Monday, April 30, 2012

Image Issues

When I crossed the traditional superannuation barrier of the big six-oh last year, I decided it was time to start working on an image makeover. No longer was it appropriate to be the devil-may-care, manly stud of my youth (those of you who knew me in my youth, just give me this one, okay?) ... I was now a grandfather of five (with a sixth now on the way), expected to maintain a certain level of decorum and to ooze wisdom and good cheer to those of lesser years.


Which leads me, in the roundabout way my brain tends to work, to this interesting article I found yesterday: Men's Insecurities About Their Looks and Rejection. The article lists the top things about which men are said to be insecure as they contemplate their level of desirability to the opposite sex. Well, sometimes to the same sex, too, the times being what they are. Here's the list, with my commentary ...

1. Hair Loss. Actually, I have found that I have not lost hair as I've grown older ... it's just migrated to different places. The solar panel on the back of my head is balanced out by the new growth in my ears. I still actually have plenty of hair, although the color is a bit less (okay, a lot less) brown than it used to be. Get over it.

2. Physical Fitness/Weight Management. Although Agnes and I don't dance quite as much as we used to, I can still cut a pretty mean rug, and experience shows that a man who can dance ... though his hair be gray and his shape a bit rounder than in earlier years ... can still draw attractive ladies like a bag of cash draws candidates for office. I may not pump iron, but I can toss the average lady pretty high when doing a corte with a leg lift while dancing the Tango. And weight management, in any case, grows more difficult as we grow older, particularly when one of one's hobbies is gourmet cooking. One of the corollaries of Einstein's theories dealing with the conservation of mass predicts that there is only so much mass in the universe, and when someone loses weight, it has to appear somewhere else. I'm doing my part to keep the universe in balance. You're welcome.

3. Aging. Getting old may be a pain in the neck (and in many other places, especially in the mornings or after chasing hyperactive grandchildren for a few hours), but it does beat the alternative. Two of my favorite comments about aging are:

"Age is an issue of mind over matter ... if you don't mind, it doesn't matter;" and,

"The best thing for a man about getting older is that every year there are more women you think are attractive."

And, in my humble opinion, means that there are a lot of beautiful women out there ... many of whom actually read (and comment on!) this blog. This means, of course, that they're not only beautiful, but they're attracted to my sparkling wit and insightful commentary.

Which, when you're an over-sixty, gray-haired, moderately-fit, and gently rounded fellow, isn't a bad trade-off.

Have a good day. Age gracefully.

More thoughts tomorrow.


P.S. - A bonus item from the Only-in-America collection: 2 Teen Girls Sunbathing on Pennsylvania Road Struck by Car.

Oy, vey.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Odds and Ends. Mostly Odds.

No particular theme for today, just a few odds and ends before I head for the shower and get ready to rumble with the local grandchildren ...

Today is the birthday of my long-distance friend and pen pal Amanda, who blogs over at The Milk Bar. Drop by and wish her a happy birthday!

This week marks the annual installment of one of my favorite Washington Post Style Invitational Contests - Foaling Around. The idea is to take any two horses (regardless of sex) entered in one of the Triple Crown races (The Preakness Stakes, The Kentucky Derby, and the Belmont Stakes), breed them, and name the foal. Here are just a few of my favorite entries*; you can read the rest here:

Discreet Dancer x One Sock Down = Amish Stripper;

Drill x Big Monster = J. Paul Yeti;

Conserve x Mr Percussionist = Muir Cowbell;

Battle Hardened x Drill = La Femme Makita; and,

Late Night Action x Flashy Sunrise = Where Are My Pants.

Turning to a new topici, it's an election year, after all ...

The GOP has announced that, although they haven't been able to agree on a health care reform plan other than hysterically trashing the one passed by President Obama, they have managed to settle on a logo for the plan they may eventually come up with ...

Newt Gingrich has announced that he's going to withdraw from the Republican presidential derby ... on Wednesday. Previous reports said he'd withdraw on Tuesday. There's now a rumor he may delay his announcement until November ...

One of my biggest pet peeves is ass clowns who push their enormously overladen carts into the express lanes at the supermarket, then can't seem to find their method of payment once the ringing-up is done. Here's a graphic representation ...

And, finally, I found this on Facebook, courtesy of a friend who, clearly, is a long-lost member of my family ...

And that's it for today. Yesterday was chilly and rainy here in Northern Virginia. The prediction for today is for partly cloudy, 71 degrees (that's about 22 degrees for the Celsius part of the world), and a mere 10% chance of rain. Let's hope ...

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* The actual winner was, Holy Highway x The Lumber Guy = Om Depot.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Cartoon Saturday

Another week has gone by, and I think I need rubbed down with Oil of Oy-Vey ...

The government of Syria continues to thumb its nose and blame the rest of the world for its actions while managing its internal problems with extreme prejudice; In Afghanistan, the progressive and enlightened forces of the Taliban continue to fight steadfastly ... against educating girls; a former Brazilian prostitute plans to sue the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, claiming that members of its security team last December threw her from a van and ran over her; Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng, who is blind, eluded guards and escaped house arrest and is reportedly seeking asylum from the United States;  and in Northern Virginia, a woman is suing a club for injuries sustained when she was struck by a falling disco ball.

Life is hard. That's why you need Cartoon Saturday to help get you through it.

We've been going through one of our periodic reorganizational spasms at work, in which everything is put into a big cup, shaken by the Wheels, and tossed out into a new structure that will sow dread into the hearts of our enemies and confusion into the minds of everyone else. But reorganization doesn't have to be difficult, as these cartoons show ...

and ...

and ...

Ancient Greek gods always manage to provide plenty of opportunities for good cartoons and great puns ...

Yes, but is it art ... ?

It was only a matter of time before this pretty obvious twist showed up ...

And this one, too ...

Two takes on a theme ...

 and ...

And finally, if you aren't sick of all the ridiculous and dispiriting political ads full of distortions, half-truths, and outright lies in this sad election year, you soon will be ...

And so we reach another weekend, your reward for surviving another week. Today will be a day of yard work and general honey-dos, while tomorrow will be our weekly visit to the local grandchildren. I didn't need all that energy, anyhow.

Have a good day. More thoughts coming ...


P.S. - I just finished reading a really great book: Unholy Night, by Seth Grahame-Smith ...

In this fast-paced, exciting retelling of the biblical story of the Three Wise Men and the Nativity, the "wise men" are actually a trio of desperate thieves, led by the angry and murderous Balthazar (the "Antioch Ghost") who, after escaping from King Herod's prison, take temporary refuge in a stable already occupied by a young carpenter, his wife, and their newborn baby, and ...

I won't tell you more about the plot, but suffice it to say that it's a wonderful mix of biblical history, exciting storytelling, and terrific imagination. Read it.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Texas Political Quotes

I found this in my humor archive file this morning. I'm not sure when or where I first ran across it, but I'm glad I saved it, for it seems topical enough in this time of rampant political stupidity. This is a list of quotes attributed to politicians from Texas ... although nowadays I could see them coming from just about anyone in Congress. Disengage your brain clutch and let's go ...

"It just makes good sense to put all your eggs in one basket."
(Texas Rep. Joe Salem speaking on an amendment requiring all revenues to go into the state treasury)

"Lemme give ya' a hypothetic."
(Texas Rep. Renal Rosson)

"Ain't nothin' in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos." 
(Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower)

"And now, will y'all stand and be recognized?"
(Texas House Speaker Gib Lewis to a group of handicapped people in wheelchairs)

"Dallas salutes a person who can buy a piece of art, but not a person who can create one."
(A. C. Greene)

"No thanks, once was enough."
(Texas Governor Bill Clements, asked if he had been born again)

"Oh good.  Now he'll be bi-ignorant."
(Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower when told that Texas Governor Bill Clements had been studying Spanish)

"I'd just make a little bit of money, I wouldn't make a whole lot."
(Texas House Speaker Gib Lewis defending himself against the charge that he would personally profit from a bill he had introduced.)

"Well, there never was a Bible in the room."
(Texas Governor Bill Clements, asked about repeatedly lying about the SMU football scandal)

"I am filled with humidity."
(Texas House Speaker Gib Lewis)

"If ignorance ever goes to $40 a barrel, I want drillin' rights on that man's head."*
(Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower discussing President George Bush's policies)

"If it's dangerous to talk to yourself, it's probably even dicier to listen."
(Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower)

"I move we recess to go outside and throw up."
(Texas House Speaker Gib Lewis during a budget hearing)

"...idiots, imbeciles, aliens, the insane and women..."
(Law standing in Texas until 1918 regulating who could not vote)

"It's the sediment of the House that we adjourn."
(Texas House Speaker Wayne Clayton)

"Let's do this in one foul sweep."
(Texas House Speaker Wayne Clayton)

"This is unparalyzed in the state's history."
(Texas House Speaker Gib Lewis)

"I want to thank each and every one of you for having extinguished yourselves this session."
(Texas House Speaker Gib Lewis)

"We'll run it up the flagpole and see who salutes that booger."
(Texas House Speaker Gib Lewis)

"There's a lot of uncertainty that's not clear in my mind."
(Texas House Speaker Gib Lewis)

"I can explain it for you, but I can't understand it for you."

"There are still places where people think that the function of the media is to provide information."**
(Don Rottenberg)

Let's hear it for our political class! Which, speaking of class, generally appears to have none.

Have a good day. Be here tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday.

More thoughts coming.


* This one's my favorite!

** Not applicable to Faux News.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

"2MB of Knowledge"

When you're tired of watching Congress to get your daily ration of unadulterated buffoonery, you can always turn to that laugh-a-minute, kleptocratic, basket case of a nation, North Korea. For hot air, bombast, and complete obliviousness to common sense and humanity, North Korea takes the cake. Congress may be equally full of outrageous ass-clownery, but at least it doesn't murder and torture its opponents outright ... instead, it drives them crazy with ludicrous behavior until they want to kill themselves.

But back to North Korea. Nothing irritates the government of the Hermit Kingdom more than having anyone point out its shortcomings, and those who so much as hint that emperor Kim has no clothes are made the targets of enormous avalanches of ridiculously overblown rhetoric ... the latest example: South Korean president Lee Myung-bak was described in a typically shrill North Korean broadcast as  "human scum" and "an underwit with 2MB of knowledge."

Even for North Korea, describing someone as an "underwit" is pretty ... uh ... witty. Is an underwit considered dumber than a half-wit? And characterizing someone as having only "2MB of knowledge" is a pretty low blow.

So, how much memory does an average brain have, anyway?

Writing in Slate magazine, author Forrest Wickman tried to answer that question in his article, Your Brain’s Technical Specs: How Many Megabytes of Data Can the Human Mind Hold?

It seems that this is a question with no simple answer, because it depends on how you do your calculations. According to the article, most computational neuroscientists (?) estimate the storage capacity of the human brain to be between 10 and 100 terabytes*, although estimates range from a low of one lonely terabyte to a high of 1.5 petabytes**. This is a lot of storage, even at the low end.

But, in the humble opinion of yours truly, the storage capacity of the human brain is considerably less important than the ability to productively use all that stored knowledge. There are a lot of people in Congress, for instance, whose brains doubtless hold vast amounts of information, and yet they seem unable to process that stored knowledge in such a way that they can believe in things like trickle-down economics and "creation science," while denying the reality of climate change.

So ...

Does Mr Lee have only 2MB of knowledge? I doubt it. But however much he has, he's able to see through the bovine scat churned out by his northern relations. Too bad we don't have many Americans who can see through the Congressional equivalent, especially in an election year.

Have a good day. Apply your stored knowledge wisely. More thoughts tomorrow.


*By way of comparison, my very first computer, purchased in about 1988, had a 20MB hard drive.

** I expect that trying to apply a petabyte could get you slapped by Ms Murgatroyd ...


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Put Down the Blue Pencil, and Nobody Will Get Hurt

Did you ever wonder why we use the term blue-pencil as a synonym for editing? You didn't? Well, I'll tell you anyway. It seems that editors used to use a pencil with blue lead to edit copy because the blue color would not show in some lithographic reproduction processes, allowing the editor to make marks directly on the copy which would not later show up by accident on the printed page. Now that most editing is done on word processors, blue pencils are seldom used, but the expression remains as a term (often pejorative) for the editing process.*

Well, speaking of editing, we haven't done the Great Moments in Editing thing for a while, so let's pull out some examples today, eh?

Well, I suppose we all need to be remembered for something ...

What's in a name?

Well, if you've got to be unresponsive someplace, it might as well be here, rather than in Congress ...

I'm glad we got that cleared up ...

And then there's the classic question: if nothing sticks to Teflon, how do they get the Teflon to stick to the pan? ...

Because you just can't dance to dead chicken music ...

Picking those bones out of your longhorn cheese is such a nuisance, isn't it? ...

I can tell you, with the voice of experience, that this is not something to be done too quickly ...

... but if, nevertheless, you need to get it over with quickly, you can go here for the ultimate in convenience ...

Those who can, do. Those who can't ... well ...

And there you are ... more classic examples of the cold-blooded murder of the language. Don't try this at home ...

Have a good day. More thoughts ... properly edited, one hopes ... tomorrow.


* Red ink is sometimes used for the same reason, as the red pigment does not reproduce by xerography. Many years ago, when banks used to send you back your cancelled checks each month, I was dating a young lady who worked at the local bank. She would occasionally write clever messages to me on my cancelled checks with a red felt-tipped pen, knowing that I could read them, but they wouldn't interfere with the scans of the checks.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Of Spring Cleaning and Social Kisses

Yes, in spite of the cold, nasty rain here in Northern Virginia and the five-plus inches of snow in points north, it is Spring. And in the Spring, we clean.

Spring cleaning is almost a stereotypical activity at this time of year ... the time when we throw out old things, set up yard sales, freshen up the old homestead, and get ready for the happy days of Summer. It's the time for renewal - for jettisoning things that have outlived their usefulness - which is why I try to stay out of Agnes's way as much as possible, not wishing to tempt fate.

One of the quasi-traditions of Spring cleaning is the annual Washington Post Outlook Spring Cleaning, when commentators suggest things we should clear out to improve the coming year. This year's list, which appeared this past Sunday, includes these ten items:

The All-Volunteer Military;

Premium Gas;

Home Equity Loans;

The 3PM School Day;

Chick Flicks;

The Cabinet;

Software Patents;

The Social Kiss;

Brainstorming; and,


Each of these could be the takeoff point for a lengthy blog post in itself, but for now, let's just limit ourselves to a discussion of the Social Kiss.

Writer Meghan Dunn thinks the Social Kiss has outlived whatever usefulness it may have had as a way of expressing greetings or moderate affection, mostly because - unlike our more sophisticated European cousins - we really don't know how to do it.  She notes that,

"Other cultures have achieved consensus on a particular style, be it one, two or three (sometimes even four) kisses. But Americans are all over the place. We miss the mark and wind up grazing lips. We lean in for action but, sensing possible non-reciprocation, abruptly abort the mission. We change horses midstream, trading the kiss for a half-hearted hug, only to force the other party into a kiss-hug combo that really works only for mothers with small children and lovers saying goodbye at the airport."

True enough, in many cases. Some men view the Social Kiss as an opportunity to cop a minor feel, and many ladies would rather not have men of brief (and possibly alcohol-lubricated) acquaintance planting wet lips on their carefully-applied makeup.

I, myself, like the Social Kiss*. Of course, having lived in Europe for many years, I managed to absorb some of the unwritten rules of how and when to apply lips to cheeks ... as Ms Dunn noted, various cultures have different approaches, and it's important to know the rules before you go for the Happy Peck.

The Social Kiss and its close relative, the Social Hug, are also common features of the ballroom dance culture, and so most dancers are better at them than the average Joe or Jane.

Kiss or not kiss? Hug or not? It depends. If you're going to deliver a Social Kiss or Hug, here are Uncle Bilbo's Recommended Guidelines:

1. Don't hesitate. Decide you're going to do it, and do it. Don't make your intended kissee wonder what you're going to do.

2. Make it quick. You're saying hello, not trying to set up a horizontal encounter. Well, not yet, anyway.

3. Don't slobber. Nobody needs a damp smear as a lingering reminder of your inept Social Kiss.Easy enough, right?

No charge for the advice, which will help you avoid having that Social Kiss result in an anti-social slap.

Have a good day. Apply those kisses sparingly, men ... most ladies will thank you.

More thoughts tomorrow.


* A variation of the Social Kiss is the "klinkety-kloonk," which occurs when two people exchanging a kiss rattle each others' eyeglasses. I know all about this one.


Monday, April 23, 2012

How I Spent My Weekend

I'm sure we've all had some variation of the grade-school experience of having to write the little essays on "How I Spent My Summer/Holiday/Weekend/etc." Fun, wasn't it? Here's how I spent my weekend, presented as a play in two acts ...

Act I: Saturday

Scene 1 - Morning: Bilbo enters, stage right. Mows the lawn in advance of the expected torrential rains.

Scene 2 - Afternoon: Bilbo goes shopping with Agnes, orders a new tuxedo to replace the old one, which has shrunk very badly over the years. After all, I will need to look spiffy for our upcoming 30th anniversary cruise, and Daniel Craig can't play James Bond forever ...

Scene 3 - Evening: Rain arrives. Bilbo and Agnes attend the second annual Showcase at Forever Dancing in Falls Church, where Bilbo is serving as the DJ and master of ceremonies.

Bilbo immediately misjudges the sensitivity of the controls on the laptop where the music is stored, reshuffling the entire playlist - carefully arranged in order of performance - into a new, alphabetical order by title. Hilarity ensues. Performers rise up with pitchforks, flaming torches, and large stones. Bilbo defuses the situation with lame, self-effacing jokes and finishes the evening with only about 56 other mistakes. He does, however, get to dance with numerous beautiful ladies, including Agnes.

Act 2: Sunday

Scene 1 - Morning: Rain continues. Bilbo and Agnes make a whirlwind visit to their local grandchildren. Bilbo receives this note from four year-old Leya, making the entire weekend worthwhile ...

Scene 2 - Afternoon: Rain continues, becoming biblical at times. Bilbo and Agnes pick up their friend Nadja and make their third excursion to the  barrel-tasting event at Linden Vineyards in - where else? - Linden, Virginia. In spite of weather more suitable for the construction and loading of arks, they have a grand time sampling wines, eating delicious hors d'oeuvres provided by the Ashby Inn, and enjoying a light lunch on the deck, out of the rain ...

Bilbo also takes the opportunity to admire the measures taken to ensure safety in the production and eventual enjoyment of fine Virginia wines ...

Scene 3 - Evening: Bilbo and Agnes return home, exhausted from a long drive in pouring rain, the delayed effects of a few hours of play with a pair of super-energetic grandchildren, and the lingering afterglow of well-sampled wines. They bravely stay awake long enough to watch this week's episode of Once Upon a Time, then disappear into bed for a well-deserved night's sleep. Rain continues, but who cares?

The End - Curtain Falls

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend. But, like all wonderful weekends, it serves as the entry point to a new week ... and now it's time to gird my professional loins and head out to do battle with the evil forces of ass clownery ...

... which, at the moment, seem to be winning. It is, after all, an election year.

And it's still raining.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

What Turns Men On?

No, don't worry ... this isn't going to be another one of those send-the-kids-out-of-the-room-before-reading, sounds-like-the-cover-of-Cosmopolitan posts.

I ran across this link the other day, and just from the title I - of course - had to visit: Five Unusual Turn-Ons for Men. The article turned out to be pretty interesting, focusing on these five things:

1. Glasses: the old saying says "men don't make passes at girls who wear glasses," but that's not always true. While glasses are part of the nerd stereotype, they can also remind men of their early boyhood crushes, or of their ... gasp! ... mothers. And taking off a girl's glasses can not only change her entire look, but it's less likely to get you slapped than trying to take off anything else.

2. Freckles: according to the article, freckles "represent being unaffected, natural and relaxed. To some men, they also make a woman appear somewhat ‘innocent’ and less jaded.” So, why do most women pay outrageous amounts of money for makeup to cover up those freckles? Apparently, they're viewed as a sort of blemish, rather than as a potential turn-on. If you watch Dancing with the Stars (the American version), take a look at professional dancer Cheryl Burke when she's in the performance mode, and compare it to the video footage of her practice sessions with her partner, when she's wearing workout clothes and no makeup. She's got freckles! And they're cute! Of course, if you look like Cheryl Burke, nobody is going to notice a few freckles, anyhow.

3. An Independent Streak: I married Agnes. 'Nuff said.

4. Plain Janes: while most men think they want a Sofia Vergara or a Scarlett Johansson, evidently what really turns them on is the local schoolmarm ... the shy, retiring wallflower, the I'm-waiting-for-you-to-bring-me-out-of-my-shell type. In my experience, a lot of men tend to be intimidated by really beautiful women, and reluctant to approach them for fear of rejection ... whereas the possibility of success with a bit more down-to-earth girl can be a plus. Trust me on this one ... I've danced with a lot of really gorgeous ladies, but the girls-next-door can be a lot more fun.

5. Assorted Quirks: whether it's a particular type of laugh (like the rapid-fire heh-heh-heh of Maria Menunous), or a way of doing some simple task that's all her own (like biting her lower lip or twirling a lock of hair while thinking), little personal quirks tend to be endearing to a lot of men.

So, what do you think, Dear Readers? Ladies, what do you think turns men on? Guys, what is it that you look for in a lady? You already know the things I like, now it's time for you to 'fess up. Just keep it clean ...

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Cartoon Saturday

If this past week had been a fish, I think I'd have thrown it back ...

The US Department of Agriculture, having seen how well reduced regulation of the financial mismanagement industry worked out, has proposed to save money, if not lives, by allowing the poultry industry to inspect itself; music industry legend Dick Clark died of a heart attack at age 82; the Princess cruise line is under fire for allegedly ignoring the plight of three fishermen stranded at sea, two of whom died before being rescued weeks later by another vessel; smelling political chum in the water, Congress is looking into the hiring of prostitutes in Colombia by Secret Service agents and military personnel responsible for planning security for the President's visit there; of course, Congress is already busy with multiple investigations into waste and mismanagement ... a topic with which Congress is intimately familiar ... at the General Services Administration.

Cartoon Saturday ... because you need something to laugh at besides your government.

Tonight, we'll be going dancing ... I hope it won't be one of these nights ...

Was popular music in ancient Rome really like this? Dick Clark might have known ...

Staying with the subject of ancient Rome, here's a new find from my indefatigable nephew Ed ...

Dealing with the dual problems of modern technology and funding cuts ...

Nothing like getting your advice from an expert ...

This one pretty much sums up my week ...
 A few riffs on a theme ...

 and ...

As long as we're talking about cards ...

And finally for this week, sometimes the warning labels provide way too much information ...

It's looks like it's going to be a fun weekend, even though the weather is supposed to be chilly and rainy (not that we couldn't use the rain). Tonight, Agnes and I will be going to the Second Annual Showcase at Forever Dancing in Falls Church (where I'll be working as the DJ and emcee); tomorrow, we're headed out with our friend Nadja to a wine-tasting event at beautiful Linden Vineyards.

Life is good ... at least on the weekends. Don't ask me about Monday through Friday.

Have a good day and a great weekend. More thoughts tomorrow.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Shopping for Men

Gifts are always a problem.

We give them for birthdays, anniversaries, engagements, weddings, and a host of other reasons, but giving a gift is never a simple thing. We worry about what the recipient will or won't like. We worry about what gifts other people are likely to give so that we don't give a duplicate gift or - worse - give a gift that looks inadequate by comparison. We worry about how much to spend ... a gift too expensive makes us look gauche, while one too inexpensive makes us look, well, cheap. Most ladies have drawers full of expensive, uncomfortable, or downright embarrassing lingerie purchased for them by men who have ignored the inverse relationship between price and amount of material used in construction ... lingerie worn once, if at all. Most men have racks of ties they would only wear if a hangman was tying the knot.

In short, gift-giving can be a pain in the neck*.

Ladies, though, have it easy when buying gifts for men - just follow these simple rules and you can't go wrong ...

Rule #1: When in doubt, give him a cordless drill. It doesn't matter if he already has one. I have a friend who owns 17 and he has yet to complain. A man can never have too many cordless drills. No one knows why.

Rule #2: If you cannot afford a cordless drill, buy him anything with the word ratchet or socket in it. Men love saying those two words. "Hey George, can I borrow your ratchet?" "OK. By the way, are you through with my 3/8-inch socket yet?" Again, no one knows why.

Rule #3: Buy him anything for his car. Price doesn't matter - a 99-cent ice scraper, a small bottle of deicer or something to hang from his rear view mirror will be received as well as a set of custom-tooled alloy wheels. Men love gifts for their cars. No one knows why.

Rule #4: Do not buy men socks, ties, or bathrobes. If God had wanted men to wear bathrobes, he wouldn't have invented underwear.

Rule #5: You can buy men new remote controls to replace the ones they have worn out. Always buy a remote that is bigger and has more buttons than the one you are replacing. A backlit digital display is also a plus. Even better is a fancy touch-screen model. It'll keep him busy and keep his mind off sex for hours at a time, especially if you buy a new 596-inch plasma flat-panel TV to go with it.

Rule #6: Do not buy a man fancy liqueurs. If you do, they will sit in a cupboard for 23 years. Real men drink whiskey, beer, or simple cocktails like martinis.

Rule #7: Do not buy a man after shave. He is unlikely ever to be open the package, much less use it. Men prefer the ... um ... earthy smell.

Rule #8: Label makers. These are almost as good a gift as cordless drills. Be sure to buy ones that have as many buttons and assorted controls as possible. Within days there will be labels on everything in the house. Socks. Shorts. Cups. Saucers. Pets. Door. Lock. Sink. Children. You get the idea. No one knows why.

Rule #9: Never buy a man anything that says "some assembly required" on the box. It will ruin his Special Day and he will always have parts left over. Of course, if assembly requires use of a cordless drill or label maker, that's different.

Rule #10: Men enjoy danger. That's why they don't like to cook, but love to  barbecue. Get him a monster barbecue with a 100-pound propane tank and tell him the gas line leaks. "Oh the thrill! The challenge! Who wants a hamburger?"

Rule #11: Tickets to any sporting event are generally a can't-miss gift. However, he will not appreciate tickets to "A Retrospective of 19th Century Quilts." Everyone knows why.

Rule #12: Men love chainsaws. Never, ever, buy a chainsaw for a man you love. If you don't know why - please refer to Rule #8 and what happens when he gets a label maker.

Rule #13: It's hard to beat a really good wheelbarrow or an aluminum extension ladder. Never buy a real man a step ladder. It must be an extension ladder. No one knows why.

Rule #14: Rope. Men love rope. It takes us back to our cowboy origins, or at least the Boy Scouts. Nothing says love like a hundred feet of 3/8" manila rope. No one knows why.

Don't thank me ... it's all part of my ongoing effort to help you cope with the stresses of daily life.

It's Friday, and the weekend beckons. We'll talk about weekend plans tomorrow, after Cartoon Saturday ... be here.

Have a good day. More cartoonish thoughts tomorrow.


* My birthday is in November. E-mail me for a suggested gift list.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Up or Down?

One of the current cliches of the political world is the need for "up or down votes" on presidential nominations and contentious pieces of legislation - no discussion, no debate, no "secret holds," no endless pontificating in front of the cameras, just a simple yes or no. Put that brain back on the shelf, Congressman, you weren't using it, anyhow ... just vote and be done with it.

Up-or-Down is an issue in other areas of daily existence, too, especially with the Man-vs-Woman issue that has been with us since the dawn of the flush-toilet era: should you leave the toilet seat up, or put it down?

Men and women have been fighting about this divisive issue ever since the padded seat in the warm house replaced the splintery unisex hole in the unheated outhouse. Men put the seat up to compensate for their poor aim; ladies put the seat down because ... well ... because they do. Men are pointers, women are setters. Vive le difference! Here's a flow chart that depicts how to address the problem:

Any questions?

Which brings me to this old joke ...

A young Jewish couple arrived at a luxury hotel to celebrate their honeymoon. The new bride needed to use the toilet before stepping into the shower, but neglected to check to see if the seat was down. It wasn't, and the unfortunate lady dropped straight down and became wedged in the bowl with her legs in the air.

She screamed for help and her new husband raced to the rescue, but found that his bride was wedged too tightly in the bowl for him to free her ... he needed help! He ran to the telephone and called the concierge to send a maintenance man to help with "a plumbing problem."

When the knock came on the door, it suddenly dawned on the poor man that his wife was wedged, stark naked, in the toilet, and now a stranger was going to witness the unfortunate spectacle. Thinking quickly, he tried to minimize his wife's embarrassment by whipping off his yarmulke and placing it gently over her exposed nether parts before admitting the maintenance man to the room.

The workman strode into the bathroom and set his box of tools on the floor next to the toilet. He carefully studied the poor lady wedged tightly into the bowl with a yarmulke between her legs, then stepped back, shook his head sadly, and told the frantic husband,

"I can get the lady out of the bowl, but the rabbi's on his own."

Have a good day. Make sure the seat is down.

More thoughts tomorrow.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Eye (and Nose) of the Beholder

You may want to send the children out of the room before you read this post. I'm just sayin' ...

Yesterday my attention was caught by two somewhat-related articles dealing with how men and women are attracted to each other. We'll do the PG-rated one first.

Over the years, people seeking dates (or mates) have tried ISO ads, singles bars, church socials, speed-dating, and even the much-maligned blind date. But it seems that there is a new approach to finding just the right guy (or girl) - Pheromone Parties, at which people seek out their prospective dates based on how they smell. It works like this: you sleep in the same t-shirt for three nights, then put the shirt into a sealed plastic bag and store it in the freezer (to help keep the scent fresh). You then bring your bag to the next Pheromone Party, at which it is marked with a label (pink for girls, blue for boys) and a number. Party attendees then open the appropriate bags, sniff the shirts, and choose their date based on the smell they find most appealing. You can read an article about this dating trend here.

It's long been known that an individual's personal scent plays a key role in establishing his or her sexual attractiveness. This is why we spend millions of dollars each year on soaps, deodorants, colognes, perfumes, and such. French emperor Napoleon Bonapart supposedly once wrote to his wife Josephine as he was returning from one of his campaigns, telling her that he would be home in a few days time, and not to wash; in some cultures, a woman would put a peeled apple in her armpit until it had absorbed her scent, then give the apple to her lover so that he could sniff it and be reminded of her when they were apart. You can read more about the relationship between sex and smell in this interesting article.

Scent is one sexual attractant ... color is another. Now we turn to the R-rated part of the post ...

The relationship between color and sex is also well-known. It's why, for example, women wear red dresses, lingerie, and lipstick, men wear power ties, and desperate people visit red-light districts. But there's a good deal more to the science of color and sex, as you can read in this fascinating article from Pretty in Pink: What Does the Color of Our Genitals Have to Do with Evolution?

It seems that many species of animals signal their sexual receptivity to prospective partners by enhancing the color of their genitals. The color-and-sex theory holds that, on a deeply-subliminal level, men are driven by a genetic attraction to swollen, brightly-colored genitals that once were used to attract mates, but are now hidden by proper ladies under layers of clothing ... the color of which is chosen - perhaps unconsciously - to remind the men of what is concealed.

Naturally, the hypothesis has been tested. I won't go into the colorful details here, but the full article describes how researchers obtained ... um ... representative images of female private parts, adjusted the pictures for a range of colors from soft pink to vivid red, and then quizzed carefully selected male volunteers* on their perception of the sexual attractiveness of each. The results were, to say the least, interesting, reflecting a general preference for pink, rather than hot red. I will leave you to draw your own conclusions.

So ...

When you are walking down the street, sitting on the bus, or making small talk at a party, consider the degree to which your evaluation of the sexual attractiveness of others is driven at some level by those persons' scent and choice of colors.

For the moment, we won't discuss the role of hearing in the process ... in an election year, chances are that even otherwise desirable people may turn you off with dunderheaded political rhetoric.

Have a colorful and aromatic day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* I was not selected, reflecting the degree of care used by the researchers.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Adding Insult to Injury

Unless you've been vacationing in a cave on the outskirts of Ulan Bator for the last month or so, you have heard about the huge scandal of the $800,000 GSA conference in Las Vegas, at which the entertainment included clowns and mind-readers.

The fact that a public servant would spend this sort of money frivolously is bad enough, but the disaster is compounded by the additional fact that the scandal comes to light in an election year, giving each party a heaven-sent opportunity to fulminate about the shortcomings of the other.

And possibly the worst outcome is the one that is the most predictable ...

Yes, Dear Readers, Congress has sprung into action to rectify the situation by


According to this article in yesterday's Washington Post, hearings on the infamous "Clown Conference" have been scheduled by the following Congressional committees:

1. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee;

2. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee;

3. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee; and,

4. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee.

And as if that weren't enough, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine believes that the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee should hold hearings as well, because she believes "(the) Committee is uniquely situated to examine what appear to be numerous violations of acquisition rules and policy identified by GSA’s Inspector General.”

If you were counting, that's now five - count 'em - five hearings to study the same event.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of Congressional hearings, here's what happens:

1. Individual members of Congress schedule news conferences at which, with great fanfare, they gravely tell their constituents how seriously they take their responsibility for proper management of the public trust.

2. Subpoenas are issued to reluctant witnesses.

3. Witnesses schedule news conferences to tell the public how much they are looking forward to setting the record straight.

4. At the hearings, hapless witnesses sit under the stare of television cameras and radiate contrition as they are browbeaten by grandstanding members of Congress.

5. Members of Congress on the investigating committees take turns blaming the inept and wrongheaded policies of the other party for what went wrong.

6. Everybody goes home and everything is forgotten until the next scandal, at which steps 1-5 are repeated.

I don't know about you, but I think this is a dreadful waste of time, money, and effort that could be better spent addressing real problems, like health care reform, the budget deficit, tax reform, and investigating the actual citizenship status of every member of Congress and potential presidential candidate. Do we need to investigate how a travesty like the Clown Conference could happen? Absolutely. Do we need four ... maybe five ... separate grandstanding Congressional committees to do it? Absolutely not.

Have a good day. Let your elected reprehensive know what you expect of him or her ... even if it's not much.

More thoughts tomorrow.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Of Tornados and Stupidity

The sharp increase in the number and intensity of tornados in the midwest has been much in the news lately. The degree of devastation caused by these terrible storms is horrifying and gives cause for reflection on the awesome power of nature.

But there's another sort of wind that, while it doesn't cause the sort of terrible destruction beloved of television newscasts, wreaks havoc in its own insidious way.

I refer, of course, to the totally stupid and unrestrained political rhetoric pouring out of the mouths of politicians who should know better.

The latest example of this mindless stupidity comes from Florida Republican Representative Allen West, who has accused 81 Democratic members of Congress of being members of the Communist Party.

You'd think we'd have learned a lesson about this from the wildly irresponsible excesses of Senator Joe McCarthy's "red scare" in the 1940s and 50s but - alas - this seems not to be the case.

Commentator and political columnist John Avalon has pilloried Reprehensive West's stupidity far better and more eloquently in his article than I can here in the single hour I have to write my post. But as he points out, the fact that a serving member of Congress could utter such irresponsible drivel is of less concern than is the absence of any expressions of outrage on the part of others who should know better. It's all a part of the complete lack of common sense and simple common courtesy that are the hallmarks of our government today - on both sides of the aisle.

Perhaps we need to add a modest but justifiable amount to the Federal deficit that might yield some improvements in our government ... or, at least, in some of the ass clowns we somehow manage to elect to positions of responsibility ...

It couldn't hurt. Because this is what our so-called leadership of both parties has been reduced to ...

If you're not disgusted ... with both sides ... you may as well just call the coroner and have him come and pick you up. Brain death has set in.

Of course, if you're on the extreme right or left, you'd never notice.

Have a good day. Support responsible, thoughtful political speech.

More thoughts tomorrow.


P.S. - in line with my new policy of trying to make this blog a bit more attractive to male readers, I call your attention to this important news story: Huge-Breasted Model, 31, Walks Away from Horror Crash After Her 38KKK Chest Acts as Airbag. Yes, there's a picture. You're welcome.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Making a Clean Breast of Things, So To Speak

In my never-ending quest for self-promotion and increasing the readership of my blog, I have taken to analyzing my regular readership and have found an interesting factoid: the majority of my regular readers seem to be women.

This is not necessarily a bad thing as, like most men, I have spent much of my life trying to attract the attention of the fair sex. But it does lead me to wonder what I can do to attract more men to this little corner of cyberspace. I could write more about things men tend to like, such as cars, guns, professional sports, and Kim Kardashian. Or, I could just spend more time on the Universal Male Attractant: breasts.

No, not these ...

But, well, these ...

I actually got to thinking about the topic of breasts this morning when I followed this link on Miss Cellania's blog: 12 Problems That Only Busty Girls Have. It gave me a new appreciation for the trials and tribulations of the ladies who have been endowed (whether by nature or otherwise) with somewhat more than their fair share of feminine cantileverage.

Of course, we men don't usually think about the down side of such things the way ladies do. We're spring-loaded to appreciate breasts of all shapes and sizes, and we long for the warm summer days of tank tops and halters and the scoopiest of scoop necklines.

For those of us who collect cartoons, there are ample opportunities for humor that spin off from our collective fascination with breasts, such as ...

And ...

And ...

And ...

And then there is the little ditty attributed to one Robert Paul Smith that goes,

B is for Breasts
Of which ladies have two;
Once prized for the function,
Now for the view.

Rodney Dangerfield, the original "I don't get no respect" comedian, once commented that ...

"My mother never breast-fed me. She told me she liked me as a friend."

Well, that's enough about breasts for now. It's time to read the Sunday paper, fix breakfast, and get myself ready to head out to the Spring Showcase at Lioudmila's Dance Studio, where I'll be doing the honors as the emcee. This is a much better gig for a dancer than actually performing - I don't have to remember any routines or worry about annoying things like rhythm, timing, and looking utterly blissful even when I know I've royally screwed up.

Oh, and I also get to spend the afternoon looking longingly at beautiful ladies in their sexy ball gowns and Latin costumes. Which brings us back to ... uh ... never mind.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.