Sunday, October 4, 2020

Pumpkin spice is the truth, the way

This time of year pumpkin spice makes its annual resurgence in our culture, much like news reports of Betty White's demise. (She's still fine.) The sheer, sudden pervasiveness of pumpkin spice in everything causes a certain backlash, as with anything popular. Pumpkin spice haters, or "pumpers," as I call them, clearly need a hobby. I mean, besides Deep State rumor-mongering. They need their own political party, with Eeyore as their mascot.

There is nothing wrong with the world that a little pumpkin spice can't cure. I know this is a majority opinion, which is rare for me, so I am basking in it. This time of year, I walk a little taller.  And smell better, thanks to my pumpkin spice aftershave, which has the added benefit of soothing my razor burn. It's like rubbing autumn, and commercialism itself, all over your cheeks. 

Pumpkin spice is really a misnomer, though. What they should call the fragrance is, simply, "spice." Nobody rips open a bag of pumpkin spice marshmallows and exclaims, "Mmmm. Gourdy!" 

Pumpkin is not a smell, it is a porch-based science experiment. The spice smell is from the pie, and the pie is from Thanksgiving, so pumpkin spice, in its October marketing, is really just a subliminal way to get the consumer salivating to SPEND next month.

It's genius.

ACTUAL products which you, like me, should never be able to get enough of:

Pumpkin spice SPAM 

Pumpkin spice Kraft macaroni and cheese

Pumpkin spice Pringles

Pumpkin spice doggie dental treats

Pumpkin spice hummus

Pumpkin spice beard oil

Pumpkin spice latte deodorant!

Pumpkin spice protein powder

Pumpkin spice instant latte for dogs

Pumpkin spice squeezable apple sauce

Pumpkin spice-flavored pumpkin seeds!

Pumpkin spice salsa

Pumpkin spice kale chips

Pumpkin spice dog shampoo

Because nothing is more entertaining than the look in a dog's eyes when you have convinced him that he is pie.

My neighbors a few blocks down have little pumpkins growing as decoration along the front strip of their yard. I am tempted to go after dark and stick a little sign in the top of each one that says "Now with spice!" 

That is how much "in the spirit" I am. 

It is not just a matter of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves or ginger. Not just about evoking memories of holidays past so we empty our wallets. Pumpkin spice, at its core, is closer to spirituality than commerce. A prayer, almost, of a better way. A path. A path which smells better than we do. 

As father of capitalism Adam Smith famously wrote (I am paraphrasing), "All pumpkin spice is a matter of belief." 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

The Perks Of Very Dark Times

It's true I have not written any posts since March, when the coronavirus and political discord got the best of me and I had a hard time finding humor in anything. But recently I got to thinking. Just because I've lost my sense of humor doesn't mean I can't write words down. So here you go!

. . .

These are dark times for anyone whose name doesn't rhyme with Pezos, but the silver lining is there to be found if you just look. Sure, it's a pain to wear a face mask, but there ARE some upsides:

  • Nobody can see if you have spinach in your teeth. 
  • Nobody can be blown back by your bad breath. 
  • Men, your coworkers won't even know if you've shaved or not. 
  • The fact that everyone who lost their jobs over COVID isn't masking up and robbing banks every day is sincerely heartening. 
  • Research shows that most of us have gained a 59% increase in our daily requirement of breathed cotton lint.
  • Genuinely dumb people, who believe that re-breathing your own carbon dioxide will kill you, are suddenly very vocal, providing free entertainment for those who have already watched everything on Netflix.
  • Total strangers can now get into fights (hey, your body doesn't care HOW you get your cardio) over facial wear, an advancement that even earrings on men could never bring about. 
  • For the first time in history, the audience-reach of the political yard sign has been exponentially increased by being transferred to the human face.
  • Seriously, your breath has been an issue.
  • Always wanted a daylong ear massage? Boom.

It's not just deadly viruses which have an upside. Elections years always bring their own perks too:

  • The economy gets a tremendous boost from ammunition sales.
  • Also home-use blood pressure cuffs!
  • Citizens are reminded who is good and who is bad.
  • You no longer have to wait all the way until Thanksgiving to "get into it" with Uncle Morty. 


  • "Bloviate" changes from a verb to a noun and rhymes with Soviet, as in "We now live in a uncurtailed Bloviate."
  • Genuine truth is twisted by the powerful to play as lies to the gullible, a cohort of such recent growth in number, if it formed its own political party, it could win every election from now until the civil war. 
  • The Deep State turns out not to be nearly as deep as thought, and is mostly night managers of Dunkin shops. 

Any year with both a deadly worldwide pandemic AND a presidential election could be expected to be full of drama, yet the huge surprises still keep coming and it's only September. We are learning as we go. I certainly am. Check it out—mind blown:

QAnon turns out not to be, as I had thought, for people addicted to Zachary Quinto.

. . .

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Coming out as Californian

I think it is a sign of a certain maturity when you reach the age where you stop trying to hide the fact you are a walking California stereotype. It's not like you publicize it or anything. But you find yourself mentioning casually to a friend that you recently bought reusable stainless steel drinking straws in order to save the turtles. You keep them in a cloth pouch in your car's glove compartment. You whip them out at fast food establishments, saying to the counter person, "No thanks. I brought my own." You ignore her slight recoil, as she realizes she is Just. Not. As. Californian. As. You.

You might think the contents of all glove compartments are the same, from sea to shining sea. They are not. Sure, in cars anywhere between California and New York, you will find some commonality; emergency sunglasses, your old scratched ones you keep just in case you forget your good ones. Paper napkins and ketchup packets. Pencil nubs. Seven years of insurance documents because you can't remember which one is current. Three pennies. Expired coupons. Inexplicably, a roll of dental floss, not even in a dispenser. These are universal.

A Californian's glove compartment, though, might actually contain gloves, because in the morning, steering wheels can dip below 70 degrees to the touch. I am speaking of native Californians, not recent arrivals, the behavior of whom is unpredictable due to the sudden, intoxicating exposure to sunlight. Aside from gloves, though, the glove compartment of a true Californian, by which I mean a SOUTHERN Californian, by which I mean a "woke" Southern Californian, will always have the following items:

Stainless steel drinking straws, kept clean in a hemp drawstring sack made by the indigenous people of Venezuela. (The hemp sacks of Columbia are excellent too, but one cannot verify the "fair trade" aspect of those, and so are to be avoided.) 

Tube socks for the homeless, to be handed out at stop lights. 

Travel size, abridged version of "An Inconvenient Truth" by Al Gore, the one with the reflective back cover, which can also be placed under your rear windshield wiper in the event of a breakdown after dark. 

Gift card to Whole Foods, and a stamp card from Vegan Vibrations.

Audio CDs of Michelle Obama's "Becoming," aka El Biblio.

A pair of plastic-free, BPA-free silicone wine glasses, because sharing is caring, and caring is not optional. 

A purple amethyst geode from Sedona, to stabilize your car's chi, a necessity for L.A.'s freeways.

A lot of people reading this will not be from Southern California, and will think I am joking about the steel straws, but I am not. The only thing a Californian wants to protect more than sea turtles is a hemp farmer's right to unionize. We are not playing. 

I admit a steel straw gets awfully cold on the lips when imbibing some iced boba or a milk shake. It takes some getting used to, but better a little discomfort for the cause than sleepless nights over befouling the planet. Plus, there is the satisfaction which comes from knowing you are better than other people, which should not be underestimated.