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

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Autumn in Cooperstown

Anne Marie and I had a nice, relaxing vacation in Cooperstown, NY recently. As I stated in my previous entry, we had a good time at the Baseball Hall of Fame, which is the main draw for the town. The town must be a driver’s nightmare in season, but loved by the shop and restaurant owners in the area.

We stayed at the Lake N Pines Motel, which is a good six mile drive north of Cooperstown. It had the requisite indoor pool and served a continental breakfast in a separate building closer to the shore of Otsego Lake. We took advantage of the free breakfast for the first few days, but by Tuesday we were bored with it and drove into town for regular diner fare.

The motel, like other hospitality establishments in the area, has more going on in season than out. For example, they offer paddleboat rides on the lake during the summer. We couldn’t take advantage of that — we noticed the boats piled up under a pavilion on the motel property — but we had other things to fill our time. I made a point of visiting the pool every day. My routine here would be a soak in the whirlpool, followed by ten laps in the pool, and then a few minutes in the sauna. Early in the week, the cold air outside made the walk back to my room a bit uncomfortable in wet trunks. Gradually the temperatures improved as the week wore on and the walks became less chilly.

Our room had a balcony with a great view of the lake. Anne Marie took advantage of the balcony on several occasions to read a book or knit. Our vacation time is the one time of the year when we share sleeping quarters and a room that has a television in it no less. Normally this is not a problem, but we fell into a routine of retiring early, waking up in the middle of the night (usually due to Anne Marie’s insomnia) and turning on the TV until the boredom overcame both of us and we went back to sleep.

Somehow we avoided seeing Jerry Springer this year, but we did catch a few episodes of his protege, Steve Wilkos. Then there were the court shows: Judge Judy, Judge Joe Brown, and a new judge on the show that started it all, The People’s Court. We lost count how many of these shows are currently in syndication, but it all upholds the trend in daytime television where the viewer can sit in judgment against the sorry parade of humanity marching across their screen. As for myself, I try not to judge, even as I know I should somehow look away from these train wrecks that pass for daytime entertainment.

Entertainment in the middle of the night is not much better, although you can find some good films if you’re lucky. We caught “The African Queen” one night, and the very bizarre “Head” (starring The Monkees and co-written by Jack Nicholson) on another night. Overall, I’m not optimistic about quality programming returning anytime soon. Any day now I expect to see the sequel to Bambi Meets Godzilla — The Teletubbies Meet Godzilla — playing in the wee hours of the morning.

The restaurants in the Cooperstown area ranged from basic diner (The Cooperstown Diner; The Triple Play Café, The Doubleday Cafe) to upscale (Tunnicliff Inn; The Pepper Mill; Nicoletta’s Italian Café; Hoffman Lane Bistro) to closed for the season (Blue Mingo Grill; Lakeview Restaurant). The finer restaurants all shared one dish in common: tomato basil bisque on their menu. One added roast chicken to their soup, and another was textured with chopped onions. All were very tasty starts for our main entrees. Our only disappointing meal was at the sole Chinese restaurant in town, which resembled any number of other small mom-and-pop operations in thousands of other small towns in the country. I did find a Chinese buffet, but it was in Oneonta, which was an inconvenient distance to drive for one meal.

Overall, we had good weather with just one rainy day, Friday. We returned home the next day with a quick stop at Fly Creek Cider Mill for lunch and to videotape their livestock – ducks, geese and a few turkeys who felt threatened by children riding their bicycles on the grounds. The Fly Creek management quickly rounded up the bicycle intolerant birds, and the turkeys had a time-out in their pen. As we retraced our route home, we admired the turning leaves which were reaching their peak that weekend. It was a pleasant drive capping a very relaxing vacation in The Empire State.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Baseball in Autumn

The World Series is finally upon us, and given the grit and determination of the Bosox and the Rockies in post season play so far, this series may very well go to seven games. That means that it will be early November when the Fall Classic ends and we know who will be World Champs. I say finally, because this season started for many teams in late March. Next year’s season also starts in late March. I only find this unusual because when I was growing up, the baseball season didn’t start until the first week of April.

Now we’re starting in March? Is it my imagination or is the baseball season getting longer? At this rate we may have to start spring training two weeks after the World Series ends.

All this fits in nicely with our vacation trip just ended: Anne Marie and I went to Cooperstown, NY to see the Baseball Hall of Fame. It was a nice drive up the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Interstate 81, skirted Binghamton to I-88, and then skirted Oneonta, to NY 80 and up to Cooperstown. Well, it was a nice drive for me since Anne Marie did all the driving.

Cooperstown itself is very small, with a population of around 2000 for 51 weeks of the year. The population can swell to 80,000 during the week when the Baseball Hall of Fame has its annual induction ceremonies in July. The town lives for this and the tourist trade because, quite frankly, they have nothing else nearby to sustain them in the way of industry or business.

Many of the houses in the town date from the Victorian era, and many of those houses have been converted to bed and breakfasts. One old timer who works at one of the dozen or so souvenir shops told us that some people rent their homes for $5,000 and up for the induction festivities. He also told us that you couldn’t find any room in a fifty-mile radius during this time. Some residents find it prudent to flee town and I can see why. It wouldn’t take much traffic to make the area highways a nightmare.

Our visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame itself was very nice. We viewed the members’ plaques first and I photographed as many as I could. I lingered a long while at a baseball movie exhibit that featured trailers and short films which Hollywood has made on the subject. “A League of Their Own”, “Field of Dreams”, and “Pride of the Yankees” were all featured, along with hundreds of other films made since the early 20th century. I was most fascinated with a very short subject starring Buster Keaton as a third baseman. I didn’t recognize the title — which I have now forgotten — from the various Keaton filmographies I have seen over the years.

The only fly in the ointment is the town’s two-hour parking restriction. Since a stroll through the museum can take up to six hours, this means that a patron has to move their car at least three times or face a stiff fine. The museum fortunately accommodates their visitors with a hand stamp so that people can come and go throughout the day to move cars, eat lunch, or browse the souvenir shops. This is not a problem in the tourist season (summer) when trolleys bring visitors in from three lots on the outskirts of the town. However, since we insist on vacationing in the off season, we have to accept some concessions.

Oh, we started off with the World Series and lingered a bit long in Cooperstown. I guess I should make a prediction as to the outcome. Therefore in true Oscar prediction style I will hedge my guess with a who will win and a who should win prediction. So far Boston is coming on strong, winning the first two games. The Bosox will take the series. Who should win: “Little Miss Sunshine.”

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I Wouldn't Want To Be Like Them*

I will confess that I am not the most religious man in the world. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I was in a...oh, what do you call it? Four walls, steeple, stained glass windows...oh, now I remember! Church! I can’t remember the last time I was in a church.

Despite this, I do have some deeply held cherished beliefs, and from time to time I do express my gratitude to a Supreme Being. Today is one of those times in which I feel compelled to thank God for making me the man I am today. This compulsion is in light of recent events that happened within the last week.

Dear Lord:

I want to thank you for allowing me to recognize that all of us are God’s children and that your children belong to cultures that are all equal and valid in your sight. I am grateful that I don’t share the same narrow-minded, shortsighted views of some conservatives. Specifically, I certainly don’t agree with that vapid, WASP princess known as Ann Coulter. As you know, she made allusions last week that Jews are “imperfect” and that Christianity is the perfect religion. Perhaps she was channeling the Pope when she said this, but I can’t forgive her for this intolerable point of view. Intolerance after all is the opposite of what we should consider an American ideal.

Lord, I also want to thank you for giving me the wisdom to see the difference between a responsible candidate concerned with the issues and some desperate Republican hack who can’t make a dent in the polls unless he says something stupid. Of course you know I’m talking about - Mike Huckabee, who warned that 10,000 baby boomers a week are becoming eligible for Medicare. He concluded his warning by saying that a lot of aging hippies are looking forward to “getting free drugs.” Perhaps he thought he was being humorous and the audience gathered at the debate where he said this did respond with a polite chuckle. Still, I can’t imagine someone scoring political points at the expense of some downtrodden, establishment dropouts.

Lord, thank you also for allowing me to know the difference between intelligent discourse over our nation’s airwaves, and the rants of an egotistical blowhard against a 12 year old child who spoke out for health care coverage for children. Of course you know I’m talking about your old pal, Rush. He insists that his talent is on loan from you. If that is true, then I must ask the question: Has he made any payments lately? If not, isn’t it about time to foreclose on that loan? Just curious...

Also, Lord, I feel I should call your attention to the fact that Reverend Fred Phelps of Wichita, Kansas is still ALIVE, WELL, and still preaching his gospel of hatred and intolerance in your name. I know I mentioned him last year in my prayers to you, but for some reason you haven’t CALLED HIM HOME yet. I realize you have been very busy what with Christian nations creating false wars against their brethren, but I had hoped that my request would have been filled by now.

Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to request your guidance and grant me more patience for all these things I wish would come to pass. In the meantime, I’ll continue to do my best to see good in everything and everyone. I know this means I will have to allow the Republicans and the conservatives the occasional transgressions, as long as they extend the same allowance to me and the others who think like me.


*With apologies to The Alan Parsons Project.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

New from Cindy's Boigers

If fast food burger restaurants were really honest with consumers about their products, then we might see news releases like this.

Cindy's Boigers proudly announces their newest line of tempting, tasty boigers to tantalize your taste buds. More importantly, they uphold the long-standing tradition at Cindy's of giving America what they want: great tasting meals at the expense of their ever-expanding waistlines. We now offer these sandwiches as monuments of American corpulence.


Our newest creation has more meat, more cheese and of course bacon, bacon, bacon... more bacon than our closest competitor! Your mouth will engulf The Cardiac Arrest with all of its glorious grease and cholesterol. The grease will go to your hips and the cholesterol will go right to the linings of your arteries. But if The Cardiac Arrest is too tame for your tastes, then try…


We cannot list the ingredients of this great boiger here; it's still a secret. But we can tell you that these ingredients are so good that they laugh at lipitor, sneer at plavix, and make caduet quiver with fear. Yes, this boiger is so bad for your heart that it has to taste that good! Still not satisfied with our meat? Then try the ultimate monstrosity, the boiger that we have worked all these years to develop. It is finally here! It is…(drumroll please)


Even more meat than The Cardiac Arrest with a secret ingredient: pan drippings slathered on your bun. Yes, it's a gastronomic delight and a disaster for your arteries! One bite is heart stopping! You'll never know what hit you! What a way to go, chomping down on this testament to sudden death! This boiger and a huge heaping helping of our batter-dipped French fries will certainly be a last meal you'll long remember.

Cindy's Boigers is a subsidiary of Whole Trans-Fat International. Beatrice wants everyone to know that Whole Trans-Fat International is not Beatrice.

(Note to readers: there will be no blog entries next week. Anne Marie will be taking a vacation with her knitting by Lake Otsego. Meanwhile, I will be on a fact-finding mission to seek out any and all Chinese buffets in the lower central New York State region.)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Our Nuclear Capability

I want to share some good news and some bad news about our chances of being wiped out by a nuclear attack. The good news is that we probably shouldn’t worry about nuclear missiles hitting us from places like North Korea or Iran. The reason for this brings us to our bad news. The real threat to our lives isn’t from these foreign powers, but rather from someone a lot closer to us, because it is us.

I made this conclusion after a report was released about an incident earlier this year. The incident began at the air base in Minot, ND. A dozen missiles were transported by military jet to a base in Louisiana, where it was discovered that six of the missiles had nuclear warheads on them and should not have been transported at all. The mistake was not noticed for 36 hours. Each warhead is the equivalent of 10 atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima.

One of the officers involved in the incident was asked, “How could you overlook the fact that you were loading nuclear warheads onto this jet?” Lt. Beavis* replied, “Heh-heh-heh! You said head!” The same question was put to the lieutenant’s commanding officer. General Butthead* responded, “That dill-hole! I ordered that ass-wipe to send those things parcel post!"

Honestly, I can see how this mistake could happen, despite all of the procedures and safeguards in place. It’s just a matter of keeping your wits about you when handling the nuclear warheads. Anne Marie and I get around this problem by using separate plastic bins. We have one bin for trash, two for glass/plastic/cans/newspapers, and the last one for nuclear missiles. We’ve yet to have any problems since we organize our trash and recycling this way.

Still, you have to wonder how close most of the people living in the midwest came to a nuclear holocaust. After all, if the bombs had been accidentally released, or if the jet itself had crashed, the results would have been catastrophic. Think about this: if the midwest states are rendered uninhabitable, then what will separate us elitist snobs on the east coast from all those conservative loonies on the west coast?

Or we could express the results mathematically. Let’s see: 6 missiles X the power of 10 Hiroshima atomic bombs = 60 atomic bombs. Now consider the half-life and isotopes of each and let’s! That’s a lot of radiation!

Don’t worry, America! Your government has everything under control! Yes, the same government that stumbled us into Iraq! Yes, the same government that is taking forever to rebuild the Ninth Ward in New Orleans! Yes, the same government that...hmm.

America, we are all nuclear toast.

*Names have been changed to protect the obviously stupid (with apologies to Mike Judge)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The National Spelling Bee for Uninsured Children


Rhett Crit: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the first annual National Spelling Bee for Uninsured Children. Our judges today are Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and presidential hopefuls Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Senator Barack Obama. Our first finalist is Anne Cathers, who has a painful racking cough. Ready, Anne? Your word is “underfunded”.

Anne: (Hack) I’m sorry. Can you use that in a sentence?

Crit: Sure. The Bush Administration has underfunded the SCHIP or State Child Health Insurance Program.

Anne: Okay. (Cough) Underfunded. D-O-M-E-S-T-I-C A-G-E-N-D-A. Underfunded.

Crit: Um, okay, we’ll accept that. Our next finalist is Don Overmeyer, who is suffering from a terrible rash. Don, please spell “scrooge” as used in this sentence: “That scrooge is very tight with his money.”

Don: Hold on. I have to scratch my itch...oh, that’s better. Scrooge, B-U-S-H. Scrooge.

Crit: Okay, the Democratic judges are signaling that they will accept that answer. Next we have Bonnie Carey, who has an earache today. Bonnie, your word is “irresponsible.” We can use it in a sentence like this: “It is irresponsible to neglect those who depend on us to provide their every need.”

Bonnie: Ow! Okay...oh, ouch. Irresponsible, A-R-R-O-G-A-N-T C-O-N-S-E-R-V-A-T-I-V-E-S. Irresponsible. Ohhhh....

Crit: Very good, Bonnie. The Democratic judges liked that one! Finally, we have a new contestant in our country, Pablo Last-Name-Withheld-Until-I-Get-My-Green-Card. Pablo has a sprained ankle that he suffered while trying to outrun the civilian militias as he and his family crossed the border. Pablo, your word is "pigheaded" as used in this English sentence: “Those stubborn, pigheaded politicians don’t care about anyone but themselves.”

Pablo: Pigheaded. G-O-P. Pigheaded.

Crit: Excellent, Pablo. The Democratic judges are so glad to see that you made it to our country. That’s all for this week, folks. Tune in next week at this same time for Sour Grapes with your host, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Etiquette for a Petty Dictator

Last week, the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, appeared as an invited guest to speak at Columbia University in New York City. He appeared in conjunction with a speech that he made at the United Nations. The trip, understandably, became the center of controversy, because Ahmadinejad is widely perceived as anti-American, anti-Semitic, anti-homosexual, and anti...hey, does this guy like anybody?

Protestors came out in force to greet Ahmadinejad. Everyone expected this, but no one expected the president of the university, Lee C. Bollinger, to verbally assault the guy he invited to speak. Bollinger denounced Ahmadinejad as a “petty dictator”, among other things while the Iranian president waited to speak. Obviously, Ahmadinejad was insulted by Bollinger’s introductory remarks, but he graciously walked up to the podium and proceeded to prove Bollinger’s characterization correct.

Okay, Bollinger doesn’t get points for politeness. There is the possibility that he meant to invite Ahmadinejad to a Friars roast, in which case Bollinger’s remarks were entirely appropriate. However, it is doubtful that the Iranian president would’ve shown up for a Friars Roast, since most of those on the dais would be survivors of the golden age of the Borscht Belt comedian – in other words, all Jews. Yeah, I could just hear Jackie Mason roasting Ahmadinejad now, “You’re a jerk and I mean that sincerely. All kidding aside you’re an asshole.” At that point, Ahmadinejad would be wishing the president of Columbia University were still talking about him.

Obviously, Bollinger felt the need to make points with those who opposed Ahmadinejad’s visit. It could also be an example of an American citizen flexing his First Amendment muscles. Yes, Mr. Ahmadinejad, this is known as freedom of speech. I realize that this is a concept that is totally alien to you, but when you come to America you should expect the citizens to use that freedom. You have every right to feel insulted, but there is no way that you should feel blind-sided. I refuse to believe you’re that naive.

Now let’s get to some of your recent remarks about America. Just days before your trip to our land, you remarked that the American people are different from the American government, and that you have no quarrel with the people. Thank you, we appreciate you making that designation, particularly since you may be developing a nuclear weapon to use against us. We would hate to embarrass you by dying in a nuclear attack, when you clearly intended to vent your wrath on the American government. I’ll make a suggestion to you: if you give the American people adequate warning before you attack, then maybe we could arrange for the entire government to be, you know, milling about in one spot. This would be a more efficient use of your nuclear weapons.*

Ha ha, fooled you! Did you actually think my suggestion was half-serious? We, the American people, don’t have the resources and wherewithall to carry out such a plan, even if we did have the time to do it.

Unfortunately, there is another element to your message that we can’t overlook, as it negates your remark about quarreling with the American people. It has been reported that when you made this statement several weeks ago, that you were standing in front of a sign which read, “Death to America!” Really, Mr. Ahmadinejad! Now you’re sending us mixed signals. Frankly, we’re not feeling the love anymore when you do things like this.

Mr. Ahmadinejad, if you want to be invited to America (again) and be given all the courtesies of a visiting head of state, then I suggest you wait until the Bush Administration sends you an invite. Umm, but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that letter if I were you. Apparently they believe that you’re a jerk and an asshole. I don’t know where they got this idea, unless they’ve been listening to Jackie Mason.

*DISCLAIMER: this paragraph is satirical in nature, and is not to be interpreted as a threat against the U.S. Government.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Baseball Statistics

It is a glorious week to be a fan of the Philadelphia Phillies! Through a series of planet alignments, wins, losses, and the entire New York Mets squad forgetting how to play the game, the Phillies have won the Eastern Division title for the National League. This will be the first time that the team will be in post season play since 1993. Phillies fans are treating this time period like it’s been a long drought, but, to be honest, fans of this franchise have endured longer periods of no post season in the club’s history.

The win is a result of a lot of hard work for the team, but we also must acknowledge the sudden reversal of fortune suffered by the New York Mets during the last three weeks of the season. The Mets had held the division lead since May; not even the Atlanta Braves, who have won the division for what seems like the last hundred years, could knock them out of the top spot. The Mets were seven games ahead of the Phillies just a few weeks ago before they lost eleven games in a row and saw their lead slowly slip away. The Mets now have the distinction of having the worst season ending meltdown in major league history.

Keeping this in mind, we should take a moment and express our sympathies to the New York Mets and their fans. Sniff...okay, that’s enough. We’d like to empathize some more, but we’re so giddy today about the Phillies achievement that we can’t keep a straight face.

It’s not like it’s totally our fault that the Mets lost all of those games. True, we did at one point consider kidnapping the entire New York team and replacing them with members of the 1964 Phillies team (who held the old Major League Baseball meltdown record), but the logistics of such a move were a nightmare. Besides, there were moral issues and how could we explain it to the Baseball Commissioner if we got caught. Instead, we just let nature take its course, and we have been rewarded with the division title.

Still, this new record given to the Mets makes me wonder about the people who figured this out. How could they know that the loss of the division by a team that held the lead for months would be unprecedented? They are the statisticians, those noble mathematics majors who (I am convinced) live beneath the floorboards of the Baseball Commissioner's office. They are the ones that spend the season dreaming up new ways to make the game of baseball more interesting for the fans.

For example, we keep statistics on which players lead the league in runs, triples, doubles, and singles. Ah, but do we know how many of those players had mothers who baked blueberry cobbler regularly? The statisticians will (most likely by this time) have the exact number ready for our consumption next season.

Or how about the home run leaders who were inspired and/or traumatized by the movie “The Babe Ruth Story.” If you were a baseball player, you were inspired, but if you were a movie fan, you were traumatized. (Even Babe Ruth walked out on “The Babe Ruth Story”!) The statisticians probably have crunched the numbers on this category too.

Baseball has got to be the most over-statistically-analyzed game in all of sports. However, the wonders of baseball statistics don’t really matter in the end. What matters is that at the end of the season there will be a champion and an overall satisfaction that the players gave their all for the fans. Better luck next year, Mets.