Boomer Twilight

Mostly Humorous Observations of Most Anything, with a Boomer Slant

Posts Tagged ‘Social Commentary

My Grandpa, the Shriner

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I always thought the hats were funny. Now, I’m not so sure. The miniature cars go well with the toppers. You have to be special to look silly.

My Grandfather was a Shriner. He appeared to enjoy it; but as a kid, I didn’t pay much attention. When my Mother and I went to the funeral in 1982, the honor of his participation showed through. The podium featured the logos of the Freemasons and Shriners, and eulogies from both groups. Wow, Henry was a Freemason. They are the world’s largest fraternity. To me that’s kind of a big deal.

Henry Sussman (Heinrich Süssmann) wasn’t a rich guy or a man with connections. His family left Germany in 1900 to settle in Pennsauken, NJ, and on October 10, 1903 Henry was born; the only one of his siblings conceived in the USA. He grew up to become a loom mechanic and shift supervisor for Belding Hemingway, who in the 30s and 40s was manufacturing silk thread. His father and he went to Lynchburg, VA to open a plant for the company, and at some point Henry moved to Bedford, VA to help open another facility. Eventually the company made a decision to switch from producing thread to the manufacture of fiberglass fibers. Occupational disease became an issue with the employees, who developed illnesses from the product, causing the demise of the Bedford location. But, Henry eked out a decent living for the time; back when “blue collar” meant you made enough to live. He raised my Mom as a single parent and things turned out grand. Knowing he was a Freemason piques my interest.

Throughout history, there have been quite a few Freemasons who were famous and influential. George Washington, Ben Franklin, Paul Revere and Colonel Sanders were Freemasons. I’m not sure Freemasonry had anything to do with the taste of Kentucky Fried Chicken, but the secrecy of the Society probably contributed to the Colonel keeping his Original Recipe® of 11 secret herbs and spices under wraps. To this day, we still don’t know how the bird is dressed. Phrases like “Level with him,” “Be square,” and “The Third Degree” all originated with Freemasons. They are very important in our history, whether or not we are aware.

Red Skelton, John Wayne, Danny Thomas and Harry Truman were Shriners. I can picture Red Skelton wearing the funny hat, but not John Wayne. Being a Freemason doesn’t necessarily lead to Shrinerism, but to join the club, you must first be a Freemason and make it all the way to Master Mason. Check out this list of famous Shriners, and you might be impressed.

Shriners always look like they’re having fun. I bet they are. Helping kids is a heart-warming thing. Then there are the meetings, parades, conventions and all sorts of activities that keep the mind abuzz. And don’t forget . . . the little cars. You never hear of them causing any problems in the hotels or towns where they are holding conventions (news of Shriners throwing televisions out of hotel windows is minimal). They seem to be well behaved, upstanding citizens.

Because of my renewed interest in my Grandfather, I recently inquired about joining the Shriners, not understanding the necessary steps. At my age, I will be dead before qualifying. They were kind in not laughing at my naivete, and directed me to the Freemasons. Then I found out you don’t just join. You have to be recommended. Since, the only person I know who was a Freemason/Shriner died in 1982, it seems a difficult task. My interest will probably dwindle soon, but if there is a Freemason out there who is interested in recruiting a new member with a connected ancestor, give me a call. Better yet, send an email to Bake My Fish.

Henry Sussman was a pretty good guy. Whenever he came to visit my family, particularly on Thanksgiving and Christmas, he always brought me liverwurst (I was the only one in my family who liked it) and Land O’ Lakes butter (Mom preferred margarine). And, my mother always cooked a pot of Spareribs and Sauerkraut, which was his favorite. He loved me, and I loved him. Now that I know Henry even better, I love him more.

“Rest im Frieden, Heinrich Süssmann. Du warst ein guter Mann.” When we meet again, I’ll bring the Spareribs and Sauerkraut. Just make sure you leave my name at the gate, because Saint Peter may not let me in without a referral.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

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Written by Bake My Fish

July 20, 2008 at 12:01 am

Sputnik or Спутник? In Either Language It Spells Cold War

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“To escape the wrath of a mushroom cloud, you should hide under your desk.” That was what we were told when practicing our nuclear attack preparedness at elementary schools during the late 1950s. Especially after the USSR launched Sputnik on October 4, 1957. How out-of-tune is that kind of thinking? Wooden desks will stop Gamma Rays, X-Rays, Sugar Ray, Ray Charles, or any rays whatsoever. Today, anyone working in a Nuclear Power Plant wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a wooden suit for protection (or maybe they wood).

Look at that desk. Do you think it’s going to stop atomic radiation or falling debris? We did as kids. Just scrunch under it and nothing will hurt you. Not even the invisible stuff. My guess is during the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, none of those primary school students were thinking about hovering under furniture for protection. Tatami mats and bamboo were about the best shields in those days. We got them good. Then again, they didn’t know it was coming. At Bradbury Heights Elementary School in Coral Hills, MD we were preparing. The drills were fun because it broke up the monotony of lessons. Still, it was a little scary.

Click on the picture to the left, and you’ll see one of the few structures standing after the Hiroshima bombing was a desk. I bought four for my bomb shelter. One for me, one for my wife, one for our dog and one for Nicky (the Love Bird). I know it’s silly now, but in the 50s we thought it was real. The whole country went nuts after Sputnik flew.

I liked the Cold War. Khrushchev was funny looking and sort of Grandfatherish. I bet he did the “pull my finger” joke often. He made me laugh, and was probably more like the Uncle at Thanksgiving dinner seated next to the kids table, telling Knock Knock jokes, who had too much to drink and belched as if it were expected, rather than the cold-hearted killer we thought. These days, the people in power in threatening countries around the world, are spooky. I would rather laugh than cringe. Give me a Nikita over an Osama any day.

The Space Race really took off after Sputnik embarrassed us. Our childhood was devoted to beating the Russians, conveyed in our toys, media and even our lunch boxes. Eventually we landed on the moon, and now satellites are so prevalent there is no room for Superman. I do enjoy the 200+ TV channels we have today, so thank you, Nikita and the Boys, for forcing our hand.

There was a Russian movie spoof of the Three Stooges starring Joe Stalin as Moe, Nick Khrushchev as Curly and Al Einstein as Larry. Einstein was too bright to play Larry, challenging the credibility of the production and the Russians didn’t take to the use of a Foreigner in their film. Plus, there was an issue about the pay scale. As smart as he was, Al just couldn’t figure out the conversion of Rubles to Dollars, so the project was scrapped. His response was, “I am a Scientist not an Economist, so take your money and shove it!”

We continued on through the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s, challenging the Soviet Union at every turn. The Soviet war in Afghanistan from 1978 – 1989 ruined their economy and eventually caused the downfall of Russia. It is generally accepted the Cold War ended on Christmas of 1991 when the USSR was officially dissolved. So, it wasn’t our doing, it was those dang Muslims.

“Let that be a lesson to you, Commies!”

With Love,

Bake My Fish

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Written by Bake My Fish

July 16, 2008 at 9:16 pm

April 3, 1989 – Al Gore’s Worst Nightmare

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It was a beautiful afternoon on April 3, 1989; Orioles Opening Day at Memorial Stadium. I attended the game with a co-worker, Scott Becker, and a business acquaintance, Jeff Funk. The Orioles had just beaten the Red Sox, 5-4. Fans were enjoying a victory on the way to their vehicles.

We were waiting for the light at 36th Street and Alameda to cross and get to our cars, when we heard, “Stop!” A father in distress was yelling to his six-year-old son, who had just broken the grasp of his hand and ran into busy traffic. The son obeyed and stopped; in the middle of the road. A car hit him and he flew from the front of the vehicle to the rear (described as 30 feet into the air) and slid for another 20 feet after landing. Everyone was horrified. I had never seen anything like it. The child laid unconscious in the road and we all thought he was dead.

His mother was screaming hysterically (what mother wouldn’t?). His father was trying to calm her, while attending to his son. I, like a fool, ran over to the vehicle that hit him, and shrieked at the driver, “Get out of the car!! Get out!!” I was convinced he had been speeding, because that’s what I saw. The driver was obviously distraught, thinking he had just killed a boy. But, I was undaunted in my vigilantism. My friends pulled me away, and we all tried to collect ourselves. It was terrifying.

I tearfully observed the father trying to keep everyone in tune with the situation, while thinking his son had just died. He looked athletic, a big fellow, leading me to believe he was an athlete attending the game and seemed familiar to me, but with all the commotion, I couldn’t recall who he might be. The police came, told me to go away, and we walked to our cars. I immediately called my wife and told her what had happened and asked her to check the news. On my way home, she called to tell me the boy was Al Gore’s son.

At the time he wasn’t quite as famous as today. Whatever your political philosophy may be, and however Al Gore fits into your political spectrum, in this case he was just a father; scared to death he had lost his son. No one ever wants to deal with that. The internet, Vice Presidency, 2000 election fiasco and global warming were all in his future, but at this point he was just praying for the recovery of his child.

We tend to think celebrities are beyond heartbreak. Their lives are not like ours. Those whose children die before them are not our concern, because we think they are somehow surreal and unapproachable. But, it happens to people in all walks of life, and we shouldn’t lose sight of how vulnerable we are to mishaps and disease. Albert Arnold Gore, III survived, thanks to the attending physicians at Johns Hopkins, but he very well could have died. Most of us wouldn’t have even thought about it. If I had not been there, I wouldn’t either.

I like Al Gore, and am sure it is because of this particular experience. I also like that he is a Vietnam Veteran. Many people give him grief because of his liberal leanings, but I can’t get past this accident. No matter what he does or says, there will always be a spot in my heart for April 3, 1989. He dealt with it well, but it could have been the end of him if his son had not pulled through.

I only hope none of you have to suffer the loss of a child.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

Written by Bake My Fish

July 7, 2008 at 8:30 pm

Signing For Dollars

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During a drive from Baltimore to Florida in late April, I was assaulted by South of the Border billboards beginning about 175 miles before the camp. After entering South Carolina on 95, I passed the official, government-sponsored Rest Area and while crossing over the short bridge that followed, I thought, “If I just had a can of green paint and silver reflective tape, I could change the D to a P, and cause a few travelers to giggle.” In my mind, a short distance after, a sign would be erected that reads, “Welcome to South Carolina, Tiny.” The females would probably get a better laugh than the males.

The inundation of road signs, billboards and markers along every highway fascinates me. I want to be a Signage Mogul in my next life. There are signs selling food, reminding you to rest, warning to watch for the next sign that warns to watch for the next sign and giving distance in fractions of miles. In one section of Virgina, there are mileage markers every 1/10th of a mile. One tenth! That’s like the distance from my house to my neighbor’s. Or from the parking lot of Walmart to the store. Do they need to remind us every tenth of a mile we have driven 1/10th of a mile? Those who order the signs for whichever governmental office appropriates that sort of thing, must be getting good seats at some sporting event.

Of course, traffic signs are a necessity. Otherwise, how could we locate the nearest fast food establishment and get a full tank of golden liquid for our vehicles, so we can drive to our next quick cuisine joint four hours later? When I’m on a road trip, there better be some indication of the nearest restroom, because I drink a lot of liquids; so “thank you” Sign Procurement Officer. Without you, I wouldn’t know where to stop.

When I was a pre-teen, my parents drove a few times from Maryland to Indiana to see my Grandmother. I loved the trip because it gave me the chance to be on Burma Alert. Some of the best commercial poetry of the time was the series of signs made famous by Burma Shave and I couldn’t wait to read the next group. They were fun because I was a kid who didn’t shave and didn’t pay taxes. Burma Shave wasn’t using my dollars to test my roadway literacy. They were footing the bill.

Even though most traffic signs are necessary, there’s one that pisses me off every time I pass it. Now, I don’t mean to be a whiny, “I’m always over-taxed, government sucks” nuisance. My complaints about wasteful spending are kept to a minimum. Salaries of governcove-f-ortment workers have to be paid, trash has to be collected, schools need money, streets need mending and the homeless need to eat (unless we can find a use for the cadavers ;-)). I know all that, and acquiesce to the assumed worthiness. Road signage falls within the aura of government responsibility. Then every time I take Exit 16-A off Baltimore’s Beltway on to I-70 toward Frederick, there is this huge Green Monster informing me how far it is from that point to Cove Fort. 2200 miles. Who is driving to Cove Fort from Baltimore? Who’s even thinking of it? Maybe the idea comes to mind after you see the sign, but the message is a waste. I don’t think anyone is really driving that far, and the bus station doesn’t have a long line of people purchasing tickets to Cove Fort. Anyone flying there doesn’t care the distance from I-70 is 2,200 miles. And, where the hell is it, anyway?

Somebody got paid for that sign. I wish it were me.

Signing off,

Weird Geezer
Guest Contributor

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I’ve Always Thought it was Neanderthal, But Apparently it is Neandertal

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I was on Chicken Foot Road, in St. Paul’s, North Carolina this past Mother’s Day, sitting around the kitchen table with my Mom, younger sister and her daughter (she calls me Uncle Baggo). We were enjoying strawberry-covered angel food cake. The small TV in the corner was tuned to Clash of the Cavemen on the History Channel. In the beginning I was the only one watching, but after a short time my sister started commenting, then my niece, and finally my Mother.

It wasn’t so much the content of the show that caught their attention; it was the Narrator’s pronunciation of Neanderthal. The premise of the episode was how Mr. & Mrs. Neanderthal’s contact with Homo sapiens (Cro-Magnon Person) about 27,000 years ago, because of the necessary migration forced by Global Cooling (better known as the Ice Age), caused their eventual extinction.

When I was young, the only pronunciation for Neanderthal was Neanderthal. But apparently the hoity-toity, high-brow Anthropologists prefer to use the proper German Neandertal. So what if Neanderthal was discovered in Neander Valley? I want to say it the way I know. Although I heard the “correct” pronunciation a few months before my family on a different “educational” show, at the time I didn’t pay it much mind. Now it kind of ticks me off. How dare them change it? Bastages. All of them!

Then the Narrator started pronouncing Cro-Magnon as Cro-Magnyon, in some sort of French, Sissy way. Where will it end? I always knew Cro-Magnon as Cro-Magnon. Now, I have to picture Peppy Le Pew walking around saying, “Theese eeze Cro-Magnyon Pairson” as he points to the picture on the left.

Homo sapiens were much less mentally-challenged than Neanderthal (tal). Anytime a more advanced brain subjects an inferior brain to The Ways of the World, the superior mind wins.

I think I’ll have another donut. Pass the pizza.

With Love,

Bag O’ Donuts
Guest Contributor

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Written by Bake My Fish

May 14, 2008 at 11:50 pm

One Flu Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

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My wife and I were sitting on the couch the other evening watching TV. When I got up to get a soda, she noticed what appeared to be a blister on my butt. Immediately I screamed, “Oh no!! It’s Smallpox! It’s Bubonic Plague! I’m gonna die!!!” It turned out to be just a contact lens we thought was lost forever.

My panic attack was probably caused by just having watched Episode 6 of Season I of Deadwood, which was dedicated to the Smallpox epidemic that swept through the town during its infancy, not to mention a general fear of dying from one of the Pandemics we seem to hear so much about these days.

My intention is not to ridicule the seriousness of various ailments in our history. The Black Death killed more than 25,000,000 human beings throughout Europe from 1347 – 1352; an average of 5,000,000 a year, which was 1/3 of the population. One of every three people someone knew at the time keeled over. That’s kind of scary, and kept the Cadaver Patrol quite busy. It is estimated that worldwide up to 50,000,000 people expired from the Spanish Flu of 1918. Probably more people died from that outbreak than smoking. The Asian Flu of 1957-58 caused the death of more than 70,000 in the US. Asian Flu is still around, but hasn’t circulated in humans since 1968. That means if it reels it’s ugly head again, no one under 40 is immune. Pandemics are devastating. Many people die, and many more become seriously ill.

What should we do? Wash our hands more often? Kill our neighbors if they seem ill (or are mowing on our side)? Wear a surgical mask 24 hours a day? What? My suggestion is just “Go with the flow.”

I’m not picking up any dead birds on the street. And, I’m not planning to pal around with any sick chickens (we still don’t know why they cross the road). Avian Flu is real and the most troubling strains start within fowl. My precautions are warranted, because our feathered friends are here on earth to kill us all. Influenza A viruses use wild birds as their host. Unless the virus undergoes Antigenic Shift it is harmless to humans. When it mutates we are at risk.

How many of you get a flu shot every year? And how many of you who felt immune got sick, anyway? I’d venture to guess more than should, considering we tend to believe the inoculation is the shield. Is it really? The immunization contains three strains of flu to protect you. Influenza genes are composed of RNA, rather than DNA, and are more prone to mutation than DNA. When Antigenic Drift occurs after the vaccination, it is ineffective.

Personally, I don’t trust science over viruses. Germs, squiggly things and potentially deadly microorganisms have been around longer than humans, and their ability to adapt to hostile threats is far more superior than our own. Birds evolved from dinosaurs; they were here first. We can’t win.

I just hope Home Depot carries plastic bubbles big enough to cover my house.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

What’s with the Nuts?

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In February I took my first flight since 2000. That seems like a long time between launches, but I like to drive. It’s the Jim Ignatowski in me. I think during my last journey, the airlines still provided passengers with meals. This particular trip was from Baltimore to Florida and back, so not such a long flight. Food was not a big priority. The airline did supply us with a pack of dry roasted peanuts.

After receiving my mini-bag, I started reading the wrapper. Ingredients: dry roasted peanuts, salt. The Disclaimer – “Produced in a facility that processes peanuts and other nuts.” Their italics, not mine. They wanted to place serious emphasis on the statement that peanuts were produced in a facility that processes peanuts and other nuts.

The moment I read it, I knew liability concerns are out of control. Either that, or they really think the general public consists of blithering idiots who don’t understand that peanuts are peanuts. I know some moron will cut his hedges with a lawnmower, and be forced to sign his “x” with a nub. So, yeah they need to put a warning on the lawnmowers for that guy. And some fool will use a bungee cord to smash his head on rocks lining the river bank below the bridge he felt the need to use as a launching pad. Go ahead, print the distance limitations of the cord for that guy. To assume we can’t figure out that peanuts are produced in a peanut factory, brings visions of mindless zombies walking around with ice cream cones stuck to our foreheads.

I ate the handful of nut kernels and chuckled inside, showing the wrapper to those nearby. They thought it was silly, of course. The fallacy was exposed. Do you remember the Wendy’s “Parts is parts” commercial? Well, “Peanuts is peanuts” (I just wanna slap somebody).

Please understand, my whining has nothing to do with a like or dislike of a fine legume. I love peanuts, cashews, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, filberts, macadamias, etc. All nuts are OK by me. No, my complaint is “we have to stop treating ourselves like fools.”

Eventually there will be no name on any products, because the nutrition and warning labels will be the packaging. I know peanuts and other foods do cause allergic reactions. If you are allergic to peanuts, I am sorry. The alert really isn’t meant for you, because if you see a wrapper that reads dry roasted peanuts, you assume suicide is unpleasant.

If the dangerous stuff is hidden within another product and sensible people may not know, then it should be revealed in warnings. I can kind of figure out that milk is produced in a facility that processes milk products. Or that wheat crackers are produced in a facility that processes wheat products. So goes the peanut reference. There’s no need to spend the time or effort rubbing our noses in it. We get it. Nuts is nuts.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

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Written by Bake My Fish

March 17, 2008 at 5:45 am

Soy To The World

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I have really been enjoying soy products lately. Tonight my dinner was Peanut Noodles made with soy pasta. Add a little spinach and/or bok choy to the recipe, and you have a home run. Mmmm. You might be turning your nose up at the thought, but it was really good. Tasty.

I’m by no means a Vegan. Meat is a part of virtually all my meals. The occasional nibble of a hunk of jerky is within the realm of my dietary kingdom. I haven’t chomped on the side of a buffalo lately, but I do eat meat. My joy for soy is not because there is any particular concern over chewing on carcass. It’s just that soy products are so healthy and are now more like familiar food. And honestly, they please the Buds of Taste (sounds like a movie).

When I was a kid, one of my favorite journeys was to the Chinese restaurant with my sister and parents. We always got a kick out of my father eating the hot mustard and pretending the beads of sweat were not rolling off his brow. “Naaa, it’s not hot. It tastes good,” so he said. We knew better. His red face and fire-eyes were a dead giveaway. Dad was cool.

When the food came, the first thing I reached for was the soy sauce (bet you do, too). If I had known then my sauce would turn into Peanut Noodles as an adult, I would have prepared myself for the evolution.

Soy crisps make a great substitute for potato chips. A dripping, sloppy cheeseburger; with a side of Roasted Garlic Soy Crisps, is more healthy than a dripping, sloppy cheeseburger; with a side of dark russet oil chips; probably about 70 calories.

It seems with all the diets there is an emphasis on high protein. Soy contains hearty amounts. The standard grocery chains are carrying more and more diverse soy products. You don’t necessarily have to go to the natural food markets and pay an exorbitant price for healthy food. It has always bothered me that to eat healthy, you have to pay way too much. It’s as though you need to take out a loan to live. Why is that? I know supply and demand economics is at work here, but is it really fair?

When I saw soy noodles on the shelf it was exciting. I love pasta, and this gives me a chance to eat it and get the near equivalent of the protein contained in meat. Another really good dish, Spaghetti Aglio e Olio, is great using soy pasta. The recipe calls for minced garlic, but if you slice it real thin and brown it in olive oil, it’s better. Maybe use a little more because the chunks will be bigger than minced garlic, which emits more flavor than sliced.

As a society we have grown bigger and broader. The clothing industry and models of the clothes seem to be telling us we shouldn’t be allowing this to happen. Yet, we continue to expand. Obesity is a major concern, and our health is challenged by our abnormal growth. “Fat is not where it’s at.” We do little to counter the expansion of our torsos. Food made with soy will help. And for the tree hugging, animal saving public, it can be the answer.

Soy ice cream is terrific. We can feed our fat fetish, while saving our hearts. It seems to me that is a good way to go.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

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Written by Bake My Fish

March 7, 2008 at 8:47 pm

Rome Wasn’t Filth in the Day

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Our bathroom habits are routine. We have privacy whenever and wherever we want. There is never a necessity, other than a serious emergency, for us to use an outside facility. During the realm of the Roman Empire your routine would have been challenged. Sitting on the bowl in the wide open, waving at Julius Caesar (he made such a great salad) during a Triumph through The Aventine, would be a stunning scene in today’s world. Considering the Roman diet was decidedly higher in grains and fiber than ours, these holes would have been put to good use.

I can’t imagine sitting on a pot with the person next to me, scrunch-faced and chatting as if we’re waiting for a bus. No walls, no barrier, just our bloomers around our ankles, shooting the breeze. It’s tough enough remaining quiet when there are stalls. In the open, you can’t be mum. The guy sitting on the adjacent hole may want to talk. You can’t be rude and avoid the conversation. Otherwise you will be considered a jerk. I suppose it was fairly awkward reading slate tablets, rather than the newspaper or a magazine, but without the solitude, you had to lay down the newsoid and listen.

I’ve written about the over and under TP roll. Sitting in the open during number two, beats any lack of proper materials or the direction of the pull. Are the mores of today any better for us than during the days of open potties? We think it’s nasty, but for the Romans it was the norm. Louise Pasteur wasn’t around, so they didn’t really know about bacteria and stuff. Our exposed genitalia wasn’t considered as naughty and disgusting as now. We were humans, with normal needs. Society didn’t really care that we emitted waste.

Fortunately the lack of stalls eliminated most of the bathroom graffiti. It is important to note; however, that the series of privy poems about The Young Man From Nantucket or Azores, originated during the reign of Caligula. The felt-tipped pen wasn’t invented before this period. Potty Laureates had to be creative.

A friend came into my office the other day to discuss “Urinal Protocol.” I do agree with him that indeed we have developed habits. If a man walks into an empty bathroom, which receptacle does he use? If there is more than one user, with more than one trap, where do you line up? In Ancient Rome it was no problem. For us it is perplexing.

Imagine a day at the Coliseum during a Gladiator/Wild Beast massacre with 50,000 spectators drinking wine, eating whole grain bread smothered in Garum, a hunk of cheese, and some kind of carcass from the stadium vendors; all of which were very likely bacterial-infested. I would guess they might want to visit the facilities on occasion. Now, I could probably live with the idea of sharing a booth with another person, given the culture of the time. But, 50,000? I’m glad to have been born a Boomer.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

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Written by Bake My Fish

January 30, 2008 at 10:58 pm

No Bank Ever Gave Me a Poe Toaster

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There is this mysterious character in Baltimore dubbed Poe Toaster. Every January 19th, which is the anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, some guy leaves three roses and well-branded cognac at Edgar’s grave. Nice tribute. Please leave barbecue pork rinds and Kettle One vodka in the field where my ashes will be strewn. Don’t forget napkins. Also, leave a DVD player for any movies I might want to watch in the hereafter.

I love Poe Toaster. What a cool idea. This started in 1949, has always been a media event, and the guy never dies. I’ll bet there are more than one. Probably an underground society of Poe Toasters plotting to take over the world and force us all to live under a swinging pendulum.

During my youth (I always dwell on that) Vincent Price was my hero. He was in all the Poe-based flicks. Vincent was scary. Everything I ever read or heard about him as a real person, is that he was a super nice fellow; the kind of guy who would fix your flat tire if he happened upon you in dire need. Go, Vincent! My kind of people. Nevertheless, he was freaky.

I find Edgar Allan Poe fascinating. In today’s world, he would be shunned. An opium eater, drunk most of the time, and sleeping in alleyways. Still, a gifted author. Don’t get me wrong, I love Eddie. And to this day, someone leaves a tribute at his grave. Live poetry.

It’s not a Baltimore thing. I just like him. E. A. Poe would have been viable in any city of the world. His talent is universal. Baltimore is honored to claim him as their own. One of his best characters, The Raven, became the local NFL franchise’s mascot. You can’t be given any better tribute than to have a billion dollar sports franchise named after a subject of your poem. Edgar lives on. I’m just glad they didn’t name the team “The Potters” because the logo on the helmet would be kind of lame.

In my travels, I often drive past the grave of Edgar Allan Poe. Sitting at the light, I glance over just to look. I never see anything sitting on the grave. So, I wonder. What happened to the cognac? You know someone is drinking it. Savoring the beverage left for Edgar. It’s good stuff. Well-liked by those who partake of cognac. Well? Who’s drinking it? Huh? Someone is. I think it warrants investigation.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

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Written by Bake My Fish

January 19, 2008 at 7:55 pm

A Rose By Any Other Name

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This Christmas I watched Bad Santa. For me it was a rerun; my third viewing. Anyone who has seen this movie was either put off by the profanity or thought it was frickin’ hilarious. I’m among the latter. The movie is politically incorrect; seldom appropriate; often vulgar; but downright funny. The fat kid in the picture to the right latched onto Santa, who holed up in the kid’s house, while avoiding the authorities. He was a Bad Santa.

After an hour into the movie, “Kid” gave Santa his report card (all Cs, with one B). Santa looked at the grades, and focused on the boy’s name. “Your name is Thurman?” “Yeah.” “Your name is Thurman Merman?” “Yeah.” Then he looked at the kid with this expression that could only be associated with the thought, “You poor, pathetic loser. No wonder your life is so screwed. What kind of name is that?” Exactly.

Now let’s go through a scenario of the Life and Times of an Ill-Named Child. The first traumatic experience will be at roll call in grade school. Chipper and anxious to learn, until their name is called out by the teacher. This embarrassment lasts however long the school system calls roll. If it’s Reform School it could be until 18. If college, 22. Then there is employment. An office job brings with it name plates on the office door or cubicles, name badges at any business events and business cards. The snickers and chortles never end, because there is just too much exposure.
What are some parents thinking? They seem not to be able to forecast
what a name can do to a child’s future. Richard Head, Tom Thumb, Ira Heinilick, Hymen (anything), Isabell Ringing, Easton West, Howard Ewdune. Should I continue? I like funny names. There are many more here. I mean no offense to anyone whose name may really be one of the aforementioned Monikers. Nothing personal, but the names are funny.
If you go through life responding to “Thurman Merman,” which carries with it wedgies and ass-whippings that linger until adulthood, you have to look at your parents and ask, “What did I do?” “Did I come out of the womb si
deways? Did I look too much like Dad? Why did you punish me like this?”
Sure it’s rebellious and patriotic to name a child “America” or “Freedom,” if at the time of birth you were on some acid trip and flexing your political muscle. But, the kid has to spend about 75 years lugging around an Albatross. Imagine being at the Assisted Living Facility and after a lifetime of questions, still explaining your name to the staff, while placing your teeth in the jar and hair on the lampshade. Mom? Dad? Scarred For Life is not a video game. Don’t try to be funny when naming your kids.
I always liked the name Sir Dingle Foot. He was a member of the British Parliament, who died choking on a sandwich in 1978. How he died is not what fascinates me; choking on food is a common occurrence (not always leading to death). What puzzles me is the name “Dingle.” It’s quite possible there may be more than one person in the world named “Dingle.” My question is, “Why?”
With Love,
Bake My Fish

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January 15, 2008 at 9:37 pm

What’s That In Your Pocket?

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Now, don’t snicker when you read this. I’m here to discuss a serious matter. It’s not the end of the world, but to some men it may seem that way. Macho no mo’ is not a reason to jump off a bridge, or drive your car into a wall. There is hope. You can get assistance from several sources. Medication is available; although it’s quite expensive. And, not covered by Health Care plans. They consider it a luxury drug, meant to solve a luxury-less problem; unnecessary in the eyes of those determining what to allow. They’re probably not getting any, so it doesn’t matter to them. Spending all their waking moments finding ways to deny coverage leaves little time for romance.

Research indicates there are several causes of libido malfunction: smoking; diabetes; high cholesterol; too much alcohol (when was the last time you were drunk and the man?); high blood pressure; venous leak; depression; and a tiny wee wee. There are several other reasons, and most likely some yet to be discovered. Basically, any condition causing restricted blood flow can be the culprit. After all, it’s an organ, not a bone.

Much money is being made providing chemical solutions to men suffering from this traumatic experience. The drug companies developed at least three pills, and many herbal enhancements to keep the motor running. There are creams, devices, implants, and other remedies to make it possible for afflicted males to enjoy continued activity with the “love of their life.”

The most interesting, yet frightening remedy is a potential cure based on the venom of an aggressive and extremely deadly creature . . . . the Brazilian wandering spider. Now, I don’t know about you, but it seems to me to inject poison or any other potentially paralyzing agent into the body for the sake of six or seven minutes of “Oooo, baby, baby” is a bit risky. Pass on the spider toxin. Temporary rigidity isn’t worth chancing permanent paralysis.

If you are having difficulties, and the woman in your life is becoming frustrated with your inability to be her ideal mate, see your doctor or therapist for relief. They’ll gladly give you samples of medication and a prescription. Don’t be embarrassed to ask. The pharmaceutical companies give the samples to the doctor to be handed out. They want you to be hooked on their new miracle drugs. No one is complaining about the cost of the product, because they don’t want to admit they’re users. It’s like the first time a guy thinks of a vasectomy. The thought goes through his head, “Will this be the end? Will I be impotent from this procedure?” Guys have difficulty thinking they are less than virile. Either you take something, or continue making love with a rope.

If you need it, just ask the physician. Maybe they’ll even give you a badge to wear proudly to proclaim your allegiance to taking care of business. It is estimated that 30 million men suffer from this syndrome. During football season it grows to about 40 million. The increase is most likely caused by excess alcohol, over eating, lack of attention, and many other conditions resulting from six months of College and NFL football TV viewing (including preseason games).

Well, I gotta run. The game’s on, and I need to pour a cocktail so I can take this little blue pill. She’s waiting for me, and both should have kicked-in by halftime.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

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January 3, 2008 at 5:40 pm

Nine Tenths or a Tenth of a Thent?

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Pssst! What’s wrong with this picture? Give up? Well? What? It’s the fraction. I didn’t pay much attention when I was younger, nor have any idea when it began. If you know, tell me, because I am clueless. Now that I’m old and cranky, it just pisses me off!

Why do the gas companies use 9/10 as a measurement? I’ve never purposely pumped 9/10 of a gallon in my car. I usually try to round it off at the .00 mark, occasionally going a penny over (man, it ticks me off when that happens) and then try to go all the way to the next .00. Sometimes I get caught at .77 and can’t fill the tank any more without spilling it on my shoes. My preference is to pay for the fuel in round numbers, not tenths. I rarely have a pocket full of tenthathents.

The consensus is sellers of petrol use the fraction as a marketing tool. That’s not particularly profound information, is it? I’ll bet more than a few of you reading this see 3.14 9/10, and think you’re getting a deal at 3.14, not 3.15. Many will drive a couple of more miles to buy the gasoline at 3.12 9/10, because it seems like it’s only 3.12. The strategy seems to work. I too, fall prey to their ploy. And to be even sneakier, they don’t use dollar signs (like they’re some fancy restaurant), as if we lemmings won’t know it’s money. Lately, I seem to have stopped chasing down the few-cents-cheaper-gallon-several-blocks-away. It just doesn’t seem worth the fight. I’ll probably burn any savings during the chase down. When gasoline is necessary, I just get it.

Using the fraction is really no different than going into a store and buying something for $9.99. You’re only paying nine dollars, right? And, you are probably not even calculating the tax in your head. Who’s the better marketer; the petroleum companies or the retailers? The 9/10 is so annoying. Can’t they just round it out? Or switch to .99? That’s almost as irritating, but for some reason not quite as much as 9/10. Decimals are more appealing than fractions. Fractions seem a bit unwieldy. Decimals are quick and clean. Fractions are like a little fence you have to jump. Decimals are to the point. Hell, they are a point.

The price of gasoline is high, but how many of us buy bottled water? If a 16-ounce bottle cost $1.00, a gallon is $8.00. It appears the day has arrived where people are paying more for water than gasoline. Of course, no one can drink 10 gallons of water a day, but we can easily use 10 gallons of gas.

We’ll complain, debate, moan and groan about the price of gasoline, and how the Middle East is the cause of all our problems. Regardless, we won’t walk, car pool or drive more efficient vehicles. Why should we? When it comes to sacrifice, it is better to tough it out and pay the bill. Let’s save on groceries or other things in our lives. Eating at cheaper restaurants is helpful. I wonder how many Oil Executives frequent McDonald’s?

Well, I’m going to go now. I need to drive my SUV to Wendy’s and pick up dinner. They don’t deliver. Probably a result of the fuel prices.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

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December 30, 2007 at 8:53 pm

Caffeinated Nation – Pick Your Buzz

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Mmmmm. Coffee. Love it. Can’t get enough. I take a thermos to work; about five cups of my favorite dark roast. If I have any left over (it’s good for 24 hours), I take it home and make iced coffee.

A few years ago coffee was considered evil. Caffeine killed. That’s what all the research said. Now we crawl on our knees for the next jolt. Bzzzz. Zzzzttt.

Coffee is the liquid fuel I prefer. My favorite blend is Espresso with French Roast (kind of the same thing). Then there is this Italian Roast branded by the local grocery store, but I think it’s the same as Espresso. The strength bar at the self-help coffee station grades it to the far right, for “most intense.” Dark stuff. Kill me with flavor. I’ll live with the indigestion. The buzz is the thing. Give me the coffee zing.

Can you sling a cat through the air and not hit a coffee shop or stand? They’re everywhere. Name a mall or shopping center, and if someone asks, “Is there a coffee shop?” you can say, “Hell yeah, there are three.” Forget about the muffins and scones, because within pastries lies evil. Guzzle the coffee. Live on the upswing. Caffeine is your friend.

In 1988, we visited Seattle for my daughter’s High School graduation. At that time, they had push carts on nearly every street corner selling coffee. Every morning I walked across the street from our hotel to get coffee for the morning wake up. There were shops, paying hard rent, around every corner, too. This visit was our discovery of Starbucks. The first Starbucks was opened in 1971 across from Pike Place Market; probably the coolest market in the country (I sat in the stool at the Athenian Inn used by Tom Hanks during the filming of Sleepless in Seattle). Starbucks had recently announced a plan to expand, and did they ever? Their 2006 revenue was $7,786,000,000. You read that right. 7.786 billion. Selling coffee. Juan Valdez is rolling in his grave.

A few years ago I was having coffee with a friend of mine. He drinks his black, and I add dairy and sweetener. In this kind of sinister, yet comical way, he said, “I drink coffee. You drink a coffee beverage.” I laughed, but he made a good point. It seems most people like their coffee blended with something sweet and creamy. Frappuccino, Cappuccino, Crapuccino. Name it. Someone likes it.

Since coffee has now been embraced as a good thing, we have the invasion of energy drinks. Love them, too. I know . . . Mountain Dew (diet) and all the other buzz-worthy drinks are considered a young indulgence, but I can’t help myself. My favorite drink is my favorite for three reasons: I get a lot for the same price as smaller versions, it’s sugar free, and low in sodium. OK, analyze that. I’m worried about the sodium because of blood pressure, but the purpose of energy drinks is to increase blood pressure. If you see me out and about and you know CPR, please stand near. I’ll gargle just in case.

A person can spend hours wading through the choice of energy drinks available at any given store. Many of them come in a sugar-free diet variety. Your brain can explode from the intensity of the drink, but you will be thin in the Emergency Room. At least you’ll look good. That’s what we want. Always to look good. And to buzz through life.

I like that we are lenient regarding the amount of ingredients allowed in a drink. Let us adults make our own choices. Monitoring the use by children is probably a good idea, but if we want to cause self-induced aneurysms, allow it. Don’t hold my hand and tell me what I can and can’t drink. If I want to go to my grave with a Jolt Ultra in my coffin, don’t tell me I can’t.

But, don’t you think it is a little odd that some of the drinks emphasize the evil intent? Maybe we should be cautious, but we won’t. They go too well with vodka.

Happy Holidays!!

With Love,

Bake My Fish
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Written by Bake My Fish

December 20, 2007 at 9:56 pm