Sunday, February 22, 2015

Ask the Paperboy, Chapter 48: 50 Shades of ‘Cray’

From today's TIMES and NEWS-STAR

Dear Ask the Paperboy,
Is it true that one of your ingenious friends wants to manufacture a harmonica bone for dogs?
“Spot,” Vienna

Dear Spot,
I can understand your interest. Because of your pet’s paw/thumb/index finger situation, piano’s out. You can thank my friend Donnie Golfgame down in Brevard County for this idea. I enjoy the way his razor-sharp mind works. Or doesn’t work. He’s the same guy who once told me how much he hates TV news reports where “there’s a man barricaded inside his home,” which is surrounded by police; it seems to Donnie that if the police would just go away, it would just be a man inside his house.


Dear Ask the Paperboy:
Did you read “50 Shades of Grey”?
Off-Color in Baton Rouge

Dear Off,
Read it? I LIVED it!


Dear Ask the Paperboy:
Are you joking about the “50 Shades”? Also mine was actually a multi-part question so I’ll continue on if you please.

Dear Off,
Yes, Paperboy was just funning around. He has not read even one shade. Paperboy joins a group of about 18 other people in the whole world who have not read this book. Even people who can’t read have read this book.
Paperboy has read enough reviews and seen enough commercials to know that if he did read it, he’d have to do it with all the shades, no matter what color they were, pulled down. Paperboy blushes easily.
So, had Paperboy read the book, he might be more dominating or controlling, but he didn’t and he no longer is so fire away. Let’s keep it clean though. Shoot…


The movie lists someone in the credits as “BDSM Technical Consultant.” Is this rare?
Rare as a dodo bird. We’ve come a long way from the “key grip” and “best boy” in the movie biz.
It a picture needs someone on site to advise on bondage and masochism and to and fro and whatnot, then unless it features the freewheeling Three Stooges, you can likely forget any “romantic comedy” storyline. Seems an expensive way to date, with all that machinery. But … maybe the joke’s on us. All that gear is probably cheaper than popcorn and a movie. I’d bet my last pair of handcuffs that whips costs less than Milk Duds these days.
One more note, since it’s baseball’s Spring Training time: doesn’t BDSM sound like it should be one of those new Sabermetric baseball stats? “For the second consecutive season, Grey’s BDSM of .310 with runners on first led the league.” Bunts Down, Sacrifices Made, something like that.
Take another swing …  


Any plans to see the movie?
Neg. If I’m in that sort of mood, I’ll just pull out an old Clint Eastwood or Charles Bronson DVD and watch them beat up a bad guy. I feel better about my decision after reading a review by Anthony Lane – I like Anthony Lane -- in “The New Yorker,” which read: ‘Think of it as the ‘Downton Abbey’ of bondage, designed neither to menace nor to offend but purely to cosset the fatigued imagination.” Not sure what a cosset is but I think you can buy one online and they’ll ship it to you in brown paper with no return address. (You’re welcome.) Continue, please …


If you insist: Where are you on bondage?
If it’s anything like being forced to stay in at recess after getting whipped with a wooden paddle by Mrs. Irene Rogers in the third grade, I’ll passadena.


What about blindfolds?
If Mrs. Irene is anywhere in the equation then yes, please.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Learn from Marley’s Ghost and me: Don’t make our mistake

From today's TIMES and NEWS-STAR

And here we are again. Desolation.

The morning after…Valentine's Day.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

It might be noted, after that steal from Charles Dickens, that Chuck was unhappily married, according to biographers. If you've ever seen a picture of him, it is probably because of the facial hair.

But that is Chuck's business, and to him and his bad beard I owe a debt of gratitude that can never be, in this lifetime, repaid. "A Christmas Carol" still brings me much joy, both in "A Muppets Christmas Carol" and in "Scrooged." Each stole freely (not counting royalties) from the Dickens original, so I’m not alone in stealing the dickens out of Dickens.

But beyond that, it goes back to 10th grade when Mrs. Mullins said, "Get out your copies of 'Great Expectations.' I nearly pulled a muscle reaching for the heavy novel while the rest of the West Monroe High Class of ’77 let out a moan you could hear all the way to North 7th Street, down to “The Original” Coney Island on Natchitoches and across the Ouachita River to Forsythe Park.

Hatred of Dickens by the Southern teen is not uncommon. It is also very loud.

I loved “Great Expectations.” Not as much as I loved Coney Island, but what 10th grader loves Victorian literature as much as he loves a chili cheese dog? I wasn’t THAT weird.

But speaking of love, it is, as we've established, the day after Valentine's Day. Do you know where your marriage is?

I hope so. Because although Valentine's Day is the most unforgiving and needless “holiday” of them all -- you need a day to remember to tell the one you love that you love them? -- it is still important. By important I mean “a case of life and death.” Please, learn from my mistakes and go with the flow here.

Valentine's Day was dreamed up by the same guy who invented competitive cheerleading, a sport that involves athletic and nimble youngsters whose parents will line up 40-deep in gymnasiums and civic centers around the nation to buy $30 T-shirts until their hands bleed. This guy is a force of nature.

The evil brain behind Valentine’s Day convinced himself he could make a zillion dollars if he could only devise a way to convince innocent men and women that they have to buy a card and flowers once a year – or else. Where’s Oprah and Dr. Phil when you really need them?

Happily and gratefully married to an (obviously) easy-to-please woman, I think back on the times when I was wild and hard to control, when testosterone ruled my life, when my only thought was seeing Her again. Of course I’m talking about fourth grade, and Mrs. Huggins, my original love.

It was over by Valentine’s Day. It could be because I forgot to get her a card. (See Bible: Original Sin.) But it could be because by then, the Grace Kelly of my dreams had ballooned to the size of Lambeau Field. This was thanks in part to Mr. Huggins, which my dad had a hard time explaining to me. Mr. Huggins. Mrs. Huggins. A little Huggins on the way.

And I thought fourth-grade math was hard.

But why wasn’t I good enough? What did Mr. Huggins have that I didn’t have, besides maybe a driver’s license and a job? Well, he had Mrs. Huggins, for starters. And for enders.

And so I learned early, as Pip did in “Great Expectations.” Poor Pip, there on the outside of Estella’s world, bound by fate to always be looking in. And named Pip, too. Dude.

Pip and I know through loving and losing that expectations are a risky deal, and that things just don’t work out sometimes. Nobody’s fault. One minute you’re on the monkey bars, having aced a spelling test 15 minutes ago, and then you go back into class and find out your teacher is sleeping with her husband, and the smiley face on your test paper is nothing more than a smiley face, meaning simply, “I’m glad you finally learned how to spell ‘civics.’ No ‘k.’ Good for you!”

A good book title for a book about Valentine’s Day would be “Mediocre Expectations.” Then we’d have a happy ending.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Getting groceries? Better know what’s in store

From today's TIMES and NEWS-STAR

You go to the grocery store these days and a game show breaks out.

“Alex, I’ll take ‘Aisle 14’ for $100!”

“OK: “What is easy to find but hard to choose?”



“Give me ‘Aisle 14’ for $200.”

“Fine. What, like noodles, are easy to find but hard to choose?”

“Instant potatoes?”

“You bet your hat!”

“‘Aisle 14’ for THREE hundred!”

“Fine. What, like noodles and instant mas…?”



And on and on it goes like that because while your staples are easy to locate, choosing one – for the novice – is a bit of a different ballgame.
Getting to the cereal these days is only half the battle. I go to a store that has an aisle long as an airport runway of nothing but cereal. I can handle it. But I’m an old pro. Not so to the rookie shopper and hungry man who’s supposed to bring home the bacon – but doesn’t know which bacon to get once he finds the mother lode.

A golfer could relate. On some courses, the greens are so difficult that once you reach one, your work has just begun. Of course, few golfers have ever been to a grocery store. I saw one recently in the store where I shop/basically live. He might as well have been in downtown Tokyo. Grocery pro that I am, I asked him, “Ain’t the No.1 tee box, is it, big boy?” I thought he was going to wet his pants. Lost as a lake-bound Titleist.

The store was once a safe and happy place. Sure, you could get run over by a cart. Or your car could hit a cart, since plenty of people just leave them in the parking lot willy nilly, even though you know they can walk to put it up because they’ve just walked all around the store. And you can get hit in the parking lot because otherwise responsible drivers pull into a grocery store parking lot and automatically believe both themselves and their cars are suddenly, magically, invisible. It’s every man or woman for himself. A grocery store parking lot is culinary retail’s version of “The Bachelor/Bachelorette.”

But the point is that grocery stores used to have one or two of everything. Maybe three.

Cereal aisle was Wheaties, Corn Flakes, Frosted Flakes. The upscale stores carried Fruit Loops or Cocoa Pebbles.

There was spaghetti noodles and there was macaroni.

Need bacon? Ask the butcher and come back in five minutes.

Now the grocery store is like going to buy a truck. You THINK you just want a truck. But do you want two-wheel or four-wheel drive? Leather? Satellite radio? Do you want a short bed or long bed? Which engine? Automatic or no? Bucket seats? Bench? Trim? Super package? Economy package?

You could spend a calendar day on packages alone.  

Today’s options are similar for hand lotions. Ice cream. Soaps. SOAPS, I say! Don’t get me started on toothpaste.

A professor I knew retired from his college job and was next sighted at the grocery store, on an aisle, two feet from all sorts of colorful boxes, a grocery list right up against his nose. Since he was still standing there minutes later, it seemed wise to ask him if he needed help.

“I’m just trying to buy noodles,” he said. This was a brilliant man, an atom-splitter. Athlete and scholar of renown. But the modern grocery store bought him to his knees. He sounded like a kid who was lost at the State Fair. “I just wanted to ride the merry-go-round is all…”

This was not the store of his youth. While he was away working, the food game – the whole world -- had changed. Imagine Rip Van Winkle going to sleep, waking up and finding out that they now have … BBQ SPAM?

It’s a fast world, Rip.

The grocery store is a cell phone today, and Rip and The Lost Noodlers are still in the party line era, and important truth to remember if you send an unsuspecting spouse to “pick up a few things.” I see them on my four-times-a-week trips for various groceries, and it’s sad. To the modern store, you can’t send a man to do a boy’s job.