"...it's like Will Rogers, Jean Shepherd and some grumpy Jewish man all rolled into one."

Saturday, February 25, 2017

These Oscar predictions are guaranteed to be 100% correct

The Academy Awards are this Sunday. Here are my frighteningly accurate predictions:
  • The show will go on far too long. 
  • The opening monologue will attempt to be "edgy" -- and fail. 
  • There will be some mention during the broadcast of tweeting and hashtags and what the hell do they have to do with anything? 
  • There will be some sort of "comedy skit" staged during Hour 2, involving various A-list celebrities, that won't be the least bit funny. 
  • The cameras will cut to shots of people in the audience who are unknown to everyone watching except industry insiders. 

Three unknowns + Dustin Hoffman
  • The cameras will cut to shots of several "stars of yesteryear" who have undergone some truly frightening plastic surgery. 
  • Meryl Streep will not wear anything flattering. 
  • Whoever wins for Costume Design will wear an ensemble so "out there" as to leave you scratching your head how they got into that field in the first place. 
  • The winner for Documentary (Short Subject) will give an impassioned speech about the person or cause featured in the film that will mean nothing to the viewing audience. 
  • In a cruel irony, the winner for Sound Editing will be cut off before completing his or her speech. 
  • The last winner for Original Song anyone with little girls can recall is "Let It Go," from Frozen, because their kids have not stopped singing it since 2013. 
  • The last winner for Original Song anyone else can recall is "My Heart Will Go On," from Titanic, because Celine Dion has not stopped singing it since 1997. 

And on and on and on and on...
  • The winners for Makeup and Hairstyling will be in dire need of their own services. 
  • During Hour 3, we will notice that Jimmy Kimmel has been MIA for a long stretch. 
  • The clips shown for Short Film (Live Action) will provide absolutely no clue what the films are about. 
  • The "In Memoriam" segment will not come on until at least 30 minutes after I've started falling asleep on the couch. 
  • Someone will sing a sappy, cloying song during the "In Memoriam" segment that will annoy the living crap out of me. 
  • At least three times during the "In Memoriam" segment my wife will exclaim, "I didn't know SHE/HE was dead!" 
  • There will be some sort of kerfuffle after the broadcast about someone of less than legendary stature being left out of the "In Memoriam" segment. 
  • The winner for Directing will give the speech most likely to have been scribbled on the back of a napkin at one of the pre-show parties. 
  • The winners for Best Actor and Actress will pay lip service to the other nominees and say how much those performances "inspired" the winner. In the evening's greatest display of acting prowess, those other nominees will appear to be flattered by the compliment. 
  • In the amount of time it will take all the cast and crew members associated with the Best Picture winner to amble on stage, hug and high-five each other, and listen to the film's producer thank a list of at least twenty different studio executives without whom "this vision could not have been realized" -- I could bake a cake from scratch. 
  • As soon as the show wraps up, I'll regret having watched it.

Magic carpet ride

Saturday, February 18, 2017

I’m In Charge Here, All Appearances To The Contrary

Hello there, black lady - are you a reporter?
That seems out of order with how things should be.
I said inner cities are bleak, filled with carnage.
(We'll get back to leaks.) What is this "CBC"?

I thought for a moment that you were addressing
The raids where we're picking up hombres so bad.
So what if they're mothers? They should have thought through it
Before having kids who are left behind. Sad!

But anyway, let's get back to your suggestion.
Could you ask your friends when they'd all like to meet?
I figure you know them, because of your color.
When I see a black, you know -- I cross the street.

I'd love to confer with this so-called "black caucus."
I'm happy to meet with them -- it'll be swell!
I'll bring Dr. Carson; you'll bring Frederick Douglass.
We'll talk about how inner cities are hell.

The murder rate - up! It has never been higher.
I even once threatened to shoot someone dead!
Next month we're announcing a brand-new department:
We're calling it "Pre-Crime," which Tom Cruise will head.

My people have told me my win was historic.
Anyone says something else -- that's fake news.
I only know what I am told by Steve Bannon
(who mentioned the Holocaust wasn't just Jews).

The mess I inherited, I'm going to fix it.
Obama and Hillary, they're both to blame.
Ignore all the haters; there really aren't any.
The dishonest press makes them up. That's their game.

I've done more in 4 weeks than others in decades!
My team runs the show like a fine-tuned machine!
The people want vetting, and borders, and tax breaks.
But justice for all -- nope, not that; that's obscene.

I won and I'm here and you'd better accept it.
I'm going to do what I said I would do.
So screw the Resistance, and death to the leakers.
Excuse me now -- Putin's on hold on Line 2.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Are there nuclear codes for launching an f-bomb?

When our son Josh was in the eighth grade, he came home from school one afternoon with his report card. "How'd you do?" I asked. He hung his head for a moment and then said, "I got six 'A's and one grade I need to talk to you about." While I really would have preferred to focus on the six stellar assessments, I told him to proceed with his tale of woe, which was that he'd gotten an "F" in English. "How could you fail English?!" my wife protested. I advocated for a calmer response, suggesting perhaps his intention was to replace mastery of his native tongue with proficiency in a new language. Carol looked at me, not saying a word but with a glance that spoke volumes, then turned her attention back to Josh and again demanded, "How could you fail English?!" I was hopeful that Josh would demonstrate his mastery of, perhaps, French, and explain to his mère that he understood she had just issued a plaintive cri de coeur, but une seule langue n'est jamais suffisante.

That did not prove to be the case. Josh received the failing grade because he didn't turn in a project about common grammatical and spelling errors. The sidebar here is that I met with his teacher and convinced her to let him hand in the assignment late, and she in return would adjust his grade for the semester to a minimally-passing "D" as long as he met all the report's requirements. He did, and she did, and that's the closest our son ever came to getting straight As in his entire academic career.

The reason I relate this tale is to lead into a discussion of some of those sticking points of grammar that he (meaning, "Me, standing over him with a whip in one hand and sharpened stick in the other") included in his finished paper. Even though this incident happened years ago, I continue to see people making these same mistakes. While I recently called my senator to strongly express my objection to Betsy DeVos becoming Secretary of Education (hashtag resist), if she can get our children (or even just our President) to understand the difference between "lose" and "loose," I'll continue to protest her appointment but will no longer drop any f-bombs while doing so.

Here are some of those grammatical conundrums from Josh's long-ago assignment, and my current-day attempts at un-drumming them:

➤ What is the difference between less and fewer?

  • Use "fewer" when describing something you can count (example: "Beyoncé's masterful 2016 album Lemonade won fewer Grammys than Adele's treacly 25."); use "less" when describing something you can't count (example: "I think even less of Metallica after seeing them perform with Lady Gaga."). However, there are several exceptions to that rule, with this being among the most notable: 
    • "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways." If you were able to count the ways but only got up to one (especially if that one was, "I love it when you leave me alone."), you should say, "Hmm... I guess I love thee less than I thought."
➤ When should I use their versus there?
  • The good news is you can use them interchangeably in the same sentence, as long as you are trying to console someone:
    • Their there, son. We still love thee, even if you failed English. Just a little less than we used to."
➤ Does it matter if I use your instead of you're? 
  • Hell yes! "Your" is a possessive pronoun and is used when pairing an owner and object. "You're" means "you are," and is the pairing of a noun and verb. People get these mixed up, writing things like, "After a report card like that, your no child of mine," and, "Go talk to you're mère because I want nothing more to do with you right now." 
  • "You're" is properly referred to as a contraction, and that's where the confusion comes from. When Carol was in labor with Josh, the doctor wanted to know how close together the contractions were. I asked him to clarify his question, since "you'll" and "you're" are much closer together in the dictionary than, say, "aren't" and "weren't." 
  • I also berated him for pelting us with grammatical questions when we were their to have a baby. After that, we saw a lot less of him.
Josh did go on to study French in high school, and as a result knows most of the major swear words en français, along with slang for certain body parts. I know this because I've heard him express himself thusly over the years. You know what they say about the study of language: Use it or loose it.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Recipes for Disaster

After some fits and starts, this winter has finally come to life with a vengeance rivaled only by the Democrats during the Trump cabinet nominee hearings. During this most recent spate of storms, many of us Mainers run the risk of losing power (something the Dems are also struggling with). You've got big plans for the evening and then suddenly... the electricity is gone (again with the Dems). "What do I do now?" you moan, quoting Hillary Clinton the day after the election results were announced.
When the power goes out, you risk the loss of expensive groceries in your refrigerator and freezer. But if you follow the tips I list here, you'll save your victuals and make meals that will bring you almost as much joy as Mike Pence is feeling these days while realizing he's just weeks away from having to drop the "V" from his title.
  • Your refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if you don't open the door. Well, a lot of good that's going to do -- you need to eat, don't you? Do what I do and make a game out of it: open the door and make a meal with the first three items you lay your hands on. As an example: during a recent outage, I quickly reached into the fridge and came out with: 1) a jar of olives, 2) a six-pack of beer, and 3) another six-pack of beer. I ended up creating one of the most memorable feasts ever (so I've been told), and once the power was back on and I regained consciousness, I had enough olives left to whip up a serving of my famous Picadillo Cubano. And a martini.
  • When full, your freezer will keep food frozen for 48 hours, but only 24 hours if merely half-full. Obviously, then, it's to your advantage to keep your freezer at its maximum storage capacity. I manage to maintain this without risking freezer burn by keeping several power tools and my Bean boots in there.
  • One box of kitchen matches, when lighted in succession, generate enough heat to cook one hot dog. From personal experience, I suggest you put the wiener on a skewer before firing it up.
  • If you take a frozen hamburger patty and place it under your arm, you'll have a gourmet meal of steak tartare ready to go in about four hours.
  • Put on your cargo shorts, flip flops, and Tommy Bahama shirt, and serve last summer's leftover popsicles for dinner. OPTIONAL: Family sing-along to "Margaritaville" until the lights come back on.
  • Science teaches us that an increase in pressure creates heat. So pull out a can of soup and then bet your housemates you can name all the Presidents of the United States, in order, in 30 seconds. You'll be enjoying some piping hot chicken noodle in no time.
  • In a pinch, a snow blower can substitute for your salad shooter.
  • Ted Cruz showed everyone how to cook bacon using a machine gun. Two hints when attempting this for the first time: remember to use hearing protection, and do it outside.
  • Finally -- The moment you hear a big storm is coming, use Expedia to find the first available flight to Miami Beach. You and your family can be enjoying a delectable feast at Joe's Stone Crab that very evening.
I hope you find some of these suggestions helpful. By the way, I authored these recommendations by adopting the Republicans' approach to replacing the Affordable Care Act -- I had years to come up with something but only started to think about it yesterday. You can chew on that for awhile, too.