Saturday, December 26, 2015

'A Christmas Carol' Junkie

"It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good-humour." ~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Okay, so I’m a Scrooge junkie. I have every film adaptation ever made of the 1843 Dickens Classic “A Christmas Carol.” I watch them during the holidays and sometimes in June. My children make fun of my habit and call me the Yuletide Grinch. They say the storyline scares my youngest grandchildren.

My marathon usually begins with the 1934 version starring Lionel Barrymore; a gift from my youngest daughter in a Christmas paint can that also includes popcorn and a straight jacket, the 1938 version with Reginald Owen; the 1951 version with Alistair Sim; the 1970 musical with Albert Finney; the 1984 version with George C. Scott; the 1999 version with Patrick Stewart; the Henry Winkler rendition; and the whole laundry list of spoofs. I don’t watch the cartoons.

I don’t have a favorite, I like them all. I also have the audio book by Gerald Charles Dickens.

I actually met Gerald Charles Dickens at the Byers’ Choice doll factory when he did his one-man tour during the holidays a few years ago, and I got a book autographed. The tour was a tribute to his Great-Great Grandfather, Charles Dickens, who did his one-man show every Christmas in London, near the end of his lifetime (1812-1870).

I also collect first edition Byers’ Choice Christmas Carol dolls and have the 1870 Memorial Edition of Dickens' works.

Hooked? You bet!

The other day, one of my daughters called me.

“Hey Mom, the digital 3D Disney film, “A Christmas Carol,” is playing at the theatre. I know you don't have that one. Would you like to see it tomorrow?”

“Absolutely!” I answered. I thought the child had lost her mind, since she is the one, who has been harassing me for years about my Dickens collection.

Wow, I can feed my habit in 3D! I was champing at the bit.

“Who stars in the film?” I asked.

“Jim Carrey” she said. “But, it is partially animated, so he doesn’t look like himself."

“No problem,” I said. “You wouldn’t recognize Hermione Braddley when she played Mrs. Cratchit in the 1951 film either. She’s the actress, who also played Mrs. Naugatuck in “Maude.”

“Mrs. Naugatuck? No, I wouldn’t, mom, that was way before my time.”

She had to rub that in, right?

“What time should I meet you there?” I asked.

“Come over for lunch and we’ll go to the early show.”

I had a feeling that she didn’t want her friends catching her going to the theatre to see Scrooge with her mother. I had that marathon reputation, after all. It was well-known throughout the entire Northeast Philadelphia area, most of the graduating classes at Archbishop Ryan High School and Penn State.

"Psst! They're having another Scrooge marathon at the Valenta's after the Capital One Bowl."

The theatre had about six different films showing, including "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" - a risk of getting caught after the 6:20 pm showing. So, I agreed and we went early.

We got our tickets, 3D glasses, and 5 pounds of theatre popcorn with extra butter. We were happening!

"Mom, I hate to tell you about all the bad chemicals that are in that popcorn, including beta-carotene," my daughter said. "Take an extra garlic capsule for your cholesterol and don't inhale directly over the container."

Do you see a role reversal evolving here? I ate most of the popcorn.

I thoroughly enjoyed the film. It was true to Dickens’ original 1843 story, and had a unique quality as well. Jim Carrey had several different roles: Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. However, the credits were longer than the Dead Sea Scrolls. I always look at all the credits, to her, another one of my quirks. That took another 15 minutes.

We kept the stealth dark 3D glasses on, until we left the theatre parking lot.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Is Dayton the Boondocks of Ohio?

by Rose A. Valenta

Is it just me and logistics, or is Dayton the boondocks of Ohio?

Every other year, I go out to Ohio, to attend the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop at the University of Dayton. So, just this morning, I was online checking rates and times for United Airlines and Amtrak to Dayton, OH. Registration for the Workshop opens tomorrow, December 1st.

I don't know why I checked airfare; no one has been able to get me on a plane since I took AirSick Flight 19 to St. Thomas several years ago, and those Northwest pilots in Chicago probably got caught playing Facebook games on their laptops overshooting the airport.

I prefer train travel, but Amtrak only goes to Cincinnati via Kentucky where you can hail a taxi, hop a bus, or rent a car for the last 56-green-miles to Dayton.

Coach or room, the train arrives there at 1:30 am. I considered how dangerous it might be to find myself alone in a train station at that hour. I did that once in NYC and was accosted by a street person, who wanted half of my potato skin. It was dripping with butter, sour cream, and bacon bits. Not willing to give up my bacon bits, I gave him a small bag of Nachos instead. I nixed the train ride idea. Plus, on the way back, the only train leaves Cincinnati at 3:29 am Sunday, April 3rd, or else you have to wait it out until the 7th; at which time the train leaves the station at 3:29 am. The trip takes about 16 hours by way of Kentucky and West Virginia whiskey and paw-paw stops. I tried entering Ashtabula as my destination, hoping that the Underground Railroad would be faster, but it wasn't.

The plane, Tattoo, goes all over the eastern seaboard, with layovers in Hoboken, DC, and Atlanta; taking 5 to 6 hours.

How in the hell did explorer René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle manage in a dugout canoe during the 17th Century looking for a route to China via Ohio?

Since Dayton is only 545 miles away, I drew a straight line on a road map from Philadelphia to Dayton, and decided to check out Enterprise Rent-a-Car to drive. I've driven there in my own car before, getting it tuned up, tires checked, oil, brake fluid, window washer, and a fill-up; only to arrive at the same time as my friend, Joy, was leaving the Dayton Marriott bar in her bunny slippers and I looked as disheveled as she did, except I was sober!

It all started on Route 70 between Columbus and Dayton... you guessed it, flat as the world my Italian ancestor was told he lived in, right?

My Italian heritage stunted my growth, but I managed to get to be 5 feet tall. Consequently, I have to practically do a tarantella on the lug wrench to loosen the tire.

I detest lug nuts!

Do you remember the scene in "A Christmas Story," when Ralph utters an expletive while helping his father change a tire and ends up sucking on a bar of Lifebuoy?

That was me on Route 70. If there were any good Samaritans around, they all accelerated to get away from the crazy woman, who even looked like a deranged bunny out on the highway.

You have to know that the entire time I'm changing the tire, visions of Hervé Villechaize yelling "Mr. Rourke, the plane! the plane!" kept dancing in my head, while I'm berating myself with coulda shoulda woulda.

Try a little self-love, I thought, that always works. So, I priced the Enterprise leasing rate on a real classy Lincoln for a week. The cost is the same as airfare or room accommodations on Amtrak.

Oh yes! and a box of Godiva chocolates for the road. Whoo-Hoo!

Have audio books will travel.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Part That Goes Over the Fence Last

by Rose A. Valenta

All of us have fond memories of Thanksgiving get togethers with family and friends. It’s just like the old days, when we watched “Walton’s Mountain.” People that we have not seen in a year or more come over with an overnight bag and a side dish; then, we all sit around, eat, talk, bicker, bring up all the reasons we only see each other once-a-year; and actually fight over the Pope’s nose "Naso del Papa," also known as “The part that goes over the fence last.” I'm not sure if there is such a thing as a Vatican dispensation for calling the turkey tail the Pope's nose. I never broached the subject in a confessional. Why spoil everyone's fun?

Murphy's law kicks in, and someone forgets to add the egg to the pumpkin pie mixture and it turns out runny. We drink the recipe (in our case a keg of beer in the garage), a fight breaks out, the Yorkie takes off with grandma's dentures in its mouth, one of grandpa’s suspenders ends up dangling off the piano, somebody screams in the bathroom about sitting on cold porcelain, and Uncles Harry and Dick are still arguing about whether our politicians ignoring the mafia have given corrupt politicians temporary sanctuary and the Middle East an edge over domestic terrorism in the media. This is a typical American traditional Thanksgiving party (and everyone worries about whether or not the kids will behave).

This year, in preparation for the annual holiday fiasco, Uncle Harry Googled all the Middle Eastern websites trying to find Calabrians and Gambinos. “I know they're behind it, if they're out there, I’ll show him!” he bellowed.

Another interesting tidbit to add more fuel to the fire, the Eagles got hammered during the Thanksgiving Day football game. I can still see Uncle Dick in his mascot hat, munching on a left-over wing, rapping Beck's "Loser," while pouring himself and his bald eagle mascot a beer.

I was looking over Uncle Harry's shoulder online today, and found something of interest that I’d like to share, a video that shows how to pick out a tender turkey.

Watch yourself at the Mall.

© 2010-2015, Valenta, All rights reserved.
To read my column Skinny Dipping click here

To buy my book “Sitting on Cold Porcelain” click here

Sunday, November 8, 2015

‘Loose Lips Sink Ships’

All the recent publicity about Hillary's email server, the ensuing FBI investigation, and Hillary telling her Secret Service agents to "shut the F*** up! to Ronald Kessler," reminded me of the WWII saying “Loose lips sink ships.” Not only did the military mandate the rule to soldiers writing home during war time, but my grandmother took it a step further and enforced it at home, when the “dirt” or “scoop” pertained to a family member. You know, tell an outsider about family business and your ass is grass.

This is truly a violation of our freedom of speech, but most of the time it is for a good reason. People can actually die if you spill your guts. In the military actual lives are at stake. At home, one could die of embarrassment if anyone found out that Uncle Harry has a pair of red sequined stilettos and a votive candle on his night stand.

No, it has nothing to do with "don't ask, don't tell." Uncle Harry has a foot fetish. Grandma blames his podophilia on the fact that they had to live in a basement apartment in the theater district during his formative years. In Hillary's case, Bill told his mistress that she is gay and has been wooing her own White House intern since 1996.

This is the directive our military issued during WWII:

1. Don't write military information of Army units -- their location, strength, material, or equipment.

2. Don't write of military installations.

3. Don't write of transportation facilities.

4. Don't write of convoys, their routes, ports (including ports of embarkation and disembarkation), time en route, naval protection, or war incidents occurring en route.

5. Don't disclose movements of ships, naval or merchant, troops, or aircraft.

6. Don't mention plans and forecasts or orders for future operations, whether known or just your guess.

7. Don't write about the effect of enemy operations.

8. Don't tell of any casualty until released by proper authority (The Adjutant General) and then only by using the full name of the casualty.

9. Don't attempt to formulate or use a code system, cipher, or shorthand, or any other means to conceal the true meaning of your letter. Violations of this regulation will result in severe punishment.

10. Don't give your location in any way except as authorized by proper authority. Be sure nothing you write about discloses a more specific location than the one authorized.

The military penalty for violating these rules was the court-martial system. My grandmother’s penalty was a bit simpler but more violent – the cat o' nine tails. The State Department is "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil," pretty much like Hillary ignoring a semen stain on a blue dress with Bill's DNA and blaming it all on a right-wing conspiracy.

The common denominator here is “common sense.” You have to ask yourself about the repercussions of being a magpie or just plain irresponsible with classified information in your closet, while all other government employees follow the GSA rules for Alternate Work Arrangement approval and encrypted government-issued devices.

I don’t feel sorry for Hillary Clinton. Not only is she disloyal to the cause – the war on terror, but she is making a small fortune for her foundation as a seedy politician. She has given terrorists access to classified information, indirectly caused cyber attacks and sold our uranium to the Russians. She is a role model for women, who choose to stay in psychologically abusive relationships with cheating husbands.

You can tell she needs a course in anger management.

As a final blow, the GOP Benghazi Committee submitted this video to Congress in a lame attempt to prove that she is not competent to handle buggers either:

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Ahl al-Fatrah: or Cover Your Butt

by Rose A. Valenta

In Malaysia, it is illegal for a Muslim to smoke. However, the faithful are not listening. Over half of the 27 million citizens of Malaysia are Muslim, and more than 50% of them smoke cigarettes.

Part of the problem is attitude and motivation. Muslims are read the Holy Despicable Cow! Riot Act, while Americans are given educational commercials, like the one shown below, and treated as if they have some intelligence.

Nik Aziz, a top Malaysian cleric and leader of the Pan-Islamic Party (PAS) in Kuala Lumpur really let his flock have it, by saying “Muslims who smoke and try to portray themselves as pious are worse than cows which defecate in the street.”

I’m sure someone could be intimidated by that.

"...a cow which defecates in the middle of the road, we cannot take legal action against it because it has no brain and cannot think." But human beings, who have brains, for them to do something which is wrong in religion ... when they are in an attire which symbolizes Islam, they can be regarded as being more despicable than cows," he told Malaysia's news agency, Bernama. He added that ”smoking is forbidden by Islam,” and there is a fatwa banning the habit.

That did not stop 80-year-old Sama Abdul from selling "how to" booklets, while wearing a burka, at BB Plaza and Sungei Wang Plaza, called “Ahl al-Fatrah: or Cover Your Butt.” It describes over 30 ways to remove the nicotine stains from burkas before the husband comes home from work; as well as 10 shoe odor-busters, 10 breath sanitizers, 100 great hiding places for hard packs, 100% guaranteed makeup and tattoo removers, and a whole chapter on "The Joys of Sneaking a Pulled Pork Sandwich."

I like the American way best:

Pick up my book, “Sitting on Cold Porcelain,” at SMASHWORDS.COM

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Police Don't Deserve To Die

by Rose A. Valenta

No one hit home on the topic of black lives matter better than Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he said “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word” during the Civil Rights movement. Also, the great American novelist, Alex Haley, who shed a light on our ignorance and brought the sins of our fathers into the focus of public awareness during the 1970s. Many Americans of color will find humor in that, but that’s the way it was for white folks living up North.

I spent most of my life living in an integrated working class neighborhoods in Philadelphia. I was never exposed to the atrocities happening in the South. Those conversations never came up. I knew our personal history as part of the Underground Railroad and knew that my second great-grandfather on my father's side of the family served in the Civil War in Company E, 1st infantry, Michigan. He was from upstate, NY. Prior to that, we had ancestors, who were indentured servants as early as 1634 in Connecticut. None of them were wealthy and did not own slaves. Later, some served in the Revolutionary War and fought for our freedom (I read Frederick Douglass’ “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” in later years). My grandmother always taught me that Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves and that we are all children of God, regardless of race. She based that on what she read every night in her bible.

I didn’t know how different things actually were until I entered the work force and met people of color, who once lived in the South. I’m glad they moved. I was appalled at some of their stories: public hangings without a trial, the KKK and unbelievable discrimination and torture. I verified that these stories were true with a few friends, who did not shy away from the topic in front of me. About then, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came along and I cheered the Civil Rights movement. I would have marched with them, but my family wouldn’t permit it. They feared for my safety. Had I been blessed with a more rebellious nature, I would have gladly participated.

A cross was burned on Dr. King’s front lawn in 1960. It made headlines.

Many years later, I mistakenly assumed that the KKK had been disbanded. No, I wasn’t wearing horse blinders, the KKK was not in Philadelphia recruiting people and I was not in the South. Our media conveniently lacked adequate coverage about things that needed to be shoved under the carpet or go away. One of my friends, who is a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists (NSNC) and writes for a major Philadelphia newspaper, calls it “compliant conspiracy” on the part of the media. The same folks, who forgot to tell us that Jackie Kennedy was a chain smoker or how sick FDR was when he ran for his 4th term (Not that some columnists didn't want to write about controversial topics, but the editor would nix it before it went to print). If the media doesn’t cover it, people are kept in the dark like mushrooms and never get the whole story. Yellow journalism often finds a window of opportunity here, as well, and you still don't get the truth. I don’t plan to move forward as a shroom.

I have tremendous respect for and give credit to the late Dori J. Maynard and her father, Robert C. Maynard, who founded the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, which advocates diversity, so that we can now get information from all voices on virtually any topic in the media. I ask myself why it took us so long to figure out that we shouldn't have segregated media, nor one that will C.Y.A. when you are up to no good.

When Ferguson happened, I realized that the KKK still had a strong foothold there, like dust bunnies left over from the Civil Rights Movement. I had a vision of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in D.C. and Dr. King saying "Time to clean house, Ferguson."

I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that the KKK has not been classified a domestic terrorist organization and their leaders arrested. Of course, I’ve been told on many occasions that they are protected by freedom of speech. Yes, except for speech that incites violence.

Last summer, I saw a video that showed 25-year-old Kajieme Powell, armed with a knife, getting shot and killed by police in St. Louis. That did it for me. I was nauseated. How can the police, armed with guns, kill a guy armed only with a knife that a nightstick could easily knock out of his hand? My husband actually did that very thing 25 years ago, with his nightstick, when he was attacked by a knife-wielding young man in West Philadelphia, while he was working on the Philadelphia Police Department. No one was killed. The man suffered only a wrist injury.

My husband is retired now and when I showed him the Powell video, he sadly shook his head. He too was raised to respect all people as fellow human beings and always chose to do the right thing, deadly force being the last resort.

"Police training" he said, but he is also a former Marine and was trained in martial arts and how to disarm when attacked. This is a recruiting issue that needs to be studied by many police departments. Apparently, the laws governing deadly force have changed and a knife is considered as deadly a weapon as a gun. Kajieme’s death was ruled “suicide by police.” His mother and grandmother didn’t agree. Me either. He could have been talked down.

Social media allowed me to follow what was going on and I was somewhat relieved when Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey went to Ferguson to discuss police body cameras. I decided that if I was black and a mother of teenagers, I would never live there. I would move north.

Many fatalities later - God rest each and every one of their souls, we have taken down the Confederate flag -- albeit 150 years late -- have "0" tolerance for bigots like Donald Sterling and have a Black Lives Matter movement. We are seeking solutions. I have no problem with the movement. It will bring awareness onto the front page of newspapers and open up dialog. Hopefully, it will be a diverse dialog providing us with the entire picture. What I do have a problem with is the negative, criminal influence of Minister Louis Farrakhan on the movement. I want to know the name of his plastic surgeon. Anyone who can camouflage that much evil has to be good.

I have heard Farrakhan speak. He is a powerful speaker, but he is wasting his God-given talent on sending the wrong message.

God said “Thou shalt not kill.” Farrakhan said about a month ago that he is looking for 10,000 strong men to do his bidding and says things like “If the government will not intercede in our affairs, we will rise up and stalk them! and kill those who would kill us.” These are not God’s words, these are evil words and could be interpreted as seditious conspiracy (18 U.S. Code § 2384), especially when people are actually dying and police targeted. He has freedom of speech to call white people "crackers" but he is not protected by the First Amendment to advocate murder. He wants people killed.

Although our First Amendment does not protect speech that incites violence, Farrakhan does not pledge allegiance to the American flag nor does he recognize American citizenship, he says he has “left the plantation,” whatever the hell that means. He thinks he is above the law and is not making progress nor seeking to improve our future. We must respect our judicial system, or lobby for change. If our young people listen to him, they will end up in jail or worse.

Farrakhan can recount black history better than the Empower Encyclopedia and claims that we are "400-year-old enemies." While knowing about black history is important, we live in the here and now and need to move forward. We are not enemies; we all want the same things for our children. As radio host, Jesse Lee Peterson, asked recently, "where is the white tyranny?" We have black leadership in many cities across the country, in Congress, as past Secretaries of State and even our POTUS is biracial. How many years does he expect folks to pay for the sins of previous generations, when all he needs to do is admit that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. set us on the right path to progress when he said “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us...” and my personal favorite “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools”? We do not need the negativity or hate rhetoric coming from folks who advocate murder and choose to divide us. He is corrupting our youth.

His rhetoric is also sexist. Women are not "second" anymore we are equal (Mary of Bethany).

Farrakhan is obviously brainwashing his immediate followers and should be arrested and put in jail for sedition. Why else does he need to come packing and have a team of bodyguards to enter and exit a speaking engagement in a house of worship?

I believe that the Black Lives Matter movement should distance itself from Louis Farrakhan and align with someone like Alveda King because ultimately all lives matter. We are all important and deserve respect from each other. We can change laws through proper channels; vote for public officials, who act on our behalf and complain if we are not happy with the service police and first responders are providing in our communities.

The only time the police are your enemy is when you are up to no good.

Typically, substance abusers don't like the police. Parents have to understand that the police do not make the laws, they only enforce them. They are the wrong targets. If you don't like the laws, petition your legislators and get your kids off drugs.

Our dedicated police officers don’t deserve to die because angry, impressionable, often emotionally distraught individuals are listening to the misguidance of an unlicensed minister with an agenda, who is living in the past. Any mother of young men can tell you how easy it is to lead them down the wrong path at a certain age when all they want to do is rebel against authority and the system. Even the Southern Poverty Law Center has Farrakhan under its radar.

The Nation of Islam was founded in Detroit in the 1930s. Look at Detroit today, it is in ruins. If I was a zealot, I could say something about wrath.

Minister Farrakhan knows he is wrong. You can be sure he is lining his pockets. I believe in the Constitution and First Amendment rights as much as anyone, but he has sold his soul for a microphone to incite. I am urging all good people, who believe in the real Word of God and value the spiritual well being and eternal soul of your son or daughter, to boycott his event at the National Mall on October 10th.

2 John 1:10-11 "If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works."

Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday Monologue

by Rose A. Valenta

I woke up with a zit this morning, so I sprayed a little Windex on it and put on some clothes for a streak-free selfie. Then, I opened the paper and turned to “Politics.” Everyone is fighting, but Bill and Obama went to Martha’s Vineyard for a round of golf. I'm not sure, but I suspect that was about a Presidential Pardon for Hillary.

It reminds me of an Abraham Lincoln Quote "No matter how much cats fight, there always seems to be plenty of kittens."

The skinny as follows:

Hillary Clinton aides have clipped a copy of her Miranda Rights to her "Media Relations" folder so she won't get caught off-guard again.

The Democrats are pulling their hair out. Finding potential Democratic candidates who can beat the GOP is like studying the sex life of the extinct Sumatran rhino. So far, it's 17-3 or maybe 2 1/2.

Just to give you an idea on what to expect from the GOP, Ted Cruz told a reporter that his favorite book is "Green Eggs and Ham."

Trump admitted he "donated" to politicians for "favors" in front of 24 million viewers. Since when is graft legal in the U.S.?

The Trump administration repealed NAFTA and Oreos are now an endangered species.

Everyone thought Trump was doing a rope-a-dope maneuver in Alabama with his “greatness.” Muhammad Ali even called him offering his speech writer.

Lindsey Graham says if he is elected president, he will have a “rotating first lady." Hillary says she has the most experience.

A lady in New Jersey died leaving explicit instructions for her obituary “In lieu of flowers, please don't vote for Hillary Clinton.” You gotta love those Jersey girls.

After all the announcements about her emails, including the FBI, Hillary is still running. I guess we're all supposed to be content with Bill picking the Energizer bunny as his personal secretary in the White House.

Hillary is no role model for most of us. Women know that given the same set of moccasins, we'd have jumped off the Tappan Zee Bridge by now.

When asked why she refuses to answer media questions, Hillary said she answered every one of their questions on Snapchat.

Donald Trump has his team of experts determining if Bobby Jindal is an anchor baby and should be disqualified from the race.

Amazon employees took their gripes to the New York Times, but Jeff Bezos turned down an offer from the Discovery channel for a reality show "Amazon: The Dirt."

Things got so tense, I Googled "Toxic shock syndrome" and Rush Limbaugh's radio station Dittohead came up in the results.

© 2010-2015, Valenta, All rights reserved.

To read my column Skinny Dipping click here

To buy my book “Sitting on Cold Porcelain” click here

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Bob's Your Uncle

By Rose A. Valenta

This is a modified excerpt from Sitting on Cold Porcelain (available at

"Fluid Mechanics ‘Tally Ho!’ and a Dry Martini"

One cannot study fluid mechanics without giving credit to Cheerios, a popular breakfast cereal. Prize-winning scientists have standardized the terms “cheerio effect” and “cheerio magnetization,” when discussing fluid mechanics. An example of the magnetic phenomenon is the way loose Cheerios seem to attract one another like magnets to form clumps as they cling to the sides of a bowl when immersed in liquid - any liquid; not as exciting as Mr. Robert Benchley studying the sex lives of polyps, but visible without magnification.

While Cheerios are good for intake, I have come up with an ingenious idea for a useful expulsion adjunct – “Tally Ho!,” whereby you remove some loose Cheerios from the box and use them as target practice for potty training a young bed wetter. The Cheerios will obligingly clump around the commode.

Now, one could argue that the entertaining sound effect of yellow water hitting the bottom of an empty coffee can also works, but that solves only half the equation. To obtain optimum results for both ways, the principles of fluid mechanics make Cheerios ideal targets.

In order to succeed without the use of complex kinematic equations and projectile motion principles, you use the “Tally Ho!” reward principle. It is based on accuracy and the total number of Cheerios that the subject sinks during the experiment:

1. Zero sunken Cheerios – rip out the last page of Baby Einstein “Peek-a-Boo Bard”
2. One or two sunken Cheerios – read “Peek-a-Boo Bard” aloud in its entirety
3. Three to five sunken Cheerios – read aloud Baby Einstein “Things That Go!”
4. More than five sunken Cheerios – report the pipe buster

Your reward for conducting this experiment is a very large dry martini.

Theoretically, it should take less than one week for “Tally Ho!”! to serve its useful purpose. Then, you should put the remaining loose Cheerios back in the box, enjoy your martini, and fall asleep in a bed that is also - dry.
As a martini aficionado, perhaps I can shed some light on the fluid dilemma of gin vs. vodka and shaken vs. stirred. Rather than take a poll, I have conducted my own research into the matter and have been satisfactorily inebriated for quite some time.

Shaken vs. stirred is rather moot after you have had five, so we shall focus, if that is possible, on the ingredients:

1. Many ounces of gin, and
2. A dash of white dry vermouth.

Notice that I have ruled out the use of vodka, as it does not modify well with gin; and ice and garnish, as they add nothing useful to the drying process.

There you have it, or as they say in the UK, "Bob's Your Uncle!" – fluid mechanics, “Tally Ho! and a dry martini!"

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Felice Giorno del Padre: An Italian Father's Day Tribute

by Rose A. Valenta

I'd like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to one of the great men in my life, my Italian grandfather, Alfonso. This was the guy, who let me watch him make homemade wine in the basement and put me wise to the double-standard.

I'd like to make this a heart warming and sensitive human interest story. One that would bring a nostalgic tear to anyone's eye, but let's get real here. Hearts and flowers are for incurable romantics; me, Norman Rockwell, and Virginia Hill all have a lot in common - realism.

I only remember one grandfather, as the other one died before I was born, so Grandpop Alfonso and me had a private joke: As he was sternly meting out discipline to his kids, he was also enjoying the power of being in a position of authority. I caught on to this, as I was the second oldest grandchild, a girl; and for some reason he never yelled at me, but would wink in my direction when he reamed someone else.

As an Italian, he was more than a little strict with his daughters about such things as cussing and smoking in public. He forbade them to smoke at all, saying that it didn't reflect well on their individual character. One of my aunts, who could have given Al Capone a run for his money, was once evicted from the house for an entire summer for saying "wop" (his English wasn't good enough to translate some of her other words), while smoking a cigarette. I think she was also hooked on old Bette Davis movies at the time, because she tended to pace around in her apartment surrounded by smoke rings.

She is 90 years old now. She quit smoking when she was 78 for health reasons.

It was a normal annual routine for my family to chip-in and rent a house to take my grandparents to Seaside Heights, NJ, for an entire month. Then, aunts and uncles would alternate vacation days, so the house could accommodate everyone else for a few days at a time. I was permitted to stay the entire month.

One night I was up on the boardwalk and there was this game being played for packs of cigarettes. I didn't smoke at the time, but the game looked like fun, so I played and won about 10 packs of my grandfather's brand of tobacco.

Needless to say, I became his best friend for the rest of his life. He even shared an ounce of his homemade wine with me to celebrate this friendship. I was only 12.

Every time I went up on the boards, he'd slip me a few dimes and say "Don'ta tella you mom." I always came back with lots of cigarettes. The game hawker even knew me by my first name.

You have to understand that all the women in the family locked themselves in the bathroom to smoke, so he wouldn't catch them. As a kid, I couldn't quite figure out what the consequences would be if they ever got caught.

So, there I was, all my friends were still playing with Betsy-Wetsy dolls, and I was the delivery girl, you know, just like Virginia Hill, delivering Lucky Strikes to my grandfather in the kitchen and Chesterfields and Camels up in the bathroom (solitary confinement) to my mom and aunts. My grandmother was probably watching The Untouchables in the living room because she didn't smoke. Plus, she had this secret crush on Frank Nitti. If it was an episode of The Jersey Shore, she would have been drooling over Paulie D. Little House on the Prairie it wasn't, ya know?

Sometimes when you walked into the bathroom, it looked and smelled much like the back room of an illegal gambling establishment in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. The language wasn't much better either. They all thought they were bad and were laughing and entertaining themselves, thinking they were pulling something over on their old man. However, he did have to "go" once in a while and use the room. So, I think he knew.

Once my cousin Vinnie came down for a few days. He had to "go" and was forced to switch to plan B, the old outhouse. So, he located and loaded up all their cigarettes with those little wooden cigarette loads that blow up when burning tobacco touches them. I think four of my aunts were in the bathroom at the same time, and all of a sudden it sounded like the 4th of July in there with screaming and running mixed into the fireworks.

Downstairs, I heard Grandpop mutter under his breath "Dumba asino ragazze."

Grandpop Alfonso, things have not changed much, so wherever you are, Happy Father's Day!

© Lou Monte via Youtube

©2010-2015, Valenta, All rights reserved.
To buy my book “Sitting on Cold Porcelain” click here

Monday, May 18, 2015

Monday Monologue

by Rose A. Valenta

This past week witnessed more dumb questions that the media asked Republican presidential candidates, Hillary still wrapped up in her cocoon and more corruption exposed.

It reminds me of a Yogi Berra quote “I wish I had an answer to that because I'm tired of answering that question.”

The skinny as follows:

The AP put out this headline: "After Death Sentence, What's Next for Boston Marathon Bomber?" The inmates from the federal penitentiary at Terre Haute, Indiana, sent them a "Are you smarter than a 5th grader?" quiz.

A Fox News host asked Jeb Bush if he would have invaded Iraq, ignoring the obviously more important question “If you were Prescott Bush, would you have stolen Geronimo’s skull and bones and enabled John Kerry to be appointed Secretary of State?”

News reporters have learned how to spell “Stephanopoulos,” since George confessed that he donated $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation.

Mitt Romney lasted two rounds against five-time heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield at a charity bout in Salt Lake City. Hillary chickened out.

The Australian Minister of Agriculture is now known as "Corilla De Ville" after threatening Johnny Depp's Yorkies.

New York City bookies are taking bets on who David Letterman's last show guests will be. The long shot is his ex-wife, Merrill Markoe, with Boo Boo and Pistol Depp.

The fast-track trade bill failed early Senate test. Josh Ernest usually follows protocol, but after consulting with Luther, Obama’s anger translator, he used the term "snafu" to describe the situation to reporters at the press conference.

An Oklahoma man pleads guilty in deadly 'atomic wedgie' case. Says he hired Mafiosi for the jaboney apocalypse, but they all crapped out.

Penn Jillette: What shocked me about the Republican campaign videos is "It looks like Yogi Berra wrote most of the dialog."

Federal judge agrees to reopen Hillary Clinton email lawsuit. The emails are suing the Bronco driver, who stole the hard drive.

Adam Levine Gets Sugar-Bombed After Talk Show. Says he's lucky he never had a hit song called "Anthrax."

Pope Francis was named Honorary Globetrotter. Says now he'll star in a Dude Perfect video "Shot off the obelisk."

The 80-year-old Brewers broadcaster, Bob Uecker, was locked inside the radio booth mid-game. The good news is he didn't miss anything.

"The Price is Right" gave a treadmill to a lady in a wheel chair, who had no legs. It’s much like surprising Eminem with a visit from his Mom on Mother’s Day.

Bill Clinton says if Hillary wins, he'll move back to White House –“if asked.” Otherwise, he has something going in Chippewa.

© 2010-2015, Valenta, All rights reserved.

To read my column Skinny Dipping click here

To buy my book “Sitting on Cold Porcelain” click here

Monday, May 4, 2015

Monday Monologue

By Rose A. Valenta

This past week saw the riots in Baltimore, more presidential candidates entering the arena and more corruption exposed.

It all reminds me of a Mark Twain quote "Denial ain't just a river in Egypt."

The skinny as follows:

Donald Trump opened up about the Baltimore riots. It was so ineffective, a rap tune is being created in his honor that he can dance to on a perch.

It is going to take a long time to figure out how to train police. It wasn't too many years ago that Irish cops picked on Italians. Anyone with a big nose, who smelled like garlic, was fair game. Jimmy "Schnozzola" Durante once told Hedda Hopper that he and Bob Hope got pulled over more often than Harry Belafonte. Hope was of English descent and ate a lot of Spotted Dick Pudding.

Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island is going to run against Hillary in the primaries. He has changed his political party so often, his name is now an official Dogberryism for skin irritation among both Democrats and Republicans.

Hillary Clinton told reporters that if she loses the election, she will move on... to compete against Sarah Silverman on Comedy Central.

American Pharoah won the Kentucky Derby. The horse got his name after his owner mistakenly thought "Pharoah" meant "Great Horse!" in Egyptian Arabic.

The Pope says it's "scandalous" that women earn less than men for doing the same job. "Tips for Jesus" asked if they could quote him on their Instagram account.

The spare heir was born in London. It's a girl! Yogi Berra always said "Women are the best pinch hitters when they are allowed in the game."

A female comedian found a two-way mirror in a Chicago bar bathroom. It is also known as a rearview mirror, depending on which side you're on.

Former Mayor Martin O'Malley says he will announce his presidential bid in Baltimore. Geraldo asked him if he has fire and theft insurance on his vehicle.

Experts question Clinton Foundation’s true charitable spending. While they approve of feeding the hungry, they feel that spending $8 million for staples that you use on paper is being dishonest.

Carly Fiorina is running for president as the anti-Hillary Clinton. Carly says Hillary uses "Let's come together" so often in her political rhetoric, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) have asked her to make a Kegel exercise video, to show how that is done.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is also going to go after Hillary. He equates her billionaire-backed campaign to "white-nose syndrome," which killed most of the cave-wintering bats in Vermont in 2009.

Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, is running for president. And everyone thought waterboarding was bad.

Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn split up. The announcement came immediately after she went for the five iron.

© 2010-2015, Valenta, All rights reserved.

To read my column Skinny Dipping click here

To buy my book “Sitting on Cold Porcelain” click here

Monday, April 27, 2015

Monday Monologue

by Rose A. Valenta

Exciting events and headlines for this past week include the White House Correspondents' Dinner, more Hillary bashing and reports about the 1%.

I know, meh!

Just the headlines remind me of a Tony Soprano quote "Let me tell ya something. Nowadays, everybody's gotta go to shrinks, and counselors, and go on "Sally Jessy Raphael" and talk about their problems. What happened to Gary Cooper? The strong, silent type. That was an American. He wasn't in touch with his feelings. He just did what he had to do. See, what they didn't know was once they got Gary Cooper in touch with his feelings that they wouldn't be able to shut him up! And then it's dysfunction this, and dysfunction that, and dysfunction vaffancul!"

The skinny as follows:

The Clinton Foundation says it accurately reported the total donations on its tax forms; but needs to amend some returns because all those government grants got mixed in with other donations. Luther, Obama’s anger translator, is pissed.

Obama, while preparing for the White House Correspondents' Dinner, sent a quick email to Josh Ernest asking if the Clintons would be there. Josh said “Bucket.”

Obama upstaged the SNL comic at the Nerd Prom. Lorne Michaels even approached him afterwards, with a bucket idea: a new show called "Hissy Fit."

Cecily Strong told journalists at the Nerd Prom not to criticize Hillary's wardrobe; it is, considering all the derailments, the Emperor's new clothes.

Hillary Clinton was a no-show at the annual South Carolina Democratic convention. The head of the five families was not surprised, he was still waiting for his cut.

A Bugatti and Ferrari had a multi-million dollar fender bender at a posh Paris hotel. Who are these people? Inquiring KIAs want to know.

Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her 89th birthday by beating her Royal Protection Officers at Mixed Nuts and the "Older Than Dirt Quiz."

Adam Sandler is now known in Apache as "Him Not Mel Brooks," after half the extras walked off the set of "The Ridiculous Six." What, they were blindfolded when they signed up, no script preview?

Robert Downey Jr. walked out of an interview with a British journalist. Adam Sandler just stood up and pissed while smoking a peace pipe.

The Ambulance Chaser Association, comprised of 47 lawyers, sent a letter to Judge Napolitano asking “if Hillary loses the election, can she seek punitive damages from the right-wing media?"

A Police academy seeks guidance from the DOJ in the form of a Directive for the proper procedure to pull over drones.

People Who Like Grilled Cheese Sandwiches Have More Sex, Says a New Survey. Well, yeah!

New pictures of Kim Jong Un using a cane raise more questions. Un is 5’ 1” tall. Dennis Rodman, who is 6’ 7”, swears he did not use him in a “continuous pick & roll” basketball play.

Marco Rubio Jumps to the Head of the GOP Pack. The cheese stands alone.

Former CIA Director, David Petraeus, was sentenced this week for leaking military secrets to his woman. In the Clinton camp, the Energizer swears she never had access to Hillary's email server. Her joy stick, maybe.

Bruce Jenner told Diane Sawyer "I am a woman." The general consensus on Facebook is the Kardashians have screwed up his mind.

© 2010-2015, Valenta, All rights reserved.

To read my column Skinny Dipping click here

To buy my book “Sitting on Cold Porcelain” click here

Monday, April 20, 2015

Monday Monologue

by Rose A. Valenta

All you need to do for a good laugh sometimes, is pick up a newspaper or Google the news. Last week was exciting, especially now that presidential candidates are coming out of the woodwork. Headlines include the following:

Hillary failed to discuss her policies with the small businesses in Iowa. Nancy Pelosi said "Vote for her to see what is in them."

Stephen Hawking sings “Galaxy Song” from Monty Python in his new music video. He says Hillary should watch "America Rising."

Hillary kicks off 2016 campaign with "guiding principles." No more hiding classified data repositories in Harlem heads the list.

After a terrible campaign launch, Hillary Clinton in her gyrocopter makes a desperate attempt to get into the White House.

Hillary's van is owned by the Secret Service and supported by US taxpayers. It was the only one on the fleet with bed and bar. Bill had the other one.

Donald Sterling's ex-mistress must pay his wife back for the $2.6 million in gifts he gave her. She gets to keep the $12 moth eaten thong. Say, can Shelly Sterling run for POTUS on the gender ticket?

Hillary dined unrecognized at a Chipotle. The Pope said it's her greatest achievement and is rooting for her to go out for pizza next time.

A Secret Service officer was arrested in DC on a burglary charge. Bill reported one of his hookers went missing.

Things have gotten so corrupt at the DOJ, neighbors near Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, OH, heard Eliot Ness rolling a 10-pin.

Reddit reports the most difficult English word to say is "Worcestershire" (sauce). The Amish make it easy, they just say "Whatsthatthere sauce."

A Brooklyn woman used Facebook to serve divorce papers. Says she "poked" him a few times, but he was too busy playing Candy Crush.

North Korea is recruiting women to join a "pleasure squad" for Kim Jong Un. In the West, it's known as "F Troop."

Google reports that a billion simultaneous users have crashed Google Earth looking for Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster, in the Scottish Highlands.

Scientists announce a newly discovered frog that looks like Kermit. The producers of "Who Do You Think You Are?" have signed Kermit for a 2015 episode.

Construction workers in the Guandong province of China, found 48 fossilized dinosaur eggs. Japanese scientists say it proves Godzilla was a womanizer.

© 2010-2015, Valenta, All rights reserved.

To read my column Skinny Dipping click here

To buy my book “Sitting on Cold Porcelain” click here

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Curiosity Killed the Cat

by Rose A. Valenta

A few years ago, Homeland Security announced an incident in Atlanta, GA, where Amy Windom was victimized, but managed to send a life saving text message from her laptop using her toes. In an effort to mitigate the root cause, Homeland Security tried signing an agreement with Toshiba for alternative laptop keyboard designs allowing for hallux (toe muscle) deviation to make it easier for Amy or anyone else in this situation; but the Beta test failed.

It was the pork in last year's budget.

Read the original news article

After reading about the fail, I realized that it’s a good thing Amy is only 39 years old and has good eye sight. I set up my own simulation and couldn’t even find the keyboard with my toes. The first thing that happened was the mouse pad and external mouse hit the floor and joined the dust bunnies under the bed. When I tried to slide my big toe across the internal mouse to click on “Start,” to launch the IM software, I got a nervous twitch and hit the quick-scan on my virus protector, so I had to wait an hour.

Since I used my husband’s old police handcuffs to simulate Amy’s wrists tied to the bed post, I also had difficulty trying to grab the key with my other toes. It had taken a nose-dive with the mouse and was wedged between the night stand leg and the molding.

My cell phone was playing video games in the next room, indicating that family members had called about three times already.

I spit out my gum, mashed it into the wedged key with my left foot, and whistled for the dog, hoping that she would retrieve it for me. All she did was pick both up in her mouth and run out into the kitchen.

"Enjoy your Dentyne breakfast #$tch" I yelled.

I was stuck. It was only 11:00 am. I just laid there trying to figure out how I was going to explain this to whoever came home first.

I quickly thought of answers:

1. Some orangutan broke into our house and mistook me for Harry Callahan’s girlfriend.
2. I’m doing Top Secret research for Homeland Security?
3. I heard a somewhat religious domestic terrorist enter the house, so I figured I’d scare him off?

Mel Brooks’ “History of the World” was playing on the classic movie channel and my bladder finally gave out with Harvey Korman. I’m in the soup:

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Monday Monologue

by Rose A. Valenta

I've been suffering from writer's block lately, so to get my creative juices flowing, I pretended that I had my own late night comedy show with no budget and have to write my own monologue jokes. In my mind (desperation), I pictured myself as someone like John Belushi picking up the Sunday paper after midnight, and calling his sick friend, Dan Aykroyd, to give him the skinny.

No wait!

There are no female major network late night comedy hosts. The only one who came close was Joan Rivers. Chelsea Handler talked to her vodka on E!, not NBC, CBS or ABC. Something is terribly wrong with that.

Ever since my friend and filmmaker, Cathryn Michon, broke the Hollywood ice by making "Muffin Top: A Love Story" and started a movement, I've been making it my goal to do something different. Her husband, W. Bruce Cameron (8 Simple Rules), once told me in Dayton, OH, to set my goals high. He wasn't the only one. National Society of Newspaper Columnists (NSNC) member, Dallas Morning News columnist, author and friend, Dave Lieber, wrote a column that advised us "Go Big!" while setting your goals. I was in his class at the NSNC Conference in Hartford. Here is my chance! Ihink I got my mojo back.

Seth Meyers move over. Are you there, Sangria? It's me, Rosie! (drum roll):

Bill Clinton and Jeffrey Epstein were spotted on “orgy island” with eight old Salvation Army ladies from the Bronx.

Ghostbusters tested and reported to TMZ that best-seller "The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven" is all Malarkey.

Police arrested a drone from Mexico with six pounds of crystal meth after it crash landed under the weight. LA Fitness put up bail.

The Pope told the faithful in the Philippines that whatever brings about world peace will likely be illegal, immoral or fattening.

The BBC has announced that a new lamb gyro is taking off in the Philippines. It is called Pope in a Poncho.

My inbox is getting flooded with ads that promise Viagra can cure deflated balls. Did you know that?

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is in charge of the Doomsday Clock. Applewhite already tried that scare tactic. It’s only an asteroid, people!

One of my greatest scientific discoveries as a mother (the second oldest profession) was figuring out that utensils with peanut butter on them don't wash clean in the dishwasher.

Greeks vote in an election that could lead to a showdown over bailout. Well, I guess that beats playing leap-frog.

Mayor Bill de Blasio just made the Musher List for the New York rush hour Iditarod.

This actually happened:

My friend Jody Worsham, author of "The Medicare Mom" blog, said her Shih Tzu was running with a Maltese two houses down, about three months ago, and she just gave birth to six puppies in the back of her closet. Their papers were stamped “illegitimate.”

© 2010-2015, Valenta, All rights reserved.

To read my column Skinny Dipping click here

To buy my book “Sitting on Cold Porcelain” click here

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

New Year’s Resolution 2015 – Occupy Camp David

by Rose A. Valenta

"A fool and his money are soon elected." ~ Will Rogers

After all the years that I have made a list of New Year’s resolutions for the good of my family, I’ve decided to turn over a new leaf. This year, I am making one for our POTUS:

" I will spend all my vacation and holiday time at Camp David"

Camp David

Pictured above is Camp David, the Presidential Retreat that I have been paying for every April 15th, since I joined the American work force. My parents paid for it from 1942 until they died. As you can see, it is a great place for our President to spend holidays and vacations. It is already paid for and its on-going maintenance is covered by 72 years-worth of taxpayer contributions.

The American people understand that being Commander in Chief is a tough job and requires some R&R, but as long as we are faced with a $18 trillion deficit that won’t get paid off until the Second Coming, it is only fair that the POTUS develop a frugal job description for himself and his successors, you know, one that falls under the fiscal cliff, which mandates spending vacation time at a resort designed for the purpose. After all, when a soldier takes liberty he pays for the entertainment out-of-pocket. This is not too much of a sacrifice considering that the President will only have to spend off-hours at Camp David for four years. After the POTUS is out of office, he/she can take the family on exotic personally funded vacations, instead of the extravagant vacations that are currently being taken, which are straining the American people’s budget.

Nobody gets a free ride in this economy, not even “Head of White Household.”

Just who is in charge of T&E Expense Management at the White House?

You can see where this is headed, right? I am not turning over a new leaf. I will continue to shop at places like Sam’s Club, WalMart, and Costco; as I am already doing a good job economically. My family vacation will remain frugal. My vehicles will continue to be certified pre-owned. My President better wise up.

I am more than a little surprised that BO didn't take advantage of the Charlie Hebdo terror attack and go on a spree in Paris, but then he would have to put words like "Radical Islam" in his vocabulary.

Or would he?

Seriously, why not call them what they are: murderers, the criminal element of the Middle East, and terrorists; on a mission to self-destruct. Why else would there be such a high turnover rate of suicide bombers in the terrorist training camps?

Their actions are disgusting enough to make people want to build a memorial to the great agnostic philosopher, Omar Khayyám, rather than the great Prophet Muhammad, whose mission was world peace.

In the famous words of Will Rogers “There are three kinds of men: The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves."

This year's tab

Yeah, well, not on my dime, BO!

Happy New Year!
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© 2010-2015, Valenta, All rights reserved.

To read my column Skinny Dipping click here

To buy my book “Sitting on Cold Porcelain” click here