Friday, December 19, 2014

More Great Moments in Editing

I was going to start the recap of our vacation adventures today, but I haven't gotten finished sorting out the pictures yet. Actually, I haven't even started sorting out the pictures yet. Thus, you'll have to settle for the usual alternate Friday offering of editorial gems, and I'll plan on doing the vacation report on Monday. Maybe earlier as a special if I can get my act together over the weekend. Who knows? In the meantime ...

The perils of having an unusual name ...

This wasn't the church I used to attend ...

"It's kind of ironic," the chief said ...

It probably shares office space with the local Faux News bureau ...

I guess you'd use them to make ... hamlets ...

I was going to show this to Agnes, but I enjoy life too much ...

This would be on the menu at the very sub-est of Subways ...

Everyone's getting into the holiday season ...

I'm not showing this one to Agnes, either ...

There are some very odd occupational hazards out there ...

There you are ... proof positive that not everything you see in print is worth seeing. I'll be back tomorrow with Cartoon Saturday, and will be working hard in the background to get our vacation report together. Really.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

They're Back!!

Yes, Dear Readers, we are back from our European adventure!

Today's post is just to let you know we made it back all right; tomorrow's post will begin the detailed report on our trip - with pictures, of course. This morning I have to go back to work, where I will manfully try to remember my name, what day it is, and where I am, and by this afternoon or tomorrow morning, I should be well enough recovered to again post coherently. Or as coherently as I ever do.

Dorothy was right - there's no place like home (clicks heels three times in classic Prussian fashion).

Have a good day. More thoughts coming.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Announcing the Voting for the 2014 Ass Clown of the Year!

Today, Dear Readers, is December 17th, and it's time to start thinking about nominations for the

2014 Ass Clown of the Year!

Yes, in the last twelve months we've named 22 Ass Clowns of the Month (actually, as you know, I started doing it biweekly earlier this year, there being no shortage of nominees), but it's time to dishonor the person or group who has risen to the supreme heights of ass-clownery by naming him ... or her ... or them ... as the Ass Clown of the Year. After all, someone must take over the reins from our 2014 Ass Clown of the Year, The Tea Party.

For those of you who might be new to the voting procedure, or who need a review, here it is:

1. You may vote for any 2014 Ass Clown of the Month designee, or for any other individual or group you feel is more deserving.

2. Chicago Rules voting applies. You may vote as often as you want, for as many candidates as you wish. No limit. You may also cast votes on behalf of your family members (living or dead), your friends, your friends' family members, your pets, and your imaginary childhood friends. After all, the GOP is convinced that everyone but them votes this way anyhow, so you may as well go for it.

There are no other rules.

For your reference in case you want to review the field, here's a recap of the 22 Ass Clowns of the Month who have been dishonored so far this year:

January 21 - Dennis Rodman
February 11 - Vladimir Putin
March 14 - Kyle Tasker
April 4 - Robert H. Richards III and Judge Jan Jurden
April 14 - Mike Huckabee
May 8 - Chris Sevier
June 4 - Samuel Joseph "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher
June 17 - Eric Cantor
June 27 - John Boehner
July 11 - The Supreme Court
July 14 - Kentucky State Senator Brandon Smith
July 25 - Vladimir Putin (second award in 2014)
August 8 - The Rope Nazi
August 22 - ISIS/"The Islamic State"
September 5 - Justin Bieber
September 19 - Oscar Pistorius
October 3 - Alex Jones
October 17 - Leslie Rutledge
October 31 - John Boehner (second award in 2014, and third overall)
November 14 - The Government of India
November 28 - Senator Lindsey Graham
December 12 - Elizabeth Lauten

We'll name the final monthly Ass Clown on December 26th, so you may want to pace yourself with your voting.

Voting begins immediately, and closes at midnight on December 31st. The winner will be announced in this blog on January 1st. Don't delay - let your voice be heard! As notorious gangster Alphonse Capone once urged - "Vote early, vote often."

Have a good day.

More thoughts coming.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Poetry Sunday

An interesting poem about when things happen ...

Not Yet
by Jane Hirshfield

Morning of buttered toast;
of coffee, sweetened, with milk.

Out the window,
snow-spruces step from their cobwebs.
Flurry of chickadees, feeding then gone.
A single cardinal stipples an empty branch—
one maple leaf lifted back.

I turn my blessings like photographs into the light;
over my shoulder the god of Not-Yet looks on:

Not-yet-dead, not-yet-lost, not-yet-taken.
Not-yet-shattered, not-yet-sectioned,

Ample litany, sparing nothing I hate or love,
not-yet-silenced, not-yet-fractured; not-yet-


I move my ear a little closer to that humming figure,
I ask him only to stay.

We never want bad things to happen, but somehow they do. The best we can hope for is that they happen ... not yet.

Have a good day. More thoughts coming.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Cartoon Saturday

We're still on the road, so the usual news summary is still on vacation, too. Sorry about that. Our collection of theme cartoons for this week deals with that eternal feminine complaint - that men don't quite understand where their eyes are ...

It's a problem for snowladies, too ...

Sometimes, a little confusion is understandable ...

And the problem isn't limited just to Earth ladies ...

Believe it or not, the problem isn't always caused by a focus on the wrong part of the body ...

As problems between the sexes go, one can really say it's for the birds ...

And the ladies are often justified in having a ... bone to pick with the men ...

Turning to other topics, I think this is a problem that affects a lot of shouting heads and their audiences nowadays ...

Well, it could have been an outbreak of norovirus ...

I've eaten at places like this, but not more than once ...

Sometimes, the self-help group isn't quite as good an idea as you might have thought ...

And there you have it - your second Cartoon Saturday for the month of December. Christmas is just 12 days away, so if you haven't asked for my wish list, there's still time, ha, ha.

Have a good day. See you tomorrow for Poetry Sunday.


Friday, December 12, 2014

The First Ass Clown of the Month Award for December, 2015

With a new month comes a new collection of potential Ass Clown of the Month awardees ...

The bar for this quasi-prestigious award has been set pretty high by previous awardees, but there's never a shortage of people looking to meet or exceed the standards. And so it is that the first Ass Clown of the Month award for December of 2014 is presented to

Elizabeth Lauten

Ms Lauten, communications director for Tennessee Representative Steve Fincher and a former communications staffer for the Republican National Committee, scolded President Obama's daughters Sasha and Malia in a Facebook post for dressing like "they deserve a spot at a bar" and told them to "try showing a little class." Her post read in part,

"Dear Sasha and Malia: I get you're both in those awful teen years, but you're a part of the First Family, try showing a little class. At least respect the part you play ... Then again, your mother and father don't respect their positions very much, or the nation for that matter, so I'm guessing you're coming up a little short in the 'good role model' department."

After coming in for a firestorm of criticism for her crude slam at the President by way of insulting his daughters, Ms Lauten published the expected cringing apology, which said in part ...

"After many hours of prayer, talking to my parents, and re-reading my words online I can see more clearly just how hurtful my words were. Please know, those judgmental feelings truly have no place in my heart."

Too bad they had plenty of place in her brain. 

Dear Readers, Elizabeth Lauten - who, as it turns out, resigned her position on December 1st in the wake of her classless outburst - is our first Ass Clown of the Month for December, 2014. 

Have a good day. More thoughts coming.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Still Here!

Yes, we're still here. In Germany, I mean.

The last week has not exactly been the epitome of relaxing vacations, what with the miserable weather (cold, gray skies, drizzle pretty much every day) and dealing with Agnes's father, who is as grouchy and querulous as only a 95 year-old man can be. We've had some wonderful lunches with Bernadette (Agnes's cousin) and her husband Richard, culminating today with duck breast with cherry sauce and spaetzle and a delicious salad. I asked them to adopt me, but Agnes put her foot down.

One of the highlights of the trip so far came yesterday, when we went with Bernadette to the huge, beautiful Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market) in the nearby city of Konstanz. It was a short train ride, and we had a grand time touring the market stalls in the old part of the city. It was quite cold, so a nice hot wurst and a glass of Gluehwein were in order. It was lots of fun and very interesting, but all things considered, I like Konstanz a lot better in the summer!

My German is getting better by the day as I learn new terms (about elder care and geriatric medicine) and try to answer all Agnes's father's questions about everything under the sun. Explaining Obamacare in English is hard enough ... try German. And the legal issues surrounding organ donation (!). And the differences between the American and German health care, banking, and school systems. All the war stories are easy enough to handle ... my military vocabulary is very good, plus I've heard all his stories at least a thousand times before.

Poor Agnes is suffering from a completly miserable cold and bronchitis, which is adding to the sheer joy of the trip and the stress of dealing with her father. She's looking forward to getting home for a ... vacation.

Tomorrow morning we leave Singen for Landstuhl, where we'll meet up with our son Jason and his family for a short visit before heading to Reutlingen for an equally short visit with Agnes's other cousin Anna. With any luck, these visits should be much more relaxing and entertaining. Of course, the onslaught of four grandchildren at once will be a systemic shock, but I think we're up to handling it.

Check back on Friday for our latest Ass Clown nominee, and then for Cartoon Saturday and Poetry Sunday. If I can cop a Wi-Fi signal, you'll have your usual weekend fixes.

Ich wuensche Ihnen einen schoenen Tag. Andere Bedenkungen folgen.


Monday, December 08, 2014

Hello from Germany!

Well, yes, we're here. It's not been the most joyous of vacations so far, but we're in Germany, so how bad can it be?

We landed at Frankfurt Airport shortly after 7:00 last Thursday morning, collected our bags, and hopped a train from the long distance terminal at the airport to Singen, with a connection in Stuttgart. For those of you unfamiliar with train travel in Germany, let me just say that it's really the way to go ... unless you have to change trains in Stuttgart, where the station is undergoing a major reconstruction and there is no such thing as a "quick transfer" between trains. Our Inter-City express train from Frankfurt arrived on Track 15, and our connecting regional train left from Track 4, with ten minutes between trains ... the door of our connecting regional train literally closed on our backsides as we raced up and dived through.

The regional train, true to its name, stopped at every town between Stuttgart and Singen with a population of more than 3 (including dogs and cats), but by late afternoon we'd finally arrived and made it to Agnes's father's apartment. We visited there for a few hours, then hiked over to the Holiday Inn Express, where they automatically pulled out our registration form when we came in the door ... Agnes has stayed there so often in the last year that they automatically recognize her.

As luck would have it, this year Singen is having its first annual Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market), and is having it on the Rathausplatz right in front of our hotel. The good news is that there's plenty of good food and drink available right outside. The bad news is that if one's hotel has a festival right in front, it tends to be pretty noisy. Happily (and for the first time in memory), our room is on the back side of the hotel, so we've been spared the worst of the Christmas revelry. We've briefly visited the Weihnachtsmarkt on two evenings, and have partaken happily of the Gluehwein (hot mulled wine), hot Bratwurst, and Schupfnudeln (a regional specialty consisting of stir-fried noodles with sauerkraut and bacon). I also tried (and can strongly recommend) some small sausages called "Schoko-Chili-Wurst" - dark sausages spiced with chili peppers and chocolate. It sounds terrible, but is REALLY good.

We've also visited with Agnes's cousin Bernadette and her husband Richard, who live in the nearby town of Aach. You may recall that they stayed with us for three weeks last October, and they're repaying our hospitality with some wonderful homemade dinners ... yesterday, Richard made an herb-crusted tenderloin of fresh venison with Spaetzle (noodles), mushroom sauce, and red cabbage. I could get used to that.

We will be spending another few days here before heading to the teeming megalopolis of Schwedelbach to see our son and the grandchildren and then finishing up in Reutlingen with a visit to  Agnes's cousin Anna and her husband.

And by the time all that's over, I'll probably be ready to go back to work to relax.

These relaxing vacations will be the death of me yet.

Have a good day. More thoughts coming.


Sunday, December 07, 2014

Poetry Sunday

Greetings from the breakfast room of the Holiday Inn Express in Singen, Germany, on this damp, cold, overcast morning. But at least it isn't sleeting or snowing. Yet. Sigh.

On this first Poetry Sunday of December, I reflect on the fact that my oldest grandchild, Marcy, is fourteen. It's not easy to relate to a girl child of that age ...

by Jerry Roscoe

Today is my daughter's fourteenth birthday
So I bought her roses—five red, nine pink—
To commemorate impending womanhood. She liked
Them I think better than the balloons her mother
& I would sneak into her room while she slept
To celebrate birthdays one through thirteen.
Or maybe she was just humoring me
Who had just turned fifty & looked ridiculous
Standing there in her doorway, holding them
Like a torch. "Soon enough," the Fates were
Whispering, but I doubt she heard them,
Soon enough she would. Still she left off
The internet, cradled & squeezed the thorny blooms
& gave me an authentic look not what I usually get.

Love your daughters and granddaughters. They grow up much too quickly.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


Saturday, December 06, 2014

Cartoon Saturday

Welcome to the first Cartoon Saturday in December! Since we're on vacation, so also is the news summary that usually accompanies the cartoons ... it'll be back when we are. I'll just say that for the time we're on vacation, I'm not going to let the bad news bother me. Much. For now, just enjoy the cartoons ... with this week's theme cartoons featuring the stone heads of Easter Island ...

That was quite a sneeze ...

It must have been interesting getting that souvenir through customs ...

Easter Island - the backstory ...

If the statues had been erected today ...

Well, maybe not ...

I'm a bit OCD with the arrangement of books on my shelves ... but I don't think I'd have made this mistake ...

No easy chairs, here ...

Nice idea, bad timing ...

Truth in marketing ...

And finally, where else would Clark Kent shop? ...

Cartoon Saturday ... because you need something to laugh about besides Congress.

Have a good day. See you tomorrow for Poetry Sunday.