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Monday, August 31, 2015
  • Sunday, August 30, 2015 8:01 PM

    "There's someone at the door,” said my wife, which is never a statement of fact, but rather a request for me to go see who it is. Generally, I’d prefer that Mary Ellen not answer the door. She’s a softy and can’t say “no” to solicitors, which is why we have 20 years’ worth of garbage bags in the garage and every spring we donate 50 boxes of Thin Mint cookies to the local food bank.

    The young man at the door was very polite and asked if we would consider changing our cable service. As a creature of habit, I am not inclined to change anything unless something much better comes along…and I say that proudly after 35 years of marriage. I was in a generous mood, so I invited the gentleman in the house and asked him to give me his 60-second sales pitch. “I’m a bit nervous,” he said.

     
  • Sunday, August 23, 2015 11:30 PM

    “I watch your stick on TV,” a woman said to me as I exited the supermarket. I’m pretty sure she meant shtick, a Yiddish word that in English means . . . well it’s a way of saying . . . hmmm. Yiddish words can’t be translated easily. As a kid I was always dropping things. My mother called me a klutz. That’s not the same as a clumsy person. Big difference.

    Leo Rosten, author of the Joys of Yiddish, defines shtick this way: “ . . . a contrived piece of ‘business’ by an actor or actress . . . to steal attention and establish a guise.”

     
  • Sunday, August 16, 2015 9:55 PM

    There are yellow sticky notes all over my office, reminding me of quirky and bizarre things I have read in the newspaper or online, as well as personal experiences that deserve at least a brief mention in my upcoming columns.

    The first note I re-read this week was a reminder about an Asian manufacturer who is marketing a $5,000 toilet. The product uses a remote control that will “raise and lower your seat, emit a deodorizer, and massage your butt while you are sitting.” I’m not sure just what that new Supreme Court decision actually allows, but I’m thinking this is one half of a perfect marriage. 

     
  • Sunday, August 09, 2015 10:25 PM

    “Mary Ellen, where do we keep the soup spoons? Did you move the instant coffee? Where are the salad bowls?”

    This is the kind of stuff I have been asking my wife for 25 years. We had the kitchen renovated this past month, so now I have additional questions, like:

    “What’s a convection oven?”

    “Where did they hide the dishwasher?”

    “Am I allowed to put New Yorker cartoons on the new fridge?”

    Speaking of that fridge, Mary Ellen has taken great pains to ensure that our new stainless steel beauty retains its charm, so she began by explaining to me that there are only three food groups. 

     
  • Sunday, August 02, 2015 11:48 PM

    Our friends Len and Helen invited us to their house to play Bocce with some other folks from church. Len thought he read somewhere that this was a great sport for Unitarians. But it might have said septuagenarians – he wasn’t sure. The game is kind of like croquet, lawn bowling and shuffleboard all rolled into one. You begin by tossing an initial sphere, called a pallino, down the court (or just down your lawn) and then teams compete to see who can throw additional balls, which are a bit larger, closest to the target ball.

    Seems simple enough, but within a few minutes a dispute arose when Myrna heaved the pallino over onto the neighbor’s lawn and we didn’t know whose turn was next or how many points her team lost, and Martin wanted to know if we all stunk so much it was time to find another church activity.

     
  • Sunday, July 26, 2015 6:55 PM

    Our kitchen renovation continues. Stuff from the fridge and pantry had to be moved to the garage and in the process we cleaned out several drawers filled with exotic spices. Most of the spices I have never heard of: anardana, advieh, amchoor powder and ajwain, to name a few. (Yes, Mary Ellen had them in alphabetical order.) She bought these when she went through her, “I am going to learn to be a gourmet cook” stage the week after we got married. The stage left the following Monday.

     
  • Sunday, July 19, 2015 11:17 PM

    There is new information on the science of napping. It’s really big snooze. Once again, research confirms the benefits of the daily siesta. A year or so back, when I had lost interest in this daily respite, I headed straight to the doctor, concerned that there was something seriously wrong with me. I told him I was often awake 10 or 12 hours in a row.

    “This is very troubling, Dick,” said Dr. Coss. “So, you don’t fall sleep at night?”

    “No, I sleep great at night. It’s all day that I can’t sleep.”

    I started successfully napping again and I was beginning to get even better at it than before—but now, I’ve had another setback. (Geesh, I used to be able to accomplish it with my eyes closed.) I should never have read this new scientific study.  It’s very technical and there’s so much to think about that it’s keeping me up all day.

     
  • Sunday, July 12, 2015 9:36 PM

    The Wolfsies’ refrigerator has been relocated to Habitat for Humanity. We don't have a dishwasher or a stove, either. The Salvation Army took them away. We threw out the microwave that was over the oven. Nobody wants an appliance that's been stuck on "Popcorn" for two decades.

    Preparing for our kitchen renovation first required cleaning out the pantries. We found a bottle of Bookbinder Cocktail Sauce for shrimp. It was stamped: “Use by October l997.” I opened it and gave it a sniff. It smelled better than the fresh shrimp that had been in our fridge for only 36 hours. We also found some Orville Redenbacher Popcorn. Under Orville’s picture it said “Expires May 1995.” (That might have referred to Orville and not the popcorn.) There was a jar of tartar sauce that had no expiration date. Backwards, it spells rat rat, so I threw it out. We found an unopened bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing. The name tells it all. It had hidden from us for 17 years.

     
  • Sunday, July 05, 2015 9:09 PM

    Time magazine named it the greatest comedy sketch of the 20th century. At the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, a continuous loop runs to the delight of fans. In 2005, the line "Who's on First?" was included on the American Film Institute's list of 100 greatest movie quotes of all time.

    When I was about eight years old, I first heard it performed on the Abbott and Costello TV show and I remember thinking, Wow, baseball AND funny. What could be better than that?

    The origins of this timeless piece of comedy are a bit sketchy, but even Abbott and Costello conceded that the premise of confusing names with other parts of speech had a long history in Vaudeville. 

     
  • Sunday, June 28, 2015 10:46 PM

    I don’t want to spend the money; I don’t think we will get a good return on our investment; the house will be a total mess for six weeks; it will be extremely stressful; and, I really don’t care if we have soft-close cabinet doors and roll-out pantry shelves.

    I only agreed to remodel the kitchen because I was sure that once the construction began, I’d find lots of humorous things to write about, which is way more important to me than granite counter tops with beveled (or did we decide on rounded?) edges.

     

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a division of Sagamore News Media

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