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

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Christmas Day Dinner Invitation



The management of this blog would like to extend a warm invitation to two very special gentlemen on the forthcoming Christmas holiday.

We graciously extend the hospitality of Chez Gunther to

                                                Mr. Richard Cheney
                                                            and
                                                Mr. Karl Rove

To dine with us at a mid-day meal on Christmas Day.

Yes, gentlemen, please come and share a nice glass of egg nog, a sumptuous feast of wild turkey with all the trimmings, capped by a serving of figgy pudding, and of course a convivial atmosphere where all points of view - no matter how partisan or heinous - will be discussed and encouraged.

So, gentlemen, please join us at noon on Christmas Day when you will honor us with your presence at our dinner table.

We will then ask you  to give the blessing for the season.

We will then ask you to drop your pants and bend over.

                                                Dinner is served!

(Thank you for reading! That cranberry sauce has been where? No thank you!)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Vinyl Strikes Back



I was at the mall a few weeks ago and wandered into a store called The Rock Shop. I browsed the store's offerings, which by the way did not include anything which could be classified as igneous or sedimentary. No, this store has something called vinyl records on which is imprinted grooves; which when placed on a turntable and with the application of a system comprising a needle, an amplifier, and speakers enables one to hear sounds. 

I was amazed at this technology. As I marveled at the selection of discs - the size of dinner plates - I also saw thin little plastic boxes about the size of a three-by-five card that contained a thin tape which when inserted in a specific slot could also yield sounds. The tape was wound around a wheel so that the sounds could be heard for minutes on end.

What marvelous devices we now have to listen to pre-recorded sounds! What a wonderful…wait a minute! Vinyl, needle, amplifiers, speakers, tape…all this sounds very familiar and yet…

Arrrggggh! Vinyl records are back, and with a vengeance! Records that I bought years ago for $7.99 are now ticketed with tags showing $19.99 to $25.99! The records, mostly produced by independent producers, have seen sales increase over the past year. One estimate put total sales at 8 million units!

This is nice for the record industry, but not good for me.

Back about 25-30 years ago when music technology was changing from vinyl platters and cassette tapes to smaller laser type technology, I began a record collection in earnest. I was seduced by the allure of the old recordings which surrounded me in my childhood, and then overwhelmed by nostalgia for the early rock and roll albums, even though rock and roll as a genre was peaking at the time.  

I attended record shows every few months when I lived with Warrior Queen in Northern Virginia and I would come home with an armful of albums ranging from Ray Charles to Nancy Sinatra. I had excess disposable income at that time (key words here: at that time) because Warrior Queen paid the mortgage. Some I bought to complete my collection of a certain artist, some I bought so I could actually listen to them. Mostly I bought them as an investment to fund a comfortable retirement. In those days, the thinking was that vinyl records - as they became scarcer and rare in the marketplace - would increase in value from 10 to 20%. Now, since vinyl is making a comeback, they are no longer scarce, and the value of the old albums has bottomed out and…my retirement dreams are now SHIT!

Oh, patron saint of recorded music, St. Thomas of Edison, why have you forsaken us?

Double arrrggh!!!!

My collection now stands at several thousand and most of these are “cut-outs” - overstock which had perforations made into the covers (hence the name) to decrease their value and were bought at bargain bin prices. A perusal of record collecting websites advised me that records that are rare have the highest value on auction websites. Overstock albums are not rare and therefore not valuable and therefore not capable of buying me a lunch at Wendy’s when I’m 64!

Triple arrrghhh!!!!

Of course, those over a certain age (I’ll go out on a limb and set it at 40) are familiar with my explanations of the old technology. I mainly described it to entertain those members of the millennial generation. I blame you millennials for sabotaging my retirement aspirations! How dare you get misty eyed about the 70s! What are you thinking?

Abandon the vinyl while you can! Go back to your iPods and your downloads! That’s where “the action is”.

I can only hope that you’ll spend thousands of your hard earned disposable income on discs and the market will cycle around again.

I look forward to the day when your grandchildren make compact discs the next wave of recorded sound!

(Thank you for reading! BTW: I asked the clerk at The Rock Shop where they keep the 8 track tapes. She shook her head and said they had to draw the line somewhere. Thank you, St. Thomas of Edison; there is a god after all!)

Monday, December 08, 2014

The Holiday Season (So Far)



The holiday season is happening again and engulfing us in good cheer whether we want it or not. We’re surviving nicely, and, as the cliché goes, so far, so good. Well, it’s not all candy canes and holly.

Our gift shopping is mostly done, but I’m a bit slow in mailing my Christmas cards and Warrior Queen has barely started decorating. The faux Christmas tree is out of its box, but the decorations are still in the big plastic bin which resembles a blue, polystyrene sarcophagus. 
 
This year the anniversary of significant historical events are actually falling on the original days when they happened. This year, December 7th, the date “which will live in infamy” actually fell on a Sunday. We lost John Lennon on this day and date in 1980. And, oh yes, Merry Christmas!

I know these are horrible things to bring up in the Christmas season, but I can’t help it. I’m a historian at heart, so deal with it!

I have my annual infusion of sickening sweet sentimentality behind me when I watched It’s A Wonderful Life on network tv. I’ve watched it by myself for years: Warrior Queen can’t get past the scene when George Bailey melts down in front of his family, but every year I’m struck by a new aspect of the drama. This year’s epiphany: George Bailey goes from suicidal to gaily skipping (yes, you read that right, gaily skipping) down the snow covered streets of Bedford Falls all the while shouting/praising the virtue of small town American values in a matter of cinematic seconds.

My question: has anyone written a doctoral dissertation on George Bailey’s obvious bi-polar tendencies? Someone must have written it by now...

The spirit of the season is coming over me ever so slowly despite my infusion of holiday tradition. My mood is tempered by my normally dark personality anyway, so I’m not too concerned. I do have one health issue to deal with. My back still aches from time to time, and occasionally - to paraphrase Mr. D.P. Gumby - “My eyeball hurts!”

I had a vision appointment last week, expecting to get an update prescription for my eye glasses. The verdict: my present prescription is fine; it’s the eyes that are going downhill. My examining doctor gave me a referral to a surgeon who specializes in laser surgery.

It appears that I will need to put cataract surgery on my 2015 to do list. Yayyy!!! And here I was so worried that I won’t have any fun next year! Silly me!

My initial consult is late January and I hope they can schedule the surgery before my current benefit year expires. The procedure - which I hope is covered by my medical insurance - will most likely eat up the remainder of my insanely high deductible, provided it can be done before the end of February.

I’m not looking forward to incurring more healthcare debt, but, if the timing is right, then my insurer may have to give a little of their own skin this year to assist me in meeting my expenses.

That’s right, Independence Blue Cross! If I go down financially this year then I’m taking you with me! Mooo-ha-ha-ha-ha…or however you care to spell the sound of diabolical laughter.

So, no excessive seasonal joy yet, but we have still have a few weeks to go.

(Thank you for reading. Happy Christmas and give peace a chance!)

Monday, December 01, 2014

Kerfuffled on a Long Weekend



The American holiday devoted to gluttony (truth be told) of Thanksgiving has come and gone for another year. This year, the national day of capitalistic greed (aka Black Friday) spilled over into Thursday, depriving millions of retail workers of a full day off with their families. The result was this year Black Friday sales on the actual day of Friday were down, yet Black Friday sales on the day before the actual day of Friday was up 24%. Go figure!

So how long until Walmart and their fellow travelers convince Congress that this national day of thanks is a nuisance and should be done away with so we can all go to our nearest mall of worship and bow down to the craven deities of crass materialism instead of eating and counting our blessings?

For those of us who forsook the temptation to venture out on Thanksgiving night for the great beginning of the season deals, who could not tear ourselves away from the latest romcom on the Hallmark Channel, The Thanksgiving House, oh, I mean the Eagles-Cowboys game…congratulations for living the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

For those of you who rushed out to the malls: for shame! A pox on all your houses, may your children’s toys break by mid-afternoon on Christmas Day, may your X-boxes fizzle and fry, and may your spouses express bitter disappointment at the four slot toasters they unwrapped on Christmas morning.

For the record, Warrior Queen and I ventured to my brother’s house for the day. Little brother broke Mom out of the nursing home for the occasion, and most of us enjoyed the wonderful meal of turkey, ham, stuffing, baked corn, green bean casserole, and an assortment of pies. Mom stayed on her side of the house and Warrior Queen chose to keep my mom company while she dined on a dinner roll, Greek yogurt,  and whatever was still edible in Mom’s freezer (e.g., ice cream bars), which wasn’t much because Mom has been in the home since July and there’s been no turnover of food on her side of the house during that time.

Nothing says Thanksgiving like freezer burned corn dogs! Hm-mmm!  Warrior Queen tossed that into the garbage.

Don’t worry, this story has a happy ending, but this reminds me. I need to insert an aside here.

Dear Dr. Spo,

I have a problem. I have a 60 year old child who refuses to eat her vegetables and she insists on wearing her horned Viking helmet at the dinner table. Please advise!

Signed,
Kerfuffled in East Norriton

Anyway, while the Thanksgiving meal upstate was wonderful and the trip itself satisfied my requirement to spend time with loved ones, it did not fulfill my nostalgia for the Thanksgiving meals I had while growing up in Philly. That was rectified on Sunday.

We had the traditional dinner: turkey and stuffing, candied yams, jellied cranberry sauce, and dinner rolls all served on Currier and Ives dinnerware (Olde Curiosity Shoppe pattern). Growing up, we started our meal with a small glass of tomato juice, and I made a special trip to the store - on Sunday, mind you, and not Black Friday - to procure this special item. The main course was a turkey that I got for free, which by free I mean I spent $400 on other items within a specified time period to be eligible to take home the turkey at no cost. Or I could have spent my usual grocery budget during that same time period and bought the damn thing for $12.83! A pox on these capitalist tricks!

Warrior Queen dined on freezer burned corn dogs…no no, just kidding. With a nod to accommodating the love of my life, I bought a family size tray of lasagna for her (and my) enjoyment. This was a deviation from my nostalgic meal to 1960s Philadelphia, but hey, I like Italian food anytime. 

Despite her aversion to turkey on Thanksgiving Day, she did taste the turkey I baked prior to it being served on our dinner table. She claimed at the time that she just needs a taste and not a full portion. No problem dear, I’ll keep your secret as long as you keep mine about watching the Hallmark Channel.

(Thank you for reading! Hey, how about them Eagles! First place, baby!   Woo-hoooooo!)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014



It has not been a good week - again. No one believes justice has been served in Missouri, and Bill Cosby will just have to lay low for awhile (he should probably contemplate hibernating for the winter), but it is ending in a nice way with two days away and a chance to get together with loved ones.

So thank you for the job, the continuing opportunity to serve those in need of our assistance.

Thank you for the house we live in, and thanks to the three cats who graciously allow us to live with them.

Thank you for the chance to get away, relax, eat, drink, and eat some more.

Thank you for the person who chose to share her life with me much more graciously than the cats.

And, in the words of the late Percy Kilbride who bowed his head over a bountiful feast in The Egg and I: “Much obliged, lord!”*

*I could not find a clip of this scene on YouTube, otherwise that would be here in this spot!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!

(And, oh yes, thank you for reading!)