Image Signifying Humor

Image Signifying Humor

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Boomer Life

I never do anything the normal way if I can avoid it.  This includes living my life in the right order.

This could be me, back in the late 60s.  It isn't me,
though.  Sorry.
I was born on the leading edge of the Boomer generation.  I came of age in an exciting time.  My generation protested and demonstrated against racial discrimination, the Vietnam War, and the subjugation of women.  We studied ecology and warned people to protect the earth.  We even went overboard, declaring, “Turn on, tune in, drop out.”  Reefers were passed around at wine and cheese parties, with the wine served in paper cups.  New forms of addictive drugs were developed and sold.  The more reckless among us dropped Acid and hoped they would survive with their brains intact.  Transcendental Meditation became a fad.  Brassieres were burned, boys and men grew long hair and beards.  Women and girls grew long hair, too, including me.  My hair is thick and coarse and it grows at the speed of light.  Growing it so long I could almost sit on it was easy.

Speaking of going overboard, there was easy, open sex.  This was hard for those of us who were still reeling from strong religious upbringings.  We felt like a starving person with Celiac Disease locked in a room with 200 loaves of bread.  It made us envy our friends who could be “spiritual” and wild at the same time without a twang of guilt.

Although I eagerly adopted a hippie look and a somewhat broader outlook than the one I had been raised with, I didn’t take part in any campus demonstrations, although there was plenty to demonstrate about.  I was busy studying music and theater, attempting to get my head together and breaking into an operatic singing career.  Anyone who has ever tried that knows how it sucks every bit of energy and attention from body and brain, especially when you have to work a 9 to 5 job at the same time, to support yourself.

Fast forward to the year 2016.  I was now a senior citizen, complete with AARP membership, senior discounts, arthritic knees, doctor visits and friends who worried about me, even when there was no need to worry.  Suddenly, a loony guy who, up until now, had been only known as a wealthy, obnoxious, egotistical real estate developer was the Republican candidate for President of the United States.  The loony guy proudly shouted his racism, xenophobia, misogyny and whatever other dangerous ideas came into his head.

In other words, this was the Mother of All Causes.

At age 70, I suddenly became what I could have been at age 21:  a protester.  I signed a gazillion online petitions and gave a lot of contributions, which were, by necessity, small.  I am not wealthy, and I would make a terrible bank robber.

When the loony guy was declared President, even though he didn’t win the popular vote, I geared myself to escalate the protesting – after I recovered from being sick over the whole mess.

So here I am, still signing online petitions, still giving small amounts of money, sending postcards, knitting “pussy hats” and trying to talk myself into calling members of Congress, which is something I have a half-phobia against (don’t ask me why).  The only reason I didn’t join the women’s march was that I knew I wouldn’t last more than about 30 minutes because: (1) I have arthritic knees (see above); and (2) we older ladies need accessible bathrooms, which can be hard to find in New York City.  On the other hand, I can yell as loud as I ever could, and I can certainly sing loud, so when the next opportunity to march comes, maybe I’ll go there and stay as long as possible.

Those 30 minutes might count for something.


The Mother of All Causes
-------------------------------------

For more of my humor, go here.

Monday, February 13, 2017

UPDATED TALES: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Trumpetian Countryside
Somewhere in Europe there was a country called Trumpetia.  Every year, the King of Trumpetia held a noisy argument on the floor of the Parliament with members of each of the two opposing parties:  the Richies and the Rest.  The Richies always agreed with the King and the Rest always disagreed with both the monarch and the Richies.  It made for a lively time, especially when the Rest held a filibuster, which they did every couple of years.  Local hospitals had ambulances ready to whisk the wounded to the nearest emergency rooms.  It had been years since any members of Parliament had been mortally wounded, which made everyone happy, because nobody liked to call the police.

Queen Bambi of Trumpetia was a former porn star who caught the eye of the King ten years earlier when he was playing adult videos on his flat screen TV.  He thought that her body parts would be up for grabs and that she could be kept in line.  He was right.  It never bothered the King when the Queen declined to attend state events, because he figured she was more useful back in the bedroom, anyway.

The King’s sister Roxane White was supposed to inherit the throne.  Roxane had plans for reforming all kinds of things that a lot of people thought needed reforming.  This made the Richies nervous.  They staged a coup and installed the younger brother as King.  Roxane escaped to some backwater town in Lower Moravia, where she changed her name and opened a Banana Republic store.  Her young daughter, Snow White, was left behind because she couldn’t fit into her mother’s suitcase.  The King kept Snow around, figuring he could always use her to seal an alliance or other lucrative deal by forcing her to marry some dictator’s son.

That’s enough backstory.  You get the idea.

Queen Bambi trying to go incognito
The Queen had a robot mirror that could talk.  Every day the mirror assured her that she was the most beautiful woman around.  The facelift, the workouts, and all those spa treatments, in addition to the fortune she spent on anti-aging creams, facials and makeup, were still paying off.  The royal treasury was paying for all of it, so nothing was lost, except some poverty-stricken taxpayers’ money, and everyone knew poverty-stricken taxpayers didn’t count because they didn’t have any money.

One day, Queen Bambi got a shock when the mirror told her Snow was better looking than she was.

“What?”  she screamed at the mirror.  “That’s impossible!”

“I am not programmed to lie,” said the mirror, “and that girl is hotter than a Manhattan sidewalk in 92-degree weather.  You’re beautiful, but, on a scale of 1 to 10, she’s a 15.”

“How did she become so beautiful overnight?”  asked the Queen.  “Just last month, you told me I was the most beautiful woman in the kingdom.”

“She got a makeover,” said the mirror.

The Queen was livid.  Didn’t that flat chested little upstart know anything about respecting the prerogatives of royal usurpers?  She called her friend Andrew the Assassin on his disposable cell phone and gave him an order.

“Kidnap Snow White, take her into the woods and whack her.”

“Any particular method you want I should use?”

“Just shoot the bitch, and don’t ask questions!”

Andrew the Assassin
Andrew the Assassin abducted Snow, bound her with duct tape, shoved her into the back seat of his SUV and took off for the woods.  Along the way, Andy fell in love with Snow.  He could kill anybody except people he was in love with.  He unbound the duct tape from Snow’s hands and mouth and let her go, after making her promise to meet him at his place whenever it was safe again.  He took a gold chain that she was wearing, to provide proof to the Queen that Snow was pushing up daisies.  He wanted to make sure he’d get his fee.  Then he took off in his SUV and left her there wondering where she was and if there were any wild animals nearby.  She had heard what happened to Red Riding Hood’s grandmother.

Snow started walking, and she soon came to a quaint rustic log house in a clearing.  She knocked on the door, but nobody answered.  The door was unlocked, so she went inside.  She found a light switch, and when she turned on the light she was surprised to find a neat little room with a Persian rug, a wooden table with seven places set, a La-Z-Boy recliner, a leather couch and a wooden rocker.  She wandered into the kitchen, where she found a refrigerator stocked with bottles of beer, three slices of pizza in a box and two gallons of Rocky Road ice cream.  The bathroom had a jacuzzi and a shelf with various expensive brands of shaving cream and men’s cologne on it.  The toilet seat was up.  In the bedrooms, she found three neatly made bunk beds and one twin-sized bed.  She was so exhausted that she lay down on top of the twin-sized bed and immediately fell asleep.

Meanwhile, back in the capital, the top executives of Dwarf Brothers Computers were preparing to go home to that little house in the woods.  There were seven of them, and they were, indeed, brothers.  They were even richer than the King, which was illegal, so they kept most of their money in the Cayman Islands.  Despite their surname, they were all more than six feet tall.  Their names were Dwayne, Darryl, Dan, Doug, David, Dorian and Ernie.  They were all in their 20s, which explains why none of them were married yet, although five of them were engaged.  The other two were gay.

Snow White at a costume ball
They took three helicopters home.  When they got to the house, Dwayne discovered that the door was unlocked but nothing was missing, and made a mental note to yell at the cleaning woman.  Dwayne was the first to go into the bedroom where Snow was sleeping on his twin bed.

“Whoa!”  said Dwayne.

“What?”  said the others, one by one.

“You gotta see this!”  said Dwayne

All of them came into the room and stared down at Snow.

“Holy cannoli!”  said Ernie.

The racket woke Snow, who slowly opened her eyes and screamed when she saw seven tall men staring at her.  It took them a minute to calm her down and assure her they weren’t degenerates, serial killers or gangsters.  They asked her how she got there, and Snow told them the whole story about how her aunt had hired Andrew the Assassin to bring her into the woods and rub her out, but he was in love with her, although she didn’t love him back, but she didn’t tell him that because he had a gun, and he had left her alive and driven off and she didn’t want to get eaten by a wolf so she started walking and ended up here.

The brothers felt sorry for Snow.  They arranged for her to stay hidden in their house in return for light housekeeping and cooking the meals.  Fortunately, there was a copy of “Cooking for People Who Can’t Boil Water” in the house, so Snow had a reference.  Dan, who was the compulsive neat freak of the group, taught Snow how to use a broom, a mop, a dishcloth and a feather duster.  Being a deposed princess, she had never had to do any work, but she enjoyed being useful for a change.  She discovered that work was easier if she did it while singing at the top of her lungs.  It was a good thing that there were no neighbors and the seven brothers were always at work when she was puttering around the house, because she couldn’t carry a tune.

This happy situation went on until the next time Queen Bambi consulted her robot mirror.  The mirror again told her that Snow White was more beautiful than she was.

“You lying pile of scrap!” she shouted.  “Snow White is dead!”

“If she’s dead, I’m George Clooney!” said the mirror.  It then explained to the Queen everything that had gone down.

After she was finished pounding the floor, Queen Bambi sat up and made a quick decision.  If you want anything done right, do it yourself.  Forget Andrew the Assassin.  She was Queen Bambi of Trumpetia, formerly Bambi Lovebox, originally Daisy Knodelbecker, of the Bronxtown Knodelbeckers.  Nobody messed with a Knodelbecker and got away with it.  Just ask any of their neighbors who still had a house to live in.

She had some designer drugs in her underwear drawer, left over from her days as a porn star.  The following afternoon, she took a load of stuff and injected it into one side of a big, juicy Red Delicious apple.  She marked the poisoned side of the fruit with a Magic Marker and put it into a basket, along with three normal apples, two tangerines and a kumquat.  She changed into a purple floral muumuu and put a blue cloak with a big hood over it.

The mirror had told Bambi exactly where Snow was staying, and she got clear directions on the GPS in the black Mercedes the King had given her last Valentine’s Day, after a particularly memorable session of uninhibited passion.  She parked the car a short distance from the house, put the hood up over her head and half her face and picked up the basket of fruit.  She walked to the house and knocked on the door.

When Snow answered the door, Bambi pretended to be a door-to-door fruit seller.  She offered Snow a taste of the spiked apple, just, she said, to show her how delicious it was.  To show that everything was alright, Bambi took a bite out of what she knew was the good side of the apple.  Snow took a bite out of the other side, made a comment about the apple not being ripe enough, declined to buy anything and started to go back into the house.  She suddenly stopped and began to wheeze very loudly, after which she passed out and lay in the doorway as if dead.

Bambi laughed long, hard and high.  She ran back to the Mercedes, turned on the ignition, gunned the gas pedal and sped away.  They found her later, glassy-eyed and incoherent, after she ran the car into the rear end of a truck full of live lobsters.  There were lobsters all over the street, and several of them were hanging from Bambi’s cloak.  She was taken to the emergency room of the Trumpetia Memorial Medical Center.  From there she was admitted to the hospital, where it took her two weeks to come out of a coma.

She had bitten the wrong side of the apple, and had taken her own overdose.

Meanwhile, the seven brothers returned home to find Snow on the floor by the front door, looking like she wasn’t breathing.  They had brought a potential client and his lawyer with them, to have a late meeting and finalize a deal.  The client, whose name was George Prince, was trained in CPR and First Aid, and he determined that Snow had a piece of apple stuck in her throat.  He gave her the Heimlich Maneuver and she began to breathe again.

Snow White and George Prince fell in love and got married.  She became Snow Prince.  They had a nice, big McMansion in the suburbs, had three children who only went to the best schools and lived in luxury.

The Dwarf Brothers retired from the computer business and moved to the Cayman Islands where their money was.  They all got married, including the two who were gay, and opened a beachcombing and gift shop business that made them twice as rich as they were before.

Queen Bambi went back to the palace, where the King took the robot mirror away from her once and for all, ordered her not to make any more trouble and made her wear a tracking device on her ankle.  Then he went over to the Parliament Building and had his yearly fight.


If any of this story seems improbable, it probably is.

For more of my funny writing, go here.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

UPDATED TALES: Cinderella

It was a country of  benumbed people.
Once upon a time, in a country nobody ever heard of, there was a prince whose name was Julio:  Julio Prince.  His parents were Marvin and Gertrude King, who were the constitutional monarchs of the country.  They had no power, but they looked good and they had nice manners.  Nobody wanted to get rid of them because, well, they were the king and queen, and you couldn’t get rid of a king or a queen unless you beheaded them.  Nobody wanted to do that.

Julio was the crown prince.  He was single and available.  This was a cause for concern, because Julio caused a new royal scandal every month with a different person.  The people loved him because his escapades made good tabloid reading, but the queen’s blood pressure was getting dangerously high and the king had started to drink large quantities of anisette.  Even the prime minister was not immune to the pressure.  She had taken up smoking Russian cigars again.

The king, the queen, the prime minister and the heads of all 10 parties in parliament held a meeting, after which the queen read the Riot Act to the prince.  Her voice was quivering and she was shaking pretty hard.

“If you don’t get married, settle down and give us some grandchildren, we are going to disown you.  Your idiot cousin Pippin Duke will become heir to the throne.  You won’t get a title.  You won’t even get an allowance.  You’ll have to go to work!  We mean it this time!”

Consideration of this horrible future caused Julio to agree to their demands.  He wasn’t about to marry just anyone, though.  He had standards.  The king had an idea.  They would throw a humungous party with an orchestra, a bar and a buffet, to which they would invite all the unmarried young women in the country.

It was a small country and they had a big ballroom.

In the meantime, on the other end of town, lived a family of women.  The father of the family had died, leaving behind his daughter, his wife and his two stepdaughters.  Neighbors called their house the Bitch Burrow.  Nobody could figure out why the man had married that old witch in the first place.  She looked like an orangutan and she had the personality of a Tasmanian devil on amphetamines.  Neighborhood gossip held that he had married her because she could bake a great double dark chocolate chip cake doused with rum.  Others theorized that she blackmailed him about a body in the cellar.  The cake story was the most popular.  The man had weighed 300 pounds.

The Wicked Stepmother’s two daughters, Zelda and Imelda, were even uglier than she was and almost as unpleasant.  The one sweet, pretty member of the family was the dead father’s daughter.  Nobody knew that she was pretty, though, because she was always covered with dirt and grime.  This was because the other three made her do all the work around the house.  They were too poor to hire a maid and too lazy and stuck up to do any housework themselves.

They called her Cinderella because she had ashes on her face most of the time from sleeping on the floor next to the fireplace.[1]  She didn’t mind the nickname.  Her real name was Ethelgard, and she hated it.  It reminded her of gasoline.  It was also a boy’s name.

One sunny day, a special delivery letter from the palace arrived at the house of the four poor women.  It was the king’s formal invitation to the party during which the crown prince was expected to pick out the woman he wouldn’t mind marrying to keep his parents off his back.

Zelda, Imelda and Wicked Stepmother made Cinderella’s life miserable in the days before the party.  The three of them had to take their formal dresses out of moth balls, and Cinderella had to hang them outside to make them smell better.  After she persuaded the thieving neighbors to return the dresses, Cinderella had to work like a slave doing alterations on all of them.  Cinderella had attended the Elite Beauty College for a couple of semesters while her father was still alive, so she also had to give everyone else a makeover on the day of the party.

She shyly mentioned how nice it would be if she could go to the party, too.  The others looked at her as if she had two heads, and Wicked Stepmother brought the subject to a crashing close with, “Don’t be ridiculous!  You’re filthy!”  Cinderella knew better than to argue.

After they had left, Cinderella sat in front of the fireplace and resigned herself to never going to a royal party and having to scrub floors and clean the bathroom for the rest of her life.  She sang a few verses of “Someday My Prince Will Come,”[2] then sighed and lay down on the floor in a fetal position.

Unbeknownst to Cinderella, she was being watched from above.  Three aliens from Planet Fair were hovering in an invisible ship above the house.  Because they were from Planet Fair, they called themselves Fairies.  They weren’t particularly bright, but they had magical powers.

One of them, who called herself Fairy Godmother, said to the others, “I want to go down there and help that poor loser.  I hate those other three bitches.”

Fairy Godmother transported herself down to Cinderella, who fainted in shock.  Fairy Godmother threw some water in Cinderella’s face.  After Cinderella stopped screaming, Fairy Godmother introduced herself and offered to help her get to the party.

“I can make you look like Angelina Jolie, Selena Gomez and Amber Heard together!”

This got Cinderella’s attention, and she agreed to be the subject of Fairy Godmother’s extreme makeover.  The whole process took about 10 minutes.  Cinderella ended up looking like a bridesmaid at a 1950s wedding, but that look was in fashion that season, so it was fine.  The outfit was accessorized with a pair of size 10 transparent ballet flats made to look like glass and an evening bag to match.
Not bad!
Cinderella couldn’t walk to the palace in those shoes, so Fairy Godmother turned a pumpkin into a fancy carriage with two horses and commandeered two frightened cats to drive it and ride shotgun.  She warned Cinderella that her spells never lasted very long, so if she was wise she would get out of the palace before midnight, unless she wanted to end up really embarrassed.

Cinderella made it to the palace around 10:00 PM, in time to get a drink at the bar and look for the prince.  She found him and he asked her to dance.  It turned out that she was the only woman in the room who knew how to do dirty dancing, and she and the prince had a fine time together.  All the other hopefuls thought it was disgusting, including Zelda and Imelda, who did not recognize the interloper but didn’t like her, anyway.

In the middle of some complicated erotic dance moves, Cinderella heard a big clock going bong, bong, bong.  She stopped short with one foot in the air, said, “Oops!” and charged out of the ballroom, elbowing people out of the way and knocking down several ornamental plants.  She lost one of her shoes at the front door, but didn’t stop to retrieve it.  She was only halfway to the street when she turned back into her regular self.  She had to walk home, because the carriage and its drivers also changed back, and the two cats sped away like torpedoes.
The Prince and His Dance Instructor
Prince Julio Prince was disturbed, to say the least.  He had made up his mind that this woman with size 10 feet who could dance like a stripper was the one he wanted to marry, even though he didn’t know her name or anything about her, except that she was hot.  He found her shoe at the front door and picked it up.  He was going to find the woman of his dreams if he had to try that shoe on the left foot of every female in the kingdom.  In the meantime, he figured he’d get a decent night’s sleep, to be fresh for the ambulatory excursions he would have to do the next day.

The prince got an early start at 11:00 AM the following day.  He made his way around every house in the capital city without finding any foot big enough to fit the shoe.  He finally came to the Bitch Burrow.  Wicked Stepmother, Zelda and Imelda let him in with a lot of bowing and scraping and flattery and any other kind of ass kissing they could think of.  By then he was tired and in no mood for stupidity, so he snapped, “Alright, already!  Take your freakin’ left shoes off and let’s get this over with!”

Zelda and Imelda had small, dainty feet, so it was obvious neither one of them was the woman of the prince’s daydreams.  The fact that they were both ugly as dirt sealed the verdict.

At that point, Cinderella, whose face was still clean after her magical makeover of the night before, came out of the kitchen and announced that she should try on the shoe, too.  Zelda and Imelda tried to push her back into the kitchen, apologizing to the prince and complaining about how hard it was to find decent help.

The prince looked at Cinderella and felt the same stirring he had felt the night before.  He handed the shoe to Cinderella, whose big foot fit it perfectly.  She then brought out the shoe’s mate and put IT on, too.  Fairy Godmother had decided to let her have it as a memento.

To make a long story short, Cinderella married the prince, who retained his right to be heir to the throne.  Zelda married a glazier.  Imelda married a shoemaker.  Wicked Stepmother became Wicked Mother-In-Law and made life miserable for a whole new set of people

Cinderella and the prince lived happily ever after, or at least until they both reached middle age and he had a midlife crisis.  That’s a whole other story.

For more of my funny writing, go here.



[1] She usually got the ashes off her face with a good loofah scrubbing.  This isn’t important, so, if you don’t find it interesting, don’t bother reading this.

[2] Yes, I know.  That song is from the Disney movie “Snow White,” and has nothing to do with Cinderella.  So shoot me.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Stupid is as Smart Does, or How to Make an Ass of Yourself 101

I have a decent IQ.  No, I don’t know what it is.  Our elementary school wouldn’t tell us.  They didn’t even tell us they had given us an IQ test, although it was obvious to most of us what it was.  Before that test was given, my teachers had considered me pathetic.  Afterward, I became the Smart Kid Who Wouldn’t Apply Herself.  Neither appraisal made me popular with my instructors.

Now that I have established the fact that I am not stupid, I will begin my story.

I have two Kindle readers.  I bought one of them in December, 2010.  It is an older model with a keyboard, and it does not have a touch screen.  I bought the other one in March, 2015.  It is a Kindle Voyager, with a touch screen and no keyboard.  It is smaller than the other one.  In other words, they don’t look alike and I don’t operate them in the same way.

Until a few days ago, I had not used either Kindle for some time.  Instead, I have been going through a phase of buying printed, paperback books.  The two Kindles have languished where I put them.

A few days ago, I was browsing Amazon.com and found a few books that looked interesting.  This time, instead of paying for paperback copies and waiting for them to come in the mail, I decided to resurrect my Kindle Voyager.  I ordered the Kindle versions of the books.

You got that so far?  Good.  There’s more, and it’s more interesting than all that background information.

I couldn’t find my new books on the Kindle.  I went onto the Amazon.com website, looked for instructions, and tried a few times to download my new books.  Nothing worked.  Finally, I decided that contacting a real person was the only answer, so I started a chat with one of the Amazon.com representatives.  It only took a minute to connect with someone, which made me happy.

Here is a condensed version of the chat transcript:

09:37 PM PST S--(Amazon): Hello, my name is S--. I'm here to help you today.

09:37 PM PST Kathryn Minicozzi: Can you help me download my new books to my Kindle Voyager?

09:38 PM PST S--: No worries. I'll help you in this regard.

09:39 PM PST S--: Are you referring to the books:
1. Den of Thieves
2. The Unofficial Harry Potter Insults Handbook: 101 Comebacks for the Slytherin in Your Life
3. Snape: A Definitive Reading

09:39 PM PST Kathryn Minicozzi: Yes.

09:39 PM PST S--: Thanks for confirming.

09:39 PM PST Kathryn Minicozzi: Those are the ones I am not finding on my device.

09:40 PM PST S--: I have sent the books to your Kindle device from my end.  Please try to sync the Kindle device now.

WE HAD TO WAIT FOR MY KINDLE TO UPDATE.  WHEN IT UPDATED, S— AGAIN ASKED ME TO SYNC THE KINDLE.

09:49 PM PST Kathryn Minicozzi: No new items. Should I press the menu button and try to sync it again?

09:50 PM PST S--: Yes, you can try to sync the Kindle again.  Once the book is downloaded, it will appear on your Kindle home screen.

09:50 PM PST Kathryn Minicozzi: It said No New Items.

09:51 PM PST S--: Is your Kindle connected with your WiFi network?

09:52 PM PST Kathryn Minicozzi: Yes. Wifi is on.

09:52 PM PST S--: Are you able to access the Kindle store?

09:53 PM PST Kathryn Minicozzi: Yes.

S—TOLD ME TO DEREGISTER MY KINDLE AND GAVE ME THE INSTRUCTIONS.

09:59 PM PST Kathryn Minicozzi: I just did it.

09:59 PM PST S--: Thank you.  Now try to register your Kindle.

10:00 PM PST Kathryn Minicozzi: This will take me a couple of minutes. I have to look up my Amazon.com password!

INTERRUPTING HERE TO SAY THAT I HAD A HARD TIME TYPING MY AMAZON.COM PASSWORD ON THE KINDLE KEYBOARD AND WAS TAKING FOREVER TO DO IT.

10:01 PM PST S--: Just to confirm, have you deregistered the Kindle keyboard device or Kindle voyage device?

10:01 PM PST Kathryn Minicozzi: Kindle Voyage. "Kathryn's 2nd Kindle"

10:02 PM PST S--: May I know the device serial number?

MORE CRAZINESS WITH ME STILL TRYING TO TYPE MY PASSWORD ON THE DAMNED KINDLE KEYBOARD WHILE TRYING TO FIND A SERIAL NUMBER

10:12 PM PST S--: I see that you have de-registered your Kindle keyboard device and not your Kindle voyage device.

10:14 PM PST Kathryn Minicozzi: Oy! I haven't used my Kindles in so long, I must have picked up the wrong one!
*embarrassed*

The patient rep downloaded two of the new books onto my OLD Kindle.  When the survey came up, I gave him 5 stars all the way through.

I am imagining a room somewhere, full of Amazon.com reps, who are passing around the transcript of this chat and pissing themselves laughing.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Great Remote Control Conspiracy

Many people tell of socks that disappear into an undiscovered dimension of an automatic washing machine.  My socks do not abscond in the laundry room, for which my feet are grateful.

I can’t say the same thing for reading glasses and TV remote controls.  I am convinced that those items have formed a conspiracy designed to confuse and exasperate me.

In other words, my reading glasses and the TV remote control are in cahoots to drive me crazy.
CRIMINAL MASTERMIND
I own several pairs of those cheap reading glasses from Walgreens.  They work well, and they don’t cost a lot.  I like to keep a pair in my purse, another pair by the computer and another pair near my bed, in case I want to read something or do close work, like knitting.

The TV remote control can end up anywhere in the living room of my little studio apartment.  It has even appeared in the kitchen once or twice, leaving me wondering how it got there.

I think the remote control is the mastermind of these plots, because it is by far the most accomplished when it comes to disappearing.  I think it has included the reading glasses because that way it has buddies to share a good laugh with when one of them has sent me all over the apartment trying to find it.

“Where is the remote?” has become almost a mantra in this apartment.  I look in the last place I am sure I was holding it in my hand, and it isn’t there.  It isn’t on the computer desk.  It isn’t on the daybed.  It isn’t on the ottoman.  I look under the daybed, under the chair, in the trash receptacle.  No remote control anywhere.  I check all the bookshelves.  I find two pairs of reading glasses that I have been looking for since last month, but no remote control.

I try calling it: “Here, Remote, Remote, Remote!”

Of course, it doesn’t answer me.  It can’t talk, and it’s hiding.

In desperation, I walk over to the television, turn it on and search the channels manually (using the cable box) until I find something reasonably entertaining.

I plop down in my armchair, despairing of ever finding the elusive device and wondering if I should call the cable company and order a new one – again.

I look down.  There it is, on the floor, peeking out from under the computer desk.  It’s laughing at me.


I reach down, pick it up, wipe off the dust with a Kleenex and put it on the ottoman, in front of the armchair.  I order it to stay there and not go anywhere unless I put it there.  I’m sure it will obey me, at least until tomorrow.
CRIME SCENE

Friday, December 30, 2016

Legalizing Weed and Other Substances

After considerable thought (at least five minutes’ worth), I have come to the conclusion that it is a big mistake to legalize any presently controlled substances.  As we have all been told for generations, you start with Weed, and before you know it you are lying in the gutter with glassy, heroin-filled eyes, mumbling to yourself, scaring people and singing Puff the Magic Dragon and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, just before you die in agony from the best high you have ever experienced.
The Destroyer
Using that same logic, it stands to reason that making extreme pleasure-inducing agents legal will soon result in their becoming commonplace items of ingestion.  Imagine if you will, typical future family interactions:

“Henry, you have put enough cocaine on your cereal.  Leave some for your little sister.”

“Mom!  Johnny won’t share his opium with me.  Make him give me some!”

 “Okay.  I have one coca leaf for each of you.  That’s all you’re getting.  So shut up and stop pestering me.”

“If I told you once, I told you a thousand times!  Stop giving our heroin to the dog!”

“Honey, do we have any more Ecstasy or did the kids take it all?”

Are we headed for a future filled with stoned kids and pets and exasperated parents on speed?  It’s something to think about while passing the joint around.
This could be YOU!
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DISCLAIMER:


In case you haven’t figured this out already, this is meant to be funny, and nobody should take it seriously.  There.  I said it.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

I Want Christmas! -- Memories

Okay.  I already told everyone about my stage debut as Innkeeper No. 2 in the St. Joseph’s Elementary School annual Christmas pageant.  If you haven’t already read about it, you can find it here.  I won’t repeat that story again – not that it isn’t a good story, I just don’t want to go through all the trouble and I don’t want to bore you.

I didn’t tell you about the doll house, though.  That was one of those magical Christmases.  I was about 4 or 5 years old.  My parents and I were living in a one-bedroom apartment behind my maternal grandparents’ gas station, on our little town’s Main Street, which was part of a longer highway that extended to nearby towns and to the small city located about three miles away.  It was a noisy, busy highway and my parents and grandparents were always watching to make sure I didn’t venture onto it and get myself run over by some passing idiot driver motorist.  The little apartment was cramped and old.  A few years later, we would move across Main Street, into a much bigger house, but for the time being we were roughing it.

My parents didn’t have much money then.  My father was working seasonal jobs as a bricklayer.  My mother was not yet working outside the home.  Things were tight.  Of course, being a little kid, I didn’t know that.  My parents knew it because they were the ones who had to figure out how to live on peanuts.  There was never a thought, though, of not having Christmas.  Of course, we had a tree.  In my memory’s eye (which can be mistaken because, after all, I am now 70 years old and this happened back in the very early 1950s) it was a small tree.  To my young eyes, it was probably the most beautiful Christmas tree in the world.  I was easy to please.

That Christmas, I woke up, got up out of my bed in the apartment’s only bedroom and walked into the living room.  There, by the tree, was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.  It was a doll house.  It was unwrapped, probably because it was too big to wrap with whatever Christmas paper my parents had.  There were other presents, too, but the doll house was the centerpiece.  Of course, it was just an inexpensive metal one, but to me it was a miniature palace.

I played with that doll house for years until, eventually, it became dented and worn out.  I don’t know how it met its end.  It was probably tossed out.  But that would be in the future.  On that Christmas morning, it was the best present ever.

Another thing I remember from around that time is that I was scared to death of sitting on Santa Claus’ lap.  Nobody could get me to do it.  I was a pathologically shy kid, anyway, and a big, bearded fat man in a red suit with a loud voice could send me hiding behind my Mom’s coat.  Finally, one day, someone (I think it was Mom) got me to sit on the lap of some Santa or other and tell him what I wanted for Christmas.  I did it very well, too.  I actually talked and I didn’t cry.  Word of my accomplishment got around the family and my parents’ friends, and they must have thought it was cute because some of them laughed.

Fast forward to my high school years.  By then, everyone knew I could sing and I had ambitions to become an opera singer.  One Christmas, I found myself part of a small choir rehearsing to sing at the Midnight Mass at our Catholic parish church.  The choir was being led by a man whose desire to serve far outweighed his musical ability.  He couldn’t even carry a tune, a real drawback in a choir director.  The choir consisted of two men and three females:  my younger sister, another soprano and myself.  We three females had good singing voices.  The two men, on the other hand, were at least as tone-deaf as the director.  This made for an interesting balance.  My sister was the youngest of the female participants, so the other soprano and I were the ones who ended up trying to make sure the whole thing wasn’t a disaster.


Somehow, we got through the mass, and that particular singing group disbanded for good.  Nobody was sorry about that.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Excerpts from my Book, "Opera For People Who Don't Like It"

Opera For People Who Don't Like It is a drop-dead funny, completely painless look at the art of opera and the people who perform and produce it.  It is beautifully illustrated by the talented comic artist Peter Fay.

It is available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle formats.

Here are a couple of short excerpts from the book.

From Chapter 4:
"Operatic characters don’t die like everyone else. For one thing, they die singing. I don’t know about the rest of you, but if I were dying of some awful disease or someone had just stabbed or poisoned me, the last thing I would want to do would be to sing about it. “Somebody call 911!” would be my most likely reaction, provided, of course, that I were capable of making any sound at all. Most likely, I’d just fall back and die and leave the commentary to someone else.

In Act I of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Don Giovanni (Italian for Don Juan – same guy, different language) has just broken into the bedroom of an attractive woman, with the idea of breaking into her. She isn’t about to take that lying down, and she makes enough noise to wake up everyone, including her father. The father and Giovanni get into a sword fight, which lasts about thirty seconds until Giovanni runs him through.

You’d think that would be the end of the elderly man, but it isn’t. Damned if he, Giovanni and Giovanni’s servant don’t spend the next minute or so singing a trio about how the old man’s soul is slowly leaving his “palpitating bosom.” It’s only on the final cadence of the trio that the old man is finally able to die and be done with it. The poor man gets no rest even then, though. Toward the end of the opera, he comes back as his own statue, just to scare the life out of Giovanni. He succeeds."

From Chapter 14:
"Here is a list of frequently asked questions, along with answers you might get from a singer who is in the mood to be snarky.
Can you break glass with your voice? No. Nobody can do that. If you ever find anyone who can, please warn me ahead of time, because I won’t want to be standing in front of him when he opens up with one of those pinging notes. If he can break glass, think of what he can do with my fragile brain cells.

Where do you sing? I’m like a streetwalker. I perform for whoever pays me. I travel around a lot. So you won’t have to worry that I’ll commandeer you into coming to my next performance. It’s in Tokyo.

What do you think of Luciano Pavarotti? I don’t know. I never met the man and, considering that he’s dead, I don’t think I’ll get an opportunity now. I do love his singing, and I’m sorry that he was silenced so soon.

Is it true that opera singers are temperamental? No. And if you ask that again I am going to kick you in the ass.

How many hours a day do you practice? I practice until my neighbors start throwing rocks through my window. (In other words, I don’t get as much opportunity to practice as I would like, and I’m not about to let you know that.)

What advice can you give to someone who wants to have a career as an opera singer? Find something else to do that has less aggravation and pays better."












Tuesday, December 6, 2016

I Want Christmas, Continued Again

The Art of Opening Gifts

Like all arts, gift wrapping requires concentration, dedication and talent.  Most of us don’t have that much talent for making something immortal out of fancy colored paper, ribbon and Scotch tape.  Concentration and dedication are not even considered, because we just want to get the whole thing over so we can get on with something more fun, such as watching Christmas movies on Lifetime or eating a lot of cookies.

The other popular Christmas art is opening gifts.  Different people have different techniques for peeling off the layers of paper and ribbon and revealing whatever treasure or dreck is inside.

(A)                There is one adult female in every family who sits and looks at a wrapped present and says, “It’s so pretty, I hate to open it.”  Her lack of perspective concerning what is important (the present inside the wrapping) and what is not important (the wrapping) and her hesitance to get on with it make everyone else want to pick her up and shake her like a rattle.

When she is finally persuaded to disturb the wrapping, and find out what she is getting, she VERY slowly and VERY carefully, with great reverence, frees the gift of, first, the ribbon, then the paper.  This gives her time to form a plan of how she is going to react if the present inside is something she must hide in a closet or re-gift to someone she hates.

(B)                I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have never seen a man act like (A) above.  Men usually prefer to rip the damned paper open as fast as possible to see if, this year, they lucked out and are getting something good for a change.  There is still a certain art involved.  A man can either rip open a gift with great <i>√©lan</i> or with great disinterest, knowing he is probably getting cologne, aftershave or a tie for the fourteenth year in a row.

(C)                Women who are more impatient than (A) above – in other words, the rest of us – usually take reasonable precautions not to tear the wrapping too much while trying to get at whatever is inside.  We were brainwashed by our mothers to save used Christmas wrap from one year to another, and we still have Mom’s voice deep in our psyches.  That is the Voice of Christmas Past, and it never goes away.

(D)               Some gifts, such as a new Harley, are too big to be wrapped.  In that case, nobody has to open anything.  They just have to figure out how to get the thing out of the living room.  This takes half the fun out of getting a present, but it saves paper.

(E)                Many families have a joker who loves to put a small sized gift into a large box with a lot of stuffing to take up the extra space.  I used to be one of those jokers, until I grew up.  This provides endless fun to everyone except the recipient when the gift is opened.  If an adult pulls this trick on another adult, the present had better be something spectacular, if the gift giver knows what’s good for him.

(F)                Kids are not concerned about such mundane things as wrapping paper.  If they are left to their own devices, they will have pieces of mutilated gift wrapping all over the living room floor by the time they get through opening their presents.  Mom is usually watching, though, and making sure that enough re-usable paper survives the yearly paper holocaust, to be used again the following year.  She learned this from HER Mom, who learned it from HER Mom, who learned it from HER Mom, who survived the Great Depression.
The Original Family Gift Wrapping Saver
 Giving gifts to our loved ones and beautiful Christmas memories to our children are wonderful things.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

I Want Christmas, Continued!

I always love the Christmas season, but this year, more than ever, I need a good old-fashioned one.  I have a terminal case of We-Are-Going-To-Have-a-Sociopath-in-the-White-House Syndrome.

Even back in ancient times, before cable TV, smartphones and the Internet, we knew how to celebrate the Christmas season.

It always started off with the annual collection.  This was my idea.  All three of us Minicozzi kids would pool our money together to buy gifts for Dad, Mom, Grandma and Grandpa.  As the Advent season ground on, we would add whatever coins we could spare to the fund, and by a few days before Christmas we would have enough to get something nice for all four of them.

“Nice” was a relative term.  Our family was working class, and we lived in a small town, next to a small city, in the middle of the apple growing area of Washington State.  Nobody in our family expected diamonds or anything like that.  We weren’t rich, not by any kind of stretch.  Some sweet-smelling hand lotion from the dime store was a “nice” gift from three kids who had been pooling their change.

We always had the most fun on the days and weeks leading up to Christmas.  The streets in the Downtown shopping area in the small city next to our small town were decorated for the season, and the stores had their colorful displays in the windows.  Window shopping and browsing were obligatory and fun, especially if you were trying to figure out what you could get for Mom, Dad, Grandma and Grandpa with the money collected from you and your siblings.  I think that’s where I learned how to be both budget conscious and a spendthrift.  I can spend a lot of money, but I know how to get a bunch of decent stuff in return, even if some of it is stuff I don’t need.

I don’t remember when I stopped sitting on a store Santa’s lap, but I remember one of the times I did.  I was a terminally shy kid, but I was persuaded to go and sit on the lap of the big man with the big beard and tell him what I wanted for Christmas.  I must have been cute or funny, or both, because my parents laughed about it and told their friends.

Our Catholic elementary school held a Christmas Pageant every year, and the whole school took part.  Every grade had a presentation.  I made my stage debut in the First Grade, as an innkeeper.  Our grade was presenting The Nativity that year.  When the time came to cast everyone, Sister A. gave all the plum parts to other kids.  I was a homely kid, tall for my age and awkward.  In addition, I had attention deficit problems.  There was no way that I was going to get the part of the Virgin Mary, and I was not likely to be cast as an angel, either.  Joseph, the shepherds and the wise men were all boys.  The only thing left that would at least give me a line or two and a chance to shine was the part of an innkeeper.  I became Innkeeper No. 2, in a line of three.  Innkeeper No. 3 (a boy, of course) was the one who got all the lines because he got to direct Mary and Joseph to the stable.  All I got to say was that I didn’t have any room.

I learned very early in life that it’s best to get on the good side of the director if you want to be cast in a decent role.

I got a laugh when I spoke my line in the performance.  I wasn’t trying to be funny.  I was telling the two holiest people in the world that I couldn’t put them up, for Pete’s sake!  Later, my Mom told me that the audience laughed because I was cute up there.  I wasn’t trying for cute, either.  I was trying for unforgettable.  I was unforgettable, but not in the way I wanted.

I have a special memory of the school Christmas Pageant when I was in the Eighth Grade.  My singing voice had been discovered the year before, and my wonderful Seventh Grade teacher, Sr. Ernest, had passed the word on to my very dear music teacher, Sr. Dolores Mary, who had arranged for me to get singing lessons at a local music school on a partial scholarship.  In the Eighth Grade, I was asked to sing “O Holy Night” in the annual pageant.  The catch, though, was that I had to sing it in French.  I had never attempted French in my life.  Sister Ernest, who was of French extraction, taught me how to sing the words phonetically.  Poor Sister Ernest!  She tried hard, but I had a terrible time getting my American mouth around some of the French pronunciation!  I wish I could sing it for her now, because now I can do it properly.  Back then I was just a kid who couldn’t speak French who was thrilled to be asked to sing such a big solo.

Sister Ernest would be proud.


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For more of my humor, go here.


Sunday, November 20, 2016

I Want Christmas!

I know.  Thanksgiving Day hasn’t even come yet, and I’m on Christmas already.  This year (2016) I am in desperate need of Christmas, more than ever.  It’s one of the symptoms of a disease called We-Are-Going-to-Have-a-Sociopath-In-The-White-House Syndrome.

This would have made my mother say,
"It's so pretty, I hate to open it!"
What Not to Give Me (A Single Female Baby Boomer) for Christmas

Everyone likes to get presents.  I am no exception.  There are times, though, when a thoughtful gift can turn into a pain in the ass.

Take large plants, for example.  There are people who love spending time with plants.  I am not one of those people, and there are many more of us.  Plants don’t like me.  I think plants are fine, so long as someone else is taking care of them.  I am the kind of plant parent who thinks that plants should be seen, but not in your face.  When I DO give a plant attention, it is a death sentence.  Plants take one look at me and die, because they know they are doomed, anyway.  Never give someone like me a plant, if you value its life.

Please don’t give me a pet, either.  I already have one:  Harmony the Cat.  She has been an only cat since I adopted her, and I don’t think she’d take kindly to having competition for her position as Empress of the Apartment.  I don’t relish the thought of fights to the death being conducted in my living room.[1]

Another impractical kind of gift for me is any kind that involves large amounts of perishable food.  This includes big baskets of fruit.  Fruit is delicious.  I love almost all kinds of fruits, especially things like grapes, apples, pears, peaches and oranges.  Those things can be easily eaten.  Whole fresh pineapples and whole coconuts require muscles and/or sharp implements and a lot of patience.  Often, there is a whole fresh pineapple in the middle of one of those big baskets of fruit.  To add more craziness, one person cannot possibly eat all that fruit before it starts to go bad.  Have you ever tried giving fruit away to your friends?  Don’t – unless you enjoy wasting time and carrying oranges around.

Nobody has ever given me a Costco gift certificate, and I hope that nobody will ever do that.  I have never taken out a membership in any company that expects customers to buy things in bulk.  Families can save money that way.  I would only end up with a small apartment full of stuff that would go bad or that it would take me a year to use up.  Yes, you can buy a TV at Costco, but that never occurs to me because there are so many other places to get a good bargain on a TV.  On the other hand, if anyone wants to give me a Costco gift certificate for a great meal at a fine restaurant, I will grab it and love it.

Oh, and I live in a small apartment.  Before anyone gives me anything that takes up room, I hope s/he takes the size of my apartment into consideration, especially if it is a butt ugly thing that the giver is re-gifting to me.
... like this thing!
Pretty dishtowels are nice, and I have one hanging in my kitchen.  I almost never use it, though.  I air dry all my dishes on the dish rack because it’s more sanitary that way, and easier.  If anything in the kitchen requires wiping, I use paper towels or a sponge.  The dishtowel is just there for looks, although nobody ever looks at it.  My kitchen is full of everything from big bottles of Poland Spring water to a big bag of cat food to just about anything a kitchen can hold.  One little dishtowel is lost in the clutter.

Sets of bath towels can be a good gift, but that shelf in my closet where I keep towels and washcloths is already bursting with them, and I don’t think they want more company in there.  This is my fault, in part, because the local odd lot store sells nice towels at cheap prices and there are times when I am in the mood to shop.  You can guess the rest.  I have more than one useless item that I bought in that store, along with some good stuff.  I discovered Sarabeth’s preserves and storage ottomans there, for which I am grateful.

One of these days I’ll write something about a lack of closet space, for which storage ottomans take up a lot of the orphaned stuff that doesn’t have any room.

That’s a whole other story.





[1] In fact, you should NEVER give anyone a pet unless you are SURE that the person will love the animal and care for it and make a lifetime commitment.  Seriously!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Black Friday Poll

Yes, I know.  It isn’t time for Christmas-related stuff yet.  We haven’t even had a chance to survive Thanksgiving Day.  That’s a whole other thing itself.  There is one aspect of the Christmas season, though, that we should address before it has a chance to overcome us:

Black Friday




I would like to conduct a little poll to see what my readers have planned for Black Friday.  Please choose one of the following:

I plan to:

(A)  Hide at home, with all doors and windows locked, binge-watch episodes of “Law and Order” on TV and eat Vanilla Almond Granola directly out of the box.

(B)  Do all my Christmas shopping in one day – online – sitting in front of my computer wearing PJs.

(C)  Get to Target, Kmart or Walmart before anyone else, defend my place in line with a baseball bat and a shotgun and bring someone with me who has sharp elbows and good shoving skills.  If possible, bring my scariest-looking relatives with me, male and female, including kids.

(D)  Refuse to think about Christmas shopping until Christmas Eve, then run around like a junkie on Speed trying to buy everything at once.  This is like Black Friday, except there won’t be as many bargains and a lot of people will be too tired to fight, anyway.

(E)  Refuse to think about Christmas shopping until Christmas Eve, then go online and send everyone gift cards.  This is the last resort of the lazy and of people who hate to go outside to shop.

(F)  Other (you don’t have to elaborate, unless you have a really juicy idea).


You may post your choice in the Comments section below.