Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sci-fi Sunday

Imagine life in a parallel universe exactly like our own, except Barack Obama’s teenaged self got arrested for one of his numerous drug-law violations. That subject and more is discussed in today’s Bristol Press, Middletown Press, and New Britain Herald, where I also offer Obama’s opponents a strategy that, even now, can help them succeed in their goal of ensuring Obama’s not elected. (Granted, my strategy’s only viable if someone develops time-travel technology first. But it’s still more plausible than robble-robbling on about the man’s birth certificate.)

On a more serious note, I also explain the rationale behind the war on drugs:
. . . drugs destroy lives, so the government figures that instead of giving drugs the chance to destroy your life, you should let prison do it for you.

It’s like waiting for the other shoe to drop, which can be very stressful, so the law just grabs the shoe and beats you senseless with it right now.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

New York Law Says All Or Nothing

Now that subfreezing nights have come to the Northeast, the city of New York has ordered churches to stop offering shelter to the homeless, on the grounds that churches aren’t doing enough to offer shelter to the homeless:
City officials have ordered 22 New York churches to stop providing beds to homeless people.

With temperatures well below freezing early Saturday, the churches must obey a city rule requiring faith-based shelters to be open at least five days a week -- or not at all.
Wonder how long before they decide this would be good policy to take toward soup kitchens, too? “I can only afford to feed you one day a week, but for the rest of the week there’s other places – no, wait. I’m not allowed to feed you today because I can’t afford to feed you tomorrow. No soup for you. Aren’t you glad the city’s looking out for your best interests?”

You know how charities will request that people make even small donations, on the grounds that “every little bit helps?” New York law forbids this. Churches can’t even combine for tag-team partnerships offering five or more days between them: “All right, Hope Episcopal will take people in on Sundays and Thursdays, and on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays they can go to St. Bernadette’s. Still leaves Wednesday and Saturday open, though. I wonder what the Methodists are doing?”

Still, don’t get the impression that New York’s homelessness bureaucrats intend to harm the people they’re paid to help:
"We really don't want people sleeping on the streets, on grates, on church steps. We want people sleeping in beds," said Homeless Commissioner Robert Hess.
And the city does have shelters of its own:
The Department of Homeless Services said the city offers other shelters with the capacity to accept all those who have been sleeping in the churches.
Homeless people tend to avoid these public shelters because they’re dangerous crime dens. So you could say the New York Department of Homeless Services is being fiscally responsible: outlawing the competition is surely cheaper than competing with it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pick Your Poison

Over at the Bristol Press (and a few other Connecticut papers), I offer a simple, no-frills plan to either solve America's affordable-healthcare crisis, or end the whole "carbon emissions causing global warming" thing, once and for all (with a catch: solving one problem will make the other one worse).

EDIT: And thanks to Blogger timewarp technology, a Saturday-night post links to an article that didn't go online until Sunday morning!

I really need to adjust the time settings on this thing.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Peggy Hill Was A Hussy

It’s that time again—time for New Englanders to wear multiple layers of clothes when we venture outside so our various extremities don’t freeze off.

Time for most of us to wear layers, anyway. We don’t all do it. When my bundled-up self walked to a nearby store, I passed a few members of this year’s crop of Cool Kids walking home from school. One young lady was cool in an uncomfortably literal sense of the word because she, despite the frigid weather, wore a miniskirt over bare legs. The goosebumps on her thighs belied the word HOTTIE printed just above them, across the skirt's backside.

Still, her ensemble had the desired effect on the attention spans of the boys accompanying her. It also made a tiny, quasi-maternal part of me want to pull her aside and proffer wisdom from the Older And Wiser Generation: “You can get the same results from the boys with a pair of skin-tight jeans, and save the skirt for warmer weather. That’s how we did it in my day, and it does still work.”

But I said nothing, because I don’t want to become “that creepy woman who gives unsolicited courtship advice to teens on the street.” So I passed the kids with my head down, partially to keep the cold wind off my face but mainly so the girl wouldn’t see the amusement on it.

However, an older woman coming out of the store saw my facial expression and misinterpreted it completely: she looked from me to Miniskirt Girl and back again, and mumbled the standard grown-ups’ commiseration about Kids Today and blah blah sex and when-I-was-their-age-I-never.

This, I remind you, from a member of the Woodstock Generation. I smiled, shrugged and walked past her into the store.

Woodstock Mama got one thing right – styles today do tend to show a lot more skin (as measured in square inches) than 20 years ago. Yet whenever I hear concerns about this proving the decline of American civilization, I think of King of the Hill.

Like most cartoon characters, Peggy Hill usually wears the same outfit: a sleeveless shirt and culotte shorts that end a few inches above the knees. These clothes, along with her hairstyle and glasses, are not meant to be titillating, but instead to portray her as a dull and frumpy lower-middle-class woman. Yet a hundred years ago, you’d have to go to a brothel or burlesque house to see a woman displaying that much skin. Even exposing a woman’s ankle was obscene a century ago (and still is, according to the Saudis and the Taliban).

I wouldn’t be surprised to learn American civilization actually is in decline; I just don’t think increased skin exposure has anything to do with it. Western civilization adapted just fine to the notion that Peggy Hill can show her knees in public without harming The Children, and if bare midriffs and mid-thighs become the norm we can handle that too.

But seriously, girls of today: don’t walk around with words like “hottie” or “sexy” on your clothes. Self-promotion is one thing, but you shouldn’t look as though you’re trying too hard.

And stop appearing in those stupid Girls Gone Wild videos. You’re doing it all wrong: when you show a man the twins, you’re supposed to make money off the viewing, not him.

That’s how we did it in my day, and it does still work.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fan Mail

Non-insightful insight of the day: conspiracy theorists take their conspiracies very, very seriously.

Over in the Bristol Press and other Connecticut rags, my column for this week, about Obama’s birth certificate and Bush’s involvement with the destruction of the World Trade Center, inspired indignation among commenters who think I should’ve spent more time researching the facts and less time making excuses for mass murder.

Quote from column: “The idea [that the American government brought down the WTC] has a certain appeal. It would have been comforting, during the gloomiest days of the Bush administration, to think ‘At least the country’s being led by brilliant Machiavellian geniuses who know exactly what they’re doing.’”

Commenter who thinks I’m an idiot: “There is nothing comforting about the idea that your own elected government would murder it's [sic] own citizens and lie about it for political gain. You have failed to get your facts straight or draw any kind of reasonable conclusion. Blog fail.”

Quote from column: “Obama’s probably not capable of demolishing the World Trade Center and fooling the world about who did — that requires the genius of a George W. Bush, possibly with an Illuminati/Mossad connection — but if we’re lucky, he is at least smart enough to have spent several years serving as a U.S. senator without anyone realizing he’s secretly been an Indonesian citizen all along.”

Commenter who thinks I’m a lazy jerk: “How you could even begin to think of yourself as a journalist is so far beyond comprehension I don't know that there is a word in existence that will properly convey my disgust. You Maam, [sic] and those with similar mindsets are exactly what is wrong with America, and I hope that when your ridiculous opinions are shown to be the baseless joke they are you'll all do the honorable thing and leave this country.”

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sneak Preview Of My Sexy Steamy Romance Novel!

Time to face facts: I’m never going to get rich editing manuscripts for a vanity publisher. And upgrading to a career in Japanese tentacle porn won't happen, either, as evidenced by this actual transcript of my last-week’s job interview:

TENTACLE PORN MOGUL: Are you legally old enough to do sex-themed work in the United States, which is to say at least 18?

ME: Yes.

TENTACLE PORN MOGUL: Then you’re too old to appeal to our viewers. Get lost.
Nor will I get rich writing my Sunday column, especially since most of the papers that publish it are expected to close down in two months. (Career advice: if your boss walks in and says “Hey, everyone, come meet our new staff writer,” and you turn around and see me standing there, reduce your personal expenditures and update your resume immediately. My presence never bodes well for such things.)

Thus, I am trying a new approach: I have written a novel. A sexy novel, to be specific, because market research indicates sex sells.

It was easy. Thanks to all the books I’ve been reading and editing at my vanity-publishing job, I have learned via osmosis exactly how they should be written. All I need to do now is find somebody who will publish my book and sell a million copies for me. If you’re a wealthy publisher with powerful industry connections, read my wonderful novel here, and then e-mail me with an offer.

* * *


A sexy, steamy novel of passion, love, adventure and passion, with lots of good parts

Chapter 1

Selena Mackenzie was a gorgeous 19-year-old virgin with large breasts in a small town in Scotland where she led a sheltered life that was very sheltered and never knew the touch of a man. She was really innocent and pure. Meanwhile, Thor Thorson the Viking prince who looked like Fabio only with horns on his helmet, was in Vikingland getting onto a Viking boat with dark smoldering eyes he used to smolderingly look at the boat with. He said, “Forward, men. We will ravish the Scottish coast with virgins in it, and since I’m giving you orders remember I’m not just really hot and muscular but also a powerful Alpha male.”

Chapter 2

Selena Mackenzie had a hard life because Selena’s mother died and Selena’s father was mean to her and all the other girls hated Selena because they were jealous of her beauty, so if Selena were, like, kidnapped by a sex god who wanted to make her his exclusive monogamous love slave in a gilded cage with lots of luxurious furnishings and servants and orgasms, it’s not like she would have any reason to feel homesick or anything to make her feel sad. Meanwhile, on a dragon-shaped Viking boat that looked like a big wooden dragon filled with men floating on the water, crossing the stormy seas between Vikingland and Scotland was Thor Thorson the Viking prince, who was very sensitive under his hard, muscled, sweaty, (but he doesn’t smell bad or anything), muscular smoldering Viking Prince exterior.

Chapter 3

Everyone in Selena’s small Scottish coastal village off the coast of Scotland started screaming when they saw Thor Thorson’s Viking boat fleet appear over the horizon like some sort of fleet of boats coming over the edge of an ocean that slowly got bigger as it got closer to the small Scottish village you live in.

Chapter 4

When the Viking raiders came into Selena’s village, everybody started to scream “Oh no it’s the Vikings help what are we going to do.” Selena hid under the table and watched Thor rampaging through the village like a mighty Viking that looked really hot. She felt scared. Very scared. Very, very, very, scared. But she also felt a weird new sensation she’d never felt before in her belly, and she didn’t recognize it since she was innocent and pure, so she thought “I must’ve had some bad haggis for lunch.” Because she didn’t know what passion was. She thought maybe that weird feeling in her belly was something she ate that was bad. Like maybe bad haggis. (It wasn’t the haggis, though. It was love.)

Chapter 5

Thor carried Selena to his boat and took her back to Vikingland and locked her up in his castle, which was made of white marble with gold tiles on the roofs. Selena’s bed had a red silk cover that shone like shining silk, and as she leaned back on the red silk that the bedcover was made of she said to Thor “I want to go home” and Thor laughed cruelly and said “No you delectable thing you belong to me and my money and my muscles forever. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.”

Chapter 6

Thor and Selena were having sex that was steaming hot but completely politically incorrect and not suitable for children, because no means no, but that was a long time ago, and Vikings were not enlightened. So Thor said “You’re so beautiful” and Selena said “I know” and Thor said “Let’s do it” and Selena said “No” and Thor said “Yes” and Selena said “No” and Thor said "Yes" and Selena said "No" but Thor wouldn’t listen and Selena yelled out loud “NO!” and this went on for a long long time and eventually Selena changed her mind.

Chapter 7

Selena still felt homesick for Scotland. Especially since everyone who used to be a jerk to her in the small Scottish coastal village got killed in the Viking raid. Then Thor came in to her luxurious room and said “I know you’re homesick, so I brought you some tartan and a bagpipe.” Then he gave her a piece of plaid-looking cloth that was made of tartan, and a bagpipe. Selena’s heart swelled with love because that was the most thoughtful and romantic gift anybody had ever done for her. A different part of Thor swelled up just like Selena’s heart did, and they had sex again. Then they got married and the sex never got dull so they lived happily ever after.

The End.

Copyright in the USA already filed with the Library of Congress, plus I mailed a copy to myself with the postmark over the seal on the envelope because I KNOW one of you bastards is going to try and steal this and pretend you wrote it yourself because you’re jealous because you could never write anything this good, like those bastards in high school that made fun of me and said my writing was stupid and I’m glad they did it because it gave me the courage and inspiration and inner emotional strength to carry on. And I am stronger for it. And you can’t steal my novel because I already filled the U!S!A! copyright with the Library of Congress and mailed a copy of myself through the mail with a postmark, if you try to steal this I’ll take you to court and sue and win. Some of my very good friends are lawyers who are very good. I have lots of friends now.

* * *

So what do y’all think? I gave it that surprise ending because my vast vanity editorial experience tells me that the expository copyright notice is generally the single most interesting part of any given book.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Useful Relationship Advice

If your live-in sweetheart recently changed the hours at his job, so that he can now ride the train to work rather than driving his car the whole way, then when he gets home do NOT start singing "My baby takes the morning train ...."

The inherent humor value here is much, much lower than you might think. Trust me on this.

P.S. No, not even if he's a Seinfeld fan.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

How To Smuggle Six Ounces Onto An Airplane

A two-year-old blog post is spiffed up for family consumption. Back when TSA deemed nail clippers and tweezers dangerous weapons that couldn't be brought onto airplanes, I quickly learned that such items could be hidden from airport metal detectors by shoving them between the coins in my overstuffed change purse. But TSA eventually rescinded the no-tweezers rule, which is a victory for the forces of sanity but means I can no longer get badass rebel street cred by merely trimming my hangnails in hotel rooms far from home.

I can, however, acquire this by keeping my hair clean on vacations. At least for a few months, although TSA director Kip Hawley has said that the three-ounce rule might be rescinded next year. Maybe. Until then, I thoughtfully explain to readers at the New Britain Herald how to smuggle six ounces onto an airplane.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

It Is Finished

I remember an old Bloom County cartoon predicting that America's first black president would be a conservative Republican, and I think it's awesome that he instead turned out to be a lefty guy with a name like Barack Obama. This almost compensates for the intense disappointment I feel at the lack of live on-air suicides at Fox News's election coverage tonight.

McCain has conceded, and his resulting speech sounded better than anything he said during his campaign. Had he talked like that all along, maybe he would've pulled better numbers out of this election.

I hope Obama and the Democratic Congress and Senate will undo some of the constitutional damage inflicted over the past eight years. As for the economic clusterfark he'll inherit ... well, at least I can hold out hope for our civil liberties.

Later, I'll worry about the things he'll do that I won't like. Tonight, I'm enjoying the moment in history.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Submitted Without Comment

First two lines from an actual help-wanted ad posted on a freelance job board:

Fresh news/reporting platform needs a writer who meets the following requirements:

* PERFECTIONIST with grammer and spelling

Look on his words, ye mighty, and despair.

Gay Marriage: A Threat To Us Traditional Hetero Types

Thanks to a state Supreme Court ruling, Connecticut recently became the third state to allow gay marriages (an upgrade from previous legislation allowing civil unions). Over at the Bristol Press, I wrote a column explaining why various organizations with the word "Family" in their titles are right: gay marriage really is a threat to traditional heterosexual relationships like mine.

Not as much of a threat as that godawful photograph of me, though.
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