Saturday, April 25, 2015

Random Thoughts and Potpourri Spring 2015

April is when I generally post my spring potpourri of tidbits I’ve found in various media. This year I’m adding some random thoughts, with which I’m beginning this essay.

The  April 19 New York Times had a piece titled “Reclaiming the Age-Old Art of Getting Lost.” My first thought upon seeing the title was that it would be a treatise on growing old, since getting lost is one of the things most of use get better at as we age. Author Stephanie Rosenbloom’s subtitle was “Ditching modern-day navigation apps in favor of wandering and discovery.”

As it turned out, she wrote an essay for everyone. I put a link to it on my Facebook page. It elicited many comments from friends who’ve been practicing getting lost in foreign lands for years. This made me yearn to travel again as I did in my twenties. Eurail pass, youth hostel card (OK, forget that) and a set of sheets (cancel that, too). Sigh. At least we can still take advantage of the affordable and flexible train pass. A quick look-see turned up four options priced from $67 (1 country) to $338 (28 countries).

Somewhere along the way in following this thought train (not a literal train, and hold that thought, please), I came across a scribbled quote from John Steinbeck in Travels with Charley. “I was born lost and take no pleasure in being found.” I’m saving that as a potential motto for when I reach my eighties. I may need it.

That issue of the Times provided fodder for other random thoughts. An op ed by Ross Douthat (opining about critics of Charlie Hebdo cartoonists) noted that “critics… need to realize that satire isn’t just for ‘suitable’ subjects.” I get his point, but I prefer to keep my satire relatively tame. I have few enough loyal readers as it is. I’m still struggling to get some of them to understand that my columns are, in fact, satirical and not, in satire, factual—not a train meant to be taken literally.

My last tidbit to share from the April 19 Times was about a trend in Afghani weddings. The culture has a tradition of hospitality, which means even wedding crashers must be welcomed and fed. A typical event might have 600 invited guests and 700 other folks popping in for the free banquet. One of them was quoted as saying “With a wedding every night, there is no need to go hungry.” Maybe also no incentive to get married.

A few potpourri items from Time magazine 1/26/15 have to do with numbers. Cadbury reduced the egg count in its Easter-favorite Creme Eggs pack from 6 to 5. Distraught fans were described as "basket cases." A man in Hong Kong tried to smuggle iPhones into mainland China by strapping all 94 of them to his body. No doubt one of his trips to the loo gave new meaning to “butt dialing.” In a major accident in South Dakota, a truck dumped 500 pounds of McDonald’s French fries onto the Interstate. Motorists definitely were not "lovin’ it."

From that same issue of Time, some state of the art technology. The French have developed a belt that loosens automatically after you’ve had too much to eat. Seems like that must be targeting the tourist trade, or made for export. Those skinny frogs can’t possibly have a use for it. I’d rather have one that tightens itself, making me feel full.

Here’s something from Time magazine 4/20/15. Apparently, turning those number cards on The Price Is Right is more challenging than it appears. One of their models revealed a correct price before the contestant had a chance to guess it. Needless to say, when he made his guess, the price was right. The cost to TPIR? $21,960. It was a Hyundai Sonata. The model was heard mumbling afterward, “Why couldn’t it have happened with the damn washing machine?” Why indeed.

Finally, a not completely random observation. The moniker “dames” has been creeping into the news lately. The aforementioned Time of April 20 had an article about fashion that featured older models who are more and more in demand. “Grand dames are redefining beauty with their senior chic,” trumpeted the piece. The same week, Cokie Roberts was stumping for her new book Capital Dames, about the contribution of women in Washington, D.C. during the Civil War.

This leaves me wondering: Is “dames” the new term for “babes” (especially for seniors)? Probably not. After all, two data points do not a trend make. Not even in satire.

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