Viewing posts from August 2015

My Life in Clutter

ClutterHelpIf there ever comes a day when clutter becomes an art form, I’ll be considered a pioneer. My home will win awards. I’ll be part of the clutterati and may even make the cover of Better Homes and Garbage.

It’s not food that I leave around. Food is always put away and the dishes are done before bedtime. No, edibles are not my medium of choice. I prefer to work in paper.

Bills, magazines, junk mail, coupons, notebooks, notebook paper, and pens. Lots of pens. I buy them by the pound. I don’t want to give the impression that in order to cross the room I have to carve out canyons between mountains of old newspapers and Fingerhut catalogues. That’s hoarding. Clutter means I’ve accumulated at least the bare minimum amount of paper “stuff” to cause me to trip over things a lot.

ToughDecisionsThe thing about paper is that in order to keep it under control you have to handle each and every single piece and make a decision whether to throw it away, shred it, save it or make an airplane out of it. Three of those four require the additional effort of having to file what I keep, an exercise I enjoy about as much as scraping my teeth on the sidewalk.

To my credit, the majority of the clutter has been confined to one specific area, the one formerly known as the dining room table. Even though I can’t actually see the top of it anymore, I know it’s there. The six chairs that came with it still outline the location where it was last seen.

While the table has been re-purposed, the chairs have not fallen into disuse, however. I now use them to catch any papers that fall off the table. When they reach their full capacity and the overflow lands on the floor, I take immediate action. I pick up the runaways and put them back on the table where they belong, taking great pains to make sure that the pile is stable and won’t slide off the table should I happen to wink.

KitchenCounterClutterSupermarket receipts are an inexpensive, yet plentiful source of my favorite medium. I don’t have to buy much, either, to get a lot. I just go to the Day Old shelf, buy a half-eaten croissant and head home with a receipt longer than my inseam. I hang onto these receipts because on the back are coupons—in color—for products I’ll never use, but think I might. If only I could remember to bring them with me before they expire. This collection is on display in the kitchen in an area that was at one time the counter.

ImpossibleDimensionsMagazines, of course, are in the living room library. On the floor. This makes them easily accessible for anyone who is sitting down, whether they want to read or just feel like tossing more kindling into the fireplace. I love spending time in here.

Yes, I’ve learned to accept and embrace my clutter. It’s now my art. My life. I’ve insured my hands for tens of dollars. Tours of my home are available Thursday, Friday and Saturday running from 10am to 4pm. And please, don’t forget to stop at the gift shop.

Til next Tuesday

Get Lost

LostSpringsSadly, one of the oldest, most famous, yet ironically unmarked places in the world is quickly disappearing. Petitions won’t stop its demise and neither will marching on Washington, Jefferson or anyone else from Mount Rushmore. Thanks to the GPS, the days of finding ourselves in The Middle of Nowhere are coming to an end.

This has now become one more thing that our grandkids will never experience except through family lore. They’ll never know what it’s like to drive around totally lost. The worry, the angst, and sometimes the excitement of not knowing where you are or how to get back to where you came from. Maybe the theme park planners at Disney will build a new “Middle of Nowhereland” attraction, though I imagine the hardest part will be coming up with an appropriate ride.

YouAreHereI had a lot of good times there, in the middle of nowhere. At least I think I did. I don’t know if I was actually in “the middle” of nowhere so I can’t really say. Again, there weren’t any signs or identifiable landmarks so I didn’t see a reason to take any pictures to prove I was there. Of course, no one can prove I wasn’t, either.

Okay, let’s suppose that’s where you are and you’ve whipped out your handy dandy Auto Club astrolabe to verify it (luckily, it’s a cloudless night, of course). Having confirmed your location means that you have a fairly good approximation of how far you’ve traveled and how long it took you to get there. Which then means that you now know about how far you have to travel and about how long it’s going to take to get you from the middle of nowhere to the edge of someplace else.

BatesMotelBut then it dawns on you that had you stayed in the middle of nowhere you could’ve bought some land really cheaply, built a diner and/or motel and made a fortune from the zillions of other lost, meandering souls as well as those actively seeking your exact location. The spoiler in all this is that just about everybody has a GPS in their car or in their phone, meaning there really is no “nowhere” anymore let alone the possibility of finding yourself smack dab in the middle of it, so never mind.

Til next Tuesday

How to Turn Coffee into Wine

CoffeewineI don’t know when it first happened, but somewhere along the way coffee started becoming the new wine. Not in taste or enjoyment, but in its new-found “pedigree.” Yes, ladies and gentlemen, there is a growing infestation of coffee snobs, which is an oxymoron if I ever heard one. Personally, I’m against all this superficial coffee elitism. Just give me something in the morning with enough caffeine to unglue my eyelids and push a pacemaker to its limit. Not that I have one. Just sayin’.

Wine, on the other hand, has valid reasons for being haughty or at least haughtier than coffee. It’s more elegant and refined. You drink wine out of a wine glass. You drink coffee out of a coffee mug. Some wines are chilled and sipped. Coffee is iced and sucked through a paper tube. Wine is served by a sommelier. Coffee is handed to you at a drive-thru window. Final score–Wine: 3. Coffee: 0.

coffeecanCoffee used to come in vacuum-sealed cans and nothing says “classy” like being packed in a can. Sardines, tuna, and tomato soup, for instance. I know what you’re thinking, “Hey, smart guy, pate de foie gras and caviar come in cans.” Wrong! Those aren’t cans. Those are “tins.” A world of difference. And if you’ve ever had either of those two gag-worthy treats you’d know that they’d taste much better if you eat them with the tin.

Back to coffee. Look at the packages. They’ve got these ridiculous pseudo-snooty descriptions about the flavor characteristics of each blend, as if any of us in the coffee aisle at Stop ‘n Shop can figure out what the hell they’re talking about. Here are some I actually saw:


leonardbernstein“Hearty and sweet with a delicate finish: a harmonious symphony of taste.”

“Intensely bold and smoky.”

“Smooth, medium blend with rich flavor and mild, pleasant acidity.”

“Medium-bodied with spicy dark-chocolate notes, hints of sweet citrus and heady floral aromas.”

“Full, hearty, and distinctively complex.”

WTF?

To help the average consumer like myself, I’ve created descriptions that give a much clearer picture of your choices:

“Smells like crap. Tastes like crap, but has twice the caffeine of the entire country of Colombia and its people.”

“Powerful, yet harsh. A highly explosive finish that will test even the most fire-retardant undergarments.”

coffeecrack“A vile, yet contemptuous cacophony of mismatched coffee and string beans.”

“A combination of elements that attack your taste buds like acid rain leaving your tongue pocked beyond further use.”

“Heavy-bodied, this rich blend will leave your pupils dilated to a hideous extreme. Perfect for Halloween.”

“An impressive bean grown on the southeast side of a Cleveland landfill.”

“A delicate, light-roasted blend with hints of nothing in particular.”

“A perplexing potpourri of notes to drink or soak your feet in. Preferably both, in reverse order.”

coffeebetterThe gaping hole in all this is that it’s totally irrelevant. Nobody’s going to taste those notes, complexities, hints or finishes. You know why? Because we all doctor our coffee with sugar, shots of espresso, hazelnut flavoring and, lest we forget, whipped cream.

Those fancy descriptions are based on drinking the coffee black and nobody does that anymore. Ever been in a Starbucks and hear someone order black coffee? Of course not, and that’s good because they wouldn’t know how to make it.

So forget about making coffee snobby. Forget the notes, the hints, the complexities. Give me a medium, light and sweet, and a cinnamon donut. And here’s a finish we can all understand. The End.

Til next Tuesday

Jurassic Parks and Rec

JurassicWorldI don’t go to the movies much anymore, and after seeing “Jurassic World,” I’m sticking with that decision. I’ve waited a while to post this so I wouldn’t be a spoiler to anyone who was still planning on seeing this film. Then I thought, “Who am I kidding?” Spoiler? Even if you never see this movie, you know what happens. So if you haven’t see it by now, I’m envious.

Let me lay it out for you. There’s a remote, tropical island that has prehistoric creatures that never should have been recreated, and one or two morons who won’t follow the rules. What could possibly go wrong …for the fourth time!?

GodzillafacepalmWhile the film is ridiculous, it does raise some interesting questions. First of all, why would anybody risk their lives working at this place for $7.50 an hour? The only reason I can think of is that they didn’t see any of the first three films. If they had, they would never have signed up for that 401K. Yes, the uniforms are free, but they’re made with a fiber that dinosaurs eat in order to stay “regular.” Is this the kind of legacy they really want? “Hey, remember Eddie Loffenhausen? See that pile of dinosaur dung over there? Yup. Looks the same, but at least he smells better.”

Now as far as the visitors are concerned, which they never seem to be until all hell breaks loose, what kind of travel agent would recommend going to this death trap? I’ll tell you what kind. The kind who gets paid in full upfront, that’s who.

I swear to God, if they make another one of these stupid movies, I’m rooting for the dinosaurs. It’d be a lot more entertaining. In fact, I’ve come up with a couple of Jurassic Park movie plots to illustrate how this could be done.

Rexy“Jurassic Park Senior City.” A boat-load of seniors arrive, blah, blah, blah. While visiting the JP Wreck Room, the ruins of the building from Jurassic Park I, an elderly gent literally falls for an elderly babe and breaks his hip. They have their first lover’s spat when she tries to perform CPR on him. Coming to her senses, she decides to go for help and leaves him writhing in pain on the floor.

Fortunately, she has all-terrain wheels on her walker and makes it back to the complex in record time—three days, fifteen hours, forty-six seconds. Unfortunately, she’s now forgotten why she hurried back and what she was doing out in the forest alone in the first place. It doesn’t really matter because everyone else has been eaten. She finds three other survivors and they sit down to finish the Mahjong tournament that was interrupted by the carnage, and our elderly lady wins, taking home a new pair of Dr. Scholl’s Corn Pads.

Meanwhile, the abandoned elderly gent whose hip and glasses are now also broken, survives by mistaking the raptors for dogs and boring them to death with tales of his youth. He finally manages to crawl back to the compound, meets the woman who abandoned him. Neither remembers the other, but they’re safe, sound and in love. On the way home, they get married on the boat—right before the boat hits a submarine, sinks and all lives are lost. The End.

DinoPettingZooThis should be followed by “Jurassic Park Petting Zoo.” This story starts in a brand new way—new visitors arrive at the Jurassic Park Petting Zoo and are told that the boat won’t be back for a week. Oh …they did that already? Five times? Well, then, we won’t say it’s repetitive. We’ll spin it that it’s now a tradition. Yeah, that sounds better.

Anyhow, the new hors d’oeuvres arrive with their Panama hats and sunscreen. Unfortunately for them, one of the new interns is so busy smoking crack that he forgets to put new batteries in the electrified fence control unit. Uh-oh! This could only mean one thing: trouble!

We see the entire contingent of visitors heading out from the compound following the signs to the Dinosaur Petting Zoo. They find out too late that this whole thing is a scam perpetrated by the highly-intelligent velociraptors, who, as a side note, are quite pleased with the turnout from the brochures they sent to thousands of travel agents. As we watch the panicked visitors being attacked, we’re led to believe they’re doomed.

smilindinoAnd they are. We cut to the dinosaurs that night sitting around a campfire picking their teeth with human femurs and occasionally spitting out wads of clothing and pieces of cell phones, several of which still work. One of raptors gags, then spits out two Valentine’s Day cards. They’re from the pretty tour guide and the macho dino trainer who fell in love and were so obnoxious that they vowed they’d spend eternity together. A Tyrannosaurus Rex overhears their conversation and grants them their wish.

We end with the dinosaurs returning to the harbor on the former transport boat after a day of fishing. Two of the young dinos are bleeding slightly after fighting over who gets to wear the captain’s hat. But all in all, they’re in a good mood and sit down to work on their next brochure. The end.

Yes, it’s a much shorter version, and makes about as much sense as the one I recently saw, but at least this one has a happy ending.

Til next Tuesday

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