Friday, October 28, 2011

Third Time Really Is the Charm...

As a kid I hated Halloween.  
Dumb, I know.  What's not to like about costumes and free candy?  First of all, when given a choice of potato chips or candy the salty snack was my "go to" goodie every time.  I had NO sweet tooth and therefore NO incentive to beg door-to-door like the other little hoodlums in the neighborhood.  Then, because all eternal phobias are parent induced, there was that off the charts stupid Big Bad Wolf getup my mom turned me out in when I was--I don't know--three or four.  The mask and body of the costume were plastic, ugly and hot as hell.  Coupled with the fact that the eye-holes were too far apart and I couldn't see the whole ensemble was a massive embarrassment.  I could feel my face flushing behind the mask as I reluctantly trudged behind my little pals.  One year I went as Bugs Bunny and another season found me in a crappy homemade Zorro mask and cape complete with a busted golf club sword.  (I did manage to win fifty cents and third place in a stupid costume contest with the Zorro duds.)  Halloween night, by design, I would hang back as the group ran riot ringing doorbells yelling "trick or treat".  My goal, unlike the others, was to see if I could come home with an empty sack and thereby avoid having to down massive quantities of candy corn, circus peanuts, Oh Henrys, Neccos and other gag inducing sugar delivery systems.  Halloween was something to "get through" and nothing more.  I began to dread the appearance of orange and black construction paper when it was  arts and crafts time at school.  Not "Boo", but "Boo Hoo", that was Halloween.

When my daughters were little kids Halloween was still Hell-oween for me.  Their mom would take them out for trick or treat while I was left to man the candy welfare program at our front door.  
DING DONG:  "Here ya go you little pirates.  Now beat it!"  My charm was legend in every neighborhood we inhabited.  But, I got through it.

Grandson, Dan, on the hunt for the perfect pumpkin
Now, thanks to daughter Katie and her husband, Doug, I have a two year-old grandson who is excited for the first Halloween he sort of halfway understands.  Grandpa is pretty excited too.  For the first time ever the prospect of this ever more popular holiday has me aboard the band wagon.  Not only have we bought and carved a pumpkin, there is talk of maybe a little bit of a grandpa getup for my door duties on Monday evening.  Nothing fancy, but festive nonetheless.  Danny is still deciding on his costume but he is coming to our house to hit our always generous street.  If I'm lucky he'll split some of his sweet treats with me. (Since being invited to layoff adult beverages for a century or two, I have developed a gigantic sweet tooth.)  BRING ON THE CANDY CORN!  It seems as if this third time around has let me in on the secret fun and excitement of All Hallows Eve.  I'm pretty damned excited. Perhaps a trip to the store for some Depends?

Halloween Checklist:

Five bags of candy from Costco:  $62.50

One 25 cent pumpkin (well, that's what they cost when I was a kid): $12

Spending Halloween with your 2 year-old grandson:  PRICELESS
Dan and grandma gut a jack-o-lantern

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Soft Landing in OZ

They call it "OZ", the Australians do.  What a terrific place to call home.  If I were a native of the land "down under" I'd never click the heels of my ruby slippers to book it back to Kansas.  NEVER!  You see I have been to Topeka and no way does it come close to a soggy leftover bologna sandwich when sized up with the banquet of Sydney or Melbourne. 

And now...the Aussies have taken comfort and convenience for the overindulgent to levels not possible in the more puritan and pedantic  U.S.A.  Yes,  thanks to the compassionate folks at A1 Rubber, the hard partying denizens of Australia's pubs no longer have to endure broken bones and bruised egos.  Rubber sidewalks have arrived!  A fall-down drunk's dream come true has become a reality.  NO need to head home after a big night of debauching, simply turn on your bar stool and head for the door.  Once outside, all an inebriate need do is make sure he or she doesn't fall on another reveler and it's "lights out".

Ahh.....just like floating on air.
A1 Rubber, of the small industrial town of Yatala in Queensland state, has enjoyed a 35% annual growth in sales since the saloons of Sydney, Melbourne and other large cities discovered the magic of sidewalks that give a little.
"This fake grass is a nice touch."

Now installed in front of more than 100 pubs in South Australia, can cities like New York, San Francisco and New Orleans be far behind?  It seems to this observer that OSHA was created to expedite ideas as brilliant as this one.  Come on America!  Drunks are cracking their skulls while Washington dithers.

Now, if we could just get those sidewalks to flush...

"I left a wake-up call for 9 AM."

Friday, October 14, 2011

Clueless in Lower Manhattan

Wending my way north after viewing the new 9/11 Memorial in lower Manhattan a couple of weeks ago I had to pass by Zuccotti Park and the then relatively new ragtag army of Occupy Wall Street.  Frankly, I didn't take them seriously.  Their signs and chants were puerile and idiotic. "People Not Profits", "End Corporate Personhood", and "Unf**k the World" (huh??)   were my particular favorites. Virtually all were bereft of anything resembling linear thought or common sense and I dismissed them as the product of  freeloading nitwits who were there primarily to score dope, members of the opposite sex,  or perhaps both provided they were convenient and free.  Since returning to the West coast I have watched as this brand of mindless lunacy  grew larger and spread to more cities however nothing has changed my mind about the character of the participants.  "Useful idiots" I believe was how Marx referred to these folks, the saddest of whom are the grey haired re-treads from the sixties and seventies who STILL don't get it.

Someone once said--and I would give them credit if I knew who they were---"There are three kinds of people in the world:  :  those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, AND those who say, "WHAT HAPPENED???"

Clearly what we have with the OWS crew is a whole lot of the "What Happened?" troops who feel they have somehow been screwed out of goodies to which they are entitled as American citizens.  They, of course, are wrong.  The only thing that an American citizen is entitled to is the chance to succeed or fail at whatever it is they choose to attempt.  Success requires work.  There is nothing in our Constitution about a guaranteed job, income, home, car or standard of living.  If you don't understand that, blame your parents and teachers and then GET OVER IT!  In spite of what you may have heard life isn't fair and never has been.

It is ironic to watch as these misguided demonstrators bitch and holler about Wall Street and the big banks.  If blame were really the name of the game, they would pack their sleeping bags and banjos and head for Washington, D.C.  The current occupant of the White House has taken more money from the Wall Street bigwigs than any other politician in history.  The same goes for the gang of cheerleaders in congress who have pledged their fealty to the protesters.

The housing mess??  The sub-prime mortgage disaster was Bill Clinton's fault.  In 1995 President Clinton changed the Community Reinvestment Act to enable ACORN to run a politically correct extortion campaign against mortgage lenders, compelling them by force of law to make unsound (sub-prime) loans to poor minorities who never stood a chance of repaying them.  This got Clinton votes and placed the taxpayers in a no win jackpot.  George W. Bush continued the same cynical vote getting scam.   Barney Frank, Chris Dodd and their disingenuous cohorts in congress cooked the books and  milked this fraud for what they thought was their share of  the votes of the uninformed.  The banks, forced to make loans they knew weren't viable,  looked for ways to turn a profit for their stockholders.    Exotic packages of these horrible loans were sold in secondary markets as they attempted to fulfill their fiduciary responsibility.   We all know how that worked out.  (By the way, I guess Chris Dodd must have forgotten that he promised to make public the details of his sweetheart home loan from one of the biggest offenders, Countrywide Mortgage.  Must have slipped his mind when he decided to head for a retirement hideout instead of seeking another free ride in congress.)

It used to be that most everybody who was literate read a daily newspaper.  In addition they caught a couple of radio newscasts during the work day and watched a nightly news round-up on television in the early or late evening.  In short, they knew what was going on around them.  No more.  Sadly, today we have a preponderance of younger people who have little or no curiosity about what is going on and take pride in telling you that they read no newspapers, neither listen to or watch any broadcast news and actually brag about getting their "take" on what's happening from the Internet or Comedy Central.  Didn't H.G. Wells predict all of this in his book, The Time Machine? 

What we seem to have in this Occupy Wall Street phenomenon is a mob of largely young ill informed unfocused nincompoops who are wildly indignant about, well, nearly everything.  They feel as if they are owed something from so called "rich guys" and they are going to have a hissy fit until they get it, though they aren't quite sure what "IT" is.  For them, I fear, there is no hope.  They will become lifetime members of the "What Happened" club and are probably destined to feel cheated for the rest of their lives.

And then there are those who give me hope.  Look at this sign put together by a young lady who obviously has been blessed with an abundance of common sense and probably has equally enlightened parents.  I love the sign!  She knows that only she controls her future and that even if all the banks in the country were taken over by the government and the bankers sent to jail it would still be up to her to succeed or fail.   She, and those like her, will make things happen while the OWS crowd remains dazed, confused and most assuredly BROKE as they perpetually asked, "WHAT HAPPENED?"

My money is on this kid!

Friday, October 7, 2011

"Large and IN CHARGE"...Kramden for President

Mr. Kramden with pal Ed Norton and wife, Alice
Now that the portly gentleman from New Jersey has officially expressed no interest in saving the country from the current empty suit hiding behind the curtain at that big land of OZ headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue, it's time for action.  We have gone far too long without a leader who knows how to wear the big boy pants and pick up a spare when the team needs it on league bowling night.  The man for the job?   Ralph Kramden of 328 Chauncey Street in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn New York.  A loyal husband, dedicated friend, hard working driver for his boss, Mr. Cunningham at the MTA, and a longtime officer in the Loyal Order of Raccoons (where an emergency meeting is an emergency meeting--never a poker game... an executive meeting, now that's a poker game.) Ralph Kramden knows how to live large on a salary of $62 per week.  (He hasn't had a raise in more than fifty years.)  Mr. Kramden is a man of BIG ideas as well as size XXXL Sansabelt pants.  He is just what America needs to get back on track.  Unlike the current occupant of the White House, whose poll numbers are dropping like a melon off an overpass, Ralph Kramden is the 500 pound lowland gorilla (literally) we need to tackle the nation's problems.  He will embrace our problems with vigor and will not quit until they are vanquished.  (As you know, when a gorilla decides to embrace someone or something, it ain't over until the gorilla thinks it's over.)

future Vice President Edward Norton
After his nomination and most certain election in 2012 Mr, Kramden can begin implementing his ideas and complete the selection of his cabinet members.  Outside of manditory bowling leagues and ten cent beer nights, there will be no requirements regarding Raccoon headgear.  Raccoon lodge membership will be optional for adult males with compensatory time off guarenteed for attendance at bi-monthly executive meetings. (Coonskin caps required)

Candidate Kramden has asked upstairs neighbor and best friend, Ed Norton, to be his running mate and Mr. Norton as accepted with the condition that he still be able to maintain his day job with the City of New York department of sanitation.  "Sometimes a man has gotta follow the smell of a dream," remarked Mr. Norton.  Norton's wife Trixie has been tapped as secretary of snacks and prizes.  All other cabinet and czar positions will be abolished and operational funds will be returned to taxpayers.

Alice Kramden, the future president's wife of many years, is slated to head NASA.
If you don't know why, you're too young to be reading this blog.