Whimsy

Are You an Anti-Semantic? Time to be Outed!

Are You an Anti-Semantic? Time to be Outed!

Warning: There are some people out there who are dangerous anti-semantics. Like the ones who think “irregardless” is a fine word, and should be included in our dictionaries.

I’m the exact opposite. Words are my world. Consequently, I spend entirely too much time wondering why we pay doctors, dentists and lawyers so much money to “practice,” then allow one of the latter to represent us at a “trial” which also means an “experiment” or a “test.”

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Coming Distractions: This Summer’s Retooled Movie Menu

Since shooting new movies was all-but-impossible during the lockdown, canny producers figured they could simply re-edit long-ago hits for this summer. Here are some coming distractions:

JOWLS (formerly, “Jaws”): An entire continent is terrorized by a largely orange creature whose suits, once made by Brioni, are now stitched together by Omar the Tentmaker. As ominous music plays, he lures idiots to public rallies to celebrate his greatness then has them devoured by Covid-9. Despite the efforts of California Governor Gavin Handsome (played by the late and missed Roy Schneider) and a nasal scientist named Dr. Anthony Fussy (played by the always on-time and annoyingly peppy…

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Quibbles & Bits: Starbucks and Hell

Welcome to QUIBBLES ‘N’ BITS, my regular roundup of irregular items. Such as…:

WE GAVE (UP) AT THE OFFICE—I was sorry to learn a couple of weeks ago that Starbucks will no longer offer free office rent to the miserly parasites who’ve grown accustomed to buying perhaps a small latte, nursing it for hours to conduct their workday—including WiFi, Zoom, Facetime, Skype and in-person client meetings. These people often take up…

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Want Unverified and Unqualified Reviews

If you get food poisoning from what you ate in a restaurant, you should get medical help, let the owner know as soon as possible and, if nothing is done, contact your county health department.

If you simply don’t like the service or food you received at a restaurant, don’t go there again. And if you’re in an adamant mood, tell your friends not to go there, either. But whatever you do, don’t post a damning review on Yelp.

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Weight, Weight, Don’t Tell Me!

Weight, Weight, Don’t Tell Me!

We know about Covid-19. But what about the Covid 15? In the spirit of the famous “Freshmen 15,” which is the average weight students allegedly gain in their first year of attending college away from home, I’ve coined the Covid 15 as a descriptor for how many pounds many of us have put on while dutifully sheltering at home for several weeks, in close proximity to our kitchens, in the hope of skewing the pandemic’s statistics.

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One Space or Two? The Meaningless Debate Continues

As you know, for decades “RDA” has meant Recommended Dietary Allowance, to indicate roughly how much fruit, grain, protein, minerals and, possibly, S’mores, should be part of most people’s daily consumption. Now, thanks to a lawyer in Tampa (a place that, thank God, they keep in Florida), RDA has a new meaning for me: Ridiculous Damn Arguments.

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Let Us Spray. No, Wait. Let’s Not

First, a quick grammar lesson: “Today I spit. Yesterday, I spat. Often I have spat. And frequently, upon on your spats, you unpretentious fop.”

What brings this rumination from cud to mind is my delight that spitting is being outlawed in various segments of our daily lives, due to the potential spread of Covid-19, which still sounds like one half of a box score to me (“At the end of the first half, it’s Covid-19, People-Zero”). And while I feel no sympathy for…

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Elephants Are Lightweights as Boozers

Do you suppose when a drunk elephant hallucinates it sees pink people?

I raise the question because a new report indicates that among all creatures large and small, elephants can’t really drink the other ones under the table (or under the water table if we’re talking splash-happy hippos). Despite their size and penchant for peanuts, which bars serve to whet one’s alcohol consumption, elephants “really can’t handle their liquor.” This is detailed in a story in the New York Times, which in turn was reporting on a study that appeared in the April issue of “Biology Letters,” a highly regarded science journal I keep meaning to subscribe to.

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Six Post-Pandemic Brainstorms to Prove Invention is the True Mother of Necessity

I’ve been reading about how many people used the global house arrest to, variously: (a) create art; (b) learn homeschooling skills; (c) master stress-reduction techniques from homeschooling; (d) teach themselves to cook; (e) use GPS to triangulate where the nearest pharmacy was that still had a supply of Pepto Bismol; and, (f) order copies of “DIY Divorce: The Self-Isolating Couple’s Guide to Alienation of Afflictions and Other New Legal Terms.”

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When We’re Not Together, Dancing Cheek to Cheek

Here’s a new entry for the endangered species list: the charming, traditional and usually insincere cheek kiss popularized by the French.

As you know, these are the same folks to which we attribute the invention of French fries (actually, the Belgians came up with those), French toast (which was probably created by ancient Romans looking for a way to use up some ancient bread) and “Frenching,” the kissing activity that goes beyond the cheek and exercises the tongue even more than a juicy piece of gossip.

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TGI…T? When Did Thursday Become a Favorite Day?

It’s only one day until Thursday, my favorite day of the week. Named for either the Norse god of thunder or a Marvel superhero (no, not Ant-Man), Thursday has been my favorite day for years. Let me tell you why.

The New Yorker and The Economist magazines usually arrive in my mail every Thursday. The New Yorker is something I’ll devour that evening.

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Cleaning House Before the Housecleaner Arrives

Do you clean up your house right before your housecleaner arrives?

Ever since I could afford to, I’ve had housecleaners. They make me take much better care of my surroundings—moments prior to their showing show up, that is. The reasoning, which I’m far from proud of, goes something like this: I am one of a good housecleaner’s many customers. While my housecleaner for the past 13 years is not a gossip, many of the ones who preceded her were. They volunteered all sorts of dish about what slobs some of the region’s most respected individuals were—people who lived, not surprisingly, in some of the region’s tonier enclaves.

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No ZOOM at the Inn?

Of the thousands of you who attend ZOOM meetings—by computer, pad, smartphone or SPCA chip implant—please answer this question with absolute candor:

Every time during the meeting when someone else checks in, how many of you hope it will turn out to be Charles Nelson Reilly, Paul Lynde or Jaye P. Morgan from “The Hollywood Squares”?

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The Invention of Limitless Phone Calls, and Other Modern Miracles

Since I wrote (and not lovingly) about aging the other day, I’m hoping you’ll still indulge me today in a senior moment.

No, I’m not going to begin a story, forget all the details midway through then ask why Johnny Carson wasn’t on again last night (this guy sure takes a lot of days off, doesn’t he?). Nor am I going to mention finding my reading glasses in the cat’s litter box—or ask someone to provide me with “the phone number of 911.”

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Not Aging Well? Take a Number

I don’t think I’ve been aging especially well. I mean, I still have most of my teeth and much of my hair and even after weeks of isolation and my renewed interest in cooking, my clothes still seem to fit. Or at least the no-longer-trim ensemble I’d started to buy when I gained weight a few years ago. (I eventually gave the I-used-to-be-trim set to charity, realizing the likelihood of my willingly losing 35 pounds anytime soon was on a par with my learning Lithuanian while I slept.)

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My Inspiring Keynote Speech to High School Grads

I was once asked to deliver the keynote speech at a Catholic high school’s graduation ceremonies. The key word in that sentence is “once.”

Apparently, I’d been invited in the hope I’d say something about my own religion and the wonderfulness of all religions. The directive I was given by the nun in charge was, “Please say something about God in your remarks.”

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Patriotism and Piggery, Stoicism and Panic: Together Again!

Patriotism and Piggery, Stoicism and Panic: Together Again!

Apparently, there’s a fine line between commendable stoicism and abject terror.

“Amid massive drops in the numbers of heart attacks and strokes treated at local hospitals, doctors are worried that patients are avoiding the emergency room out of fear of catching Covid-19,” reported Felicia Alvarez in the Sacramento Business Journal, one of my almae matres.

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Confessions of an Ersatz Eremite

Confessions of an Ersatz Eremite

When I tell people I’ve been in relative self-isolation since 1984, it doesn’t mean I haven’t seen my brother or cousins in the past 36 years. It just means that as a fulltime writer, my work has required solitude.

Being a hermit had been a choice for me—not a national, state or city edict, depending on which branch of government you believe has the power to send us to our rooms.

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Are Bathing and Strolling Now Next to Godliness?

Are Bathing and Strolling Now Next to Godliness?

Look, “Singin’ in the Rain” is one thing. But are you ready for “Strollin’ to the Tub”?

Two recent side-by-side New York Times stories, “Baths May Benefit the Heart” and “Find Health 4,000 Steps at a Time,” intrigued me because they seemed at first to contradict each other.

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