Monthly Archives: May 2012

May News Quiz

  1. Earlier this month, the CIA thwarted another aspiring al-Qaeda underwear bomber.  This latest intelligence success tells us that:  a) the CIA is really good at undercover work; b) someone at the CIA is really into men’s underwear; c) Muslim terrorists aren’t as fond of their testicles as American men; or d) sometimes, Hanes doesn’t make you feel good all under?
  2. France recently elected as its new president Francois Hollande, a man who has never been married but has four children by a former girlfriend of thirty-four years.  This tells us that:  a) the French were too busy drinking all that wine even to notice; b) the French are much more sophisticated about this kind of thing than Americans; c) the French really must have disliked the guy he beat; or d) if he doesn’t go to jail, John Edwards may have a future in French politics?
  3. A foreign policy consultant hired by Mitt Romney’s campaign earlier this month resigned from his position after complaints from the Christian right about the participation of a gay person in the campaign.  This is proof that:  a) Republicans really hate gay people; b) gay people who are Republicans are idiots; c) Republicans would rather receive advice from a less-able, less-qualified person than from someone who knows more but is gay; or d) according to Republicans, only heterosexuals should be permitted to have foreign affairs?
  4. In New York City last week, ultra-orthodox Jews held a rally against the internet.  Their primary objection was:  a) Amazon.com charges $24.99 for their favorite brand of yarmulke, so no free shipping; b) not enough pictures of Natalie Portman; c) Emeril Lagasse’s suggestion to cook Chanukah latkes in bacon grease; or d) recent subscription price increase for “Hentai and Yenta” Jewish porn site?
  5. In response to a question from a constituent about the prospects for peace in the middle east, Pennsylvania congressman Joe Pitts recently wrote that “it is now incumbent on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat” to negotiate a peace deal.  Arafat, of course, died in 2004 and Sharon has been in a coma since a 2006 stroke.  Congressman Pitts’s letter is a clear sign that:  a) Pitts gives new meaning to the word “stupid;” b) President Obama should replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with Shirley MacLaine and attempt to channel Arafat and Sharon; c) Pitts probably needs to revisit his campaign strategy of hoping to get re-elected to Congress by riding Ronald Reagan’s coattails; or d) all of this fuss proves there’s a left-wing conspiracy to cast an unfavorable light on some Republican members of Congress solely because they have no idea what they’re talking about?
  6. Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue recently celebrated their thirty-second wedding anniversary.  It makes one think that:  a) it’s great to see a celebrity marriage that works out for a change; b) Phil Donahue is a pretty luck guy; c) Marlo Thomas is a pretty lucky girl; or d) Donald Hollinger really blew it?
  7. Now that charges have been dropped against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the French diplomat accused of sexually assaulting a New York City hotel maid, he is suing that maid for $1 million.  This suggests that:  a) he really must be innocent, because all of the details will surely come out in a trial; b) he wants to keep his name in the news because he’s still eager to run for president of France; c) he did it but thinks it will enhance his reputation because being a pervert will by no means harm him in the eyes of French voters; or d) he has no idea how much hotel maids are paid in the U.S.?
  8. Campbell Soup has announced that it will raise the prices of its condensed soups five percent next month.  The company is doing this because:  a) it’s not selling enough soup and thinks making it more expensive will make it more appealing to upscale consumers who crave good canned soup; b) it wants to cash in on increased demand in the summer months, when the temperatures climb into the eighties and nineties and people want more hot soup; c) it expects an upsurge of demand when Sofia Vergara cooks a green bean casserole using cream of mushroom soup on an upcoming episode of Modern Family; or d) Campbell executives are mmm mmm dumb?
  9. A Chinese company recently bought AMC Entertainment, the second-largest operator of movie theaters in the U.S.  In the near future, AMC customers should expect:  a) no comedies shown at AMC theaters anymore because the Chinese have no sense of humor; b) no movies with nudity shown at AMC theaters anymore because the Chinese believe nudity in the movies is immoral; c) revamped concession stands:  out with the popcorn and in with new tofu-on-a-stick treats in three flavors – squid, lychee, and oyster sauce; or d) weekly Charlie Chan film festivals?
  10. Facebook’s IPO turned out to be a disappointment because:  a) investors don’t understand how Facebook’s going to make money in the future because businesses are starting to realize that no one looks at the ads; b) it turns out that Facebook’s primary users, fifteen-year-old girls, are still in the Tiger Beat market, not the equities market; c) even high-flying investors think that trying to make money on a business that’s essentially an electronic peeping tom is creepy; or d) investors fear it’s only a matter of time before Facebook crosses the line in invading people’s privacy, a major scandal erupts, and Facebook goes the way of AOL, Alta Vista, and Netscape?

Bankruptcy Laws Favor Businesses, Hurt Individuals (Surprise Surprise)

Big companies declare bankruptcy all the time.  General Motors and Chrysler did it.  So have most of the major airlines:  Delta, Northwest, United, US Airways, and most recently, American.

Sometimes, these big companies aren’t even bleeding so much money that their future is in doubt.  No, they’re just looking ahead and saying that if they keep going the way they’re going, they’re in big trouble and won’t be able to compete.  They’re not actually in a great deal of trouble; they’re just anticipating trouble.

What happens in these bankruptcies?   Mostly, it’s a matter of really big guys stiffing really little guys.  They stiff their vendors, including some very small companies, and mostly, they stiff their employees.  They get to weasel out of fairly negotiated labor contracts, health benefits, pension benefits, and more.  Sure, we’re all happy that GM and Chrysler survived, but they survived by screwing the people who make GM and Chrysler cars.

Doesn’t seem quite fair, does it?

But what about ordinary people?  Can’t they use bankruptcy the same way?

Turns out, not so much.

Turns out, it’s a lot harder for ordinary people to take advantage of bankruptcy.  Bush administration changes in bankruptcy laws make it harder than ever to use bankruptcy to get out from under credit card debt.  Student loans?  Not covered by bankruptcy at all; declare bankruptcy while you have student loans and the loans survive the bankruptcy and you still owe.  Underwater mortgage?  Fuggedaboutit.  Bankruptcy laws specifically prohibit ordinary people from using bankruptcy to get out from under onerous mortgages.

Truth be told, The Curmudgeon doesn’t have a whole lot of sympathy for people who borrowed beyond their means to buy great houses they could never possibly afford.  The same is true for those who piled up too much debt on their credit cards and those who borrowed money for school.  The Curmudgeon admits to being somewhat of a hardass about this:  he believes such people need to suck it up, pay what they owe, and meet their commitments.

But that idea needs to go both ways.  If American Airlines ordered a million dollars worth of widgets from your company, it needs to pay you the damn million dollars.  If your union engaged in a fair negotiation with GM and the company agreed to pay you a certain wage and provide a certain level of benefits, GM needs to pay you what it willingly agreed to pay you.

Robert Kuttner explores the inherent unfairness of how American bankruptcy law treats big business and ordinary people in his article “The Age of Double Standards” in the April edition of The American Prospect magazine.  It’s worth a few minutes of your time, and you can find it here.

Mini-Rumination: Unnecessary Philadelphia-Bashing

Last Saturday, Fox broadcast a baseball game between the Phillies and the Boston Red Sox.  There was some kind of ceremony on the field, and after it, play-by-play creep Joe “It’s all about me” Buck went down to on-the-field reporter Ken Rosenthal, who was surrounded by four members of the military who were in uniform.

When Rosenthal was finished, Buck remarked that surrounded by four soldiers, Rosenthal was certainly well-protected – to which Rosenthal responded with something along the lines of “In Philadelphia, you can really need that.”

Ken Rosenthal is an ass.

Baseball, The Mouth That Wouldn’t Quit, and Hypocrisy

(Fear not, non-sports-loving readers.  This little ditty, not about Jack and Diane, is about a baseball player but it’s not about baseball.)

Curt Schilling, the retired (and highly accomplished) baseball player, has long been a guy in love with the sound of his own voice.  Working in a field of endeavor in which participants normally avoid reporters like they were a groupie with a bad case of chlamydia, Schilling eagerly sought out reporters during his career, freely offering his opinions even when they weren’t solicited.  He even went so far as to call in to sports talk radio shows – something no professional athlete should ever, ever do because no good can possibly come from it.

People who are in love with the sound of their own voice often end up expounding on subjects outside their area of expertise – after all, one can only talk so much about curve balls and sliders – and Schilling boldly went where few active professional athletes before him have gone:  politics.  It’s common among your movie-star types – for an example, see Clooney, comma, George – but not so common among professional athletes, who are carefully indoctrinated not to offer opinions about anything of substance because doing so will alienate some people and hurt your all-important marketability.

But the desire to pontificate was too strong in Schilling – personally, The Curmudgeon can’t imagine this impulse to ascend a platform and preach to the masses – so he enlightened his public about his politics:  he is a Republican, a conservative, a get-the-government-off-my-back-and-out-of-my-life Republican.  He even briefly – and very publicly, of course, because otherwise, what’s the point? – considered running against John Kerry in the race for Massachusetts’s Senate seat in 2008, though ultimately, he chose not to do so.

Fair enough.  A guy’s entitled to his opinion and his politics.  The Curmudgeon happens to be particularly disdainful of celebrities who take advantage of the microphones always at their disposal to tell us what’s good for us – even when he agrees with their politics (Clooney included), but Schilling didn’t invent this practice and it would be unfair to come down hard on him for doing something so many others before him have done.

The problem with declaring your politics so publicly, though, is that it creates an obligation to walk the talk, and this, finally, is where The Curmudgeon has a bone to pick with Curt Schilling.

Schilling is an aspiring entrepreneur:  his business is creating video games.  He launched a company in Massachusetts, but when seeking capital for development and growth, he received a $75 million loan guarantee from the state of Rhode Island and its economic development corporation.  In return, he moved his company to Rhode Island.

Under most circumstances, this would be business as usual in the corporate world.  Every day, businesses seek out sources of financing and every day, state government economic development programs offer them money, tax credits, loan guarantees, cheap land on which to build, and more in the hope that the business will relocate and employ lots of their residents.  Again, business as usual.

Schilling’s company recently had a problem making one of its loan repayments – a $1.1 million repayment, to be precise.  It was regrettable, but again, business as usual:  it’s not uncommon for young businesses to have cash flow problems that cause them to struggle to meet some of their obligations in a timely manner.  At first, Schilling’s company sent a check for $1.1 million but warned that it would bounce; it also asked for more financial assistance (along with the additional Rhode Island tax credits for which it had already applied last year), noting that it had just failed to make payroll.  Two days later, though, it paid the $1.1 million.  (According to the web site Baseball-Reference.com, Schilling earned $114 million playing baseball – yes, $114 million playing baseball – so it’s hard to understand why he had trouble coming up with a piddling $1.1 million.)

But let’s not lose sight of the larger issue – or at least the larger issue in The Curmudgeon’s mind.

Isn’t it hypocritical for a guy who’s been very public about his disdain for government, and who wants government out of his and other people’s lives, to seek out, accept, and take advantage of government programs like those offered by Rhode Island’s economic development corporation?  And doesn’t it follow that Schilling failed to walk the talk and proved, like many others who have gone before him, that all of his words meant nothing, that in the end, he’s going to do what he thinks is best for him, and what he wants, even if it means betraying his beliefs?

Actually, this behavior is pretty typical of many people these days.  They want government out of their lives – but they want special tax breaks for their industry; they want government to bail out their businesses when they screw up royally – but then they complain about regulations designed to protect the public from future screw-ups; they want great schools and local government services but complain about property taxes and the public employees who make a whole $30,000 a year delivering those services; they want government out of their lives but they want it to regulate the decisions their daughters, sisters, and wives can make about their own reproductive systems and what their children can see on television and at the movies; and they want the government as far away from their health care as possible but protest angrily when it suggests changes in their parents’ Medicare.

Come to think of it, maybe Schilling should reconsider that 2008 decision not to run for the U.S. Senate and try it in two years.  As was the case with his distinguished baseball career, he would certainly be in his own element.

Mini-Rumination: Dating and the Language of Love

The Curmudgeon is single, and on occasion, he uses internet dating sites to try to find his true love.  The dating sites are a lot like a smorgasbord:  at first everything looks great and it’s a bit overwhelming, but after a while you start to see shortcomings everywhere.  One of the natural shortcomings is that all of the sites require people to share information about themselves, and after answering the check-off questions, people have to write.

Some people just can’t write.  Some clearly try, others clearly don’t, but the results in many cases are pretty terrible.

How bad can it be, you ask yourself.  Could The Curmudgeon be exaggerating – or perhaps holding others to an impossible standard because he’s comfortable writing?

Okay, don’t take his word for it.  Over the years, The Curmudgeon has held onto some of the incredible prose he has encountered on one site:  Match.com.  And before you think he had to search nation-wide to find all this horrid prose, understand that every example below was written by someone who falls within The Curmudgeon’s personal search parameters, which Match.com permits individuals to establish for themselves.  In this case, the following bon mots were contributed by women who are single, divorced, or widowed – no separated or married women; they are within six years of The Curmudgeon’s age; they live within 40 miles of Marlton, New Jersey, where The Curmudgeon lives; they have at least an associate degree; and they do not smoke.

So here, unedited, are the things women write about themselves in Match.com profiles to convince men they could be the woman of their dreams.

Enjoy

G WOMEN WITH MANY INTREST, That like exercise, ride horse, cook and loves to listen to the rain. I like to travel . I like someone to share this with me.

LOOKING FOR A STONG MAN THAT IS A GENTELMEN. THAT IS KIND AND OLD FASHION. WHO KNOWS HOW TO TREAT A LADY.

i am 52 black i beiive i am petty i have a nices smile and i love to hold hands with my special someone that and to listen to music and to be hold and so one that like to be romance and no how to show there lady a good time and like to go to church and love the lord and like to go to plays ,movies.dinning out music and quite time and going away on trips.

DISNEY WORLD, IS A MAGIC PLACE IT BRING BACK THE KID IN YOU AND IT SO MUCH TO DO AND I LIKE ARUB IT A NICES PLACE TO GO WITH WITH THAT PECIAL SOME ONE.

I am a hard working sexing working person. I love to run my toes on the sand on the beach and also love to dance. I also love to go to dinner and watch a nice movie with a nice looking guy with me on the cough

i would like to meet someone to do things with . its always more fun when you make knew friends

I fellowship with friends and family. Window shop, travel, take up a movie or museum, threatre. go walking in the park an just chill lax in my home.

I Love The Lord And Don’t Mind Saying It. I’m All Woman And Real. Positive Outgoing Sista who Loves To Be Around Positive People. Honest, Loyal, Trustworthy, And Straight-To-The-Point Are A Few Of My Characteristics. I Come With No ACTIVE Baggage, Drama, Hangups, Or Issue. I Love Hard And Serious. I Belong to You and Only You!!! Women Thou Art Loosed!! Men Understand That I Am Already Complete & Delivered!! Just Because No One Has Been Fortunate Enough To Realize What A Gold Mine I am, Doesn’t Mean I Shine Anyless. Just Because No One Has Been Smart Enough To Figure Out That I Can’t Be Stopped, Doesn’t Stop Me From Being The Best. Just Because No One Has Come Along To Share My Life, Doesn’t Mean That Day Isn’t Coming. Just Because No One Has Made This Race WorthWhile, Doesn’t Mean I’m Going To Stop Running. Just Because No One Has Realized How Much Of A Real Woman I Am, Doesn’t Mean They Can Affect My Feminity & Spiritually. Just Because No One Has Come To Take The Aloneness Away, Doesn’t Mean I Have To Settle For A Low Quality. Just Because No One Has Shown Up Who Can Love Me On My Level, Doesn’t Mean I Have To Sink To Theirs. Just Because I Deserve The Very Best There Is, Doesn’t Mean That Life Is Always Fair. Just Because My Situation Doesn’t Seem To Be Progressing Right Now, Doesn’t Mean I Need Change A Thing. Just Because God Is Still Preparing My King, Doesn’t Mean That I’m Not Already A Special Queen. I’ll Keep Shining, Keep Running, Keep Hoping, Keep Trusting, And Keep Praying, I’ll Just Keep Being Exactly What I Already. Am “COMPLETE IN HIM!!!My Potential Mate Has To Be One Who Is SAVED And Loves The Lord. One Must Be GROUNDED In The Word And Manifested In His Walk On A Daily Basic. He Is Beside Himself With Passion. Knows Who He Is And Does Not Need To Be Validated. Someone Not Perfect But Perfectly Suitable For Me. A MAN WHO IS EQUAL IN ALL DOMAINS!!! 3 DEMENSIONAL!!! MY LIFE & YOKEMATE!!!!I believe were all intittled to our own beliefs, but I won’t shove my belief’s down someone’s throat.

I have a dichotomy of interests

Really like to shop put me in a mall and I, can get lost for hours.

Love fine dineing like a salad bar

Now that I started to type this I still can not believe that I am doing this add.

I am a Pollack

fun loving single friend looking for a honest man, who know how to treat a lady ,I have a great sense of humor love to cook ,and fix things around the house , don’t want player’s so if you up for games keep moving ,family is important to me. I work hard ,love hard so if you ready for a real lady step in to my web .

This is all very new to me, so bare with me.

My idea of a great time is spontaneously hoping a train to New York and painting the town or checking out a museum.

You must be a sound sleeper, I have been known to fart in my sleep!

My favorite place to visit locally would be Florida.

Although I have no true affilication to one church at this time, I believe there is one God and many ways to worship Him.

Life is very important to me, and waisting it on senseless dating, is boring.

cooking…is definately not my strong suite

beach2run is looking too meet an althletic freespirted friend too spend time doing outdoor activities, have fun and relax with

Hi. Thanks for stoping bye!!!!!!!

INTELLIGEMCE ENTICES ME AND WISDOM AROUSES ME.

Artsy , messy but classy me , looking for that jazzy, knolgebele and secure personality.

Loving , attractive, inteligent mom.

Its amasing how life actually… makes you stronger.

My fun unloding time is usualy a fun movie or listen to music, which is usualy light classic, romantic sounds of Sara Brightman or Barbara Straisand.

Maybe you understand that A woman can be sexy, funny, dance all night, love to cuddle, and still bare the name of Jesus.

I am not looking for a savor to come along, nor am I that savor either.

I’m at a small technology start up and where many hats.

Yes, you would be honored to have a date with me!

I am an intellegent, funny, full figured woman with no hang-ups or presumed opinions.

I graduated from Wilfred Acamedy in Toms River

Mom and animal lover looking for … mabey, you!!!!!

I am a general assistant manager in a convienient store.

i dont actively practice my religion but would like to.

and I hope you be sincerly, and honest, I like the healthy people, fisical and emocioly too. If you want somenthing especial traied to know

I haven’t read anyhting outside of work related material in the last year but do like a good mystery with either historical references or based loosely on a fictional situation.

I can be a bit of a spite fire at times, I want man who can put up w/ my shit LOL.

My perfect match and i compliment each other and would rather do nothing than be with each other

iwould like someone to enjoy life with. adentuture dancinig time with firiends cooking at home quiet time readinf good  family time enjoy shopping explore new restraunt new cities playing bourd games ammusement rides walk with dog meeting new people home remodeling long talks about life attending school part time listening to music

Experiece the advertures in life!!

I don’t like complicating people and am looking for someone who’s looking for a committed relationship than just a “good time”.

Along with having a relationship, you need to make the time to deticate yourself as I will.

Big, Beautiful and Pleasrious Women!!!!

If u dont like big boned women then get off my profile!!

I am not really into the bar seen

Iam a very loving and secere person, and I don’t pull no punches.

I AM 39 YEARS OLD.. I HAVE 1 SIXTEEN YEAR OLD DAUGHTER WHO IS NOW VERY SELF SAFICANT. IAM LOOKING FOR SOMEONE WHO IS NOT JELOUS OR POSSESIVE.DO TO I AM A MASSAG THERAPIST.I NEED TOTAL TRUST… I AM LOOKING FOR SOMEONE WHO IS NOT AFRAID OF HIS FEELING. AND IT REALLY TURNS ME ON WHEN MY MAN KNOWS WHEN WE ARE OUT OF THINGS IN THE HOUSE…AND PICKS THEM UP…BEING HANDY IS ALSO A BIG TURN ON…IF YOU BELIEVE IN ME AND MY DREAMS.AND YOU ARE PASSIONATE, FAITHFUL, AND FAMILY OREANTED…AND DONT LIKE DRAMA PLEASE CONTACT ME..I WOULD LIK TO HEAR FROM YOU..

I have been in an admininstrative support roll for many years and many jobs and I do love it.

Grace Kelly meets Meg Ryan. That’s pretty much me. Classy and cooky.

I ENJOY DANCING & MUSIC BEING A HUGE INTEREST.

I love to travel out of the country and hope to one day make it to Hawaii.

I’m a christain, who loves the Lord. I’m out going, witty, who has a sense of humor. I’m sentitive, caring and a good listener. I love my quite times and I like going to the movies and out to dinner.

I know that there’s problary more that I can say but at this time I am experiencing a writer’s block

As for clothing I lean towards the sexier side . High heals and tight jeans.

i am a conasuier of coffee… did i spell that right ??

I was bore in Canada (Montreal, Quebec) yes I am Canadian and proud of it, most people who know don’t know it yet.

Sounds a little corney doesn’t it, but I truly believe in “KISMIC”.

I guess you submised I enjoy dancing (slow, 70’s & club).

As a mother of one child for which I am very close to, he would have to be able to be a friend ,not a father to him.

I love riding Harley Davison’s shooting pool Iam very down to earth easy going. Iam not high maintance. Jean’s and a shirt. I can dress up when need! I love the water sailing motor boating car shows doing bike runs watching movies or just sitting by a fire BBQ just love being outdoors! I have to great boy’s 14 and 17 very proud mother. Oldest is national honor roll and my youngest is ab honor roll. Looking for easy going guy who likes the out doors strong but sensative. hard worker willing to try anything spontaneous, adventurous, great sence of humor!

My perfect match would compliment my high strung salesman’s personality. He would make me feel femine and cared for not competetive. He would be interesting with alot of opions, not just ones that agree with mine but his own.

IM A VERY SWEET LADY, VERY HARD WORKER, LOVELY AT ALL THE TIME. SINCERELY ,I LIKE DANCE, SING IN OTHER WORD VERY VERY SWEETT.IM VERY GENEROUSES WITH MY NEIGHBOR AND VERY HELPER WITH ALL THOSE PEOPLES THAT NEED MY HELP. I LIKE TO GO TO THE CHURCH, I DONT SMOKE CAUSE I QUIT AROUND THREE YEARS AGO. I DONT LIKE ANY KIND OF DRINKS. ACCEPT IN ANY SPECIAL OCCASSION.

I’m a outgoing person who loves to have fun. I’m into any winter sports, love to watch DALLAS KICK EAGLES BUTT, I like being around people and quit nights at home. I’m not petty or caddy, I’m very understanding and caring.

 

 

Mini-Rumination: More Cover Songs

Back in February, The Curmudgeon sang the praises of a well-done cover song:  a song generally associated with one person, frequently its writer, that is performed – performed well – by others.  Some songs are uncoverable – the Beatles “Strawberry Fields Forever” comes to mind, or pretty much anything by Pink Floyd.  Some can work well almost no matter who sings them:  a good example is the Bachrach/David tune “The Look of Love.”

The Curmudgeon started out to make a mixed CD or two of his favorite cover songs.  Those intentions, it turns out, were too modest:  when the smoke cleared he had seven hour-long CDs of some of his favorite cover songs.  Previously, he shared the contents of his “Cover Me, Volume 1” collection.  Here are volumes two and three.

Cover Me, Volume 2

1.                  Crazy – Willie Nelson

2.                  Crazy – Patsy Cline

3.                  Crazy – Norah Jones

4.                  In My Life – The Beatles

5.                  In My Life – Judy Collins

6.                  In My Life – Richie Havens

7.                  In My Life – Bette Midler

8.                  In My Life – Crosby, Stills & Nash

9.                  In My Life – Johnny Cash

10.                  In My Life – Rod Stewart

11.                  Alison – Elvis Costello

12.                  Alison – Linda Ronstadt

13.                  Send in the Clowns – Judy Collins

14.                  Send in the Clowns – Bing Crosby

15.                  Send in the Clowns  – Frank Sinatra

16.                  Send in the Clowns – Barbra Streisand

Most people associate “Crazy” with Patsy Cline, but Willie Nelson wrote the song back when no one outside of the country music world had any idea who he is.  Cline does it better.  “In My Life” has always been a great song, but because the Beatles had so many great songs, it often gets overlooked.  Here, The Curmudgeon tries to put it in the spotlight.  If you’ve never heard Crosby, Stills & Nash sing it, it deserves three minutes of your time.  The Curmudgeon has always liked “Send in the Clowns” but also suspects that the definitive version still hasn’t been recorded; someone needs to sing this song without the melodrama and just let the lyrics speak for themselves.  When you stop laughing, try the Bing Crosby version.  For those of us of a certain age who only know Crosby from his Minute Maid orange juice commercials, he’s a real revelation – and there’s noooooooo doubt about it.

Cover Me, Volume 3

1.                  The Look of Love – Dusty Springfield

2.                  The Look of Love  – Nina Simone

3.                  The Look of Love  – Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66

4.                  The Look of Love – Diana Krall

5.                  Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen

6.                  Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley

7.                  Hallelujah  – Willie Nelson

8.                  Hallelujah – K.D. Lang

9.                  Hallelujah  – Neil Diamond

10.                  Hallelujah – Rufus Wainwright

11.                  We’re All Alone – Boz  Scaggs

12.                  We’re All Alone – Rita Coolidge

13.                  We’re All Alone – Frankie Valli

The Curmudgeon thought the first time he heard “Hallelujah” was on an episode of The West Wing.  He was totally taken with the song – at first he thought it was sung by the late Freddie Mercury – but when he did some research, he learned that the singer was Jeff Buckley but the song was written by Leonard Cohen.  Further, The Curmudgeon had owned a Leonard Cohen recording of “Hallelujah” for many years.  Any resemblance between the two versions is purely coincidental.  Leonard Cohen is a pretty good songwriter but a pretty awful singer – one of the worst The Curmudgeon has ever heard – and he does no justice to this spectacular tune.  Buckley’s version is the best, but Rufus Wainwright does a pretty good job on it, too; his version was in the movie Shrek.

Another example of a writer who doesn’t do his own song justice is Boz Scaggs, who doesn’t put very much into “We’re All Alone.”  Rita Coolidge does a very good version, although it may come across as a little plastic and overproduced, but it’s Frankie Valli, of all people, who really hits the ball out of the park on the Scaggs song.  It was hard to find the Frankie Valli version and The Curmudgeon hadn’t heard it for years, but it was well worth both the effort and the wait.

Enjoy – and feel free to offer your own favorite cover songs.

Carol Wright, Dildo Queen

Anyone who has ever made the mistake of ordering something from a catalogue knows what to expect next:  an avalanche of more catalogues.  They’re like rabbits:  put them together and they multiply at an alarming rate.  But when The Curmudgeon’s mother asked her boy to order something for her from a Carol Wright catalogue, he had little choice but to comply.

Even though he knew what was coming.

And come it has:  several catalogues a week from different companies, all offering merchandise at low low prices for which The Curmudgeon has no no need.

The leader of the pack, without question, is Carol Wright herself; the lady is an absolute catalogue machine.  Her company is single-handedly deforesting great swaths of the American northwest.

On occasion – okay, in the bathroom – The Curmudgeon browses through some of these catalogues, and he’s noticed that amid cute little aprons with adorable cats on them and convenient contraptions for storing your batteries and comfy-looking beds for your dog are lots of devices to, how shall we say this, bring greater pleasure to female shoppers.

If you know what The Curmudgeon means.

You see, Carol Wright and her offspring have a thing for dildoes and vibrators.

On page 16 of the Carol Wright catalogue that recently arrived is a pink item bearing the headline “Silky-Soft Sensation” and a promise that “With a flexible bullet top textured with soft nibs, this sexy massager is sure to tickle your fantasies!”

It has nibs.  Nibs!  How could it possibly fail to tickle those fantasies?

On the same page is yet another pink device, this one with two prongs that “features three speeds and an innovative design to stimulate the G-spot and the clitoris at the same time.”

Oh, Carol!

On the following page is a “waterproof rabbit massager” that has “rotating pleasure beads” that “will stimulate you like no other!”

Indeed!

And on the same page, yet another – this one purple.  “Feels like a soft touch,” the ad boasts,” and “feels like real skin.”   Hmmm – maybe discarded foreskins?

But the fun’s not over.  On page 46 are two more items:  a pink number that “bends and flexes” (does the real thing flex?) and another that’s “three times the fun” in a package with “three interchangeable tips.”  Three tips?  Is that so you can find the one that’s closest to your husband/boyfriend/ex-boyfriend or so you can be have a little variety in your sex life while remaining faithful?

To the right, on page 47, are three more:  “Tease your way to ecstasy,” which appears to be a finger attachment/extension; “Pleasure you’ve only dreamed of,” which looks a bit like Gene Rayburn’s old Match Game microphone and is described as a “velvety soft, power-packed massager;” and a cherry red device billed as “experience your wildest fantasy” and boasting of “10 exciting functions.”  Ten?  Ten?  Does that mean it even lights your cigarette afterward?

Carol Wright has a cousin, too:  Dr. Leonard, an off-shoot of Ms. Wright whose catalogue has a slightly more medical orientation.  Even so, it does not ignore the ladies.  Dr. Leonard – Ms. Wright’s ob/gyn, perhaps? – starts the ball rolling on page 26 with a pink device that boasts “experience amazing butterfly kisses,” a $14.99 model that promises to “excite your G-spot” and a blue, two-headed gizmo “with a bendable shaft that’s ribbed to please.”  The following page offers another pink device that features a remote control – maybe you need a friend to help? – and a purple “10-function bendie” that looks sort of like the plumbing beneath a kitchen or bathroom sink.

But Dr. Leonard isn’t done.  On page 42 is a pink number that looks like a wood rasp – ouch – that urges you to “bend it, flex it,” a purple item that will help you “enjoy twice the fun” (how does one measure fun?), and two items on the opposite page:  the finger-extension gizmo from the Carol Wright catalogue and the blue one that boasts of “unbelievable sensations.”  There’s also an ad for Dr. Laura Berman’s “vibrating clitoral pump,” but really, The Curmudgeon neither understands this nor particularly wants to understand it.

So there you have it, readers.  While Carol Wright may appear to be this wholesome purveyor of all-American products designed to make your house nicer and prettier and more comfortable, she really offers much, much more.

She is Carol Wright, America’s dildo queen!

Mini-Rumination: Levi Johnston, Boy Genius

Levi Johnston, Bristol (daughter of Sarah) Palin’s baby daddy, has already shared his physical shortcomings with the world.  Now, he is – yet again – exposing his intellectual shortcomings as well.

Johnston apparently is intent on spreading his underwhelming seed as widely as possible, and according to a recent article in the Christian Science Monitor, he and his latest baby mama plan to name their daughter, currently in utero, “Beretta,” after the gun.

It could have been worse.  Levi’s favorite gun could have been a Luger.

Economists Can Be Pretty Stupid

Economics, we are told, is a science, so economists, by extension, must be scientists.

Right?

Does anyone – other than economists, who appear to be enamored of thinking of themselves as scientists – actually believe this?

Despite what economists claim, we all know that economics is at least as much art as science.  If economics was really a science, economists would have answers.  They don’t.  What they do have are theories – lots of theories.

When a radiologist looks at an x-ray, most of the calls are pretty clear-cut:  “Yep, that’s a broken arm.”  When the cable guy comes to your house because you haven’t been able to connect to the web, it’s there on your monitor, clear as day:  “Hey, your internet is down.”

Not exactly rocket science.

But economists just have their theories.

How do you fix the slumping economy?  “More federal spending.”  “Less federal spending.”  “Cut taxes.”  “More free trade.”  “Stronger measures to protect jobs from going overseas.”  “Do nothing and leave it to the market.”

Theories.

Economists are like Republicans and Democrats, or Catholics and Jews, or those who love Paul and those who prefer John:  their theories have their basis in some school of thought that is, in turn, based on a lot more theories.  There are Keynesians and supply-siders, proponents of the Chicago school and the Austrian school, laissez-faire economists and monetarists, and many others.  Everything they do, everything they think, every breath they take, every move they make, every idea they half-bake, is based on their school of thought.

And none of them actually know anything.  Oh, sure, they know lots of stuff, but none of it really has much value – kind of like a high school science teacher who manages to win $150,000 on Jeopardy.  They just have theories.  A few facts, little real objective knowledge or measures, just subjectivity – art, not science.

If there’s anything more frustrating than the utter uselessness of economists trying either to explain or improve our lot it’s the degree to which they seem divorced from reality.  Many of them work in academia, which no doubt facilitates their isolation from the real world and encourages them to put forth more theories that have little or no value.

In theory, this very isolation could be beneficial.  After all, it should leave them less susceptible to those who would like to influence or even manipulate their research and findings:  politicians, corporate types, ideologues, partisan think-tanks, public opinion, and the like.  On the other hand, it can leave them divorced from reality in a way that calls to mind the movie Back to School in which Rodney Dangerfield plays a successful businessman who enrolls in college to be closer to his son.  Dangerfield, in all his obnoxious glory, sets straight their professor – played brilliantly by Paxton Whitehead, who’s always fun – who presents an academic, textbook case study of what’s involved in launching a business.  Dangerfield disrupts the class by explaining how things work in the real world – how they work in ways that bear no resemblance whatsoever to what the professor is telling his students.

This kind of disengagement from the real world can greatly facilitate economists’ predisposition to stupidity.

Consider, for example, the area of health care.

To most of us, finding better ways to treat illness and manage care is a good thing.  Outside of the drug companies, which fervently want all of us to live long lives punctuated with frequent, chronic, and occasionally serious illnesses, you won’t find much of a constituency for more disease.  In general, we like the idea of living longer and being healthier for more of that long life.  It seems pretty obvious, and intuitive.

But not to economists.  Economists don’t necessarily agree that finding better ways of treating disease is a good thing.  To an economist, introducing a significant improvement in health care upsets what they have come to view as a natural balance.  Cures, to their way of thinking, are a bad thing because cures prevent deaths, which economists count on to slow the growth of health care spending.

To an economist, turning a fatal illness into a chronic but survivable and manageable condition is a bad thing because it requires long-term consumption of health care services at great cost.  Economists want people who contract AIDS to die quickly, not to benefit from expensive drugs that can prolong their lives five or ten or twenty years or more.  They want cancers to be fatal, not to respond to treatments that enable people to live with them for untold years.  They want babies born prematurely to die shortly after they are delivered, not to spend months in a neonatal intensive care unit carefully being nursed to life.  Society is not better off for such advancements, in their eyes; we are the poorer for it.

The convoluted thinking of economists takes other forms, too.  Consider the economist, also a self-proclaimed “foodie,” who offered “Six Rules for Dining Out” in the May 2012 edition of The Atlantic.

Among his tips:

In the fanciest restaurants, order what sounds least appetizing.

Doesn’t everyone?  Don’t we all study a restaurant’s menu with care and then choose the least appetizing entrée we find?

The Curmudgeon would explain the author’s rationale but that rationale is irrationale, so he’ll spare you the silliness.  You can read it, in all its warped logic, here.

But the economist isn’t done.

I also start to worry if many women in a restaurant are beautiful in a trendy or stylish way.  The point is not that beautiful women have bad taste in food.  Instead, the problem is that they attract a lot of men to the restaurant, whether or not the place serves excellent food.  And that allows the restaurant to cut back on the quality of the food.

Right:  because pretty women don’t have bad taste in food but men apparently do.

He also urges us to “prefer Vietnamese to Thai,” even though that would seem to be a matter of taste, but then offers an exception:  “Eat at Thai restaurants attached to motels.”  Read his warped reasoning yourself.  It’s hard to make The Curmudgeon lose his appetite – he’s an eater, though not a foodie – but this guy may have done exactly that.

And these two examples, friends, illustrate why economists can be pretty stupid.

Mini-Rumination: The Four-Dollar Cupcake

The Curmudgeon has a weakness for cake, especially chocolate cake, so he visited a neighborhood bakery this past weekend and noticed cupcakes in separate display cases.

“Is there a difference?” he asked, expecting the woman behind the counter to note that one of the cases held sugar-free cupcakes, or perhaps gluten-free or even kosher cupcakes.

“The ones over there are gourmet cupcakes,” she replied, pointing to one of the cases.

In subsequent conversation, The Curmudgeon learned that the gourmet cupcakes cost four dollars apiece.

“Four dollars!” he exclaimed to himself.  “Four dollars for a cupcake?”

And then, another thought:  For four dollars, that cupcake better come with a reach-around, too.