Fight the Power: Americans Against Unwelcomed Name Changes of Major Cities

Good Bye Chicken Kiev, Hello Fowl Kyiv?

Sign of the Times

If you’re like me (which I doubt very highly) you’ve noticed a slow-building and insidious trend in the renaming of major global cities. Cartographers are calling this syndrome Global Conforming. This sop to the signage industry began with the ancient city of Peking, which overnight in the 70’s became Beijing, thereby eliminating Peking Duck as my go-to Chinese restaurant order (Under no circumstances will I ever order Beijing Duck). Then Bombay, India decided it couldn’t deal with its pleasingly exotic name and renames itself Mumbai. Mumbai – which sounds like you’re trying to say “Monday” with a mouthful of Novocain. Not a good look India. Or a good sound either. So now Bombay Sapphire becomes Mumbai Sapphire? Nope. I’m not drinking that jungle juice.

 

As an American against the unwelcomed name changing of major cities or (AAUNCMC), I propose we turn back the fonts of time to the way things should be. And that brings me to Kiev, Ukraine. Kiev was a national capital when dinosaurs walked the Earth (not really, but you get the point). Why in tarnation, or in any nation, has Kiev suddenly (and without permission) become Kyiv? Really? So long Chicken Kiev. Hello Fowl Kyiv. Johnny Cougar back to John Mellencamp – that I get. But this politically correct urban renaming is done with all the clinical sterility of a Stepford wife doing laundry. To me these unilateral name changes should be called what they are: The Signage Industry Full Employment Act. Read the rest of this entry »

New Year’s Resolution: To Transcend These Things that Bother Me

  1. Cut it out.

    I’m living in fear that Jeopardy! does not have a succession plan for Alex Trebek. I’ll take Worry for $2000 Alex.

  2. Same for “Wheel” and Pat. And don’t get me started on Vanna. That chick is 62 years old now. She’s been turning heads and letters for over 30 years now*. * I know, I know. She only touches the letters now.
  3. I’m bothered that in Spain they speak Spanish not Spainish
  4. I hear vegan Spaniards speak Spinach – at least those are the sounds they “produce.”
  5. In France they speak French when they should speak Franch
  6. In the Flemish region of Belgium they speak Mucous and the sidewalks are covered in it.
  7. Speaking of speaking; at Gallaudet University they speak sign language without saying a word. When they want to scream they wear all CAPS. I mean they all wear caps.
  8. I’m bothered that the Philippines is populated by Filipinos not Philippinos. How does Ph change to F?
  9. The original bother: The whole 2 Darrin’s thing on Bewitched is still fresh in my mind. They think they can just replace a husband and not say anything. Just twitch your nose Samantha and order up a new husband. I’m still scarred.
  10. I wonder if I lose my mind, what I’ll have left. This list probably. Hey wait a minute.
  11. We act like we know everything when we should be saying, “I know that I know nothing.” Pinched this gem from Plato and for this I’m not really bothered.
  12. Why is Peking now Beijing? Peking worked fine for 700 years. And yet restaurants still call it Peking Duck.
  13. Bombay has become Mumbai. And yet top shelf bottles are still called Bombay Sapphire.
  14. I only need 1 out of 10 letters sent to me. Maybe Vanna can turn back the other 9 letters.
  15. Realizing that we’re all living on just the “crust” of the Earth makes me feel insignificant. What will my epitaph be? “I trod around on the outside of a big piece of toast till I died. Now I’m buried in one of its nooks and crannies.”
  16. That Walter White is now just Bryan Cranston. That’s a really Bad Break.
  17. If there’s one prevailing force pervading everything, why are there so many religions trying to describe it? I wish people would stop practicing their religions and just perform them. With all the practice they should know what to do by now.
  18. Denali was Mt. McKinley now it’s back to Mt. Denali. What about the Nile? Will it now become Denial?
  19. John Mellencamp was a Cougar now he’s a fruit (a mellen?). Oh bring back my Johnny to me.
  20. These lists bother me. I think it’s preventing me from self-actualizing or something. Well at least I’m drawn to the unruffled sangfroid of Matthew McConaughey, so obviously there’s been some growth on my part.
  21. Jennifer Aniston was jilted by Brad Pitt and is now the world’s oldest 26 year old. Yeah I’m bothered why I age and she doesn’t. Note to self: Must start putting Aveeno on my Corn Flakes.
  22. Since we’re talking about Brad Pitt’s ex-girlfriends, I suppose I should now say something about Gwyneth Paltrow. But I won’t. I’m already knee deep in this Goop.
  23. And don’t get me started on Angelina Jolie – a restraining order already prevents that.
  24. The word “empty” should be spelled “mt”. There’s no clarity anywhere. I feel so, so, so mt.
  25. Pluto is no longer a planet. Who has the right to demote a planet? I understand Pluto has adopted a symbol and is referring to itself as “the planet formerly known as Pluto.” And yes, I’m bothered by this. Oh, like you’re not.
  26. I’m bothered that we don’t discuss the absence of Mother Theresa enough
  27. I’m bothered that we don’t discuss the presence of the Dalai Lama enough
  28. Bill Cosby seemed like such a nice man. But I should’ve known something was up when he shamelessly promoted New Coke.
  29. There are a lot of people who were never caught doing really bad stuff; and they may even be doing it now. Then again I hear God does sort them out later, so in some sense I’m not really too bothered by supposedly unpunished Earthly indiscretions.
  30. I’m bothered that everyone isn’t more like Mr. Rogers. If everyone was like Mr. Rogers, I could finally be a bad ass. Well, maybe not a bad ass, but at least feared more than PBS travel writer Rick Steves.
  31. I’m bothered that we’re not supposed to be distracted drivers and yet municipalities allow glitzy outdoor billboards to timeshare between (for example) SPCA warnings and Wheel of Fortune ads. Causing me to at first wince at the cruelty to animals and then (once the timeshare switches) turn my head back to see what Vanna is wearing. Oh, I can’t text (fair enough), but you can keep my eyes off the road in the name of commercialism.
  32. I’m bothered that I’m up to number 34 now and the Prozac is having absolutely no effect on me. I wonder why it was labeled “Lipitor.”
  33. <Putting myself in timeout. I need a break. You need a break.>
  34. I’m back and I’m running a temperature so now I’m hot and bothered.
  35. I’m bothered that I misunderstood what celibacy meant and so for 45 years I never played sax.
  36. And through this cathartic process of enumerating perturbations, discomfitures and whiny little misgivings, I’m cured. Thank you for listening. My New Year’s Resolutions are resolved. I’ll see you next year with a new, more elevated list: Why it’s All Good, Even When It Doesn’t Appear to Be All Good.

“Global Boring” Threatens Social Cohesion

Global Boring thwarts throats from warbling small talk. Can we survive it?

A United Nations report warns that Social Climate Change is drying up reservoirs of small talk faster than they can be refilled. This drought of amiable conversation has forced some chit-chat-challenged countries to opt out of small talk altogether, leaving their muzzled citizenry speechless. As more nations begin pulling the plug on small talk, it has created an unsustainable social climate of too many tight-lipped wallflowers clamming-up at too few social events. Anthropologists have named this dreary and dangerous planetary condition Global Boring. What was once an easy and friendly, “Hey, what’s up? How you doin’?” has morphed into a pained and stilted “Your separateness disturbs me. Please leave.” 

A worldwide drought of basic chit-chat has landed small talk on the endangered speechies list. It’s sad to think homo sapiens have devolved from erect and engaging conversationalists into slack-jawed text monkeys. If the current rate of stilted conversation continues, social scientists predict small talk will be extinct by 2050 and will be replaced by a few symbolic emojis expressing everything from “Excuse me good sir, may I use your chamber pot” to “Y’know a lint trap is just Banana Republic’s way of telling you it’s time to buy a new shirt.”

The only place small talk remains unchanged is in the bedroom, where the immortal exclamation of “Oh my God, oh my God, Oh…My…God!” is still breathlessly expressed as “Oh my God, oh my God, Oh…My…God!” This time-honored pledge of allegiance to each other, is indivisible; with liberty and just-ass for all. Read the rest of this entry »

Epitaphs: They’re Killin’ Me

He’s in Jeopardy, but he’s wheely fortunate too.

Observations, Exaltations and Regrets from the Dearly Departed

Picture yourself standing on the grave, reading each one for the first time

  1. If You Lived Here You’d Be Home Already
  2. You should see the other guy
  3. Would you please go online and give Crandall Funeral Home 1 star on Yelp! They put me in here face down?
  4. What am I supposed to do now? Asking for a friend.
  5. Damn! I still had 7 shows left in my Netflix cue
  6. Here lies Beethoven. He was a great composer. Now I guess he’ll be a great decomposer.
  7. What? No cup holders! And they call this an afterlife.
  8. Just so you know, my coffin’s wood was harvested from sustainable forests and made by workers paid a living wage. OK. Now, I can RIP.
  9. If you’re reading this, would you mind get off my spleen?
  10. I know what you did last summer. And that’s why you weren’t in the will.
  11. I couldn’t afford this coffin, but what are they going to do – repossess it. The used casket market is dead.
  12. Life is too important to be taken seriously. Death, on the other hand, offers some very serious closure.
  13. If you think about it “The Sound of Music” was a really good movie, with a really stupid title.
  14. All part of the plan. Breathe very easy and I’ll see ya soon. Oh, and bring cup holders.
  15. We all here don’t push up daisies. They just naturally grow toward the sun.
  16. (I kept procrastinating and I died before I could formulate an epitaph)
  17. Whether you’re for or against Capital Punishment, we all eventually get the death penalty.
  18. It’s nice being able to sleep in
  19. It’s true. You can’t take it with you.
  20. Surprise! You don’t need to take it with you. It’s all here – except cup holders.
  21. I mean yeah, I’m dead, but I’m not dead dead.
  22. I wish they knew I was only kidding when I said I wanted to be buried with my cat.
  23. As a cremain I’m dating some really smokin’ “cinder-ellas” here. Why not, I urned it
  24. Reaching puberty was great and everything, but the rest of it…I don’t know
  25. Just so you know, God is in the process of “sorting’em out.”
  26. Well, that was a long way to go to make a point…And the point was?
  27. The first words everybody says here are, “I don’t believe it. Wow! I finally get it. How did I miss that?”

BREAKING News: Cowsills Say Moon Landing was Faked

“Just imagine, without us there would’ve been no Partridge Family.”

Breaking their silence after spending over half a century deciding when was the right time to “go public” with their bombshell, the Cowsills decided now is the ime and have issued a coordinated statement splashed across all their social media platforms (AOL, Yammer, and MySpace) declaring: “The Cowsills firmly believe the moon landing was faked. Not all of them, just the second one.”

 

Drummer Bob Cowsill went on to explain why the band waited so long to detonate their lunar bombshell, “We didn’t want our public stance to interfere with our bookings. And since we haven’t had any since 1983, we felt that now was a good time.” Bob then further explained the essence of the statement by breaking into the band’s 1967 signature hit The Rain, the Park & Other Things: “♫And I knew. I knew, I knew, I knew, There wasn’t a moon landing, landing, landing ♫.  

 

This is Us.

Of the three remaining Cowsill members (Bob, Susan and Paul) only 2 of them actually believe the moon landing was a hoax. Cute little Susan Cowsill (now 60) is the lone holdout. She believes Apollo 12 did land someplace besides earth, just not on the moon. In a prepared statement she said: “Now I’m no astronomer, but the moon is a fickle thing. Heck sometimes you look up and it’s not even there. So how could someone land on it if it’s missing?”

 

And in an unprepared statement Susan said: “These rehab centers really help. Especially after the 20th stay.”

Meanwhile, in another part of the pretend world we sometimes inhabit, Partridge Family spokesman and former manager Reuben Kincaid referred all questions on the Cowsills’ statement to Partridge Family mother hen Shirley Jones who said, ♫C’mon get happy.♫

What’s next in the realm of eccentric announcements? Loretta Lynn claiming Dolly Parton wears a wig.  

 

Cowsills Proclamation Moves the Needle for Moon Landing Conspiracists.

There are a still a few Cowsill devotees in bomb shelters who have sent word through their Ham Radios that they “Received the Cowsill message and will adjust their lives accordingly.” Vegetarian Cowsill devotees in bomb shelters have been communicated similar messages through their Tofu Radios which they say sound just like Ham Radios.

 

“This is huge,” said an operator with the handle XTC4U. “We’ve been waiting for the Cowsills to weigh in on this issue for decades. When they talk, we listen. This just confirms everything we believed about NASA’s great Hoax – not on the first moon landing, just the 2nd.” When reminded that the Cowsills were a family rock band from the 1960’s who haven’t had a hit on the charts since 1970, XTC4U removed his homemade aluminum hat and responded with, “And you’re point is? My God, they’re the Cowsills. The COWSILLS damn it! Can you not hear me? They made this announcement on MySpace for Christ’s sake and now it’s gone larval.”

 

Other Ancient Rock Stars Late to the Party with Their Own Pronouncements

  1. Predictably the remaining Monkees have come out against animal research on all remaining monkeys.
  2. The Captain and Tennille released a rambling Manifesto (is there any other kind) deploring Daylight Savings Time: “Darryl and I find the imposition of enforced Daylight Savings Time oppressive and a promotion of Fake Time.” What makes their pronouncement all the more demented is that the Captain and Tennille live in Arizona where Daylight Savings Time is outlawed. They say they’re doing it for all the unborn children who could conceivably be late or early to preschool depending on whether it’s spring forward or fall back.
  3. The Sex Pistols have come out in favor of allowing cars the option of turning not right on red, but left on red. They’re English so it’s really no big deal. They drive on the left side of the road anyway and they practice left on red.
  4. Lead singer Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane/Starship is calling for the abolishment of slavery. The NAACP reminded Ms. Slick that slavery was abolished in 1865 saying, “That’s not too slick Grace.” While other more charitable members thanked for her insights saying “That’s Amazing Grace. Just Amazing Grace.”
  5. Engelbert Humperdinck piggybacked or humperdincked (as piggybacking is referred to in England) on the whole “aging rock star pronouncement thing” and issued this peculiar statement, “I’d just like to say that although I’m not at all homophobic, I am uncomfortable being around people who are bilingual. In fact, I don’t even like flying on Aer Lingus. Please release me. Let me go!”

America Reacts Swiftly to the Cowsill Bombshell: “Ummm…What the hell’s a Cowsill?”

Calling this 50 years after-the-fact assessment from a long-forgotten band and “act of the utmost inconsequentiality,” America breathed a collective sigh of “We’d be more dismissive if this pronouncement thing even registered with us. It does not. This will never be one of those ‘do you remember where you were moments’ when the Cowsills announced they thought the moon landing was faked. What we need is less Cowsill and more cowbell.”

Portals to a Parallel Universe: A Tale of Superb Peculiarities

A Lot to Unpack Here. Let’s Get Started.

How did I not see this? Standing right in front of me. Speaking words of wisdom. Let it Be. 

I’m always amazed when a paradigm-shattering event of monumental significance detonates in our midst, and then is promptly scrubbed from memory once the next day’s news cycle begins. I’m referring, of course, to the recent discovery of an interdimensional portal to a parallel universe. How is it that such a colossal spiritual windfall seems to have gone almost unnoticed? Thankfully both the dust and the amnesia associated with this monumental explosion has begun to vanish and it’s forcing people to reassess deeply held beliefs in fields ranging from the nature of God to the sport of competitive eating. So whether your interests lie in self-awareness or in self-engorgement, this revelatory portal has something to offer everyone.   

 

The very first portal to these parallel universes was accidentally excavated by little Timmy Cratchit when the eager lad was digging at the bottom of a box of Froot Loops in hopes of grasping its buried prize – a miniature Batmobile. Instead of the Batmobile he found something that was well beyond his grasp. Well beyond anybody’s grasp for that matter. Neither Timmy nor his soon-to-be concerned parents expected the 6 year-old to stumble upon the Holy Grail of entryways: a welcoming portal to unspeakable profundity. Read the rest of this entry »

Evel Knevel: Reckless Daredevil or Closeted Vegan?

I’ve gotta believe he partied with Jerry Lee Lewis until Jerry said, “Enough. I can’t keep up with you.”

Answer: Reckless Daredevil of course.

Why anyone would suggest Evel Knevel secretly ate a plant-based diet is beyond me. Although since this suggestion came from me, how can it be beyond me? You think you’re puzzled, think how I feel. And furthermore, is this any way to begin an action-packed story about the daring exploits of Evel Knevel? Clearly I’ve got work to do. First I have to win you back, and secondly I’ve got to write an entertainingly white-knuckled story about Evel Knevel soaring above the earth, if only for a moment, while straddling a fulminating 50 horsepower engine between his legs in a dangerous yet delicate ballet of man and machine. So yeah, I get it. This story would be a whole lot better if it didn’t include my inner dialogue.

 

But the fact that I meander, digress and can’t seem to get out of my own way says more about the author of this story (me) than any of Mr. Knevel’s audacious feats. Sometimes I don’t know what I like more: Evel Knevel or the idea of Evel Knevel. At this point however, I believe the writer of this piece (again, that’s me) does a great disservice to the King of Motorcycle Jumping by continually inserting himself into a story that’s supposed to be about Evel Knevel. So I protest my own presence here (man vs. himself?) and will try to vector hard towards reigning in my ego and dedicating what’s left of this piece to a celebration of Evel’s daring motorcycle jumps – spectacular jumps in which the King shattered numerous records as well as numerous bones. Read the rest of this entry »

“Oh, We’ve Got Your Number Alright”

Just some of the faceless masses toiling at telemarketing call centers. Why not join us and lose your humanity too?

Telemarketers aren’t born. They’re made. But before their unwelcomed intrusions are visited upon our ears, these operators of a lesser God must first be identified and then guided into a hellish life of relentless robocalling. How hellish? Well, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) estimates that 40% of telemarketers have been infected with ATDs (Aurally Transmitted Diseases). ATDs are spread through the unhygienic practice of indiscriminate headset sharing – the predictable result of too few headsets for too many heads. This careless sharing of bodily ear wax, in which the gooey stuff is freely exchanged through unclean earpieces, has forced the CDC to mandate warning signs be posted in telemarketing bathrooms reading: “All Employees Must Wash Ears.” Even with the CDC’s hygienic guidelines, telemarketers continue to contract some very eerie diseases such as Earpes, Syphilears and Mononearcleosis. In some extreme cases, Vegan telemarketers who’ve share headsets with multiple partners, have displayed symptoms of Cauliflower Ear.   Read the rest of this entry »

On Taking Granite for Granted – Stone Cold Stupid

I would imagine that in God’s eyes we’re a lot like dogs: noble and companionable, but let’s face it – cosmically speaking we’re still drinking from the toilet bowl. My particular weakness is my singular inability to look at a buffed granite countertop and simply say, “I appreciate your bright and shiny stoniness.” Instead I become verbose and overly celebratory in my praise of granite.

 

“Don’t take me for granite!”

I’m reasonably intelligent (I’ve never owned a pet rock), but I’m unable to feel just a simple appreciation and normal regard for granite. I fuss over, and am awed by granite. My point is, for whatever reason, I cannot take granite for granted. I’ll grant you taking granite for granted rarely impacts my everyday life and thankfully was not part of my mortgage application – “Mr. Hardiman in the essay portion of our application you seem to imply that you are unable to take granite for granted. I’m afraid your lack of normalcy in the realm of granite appreciation is both unnatural and, in this case, disqualifying. We cannot in good conscience lend money to someone as dumb as a rock.”

 

And the bank would be justified in my exclusion because it’s not just granite countertops I cannot take for granted, but also granite rock formations. I admit I’m so awed by granite that I’ve recently moved to New Hampshire for no other reason than to be in the Granite state.

Well so what. Maybe for you it’s Dancing with the Stars or that caramelized crusty corner of homemade macaroni & cheese that you cannot take for granted, but for me it’s granite. And I’m not alone either. As Abraham Lincoln said about his favorite Civil War general: “I’ll grant you Grant doesn’t take granite for granted even though I hear Stonewall Jackson does.”

***I Knew I Should’ve Kept This as Part of My Inner Dialogue***

However, this is the kind of obscure minutia that haunts me:

 

I worry that if I ever met Dick Cavett, he’d be able to sprinkle our conversation with more relevant Norma Desmond quotes from “Sunset Boulevard” than I ever could.

 

An unreasonable fear? Maybe.

 

My condition has been diagnosed as Normaquotaphobia and I believe I’m its only sufferer. There’s a vaccine for it, but the side effect is it makes you think like Jenny McCarthy.

 

In any event, I try to remain a Big Picture guy. After all, “I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.”

 

And finally, “Tell Mr. Toothpaste, I’m ready for my Close-Up.”

 

We now return you to your regularly scheduled life already in progress.