Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A creepy musical mystery chills the heart of suburbia

In disaster movies, often you open your front door and a tsunami hits you in the face. Last weekend, something very similar happened to me, except drier. As I stepped out onto the porch I heard music. Horror movie music. The kind of music you hear when a guy is about to pop out of your roses with a machete. It was thin, reedy, electronic. Super creepy. It seemed to be coming from my neighbor's hedge. 

The tune...wait for it...was "Happy Birthday."

If you have ever seen a horror movie, you know better than to approach a hedge, so I took precautions. I set my phone on "video" and hit record. In the clip, the crunch of my neighbor's parched lawn under my feet is clearly audible, the drought a constant reminder of my own inevitable death.

My neighbor's car was parked in his driveway. Black. Not a good sign. I thought maybe he had left his phone in the car and his ringtone was on endless repeat, but what kind of jackmope uses "Happy Birthday" as a ringtone? 

No. As I got closer I could tell that my first impulse was right—the creepazoid tune was coming from inside the hedge!

I turned to my daughter, who is a college student and full of ideas. She was on her phone, googling "enchanted hedge cures," I hoped. No. Turns out she was just trying to capture Pokemon characters in the street, which is a thing you can do now with an app, apparently. 

I went around the hedge and trespassed on my other neighbor's lawn. Yes. Music. Up high in the hedge, loud. But why? How?

We decided to walk the dog and ponder some options. As I stood across the street watching my dog foul a third neighbor's dying lawn, the lady at the second house poked her head out her front door and looked incredulously at her hedge, then disappeared back inside. She just moved in. Paid a fortune too. Right about now she was thinking "That !!#%&$! realtor."

I came back with a stepladder and zoned in on the tune. After fondling foliage for a minute, I found the culprit—the little device that goes in singing birthday cards. No card. Just the circuit and batteries. Did a bird drop it there, or did some teenager think it would be funny to mess with our suburban chill? I will never know, but I did save it. Halloween is not that far away.

. . .

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sunday Wa Pic - Mothra is partial to DKNY

 Once Godzilla started carrying one, everybody was suddenly cool with carrying one.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Trip to Colorado brings insights new and strange

I took a trip to Colorado last week, where strolling into a pot dispensary does not garner you any funny looks, but publicly carrying an umbrella does. We get so little rain in California, when the forecast says there is an 80% chance, we carry umbrellas.

The same forecast in Colorado, accompanied by a sky as black as a Senator's soul, is ignored. An umbrella-carrier in Denver is marked instantly, and derisively, as a "Californian." They look at you like you are carrying a half-eaten marmot. And not in a good way.

It is jarring to see pot openly for sale. We have it in California, of course, but you have to pretend a doctor sent you. As long as you are carrying a Dr. Pepper can, I think that is considered medical enough.

Outside Denver I saw a big purple house, being used as a store, called "Granny's Hash." Another place advertised its "hand-trimmed bud." I guess that machine-trimmed bud is just not worth my time.

Fun fact: I am a geocacher, and I went to Denver for a big gathering of my kind. Geocaching is a game where people hide containers in public, post the GPS coordinates, and you try to find them. These "caches" are all around you, especially in the city, under bus benches, in bushes, on fences. A cache can look just like a rusty bolt on a fence, but it's hollow. The seeker must sign the log sheet inside.

Anyway, it was a hoot to see about 2,000 of these hobbyists in one spot, trading tips, buying sneaky caches from vendors who specialize in fake hollow rocks, fake snail shells and the like. My local L.A. geo group took a side trip up to Pike's Peak. Many of us did not have a word for what it is like up there at 14,000 feet. We had to ask somebody. "Cold" is the word they used, I think. I do not like this word.

Denver is a civilized city. It is full of those pedal taxis, which makes you feel good as a Californian, because you know that your vehicle is getting its exercise. The restaurant where I ate tacked a 1% "historic preservation" fee on my bill because it was in an old building.

And you thought L.A. was Scam Central. Don't turn your back on a Coloradan. He might machine-trim your bud.

. . .


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Sunday Wa Pic - Nutty

 Some pics write their own caption.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Getting high in downtown Los Angeles a tad pricey

Los Angeles is trying to attract people to its resurgent downtown, and it has settled on the idea of a thrilling outdoor slide ride in an entirely glass tube 70 floors high. This probably beat out other ideas like a zip line from the top of Disney Hall to the Grand Central Market or gator wrestling in the Biltmore lobby.

Height-novelties are a mainstay of tourist-seeking cities around the world. New Zealand has "Skywalk," where you don a jump suit, latch on to a safety line, and teeter along the edge of the open air rooftop 630 feet above Auckland.

At Toronto's "Edgewalk," you can do the same at 1168 feet. You can even get married up there, although I'm not sure of the symbolism that evokes.

Chicago has a couple of attractions, evidently because being windy has ceased to be a draw. You can stand in a glass box and look straight down at your doom 1353 feet above the ground. They call it "The Ledge."

Just across town there is "TILT," on the 94th floor of another building. You face the glass, hold onto handrails, and your window slowly tilts you out 30 degrees so you are facing...well, again, your doom, or at least the air conditioners of a lot of shorter buildings.

L.A.'s "Skyslide" is atop the 70th floor of the U.S. Bank building, is glass on all sides, and is mounted outside so that your trip takes you down to the rooftop of the 69th floor. Yes, you could take the elevator and save yourself $33, but then you would not be able to say you conquered your fear of spending.

The ride (based on my watching several YouTube videos of people sliding) lasts about four seconds, which comes out to roughly $8.25 a second. If you watched a 90 minute movie at that rate, it would cost you $44,550.

For that kind of money I would insist on being launched via catapult off the U.S. Bank building in a wing suit, with my destination the Hollywood sign. Maybe a cadre of unemployed actors could break my fall.

Proclaiming its safety, one spokesman said you could hang two blue whales from the Skyslide and it would not budge. Now that is something I would actually pay $33 to see. But for four cheaper seconds of thrill, may I suggest you just try crossing Figueroa against the light?

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Sunday Wa Pic - Cubism or condiment?

 When your pepper looks back at you, it's time to lay off the spice.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

An expert lists summer dangers you should avoid

As an expert in outdoor summer dangers, and a recognized fellow of the Overlooked Outdoor Perils Society (OOPS), I offer you this free list of things to avoid this summer:

10. Snails. These innocuous-looking slime-trailers seem harmless enough, but every summer they cause a significant number of people to meet their doom. In summer people go barefoot, maybe to grab the morning paper, and accidentally crush a snail under their heels. Every human's hard-wired "ick" factor causes many to recoil backwards, lose their balance, and impale themselves on a yard gnome. Slippers, people. Slippers.

9. Beach cottages. The depressive funk which sets in once you realize that the cottage in paradise you have rented is not where you will get to live the rest of your life is enough to cause 9 out of 10 visitors to end themselves. Nine out of ten. Look it up.

8. Beach cottages (haunted.) This is self-explanatory.

7. Beach cottage cheese. Even with an insulated cooler and those hard blue plastic frozen thingys, you cannot keep it from going bad and killing you. Here's something that won't, though: going curdless for a week. Yes, I know, it's perfect chilled on summer salads. But, much like going on a blind date to a Captain & Tennille tribute band concert, it's just not worth it.

6. Bicycles built for two
. Deathtraps! Funded and built by large corporate mortuaries. Avoid.

5. Bikini waxing / manscaping. If you strip away your body's natural defenses, it's like ringing a dinner bell for nature. "Here, microbes!" you might as well scream. "Here's a million hitherto-protected pores laid out for lunch!" Ewww is right. Have you made out your will?

4. Tying flies. Tying those delicate, feathery fake flies onto your fishing line takes dexterity and total focus for long periods, as you sit creekside, during which time, hey look over your shoulder, a bear! No, don't bother. Gotta get that fly just right. And CHOMP.

3. Sunblock. Here's a subtle tipoff about the chemical stew of ingredients in sunblock: they are able to BLOCK THE SUN. You don't need that absorbed through your skin into your liver. If I know you, your liver's plenty busy already.

2. Sharks. They live in water. You CAN avoid water, can't you?

1. Politics. There is nothing more toxic than the summer before an election. Save your life. Turn off your TV until Thanksgiving. And, seriously, wear some slippers.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sunday Wa pic - Next-level restroom signage

 At least your wait is entertaining.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Black holes are real; just open your purse

Of all the cruelties society has perpetrated on women, the worst, I think, is the purse.

Watching a woman try to find something in the depths of this hateful contrivance would evoke sympathy from the most hardened misogynist. If a dude wants money, he reaches into his pocket and whips out cash. He has a one in four chance of picking the right pocket every time. Better odds than anything in Vegas.

Ask your wife if you can borrow five bucks to buy a frosty drink we used to call a milkshake but now we call coffee, well, good luck. Hope you are in the mood for a magic show. She is going to start pulling out more items than could fit in the bed of a Ford F-150.

You thought the lamps and junk Mary Poppins pulled out of her handbag were a special effect? They must have edited that scene for time. In real life, Mary would STILL be pulling crap out.

Purses are like yogurt; there are just too many options. Zippers on the outside, on the inside, snap-pouches, secret compartments, several time zones, probably quarks.

Plus, every woman owns at least three purses, by which I mean 20. A purse must coordinate with an outfit, which requires a level of interest in fashion the average man expends completely by deciding whether or not to put on underwear.

Imagine if it were culturally acceptable for men to carry purses. We would have hammers, spackling paste, jerky, small watermelons, ketchup packets out the wazoo, sandpaper, Pringles, super glue, probably several reptiles to keep the flies down.

Men would only own one purse, too, brown leather, like a saddle bag, with a filagree on the side of our favorite team or Kardashian.

Men would name their purses, names like "Butch" or "007." This would lead to confusing conversations in bars:

"Man, I can't believe I left Butch at home today. I really could have used a 1/8th-inch drill bit."

"Wait. Is Butch your brother?"

"No, Butch is's a...hey, how about those Rams coming back to L.A.?"

Even though men would only own one, we would have to ask our wives where we left it.

"Honey, have you seen 007?"

"Um...(stifling a chuckle) Try asking Dr. No."

"Are you laughing?"

"NO, no, I...inhaled a dust bunny."

If only I could get my legislation passed, requiring 12 pockets on pants, we would have peace in our time.

. . .

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sunday Wa pic - Truth in advertising

 In my day, we didn't advertise them, we just called 'em "stale."

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Finally, something that might take on those mutant ninja turtles

When I was a teenager they came out with a movie involving savage hybrid animal-people, which really struck a chord with me, because it reminded me of my high school. 

Inhuman treatment and cruel experimentation were part of my daily routine. "The Island of Doctor Moreau" was like somebody had brought a camera into my locker room, basically.

As a movie, it was laughable, the glued-on facial prosthetics fake-looking even for 1977, but for a teenager it was just another over-the-top cultural extravaganza that summer, like Elvis' death and the premier of "Star Wars." 

The book by H.G. Wells was written in the 19th Century, but the movie's outcome was still surprisingly in tune with the morality of the times—the mad scientist who played God was punished, his lab and his creatures burned up. The young, gorgeous couple escaped with their lives and some of their clothes. The moral was delivered.

Nearly 40 years later, a recent headline practically jumped out at me, Moreau-like, from my "trending news" sidebar on Facebook—"Scientists Create Human-Pig Embryos To Alleviate Transplant Organ Shortage." I picture H.G. Wells bonking his head on the inside of his casket as he tries to sit up and say "Guys, I was kidding."

This is real. Scientists have been creating "chimeras," animal-human hybrids, albeit only in their fetal form. Ultimately they want to raise pigs to grow a human pancreas or other in-demand organs which can then be transplanted into a human. 

It's technical, but it involves destroying certain pig cells and inserting human ones which then result in 95% pig and 5% human, kind of like what we already see in some voting districts. 

So you zap a pig embryo where its pancreas is supposed to develop, stick in human cells, implant the embryo in a mommy pig, and theoretically a piglet is born which will grow a human pancreas for later removal. It's so early in the testing, though, that scientists are not sure if the human cells will stay put down there. They might travel to the pig's brain, creating issues. Imagine craving the bacon right off yourself. Imagine "Charlotte's Web" as a Guillermo Del Toro movie. 

Understandably, public funding has been largely suspended in the U.S., with the exception of—get this—the Defense Department. I kid you not. The Department of Defense is helping fund this research, perhaps with an eye toward a future super weaponized smart-pig? We can only guess. 

Some weeks this stuff writes itself, people. 

. . .

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Sunday Wa pic - Art is in the eye of the leash-holder

 This is a portable plastic watering bowl for dogs. I am not sure which is a worse idea—a portable watering bowl or an inspirational slogan on a portable watering bowl.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

When the candidates seem just as unreal as the propositions

It's primary election day, so here is my unofficial ballot guide which you can rip out and take with you to the polls, especially if you really just don't know what is going on.
  • Proposition 123. This prop would set aside funds for the prosecution of any future writers or directors who decide to remake the classic '70's thriller, "The Taking of Pelham 123." Two words: Walter. Matthau. Some things are perfect. Irises. Leopards. This movie. Show it to your children. Do not remake it. O.K., too late, but do not RE-remake it. California has spoken.

  • Proposition 54. Same concept, only regarding "Car 54, Where Are You?"

  • Proposition THE. This would safeguard the use of the word "the" when discussing freeway numbers, as a form of California heritage. Anyone who has hosted visitors from the East Coast can tell you they will sometimes casually disrespect this rich historical tradition. They might say something like, "I took 101 to 5 to 405 and had lunch in Westminster." Prop 12 would fund the legal expenses of Californians who, understandably, lose it and pop these backward outsiders right in the kisser.                      

  • Proposition THC. As you well know (because if you are reading a newspaper, you were born in the 20th Century), THC is the primary mind-altering ingredient in marijuana. This proposition would not only legalize weed, it would make its use mandatory for all California legislators before each session begins. You know, right after the prayer. Let's see a fat lobbyist try to make a cozy deal with a totally blissed out lawmaker. Unless they come bearing Cheetos. Oh crap.
There are 34 candidates for U.S. Senate, many of whose biographies are as rich as the propositions listed above. Unlike those, however, these are real:

The Green Party candidate wants to legalize pot "for all its uses," including for "gasoline" and "hydro & nuclear energy."

One Democrat seeks to restore Americans' "freedom to think one's own thoughts free from...Voice To Skull (V2K) mind control technology."

Another candidate states that her education and expertise clearly qualify her for the "prolific occupation" of senator.

One young man has, as his personal statement, simply: "01100101."

Another woman's statement laments the "challenge 10 giant chaos in economy." I assume that, inherently implied, is her willingness to fix that, ideally without using words.

All of these people paid $3480 to be on the ballot. Money is speech, after all. But money is not always entirely lucid.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Sunday Wa Pic - Tequila rocks

 You have seen those car-wrap advertisements. Well, my neighbor just invented a new revenue stream. Either that or he recently enjoyed his sponsor just a little too much.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Terms you may not know if you don't have a teenager

One benefit of having teenagers is that, in a 180 degree flip of the parent/child dynamic, they now teach you new words. They can do this because theirs is the first generation to turn "ghost" into a verb.

Ghosting somebody is when you stop replying to their texts and pretend they don't exist, especially in a romantic relationship gone south. In my day, we called this "ignoring," but theirs is a more dramatic generation. Lady Gaga has seen to that.

Other terms:
  • F and F: Flirt and forget. After you have been ghosted, this is how you rebuild your ego.

  • Flip-flocks: When you wear socks with flip-flops. (Note: this is simply not done.)

  • Shipping: As in relation-shipping. Matchmaking, basically.

  • "I so want to ship Emma and Noah."

    "Right? They'd be so cute together. Except did you hear how he ghosted Heather?"

  • Lie-fi: When your device says you are connected to a wi-fi network, but you still can't actually pull up the Internet. Your grandparents had the Depression. Your children have this.

  • Adulting: To finally act like an adult; to hold down a job, pay car insurance, clean a bathroom. Like wearing flip-flocks, this is to be avoided indefinitely, if possible.

  • Flexitarian: Someone who only avoids eating meat sometimes, like when in a state which doesn't have In-N-Out.

  • Reply chug: A photo or video you send out to a friend who has sent you one of him chugging a beer. See also: too much time on hands.

  • Brogetit: When your bro does something bad, but you let it slide.

  • "Dude, sorry I dented your car. I should have pulled over to send that reply chug."

    "Brogetit, homie. It's just an old beater anyway."

  • Procaffeinating: Putting something off until you have had a chance to get your coffee.

  • Snoozefeed: Lounging in bed surfing your smart phone because it's too comfy to get up.

  • Oreolization: That joyful feeling when you realize there are still some Oreos left in your cupboard.

  • Honeydude: Like a Sugar Daddy, but still your age. Note: not common.

  • Petextrian: Somebody who walks and texts at the same time, often crossing the street, oblivious to traffic. See also: everybody.

My generation had the Fonz, and so our contribution to the lexicon was basically "Heyyyyyyy." I feel kind of nostalgic for my 1970s. It had so few syllables.  A person could think.

. . .

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sunday Wa Pic - Everybody here tonight must boogie

 Actual lyrics from the song "Boogie Oogie Oogie" (1977):

"Everybody here tonight must boogie / let me tell you, you are no exception to the rule"

Finally, in the 21st Century, Honeywell has found a way to enforce the "must" in that lyric.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

These days, baby names are a lot to live up to

They say that in your lifetime you will hear your name spoken approximately 10 million times, and by "they," I mean the statisticians I just made up in order to sound factual. Let's just agree it's a lot of times. A name can affect your whole life, so I am fascinated by the choices Americans make in naming their children, and by "fascinated," I mean judgmental.

Noah is currently the #1 boy's name, which makes sense, given the current popularity of animal rights activism. Then you realize that Jesus is only at #128! Granted, as a name, your Noah does not carry the same expectations as your Jesus. That's all to the good. But naming your kid Noah does not automatically cause the universe to create more zookeeper jobs. Think, people. 

Liam is #2. Just six years ago it was #49. Six years aligns exactly with the rise of One Direction and pop heartthrob Liam Payne. There is no other explanation for such a jump in popularity, unless perhaps young mothers admire Liam Neeson's ability to repeatedly retrieve his kidnapped wives and daughters in movies. Maybe that's it. Yeah, that's probably it.

Harper broke into the top 10 girl names last year, an inexplicably dramatic rise, up from #887 in just a dozen years. Neil Patrick Harris jumped on the Harper bandwagon, as did soccer star David Beckham. TV uber-producer Shonda Rimes birthed a Harper, a Beckett and an Emerson. (Where is little Vonnegut? Baby Thoreau?) I hope all three kids end up being math majors out of sheer spite. I mean, I like baseball, but I didn't name my son Jeter Waters. 

We have apparently reached Peak Joshua. He's dropped to #33 after having seemingly unstoppable legs. A decade ago, you could not swing a Jacob on a Little League field without hitting a Joshua. Believe me, I tried. Mason is the new Joshua, thanks to the last-name-as-first-name fad which began in the early 2000's with the Madison-ization of America. 

Now there are little Kennedys and Reagans and Lennons everywhere. Where's good ol' Joe? Not even in the top 20. I went to school with Bud and Pete. They were just Bud and Pete, not a nod to someone else once famous or powerful. Seems like parents today are trying too hard to give their kid an early advantage. Then again, I'm from a generation that played cowboys and Indians un-ironically, so what do I know?

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sunday Wa Pic - Snack-naming edition

Please note: Wa pics will now be posted on Sunday mornings. My humor columns will appear on Wednesdays. I've flipped 'em. Long story. Anyway, same content. Different days. Enjoy.

 Sales have skyrocketed after re-branding from the original name, "Vaguely Piggish."

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wednesday Wa Pic - And you thought it was going to be just another Chipotle

I have not seen a sign this excited since the grand opening of the Huge Red Goat.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Kids' toys being rushed to market this election year

To capitalize on this election year, toy companies are rushing new products into production. Here are just a few:

Ben Ghazi. This action figure comes dressed in desert camo and equipped with a rifle, a satchel of sensitive government documents, and a deep, abiding love of conspiracy theories. Optional accessories: private email server, passable buck. (Pesky Congressional subcommittee not included.)

Baby's First Protest Sign. Whether you are raising little Noah or Emma to "fight the power" or teaching them to urge unshaven strangers to "get a job," WeeSpeech Inc. has you covered. All signs are made of BPA-free foam and are chew-resistant. Custom slogans, including most popular emojis, available.

Lil Trumpeter. Doll comes complete with hair styling gel, business suit, and cardboard big city skyline. Lil Trumpeter is fully posable (use your imagination!) and says what's on its mind, thanks to a computer chip in its backside. Optional accessories: private jet, generic-patriotic-slogan ball cap, Lil Devastated Party Chairman figure.

Hungry Hungry Hillary. Game includes several loose marbles, four investigation-launchers, and four lifelike, and I mean crazy lifelike, Hillary heads. The object of the game is to fire the most marbles ("subpoenas") into Hillary's mouth before Bill can eat them. (Please note: This game never has an end.)

Polygraph Pal. Detractors accuse both presidential front-runners of being major liars. Like, world class. We're talking Lance Armstrong territory. Yet they are both monumentally rich and successful. Be like them, kids! Attach the monitor's electrodes to your index finders and learn the tricks of the trade. (Doublespeak phrase book sold separately.)

Heal the Bern! Like the traditional Operation game, but with a twist! Players must use tweezers to remove items from a comically undressed Bernie Sanders. Items include: small donors, random podium sparrows and the weight of an entire young generation.

Zany Rascals Also-Rans Dollhouse. Do you already miss the cavalcade of kooky that was this year's field of hopefuls? Well, now you can enjoy them for years to come. Set Martin O'Malley up with Ted Cruz in the kitchen working together "across the aisle" to make a salad. Pose Chris Christie and Ben Carson on the patio hashing out tax reform over steaks and a brew. ("Buzzkill Jeb" Copter and Malibu Carly Camaro not included.)

This fall's election is a "teachable moment" for our children, who will learn, as we once learned, that our democracy is only worth what we are willing to spend on it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Wednesday Wa Pic - Shop till you drop...that sin

 Because you never know when the spirit might hit.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Reaching senior discount eligibility triggers soul-searching

I am turning 55 this week, and my lust for senior-discounted scrambled eggs cannot be contained. Last week I could not afford the pancakes, the bacon and the eggs, but this week, and for the rest of my life, it's "the works" for me. I might even get the cut-rate toast. You used to have to wait until 65 to live this large, and by then you were usually dead.

Top 10 things I am looking forward to about being a senior:

10) Throwing freshmen in the dumpster again. Hey, I look like a harmless old fogie. Who's going to stop me from going on campus? "I'm a senior. It's what we do," I will yell at the police.

9) Water aerobics. Not doing them, just knowing that girls I went to high school with are out there somewhere doing them.

8) No longer having to dress as sharp. (My wife is laughing.)

7) Finally having the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (that the Eagles will never play my birthday party), to change the things I can (suspenders are slimming, right?) and the wisdom to know I will truly never have a shot at Claire Danes.

6) My head can finally spend the energy it is no longer using on growing hair to remember the names of people I know that I know.

5) Twenty-four sweet hours a day to blog about my ailments.

4) Ravages of time will seem less pronounced thanks to failing vision.

3) Compulsive need to keep up with the Joneses, thanks to fixed income, will be downgraded to a vague desire to keep up with the hijinks of that Kelly Ripa on that morning show.

2) With age comes perspective, and 10% off most donuts.

1) The deference and respect our society automatically confers on people of my advanced years, especially on the roadway.

My friends who have already attained senior status seem to be split about accepting discounts. Some ask for them openly, while others, when offered them based on their appearance, are offended.

What the cashier says: "Would you like to take advantage of our 10% senior discount?"

What my friends hear: "Do you realize how few days of life you have left on this Earth?"

The husband of one of my friends accuses her of just wanting him for his 10% discount. I say hey, there are worse reasons for staying together. Truth be told, we humans are, none of us, bargains.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Wednesday Wa Pic - He's no Marvel

 In the pantheon of lame, forgotten superheroes, he knows no equal.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wednesday Wa Pic - And don't even get me started on "F"

 Because there is nothing more aggravating than sitting in church and having to listen to a lot of e.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Just another unsolvable mystery of life

It all started, as so many things do, with junk from under the passenger seat. Not ancient French fries. No. On the way to school last week, my son reaches under there and comes up with an empty kiwi-strawberry Snapple bottle. 

"Whose was this?" he asks. I have no idea. I haven't had a Snapple since 50-pounds-of-Bill-Clinton ago. 

That night I ask my wife, "Hey, did you have a Snapple when you drove my car last? Or did Laurie have one?" 

"We went in Laurie's car that day," she says. "Besides, I haven't had a Snapple since they tore that Saddam statue down." 

I text my daughter at college. She's home once a month or so. "I can't remember when I last had Snapple. Especially kiwi-strawberry," she replies. (She's a boba connoisseur.)

I rack my brain about who's been in my car. I email my friend Dave. "Yo, that day we went out geocaching, did you drink a Snapple?"

"I did not," he writes back, almost defiantly, because he only rolls with Gatorade. 

Turns out nobody drank a Snapple in my car. I might guess that nobody wants to confess to leaving trash under my seat, but that makes no sense, since they know I'm the first to leave trash under my seat, at least if the seat's already piled high. 

I flash back two decades. I came out one morning to find my car door ajar and a huge pile of Kleenex on the passenger seat. Someone, I suspected, had used my unlocked car overnight for an amorous escapade. The park near us was known for such vehicular prostitutional activity, and I guess they figured the cops wouldn't be looking at driveways.

But coming back 20 years later just to plant a Snapple bottle? Just to mess with me? I find that far-fetched. And I watch "Game of Thrones," so I know far-fetched. 

To recap: I didn't drink the Snapple, my wife didn't drink it, my kids didn't, nor did anyone who has ridden in the car that we can remember. I sometimes leave my sun roof open at work, so it is theoretically possible that somebody lofted an Abdul-Jabbar quality sky hook, and the bottle miraculously then lodged under the seat. Possible, but not likely.

Buddha famously said, "Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth." Clearly, Buddha never had a car.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wednesday Wa Pic - Taking no chances edition

 But, wait, I am unclear...can I go out this way?

Sunday, April 17, 2016

On this date, April 17...

On this date, April 17, in history:

In 1397, Geoffrey Chaucer recited The Canterbury Tales for the first time at King Richard II's court. By all reports, the looks on the faces of the courtiers were pryceless.

In 1524, explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano reached New York harbor, and was amazed to find a bridge named after him.

In 1555, after enduring 18 months of war, Siena surrendered to the Florentine army and quickly became a rarely-used Crayon color.

In 1861, Virginia seceded from the United States. A century later its battle slogan, "You've come a long way, baby," was used to sell cigarettes.

In 1897, a UFO crash was reported in Aurora, Texas. The craft was reportedly "cigar-shaped," and it's occupant described as a "Martian." The fact that in recent years Aurora had endured a fire, deaths by spotted fever, and a railroad stopping 27 miles short of reaching the town, should not in any way be factored in to the idea that this was a publicity stunt aimed at reversing the town's dwindling fortunes.

In 1905, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the historic case "Lochner vs. New York," which proved that the "right to free contract" was implicit in the 14th amendment's "due process" clause, and I've lost you already.

In 1937, Daffy Duck made his first appearance on film, in "Porky's Duck Hunt." In it, Daffy ate an electric eel and turned into a lightning bolt, and also did his soon-to-be-signature crazy dance. Inexplicably, despite the fact that drunken fish commandeer a boat and sing "On Moonlight Bay," it did not win an Oscar.

In 1945, Brazilian troops captured the town of Montese, Italy back from Nazi troops by waxing them to within an inch of their lives.

In 1961, Cuban exiles trained by the CIA attempted to oust Fidel Castro by invading Cuba via the Bay of Pigs, completely overlooking Cuba's prettier-named Bay of Buena Vista. Proof again that sometimes giving a little heads-up to the P.R. department beforehand can make all the difference.

In 1964, Jerrie Mock became the first woman to circumnavigate the world in a plane, without once having to hand peanuts to a drunk insurance salesman.

Also in 1964, the Ford Mustang came on the market, single-handedly derailing abstinence-only sex education nationwide.

Oh, and Happy Kamada Ekadashi! It's a Hindu holy day. But you knew that.

. . .

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Wednesday Wa Pic - Virility you can trust

 Nothing screams "natural" like a roll-up security door.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Those three little words mean home sweet home

In olden times, if you wanted to explain to someone where you lived, you just said something like, "Over the bridge, past the blighted convent, by the hangman's tree. If you get to the mule skeleton, you've gone too far."

But UPS deliveries often went to the wrong hut.

Then humanity came up with road names, numbered addresses, global positioning satellites. But now we have finally reached the pinnacle of precision—three words.

It's an app, and no, I don't own stock in it, but I love the concept—three words to define your location. It's the end of hard-to-remember numbered addresses! Every nine square meters on Earth is a new trio of words.

It's called What3Words, and it allows closer precision than GPS. Plus, it's just fun. For example, one nine square meter section of the White House is at "audit.much.client." Another section is at "cloak.deeper.pulled."

The three words are fixed. They don't change, but the order changes, so the words can be reused. "Deeper.pulled.cloak" is in Washington state. I have become addicted to putting locations into just to see if such a place exists.

I type in random combos. "Rabbit.faced.dude" is a spot in an obscure forested corner of Brazil. Granted, it's probably not getting a lot of deliveries. "Snappy.dresser.barely" is in the middle of a lake in Uganda. A small town in British Columbia hosts the location "backward.pickle.sorters." I tried the trio "unwed.donkey.jockeys" and found it in Colombia!

A spot in left field in Dodger Stadium is located at "media.became.kept." A corner of L.A. City Hall is "elite.engage.noses." A section of MacArthur Park is at "vase.awaits.puns." Now that's memorable.

Think about it. If I tell you my address is 4371 Michigan Avenue, and you don't write it down, will you be able to repeat it a day from now? But if I say I live at "," that will still be stuck in your brain pan 10 years from now.

(It's in Angola, by the way. Getting UPS to deliver there is another issue altogether.)

Unfortunately, the app guys have already set the words, so I can't choose my own address. I mean, yes, I could live at "stud.beyond.comparing," the address exists, but I'd have to move to Russia.

 . . .

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Wednesday Wa Pic - Fowl cashier

 I have to say, her human disguise was impeccable

Alternate punch line for old SNL/Dana Carvey fans:

This cashier make a lousy house pet.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

There are some things you can't un-see

I got new glasses recently, because all those hours of "The Love Boat" in the '70's are finally catching up to me. Some things you can't un-see.

The eye doc said she didn't like my eyeball pressure, so I told her I didn't much care for her shoes. She wrote me a referral to a specialist to see if I might have glaucoma in my future, which, I am pretty sure, as comas go, is not a type that I want.

The specialist's waiting room was packed, and people kept coming in as if word had gotten out that winning lottery tickets were sold there. A guy who came in after me finished his paperwork before me and promptly took the moral high ground, positioning himself in the only space it was possible to stand. I had to sit in a recently-vacated spot with the old people and the lame. I think I saw him smirking, but there were too many people to make out faces.

First I met with a tech who made me rest my chin on a thing and look in a viewer at a tiny red barn at the end of a long white fence row. I saw no cows. I hoped that was a good thing.

The tech put numbing solution on my eyes and dilating drops, and sent me to wait in a darkened vestibule. There were bad paintings on the wall. At least I think they were bad. Who's going to know?

Finally I was called, and as I left, I whispered to the only guy left there, "Make a break for it." He smiled vaguely, but I could tell I would be that night's story at dinner.

The doctor had me look up, down and all around while she shined blue, yellow and white light straight into my brain. There were no little red barns and cow-less fields, only hellfire and pain. Imagine having a job where you torture people all day but you aren't even running for office.

No glaucoma, but the doc advised annual checkups. As I headed back to the car, the world looked fuzzy, like a Hallmark special. Like "Anne of Green Gables" shot through a much-abused salad bar's sneeze guard.

Amazingly, with sunglasses I was able to drive home O.K., and I tell you this—Los Angeles has never looked better.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Wednesday Wa Pic - There's a line, people. There IS a line.

 Humanity might have survived past the 21st Century, but then one Jeff Solensky of Hoboken, New Jersey, tipped the scale, just enough, in oblivion's favor.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Wednesday Wa Pic - Let's teach that arrugula a lesson!

Also known as "the salad negater."

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Wednesday Wa Pic - Bull market

 They also have a chicken variety, but I admit I was too afraid to buy it.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

This week in history: Man spots Uranus

This week in history...

In the year 461, St. Patrick dies. A full 1301 years later, in 1762, the first St. Patrick's Day parade is put on. This becomes the new standard in what is known as "the long game."

In 1751, future president James Madison is born. He quickly becomes most famous for marrying the woman who invented cupcakes. 

In 1820, Maine joins the union, bringing the state motto, "It's too cold to think of anything" to a national audience. In summer, the motto is changed to something Latin.

In 1837, future president Grover Cleveland is born. I would say more about his life, but that was the high point.

In 1850, "The Scarlet Letter" is published, causing the stock price of CliffsNotes to skyrocket astronomically. 

In 1871, German astronomer William Herschel discovers Uranus, for which schoolboys, even now, owe him a silent debt.

In 1879, Albert Einstein is born, an event which would finally, after thousands of years of human history, make the world safe for goofy hair in the workplace. 

In 1911, Irving Berlin copyrights the song, "Alexander's Ragtime Band," which becomes the first song in history to sell more than a million copies of sheet music despite the presence of "honey lamb" in the lyrics.

In 1916, the U.S. engages in its first-ever air combat, not in World War I; in Mexico, searching for Pancho Villa. This is not only history; it's a future winning bar bet. 

In 1931, the state of Nevada legalizes gambling, leading sadly, but inevitably, to buffets. 

In 1933, car maker Studebaker goes bankrupt, realizing too late that the buying public thinks it is a company which bakes studes, which nobody has ever heard of. 

In 1950, the FBI debuts its now-iconic "10 Most Wanted" campaign, replacing its previous, unsuccessful mug shot-based operation, "Who Dis?"

In 1958, "Tequila" by the Champs tops the pop charts, thanks to ground-breaking lyrics like this: "Tequila." It quickly becomes Maine's new state motto. 

In 1969, "The Love Bug" opens in movie theaters, redeeming the "sentient car" as legitimate cinematic device; a conceit begun disastrously three years earlier with the TV series, "My Mother The Car," which is about a dude whose dead mother is reincarnated as a car. I do not have a better punchline.

Say what you want about history. I will.