Category Archives: Commentary
Thought for the day:
It seems to me that the aging process presents only two viable options to the high-strung, outgoing creative type, namely, either to mellow or surrender to the temptation to go all Bette Davis in the later years. Having recently relocated from New York to San Francisco, I’m working on getting my cool on, but I must admit it’s a struggle.
So which will it be, folks, battle the madness or start coloring outside the lines with my lipstick as we roll on into crazy town?
I think you know. I think we all do.
Glogg up your winter with Martha and Lars
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.”
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:
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:
Or better still, this:
Aw forget it, I’m going off the grid. I hear the Upper Peninsula is lovely this time of year.
Drooling, feeble-minded domestic goddesses take note
If the latest missive from Martha to land in my inbox is any indication, the marketing gurus at Big Mama Stewart’s domestic juggernaut have located a new and potentially-lucrative market segment to
exploit enlighten. For those of you not on the mailing list, I’m referring to mentally-underpowered domestic engineers. Of course, one might assert that this demographic has long been Martha’s bread and butter, and further, that captivating the attention of dim bulbs with too much time on their hands is the foundation on which her housekeeping house of horrors is built. No argument from me.
In any case, by now you’re probably all agog to hear about the latest cross-selling initiative, and really, who am I to keep you in the dark? So without further ado (and now that that third martini has finally worked its magic on my cerebral cortex), here’s a summary of what Martha is currently flogging:
Martha Stewart’s top five videos for 2013
1. How to frost a cupcake
If you need help with this extremely challenging task, I suggest grabbing the first two-handed four-year-old you find and shoving a butter knife into his/her sticky little mitt. Watch and learn.
2. How to cut a melon
Are you kidding? No need for the preschooler, just get the knife — and stab yourself with it to be sure your nervous system is still functioning. Then cut the frickin’ cantaloupe already.
3. Bartending basics
This may be the most offensive video on offer, and I’ll tell you why. When I’m at the bar or hanging around the punchbowl, the last goddamned thing I want is a drink that was mixed during amateur hour. If you need a basics course, skip the video, strap on your helmet and pilot your Segway on over to your loser cousin’s house for a Partridge Family marathon where you can sip a festive glass of Gatorade and ginger instead of a properly made Sazerac. For your sins.
4. How to can and jam
Unless this is the first release in Martha’s new series of porn videos, I’m not interested. Actually, I’m not even interested then.
5. How to cut a mango
I’ll admit it, these can be a bit of a challenge, but here’s an easy solution: Go to the bodega and buy a container of cut-up mango. Then throw it in the blender with a fifth of vodka, rum, gin or similar. Congratulations, you now have a life worth living. Well done, Sweetie.
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The fine and clever folks over at Punchnel’s have seen fit to post a meditative little essay of mine entitled, I Like to Swear on their excellent site. Please do drop in and have a look. There’s lots of great stuff over there, including, but not limited to, rants about the Grateful Dead, Con Chapman’s Releasing Your Inner Big Foot, fiction, poetry and reviews. The site is chockablock with great reading material. And really, wouldn’t you rather be teasing your brain with lots of top drawer writing than staring at spreadsheets, slumping disconsolately at your desk or pretending to enjoy playing Barbies with your kids?
My piece even includes an explicit language warning and the teaser, “W.S. Winslow works blue.” So in addition to being amused and perhaps a bit scandalized — and really who doesn’t enjoy the illicit frisson of a good scandalizing, especially on a Monday morning? — you can share in the satisfaction of my little exercise in pushing the limits of the First Amendment.
Post a clever comment, reblog, send it viral. Have at it ferchrissakes.