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Friday, January 28, 2011


Today, following another major snowfall I went outside with a yardstick and measured: we had a ZILLION INCHES OF SNOW! It is the first time in history that a zillion inches have been recorded. It was another nor’easter. It seems like no matter where I happen to be, the weather sucks. We went to Florida last year, and what did we get? A sou’easter. We are going to Texas this year, where I expect to be hit by a mi’wester, and on the way, a sou’sou’easter.

The snow seems pretty at first. It’s a winter wonderland of pristine white until the dog turns half the yard yellow like an old tee shirt. Here in the Northeast we spend insane amounts of time and money to clear things away that fall on the ground. I just got through raking up the last leaf from autumn, and I turn around and the entire place is covered in snow. I heard that New York City blew half its snow removal budget on that one storm after Christmas.

The worst part of any major storm is the Mayor’s press conference. You’re just sitting down to watch Judge Judy and the dopey local news breaks away to Mayor Bloomberg. First of all, the lowest a microphone stand can go is about 4 feet, which lands the microphone straight at Bloomberg’s forehead. So he nasally twangs statements like, “We have the finest people in the business in charge of keeping New York’s streets clear and safe!,” and, “If you don’t absolutely have to be somewhere, stay home!” He twangs exactly the same nuggets every single time, and for that I have to miss Judge Judy. Apparently the same guys who pick up the garbage are the ones that remove the snow, so you have to put all your snow in plastic bags, and separate the ice in different bags since it is recyclable.

Bloomberg queries, “Are we going to get to everyone all of the time?” Before I can say, “I don’t think there’s a chance in hell of you doing that…,” he chirps, “NO!” “Are we going to make mistakes?” I start to answer, “Well, we ALL make mistakes, and I think-“ when he yells, “YES!” If he knows these answers ahead of time I fail to see why he asks us.

Not to mention that he is still backtracking after getting lambasted about the poor response that first snowstorm, where everyone learned what the word “tertiary” meant (it means any road in Staten Island). Now I use it in Scrabble all the time, and it gives me a fresh chance to skewer Mayor Bloomberg about not plowing our driveway.

We have to hire our own plow guy to come every time it snows because our driveway is so steep. The old plow guy quit because it was annoying to get up our driveway with all that snow there. The new guy plows a perfect half inch of ice from top to bottom, like a luge course. If my car doesn’t make it all the way up, it slides backwards back down to the street, bouncing off the snowbanks like a pinball. So I go out there and salt it even though I am supposed to be cutting down. My wife wants to get one of those electric heaters that sits underneath the pavement, so we can just move the TV out there and hang out.

Even if you got sick of all the snow and leaves falling, where would you move to? A lot of people move to Florida, where snow and leaves don’t fall as often as the property values do. Plus every year you have to board up your windows with plywood while the hurricanes blow through. The Midwest has tornadoes, and way too much corn. You would still need a plow guy to get all that frigging corn out of your driveway. Plus you will pull your hair out trying to find a decent pizza. The West has earthquakes and wildfires, and a much higher proportion of weirdos. Yes, you could move out of the country, if you could only get down your driveway.

At least the weather forecasting is much better than it used to be. Just before this last storm, meteorologists correctly predicted the time that it would begin, approximately how much snow we would get, and that the Steelers would not cover. Oddly enough, they can’t seem to tell you one damn thing about meteors.

Incidentally, There are several theories as to why we are experiencing higher snow totals this year. One is that since the polar ice caps are melting, less cold air is reflected into space, thus affecting the cold air patterns. Experts liken it to leaving the refrigerator open, so that the food inside gets warmer while the rest of the house gets colder. By the way, I notice that you are almost out of beer. Another theory holds that the warmer Arctic has resulted in more snow in Siberia and the surrounding mountain ranges, thus “bending” the jetstream further south. Still, no one has been able to explain to me why Iceland is so green, and Greenland is full of ice, other than that somebody left the fridge open.

Sunday, January 2, 2011



This Christmas Season, as is my tradition, I enjoyed by complaining about the bad taste of others.

We went to see the tree at Rockefeller Center, and it was spectacular and everything, but we were surprised at how many dead spots there were in the lighting. It was as if nobody took a look at it from far away. Isn’t there a Dead Spot Manager assigned to this project? Even Da Vinci, as he was creating the Mona Lisa, took five paces back and looked at it from far away, where he needed his glasses to even see it at all. Then he realized that it was making a face like someone who had just committed a murder and put the body into a wood chipper. But that was the look he was going for, so DONE.

My sister was the DSM when we decorated our tree as we were growing up. I was usually assigned to the lights, sisters to the ornaments, and we all chipped in with the tinsel. It was a complicated production and to this day I am very particular about Christmas adornments and displays.

I don’t like garlands for instance. Especially those constructed from edible items. Popcorn garlands: do you microwave? Butter or no butter? For god’s sake don’t put on a movie-if you were to put on the Godfather trilogy for Christmas Eve you’re pretty much guaranteed of a bare tree by the time Sonny Corleone gets nailed at the toll booth. Chili pepper garlands? Too felice navidadish. Cranberry garland? All we have are those cranberries that come in a tin, and when you pour it out it looks like a quivering purple can. I don’t even like Judy Garland.

I like a tree where the lights are evenly spaced, around and around the circumference. Don’t start at the top and drape the lights down in a straight line- the thing looks like a bird cage. If you don’t have enough lights to make a good showing, pick a smaller tree. And don’t put a fake tree on your lawn, how stupid is that- there are more than enough real ones out there. It’s a carbon footprint slap in the face. Fake fir is even worse than fake fur. Swirlies are lame, those little spiral plastic cones of light. Something in between Snoopy’s tree and Charlie Brown’s would be perfect.

Rockefeller center is lined with large deciduous trees that had bright blue lights wrapped around every limb. They were almost more impressive than the big tree.

I’m not much for inflatable stuff on the lawn. It always makes me wish I still owned a BB gun.

We went to a friend’s house and they had reindeer made of lights with heads that bobbed up and down. Judging by how bright they were they must have eaten all the daffodil bulbs on the property. From a certain angle it appeared like they were having sex, which looks more festive than it sounds. I would love to mount a reindeer myself, but only for my den.

Sometimes I see a nativity scene on someone’s lawn and it reminds me of the small one we used to set up on the bookshelves as a kid. We cleared out the entire World Book Encyclopedia shelf to accommodate it, so I could not write a book report for two weeks, which was okay with me. Everything went fine for a few days, but then the poor baby Jesus would find himself in all sorts of ungainly predicaments. If he ever thought the manger was smelly and uncomfortable he should try dangling from the Christmas tree, or hanging out in the butter dish. Poor Jesus had worse luck than Jimmy Olson, or Lassie’s family, except that he didn’t have Superman or Lassie to rescue him. The only way he got out of one mess was for someone to think of an even worse one. My Mom usually took pity on the poor baby and saved the Savior, replacing him gently in his bed. The little Lord Jesus once again lay down his sweet head.

These days hardly anyone is born in a manger. A taxicab sometimes, and probably there are instances of a baby being born while waiting for the officials to review a play where it looks like Eli Manning has once again fumbled the ball. And sitting a baby in a bunch of hay seems irresponsible- any one of those hard stalks could poke his eye out as sure as I’m sitting here. At least put an old tee-shirt in there or something- all those sheep standing around and no one could scare up a sweater?

The three wise men found out about the blessed event awfully fast- Mary must have gotten the birth announcements out in jig time- how much did Jesus weigh? Is it in the Bible somewhere? IT’S A BOY! Joseph and Mary are pleased to announce their new bundle of joy! Birth cards always include the weight, but subsequent birthday announcements never do, especially after age 50. Waist size, shoe size, hat size, none of those helpful statistics on the baby. Sometimes they give the length of the baby, in case it is very light but several feet long, and might look like a snake. When you are a baby you have a length, since you’re lying down, and your height would basically be your width. One of the wise men then lights up a cigar around all that hay and almost burns down the manger. WHO’s the WISE GUY? The one with the gold says, “Now Jesus, this is a DOUBLE bar of gold- for Christmas AND birthday.” The other wise men were a little pissed off because they had agreed to do a “secret Santa,” or a grab bag and this jaboney shows up with gold.

Anyway, we used to do the whole big Christmas tree, and all that but over the years we have scaled down to just some lights in the living room. The lights last one and 364/365 years, whereupon one light in the chain breaks as I am trying to untangle it and half the strand is kaput. So now I pay about 15 dollars more, and get a string that is guaranteed to keep working no matter how many bulbs burn out, and as a result all are dead except for three.

Sometimes I look at a Christmas-lit shrub next to a house and it looks suspiciously like a net of lights has simply been cast over it, like on "The Deadliest Catch."

Incandescent lights are taboo now; everyone uses LED lights. Light-emitting diodes don’t really emit a whole lot of light. They were invented mainly for telling you that your transistor radio was on in case you couldn’t hear it. And thank god diodes didn’t start emitting sounds or smells, or there would be no reason to have children, and then good luck trying to get a diode to mow your lawn.

Incidentally, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” may not have been a carol at all, but instead a fanciful memory game, where each singer would have to remember all the previous versus before he sang his own. The phrase “four calling birds” was probably meant to be “colly birds,” or blackbirds. The “golden rings” would have meant ring-necked pheasants, not jewelry. The twelve days start with December 25th and end with January 6th, the Epiphany. If it WAS meant as a memory game, it is important to note that “twelve drummers drumming” is not a very important thing to remember, since it is never repeated during the song. So there.