Archive for October, 2012

One of the things that both Bruce and I abhor is “charity”. Not the concept. No, we tithe regularly, we contribute to the United Way (but do wonder what they’re united against, but that’s another story), and we buy Girl Scout cookies, though with expanding waistlines, that may stop this year. Oh, the horror – no more Thin Mints or Samoas!

We take umbrage against all those charities that: A. have money to advertise on TV; B. send people door-to-door asking/begging/pleading for money; C: have t-shirts with cleverly designed, expensive ad agency designed logos; and D: anything that manipulates and tugs at our heart strings; you know the kind, the ones with sad-eyed puppies and kitties. Blechh! We are not heartless. But we have become increasingly cynical if that is at all possible. Just because they may have a band, doesn’t mean we have to contribute our money. Now if they had a new CD out, maybe we’d buy it.

Can’t wait to hear the new CD.

If I see one more TV commercial with some sad-faced dog or cat, I will personally start boycotting all pet stores. Bruce does not agree with me on this being the capitalist lackey that he is, but I believe they are all part of a larger pet cartel bent on separating us from our money to lavish expensive and unnecessary gifts and toys on unappreciative pets. When have you ever heard of a dog asking for a toy ball with bells in it? Never! Really!

On the other hand, Bruce has absolutely no sympathy at all for any of these suspects foundations seeking a cure for a disease no one has ever heard of or at the very least only in one in 736 million ever contracts. Then there are groups who lobby for money because they can. The Foundation for Dandruff Research will not save lives and Bruce will not help people with itchy scalps. It’s just not in his DNA. Use a better shampoo damn it!

We both respect fire fighters very much. But that they have to stand at the side of the road with their boots held out for spare change is just wrong. Give ’em a bucket at least! Standing barefoot on a concrete road in the winter is just wrong!

Christmas time brings out the most egregious abuse of “charitable” excesses. A forlorn, wasted bell-ringer does not put either of us in the holiday spirit. And dressing up the poor guy in a Santa costume? What does that tell kids? It must stop! The message that conveys is that Santa is poor and has to beg for change in order to buy your gift made in China is not a good one. After all, the hard-working under-paid workers in China deserve a better representation. Don’t they? It’s enough to make our blood boil. Actually, that pot they use would be good for that or at least a very hearty stew so good on the cold days after standing outside of the mall.

Happy bell ringers!

And let us weigh in on people who knock on your door at inopportune times asking if you have found the way? No. But I wasn’t looking. Thank you for asking. Now go away. Now! Jeez!

We would like to propose that charities must pass an Acceptability Examination. This AE would separate the wheat from the chaff and would set limits on how much they could collect in a single year. Each category would have a collection limit threshold. Go over that and Uncle Sam gets the balance. This way the gross profits that say the Foundation for Dandruff Research receives would not find their way into their CEO’s pockets. It would also have the added benefit of limiting how many requests for money we all would receive.

So in this season of giving thanks, presents, a damn maybe, give a second thought to who you might be giving your money to. If they can afford to ask for it, they can probably afford to give it. Yeah, I know – Bah, Humbug! Better the devil you know…

Thank the lord the debates and this damnable election are almost over. It’s no secret Bruce and I are from totally different political worlds. I, of course, am reasonable and willing to listen to the other side, if not necessarily capitulate. Bruce, on the other hand, is of the Attila the Hun school and believes in a scorched earth policy in virtually every negotiation. This is not to say he isn’t a warm, lovable, caring person. He is. But if you would try and determine our party affiliation from these descriptions, you would be wrong. Ah, dichotomy!

But as we anticipate the last debate, or if you’re reading this afterwards, there are too many subjects that the moderators (damnable in their own right) have not addressed. Our goal is to address them here because you know damn well no one else will. The gloves are off. Civility is left by the side of the road. Prepare yourselves. This is war.

         

Here are the questions the moderators are just to wussy to ask.

1. Why hasn’t anyone asked Obama the revealing question Clinton was asked: “Boxers or briefs?” We want to know. On the other hand, we already know what Romney favors.

2. Whatever happened to Romney’s dog Seamus?

3. Who decided that both Michelle Obama and Ann Romney wear pink at the last debate? This could be collusion at a very high level.

4. We know Obama loves basketball, but we don’t know anything about Romney’s likes or dislikes when it comes to team sports.

5. In the last campaign, Obama was chided for giving Michelle a “terrorist fist bump.” Why hasn’t anyone looked into his penchant for grabbing the other arm of the person he’s shaking hands with? Is this some secret code he uses?

6. Who dresses these guys? Their clothes look like they’re off the rack. Who ever wins should dress better if they’re going to play a part on the world stage.

7. What kind of cars do they drive? This could be very telling in light of the automotive bailout.

8. What was the first lie you ever told? Yeah, this may be a loaded question, but so what.

9. Shoe preference. Loafer or tie? Could be very revealing about their work ethic. Size could be a side issue.

10. Yankees or Mets? This is NY specific, but hey!

11. Crunchy or smooth peanut butter? Would be a good indication if they’re willing to take on the more difficult tasks of the job.

12. Peyton or Eli? Trick question. Extra credit: Giants or Jets?

13. St. Barts or Caymans? A revealing question.

14. What is your stance on the proposed pipeline from Elizabeth, NJ to Roanake, VA? What? You haven’t heard of this? Deduct major points on this one!

15. Will you go to Disneyland after you win?

If no one else is willing to ask the tough questions, we are. Always have, always will. Give us a call. Because, let’s face it – these aren’t any better or worse than the ones that will really be asked.

I called like I usually do to see if the other Bruce was ready to have our regular morning cappuccino, but there was no answer on his Star Flight 89 phone. That was odd as the Star Flight 89 is supposed to be capable of receiving and answering calls even when off. This didn’t distress me too much as Bruce was probably sleeping it off after being out the night before celebrating our housekeeper Mrs. Crosby finally getting her GED. Now we can probably expect her to ask for a raise as she is now a high school graduate or some such paper equivalent. Fat chance on that one! She came highly recommended but still is a thorn in our sides.

Mrs. Crosby before the party.

Anyway, I did not pay it much attention until lunchtime rolled around and Bruce didn’t show up for our daily stir-fry lunch of radicchio and tofu with a little Prego sauce tossed in for color. He never misses that one. So I tried calling him again but to no avail. I went to his home but his wife wasn’t there as well. Where the devil could they be? I must admit I was getting worried as Bruce had earlier testified in the trial of a politician who had sent incriminating photos of his nether region to the National Enquirer in hopes of getting a photo spread for his re-election. No surprise it didn’t work; but he did get an offer as a back up singer to Lady Gaga. He declined as he swore he didn’t know who she was – more proof that the electorate once again sent a total doofus to Washington. The politician swore Bruce would pay for his testimony. Could it be the Washington insider had already wreaked his revenge on Bruce, his wife and their beautiful children Taffy, Tad, and Milo?

Law has it that an adult is not missing until 24 hours have passed. With Bruce’s notorious short attention span, that 24 hours may as well have been 24 weeks. Time passes both slowly and quickly simultaneously for Bruce. Maybe Einstein was right about his theory.

Dinner came and went and still no Bruce. I called the police and inquired about an Amber alert but was told it was only for children. I tried to convince them of Bruce’s childlike wonderment of the world which made him eligible, but they would not cooperate. If anything happens to Bruce, I will personally hold them responsible. In the meantime, I think I’ll call Liam Neeson for help – he’s been down this road a couple of times.

Not the Liam Neeson I envisioned, but hell, he’ll do.

It was a sleepless night for all of us. Bruce’s lawyer called for whatever reason we’ll never know. Perhaps he was psychic. He wanted to know how Bruce was. How did he know? Was he involved somehow? Very strange until we found out he was looking for Bruce for an unpaid invoice. Typical lawyer.

This absence of Bruce carried over for a full week and a half with no sign of Bruce. And then we got a postcard from Bolivia. It seems he was taken hostage by a bunch of striking Bolivian tin workers demanding a ransom or they would separate Bruce from some of his vital organs. Needless to say this would put a big crimp in our plans for the upcoming opera season. It’s always something.

In a masterful stroke of diplomatic genius, I took over all the negotiations. It seems after a week and a half the tin workers were more than willing to turn Bruce over, ransom or no. Between his demands for a bed made properly, food cooked to his liking, and a general overall non-stop week and a half of whining, they had seen the folly of their undertaking. But they were not going to get off the hook so quickly. Oh, no.

While it’s true we wanted him more than they did, we would parlay this into a positive and come out smelling like roses, though when we did retrieve Bruce, he smelled nothing like any rose we’ve ever seen. Our negotiations went quickly, so desperate were they for relief. We got everything we demanded and probably could have gotten more but why be greedy?

Suffice to say, they paid royally for their misadventure. We now have: a lifetime subscription to Opera News, unlimited car washes for the Pignasaurus, five years worth of those entertainment coupon books, and a promise that sometime in the next couple of months they will take our housekeeper, the insufferable and over-paid Mrs. Crosby off of our hands. Hah, and they thought Bruce was a handful! I can hardly wait to see what she’ll get us!

For the longest time. ever since we were in prep school… wait, that’s not entirely true. Bruce went to prep school, the Lucey Loughless School of International Affairs, which accounts for his taste in Ralph Lauren retro-prep style clothing complete with Fair Isle sweaters and club and knit ties, not to mention his xenophobia. All that stuff you hear about old school ties – it’s real. If I never see a button-down shirt again, it’ll be too soon.

Bruce’s inexplicable taste in clothes.

I, on the other hand, am a product, for better or worse, of the illustrious public school system of the great state of New Jersey, grades K through 12 to the third power. (OK, so I had to repeat Senior year a few times.) To say that I was a stellar academic performer is to also to state that Michael Chiklis has a great head of hair. It’s not true, any of it. But during my time in the state’s institution of enforced education, good old RSP, (Rahway State Prison – and it’s because I couldn’t afford a real mouthpiece and had to accept a Public Defender who couldn’t argue a case off of a shelf and had to do time as a result – I was innocent!), I availed myself of all the provided materials and became an expert in diplomacy. Little did I know at the time that Bruce was on a similar track, but while he was inside looking forward I was still inside looking out. I guess being born to the “right” parents do count. But I’m not bitter…much. I’ve really gotten much better and don’t have the need to strike out at someone as often. See, diplomacy works.

So after a dinner with our wives, Bruce and I did the cooking, (we are both quite good – another skill I learned inside) since the inestimable but damnable Mrs. Crosby had the night off again. We sat down with the ladies fair and shared a bottle of an old Port we picked up at our neighborhood purveyor of such fine spirits, Target. That place is amazing! But, as usual I digress. We were quite dismayed at the state of affairs on weary, old Mother Earth. It then dawned on us that we were letting our incredible skills go fallow. Why are we not lending ourselves to the world to make this a better place in which to live? Yes, indeed.

We set about to create a business plan which would provide our services to countries and governments  of every size, shape, and financial ability. We will not do this for free! Nossir. Peace does not come cheap. We also determined that there couldn’t be only one approach to winning the peace. Every nation, each despot, must be handled individually. Some may need a more nurturing approach – that would be Bruce. Others might need something a little more forceful and direct – that would be me. Others might need a hybrid approach with a little bit of both us. I will say this, the hybrid is the most effective but is not for the faint of heart.

Not exactly the UN, but it’s a start.

One of the hybrid approaches is something we like to call “Good Diplomat, Bad Diplomat” or GDBD. Popularized by bad police dramas, this has the advantage of letting the participants decide for themselves how they would like to proceed with our retaining the authority to over-ride it as we see fit. You want peace? Of course, we’d be happy to help. What’s that? You don’t like that country and you want to go nuclear on them? Wham! How’s that for nuclear? Capisce? That’s just one approach.

A singe-minded approach is also quite effective. Some people, attorneys and judges, might say it’s coercion. We like to say it’s just bringing persuasive pressure to bear until we achieve the desired outcome. It’s sort of like Esalen toilet training but for countries. This is called the Torquemada App.

Yet another way of achieving our/their goals is called the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Decision. (Bruce has such a dark sense of humor.) Simply put, we play the two parties off one another until they’re almost there and then introduce a third player. The third party intimates action along the lines of a scorched earth policy. This of course screws everything up with its Triangulation and threat. All of a sudden, each party is more amenable to meeting demands in hopes of shutting out the interloping third party. It’s brilliant, it works, and no one gets hurt…usually.

So, there it is. We naturally cannot go into more detail here, but should you or your country be in need of seasoned and/or ruthless Diplomats, we’re your guys. Look for our ads in Soldier of Fortune magazine. We’re in the back of the magazine right next to the Male Enhancement ads, you know the one, that’s it with “Why is Bob is smiling?”

Good Diplomat/Bad Diplomat. Not the Two Bruces, really.

Spinal Tap is one of the funniest films ever made. Period. End of discussion. Bruce and I agree on this wholeheartedly. Rarely does a film come around that so entirely embraces and then redefines the medium that all others which follow are merely rehashes of someone else’s idea of art. Feh, we say to the poseurs, Feh! Filled with clever bon mots and stingingly pointed one liners, Spinal Tap has almost as many quotable lines as Shakespeare. It is that good.

One of the lines that stands out is when Nigel Tufnel is describing his new amp as being more powerful than all other previously manufactured amps, “This one goes to eleven.” Yes it does, yes it does. It is one better, one stronger, one louder. Who could ask for anything more? Why, we do. If that simple but brilliant thought process could be applied to anything, we could quickly improve the world’s condition quickly without having to come up with a single creative idea on our own, thus putting us out of business. Thinking that hard is, well, hard. There isn’t that much Tylenol in the world to cope with the myriad headaches created by such effort.

This one indeed goes to 11!

So it is with that in mind, we have applied a similar yet equally effective adjustment to the literary 21st century equivalent of Spinal Tap, and that’s Fifty Shades of Grey. Coming just in time for holiday gift giving is our new book, Fifty-One Shades of Grey. Figuratively speaking, this book goes to 11. It is better, it is stronger, and it is certainly louder. If 50 is good, then 51 must better, right? Damn straight it is!

And like the group Spinal Tap’s music, ours too is completely derivative. No new ideas, just more of the same warmed-over, groin-grinding, bodice-busting, beach-season reading pulp guaranteed to titillate or at the very least offend. After all, art exists to shock. If you liked 50, you’re gonna love 51! Or so says the new advertising campaign to be launched next week.

Now it would be easy to just build on what 50 has created. If that many people liked it, how hard could it be? After all since the reading level in this country is so low, we must make certain it can’t have many poly-syllabic words. (Bruce so loves using that word. He thinks it makes him sound professorial. Personally, I think it makes him sound effete, but who I am to deny him his small pleasures?)

Wait until you read 51!

We have made a concerted effort though to create something mildly different though. Were we to have actually read 50, we feel like we would have been plagiarizing it and that is just too much work. Everything about 51 is our concept of what 50 is, could have been, and maybe will be when it grows up. So without further fanfare, here is an excerpt from our upcoming novel and its already planned sequels. So, ladies, get the kids to bed; send the husband out to find the latest drug-induced flavor of Ben and Jerry’s, get the bottle of Pinot Grigio out of the fridge and pour yourself the first of many glasses, and turn the fan on. It’s going to get warm in here.

Excerpt: “My name is Steele. Ms. Steele to you. I’m here to see Mr. Grey or whatever he’s calling himself these days.”

His assistant was not thrilled with the tone I’d taken so pre-emptorily. She was probably used to being the cheese around here. Well, I was about to curdle her 51 ways until Sunday.

“Mr. Grey is not in,” she hissed.

Hissing back, I let my voice claw her pretty, little, vacant head, “Don’t give me any of that crap. His new car is in his spot and I saw his door close as I came in. Are you going to get out of my way or am I going to have run over you?” She was no longer the cheese now.

After a longish stare fight, Steele’s door opened and out walked the man. He was not what I expected. He had the look of an emaciated Eastern European left too long in a dank, cheap night club without any Stoli available. Deprivation’ll do that to you. “Ahh, you must be Ms. Steele, Anastasia. I’ve been expecting you. Come in.” Looking at his seething assistant, he told her it was alright and that she could go back to her day-trading.

“So Ms. Steele, have you brought the package? Is it complete?”

I gave him the once over, well the twice-over. For someone with a prison pallor, he commanded attention with his smoldering dark eyes, his short hair, and his Christian Bale “Mechanic” look. I liked it. I leaned over his desk and slowly, enticingly opened what he was so in need of and expecting. “Yes, they’re right here. Would you like to taste them?”

“No, that’s not necessary, thank you. I ordered six boxes of Thin Mints, four Samoas, and two Peanut Butters. I trust they are all there?”

End of excerpt.

Hooked? No doubt. Good, huh? No, not really but then neither is 50 Shades of Grey. But, ours is one larger.