Friday, July 29, 2011

Persnickety Lemons

Can you hear that tired old trope, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” without rolling your eyes? The lemonade stand had gone the way of the dodo even when I was a child, but lemons were still apocryphally potent. Per the Brady Bunch, the juice was alleged to erase freckles. In the 70s, we used it to highlight our hair while we baked precancerously in the sun. It didn’t work, but that never stopped us from trying.

Lemons have a unique place in popular culture. They’re in everything from furniture polish to gelato. “Lemon yellow” is superior to the more pedestrian and bourgeois “yellow.” Oh, and if you’re trying to cut down on sodium, someone will tell you to substitute lemon juice for salt. They always do. People seem to think that acidity and salinity are the same thing.

Have you read any of the stuff about those ubiquitous lemon slices in restaurants? Apparently many restaurants don’t wash them enough, thus when sliced, the bacteria on the surface go into the juicy parts. According to this theory, squeezing that wedge into your refreshing beverage adds all sorts of microbial extras. I’m not sure I believe it, but what’s a blog for if not to propagate urban myths?

Be that as it may, I like lemons. They taste good. They’re a nice, friendly color. Lemons are extremely useful little things. They may not remove freckles or give you blonde hair, but if you want to know if you’ve got any nicks or cuts on your hands, squeeze a lemon. You should always have one handy, if only for that purpose.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Why A Duck?

“No one blogs anymore.” I was told this recently, on very good authority. I even believe it -- up to a point, with qualifications and a caveat or two.

Tell me that no one reads blogs anymore and I’ll agree faster than you can say “short attention span”. Whenever one of you darlings comments (either live, via email or right here in public for the rest of you to see) I’m always surprised. Sometimes, in my heart of hearts, I think I do this just to print out for my mother every few months. So yeah, tell me no one reads blogs anymore and I’d be fine with that.

But that’s not what he said. He said “No one blogs anymore.” That’s like saying no one sings along with the radio, or talks back to it, depending on what station it’s on. Or that no one doodles while on the phone, or leaves long, pointlessly rambling voice mails, mea culpa.

Conversation is a byproduct of coexistence. I’ve said it before; a blog is just a one-sided conversation. Typing it all out and posting it is just a sneaky way to get my point across without interruption or dissent or a change of subject if I’m being particularly boring. Conversation is a byproduct of coexistence, and narcissism will never go out of style.

If it looks like a blog, walks like a blog and is written by a quack like a blog, we can assume that the blog, as such, will be around for a long, long time.

Friday, July 22, 2011


About the only thing people seem to agree on is that we’re all disenfranchised.

This isn’t political. Let the screamers take that road. I’m talking about everything else. The stuff that people say doesn’t matter, but that takes up 95% of our waking time. I’m talking about Life, and the World.

It all started back in the day with assertiveness training. Little courtesies dropped away, as silent and fragile as a desert flower under the wheels of an ATV. Call-waiting allowed us to prioritize our relationships. Now it’s cell phones. (Thank you, Max.)

Our right to a quiet dinner, movie or even just a pleasant tête-à-tête is abrogated by that ubiquitous and ostensibly un-ignorable summons. It’s not just the non-gender-specific douche with nothing to say but the lungs to be heard from a block away, it’s also your pal who texts while you’re talking.

Forget yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater, I’m all for the right to free speech ending with a stupid or excessively loud ringtone. Oh, that’s off-topic. Sorry.

Most of us go through life generally trying to do the right thing, not out of nobility but expedience. Manners are just a way for us all to get where we’re going, or do what we need to do, as efficiently as possible. Let the people off of the elevator before you get on. Stand to the right on escalators. Stop at the stop sign. It will be faster in the long run. Yes, even if you wait for the person to cross the road. Pedestrians are disenfranchised enough already.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Trifecta Trauma

For an opinionated person, I can be horribly indecisive. I’m all over the stuff that matters. Bing bang boom, it’s done before the empty envelope hits the recycle bin. Got an unpleasant human situation? No problem. It’s generally obvious if the asshole should be ignored or confronted, and I’m happy to do either. But give me something that doesn’t matter, and I waffle more than a politician in an election year.

There was a movie I deeply loved. (Still do, I should drag out the video and see if the VCR works.) Then I read the book and found out that the movie was only part one of the book. Eventually they filmed a sequel. It was not lovable. In fact, the sequel was crap. All this was back in 1984. I had forgotten it ever existed.

An hour ago I found out that they made a third installment ten years later. This was not in the book. The reviews were awful. One star out of ten. Someone said that the third film retroactively killed any goodness in the first two. It’s unanimous and for anyone else, conclusive. But this is me.

I don’t follow reviewers. I often like things that other people find silly or just awful. But what if everyone who saw this is right? I don’t want a cherished memory tainted after all these years.

So I’m asking you. What do you think? I’m willing to let a majority decide for me. Do I see it or not?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Good Enough

Once upon a time, there was Philosophy 101. The professor began by explaining the difference between necessary and sufficient conditions. His example, branded into my brain: if it’s raining then the sidewalks are wet. That’s a sufficient condition. But if the sidewalks are wet, it’s not necessarily raining. There are lots of ways for a sidewalk to get wet. Yes, that’s a set up for a joke, but we’re not going there. No, we’re not.

“Necessary” isn’t “sufficient”. That’s the point. Got it? Good. Let’s move on.

This basic exercise in conditional statements gave me a greater understanding of “good enough”. That’s really what “sufficient” means. In a pragmatic sense, if it’s sufficient, then it’s good enough. And if it’s good enough, you’re set.

“Good enough” is a way of life. Sometimes it’s plenty just to get something done. Make your bed, floss, eat – the practicalities of daily life don’t require perfection. Show up for work or show up for school. Get it done well enough and move on. You’ll just have to do it again tomorrow.

Ironically, I came to the philosophy of “good enough” during an era when everyone else was striving for Excellence. Well, they’ve all been divorced and had heart attacks by now. Ergo, excellence isn’t good enough. Q.E.D.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Familiarity Breeds Forgetfulness

There’s a guy at one of my gyms. Typically big and beefy he is, but he’s also atypically sweet and quiet and bashful. He’s about my age, maybe a little older. If you’re over 35 you’d recognize him, he’d look familiar but you just wouldn’t know why. He says of himself that he works "in the industry.”

It’s a local phenomenon. All those people who ever handed a cup of coffee onscreen, all those background thugs who said no more than “Stick’em up!” all those faces you saw over and over again during those decades in front of the TV, whose names never made it either into the credits or into the National Enquirer, they’re still alive and well and wandering around.

You see them, you know them, and you can’t ask them why. Don’t ask me why you can’t ask them, you just can’t. We were watching our well-worn discs of “Ellery Queen” when we recognized a lovely old man who hangs out at our local Italian deli. He played a cop in nearly all the episodes. It’s so rare that you figure it out, it’s like winning a tiny lottery when you do.

But the bashful guy, I know I saw him in something sometime. And I know I’ll win the lottery before I remember what it was. It’s almost enough to get me to buy a lottery ticket, just to make the metaphor real.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Common Cents

I don’t remember how much the bill was, but my change was $1.01. Before I could tell the gum-chewing cashier not to give me the penny, she handed me a receipt and a dollar bill then turned to the next customer. I didn’t want the penny. I would have dropped the penny strategically face-up in the parking lot had she given it to me. So why was I annoyed that she didn’t?

It’s been bugging me since it happened. As near as I can tell, it was because I was thwarted. Nobody likes to be thwarted, but for a control freak, it’s torture. An hour later I was able to (verbally) knock the testosterone out of a douchebag. Instead of feeling like I struck a blow for justice, I’m still thinking about that stupid penny.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Day After Day After Day

If you’re here for the food post, it’s the next one down. Thanks to all for the lovely emails. I take full responsibility for ennabling your various binges, but you still have to pay for them with your own cardio hours.

Speaking of tedious tasks, it’s time to return to the ordinary. You know, the usual, the every single day, day after day, rhythmic repetitive norm.

So many people define themselves by what they do. That’s not fair, as anyone who ever had to work at a job they hate will tell you. No, we are who we decide to be, even if that decision is made by default.

In accepting my age, I’ve had to learn how to make the best of it. That involves a lot of otherwise tiresome time in the gym. By choosing not to fashion myself as yet another unpublished novelist, I became yet another script writer who indulges in the cheap public therapy of a blog. My yenta nature shows itself on Twitter. You get the idea.

And you, are you doing what you have to do in order to be able to do what you want to do later? Or, having put in the time and training, the saving and the preparation, are you living your dream? How’s that working out for you?

Life is about both the journey and the destination. Don’t ever forget that one is useless without the other.