutaway shot of a weathered, red barn implies your lunch-meat was frolicking in clover right up to the moment it was, well…you know.

We’ve all seen these commercials.  At the end they reveal the company behind the product is Kraft, Werther’s, Hillshire Farm or a similar corporate giant.  The food advertised was actually cooked in 50,000 gallon, stainless steel pressure cookers in a New Jersey factory.  The “craftsmen” are UFCW union guys in white lab coats with hairnets on their beards.

Welcome to advertising’s latest scam; the “Art(isanal)ful Dodger”.

According to Merriam-Webster, “artisanal” comes from the word:

artisan

  1. a worker who practices a trade or handicraft :  craftsperson
  2. one that produces something (as cheese or wine) in limited quantities often using traditional methods

Are these multi-national conglomerates claiming to craft food in limited quantities using traditional methods?  Yeah, right.

The artisanal scam is especially popular with supermarket chain bakery departments.

Marketing gurus in the home office print signs on black paper using the “hand-written-in-chalk” font, and a corporate memo dictates the exact number of rustic bread loaves that should be heaped in wicker baskets in front of the glass cases.  We’re supposed to think we’ve wandered into a Parisian patisserie, and be inspired to spend more of our bread to buy their bread.  The reality is that their baked goods started life in a factory and were shipped frozen to the local store.  At best they were briefly popped into an oven onsite so the smell of freshly-baked bread would waft enticingly through the place.

Companies slap this adjective on products with no regard for the truth because they know we like the idea of buying hand-made goods at the farmer’s market.  In theory.  When spending our hard-earned money, however, we go for cheap and convenient at the Wal-Mart Superstore.

I’m not dissing mass production.  It’s probably the single most important reason the quality of life has improved so drastically for most of the Western world in the last 200 years.  This is especially true in regards to food safety.  The places in those faux-artisan commercials (which are supposed to represent the “good old days”) are so dimly lit an entire chorus of rodents could be doing a kick-line in the batter with no one the wiser.

Although mass production is great for many things, hand-crafted goods are usually better made and more unique.  That means a higher price tag, but it’s probably worth the splurge.

If you want truly hand-crafted products, check out your local farmer’s markets, fairs, and little shops right around the corner.  The Wal-Mart Superstore?  Not so much.

*Helpful English Tip:  Many of y’all are mispronouncing “artisanal.”   Everyone says “ar-TEASE-a-null” with the accent on the second syllable.  Wrong. It’s “ART-is-in-ull,” accent on the first syllable.  This mispronunciation has become so common that people probably think I am an ignorant doofus when I say it properly.

Go to the Merriam-Webster website, listen to the pronunciation, say it right, and stop making me look bad.

Posted in General Ramblings | Tagged , , , , , | 42 Comments

Researching Homo Sapiens Vacationus At The Watering Hole

I will soon be heading out for a weekend of intense research at the watering hole that inspired this Freshly Pressed post several years ago.  Hope all y’all are having a great summer!

                      ***Important Safety Tip***

Use utmost caution when interacting with Homo Sapiens Vacationus.  They might look cute and cuddly, but can turn wild in an instant!

As any zoologist will tell you, the best place to observe animals in the wild is around a watering hole.  When the species in question is Homo Sapiens Vacationus that means the hotel pool.

When we were on vacation last week, temperatures ranged from a low of 95 degrees to a high equivalent to the surface of the sun.  This gave me ample incentive to do first-hand research at the human watering hole.  Here are my field notes on the various sub-species I observed:

Kiddus Raised By Wolvus:  Three siblings, approximate ages 9, 10 and 11, descended on the pool most every day.  There were no parental sightings.  One theory held that Mom & Dad’s idea of a fun vacation did not involve 3 preteens. They stayed in the room and kicked the kids out.  Another theory was that they weren’t even staying at the hotel; that their summer-weary Mom dropped the kids off each day on her way to elsewhere.

A lifetime of fending for themselves had left these children aggressively outgoing.  They had no problem approaching any and all to borrow play equipment or just to chat.  The youngest horned his way into our grownup beach ball/volleyball game. We graciously let him play but immediately regretted it.  Each time we hit the ball to him he tried to kill it, knocking it over everyone’s heads and out of the pool.  Requests that he lighten up fell on deaf ears.  After his fifth time getting out of the pool to retrieve the ball he said he was getting kind of tired and could one of us go get it the next time?  Game over.

Bakus Shakus: A gaggle of bikini-clad teenage girls lay on loungers working on their tans.  Every 1/2 hour or so they would rise, tie up their bikini tops and take a dip in the pool to cool off.  Scant minutes later they emerged, shook off the water and went back to sunning.  This ritual was eagerly observed by two other species.  They were:

Dos Equus: Two teenage boys horsed around in the deep end.  They seemed to be doing their best to drown one another, but were merely trying to impress the girls.

Trench Coatius Creepius:  A 60-year-old man stood at the side of the pool in about 5 feet of water, not moving, with his arms spread out along the side.  Dark shades hid his eyes.  I could feel his gaze on me when I took off my cover-up.  There’s nothing wrong with looking, but the intensity of his stare when my 20-something daughters shrugged out of their clothes activated my Creepazoid Radar.  I bet this guy can be found hanging around the local high school in a trench coat in the off-season.

Eros Youngus: A 16-year-old couple played games in the shallow end.  She climbed up on his shoulders and he carried her around, threatening to drop her in the water.  There was a lot of squealing and clutching involved.  I’m sure I wasn’t the only adult who looked at these sweet young lovers and had only one thought on her mind: should I step in before Romeo tosses Juliet right on top of one of the little kids?

Pleatherus Pleasurus: Two women “of a certain age” sat smoking and drinking in the corner.  Their skin was sun-baked to the color and consistency of rawhide.  They never approached the pool, but enjoyed their cocktails with increasingly loud, hoarse laughter as the afternoon (and their newest layer of pleather) baked on.

Infantus Goldenus: This pampered toddler and his doting parents carried more paraphernalia for their 1/2-hour sojourn in the pool than Stanley brought on safari, I presume.  The Boy Who Would Be King was coated with sunscreen, wearing a hat and encased in a vinyl, spherical palace complete with flotation chambers, sun umbrella, and built-in tray. Captain Nemo’s ship wasn’t so water tight.  Both parents hovered vigilantly to shield him lest any actual sun or water attempt to make contact.

If you’re contemplating doing some field research of your own this summer, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Those who trusted hotel room signs announcing there would be towels at the pool learned a bitter lesson.  There aren’t.  Always carry in your own supplies.
  • Goggles. These are a must-have if going underwriter. The watering hole is usually chlorinated to the point of burning your retinas.  If it isn’t, you shouldn’t be in there at all.  The risk of contracting Dengue Fever from the contaminated water is just too great.
  • Don’t forget the essentials: sunscreen and adult beverages.
  • Making eye contact with the wildlife may be seen as a sign of aggression.

As long as you’re prepared, there’s no reason you shouldn’t enjoy your encounter with Homo Sapiens Vacationus this summer.   But remember this: never let them sense fear.

Posted in General Ramblings, Vacation Stories | Tagged , , , , , | 21 Comments

Using Hand-Crocheted Doilies to Cover Wine Stains and Other Clever Hints

Any discriminating cardinal would feel right at home with a nice Cabernet.

Any discriminating cardinal would feel right at home with a nice Cabernet.

I’m on the marketing lists of several women’s magazines, and they periodically send emails with teasers from their latest issues.  This headline from Cooking Light magazine recently caught my attention:

What To Do With Leftover Wine

Huh?  What is this “leftover wine” of which they speak?   It’s like they aren’t even talking English.

Why don’t magazines publish articles we can really use?  Topics like:

  • Driving Miss Daisy…and her open bottle of Pinot Noir.  A handy reference guide to open-carry laws by state.
  • Dear Ann Landers: A party guest brought a bottle of truly heinous wine as a hostess gift. Should I toss it or save it for a rainy day when I’ve run out of anything decent?
  • Personality Quiz: Is the bottle of Merlot half full or half empty? Take this quiz and find out if you’re a pessimist or an optimist.
  • Crafter’s Corner: How to hand-crochet lace doilies to cover wine stains on upholstery.
  • Ask Miss Manners: If you bring a bottle of wine to a party and the ungrateful hostess doesn’t open it, can you take it back?
  • Never let him forget he’s your man:  Let your big, strong, stud-muffin open the wine bottle, especially if you’ve got one of those cheapo corkscrews that make it damn near impossible.
  • 4th of July decorating tips: Kick it up a notch this Independence Day.  Guests will marvel at your holiday tablescape when you add Gik, the first blue wine developed in Spain, to your usual roster of reds and whites.
  • Save the Planet:  Do you love animals?  Into recycling?  Overrun with empties from your favorite Box ‘O Wine? Check out our step-by-step instructions for turning cardboard wine boxes into charming birdhouses for our feathered-friends.  The rules say it’s white wine with fowl, but think outside the box and go for red!

In case you’re wondering, this was the magazine’s tip for using up leftover wine:

“Have a bottle of wine that you just can’t finish up, and don’t want to waste the little bit left over? Pour the wine into ice-cube trays, and freeze. Pull out a few cubes for a pan sauce that needs oomph, or toss some into a wine spritzer or pitcher of sangria.”

I’m planning to try this clever idea as soon as possible.  Does anyone know where I can get some leftover wine?

Posted in General Ramblings | Tagged , , , , , , , | 52 Comments

My Dad Has No Rhythm, Yet Is Still The Master Of The Dance

This post was my Father’s Day gift to my Dad several years ago.  It had the honor of being Freshly Pressed and remains one of my (and my readers) favorites.

My Dad is the one in the snappy, plaid jacket. I’m the blonde butterball in the back.

My Dad sired 9 children. He then topped that accomplishment by staying around, with our Mom, to raise every one of us. For that reason alone, he deserves to be Father of The Year.

Not convinced? Here are a few things you should know about him.

My Dad…

can clear a room quicker than you can say National Geographic. Not because of poor hygiene or a less-than-winning personality, but because of his TV viewing habits.

All us kids would be piled into our tiny sunroom watching The Monkees or Get Smart on TV. Dad would come in, squat next to the set and start flipping the dial. (This was in the dark days before remotes.) He would come upon a fascinating National Geographic special on plate tectonics and there he would stay. We all groaned, rolled our eyes, exclaimed “Da-a-ad!” and left the room. If we were old enough to do so, we flounced out.

As he squatted next to the set, chewing his nails and staring raptly at the educational program du jour, we would hear his voice faintly, fading as we scattered through our big, old house “Hey, don’t you want to watch this? This is really interesting!”

should have joined the Navy. He bought his first boat when we were young kids. This started a life-long love affair second only to the one he shares with my Mom. I loved the family trips, especially to Mackinac Island each summer.

Each new boat was bigger than the last, and all the early ones were wood. When I think of how much of my life was spent in the boat shed, stripping varnish off metal trim and sticking Coopernal-ed toothpicks into screw holes, all I can say is… Dad, I forgive you.

is one of the smartest people I know. Too smart. He was always ready to help with math homework, but his explanation would sail right over your head. After just a few minutes, your eyes would glaze over. We’d say, “Thanks, Dad, I get it now.” and he would walk away, mission accomplished. He never suspected we would call a friend for help as soon as he left the room.

He taught celestial navigation for The Power Squadron for years, a skill I greatly admire even though the topic makes me glaze over worse than math.

has no rhythm that I’ve noticed, but is the Master of the Dance. He is best known for The Mosquito Ballet.

On sultry summer nights when we were very little, the windows and the balcony door in our bedroom would be opened to catch any stray breezes. Somehow the mosquitoes always got in to plague us. Dad to the rescue. Wearing a sappy expression and brandishing a fly swatter, he would leap and pirouette about the room, chasing the pesky bugs. We stood in our cribs and beds, flushed and sweating in diapers and t-shirts, shrieking with laughter, the sound floating out into the hot, still nights.

is a Yankee Doodle Dandy. Not because of his patriotism, though he is a proud and loyal American, but because of his zeal for the 4th of July.

My Dad loves fireworks with the pure joy of a child.

As my brothers got older they bought fireworks, most from the lawless land of Indiana, to set off in the driveway. Dad half-heartedly endorsed Mom’s edict to stop because those things “were just too dangerous”, but you could tell only the strictest discipline kept him from elbowing the boys aside to light the fuses himself.

To this day, almost every 4th of July, Dad and some of the family take the boat down the river to watch the fireworks over the water. That’s the only way to see them.

tells a shaggy dog story with the best of them. There’s a real art to telling the long, involved joke known as the shaggy dog. Dad has great delivery, no doubt. The problem is remembering the whole story. Early on, he developed a system. He wrote down his best material and kept the notes tucked in the front pocket of his shirt.

Our parents used to host cocktail and dinner parties pretty often when we were kids. Dad would duck into a corner, surreptitiously refer to his notes, and then sally forth to slay the crowd with his latest gems.

All his shirts still have pockets, and they still bulge with papers. I know for a fact most of those papers are jokes, now sent by friends via that new, joke-passing technology, email.

is a devout man. He spent years in the seminary before deciding the priesthood was not for him. But his faith and devotion to God have been constants in his life; something he and Mom passed on to their children.

When we were kids, we said family prayers almost every night, kneeling in the living room. As I entered my teens, I must admit that I didn’t have quite the appreciation for this ritual that I have now, in retrospect.

Sometimes, in the middle of our devotions, one of my brothers would let one fly: pass gas, fart, release the Silent-But-Deadly hounds of hell. Of course we all started giggling, then looked guiltily to our parents. They tried to maintain the mood, but more often than not, Dad would lose it.  He’d start laughing.  It was that highly contagious laughter that you couldn’t resist. We all joined in, laughing until we were leaning on the couch, crying. When it was obvious this train was not going to get back on the holy track, he’d waive us weakly out of the room.

Prayers called on account of laughter. I think God understood.

At 88, Dad’s ballet jumps aren’t what they once were.   His health isn’t good, but his mind is sharp and he can still deliver a shaggy dog story with the best of them.  He and Mom are still together in their own home, and he still loves and supports God, his family and his country.   For these reasons and more, I’m sure you’ll agree that the Father of the Year Award should go to – my Dad.

What’s that you say? My Dad sounds great, but you’d like to nominate someone else – maybe your dad? Fair enough.

If you’re blessed to still be able to do so, join me in telling each of our nominees for Father of the Year:

Thanks Dad.

I love you.

Posted in General Ramblings | Tagged , , , , , | 31 Comments

A Paranoid’s Guide To Summertime Fun

Getting my summer on.

Getting my summer on. Portrait by Alfred George Stevens.

Ah, summer.  Warm breezes and budding flowers call us outside after a long, cold winter.  I answered that call just the other day.    I strode briskly along and inhaled deeply, filling my lungs with life-giving fresh air…and about 273 gnats.

Summer isn’t all fun and games.  Here are some valuable tips for surviving the coming months.

Sun:  Sol, Ra; the ancients had many names for the energy source of life.  Except when you have skin like mine, it’s also the source of sunburns so bad you can’t wear a bra for a week.  This is sure to lead to skin cancer and death.  But if you get too little sun you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and develop a severe Vitamin D deficiency like I did.  Both of these can cause depression, which will probably lead to suicide and death.

It might be better to avoid the sun, invest in a good sun lamp and drink more milk.

Nature:  There’s a wonderful state park practically in my backyard and now is the perfect time to go there and commune with nature in Zen-like harmony.  As long as you can find Zen-like harmony when surrounded by thousands of out-of-control school children on field trips.  Or legions of clueless big-city visitors falling into canyons and generally causing a hullabaloo.

Perhaps you should wait to experience nature in February when nobody else is around.  Better yet, watch a National Geographic special from the safety and comfort of your own living room.   Once you’ve seen a tree or two, you’ve got the general idea.

Bugs:  Bugs play a vital role in our ecosystem.  Nonetheless, anyone with half a brain avoids them in any shape or form at all times.

Stay indoors and keep a can of Raid handy.  If you’re the adventurous type and insist on going outside, I suggest wearing a head-to-toe beekeeper’s outfit.

Water: It’s hot outside – what could be better than a refreshing swim?   Great idea…if you’ve got a death wish.  Chlorination levels at a public pool can cause permanent injury.   And if the chlorine level isn’t high enough to damage your retinas, GET OUT NOW!  Every one of the 100 screaming kids playing Marco Polo in that pool is also peeing in it.

Maybe you prefer your swimming au naturel.  How do you feel about contracting Dengue fever, being dragged under by a shark, or getting sand in sensitive body orifices?

What’s wrong with a nice soak in your own, sanitary bathtub?

Barbecuing:  There’s nothing like the taste of a hamburger hot off the grill.  Except now experts say that the fat dropping onto the coals gets turned into cancer-causing agents, which then splatter back and are reabsorbed by your dinner.  That’s assuming you get that far in the barbecue process.  First you have to navigate to the deck without severing a major artery by tripping and falling through the patio doors.  Then you have to deal with the very real possibility that when you squirt lighter fluid on the fire, the flame travels back up the stream to the bottle in your hand, causing an explosion that takes off your arm.

Perhaps a trip to McDonald’s would be better.

Armed with my valuable advice, I‘m sure this summer will be safe and happy for everyone.  Feel free to call me if you have any questions.  I’ll be sitting in my bathtub with a Happy Meal and a glass of milk, watching Wild Kingdom on TV.

 

Posted in General Ramblings | Tagged , , , , , | 30 Comments