Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Never Trust a Wrap Artist

They're scary. They have mystical powers. They suck you into their evil purview and trick your mind into doing things and accepting results that no sane person would be sucked over.

Who are these people? Why should you fear them?

Every year, and cunningly do they show up earlier & earlier, as do the rest of their ilk. Frequently, they'll cloud your mind so that your senses will tell you that it's a bunch of innocent little old ladies from the Ectwa Shuffleboard Club who only wield scissors on Sundays. Or, they might mesmerize you into thinking that they are Boy Scout Troop 362436, who've taken the place over because they refused to help the little old shuffleboard ladies across the street to the mall.

Don't fall for either trick. I don't know if these things are even human.

I'm speaking of (I pause to check to each side and behind me) the people in the booth who wrap presents in the mall. Not the ones in individual stores, no; those are store employees. Go on, stroll down to the mall management office (it'll be tough to locate, since they don't want people to know where to file complaints) and ask them who they are. They won't know. "They just show up and say they're from a charitable group, so we give them the booth outside the Sauerkraut On A Stick shop because no one else wants it."

And these are the people who talked you into giving them the Nintendo Wii that you waited in line for two days to get for "a couple of hours", trusting them to actually give it back to you later?

HAH! Don't say I didn't warn you.

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Death to the Oven Vulture!

Thanksgiving, already??

Granted, this is the earliest date upon which it can occur, under the formula devised by FDR when under the influence of too many martinis. In his defense, were I married to a woman who looked like Eleanor, I'd drink, too. Poor guy,many's the night he started an evening of romance (in the dark, of course), only to find out that he'd been slipping Fala, their dog, some overly-deep kisses. I know, I know, that's gross, and surely he could've told the difference if the lights were on. Fala was much more attractive, had straighter teeth and better breath.

But, I digress.

Now, we begin the roughly six-week period from which therapists derive so much damn money the rest of the year. Yeah, everyone's "supposed to be happy", and "it's the holidays, cheer up!". Listen, your friends who seem to be depressed and lonely the rest of the year? Guess what? It doesn't take a holiday during the holidays. It's worse, even though they're doing their best to pretend. Pay them some extra-special attentiondurin
g this time. Invite them to Thanksgiving dinner. Find them a special & individual Christmas present; something you made yourself is especially good. Lots of torrid sex can be great, uh, depending on the circumstances. Like, if you're likely to get caught.

Still, I committed digression at that point, as I did brave the kitchen for the several rounds of cookery. That's right, kids, the Eye Wit cooks! I do theturke
y, stuffing & all that. Since some people insist on having the Thanksgiving meal at bloody NOON, it necessitated me getting up at 6:00 a.m. to get the 18 pound monster stuffed & going. I am emphatically not a morning person; people have died horrible deaths for crossing me before I'm really awake. At least, so I'm told, as I really don't remember much of what I'm doing until I've had that magical 14th cup of coffee (which always tastes stronger). I think I killed the bird a few extra, redundant times just to get back at it. All I know is that is was darn good eating.

Now, in short order, as opposed to SOME people dragging it out for a ludicrously long post, which NEVER happens to me....

I'm not naming any names, but her initials are Mariann Eperjesi.

Let me resolve the issue, the eternally vexing question: Is it "stuffing", or is it "dressing"?

The answer is: Yes.

Both are correct, it simply depends on what you do with it. Stuffing is anything that you cram into the bodily cavities of whatever creature has been ritually slain for your festivities. There it cooks, and then you eat it. I'm aware of all the panicky "warnings" about it. Look, just follow thepoultroon -handling guidelines, and use your meat thermometer to make sure that the center of the stuffing is 160 degrees F, and you're fine.

Dressing can & often is exactly the same preparation (as is the case in Turkey a Bucko), with the key difference being that it isn't crammed inside any part of any animal, until you stuff your personal face with it. It may be cooked one of two ways: One, in a separate baking dish. Two, some few people actually surround the turkey in the pan with it, adding it about a hour before the oven vulture, as we like to call it, is finished cooking. I don't recommend it, as it will absorb a lot of melted fat. OR, it is also "dressing" if you take the portion cooked in the pan, and artfully circling the gloriously-brownedturkle on the serving platter, thus "dressing" the entree. It's all about presentation.

The fact that people in/from New Jersey can't understand this simple concept is not my fault. Any New Englander could tell you, as, you might remember, we invented Thanksgiving. So don't argue with us.

So, it was all very nice, polite, and no nasty arguments. Good thing, because, as I pointed out before, we don't have a basement.

People write a lot about Thanksgiving, along the lines of reminding you to be thankful for all of the good things, the advantages, and especially, the special people in your life. That's certainly a worthy thing to do, and to take the occasion to thank (again, if it's the case) those people who have brought you good times, feelings, and help when you really needed it in the last year.

I'll end with a different proposal: Look back, and think about the times and occasions where did something that made another person thankful. Include those things that you did that the beneficiary might not even know about. But you do. So does God. Think about how good it made you feel to be of value, and to make a difference for the better for someone else. Then, as you do that, you're almost certain to come across times where the opportunity passed you by, or you chose to pass it by. Do it without beating yourself up unnecessarily about it, but learn from it; consider how much more thankfulness in others you'd like to look back at next Thanksgiving.

Then do it. Do those things, take more of those opportunities. The thing about giving thanks is that it's ever so much sweeter when it's a shared experience.
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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Gentlemen, It's Only a Matter of Time

Time is not generally considered a friend by most people; at least, not where their appearance is concerned.

Since most of my fellow Baby Boomers are older than I am, I feel perfectly well qualified to point out how incredibly vain many of them are. The amount of money and trouble being expended on maintaining the appearance of youth is mind-boggling. I'd love to have a piece of that action. Hey, I could become a day trader and flip investments between companies like Revlon, Gillette, Mary Kay, Clairol, you name it! However, that's really stressful and would probably take ten years off my life. Call me crazy, but I'd rather live those ten extra years than look ten years younger than I do and bite it sooner.

Maybe it's cockeyed optimism, or maybe it's a protective defiance in the continuing onslaught of new products that take the degree of astounding excess another league's distance further, all while you're waiting twenty minutes for a prescription. Just sit in the waiting area, it's not safe out in those aisles. You'll be rendered into a quivering mass of insecurity faster than a speeding pullet (which are over in the meat section, but they aren't very fast any more).

You know, one of the worst things about all these glorious inventions is that we CALL them "product". "Your hair's a bit unruly; are you using product in it?" On a technical, grammatical basis, you can phrase it that way.... it's just that it sounds so bloody inane. I'm not totally without some concern for my appearance (in spite of what my appearance suggests); I admit, I have a few "product interests". For instance, I have "combination skin"; it's kind of oily in places, and prone to dryness in others, and manages both in a few spots. Now, I WOULD ask when they're going to come out with a "combo skin" product for men, on the argument that our skin is completely different from women's skin. I'll go along with that to the extent that I'd rather be running my hands over a woman's skin than a man's. Are there such products? Naturally, a whole shelf has evolved (Damn Darwin!); however, the lovely hand-made glycerin soaps (with manly scents, too!) that a friend of mine makes do the job extremely well, so screw that shelf full of $12.00 an ounce snob-appeal tomfoolery. However, when picking up some razor blades recently (as if THAT didn't make me angry enough; see post below), in the "men's care" section, there were THREE new variations of a product I'd never seen before: Towelettes for bald mens heads. Now, granted, I have no grasp of the needs of a bald head, but it seemed a bit weird (other than the one that's a sunscreen). Still, are we so lazy that we HAVE to have them in the form of individually-packaged pre-moistened towelettes? I ask you...

If I really need some moisturizer, I need only ask "Mrs. Eye Wit", or more likely, "Miss Eye Witette", for some of the 641 bottles of moisturizer that are crammed into the bathroom cabinet. If you visit me, do NOT open a cabinet, as it may be the last thing you'll ever do. You will, however, look and smell great.

I DO salute the great advances in sunscreen, uh.... dammit!.... products. Here is a genuine cosmetic concern of mine. I'm white. Painfully white. I'm Irish-American, and so sensitive to light that I can burn in the glow of a 60 watt light bulb. Actually, first I'll break out into an epidemic of freckles, then move quickly to a painful burn, and right on to sun poisoning. All before I even actually leave the relative safety of my 60 watt bulb and go out into actual sunlight. Thus have I generally avoided having unprotected "relations" with the sun for most of my life. One result of this is that my skin looks much younger than most men my age (so bite me, Proctor & Gamble!). However, the problem used to be that good sunscreen only came in the form of a thick, greasy white goo that you had to try to spread evenly to avoid the embarrassing "splotch burns" where you missed. Look, I'm on the "furry" side; all you get when you try to rub that stuff in is a slimy foam that the seagulls will come and peck right off of you. So, whoever invented the quick-drying spray-on gel that is so easy to use & works so well? Faboo work, and I'm happy to pay the $12.00 an ounce for it.

Mind you, I'd initially learned of it from a magazine ad. Actually getting it was another story.

After my first aggravating search for it among the aisle that is now fully devoted to men's "products" of all kinds (and how long is it before they come out with some sort of "masculine hygeine pad" or such? Would they be "brief liners" or "boxer liners"? Will they have both? Would you please not tell me?!), I went to have a word with the grocery store manager. Oh, it's not enough to have this population explosion of "product", they have to include the senseless practice of moving everything around every other day. Things used to be easy to find, but now you have to surf the constantly-being-rearranged "men's care" section to locate my desired sunscreen and, for example, the damn generic brand of aftershave I use, which suits me just fine. So, this somewhat prissy fellow who seems more than a little concerned about his outward appearance (whatever, if you have the patience, money & desire) smilingly pointed to the trendy new name-brand aftershaves. I said, no, I didn't ASK for that, I want the store-brand equivalent of this one here that costs more than twice as much and is clearly made by the exact same manufacturer. Still, he tried to convince me that "these are better and will enchance your personal grooming experience!" I stood my ground, so finally, he stuck his hand way down to the back of the bottom shelf, pulling out what I wanted which was obviously hidden to con me into buying the pricier, more fashionable scents. As he did so, a brown recluse spider bit his hand, as they like dark places where things are stashed away. He cursed me and my pedestrian taste as he went quickly over to the pharmacist for help, but not before stopping and asking me to accessorize better the next time I came into the store.

Stuff like that is so maddening, and creates so much negative energy, that it can make you old before your time. And that is precisely why they do all of these things; sure, it's on purpose! Are you getting old before your time with rage over this mass-marketed idiocy?

Great! That means you'll be buying yet more "product"!

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Terribly Trite & Terpsichorean Tale of Toby

It was a Tuesday.
The garbage cans were emptied. And the baby was thrown out with the bath. Was it an accident? Mr. Pershing didn't think so. "That's the third time this week," he muttered to himself.

Meanwhile, in the fourth star to the left in Magellan's Cloud, known by some as Fresno. But to most of the galaxy, it was called Drachma. Because from space, it looked just like a Greek coin.

A tall man with a tattered newspaper and moose dung on his shoes. This man, by the way, was no ordinary man. He wasn't your average everyday reptile. He was a man of the cloth. In this day and age, meant that he was a pimp. For on this far planet, sex was religion. His name: Gouda Ramirez Fritz O'Henry. An interesting man, yes....

What a pity he has nothing to do with this story.

Meanwhile, back in Pershing's home town (wherever that may be), a faint cry. But no one heard. They were all in church, making love. While a man named O'Henry-- no, that's another story. But back to a fetid dumpster.... Inside, the remains of a cheap dinner party. Empty buckets of the Colonel's chicken (extra crispy) abounded. Crammed into one of those buckets was a small, writhing kitten. (The narrative here pauses for the requisite "Awww!") But this was no mere mundane kitten. This was not Mr. Pershing's kitten. It wasn't O'Henry's kitten (obviously, since he isn't in this story). This was the kitten of Toby, the small and pitiful paraplegic dwarf. A quietly contented man (he was mute) who made a living as a ballet dancer. He played the toad stool in Swan Lake (and excellently, I might add). In secret, he was actually an operative for the Zambezian spy network. Zambezia? That's the third star to the left in Magellan's Cloud. Which is irrelevant, immaterial, fleeting, and has nothing to do with this story (Explanation? I'm paid by the word). His code name: "Toby." His mission: to destroy and seek out (not necessarily in that order) strange new girls; to white out the unwanted Black Plague.

Toby's kitten mewed again and died. The tiny, telltale green stamps apparent on his stomach as the Black Plague made itself known in an impolite fashion. And obfuscatory, too. Toby sobbed, but still had the presence of mind to cut out the green stamps. He knew what he had to do. He went back to his sleazy apartment and did two things: First, he pasted the green stamps in his saver book (he was saving for a new auto-erogenizer. After all, not many girls went for paraplegic dwarf ballet dancers, because they thought they were gay). Second, he cooked the remains of the kitten for dinner. But how? That's a very difficult question. It wasn't that it was morally questionable, nor grossly unsanitary; it was simply that on Drachma, culinary secrets were among those most closely guarded. He picked up the phone and immediately dialed his friend, who was annoyed by being dialed and asked him to use the phone next time. Then it wasn't not now later, but only presently back then when the mosquitos returned to Capistrano, where they bugged the hell out of a lot of sparrows. "Damn Indians," remarked the janitor.

It was time. Time for time. But- did Toby have the time? Would he take the time? Or would he have to buy it? A timely question. So answer it yourself. I don't have the time.

There was one chance, though. Myrna still had the baby. She was giving it a bath, amid his protests that he wasn't thirsty. "Just throw the damn bath out," said the baby. And with that, she did. Pershing frowned for the fourth time, and belched his disapproval. Could it have been that the baby was somehow involved in the spreading of the Black Plague which Toby and Myrna had fathered? And were also trying to escape? To Equatorial Drachma, where they would unwittingly meet O'Henry, who isn't in this story. Or was it all just the result of a mushroom-induced hallucination?

In a small-time bar in Newark, the phone rang. It was the baby. He had the wrong number. And the bartender was very annoyed at having been dialed. Pulling his pants back on, he noticed a wide red lipstick stain on his lover's cardigan sweater. "Have this cleaned immediately," he said. Toby was the bartender's lover. All those girls were right. All right. "All right," sneered Toby, "I've had enough of this fascist dictatorship! You and your crummy Nazi friends are never going to be able to paste green stamps on innocent kittens again! And take a bath, for crissakes." With that, Toby thrust two of his personal appendages through the pinned sleeves of his cardigan. "I'll bet you didn't know I was armed!" he laughed hideously.

"Put them down," said the bartender. "You offend...."
"But I use Orinade No-Plague...."
"You offend...."
"The phone's ringing...."

As the bartender turned, Toby saw his chance. He made a mad dash for the men's room, where he immediately asked one of the urinals out for a date. Pretty good for a mute guy. The urinal said yes, flushing with delight. He hoped Myrna didn't find out, otherwise she'd be pissed off. Scrawled on the wall in trashy handwriting was printed "Sitting Bull goes here" and a phone number, which turned out to be that of the church pastorized by O'Henry, which possibly explained his shoes. This little literary gem was perpetrated by the janitor, who was on vacation from Capistrano. Some of his best friends were sparrows. He was always talking about birds. And since we're on the subject, Toby put his away and gasped, for he had caught himself in his zipper. Which was pretty hard to do, considering it was on the side. All those girls were right. Toby, however, was a dwarf in only some respects.

Meanwhile, in the Knesset, Myrna was worried (Knesset is the second- oh, nevermind. It's not in the- never mind!). Golda hadn't shown up for years; the last anyone had seen of her, she was going to the corner drugstore to buy some bobby pins. What was keeping her so long? Was it international subterfuge, or merely an incompetent clerk? Nobody knew, and nobody cared. Except perhaps for Falawful, who ran the local deli. He needed the bobby pins.

In Geneva, there was a convention of Truffles, which are kind of like the Knights of Columbus or the Kiwanis or some such crap as that. With one notable difference: their noses are broader and flatter. As are their women. They were about to perform the traditional rite of printing green stamps. These, they then sold to unscrupulous Nazis. With the money they made, they amassed the largest stockpile of Lacy Underwear in the Western world. Excluding the edible kind. For as we all know, Luxembourg has that market cornered. The Russians panicked; because Lenin had once said, "In the twenty-third century, no one will ever suffer from the pain and discomfort of jock itch." Did this mean the end of Cossack sex as they knew it? The bartender didn't know, but he disposed of all the vodka he had within two days. He sold it to an unsuspecting widow who thought it was for bathing babies. Until one morning when she was found in a 1971 Toyota, dead, with all of her bodily orifices sealed tight with green stamps. And just because she was a paraplegic. Whatever happened to freedom of religion?

In the Knesset, Myrna sent out for lots of bacon. Golda hadn't returned, but she had already sent a telegram to the king. It read: "Toby armed. Beware. Is in alliance with Walt Disney Productions. Watch out for seven dwarves and some bitch with an apple." Myrna panicked. She couldn't read. "George," she whispered, "that doesn't sound like Golda. It doesn't even look like her. She's a lot fatter and smells like the great outdoors." But before George could answer, the doors to the Knesset squealed on their hinges as Toby swung in, hanging from some very thin piano wire, which promptly cut his hand off. With his remaining hand, he fired several warning shots. Which were ignored. He then fired with all he had, and shot the bird, too. The janitor was grief-stricken. He went back to Capistrano, where he bugged the hell out of a lot of mosquitos. Toby suddenly grew a beard, and started to sing "Heigh Ho." Myrna screamed.

"Golda's warning! She was right! Call out the Truffles!"
"You can't! Switzerland is neutral."
"I know! I've been out with Swiss men!"

By this time, Toby had retrieved his other hand, and, with a sewing kit, did a neat embroidery job on his boxer shorts. This being done, he glued his severed appendage back on, thereby becoming a handyman. Myrna watched in fascination and felt the pulse of the familiar dry heaves that she got whenever Toby did do that voodoo that he did do so well. The fetish didn't even have a name, but Myrna didn't care! Nay, she let her freak flags fly. At this, the peak of the crisis, Golda suddenly arrived, clad only in a girdle and earmuffs. Toby fainted at the sight. As did the rest of the Knesset. Thinking quickly, Myrna pretended to be doing aerobics. Pretty good for one who has just fainted.

George and Golda got married. They had the baby who disappeared earlier in the story. "I understand now," said Toby, "it was you who, through dishonest manipulation, got a great reputation for, you know..." Golda smiled knowingly. She knew. That was how she got her reputation. George was stunned. He left Golda and founded a home for the tragically dismantled and hard of hearing. With Toby, who vowed never to see the bartender again. The urinal was happy, at least when last seen; it had plumb disappeared. Myrna subsequently became a terpsichorean ecdysiast. And the baby inexplicably disappeared, until one dark afternoon, when he was found unconcscious, on a serving tray at a nearby McDonald's. Green stamps lined his diaper, one of the new "Superfund" brand. With nothing else to be done, the police took him down and cashed him in for an iPod Nano. As for the rest- well, who really cares, anyway?

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Best Laid Plans of Lice & Men

It's really going to bug me to say this....

The "9/12" piece & I have been chasing each other for quite a while. I put myself on the spot by saying that it was coming. I still intend to finish it, but my recent work on it had gotten tied in the the upcoming elections; this was a very natural association. However, it is now, technically, Election Day. The version I have now is keyed to be read before Election Day. Heavy sigh.

This is an article that I really want to hone finely, but my chronic migraines are severe and long-lasting. I still have it going, though relief is in sight. I've simply been unable to concentrate enough to hammer and refine it into what I want it to be. This is extremely frustrating, but it's yet another of Those Things That Taunt Writers. Sometimes, the hardest thing is having an idea that is wonderful in your head, and you get that zing and cry "YES! That's great! I can hardly wait to get it down on paper!"

I know... what paper? Don't nag me with details. You know what I meant. Well, except maybe for Linda, and I don't even want to go there.

Well, sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn't. In this case, it hasn't worked to my satisfaction, and I'm not posting it until it does. Yes, I'm still going to work on it; what happens tomorrow, and the results of the election, can still be tied in with my central theme. No, I won't just give up on it. Because I'm really, really stubborn, among other reasons. But, it's just going to have to wait until I'm feeling well enough to do it.

Back to silliness and rant for a while; those are much easier to do.

Meanwhile, talk amongst yourselves. Here's a topic: Who's the worst movie/TV actor of all time, and why?

Don't mind me, I'm just feeling a little verklempt.

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

A Brief Commentary: About Comments

I welcome comments to be added to any posts on my blog. A few things to point out:

-Anyone can comment; you don't have to have a Blogger account or a Gmail address.

-Please don't be discouraged that your comment does not show up right away. I have my settings programmed to 1) Require you to type in the "word verification" code, and 2) They come to me for review before they're actually posted.

Allow me to explain why:

The word verification is a good and protective tool offered by Blogger. Not everyone uses it. The reason that I do is that it's extra protection against automated spamming and hackers. Call me crazy, but I don't enjoy dealing with either.

Why do I review them before posting, and does this mean I'll "censor" you? Actually, I'll generally put any comment through, unchanged, even if it isn't complimentary or says that the person commenting hates everything that I write, and that he/she/it wishes that I'd take up knitting instead. Of course, there IS a limit; I'm not going to allow genuinely offensive comments to show. One reason is that I'm trying (no, really.... you should see some of my other stuff) to keep this site oriented to a general audience.

The other reason.... out there in Cyberspace, there are certain people who find their life's joy by being annoying, deliberately stirring up trouble, and making very personal attacks on others. They have no place here, nor anywhere else; I've no desire to "meet" any more than I have in the past. I had the misfortune of crossing paths with a few involving another site. They did enough cumulative damage that the site in question, a forum, is now all but dead (I will not give names or specifics, even if asked; it's over, in the past, and staying that way). The atmosphere was sufficiently poisoned that most people stopped finding it enjoyable, including myself. What a shame.

Well, I'm not going to subject you or anyone else to that, and I have had bloody well enough of it. So, please understand and be patient; I DO want to hear from you, and I'm sure that other people are interested as well. I usually check twice a day, and I also have it set to send me an e-mail notice when a comment is entered. I'm sorry for the inconvenience, and I will not be reticent to pass on critical remarks; I'm quite content to let my writing stand or fall on its own merits. I can certainly take constructive criticism, and I might learn something valuable. LOL Also, as is evident, these are mostly "casual" stories, off-the-wall rants & such (Though I do occasionally have a topic about which I really want to say something). I do have "serious" writing projects that I'm working on, and they get the lion's share of my attention. This site is here as a pleasant diversion. I hope. It is for me, anyway. Yeah, the posts tend to be kinda long, but I AM Irish, after all.... I can't help it, honest!

You have three options as to how you want the post to show you as the "Sender":

1) You can log in with a Blogger or Gmail ID; in turn, it will automatically include a link back to you, your ID and/or your site.

2) You can log in with some other ID that has an Internet connection. If you have a website that you'd like people to see, this option will also provide an automatic link to it.

3) You can comment anonymously.

Pick whichever you like! You can also e-mail me, if you like, at TheEyeWit@yahoo.com.

I'm glad to say that I've been getting lots of "hits", but few comments. I just wanted to make sure that you all know that the "welcome mat" is out. It's at the top left; it says "Cead Mil Failte". That's in Gaelige (Irish), and it's pronounced 'KAY-ed meel FALL-chu'. It means "One Hundred Thousand Welcomes!"

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