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, April 30, 2006


One of the harshest lessons that life is teaching me is the relationship between love and those times that call upon us to do the right thing. You know the act is good for someone else even as you realize that it will tear your heart into a million pieces. Somehow the heart survives and beats on. We realize that our feelings will heal, but there will be a time again in the future when the heart breaks again and the process begins anew.

Kelly was the oldest of our two cats. He took his position in the household very seriously. His natural facial expression was an almost grim-like countenance. At times it could be interpreted as wisdom, while other times one could say that he looked grouchy. His personality, mellow and laid back, was the exact opposite of his little stepsister, Meredith; she is playful and high-spirited. There have been times when I was tempted to rename them after my favorite Marx Brothers: Groucho and Harpo.

Still, he was the friendlier of the two cats. Whenever strangers came in the door, shy Meredith would run and hide. Kelly would come up to everyone, greeting them with a sniff, lots of rubbing, and, if you were lucky, a kiss on your hand.

Within the last few weeks, however, Kelly's age caught up with him. He was found to be diabetic and, even as we planned to begin treatment, the vet found something more serious inside his body. We made appointments for more tests, but in the meantime he lost interest in eating and drinking. We had seen this before with my late father, only a few months ago.

We decided to do what was best for him, even as we realized it would cause us so much grief. Yet we knew our pain couldn’t compare to what he was feeling. So, as we stroked him and told him we loved him, we gave Kelly the gift of eternal rest.

Kelly, I will miss the way you would curl your lip in an Elvis sneer when you had had enough petting for the moment.

I will miss the times you would come up to bed, check to make sure we were all right, lick our hands and lay next to us.

I will miss watching you get all glassy-eyed as you enjoyed the plate of catnip we offered you, usually on Saturday nights.

I will miss times like now, when I was typing on the computer, and you would come up to rub me and lay down next to me, curling your body around the computer mouse.

I will miss seeing you take one of your countless naps on your favorite rocking chair on the sunporch.

I will miss you laying on the couch, waiting for me to finish my daily bicycle exercising.

I will miss when you would hiss at Meredith if she got too close and you weren’t in the mood for any of her shennanigans.

Thank you, Kelly, for loving us the way you did. I hope we made your last years comfortable and happy. God willing, we will meet again. Until then, rest and wait for us. Love, Mommy, Daddy, and Meredith.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Of Cabbages and Kings (of Kids and Bongs)


Good news for the President: I won't be commenting on his latest shenanigans for this or the next blog entry. Barring some outrageously stupid act on his part during the next few days, President Bush will get a break from my blog.


This week, companies all over the country celebrated "Take Your Child To Work Day". I couldn't participate directly, although I did suggest an activity for them: "Sam the Salty Sailor's Spelling Bee". I explained that in this game you don't give them the word, but you would give them the definition of the word. One example would be "A slang term for procreation." I don't believe my suggestion was used, but everyone had a good time anyway.


Last weekend, a fraternity at my college alma mater (name withheld to protect the integrity of the institution) had a party that featured a device which enabled up to six people to drink beer from the same container at the same time. The local paper (name withheld to protect freedom of the press) identified the device as a bong. That's right! The word "bong" was printed right on the front page of the local paper, and the article didn't involve a drug bust!

We would never have used such language in front of our parents, unless they were super hip and had survived Woodstock. A bong was a device hidden from public view, usually under the bed, or so my friends told me. You would never have seen it out in the open, let alone on the front page of a largely conservative newspaper. I was shocked, and it made me wonder if after all these years drug paraphernalia is becoming a part of the accepted mainstream culture.


Don, if I don't see you Saturday, then I'll catch up with you later. Hope you have a great day!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Gouging Inquiry

This week, President Bush ordered the Justice and Energy Departments to investigate price gouging by the oil companies. This is his response to the cries from Congress to alleviate the high prices, which are rising by the day. The investigation will probably accomplish a few goals, but nothing that the American consumer/voter will see.

First, there is the announcement itself. People will now believe that the President DOES care about rising gas prices, they'll approve his handling of the crisis, and his overall approval rating will spike. We should note that his job approval rating is currently at 32%. I don't condone making light of someone else's misfortune, but I noticed that my wife, Anne Marie, and one of our cats, Meredith, started a conga line when they heard his latest poll numbers.

This is probably all that the investigation will do. The President’s announcement seems to be nothing more than a call to the fire department when your house catches fire. So what if gouging is found? What will the administration do? My guess is that they will send an elderly nun with the infamous steel ruler to smack the oil companies on the wrist. Oh, sure, there will be a fine, but it won't make a dent in their profits, and the consumers will never see a dime of it.

Of course, the oil companies themselves could own up to their avarice:

“Dear Mr. President,

Thank you for investigating our price-gouging policies. We don’t know what came over us. We just thought it was our God-given right to be greedy. Please pass along the enclosed check to the Republican National Committee. They can use it to take everyone living in a red state to lunch. Ha! Ha! Ha!”

I’m not holding my breath for this letter to be mailed.

There have been calls for a capital windfall tax from Congress against the oil companies. The proceeds from the tax could put a drop or two against the federal deficit, or otherwise be used for the common good. Taxes and common good…what am I thinking? The administration will never go for this idea!

I’m not getting my hopes up for this gouging inquiry. His intentions may be good, but his ultimate result will only satisfy himself and no one else. So for us it looks like higher prices at the pump, and more hot air from Washington for the foreseeable future.

Cha cha cha!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The “Decider” of the Free World

Once again, the leader of the free world has mangled the English language. In defending Donald Rumsfeld as the Secretary of Defense, George W. Bush proclaimed himself the “decider” on this issue, and that his decision to keep Rumsfeld was the best choice for the nation. Yep, our very own weapon of mass destruction of public speaking has struck a blow for confusing rhetoric!

While I doubt that the comic strip B.C. will attempt to define the word “de-cider”, I’m almost certain that it is not a real word. I thought his use of the word “evil-doers” was archaic. Every time I hear him use that word, I expect to see Dudley Do-Right jump out from the wings and exclaim with a melodramatic hand wave, “I’ll save you, Nell!”

So, Mr. President, how about using some of these more eloquent expressions to assert your authority:

“I’m the decision-maker!” Or if that’s too many syllables, how about:

“I’m in charge here!” A classic, but if Alexander Haig won’t give you permission to use it, how about:

“I’m the boss!” Of course Karl and Dick might get jealous that you are actually trying to take authority from them. If that happens, then try:

“The buck stops here!” Another classic, albeit a Democrat classic, but it would show that you know what you are doing when you pass judgment on an issue. Now that would be a novelty!

Please, Mr. President, stop making up your own language! English is a nice language, and while it can be awkward at times, it is the only one many of us speak. We want to be able to understand you when you communicate, because God knows we all need a good laugh right now.

SPECIAL NOTE TO CHILDREN: Hey, kids! Remember, whatever you do, DO NOT emulate the President’s speaking style. Follow a more intelligent role model for public discourse. My immediate suggestions are Yogi Berra or any one of The Three Stooges.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

My Ketchup Fancy

Anne Marie recently took advantage of a deal at our supermarket: 10 bottles of ketchup for $10.00. She brought them home and lined them up neatly on our shelf, so that I could admire the great deal she made. Then I got home, and when she showed me all those bottles lined up perfectly, the conversation went something like this:

ME: Oh, ten bottles of ketchup!

Anne Marie: Yes, all for ten dollars! Can you believe it?

ME: Great ... um, only ten?

Anne Marie: What's the matter?

ME: Well, ten will last a little while. What will happen on Monday?

Anne Marie: What's Monday?

ME: Monday is when all this bottles of ketchup will be gone. What then?

Anne Marie: You have more than enough there to get you through the weekend.

ME: Yeah, just barely

And so on. It's because of conversations like this that Anne Marie believes I have a ketchup problem. I don't think I have a ketchup problem. Okay, I'll admit to sometimes fantasizing I had an 800-gallon tank beneath my house specifically for ketchup. I could get it delivered in a big tanker truck once a week from Pittsburgh. I'll also admit that I once flubbed a high school health quiz when I listed the four major food groups as meat, bread, vegetables and Heinz, but I don't think these events mean I have a problem.

Obsession, addiction, fetish maybe, but not a problem. In my defense I think I have matured over the years to the point where I don't use ketchup as frequently as I used to when I was a child. For example, I do not put ketchup on my mashed potatoes anymore. (That's why God invented mustard!) I have seen the novelty tee shirt that proudly proclaims that the wearer will put ketchup on ketchup. I'm a bit shocked at such gluttony, but I'm more shocked that I didn't think of that idea first.

I suppose I should seek out a support group, but for the time being I don't believe my ketchup fancy is necessarily detrimental to society at large. However, I should warn everyone - if you ever come between me and my bottle of ketchup, well let's just say you should probably have your affairs in order.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Gasoline Overpriced Party

Any day now, I expect to hear that the number one (1) will be retired from its dollar place on service station signs across the country. As we all know, the price of gasoline is hovering just below $3.00 per gallon all over America. While the price may go down in the future, it appears that we may never see gasoline under $2.00 per gallon again.

I can just imagine the retirement party now. It will be a lavish affair held in Houston (natch). Oil company executives, their lawyers, their lobbyists, and political allies in the GOP (Gasoline Overpriced Party) would attend. Champagne would flow everywhere, and Las Vegas showgirls dressed as oil riggers would jump out of huge cakes. There would be a videotaped tribute tracing number one’s humble start during the energy crisis of the 70s, its glory days in the 80s, and the more recent years of dormancy as it waited for the number two (2) to tire out and rest. There would probably even be a phone call from the President, wishing number one well and joking, “Gee, I hope I didn’t do anything to force you out! Ha! Ha!”

We can’t deny it any longer. The number one will not appear in its old reliable dollar space on service station signs anytime soon. However, we mustn’t feel sorry for our empty wallets and ourselves. We must wish number one well as it retires to its Boca Raton condo where it will bore its grandchildren to death with tales of the odd/even days of gas rationing. I’m getting sentimental already. Please excuse me now...can’t go on...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Down and Out in Casablanca

One of my favorite films, Casablanca, was recently voted best screenplay of all time. It beat out many worthy entries for this honor, and I am very happy to see it given this distinction. It is not only a great story, but the climax resonates with many people who have done something right, something noble, and still get that odd feeling deep down that they've been screwed.

Let's briefly examine the main character, Rick, and his situation at the end of the film. He is on a fog-shrouded runway on a cold, lonely night. He has sold his café; he has no livelihood. On top of this, Rick has just given up his chance for freedom from the Nazis by handing the last plane ticket to the unquestionable love of his life, Ilsa, whom he'll never see again. Before the scene plays out, he's got a dead Nazi colonel on his hands, and the only person he can consider a friend is French! Talk about sinking low; you can't get much lower than Rick at the end of Casablanca (unless, of course, you're the current President of the United States, but I digress).

Still, and this is the lesson that we should learn, he remains philosophical about the turn his life has taken. Rick walks off with his pal, Louie, and muses about their friendship. He's optimistic, actually optimistic about his future! Granted, it's not the sunshiny optimism of "I'm-back-in-Kansas-with-my-family-but-everyone-and-everything-has-a-brown-tint" that Dorothy felt at the end of The Wizard of Oz, but it is still more silver lining than most of us see on a daily basis.

So the next time you feel like you're having a bad day, remember Rick in Casablanca! Just think how lucky you are to live where you live, work where you work, and be grateful that you don't have to explain why there is a dead Nazi on the tarmac.

TRAILER: Coming Soon: "What's Wrong with Movies Today!"

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Sly Ben

The US Postal Service is honoring famous American, Benjamin Franklin, with a series of stamps this week to commemorate his 300th birthday. Here are my suggestions to honor the various facets of his life. First we have Ben


Posed with his trademark glasses and wearing a damp overcoat, Franklin shows how he gave his all in his most famous experiment: the discovery of electricity. He should be shown with his hair slightly singed, wisps of smoke rising from his clothing, as he proudly holds the remains of a very charred kite. Or, there is Ben


Here he is shown with grim determination on his face while holding a musket. His hair is covered with a red, white and blue bandana (personally presented to him by Betsy Ross) as a banner reading. "Yorktown or Bust!" is unfurled above him. Or, there is Ben


Now he is hunkered down at his desk, fingertips blackened with ink, visor on his forehead, as he uses a quill pen to edit his rough draft on parchment paper. A glum looking accountant from Knight-Ridder watches Ben from over his shoulder. Or we can show Ben


We see him perched on a stool, microphone in hand, Philadelphia Eagles cap askew on his head, and in the spotlight where he is knocking them dead with his Poor Richard witticisms at one of the now defunct Olde City comedy clubs. Once his set at club is done, we can see Ben


On the prowl for that late night rendezvous, Ben sports a broad grin and a wink as he sizes up tonight’s conquest. He wears a robe, smokes a long-stemmed pipe and has a silhouette of a turkey on his chest (What can I say? He really wanted the turkey to be the national bird!). It doesn't matter if his companion is a London charwoman (or her daughter), a Parisian courtesan (or her sister), or a Philadelphia milking maid (or her mother), the widower Franklin is ready to take his role as Ambassador of the City of Brotherly Love seriously.

Belated Happy Birthday, you ole rascal!

Friday, April 07, 2006

You're No Fun Anymore, Tom DeLay!

Why did you have to do it? Why did you have to get noble all of a sudden and resign from Congress? Gee whiz, the liberal media had so many plans for you this summer, and you've spoiled everything. Who will be the poster boy for everything that's wrong with Congress now? My wife believes we'll find somebody else, but it won't be you.

You had it all: the arrogant swagger that comes with absolute power and the almost overnight fall from grace. It was political high drama fit for a television mini-series! I was ready to celebrate the erosion of power that the GOP is experiencing, but I'm not popping the cork on the champagne yet. You've bowed out before the full drama has played out. You've committed scandalous interruptus!

I know I will survive this, but I'm not so sure about some others. One is my cat, Meredith. She was so looking forward to batting around your reputation like it was one of her furry mouse toys. She was going to chew the felt tail off, throw it around so that it bounces in and out of her water dish, then chew the fur off so that all that is left is the hollow, plastic shell that was once your political career. I don't know how I'll snap her out of this disappointment. I may have to give her an extra helping of cat treats!

Of whom were you thinking when you decided to step out of the spotlight? Yourself and the GOP? Did you think about the journalists and the liberal newspaper columnists? How will they sell their papers? They have next to nothing to report now, given how my morning newspaper keeps shrinking in size, yet the subscription price remains the same. Then what about the political cartoonists...the cartoonists, oh no! What will they do? They won't have any subjects to draw this summer! They'll be forced to set up stands in malls around the country and draw caricatures of the shoppers passing by. Did you think about them? I'll bet you didn't give them a second thought!

I want you to know that your resignation was a very selfish act! I just hope you can live with yourself! Oh, I have to go now; Daddy's coming, Meredith!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Price of Hospitality

Once upon a time, the late Jack Kent Cooke, multi-millionaire owner of the Washington Redskins, was negotiating with the state of Virginia to build a new football stadium in Northern Virginia. Eventually, the negotiations fell through and the new stadium was built in Maryland, but that didn't stop ole Jack from charging the state for his time.

In that spirit, and in the same spirit of the airlines nickel and diming their flyers for every amenity, we announce the following surcharges, fees and gouge charges for visitors to the Gunther household. These fees can be waived at the discretion of house management as long as the visitor is not a bank CEO, oil company CEO, airline CEO, or retail CEO. (NOTE: If you are one of these people, you’re going to pay through the nose. But you can afford it!) I realize this is discriminatory, but hey, I pay the mortgage so sue me!

Walking on sidewalk from drive to back door - $1/block (discount can be negotiated to $10 for 12 blocks)

Walking on grass from drive to back door - $2/step (non-negotiable)

Cleaning and restocking dishes, utensils, glassware used during visit - $2

Petting the cats - $2 (or a packet of cat treats)

Listening patiently to extremist liberal views with which we might not agree - $.10

Listening patiently to extremist conservative views with which we know we won’t agree - $500

Restocking pantry for food consumed during visit – $20 plus market value

Entertainment (TV, VCR, DVD, computer, stereo) – $10

Laundry facilities (bed linens, cloth napkins) – $5

Use of the sun porch/fireplace (seasonal) – $10

Use of the lavatory – you can’t afford it! It would be best to use your own facility before you come over.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Pity for the Underdog

Maybe I’m just not my cranky self today, but I feel I’ve been a bit too hard on one person in particular during my recent blog entries. I feel ashamed that I haven’t looked hard enough at his side, and try to understand his point of view as President of the United States. Yes, I’m talking about George W. Bush, the same man who has gallantly led this country’s fight on the war against terrorism, who has adopted right-minded attitudes towards global warming and “intelligent design”, and has seen fit to cut the taxes of those most in need. His reward for all these good deeds has been low poll numbers, rebellion from some members of his own party, and general apathy from the Republican electorate towards this year’s mid-term Congressional elections.

I feel sorry for George W. Bush. I have a variety of reasons for my change of heart. First, I’ve always rooted for the underdog (which would explain my lifelong support of the Phillies), and, let’s face it, you can’t find anyone more underdog right now than the President. Then there is my ability to see more than one side of any issue, despite my deeply held beliefs. After all, the other fellow brings his own deeply held ideals to the table, with the conviction that his ideals are right.

In the classic rock anthem “For What It’s Worth”, Stephen Stills wrote ‘Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong’. To me this has meant that the playing field is level for all people. Everyone has a valid idea on an issue, but no idea is 100% correct for every body. That’s where the art of compromise is not only handy, but should be required.

It is in this spirit of compromise that I feel I must soften my criticisms of George W. Bush. After all, he appears to be a likable fellow who has chosen to do a very tough job. I know many people who know me will think that I have lost my mind, or that Cal Thomas finally got to me, but neither one of these events has happened. I know my editor, my dear wife Anne Marie, may protest this posting, but I feel it’s the right thing to do today. For those of you reading this and who may doubt my sincerity, I can only remind you what today is, and leave you to ponder these thoughts.


(P.S. Happy birthday to our sister-in-law, Marlene!)