Friday, February 27, 2009

The shopping cart caper

We just returned from a caper. I can only hope the surveillance cameras did not get a full view of our faces because we were laughing so much.

Flashback to Saturday night when I took the Mystery Woman out for Chinese after the movie. We imbibed. Each enjoyed glass and a half of house white. This is important. Regular readers know we normally drink Three Buck Chuck. Both of us remain convinced the alcohol content in Chuck is lower than posted. The house white might as well have been white lightening. It had a kick.

Ergo, we are not responsible for what happened next.

The real wine made the minivan somehow more daring. The engine purred as we maneuvered the shopping center parking lot. I hung my arm out the window and tried to make a muscle. We looked sophisticated and daring, not like a normal old couple who were just lost and a little confused.

What we lost was our inhibition.

There in the middle of the empty parking lot was a paint-splattered shopping cart with no handles. The aforesaid paint was pink. Mostly. It was a thing of beauty.

Want it? I asked.

You bet, was the quick reply.

In a flash, we opened the rear hatch and snuggled the cart inside the far back of the van. The tires squealed as we peeled away from the crime scene. However, I had to hit the brakes immediately because we live just around the corner from the shopping center. You should have seen us careen.

Once we got home, we off-loaded our treasure under the cover of darkness. As grocery carts go, it was a precision machine. Turned on a dime. The Mystery Woman wheeled the cart in the living room like a majorette at halftime. The carts at Target never roll this easy.

Next morning, we were not so proud. Embarrassed is more like it. What were we thinking? Actually, we were thinking the jewel of a cart would prove useful as we trot stuff between granny’s condo and ours. Until we realized we were too chagrined to be seen by our neighbors.

Two fretful days later, again under the cover of darkness, we reloaded the cart in the van and returned it to the parking lot from whence it was purloined.

We are still puzzled and mildly amused at what attracted us to the shopping cart in the first place. Some say it is a metaphor for the American economy. Some say it could even replace the eagle as our national symbol. Maybe that’s it – the cart appealed to our sense of sacrifice.

Meanwhile, watch for us on “Cops.”

Thursday, February 26, 2009

You can't conjugate "friend"

Microblogging? Social media? Twitter? Typing with your thumbs? Not a clue, huh? No wonder. That stuff wasn’t designed for us. Social networking services tend create user clusters around 25 years old. Drop-off gets pretty steep at 35 and beyond. That’s conventional wisdom.

But Forrester Research finds that more than 60 percent of baby boomers are avid consumers of social media like blogs, forums, podcasts and online videos. If you are reading this, you’re on the run from antiquity. Click.

Breaking news: last summer, the Google search engines dutifully logged on the one trillionth Web page address. One trillion! But that big number may be only a fraction of what’s actually on the Web. We won’t know until their engineers decode the way to locate all the hidden data in financial information, shopping catalogues, flight schedules, medical research … you get the idea. The spiders can’t yet penetrate the millions of databases that clot the “Deep Web.” But it’s coming.

My biggest complaint about the e-world? The hatchet job on the language. Dammit, "friend" is not a verb. Not with the lights on.

How many blogs exist? About 130 million. I don't know why. But I do know that blogs are good way for geezers to keep their heads in the game. You should give it a go.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Thank you, Mr. President

It wasn’t a fair fight. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is a nice boy. But President Barack Obama is a full grown man.

Even conservatives describe Jindal as coming across like a high school senior at the podium. And, in fairness, that’s part of the problem. The loyal opposition’s response is in a room filled with lights, cameras, and staff. Not much audience bounce-back there. Regardless, Jindal is no Sarah Palin. She may not know much, but she can sure deliver a speech.

It is painfully more obvious each passing day that Republicans need to re-think their brand. Shake hands. Stop the politics of hate, the politics of fear. For eight years too many people played dumb alongside George Bush. No more.

Besides, President Obama has more important things to deal with than just politics. To be sure, politics underscores everything in Washington. The president has to rein in the lobby for the Four Horsemen: the economy, education, energy and health care. And his speech was a good start. One of the better budget speeches ever.

Equally important, the President gave the nation a little lift. These are tough, tough times and we need a little hope.

Even after the president’s speech, America is still angry. Mad as hell about the bail-outs for banks and squat for the people.

I’m still mad. But not as mad. Thank you, Mr. President.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Black and white and in the red

Raise your hand if you got most of your Oscar info from the newspaper. You are not alone. Some 89 million Americans depend upon their local newspaper for movie buzz.

That should be enough for a lead role, you say. Perhaps. But it’s too little, too late as several more newspapers file for bankruptcy:

MarketWatch reports the Journal Register, debt-strapped owner of the New Haven Register and 19 other daily U.S. newspapers, is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The move comes even after the company divested unprofitable papers, cut staff and made cuts to other expenses.

More: Reuters says Philadelphia Newspapers, the publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News, is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, in an attempt to deal with falling advertising revenue. The company says it will continue normal operations of its newspapers and other businesses.

And more: Gannett's Feb. 19 deadline to receive bids for the Tucson Citizen passed with no offers, making it likely the 138-year-old newspaper will shut down. A last-minute buyer is seen as unlikely because Gannett is keeping its 50% stake in the joint operating deal with the rival Arizona Daily Star.

Still more: CanWest, the largest owner of television, newspapers and radio in Canada, is trying to secure financing to avoid filing for bankruptcy the end of the month.

Train wrecks disguised as news organizations.

What time do the bars open?

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Greek walks into a bar ...

Let me tell you a question: if our government can pass a do-not-call list and make it stick, why can’t they also pass a do-not-spam law? Seriously.

Several news organizations and newspapers are considering locking up online content unless you pay to subscribe. Whoa. A gate-keeper would impede prying electronic aggregators. But…but, bloggers get most of their fodder from newspapers. Could this be the end of blogging as we know it?

Cooking. It’s humanity’s killer app. No society is without it. And no human brain can run long without it either. Cooking. The underpinning for the evolutionary changes that made people out of humans. Cooking. Who knew?

Greeks didn’t invent jokes. But they were likely the first society to catalogue humor. The Philogelos is a compilation of 260 gags that was put together around 4 AD. Targets haven’t changed much over the centuries. The ancients joked about doctors, men with bad breath, eunuchs, barbers, men with hernias, bald men, shady fortune-tellers, and more of the colorful (mostly male) characters of early life.

Stop me if you’ve heard this old Greek joke: Doctor, the patient said, when I get up in the morning I feel dizzy for 20 minutes. Get up 20 minutes later then, the doctor replied.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hollywood is paralyzed, inspiration is not

It's push-pull time in Hollywood pitting the effects of the national economic turmoil against the glitter of the Oscar season. We gain perspective from our friend who is a long-time veteran of the industry. He demonstrates inspiration is where you find it.


Where For Art Thou

By Lars Beckerman

These are strange and certainly uncertain times in Hollywood. The most accurate word I’ve come up with to sum up my industry is paralyzed.

Film production is down significantly, the networks are hesitant to green light new pilot concepts into production, and advertisers are understandably hesitant to launch their usual quota of new campaigns and subsequent media buys.

So, rather than stew and ponder and worry and whine, I do what I always do when things flat line: I search for inspiration. Fortunately, for whatever reason, I’m adept at finding it in film, television, literature and music.

FILM: We actors are known for struggling to appreciate the work of our peers, choosing often to go the other way and shrug ‘Not how I would have done it.’ Look no further than the standard “How many actors does it take to screw in a light bulb?” challenge. Answer: 12. One to screw it in and 11 more to stand by and say they could have done it better.

The four performances in Doubt are spectacular. No surprise, considering the cast of Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Viola Davis. I’ve heard from many that Cherry Jones’ turn as Sister Aloysius in John Patrick Shanley’s Broadway run of the play was pitch perfect. Streep even commented upon being hired “Is Cherry Jones not available?” She wasn’t. She’d been cast in the tv series 24.

Frank Langella’s performance as Richard Nixon in Ron Howard’s Frost-Nixon is mesmerizing and should not be missed.

But the performance I saw recently that inspired me most was Penelope Cruz in Woody Allen’s love triangle comedy Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Nobody owns the territory of dysfunctional domestic arrangements more than Allen, but not since Judy Davis’ hysterical performance in Husbands and Wives, has an actor owned his conflicts, contradictions and complexities as richly as the stunningly photogenic Cruz does in this film. Her characterization beautifully illustrates how impossible it is for some ‘artistic types’ to simply shack up and play house. She doesn’t show up onscreen until mid way through the film, but once she does she steals the film; a radiant and unpredictable tornado of sexual energy and artistic expression. Cruz is definitely more than just another pretty face.

TELEVISION: An actor friend handed me a box set of a television series I was not familiar with. He said ‘trust me.’ So I did. Man, am I grateful. The show is called Slings & Arrows, a Canadian series that ran three short seasons (six episodes per) earlier this decade on the Sundance Channel. The show is about a Shakespearean Theatre Company known for its annual festival. The cast and acting are stellar across the board. Probably the most likeable group I’ve sat down to enjoy since Joss Whedon’s short lived Firefly. Yes, it’s a lot of insider acting and theatre humor, but if you’ve ever been curious why all the fuss over William Shakespeare, this show is both enlightening and very touching. Each of the three seasons is centered on one of the Bard’s great works; the first being Hamlet, the second being Macbeth (with a B storyline that celebrates Romeo and Juliet), and the third being King Lear. You could easily watch all over a long weekend. Trust me, you’ll be sorry when they’re through.

LITERATURE: I’ve read some truly excellent, inspired fiction over the past twelve months. Charles Bock’s Beautiful Children, James Frey’s Bright Shiny Morning, Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife (I know it is already old news!), and the haunting We Need to Talk About Kevin by Canadian writer Lionel Shriver. But I’m currently half way through Joyce Maynard’s memoir, At Home in the World, and finding in it the same unexpected bliss I found in Penelope Cruz and Slings & Arrows. The profound and delicate virtue of integrity found in the soul of an artist. Maynard’s early claim to fame was having an article published in The New York Times Magazine titled “An 18-Year-Old Looks Back on Life.” The boldness and intellect of the writing attracted the attention of none other than the legendary recluse J.D. Salinger who contacted the young co-ed to praise her. Long story told short, Maynard moved in with the author and spent a turbulent year in seclusion with the man who gave us The Catcher in the Rye, Franny & Zooey, Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters, and too many brilliant shorts stories to go into here. Salinger, in many ways, is the poster boy for anti-commercialism, anti-celebrity culture integrity. It is a very honest and engaging read, putting Maynard’s own artistic integrity on full display. She currently hosts regular writing retreats in Guatemala and northern California. Might just have to consider following up on this particular inspiration and take a trip.

MUSIC: I’ve discovered recently that, while I still enjoy rocking out to a Springsteen anthem or an Eagles jam in the car, because I do, at times, live life in the fast lane, I prefer jazz as the soundtrack for my life. It seems more fitting, less predictable. Political talk radio has become more agitator than educator, so getting lost in John Coltrane, Duke Ellington or Max Roach has served as drive time inspiration while trying to make sense of the present bumps and stalls in show biz. A long Lester Young tenor sax solo can get me half way home some days.

Smooth sailing. I refuse to be paralyzed.

Now for a few Oscar predictions. Three certainties for this Sunday’s show: Heath Ledger, Slumdog Millionaire, and Wall-E. Near certainties: Bruce Springsteen for Original Song, The Wrestler, and Danny Boyle for Best Director, Slumdog Millionaire. After that, it’s a very difficult field to handicap. Look for Viola Davis to probably win Best Supporting Actress for Doubt, although wouldn’t it be a treat for the eyes (and ears, she has a great accent!) if Penelope Cruz won. It made total sense to me that Mickey Rourke would win the Golden Globe because the voters consist of the Hollywood Foreign Press and they’ve always had thing for him, and it also made sense that actors would vote for Sean Penn and he would win the SAG trophy, he is the quintessential actor’s actor. All the more sense, though, that Academy voters will see clearly and select Frank Langella for Frost-Nixon. Fingers crossed. Kate Winslet is supposed to win this year because she is due, whatever that even means. Even though it is likely The Reader did not come to a theatre near you, cast your vote for Winslet if you’re in a pool. But don’t be surprised if Meryl Streep wins her third for Doubt. It would be well-deserved.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

New sign of the Times?

Dead newspaper walking? Yesterday shares of the NY Times closed at $3.77. That’s cheaper than the Sunday paper, which sells for four bucks. Conservatives are ringing church bells throughout the land. Scribes are not treated well in the Bible, either. Although, journalists have the only job in America protected in the Constitution.

Size matters. Long fingers in men indicate higher sperm counts, higher testosterone. A study of male stock brokers revealed those with longer ring fingers earned three times more money than the guys with short fingers. One woman drolly describes them as dipsticks.

Worst professional basketball team? That’s easy – the Washington Generals, who have lost to the Harlem Globetrotters at least a million times. The team was named in honor of Dwight Eisenhower. But did you know the teams have different owners and don’t travel together and the Generals have never been asked to throw a game? Maybe so, but they fall for the weave and the Alley Oop every time.

In his new book, The Future of Liberalism, Alan Wolfe argues that liberalism is more than temperament; it is also political tradition made legit by the people. Interesting book. Avoids the crazies on the left and right fringes. Thomas Sowell has claimed that liberals believe that people are naturally good while conservatives know that we are fundamentally bad. Wrong. Read the book to find out why.

When the new bail-out bill become effective, retirees like us will receive $250. That’s not even enough to recharge my Pacemaker. But the Mystery Woman is adamant that it is each person’s patriotic duty to spend the money wisely to benefit the economy. Already, she is giving serious thought about how she will use the money to stimulate someone. Me? I favor the mom and pop liquor store.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Life -- that's entertainment

If you said 400 years, you would be correct. For 400 years singers have been mounting the stage and the groupies to give us music. Opera, my favorite, remains the most unchanged. Sappy stories, exaggerated footsteps, and you just know somebody is going to die. Four hundred years. Don’t touch that dial. Screw Twitter.

Although opera hasn’t changed that much, the venue has. The Metropolitan Opera is transmitting live opera to movie houses worldwide. Not without dissent. Critics fear fat lady’s hefty set of pipes will be replaced with emphasis on appearance. So it has always been. Ever since Orpheus charmed the gods in Hades.

Sita Sings the Blues. Whew. Where to begin? This 82-minute animated film combines a 3,000 year-old Sanskrit singer, Betty Boop, a jazz singer from the 20’s, and shadow puppets. Did I mention the ex hubby who divorced his wife by email? Sounds like trouble, huh. But the ex-hubby cad declared it tasteful. Film critics love it. Available free on-line next month. Watch for it. But don’t get any ideas.

In his first movie role (The Silver Chalice) Paul Newman stunk so bad he had to wait two years before getting another role. But his career took off when he got his second chance replacing the deceased James Dean in the Rocky Graziano biopic Somebody Up There Likes Me. And we’ve liked him ever since.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day -- belated

The Mystery Woman just spent four days in the hospital. She’s home. She’s fine. Needed a stent in her heart. Caught it early. Minimal damage. Her other veins and vital signs are good.

During the same four-day period, her 88-year-old mother needed to see the doctor about dizziness and a possible obstruction in her esophagus. She’s also home and also fine.

Sometimes, even the mini Dachshund went along for the ride. The sharpies among you have already deduced that I was the designated driver.

We’ve spent a lot of time at hospitals this season. Twice this winter, I danced with the angels as the docs struggled to re-attach a recalcitrant wire from my Pacemaker to my heart. But the Mystery Woman has been healthy ever since beating breast cancer 15 years ago. She was out of place as a patient. She’s the strong one.

Hospitals are where patients go for help. A nice blend of technology and tenderness await us there. However, I had forgotten on how tough hospitals are on bystanders. It’s high stress for those of us who just stand and wait. She handled the crisis much better than I did. Thankfully, she didn't catch me crying. And when they jabbed her with needles, I always went around the corner to faint.

Here’s the good news. The Mystery Woman got her heart repaired on Valentine’s Day. Couldn’t ask for better symbolism. And we couldn’t ask for better results.

Happy Valentine's everybody.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

My first Starbucks

Confession. This week, for the first time in my life, I walked into a Starbucks, ordered coffee and sat down with a buddy to mess with my balky laptop. Oh sure, I have ordered java from the drive-through and even hoofed inside to fetch some to-go coffee for the Mystery Woman. But this marked the first time to go inside and soak up coffee and ambiance. I was struck by the buzz of friendly conversation that permeated the room. Every table was full. Ditto the comfy stuffed living room chairs. Vente!

Hold that image.

Step back with me through the decades when the coffee shop was nearly all melamine. The coffee shops were then called cafes. The village elders (all male) would gather at the appointed hour and talk about Roosevelt. Or the War. It was unofficial, but each man had an assigned seat. Woe to the stranger who accidentally busted the circle. It was assumed the women had their own clatch and were drinking coffee from their at-home Percolators. The twain did not meet at the morning review.

I remember when I was in the third grade. Hamlin, Texas. The old guys hired me to swat flies at the domino parlor that doubled as a coffee shop/cafe. Paid me a penny a fly. I was doing pretty good for a while until they caught me opening the back screen to let in more flies. Fired me on the spot. But I’m meandering off message.

Return with me to the Starbucks experience.

Starbucks was the first national coffee chain to capitalize on our tribal instincts. We like getting together with our friends. Good coffee, too. The tall cardboard cup was a badge we polished daily in our go-go, care-free days. The price was steep but within reach. But over-expansion and the economy are big hills -- even for a high-stepper. The chain is suffering big lay-offs in the U.S. Time to re-trench.

I half way expected a ghost store when I walked in yesterday. Imagine my surprise at the full house. Another confession: coffee as a salon is a concept feels different today than it did in the back of my early memories. Can’t quite explain it, though.

But I know what I like. And I still prefer the Hamlin experience where the smiling waitress would ask, “can I warm you up, hon?”

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Guns, bullet shortages

Momentous news: Sarah Palin is 45 today. And at least two Hollywood outfits are thinking of making a movie of her run for Veep. Read the book. Rent the movie. Wardrobe. Make-up. Been there. Done that.

Unsettling news: in Florida, gun shops report bullets are on back order. They can’t get enough to meet demand. Nationwide, assault rifles are also in short supply. Whassup?

Quibble news: I don’t favor President Obama’s kind of press conference. The old reporter in me wants more give and take, more spontaneity. So does the young reporter. His was too controlled. Short term, he needed to focus the economic message and I’ll grant him that. But long term, it won’t work. By pre-selecting which reporters to call on, that set up the remaining reporters to look like window dressing. As much as I liked his press spokesman during the campaign (he handed Sean Hannity his butt), the guy is miscast as the White House press secretary. He makes Scott McClellan look good.

Tax news: We’ve been told the richest Americans pay the most taxes. Hmmm. The top 400 paid more than $18 billion in federal income taxes for 2006. Compare that with the nearly $1 trillion paid for all other taxpayers the same period.

Not really news: Remember a couple of years ago when people stopped selling chinchillas and emus and started peddling everything else on Ebay? Some made six-figure incomes. Nowadays, amateurs are making big money via videos on YouTube.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Stimulus for the people, not the banks

Amazing. Obama has been president for less than a month and the liberal columnists are already raising hell with the guy. This could be the shortest presidential honeymoon in history. Or should I say “was.”

Perception. Spin. Partisan. And the Republicans are smarter at spin. Have been for years. They frame their fight as being more with Democrats in Congress than with Obama. Congress has a lower approval rating although Obama's is dropping.

Obama is having a tough time living up to his campaign rhetoric and he seems deaf to the people's uproar throughout the land. I hope it is just a slip as his new team struggles for traction.

No more politics of the past. We are in too much trouble to waste time. We need solutions. Fix it. Stop giving away billions to the Wall Street bankers who forgot about the rest of us.

You want a real stimulus package? Forget the banks. Send the money directly to the people. Send every man, woman and child a couple hundred grand and stand back.

The banks won’t spend it; the people will.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The end is near! That's entertainment.

Income redistribution, the bogey man stand-in for fears of socialism, is alive and growing. The impetus comes not only from the government but the Internet as well. That’s right. Broadband connectivity is allowing white collar, right wing financial consultants, et al, to enjoy a second office in their vacation homes be it a condo on the beach or a mountain chalet. Jobs, if you still have one, are getting more mobile. Some lucky professionals can now work and live where they play. Ultimately, rural communities will benefit as working away takes on new meaning.

Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon inspired stage satires cast in the mold of Shakespearean and Greek tragedies. George Bush gets the comedy of ineptitude. See “You’re Welcome America” with Will Ferrell. It’s a benchmark of sorts.

Oh crap. The Mayans and the Hopi predict some bad stuff is coming down in 2012. I mean, the world might end. Armageddon? It is written, grasshopper, that 2012 will be Sarah Palin's year.

Now for some good news. Twinkies have/has emerged from bankruptcy. They survived the Great Depression and the Atkins diet, too. Ding Dongs now roam throughout the land. Not just in Washington.

Val Kilmer is considering a run for governor of New Mexico. Here's a list of other actors, singers, dancers who have served their higher calling:

  • George Murphy was a famous film actor turned California state senator.
  • Ronald Reagan, film actor, California governor then president.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger, film actor, now California governor.
  • Sheila Kuehl was a famous TV star in the 50s
  • Dobie Gillis became a California state senator.
  • Shirley Temple (Black) became an ambassador.
  • Clint Eastwood became mayor of Carmel, California.
  • Sonny Bono, technically a singer but did some TV and film, became mayor of Palm Springs.
  • Jarosław and Lech Kaczyński, prime minister and president of Poland respectively, starred in the film The Two Who Stole the Moon
  • Glenda Jackson became a member of British Parliament.
  • And going backwards, Jerry Springer was a mayor first, then became talk show host.

Anybody else?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Do liberals pay taxes?

I was getting a little steamed. “What’s with those rich liberals Obama keeps picking for his cabinet? Why won’t they pay their taxes? What do they know that we don’t know? “Well,” the Mystery Woman deadpanned, “They don’t get the bonuses.”

Wait ‘till after lunch to read this next bit. It’s revolting. Today, I champion the cause of the turkey vulture. Unlike eagles and hawks, vultures wait a couple of days until the varmint’s soul has truly departed. (It says so in Slate.) And that’s where the public slander begins. The big birds are ugly. They can’t sing – unless you count hisses, grunts and rattles. But they do a great job. Would you rather have putrefying carcasses or nice, clean bones lying around?

The Pueblo people enjoyed liquid chocolate in early New Mexico even though they lived more than 1,200 miles from the nearest cacao trees. Yup. Yup. Trade routes. We know that the Maya were dipping into chocolate as early as 600 B.C. And we can date the chocolate residue in shards of drinking pots and pitchers from 1000 to 1125.

Media critic Nicholas Carlson says it costs the NY Times twice as much to print and deliver the newspaper as it would if they just gave every subscriber the new Amazon Kindle. If not the Kindle, no matter. The technology is there. And newsprint is inefficient in this e-age.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Republican men, happy men

Researchers have found that Republicans claim to enjoy sex more than Democrats. Back story: more men than women vote Republican. And more men say they enjoy sex than women. That could explain why Cheney and Bush smiled so much while they screwed this country.

For years, the good old boys in Sweetwater, Texas, have been holding a Rattlesnake Round-up. To get publicity, they tote a few of the snakes into the Rotunda at the State Capitol. Mighty cruel to the outnumbered snakes and redundant to the legislative process.

If you’re so smart, tell me why the lobster turns from black to red when cooked.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Super Bowl TV ads. Usually. But this time, there seemed to be a lot of ads that were derogatory towards women.

Quote: “I’d almost rather say I’m a pornographer,” said one Wall Street executive.
Response: You are. You are.

Shameless. This blog is now two years old. When I started, there were an estimated 50 million blogs out there in the ether. Today, there are as many as 130 million blogs. Blogs are hungry beasts and I suspect there are lots of abandoned sites in that big number. Mine is a lesser luminary. My son found ratings that put me in the first one million list.
I'm gunning for the top ten.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Ground Hog Day

Something a Texan would never know about Minnesota winters: when the temperature peeps above freezing, the lines at the car wash can back up for miles. And most people keep a spare hair dryer in the garage – the slush can freeze car doors shut overnight.

Clint Eastwood has done it again. Remember when Dirty Harry said: ”Go ahead, punk, make my day.” In his new movie, Gran Torino (recommended) his new line is sure to become just as iconic when he growls: “Get off my lawn.” Geezers relate.

Roughly, there are 1,500 malls in the U.S. And that number is going south. Many malls are ailing, dying or dead. Go to deadmalls.com to see which shopping centers are wearing toe-tags.

Coming soon to your innards, a mechanical pill that can let the doctor know when it is in the right location in your body, thereby concentrating its healing potion to the right part of your body. The iPill will navigate its fantastic voyage dispensing meds along the way to hot spots. Soon, the pill can call the doctors. Shazam.

Getting cremated? Before you pay $3,000 to a funeral home for the urn, check out discount department stores where you can find containers for only twenty bucks. If you want to learn more about other funeral savings, contact the Austin Memorial and Burial Information Society (AMBIS) at 512-480-0555. Most big cities have similar societies.

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