Close, but no cigarette

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‘Malapropisms I have known and loved’

As I darkly hinted last week, I was thinking about writing a piece about the Common Cold. Specifically, about how the Cold is the Rodney Dangerfield of illnesses. You know, it “just don’t get no respect”.

For those of you who don’t know who the heck I’m talking about, that’s Rodney, with one of his quips. He was famous among some of The Dude’s college buddies for appearing in the movie Caddyshack. But he was even more famous for “insult humor”. He even had the temerity to insult Frank Sinatra (who, thank god, laughed); you can read about this is a famous essay called ‘Frank Sinatra has a Cold’, an essay by Gay Talese so good it is taught in journalism schools.

And yes, in this piece Frank Sinatra has a cold. Just like me! (The Common Cold being probably the only time ever I will have anything whatsoever in common with Frank.)

But I won’t elaborate. Because, if you’ve ever had a cold (and they are, in fact, pretty common, especially in New York this winter), I’m thinking you know exactly what I mean. I don’t know about you, but if I hear one more time that I should be glad that “it’s only a cold” and that at least I “don’t have anything more serious” I will do more than insult that person. I might do something truly evil, like lick their phone.

But back to malapropisms.

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The Breakfast of Champions

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‘Some random thoughts on The Think Drink’

So. I’m walking into my apartment lobby and run into a couple of neighbors. Well, I didn’t literally run into them, which is a good thing because I was clutching an extremely large container of coffee. A venti quad skim latte, to be exact. Which is four shots of espresso and some frothy skim milk. It’s really big, and really good, if you like that sort of thing. And I do.

Well, after making some remark about coming by later to ‘scrape me off the walls’, my neighbors waltzed off to buy Christmas cards or wrapping paper or evergreen fronds. Or something. While I came upstairs to write this piece. (And sip my coffee.)

I love coffee. If some doctor told me I couldn’t drink it, I would have some pretty serious issues. I think it’s delicious, and I also think it gets your brain firing on all cylinders. I’m not the only one. Years ago there was an ad campaign for coffee with the tagline ‘The Think Drink’. And, to this day, Young Attractive Persons use coffee as a study aid. (See photo at the top of this post as proof; Attractive Person pictured is the son of one of my friends, preparing for a final exam.)

Proof that coffee fuels creativity as well as study. Note mug on table as well as spoons on noses

I grew up with Attractive Persons who were always drinking coffee. ‘Would you like coffee?’, ‘Coffee’s in the kitchen’ or even a simple ‘Coffee’s on’ was how one was greeted at the door. In fact, while digging out pictures for this post, I realized that it was a rare family photo that did not feature a Henry or Peterson adult clutching a mug. Continue reading

The gift that keeps on giving

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‘It really is the thought that counts’

First, I must extend my heartfelt apologies to The Child for using that photo up top from a Christmas-morning-in-her-early-teens-when-she’d-dyed-her-hair-an-unfortunate-hue. But it’s the only picture I could find of her actually presenting us with Christmas Coupons. So I simply could not resist.

As for the Christmas Coupons themselves, here’s one I had the foresight to save. Too bad it has, alas, expired.

I don't have a photo of The Child presenting me with this, but she was not a teen, and had normal-tinted hair at the time. I'm thinking maybe 8 or 9

I don’t have a photo of The Child presenting me with this. But I’m betting she was 8 or 9 at the time, with untinted hair and pretty impressive cursive

The Child came up with the idea of Christmas Coupons when she was barely able to scrawl with a Number Two pencil on lined paper. Instead of going to the Ben Franklin store to buy her Mommy a teensy vial of Evening in Paris (like I did for my mom, and which she probably still has), The Child would inscribe small bits of paper with promissory notes, usually for personal services. (Her foot rubs were in great demand, by her Dad anyway; I’ve never been able to let anyone anywhere near my feet.)  Continue reading

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

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‘Practice practice practice. But please don’t fake your practice notes and forge your parents’ signatures’

If there’s anything I’m more tired of than reading about the election, it’s writing about the election. So this week, I thought I’d switch gears and write a story that makes fun of inept people in positions of power. It also involves some lying and cheating.

It’s about the time The Child faked her violin practice notes.

First, I have to say that the whole situation was absurd from the get-go — the fact that she had to take the violin. See, The Child had been playing the piano basically from birth. And playing it very well indeed, I’ll have you know.

The Dude introduces The Child to Mr. Piano

The Dude introduces The Child to Mr. Steinway. She is, oh, two days old here

 

Here she is, actually touching the keys. This piano was in the soon-to-be-pummeled-by-storms teeny-tiny beach house

Here she is, actually touching the keys. This piano was in the soon-to-be-pummeled-by-storms teeny-tiny beach house

She played the piano so well that she played in competitions and gave recitals. She and some of her fellow piano prodigies once played for the residents of a nursing home in New Jersey, where a little boy was startled enough to almost miss a note when he was in the middle of Chopin’s Fantaise-Impromptu and all these oldsters started swaying in unison and singing ‘I’m Always Chasing Rainbows’. Continue reading

“I don’t want to debate you, Jerry”

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‘Words to the wise from ‘Fargo’ — In my humble opinion, the Best Coen Brothers Film and quite possibly the Best Film by Anybody Ever.’

Like zillions of other Americans (and even unAmericans) I can’t get that Debate out of my head. It was like watching a train wreck. With sniffling. Was I the only one who wanted Lester to hand The Donald a tissue? But just because I’m thinking about it doesn’t mean I’m going to write about it. I’ve built a big ole politics-impermeable wall around LutheranLiarLand.

But the whole idea of a ‘debate’ got me to thinking about a scene from my Favorite Coen Brothers Movie (and Favorite Movie, Period): ‘Fargo’. (Feel free to click on IMDb or the Times to brush up if you need to.)

Now, there quite a few of you ‘Big Lebowski’ fans out there. And granted, the Coen Brothers Film Featuring The Dude has its attractions. A character named ‘The Dude’ being a big one. (See one of my many stories under the tab ‘Life with His Dudeness’ or jump to this one if you like.)

the Dude abides. Here he is, doing his bowling thing with buddies Buscemi (also pictured at top in Fargo) and John Goodman

The Dude abides. Here he is, doing his bowling thing with buddies Buscemi (also pictured at top in Fargo) and John Goodman

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Out of the mouths of babes

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‘The Child says (and writes) the darnedest things’

Ouch. It’s Tuesday. Which means I’ve got to get a wiggle on and come up with a story to tell. I was going to regale you with tales from my teen years honing my writing (and phone-answering, address-stamping, and odd-job-doing) skills at the Carlyle Union Banner.

I’ve already regaled you with tales of The Dude’s and The Child’s fabulous summer jobs (see ‘They didn’t do this for fun, you know’), and thought I’d give myself a turn, so to speak.

But I just now waved bye-bye to the last of my Fourth of July Weekend houseful, one of whom (The Child, pictured above during a previous Fourth of July Weekend) inspired a completely different bloggy direction.

She and her bevy of beautiful girlfriends and The Dude and I were sitting around post-beach, sipping a few cocktail hour cocktails. (Oh, in case you are horrified at the thought of the pipsqueak pictured at the top of this post having access to a cocktail, rest assured that she and her friends are indeed old enough to vote both ‘yes’ to a drink and ‘no’ to a Trump.)

Anyway. The Child tells her friends that I make the best gin and tonics. I modestly reply that, shucks, I’ve just had plenty of practice. Then I go on to say, “Speaking of which, once when you were little, like two*, you were rattling a couple of toy blocks around in a plastic cup. When I asked what you were doing, you said ‘I’m playing Gin and Tonic.'” Gosh. Maybe I’ve had a little too much practice. Continue reading

Gender identity is for the birds

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‘How to tell the ornithological girls from the boys’

Take a moment (before reading on in amusement) to check out the flock of bird-watchers pictured at the top of this post. Just how hard is it, on a scale of one to ten, to tell the males from the females?

Well. As someone who has actually been on more than one ‘birding’ trip and traipsed around many a field a-flutter with fellow ‘birders’, I’m here to tell you that it can be a tad difficult to distinguish the sexes. No, I’m not talking about the sexes of the birds. I’m talking about the sexes of the people watching the birds.

That's Mr. Scarlet Tanager on the left. With Mrs. on the right. Interesting how she gets to keep the name 'Scarlet', tho there's not a trace on her

That’s Mr. Scarlet Tanager on the left. With Mrs. T on the right. Some pretty marked sexual differentiation going on here, wouldn’t you say?

By the way, I’m not crazy about the terms ‘birding’ and ‘birder’. Almost as much as I’m not crazy about other nouns-turned-into-verbs-and/or-adjectives: ‘parenting’, ‘crafting’, ‘kidding’. (I’m kidding about ‘kidding’.) Continue reading