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 19, 2015

Good News and Better News

I had my second cataract surgery this past week and (good news) I now have 20/20 vision again.

Even greater news, I had my second cataract surgery this past week and nobody died. Okay, this may seem like I’m relating two unrelated events, but please recall what happened last month when I had my first cataract surgery. I came home from the surgery center to find a message from my brother that Mom had passed away that morning. This time, I received no news that any one I knew died on the day of my second surgery, so yay! I’ll take any victory that I can get at this point.

This week everything is blossoming. Our Bradford Pear tree has white snowy branches, the forsythia has golden yellow limbs, and the weeping cherry has bloomed with purple and lavender twiny strings hanging down in flaccid fashion.

(Tee-hee!  I said “flaccid.”)

I’m also very happy with the progress of my newly planted rhododendron, as Warrior Queen reported on her blog. I am trying to populate the back yard with flora that reminds me of plants my mother had in our yard while I was growing up, and yet not tempt the local deer population to gorge on my landscaping. Sadly, I made a miscalculation when I brought the rhododendron home.  

I googled this species of plant and found that deer do not avoid the rhodo.  Nay, in fact they look upon it as a feast. Sure enough, I googled further and found that one of these critters was enterprising enough to land a rhododendron cookbook on the The New York Times best sellers list (“101 Rhodo Recipes” by Bambi).* Naturally, I did not make this discovery until AFTER I planted my new $30 dollar garden investment in the ground.

Previously I thought I had read somewhere on the Internet (where everything is right, don’t you know) that deer don’t like rhododendrons. Or maybe I got my rhodos mixed up with another species of plant like daffodils.
Okay, okay, I know that it is a bit of stretch to confuse a rhododendron with daffodils, but please keep in mind: my 20/20 vision was not restored until this week.

And of course the rhodo plant will be the main entrée after the deer feast on the hosta salad bar.**  Hosta is another species I fondly remember bordering the postage stamp size garden of our Northeast Philadelphia row house. I have planted four or five around the base of our weeping cherry. Fortunately, I’m spraying both rhodo and hosta with a deer repellant, and so far, so good.

And hey, while I’m depriving the local deer population of a hearty meal, I might as well do my part to piss off the local squirrels too. In the 15 years we have lived here, we’ve filled a bird feeder near the living room window, solely so the local bird population can entertain our cats while they fill their tummies. 

Unfortunately, the birds are joined by the squirrels and deer (remember them?). This depletes a normal two week supply of bird seed in a matter of days. The aforementioned deer repellant has discouraged the deer not to suck and/or otherwise lick the seed out of the tiny feeder holes, but the squirrels proved more difficult.

I recently purchased a squirrel baffle for the base of our bird feeder. For those not familiar with this device, it is simply nothing more than a sheet metal hood fashioned in such a way that the squirrels climb up the pole or post and, instead of reaching around to grasp a paw full of seed within reach, they have to figure out how to climb upside down to the edge of the hood, then climb up the top of the hood. So far, they have not thought this through.

They could develop tiny suction cups on their paws and feet, or order two pairs of Acme brand suction cups on Amazon, but so far they haven’t been able to make either one of these choices. They also haven’t resorted to a third choice: hire a squirrel lawyer to issue a cease and desist order to me to remove the baffle.***

So, with any luck this spring, I’ll have great looking plants and grumpy wildlife in my backyard. I can live with that!

* Who knew that Bambi was so in touch with his doe side to write a cook book? And I always thought he was so…so stag!

** And, no, I’m not putting out croutons!

*** This begs the question: how does one tell the regular squirrels from the lawyer squirrels? Easy! The lawyer squirrels are the ones wearing fluorescent striped bow ties!

(Thank you for reading. Next week in this space: a review of Bambi’s latest New York Times best seller, “Humping Does!” Now that’s more like it!)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Warrior Queen – Ant Killer, or Springtime in Southeast Pennsylvania

The moderating temperatures have finally caught up with the calendar and we can now say that spring is here.

(Wow! Now there’s an opening worthy of Fox News meteorologist John Bolaris.  Maybe we should try a different angle…)

Spring! Wonderful spring! Buds popping everywhere heralding the coming blossoms and pollen and allergies and…

(And allergies are going to be a bitch this year. Let’s try another tact!)

Hi Spring!

(Close enough for Monday morning blogging.)

The first Easter without Mom passed without too many pangs of grief. The sight of Easter lilies marked down for final sale at the grocery store last week reminded me of my Easter tradition. I would always bring a lily to Mom, one with a blossom already opened, and four or five other buds which would open later in the week. The smile on her face when I gave the plant to her will from now on be nothing more than a memory.

Now we head into warmer weather. It still seems to be wintery cold in the morning here, but a few days last week saw temperatures hover around the 70 degree mark. If we can only keep those temperatures for the next few months with the present humidity levels at 39%.... Now those are conditions I can live with, but it will never happen. 
Anyway, the residents of Chez Gunther have begun doing something which I never thought we would do: spring cleaning. Warrior Queen has cleared the top shelf of our kitchen cabinets of long lost plastic containers, souvenir adult sippy cups, and other items we have neglected to use in years because, well, because we put them on the top shelf out of reach of our puny arms. Access to this plastic ware is not possible without reaching for the step stool and, let’s face it, if you have to go to the trouble of getting out a step stool, then you may want to stop and ask yourself if it’s worth the trouble.

She is also clearing out closet space; old clothes are being bagged and board games which we bought years ago and are still sealed are being boxed for donation. I’ll be sorry to see the board games go, particularly since board games are making a comeback in a backlash against the popularity of video games. On the other hand, if we haven’t gotten around to even removing the seal after 20 years, then perhaps it’s best to let them go to a better home. All of these items are now piling up on our porch, waiting for a local charity to pick them up.

Next, WQ proceeded to the upstairs bathroom to seek out the origin of our ant problem. Yes, we’ve had thousands of the tiny buggers in our house since the beginning of the year, crawling on the kitchen counter, the powder room floor, and in and out of the food left behind by the cats in their dishes. We responded with spray on the counter, stomping on the floor, and discarding the cat food. In recent weeks, they had retreated to the upstairs bathroom where they found lots of places to crawl and, surprise, to lay about a million eggs.

Last Friday, WQ lifted the maroon shag bath rug and discovered Antopolis, or the United States of Ants! There were hundreds of the buggers going about their business under the rug; WQ swore she caught two of them in flagrante delecto, which means her vision must be fabulous since these creatures are no more than one-sixteenth of an inch long. And she has never had cataract surgery…which is a better record than me.

She also surmised that the rug was one massive incubation and maternity ward for future generations of ants. The rug went into the garbage - ant eggs and all - after 15 years of faithful service catching the drips of water from our post-shower bodies. Then she evicted the adults. Actually, eviction is a mild term for what actually happened.

WQ sprayed the floor with a well-known ant killer spray. She did this with great relish and, I dare say, accompanied her action with diabolical laughter. The poor creatures never had a chance!

The spring cleaning will most likely continue for a few more weeks. I have some things to contribute to the donation pile, but until this is over I think I’ll keeping moving around the house and not stay in one spot long enough to be mistaken for an object worthy of donation.  It can happen…just ask the ants.

(Thank you for reading. Trivial Pursuit anyone?)

Sunday, April 05, 2015

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

At the end of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, all seemed right with the disparate group of British pensioners who now call India their home.   Relationships ended - Douglas and Jean (Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton); relationships began - Douglas and Evelyn (Dame Judi Dench); or just moved forward - Sonny Kapoor and Sunaina (Dev Patel and Tina Desai). Alas, it turns out that all is not right; therefore it is not the end…which brings us to the sequel, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

First there is Sonny, the manager, eager to branch out and franchise his hotel idea for the elderly to live out their final days. And some do live there until their end; The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is probably the first hospitality venue in history to demand that its residents answer a roll call every morning to verify that none of them ran off with Death in the middle of the night. He has an eye to renovate another nearby hotel to start his empire, but he needs investors.

And, oh yes, he is soon to marry Sunaina. The man has a full plate, yet still has time to personally entertain the mysterious American guest (Richard Gere), whom he believes is an inspector sent to spy on him by a prospective investor.

His desire to please and sincerity is beyond question, even as his ineloquent attempts to communicate across cultures embarrass himself and those close to him. Yet, as one character surmises, he is more often right than wrong about life. If only he could overcome his jealousy toward his bride’s male friends and stubbornness to work with a prospective partner.

When last we saw Douglas and Evelyn, they were riding off into the sunset on a scooter. The second Marigold Hotel opens with their relationship not having progressed much beyond the scooter buddy phase. Evelyn longs for Douglas, and one can see how she desperately wants him to sweep her off her feet before she accepts a fabric buying position in far off Mumbai. For his part, Douglas hems and haws so much that he nearly loses out on the relationship. It is only when Jean reappears and practically demands that he start an adulterous relationship with Evelyn (which will make it easier for her to divorce him and begin dating a lawyer back home) that Douglas finally steps closer to Evelyn. 

Meanwhile, deceptions abound in the lives of Norman Cousins (Ronald Pickup) and Carol (Diana Hardcastle), who are trying to keep the British ex-pat hang out Viceroy Club from bankruptcy and stay faithful to each other. Madge (Celia Imrie) tries to balance a relationship with two wealthy suitors at the same time. By the time Sonny marries Sunaina, all deceptions are exposed or otherwise resolved.  

Given the framework of the first Marigold Hotel, and given that most of the characters are closer to the mortuary than menopause (a variation on another of Sonny’s ineloquisms), you have to expect that one of the characters will die before all is said and done. Sure enough, the foreshadowing of one character “leaving the story” is omnipresent. At the end, the death does not take place onscreen, but Muriel (Maggie Smith) does get to say the final words of the story, eloquent and all.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel tries hard to top the original, but how can you top the wonderful philosophy of the first film (“Everything will be all right in the end…”). The best the second can offer is “It takes team work to make a dream work.” True enough, but why does that sound like it came from a motivational poster hanging in every break room all across corporate America?

Once again, we are left with a scene of the characters riding off on scooters, but somehow we just know that not everything is all right yet. Let’s face it: Norman will never settle for a monogamous relationship, and haven’t we ridden down this road before with Douglas and Evelyn? The story may stop here (for now), but the door is left open just wide enough for another sequel to come in.

Should the story continue? Why not? After all, it is the journey that matters. All of the characters, be they young or old, have much to teach and learn from each other. 
May the journey continue for all!

(Thank you for reading. And I hope everyone had a Happy Easter/Passover!)

Friday, April 03, 2015

God and Son

And now a sneak peak at the series premiere of the newest situation comedy from Fox…God and Son!

(Studio applause.)

Jesus: Good Morning, father!

God: Good Morning Jesus!  Happy Good Friday!

Jesus:  Thanks!  Um, why do they call this Good Friday?

God:  This is the day that all my best plans are revealed to the world.  This is the day that I demonstrate the concept of everlasting life!

Jesus:  Really?  That’s wonderful!  Is there anything I can do to help?

God: Actually, yes.  You could d… (mumbles)

Jesus:  What, father?  I didn’t catch that!  Your voice trailed off.

God: You could DIE!  There I said it!

Jesus: Oh.  I see. (Long silence.) So I just go off somewhere, die peacefully like I fall asleep, then I just, BOOM, come back to life, as if by magic!

God:  Um, yeah, something like that.

Jesus:  I’ll be lying there one minute, then, ta da, just jump up! Like that time you invited a thousand people over for dinner and all I had was a smelly mackerel and a few loaves of bread.

God:  Yes!  Exactly!

Jesus:  So, how will it happen?

God: What?

Jesus: How will I die?

God: Oh, well, um…I can’t think of the exact term for it.  The Romans have a cute name for it.  Anyway, it’s on your “To Do” list for today.

Jesus:  Oh, let’s see.  Here’s my “To Do” list.  Oh my! This can’t be right! There’s only one entry on my list for today, “Get crucified!”  Sweet me!  

God: Son! Language!

Jesus:   Sorry, father.  (After a moment.) Oh, I get it.  This won’t be an actual crucifixion.  The Romans will just pillory me in the local media so bad that people will think, “Wow, they really crucified Christ!”

God: No, you don’t get it.

Jesus: Huh?

God:  It won’t be a metaphorical crucifixion.  It will be a literal crucifixion.

Jesus: Actual crucifixion?

God: Large spikes nailed through your limbs, hung on a cross, exposed to the elements like a common thief, the whole nine yards.

Jesus:  I don’t know about this…whole nine what?

God:  Never mind that!  Look. Just trust me; this will play great in all the history books.

Jesus:  What’s a history book?

God:  Well, that’s a record of all of mankind’s achievements and mistakes, but mostly their mistakes.  Never mind that! You’ll be remembered as the greatest teacher who ever lived. You will have taught the miracle of everlasting life!

Jesus: But crucifixion is so painful!

God: Oh, stop whining!

Jesus:  Couldn’t I just eat an under cooked piece of pork at tonight’s supper?

God:  It’s Passover. They won’t be serving pork.  I’ll make sure of that.

Jesus:  Couldn’t I just go to sleep and just stop breathing?

God:  No, it needs to be more dramatic!  You have to die for all of mankind’s sins!

Jesus:  But it’s going to hurt!

God:  Well, there are a lot of sins! Jesus, do you trust me?

Jesus: Well. Yes, father, implicitly.  But…

God: But what?

Jesus:  I keep thinking about that dinner with the mackerel and the bread.   All those people expecting a meal…

God:  Jesus?

Jesus: ...and not so much as a single jar of Hellman’s to be found anywhere!

God: Look, son, just let the events of the day play out and you can lay low for a few days.

Jesus:  Lay low?

God:  Yeah, just rest for a few days…three days, tops!

Jesus:  Sweet me!

(Footsteps of a Roman soldiers heard coming in the distance.)

Centurion:  Jesus of Nazareth?  I place you under arrest in the name of the Emperor!

Jesus:  DAD!

God:  La, la, la, la!  I can’t hear you!

Did we say series premiere?   We meant to say series finale…of God and Son!

(Studio applause up and fade.)

(Thank you for reading.  This attempt at satire should not be construed as religious persecution.)