Monthly Archives: December 2016

Greetings of the Season

The Curmudgeon would like to wish his readers a happy Chanukah (there are many ways to spell this word but this is the ONLY acceptable way), a Merry Christmas, and a happy new year.  He also would like to thank you for stopping by occasionally and reading his sometimes rational and sometimes not-so-rational ravings.   He will return on January 2.

menorahwreathhappy-new-year-party-images

Follow Up on Utah and Porn

A few weeks ago The Curmudgeon wrote, with an appropriate dose of condescension, about how the state of Utah had declared pornography to be a public health crisis.

Because it’s just a silly idea.

But that declaration was just a resolution, just words, that didn’t really mean anything.

But now the folks in Utah are putting their money where their mouth is.

Okay, just a little money.

The Salt Lake City Tribune explains.

Tucked into the back pages of Gov. Gary Herbert’s $16 billion budget is a request for $50,000 to fund statewide anti-pornography efforts…

The request… would grant the money to the Utah Coalition Against Pornography, a private nonprofit group that hosts annual conferences and conducts seminars on preventing children from seeing pornography and helps spread information about recovering from pornography addiction.

“I am already on the record that pornography is a public-health issue,” Herbert said. “This effort is an effective way to empower parents with practical methods to protect their families from the dangers of pornography.”

Pamela Atkinson, board chairwoman for the coalition and a close adviser to Herbert on homeless and poverty issues, said the funding will enable UCAP to hold seminars in schools around the state and expand its annual conferences and educational mission.

“The bottom line is that the incidence of pornography is growing despite all the efforts of so many people in the world and around the country,” she said. “[The money] is needed for educating the public and parents in terms of what we can do and what resources are available”…

 …Atkinson said that pornography is pervasive and damaging. She cites studies that said 93 percent of boys and 61 percent of girls see pornography online during their adolescence and those who view pornography are more likely to participate in risky sexual behavior and have a greater risk of sexual abuse.

And pornography opponents contend that pornography users are less likely to get married, less satisfied with their marriage and more likely to engage in extramarital affairs. 

“Marriages are being destroyed by these addictions to pornography,” Atkinson said. “There’s a lot of evidence of that.”

Sheesh.

 

 

Sore Losers

The Jill Stein people demanding a recount? Sore losers.

The people trying to get electoral college voters in states Donald Trump won not to vote for him when the electoral college does its thing? Sore losers.

Conservatives who expressed outrage over the direction Barack Obama was taking the country and formed the tea party less than 60 days after Obama took the oath of office? Biggest sore losers ever.

Until now.

Until North Carolina.

In a major surprise, a Democrat was elected governor in North Carolina, a state long dominated by Republicans – and Republicans had no intention of accepting the will of the people in turning over leadership of their state to anyone other than a Republican.

As the New York Times reports,

After calling a surprise special session, Republican lawmakers who control the General Assembly introduced measures to end the governor’s control over election boards, to require State Senate approval of the new governor’s cabinet members and to strip his power to appoint University of North Carolina trustees.

Republicans also proposed to substantially cut the number of state employees who serve at the governor’s pleasure, giving Civil Service protections to hundreds of managers in state agencies who have executed the priorities of Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican.

What a way to treat the will of the people – by subverting it.

Talk about sore losers.

“Instant-On” Television

Those of us of a certain age no doubt recall the days when, if you wanted to watch television, you had to get up from your seat, walk up to the television set, and turn a button. That turned on the television, and then you returned to your seat.

And waited.

Eventually, after around 30 seconds, or maybe a little more, especially when the set was a little older, the television would go on and you’d have a picture.

Another thing of the past: the expression "Don't touch your dial. We'll be right now." Now, they don't even have dials.

Another thing of the past: the expression “Don’t touch your dial. We’ll be right back.” Now they don’t even have dials.

But then came “instant-on” television and as soon as you turned that button, and later when you started using a remote control device, the television was “on,” picture and all, virtually instantly.

Hence the term “instant-on.”

And it was a wonderful thing, a seemingly miraculous thing, presented as a major selling point in all advertisements for new televisions, that as soon as you turned on the television it actually, completely went on, as instantly and as predictably as a light switch.

So what happened?

Today, many televisions, maybe even most, are no longer instant on. Instead, you hit your remote – The Curmudgeon’s not sure he knows how to turn on his television manually and he has no idea what he’d do if the remote didn’t work – and there’s a delay. Sometimes there’s more than one remote (and The Curmudgeon knows of one household where there are four remotes: one to turn on the television, one to activate the programming provider’s box, one to turn on Apple TV, and a fourth just for sound volume). In the case of his television, and he’s seen it with others, after that delay the brand name of the television appears on the screen, then there’s another delay, and only then, a few seconds later, does a picture appear. He knows of one home he visits that uses Verizon Fios as its programming provider and every time the television is turned on it has to “detect” a signal before a picture appears.

Obviously the world has much bigger problems than television sets that don’t instantly produce pictures, but you have to wonder: why did an entire industry abandon what it had so vigorously promoted as a major advancement just 30 or so years ago? Why the backsliding? Why is it no longer capable of giving us instant pictures even thought today’s televisions are far more sophisticated than they’ve ever been?

The Curmudgeon would go on but he’s been writing this as he sits in front of his television, the picture has finally gone on, and Minnie Driver is as adorable as ever in that new show about the kid with cerebral palsy and he wants to watch.

Only in America

In a presidential debate in 2011, then-Texas governor Rick Perry, asked to name any federal agencies he would abolish if elected president, drew a blank on one of those agencies. Later, he explained that he meant to say the Department of Energy.

He said he would abolish that department if elected.

Last week President-elect Trump nominated Perry to run the department that just a few years ago Perry said shouldn’t even exist.

Is this a great country or what?

A Christmas Gift Wish List

Still haven’t completed your Christmas wish list yet? Well time’s a’wastin,’ readers, so The Curmudgeon is here to offer some suggestions, courtesy of two catalogues that landed in his mailbox recently: one from Brookstone and one from Hammacher Schlemmer.

These catalogues have one very important thing in common: they’re full of marginally interesting gizmos that nobody needs but enough people with enough disposable income apparently treat themselves to often enough to keep these companies in business. (A sad note: there’s generally a third catalogue in this category but in four honeymoon-associated flights – seriously, do airlines not fly directly anywhere anymore and do they really believe there’s logic to flying from Florida to Philadelphia via a 1200-mile detour for a stopover in Detroit? – there was nary a sign of the equally frivolous Sky Mall catalogue. Its loss was felt deeply, but we’ll have to carry on in its absence.)

So first to Brookstone, which is very gizmo-oriented, starting with pages of drones – no, that’s not a reference to your boss – including, for $129.99, the smartphone-controlled “Expedition Drone” with which you can

Use your IOS or Android phone or tablet to explore the skies!

Or perhaps your neighbors?

Expedition App makes the drone easy to fly, and the built-in 720p HD camera automatically records and streams flight videos to your device – no SD card required!

Well, if no SD card required!

But there’s more:

Fly up to 196 feet for up to 8 minutes between charges. Includes 8 spare rotors.

Apparently those rotors don’t last very long.

The Curmudgeon thought he was just cracking wise about using the drone to spy on your neighbors but that may be exactly what the Brookstone folks have in mind because another product is the “Rover Revolution Wireless Spy Vehicle.”

Forget the CIA's multi-billion-dollar budget. All it needs to do is order a few of these babies.

Forget the CIA’s multi-billion-dollar budget. All it needs to do is order a few of these babies.

Yes, a spy vehicle, which the Brookstone people tell us

Goes anywhere. Sees everything.

Everything! Hubba-hubba!

Rotating turret-style camera streams and records mission videos.

Mission videos!

But there’s more:

Also has night vision, 2-way audio and LED lights.

Yours for $199.99.

If you’ve got a little more disposable cash you may prefer the new “Citybug2 Electric Scooter”:

Faster than walking and better for the environment than driving, Citybug2 is a cleaner, greener way to get around!

These Brookstone people clearly have a thing for exclamation marks.

Intuitive Push/Pull operation with Step2Stop rear brake. Travels up to 11 mph. Battery lasts up to 12 miles per charge. Folds up easily to stash anywhere.

And it can be yours for only $799.

!

Promises everything short of a happy ending.

Promises everything short of a happy ending.

Is that all too…active for you? Do you prefer more sedentary gift wish fulfillment? If so, Brookstone is there to help you relax with its “ReAct Shiatsu Massage Chair,” which it describes as

Soothing, deep-kneading Shiatsu massage from your back to your thighs.

Implicit: and those fun parts between your back and your thighs as well.

All this pleasure can be yours for the low-low price of $599.

And if your heart’s set on even more passive entertainment, consider Brookstone’s “200-Lumen Wireless Mobile Projector,” which

Wirelessly connects to your device and projects images up to 100 inches! Perfect for presentations, movies, and more.

For those of you with 100 inches of virgin wall space in your home.

But if these items are too expensive for you, how about some of those great Brookstone gizmos, like the $49.99 “Aperto Auto-sensing Bottle Opener”:

Simply place opener over a bottle, and it automatically senses and removes the cork.

And apparently adds an unnecessary comma in the process.

Guaranteed to be fun for up to 60 minutes.

Guaranteed to be fun for up to 60 minutes.

Remember Tom Hanks dancing chopsticks in the movie Big? Now you can do that in the privacy of your own home with help from the folks at Hammacher Schlemmer and their “World’s Largest Toe Tap Piano.” It’s eight feet long, and The Curmudgeon absolutely dares you to still be interested in playing this “piano” after its first hour out of the box.

Try it – only $79.95, which is apparently Hammacher Schlemmer’s going rate for one hour of pleasure.

Well, it’s cheaper than a hooker.

Wanna get ready for the chip-on-its-shoulder Trump administration? What better way than with a remote-controlled Abrams tank for $259.95?

Not Christmasy enough for you? How about a 15-foot inflatable Rudolph for $399.95, a five foot illuminated snowman totem pole for $799.95, a light show snowman for $319.95, a five-foot animated juggling snowman for $129.95, a six-foot animated holiday locomotive for $249.95, or a four-foot lighted musical animated nutcracker for $499.95?

Of course, Hammacher Schlemmer is best known for gizmos that sound interesting and even a little cool but that absolutely no one needs, like…

The “Password Vault” – a device for storing all of your passwords: $49.95.

Because that’s exactly what we’re all looking for these days: another electronic device that does just one thing.

For your own version of beach blanket bingo. (Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon not included).

For your own version of beach blanket bingo. (Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon not included).

“The Only Six-Person Sandless Beach Mat”: $149.95.

Because we all spend $150 on a beach blanket now instead of using the 20-year-old blanket we stored away in the hall closet in 2009.

An outdoor heated cat shelter. Isn’t your cat worth $129.95?

Okay, your cat isn’t worth $129.95? Then how about the warming cat bed, only $69.95 (but don’t be surprised if your cat thinks you’re cheap).

Wine glasses with bent stems (“mirthful,” they call it): two for $24.95.

“The Superior Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner,” because a rag and a little water just won’t do, $99.95.

A tinnitus relief wand, just $89.95.

Because who needs an otolaryngologist?

A heated shaving lather dispenser, $39.95. They had these gizmos in the 1970s and The Curmudgeon’s father had one, although it was of no use to his son because The Curmudgeon didn’t need to shave in the 1970s. Dad eventually passed it down to his son, who learned that finding the special canisters of shaving cream you needed to use it was very difficult, and the shaving cream always came out smelling like lighter fluid. A better solution: toss your can of shaving cream into a sink full of hot water for three minutes (no charge).

“The Personal Towel Warmer” – $89.95.

“The Only Bluetooth Shower Mirror Radio” – because as Sheldon once told Penny, everything is better with bluetooth – only $99.95.

“Tap-a-Tune Musical Gloves” – seriously. $39.95.

A hand reflexology massager for only $129.95? The Curmudgeon already owns a hand massager: it’s his other hand.

Anyone who needs this may be too lazy to breathe.

Anyone who needs this may be too lazy to breathe.

“Spinning Spaghetti Forks” for $29.95: because nobody twirls their own spaghetti these days.

A special $79.95 hair brush for men with thinning hair? Whoops, too late for The Curmudgeon.

An indoor flameless marshmallow roaster ($69.95)?

Oh, what’s that you say? You had a really, really, REALLY good year at work and are prepared to spend more serious money than usual on Christmas trinkets? You’ve come to the right place because Hammacher Schlemmer is there to be of service with a few more…costly goodies.

Like…

An all-terrain hoverboard for $699.95 (spontaneous combustion fires not included).

If you're ever tempted to buy this, just...make a contribution to a worthy cause instead.

If you’re ever tempted to buy this, just…make a contribution to a worthy cause instead.

The world’s largest kit cat clock:

This is the world’s largest version of the classic animated Kit-Cat Clock. With its swiveling eyes and swishing, curled tail, the iconic clock…

Okay, you know they’ve got The Curmudgeon’s attention if the clock is iconic

…has added kitsch to American kitchens and diners since 1932.

Yours for $4000 and guaranteed to satisfy your appetite for kitsch.

Also for only $4000, the “Virtual 60-Game Pinball Arcade.”

This is the arcade cabinet that features over 60 different variations of virtual pinball. Available only from Hammacher Schlemmer, the machine provides a library of pre-installed virtual pinball games, each with its own immersive 3D environments that include animated characters, flippers, bumpers, and ramps. A lightsaber launches the ball in Star Wars: A New Hope, flippers and a digital pinball fight a queen Xenomorph in Aliens, and a patriotic superhero seeks out the cosmic cube and spars with the Red Skull in Marvel’s Captain America. Its 32″ LED playfield faithfully reproduces the hallmarks of a classic pinball cabinet with the atavistic details of their mechanical predecessors using razor-sharp 1080p high-definition. The machine also downloads over 60 classic arcade games, corresponding with its outward physical characteristics of a retro arcade game, including an OEM-style coin door (but without the need to be constantly fed with quarters). Its two coaxial speakers reproduce authentic sounds, including the clack of solenoids, the thunks of flippers, bells for scoring, and the occasional vocalizations by a game’s characters. White glove delivery.

Well, for $4000 it should be white glove delivery, shouldn’t it?

The “23-Acre Wild West Town Amusement Park.”

Say what?

This is the fully operational town that pays homage to the Old West with 23 acres of sarsaparilla and sage-brushed themed amusements. Built in northwestern Illinois in 1979, Donley’s Wild West Town includes 14 buildings with two residences, offices, a warehouse museum, restaurant, convention hall, and a commercial kitchen.   Ideal for children between 3 and 11 years old, the park includes a working junior-sized steam locomotive that takes children for rides on its own railway, a 12-person silver mine-themed roller coaster, and handcrank-powered cart track, and a carousel centered in the town square. Covered wagons, rail fences, hay bales, and water barrels set the mood for pony rides, panning for gold, or plinking at targets at the slingshot range. The park’s buildings – saloon, jail, smithery, livery and more – have facades that evoke the romance of the period, from which issue a host of rascals that perform a daily cowboy show (live actors not included)…

Just remember what happened to Kim Basinger when she bought her own town.

Just remember what happened to Kim Basinger when she bought her own town.

Really, it says that right in the catalogue: live actors not included.

Continuing…

Its museum houses genuine memorabilia, including revolvers, spurs, boots, chaps, and more while an indoor living history display recreates a barbershop, doctor’s office, and pawn shop.

Yours for only $7000. 23 acres not included (The Curmudgeon’s warning this time, not Hammacher Schlemmer’s).

And there’s more, too, for those of us for whom peace on Earth and goodwill toward man just won’t cut it this Christmas.

And if you like any of these suggestions, tell ‘em The Curmudgeon sent you!

 

 

 

 

 

R.I.P.

foxBernard Fox, 1927-2016

“Calling Dr. Bombay, calling Dr. Bombay, emergency, come right away!”

With these words Samantha Stephens summoned her witch doctor on Bewitched and the one thing you absolutely, positively knew was that what followed would be funny.

Dr. Bombay was Bernard Fox, the wonderful British comedy actor who passed away last week at the age of 89. Whether it was his 19 appearances on Bewitched, his eight on Hogan’s Heroes, or his many one-and-done guest starring turns on programs like M*A*S*H, F Troop, I Dream of Jeannie, The Monkees, The Jeffersons, Punky Brewster, his final television appearance ever, on the late, unlamented Dharma & Greg, or any of scores of others, seeing his face would bring an instant smile to yours because you knew that whatever you were watching was about to get a whole lot better.

It’s not easy making people laugh, but Bernard Fox managed to do that consistently. The Curmudgeon, for one, will miss him.

A Judgment

This is the logo for a new advertising campaign for the Planet Fitness gym company, and contrary to what it promises, The Curmudgeon has a judgment about it:

judgement-freeHe doesn’t care at all for how they’ve chosen to spell “judgment.”

A Matter of Political Affiliation

When we read an article about politics we know to interpret, say “Senator Mitch McDonnell (R-KY)” as “Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky” or “Rep. Paul Ryan (R)” as “Republican Representative Paul Ryan.”

But now that we’ve learned about certain foreign interference in our presidential election, should we now be interpreting “Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)” as “Senator Ted Cruz, Russian Party member from Texas”?

And while we’re at it, isn’t it just deliciously ironic that after all these years during which Republicans labeled anyone to the left of Attila the Hun a dirty Commie, they’re now the favored party of those very dirty Commies?

Comrades Bush, Christie, Rubio, and Kasich

Comrades Bush, Christie, Rubio, and Kasich

Counting Their Chickens…

As he suspects is the case with most readers of The New Yorker, The Curmudgeon is often a few weeks – okay, occasionally a few months – behind in his reading. Thus, it was with a sad smile that he just ran across this in the magazine’s October 31 edition.

deweyOn November 8th, barring some astonishment, the people of the United States will, after two hundred and forty years, send a woman to the White House. The election of Hillary Clinton is an event that we will welcome for its immense historical importance, and greet with indescribable relief. It will be especially gratifying to have a woman as commander-in-chief after such a sickeningly sexist and racist campaign, one that exposed so starkly how far our society has to go. The vileness of her opponent’s rhetoric and his record has been so widely aired that we can only hope she will be able to use her office and her impressive resolve to battle prejudice wherever it may be found.