arteejee

A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Saturday, October 18, 2014

This Silly Week



Attention all for a quick poll question: What is the greatest threat to American democracy and way of life today?

ISIS

the Ebola virus

an electric fan?

The answer should become evident by the time we reach the bottom of this post, but I can’t help noticing that events from this past week got, oh, how would the French term it…oh, yes, silly. Things have been silly for a while, but last week got very silly indeed!

Let’s start with the two really serious events which should be given serious consideration: ISIS and the Ebola virus.

ISIS, the latest terrorist group to push the envelope beyond Al-Qaeda’s wildest dreams, has become more terrifying than the German Nazis (1933-1945) as the most villainous group of people in recorded history. I don’t want to praise them, nay far from it: we have no choice but to acknowledge that their reign of terror established a new yardstick to measure mankind’s inhumanity to their fellow man. ISIS is poised to outdo the Master Race who raised genocide to a science.

We started efforts to contain ISIS, but the media lately have chosen to focus away from the ISIS cancer to an issue which has been recognized as a more immediate threat to US citizens: the Ebola virus. At this time, there are a total of three people in the entire country who have been officially diagnosed with Ebola. They and a few others brought home from West Africa are being treated here. It’s terrible that these individuals have Ebola, but the numbers are not that staggering considering we live in a country of 310 million people.   Now I was never that good at math, but with my calculations I believe that leaves 309,999,997 people unafflicted with Ebola. These numbers do not support the rush to fear being distributed by media outlets.

Ebola is an epidemic in Africa where it has killed over 4,500 people. Panic over Ebola is the epidemic gripping the United States now. The media frenzy is working overtime to cover more aspects of this story than is actually humanly possible. Don’t get me wrong, the virus is newsworthy. Still, the coverage which reached wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling proportions of the virus this week makes one long for the media overdose we suffered during the O.J. Simpson trial.

It may not be too long until angry mobs are running through the streets of America BYOTAP (Bring Your Own Torches and Pitchforks). Ah, but what will the angry mobs be running out of their towns? Who the hell knows. There’s only three people in the entire effin’ country who have the virus! They can’t appear everywhere at once just so people can exact their frustration over the virus on them. 

Many people in this country are advocating banning flights from Africa to stem the tide of the Ebola epidemic. If only it were that easy! One fellow blogger is strongly behind this idea, which is amusing since the town where he lives is almost totally dependent on tourism for its economic base.

It would be nice if we could somehow convince members of ISIS to travel to West Africa where they could contract the disease and we could allow nature to take its course. Well, at least one of our problems would be solved.

Which leaves the lowly, contemptible device known as the electric fan to be the greatest threat to American democracy today! Thanks to the media taking a break from its coverage of ISIS and Ebola, we now know that this device held up a political debate in Florida earlier this week. By the way, this is where the week got very silly.

It seems that former governor (also former Republican and Independent, but current Democratic candidate for governor) Charlie Crist met current Republican governor Rick Scott in a debate. The Scott campaign showed up and realized that Crist had an electrical fan beneath his podium. They cited this as a violation of the “no electrical devices” clause in the debate agreement. Scott refused to take the stage for seven minutes, during which time he presumably stamped his feet and held his breath until he turned blue.

Crist defended his need for the fan for his own comfort. Pundits have speculated that the Scott camp did not want Crist to be comfortable so they can get footage of him sweating under the stage lights as proof that he was not being truthful with his answers. They would then be able to use this footage in campaign commercials for whatever time is left before Election Day.

The electrical device ban was obviously meant to curtail use of communication devices between the candidate and campaign advisers in a remote location. But a fan? Seriously? Why would Crist need a fan under his podium?

Well, I’ll go out on a limb and surmise that, since Florida is geographically the state closest to the equator (where the average temperature is officially termed really, really hot), that overall Florida’s average temperature is very warm. Oh hell, let’s come right out and say it: it’s effin’ hot! It’s effin’ hot under the stage lights in Florida!

Atlanta, which is in Georgia and geographically further away from the equator than Florida, bills itself as Hotlanta. Now if they think it’s that hot in Georgia, than obviously it’s not as cool as Rick Scott believes it is in his home state. Besides, if Scott is that cold, then why has never showed up in public without a full head of hair to keep his scalp warm? Hmmmmmm????

It’s true: the media abandoned stories about a terror group and a terrible disease for a story about an appliance.

Very silly, indeed!

(Thank you for reading! A fan! It blows, it sucks! It’s a fan!)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Suspicions about Oreo



I have been in denial for awhile, but I can no longer put off the obvious conclusion: we have a bigot residing within Chez Gunther. It is Oreo. I’ve concluded that she does not like cats.

The joke's on her, since she herself is a bi-color domestic short hair. She has lived here for five months now and still has not adjusted to the point where she can be in the same room at the same time with her sisters Nyla and Gigi. If she is in the living room and happens to see one of the girls peer at her through the window from the sun porch, Oreo will hiss and flee back to her basement sanctuary. We used to have a cat-shaped wood block on display and she hissed at that too!

This is embarrassing for me to confess my suspicions, since I am a supporter of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Don’t get me wrong: Oreo is a very affectionate cat to her humans. Although given the atrocities mankind has inflicted on each other since we either climbed out of the primordial soup or was cleaved from somebody’s rib (pick your faith), then I must admit that Oreo’s devotion is misplaced. In the long run, she is probably better off loving her fellow felines.

Her hostility is now part of our daily routine. I will bring her breakfast – fish or beef, no chicken - and instead of jumping into her food bowl, she will make a quick saunter over to the basement couch, where we will sit together. She will rub against me, sometimes stand on her hind legs to lick my cheek (the one on the face), and cuddle up against me so I can stroke her fur repeatedly while telling her that she is a pretty girl. For the record, she is black on her back, white belly and mittens, while her facial markings are a half-and-half mixture of both colors.

Our petting session will last until she instructs me that she has had enough. Oreo signals we’re done with (what I believe the French call) a brief psychotic episode. She will reach up with claws out; lash out at my right arm so that she is able to pull my entire limb out of its socket. At this point, I softly tell her (so softly that Warrior Queen can hear me through the closed basement door), “Okay we’ll stop. Go get your breakfast,” while I ignore the blood gushing from the wound.

I don’t want to over dramatize this, but my right arm is my most useful appendage. I write with it, eat with it, dress myself with it, and communicate with Warrior Queen what I think of her with it. In short, I don’t think I could survive without it.

I am not exaggerating! My arm will be totally separated from my trunk and I will slowly hobble up the steps to show Warrior Queen my latest wound. This has happened several times, but WQ has not believed that this has ever happened because, through some miracle or perhaps spontaneous regeneration (pick your faith), my arm is fully restored by the time I reach the living room to show WQ my wound. 
 
At this point, I say, “Look at what that psychotic bitch did to me today!” Then I’ll see that my arm is not showing any trace of trauma, and I’ll sheepishly use the old Python line, “But I got better!”

Don’t you hate when that happens?

I don’t know if Oreo’s psychoses are Freudian, Jungian, or even Felinian, but she does have issues. We haven’t thought about introducing her to a therapist (yet), but I have a theory about treating her. I don‘t think Oreo realizes that she herself is a member of the species which she most despises. In the spirit of - and I’m paraphrasing Frederick Douglass here - that each of our cats has different markings but they’re all the same underneath, I believe we should make Oreo more self aware of her being.

I’ve thought about placing a mirror in the basement so she can meet the “other” cat in the house and see if she responds with a rub or a hiss. If she gets used to being around this other cat, then she may grow to like it, love it, and in turn love herself and love other cats. Or am I over thinking this?

Of course this experiment might lead to a second heretofore unimaginable possibility. If she looks in the mirror and does not see her reflection…then we’ve got another problem.

Of course this second possibility might explain the black cape she likes to wear…

(Thank you for reading! Oreo, can Daddy have his arm back now?)

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Top Nine Reasons I Haven’t Written Lately*



9.  I can’t get comfortable long enough in my computer chair to craft witticisms for my blog.

8.  My cat (not the affable brown tabby, and not the skittish grey one, but the psychotic black and white one. Yeah, her!) is fond of laying on the computer table where the keyboard should be and I don’t have the heart/nerve to upset her fragile kitty psyche and risk personal injury to remove her from said table so I can craft witticisms for my blog.

7.  My best idea today is to pick out a glaring plot misstep from an episode of Batman (circa 1967) in which Chief O’Hara tries to stop a solid gold tank driven by the Penguin by blocking the street with his squad car. The Penguin escapes and leaves a flatter than a pancake Gotham City police car in his wake. Poor Chief O’Hara! But, WHAT’S THIS? The Dynamic Duo lift the flattened vehicle and Chief O’Hara emerges unscathed from a neatly dug square hole in the middle of the street, a neatly dug square hole that DIDN’T EXIST TEN SECONDS AGO!!! “Holy lucky holes, Batman!” “No time for dialogue to explain that plot hole now, Robin! We must follow that fiendish foul fowl fugitive from justice.” And see, that idea was only good for a paragraph!

6.  My muse is distraught that her pet squirrel, Perry, drowned in my pool. 

5.  Scratch that last one. My muse does not have a pet squirrel, but Perry should have learned to swim before he tried out his water skis.

4.  I can’t focus on any one subject long enough to write, let alone…ooh, look at that blue jay at the feeder.

3.  Okay. I’m fresh out of dead squirrel jokes.

2.  Oh, I have an idea! I…I…oh crap! It’s gone! And there’s that blue jay again!

1.  Sarah Palin has not said or done anything stupid in weeks! I wonder if she’s feeling okay?

*Not that I can’t think of one more to make an even ten, but David Letterman owns “Top Ten” and he has really good lawyers!

(Thank you for reading. Seriously, Sarah, call us!)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Oh! My Back!



I try not to complain about any ongoing health problems I may have, unless I can make a compelling narrative out of it. After all, I do have a variety of ailments with which I can bore my readers silly. They include my heart disease, obesity, short stature (really, this should be considered a terminal illness [badum ching!]), my feet, my ankles, my back…bingo!

I’ve known since childhood that I had flat fleet, although I have always thought of myself as normal. (Ooh! Add delusional to my list of ailments above.) I can only imagine what my fellow members of humanity must think of me as they’ve witnessed my daily, fool hardy attempts at ambulation. They must marvel:

First Human: “Look at him! Good lord! He’s got flat fleet, one leg shorter than the other, and his hips are all screwed up!”

Second Human: “And he’s probably delusional, too! Poor devil!”

I know, I know, I was talking about my back, but my feet have a lot to do with this topic. Believe me, if the feet are off kilter, then everything else up the line through the ankle, knee, femur, hip, and back are thrown off too. And thrown off in a very painful way…

My pedal condition meant that I could not purchase shoes off the rack. My parents would take me to a shoe store at the other end of town (i.e., Philadelphia), where they could buy shoes which gave me the proper support my feet needed. The insides of the shoes were built up to ensure maximum support and extreme discomfort. I would complain to my parents that they hurt, but they always responded, “Oh, you’ll be all right, once you break them in.” BTW, this NEVER HAPPENED! The shoes guaranteed maximum support, extreme discomfort, and would resist being broken in for the life of the shoe.

The importance of having proper foot support was not high on my list of concerns 20 years ago. Now, however, as I get older and my hips continue to get more and more misaligned from the rest of my body, I find that the resulting sciatic condition is too unbearable to place low on a list of priorities.

In recent years, my body would send subtle signs that it was time for me to adjust something to alleviate the pain. And by subtle, I mean sudden shooting pains from the hip down to the knee. Popular over-the-counter salves and balms would not work. After a while, I figured out that my body was telling me that it was time to purchase a new pair of shoes, which is what I did a few months ago.

I purchase shoes (EEE wide, removable insoles for placement of a custom orthotic) from Hitchcock Shoes online. I usually buy one pair which lasts me a year, at which point the heel of my left shoe is worn down most unevenly in comparison to the heel on the right shoe. In past years, just replacing the shoes is enough for the sciatica to go away. This didn’t happen this year, which led me to consider replacing my custom orthotic.

For the last 10 years, I have had orthotics made at the nearest Foot Solutions. The last pair was guaranteed to last five years, which I found out was last year when I went to be fitted for a new orthotic this year. The fitting is a unique process - it comprises my standing on a set of round headed pins that conform to the shape (or, in my case, mis-shape) of my feet. This impression is printed on a 3-D computer image and sent somewhere to have some sort of sole carved out of plastic and lined with cloth. 

These orthotics cost four times as much as the shoes, and I suppose they could be covered by my health plan. No, correct that: I suppose they could be applied to the sky high deductible on my health plan, but then I would have to go to my doctor (in-network fee negotiated office charge also applied to deductible) who would refer me to another doctor (who would also have an in-network fee negotiated blah, blah, blah) who might write a script or letter of medical necessity for the insoles which then could be…oh, eff it!

Up to this point, I’ve had to rely on stretching exercises, which are supposed to be performed every day of my life for maximum effect. This does not always happen when it is scheduled to happen before I get out of bed every morning, owing to leg cramps. There’s nothing like a good charley horse in the calf that can make a sciatic condition seem trivial.

I learned these exercises during physical therapy sessions for a previous episode of sciatica several years ago. Oh yes, I suppose I could go to physical therapy again, but I have huge health care debts now due to the laughable excuse of a health plan I have.

Besides, who needs physical therapy when I have my TENS unit. This Transcuteneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator device was also purchased during those previous physical therapy sessions, and paid for by a real health plan which I had at that time. For those not familiar with a TENS unit, this is a machine about the size and shape of those pocket calculators we all carried when we went to high school in the 70s. Ah, the 70s! When we were young, strong and sciatica was nothing more than a famous curse uttered by W.C. Fields. (“Suffering sciatica!”)

Anyway, these units, powered by AA batteries, send small pulses of electricity to the nerves in my back, which generally makes the pain more tolerable and me more tolerable to live with. The unit is adjusted by degrees from 1.0 to I have no idea, although I did crank that puppy up to 47.0 one day recently. 

Some people may swear by the healing powers of marijuana, but sometimes my TENS unit can be just as good as any joint I may have smoked in college.  (Janey, I swear this on a stack of dime bags!)

So now I have everything in place for my sciatic condition to improve. New orthotics and new shoes to support my feet, a TENS unit to alleviate the acute shooting pains, and various over the counter pain medications for further soothing.  So now when humanity sees me approaching they can say to each other:

First Human: “My God! Look at him! He’s got flat feet, one leg shorter than the other, and screwed up hips!”

Second Human: “Yes, I see, and I’ll bet his health insurance sucks too! Poor devil!”

(Thank you for reading. Ah, TENS unit! My precious...”)