Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Have Belly, Should Putt

It would be a stretch to say I embrace change. Instead, I brace myself, hide, rationalize, then begrudgingly adapt. Just yesterday, in some odd conversation with a customer, I was asked if I had gotten rid of cable. "I never have had cable," was my conversation-ending retort. So let's just say that in most things, especially technological, I lag behind the curve; curves are best appreciated from behind, some wag once said. Anyway, despite what so far appears to be a rather slow news day, I had to dig a bit to find the most earth-shattering piece of news, in its context (the world of golf, which, if we're getting honest here, easily ranks in my Top Ten Worlds [and if this were July, not cold November, I might bump into the Top Five]), one is likely to see this week. A virtual Katrandyostrophe this: The governing bodies of the world of golf, the United States Golf Association and the British version (the Royal something or other), have decided to outlaw the use of the so-called "belly putter" beginning in a couple years. I don't want to get too technical here (or anywhere, for that matter), but suffice it to say that the belly putter--and all its permutations--which has been increasingly used to great success by all sorts of golfers, permits the golfer to anchor his longish putter against his body, often the abdomen (or belly, depending on the golfer) instead of having the putter "swing free of the body" as had always been the case (contrast the photo above with that of one of the most vociferous denunciators of the belly putter, Tiger Woods, below).

Of course I met this news with loud applause, not just because I'm a Tiger fan who abhors technological change and who, nearing fifty, still putts--much to the amusement of my playing partners and opponents--with his grandfather's old (it was old when he was still using it twenty years ago) putter. The belly putter just doesn't look right. It looks alien. Now I know that "looking alien" on the golf course is a subjective opinion, especially with the garb that often passes for appropriate on the golf course, but still, get it out of here has long been my one and only thought re belly putters. But then, in the middle of my victory dance this morning (Ding Dong the Belly Putter's Dead!), I had a most surprising thought about the validity of belly putters (don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone; I wonder what Joni Mitchell's handicap is): belly putters!

Is there a more lovable, cushiony word in any language than belly? I'm on record elsewhere for my affection for the word, so I won't regurgitate it all here, but I'm thinking about the concept of tradition here. Before there was mega-pumped and -toned Tiger and all his wannabes, there was Fat Jack. There was Roger Maltbie. There was Billy Casper. The belly has long occupied a glorious spot (or several) in the world of golf. Are we in danger of throwing the belly out with the belly putter, I wonder? Young hotshot golfer Keegan Bradley, one of the most successful of the new wave of belly putter putters (young, lean, and growing up with the belly putter, rather than coming to it after years of the yips and trying and failing at everything else), reportedly vows to fight the new ruling. I hope he loses, but wins if he gains.

I hope he loses, but wins if he gains--let me explain that golf koan. I propose that the USGA and the Royal Whatever amend their ban on belly putters to allow any golfer with a certifiable belly to use the belly putter. That's it, so simple--if you have a real belly, then you get to putt with the belly putter; if not, back to the old "free swinging" putters. Six pack abs? No belly putter for you. Keg-like torso--let me show you our new line of belly putters. Name me one fat guy who's been able to beat the super-fit Tiger. I say, and the American electorate seems to back me up on this, level the playing field--give the fat guys a competitive compensatory entitlement. Think of the jobs this could create: Belly Certifiers at every golf course and pro shop in the world! Uh, sir, if you're going to pull that belly putter out of your bag, I'm going to have to ask you to lift that paisley shirt up. I'm sorry, I can't sell you that belly putter because obviously you've been doing your regular morning crunches. Hey, pipsqueak Keegan, start eating mounds of pasta and drinking lots of brew if you want to wield that freakish looking putter on this Tour.

Compromise, right? With this kind of thinking the fiscal cliff turns into a lowly speed bump on the cart path. Get to it gentlemen.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Today, That Is

Some days just make sense. Today, for instance. Having a Monday off helps, as well as having the Cleveland Browns win the day before (Mondays off aren't too infrequent, but Browns Victory Mondays are a very rare occasion). I'm still burping a slew of family Thanksgiving get-together delicious dinners, including easily the best turkey I've ever eaten. Chef Brother-In-Law claims the secret is in the brining, and who am I to cast doubt--so moist, so tender, so gob-smacking wonderful. I got a bunch of laundry done today, some long-overdue housework (I even broke out the toilet brush and gave the commode a twice over). I made a rapprochement visit to CVS and was rewarded with coupons right up my alley--razorblades and aspirin--and even had a nice chat with a Jehovah's Witness who came up with a great image while spreading his health over wealth gospel--"Ever see a bank truck following a hearse?" All I need to do is channel the winning numbers for Wednesday's record PowerBall drawing and the day will be complete.

Is it any wonder, then, that the song that has been hounding (in a good sense) me for a few days is "Oh What A Beautiful Mornin'" from Oklahoma!? Now my disdain for Broadway musicals is ample, but I've always kind of had a secret hankering for Oklahoma!, God only knows why. But isn't this the way life works? Chalk it up to the brine, but Thanksgiving night I had a strange dream where I informed an old friend that on her next birthday I would be on her front step early in the morning serenading her and the entire neighborhood with "Oh What A Beautiful Mornin'." I was actually singing the song in the dream. Then last night, flicking channels aimlessly, I happened upon a PBS documentary about Oscar Hammerstein II, the lyricist for Oklahoma!The King and I, South Pacific, etc. Coincidence? I don't think so. Naturally, I woke up early this morning feeling oh so good, and the song, after playing it a few times on my computer and youtubing it, has been happily stuck in my head. God I love the line about the breeze not missing any trees and the one about the weeping willow "laughing at me," and I get giddy every time I hear that bouncing, frolicking "Everything's goin' my way." Thank you Mr. Hammerstein, for most this amazing day.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

To Be Thankful Or Not To Be Thankful: Separating The Riff From The Raff

On this wonderfully concocted day of thanks, there is a litany of things for which to give thanks, beginning with the undeniably sacrosanct: the Lord, family, friends, daily bread, mashed potatoes, football. But as you work your way down your thankful for list, you might find yourself running out of time, this day being no longer than yesterday or tomorrow (unless you're working retail tomorrow, when if so, the day is interminable). And so, as always, I am here to provide a gratis service to my devoted readers by pointing out some things that deserve our thanks and things that really don't warrant any kind of gratitude.

My handy cyber crutch,, informs me that the term riff raff, originating some six hundred years ago in some place known as Middle England, means people, or a group of people, regarded as disreputable or worthless; the lowest classes; rabble; trash, rubbish. Now as we all know, that which might be considered disreputable or worthless can often be quite appealing, charming even. After all, I think it was the estimable Orson Bean who said, one man's trash is another's treasure. And so, to save you some time on this holiest of unholy days, I present to you a quick guide to separating the riff (good trash, as represented by the Human Riff, Keith Richards) from the raff (bad trash, as represented by Raffi, just because), that trash which we should be thankful for, from that which we needn't bother.

Chris Berman: undeniably trashy, the worst kind of yukster, tolerable only in five-second sound bites, but harmlessly entertaining and benign--Riff

Bob Costas: insufferable, waxy, pontifical, extreme blowhard (which makes Berman a blowsoft, I guess), monumentally unfunny (it's been, what, more than thirty years and I'm still waiting for Costas to say something genuinely funny, although he tries to like every fifteen seconds)--Raff

Realizing your riff/raff distinctions speak for themselves--Riff

Explaining your riff/raff distinctions--Raff

Reruns of the The Gong Show--Riff

Any reality show/game show of the last thirty years--Raff

Cotton Candy--Riff


Paula Broadwell--Riff

Jill Kelley--Raff

Gas station donuts--Riff

Gas station hot dogs--Raff



Trailer Parks--Riff


Dumpster diving--Riff

Metal detecting--Raff

Vendredi Noir--Riff

Black Friday--Raff

Two cars (one on blocks) in the short driveway and another two parked on the lawn (like my neighbors)--Riff

Backing out the Audi into the street and blocking traffic so that the Escalade can get out of the long driveway and transport folks to Black Friday doorbuster sales--Raff

Junk mail--Riff


Spitting onto the sidewalk--Riff

Holding one nostril closed while expelling God knows what onto the sidewalk from the other--Raff

Writing a reminder on your hand--Riff

Writing a reminder on any kind of personal device--Raff

Running through a sputtering sprinkler--Riff

Soaking in an above-ground backyard pool--Raff

Napping on the couch post-prandially, Thanksgiving--Riff

Talking about tryptophan pre-prandially, Thanksgiving--Raff

Inspired by this wise post to comment on anything stupid, "That's so raff"--Riff

Inspired by this wise post to comment on anything cool, "Riff, man"--Raff

Monday, November 19, 2012

When Your Drugstore Becomes A Bit Of A Pest

I don't need this. Just when I thought the fantods were disappearing and my life was getting back to a modicum of normalcy (I've even gotten over my fear of campaign ads and am feeling kind of nostalgic about that rich former socialist warning us lackadaisical capitalists that the end is nigh), I find myself hounded yet again by another innocuous yet oddly vexing entity--my local drugstore, CVS. I count three different CVS locations as my regular store--making at least one stop at each every week, with another four or five satellite ones I am known to patronize. I admit it, I like the store. Most of them are laid out pretty identically, so I know exactly where to go to find the few items I regularly need (yes, I have shopped in one and left the store surprised to find myself at a different location than I thought I was at while in the store). The staff at all the stores are uniformly friendly. I'm not one much for comparison shopping, but I never leave a CVS thinking I've overspent. In short, my CVS experience over the years has been thoroughly satisfactory. Thus, the deeper pain I now feel at CVS's betrayal. Well, betrayal might be too harsh; let's try "judgmental intrusion," okay?

Rewards card. Coupons. Positive sounding words, right? Not anymore. The other evening I bought my usual at CVS: a pack of smokes and a loaf of bread. "Why yes I do," I responded to the nice clerk who asked if I had a CVS rewards card. I whipped out my keys, flipped through my twenty or other (not nearly as dog-eared) rewards cards, found the CVS one, and held it out for the clerk to scan. After paying, I waited for what had been my favorite moment (or four) of the entire CVS shopping experience--the coupon unspooling. If you too are a CVS addict, you know the moment(s) well--the cash register spits out a small forest of thermal tape with your transaction info and then, depending if you're a lucky shopper, loads of coupons (I always feel a little sad when I'm unspooled a lone coupon rather than a small basketful [that long, multi-couponed white register tape with the black ink is like a colorblind man's lei, let me tell you]). This particular night I felt like an old lady hitting three plums on a slot machine--my glee at the tufts of register tape spitting out of the machine was only tempered by the thought of what coupons I'd miss out on when the machine ran out of tape to unspool before my coupons had stopped frothing over. Oh boy, I thought, what shopping I've got in store for me over the next couple weeks, as I calmly pocketed the (forget lei, this was a wedding dress train) receipt (a cool and an experienced--and now formerly happy--CVS shopper saves the Holy Reading of The Coupon Scroll for a private moment; he doesn't jump up and down two feet from the register and celebrate getting 15% off his next purchase of laundry detergent--tres gauche). So, two steps out of the store, I looked at the receipt. I've been pissed ever since.

The first coupon offered me a 20% off "shopping pass" (man, I want coupons; "shopping pass" sounds a tad hoity toity for my sundry shopping needs) if I got a flu shot "today." Well, first of all, while I like and respect all CVS employees, I'm not sure I want to trust the one administering the shots on the night shift, probably the same high school kid who just rang up my purchase and bestowed upon me said wedding train receipt. Second, and most important, while I thank CVS for looking out for my health during the cold and flu season, I kind of don't like them attempting to bribe me into getting a flu shot, being opposed to flu shots in principle (well, not a very principled principle--I just don't want to get a shot of any kind) as I am (I buy an annual bottle of NyQuil and take my chances, and thus far I've never had a heinous flu experience; NyQuil not only seems to battle quite effectively any flu-like symptoms, but it delivers the best knockout punch this side of an Uma Thurman uppercut). Okay, fine, CVS is just trying to be nice, and how are they to know my stand on flu shots?

But that "how are they supposed to know" is the crux of my anger at the remaining coupons I received the other night. Look, I'm no techie, but I "get" data mining and modern marketing techniques. I know THEY--in this instance, CVS--know all about me. I know CVS knows about everything I buy via my little rewards card (ooh, I just noticed the CVS rewards card is called ExtraCare; I'm beginning to get the pejorative meaning of both of those words). I've received enough coupons offering me deals on quit smoking products and $.50 off candy bars to know these coupons aren't generated randomly, or generically. It's not exactly Big Brother, more like pesky Auntie Gertie. But what the hell. The next coupon I received was for "$2 off any Beauty purchase $10 or more" (I nearly hurled my loaf of bread through the store window when I read that). I don't do beauty, and certainly not Beauty, and definitely certainly not at $10+. I might do buy soap, but I don't make beauty "purchases." What kind of BS is this CVS? Are you assuming I need to make a Beauty purchase? Are you assuming, based on my usual mundane purchases, that I must be a rather unbeautiful consumer and thus could use a couple bucks off some beauty product? How dare you judge me like this, CVS. Either that or your data mining's wires are horribly crossed; some poor multi-beauty-purchaser is scratching his or her pretty little head as he or she is staring at a coupon for Gatorade or Hot Pockets.

And then, as if CVS was reading my very real-time thoughts, came the final coup(de grace)on: "$1 off any one Lean Cuisine Frozen Meal." Fine, I've exceeded my last year's total purchase of Hershey's with Almonds bars, you don't have to rub it in. Does this ExtraCare card make me look fat? Maybe I do need a flu-shot/beauty spritz/xx lbs. diet makeover, but it's really none of CVS's business, is it? Well, sure their business kind of consists of helping make that makeover, but only if I choose them, right? It shouldn't be their business to guilt me/bait me into making that makeover. From time to time I've wondered just what CVS stands for. Now I know--Conscience Victimizing Syndicate. And by the way, I've had a Lean Cuisine Frozen Meal before. A mouse-sized ort of cheese on top of a lone Ritz cracker is more filling. Walgreen's here I come.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Conspiracy Of Whackiness: Explaining My Silence

I take the initial blame. The overriding reason why this blog has been dormant for so long is my own doing (non-doing? undoing?), but then events spun out of control. It is only with the passing into a state of desuetude of two American icons (Philip Roth and the Twinkie [no link necessary; I'm sure you've heard of that crash and burn]) that I now feel not only the need but the compulsion to break the bonds of wily silence and speak out once again about the silliness that surrounds me and all of us.

It all started so innocently. As Labor Day kicked the Presidential Campaign season into full gear, I made the decision to be undecided. Hell, I undecisively decided, if all the attention in the Free World was now being directed at the foolish people who couldn't make up their minds between two rather starkly different candidates, far be it from me to pass up the opportunity to be shamelessly pandered to--so I threw my dunce cap in with the foolish, shoulder-shrugging horde. Silly me. I figured a week--tops--of silence from this worldwide (yes, I get hits from India, Russia, and even North Dakota) hub of wisdom would mobilize both political parties into beating a path to my door, slavishly courting me, and trying to persuade me with all sorts of promises to make up my mind already. Surely the Republicans would notice I was refraining from posting an all-too-easy roasting of Paul Ryan and his Eddie-Munster-dressing-up-for-Halloween-as-Ronald-Reagan-while-wearing-Obama-ears costume and think, hmmm, maybe the guy's not all Democrat as we suspected. Surely the Democrats, with all their high-tech data mining et al., would smell something amiss in my failure to make nonsense jokes about the 47% or, much later, those binders full of women. But nothing. No pandering on my doorstep. Enter hubris: Well, fine, I'll just wait them out. This blogger has indeed learned something from reaching across the aisle and hitting the unbudging stone wall that is Mitch McConnell. I dug in.

That's when the conspiracy started. After a week or two of refusing to let the malarkey that accumulates in my brain to escape via my fingertips, I had a most unexpected revolt on my hands--my humorous brain cells petitioned to secede from my cerebral cortex. "There is no humor in being undecided," was their one and only cry of protest. "But this is the most important election in my lifetime," I responded in plagiarizing zeal. "I will not endure it without being pandered to." And then, unlike those secessionary-minded Texans who we all wish would just go ahead and do it then, my funny brain cells didn't laze around waiting for the world to give a damn, they split immediately. All I'll say is that it's very painful to follow the Cleveland Browns in-season without a sense of humor. Dark autumn days indeed.

And then, as I found it impossible to muster even a chuckle at Newt Gingrich's prediction that Romney would win in a landslide, I started getting a cluster of bullying emails from a Tampa woman who identified herself as Kelley Jill. She admitted that she had tried and failed to become a lieutenant groupie at MacDill Air Force Base (not even that ripe name could get me to chortle back in those arid days) and had now set her sights on becoming a blogger groupie. "Why me?" I repeated for the millionth time in my life. She cryptically answered, "Panache." Well, before I knew it, Ms. Jill had hacked past my seemingly iron-clad firewall and accessed my file of half-written, eventually-given-up-on would-be blog posts and threatened to publish them "to the universe." My God, I thought, any ten-second stumbled-upon reader of this blog recognizes its integrity--I can't have the universe reading my discarded, not-up-to-the-usual-high-snuffiness musings on the cuteness of porcupines, the genius of the word pshaw, the remote possibility that in the proper light and in the proper fleece jacket, Paul Ryan might maybe could get my vote as an also-ran in People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive Sporting an Eddie Munster 'Do Poll. So I played ball with Ms. Jill for a couple weeks, which, I might add, was only possible to do completely humorlessly--so, even in a storm, there's some sunshine. We exchanged emails, I admit, and even let her in on a few secrets re parentheses placement.

But then, speaking of storms, Sandy hit. Before I knew it, Kelley Jill was onto her next obsession: Pudgy politicans with thick accents intoning, "I don't give a damn" at every possible photo op. Of course, that did actually make me guffaw, and so I was all set to start blogging again, but Sandy took out my power for a few days. When it came back on, naturally, I was in a period of mourning for Karl Rove's sanity and just couldn't write a thing--on a grocery list from the time, all I could manage was the "or" of orange juice, a fitting conundrum for an at-one-time proud undecided (I did make up my mind eventually and voted for Roseanne Barr; she always makes me laugh).

The thaw actually began late on election night. My favorite moment of the entire campaign came when Obama and family came out to the cheering masses in Chicago and cute little Sasha had to tug at dad's coat and tell him twice, "behind you," to get him to turn around and acknowledge the supporters sitting behind the stage. Wow, the most powerful man in the world being told what to do by an eleven-year-old girl--pricelessly amusing.

"Behind you." That notion tugged at my own coattails. Ah yes, I realized after much soul-searching, behind me: spitoutyourgum. Can I commit, though, I wondered. Well, if Mitch McConnell can still be Mitch McConnell, and if the world can go on surprising us in its silliness (Broadwell, this Ben Ghazi character, bus drivers in Cleveland getting assaulted right and left, Wile E. Coyote allusions all over fiscal cliff stories, etc.) after such a supposedly important election, I guess I can do my part. Texas beware: my humorous brain cells are sheepishly returning to the fold one by one, admitting it's a cold world out there. And now, with the literary genius of Philip Roth calling it quits, and the completely absurd and superfluous and mindlessly delicious Twinkie disappearing from our diets, someone has to step into the void. Here I am.