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

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Prep Day Drinking Game


Hey kids! Remember those fun college days when you were gathered around the table with your friends on the weekends and you wanted to get drunk as fast as you could? Sure, we all do! At some point during those weekends, someone would suggest a drinking game to expedite everyone’s main goal of drinking to excess and losing every bit of food you ever consumed in your life during one trip to the toilet bowl. As you may recall, everyone playing the game would take a drink when a certain event happened, or someone said a certain word.

I am inviting anyone who has free time on Tuesday (July 28) to join me in a drinking game. I will supply a list of events which, if they happen, you can drink whatever refreshing libation you choose. I will be playing this game by default, as I will be having a prep day for a colonoscopy on Wednesday. I will be required to drink 12 ounces of clear liquid every hour,* which may take my percentage of water to body ratio from 98% to, oh, I don’t know, 200 or 300%!

So keep your eyes and ears open on Tuesday and drink up!!!!

1. Donald Trump says something mean about one of his fellow Republican candidates for President.

2. Another Republican announces their candidacy for President and immediately qualifies for abuse from The Donald.

3. A media pundit whines that Atticus Finch is a racist bastard!

4. The Donald files a lawsuit for damages when someone says a mean thing about him.  (This may be good for five or six rounds in one hour.)

5. Harper Lee confesses that when she approved the publication of To Set a Watchman, she thought she was Margaret Mitchell approving publication of the sequel to Gone with the Wind.

6. Mike Huckabee chokes on a chicken sandwich at you know where.

7. A second hand completes a full rotation on a clock face in sixty seconds.  (Actually this might be a game ender!)

8. Another woman steps forward to accuse Bill Cosby of rape. 

9. The Donald accidently sues himself!

*My surgeon has advised me gin, rum, whiskey and amaretto do not qualify as clear liquids! Bummer! 

(Thank you for coming back and reading! “Drink, drink, let the toast start/ May young hearts never part/drink, drink, drink/ Let every lover salute his sweetheart/Let’s drink!”)

Sunday, June 07, 2015

The Monday Morning Blessing



Where: Chez Gunther

When: any and every Monday morning

Warrior Queen arises; sunlight seeps through the curtains and crashes into her eyes.

WQ:  Damn!   It’s Monday!   I hate Mondays!*

A sphere of bright light appears in the room.  A fairy godmother-like creature (think Good Witch Glinda from The Wizard of Oz) steps out of the light which fades and disappears.

Monday Morning Fairy: Oh, Anne Marie, you mustn’t hate this day with such venom. It’s a new day with new opportunities to do good things for all of mankind!

WQ: Eff Mondays!

MMF: Oh dear! Do you kiss your husband with that potty mouth?

WQ: Mondays suck!

MMF: Now, now! We must allow the day to go forward and present itself with all its glorious promise.

WQ: Where’s my Grumpy Cat shirt?

MMF: Oh Anne Marie, maybe Monday should promise to chew you up and spit you out!

WQ: Everything about today sucks! Sucks, sucks, sucks.

MMF: You know, I could arrange for Judy Garland’s house to fall on you!

WQ: You suck!

MMF: No, you suck!

WQ: No, you suck!

MMF: No, you…

Ad nauseum.

*Warrior Queen’s dialogue is derived from actual quotes she has been known to utter at Chez Gunther on any given Monday.

(Thank you for reading. Next time: Warrior Queen and Monday Morning Fairy wrestle in a vat of jello!)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Trouble in the Old Neighborhood



My old neighborhood, Frankford, has been in the news every day for a week. A week ago today Amtrak Train #188 derailed as it rounded the curve at a place called Frankford Junction. It was the worst train accident for the railroad in years, but the casualty count didn’t come near the death toll of an earlier wreck in the same area.

The earlier calamity happened in September 1943. The Congressional Limited was packed with service men and women eager to get to their destinations - home on leave or back to their base after leave - for the Labor Day holiday, and the Limited was known for its speed. Demand for the train was high, prompting the Pennsylvania Railroad to add more cars for the day’s run. 
 
The carriages were heavily used transporting service personnel and civilians during wartime. This may have been a factor when an overheated journal box cased an axle to break on one of the cars as it neared the Junction. One car was upended and slammed into the overheard gantry. The next car was wrapped around one of the gantry’s supporting pillars. The death toll ultimately reached 79 with 117 injured.

My mother lived with her family on East Wingohocking Street at the time. Aunt Vera, then a young adult working in Center City, called home to warn her mother not to let any of the other siblings (six in all) near the crash site. Her younger sister Mary - arguably the most adventuresome of the entire family - didn’t listen. She put on her roller skates and skated to the junction.

Many years later, both sisters recounted their sides of the same story. Aunt Vera asked Aunt Mary what she saw. The younger sister said she saw bodies being piled up on fire trucks. Many of the bodies were decapitated.

Apologies to anyone reading this while they are eating their breakfast…

Since the latest crash, Amtrak has already repaired the track at the junction and put a safety device in place that it was planning to install by the end of the year. The media and pundits have dwelt on the idea that the accident would not have happened if the device - which detects and warns the engineer that the train is traveling too fast - had been installed sooner. Both Amtrak and the National Transportation Safety Board have been pointing fingers at each other during the last week over who was to blame for not installing the device before the crash.

Actually both agencies are at the mercy of Congress, speaking of train wrecks. Congress mandated (and presumably approved funding) that these devices should be installed by the end of 2015. Some of the other railroads have balked at the timetable, claiming that they do not have the money to meet the deadline. The business sympathetic Congress has floated a few resolutions to extend the deadline as much as five more years!

Coincidence was strained the day after the current derailment when Congress debated Amtrak funding for the year. It was expected that the Republican majority would slash funding for the railroad. They did not disappoint anyone. A resolution was put forth from the other side of the aisle to increase funding. This motion was defeated and - no surprise here - along party lines. It might have been more prudent to postpone the hearing, debates, and voting until after the accident scene was cleared and cooler heads could have prevailed.

A postponement would have spared the Democrats from accusations from the right wing media of using the accident to score political points in the name of infrastructure improvement. The other party (guess who) would not have been perceived as a group of miserly grinches who care more about saving a billion or two billion bucks than the cost of human lives. 

But we all know what happened. A postponement did not happen, cooler heads did not prevail and things got ugly as usual.

Whether or not the ultimate cause of the crash is determined to be human or mechanical error, it should not deter us from investing more in our national crumbling infrastructure. Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell addressed his concern in a Philadelphia Inquirer column by Michael Smerconish over the weekend. He pointed out that the United States is lagging behind other countries in maintaining our roads, bridges, railroads, shipping, and so forth. Rendell used China’s high speed trains as an example of how they are now leading the world in funding their transportation system.  Rendell concluded by reminding us that we as a nation are behind countries like Malaysia in keeping up our roads and bridges.

Malaysia! WTF!

Go ahead, Congress, ignore our infrastructure while we wait for the next train wreck to happen.

(Thank you for reading. I repeat, “Malaysia. WTF!”)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Good News and Better News



I had my second cataract surgery this past week and (good news) I now have 20/20 vision again.

Even greater news, I had my second cataract surgery this past week and nobody died. Okay, this may seem like I’m relating two unrelated events, but please recall what happened last month when I had my first cataract surgery. I came home from the surgery center to find a message from my brother that Mom had passed away that morning. This time, I received no news that any one I knew died on the day of my second surgery, so yay! I’ll take any victory that I can get at this point.

This week everything is blossoming. Our Bradford Pear tree has white snowy branches, the forsythia has golden yellow limbs, and the weeping cherry has bloomed with purple and lavender twiny strings hanging down in flaccid fashion.

(Tee-hee!  I said “flaccid.”)

I’m also very happy with the progress of my newly planted rhododendron, as Warrior Queen reported on her blog. I am trying to populate the back yard with flora that reminds me of plants my mother had in our yard while I was growing up, and yet not tempt the local deer population to gorge on my landscaping. Sadly, I made a miscalculation when I brought the rhododendron home.  

I googled this species of plant and found that deer do not avoid the rhodo.  Nay, in fact they look upon it as a feast. Sure enough, I googled further and found that one of these critters was enterprising enough to land a rhododendron cookbook on the The New York Times best sellers list (“101 Rhodo Recipes” by Bambi).* Naturally, I did not make this discovery until AFTER I planted my new $30 dollar garden investment in the ground.

Previously I thought I had read somewhere on the Internet (where everything is right, don’t you know) that deer don’t like rhododendrons. Or maybe I got my rhodos mixed up with another species of plant like daffodils.
 
Okay, okay, I know that it is a bit of stretch to confuse a rhododendron with daffodils, but please keep in mind: my 20/20 vision was not restored until this week.

And of course the rhodo plant will be the main entrée after the deer feast on the hosta salad bar.**  Hosta is another species I fondly remember bordering the postage stamp size garden of our Northeast Philadelphia row house. I have planted four or five around the base of our weeping cherry. Fortunately, I’m spraying both rhodo and hosta with a deer repellant, and so far, so good.

And hey, while I’m depriving the local deer population of a hearty meal, I might as well do my part to piss off the local squirrels too. In the 15 years we have lived here, we’ve filled a bird feeder near the living room window, solely so the local bird population can entertain our cats while they fill their tummies. 

Unfortunately, the birds are joined by the squirrels and deer (remember them?). This depletes a normal two week supply of bird seed in a matter of days. The aforementioned deer repellant has discouraged the deer not to suck and/or otherwise lick the seed out of the tiny feeder holes, but the squirrels proved more difficult.

I recently purchased a squirrel baffle for the base of our bird feeder. For those not familiar with this device, it is simply nothing more than a sheet metal hood fashioned in such a way that the squirrels climb up the pole or post and, instead of reaching around to grasp a paw full of seed within reach, they have to figure out how to climb upside down to the edge of the hood, then climb up the top of the hood. So far, they have not thought this through.

They could develop tiny suction cups on their paws and feet, or order two pairs of Acme brand suction cups on Amazon, but so far they haven’t been able to make either one of these choices. They also haven’t resorted to a third choice: hire a squirrel lawyer to issue a cease and desist order to me to remove the baffle.***

So, with any luck this spring, I’ll have great looking plants and grumpy wildlife in my backyard. I can live with that!

* Who knew that Bambi was so in touch with his doe side to write a cook book? And I always thought he was so…so stag!

** And, no, I’m not putting out croutons!

*** This begs the question: how does one tell the regular squirrels from the lawyer squirrels? Easy! The lawyer squirrels are the ones wearing fluorescent striped bow ties!

(Thank you for reading. Next week in this space: a review of Bambi’s latest New York Times best seller, “Humping Does!” Now that’s more like it!)