Then We Came To The End

Then We Came To The EndWhat a great title. This novel was included in the reading list at the end of Stephan King’s On Writing. I decided to go through the list, one by one, throwing out those dealing too heavily with the supernatural, horror, etc. and try each one. It has not been a disappointing experience.

To the contrary, I have discovered many authors that I really admire who were previously unknown to me, and so now I’m going to drone on about this latest little wonder, Then We Came To The End by Joshua Ferris. By the looks of this author, he is on the lower side of middle age, and extremely hot. He’s got the kind of literary-genius look that is so appealing.Joshua FerrisMr. Ferris has come up with a unique concept. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book quite like this. The last two sentences are eerily excellent. To quote them here would render them out-of-context, but I couldn’t help but read them over and over, and get kind of goose-bumpy all over again.

First of all, it’s written in first person plural, which I wasn’t sure I would like. All about we. We did, we thought, we never believed it possible, so you never know whose POV it is. I guess you could say it is “omniscient POV”. I found I liked it, and hoped that at the end, I might have a clue as to which of the characters had told the story. I will not divulge the results.

It’s about work. The office. An advertising firm, going through the downturn (after 9/11). It captures office life at its most ridiculous and cynical. This is a something that interests me personally, because I have long been kind of a tongue-in-cheek eye-roller when it comes to office politics, office lingo and office behavior in general. It’s in my novel, Perigee Moon, (in case you’d like to take a peek) just how unreal it can be, and how sometimes we need to run away — screaming — from all of it.

This book has a scene in it about people scavenging office chairs after someone has “walked Spanish” which is a euphemism for being canned, that is hysterical. It’s about people switching chairs then being afraid of being found out by the “office coordinator” who keeps track of serial numbers and which office stuff belongs to which person, and who wields more power than is perhaps appropriate.

We all know how that goes.

This book may not be for everyone, but if you’ve ever been in an office atmosphere where doing honest work becomes obsolete, and instead red tape and seniority and office politics reign supreme, then you will likely appreciate this. It’s packed with humor and irony.

Highly recommended.

Others on Stephen King’s list follow. I apologize for not including links but that’s just the way I am sometimes. Lazy and doing a half-assed job.

These are all great writers. Most of the novels are suspense, and while I loved all of the writing, I found some of the stories to be a trifle unbelievable. But then — It’s Fiction!!

  • End of Story by Peter Abrahams
  • The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
  • One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson
  • The Last Good Day by Peter Blauner
  • Peace Like a River by Leif Euger
  • A Fan’s Notes by Frederick Exley

You might notice, the list is organized alphabetically by author last name. The next two were Jonathan Franzen novels. I’ve already read them! So I am up to “G” with lots of goodies in store,Jane Eyre

In between, I read Jane Eyre. I had never read it before. It was quite remarkable, and Ms. Bronte had one hell of a vocabulary. I found some very interesting sections, ofttimes of soliloquy, and some very impassioned dialogue and inner thoughts. I thought I might choose a few passages that I found particularly delightful and perhaps offer an explanation or definition of sorts in today’s urban speak. This will occur in an upcoming post.

Won’t that be jolly? I hope you’ll stay tuned for it.

More Scam Spam Fun!

Email ScamSince I had a bit of a virtual romp with Olga a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been receiving some other types of interesting propositional emails from people.

Some like this one from 楊惠君.

Disclaimer: This is an actual email, copied and pasted from my Yahoo email account. It was not altered in any way, in order to make it more ludicrous or humorous. I did not compose the email sent by Mrs Vina Long.

From: “”楊惠君”” <yhj888@masterlink.com.tw>

To:

Sent: Friday, March 8, 2013 5:51 PM

Subject: From Vina.

.

Hello.

I am Mrs. Vina Long an aging widow suffering from cancer, a long time illness. Before my late husband died we had no children. I have some funds I inherited from my late husband. I will ask my attorney to prepare the necessary document to transfer the funds from my husband online offshore account and property to you. I want you to help me with this as I am very sick and cannot do this myself as I have to make my last wish come true. I have an estate in Medford NJ (USA) and a total sum of GBP£4.3Million (Four Million Three Hundred Thousand Great British Pounds Sterling) in my late husband online offshore account, which I have instructed my attorney to transfer the account of the person I have decided to make my next of kin. I need you to sell the property in Medford NJ USA. And 30\25 of the total sum should be transferred to any orphanage home. I need a very honest and God fearing Christian that will use the fund for God’s work, I found your email address from the internet and decided to contact you. Please if you would be able to use the funds for the Lord’s work, kindly reply me back.

Thanks again for you concern and Stay blessed.

Mrs Long

vina-long001@live.com

.

This is terrible! My heart goes out to Mrs Vina Long! O the unfairness of it all, widowed, suffering from a long cancer illness, having no one to bestow her fortunes on! What could be worse. I ask ya. Just what could be worse.

Of course, her cancer being a “long” illness rather than a “short” one, seems beneficial. Maybe I can point that out to her.

My heartfelt reply to Mrs Vina Long follows.

Hello Mrs. Vina Long,

I am replying you back and am sorry that you are an aging widow, suffering from cancer (a long time illness). Also, I am aging (aren’t we all?) but not a widow. Cancer is sometimes a short term illness, though, so let’s hope your particular illness continues on for a very long time. We are all terminal, don’t forget this, and perhaps you will outlive the cancer. Meaning of course, that something else will get you in the end. Not a pleasant thought, unfortunately.

You say before your late husband died, you had no children. Does this mean that you had children after he died? If so, that is also most unfortunate.

It is very generous of you to ask your attorney to prepare the necessary document to transfer the funds from your “husband online offshore account” and property to me. I am already quite well-to-do and look upon this as a possible tax problem. Can your attorney advise me about that?

Of course I am willing to do what I can. I have no real knowledge of how to sell real estate or of Medford, NJ. The only thing I can say is, I can put on a killer Jersey accent! So maybe I will fit right in down there in “Joisey” Hahaha!

For the humor, I apologize, but am trying to cheer you in this, your hour of great need. You being so sick and all. Sometimes a laugh helps the spirits lift, know what I’m sayin’?

For my next area of confusion, I see you have decided to make me your next of kin. Can you do this? Could you please adopt me first? I am willing for you to become my guardian. God knows, I need guarding (and guidance) because even though I am old in years, I still behave like an utter ass sometimes.

So on to the estate in Medford. I am to sell the property and 30/25 of the total sum should be transferred to any orphanage home? I am not so good at “the maths” as they say there Across the Pond, but it appears as if this is greater than the price I would receive for the property. Does this come out of the 4.3 Million Great British Pounds Sterling?

Please do not underestimate my honesty. It is utter and complete. Trust me — you can trust me! I live to do these good deeds whenever I hear from people such as you.

As for God-fearing, need we fear God? I have always had a problem with that. I guess I don’t fear Him, so does this eliminate me as your potential next of kin? I am very sorry to have to say this, but, since I am so honest and trustworthy (and trusting too!) I will tell you the truth. So can we just strike out the God-fearing part and maybe substitute God-respecting? Or maybe we could just remove that clause altogether?

I will however, use the fund for God’s work. He works in mysterious ways, I’m told, so maybe God wants me to invest in a hedge fund.

You found my email address on the internet? How did you know I was honest because of that?

I am very grateful and honored to be chosen for this, and to do “God’s work”.

Please write soon, and tell me what steps we need to take to get the adoption completed. I am looking forward to becoming your next of kin.

You stay blessed too, Mom (can I call you that now?) and write soon…

Your Devoted Next of Kin

Okay! I’m all set to become the NOK of Mrs Vina Long, I guess.

Really. Can we stop with this stuff? There is not a person left ON THE PLANET who will not do the triple eye roll at this. Congratulations though, for landing in my Inbox, and not my spam folder. You must be doing something right.

Unfortunately, to date, I have not heard back from Mrs. Vina Long.

Age is Just a Number (Sometimes a Big Number)

Here we go again. First thing on a Monday morning, I get a notice of a new post on Boomer Cafe. It’s called How Old Are You? One Baby Boomer Says It Really Does Not Matter. It’s written by a guy named Stew.

Yet another baby boomer yelling about how “you are only as old as you feel” and “age is just a number”. Bah.

Stew says:

As a person who is “older” (okay, I have trouble with that word), I have learned a few things about aging … mainly, I don’t understand what everyone is talking about. I don’t know how old I am unless I calculate it. When asked, all I know is that I am as old as I am feeling that day – be it 26 or 42 or maybe 31. And that is what I tell people.

Well, Stew, I have learned a few things about aging too. And here’s what I have learned.

  • It takes me longer to do things than it used to.
  • I am now afraid of slipping on ice, when I used to play on it.
  • I now have to read on a Kindle so I can make the text real big.
  • I now have aches and pains in places I never suspected would hurt.
  • I now go places and look around and think “everyone here is younger than me”.

The above is just a sampling. There is so much more. So do I feel 26 or 42 or 31 on certain days? Maybe if my mirrors came with PhotoShop installed, I would feel that way. But no, Stew, not really.

Stew likes to skydive. Doesn’t that just figure? People who blah-blahther on about how they don’t look at calendars except for when they have a dentist appointment always skydive. What is the point of it? Why would anyone even consider skydiving for one minute? Don’t you have enough respect for life to think, but wait, what if that little pull cord thingy doesn’t work? Yeah, think about that. I recently bought a temporary electric toothbrush. It has a little button to press for vibration. It doesn’t work. It’s defective. So think about that pull cord again, Stew.

Speaking of the dentist. Sure, you only consult the calendar when you have an appointment. Old people have to go to the dentist more. Their crowns break, their gums rot, the longer we are on this earth, the more we chew things and the more our teeth get busted up. That’s why you are going to the dentist, Stew, and why you have to consult your calendar.

Don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade here. But shit aging happens and saying you are 26 when you are really 62 just means you are dyslexic, not “young at heart”.

Here’s another good idea. Stew doesn’t think we should travel south. Don’t go to Florida. Everyone in Florida is old.

Stew also says:

My idea of a challenge is not seeing how few times I can hit a dimpled white ball for 18 holes. The only dimples I want to see should be resting on the pillow in bed next to me and making me feel … and act … 25.

This is probably not a good idea, Stew. This sounds like promiscuous behavior to me. Or, sounds like you have a thing for younger women. Very problematic. Or maybe when you say “dimples” you are referring to some other part of the anatomy? In that case, okay. But 25? Really? You taking some of that “Vigara” that keeps showing up in my spam folder?

(And as an aside here, if people are going to spam you with ads for drugs, wouldn’t it be prudent to spell what you’re selling correctly? Just wonderin’.)

So, I did a triple eye roll at Stew’s post. Stew, you need to consult your calendar. You were born back when stamps cost two cents. When your phone number had four digits. When the milkman left dairy products in glass bottles on your doorstep. When you got S&H green stamps at the grocery store. When people still said “gee whiz”. When jello was a food staple.

There’s nothing wrong with aging. I think we, as aging grownups, might be better off accepting our new limitations instead of trying to pretend otherwise. Nothing screams “old geezer” more than someone trying to pretend they are thirty years younger than they are.

Shibui, that’s what we need in this country. Respect your age. It’s what got you where you are.

How Olga Screwed My Happiness

I received the following email from Olga. The subject line was “your profile to produce on me greater impression”. Naturally, I was curious.

hello lynn!

how are you today? What is your name?
my name is Olga, You frequently are on this site http://www.russiahotgirls.com/ ?
I today wanted to talk to you in a chat
You have yahoo or hotmail ID? if you write to me, ok?
I shall wait from you the letter with impatience

Olga

Of course, I didn’t want to be rude. I answer all emails that are sent to me. Which is why I have no time for anything else. I get a lot of emails! And the more I respond, it seems the more I get. Funny how that works.

When you learn, teach. When you get, give. (Maya Angelou)

I responded to Olga as follows:

Hello there Olga!

I am fine today! Although yesterday I was lesser fine, today more so am I fine.

My name is Lynn, but you already must are knowing it since you say nice hello lynn!

In a chat today I am so liking to do!

I have ID for yahoo, hotmail no ID for me is having. Writing to you now, I will do it!

Not to wait with impatience as now I am sending the letter. With impatience I am also waiting for your nice reply. Hope soon it will come!

 Lynn

I waited (with impatience) for Olga’s reply. Olga must have a few email addresses because the second one was a little different. Yet, I am sure it is the same Olga, my new-found friend! This time the subject line was “Watsup bro”.

You have drawn my attention to a site of acquaintances. I hope, as I shall like you. How I to you in a photo? See here http://www.russiahotgirls.com/. The truth – pretty? 🙂 But in a life I more nice!!!
And as I cheerful, kind, sociable and fluffy! I like to go in for sports, read books, to listen to music. I love winter and summer. I do not love spring and slush.
If I have interested you, with pleasure I shall tell about myself more in the following letter.
I wait for the answer on soethcenljal889@yandex.ru

Olga

Ah, Olga. I can’t click links, much as I’d like to. I just can’t do it.

Dear Olga,

I am drawn with much pleasure to the acquaintances site, as already I know I very much like you.

Of course you are cheerful, kind, sociable but fluffy I am not sure I am liking, but will try harder! I at sports cannot do, I am sorry to say, as bones are aged and break easily, yet I watch with happiness. I like read books also and music also. When spring and slush I take you to South France for weeks in luxury hotel. I have much to give you!

Very deeply you have interested me, but please send picture personally as I am old and not trusting of links in emails. Sorry! My staff of servants tell me “Do not click on links” and believe them I must since they are well-paid by me and in my employ for twenty years more.

You have not address to me an endearment, of which I am feel very sorry when last time you said dear lynn.

With great fondness, Lynn

Olga returned my email that very day! I was so happy to get it, after we had struck up this nice friendship. Yet again, she had a different email address. This time is was Olga6969@hotmail.com.

Dear lynn,

When hearing from you last time, I cannot believe my luck to have found such a friend.
Fluffy is meaning happy-to-lucky and filled with funny. No more than that!
In spring we go to South france? Can you send me for a ticket? I like to fly first class, do you?
See my picture here. Not sending links as you say you will not click.
Do you know Western Union? They are convenient, and are friends there. You can send money for ticket to me there?

Love to you, Olga

Wow! That happened fast. Olga wants to visit the South of France with me! This is the picture Olga attached.

OlgaPhoto

Lost no time responding to Olga.

Olga,

Western Union is not close with me. Please can you explain it? You to me in the photo will be as an angel who I see before sleeping and as soon on wake. Olga, I am very much liking your picture, and will we be together soon in France? I hope so.

Here is my picture and I am waiting for you to tell me what you think of it!! Please write soon as I wait with your impatience to receive hello from you!

With great love and affection, Lynn

 Here’s the picture I sent Olga:

OldMan

The very next day I got another email from Olga:

Hello!
You have very much interested me.
It will be pleasant for me if you want with me will get acquainted.
It will be very pleasant for me to find the friend or second half through the Internet.
We can exchange photos.
You can write to me the letter on this electronic address Yaroslav.Feduloov@yandex.ru
I wait for your answer.

My name is Olga.
Good-bye.

I do not think Olga and I to South France will go. I am not liking, and I must say to Olga: “Olga, if you are out there you are screwing my happiness!”

Olga image  courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Man on crutches image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Seven Questions About a Very Important Subject

One thing that has always interested me, is people who do things to the extreme. Who take a good thing, or an okay thing, and do it to the extent that it becomes bizarre, unwholesome, and endangers health and happiness.

I was drawn to people who tan too much, who tattoo too much, who pierce too much, who work out too much. Those who stretch their ears so they dangle down around chin-level. People who augment their lips, breasts and butts and once they do it a little, they think “just a little more” until they lose sight of how gross it has all become.

Here are a couple of examples.

Tenk you to my family fodda gym membership! It's been a great six weeks.

Tenk you to my family fodda gym membership! It’s been a great six weeks.

That was some party last night! Hope I didn't do anything I'll regret...

That was some party last night! Hope I didn’t do anything I’ll regret…

But what can you say about that, really? We know people exist who do this, and if you’re like me, you’re kind of morbidly fascinated by what people are willing to do to their bodies.

I googled “extreme” and followed that by every letter of the alphabet, trying to find extremes that one might not necessarily think of. I did find one, “extreme eyelashes” that was pretty cool.

Ack! I hate clumpy lashes.

Ack! I hate clumpy lashes.

But when I got to the letter “i”, I found something veddddy innnteresting!

Extreme Ironing!

What?!!

Extreme Ironing is for real. I am not making it up. People take ironing boards to remote locations and iron items of clothing. According to The EI folks, Extreme Ironing is the “latest danger sport that combines the thrills of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt.”

Here are just a few (there are many more) locations of where Extreme Ironing has taken place:

extreme-ironing4

Extreme Ironing3extreme Ironing2Extreme IroningI have seven questions for our Extreme Ironers.

  1. I note that all the pictures of Extreme Ironers are men. Why is this, when we all know it’s women who do most of the ironing?
  2. Has the shirt been correctly laundered, i.e. stains removed, fabric softened, color-safe bleached when necessary?
  3. Is the ironing board cover clean and in good repair, i.e. no rips, tears or spray starch stains?
  4. What about your iron? Do you use steam? Have you flushed it recently with distilled water?
  5. What if my shirt is permanent press? Doesn’t ironing become moot?
  6. How does it work, when you iron a shirt underwater exactly? Can you do this without getting an electrical shock?
  7. Where do you plug in the iron?

Just curious, you understand. I do think it is a very, um, unusual, concept.

The Body Builder by Slim45hady
Body Art by Frederic Poirot
eyelashes by arsenic

Happy Holidays! Oh wait…

CalendarI wanted to get this in before The End of The World. One final post, in preparation for the end of everything (as we know it), my third-act little bit of propaganda, so that it might be fresh in your mind, the last thing you think of just before it happens, maybe even while it happens. That would be cool.

It strikes me as odd that, despite what we are sure will happen tomorrow (because dire predictions like this have certainly never happened before) we are still making plans, for the weekend, for Christmas, for New Years, for next year, for retirement.

Folks! Listen up. It’s all over, there isn’t going to be a Christmas this year, and not any year after that either. No New Year’s, no next year, no retirement. But look on the bright side! You don’t have to wonder if there will be nursing homes in twenty years to accomodate you when you might need one. You don’t have to preplan your funeral! That’s a relief. Planning a funeral is just downright dismal.

Just think! There are things you will never have to worry about! Things that keep you awake, worries of what-ifs. Fah-get about it. Here is a partial list of what none of us will have to worry about, ever again:

  • The semi-annual dental cleaning, and that dentist threatening you with the Gum Guy.
  • Contracting a terminal disease. It would have to be an awfully fast-acting terminal disease. It’s only got a day and a half, maybe less.
  • The Fiscal Cliff. Who cares if they raise your taxes! Let them try and collect it.
  • Global warming. We’re all going to be fried anyway, or however the apocalypse occurs, so let the planet warm away, if there’s a planet left.
  • Outliving 401K money. You can’t possibly spend that much before tomorrow, not even if you’re Donald Trump! (Donald, are you reading this?)
  • The Christmas credit card bill. Go out for a Grey Goose dirty martini! Or two! And a real good dinner. Put it on the credit card, because the bill will never get to your mailbox.
Image courtesy of Maggie Smith at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Maggie Smith at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In the unlikely event that the prediction is wrong, I’ll be back after the New Year and until then I’ll be busy paying bills, managing investments, making dental appointments, and reserving a nursing home.

Calender image courtesy of kenfotos at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Who Is This Person Anyway?

Today I updated my About page. Yesterday I updated my website. The more posts I write, the more I can’t stand the Goody-Goody in me to surface. That’s not me. It’s not who I am. Sarcastic, that’s who I am. So no more Ms. Nice Woman. WYSIWYG.

It’s an opportunity to get you to read the new About page. You know you want to do it and I’ll know how many of you actually clicked on it. My stats will show the counts. So go ahead. Make my day.

I started following a blogger this week, The Cheeky Diva. I don’t know how I ended up there, but it was from a link from a blog I already follow. Sometimes, I link to one, which links to another, and on and on it goes, until I can’t remember how I got there but it doesn’t matter because it’s a blog that I like and one from which I think I can learn something. Mostly, how to be yourself, how to get your voice onto the page.

It doesn’t work to deny your real voice. This is who I am. This is how I really feel. That’s what should come through. The Cheeky Diva does that. She really lets it all hang out there, from her extremely dysfunctional family when she was growing up to what’s happening to her today.

When the email announcing her new post came, I clicked on it. It was great. The first post that I got after becoming a follower of her blog, went Freshly Pressed. This is something I have talked about a lot in the past. It is probably boring to non-bloggers but interesting to the WordPress community because it is something everyone wants to achieve.  It’s just those WordPress Gods bestowing honors on posts they think are really, really good. Sometimes I can’t see why they are good, but that’s probably because I’m not always interested in the subject matter. But not the case with this particular FP choice.

Of course, it’s not for everyone. I admire her ability to be that honest, to be able to write candidly about her childhood. I’m not sure I could do it, but then I had a completely Goody-Goody type of childhood. I love the wit, the irony, the sarcasm and the comedy of some of the bloggers I follow. One of these days, I’m going to put up a blog roll which will list them all.

So, in keeping with my new quest for bloggery realism, I have been collecting pictures and data for a series of posts I will call “Why Would Anyone Do This?” I’ll be posting the first one next week. I am fascinated by certain things people do, that I find odd, or stupid, or uncomfortable, or really weird. I have several posts in mind.

While I was writing this, another blogger I follow received notification that she is being featured as one of the bloggers of the day on bloggers.com. Wow, that’s great too. Maybe it’s because all good things happen to bloggers I follow. That’s it. I am the catalyst for all the mighty achievements happening in the blog worlds of others. I need to remain calm here, squash my feelings of invidiousness.

Really. It’s okay. I’ll be all right.

(Note: It appears my last post was reposted this morning. All my followers will get an email about it. I was just adding tags. Honest! It’s WordPress’s fault.)

 

Image courtesy of Michal Marcol / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Man on The Plane

Yesterday I had to fly. Flying used to be fun, sort of exciting, but as we now know, everything has changed about the experience. Now it’s just, well, tedious. So many things to accomplish before I lay my head down. Or, in other words: Miles to go before I sleep. (I always liked that.)

There’s all the preparation to go. Don’t forget anything. Make sure there’s enough time. Count backwards. Let’s see. Flight leaves at 10:40 so let’s call that 10:30. Need an hour and a half at Tampa International Airport. (Actually, that’s a stretch, you really only need an hour, so I’m probably overcompensating by forty minutes at this point.) Allow thirty minutes for the shuttle to the airport from the rental car place. And thirty minutes to get to the rental car place.

Okay, we’re at the airport. Stand in line at the ticket counter to check two bags. Here, a slight diversion. These are bags designed to be carryons but of COURSE we can’t do that anymore because of silly rules about liquids in 4 ounce containers (thank you Mr. Shoe Bomber!) and other forbidden items which may become weapons, like nail files and miniature socket sets. Check the bags, reprint the boarding passes, show ID.

Next, stand in line to (again) show ID and boarding pass in order to get on shuttle for a one-minute whisk to the terminal. Once deposited safely terminalside, prepare for the TSA IPP (Invasion of Privacy and Patdown). Show ID and boarding pass (yet AGAIN), where a uniformed Security Specialist shines a light on your driver’s license and makes his secret little mark on your boarding pass. Take laptop out of case, disrobe and try to remember whether you need ID and boarding pass again. Try to keep track of belongings, get x-rayed, retrieve belongings, get dressed.

We are now ready to board the plane but, as usual, we’re about two hours early, having grossly over-estimated the amount of time everything will take. Play the waiting game and listen to lame pages. Will Ruth Quackenbush please pick up the nearest white courtesy telephone? Every ten minutes we are instructed that we are in an indoor clean-air facility and no smoking is permitted. And also a reminder that any unattended bags will be im-pound-ed.

Line up, get on plane. We usually board first, since I’m one of those anal people who has my right mouseclick finger poised at exactly 24 hours before boarding time so we can be part of the esteemed A Group.  The seats are three across, so if it’s a full flight, someone will be joining our cozy little party of two. It was a full flight. Okay, I’m in the middle seat, so let’s make eye contact with someone who is relatively slender and looks like he or she won’t want to make much conversation.

Woman and her husband approach, and she sits across the aisle and he sits next to me. He is a small, wiry sort of fellow with a thick crop of untended black hair. He looks a bit like he is continually on an adrenaline rush. He carries a book which is a good sign.

“Good place to sit!” he says. “More leg room here!”

“Yeah, I guess so,” say I, while I don’t believe there is any more leg room at this particular location than anywhere else.

His wife requests her “reading material” so he stands up in the aisle and proceeds to fumble in a suitcase in the overhead compartment holding up approximately forty passengers waiting to proceed to the rear of the plane where there are still empty seats remaining.

He gets to the material his wife has demanded and hands it to her and settles into his seat. He eats (rather noisily) a peach and half of an overripe banana before the plane takes off.

As we take off and are climbing to 10,000 feet where we can turn on electronic devices, he and his wife pass a small turquoise bottle filled with something that produces a pungent aroma back and forth. It smells a bit like smelling salts. What the…? It’s a bit stinky actually, and they reverently pass it back and forth and inhale deeply the fumes. Does anyone know what this is? I didn’t ask. Something for ear pressure problems? Air sickness? Maybe just good karma?

The flight attendant asks him if he’d like a complimentary juice, soft drink, tea or coffee. He orders a mixture of half cranberry juice, half diet sprite. It seemed a bit demanding to me, that he be served some sort of special refreshments. Let’s just keep it simple, shall we?

Snack? Peanuts and Ritz Mini Snack Thins (only 100 calories!) are offered.

“I’ll have four peanuts,” he says.

Four peanuts! Who says you can have four? You’re supposed to get one! What if everybody on this plane asked for four? He got his four, and later he accepted his Ritz Mini Snack Thins too. Then he proceeded to ask for two refills of his special concoction of cranberry juice and diet sprite. Clearly, here is a man who likes to take advantage of free stuff.

He read, did a crossword puzzle, and then fashioned himself a bookmark. He carefully ripped the back cover of the Southwest Spirit Magazine down about one inch, and bent the page down, flipping the magazine back and forth as he did this, elbows flailing and invading my personal space. Fold, press, run thumbnail firmly over the fold, flip, repeat. Finally he tore it off. Voila! Bookmark!

What?

When we stood up to get off the plane, waiting in perhaps the last line of the day, he said to his wife, “I did some verrrrry deep thinking during this flight.”

I think this guy might make his way into a novel somewhere down the line.

Can You Make a Boring Subject Funny?

Interesting search criteria today, which resulted in a click on the Home Page of this blog – “fiction book on getting rid of baby boomers”. I am pretty sure this searcher did not get what s/he hoped for.

I guess there are a lot of younger people out there who would like to get rid of baby boomers. We must be the thorn in the sides of many Gen Xers (and younger) but getting rid of a whole generation of people would be difficult to achieve. Maybe they don’t want to support us, our socialized incomes that they are forced to contribute to? Maybe they think, as we age, and retire, and go on Medicare that we will bring on even more financial ruin to this country? Or, maybe, we’re just regarded as a bunch of self-centered, me-first, egotistical cry-babies that everyone else loves to hate.

Speaking of Medicare, is there anyone else out there who is tired of getting Medicare mailings? Can anyone enlighten me, if there is a subject more boring than Medicare? Can anyone further enlighten me, on why they feel it necessary to bombard us with mailings every single day? Is it because it’s so confusing to begin with? Is it because they think more is better when it comes to junk mail? The following is a partial list of the types of junk mail one can expect to receive when one reaches a “certain age”:

  • Medicare and Medicare related mailings, including (but not limited to) Medicare Part A (hospitalization), Medicare Part B (doctors),  Medicare Part C (HMO’s which are too complicated to explain here), Medicare Part D (drug coverage), and enough Medicare Supplemental Insurance information to fill the bed of a Ford F-250.
  • Invitations to lunch or dinner, but oh by the way, you are required to sit through a presentation of how to protect your assets through annuities.
  • Hearing aid devices (to my knowledge, I am not yet deaf).
  • Funeral pre-arrangement plans.

I refuse to think of myself in these terms, that the wheels are falling off. When I hear that particular phrase, I always think of the little red wagon, the Radio Flyer. Everyone had one back when we were kids. The wheels may be getting wobbly, but they are not falling off. The paint is peeling, and the metal a little rusty, but basically the wagon is still street-worthy.

Mailings for Medicare always seem to have pictures of people with gray or white hair, smiling Crest Whitestrip smiles, who are enjoying very active lives. They go to the beach and ride bikes a lot. I think some of the people in these pictures are really younger people with old-looking hair. Good news and bad news. The good news is you get the gig to be a pamphlet model, the bad news is you have to wear a gray wig and pretend you’re 65.

Recently I received, as part of my brand new Medicare Supplemental Plan, an invitation to sign up with the “SilverSneakers” program. Really? I guess I have an aversion to signing up for programs with dumb sounding names because it went immediately to the recycle bin, even though there were lots of pictures of happy looking (albeit older) women who were very satisfied with themselves for “getting fit and staying healthy”.

Earlier this week, ten (that’s 10!) letters from my Medicare Supplemental Plan came on the same day.

I decided to blog about it, Medicare and the mailings forthwith , in the hopes that I could take a subject that is more boring than watching Pimp My Ride, and try to make something humorous out of it.

A while back, I blogged about Idiot Letters by Paul C. Rosa. The following is a Paul Rosa-type letter I composed, back to the Medicare Supplemental people who had sent the ten letters. Here it is:

5 Punctuation Tips for Writing Humor

I recently resurrected a basket to use for a small paper recycling bin, since I am an earth-lover (those who recycle) as opposed to an earth-hater (those who throw glass, paper and plastic in with their other waste products). It was a magazine rack kind of thing and had some items in it which I needed to clean out and/or discard, a couple of old magazines, a half-finished knitting project from a few years back, and at the bottom was a book which had been given to me years ago (nearly twenty) called Idiot Letters by Paul Rosa, which I had not read.

Mr. Rosa got the idea for the book when he received a letter from Pizza Hut which said it had been a long time since he had ordered from them. This “concerned” them, because Mr. Rosa was the “kind of customer they’d like to see more often”. Mr. Rosa wondered just what kind of customer wouldn’t they like to see more often? He decided to ask that question.

That started the whole project, the idea of chronicling the letters he wrote to companies regarding products he used regularly and the responses he got back. I found myself LOLing (which we all know means Laugh Out Loud and NOT Lots of Love, as some would have us believe). And it brought to mind a question. What was it about Mr. Rosa’s writing that made it funny? I noticed a few tricks he used which seemed very effective.

I have listed the 5 punctuation tips below, which brings me to one slight diversion before I progress. I recently attended a Webinar (do you “attend” a Webinar?) and incorporated knowledge received from it regarding writing eye-catching titles for blogs, which might cause people to click more often than if it were titled in some other (lame) way. The Webinar (The Copyblogger Headline Clinic) was very informative and said that one good template for a blog title which appears to work is a numbered list. Examples: 10 Reasons Why Your Mother-in-law Hates You, or 16 Ways to Retrieve a Cork that has Fallen Into a Bottle of Wine, or 21 Tips and Tricks For Removing a Squirrel from the Top of Your Dryer (this actually happened to me).

The following is what I noticed about Mr. Rosa’s book of letters:

  • Exclamation points! These little darlings of punctuation are frowned upon when writing serious literature, and should be used very sparingly, but for humorous writing they work really well to indicate a certain dorky enthusiasm. Take this example, from Idiot Letters, where Mr. Rosa writes to the Oil-Dri Corporation of America congratulating them on the effectiveness of Cat’s Pride Kitty Litter:

For the first ten years of my cat’s life, it was a living hell trying to get her to use her litter box!

  • Quotation marks. Quotation marks have been said (by serious editors) to be like Christmas tree lights, that they are mere decorations. I “respectfully disagree” when writing humor. Using quotes sets a phrase apart, draws attention to it, as if the writer is standing next to the reader, giving him a nudge and a knowing look. Just between you and me…  Mr. Rosa says the following after telling the letter reader that he began using Cat’s Pride on the advice of a friend:

Well, we were delighted, nay ecstatic, when Jesse — without hesitation — stepped in the litter box and “unloaded”.

  • Italics. This method of altering a font shows emphasis and stressing certain words is funny, because it portrays an ebullience that may be uncalled for. In the same letter, for instance, the idea that anyone can be so charged up about kitty litter is in itself, funny, but the italics make it more so. Mr. Rosa says the following after telling the letter reader that he wonders at the wisdom of the name “Cat’s Pride” for kitty litter:

When Jesse is heaving and straining in her box, I don’t think pride is one of her sentiments.

  • Ellipsis. Mr. Rosa used the ellipsis (…) in order to disguise an activity, in a way that the reader knows it was disguised and further, knows exactly what that activity is:

We were often woken from a sound slumber, or interrupted during … Matlock.

  • Parentheses. Whenever a thought is an aside, and could be separated from the text with commas, it is appropriate to surround that text with parens. This should probably not be done in serious literature in most cases, but is most effective when writing humor. He also names the cat, the friend, the wife and even his mother by putting the name of the person in parentheses. Here are examples:

Whenever she would get the call from nature (night or day), she would howl until someone would let her out.

We were actually tempted to give her away, but simply love her too much — she was a gift from my mother (Irene).

The excerpts from the letter, the random sentences probably don’t do the letter justice when taken out of context, so I am including it here in its entirety:

 

Disclaimer: This is not meant to be a review of Idiot Letters. I liked some of the the letter exchanges quite well, but some were a bit over the top for me. I will be using some of these tips in my next novel (which is supposed to be humorous in parts) because I think they work.