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Mi scusi. I haven’t posted in a very long time, but Mr. Slattern and I are in the throes of our yearly pilgrimage to the land of Beppe Grillo, sidewalk opera and five dollar bottles of quality wine, which almost invariably lead to intimate encounters of one sort or another with the carbinieri, most of whom are the soul of understanding and patience, or so I have found. In any case, I stumbled upon this little missive to the masses in a pissoir somewhere in the hills of Tuscany and was hoping one of you might be able to decipher it.

photo Italia

In case you are wondering, I have found that the purchase of a bottle or three of Barolo tends to make even the most recalcitrant barman or shopkeeper entirely willing to cough up the keys to the squatter at almost any time of the day or night. And isn’t it lucky that I can make a drink with nearly any ingredients and in virtually any state of inebriation? A real lifesaver of a skill, let me tell you.

More as events unravel. Ciao ciao, belle!

The REAL Swedish Guide to Staying Warm

Glogg up your winter with Martha and Lars

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“More glogg Ingrid? Thank you, Lars, don’t mind if I do.”

According to She Who Must be Obeyed (Martha, not me, at least in this instance), those masters of life on an ice floe keep warm and cheery through the 19-hour winter nights with a steady diet of pickled herring, Swedish meatballs, lox, potatoes and cream, chased with vats of simmering glogg. So far so good, at least for those of us who are toughing out the front end of a new ice age in most of the upper 48 — as for what goes on in Alaska during the annual ten-month winter, I can’t say. Actually, what with the blubber-eating, Ski-Doo racing and endless dark, I can’t even bear to think of what happens up there, which is something coming from a person who looks upon staying indoors and having Irish coffee for breakfast as a viable, even attractive, lifestyle choice, at least in January and February, though some years have seen a bit of December and March creep, but that’s a story for another day.

Anywho, where was I? Pickled herring, winter benders, oh yes, Martha’s winter palace dream party. Described thus:

“Six New York-based friends — all Swedish by birth or marriage — gather for an afternoon of cold-weather comforts: warm glasses of glogg and an elegant yet homey Scandinavian spread.”

What Martha doesn’t tell you is that this was all just a prelude to the main event, namely the consumption of about fifteen liters of Absolut followed by a naked rampage through the snow-covered great lawn in Central Park, which the partygoers took for a summer nudist colony owing to the “warm” nine-degree weather, sunlight and the presence of trees.

Make no mistake, folks, this is how to “warm up like a Swede.”

Absolut fire

“Glogg? GLOGG? We don’t need no stinking glogg, Jorgen. Now fire this baby up and let’s go find the public sauna. I think it’s on 79th Street.”

Targetted

target

Ready. Aim. Fire up that credit card!

Yup, that’s right, the Slattern family is just one of the millions of households whose personal data got lifted right from under the Target Corporation’s big old, bargain-hawking, crap-flogging nose this holiday season. I know this because I just spent three hair-combusting hours on the phone with every Target department from Fraud to Customer “Service” to Credit Card “Services,” right on down the line to Internet Orders and the guy who swabs out the executive washroom at the corporate treehouse up there in Minneapolis. His name is Frank and he’s very sorry about my problems.

Having failed to get any information whatsoever from the gratingly cheerful folks at Target, I hung up the phone — well actually I slammed the receiver repeatedly into the cradle in time to the torrent of filthy invective that was surging from my mouth like the Susquehanna after Three Mile Island — and called my credit card company. As a result of navigating approximately six dozen phone trees and speaking to ten guys named Ryan whose accents were suspiciously sub-continent, I came up with this:

Someone hacked into the Target database and stole some information about me. Or maybe they didn’t. It could be that they got my credit card information, name, mailing address, phone number or email address. But no one really knows if they did or not. And despite my very clear, very loud questions as to the nature of what they took or what said miscreants might do with it, I still have no idea what to even look for as an indicator that fraud may — or may not — have occurred in my name.

Well that is just swell. So now, owing to a foolish impulse purchase of a folding table to accommodate my holiday dinner guests, I have to undertake the process of canceling my credit cards, combing through the holiday purchases to see if I can ferret out anything that looks untoward (at this point it all does), changing all my internet and account passwords, and updating the credit card information on my recurring payments. I have no doubt that there will be at least one that falls through the cracks in the portable bar, which will probably result in my having to crash an EZ Pass toll gate, reinstate lapsed insurance coverage or go without my gym membership for a week or two. Guess which one doesn’t piss me off?

Now to make matters worse, this is the guy who is overseeing the rectification of the whole nasty mess:

Target guy

His name is Greg Steinhafel, and he is the CEO of Target Corporation. Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, does he? Just in case you think I cherry picked this photo, I want you to know that it comes straight off the Target data breach and happy time website. Check it out for yourself.

So let’s break this down, shall we? My personal information, and that of millions of other people was mismanaged and left unsecured by the folks at Target, and now Gomer here is going to sort it all out and tighten everything back up? Go-o-o-lly, that’s great! Apparently this guy is competent to run a cash register, stock shelves or greet me as I enter one of their retail pleasure palaces, but CEO? I’m not buying it. Chief executives should wear TIES, Greg. FYI, they look like this:

"Let the firewall slip, did you? You're FIRED!"

“Let the firewall slip, did you? You’re FIRED!”

Or this:

"It's about time Target got as organized as organized crime."

“It’s about time Target got as organized as organized crime.”

Or better still, this:

"Target has no truck with terrorists. Or idiots."

“Target must have no truck with terrorists. Or idiots, Gregory.”

Aw forget it, I’m going off the grid. I hear the Upper Peninsula is lovely this time of year.

Tuesday Satire: Confessions on the Cronk

Why would you confess when you haven’t done anything wrong — or even interesting?

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Once again, my funny friends at The Cronk of Higher Education have seen fit to share my off-kilter take on university life, this time in a short satirical article, “Online Confessions Fuel Fraternity Alumni Discontent.” There’s lots of quality satire and snark over there, so take a peek, why don’t you?

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Johnny Rotten critiques Katy Perry. Really.

File this under, “Holy shite, what next?”

I just love the part when he calls her father a “skinhead priest.” Not that he isn’t right, but still, you’d really have to tack hard to crazy to be called a “nutter” by  Johnny Rotten — even a late model, dentally augmented, marginally less psychotic Johnny Rotten. Of course, at this point, it’s a miracle he can even string a sentence together, let alone follow anything as complex as a Katy Perry video. If you don’t believe me, take a look at what he got up to in ’78. Just in case you aren’t familiar with Mr. Rotten’s oeuvre, he’s the only who is one not, musically speaking, wailing on either an instrument or an audience member. Singing is what you might call it, but then again, maybe not.

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