Music Monday: I Love Vegas

It’s funny. When I was a kid, Dean Martin singing in a Martin/Lewis movie was a cue to go get a snack and a drink. I guess I grew up.


Follow Up: Maker’s Mark backed down. Now I have to decide if I forgive them.

In Closing: two internets; yeah, that’s what I thought; interesting ideaMalala; a politician tells the truth??; Who would have thought? More like who wouldn’t have thought; let kids be kids; the origin of and truth about the 80/20 rule.



Outpost: Shorties Sun

Hints of Sanity: Newt says something’s got to change.

Yesterday this was the funniest thing on the Internet: Review of Guy Fieri’s restaurant.

UN Believable: UN says “increasing funding for family planning by a further $4.1 billion could save $11.3 billion annually in health bills for mothers and newborns in poor countries.”

Pro-Life My @$$: Woman suffers for days in excruciating pain and eventually dies because her miscarrying fetus still had a heartbeat, despite the actually born mother’s pleas to terminate the doomed pregnancy. I have some very harsh words for the so-called pro-life people — mostly men who will never get pregnant —  who think there is never a reason to abort. Those words are probably not safe for work.

Interesting consequence: Hurricane Sandy caused a rise in used car prices.

I bet there’s a simpler reason: Romney believes that he lost because of Obama’s “gifts” to minorities? What? Seriously? Couldn’t have anything to do with unemployment and real wages, could it? At least Ryan was smart enough to dogwhistle the issue by blaming “urban voters” rather than by flat out saying “brown and black people.”

Poverty might be worse than we think:  Depending how you measure it, poverty might be over 16%. And worse yet, over 3% of Americans are in poverty simply because of medical bills.

Less popular than Vietnam: 82% think we are losing the War on Drugs. Only 23% think we should keep shouldering on.

Can’t tell what’s going on without a chart: The Petraeus mess is so weird that you couldn’t make it into an episode of a TV crime drama. Nobody would believe it. I can barely wrap my head around it without laughing. Shouldn’t a General know better than to stick his **** in crazy? And what is with the socialite that she thinks a few emails are worth calling in a favor from an FBI agent? For those of you who are having trouble keeping up USA Today has you covered with a chart. I love the image for “Shirtless Guy.” You know some intern had to sort through dozens of stock photos. At least Holly Petraeus will still have a job at the end of this mess.

Oh, Oh, It’s Magic

On my most recent trip, I had a unique book to read while lounging by a beach of white sand and impossibly blue water. That book was The Magic Room by Jeffrey Zaslow. No, not a fantasy novel for young adults, but a book about women — oddly bereft of feminism. It’s a book about brides and a very special bridal shop in a small Michigan town. You’ll want to keep some tissues close by while you read it. You can get a little taste of it right here.

How did he end up in a bridal shop? When Mr. Zaslow set out to write “a nonfiction book about the love we all wish for our daughters,” he went looking for “a place with great emotion.” His wife suggested a bridal shop. And it’s not just any bridal shop, not one of those big chains or the boutique tucked in an obscure corner of a big department store. Becker’s Bridal has a long history: 4 generations of women in one remarkable family have worked here, in an old “small town” bank building, creating “magic.”

In addition to reading about the strong women of the Becker family and their business, we also follow a number of brides on their journey through the process. This does cause a bit of a muddle towards the last third of the book as the reader jumps from bride to bride, finishing out what happened between their trip to Becker’s and the wedding itself: is Courtney the one who decided not to kiss anyone until she got married? The kindergarten teacher who was in a car wreck? The widow who is getting remarried even though her kids are unhappy with the arrangement? The independent woman who is finally getting married for the first time in her 40s? Or is she the one with rheumatic heart disease? With many brides comes some confusion for anyone without a photographic memory.

As I consider the idea of my second wedding, I found the idea of a “bridal industry” somewhat creepy. No mistake, I understand and respect that there are people who make a living making sure I have a dress that makes me “princess for a day,” seeing to invitations, attiring my entire wedding party, putting together memorable services and receptions. I can’t imagine spending “between $19,907 and $33,178” as most American couples do. Even the cheapest sale dresses at Becker’s are more than I can justify spending on a gown I will — hopefully — only wear once.

Like the “funeral industry,” it doesn’t quite sound right to have an “industry” grow up around profoundly personal moments in somebody’s life. What’s next? Calling religious institutions part of the “faith industry”?

This being said, Mr. Zaslow comes up with some very interesting observations, presented in a rather dry, tangential, New York Times sort of way: brides used to be “smaller,” oh no not because of obesity, but because they “didn’t work out” and “didn’t lift weights” and “didn’t eat the way Americans eat today”; roughly 15% of mothers of the bride want dresses that are “too revealing and sexy,” and 35% have to be reminded that they aren’t the grandmother of the bride; sometimes the boss has to “be a bitch”; and oddly enough, “advances in box-making helped fuel the computer revolution.”

In this world of Brides Behaving Badly, it’s refreshing to see that getting married doesn’t have to be a three ring circus. On the other hand, there’s something odd about a man writing a tear-jerker book about the bridal industry, and saying it’s about “the love we all wish for our daughters.”

Want to discuss this book more? Go check out the conversation already flowing over at the Blogher Book Club.

Disclosure statement: I read this book for the Blogher Book Club. In return for my participation I was given a copy of the book (e-book in this case) and I will receive $20. Nevertheless, the opinions expressed here are my own.

Ok then, who wants a heaping helping of In Closing?: made up words; moron; Anonymous does good; if school was a job, students would get more break time by law; it’s never too early to eat right and move your body; cult; and security theatre.

I don’t think Rudolph would approve


Personally, I don’t know whether Sniper Rifle Santa is creepier than Football Hero Santa, but it’s got to be close.

In closing: So much for Republican hating on Romney; screw the TSA, everyone’s driving; on domestic oil; flat population growth; picky!; a fun game.

ShortWoman’s Musings on Travel

Last week, I was out of town. Having grand adventures. You know, the usual. I’m home, and things are back to normal, so let me tell you what I think about travel.

On Packing: Pick your battles when it comes to your quart zip-top bag of liquids. Would it kill you to use the shampoo you’ll find in the hotel? Don’t forget to pack sunscreen. Really.

If it’s big enough or heavy enough to need wheels, it is by definition not a carry-on.

Rolling pants and most other garments takes up less room and means fewer wrinkles.

Think carefully about how long you’ll be gone and what you’ll really need. After all, you’re going to have to carry it.

On Airports and Airlines: Do everyone a favor and have your ID and boarding pass ready to go when you get in the security line. Already be prepared to go through the probe-u-later. Be polite as long as feasible. And seriously, don’t even joke about terrorism or bombs.

No, U.S. Air, I am not paying for your overpriced food.

The Airbus A321 has the worst overhead storage I have ever seen. Somebody decided that it’s more important for a 6′ tall man to be able to stand than for anybody to have a carry-on bag. The more I travel, the more I like Boeing.

The only thing I like about Phoenix Sky Harbor is that it’s called “Sky Harbor.”

Cancun, on the other hand, has a very nice airport. Clean, well laid out, plenty of room near the gates, huge duty free shop, decent food. Oh yeah, and a Margaritaville.

On Mexico: I understood Montezuma’s Revenge before I even made it through customs. The sink in the airport bathroom was labeled “NON-POTABLE WATER. DO NOT DRINK.” In English, I might add. If a sink is not labeled “POTABLE,” don’t drink that water. It’s simple.

I’ve come to the conclusion that if you are willing to stick to areas frequented by English speaking tourists, you will need very little Spanish. This may hold up in other countries as well.

The Cancun Hotel District looks a lot like the Las Vegas Strip: lots of luxury resorts, lots of palm trees, high end malls, the occasional convenience store that looks like it’s been there for decades. However, the big difference is that Cancun has more pyramids.

Lots of shopping, yes. I think the only things I could have bought there that I can’t get here are Cuban cigars and Cuban rum (which is yummy stuff). And since I can’t bring either one home, not worth bothering.

Going out to Isla Mujeres was much more like visiting a foreign country. Be aware, the shopkeepers will see you getting off the boat.

Step out of your comfort zone and eat what the locals do. You’ll be glad you did.

Tip well around your resort and you will be remembered for it.

And one last thing: You never know who you will run into when you travel. Be aware of opportunities to meet people, or at least say hello to people you know.

In Closing: hilarious; small Mercedes coming soon; must read explanation of “not in the labor force”; Occupy Ports; a battle that was lost by 1978; and Jesus approves this message.

Two and a Half Men

Thank heaven for Alan Grayson and — still! — Howard Dean. Harry Reid? Not so much.

If you don’t read Toothpaste for Dinner, you should!

In closing: 10 ways to get fat; pretty pictures; revisionist “history” (go ahead and read the Constitution, Newt); fearmongering; reality check. Sorry, I’m just not feeling like a long post right now.

A Plea for Civility

Can we please all stop with the name-calling?

Seriously, I don’t care if you’re liberal or conservative, we need to stop hurling around insulting names. It doesn’t do a bit of good, certainly doesn’t persuade anyone to your way of thinking, and it makes everyone who agrees with you look like an asshole.

I’m tired of hearing about Mooselini, the Chimpinator, McLame, Speaker Boner, Rummy, General Betray-us, Tweetie, Slick Willy, George Snuffleupagus, the O-Bomber, Wiener’s wiener, Rahmstein, Bachman-Poptart-Underdrive, Al Frankenstein, the Koch-heads, Dumb-o-craps, Repuglicants, MoDoDo, GingGrinch, and any other creative insults you can think of. Can’t we refer to people with their names and/or titles like civilized adults? “The President,” or “Senator So-and-so”, or “Mr. Clark”?

Now, I will concede a handful of exceptions. The Governator earned his nickname fair and square. So did “Heckuva Job” Brownie — the President himself gave him that nickname. To refer to Pat “Go F*** Yourself” Leahy is a compliment to his restraint. The Cyborg Dick Cheney, well, he is a cyborg.

The rest of it? Knock it off, already! It’s a distraction from real issues, like our eroding Constitutional rights, the developing American oligarchy, the endangered social safety net, the disappearing middle class, our crumbling infrastructure, the failed War on Drugs; our anemic economy, and the elimination of women‘s rights.

In Closing: Dam, dam, dam; Hollywood‘s out of ideas; the most sensible thing I’ve read about the Wal-Mart ruling; it’s a good start; and exercises at work.

Slight Overreaction

I’m having trouble figuring out where to begin on this one.

So Steven Seagal is now filming his little cop-show in Arizona, with Everyone’s Least Favorite Sheriff, Joe Arpaio. Mr. Seagal just happened to be along on a little raid of a suspected cock-fighting operation. Rather than do something rational like knock on the door yelling “THIS IS THE POLICE AND WE HAVE A WARRANT!”, somebody decided that the most prudent way to conduct this operation was to have “armored vehicles, including a tank” come through the neighborhood and knock one wall of the suspect’s home down. Neighbors panicked and called 911. It turns out that the suspect was alone and unarmed in the home. In the end, “Thousands of dollars in damages were made to the property and 115 birds were euthanized on the spot.”

Now, I’m going to ignore the nagging suspicion that maybe the chickens were in fact run over by the tank.

I’m even going to ignore the fact that the suspect in this case is still a suspect — innocent until proven guilty and all — who has just had his home made uninhabitable and un-securable. Nor will he be able to make arrangements for repairs to make his home secure until he can post bail or be found innocent. In other words, he’d better plan on never seeing any of his possessions again.

I’ll even ignore the undue fear created by police officers in the community, the role of the TV cameras, and all the controversy that curls around Sheriff Arpaio like Rapunzel’s hair.

Here’s my question: in a day and age of budget cuts everywhere, how and why does any civilian law enforcement agency own and maintain a TANK?

Seriously, with cash-strapped state and local governments everywhere you look, don’t you think that just maybe the tanks and other armored vehicles should be the first thing to go? Is it really that important to be able to knock down the occasional wall? And if so, wouldn’t it be more cost effective to rent an tank team from the local National Guard unit for the afternoon?

Not even Radley Balko knew what to say about this one. What a shame he’s moving to HuffPo.

In closing: HowTo; Sahara; Democrats don’t do P90X?; zombie nuclear dump; flipflop; Thorium; who could have thought that “metabolic abnormalities in obese teens may relate to poor diets”??; Busted has a point; shirt; uncertainty; and that’s it for the day.

Inland Shorties

To Paraphrase My Source: why do we demonize doctors for over-prescribing (and parents for over-demanding) antibiotics when 80% of them are used on the farm?

Don’t Panic: Yellowstone has risen by as much as 10″ in spots.

Useless: New food labels tell you everything they think you need to know at a glance on the front of the package! Except, of course, how big a serving is.

Follow Up: Great Jack LaLanne quotes.

Been a while since we had a Japanfilter: Old pictures, traditional recipes. Less traditional. Free Japanese lessons.

Holocaust Remembrance Day: Enough said.

About Jobs: It’s not about competition; this might take some time; if he’s right, his wife may be unemployed in 2 years.

ACLU: Oh Snap.

Unaffiliated: Monitor lizard.

When can I buy one?: VW‘s latest mileage monster.

Harry? Is that you??: Reid says we must “reintroduce truth into the public debate.” Among other things!

Sharron: Won’t rule out running for President in 2012. Shudder.

Google: strange sense of censorship.

Deficit: Why austerity is a sucker’s game.

Duh: Financial crisis was avoidable.

The War On Drugs Gets Silly: Drug catapult.

That Nixon Was Too Liberal: Newt Gingrich says the EPA must go.

JP Morgan Takes the Fifth: Won’t detail a half million loans.

No, really?: Housing bust means workers can’t move to new jobs, a key feature of the “job market.”

Rare Fossil: Pterosaur and egg.