Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday Rerun: Chin Chin Cheree

Vinny "The Chin" Gigante was a mobster in New York, and from everything that I ever heard, a nice enough man.  I certainly have no grudge against him...

But I thought of him the other day when I read that all of a sudden, the most popular form of plastic surgery in this nation is chin augmentation, in a nation which, to listen to certain people, is in the grips of the worst national economic depression since they lined up to sell apples in 1934.

They call them "chinplants" and they are just the thing for people who don't think that their current chins stick out far enough.  Aging baby boomers who see a jowly countenance in their morning mirrors and teenaged girls who demand a greater resemblance to Jennifer Aniston are lining up to take one on the chin.
Aging males who have always wanted to look like Nixon or Jay Leno can now have that desire become a reality.

What's the difference?
People are saying that they really need a more youthful jawline when they are on Skype, videochatting with their friends and former prom dates, and they realize they don't look quite chiseled enough.  New Jersey is leading the current revolution; chinplant procedures in the Garden State are up 71%.

New Jersey is also a great place to get cantaloupes and blueberries.

Saying that makes about as much sense as going to a plastic surgeon to get a new chin.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Saturday Picture Show, April 19, 2014

Quite a mixed bag this week...let's look at the big pictures!
The only thing funnier would be to have the guy smoking a cigarette while carrying a 5-gallon bucket of gasoline.  The very people who exhort us to practice safety sometimes need more practice themselves.
 For all the home handypeople, this is called "Drilling a pilot hole to insert the wall-gripper with a hook so you can hang up the picture of the grain silo that Artesia painted so well."  It's also the prelude to having to get the vacuum cleaner out to suckulate the drywall dust that the hole makes.  This handy idea is worth it! I just put a pad of sticky notes in my handy-tote!
 I saw this on several fire dept websites this week.  These ramps are used to allow traffic of the motor vehicular sort to proceed along a roadway without damaging the charged hose line or cutting off the flow of water.  They won't do a daggone thing except get squished when a train comes along, but at least the thought was there.
I love this one, not only because it uses the word "snigger" about snide morons, but because it's a demonstration that sometimes the cottage-cheesy cracker barrel folksy common sense lore that some find so enchanting is just not based in scientific fact, no matter how much it's repeated.  Space exploration is best left to people who know what they're doing; I think we can all agree on that.
 I once told someone that I examined the early, classic Simpsons episodes with the same intensity that a Kennedy scholar uses to look through the Zapruder footage.  Question is, is this an intentional "mistake" or an actual goof?  The photo shows Moe Szyslak, nefarious bartender, addressing townspeople along with Mayor Joe Quimby beneath the statue of Jebediah Springfield, founder and namesake of Bart's home town.  Eagle-eyed readers will be able to spot the boo-boo and write back to me, telling me what they spot.
I understand that Clarence Thomas, who holds a position on the Supreme Court, has not spoken out loud there, has not so much as asked a question or posited anything during legal arguments, since February 22, 2006. Perhaps he has been thinking over what would be an appropriate punishment for these jackanapes who gridlock traffic around the clock.  Clarence, speak to me!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Time for a new jersey

Oh, Lorde
Don't feel too bad if you don't recognize the name Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor, or if you think she's the high school girl who wound up babysitting for Abercrombie and Hildegarde a couple of weeks ago when your brother-in-law and his wife, who were supposed to watch the kids while you went to the Rotary Club dance and installation of new officers for 2014, cancelled at the last minute because of reasons which will be fully aired at the next family birthday party.  I mean, she may very well have been the backup babysitter if you lived in New Zealand, because that's where EMLY-O'C comes from.  You know her as Lorde, a pop singer who has a real fascination for royalty and aristocracy, which led her to write a song called "Royals" when she was 16.  She took that name to highlight her love of all things royal, and frankly, given the way many Americans drool over foreign royalty, it would not be a surprise to see more kids from Kentucky or Oregon named "Wills" or "Duchess Kate" or "Boy George" soon.

16-year-olds will write about what they are obsessing about, which is why I wrote a series of poems (as yet unpublished) at that age with titles such as "Girls," "Beer," and "When I Get My License I Am Going To Hit The Road Like Kerouac."  I also dabbled in the limerick form that summer, with most of my efforts starting off "There once was a lady named Hewitt..."

The picture that
launched a career
But young Ella was serious about her songs, and added an 'e' to her assumed stage name to make it Lorde, a more feminine form. One day, flipping through a National Geographic magazine, she happened upon a 1976 picture of onetime Kansas City Royals baseball great George Brett, surrounded by autograph seekers while wearing his home "ROYALS" jersey.  She was gobstruck with the picture and sat right down and wrote that song, which apparently was a big hit record last year.  

I listened to the song, and it's not so bad lyrically; it's about not getting caught up in material success and so forth.  Wikipedia says it's about how bad it is to be "aspirational," and I guess that is bad, if all you can think of is the next pile of money you intend to jump into.  Musically, I think the song could have used a fiddle or two and a steel guitar, but then, I think that about every song.

News broke out of Las Vegas the other night that, at long last, Ms Lorde and Mr Brett had met, and she had the chance to tell him how the picture inspired her muse.  All very good, and I am thankful that she did not see a similar picture of a member of the Tampa Bay Rays togged out in his home jersey, or she would have written a song called "Rays," saluting all famous Rays, such as Ray Charles, Ray Liotta, Ray Lewis, Ray Rice, Ray Stevens, Ray Romano, Ray Manzarek, Ray Milland, Ray Bolger, Ray Walston, Ray 'Boom Boom' Mancini, Ray Kroc, Ray Nitschke, and Ray Stern. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The kid stays in the picture

There's this video, you might have seen it, that shows a teenaged Dutch girl growing from itty bitty baby to full-fledged teen in 4 minutes of time-lapse photography.

If you could go back and ask my parents, they would tell you that it seemed to take about 4 centuries for them to see me turn 14.

Lotte, age 9
But anyway, this proud papa of the Netherlands, Frans Hofmeester, decided, after baby Lotte was born in October, 1999, that he should get her to sit down once a week and be videotaped against the same rumpled white background.  14 years later, he has edited it all into a video that I am sure she is hoping that Dad won't get the idea to show to all of her prospective boyfriends.

How to get a child to park it once a week and sit for the camera? I suggest promising not to play any Tim McGraw/Faith Hill duets. That promise would induce me to do anything!

Another example of this real slow life sped way up is the 1971 movie that John Lennon and Yoko Ono made called "Erection." I can still picture John telling Mike Douglas the name of this opus. We didn't have color TV at the firehouse, so I didn't get to see Douglas's face turn red at the very mention of that priapistic pun. Mr and Mrs Lennon simply took a photo every day of the London International Hotel being built across the street from their flat, and strung the pictures together so you can see what it takes to build a hotel, in case your name is Hilton.

There are movies of Paris Hilton as well, but that's a topic for another day...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Edwina Farrell Browning?

We stopped at the Goodwill store the other day on the way home from BJ's just because you never know what you'll see there.  And everyone who walked in there that day saw a real live portmanteau!

"I didn't know they had pets at the Goodwill store!" some will cry.

You know portmanteaus if you've ever watched "I Love Lucy," stayed at a roadside place on the way home from a trip to Lake Chaubunagungamaug, picked up Labradoodle poop from the lawn, or stirred your Vodka-and-Clamato with a spork.  Or watched "Titanic" for all those scenes with the rich people's luggage being loaded onboard. (Poor people, played by Leonardo D. Caprio, used their left pocket as their luggage.) Those giant two-part suitcases that look like wardrobe closets with handles on top? Those are called portmanteaus, a French word made up from combining the words "Porter" (to carry) and "Manteau" (an old word for clothing). French linguists in need of a word to describe two-part luggage came up with "portmanteau."  English linguists in need of a word to describe two-part words came up with stealing "portmanteau" from the French, who immediately invited the English over for a turducken dinner.

So it's a portmanteau to say "motel" (combining motor and hotel), "DesiLu" (Desi and Lucy), "Labradoodle" (Labrador retriever and poodle), and of course, the deadly "spork," scourge of high school cafeterias all over, is an eating implement that's 1/2 spoon and 1/2 fork and completely useless as either.

Egg-Free Brunch? Emergency Food Bank?
This portmanteau for sale at the Goodwill looked like the one pictured here, but it had the initials "E F B" neatly painted in Times New Roman on the top.   And ever since, Peggy and I have played the EFB game, trying to figure out who he or she was.  Elbert Fabian Bolton?  Elinor Federica Bonaventura? Employee Fringe Benefit?

Imagine the places that portmanteau has been and been seen in, and now it sits in a Goodwill store in Perry Hall, Maryland, yours for $300.  Perfect for your friend Earleen Fay Bailey, who always liked to end her day with a nice Eucalyptus Foaming Bath!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

No time like the present

I must have written these thoughts a million times, or wanted to. But here for the one millionth time, I beg us all not to count on being able to say nice things or take nice walks or eat a damned hot dog or call an old friend or patch up an old sore spot or stay up to see a sunrise or go to bed to dream of any of the above tomorrow.

You have to do it today.

I love people, you know.  And I tend to meet a lot of them, which is why Facebook is so perfect for people like me.  I understand if it's not your cup o' tea.  It takes every kind of people.  

Not long ago, I "met" a fascinating woman named Holly from New Jersey on line.  I had been yakking about an old teacher of mine, and Holly had come across the estate of someone who may or may not have been the same person.  What matters is that a new friendship was born, and through that person I met a friend of hers, a lady of great wit and charm who had written a children's book and was raising a son as a single mom.  Probably because my inner 8-year old refuses all offers to suppress himself, I found a lot to talk about with these two wonderful women, and we commented on each other's statuses, and shared photos and news clips that we found amusing.  We'll call this second new friend "T."

Monday morning began as usual here. I got up, fried an egg and ate my homemade muesli, and walked down Facebook Avenue while the morning news chattered away.  Looking at Facebook, I saw that other friends of "T" were posting a lot of pictures of her and her son, and I thought that maybe birthday greetings were in order, so I went to her page...

Went to her page to find, not birthday messages, but eulogies.  My merciful God, what happened?  And I read on, to find that my friend and her son had been taken in a house fire some eight hours earlier.  I messaged Holly and we spoke comforting thoughts and I sit here now, typing, bereft, because once again a fundamental lesson is right in front of us and at the risk of sounding like Jacob Marley or something, I beseech us all to hug the people we love, and love the people you hug.  It's really that simple, and I'm not better than the next person at remembering it. Two weeks from new, two centuries from now, it's not going to matter whether or not your lawn looked perfect or you lost those last three lbs. or your hair came out looking just so.  What will matter is whether or not you made someone feel good.  Or, frankly, whether you made yourself feel good. Yup, we're responsible for that, too.

And what a nice touch.  After I talked with my friend and she had so many words of consolation, I went back to main FB, and these were the first two images I saw:

 Look up to the sky.  Look up and live!

Carpe Diem.  Seize the day.  You won't be sorry.

Monday, April 14, 2014

I Keep Right On A-Learnin'

We never know when we are going to have a lesson imparted to us.  For that matter, sometimes we have a lesson imparted and we don't even realize it at first.  This happens to those of us who are a little slow on the uptake, a group of which I am a charter member.  But maybe years later, you come to realize that someone showed a way of doing that impressed you and molded your future.

Ernest Ashworth, his suit,
and his toupee
Johnny Tillotson
The name "Johnny Tillotson" came up the other day.  Johnny was a pop singer whose success came in the early 60s with three big hit records: "Poetry In Motion," "It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin'," and the pop version of "Talk Back Trembling Lips" (Ernest Ashworth had the country hit on that one - the only major hit of his career, and doggone if he didn't go get himself a Nudie suit with big ruby red lips all over it and show up every Saturday night at the Grand Ole Opry and belt out his big hit as the crowd went wild!)

Enough about Ernest.  Johnny was a good boy, a handsome fella, and he did have his hits going for him until The Beatles landed in America and dashed the plans of a lot of Johnnies and Jimmies and Frankies and Fabians.  Johnny T, being a Southern fellow, tried the country route which had worked for Conway Twitty and a few others, and made some records with the country sound in the early 70s, all of which are unknown titles today, but those records are what brought his path into confluence with mine for half an hour.

I was working as a midday DJ, doing the Housewives' Hit Parade for Baltimore's #1 Country Station, soon to become Baltimore's #2 Country Station in a town that only needs one country station.  But we had no competition and were riding pretty high in the radio ratings when Johnny Tillotson showed up with his manager.

Johnny was appearing that night at a bar down the road a piece and he would really appreciate a little bump, a word or two to get the people to come on out and see him.  Sure, my boss said, just come on in, Mark will interview you, maybe take a couple of calls,  and good luck.

And that's what he did.  We talked on the air about his hits, and the memories that people would have connected with hearing "It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin' " performed live at the fabulous Club Whoozit down on Rte 3, just past the split with the interstate.  I guess he took a couple of calls ("Johnny, this is Agnes!  Do you remember meeting me when you sang at the Sand Bar that time" sort -of - thing) and he was off, probably to grab some bacon and eggs and a nap before the show.

Now, here's what I took away, although I don't think I realized it.  Johnny Tillotson had been a big deal ten years before that, with appearances on Ed Sullivan and American Bandstand and the like, and now here he was with me in a radio studio. I probably had to move my lunch box and a stack of records and tapes so I could see him while we talked.  AND YET he showed not a trace of any of these:  ego, disappointment, superiority, big-headed show-bizzy-ness or phony humility.  Just a nice guy, trying to make his living singing his songs, coming to grips with the commercial end of not being nearly as famous as he had been.

I think that a person who can be as decent, as kind and friendly, at the valley of his or her success as they had been while riding the wave of renown, is a worthwhile person with the right stuff for values.  I see that Johnny is still kicking around the music scene down in Florida, and I have a feeling that he is still the same humble, straight-ahead kind of guy.