Saturday, July 31, 2010

The $3 Million Wedding

Service, tents, food, booze, location, hired help - $2 million dollars
Porta potties with porcelain seats - $1 million dollars
Human bidets - priceless!

In the old days when weddings were planned, we rented the pool table space at Dad’s VFW Post or American Legion hall. Then, everybody brought a side dish and Grandma baked a five-layer Duncan Hines with whipped cream icing. Mom and the maid of honor shopped at Kresge’s Five-and-Dime for centerpieces and a small bride and groom statue for the cake. Party poppers were used in lieu of champagne. The total cost was under $1,000. That included the dress, which was a bleached composite worn by many dead ancestors.

In the old days when you sent out the wedding invitations, everyone knew where to show up, the time of the ceremony, and where they were going to spend the night. You never had to send bloodhounds (in this case the family mastiff) out on a reconnaissance mission to round up your guests.

Of course the newspaper reporters were not reverting back to swinging from trees either. The bride and groom were all too happy to pose in front of the half-moon outhouse door for pictures, as it was now elaborately covered in black-eyed Susans (hopefully not a bad omen of The Best is Yet to Come by Rocky Balboa).

The divorce rate was lower back then too; plus, assets and prenuptial agreements were non-existent.

The band usually began with a Newfoundland ugly stick and ended with "Chelsea Morning."

How in the hell can you spend $3 million on a wedding? I asked myself. Does it cost that much to ensure that none of the bidets are illegals?

If Chelsea writes a “How To Spend $3 Million Because You Can” book before my last daughter gets married, I’m going to hide every copy and bribe my kid to elope.

"Don't worry about it, Mom," my daughter said. "Rumors have been circulating that The Onion has offered well over $1 million for an advance copy of the vows, just to see if they have really been patterned after the bride and groom's favorite Dr. Seuss story. Other tabloids have made similar offers for photos. The $3 million is covered."

I’m told that honeymoon suite entertainment, in this case, was not a lavish choice. While all the other details are confidential, the wedding planner offered this video as proof:

© 2010, Valenta, All rights reserved.

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

E. B. Heron in Boston

E.B. wearing his Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay T-shirt on I-90, Boston

Rose A. Valenta, E.B. Heron, Mary DiZazzo Trumbull, Eileen and Jimmy Keck - Robert Benchley Society gathering,
July 17, 2010, Boston.

Last weekend was amazing. I took E. B. Heron, the official mascot of the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop to Boston. There, he met up the folks at the Robert Benchley Society. As you know, E.B. was actually named after E. B. White, who wrote for The New Yorker Magazine and occasionally hung out with Robert Benchley and Dorothy Parker at the Algonquin Hotel in New York.

E. B. Heron thoroughly enjoyed himself; first, donning his Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay T-shirt enroute to Boston, and then wearing a nice tux for a black tie dinner aboard the yacht, “Secret Love” (I will post more about dinner with photos later).

E.B. now has his own fan club on Facebook called The Letters and Travels of E. B. Heron. You can look him up and follow him as he travels around the country. You might also want to send a friend request to Elwyn B. Heron to delve deeper into his private life and photo albums.

He doesn’t drive, so he relies on trusted Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop members , a.k.a. “Ermies,” to take him on special road trips and visits.

He is a bit if a pain in the car, yelling things like “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” or “Open a window, I gotta go!” So, not all of the Ermies volunteer to take him on interesting excursions. Plus, you must never call him names like "Flat Stanley" or he will not get into the car.

So far, he has traveled with humorist, Wanda Argersinger, author of Life in the Land of Confusion -; Jody Worsham, author of The Medicare Mom; and me.

I can usually pacify him with goldfish crackers, but he is one tough cookie.

This year, I called Enterprise Rent-a-Car and leased a Chevrolet HHR to drive from Philadelphia to Boston. The car was roomy enough to give E.B. his own suite by the back hatch. The Goldfish crackers kept him quiet until we reached a rest stop on I-90, then he beat my ear all the way to Beacon St. I made a wrong turn and had to backtrack out on the expressway. I was ready to toss him out of the car, but he was reprieved by a sign on the highway that read “U-Turn to Boston.” Apparently, a lot of other people transport herons to Boston too.

On Friday, I took him to David and Mary Trumbull’s cabana at the Clubs on Charles St. where he behaved himself near the shrimp. Then, we went to dinner at Scollay’s Square, where he met Ed Tasca, winner of the 2010 Robert Benchley Award for Humor and author of the new humor novel, Lub Dub.

E.B. Heron and Ed Tasca at Scollay’s Square, Boston

I had to sneak him past the registration desk at the Omni Parker House Hotel, but managed to get him into the elevator before anyone noticed that he was inebriated.

Saturday night was the main event, the humor awards dinner. E. B. wore a hand-made designer tuxedo from the House of Argersinger in Pensacola, aboard the private yacht Secret Love.

I will post more fiascos later in the week.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Off the Beaten Path - Boston’s Touch of Class: Poet Mary Millis

Mary Millis autographs her books at Emmet’s

Such feasts! The laughs of many a jocund hour
That shook the mortar from King George’s tower;
Such guests! What famous names its record boasts.
Whose owners wander in the mob of ghosts

~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., about the Omni Parker House Hotel in Boston.

While I’m waiting to gather some really good photographs to post about my weekend trip to Boston for the 2010 Robert Benchley Society gathering, I thought you might like a glimpse of a wonderful poet, who lives near the Omni Parker House Hotel. Her name is Mary Millis. She is not yet famous, but I know that she will be and Mary adds a delightful touch of class to the area.

I ran into Mary accidently at the Church on the Hill. While the others in my group went on a walking tour, Mary and I decided it was too hot to walk and snuck off to Emmet’s Pub at 6 Beacon St, for a light lunch. We already had bagels with butter, jam, and cream cheese, cake, donuts, coffee, and juice at the church; but just entertaining the thoughts of possibly walking two miles made us hungry and our feet decided on their own to quit for the day.

I was staying at the Omni Parker House at 60 School St., which used to be the hang out for famous writers such as Hawthorne, Longfellow, and Thoreau. Little did I know that the real inspiration was only a half-block away.

The Hotel was lovely; the service was excellent, as was its overall ambiance. I won’t rate the room, as my mother always said “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything.” All I can say is that Superman changed outfits in bigger five-star phone booths. So, we sought some solitude at Emmet’s. To me, it was such a pleasant coincidence to meet up and have lunch with a local Boston poet. BTW, the clam chowder at Emmet’s is the best.

Mary loves to inspire people. Unlike most poets, she is very outgoing and in tune with people. We shared family stories, fiascos, and laughs over coffee. We both have grown children and grandchildren, who make our lives enjoyable and interesting - most of the time.

We exchanged books. She was gracious enough to autograph her books for me at the pub, as I read some of her poetry. She is a great photographer and uses her pictures as illustrations. Mary is just beginning to research and learn how to use social networking, so she does not have a blog, or a Facebook/Twitter account. I will let you know when she does.

In the meantime, I will share just one of her many poems from “On Wings of Wind:”

Friendship is a Tree

A friendship is itself sincere
And rooted as a tree.
It probes the heart in search of truth,
It seeks integrity.

Its fertile seeds draw nourishment
Where God has placed His hands.
The changing seasons, full of life
Give strength where friendship stands.

The tree grows stately and serene
Its budding leaves increase.
The fruits of friendship blossom forth,
To bring us joy and peace.

And just as in a time before
New seeds will fall and drift
To settle in another heart
And share their precious gift.

So far, Mary has authored “On Wings of Wind, “In Harmony With Heaven,” and “A Matter of Significance.”

I made a new friend! Mary is going to look me up on Twitter (@rosevalenta) and Facebook when she joins. Its great going off the beaten path sometimes, isn’t it? It makes life so much more interesting and inspiring.

If you would like to buy copies of Mary Millis’ books before she goes online, just send me an e-mail and I will put you in touch; or you can write to her via snail mail at 130 Bowdoin St., Suite 1805, Boston, MA 02108.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy of my book "Sitting on Cold Porcelain" just click on the "Add to Cart" button on the left panel.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Book Signing - July 17th in Boston

If you are in the Boston area this weekend, you will be pleased to know that the Robert Benchley Society (RBS) is holding its seventh annual gathering, July 16-18, to honor the beloved American humorist, Robert Benchley.

A free book talk and reading event is scheduled at the Boston Society of the New Jerusalem, the Church on the Hill, 140 Bowdoin Street ( at 11:00 am Saturday, July 17th. It is open to the public and several authors will be signing books, including me!

The winner of the 2009 Robert Benchley Award for Humor, Ed Tasca, will be present to sign his latest humorous tales of adventure with his new comic novel, Lub Dub, published by Rose Heart Books. Tasca is a native Philadelphian. His work has appeared in many humor publications throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

Several authors will be available to sign copies of their books following the book talk and reading. It is entirely sponsored by the RBS. If you plan to be there, please stop by and say “hello,” I love meeting my readers and I know you have many interesting things to tell me.

About the RBS: The Robert Benchley Society is a forum for appreciation and discussion of the work and life of twentieth-century American humorist Robert Benchley. The Society formed in the spring of 2003 in Boston, Massachusetts. Our membership is international and includes persons with scholarly interests in Robert Benchley as well as persons who just like to get together over drinks for the mutual enjoyment of Robert Benchley writings and motion pictures. If you would like to join contact:

David Trumbull
130 Bowdoin St., Apt. 1110
Boston, Mass. 02108 USA
or by e-mailing

Friday, July 9, 2010

10 Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

There's a man who leads a life of danger
To everyone he meets he stays a stranger
With every move he makes another chance he takes
Odds are he won't live to see tomorrow

Secret agent man, secret agent man
They've given you a number and taken away your name.

~ P.F. Sloan and S. Barri

A spy swap took place in NYC yesterday; it was the biggest bust since Peter Sellers' escapades in “The Mouse That Roared.”

On Monday, 10 Russian spies were brought into night court in Miami, FL. One-by-one, they caved and confessed. A defense attorney couldn’t figure out why they gave each other up so easily. Then, he peeked under the defense table and saw The Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay with a Black and Decker ball buster enjoying himself.

Judge Ito questioned each of the U.S. Defendents, who were hiding here under assumed names working odd jobs, and blending in with American society. One gentleman blended in so well that he kept forgetting to call his Russian contact, but kept sitting in Dairy Queen every day enjoying the blizzards. He also forgot exactly what he was supposed to be reporting to his contact.

The 10 U.S. defendants were captured sometime during the July 4th holiday and were found to have false passports, secret code words, fake names, invisible ink, and Little Orphan Annie decoder rings.

White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, told reporters that the 10 were being deported in exchange for a few Americans that were arrested for spying in Moscow.

In Russia, the Kremlin said that President Dmitry Medvedev sent a YouTube video to the White House showing an American spy downing shots and spilling his guts on Russian TV. He had also been caught painting "Kilroy Was Here" signs in the St. Petersburg subway.

The U.S. Department of Justice had enough when two of the Russian spies became famous on Facebook: Anna Chapman for indecent exposure, and Igor Sutyagin for selling Fabergé egg knock-offs. They sent the Kremlin a YouTube video of their spies demonstrating gross stupidity.

Upon being deported in night court, the spies were flown to NYC where the exchange took place. The Russians were last seen stumbling off a plane in Vienna on Thursday. The stewardess had served each of them about twenty shots of Double Cross Vodka.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Postal Rate Increases: Stop With the JibJab Stamps

Photo Courtesy of Danny Gallagher -

The Post Office is raising our rates again to 46 cents for First Class mail in January. They wouldn’t have to keep raising the rates if the boys in the executive suite would only quit playing craft games and JibJab with our money.

It costs extra to print stamps with pictures and drawings of Oscar Micheaux, Kate Smith, Katherine Hepburn, Cowboys of the Silver Screen, Pansies in a Basket, Bill Mauldin, Gary Cooper and Bob Hope. They should economize and keep it simple like just the American Flag and Liberty Bell.

If I want stickers, I can buy them separately.

When I send Uncle Harry a birthday card, I like to put stickers all over the back. He is partial to the Marx Brothers and the Post Office hasn’t figured out how to JibJab Harpo, so I shop at Michael's or A. C. Moore. It keeps my creative juices flowing.

I hate to spoil their fun, but we need to cut costs. I don’t need a choice between the Liberty Bell Stamp with or without the butt crack, you know?

They could sell us a bunch of blanks that are compatible with LaserJet printers and let us do our own thing. We can customize our own stamps and keep it at 44 cents.

I like the Danny Gallagher Stamp (pictured above). He is the famous author of “Movies That Suck” and an all around nice guy. I’d like to use his stamp whenever I write to Congress about government spending.

It would also keep Postal employees postal.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Rebecca Petner Campaign: One Day Left to Vote

Philadelphia native, Rebecca Petner, is campaigning big time for a shot at her own talk show on the Oprah Network. She already has an impressive 180,000 votes, but needs more!

Celebrate the start of Independence Day weekend by helping her realize an American dream.

Rebecca is a La Salle graduate and also attended the Philadelphia Improv Theatre (PHIT). She is a very talented lady.

Please vote for her here: Vote for Rebecca