Monday, December 24, 2007

An odor of desperation

Just back from a weekend in Delaware where a group of us celebrated a pre-Christmas dinner on Saturday night--Crown roast with Brian's yummy stuffing and seven layer salad taht's a family recipe...of, and delicious home made apple pie. Watched Scrooge, the original which was good as I hadn't seen it for a while. Could not abide watching It's a Wonderful Life, so talked and drank all the way through it.

I hate malls, but if you want to find out what desperation personified looks like, I highly recommend the jewelry counters at Bloomingdales, Macy's or any other anchor store on Christmas Eve. Watch as a horde of married men (not an exaggeration)--some clad still in their work attire--circle the glass cases, furious they have too spend time doing this, furious they've left it to the last minute and anxious they don't get ripped off because they are now in a bind. And the ladies behind those cases, bejewelled, equally bright smile, pounce like lionesses because they know the look and know their market.

Overheard at Bloomies

"How much would you like to spend, sir?"
About $100.00."
"Well, maybe $150.00."

He was guided to the stud earrings.
"Have you got anything with diamonds?"
"Well, we do have these..." The assistant leaves and returns with a box. "These are gorgeous. I've sold quite a few this week."
"How much?"
"Do you have anything on sale?"
"Yes. These, sir."
Tiny silence.
"I'll take them. Do you wrap?"

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Running on empty

Okay, admit it. We all fear running out of gas when we see the red hand inch over and touch the tip of the 'E' for Empty on the fuel gauge.

We know there's a few miles left, but how much exactly?

Can we risk traveling another five miles, another ten miles, another fifteen in hopes of happening upon a gas station.

Apparently, Empty does not mean empty--at least not in the States. Automobile manufacturers know that Americans like a buffer. They like to feel secure that, when the dial shows Empty, there's a few more miles left before they totally run out. So, in the US, when a car reads empty, there's anything from fifteen to even fifty miles worth of road eating left.

Germans, on the other hand, demand their car fuel gauges reflect reality. So, if your car registers Empty and you're on the fast lane of the Autobahn, pull over to the shoulder and hope they put an empty gas can in the trunk.

Not sure what the British or Irish preference is, but probably more like the Germans.

Here's a website to check out what your cars threshold is

Tank on Empty

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Stocking Stuffer

TNThe Liar's Diary

The narrator, Jeanne Cross, lives in New England, is married to a renowned doctor Gavin who's cold and a control freak, and has a chronically overweight son Jamie who scoffs whatever candies and cookies he can find and develops a fascination with Ali, a new music teacher who comes to work at the school where Jeanne is an administrator. Jeanne is also in extreme denial about her marriage and life, a denial which Ali forces her to confront, especially in relation to Gavin whose study within the heart of the family home is always kept locked. Ali is also a talented musician, has an older husband who loves her but realizes he can't satisfy all her needs, and acquiesces to her having a number of boyfriends with whom she forms no close attachments, including a teacher and wealthy local business man who wants to marry her. When Ali is brutally murdered and Jamie's scouting knife is discovered at her cottage, the family veneer is ripped apart when he becomes the main suspect and is held at a juvenile detention center.

Patry Francis's first novel is an illuminating peek into a facet of suburbia revolving around the need to keep up appearances at all costs, even if it means lying to oneself and dangerous denial. It's dark and full of interesting twists and mounting tension, more so when one comes to realize the narrator is unreliable. A great stocking stuffer for those who like a good murder mystery.

The book is available in hardcover and will be published in paperback in January 2008. The author maintains a blog at Simply Wait

Monday, December 10, 2007

Justice wields good

Michael Vick, the NFL star, has been found guilty in the federal courts for his role in bankrolling a dog-fighting ring, inhumanely treating and killing pitbulls (those that didn't perform and for the hell of it) and lying about it. He was sentenced to 23 months, though with time off for good behavior he will serve until Summer 2009.

He has lost lucrative marketing contracts and is suspended by the NFL--dare we hope permanently.

Exactly what he deserves. He should also be made to clean out kennels at the ASPCA for a further five years after his release if I were his judge and in a position to use judicial discretion.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here to...

Latest growing fad in the US is funerals for pets.

By funerals, I mean embalming, coffins, flowers, casket viewings at a funeral home, and burial with hearse and funeral directors in attendance, if desired. One entrepreneur in the Mid-West is now in the process of setting up parlors as franchise opportunities.

And it's not just some pet lovers who've decided to make a business out of it. Regular funeral homes always looking for opportunities to wring a few more green backs from tears are getting into the business. Apparently, they've seen there's mega bucks to be made--the average pet funeral costs $500. So they've begun offering portions of their establishments to wake the deceased pet. It used to be done after hours, but irate pet owners stated it wasn't dignified and their pets were family members (latter part, I agree with) and deserved respect.

So, technically, a group of mourners can be at the funeral home sniffing and talking good or bad about Aunt Rosie and another group next door can be wailing about Clarence, the Great Dane. (One establishment has already performed the funeral of a beloved pack mule who took people on treks of the Grand Canyon.)

I'm sure there will come a day at one of these establishments when family members are sitting grieving in front of a closed casket for the entire visiting period, only to discover on the day of the funeral or later that their loved one is interred in a pet cemetery and the funeral Mass was for an old donkey.

Great plot line for Six Feet Under if it was still around.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Dubai's dark side

I watched a fascinating documentary on the telly on Friday night. It concerned the plight of Veronique, mother of 16-year-old Alexandre, a French-Swiss citizen who was driven into the Dubai desert and raped by there men including another teenager.

When he went for a medical examination, the doctor twisted the story so grossly that he was branded a homosexual (illegal in this bizarre kingdom of glittering towers and man-made islands formed in the shapes of palm trees that is surrounded by camels, sand and poverty) and a willing participant in his rape. the police were no less sympathetic and now he is facing prosecution for homosexuality. Worse, neither the police nor Dubai authorities informed him that one of the rapists is HIV+

His mother refused to accept this idiotic status quo and has a campaign going to boycott Dubai. Though part of it's in French, you can visit it at

Here's the ABC Story