It’s That Time of the Month Again–UPDATED!

No, not that.  It’s the time of the month that I’m supposed to be writing the September newsletter for my church.  Haven’t started it yet, and yes, I am aware of the date.

Yesterday I sat down at the computer with the intention of getting it done, but there was all that post-Emmy coverage on the Internets to wade through.  I just had to see Ricky Gervais handing out beers to the audience again (hilarious!) and Stephen Colbert lose to Jon Stewart for the fifth year in row (outrageous!).

And, of course, there was also the exciting coverage and commentary relating to Saturday, 8/28/10’s HUGE event:  “The Beckoning.”  (“Restoring Honor” was the actual name Glenn Beck used for this non-political political event and huge ego-trip.  I am so confused about this:  Restoring WHOSE honor?  America’s?  Certainly not Glenn Beck’s.  Why does America’s honor need restoring?  And why should we believe that Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin can help with this?)

 The fact that he wore a bullet-proof vest during his quasi-religious revival/nationalistic orgy of stupidity/incoherent stringing together of “patriotic” catch-phrases—or whatever the hell this event was supposed to be—on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech is interesting.  WHAT was he so afraid of at his own rally?  Perhaps he is aware of the mental instability of many of his followers, stirred-up and brainwashed by the hate-filled rhetoric the Beckster has been spewing on both his radio show and his Fox Propaganda Network TV program ever since Obama was elected.  Maybe he was afraid that someone would realize that he has NO right to attempt to hijack Dr. King’s message of non-violence and unity between all races as he tries to promote himself as a modern-day advocate for civil rights.  Which is an ideal Beck has NEVER stood for. . .  Don’t get me started on this.  And of course playing sidekick to this grandstanding rodeo clown—his straight-man, so to speak—was Sarah Palin, sweetheart of the Teabagger Party, that bumpitted, bewigged, fish-mouthed monstrosity who will burst out of the hell-depths, screeching, “America, do youuu looove yer Freeeedom?” whenever anybody baits a hook with $100,000.  So I couldn’t miss the coverage of that.

So.  I had to catch up on all that before I could start the newsletter, which is due, hmmm, I guess, NOW.  But I couldn’t stop my brain from thinking about possible topics for this blog.  Possible idea #1:  My weird new neighbors who just moved in behind me last week, who, among other things, like to shine lights into my backyard and TV room windows, starting at about 11:30 every night.  Note to these new neighbors:  Do NOT expect muffins.  And for idea #2, there’s the sappy and sentimental:  We dropped our youngest child off at college last week and so are now empty-nesters.  I know, pathetic. 

Let’s have some audience participation.  What would YOU rather hear about?  You’re welcome to tell me in the comments.  Anything to help me avoid writing this newsletter. 

PLEASE DISTRACT ME!  is what I’m saying.



AMERICA’S HONOR RESTORED:  Bristol Palin to compete alongside D-listers David Hasselhoff and Jersey Shore’s “The Situation” in ABC’s Dancing With the Stars.

Well folks, it’s official.  Bristol Palin, “celeb-utante” daughter of failed politician and professional grifter Sarah Palin (notice I didn’t say       “celeb-utard,” although I really wanted to), has finally reached the highest pinnacle of success ever achieved for having a baby out of wedlock with some dumbass redneck from Wasilly.  She will be paid somewhere between $100,000-$500,000 for her appearances on DWTS, depending on how long she lasts.  Hope she doesn’t Tripp!  (Or Quitt!)   

Do you hear that scraping sound?  There won’t be a bottom left in that barrel after this. 


OK People…

. . . Please stop going back and reading my blog post titled “Montauk Monster Mystery Revealed.”  OK?  I can see on my blog stats that at least five or six of you a day are reading this, but I don’t know who you are.  Probably first-timers.  Listen:  It was a really stupid post and it was over a year ago, and if you would just stop Googling search terms like “giant lobster snot monster” and “viking burial at sea” you wouldn’t end up there by accident, and then be compelled to read that unfortunate post.  THEY CAN’T ALL BE GEMS!

It makes me sad that this is the first impression you get of my writing.  Why don’t you Google “being paid to drink wine” or “procrastination coach”?  I am proud of that work.

What kind of people are you that you would want to read about washed- up sea monsters or canned whole chickens (with bones)?

(The same kind that want to read about Spam and Sarah Palin, I guess.)


Vin Est Notre Ami (or, Les Choses Aller Mieux Avec Le Vin*)

Part 2

WHICH SIMPLY MEANS:  “Wine is our friend.”  This is especially true in France.  Wine is your BEST friend because unlike some friends—it will never disappoint.  You CANNOT get a bad glass of wine in France, even if you tried.  (Full disclosure:  I never tried.  Because what would be the point with all that good wine available?)  Even when you just stop for lunch at a café, the food may be passable, but the wine is always superb.  You don’t even have to order it by name.  You just look at the server and say, “We’ll try the rosé, please,” which is harder than it sounds because if you don’t speak French (and we didn’t), for all you know you may have just said, “Thank-you, we’ll have the bicycle, please, and good-night.”  And the waiter or waitress will humor you because you are another dumb American, and will STILL bring you some good wine.  And you will thank them over and over by saying, “Bonjour!”  And they will laugh and laugh but not because our ignorance is so funny, but because we are stupid Americans who will always leave a tip even though it is not necessary to do so, because the gratuity is always included in the bill.  So, c’est bonne.  (It’s all good.)

BY WAY OF EXPLANATION:  I should have mentioned at the outset how we came to vacation in France.  Some dear friends of ours generously invited us to come and join them for a week at a villa they were renting in the French countryside.  I’ll refer to our friends as the “Pitzfatricks,” altering their name to protect their identify.  (I’ve purposely made it kind of tough to guess their real name, which sounds NOTHING like this.)   Anyway, the Patzfitricks are a great, fun-loving family which we have grown to know and love since 2003, when they were forced to come and live in NJ for a few years.  They served their time here without complaint and were rewarded for their good behavior and cheerful natures by being allowed to move to England a few years later hence.  (“Hence” = more British).  

A LITTLE BACKGROUND:  Our friends claim to hail from the fictional city of Chicago, which as we know, does not exist.  Much like the mythical cities of Shangri-La, Xanadu, or Atlanta, this fantasy location named “Chicago” simply doesn’t exist, but people suffering from this group-delusion insist that it does, and offer as proof that there have been songs written with the word “Chicago” in the title.  (Evidently Sinatra also suffered from this delusion.)  Also, a 70s-era band with a kick-ass horn section uses this fictitional city’s name as its own.  There’s even a Tony award-winning play named for this place, so therefore, they argue, it DOES exist.  But there are songs written about a place called Oz, too.  And as we all found out in this film classic (WARNING: Wizard of Oz Spoiler Alert!) THAT place never existed either.  It’s the same with these so-called Chicagoans.  It’s just a fever dream brought on by either a blow to the head while their house was spinning around inside a twister, or overindulging in too much deep-dish pan pizza or Jeppson’s Malört.  Their fervent insistence that Chicago does indeed exist is so strong they sometimes start speaking in a strange, flat accent, even going as far as naming fictitious suburbs and restaurants and landmarks and so forth, so I don’t make an issue of it.  If it makes them happy—and if we are getting low on wine—I let them cling to their delusion, hoping to avoid witnessing complete mental breakdown or WORSE. 

YOU MAY ASK:  How do I know Chicago does not exist?  Simple:  I’ve never been there. 

THESE DELIGHTFUL PEOPLE:  Are intrepid world travelers, who have VOLUNTARILY CHOSEN to live in England, which does, in fact, exist.  (I know because I’ve been there.)  So you can see why they chose to vacation in France.  It’s practically in their backyard.  Just a 12-hour ferry ride, and then a scant eight-hour drive in a packed car, balancing a guitar, board games, and MORE wine on your lap, and which sounds about the same, time-wise and torture-wise, as the journeys to my childhood vacations from Northern NJ down to Seaside.

BACK TO THE ORIGINAL POINT (THE ONE ABOUT WINE BEING OUR FRIEND):  The Putzfatricks, as I have said before, were very generous to invite us along on their vacation.  But they were brave, as well, to do so.  Why?  Because this vacation was populated with Family as well as Friends.  And against all odds, it worked out beautifully.  Our group (14 people in all) encompassed ages ranging from 81 to 16.  Mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, uncles, in-laws, children, cousins, and friends all enjoyed each other’s company, cooking together, traveling together, playing canasta together, exercising—as well as EXORCISING—together.  (Full disclosure:  There was an exorcism.  But it was NECESSARY.)  And most of all, DRINKING together.  Mostly wine.  Lots of wine. 

DID I MENTION THERE WAS WINE?  There was.  We must have gone through 12 bottles a day, not to mention all those Heineken cans rolling around.  (I am mainly referring to the empties.)  And that is why you should always bring wine on a vacation . . . or at least vacation in a place where it is plentiful, because, as I said at the outset:  WINE IS OUR FRIEND.

* or, “Things Go Better With Wine”®.

J’ai Retourné

Part 1

I HAVE RETURNED:  J’ai retouné d’où diable j’ai été.  Which means “I have returned from wherever the heck I was.”  Which implies that I should have done a little more research on our actual final destination before     I blurted out to everyone that we were going to an unnamed wine region (of which there are many) in France.  I am silly!  The reason I was confused about where we were going was because our flight itinerary ended with us landing in Bordeaux.  After I heard THAT, I stopped paying attention.  Bordeaux!  That’s wine, right?  Awesome!  I am HOME!

OUR FINAL DESTINATION, HOWEVER:  was a beautiful little village called Saint Cyprien, in the heart of the Dordogne region of France (not to be confused with the OTHER ELEVEN St. Cypriens that exist in France.  I’m glad we straightened that out before we started driving.)    It is in the French countryside, which is the breadbasket of the region.  (Oh. My. God.  THE BREAD!)  We had a two-and-a-half hour drive from Bordeaux to that particular St. Cyprien—the one where our friends were waiting for us—during which we basically drove THROUGH a major wine-growing region, judging from the miles of endless vineyards on either side of the highway.  The notorious roaming packs of blood-thirsty French dogs (which are probably there to guard the vineyards) did not get us, I am happy to report.

GETTING LOST:  Yes we did.  We did get lost near the end of the journey, because we were tired and cranky and lost faith in Julie Andrews on our GPS. (When you select “English” on your GPS you get “heavily accented British nanny.”)  Lesson learned:  always trust Mary Poppins!  Always!  She will not let you down.  Just when we were feeling all proud of ourselves for not shooting off a in completely wrong direction right out of the airport, we got all turned around near the end of the drive and were only fifteen minutes away from the villa, which then morphed into 45 minutes of déjà vu.  (Hey, haven’t we been through this village before?  That guy with the loaf of French bread hanging out of his backpack looks familiar, but then you realize you see THAT GUY in every village.)        And what with the jet lag, and all the crying—there’s Mary Poppins on the GPS chirping merrily away: “Recalcula-ting!  Recalcula-ting!”  And then she took us on a cow path up the side of a cliff with a sheer drop on one side, in a manual transmission car, and no room to turn around, just to punish us and perhaps build character, which is what British nannies do.

Getting Spammed

I know you are all anxiously awaiting a long and detailed post about my adventures in the alternate reality known as France, but I am easily distracted.  And there seem to be some Spam fans in our midst.  Gotta please the readers.  When I saw this, I had to post it here and show you the birthday cake I want when my birthday rolls around in two months.
Remember, there are two kinds of Spam.  The bad kind—the kind that clogs your in-box, and the good kind—the kind that clogs your arteries.
OK that’s enough.  I will write the France post.  Later.  But soon.
 (Spam:  the good kind.)
Photo courtesy of  This Is Why You’re Fat.