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

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Snowflake Falls In Northern Virginia

News item: a Fairfax County school student received detention after posting a phone message left by a school adminstrator’s wife on the Internet. The student had left a message on the administrator’s home phone to inquire why school had not been cancelled when a storm brought three inches of snow to the area. The angry spouse reacted with harsh words for the student without resorting to profanity. The message attracted the attention of such major news organizations as The Washington Post and Fox News, among others, after it was posted on the YouTube web site.

The circulation of this story has raised questions about what constitutes privacy. Should the student have called the administrator? Should the administrator’s wife have referred to the matter to her husband? Should the whole thing have been released on the World Wide Web? What about the snow? Well, the answers are “no”, “perhaps”, “perhaps not”, and “it melted without leaving a comment”.

Before we get to the privacy issue, we should once again review northern Virginia’s attitude towards snowfall. Basically, we can sum it up this way: an inch or so of snow falling in northern Virginia is equivalent to the end of the world as we know it. Cars are abandoned, super markets are sacked as if the Huns had invaded them, and the federal government shuts down. My readers in that area may grumble that this is an exaggeration, but it is not too far from the mark. Therefore, we must keep this in mind: one snowflake on the Beltway is considered a justifiable cause for mass hysteria.

The student’s initial call to the administrator’s house shows both initiative and disrespect. Only this student had the chutzpah to make this call; maybe he's the next Donald Trump. On the other hand, I would never have made that call myself because I would respect the individual’s privacy. It turns out that this is an old-fashioned idea, particularly now with the YouTube generation fully engulfed around us.

I can’t fully blame the administrator’s wife for being angry; after all, her privacy had been invaded too. I was surprised that her message had no profanities in it, given the passion of her delivery. On the other hand, I hope this psycho gets anger management counseling soon; this woman is headed for a heart attack.

Then there is the release of the phone message to the Internet, which I think is the real reason many people are talking about this incident. The student defended his actions because his generation has grown up with a different sense of privacy. Many of us older folk who have cherished the old ideas of privacy are stunned at this argument, but why should we be surprised?

The boy is 100% correct. Anything that his generation does can be easily recorded on a cell phone and plugged into the World Wide Web for everyone’s amusement. Also, his generation came of age when the President of the United States, leader of the free world, and human symbol of international democracy, has been accused of circumventing Constitutionally mandated court approval in listening to private phone conversations of everyday American citizens.

Our sense of privacy has melted away with the snow.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

My Vacation Tale

Recently I went for my annual root canal. Honestly, I have been more vigilant with my brushing and flossing during the last few years, but I still get cavities anyway. However, this is not about my diseased gums. Rather it is about the fabulous vacation stories I overhear my dentist telling his hygienist while he is drilling into my roots. The conversation will start with a question about his travels and he will exclaim, “Oh, Las Vegas was great!” Or he will relate an experience he had at the airport in Paris.

Please don’t get me wrong; he’s a great dentist and he certainly works hard for his time off. However, there is no denying the fact that, being a great dentist, his services do not come cheap. As an example, I am assuming that my dental benefit for this calendar year will already be maxed out from just this one visit. Mind you, it’s still only January!

Just once, I would like to have an answer ready for them about the most pathetic excuse for a vacation I could think when the small talk comes around to me. I’d start my tale by saying, “Well, once my dental bills are all paid for the year I won’t have much left for a real vacation. So this year Anne Marie and I will go to our backyard! Yes, a trip covering the vast expanse of my yard and driveway – a distance of nearly 50 feet!

“We’ll rough it, camping in the open air with the clear, starlit sky as our ceiling and the grassy bug-infested ground as our mattress. We’ll thrill to the sounds of the local wildlife and feel the nimble hooves of our local deer population as they step gingerly over our slumbering bodies on their way to the bird feeder. In case of inclement weather, we’ll duck under our picnic table. After all, we won’t need to go all the way home.

“We’ll cook our meals on the grill and eat our food at the picnic table. For recreation, I will take a dip in my inflatable pool (15’ circumference), or if I fail to get it set it up (for the third year in a row) then I will have to be satisfied with whatever puddles of water accumulate on top of the ground tarp where the pool should be. I’ll frolic in these puddles of nearly an inch deep while Anne Marie watches from a distance. My wife has never learned how to swim and God only knows she is deathly afraid of those one inch puddles.

“Of course, I doubt Anne Marie will stay very long on our vacation. Camping would be a new experience for her and I would lay the law down when it comes to roughing it. No television, no radio, no yarn, and no needles. She can live without the television and radio, but she’ll only last an hour without her knitting.”

At this point in my narrative I would expect my shocked dentist to drop his drill and perhaps offer me a bankroll so that I could leave my property for my vacation. Sure, in my dreams!

(Memo: Editor’s note to author – you rough it! I’m going to Boston!)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Bush Fatigue

Several years ago, I recommended a documentary on public television called “Silverlake Life: The View From Here” to a gay co-worker at my old job. It is, what I believe to be, a groundbreaking documentary on two gay men in a committed relationship living with – and dying from – AIDS. I was a bit surprised that Michael seemed ambivalent about seeing the movie. I didn’t understand his attitude until I remembered that he had, like the men in the movie, dealt with his own partner's struggle with the disease. Michael didn’t need to see the film; he had already lived it.

I bring up this memory because it helps to explain my reaction to the announcement that Oliver Stone is planning to make a film about the life and career of George W. Bush. He wants to examine the behind the scenes of the Bush administration - a la his earlier treatment of Richard M. Nixon – and probe why Bush acts the way he does. Stone is hoping to have the film ready for release by Election Day or by the next inauguration.

I know already that I won’t be rushing out to the theater to see this film. At this point, the nightmare that the Bush Administration has become is still ongoing. It’s too soon for a post-mortem; the body isn’t even cold yet!

Now perhaps if Stone presented it as a musical, then maybe he’ll sell some tickets. A synopsis of “Bush: The Musical” would probably go something like this.

Let’s imagine that the drama starts on Bush’s first inauguration day. The disputed vote in Florida and the Supreme Court interference regarding the election is all behind him. Our main character contemplates his role as God’s gift to global democracy as he prepares to take the oath of office (“I Am the Chosen One”). Fast forward to eight months later and the 9/11 attacks by Osama Bin Laden gives the listless administration a purpose for its existence (“God Please Smite Osama Bin Laden”).

Then, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and Paul Wolfowitz propose invading Iraq because, as they reason with intelligence reports held together by paste and string, that Saddam Hussein is connected to the attacks (“God Please Smite Saddam Hussein”). The plan is sent to Congress, who appear skeptical (“There You Go Again, George”). The debate over an invasion of Iraq spills over into the American public, who take up opposing sides against and for the war in a show stopping medley (“Liberal Left Boogie/Fox News Tango”). Finally, the invasion happens and Act One closes with the Chief Executive himself reasserting his authority (“Iraq – Schmaraq”).

Act Two begins just as Bush’s second term hits a bump in the road. None of his domestic programs is enacted, the pre-Iraq war intelligence is proven to be false, and the destruction of New Orleans haunts him (“I Just Heard a Wind Called Katrina”). Things look hopeless, but the President remains defiant (“My Numbers Are Low, But I Don’t Care”), even as the mid-term elections give the majority rule to the opposing party (“God Please Smite The Democrats"). As members of his loyal staff leave his side, the President plots one final stand (“Iran – Schmaran/Reprise: I Am the Chosen One”).

Well, take it or leave it. Actually, the musical idea didn’t help my morale: I’m as sick and tired of the Bush Administration as ever before. I know he has less than a year to go, but my God I shudder to think what he’ll try to do in the time he has left.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Short Notes – January 2008


Talk show host and producer/book club promoter/restaurant owner/school builder Oprah Winfrey will become a media mogul soon when she gets her own television network.

Why doesn’t she just run for God and get it over with?


A recent study showed that male macaque monkeys in Indonesia pay for sexual favors by grooming the female of the species.

Great! Capitalism is alive and well in the primate world! What would Darwin say?

Guys, we have finally found a foolproof method to get lucky on a Saturday night! All we have to do is offer to pick tics out of the hair of our wives/girlfriends/lovers/significant others and they’ll do the wild thing with us. If this method works for any guy reading this, please let me know. I’m quite anxious to find out if there are any women dumb enough to fall for such a trick. I suspect that not many women are this stupid. I tried it with my wife and I can say this: Anne Marie is not a dummy!


President Bush recently completed his first trip to the middle east to bring peace to the region. He called upon leaders of all countries in the vicinity to work towards the creation of a Palestinian state before he leaves office.

Okay, we realize that your conflict with each other is older than the United States itself, but enough is enough! We send over our main man to bring peace and democracy to your area of the world, and you all but laugh in his face! How could you do this and make him look so foolish? He really doesn’t need you people living in the middle east to make him look like an idiot; he can do it all by himself! Wait, that didn’t come out, on second thought, it did come out right.

Please understand he’s working on a deadline, which by my calculations is twelve months, two days, and twenty-three hours...but who’s counting? I know he had plenty of opportunity to do this sort of thing during the first six years, one month, and twenty-eight days of his term, but that just shows how much extraordinary patience this man has had with your situation.

Come on now, talk things out and resolve your differences. Our man Bush is not used to such resistance. He’s used to giving orders and watching people jump! If you don’t do it for our president, then maybe you’ll do it for someone who is even more powerful than George W. Bush.

Don’t make us send Oprah.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

T.O. Tears

This week, many Philadelphia sports fans are rejoicing that the hated Dallas Cowboys will not be playing in the big football championship game. The Cowboys are hated here in southeastern Pennsylvania due to a long-standing rivalry with the Philadelphia Eagles. Some of it is due to normal adversarial feelings for another team, but some of it is due to the Cowboys self-anointed attitude that they are “America’s football team”. In other words, arrogance.

The chest thumping has been particularly acute because of Terrell Owens’ actions after the Cowboys loss. Owens is a former Eagle who offended the largely blue collar Philadelphia fan base by copping a holier-than-thou attitude during contract negotiations a few years ago. The Eagles looked to Owens to help them get a championship, and his prima donna behavior was seen as if he personally stabbed each fan in the back with a butcher knife. This week those same fans see the Cowboys and Owens' failure as vindication for the feelings of betrayal they have had for several years.

Owens was asked how Cowboys quarterback, Tony Romo, felt about their loss. To his credit – yes, I’m seeing something positive in Owens' answer – the receiver stuck up for his fellow teammate and basically told the media to back off. Unfortunately, he had an emotional breakdown while he was talking, and now everyone is focusing on the crying and not his message.

Sports fans in Philly have engaged in name-calling – crybaby is the most popular – in the wake of this interview. This is understandable given the fact that the local sports audience is still reeling from T.O. turning his back on them. This could very well be part of the healing process.

Of course, there is the age-old stiff upper lip, big-boys-don’t-cry philosophy. Honestly, fellow men, this is one battle we will never win. Our wives, lovers, girlfriends – and for that matter any significant other who can magically transport a can of beer from the fridge to our up-raised grasp whenever we grunt “Beer me” —always complain that we can’t open up and be honest with our emotions. Then when we are “honest” with our feelings, we get crucified. Go figure!

I believe that this is what we witnessed here; T.O. gave an honest display of his emotions. It was the end of the season, and he was frustrated that their goal of winning the championship would not be realized. As a Philadelphia sports fan, I can empathize, or (dare I say it) I can feel his pain.

Also notice that this time T.O. was not talking about himself; suddenly it wasn’t just “me, me, me”. He actually stuck his neck out for Romo, who caught grief for taking his celebrity girlfriend to Mexico during the week off between games. Here is a question only guys would understand: would you stay home and focus on the next all-important game, or would you take your empty-headed blonde bimbo across the border for reasons unknown. This is a no-brainer, and I’m not just referring to Jessica Simpson. Okay, I can think of many reasons to take her out of the country, but I think we can rule out that Romo was escorting her to a Mensa convention.

In short: Dallas fans, your team did not lose because your quarterback suffered from blonde on the brain, or because your prima donna receiver had an emotional breakdown. Your Cowboys lost because the other team played better, period. This is a realization that Philadelphia Eagles fans have had to grapple with at least eight times during this past season. As for Tony Romo and Jessica Simpson, do it well and if it makes you feel good, do it often. (Wink, wink! You know what I mean!) As for Terrell Owens, if it makes you feel better, have a good cry. As for the rest of us, it’s time to move on...

Friday, January 11, 2008

Fan Indictment Day

Within a few months, people will once again flock to their favorite baseball stadiums for the annual ritual known as opening day. It is a much anticipated day, with fans eager to see their favorite players, munch on a hot dog, down a beer, and perhaps cheer their favorite team to victory. But there may be a new wrinkle for baseball’s opening day this year. Every fan, regardless of their age, could receive their very own indictment for their role in the baseball players steroid use scandal.

Last month, Senator George Mitchell issued his report on steroid use in baseball. It was huge, frank, and named names. It hit the sport like a bombshell, and the finger pointing started almost immediately. Many commentators blamed the players, baseball management for looking the other way, and the sports media for ignoring the rumors about the performance enhancing injections. A few even blamed the fans themselves, as if we were enablers of the problem.

Well, thank you very much for bringing this to our attention! All this time, we thought that the players had their own brains and comprehended the difference between right and wrong, moral and immoral. We never realized that they were mere puppets and that we were the ones pulling their strings! Now we find out we have been the problem the entire time!

These problems have been going on for several generations. Players back in the day of John McGraw and Ed Delahanty (the 1890s) boozed it up and gambled away their bonuses on the ponies. A later generation probably cheered on Ty Cobb when he ran the bases with his spiked cleats, perforating the metatarsal bones of the opposing infielders, and thought nothing of it. Likewise, fans paid to see the Babe hit one out of the park, never dreaming that they were subsidizing a life filled with cigars, booze and very, very loose women.

Did the fans from these earlier times take any grief for their favorite player’s behavior? Hell no, mainly because they were blissfully ignorant of that behavior. Those were the good old days: players could do whatever they wanted and nobody talked to the press. Now people find out a juicy tidbit about someone and immediately shop around for a lucrative book deal.

In my own defense, I will say that yes, I have paid money to attend baseball games, knowing full well that some of that money might make its way into the players' pockets. I never gave a thought of what they did with it – morally or immorally - because at that point it was their business what they did with the money they earned. Sure, I knew Lenny Dykstra chewed tobacco while he waited for a fly ball to come his way, but it’s not like I was tossing cans of Skoal at him as he stood in the outfield. Also, I certainly did not forge any prescriptions for Barry Bonds. Any sports commentator that says otherwise can kiss my ass!

Okay, I’ll admit I have a thing for the great game of baseball. I can’t help it. It is an addiction I’ve had ever since I can remember. Whenever warmer weather comes, I expect to find a baseball game when I turn on the radio or television.

My affliction gets worse when I actually go to a game. It’s the aroma of the recently mowed grass that sets me off first, followed shortly by the pungent fragrance of a stinky stogie that some old codger is puffing away. Then there is the feel of a souvenir baseball bat, with its smooth, varnished well-executed shaft. I curl my fingers around it and run my closed hand along its length, feeling every indentation of the carved major league baseball insignia. Oh yes! This is great! This has got to be better than drugs...

I better stop before Anne Marie begins to hyperventilate. In any case, I will say to the powers to be: come on with your indictments and subpoenas. I have nothing to hide! I have nothing to fear...unless I see Ty Cobb running towards me, then I’ll get the hell out of his way!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Second Blogiversary

Twenty-four months and two hundred and eighteen entries ago, I began this blog as an exercise in satirical commentary and (sometimes) rhetorical criticism. The last few years have been trying financially and physically. However, artistically I have never been happier than when I am writing these entries. I may not be making money from it now, but perhaps someday this will change.

In any event, I want to take this opportunity to reflect back on these last two years. I have reviewed my blog notes and found a common thread for many of them. I have to conclude that some of my ideas are very strange, perhaps bordering on the weird.

For example, I have proposed replacing the Statue of Liberty with the snarling likeness of Lou Dobbs, in keeping with this country’s attitudes towards immigrants. Then there was my idea to organize people who cough in public into a professional organization, perhaps a union. The general public has (fortunately) ignored these ideas so far. Still, I hope that they put a smile on your face as you read them.

Then there have been my many criticisms of the Bush administration. I promise you that the coming year will see more satirical jabs at W, because our time with him as our leader is drawing to a close. By my calendar estimate, we have only 12 months and 11 days before George W. Bush becomes an average citizen again, irrelevant to the day-to-day lives of us Americans and, for that matter, the rest of the world. Wow, that felt good to write that last sentence!

I can only imagine what you, my readers, must think of me. It’s okay, think what you will. This is, after all, still a free country. I’m sure you’re left with several questions. Questions such as, where do I get these weird ideas? Will there be more strangeness in my future entries? And, of course, is “blogiversary” a real word? I will leave these questions hanging in mid-air...for now.

I must not miss this chance to thank my readers for checking out my blog. There are not many of you, but we make up in quality what we don’t have in quantity. Thanks to all of you all over the world: Liverpool, Beijing, Dubai, Norway, Italy and Singapore, among others. I should also give thanks to my domestic audience: Brooklyn, Minneapolis, Texas, Danville (PA), Washington, the Pacific Northwest, and many others I have forgotten at the moment. Thank you also to those of you who have left comments on my blog: Sally, Damon, nomad, rosetintedglasses, KOARC, and my Mom. I am grateful for all your thoughts.

In the coming year, I hope my thoughts will continue to entertain all of you. I will also vow to use my blog for good, and not evil. In other words, put a Democrat into the White House regardless of who he (or she) is. I can’t stress this enough: in 12 months and 11 days George W. Bush will no longer be the decider of the free world.

Gee, it felt so good to write that the first time that I just had to repeat it. Thank you all and please come again soon!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Iowa? What About It?

Today, eligible voters in this midwestern province of the United States attend caucuses to determine who amongst the candidates from both parties get to go on to the remaining primaries and which get to go home. Of course, this won’t be totally decided today; there will be caucuses and primaries in other states in the coming months. However, the media treat these events in Iowa as if they are a harbinger of things to come, as if the rest of us will automatically just fall into line behind this largely rural state and agree that the people they choose will lead us for the next four years.

Nothing could be further from the truth. While I will admit Iowa is an important part of the union – although for the life of me now I can’t think of any other contribution they make besides corn - we must be honest about our attitudes towards Iowa. Today we are treating this state as some holy ground, a la The Garden of Eden. After today – and for the other three years and 364 days to come - we will more or less ignore them. Oh sure, the Mississippi River will overflow its banks once in awhile bringing death and destruction to the state, and then the rest of the country will take notice. Otherwise, it’s “Iowa? What about it?”

So today, the rest of the country will pretend that the good citizens of Iowa know exactly what we are looking for in a leader. I say pretend because America is a big country with a widely divergent population. For example, will a resident of Des Moines share the same concerns about universal health care as a poor family living in Harlem? Will a God-fearing farmer from Clear Lake think like a California liberal who believes that George W. Bush’s vision of America is all wrong? Will a young family living in Davenport look at the war on terror as, say, a retired couple living in Florida? Probably not, but for argument's sake we are allowing the Iowans to make these decisions for us, but for one day only!

Of course, the caucus results today are not set in stone. History has given us examples where the big winner in Iowa crashes and burns in the sudden death round, otherwise known as the New Hampshire primary. I can’t emphasize the lesson of Howard Dean enough. One flash of exuberance to his supporters and the media (okay, actually just the Fox News Network) crucified him.

So how will it play out? Well, on the Democratic side, Clinton and Obama run the risk of peaking too early. They may cancel each other out, leaving Edwards out front, perhaps not today but most likely in the wake of New Hampshire. On the Republican side, it could boil down to a photo finish between Giuliani and Romney. McCain will probably show the strength to carry him into New Hampshire, and he may surprise everyone yet. As for the others - Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee – both are too radical for mainstream voters. Either one of them may end up running as independents. Oh, has anyone heard from Fred Thompson lately?

So today, everyone will carry on as if the election were today and the inauguration will happen tomorrow. Hmm...that’s not such a bad idea, considering who’s in the White House now. Mr. Bush, you’ve been doing a lot of hard, hard work during these last seven years...and you have nothing to show for it! Get out now, while you still have a legacy that you can boast about to your fellow Texans down on the ranch in Crawford. Go ahead, we won’t mind if you leave office 11 months and 16 days early.

Final predictions for today:

Who will win – the people of Iowa who will get their peace and quiet back after today.

Who should win – “Little Miss Sunshine”.