Monthly Archives: December 2014

Separated at Birth?

Modern Family’s Eric Stonestreet (“Cam”) and QVC host David Venable.

 

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david

Let it Go, Let it Flow

You may have seen one of those DirecTV ads in which Rob Lowe, heavily made up to mask his pretty-boy punim, plays a cable television customer who’s a loser because he’s, well, a cable television customer instead of a DirecTV subscriber. (And Lowe, in all his pretty-boy splendor, also plays a DirecTV subscriber.)

loweIn one of those Rob Lowe-as-loser commercials, he looks at the camera and declares “Fact: I can’t go with other people in the room” while standing at a urinal.

Predictably, but not, a group claiming to speak for people with that particular problem expressed outrage.

Outrage!

As reported in the Philadelphia Daily News,

The ad is in poor taste and ridicules a serious problem, said Steve Soifer, CEO of the International Paruresis Association, which estimates that about 7 percent of Americans have some form of “shy-bladder syndrome.”

“We don’t mind if people have a little fun with it,” said Soifer, a social-work professor at the University of Memphis. “It’s a situation that a lot of people don’t understand. In this particular case, the portrayal is making it look ridiculous, that this guy is a loser for having a problem.

Once again, we see people who are taking themselves much, much too seriously. The Curmudgeon’s is the voice of experience about this one, too, because he’s one of the alleged twenty-one million people who apparently suffer from shy-bladder syndrome.

Actually, while he always knew it to be “shy bladder,” he never realized it had been elevated to “syndrome” status.

Way to achieve, fellow shy-bladderers!

For those with whom he shares this malady, The Curmudgeon offers his own remedy: while attempting to, um, do your business, hum the portion of the Chicago song “Wishing you were here” where the Beach Boys sing back-up vocals while picturing yourself standing in ankle-high water while the surf rolls in at the beach. It almost always opens the dam and does the trick for The Curmudgeon.

December News Quiz

  1. Last week a white police officer shot and killed a black suspect outside of St. Louis because: a) he thought the black suspect robbed a store; b) the black suspect pulled a gun on him; c) it’s been more than four months since the last time that happened and you have to send that message once in a while; or d) he can?
  2. Thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square in Rome to celebrate Pope Francis’s seventy-eighth birthday, and as part of the celebration, many danced a tango because: a) Argentina, where the pope was born, is the birthplace of the tango; b) it’s was a joyous dance for a joyous day; c) they also wanted to celebrate another milestone: the thirtieth anniversary of the release of Footloose; or d) they would have looked absolutely ridiculous doing the Macarena?
  3. Lawyer and professional attention-seeker Gloria Allred told a press conference that she has “literally lost count” of how many women have contacted her about being sexually victimized by Bill Cosby. This means that: a) Cosby’s abuses may go beyond what anyone imagined; b) publicity-whoring really pays off; c) six more appearances with Rachel Maddow; or d) despite her fancy ivy league education, Allred apparently can’t count?
  4. National Geographic reports that elephants may not survive the civil war in South Sudan because: a) the combatants are killing elephants for meat to feed soldiers; b) the combatants are killing elephants so they can trade their tusks for more weapons; c) much of the war is being fought on land on which the elephants typically forage for food; or d) the elephants are being used to fight the war but whenever they try to toss grenades with their trunks, the grenades only go about ten feet and then…kaboom?
  5. When former vice president Dick Cheney told Meet the Press that waterboarding isn’t torture and that the U.S. didn’t prosecute Japanese war criminals for waterboarding after World War II, what he really meant was: a) of course waterboarding is torture and of course we prosecuted Japanese war criminals for waterboarding after World War II but I’m denying it anyway; b) the Japanese did their waterboarding a little differently than we do it, so I’m basing my denial on the thinnest of technicalities; c) when people from other countries do it it’s a war crime but when Americans do it it’s in the interest of justice; or d) 9/11?
  6. After pleading guilty to a federal felony tax charge for hiding nearly a million dollars in business income from the IRS, Congressman Michael Grimm said he wouldn’t resign from the House of Representatives because: a) his constituents knew about the charges and just re-elected him last month anyway, so if having a criminal represent them in Congress is okay with them, it’s no one else’s business; b) that would amount to discrimination against criminals, which is unfair and un-American; c) just because he pleaded guilty doesn’t mean he did anything wrong; or d) really, doesn’t this just make him look more like what the public believes is a typical member of Congress?
  7. The Food and Drug Administration said it would permit gay and bisexual men to donate blood, but only if they have abstained from sex for a year, because they’re still afraid their blood will transmit: a) AIDS; b) homosexuality; c) cooties; or d) really gaudy taste in upholstery and drapes?
  8. The state of Colorado is considering a law to make it legal for people under the influence of marijuana to carry concealed handguns. Supporters of the bill maintain that: a) the constitution doesn’t distinguish between people who are under the influence of drugs and those who aren’t and neither should the laws of Colorado; b) just because someone’s high doesn’t mean their judgment is necessarily impaired; c) it’ll help the state’s tourism industry by helping to attract the doobie-tokin’, gun-totin’ crowd; or d) why do you think they sing “Rocky Mountain Hiiiiiiiigh in Colorado”?
  9. The Italian government levied a $610,000 fine against Trip Advisor, the internet site on which people rate hotels and restaurants, for failing to prevent false reviews. The government really fined the company because: a) every review of every single Italian destination wasn’t given the maximum of five stars; b) it permitted a review that said “Tuscany is waaaay overrated”; c) it posted the comment “Almost as good as Olive Garden” about what is widely considered the best restaurant in Milan; or d) Trip Advisor questioned the legitimacy of a very positive review that said “Mamma Mia, that’s one abbondanza place for macaronis, ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom” about a restaurant in Rome?
  10. Some Republicans in Congress want to reduce the White House budget for Air Force One, the president’s airplane, because: a) they don’t like the president; b) they believe the election of a Republican majority in Congress was a mandate to keep the president in Washington; c) whenever he flies somewhere he says nasty things about them; or d) if he and his Democrat friends are such big fans of spending taxpayer money on public transportation, let him take the bus?

The Name Says it All

Like many communities and neighborhoods, the Frankford section of Philadelphia, not far from where The Curmudgeon grew up and lived for the first forty-six years of his life, has its own Facebook group called “You Know Your From Frankford.”

Allow The Curmudgeon to complete the phrase:

“You Know Your From Frankford” if…

…you see the phrase “You Know Your From Frankford” and don’t see anything wrong with it.

A Message to Readers

He’s not sure he’s mentioned it in this space, but The Curmudgeon works for a small health care consulting company. It’s a pretty dynamic little outfit, and one of the many things it does for its clients is seek help from government, at both the state and federal levels, for a wide variety of things.

And yes, that sometimes means lobbying.

But no, The Curmudgeon is not a lobbyist. No one in their right mind would ever let him speak to a public official on behalf of a client that’s paying good money for professional assistance: he lacks the patience, the polish, and the temperament for such endeavors. As far as he can recall, the last time he spoke to a public official face to face was in 1990, when he was dragged by one of his bosses to a nearly deserted city hall in Philadelphia the day after Christmas to meet with the mayor as part of preparation to write testimony for Philadelphia’s city treasurer about the extent of the city’s financial crisis at the time. This wasn’t even lobbying, it was a writing assignment, and The Curmudgeon was invited to ask questions – but when he did, Mayor Wilson Goode absolutely blew up at him over the questions he asked, and when the mayor finally calmed down he just sat there, smoldering.

If looks could kill, you wouldn’t be reading this today.

And since then, employers have pretty much kept The Curmudgeon away from public officials – and, for the most part, clients as well. Oh, sure, there was the time when The Curmudgeon was doing some human resources consulting and, in response to a question from the CEO of a small company about why his employees didn’t come to him when a certain sensitive problem arose, The Curmudgeon looked him in the eye and said “Because they’re afraid of you,” much to the horror of the more experienced consultant sitting by his side at the time. The client absolutely loved it and called The Curmudgeon’s boss to tell her so, but she was afraid The Curmudgeon had just gotten lucky and was not about to risk alienating a paying client and made sure to steer him clear of clients from that point forward.

Before he started this blog, The Curmudgeon told his employers what he intended to do and said he would write anonymously, so he wouldn’t risk compromising the business. They liked that idea. A lot. The last thing they wanted was for a relatively low-level employee to poison the waters for a paying client – and The Curmudgeon agreed with them. That’s why he told them about the blog in the first place and proposed writing anonymously.

It made sense. There are people in the public sector for whom The Curmudgeon, in this very space, has expressed, shall we say, less than unvarnished enthusiasm, and there may be times when his colleagues may be asking those very people and their friends and partisans to support a law or a regulation or policy change or position that would benefit one of the company’s clients. The last thing the company needed was a political opponent trying to dig up dirt on the company, visiting its web site, finding The Curmudgeon, putting two and two together, and going to some powerful member of Congress and saying “Hey, look at what this jerk from the lobbying firm is writing about you! I say we screw them!”

And you know what they say about biting the hand that feeds you.

Even though he thinks he’s done a reasonably good job of shielding his identity, his employers recently asked The Curmudgeon to strengthen the firewall between the blog and his true identity. The Curmudgeon thinks that’s a reasonable request. After all, he knows which side his bread is buttered on, as another old saying goes.

But the blog, like the show, must go on.

(Good lord, that’s three clichés in the space of three paragraphs. Quick, someone destroy this monster before it clichés again.)

To enable it to do so while also respecting his employer’s wishes, The Curmudgeon will discontinue announcing upcoming posts on his Facebook page as of the end of the year. For those of you who count on Facebook to tell you when something new has been posted, an alternative is to go to the blog, find the little link on the bottom right-hand side of the screen that says “follow,” and hit that link. When you do, a new screen pops up and asks for your email address. If you enter your address there, you’ll receive an email from WordPress, the folks who host The Four-Eyed Curmudgeon, the morning after he posts something new. The Curmudgeon recently tested this and it works just fine.

Or, if you’d rather not, you know by now that seldom does more than a day or two pass without The Curmudgeon posting something new here.

The Curmudgeon – no, for once, let’s say “I” – I appreciate your visits to this page and hope we can continue to get together online occasionally for as long as I can think of things to write about and for as long as you’re willing to put up with some pretty far out there views. It’s a pretty big world, though, so running out of things to write about seems pretty unlikely.

And by the way, if you ever want to use this space to get something off your own chest, feel free to let me know and we can arrange a “guest column” for you.

Finally, just to be sure his vast readership gets this message – just so you know, The Curmudgeon considers any day his total number of visitors reaches double digits to be an excellent day – he will repeat this message every weekend between now and the end of the year.

Again, thanks for your patience and continued support. I enjoy writing for you.

Dylan Sings…Sinatra?

Music legend Bob Dylan is working on an album of songs made famous by Frank Sinatra.

dylan and sinatraCan you imagine?

Can you imagine Dylan singing “My Way”?

“Love and Marriage”?

“Luck Be a Lady”?

Or better yet, can you imagine Dylan singing “Strangers in the Night” when he gets to the “Do be do be dooooooo” part?

The mind reels.

Merry Christmas

Crimson-Harvest-Wreath

Hey, North Korea

How do you like THAT thar cyber-attack!

To Improve Your Memory, Try Some Chocolate

Studying for an exam? Getting ready to make a big presentation? Trying to remember the names of all the people you’re likely to run into at your forty-year high school reunion?

Try a Hershey bar.

Or so says the New York Times, which reports that

In a small study in the journal Nature Neuroscience, healthy people, ages 50 to 69, who drank a mixture high in antioxidants called cocoa flavanols for three months performed better on a memory test than people who drank a low-flavanol mixture.

On average, the improvement of high-flavanol drinkers meant they performed like people two to three decades younger on the study’s memory task, said Dr. Scott A. Small, a neurologist at Columbia University Medical Center and the study’s senior author. They performed about 25 percent better than the low-flavanol group.

chocolateThis is great news for many people, including The Curmudgeon. If it’s true, it may explain why he can remember the names of his second grade classmates, the batting average of his favorite baseball player from 1964, and – unfortunately – damn near every perceived slight he’s ever experienced.

The Curmudgeon has never needed a reason to indulge, and even overindulge, in chocolate. This is only icing on the cake.

Chocolate icing, of course.

In Defense of…Chris Christie?!

Really?

Really.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was born and raised within an hour’s drive of the home stadiums of three professional football teams: the New York Giants, the New York Jets, and the Philadelphia Eagles. Despite this, his favorite team is the Dallas Cowboys.

This is not news. It’s been known by anyone who pays attention to such things for at least as long as he’s been governor, but his passion for the Cowboys received a new level of attention when, during a nationally broadcast game last week between those Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles, the television cameras caught Christie on more than one occasion sitting in a luxury booth with the owner of the Cowboys and cheering on his favorite team.

And Philadelphians were not at all happy.

Former Philadelphia mayor and Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell called Christie “pathetic” and said Christie’s support for the Cowboys reflected an “inferiority complex.”

Rendell also said that

If you are a Jerseyite or a Pennsylvanian and you’re rooting for the Cowboys, it means you’re not secure in yourself and you wanted to root for a team that was a team in your youth that was a constant winner.

Rendell also called Christie a “wuss,” which is now apparently is an actual word, or at least passing for one.

A columnist for the Allentown Morning Call wrote that he once liked Christie but has changed his mind, declaring that “Now, he’s dead to me.”

Seriously, that’s what he wrote: “Now, he’s dead to me.”

Former Philadelphia Eagles coach Dick Vermeil threw in his two cents worth, too.

How about Governor Christie … I was pissed, I’ll tell you that. My wife and I looked at each other. I said, ‘How dumb can a governor be?

Is it worth noting that Vermeil’s loyalty to Philadelphia didn’t prevent him from accepting coaching jobs with not one but two other teams and he coached against the Eagles team he professes to love?

Philadelphia city councilman Jim Kenney tweeted that

Chris Christie is sitting on his very large ass next to [Cowboys owner] Jerry Jones in his box at the Linc. You suck! Kissing Texas ass for 2016. Awful!

And just to be sure people understood how displeased he was, Kenney tweeted again:

Hey fat assed Christie, kiss Jerry Jones’ ass in his box in Dallas. Not across the river from Philly.

That’s a lot of tweets from a public official who, only a few years ago, as The Curmudgeon once wrote, declared that he wasn’t bright enough to figure out how to tweet.

And now, he’s offered proof of that lack of brightness. Can you believe a public official conducts himself like this over someone’s choice of a favorite football team? A football team?

And one of the local newspapers, never shy about jumping on a bandwagon, no matter how stupid that bandwagon may be, published this editorial cartoon:

Christie-1024Aside from the extremely narrow parochialism that’s the specialty of Philadelphia, along with its collective inferiority complex, the perception is that Christie became a Cowboys fan at a time when the Philadelphia team was terrible, the Cowboys were good, and he wanted to root for a winning team. Christie’s explanation of his allegiance, which The Curmudgeon learned about years ago, is far simpler: that when he was nine years old he was so smitten with the play of one Dallas player, quarterback Roger Staubach, that he became a fan of the entire team.The Curmudgeon remembers Staubach well, and he has to admit that Christie has a damn good reason for becoming a Cowboys fan. As an Eagles fan The Curmudgeon hated Staubach but he certainly appreciated him: he was a wonderful player and more fun to watch than ninety-nine percent of the professional football players who’ve stepped onto the field of play in the past forty-five years.

Christie, of course, should have ignored the noise and for once in his life just kept his big mouth shut, but that’s not the nature of this particular beast, so ultimately, he showed the same poor judgment and temperament that confirms that he’s not a guy you want in charge of your country’s armed forces when something bad happens overseas because he’s so clearly a ready-shoot-aim kind of guy. Instead of saying nothing, which would have been the smart thing to do, Christie decided to antagonize his antagonists, declaring that he was going to travel to Dallas and join the owner of the Cowboys in his private box yet again and cheer with him for the team.

Notwithstanding his juvenile (but typical) response to all this nonsense, The Curmudgeon is with Christie on this one. People should be allowed to root for whatever team they want without being called all sorts of vile names.

At least on this matter, Christie’s critics need to grow up. People should be allowed to have their favorite actors, their favorite singers, their favorite flavors of ice cream, and yes, their favorite football teams, without needing to pass a silly litmus test. The people who have belittled Christie – the former mayor, the former football coach, the columnist, the editorial cartoonist, the city councilman, and so many others – are all wrong and acting like idiots. They and so many others who have felt so obligated to express their disapproval over Christie’s allegiance to his favorite football team need to grow up and act like adults.