May 25, 2012

I know that people often say that brick-and-mortar retail stores are in danger because of the economy, but I really think it has more to do with people being in the mood for divestiture as opposed to acquisition.  I know that we humans are supposed to be hardwired hunter gatherers, but that trait traces back to the days of cavemen, who rarely maintained stockpiles of storage boxes in adjacent caves.

When I go shopping now, I not only dread the idea of adding more items to my collection of detritus, but also the shopping bags and packaging in which the items were sold.  I have often thought that the US Dollar should be replaced by the fancy paper handle bag as our form of currency, as this would stimulate the economy, and I would have amassed a depository rivaling Fort Knox.  When I moved last year from my home of many years, my friends stood in slack-jawed wonder at my need to retain countless empty glossy boxes that once held cosmetics and perfumes, piles of plastic cd cases, and stacks of empty electronics boxes, retained in case I needed to return  items I had long ago discarded.

In Today’s Column in the Star, I discuss the collection of “stuff” and the need to endlessly move it from Point A to Point B and back again.   Can you relate?  What is it that you can’t throw away that you wish you could?


Fashionably Late

May 10, 2012

Every once in a while I inadvertently write something that actually has relevance for my readers.  I never quite know what’s going to resonate.  Last year I wrote a column called New in Town about newcomers feeling shut out of our little town by old timers claiming prior title to the place.  I was greeted by masses of locals who felt the same way — some came in tears expressing their frustration and loneliness, and one slightly confused but sweet man brought me a loaf of bread and asked me to help him buy a pair of sneakers.

Today’s column: “Fashionably Late” seems to be eliciting a similarly strong reaction.  I am receiving messages, by phone and email, from women unable to dress themselves in the morning due to the unfortunate inclusion in their boudoir of a full-length mirror.  Some even confess to turning around and looking at themselves from behind prior to leaving the house — something I find ill-advised and likely to lead to a shut-in existence in which one’s sole human contact consists of paying the pizza delivery man.

So please check out today’s column, which deals with crawling motorists and creeping middle-aged spread, and how they conspire to make me late for my next appointment.  If you like it, won’t you come back here after reading and leave a comment or a “like”?   That way I’ll know what’s resonating.

Last Saturday night in Macon, GA, I won (in absentia) First Place in the National Society of Newspaper Columnists column contest for my St. Helena Star Columns, in the category of humor (circulation under 50,000).  The same day, I won first place in the California Newspaper Publisher’s Association awards for my columns.

I seem to be on a winning streak, so I am considering entering the Olympics and the Miss Universe Pageant.  I should be a shoo-in for both, because I was born both genetically and chromosomally female.

I am grateful to the Star and to the NSNC and CNPA but most of all to those of you who actually read my silly scribblings.

Heirs Apparent

May 6, 2012

There is a lot of back-slapping going on celebrating the anniversary of Bin Laden’s death.  Glad as I was to see this chapter closed, I’m hoping there won’t be an annual national holiday such as “Bin Laden Be Dead Day,” providing undeserving bankers with another day of paid vacation, or inspiring endless replays of the raid, captured in blurry green with night vision cameras, and looping endlessly on our televisions like the Yuletide Log.

Plus, isn’t all this celebration premature?  What of Bin Laden’s offspring, of which there are apparently an unlimited supply?  While I can’t speak for them individually, as a group they represent a disturbing combination of terrorist lineage and heir or heiress resources: heirorists.  But don’t worry; as always, I have a plan.

Rather than letting them run around loose in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere with nothing to do but count their billions and compete to see who can best fill their father’s sandals, we should make them an offer money can’t buy:  their own reality TV show on Fox.

Step One:  we rent the Los Angeles mansion where they house the American Idol contestants.  All of the mini-Laden’s, and their mothers, will be ensconced there under one roof:  sort of a Real Housewives of the Jihad.
Step Two:  we host a block party where they are introduced to the Kardashians, the Hiltons and the Lohans.  And let’s throw in Ryan Seacrest, since he’ll host anything.
Step Three:  we identify those mini-Laden’s with the most enemy-combatant potential, and turn them loose on the cast of Bravo’s “Shah’s of Sunset.”  This may help thin the herd.
Step Four:  we provide a healthy budget for food and alcohol, along with fake id’s for the youngsters, private access to LA’s trendiest clubs, and photographers to capture them wherever they go.  Much cheaper and more effective than asking the CIA to keep tabs on them.
Step Five:  we give them each their own publicist, so they will spend their days trying to scoop one another for front page coverage in the National Enquirer or scandalous chador-free spreads  in Playboy.
Step Six:  we book them on Dr. Phil so that they can discuss their daddy issues, and
Steps Seven to Ten: we give them each a fan club, blog, Facebook page and Twitter account, which we will monitor closely in the unlikely event some stray substantive thought should attempt to find purchase in what is now the parched desert of their media-addled minds.

While these heirorists may have access to wealth and power, history has proven that there is no destructive force so powerful as celebrity, particularly of the famous-for-being-famous variety.  I know that these mini-Ladens may inspire sympathy; after all, they themselves have not committed any acts of terrorism.  But to this I say: let’s keep it that way, and besides, there are worse things than living all-expenses-paid in a Hollywood Hills mansion and partying  in the LA club scene with celebrities, all under the constant glare of television cameras and the watchful eyes of the paparazzi.  Actually, come to think of it, I can’t think of anything worse than that.