Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Better Than NORAD?

"There are three stages of man: He believes in Santa Claus; he doesn't believe in Santa Claus; he is Santa Claus."

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) did a great job tracking Santa again this year; but it didn't compare with the early Christmas Eve reports of reindeer poop on the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State building that circumvented modern technology and allowed kids to track where Santa and his reindeer really had been. These sightings are based on help desk reports from the North Pole. As you know, reindeer poop was in demand during the past few years for those folks, who were put on Santa’s naughty list. Entrepreneurs even packaged the stuff with poems like this one:

Santa saved a precious gift
and it's especially for you.
Just a little something extra
and it comes from Rudolph, too!

He knows that you've been naughty
instead of being nice.
Once again you're on the bad list
and he's checked it over twice.

Santa hopes this little poem
doesn’t throw you for a loop.
All you’re getting this year
is a bunch of reindeer poop!

The Elves

Recycled reindeer droppings can be used for mulch, potting soil, pranks, fertilizer, and fiberboard. You can contact the North Pole directly for Reindeer Poop® franchise information. Proceeds from the franchise initiative support Santa's workshop.

While 10 million people from 212 countries had a good time tracking Santa Claus via NORAD, Google Maps and Google Earth, and the Twitter microblogging service, including 24 "Santa cams" around the world that were later put up on Youtube; some small folks were still having fun learning where Rudolph and friends really made pit stops.

I went online to see if there were any web sites dedicated to reindeer poop sightings, as Santa was feeling a bit guilty about some of the splatters, especially the one dropped in mid-town Manhattan at about 11:00 pm EST, flattening the roof of a taxi, plus, the hoof and Claus marks on the forehead of an old lady in Skidmore, Texas; but there were none to be found.

By the time the sleigh reached the New Jersey Pine Barrens, Santa and the reindeer were feeling the side-effects of all those chocolate chip cookies. In an act of desperation, Santa began dropping notes asking kids for nachos and beer, instead of milk and cookies.

You always wondered why the Washington Monument faded in two-tone, right?

Volunteers at the North Pole help desk fielded nearly 195,000 phone calls reporting a need for WINDEX®; over 940,000 e-mail complaints demanding that a pooper scooper be installed on the sleigh; and one from irate House Speaker, John Boehner, who is still tanning himself while it hits the fan.

The root cause analysis?

The 24-hour marathon of "A Christmas Story," interference by Randolph, and Christmas!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hey Buddy! Can You Spare a PS4?

by Rose A. Valenta

It was a dark and stormy night, a bit of purple prose, I know; but in this case it is highly accurate. My five-foot frame almost blew across the parking lot when the predicted "small gust" caught the hood of my jacket. At this point, the color of my parachute turned light ashen, just like my face. I groped around in between cars like Helen Keller hoping for a real car door handle, instead of those little slits automobile engineers have brilliantly put just under the side windows, to keep me grounded.

Humph! I thought, they do the same thing with headlight assemblies so what do you expect, it's a conspiracy; they use three different types of screws to install them and make you use three different tools to remove them. I know, because I broke one once and tried to play stealth mechanic in the back of my driveway, so my husband wouldn't find out. It took both a flathead and phillips head screwdriver, plus a hex wrench to remove the screws. He caught me dropping the F-bomb at the hex wrench.

Slowly, I inched my way towards the store. I could see the bright lights, it wasn't a mirage, I told myself. I'll get there. I started to rise off the ground like an old Life Buoy commercial, then an old parked Chevy attacked me from the rear and I had to use leverage at the bumper. I felt like Harry Potter's Aunt Marge.

I swear, this is the last time I wait until Thanksgiving to go Christmas shopping, I lied to myself. My husband had a good excuse for not coming with me bringing the rope and mountain climbing equipment; he was home watching the Washington Redskins finish up a record-breaking losing streak, just like me in this parking lot.

Finally, I arrived at the door of Best Buy. All the employees looked as if this was a wake; no one was in the store. All the other customers used common sense and stayed home. Some of the stock boys were in the back of the store entertaining themselves slinging paper clips with rubber bands. Two guys in the front looked at me as if they wanted to ask if I knew the deceased. I went over to the customer service counter and asked the $64,000 question [drum roll]:

"Do you have a PS4 console in stock?" I asked confidently.

"Hahahahahahhahaha" The manager responded. "Listen, lady, the line starts at 3:00 a.m. on Sunday, be here."

I stood there looking out the window at my car, which was being pelted with empty battery boxes and flying receipts. It wasn't that far, I lied to myself, and besides none of these guys would really want to put me in one of those renegade shopping carts and wheel me over to my car for $5, would they?

I think I'll stay here a while till the wind shifts and sail over there. All I want for Christmas is to kick Sony's ass.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Russia Developing a New Bomb

Everyone is speculating on what Russian strategy will convince Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, to turn over his chemical weapons in the name of peace. My good friend Natasha, who works in Moscow assures me that Vladimir Putin has a good plan. Instead of twisting Bashar’s arm, he will visit with the First Lady, Asma al-Assad, and demonstrate a different type of Russian bomb that has no chemicals or TNT, but is just as effective, hoping that she will offer to intervene.

President Obama was given a demonstration last week. Both he and Secretary of State, John Kerry, think that Asma will like it and surely convince Bashar to import the new bomb in lieu of chemicals:

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

La Tomatina Festival - Not for Wimps

La Tomatina is the name of a week-long food fight festival in Buñol, Spain, that coincides with our Labor Day holiday. It begins on the last Wednesday of August and thousands of participants travel from all over the world to toss over-ripe tomatinas at each other in the streets.

The townspeople of Buñol gather at around 10:00 am and truck loads of rotten tomatinas are hauled into the Plaza del Pueblo, then; it’s every man for himself.

The week-long festival also includes music, parades, dancing, and fireworks.

La Tomatina started back in 1944 as a local food fight among friends and extended to hammering local politicians. However, it was banned under Francisco Franco for not being a religious holiday. It was resurrected again during the 1970s, and dedicated as a festival in honor of the town's patron saints, San Luis Bertran and Mare de Déu dels Desemparats, which translates “Mother of God of the defenseless.”

This holiday appears to be much more fun than our ordinary Labor Day celebration. If we adopted the tradition in the U.S., we could call it the Rotten Tomato and Salsa Festival, throw tomatoes at politicians, or equivalent effigy, and award cash prizes for the best salsa recipes.

Monday, August 19, 2013

10,000 Californians Moon Amtrak

by Rose A. Valenta

Every year on the second Saturday of July, thousands of people gather in Laguna Niguel, California, to moon Amtrak.

The annual tradition has been celebrated for the past 35 years and is also known as "Orange County's Mardi Gras." Tailgating is encouraged.

An entire website is dedicated to the event, which is sponsored by a local tavern called Mugs Away Saloon.

Some of the year-round residents have complained of disorderly conduct by attendees, but city council has allowed the event to continue as long as folks don’t drink in public or pee on the fire hydrant outside.

This year, on July 12, 2013, over 10,000 people went loco along the chain link fence across from Mugs Away Saloon in front of an Amtrak locomotive.

The Governor and First Lady did not attend this year's event, so they sent Nancy Pelosi, who did her "Liar Liar Pants on Fire" routine out in front of the 6:24 pm South.

The next event is planned on July 15, 2014 Night Mooning starts promptly at 8:00 pm, bring a flashlight.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Rush Jealous of Elena Kagan?

by Rose A. Valenta

Photo Credit: NY Daily News. Is Rush a Kagan Wannabe?

This was the topic of conversation with my Uncle Harry today, other than the NSA, IRS and the economy - Rush is jealous of Elena Kagan. Rush nearly went ballistic over her nomination in 2010 and has been bashing the establishment ever since. If I were to guess, I'd estimate conservatively that he has earned over $50 million bashing President Obama alone - no other skills or talent.

My Uncle Harry came over for dinner tonight and we spent a delightful time bashing Limbaugh.

“Think about it,” Uncle Harry said. “Why else would a Southeast Missouri State University dropout criticize a former Dean of Harvard Law School, with such a complete lack of respect? He’s jealous. He has an issue with women, been married four times - he's jealous!”

“Okay,” I answered, “But, you do know that respect has never been one of his virtues.”

“He wants to have a sex change operation to run for office.” Harry said.

“Harry, he doesn’t need a sex change operation to run for political office.”

“He does now,” Harry responded. “He is so obviously jealous of Kagan. Either that, or the pilonidal abscess that earned him his 4F has gone to his brain.”

“Listen, Harry, I really think he’s afraid that she’ll have his radical radio show canceled.” I said. “Remember the article she published back in 1991 about hate speeches? She wrote that while he was playing around with his ‘DittoCam.’

"What color shirt was he wearing?"

"His soul color, black, with the top two buttons open trying to look cool."

“She wrote ‘Regulation of Hate Speech and Pornography After R.A.V.’ He mused. “I forgot about that. She even won awards for her law reviews."

“Right, when did Rush ever do anything scholarly?”

“He played the part of ‘Scarecrow’ in The Wizard of Oz once?” He asked.

“Not even ‘Tin Man,” I laughed.

“What’s R. A. V. anyways?” He asked.

“It’s the way the teenager in ‘R.A.V. vs City of St. Paul’ was identified in the court system. They didn’t divulge the kid’s real name because he committed a hate crime.”

“Rush always uses his big mouth to burn bridges. He's a radical with a mic.”

"Maybe he wants to be on the 2016 ticket with The Donald. Both of them claim they know how to save the country. Quick, Harry, take look at the pot calling the kettle "fat” on YouTube:

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Challenging Donald J. Trump

by Rose A. Valenta

I was fortunate enough to attend the National Society of Newspaper Columnists (NSNC) “Rebound in Motown” Conference in Detroit, during the summer of 2011 ( . I witnessed the devastation there - empty office buildings, poverty, and iron bars on shop windows just around the corner from our Hotel. I ventured out on my own one day to hunt down a pharmacy and was shocked at what I saw. I gave some poor guy a dollar at the drug store, so he could check out. The clerk was doing his job behind a bullet-proof plexiglass window with a mechanical drawer. I saw a five-story office building for sale for only $200,000.00. I asked around and was told that the situation is much worse.

As a group, we saw the Heidelberg Project and attended TechTown. There, we noted that some progress is being made - but not enough. The city is in bankruptcy. Those beautiful frescoes at the DIA are in jeopardy of being sold and dismantled. It breaks my heart.

Just the other day, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was convicted of racketeering and embezzlement. Shame on him! He got what he deserves. However, that doesn't undo the damage that was done, nor does it help the poor people of Detroit. Click here for details .

We live in a great country. We have many billionaires and multi-millionaires, who could successfully pool their work experiences and resources to offer short- and long-range solutions. I'm referring to folks like Warren Buffett & Charlie Munger, Bill Gates, and Donald Trump. Trump claims that he can cut our $17 trillion National deficit. As far as I'm concerned, he should be challenged to put his money where his mouth is and save Detroit first, as a proving ground. We've seen enough wasteful spending on Presidential campaigns. Negative ad campaigns are non-productive and wasteful. How about starting with proactive solutions to save Detroit and just give us quarterly status reports in lieu of a billion dollar smear campaign (spare us) against the competition?

I am urging all of my readers, friends, family and co-workers, who are on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook; to post something at least once-a-week using hashtags (#) such as ‪#‎berkshirehathaway‬ ‪#‎billgates‬ ‪#‎warrenbuffet ‬‪#‎gatesfoundation‬ ‪#‎2030now‬ ‪#‎donaldtrump‬, etc. with a link to a column from the Detroit News or other Detroit news outlet, to get them all focused on finding a solution.

I am also challenging Donald J. Trump: If you think you can cut our $17 trillion deficit – prove it by starting with Detroit. If you are successful, I will vote for you. You don’t need to raise millions of dollars for a silly campaign. Do something constructive! You don’t need to shake hands and kiss babies. Give Detroit’s babies and ours some hope for the future.

Hitting the links with House Speaker John Boehner for more political fund-raising isn't a solution.

If you conjugate the verb "bullshit," it accurately describes every political campaign I've ever witnessed. It is time to actually DO SOMETHING!

This is my Tweet for today:
Projects worth supporting @gatesfoundation @WarrenBuffett #berkshirehathaway #billgates @gatespoverty #2030NOW

The link suggests supporting TechTown and other projects that have a positive impact on the community. It is the least we can do with our voices to contribute to a worthy cause. Yes?

Thank you!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

National Columnists' Day Celebrates Ernie Pyle (1900 – 1945)

by Rose A. Valenta

The anniversary of the April 18, 1945 death of the great Ernie Pyle is a time to reflect on the way newspaper columnists connect, educate, comfort, encourage, celebrate, outrage and occasionally even amuse readers and a time to express appreciation for them for their hard work.” ~ National Society of Newspaper Columnists (NSNC) April 18, 1995.

And work hard Ernie Pyle did, crunching out 1,000-word essays six days-a-week non-stop for 10 years, until his untimely death on the front line in 1945.

Since this is a humor blog, I chose to honor Ernie Pyle this month by posting a column that he wrote about the famous cartoonist, Bill Mauldin, in 1944. I remember seeing those Willie and Joe cartoons for the first time, while leafing through some old Life Magazines. I saved a few of them for inspiration.

Bill Mauldin, Cartoonist
by Ernie Pyle

IN ITALY, January 15, 1944 – Sgt. Bill Mauldin appears to us over here to be the finest cartoonist the war has produced. And that’s not merely because his cartoons are funny, but because they are also terribly grim and real.

Mauldin’s cartoons aren’t about training-camp life, which you at home are best acquainted with. They are about the men in the line – the tiny percentage of our vast army who are actually up there in that other world doing the dying. His cartoons are about the war.

Mauldin’s central cartoon character is a soldier, unshaven, unwashed, unsmiling. He looks more like a hobo than like your son. He looks, in fact, exactly like a doughfoot who has been in the lines for two months. And that isn’t pretty.

Mauldin’s cartoons in a way are bitter. His work is so mature that I had pictured him as a man approaching middle age. Yet he is only twenty-two, and he looks even younger. He himself could never have raised the heavy black beard of his cartoon dogface. His whiskers are soft and scant, his nose is upturned good-naturedly, and his eyes have a twinkle.
His maturity comes simply from a native understanding of things, and from being a soldier himself for a long time. He has been in the Army three and a half years.
Bill Mauldin was born in Mountain Park, New Mexico. He now calls Phoenix home base, but we of New Mexico could claim him without much resistance on his part. Bill has drawn ever since he was a child. He always drew pictures of the things he wanted to grow up to be, such as cowboys and soldiers, not realizing that what he really wanted to become was a man who draws pictures. He graduated from high school in Phoenix at seventeen, took a year at the Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago, and at eighteen was in the Army. He did sixty-four days on KP duty in his first four months. That fairly cured him of a lifelong worship of uniforms.

Mauldin belongs to the 45th Division. Their record has been a fine one, and their losses have been heavy. Mauldin’s typical grim cartoon soldier is really a 45th Division infantryman, and he is one who has truly been through the mill.

Mauldin was detached from straight soldier duty after a year in the infantry, and put to work on the division’s weekly paper. His true war cartoons started in Sicily and have continued on through Italy, gradually gaining recognition. Capt. Bob Neville, Stars and Stripes editor, shakes his head with a veteran’s admiration and says of Mauldin: "He’s got it. Already he’s the outstanding cartoonist of the war."
Mauldin works in a cold, dark little studio in the back of Stars and Stripes’ Naples office. He wears silver-rimmed glasses when he works. His eyes used to be good, but he damaged them in his early Army days by drawing for too many hours at night with poor light.

He averages about three days out of ten at the front, then comes back and draws up a large batch of cartoons. If the weather is good he sketches a few details at the front. But the weather is usually lousy.

"You don’t need to sketch details anyhow," he says. "You come back with a picture of misery and cold and danger in your mind and you don’t need any more details than that."

His cartoon in Stars and Stripes is headed "Up Front . . . By Mauldin." The other day some soldier wrote in a nasty letter asking what the hell did Mauldin know about the front.

Stars and Stripes printed the letter. Beneath it in italics they printed a short editor’s note: "Sgt. Bill Mauldin received the Purple Heart for wounds received while serving in Italy with Pvt. Blank’s own regiment." That’s known as telling ‘em.
Bill Mauldin is a rather quiet fellow, a little above medium size. He smokes and swears a little and talks frankly and pleasantly. He is not eccentric in any way.

Even though he’s just a kid he’s a husband and father. He married in 1942 while in camp in Texas, and his son was born last August 20 while Bill was in Sicily. His wife and child are living in Phoenix now. Bill carries pictures of them in his pocketbook.

Unfortunately for you and Mauldin both, the American public has no opportunity to see his daily drawings. But that isn’t worrying him. He realizes this is his big chance.

After the war he wants to settle again in the Southwest, which he and I love. He wants to go on doing cartoons of these same guys who are now fighting in the Italian hills, except that by then they’ll be in civilian clothes and living as they should be.

Ernie Pyle
Source: "Ernie's War: The Best of Ernie Pyle's World War II Dispatches," edited by David Nichols, pp. 197-99. Pictures courtesy of The Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
To learn more about the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and National Columnists' Day, click here: NSNC

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Fluster Chuck

by Rose A. Valenta

Super Bowl Sunday dinner is destined to turn out like the maiden voyage of the Titanic. Believe me; it has nothing to do with the Ravens, 49ers, or Shannon Sharpe. The fluster chuck and icebergs being our two young grandsons vs. our daughter Sally’s in-laws, Dwight and Margaret Stern, a surly couple equipped with the combined personalities of two flat soufflés.

Margaret is a retired country club groupie, who once thought Warren Buffett was the sexiest thing since Aristotle Onasis, and Dwight used to stuff shirts for a living. They met at a charity play – a match spawned from a remake of “Les Miserables.” I found all this out a few months ago, after they drank too much champagne at Sally and Mel’s wedding and dumped on me. It was better than a Joe Biden Gaffe. Now, they stick with non-alcoholic cantaloupe horchatas. They should drink more alcohol. 

Our other guests include Sally’s husband, Mel; our 12 and 14-year-old grandsons, Glenn and Earl, whom we call Loaf and Domino because they are lazy and always into mischief; my husband’s best friend, Vince Lubelli, who is divorced and unemployed with an IQ low enough to make Ripley’s; and my sister, Berni, who is 50 years old, going on 12, and still dates college guys. 

Our oldest daughter is away. We are babysitting our grandsons and have no choice in the matter, we’re stuck with them for Super Bowl Sunday. I quickly determined where to hide the mashed potatoes, so they can’t have a food fight and play “zit” in front of the Sterns. My husband and I were uneasy about inviting them, but Sally had called earlier and insisted.

“Mom, can you invite Mel’s parents over for dinner on Super Bowl Sunday?”

“Are you nuts?” I asked. “The Domino Effect, Vince ‘The Zoner,’ and your Aunt Berni ‘The Cougar,’ will be here.”

“It’s Okay,” she said. “I’ll keep the boys occupied with Xbox games. Margaret and Dwight are in town and it would be impolite to leave them alone at our house, while we come over and party. Just make sure Aunt Berni doesn’t bring her latest Nick Jonas look-alike; and ask Dad not to torment Vince with his usual Jay Walking game. I was totally embarrassed the last time Dad grabbed the salt shaker like a mic and put it in Vince's face, asking 'Who wrote the motivational book,  Who Moved my Cheese?' and Vince blurted out ‘Chaz Bono?"

“I don’t know,” I said. “Remember the last time we all had dinner together and Loaf kept pelting Margaret with Spanish olives? The boys swing from trees at the mall. Your sister never trained them for anything civilized. When they play Xbox, they use all seven Urban Dictionary words that Carlin said are banned on TV."

“Mom, I promise to keep them calm and occupied.”

“Okay,” I said. “This I have to see.”

“Thanks, you’re a gem.”

“You’re welcome," I said. “The disclaimer will be hanging off the front door, just below the Harbaugh jersey. Your father is leaving nothing to chance."

We decided to serve dinner buffet-style, so that we could keep the Sterns at a safe distance from Loaf and Domino, who never mastered social skills or how to put the toilet seat down.

“Five dollars says one of the Sterns will end up sitting on cold porcelain in the bathroom before the night is over,” I yelled out to my husband, who was outside trying to blow the dust balls off the fleur de lis candlesticks that haven’t been out of the china closet since Super Bowl 44. He finally resorted to artfully using the potato peeler to shave them; then, he added two plastic ravens.

“You're on,” my husband laughed.

Well, he should have just handed me the five dollars, as half-way through dinner we could hear Margaret’s loud screams in the bathroom drowning out the entertainment system, which was blasting Domino's favorite Steelheart recording, “Love Ain’t Easy.” Margaret prefers Luciano Pavarotti's "A Te, O Cara" from I Puritani, so she was doubly traumatized.

Kick-off was still a few hours away, so I gave her a towel, two aspirin, and a doggie bag.  I gave Dwight a desperately needed 12-pack of Blue Moon. He was so upset, his testicles receded and he was in a great deal of pain. Vince gave up his Ravens hat and Mel drove them back home.

I turned to Sally and she accurately read the I told you so look on my face.

“I know,” she said. “Just like savoir-faire, Fluster Chuck is everywhere!”

© 2013, Valenta, All rights reserved.
To read my column Skinny Dipping click here
To buy my book “Sitting on Cold Porcelain” click here

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Juicing the Fiscal Cliff

by Rose A. Valenta

"Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself." ~ Mark Twain

The President has been working hard trying to get Democrats and Republicans to come to an agreement to avert the fiscal cliff. It wasn’t until Biden showed up with a bipartisan punch bowl, a keg of Blue Moon and White House Brew on New Year’s Eve that they finally reached an agreement.

He got Eric Cantor trashed first, then Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner until they reached a tentative vote, as Brendan Buck was picking Boehner up off the floor.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D., Calif.) said "the president gave up a lot; more than I would have liked, but I can understand what we're dealing with and I'll probably vote for it, hic!"

Just then, BO got a text message from MO in Hawaii, "Take your time, here comes Honey Boo Boo."

"I wish I could say this was a proud moment," said Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), "but it is the smallest finger in a dike that has in fact a hundred holes in it. Much like Biden’s keg." Nancy Pelosi didn’t exactly know what was in it either.

The Senate cleared the package with an 89-8 vote about 2:00 AM EST on Tuesday after President Obama broke out the Scotch whiskey (Boehner's favorite).

At 2:01 AM, Harry Reid injured his face trying to open a warm bottle of champagne that his pet, Coons, gave him because he thought drinking the White House ale was "tacky."

The House convened at noon on New Year's Day, but everyone was so hung over, they couldn’t say when they would debate the budget deal.

Then, Nancy found a dance partner and everyone decided to reconvene on Thursday with the 113th Congress. Nancy instructed staffers to launch a Photoshop app called "You Go, Girlfriend!" for the official photo as a Just-in-Case (JIC) strategy to paste in members, who couldn't show up on time.