Friday, September 17, 2004

Friday Fun

A diversion.
You have to enter your age just because the website is sponsored by Christian Morlein beer. The game itself is clean, despite it's name.
This is a very popular game in Cincinnati and is spreading across the country. Couldn't they have comeup with a better name?

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Plumber Man

Plumber man
working on my pipes
Don't bend over!
OH! Jesus Cripes!
Plumber tools
pulling down your pants
Forcing me to
avert my glance
Plumber man

I saw Lon-don and
I saw France
I saw some-one's
White un-der-pants
Plumber man
When will you
Shave your crack?
I saw beams of the
full moon rising
How wrong, how wrong!

Plumber man
working on my pipes
Don't bend over!
OH! Jesus Cripes!
Plumber tools
pulling down your pants
Forcing me to
avert my glance
Plumber man

I can tell you've tossed
a few brews down
Your beer belly's getting
big and round
Tends to push your Levis
too far down
I saw beams of the
full moon rising
How wrong, how wrong!

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

What I Learned About Maine

I like it there. I kept thinking what a nice place it would be to live - on the coast, of course. I had to force myself to think about what it would be like full of tourists in July or full of ice and snow in October through March.

The people are really nice. Granted, half the people we encountered were hotel or restaurant employees looking for a tip. Still, they were nicer than many similar tip-seekers I've encountered elsewhere. And all the non-tip-seekers were friendly and helpful too.

Maine has a statewide prohibition of smoking in bars and restaurants.

They also have many local breweries. I sampled a different beer with almost every dinner and they were good.

I read an article in one of the Maine newspapers that was about Maine growing (ha. ha) obesity problem. Well, here's a clue: when getting directions from Bar Harbor to Kennebunk, it was, "take route 3 down here. you'll see a McDonald's and a Dunkin Doughnuts. That's where you turn on route 122, Then go 3 miles and you'll see Irving's gas and a Dunkin Donuts. You get on route 1 there. Then go to where the McDonald's and Dunkin Donuts are at route ----". I'm not making that up. Dunkin Donuts outnumbers McDonald's 3 to 2. they are everywhere. The mainers have had lobster and butter for eons. If obesity is a new problem, I think the doughnut's are doing them in.

When driving, people in Maine tend to go at or below the speed limit. There are many roads with one lane each way and you just get behind someone and go as slow as they decide. With two lanes each way, people will drive side-by-side, at or below the speed limit, without fear or shame. On the turnpike, with three lanes, the at-or-belows all get in the middle lane while everyone else goes around on the left or right. I think the at-or-belows are weighed down by doughnuts.

Thursday, April 8, 2004

The Wonderbob

There is a new coommercial for Victoria's Secret, featuring a model clad in VS's products while Bob Dylan's song "Love Sick" plays in the background. The creepy part is that Bob Dylan's face, looking like a homeless stalker, floats into the picture. I don't understand how that sells underwear. I guess that is Victoria's secret.

The commercial is controversial among Dylan fans because he apparently swore he would never use his art for selling products.

I had a talk with Bob about this and here's what he said:

Come gather ‘round people, wherever you roam
And sit by the TV inside of your home
See underwear models who’re just skin and bones
And I gave the authorization
To put in my face and one of my songs
For their lingerie they were changin’

Come writers and critics who say I’ve sold out
You make fun of me and you scream and you shout,
“Bob Dylan and bras? What’s that all about?”
You say my credibility’s fadin’
But you’d do the same, about that I’ve no doubt
For their lingerie they were changin’

Victoria’s Secret gave me a call
And I met all the models so slim and so tall
Young women there wearing those garments so small
Who knows what I signed, ask my agent
I never took my eyes off those women at all
For their lingerie they were changin’

Come mothers and fathers throughout the land
And don’t try to tell me you don’t understand
Your sons have the catalog in one of their hands
Their hormones are actively ragin’
These commercials get TIVO’d by every young man
And their underwear they are changin’

“The line has been drawn, in stone it is cast
I won’t sell out my music, so nobody ask”
That’s what I once said, but those days are past
You can see that I’m rapidly agin’
And my principles now aren’t so hard and so fast
For their lingerie they were changin’

Tuesday, April 6, 2004

Fun With Plagues

Passover started last night and we had a very nice Seder with our family and a friend of Allie's. We ate great food, sang songs, read the Passover story and had fun.

However, as always, I have trouble taking the story of the plagues seriously (besides, plagues should be fun.

First off, I imagine this conversation between Moses and Aaron:

MOSES: Pharaoh still refuses to free our people.
AARON: Even after I showed him the power of God?
MOSES: Oh, some "power" you showed him. You cast down your rod and it became a snake. Woo hoo! Who are you, David Copperfeldman? Why don't you also pull some doves from your robe? Even Pharaoh's magicians can turn their rods into snakes.
AARON: Well my snake ate their snakes! Why don't YOU try something? I'm doing all the work here! Go talk to your bush!

So then they go back and really do a frightening miracle, turning all the rivers to blood. And once again, Pharaoh's magicians do likewise.
PHARAOH: So, what just happened?
MAGICIANS: That Moses dude and his He-bro like turned the water to blood. And he's all like, "check it out, this is the power of the God of the Hebrews!"
PHARAOH: And your response was?
MAGICIANS: We're like, no biggie, and we copied the same trick. We're all like, "In your face, Hebrew dude!"
PHARAOH: So, let's recap. Moses and Aaron turn our water to blood, which is gross and nasty. So you all decide to copy him. Did it occur to you that turning the blood back into water would have been a better trick?
MAGICIAN 1: Aw, dude, that would have been awesome!
MAGICIAN 2: Our bad.

PHARAOH: So gentlemen, do you remember our discussion the other day about replicating plagues? Plagues are not good. We talked about this. Then our slaves cause the land to be covered with frogs. And what do you dimwits do?
MAGICIANS: Uh, we made frogs too?
PHARAOH: Now we have twice as many frogs, all dead, and the place stinks.
MAGICIANS: Yeah, but.....
PHARAOH: Just fix it.

When M & A then cause lice to attack all the men and beasts:
MOSES: How do you like me NOW, Pharaoh!
MAGICIAN 1: Hey, big man, lice are no trick.
MAGICIAN 2: Yeah, dude, anyone can do lice! Watch this!
PHARAOH: Gentlemen.........
MAGICIAN 1: Uh .... but we won't!
MAGICIAN: Yeah, we won't! And you can't make us!
MAGICIAN 1: Nyan, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah.
PHARAOH: Oh, that's very mature.

And at this point the magicians got out of show business. I suspect they were never seen again.

Wednesday, March 3, 2004

A Tale of Two Bureaucracies

Most IRS forms are available on-line. Some are not. Today I needed some of the latter. I work downtown, a few blocks from the Federal Building, so I walked over.

It was raining and Cincinnati was draped in black because Marge Schott died yesterday.

At the Federal Building, I had to go through a security setup exactly like at the airport. Everything got wet as I juggled my dripping umbrella and the contents of my pockets. My shoes and belt set off the metal detector, but they let me keep them on and just wanded me. (How long ago was it that "they wanded me" would be interpreted only as an encounter with witchcraft?)

The IRS office was just past the sign saying "employees must wash hands after apprehending terrorists." To get waited on there, they have a high-tech procedure where you get a number, but you don't pull it out of one of those deli-counter number dispensers. The number is spit out by a computer. When it was my turn, a disembodied, computer-generated voice, like the lady that tells the time over the phone, said "Number - 121 - is now being served at window - 4."
The number 121 appeared on a large digital readout screen mounted near the ceiling.

I looked at the windows. Over each one was taped a piece of paper with a hand-scrawled number. Apparently the high-tech budget ran out before they got to numbering the windows.

Or to the filing system. I needed two different form numbers, a W dash 2 small c and a 1099 dash capital DIV. I told this to the woman at window - 4 - , who turned and, with a painful limp, went away.

For the next few minutes I listened to the conversation at window - 3 .
A guy who had changed his name at some point, had IRS records under two names. He apparently had been there before and talked to window - 2. The women at 2 and 3 and the man went on about how his name had been Sanders, but he changed it to Tubbs because, he said, "my mama and daddy were never married." The women said, "um hmm."

The women explained to him that he can't just change his name on his own. Not pejoratively, just conversationally, they explained that now he had records under Sanders, under Tubbs and under Sanders-Tubbs. The three people, at great length and with much repetition of facts, discussed all aspects of his problem but one: how to fix it.

I kept hoping they'd get there, but before they did, window-4-lady came back with only the 1099 DIV. "They don't have no more W-2c forms back there." They who? Isn't she one of them? Anyway, I said I would just order it to be delivered by mail (that takes 10 days). So she said, "Well, I could go check in the back."

Now I felt like I was in an old General Store. We had regressed from the 21st century line control system to the 19th century stock room system. "Clem, we got any W-2c forms in the back?". "No, the stage ain't due until Thursdee." I didn't want to make her limp all the way into "the back", so I said, "That's okay ---", but off she went.

Meanwhile I wondered, "where had she gone before, if not 'in the back'? In the middle?"

At the same time I listened to window-3-man saying once again, "I used to live under the name of Sanders, but I changed it to Tubbs because my mama and daddy were never married, you see." And the women said, "um, hmmm". Then window-4-lady returned with my other form and I left.

Finished with the government (I thought) and back to my office, I had some more forms to fill out for a brokerage account I was setting up. The first form informed me that, under the Patriot Act, they needed certain information to help protect against terrorists setting up accounts and laundering money. (What's the best detergent for that?)

Speaking only of this aspect of the Patriot Act, I guess it's the same as the security scanner. It's a necessary protection these days. But, if my form sets off the metal detectors at the brokerage, will they come to my office and wand my assets?

Tuesday, February 3, 2004

Groundhog Day

So, in today's primaries, if Howard Dean sees his shadow, we have 6 more weeks of his campaign, right?

I know that Groundhog Day was February 2nd. But let's pretend it's today also. After all, one of my favorite movies is Groundhog Day. I could watch it over and over and over and.......

Apparantly this movie has deep significance and symbolism. And I just thought it was funny and heartwarming. (Plus it has Andie McDowell).

Today on the radio, a reporter was talking about Groundhog Day and kept calling it "Groundhogs Day". She called it Groundhogs Day over and over and...
I was wishing she could have gone back and started her day again and said it correctly.

Click here to go back to this page again.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

What Chinese New Year Means To Me

My college roommate was from China. His family escaped from there when he was a teenager. A group of us would often go to Chinatown in LA for dinner and we always had a party for Chinese New Year.

But I had a connection to China way before that:

When I was young, my mother always told me, “Eat your vegetables. There are starving children in China who would love to have that food.” To which I would respond, “Then send this crap to China.” Mom would get really mad and say, "Ooooh, just wait 'til your father gets home!" Since they were divorced, he lived elsewhere and she actually had no idea when he got home; so not much ever came of those threats.

Some of you may have heard the same “eat your vegetables” mantra from your mothers in the late 1950’s, except that they specified starving kids in Africa or Europe or India.

During the Eisenhower administration, mothers across the country received notices assigning them to be responsible for raising awareness of hunger in other, less fortunate countries. (No one was assigned to look out for hungry kids in the US).

My mother was assigned as the Los Angeles Liaison for Starving Chinese Juveniles.
This was not her only government task; she was also Regional Director in Charge of Keeping Your Hair Out of Your Face. She would always tell my sister, “You could be so pretty if you would only brush that hair back."

Mom had a few other odd guidelines for life. Besides warning me of the various ways I might put my eye out, she would tell me things like, “If you fall out of that tree and break both your legs, don’t come running to me.” She also warned me against going out of the house with dirty underwear, “in case you have an accident.” It always seemed to me that if I was riding my bike and got hit by a car, no matter how clean my underwear was just prior to that, it would not be so much right after.

And holey underwear was taboo as well. When the paramedics come to a multi-car pileup, they always say, “check everyone’s underwear. Anyone with holes in their underpants, pile them on the side of the road and call their mothers.”

But the weirdest things Mom said were “Why don’t you put on a sweater? I’m cold” and the deal about eating my vegetables for the Chinese kids. But my mom’s words took hold in me because, on a small scale I had the power comfort my mother by putting on my sweater, and, on the larger scale, I had the power to end hunger in China by eating my vegetables in Los Angeles.

And I knew my powers worked because I would put on the sweater my mom made me and she would smile warmly. So I went on wearing clean underwear to avoid accidents so that I could continue eating my vegetables in order to relieve the world’s largest continent of famine.

When I went to college and met my Chinese roommate, the first thing I said to him was, “Hey, do you recognize me.” See, I figured it must have been in all the newspapers over there. “I’m the guy that saved you from starving by eating my vegetables.”
He replied, “We were never starving.”
I immediately exclaimed, “Oh my God! It worked!”

I’ve never forgotten that humbling experience and how my mom helped me make the world a better place. What's more, all those other Chinese children I saved grew up and have created a strong economic power in the world. Yet none of them have contacted me to thank me for my contribution to their success.

In fact, The Chinese economy has grown too strong and they are taking jobs from Americans and I am now ashamed of the part I played in it. My daughter recently said she wants to be a vegetarian and I said, “Uh,uh! I’m through helping those people. Let em eat their own vegetables. We’re eating American: burgers tacos, pizza and spaghetti."

And that’s what Chinese New Year means to me.