Monday, March 30, 2009


Can somebody please explain camping out?

I read where 49 million Americans camp in the wilderness every year. How can such a large segment of the population be out of their minds?

It might make sense if a husband and wife were desperate to get out of a crowded city filled with people who shout and shove and occasionally unleash abusive comments and middle fingers for no apparent reason.

Or a couple needed, for sanity's sake, to temporarily expand the confines of their 2-bedroom apartment or 3-bedroom home.

Or both of them use it as an excuse to separate the kids from their computers, video games, and various electronic gadgets.

But for the most part and for reasons that defy logic, families actually go away together to large wooded areas for extended periods of time.

Instead of relaxing in the dwelling they're working so hard to pay for, they choose to abandon civilization, modern conveniences, and common sense to live out their twisted, primitive fantasies.

Maybe those travel brochures cast some kind of magic spell on them that sucks out their powers of reasoning.

“Get back to the joys of nature, enjoy spectacular scenery in the wooded wonderland of your dreams.”

What these brochures fail to mention is the bugs that eat you alive, the lack of toilet facilities, the possibility of being visited by bears, screaming kids that can't be sent to their rooms, and the likelihood of at least one torrential downpour that will leave you dripping, shivering, sneezing, and wondering why the hell you ever dumped your creature comforts.

Whenever I get the urge to rough it, I go out in the backyard and lie in my hammock for an hour. Sometimes I don't even bother taking the radio.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009


One of the endearing traits about children is that when they make a mistake or do something bad, they have the decency and transparency to say, “UH-OH!”

The “UH-OH” factor recedes and sometimes disappears entirely when people grow up and become politicians, bankers, insurance giants, or athletes. Spins and cover-ups have turned the concept of honesty into an antiquated notion.

Newspapers, magazines, and TV are filled with examples of people with big jobs doing terrible things-- things that often affect all of us – and not having the stones to admit it publicly.

Athletes, for example, looking like The Incredible Hulk, might claim they work hard, eat right, take plenty of vitamins, and get 8 hours of sleep a night. If strong evidence suggests otherwise, the athlete might say, “Gosh, I had no idea what that needle in my butt was for.”

People in high places declare wars that can't be explained without a little smoke and a lot of mirrors.

We're told with a straight face that pork-filled budgets are a necessary cost of doing business. We learn that the top AIG executives, the lying weasels who ran the company into the ground and needed billions in bailout money, have a legal contract and are still entitled to millions for doing a lousy job.

Then there's Bernie Madoff, betraying good friends, and ruining their lives and perhaps the lives of their children. The following could be construed as being unkind -- but may he rot in prison and have a cellmate named Bubba.

Diogenes, the cynical Greek philosopher who lived some 300 years before Christ, was famous for carrying a lantern in his continual search for an honest man. If he were alive today, he'd need a search light, and it still wouldn't be enough.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009


It's not my intention to trash a classic American character, a comic strip beloved by millions, and a legend for years among followers of the funnies.

But if Daddy Warbucks is supposed to be one of the world's richest men, why won't he buy her a new outfit? Some snappy little number for Annie in puce, fuchsia, cerise, or some other modern shade that doesn't show up on the color spectrum.

What's the problem? Is the artist concerned about breaching some kind of fashion statement? Do they think we won't recognize her in new threads?

How many carrot-topped, 12-year-olds have a dog named Sandy that barks ARF ARF?

I say we spruce up the 83-year-old moppet. And while we're at it, let's get her to stop staying "leaping lizards" every time she gets excited. First of all, the lizard is a form of reptile so they're not big on leaping.

Maybe Annie could say "slithering snakes" when she gets charged up and needs to verbalize her tensions and retain the alliteration.

Then there's the eye thing. The poor orphan has no pupils, only vacant white circles. WHY? Did this famous and respected cartoonist think that nobody would notice? Or did he just forget to dot the eyes?

If Annie is being forced to watch out for gangsters, spies and saboteurs--at least give the kid some pupils.


Saturday, March 7, 2009


Standard Time is an ancient and ill-conceived ritual that was inflicted on this country in 1917 while we were busy fighting the Nazis. It automatically and arbitrarily legislated that we turn our clocks back one hour every fall whether we wanted to or not.

This tyrannical practice might not have been such an ordeal in the early 1900s when alarm clocks and pocket watches were all you had to worry about.

But today we've got to change our wrist watches, phones, answering machines, coffee machines, clock radios, oven timers, microwaves, VCRs, car clocks, and a bunch of other electronic devices that serve as reminders of all the time we're wasting changing clocks.

More and more countries around the world are now on Daylight Saving Time, and it's about time we were one of them. This year DST officially starts on Sunday, March 8th at 2 AM and stays with us until November 1st. While it's comforting to have an extra hour of light for 8 months, it would be even better to have it year round.

Ben Franklin first suggested the idea of Daylight Saving to the citizens of Paris back in the 1700s. He thought he could cut back on the use of candles by giving the people an extra hour of sunlight. And frankly, I think Ben was on to something.

Not only does Daylight Saving Time give us more sun and by extension Vitamin D, it reduces the load on electricity and cuts down on oil costs, possibly even our use of candles.

It's bad enough we have 8 time-zone changes in this country. We don't need the further complication of Eastern Time and Daylight Saving. So let's just dump FALL BACK and stick with SPRING AHEAD.

Instead of obsessing about the knots in your stomach over Madoff, Wall Street, bailouts, plummeting housing costs, and the crisis of confidence regarding your future … write a cheery letter to your congressman instead.

Tell him you just want an extra hour of sun all 12 months and that you're tired of changing timing devices twice a year for reasons that make no damn sense.


Monday, March 2, 2009


It seems like I'm always in the bathroom when the phone rings. It never rang during those 3 hours when I wasn't in the bathroom. But now that I'm in the bathroom relaxing, it rings off the hook.

Of course, it stops ringing the minute I run out to pick it up. Hello! Hello! I sometimes wonder if the “bathroom phone show” is being videotaped and will appear later in the day on Letterman.

I've been working on ways to improve my chances of getting those missed phone calls. Here's my latest. Step into the bathroom, slam the door, turn on the faucet, and flush the toilet. This should trick the phone into ringing. When it does, make a mad dash for it.

For added reality, make sure you're naked.