Monthly Archives: March 2013

Sex is No Longer An Emergency

Back in the days of yore, when The Curmudgeon enrolled in college, he attended a local (Philadelphia) school at which most of the students resided in dorms.  The Curmudgeon, however – never one to do things the easy way – was attending as a commuter.  The university wanted all freshmen on campus for a few days for orientation, however, so commuting students were invited to pack a bag and stay for a few days in fraternity houses scattered throughout the large urban campus.

So they gathered at the student union building, where they were shepherded into a large room where a number of speakers addressed them about various aspects of undergraduate life at an enormous (and, it turned out, utterly soulless) university.  While they listened they were handed a plastic bag full of goodies, such as campus maps, coupons for stores on and around campus, information about university athletic facilities, and more.  One of the items in this bag was a small book titled Sex is Never An Emergency.  The Curmudgeon, a virgin at the time, was fascinated and couldn’t wait to give it a whirl because the need to have sex was fast reaching the emergency level for him.

But the fates intervened.  During the complex logistical process of getting commuters to their frat houses, The Curmudgeon kept his eye on his suitcase but was somehow separated from his plastic bag of goodies – including, of course, Sex is Never an Emergency.  For many years The Curmudgeon enjoyed telling the story of freshman orientation, his separation from his plastic bag of goodies, and his now-ingrained belief that, absent the wisdom no doubt imparted by that book, sex was still, in fact, an emergency for him.

Last Saturday The Curmudgeon attended a used book sale at a public library about a twenty-minute drive from the scene of that fateful freshman orientation.  This particular public library, which shall remain nameless because The Curmudgeon has already written enough bad things about Cherry Hill, New Jersey – oops – bills such events as “semi-annual used book sales” even though they’re held quarterly.  He invites his elderly mother and younger sister to join him and they make an afternoon of it (The Curmudgeon’s is not a particularly exciting family).  Anyhow, as The Curmudgeon explored table after table of used books that well-to-do suburbanites had purchased and discarded – there’s usually an entire table of The DaVinci Code – there, sitting in one of the piles, was a copy of Sex is Never an Emergency.  (Mom, bless her heart, smiled when she saw the book; she remembered the story.)  The Curmudgeon eagerly snapped it up, took it home, and devoured it in a single, non-lascivious reading.

So now, just thirty-eight years after he first laid eyes on it, The Curmudgeon has finally read Sex is Never an Emergency and finally understands why sex is never an emergency.

Now if only someone could explain to him why sex is such a rarity.

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Pope Geezer I

What kind of organization selects a seventy-six-year-old guy as its new CEO?

Just wonderin’.

The Curmudgeon Video of the Week: The Coolest First Lady Ever

This is a new feature of The Four-Eyed Curmudgeon:  every Saturday he will present one of his favorite YouTube clips.

He hopes you like them, isn’t overly concerned if you don’t, and welcomes suggestions for future installments of “The Curmudgeon Video of the Week.”  (But “TED” clips are not welcome.)

The first clip is about our First Lady.  Love her or loathe her, Michelle Obama is by far the coolest of our First Ladies – even cooler than Dolly Madison, who launched her own brand of ice cream.

The Curmudgeon would like to see Barbara Bush, or even Laura Bush, try THIS.

See for yourself here.

But Where’s Lucy?

Baseball is a very big deal here in Philadelphia these days.  Even spring training baseball – games that don’t even count – is a very big deal in Philadelphia these days.  The Curmudgeon should know:  he’s attended Phillies spring training in Clearwater, Florida on a number of occasions over the years.

Okay, so the lure of lying on a beach in March is at least part of the draw.

Baseball’s spring training is such a big deal in Philadelphia, in fact, that KYW radio, an all-news radio station, hires a special correspondent to file several reports every day on the players, the games, and the eternal optimism that fills every baseball fan’s heart at this time of year.

This special correspondent, whose regular job is as a member of the team’s Spanish-speaking broadcast team, has a big, booming, clear voice and a penchant for superficiality and cliché – normally not good qualities for a reporter but just right for a radio station that has built its reputation on superficiality and also probably appropriate for this time of year when every team starts off the season with the same record and the same theoretical chance of winning the World Series.

But when this particular correspondent signs off on his latest report, The Curmudgeon always breaks out into a big smile as the man booms, “In Clearwater with the Phillies, this is Ricky Ricardo for KYW news radio.”

Ricky Ricardo!  How can you not picture the smiling, broad-shouldered, much-beleaguered Desi Arnaz and how can you not wonder whether Lucy is trying some sneaky way of getting into his report?

Ricky Ricardo!

Reverse Gun Control

In the wake of the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, gun control is on the minds of a lot of people these days.  The Curmudgeon is a bit ambivalent:  he thinks that other than police officers and legitimate, licensed hunters, no one has any reason to own or possess a gun under any circumstances.  While not exactly a constitutional scholar, The Curmudgeon’s reading of the constitution is that it guarantees the right to bear arms for citizens who are members of a government-endorsed militia.

Seen any government militias lately?

Still, The Curmudgeon recognizes that if you make it impossible to buy guns through legal means, the bad guys will still find a way to get them and then it will be the armed bad guys versus the unarmed good guys.  It’s not a problem that lends itself to easy solutions.

But the real gun nuts are not giving the issue nearly as much thought – or perhaps we should say not nearly as much intelligent thought.

The Curmudgeon says this because into the fray rides Pennsylvania state representative Jeff Pyle, who clearly is in the “put guns in the hands of everyone” camp with his new proposal to establish one day every year on which Pennsylvanians not only can buy guns but also can buy them without paying any sales tax.

In other words, make it easier, not harder, for people to get guns.

According to the online publication PA Independent,

Pyle said his legislation could be a way for Pennsylvania to get their attention as a “Second Amendment-friendly” state.  “I’m throwing a flare into the air and telling them we’re open for business,” Pyle said.

Wonderful.  It’s not bad enough that Pennsylvania has its own gun nuts.  Now, Rep. Pyle wants to invite other gun nuts to the state – to throw his flare into the air, whatever that means.

That’s Representative Jeff Pyle of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania – you know, the “Pennsyl-tucky” part of the state.

Seems more like Gomer Pyle to The Curmudgeon.

Still Racist After All These Years

Back when Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, it recognized that opposition to those rights for black people was so deeply entrenched in some parts of the country that it decreed that before certain states, counties, and towns could change any of their major voting laws, they first had to receive approval for such changes from the U.S. Justice Department, which was given the authority to veto such proposals if it thought they would limit access to the polls.  Congress has reauthorized the law on numerous occasions, most recently in 2006.

That was a pretty good solution to a problem fifty years ago, but surely things are better in those places now, right?  At least, enough so that maybe it would be appropriate, finally, to eliminate the unusual restraints Congress placed on selected parts of the country.

The people who run Shelby County, Alabama certainly think so, and they sued for exactly that:  the freedom to change their own voting laws without any interference from the federal gov’mint.  Their challenge is now under consideration by the policy enforcement arm of the Republican Party, formerly known as the Supreme Court of the United States.

But while this case awaits official review, there are troubling signs that maybe it’s not quite time to loosen the chains on those restraints just yet.

This unusual congressional directive covers parts of North Carolina, a true part of the deep South.  According to the magazine The American Prospect, North Carolina has implemented a number of changes over the past decade to liberalize voting laws, and these measures have inspired a significant increase in the state’s voter turnout.  Among other improvements, the state added early voting, increased its number of polling places, and introduced same-day voter registration.  But when Republicans took control of the state legislature in 2010 they quickly passed  a strict voter ID law, which the state’s Democratic governor just as quickly vetoed.

Last November, Republicans won the governor’s mansion in North Carolina for the first time in twenty-eight years and also secured a super-majority in both chambers of the state’s legislature.  According to The American Prospect article “What we lost in 2012,”

Voter ID, in some form, is now sure to pass.  The day after the election, Republican lawmakers were guaranteeing it.  They plan to roll back some of the state’s liberal voting laws as well.

So maybe, just maybe, like a teenager whose curfew has just been extended from ten o’clock to eleven and who comes through the door at 11:15 the first night under the new rules, North Carolina and the other areas that were placed under special restraints because of their long history of abuse aren’t quite ready for the new responsibilities they now seek.  Maybe it would be in the best interests of the residents of those states, and the entire country, for the Justice Department to continue keeping a close parental eye on them for another ten, twenty, or fifty years.

Campaign 2013: Passionately Pursuing the Papacy

Contrary to what has been rumored, The Curmudgeon can definitively report that an unnamed but apparently prominent French candidate for pope has not, in fact, hired Republican political strategist Karl Rove to raise dark money and run his campaign for the Catholic Church’s top post.

“That guy couldn’t win his way out of a confessional booth these days,” explained one of the candidate’s allies.

On Second Thought…

So where were we?

Oh, yes:  The Four-Eyed Curmudgeon returns!

No, not by popular demand; this blog has even fewer readers than Charlie Rose has viewers (by the way:  Charlie Rose and a late-night time slot is a dangerous combination, don’t you think?  It should make the people who earn a living selling sleeping pills very, very nervous).

And no, not because all that short story writing The Curmudgeon stopped blogging to pursue didn’t pan out.  In fact, it’s going exceptionally well:  complete first drafts of three new stories, one older story finished, one older story started three years ago now ninety-nine percent finished, and one older story on which he’s had three false starts now nearly through its first truly complete draft.

And no, he didn’t miss you.

Sorry.

Instead, what The Curmudgeon found was that as he read newspapers and magazines and watched television and occasionally even talked to people – something he doesn’t really do that often – he kept coming upon things that made him think “That would be a really interesting thing to write about in my blog.”

Only there was no blog, and those ideas just seemed to bounce around in his brain with no way to escape.

So he’s back.  Kind of.

Same blog, same attitude, but a slightly different approach.

In deference both to his desire to blog with some degree of regularity and his interest in continuing with the short story writing, The Curmudgeon hopes to post new entries several times a week.  These new items, though, will be more along the lines of the “mini ruminations” that characterized this space in the past.  The longer pieces, he suspects, will be few and far between and will typically be mini-ruminations on steroids (that, by the way, happened the first time around, too:  something would start out intended as a mini-rumination and a half-hour later The Curmudgeon would look up and he’d have 800 words).  The point is to enjoy this form of expression without it consuming too much time, getting in the way of the short stories, or taking over an entire curmudgeonly life.  Balance, gentle readers:  The Curmudgeon is hoping to strike a new, better balance than he did in the past.

The monthly news quizzes, for which The Curmudgeon never received even one piece of positive feedback, will resume because he loves writing them and this is, after all, his blog and he’ll news quiz if he wants to, news quiz if he wants to…

It’s good to be back.

Okay, so maybe The Curmudgeon did miss you.

But just a little.  Don’t let it go to your head.