Wednesday, August 31, 2016


As I've noted, there are people about these premises who are terrible coffee addicts, who require a supply of K-Cups throughout the day to produce the writing and editing necessary to keep this grand republic moving forward.

So I made a regular restocking trip to the local Dunkin' Donuts, yesterday, August 30. And then I saw this:

They weren't just loaded with pumpkin K-Cups, which could have been an error for a stock clerk who can't read the calendar. No, here we are, almost a week ahead of Labor Day, and they've gone all-in on the fall flavor. Pumpkin doughnuts, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin Munchkins, Reese's Peanut Butter Squares.

I had to take General Mills to the woodshed for rushing Christmas on Monday, but in a way this is even worse. That box of Chex cereal, as I pointed out, was not going to hit its Sell By date until some time in 2017, so it could be on sale at Christmastime. But today's pumpkin doughnuts are only sold until tonight. Dunkin' Donuts expects you to be in the Halloween spirit today, August 31.

I resent that, DD, and I demand you hide your pumpkin stuff away for at least another three weeks. You think, "We moved a lot of this crap last year; let's start earlier." But people will resist, DD, and burn out, and by the middle of October you'll think you have to bring in the peppermint. You become the snake consuming its own tail, DD, and that's a bad end. (Har!)

You know how good pumpkin looks to me right now, 23 days before the end of summer? As good as it looked for this guy:

Awful things may happen to those who scoff at the seasons in their proper place. Beware, O Dunkin' Donuts! Live by the gourd, die by the gourd!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Uh, hi. My name is Robby Jonson, that's Jonson with no H, and I'm a wildebeest. I was hoping to talk to you today about a problem that's been concerning me and the other guys for many years, and we were talking about it down at the union hall, and we decided it was time to speak out. The guys all took a vote and I, uh, got elected.

We're pretty sore about that stupid Disney Lion King movie. I know, I know, it's old, but wildebeest are very forgiving, and at first we thought it would flop and go away. Then it became this huge monster hit, and we said, well, it'll be gone soon enough from the theaters. Then the DVD, and that Broadway musical, and the ding-dong thing is still running! Pardon my French, there. I just get a little worked up.

We wildebeest are very angry about how the story makes us look. First of all, we're apparently too stupid to talk, unlike most of the other animals in the movie. Well, heck, I'm talking to you right now, amn't I? See, not so dumb. Second, we're shown like this plague of mindlessness that sweeps down over the veld and tramples everyone. We don't do that! Almost never!

Look at that picture! What are supposed to be, like, Spider-Man? Come on, Disney.

All this supposedly makes us accessories to murder, tools used by Scar to kill the king. Nothing could be further from the truth! We're peaceful, fun-loving folks, not brainless maniacs running amok to be used by evildoers. This is all wrong, Disney.

The worst thing of all is not even the unfair portrayal. The worst is the Circle of Life. And I'm speaking for the antelope here too. They asked us to put in a word about this.

Let's look at this heartless quote from the movie:
Mufasa: Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. As king, you need to understand that balance and respect all the creatures, from the crawling ant to the leaping antelope. 
Young Simba: But, Dad, don't we eat the antelope? 
Mufasa: Yes, Simba, but let me explain. When we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass. And so we are all connected in the great Circle of Life. 
Now, what do you see here? That's right: The lion gets to live a full life and die of natural causes, and then turn into grass. The antelope dies in agony with the lion's teeth ripping off his hinder parts!

Sorry about the language, but this is cruelty, plain and simple.

So this is what we herd guys are up against, us, the antelope, the zebras, all the gang. We not only get killed by the lions and stuff, but we're supposed to bow down to this "king" like he's doing something helpful for us, and we're dying with lion teeth in our butts. And it's the so-called Circle of Life. Does this sound like a fair arrangement to you? Doesn't it sound more like the Circle of  Fattening Up the Lions?

Well, we're not taking it anymore. We're all boycotting Disney and we ask you to do the same. Stop the cycle of cruelty! Pray for prey! Herd lives matter!

Thank you.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Chex that box.

Dateline: August 25.

Bought a box of good ol' Corn Chex from the supermarket. Brought it home. Was putting it away. Then I saw the back.

Now, look, General Mills, I know that the cereal in the box has a sell-by date well beyond New Year's 2017. But still--you put this box on the shelves in August. August, General Mills.

You may protest. You may say, "We just said to sweeten up the season. We didn't say which one. It's not like it's covered in tinsel and snowmen."

To which I reply: Ha ha! People in cozy pajamas, red and blue-green text, and an overall white frosted look = Christmas. You jumped right over Labor Day, Halloween, and Thanksgiving, General Mills. None of those holidays have anything to do with cozy mornings indoors in pajamas eating Chex Muddy Buddies. You're being disingenuous here, General Mills. You'll have us burned out on Christmas before summer even ends.

I'm used to being disappointed in the latter half of the year's retail race from holiday to holiday, as if it's a frantic scavenger hunt we have to win. I've been seeing Halloween stuff since the end of July. But this!

It's greed, General Mills. Greed.

You may say that it's just the back of the box; the front has no seasonal design. And you'd be right. But it's still there.

Turn your box to the wall in shame, General Mills, and your faces too, while you're at it. Next year wait until the end of September before you go Christmas on us.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

On puppy #2.

As I write this, puppy #2 is in the pen, whining and upset. I have only devoted the last two hours to his health and feeding and welfare, and this is obviously not enough.

Oh, good; now he's just moaning and pouting.

Maybe I can finally write this and have a cup of coffee.

My poor wife is ill this morning, and has had to stay in bed a while. It makes it harder for the Divide and Conquer strategy that has been useful for mealtimes. The old guy, Tralfaz, despite being only a bit smaller than Clifford or Digby, has never been much on mealtimes. He's always picked at his food and hardly ever finished a size-and-age-appropriate serving. I wonder sometimes how he got to be this big. It couldn't have been just the treats.

But little guy, the well-named Nipper, eats like a freaking Shop-Vac. He sucks down more than he should and comes back for seconds and thirds. Mrs. Key finally got a couple of those puzzle bowls to get him to slow down, maybe give his stomach a chance to say, "Yo, dude! Enough!" Even so, he'll just eat until he pukes if we let him. And he looks as thin as a greyhound. If we hadn't gotten him a thorough deworming, I'd be worried.

So this morning, after Nipper had eaten, while Tralfaz was sighing his way through another disappointing meal (no cheese again...), I had to keep Nipper in another room to keep him from going nuts, because he will harass Fazzy with noises and turn the big guy completely off his food. I heard Tralfaz slump on the floor, the sign of resignation, and I peeked out to see if he'd eaten anything at all. Hungry Hungry Zippo, seeing his chance, bolted between my legs and launched himself right into Fazzy's bowl. He couldn't have even looked in it first; it could have been full of live piranhas. Wouldn't matter; he would have eaten them.

So little guy is in the pen now in a time-out, which is totally unfair, because he sees himself as the Harry to Fazzy's Dudley. Dudley gets this mound of food he can't even eat, and all Harry does is try to get a little sustenance and he winds up back under the stairs. Can anyone blame him for biting hairs out of Tralfaz's tail?

As for Tralfaz, he's pouting in the hall, having been chased out again by his fear of land shark. It's nice and cool this morning, but he can't get a walk with me, because I can't leave the kid alone or he'll go bonkers and wake up my sick wife. So everything is ducky this morning.

Look, I love the little pup, and I know he's just a baby, but the rampaging id can be a little hard to take some days. This is one of them.


Why couldn't I have been some slob on the porch with a lot of land who just chucks his dogs out in the wilderness and ignores them all day long? "Okay, boys, here's the new kid, try not to kill him, off you go." But nooooo, you try that around here, they give you a summons.

On a related note, I see that Bissell has come out with a vacuum cleaner that not only picks up pet hair well, it's got a beater roll that supposedly will not get hair tangled on it. This is a major step forward in appliance technology. We have an LG that is great for getting dog hair, until hairs get wound up around the brushes, at which time it is like trying to eat cereal with a lollipop. I have to cut and pull all the hair off to make it work properly again.

Like that moment in 2001 with the monolith.

We have 1.5 large hairy dogs right now. If this vacuum works as advertised, I want to see the Nobel people do the right thing next year.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Hacked up.

I got one of those hack messages via e-mail the other day that was pretty good. It came from the e-mail of an acquaintance, and it looked legit, asking for help. I wrote back, 'cause I'm stoopid that way, and got this:

I'm so glad you reply back i could not inform everyone about my trip to Manila Philippines for a program because it was impromptu. The program was successful, but my journey has turned sour I was mugged at gun point and all my valuables were stolen (cash, credit cards and phone), where I went for sightseeing before leaving to the airport since my return flight is in few hours. Luckily I had my passport in my hotel room to get me home.Its was a terrible experience. all i need now is $1,950 (or whatsoever you can afford) to settle some outstanding hotel bills and also take a cab to the airport. I have contacted my bank, but the best they can do is to mail a new card which will take 2 to 3 days to get here.Western Union Transfer is the fastest option to wire the funds to me. Please let me know if you can help me out? I promise to make the immediate refund when i get home, 
Ultimately it was a more clever con than most, right down to using my pal's name to receive cash from Western Union.

The hacker got extremely fortunate on two fronts:

1) The acquaintance whose account he unlocked is not a wordsmith, just an average joe who never went for college and never worked in a job that required writing skills. So the poor writing was not a giveaway.

2) I had not heard from the fellow for some time, but this wasn't completely out of the blue; not like we hadn't seen each other since kindergarten. We did have each other's e-mail addresses.

3) Of all the dozens upon dozens of acquaintances I have, if I had to pick one guy who would get himself in trouble in a foreign country and need to be bailed out, it could very well be this guy. We've all got one buddy, and maybe lots more, who would be voted Most Likely to Wind Up Nude, Screwed, and Tattooed Halfway Around the World.

Still, it just didn't sound like the man I knew, who might ask for money but would go about it differently. I was able to alert the guy through other channels that his account had been invaded. He closed the e-mail account and the hacker was foiled.

I freaking hate these guys. I think the first two e-mail messages ever sent were:

A1: HI


I think this happened a lot. The first transatlantic cable message was "Glory to God in the highest; on earth, peace, goodwill toward men." The reply: "Send five hundred dollars to this account." Alexander Graham Bell's first phone message was "Mr. Watson — Come here — I want to see you." Maybe Watson replied, "Send money right away." The first telegraph message, from DC to Baltimore, was "What hath God wrought?" The reply: "Send bank account number for Nigerian transfer." The first message transmitted from space to earth was, "This is the President of the United States speaking. Through the marvels of scientific advance, my voice is coming to you from a satellite circling in outer space. My message is a simple one: Through this unique means I convey to you and to all mankind, America's wish for peace on Earth and goodwill toward men everywhere." The reply: "Send money for great work at home plan make fifty thousand a month."

Technology marches on, but douchebags are always with us.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Where are the winos of tomorrow?

Was walking the senior canine in a weedy path off the main road and came across this:

A fine Chablis, looks like, from Chateau Diana. And yet I can't find this particular bottle on their Web site.

Some observations:

1) Apparently Chateau Diana makes "wine products," some sort of Boone's Farm-like adulteration, and this might be one of them. I declined a closer look to read the label. The dog got a good whiff, but that didn't help. He has no taste at all. I wonder if they just put the show wines on the Web site and the cheap party crap in the stores.

2) Of course, the cheap stuff that still has some respectability (that is, not Four Roses or Thunderbird or other brands lovingly reviewed on BumWine) comes in larger jugs, and even in boxes---but neither jugs nor boxes are appropriate for impromptu outdoor underage drinking or random boozing. Ironic, isn't it? But true; you ever try to suck wine out of one of those boxes? Tricky.

3) I was impressed that whoever was enjoying this bottle couldn't finish it. This shows admirable restraint. I spotted no puddle of vomit or body-shaped mound to indicate that the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak. Assuming that the enjoyment was continuing, and had not come to a calamitous sickening end, why leave the bottle there? Couldn't find the cap to screw back on?

4) "Aha," you say, "maybe the bibber was buzzed by the hooters and fled sans wine." Well, in my experience, when the cops roust you they destroy the booze you leave behind, they don't just leave it on the sidewalk for the next dipsomaniac to come along. No, some jolly drinker left this here, showing poor potential as a Future Wino of America. Where will our winos of tomorrow come from?

5) It is interesting that "wino" is one of the more well-known American terms for a flat-out tragic alcoholic bum. I say that because our wine culture is a lot more highbrow and froufrou than that in other nations, where they have wine faucets in the bathroom sink. We kind of look up to wine. We think of real boozehounds as being beer-swilling case-a-day suds muffins or likker-licking 'shiners and whiskey-noodled Oirishmen of the lower echelons. So why is our word not beero or vodko? But no, wino is our word and has been since c. 1915.

6) This respect for wine sparks the kind of attitude that keeps wealthy alcoholics from getting help. As long as one can say, "Yes, I drink eight bottles of wine a day, but it's all quality stuff!" one can insist (at least to the mirror) that one doesn't have a problem with alcohol. Not like the Ripple-sodden hordes out there in the streets.

But I don't think this sad story of the wealthy souse fits the profile of our Chateau Diana abandoner. Frankly, I can't figure out what would cause the bottle to wind up where it was and when. If you're in the lower Hudson Valley and you're missing a bottle that fits this description, drop me a line. Perhaps we can piece together the solution to this mystery.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

I believe in you, placebo!

Fascinating article about the myth of the placebo effect ("The Myth of the Placebo Effect," strangely enough) in The New Atlantis.

The article does a pretty good job of explaining why we believe the things we do about the efficacy of placebos, and then demolishes them. I'm not saying that the article is one big pile driver on the lowly placebo; it's much too well researched and restrained for that. Instead, it clarifies a lot of the assumptions we all have about the mysterious placebo effect, explores its history in legitimate medical journals, and explains what contrary scientists have found.

One of the interesting points that had never occurred to me was that you can't test the placebo effect using the gold standard---the double blind randomized trial: "they cannot be double-blind. Patients receiving no treatment will necessarily be aware that they are receiving no treatment. For self-reported outcomes this increases the risk of systematic error, or bias," writes author Nick Barrowman.

I'm not going to sum up all the arguments (except to note that the conflation of causation and correlation is important). My main concern is the implications that follow if we accept these conclusions. What does this say about:

* Laughter being the best medicine? Reader's Digest will have a lot to answer for.

* Maybe people who thought themselves better on useless nostrums were dumber than we thought.

* That basically a whole industry of junk science, from nutritional advice to herbal supplements to everything else, is exposed as nonsense wherever it is based on the idea that the mind had magical healing powers for the body. Those powers are what we loved about the placebo effect, and now they're shown to be nonexistent. (Note that I'm not saying good nutrition is useless, nor that supplements are all ineffective for anything; just that anyone who tells you that these things, or the right attitude, or anything else "unlocks healing power" is wrong. Or a freaking liar.)

* Mind over matter? Matter won.

So these are all points to ponder (that column is still good, Reader's Digest!) as we go forward. And, of course, it looks like Steve Martin will need to find something new to get stoned on.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


What with all the Olympics bits and puppy updates, you've probably all been wondering---"Fred, I wonder," I hear you say---what I've been eating that I probably should not be eating. Well, I'm glad you asked. 

Napoli's Pizza Crust Chips leaped out at me from a display at the local market. It leaped into my cart. It followed me home, Ma! Can I eat it?

This snack could have been made for me, and I'm not usually a chip guy. I'm more of a pretzel guy. But I'm also the guy who eats crust all the pizza crust. You leave the crust on your plate, I'm coming for you. You don't have to stuff the crust with cheese and bacon. I just love it on its own.

And the Napoli people have gotten this right. The Italian herb combo is just what you find on a typical pie. The chips really do taste like pizza dough. They're sturdy enough to make great little appetizers, like a cracker, although if the bag has been abused many chips will be broken. Who cares? They'd be great with any tomato-based dip. They taste a lot more like actual pizza than a lot of frozen pizzas I've had.

The Chicago-based parent company, Hello Delicious, also makes snacks like Popcorn Thins, Multi-Grain Chips (with edamame and lentil), and the irresistibly named Figgin' Fruit. They also make two other varieties of Pizza Crust Chips: Three Cheese with Romano, Cheddar, and Parmesan and Margarita with Tomato and Basil.

I don't get any payment for these endorsements (I wish!), and I even have to buy the food myself. You can trust Fred on these things. If I say these are good pizza chips, you can take that to the brick oven.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

What's the next bacon?

For years now we've had kale and bacon as the two riders on our diet seesaw. When we want to be virtuous and good, we eat kale; when we want to be naughty and daring, we eat bacon. The main reason for this is that we're idiots.

I'm not going to address kale today, because the subject is too painful for normal discourse. Our obsession with bacon, though, has become somewhat embarrassing. The fact that you can even pretend to be bacon is a little alarming.

"Helllooo, ladies!"
But I think the bacon thing may be fading. We've put it in everything, we've wrapped everything in it. We've lumped it in piles to make things that bacon was never meant to be. Where else is there to go? It's time to find a new naughty food. Not something that is itself a composed food, like Twinkies; it has to be something that is more of an ingredient, but may be eaten alone.

Here are some naughty food suggestions, since I am always full of naughty suggestions:

Confectioners' sugar: Like bacon, you find it in all kinds of things. Like bacon, it is daring, because it's bad for you. It can be sprinkled, like bacon, or used to cover things decadently. All it needs is some cool variations, like chipotle confectioners' sugar.

Spam: Pushes the bacon meme one step further. Still not kosher. And it has the approval of Hawaiians, who are hip. Many Asian cultures dig the Spam, too. It can be used in almost any dish that has diced, sliced, or ground meat. And hard-core hipsters can argue about the virtues of classic Spam vs. Treet, Snack, Prem, Mor, or more exotic canned meat like Vienna sausage or potted meat or chicken bologna.
Pretty out there.
Carolina reapers: Bacon promises a slow death; the Carolina reaper, the world's hottest pepper at 1,569,300 Scovil heat units (until something more psychotic comes along), will send you to the hospital much sooner. So it has that going for it.

Anchovies: As once was the case with bacon, anchovies have lingered in an almost forgotten old-folks food realm; anchovies, in fact, are in the neighborhood of clam juice and canned chicken a la king. Any smart chef could start whipping out gourmet canned anchovies, and we're on our way.

Pickles: Like bacon, very very salty, but unlike bacon, not fatty. Still, lots of gourmet potential. Pickles are a couple of university studies---showing their dangerous qualities---from being very big. And I'm sure they have dangerous qualities. Every food, when studied hard enough, proves to have dangerous qualities.

Lard: Just cut to the chase. We could fool around with shortening, but c'mon---break out the lard. Twenty years ago strong young people would faint at the sight of a bucket of Armour Lard. Now it's starting to weasel its way back, because it imparts flavor to food like nothing else, except maybe bacon grease. Lard itself is not great for eating, true, although after ear gauges I'm not sure what people won't sink to. Hipster lard may be on the horizon.

All these would make excellent substitutes for the coming collapse of bacon. But I wouldn't count bacon out just yet. There's a lot of life still in those pork bellies.

"Fry me to the moon, big boy."

Monday, August 22, 2016

Why won't they LISTEN?

Long night.

I'm not sure when it started, but my wife woke me around one to tell me she'd been up with the big dog for an hour, and he was crazy.

Tralfaz is a lot of weird things, but not generally crazy.

I mean, yes, sometimes I call him Dinky Dau Doggie, but that's in an affectionate, playful, culturally appropriational way.

Last night he was just freaking nuts.

When I joined the story, already in progress, Mrs. Key had had him upstairs, downstairs, outside, inside, all around the town, and yet he was making his nerve-racking near-human vocalizations, the kind he makes when we got to the vet (or, to be fair, the PetSmart), the kind that say, "This is terrifying! Help!"

But there was nothing there.

His panic was centered on the central part of the house, around the staircase, mainly upstairs. That's where the little dog, Nipper, sleeps in his crate, when he's not alerting us that 3:30 a.m. would be a very good time to pee. Tralfaz has displayed protective instincts toward the little squirt, so that may be why his focus was there. Still, I led him from room to room, all over the house, even rooms he's not normally allowed in, so he could point out what the HELL was freaking him out. Bugs? Mouse? Bird? Bat?

This is the part in the movie where we tell Fido, "Yo, dog, shut up, man, there's nothing there." Then we shove him in the closet and laugh, while the dog goes berserk, yelping in dog lingo, "You fools! The monster is IN THE HOUSE! Why won't you LISTEN?"

And then heads start to roll.

Of course, all this ran through my mind, thanks to my stupid imagination, which should have made me rich by now for all the terror and trouble it has caused me since I was a child. And of course, having checked every normal room in the house, that left....


I could almost hear the phantom audience yelling at me, "Don't go up there!"

So I did not go up there.

I'd whipped up a spicy recipe for Sunday dinner. Maybe the dog knew we were being haunted... by ghost peppers!


It all seems pretty stupid in the light of morning, but it was getting freaky in the dark of night. My wife finally got the dog to cut the crap and settle down, and we all went to sleep, but it took a very long time. Now we're facing Monday morning, exhausted. Hooray. Why did we get dogs, again?

Anyway, I have not yet had the time to check the attic, to see if there are any bats, birds, bees, severed heads, ax murderers, demons, or ghosts around. There are screens on the attic vents, which usually keeps out the bats, but I can't vouch for the other things. If you don't hear from me Tuesday, you know that I was foolish in disobeying the advice of the phantom audience.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sporting shots.

1) Closing Ceremony tonight. We all know about the tradition of all the nations' athletes marching into the stadium together as a gesture of brotherhood, and that it goes back to 1956, when John Ian Wang of Australia, then 17, wrote an anonymous letter suggesting it to the Melbourne Olympic committee. It was adopted for those Olympics and has been used ever since. This is the only time since Grace Bedell wrote a letter to Abraham Lincoln suggesting that he grow a beard that anyone in a position of authority has given a damn about a suggestion from a nobody. Anyway, now that I hear about so many athletes going home long before the last day of the Olympics, I have to wonder if the IOC really adopted the "goodwill gesture" so it wouldn't be so obvious how many athletes had already fled the host country.

2) American men have won 16 gold medals as of Sunday morning; American women have won 26.* Why? Because after decades of the culture telling us boys are violent and evil and girls are kickass and good, men have turned into sissies. Thanks, culture.

3) On the whole I did like what I saw of NBC's coverage this time. Not so many sob stories this time; more of the sports. And the main thing I attribute to this improvement of NBC's coverage? Time zone. Rio is just an hour ahead of New York. The producers did not feel they had to package the events for the American audience. For the most part, they couldn't. They didn't have time.

4) In swimming and running, I really like the short sprints. Especially the 50 m swimming. Just chuck 'em in the water and watch 'em swim like merry hell. Short attention span sports!

5) I was thinking about one of my great Olympic heroes: Spyridon Louis, who won the marathon in the first modern Olympics, in Athens, 1896. Greece had not been doing too well in the track events, which was very disappointing as most of them were ancient Greek sports. But Spyridon, a simple water carrier, became a national hero by winning the race, finishing in 2:58:50, seven minutes ahead of the second place runner. Louis would have been faster if he hadn't stopped to get a drink of wine and an Easter egg from his stepfather in Pikermi.

The man himself.
The king of Greece was so happy he promised Louis whatever he wanted. Louis asked for and got a donkey cart for his water delivery business. He never ran again.

6) At the end, I have to give Jerry Seinfeld the last word, in his classic bit on the Olympics:

* I drew up this count from medal totals because no one I could find has a breakdown by sex posted. (Why is that?) Note that I didn't count our gold medal in mixed doubles tennis, which I think is the only mixed-gender sport in the Olympics. At least until the Big Dodgeball Tournament becomes mandatory. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Final Olympic news update.

***The nation mourns the fact that Kerri Walsh Jennings was unable to win a gold medal again this year, after three consecutive Women's Beach Volleyball golds in 2004, 2008, and 2012. Her partner on those previous Olympic was the retired Misty May-Treanor; this year it was the extremely talented April Ross. Some talk has been floated that Kerri's error was in going from May to April, with suggestions that for Tokyo 2020 she should consider a partner named June.

***We need to take a moment to Congratulate the medalists in Men's Trampoline medalists, Uladzislau Hancharou, Dong Dong, and Gao Lei. We also need to congratulate the announcers for the event for getting through the names without suffering injury or laughing out loud.

***We're pleased to announce that the U.S. curling team, having arrived at the wrong Olympics and then getting trapped in Rhodesia, which does not exist anymore, has finally returned home. They had lost their passports while stowing away aboard a tramp steamer out of Manila, however, and were forced to land in Mexico and sneak over the border. "It was easier than clearing customs," said team captain Herschel Stump.

***The Finnish diving coach, Sqvrd Sqvrdson, apologized to his team and nation for the poor performance of the diving squad, citing his "revolutionary cannonball technique" as being the cause of the team's downfall.

***In other apologetic news, swimmer Ryan Lochte apologized for claiming that Michael Phelps had been kidnapped by Brazilian mobsters. Lochte said that when the mobsters called to demand ransom, he told them, "If you are looking for ransom I can tell you I don't have money, but what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let our swimmer go now that'll be the end of it." He said now that the conversation never happened, that Phelps had not been kidnapped but was just out getting a sandwich.

***Also in apologies, Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt apologized for trying to sneak into the doubles table tennis tournament, wearing blond wigs and posing as the women's team from Iceland. They admitted that they were jonesing for a medal and, with the Games coming to a close, got desperate.

***Ki So of the People's Republic of China was disqualified from the Equestrian Individual Jumping event when it was discovered that he was not, in fact, riding a horse, but rather an unusually large border collie.

***Brazilian authorities were pleased to announce that the Olympic Cauldron Snuffer had been located and would be in position for the Closing Ceremony. They feared it had been stolen, but they had just left it in the other car.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Pup of coffee.

A few weeks into the new puppy and I am about ready to die. Think of me fondly.

"The dogs will be pals! They can keep each other company so they won't bother you while you're working!"

Maybe that will happen one day, but that day will not come soon. Nor does it appear to be anywhere on the horizon.

Nipper is always getting up in Tralfaz's face, and vice versa. When one has something, the other must have it now. When you're keeping on eye on one, the other one declares Misbehavior Time! Raising two dogs, to this point, is not twice as challenging as raising one; it is ten times as challenging.

It's like having a baby and a toddler, if the baby chews everyone and runs like the wind, and the toddler is more than a hundred pounds of muscle.

Nipper is not on suicide watch anymore for going after sharp objects and electrical wiring. I, however, am probably on some kind of watch because of delusions caused by lack of sleep. If you out there in Internet land are dealing with a new baby who is still feeding in the dead of night, you have my sympathy. Unlike baby's night feedings, Nipper's nocturnal P-missions won't last too long. On the other hand, babies have one advantage over dogs when it comes to the coffee you have to drink to keep going because they kept you awake:

Yeah, not really.
As I noted the other day, Nipper is a sweetheart and will be a really great dog. Tralfaz was a pain in the ass (sometimes still is) but came along just fine. We just have to keep working with him and remember: Patience always.

Of course, it's hard to be patient when you're all jacked up on caffeine, but that's another story.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Coffee for mosquito bites!

The K-Cup machine is a godsend. No, really. Like most of America, we run on coffee around here. As Lorelai Gilmore famously put it, "I can't stop drinking the coffee. Stop drinking the coffee and I stop doing the standing and the walking and the words-putting-into-sentence-doing."

No question that K-Cup coffee runs more than a standard drip coffeemaker. Not even close. The Atlantic did a comparison last year and estimated that K-Cups wind up costing about $40 per pound. We also buy quality beans for the coffeemaker, and that runs less than $10 a pound. So yeah, it's a huge expense.

On the other hand, there's no waste with K-Cup coffee, since you make what you want when you want it. Coffeemaker coffee sometimes gets stale or cold. Not saying that that evens the score, but it makes it a little closer. Still cheaper than going to Starbucks, too.

And there is one handy trick I learned (another life hack from Fred!), using K-Cups for mosquito bites.

I had heard that a hot spoon on a mosquito bite will break down the protein that causes the itch. Apparently this is horse hockey, but there is at least the advantage that the heat will prevent the nerves from registering the itch by flooding the zone with heat pain. So here's what you do.

You take a hot K-Cup that has just dispensed its magic fluid. You wait a little bit---the water comes out of my machine at 180 degrees F, which will burn you immediately, so you have to wait until it's cool enough to hold, maybe about 120 F. At 120 it takes 3 minutes to get scalded, but as it drops to 116 it takes 35 minutes, according to the chart in this report. As long as you can hold it to the bite for one minute without burning the skin, it should work. (Be careful: Neither I nor Keurig bear any responsibility if you use one that's too hot or apply it for too long. Use some common sense.)

I find it keeps the itch away for hours, much longer than the application of an ice cube, and sometimes the thing goes away on its own during that period.

So that's my One Weird Trick to using K-Cups to stop mosquito bite itching. Not exactly a life hack, but the way the skeeters have been after us this damp summer, I'll try anything. And if it means I have to drink more coffee, so be it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Better than the Closing Ceremony!

This one has been making the rounds:

I'm not sure where it came from; a friend posted it from Mexican Word of the Day. It is pretty silly.

And let me just say right now: I completely support this plan.

Dodgeball is a long-time favorite, a sport hated by people who hate sports but loved by the kind of single-minded competitive lunatics who can achieve a spot in the Olympic Games---and win gold medals during it. At the end of the Games, which include 306 gold-medal events, there'd be hundreds of athletes* ready to go. Drop a bunch of balls in there and we're off!

It's so simple: People throws balls at other people, and if they hit someone that person is out. You can also have moving walls; as people are eliminated, the field shrinks. That would keep it from getting dull at the end, with two people chucking balls at each other across a big field.

At first it seems unfair---you'd have big strong he-men throwing balls at little gymnasts---but those big strong guys make for slow targets. You don't have to hit them hard. Of course, the little fleet people can't throw the ball with speed, either, so there's a nice balance. A guy like Michael Phelps can probably whip a dodgeball like crazy, but he's also a big galoot who may not be real fast outside of water.

I'll bet the winner would be, like, the coxswain on one of the rowing teams.

And that's part of the charm; everyone who had a gold medal would have a shot at being Ultimate Champion of the World.

After all, as those of us who watched movies in the 1980s know: If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.


* I don't know how many people walk away with a gold medal after the Olympics. Phelps is not the only guy who comes away with multiple golds. On the other hand, on team events, everybody gets one. All of them would be eligible. In fact, participation is mandatory; skip the tournament and lose your medal. So there'll be no party poopers going home early.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Ninja frog.

Maybe some of you thought that Green Ninja: Year of the Frog was just an amusing Nitrome game, a typical waste of time.

You'd be wrong. 

And you'd find out too late.

This guy was right next to my new pup the other day and neither of us spotted him--at first. But as someone who mastered the game, I was a bit more alert than my puppy, despite his superhuman nose and low-to-the-ground proximity. It was I who whipped out my phone and caught the reptile unaware. The puppy couldn't do that. Hell, he probably doesn't even have a cool phone like me. He'd just chew it anyway.

If he did, he too may have mastered the challenge of the Green Ninja, who can stick to walls but can only leap in a straight line.

Knowing that, I simply stayed at a diagonal to the one on my lawn, so he could not leap on me. I didn't want to get one of those ninja kicks to the face that they do, or worse, have him stuck to my shirt.

I've learned a lot of things from Nitrome over the years. Useful things, like what happens when ice cream goes bad, or how pirates deal with crabs, or how to deal with toxic waste, or how a moon made of cheese can escape alien kidnappers. So the wiles of frog ninjas are just part of my skill set now.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Blood, sweat, and pools.

I would like to congratulate the U.S. women's water polo team on its amazing 11-6 victory over water-polo-crazed Hungary in the Rio Olympics. While the men's team hit the wall against Montenegro, the women will continue today, against Brazil, and good luck to them. You may call it flag waving; I say--hell yeah!

Water polo is a very tough sport. It's a bit like basketball, with the nets, the quarters, the shot clock, the passing, and the chance for injurious contact, but you have to do it all while swimming and treading water in a seven-foot-deep pool. The quarters are only 8 minutes long, but you try it. It's exhausting.

So it should get more respect than it does. But we know why it doesn't.

It's the bonnets.

Yes, the protective headgear worn by the athletes look like baby bonnets; consequently they all look like babies.

And yet there's nothing babyish about the sport. In fact, one of the more violent games of the modern Olympics was the match between Hungary and the Soviet Union in 1956. The Soviet Union's team was a powerhouse that expected to win. The reigning champ Hungarians? Well, they were a little bit irked by the fact that the Soviets had just invaded their country to brutally quash a revolution by Hungarians who had been under the Soviet thumb since 1945. Not only were the Soviets running their country--they had also been observing (i.e., stealing) training tips from their water polo champion Hungarian subjects. So there was bad blood long before any of it was spilled.

The Melbourne "Blood in the Water" match, which literally had blood in the water, was ugly from the start, as the angry Hungarians decided that taunting the Russians was a good way to distract them. They were right. While the Hungarians endured some punches, they also won 4-0, much to the joy of the many Hungarian ex-pats in the stands. and would go on to win the gold against Yugoslavia. Then several of the Hungarians defected to the West.

There were no Olympic women's teams in water polo until 2000, because of the rough nature of the sport. Our lasses took the gold in 2012 and have hopes of doing so again in 2016. Fortunately no one remaining in the tournament has invaded any of their possible opponents recently.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Yet more Olympic updates.

***Rio Olympics officials denied that the swimming pools' turning green was caused by an algae outburst due to poor maintenance, but rather insisted that the "festive color" was "reflective of our people's love for Carnaval!"

***A strange event during the soccer preliminaries: Lorelei Clarkton of Canada beat another player to death during the game. Referee Cames Jomey refused to call a foul on the play, saying that while Clarkton was "extremely careless" in her play and that "there was evidence of potential violations" regarding the rules of competition, nowhere was manslaughter "strictly prohibited" and therefore no penalty would be assigned. "To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences," he added.

***The Women's Coxless Pair rowing final was disturbed by the presence of two stupid American teenagers who were unable to control themselves following the announcement of the event.

***Bob Costas stormed off the set of last night's coverage when informed that the International Olympic Committee had voted him Official Olympics Sports Hamster.

***The Rio Olympics saw another first--the first competitor representing Vatican City--as Father Frank Columbo, S.J., the Jumpin' Jesuit, ran in the Men's 200 meter hurdles. Sadly, Fr. Columbo did not qualify for the finals, but he did bless everyone before heading off to the bar.

***Michael Phelps proved to be an excellent sport when beaten in the 100 meter butterfly by Joseph Schooling of Singapore. However, the first guy who told him "You got schooled!" got a punch in the nose.

***The U.S. curling team, having managed to show up for the wrong Olympics, headed home, only to wind up in Rhodesia, having gotten so lost that they landed in a nation that no longer exists. Further reports on their progress as they come in.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Month slogans.

I don't think August is doing a good job of really selling the product so far. By the middle of the month, summer is really running out of steam. Most people have done their vacations. A lot of kids have to go back to school, and all the stores and ads are in the BTS groove. All the better summer blockbusters have come out, along with the megaflops. The culture has moved on, but the temperatures haven't.

The worst heat and humidity, certainly in the New York area, usually hits in August. Merriam-Webster defines dog days as "the period between early July and early September when the hot sultry weather of summer usually occurs in the northern hemisphere," but we all know they really mean August. And yet the days get shorter with each page of the calendar.

So I'm hoping to help August get some love. I think it might be aided with a good slogan, something quick and snappy, to help people think of it fondly. When consumers are predisposed to think fondly of a product, they're more inclined to buy in, you know. Maybe something like:

August: Burn Baby Burn

August: Flies, Folks, and Fun

August: It's Not the Heat, It's the Tranquility

I don't know if these strike quite the right note. It's been a long time since my school days, but August always had one thing going for it:

August: Spend It Wisely 'Cause Algebra Is Coming

Effective, but consumers don't like to be threatened.

Really, a lot of months could use a little boost. For example, December looks fine, but what's really happening? The shortest days of the year and the hint of mortality as the chill moves in. And you'd better love Santa.

December: You Gotta Love Santa

March can be completely miserable, as the weather seesaws around and winter just won't let go.

March: XTREME!

November's just a mess of rain and darkness.

November: Goth Wonderland

Anyone can sell May or June. It takes a pitchman with some true skill to bring folks to loving February.

February: If Winter Ain't Killed You by Now, Maybe You Can't Be Killed

It's an affirmation, see?

Consumers only have so many hours in the day and so many years in their lives, and they want to spend them effectively. Months have to have strong appeal in the marketplace these days. If the guys at want to get me on retainer, I'm sure we can work out some excellent ideas.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

What if we HATE your kids?

I hate this sign in both directions:

From one direction, I hate the fact that this is considered necessary. It's posted on a road with no speed limit visible, which means that the limit is the general town limit of 30. I also happen to know that it's at the bottom of a long stretch with no lights or stop signs, so assholes (bad word alert!) (oops! too late!) like to roar down it at much higher speeds. It's an alternate route to the parallel main road, where cops may often be found. Here, cops are seldom found, but they will put in an appearance once in a while if a resident asks them. So yes, I hate the fact that people drive like lunatics on quiet residential streets.

On the other hand, I hate most of the words on this sign. "Slow" is subjective---to the asshole doing 70, 60 is slow. And does this sign imply that it would be okay for me to drive like Speed Racer on Benzedrine if you hated your children? How about if you are mildly indifferent to your children? And what if you love your children but they've grown up and moved to Fargo. What then?

I dislike it because it's smug, whiny, and passive-aggressive.

Meanwhile, on another street, someone has gone aggressive-aggressive. I couldn't get a picture of the homemade sign, but it says something like "SLOW DOWN! CHILDREN! 20 MPH!"

But that's also a 30 mph zone. You're not allowed to make your own speed limits.

Not sure what else to say about this. Horrible things happen when little kids accidentally go into traffic and cars are going too fast to stop. Horrible things happen when cars are going too fast and drivers lose control. People shouldn't drive too fast. Parents shouldn't let their small children play near traffic unattended. We all want cars. No one wants to drive 5 miles an hour, but that would undoubtedly reduce all auto fatalities.

How about we try this first: Let's just follow the rules and suggestions we were taught when we were trying to get our driver's licenses in the first place. Maybe that would help.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

One weird trick for sinus headaches!

Perhaps you, like me, suffer from occasional sinus headaches, maybe because of seasonal allergies, maybe because of household dust or HVAC systems or pixie dust or whatever. (Franklin Roosevelt blamed air conditioning for his allergy problems, I hear, but I'm not giving that up.)

Popular medications for these painful headaches include completely useless nostrums like acetaminophen and almost completely useless nostrums like phenylephrine. The only things I find useful are solid doses of ibuprofen mixed with pseudoephedrine, and I am willing to wait at the pharmacy counter to get the latter. Sinus headaches are a grizzly.

Are there any natural treatments one might try? Well, there's this:

Ginger beer, a nonalcoholic beverage (and a favorite of the Fourth Doctor), has a lot more ginger sting to it than ginger ale. The first time I ever drank it, I got a bottle of Old Tyme brand ginger beer, and it burned my throat like crazy. I was a tot, and I had never felt a soda do that before. But, according to a former coworker of Mrs. Key's of Caribbean descent, that burn makes it a super cure for sinus woes.

Thing is, you can usually only get Old Tyme sodas closer to Manhattan. And the ones I've tried up here, like Jamaican Choice (above) and Goya just do not have the same kick 'n burn. Unless my taste buds have toughened up over the years, in which case Old Tyme's ginger beer might also be too wimpy. They all have some burn to them; I just remember the Old Tyme one being almost undrinkable.

I had saved the above ginger beer for my next sinus headache, and I drank it with a Buffalo chicken sandwich with chipotle mayo. All that zing should have cut through the wall of snot and started some drainage, right? And to an extent it did. I did feel better after lunch.

An hour later it was back, and I had to take ibuprofen and pseudoephedrine. I'm telling you, that drug combo works like a charm.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

More Olympics news.

Further U.S. Olympics team news:

***Michael Phelps won his 19th career Olympic gold medal in the men's 4 x 100 freestyle relay. His mom immediately shipped the medal home to his Medals and Trophies Vault, in which Phelps likes to swim around like Scrooge McDuck between competitions.

***Americans were very pleased that the first gold medal of these Games was awarded to 19-year-old Ginny Thrasher, who pulled an upset in the women's 10-meter air rifle event. Sadly, America did not medal in the men's 10-meter Nerf rifle event later that day. Nerf coach Tommy Zipp said. "We really thought Hank Klotzman was going to get the gold in this, his second Olympics, but we're so proud of him. So much poise for a nine-year-old."

***Another first for the U.S. Olympics took place when the curling team arrived in Rio Friday afternoon. They became the first known Olympic athletes to show up at the wrong Olympics.

***Sheryl McGlurk, swimming in the 400 m butterfly finals, came in dead last. She later admitted that she probably would have had a better time if she hadn't stopped "for a sammich" halfway through. "I just got real hungry," she explained.

***American 130 kg Greco-Roman wrestler Herb Smeel told coaches today that he wants to be introduced to matches wearing his specially made gold lamé robe and head scarf, gold chains, and aviator glasses as Mighty Max Mauler, the Cincinnati Slayer. Negotiations are continuing.

More stories as they come in, sports fans! Or as fast as we can make them up.

Monday, August 8, 2016

New puppy.

So obviously we have too much spare money and free time lying around, because we got a new puppy to make our home more chaotic and to keep our big boy, Tralfaz, company.

Mostly successful so far!

Nipper was named for his resemblance to the famous RCA Victor mascot (advertising mascots being terribly important to me, of course).

So far the teething Nipper is well-named, as he is biting everything that comes within a foot of him. He can't destroy the teething toys, but he's hell on hands. The furniture is safe so far, as it is too big for him to get the mouth around. The laptop wire looked like fun, though! Mrs. Key made a yank save on his leash on that one. Basically, it's like living with a miniature land shark. A barbarian, at that---he doesn't know the rules and he doesn't speak the language.

But he has cuteness, which is one of the major forces of the universe (magnetism and gravity being two other examples). Cuteness is also an evolutionary defense, protecting the young from their exasperated elders and helping ensure survival to adulthood. Cuteness is a gift from God "to stop us from eating our young," as a friend of mine put it.

And indeed, even dogs that look awful as adults are cute as babies. All puppies are cute.

Yes, all.
NB: This is not one of our dogs.

And Tralfaz was about as much trouble when he was a babe. He was not so bitey, but he was bigger, so his bites mattered more. Nowadays he's 97% good, the other 3% being his random teenage varmintry when outside.

Well, maybe 91% good. He can be a real pain in the ass outside, especially when joggers or other dogs go by.

But it's been a long time since Fazzy was in need of 3:30 a.m. pee runs. Have not missed those. Nipper's baby bark goes through your head like an ice pick. Then, after the hauling out and getting the pee and/or poop, he may have trouble getting back to sleep. Sometimes I've just stayed up. Eventually he'll conk out. Sure, kid, fine. Not like you have to work. 

We have to feed Tralfaz first, because he's such a sucker for other dogs that he'd wind up getting pushed around by this pup---and Nipper takes this as a personal affront, yowling like mad while El Fazzo is trying to have breakfast.

On the whole it's been a challenging time. Sleep deprivation makes you feel sick. And what we learned with Tralfaz does not always apply to Nipper. Tralfaz is endlessly fascinated by the little guy but resents the time he's lost with us since puppies are so needy. By the end of the day all of us are dead.

But you know what? Last night Nipper slept through the night, all the way to when I got up. He bounces around like a happy balloon when I get home. He already will fetch a ball and bring it back. He was bombing around on the porch this morning, just loving life. He's getting bigger and better every day. He's going to be a good dog. And he's so darn cute it hurts.

Sunday, August 7, 2016


When watching as much of the Parade of Nations as I could on Friday---I was up early, so I could barely make it to Estonia---I couldn't help but smile at the sheer joy displayed by many of the athletes, so thrilled to be in Rio, on a worldwide stage.

You didn't see it on all of the athletes' faces, of course. Some faces you couldn't see, because their cellphones were blocking their faces entirely as they took selfies, turning the Opening Ceremony into an Opening Selfimony. Others were very serious-minded, and were already scoping out the competition. Since the China team has to stand around about twenty minutes longer than we do, that may lead to Wan Li losing about .0128 of a second on the relay next Monday.

I think about the guys from small countries, countries whose entire population could be dropped into Brooklyn without making a noticeable change in population density*, and how they managed to make it into the Games. You'll see a team of three with maybe a wrestler, a pole vaulter, and a tennis player. Why not a weightlifter? Someone in the country had to be the nation's best weightlifter. Did they only have enough dough for three plane tickets?

I'm sure many of them compete very hard, as hard as they can, even if they know they have no chance of getting on the podium. Some of them, though, you have to think, knowing that they're outclassed, just wangle a trip to the Olympics as a means to hang out and whoop it up with other young, physically attractive people. So, a couple of false starts on the 200 m, a pretend-throw on the javelin or shot put, and it's caipirinha time!

At least, I think that's something I would have considered as a callow youth in that situation. Only as I got older, much too old for athletic competition (assuming I was ever athletic), did I come to believe in the importance of personal and national honor, qualities that would have forced me to do my best even though I was hopelessly outmatched,

I used to give up a lot. Back then my idea of personal honor was just not to embarrass myself too much. Guess what? I didn't succeed in that, either.

*37,137 people per square mile 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Olympic news.

Well, sports fans, here we are on Day 1 of the Olympic competition, and news headlines around the world are blaring amazing stories from the Summer Games. Here's the Vitamin Fred Olympic News Round-up:

  • The 30 percent of the Russian team that was banned by the International Olympic Committee for doping was caught trying to sneak into the Olympic Village wearing fake mustaches, calling themselves the team from Nowheristan. Oddly, the fake mustaches looked more natural on the women.
  • The city of Rio de Janeiro, hoping to change its image as an unhealthy destination, offered free flu shots to travelers coming to watch the Games. Sure enough, everyone got the flu.
  • The French fencing team has been disqualified from competition for excessive Frenchness. The appeal to the IOC judges demanded that they (the judges) apologize for their stupidity.
  • Several nations, including the United States, demanded that Qatar change the pronunciation of its name from the dull "CUT-ter" back to the exotic "Ka-TAR." No official word yet.
  • Bizarre weather conditions combined with corpses floating in the Guanabara Bay led to what weather forecasters have termed "The Walking Deadnado," soon to be a film on cable TV.
  • The team from Nauru was forced to withdraw from the Olympics when he tripped over his flag and pulled his groin during the Parade of Nations. 
  • Runners from Myanmar objected strenuously before the first event that the Watermelon had an unfair advantage due to its size and shape and ability to roll. Judges spent an hour explaining that this was merely a cartoon from Google's Fruit Games and not an actual part of the Olympics.

  • Still no word on from the IOC about Fred's bid to host the 2024 Games in his yard, but as of this writing it's down to Los Angeles, Hamburg, Paris, Rome, Budapest, and Fred.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Stronger, faster, whatever.

Well, it all begins again tonight; the Summer Olympics once again. And there's a big reason to be happy about that.

It means we're not in the middle of a World War.

Beyond that, meh.

It's not the sports themselves that fail to interest me. I enjoy the competitions. It's all the other crap.

1) I wish they would run them on a bunch of cable channels in real time so I could turn on the TV and watch whatever I felt like among the events as they took place, or by a universal time delay if they were on the other side of the planet. Instead you get highly edited bits of this and that. Our cable carrier, Optimum, has promised wall-to-wall coverage on the on-demand channels; it remains to be seen how much is actually available. There'd better be handball.

2) I question the whole Olympic Spirit thing. I think the number of wars prevented by getting together and playing sports as a gesture of bonhomie over the last 120 years is approximately zero. But we have to hear all the gas about its contributions to the Brotherhood of Man anyway. Come on, can the b.s. and cut to the badminton already.

3) On that topic, the opening and closing ceremonies have become a melange of the most embarrassing cultural and pop-cultural ideas that can be combined in a P.C. way by tasteless dumbbells. And they should not take longer than Gone with the Wind. In 1896*, the opening ceremony was the Greek national anthem, a little royal froufrou with the king, some cannons and doves, the singing of the Olympic Hymn, and then the first event followed. That was it. Probably took twenty minutes. I would contribute a thousand bucks to the IOC if they would promise to keep it under an hour. It takes longer than that just for the athletes (the most athletic people on the planet!) to schlep into the stadium.

4) Enough with the weepy personal stories. TV time that would be much better spent on the actual, you know, games is instead devoted to soggy, sometimes spurious** profiles of the American Olympians themselves. If the event is on tape delay, you pretty much can tell if the American is going to win by the length and quality of the soggy profile. We want to know who they are, but without seeing much of the sport or the performance of the competitors, we hardly know why we should care.

5) Two years and some months ago, the Sochi Games, we barely got to see anything. Why? We had gotten a new puppy, a fuzzy little chum who was dedicated to finding ways to place his life in danger as he chewed toys, people, and walls to pieces. Well, guess what we did this year? (More on that to follow, I guarantee it.)

So, really, I like everything about the Games except everything that is not about the Games themselves. I hope I get to actually see some of the actual sports, but the way NBC covers these things, it's questionable.


* According to the highly recommended book 1896: The First Modern Olympics by David Randall.

** You know they had at least one for Marion Jones.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

That's what they WANT you to think.

I worked on a book a while back by a conspiracy theorist par excellence.

Really, this guy believed it all. Fluoride was in the water to make us docile and compliant. Airplanes spread "chemtrails" to geoengineer us and the environment. Vaccines were useless, unless you consider making us sick or autistic or sterile a worthwhile goal. Mercury was included in amalgam fillings to weaken us. The United States caused the 9/11 attacks. Food companies were poisoning us on purpose. People who fought the system disappeared, or died in convenient airplane crashes (presumably ones that weren't performing scheduled chemtrail dispersion).

I really don't think there is a proposed conspiracy out there that he wouldn't believe, as long as it suggested the work of shadowy, nefarious evildoers.

Don't ask me why he was able to find a publisher. I got roped into it by the editor sort of leaving out key information. "Oh, it's an alt medicine book" was how it was described.

Well, okay, take some garlic and St. John's wort. How crazy could it be?

Pretty crazy.

This is "alt medicine" like the Khmer Rouge was "alt government."

Ultimately you cannot believe all the things this author believes without coming to some pretty alarming conclusions, and he got there all right---the population is being set up for a major cull by people who want to completely control the remaining sheeplike herds.

The worst thing was, the author was not stupid, and had a lot of well-sourced material for claims about science. He also had a lot of crackpot sources mixed in. It was a barrage of information, sneaking lunacy and bad science in under the cover of clarity.

It was the worst kind of fabrication. He engaged in exactly the same kind of cherry-picking that his secret enemies in the science world supposedly engaged in. If a journal backed him up, it was a solid source; when the same journal had contrary evidence, it was the butt-boy of Big Pharma. Everyone who disagreed with him was getting rich by those who were getting rich by making us sick.

I think the guy is sincere; I just think he started to go off the deep end and never said, "Hey, is this crazy?" He went straight to, "The whole world is crazy, which is why I only SEEM crazy to the world!"

You know who else says that? CRAZY PEOPLE.

The book didn't mention Kennedy or UFOs. Maybe the next book.

I will say this: If he's right, he's targeted for death by now. And if I got stuck in the seat next to him on a cross-country flight, I think I'd be praying for one of those convenient airplane crashes.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Jaw remains in place.

Clickbait seems to run in seasons. Apparently in spring, there were so many jaws dropping in front of the world's computers that the oral and maxillofacial surgeons must have been minting money. 

I have no idea how jaw-dropping anyone is. I never clicked on any of them. (Sorry, Marcia Brady.)

I hate those clickbait sites. First of all, I hate celebrity culture, which is destroying America more certainly than our Islamist enemies could ever hope to do. Just look at the Republican nominee, or ask a supporter of the Democratic nominee to name any of her accomplishments. We've elevated two creeps because they are famous. Hooray for us.

And clickbait type sites are useless garbage piles of ads and autoplay; you can't even get to what you wanted to see when you succumb to temptation.

When some gimmick works, like the "jaw dropping" meme, I guess they all jump on. Perhaps they have limited English, so they just copy what they read on competing Internet swamp ads.

Hey, it could be worse. They seem to know what the people want to see. "What Marilyn Monroe looks like now is jaw-dropping!" would probably be true, but not too appealing.

Now that we're past all the droppage of jaws, we're seem to have moved on to celebs of the past looking fabulous wonderful incredible and so on.

Nothing against Barbara Eden, but I shall not click! I don't care if she looks as beautiful as ever, or if age has turned her into a ringer for Nancy Pelosi; my finger will not click, my jaw will remain in place.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Ultimate Masher!

I have this potato masher by Zyliss that feels inappropriately powerful.

Zyliss makes big, potent kitchen utensils. I got this weapon as a freebie when I was working at a magazine. It has an ergonomically designed handle, engineered for leverage, a stainless steel wire end, and weighs half a pound. While it can mash four or five little red potatoes, I always feel like it's only happy if it can mash a five-pound sack at a time.

I am told that people who make ground-meat jerky often use a potato masher to blend seasonings into the meat. So this potato masher could be exactly the right thing for the job. I mean, mashing a potato may not take pumped-up hand tools, but mashing a cow...

The one downside I have is that its sheer size makes it virtually impossible to store in a drawer, or a Big Mug o' Kitchen Tools, where I keep most of my cooking stuff. I actually have to store it in a closet.

And maybe that's why, despite being the Masher of Odin, a wonder-tool, a He-Man and the Masters of the Universe tool, a magna potentia tool, Zyliss has listed it in Clearance---and actually out of stock. Get one from Amazon while you can! Demand that Zyliss de-clearance it! You have the POWAAAAHH!