Reporting, Recording and Relaying - But Always Telling It As I See It

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Manchurian Stink Bug Candidate Complex

It seemed like just yesterday when the Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, had himself in a lather while imploring us to stock up on duct tape and plastic for an imminent terror attack. We worried, we fretted; and then we laughed. But all these years later, the premonitions are ringing true; we are under attack. Under attack by Stink Bugs. Or are we?

The latest poll shows that 97% of Americans are now more afraid of stink bug infestation than the government’s health care bill. But like the health care bill, I have more questions than answers.

Foremost, do they really stink? Sure, stories abound about the awful stench that is unleashed upon their demise. Rumors swirl of their odoriferous ways. Duct tape and plastic are flying off the shelf. But really, do they stink? Or, is this the most brilliant marketing campaign ever waged? Have these insects, through intrepid manipulation of the mainstream media, convinced us that their untimely death leads to odors worse than the laundry room at a senior citizen center? What a luminous scheme to insure the propagation of their species!

But I had to find out for myself. This weekend, a stink bug made its way onto the light above the island in our kitchen. Surely, it must have thought, I wouldn’t be so foolish as to kill it and unleash its hellishly scented fury. Alas, I have slaughtered many a bug in my day, and I am telling you that for the first time, there was pause in my action.

But then I thought, “What the hell?” and crunched the fucker in a paper towel. But now the moment of truth was upon me – I had to smell him. So I did. And here is my analysis. 1) There is an odor. 2) I wouldn’t classify it as “stink.” 3) I have no baseline of other insect smells so I can’t say it if is better or worse.

Therefore, I declare that the “Manchurian Stink Bug Candidate Complex” is over! But hold onto that duct tape, I understand bed bugs have been seen visiting Madison Avenue – rumor has it that when killed, they render the murderer impotent.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Flying Through the Air With the Greatest of Unease

The absolute most frightening part of air travel is the message over the public address system at the airport that says, “If anyone asks you to carry something for them onboard an aircraft, please report this immediately to airport security.” What’s frightening isn’t that someone would try this. Hell, someone convinced the underwear bomber to strap explosives to his penis. (There has to be a corporate motivational speaking tour available for anyone who can talk another human being into wearing explosives around his loins.) What’s frightening is that this announcement goes out because of the very real possibility that you are about to fly with someone stupid enough that if a total stranger walks up to them and says, “Hey, I have this package that just has to get to New York. Turns out I am not going to be able to make the flight. Be a pal and take it for me?” Someone would actually say, “Sure!”

Though the above is what I dread when flying, it is certainly not the only concern. But amazingly, air travel has seemed to position itself as the one form of transportation that has almost completed negated the risks associated with the actual “travel” portion. Basically, there are plenty of things to worry about, but the flying part does not seem to be one of them.

Common sense would dictate that the most dangerous part would be the actual flying, and that at least a modicum of rules would be in effect during the course of moving near the speed of sound at 35,000 feet. Not so. On my flights, the only rule that seemed to be in place while we were in the air was that we were forbidden to use the first class bathroom. But on the ground, all sorts of rules were in effect: belts fastened, tray tables and seat backs in the “upright and locked position”, (which is the same position you use in the airplane bathroom) no electronic devices, no getting out of your seat until the captain deems it appropriate, keep your hands and feet inside the plane, no breathing, eyes closed, living will tucked into your pocket, etc.

Another rule that is little known but widely followed is that when the plane arrives at the jet-way at the terminal, you are supposed to be infinitely surprised by this event, and only as everyone in front of you has left are you then to start gathering all of your belongings. This of course means standing in the aisle for several minutes while you check the seatback, the overhead compartment, the overhead compartment four rows back and then the pockets of your jacket. At this point, you have to fiddle with the roller bag handle since there is no sense in just carrying it off of the plane, and then stow your magazines in your carry-on after sorting them alphabetically and by publisher. Then and only then can you proceed down the aisle onto the jet-way, where you must stop to rearrange everything one more time, all the while being sure not to let anyone pass you. This is a rule for a very important reason; if you were to get off the plane too quickly, you would have to wait the full ninety minutes at baggage claim to retrieve your luggage. This reduces that wait time to only seventy-five.

Because I am generally a rule-abiding guy, I fairly respect these regulations (though I try to break the one about gathering my things). But I swear, one day I am peeing in the first-class bathroom.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Liquid Soap Opera

I haven’t used an actual bar of soap in years! Where was I when this historic transition occurred from a good, solid block of fat and lye to these multi-scented, testosterone snatching liquids? I might as well hand my kids a rotary phone as a bar of soap – they would be equally puzzled.

Does anyone else miss the Irish Spring commercial where a man slices off a piece of bar soap like he is filleting a trout? Today, we are awash (get it?) in commercials of metrosexual men frolicking in the shower under a nice soapy lather after their Pilates-Spin-Bikram Yoga class.

The way I look at it, only two forces could possibly be at work. Either, A) This is a conspiracy to further the pussification of this great country by the liberal media, or B) It is driven by the holier-than-thou conservative movement under the pressure of the Liquid Soap Lobby to stuff the pockets of Liquid Soap CEO’s not unlike the oil companies. (Pick your side.)

After a quick recon of the homestead, we have the following scents: Linen (wonder if you can get a nice polyester blend?), White Citrus (it is easy to imagine some scentrified snob on Park Avenue saying, “Yes, the citrus is good, but it needs a hint of white, or maybe an off white.”) and something called, I shit you not, Dancing Waters (sounds more like a rejected Celine Dion album title than a soap).

And not only do you get these whacked out scents, you get free magic too! You pump what is most assuredly a liquid and out comes foam!

I also wonder if this shift away from bar soap has influenced the shower room in prison. You know the old joke about not dropping the soap? I think at the time we all assumed that was specific to bar soap. Do you now hear, “Don’t drop that hair and body wash – boy.”

By the way, I just looked in the basement where we have “Caribbean Escape” which smells decidedly of pot and jerk seasoning.