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Friday, October 28, 2016



Every couple years I always wish I had time to watch the Olympics, but I just don't. That's why I usually end up apologizing to my boss that some stuff didn't get done because I was watching the Olympics. I checked out the opening ceremonies, which were riveting, because I love the pageantry. I don't know exactly what pageantry is but I love it.
     My favorite is the "Parade of Nations." People walked into the arena from every country in the world, which was already amazing because not every country is within walking distance. There were oddly-dressed people on large tricycles leading each country's team in, people that looked like they would have been asked to leave if it were anyplace other than Rio. I felt like a character in "Alice in Wonderland," only I had eaten the wrong dosages of things. Sometimes it looked like a group of people had wandered in looking for Pokémon Go. Other times it looked like Pokémon had already gone.
     The athletes were videotaping everyone in the audience, and everyone in the audience was videotaping the athletes. There wasn't anyone in the arena with more than one eye showing. Which is sad because if you think about it, this is basically the cream of the crop of the human race; just about everyone on the floor of the arena has achieved great feats through their body and skills. Hardly anyone was there because of their great personality.
     Some countries were so small, they only had a couple athletes, maybe a ping-pong player and a guy who is really good at playing the trombone, which is not a recognized Olympic event, at least not yet. I don't want to seem like more of an ignoramus than usual, but there are so many countries that you just flat-out forget are even out there.
     Djibouti, for instance. The harder I try to pronounce it correctly, the harder I get slapped in the face. This might be a case of people assuming things about me that are primarily true. The Luxembourg team promenaded through the arena. That's a place where you always feel like you overpaid for something, but I can't put my finger on it.
     Spain entered, wearing Panama hats that made them look like they just came from somebody's 50th birthday party. Chinese Taipei was there, a country smart enough to include their blood type right in the name. You never know when there might be some kind of mishap with the javelin throw or something.
     Samoa, where they make great Girl Scout cookies by the way. Micronesia was represented. You have to root for their country to grow so you can at least see it. Kazakhstan had a team. I tried to use Kazakhstan in Scrabble once but it wasn't in the Scrabble dictionary and I lost my turn, so I am rooting against them, obviously. France strolled in wearing some slightly goofy-looking outfits. Those bon vivants looked like tourists for once.
     The president of the Olympic Committee gave a speech. I was watching it on television in a bar, and my Spanish language lip-reading isn't as good as it could be, but it was obvious to me that he was quoting from a Michelle Obama speech from 1998.
     There wasn't one person there who didn't look like they were having the time of their life, and that alone was refreshing. I heard all these stories that Brazil was in shambles, and the corruption, and the zika virus, and the pickpockets, and the doping scandals, and the blah-ba-di-blah-ba-di-blah. As each delegation walked in, and no one said the word "Trump" even once, I realized that Rio might not be so bad after all.

Friday, October 21, 2016



     I read here in the Record that Somers native Rachael Goldstein is competing in "American Ninja Warriors," one of my favorite television shows. It's a program that pits ordinary people against a series of tests of strength and agility. These events have names like "Salmon Ladder" and "Jumping Spider," which you can try to order at a Chinese restaurant just for fun.

     I love the show because it reminds me of a time about 30 years ago, when I was flipping through the channels with the remote control. I noticed this show where two dudes were poking at each other with a huge Q-tip. That got my attention. Then this gal who looked like she had blown her hair out for another 20 minutes after it was already dry started hunting people with a gun that shot giant Q-tips. I couldn't help thinking that this show could REVOLUTIONIZE aural hygiene.

     The show was called "American Gladiators," and it starred an assembly of steroid-swilling ex-football players and female body builders who vied against two guest competitors in various games and contests. I became addicted to it for six years, until I finally got myself into a 12-step program, where I took 12 steps away from the television and went into the kitchen, where I discovered Dove ice cream bars.

     At the end  of the show the two contestants would line up to run through an obstacle course with hand bikes, blocking dummies, rope swings and a balance beam. If you fell off the balance beam two female gladiators were waiting for you in a "penalty pit," and one of them would whack you over the head with a ball peen hammer and the other one would give you a wedgie.

     Rachael Goldstein apparently trained for only four months to be a Ninja Warrior. She successfully jumped across a bunch of rubber doohickies, swung on a rope, held onto a large cylinder attached to a huge key ring, ran across a bunch of massive ping-pong paddles, jumped on a trampoline and grabbed onto a giant wheel which she tried to spin with her hands, but that some weasel had sabotaged so that she couldn't get a good grip, and so she fell off.

     These are not just a bunch of useless skills, like math. Let's say you're out in the jungle of Costa Rica, and I mention Costa Rica because I saw a hotel there with THREE gorgeous swimming pools, and I can picture myself on a lounge chair, laying out in the golden sun, complaining that they don't have any Coors Light. But let's say the pools are on the fritz, and so there you are in the jungle, holding onto a log that's rolling downhill. I suppose you could just let go of the log, but then you'd have to walk all the way down the hill.

     Or let's say the tiki bar is closed and you're out in the jungle again, being chased by a three-toed sloth. First of all, if you can't outrun a three-toed sloth you're a complete idiot. But let's say this one has four toes and runs super fast, and all of a sudden a cargo net appears, which luckily doesn't have any cargo in it. So you zip up that cargo net like nobody's business, not realizing that a sloth climbs MUCH faster than it runs. Either way, you are sloth chow, so bad example.

     They also have this thing called the "warped wall," which was invented when we hired a contractor that we hadn't completely vetted. We might have gotten him from Angie's List, but it could have been her grocery list or something.

     Anyway, I actually saw Rachael's run on "American Ninja Warriors," and let me say she did REALLY well, finishing four challenges before falling off the "Wheel of Doom," which is a name I just made up. By virtue of her successful appearance in the American Ninja regional qualifiers, Rachael Goldstein will be moving on to the next round, so congratulations! I will be watching for her, and if they could find a way to work a giant Q-tip into the show they could kiss waxy build-up goodbye.

Friday, October 14, 2016



     Last week it was time for the Democrats to have their say. Hillary Clinton energized the party by choosing her running mate. To capture the chemistry of the moment, she did it through Twitter, tweeting, "I'm thrilled to announce my running mate, @TimKaine...." She went on to say that she has known him for a long time, and that they are such good friends that she often calls him "@Tim," and sometimes just "@."

     When they appeared together, they showed perfect unity by conversing in two different languages. He spoke fluent Spanish to the crowd, and she smiled, hoping that he wasn't saying anything unflattering about her hair, which he would have had every right to do. Her eyes lit up when he said something that sounded like "burrito."

     They gaveled in the convention by accusing the Russians of stealing their emails and publishing them. What they should have said was the the Russians also wrote them. Every time I send an email at work that somebody might not like, I always sign "Vladimir Putin" at the bottom, in case it doesn't go over too well.

     The proceedings started with some disunity, to be sure. Bernie Sanders supporters were so disappointed that Bernie Sanders wasn't going to be their nominee, that they even booed Bernie Sanders, for not being their nominee. It seemed like they had just found this out, and they booed everything that happened from then on. It was a little like a Knicks game.

     Michelle Obama delivered a rousing and emotional speech that set the tone. If Melania Trump liked the one in 2008, she's going to LOVE this one. I don't know if Mrs. Trump is going to be speaking anytime soon, but if she happens to mention that she has two black daughters playing on the White House lawn, it would make me suspicious.

     Vice President Joe Biden used words like "malarkey" to show that Donald Trump is out of touch with the times. He then warned the delegates not to take any wooden nickels.

     When it came time for Hillary's speech I braced myself. Whenever she talks in front of large groups, she tends to raise her voice as she gets more excited, and it sounds like she is yelling at me for not cleaning my room. And as a result, even when she is in the middle of an oration about the economy, or foreign policy, I go and clean my room, and then I can't find anything for two weeks.

     If Secretary Clinton is elected she will have to overcome an appalling lack of any sense of fashion. One outfit she has worn appeared to be similar to the uniform of the Communist Party from the 1950s. Another time she wore an orange ensemble that made her look like she was incarcerated in a pumpkin patch. Once she wore what looked like really uncomfortable pajamas and a hat. If you need one reason to vote for Hillary Clinton, consider this: these clothes MUST be confined to the White House. If she loses the election she will probably donate them to charity, and we will be forced to feel sorry for underprivileged ladies wearing $22,000 designer pants suits. If there isn't an organization called "Clothing for the Blind," perhaps there should be.

     I don't have a crystal ball, and I can't tell you if Hillary Clinton and @TimKaine will be elected in the fall. And if I could see into the future, I would be concentrating on whether the Giants look like they finally have a running game or not. But I do know that if Hillary Clinton is president next year, my room will be a whole lot cleaner.

Friday, October 7, 2016



      So I was flipping around the television last week, and what did I find? A new reality show starring DONALD J. TRUMP! From what I could see, the premise of the show ist that he runs for President of the United States, and he tries to get people to vote for him by insulting them! It was on every night last week, and I couldn't take my eyes off it!

      His wife, Melania, showed up and gave a speech that summarized many familiar Republican values. They were so familiar that I remembered them from 2008, when they were valued at the Democratic Convention. She told the audience that "you work hard for what you want in life," and if you don't want to work that hard, you can just copy stuff. Those are the values that got me through elementary school, when I had to do a book report and just basically copied it from the World Book encyclopedia. I would have copied this column too if I could find our World Book encyclopedias.

      Melania is from Slovenia, or it could be the other way around. She delivered her speech with the kind of rousing flourish seen at beauty pageants when they ask the contestant a question about current events. She showed up in a white monotone dress, and you can fill in your own joke here if you want. Up until now she hasn't said much, and seemed as if she was treating her husband's campaign as something he was cooking up in the basement and would have to clean up himself when it was over.

      Then former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani came out, and he yelled a lot and looked like he might blow a fuse and all the lights would go out. Ted Cruz came out and implied that you might be better off voting for somebody else. Chachi came out, and said Donald Trump was the man he endorsed, since Scott Walker wasn't in it anymore. Then the guy from Duck Dynasty came out, or it might have been the guy from ZZ Top.

      Then Trump came out, and he was standing on this huge platform, so IN YOUR FACE to everybody who said he didn't have one. Trump repeated his vow to have a wall built around America, and that he's going to make Mexico pay for it. We had a wall built next to our driveway, and you know who built it? Three Mexicans, so maybe Trump is right about that. I think it would be cheaper to build a moat, fill it in with a garden hose, then put alligators in it. But then you would need a wall to keep the alligators from coming over.

      Trump painted a dark and bleak picture of America, a place that no one would ever want to live, including terrorists and illegal immigrants. So he already fixed two problems by the end of the speech! America is great again! By the way, Trump owns the trademark to "Make America Great Again," so if anyone else tries to make America great again, Trump can sue them. He also mentioned that the current administration has done nothing to curtail the proliferation of ISIS. He promised to build a wall around ISIS, and have Mexico pay for it.

      I read that a female protester was arrested for interrupting Trump. If interrupting people were a crime she would have had to show up at Sing Sing to interrupt him. She stood up and shouted, "Build bridges, not walls!" Whereupon the president of Mexico stood up and shouted, "And pay for them your OWN damn self!"