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

My Photo
Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Monday, November 30, 2009

Surviving Monk

Monk, the hit television series about an obsessive–compulsive detective, is ending its run this week. Today I will offer my suggestions on getting through this difficult time.

1. Shout, “Howie, your fingernails are dirty!” at the television screen while watching “Deal or No Deal.”*

2. Cancel your cable, because now there is no reason to watch television ever again.

3. Stare at the blank television screen until you starve to death, your loved ones leave you, or you need to get up to get a beer.

4. Erect a shrine in your home in Monk’s honor. Include statues of all the characters: Adrian Monk, Natalie, Sharona, Crow T. Robot, Tom Servo...oh, sorry! I’m having a Mystery Science Theater 3000 flashback.

5. Lock yourself in your room and scream “Why me?” over and over until you starve to death, your loved ones leave you, or you need to get up to get a beer.

6. Contemplate the show’s place in the universe, the cosmos, and the grand scheme of things. Know that all good things must come to an end and this show was a good thing. Remember the show fondly, but keep in mind that it is also time for everyone - cast, crew and fans — to move on to bigger and better things.

7. Yeah, right...good luck with #6!

8. Drink heavily and wallow in misery until you starve to death, your loved ones leave you, or you need to get up to get another beer.

9. Read a book, listen to your favorite music, volunteer your time for a non-profit, walk on the short, live your life to its fullest. After all, it was just a show.

*Okay, I’ll explain this one. Game show host Howie Mandel recently admitted to being obsessive-compulsive in his newly released memoir.

(Thank you for reading. Thank you Tony Shaloub and everyone on Monk for a wonderful run!)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

It is time once again to express gratitude for all of the blessings we have this year. I myself would like to give thanks for all of the changes I have witnessed; for example...

I am thankful that I feel better this year than I have in more recent years. My walk from my car to my office cubicle no longer leaves me short of breath. I am thankful that I have found an agreeable way to lose weight by cutting back on portions and continuing cardiac rehab workouts three times a week. It’s agreeable because I am not left starving throughout the day, which would distract me from my daily tasks.

I am thankful that none of the disasters predicted by conservative Republicans have come to pass simply because Barack Obama took office in January. The world did not implode (except on movie screens), and the Constitution did not disintegrate. We still live in a great nation, even with many people opposing health care solutions from which they themselves could benefit. Their opposition makes little sense. Still, it is their right to protest out of fear that any government intervention will lead to the worst case Socialist scenarios Senator McCarthy railed against 60 years ago. These people should have more faith in the flexibility of the U.S. Constitution, but, like the country itself, they are also a work in progress.

Then there are other, seemingly mundane things for which to be grateful.

I am thankful for my continued employment (with health benefits) that enables me to meet all my financial obligations and still have a little left over to help the less fortunate.

I am thankful I can still dream up the silly ideas I write on this blog. Personally, my musings here satisfy my creative and artistic longings. While I’m on the subject, I should also give thanks to everyone reading these entries. Your loyalty and occasional comments, dear readers, are always appreciated.

Finally, I am thankful that I can be thankful again for the same things as in previous years: good friends and neighbors, a chance to spend time with my brother and mother, and that Anne Marie, Steven and Meredith are still a part of my life. With any one of you missing from my life, my day-to-day existence would be greatly diminished.


(Thank you for reading. Please remember to cook your turkey until the interior temperature reaches 180 degrees.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Political “Beauty” of Sarah Palin

The repackaging of Sarah Palin has begun and is slowly evolving before our own eyes. Her memoirs are out and everyone is weighing in about her book, her book tour, her television interviews, and herself. Her fans think she is Presidential material. Her critics shudder at this thought.

In the midst of all this was the publication — in the liberal media — of a photograph of Palin in short shorts as she was jogging. The criticism about the photo came from all directions, including Palin herself, and even members of the liberal media. These two divergent camps disagree on political issues, but they agreed in this case that the photo was sexist in nature.

I haven’t seen the photo, but in the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that, as a heterosexual male with an appreciative eye for female beauty, Sarah Palin is a physically beautiful woman. There, I said it! If complimenting someone who I have never met face-to-face is sexist, then so be it!

I make this admission with the following caveats. I realize that physical beauty is not everything; it is just one small part of the whole picture. I also realize that this element of her will be modified, tweaked, and perfected by those around her who seek to elevate her to a higher level of power. We all know where this is going: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

There are the other elements to consider. Her down home demeanor, while endearing to her base constituency, can and has tripped up her ability to articulate her knowledge of national events. Witness Katie Couric’s newspaper question. The fact that she resigned her governorship midway through her term, leaving the people of Alaska in the lurch, led many to predict her political self-destruction. Okay, the woman has some minuses to overcome, but she has plenty of time to smooth out these blemishes.

Unfortunately, appearances, however superficial, are given more credence in society than substance. Chalk up this phenomenon to human nature. Why else do many successful business people dress in their best clothes every day? They emphasize their physical attractiveness much like animals in the wild will either spread their plumage or sing pretty songs. Humans and animals alike know that they must do this to persuade their clients or mates to buy their product or go with them.

Politicians are no different. They are, after all, trying to sell themselves to the American voter. In this regard, it is nothing more than a job interview that seems to go on forever and ever.

We can see a historical example in the Kennedy-Nixon Debates from 1960. People who listened to the debates on the radio believed that Nixon won. However, people who watched the debates on television gave Kennedy the victory, even though they heard the same arguments from both candidates as the radio listeners.

Why the difference? The theory that has been given the most credibility over the course of 50 years is Nixon’s physical appearance during the debate. People couldn’t get over the “five o’clock shadow” on his face. That, and the fact that he kept looking around during the course of the debate - as if he were looking for a way to escape - didn’t help him one bit.

We shouldn’t disregard any physical charisma Sarah Palin displays while she keeps herself politically relevant for the next few years. The politicos will use her charm to their advantage and manipulate us into thinking she is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Her fans will revel in this transformation. The rest of us will try our best to avert our eyes.

(Thank you for reading. Please remember that beauty is in the eyes of the pollsters!)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cranky Rant #1: The US Postal Service*

The United States Postal Service — the quasi-government agency who vows to deliver letters, cards, and packages through snow, sleet, hell and high water — reported a record loss of $3.8 billion for the fiscal year just ended. They accomplished this despite budget and employee cuts, office closures, and, of course the old stand-by, a rise in postal rates. Naturally, everyone is offering their theories as to why the USPS is doing worse business than American auto makers and the major banks.

One major reason — e-mail — is a no brainer. There is also the competition from other ground carriers: UPS, FedEx, et al. Financial transactions through the Internet are also taking a bite into postal revenue, since many people are not sending their payments through the mail. This is common sense, as is my own personal theory as to why the post office is losing money: their service is shit!

In recent years, the postal system has lost three of my payments – one being the mortgage. Then, just a few months ago, they failed to deliver a credit card bill to my address. Since I never received a bill, I didn’t send a payment that month and I got slapped with a late fee. Fortunately, the credit card company was very understanding and waived the fee — after two or three phone calls. With job performance like this, it’s no wonder that many people are paying their bills online.

Then there are the glaring incidents in recent years regarding mass third rate advertising mailings. In these cases, the local postmasters - under pressure to keep the mail moving, and their bonuses coming to them - resorted to stashing these mailings in tractor trailers behind their offices. The trucks were stacked floor to ceiling with brochures and ads which local businessmen/women depended on to get delivered to sell their products.

This action involved a lot of faith in the postmaster, namely, praying like hell that no one would ever figure why the tractor trailers never moved from their spots. Unfortunately, someone eventually went to the media where all hell broke loose. By my count, this has happened at least twice in recent years: Landover, Maryland and Philadelphia. I forget the outcome of the Maryland case, but when the Philadelphia postmaster was found out, the post office sprang into action. Taking a cue from the Roman Catholic Church’s traditional (until a few years ago) resolution of their pedophile priest problem, the US Postal Service reassigned the postmaster.

What else could the postal service do? Dismissal of the postmaster would have amounted to an indictment of their corporate culture. Actually, a few indictments might not be a bad idea. Perhaps the postal service (that last word should be used very loosely) would finally get the message that they are no longer serving the American public’s needs.

Anne Marie has noticed that her company is not getting the bills from their vendors. There again, no bills received, no bills get paid. Her business is solving this problem through, yes, you guessed it, paying their bills electronically and receiving bills via e-mail or fax.

Complain? Yeah, right! I filled out forms for the three payments I mentioned earlier in such a way that the post office could surely locate them, even with the billions of pieces they handle every year. The forms were detailed with the size (in inches) of the checks, a description of the check backgrounds (Poker Dogs, of course) and the check amounts. There is no way they could fail to find these checks — if they would only take the time to look for them.

I only say that because I filled out those forms three years ago, and I’m still waiting to hear from the post office. I think I might have better luck finding Jimmy Hoffa or Amelia Earhart for all the effort the postal system puts into resolving customer complaints.

So, happy trails to the postal service! Without a drastic overhaul of your corporate culture, you deserve the one way ticket to business oblivion!

*I know, I know! I’ve written hundreds of cranky rants on this blog, but starting today we’ll start counting them. Enjoy!

(Thanks for reading! Please remember not to fold, spindle, or mutilate your letters; the USPS will do it for you for $.44!)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The End (in 2012)

The world is coming to an end in the year 2012! Don’t take my word for it! This was Hollywood’s idea, and I’m sure the movie of the same name brought in millions of dollars with its scenes of utter global destruction. The crust of the earth buckling up and swallowing whole civilizations, record breaking tidal waves washing over the Himalayan mountain range, and all this on the heels of Sarah Palin elected to the White House!

No, no, I’m kidding! I doubt that a Palin administration will bring on the end of the world as we know it, mainly because I can’t conceive the GOP being so desperate to nominate her in the first place. I have nothing against her personally, but let’s face it; she can’t even name a single newspaper she has read.

Many people are crediting the Mayan calendar with the idea that the world will end in 2012. It is easy to do this because most of the people claiming to be Mayans are dead and, therefore, are not able to dispute this bizarre notion. This also prevents them from calling in to Rush Limbaugh to argue the if Limbaugh would seriously consider accepting a caller with an opposing point of view in the first place.

Poor Mayans! They had the most advanced civilization in the known world at the time and one Spanish invasion later, whoosh...they’re gone! Just like that! Now we remember them because they predicted when the world would end. We — those of us living in modern civilized societies — base this on the fact that their calendar only went so far and just ends!

Just because the calendar only goes so far doesn’t mean it’s all over. All calendars end, mostly at the end of twelve months. When this happens, we simply turn the page over and find either a Miss January Playboy lingerie model, a view of Philadelphia’s City Hall circa 1908, a reproduction of Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter, or two kittens peering out wide-eyed from inside a copper watering pitcher staring back at us. Well, that could be what you’d find on the calendars in my house, but that doesn’t matter. My point is, life goes on even when the calendar expires. When this happens, you simply buy a new calendar - even though Hollywood would have us believe you should run for the hills that are buckling up and swallowing everything in its path.

Theories abound as to why the Mayan calendar ended when it did. Aside from the aforementioned significance of global oblivion, we should explore other ideas. My personal theory is that the calendar was being worked on a by an entry-level high priest (or perhaps an intern) in the Mayan temple, when something happened. Either his work was interrupted by famine, drought, earthquake, plague, or some other natural disaster. Or maybe this was the moment when the Spanish invaded and wiped out everything. Or, if the work was an unpaid position, than the junior priest/intern would have been forced to keep his day job.

Yeah, that’s it! Our Mayan calendar writer had to leave his task in the temple because he had to work a double shift at the local 7-11! Then, during this shift, his civilization was destroyed by famine/plague/Spanish invasion, and he simply did not get back to complete his job.

Mind you, this is all theory, and subject to all of the spirited debate and innuendo that talk radio and/or Hollywood epics will allow. 2012, the movie, looks very entertaining, but ultimately ridiculous, since it would preclude the making of a special effect laden, money-making blockbuster sequel. 2012, the year, will most likely be just as exciting as the movie, even if it is a major election year.

(Thank you for reading! Please remember to remove any kittens from your water pitcher before use as a watering device.)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Snort Notes – November 2009


Public Broadcasting System’s Sesame Street – an educational show aimed at young children — celebrated the anniversary of its premiere on November 11, 1969. The show is legendary in its impact on the American cultural landscape. Not only has it taught and entertained a generation of children, but it has survived to become a bedrock of public television.

This time, 10 years ago, the outlook wasn’t very optimistic that public television would survive into the next century. A conservative rebellion in Congress, led by Newt Gingrich, almost zeroed out funding for public television. They argued that federal funding was no longer needed for an alternative to big business network television, since cable outlets like The Learning Channel and the Discovery Channel were providing the same service as PBS. In reality, Congress wanted to eliminate public television because of its perceived liberal biases.

In the end, cooler heads prevailed. Gingrich and company failed because they couldn’t convince people that Bert and Ernie were part of an “alphabetical agenda” (after all, they do sleep in separate beds), let alone demonstrate liberal bias within PBS. Since then, someone invented the Fox News Network, and now everyone is happy.

The big winners in Sesame Street’s endurance have been America’s schoolchildren, and Carroll Spinney, who has portrayed Big Bird since the beginning. Imagine working for 40 years inside a large, yellow, feathered costume. Hey, it’s nice work if you can get it!

Congratulations to Sesame Street, and may it continue for many years to come!


Sorry, padres, but it looks like the fact-finding sojourn to the Grotto at the Playboy Mansion West will be cancelled...again!


The latest version of the Charles Dickens classic is a CGI-laden, slapsticky work from the Disney Studios. More than one critic noted that, yes, it was visually interesting, but it lacked the spirit of the story. Once again, the kids — and/or their parents — didn’t pay any mind to the critics. The film did $31 million in its opening weekend.

As for me, give me Alastair Sim, or give me death! On second thought, don’t take me literally.

(Thank you for reading. Please remember that the tall yellow bird may talk like a small child, but he is wise beyond his years.)

Monday, November 09, 2009

Meanwhile, Somewhere Over Minnesota...or Wisconsin...or...

By now, we are all familiar with the story of the two pilots flying an airbus from San Diego to Minneapolis and how they overshot the airport by 150 miles. (!!!!) Since the incident happened a few weeks ago, the FAA has seen fit to revoke their licenses. As this is being written, the pilots are still employed by Northwest Airlines.

What actually happened in the cockpit that so distracted them? Lord only knows, and we’ll probably never hear a blow-by-blow description. Still, that won’t stop us from speculating...

THE SCENE: a cockpit of a jet airliner flying somewhere over the north central United States.

Co-Pilot: ...then click on schedule, then enter the date. Yeah, like that.

Pilot: Oh, I see. Hey, thanks for helping me with these flight schedules on my laptop.

Co-Pilot: No problem! It certainly killed some time on this flight. Hey, is it my imagination or is this flight lasting like forever?

Pilot: No, I don’t think...oh, wow! Look at the time! We should’ve heard something from the Twin Cities by now. Actually...we should be somewhere over Wisconsin by now.

Co-Pilot: No! Really? Hey, if we are over Wisconsin, I know this great little restaurant in Osseo. The Norske Nook! They have sour cream raisin pie to die for!

Pilot: Osseo, huh? Do they have an airport?

Co-Pilot: Nah, they’re barely big enough for an airstrip. But, hey, it’s Wisconsin! A lot of low, rolling hills...we could land anywhere.

Pilot: Um hmm. east of Minnesota, isn’t it?

Co-Pilot: No, it’s west of Minnesota.

Pilot: Are you sure?

Co-Pilot: Yeah, South Dakota, Wisconsin, then Minnesota.

Pilot: Oh, okay. (long pause) Didn’t you tell me one time that you flunked geography?

Co-Pilot: Ohhhh, yeah. That’s right. Not my strongest subject...that and aviation metallurgy.

Pilot: Yeah, well, we should at least be somewhere around Minneapolis. At least, Eden Prairie...or maybe Circle Pines...

Co-Pilot: Oh my God! I don’t believe I just saw that...

Pilot: Saw what?

Co-Pilot: Um, the Sears Tower.

Pilot: The Sears Tower? When did they move the Sears Tower to Eden Prairie?

Co-Pilot: Well, I think the building is under new management...

Pilot: Oh, I just realized something! I turned the radio off when we started working on our laptops.

Co-Pilot: Well, no wonder we haven’t heard from Minneapolis!

Pilot: Let me switch it on...

(Chatter and static. A female voice is heard.)

Flight Attendant: Hey, guys! Are you okay? We seemed to have overshot our scheduled landing.

Pilot: Yes, Judy, we’re just realizing that.

Flight Attendant: The passengers and I have one question for you. WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TWO DOING UP THERE?

(Thank you for reading! Please remember Amtrak is the safest way to fly!)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The 2009 World Series Post Mortem

It would be easy to think today is a bitch of a day in southeastern Pennsylvania, especially if you’re a Philadelphia Phillies fan.

We could analyze the Phillies performance in Game 6 of the World Series ad nauseum. We could point fingers at the inconsistent pitching and season end hitting slumps that plagued more than one member of the Philadelphia bench. That would be unfair; to put it bluntly, the Phils were out-pitched and out-batted last night in the Bronx.

Yet, it would be easy to offer a middle finger salute to every Yankees fan we encounter today.

No, that would be expressing our disappointment while taking the low road. You know the path I’m talking about, dear readers. It is that path shrouded in negativity, buffeted by the cold, harsh winds of bitter recriminations and strewn with sour grapes. Like making lemonade from the lemons life hands us, so too we can make something positive of these grapes. We can crush and ferment them so that we will one day bear the fruit of a wonderful vintage which may yield a full-bodied, perhaps heart-healthy elixir of hope.

Oh, the hell with it! Let’s get this out of our system and trample on those grapes!

It would be easy to photoshop the face of Rupert Murdoch onto the bikini-clad body of a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, much like the hack jobs his beloved New York Post did to Phillies Shane Victorino and Pedro Martinez.

It would be easy to speculate how soon Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia and catcher Jorge Posada will announce their engagement, given all the mound conferences they held in one of the World Series games in Philadelphia.

It would be easy to do all these things to release our pent up frustration at the disappointing end of the 2009 World Series...but we shouldn’t always go the easy route.

All right, time to take the high road because, theoretically, it is closer to heaven. Never mind that this path can take us into altitudes where the air is thinner and, therefore, more difficult to breathe. It is still the right thing to do.

To the Yankees: congratulations on winning your 27th World Series. You proved to be a worthy opponent of our Fightin’ Phillies.

To the Phillies: thank you for a wonderful, awesome season. Many of us are grateful that your efforts resulted in the first back-to-back World Series appearances in franchise history. While there will be no trophy or victory parade this year, you did nonetheless win a moral victory in standing up to the Yankees, the team with the best won-loss record for the 2009 season. You earned this season’s accomplishments through grit, determination, and hard work. Your victories were not bought. Okay, so maybe I took the road in the middle...

Hey Phillies, let’s do it again next year!

(Thank you for reading. Remember that a loss doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. We’ll always have 2008!)

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The VA Governor's Race

Please allow me, dear readers, to engage in some good old-fashioned, right-wing fear mongering. This will allow me to comment on a topic, take the most extreme point of view imaginable, and bear down on one aspect of this topic with the most outlandish claims possible, disregard facts without consideration of other points of view, and denounce it as the end of the world as we know it. In other words, I will pretend that I am a conservative talk radio host.

Attention all female registered voters living in the state of Virginia! We urge you to vote your conscience in the upcoming gubernatorial election in your state. Please bear in mind that, if you vote for the Democratic candidate, you will be allowed to proceed with your life as normal. In other words, you will still be able to work a career, be a productive member of society, and reap all psychological and material rewards befitting your hard work. If you vote for the Republican candidate, you may be asked to give up your career, forfeit all benefits and rewards of said career, and, oh yes, you will also have to give up your shoes. After all, you won’t need shoes if state law requires you to fulfill the old-fashioned role model of women, i.e., barefoot and pregnant.

Wow! What a rush! Now I can appreciate why Limbaugh, Beck, and Palin get off on this kind of stuff!

The reason for my advisory is due to some new information that has come to light regarding the Republican candidate, Bob McDonnell. He had been enjoying a double digit lead in the polls, and history favored his winning the governorship in a few months. Then someone dug up his master’s thesis about the negative effect government programs had on the traditional family. In his thesis written at Pat Robertson’s Regent University — and analyzed in Dick Polman’s American Debate blog - he argued that government should not fund programs which undermine the ”traditional family”. The thesis spoke out against tax credits for child day care, which make it easier for working women to “seek workplace equality and individual self-actualization”. He asked whether government should “subsidize the choices of a generation with an increased appetite for the materialistic components of the American dream”.

McDonnell also labeled feminists as the “real enemies of the traditional family”. Never mind that many women are forced to get a job outside the home to cover the basic necessities like food, clothing, and a roof over their heads. Oh, right, these are material components of the American dream. Never mind all of the contributions the “feminists” have made to American society that improve not only their lives, but the lives of their families as well.

I will attempt to pass along a personal message to the Republican candidate in a language he can understand: “Ooh, ooh! Huh! Angh, ooh! Fire! Ooh, oh, argh! Ooh. Ooh!”

Mind you my Cro-Magnon language skills aren’t what they used to be, but I think he may have got the gist of my message. I tried to make him understand that his views are old-fashioned, as in 1950s June-Cleaver-meets-her-man-at-the-door-wrapped-only-in-cellophane-old-fashioned. I attempted to invite him to join the 21st Century in his attitudes towards women. Either that, or I just passed a hairball through my rectum...

(That last line was for my cats, Steven and Meredith! My human readers may not appreciate the humor in that line, but once my cats read it they’ll be purring their tails off!)

McDonnell has down played the controversy by saying that his attitudes from a thesis written 20 years ago do not guide his agenda today. Unfortunately for him, a journalist on the Fox News Network (of all places) pointed out that his views have not changed very much. According to a televised interview on September 27, McDonnell has voted against extending child care services, voted against ending gender based wage discrimination, and voted against requiring health insurance plans to cover birth control. Oh, yeah, this guy is a real modern thinking man, all right!

So, female voters of Virginia, it appears you have a lot to think about between now and election day. Vote early, vote often, and good luck!

(Thank you for reading! Please remember, “Ooh, ooh! Argh! Angh, ooh!)