Monday, April 18, 2011


Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric and whimsical observations about the absurdities of contemporary life:
  • Insult of the Week:  "You really have to get to know him to dislike him!"
  • Donald Trump recently bragged about how he "screwed" Moammar Gadhafi in a real estate deal.  That means the guy with the world's worst hair outfoxed the guy with the world's worst hat!
  • Three words you see in print but never hear anyone actually use: Cavort, nimble and splendid.
  • You really have to wonder about women who have hip-length hair.  It's got to be rooted (no pun intended?) in some deep psychological problem.  Counselors are standing by.
  • As you've probably heard:  Fox News has dropped that idiot Glenn Beck.
  • You can tell you're a redneck if you buy Quilted Southern toilet paper!
  • Language madness: "Demand for such care is growing with the aging [italics mine] population . . ." said a recent Wall St. Journal story on one hospital's innovative rethinking of its intensive-care facilities.
  • (Aging population?  When has that NOT been the case?  You mean there was a time when people got younger? "Aging" is one of the lamest adjectives extant--we're "aging" from the moment we exit the womb!  A newborn is aging at the same rate as a centenarian.  Saying someone is aging is saying that someone is breathing.)
  • Everywhere is within walking distance if you have enough time.--Steven Wright.
  • You never know:  A Regional News Watch Item in the April 13 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel told of a St. Francis man who called 911 after he was bitten by one of the venomous snakes he owns.  Police removed 36 reptiles from the residence.
  • I wonder if his neighbors knew about his (very much illegal) pets?  What if one of those cobras (or whatever they were) got loose and bit a toddler playing in his or her yard next door?
  • Truth in Labeling: The Empty Your Closet Consignment Store on Richmond Street in Appleton, Wis., is . . . literally . . . empty. 
  • Why do they have chairs in the workout room at the gym?  (Not to mention newspapers and magazines!  They don't have treadmills and barbells at the library! What's next?  Rocking chairs in the weight room?) 
  • Today's "What's This World Coming To?" item: According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, at Miller Park (the building in which the Brewers play), fans in the stands can order and pay for food and drinks with their "smartphones," then receive a text message telling them when they can pick it up.  I assume they'll have to fend for themselves when nature calls.  (Or maybe not.  Stay tuned!)
  • Speaking of baseball, how much of a joke is the so-called Baseball Hall of Fame when Bob Uecker is in it and Roger Maris and Pete Rose aren't?  He was a mediocre third-string catcher and isn't even that entertaining (or "ept") in the broadcast booth.  (Hey, Rodney Dangerfield was a lot funnier than Uecker, but no one considered him for Cooperstown that I know of!)
  • Haven't stores and food outlets caught onto the fact that "Have a nice day (or night)" is so rote, robotic, commonplace and meaningless that they might as well skip it?  (On a Sincerity Scale of 1 to 10, it's about a one-half!)
  • In case you missed it:  Fox News has dropped that knuckle-dragging weasel Glenn Beck.
  • War is hell (to pay for): An F-15 costs about $10,000 an hour to fly, according to The Washington Post. 
  • More's the pity, but it's beginning to look like the Japan disaster will bring a new and entirely unfortunate connotation to the term "nuclear family."
  • Looking at the Top Albums listing for a recent week underscores how out of touch I am with quote-unquote popular culture:  Because of the Top 10 albums, I recognized the names of only two perpetrators--Justin Bieber and Avril Lavigne--largely because one of my granddaughters talks about them.  The others--Rise Against, Adele, Glee Cast, Lupe Fiasco, Bruno Mars and Travis Barker--were unfamiliar to me.
  • (Notice I didn't write "Never heard of 'em," which, to me, always sounds arrogant, egotistical and presumptuous, as if the performer in question knows all about you!  As Mark Twain once wrote, we're all ignorant, just about different things.)
  • "The Tea Party people are using Abbie Hoffman means to achieve Norman Rockwell ends."--New York Times columnist David Brooks on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher."
  • Gaffe:  When a politician tells the truth.--Columnist Michael Kinsley.
  • Jim's Book of the Week: "How to be Sick/A Buddhist-inspired guide for the chronically ill and their caregivers," by Toni Bernhard.
  • Obituary Headline Nickname O' The Week:  "Roach."  As in Rodney J. "Roach" Le Grave (Green Bay Press-Gazette obituary, Dec. 28, 2010).  R.I.P. Mr. Le Grave.
  •  Twentieth entry in the Wisconsin Town I Didn't Know Existed Until I Saw it Mentioned in a Newspaper Obituary  sweepstakes:  Eaton, Wis.  (R.I.P.  Russell F. Glinski , Green Bay Press-Gazette obituary, Feb. 23, 2011.)  Previous entries: Athelstane, Walhain, Duck Creek, Breed, Anston, Sobieski, Amberg, Osseo, Angelica, Brazeau, Waukechon, Sugar Camp, Kossuth, Lessor, Kunesh, Pulcifer, Cato, Florence and Greenleaf.
  • "George Bush's problem is that his clothes have no emperor."--Anna Quindlen
  • Today's Bulgarian Lesson: 'В случай че сте започна в средата на колона,'Фокс Нюз е намалял че щурак Би Бек.' ("In case you started in the middle of the column:  Fox News has dropped that idiot Glenn Beck.")
  • As usual, I don't always agree with everything I say (but I'm getting there).

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Regrettable Rules of High-Tech Happenstance

1.  The likelihood that any digital device will fail is directly proportional to your need for that device to work properly. 
2. Your laptop will wait to die until just after your warranty for the system has expired.  The encouraging news is that taking out an extended warranty of one year will likely extend your machine's life by exactly that length of time.
3.  Voice mail messages always break up and become unintelligible just as the caller is leaving his or her call-back number.  Note that this rule applies only to important calls that you absolutely need to return.
4.  "While supplies last" is a synonym for "until the guy right in front of you buys the last one."
5.  You know the next great version with all the features you really want?  It won't be released until right after you've bought the previous version. (And if you decide to wait for that next great version, it will be delayed.  Probably for a long time.  Or maybe forever.)
--from Steve Fox's "Techlog" column, PC World magazine, March 2011.

Coloring inside the lines

I wrote a play, "Picasso at the Lapin Agile," about a conversation between Picasso and Einstein. There's a scene with an art dealer and he's waxing rhapsodic about a painting and he says, "You know what makes this painting great? The frame. It forces a containment and the painter has to work within the boundaries. They have to innovate within." I like that [about bluegrass]. Here's what you've got, now what you can do with it?
--Steve Martin in The Wall Street Journal, March 11, 2011