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Archive for July, 2018

Dear British TV Producers:

It’s like you know me — like you are developing stuff just for me. As I’ve mentioned before, there is nothing that makes me happier than an evening of British TV.

Last time I visited, I became addicted to “Naked Attraction.” That still is on the list, but I watched new shows too this time:

The Only Way is Essex
Kind of like an upmarket “Jersey Shore.” Nothing happens in any episode, though.

Love Island
Like the “Dating Game” got it on with “Big Brother.” Again, nothing seemed to happen except folks hated on Dr. Alex.

8 out of 10 Cats
Game show? Talk show? Hard to tell.

Would I Lie to You
To Tell the Truth” meets Jimmy Fallon’s “Two Truths and a Lie.” I’m a fan of David Mitchell (with his beard, of course), so that led to …

Peep Show
What an odd show. It’s a little like “The Office” with a dash of “Spaced.”

“Peep Show” Mitchell (aka Austin Powers) vs. Lying Mitchell. Am I wrong?

Mock the Week
The Daily Show” with “Real Time with Bill Maher.”

Friday Night Dinner
A sitcom where two adult sons come home each Friday for dinner with Mom and Dad. I wanted to murder the idiot sons.

Four in a Bed
Innkeepers visit and rate each others’ establishments to “win.” Insults and hard feelings ensue. Who brings a UV light to check the toilets before staying at a B&B?

Who is America?
Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest venture. As if I’m not embarrassed enough. How can I explain two sitting Republican congressmen, Dana Rohrabacher (California) and Joe Wilson (South Carolina), wanting to arm toddlers? I can’t. I’m going to tell people I’m Canadian.

And “Naked Attraction.” I just can’t get enough. Hannah* found me watching it while I was eating breakfast. What can I say? I like to start the day off right.

In fact, I’m a little jealous of host Anna Richardson’s job. In what other career path could you utter these memorable phrases?

You’ve seen everything they’ve got to give you. What’s your choice?

You have quite a pair of balls on you. That’s quite a pouch.

How do you feel? You’ve got six vaginas staring you in the face.

Not very many. That’s for sure.

Keep up the good work,
Beth

*Friend with whom I stayed on the trip. She and her husband Dave love to introduce me to new shows.

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Dear British Signmakers:

I’ve enjoyed reading your work, but I have questions. Please clear up my confusion.

Zebra? That looks like a man to me. (BTW, it is supposed to be pronounced “zeeebrah,” people.)

Does that mean it is easy to get in? You’re inside like a smooth criminal? Is the opposite a lumpy or awkward entrance?

Why would you send me to use yet another toilet that is out of order? That’s what you mean by a “disabled toilet,” right? (Also, I know your establishment is called “Yo! Sushi,” but I think you needn’t be cute with the sign.)

Is it still a deal if you have to take a taxi back to your lodging? Or if you have to pay someone to hold your hair back? Oh wait … now I see the ampersand.

Who is eating fish in the bathroom? And what’s that other stuff? A can of spray paint? What happens in toilets in Oxford?

Do women in pubs really need all these face and hair potions? Wouldn’t it be good to have put some condoms in there too, as is offered in traditional vending machines? I would assume ‘girls on the go’ might want those. Equal rights and all.

You know I’m just kidding: I know what all these signs mean to convey. Just some light teasing from your odd American friend.

Love you!
Beth

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Dear Owners of the Crown Hotel,

I enjoyed visiting your establishment Saturday night. I had booked a stay in case I wasn’t able to connect with my friends Hannah and Clair before an event in the area.

Clair had nothing but unkind comments for you. She said shocking things such as:

That is where the council use as a B&B as temporary accommodation for people who are homeless/on the council waiting list.

I certainly wouldn’t leave anything valuable there! And take it in the shower with you and nap with your laptop under your pillow!

Don’t forget to put elastic bands around your trouser bottoms to stop the flea bites!

I really think she underestimated your attractions. You have billed yourself as a “cheap, no-frills hotel,” but I think you are selling yourself short.

Just look at all your amazing amenities:

1. Extra foliage in the chimneys for a lovely garden effect PLUS a location convenient to the train.

Photo by the Clair the Hateful

2. Designated parking for ladies. I’m sure the ladies of the evening feel honored.

3. A Sizzler on site for guests’ dining pleasure.

4. Double-doored entryway to keep out the riffraff. Or not.

5. Convenient access to and egress from my potential room.

6. Stray bits of plaster from the walls to remind one that the property is historic. (Hannah does not see this as a positive: “They did not even bother to hoover the room!” She and Clair have standards, you see. Too bad, really.)

7. A sock over the smoke detector so that someone can light up in peace.

8. A window right out onto the roof to allow easy access for rapists and murderers — what a perk!9. A policy requiring guests to leave their key at reception (Who needs to keep up with a pesky key? Who cares about their valuable items in the room? Life is too short to worry about material goods.)

I’m so sorry I did not take advantage of your ample charms. I ended up staying out late and going home with Hannah.

Sad to say, her home had been freshly hoovered, and there were no fleas in sight. I felt safe too. Where’s the adventure in that?

Maybe next time, Crown.
Beth

*Credit/apologies to Shakespeare’s “Henry IV, Part II,” 1597.

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Echo and the Bunnymen perform for the elderly at Chastain Park.

Dear Fellow Concert-goers (aka Grizzled Old Beasts Just Like Me),

It was great to hang out with you at the Echo and the Bunnymen and Violent Femmes performance last night. Between the sets, I was taking a good look at all of you — people watching, as I do. You know, finding inspiration for this blog and other writing projects.

I noticed plenty of partial and full hair loss, beer bellies, socks pulled up too far, white shoes, varicose veins, gray hair, etc.

“Jesus, these people are old,” thought I.

That uncharitable thought was followed quickly by this one:

“Oh shit. These are my people. I’m old too.”

Dang. That was a rude awakening. I’m still 27. In my head. Forever. As I bet you are too.

 

Notice the beer (which was delicious). Then notice who is beyond the beer. Notice the cane and the socks.

How we feel how we look.

It’s depressing.

😕

But not as depressing as the thought of the geriatric dating game. Some of you were definitely hooking up (or trying to, at least). I mean, good for you.

Eddie and I ended up joking about that this morning (I’m in blue, in case you are cursed with an Android phone):

(Don’t give me flak for hating on the stout hairless men of the world. We all have a type, and that’s not mine. And they don’t like me either. So there.)

If forced, I guess I’d have to get some Botox and lipo and start cougaring. But then I’d have to forget knowing every ’80s song, including the Femmes’ repertoire.

I cannot live a lie.

Just like us (in our minds), the Femmes’ sound hasn’t aged at all.

So I think we should all agree to keep on keeping on, just as Hunter S. Thompson recommended:

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow! What a Ride!'”

Ride on, fellow geezers.
Beth

 

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Dear Reader’s Digest,

Thank you for your efforts to empower women. I’m sure this title didn’t seem patronizing when you published this pamphlet in 1973 — 10 years behind the start of the second wave of feminism.

Now, though …

I’m surprised every chapter doesn’t just say, “Call a man.”

To be fair, it doesn’t ever say that, but there is a whiff of condescension. For example, in the “Starting difficulties” section of the “Six dilemmas with your car” chapter, the unnamed writer states:

If your car refuses to start, but the battery has enough power to crank the engine, you may not be using the correct starting procedure.

You must use your delicate lady feet to depress the accelerator.

To your credit, there is some great information in here. But let’s be honest: Not all men are handy, and not all women take to their fainting sofas when faced with an emergency.

Shock? Or Reader’s Digest’s expectations of a woman’s general nature?

A better title would have been the simple, “Guide to household emergencies.” Oh wait — you thought of that as you published a similar guide in the same year under that exact title. Why not call it, “Men’s guide to household emergencies?”

Anyway, lucky for us, the women’s guide is enhanced with these special illustrations:

You too can change a tire without damaging your manicure!

Yet no self-respecting woman (or man, for that matter) should heed your advice regarding toilet clogs:

Try reaching as far as possible into the toilet to dislodge the blockage.

Um … no.

My 1950s June Cleaver-style mom clearly found this guide useful, as it was one of the few things she kept. (She wasn’t particularly sentimental, and thankfully wasn’t a borderline hoarder like someone else I know.)

My mom always liked to be prepared. In fact, she tucked in the pages of your guide this clipping from the Atlanta Journal and Constitution:

Note that the AJC did not select target audience gender. So that’s nice. And rather forward-thinking compared to you.

Anyway, thanks for providing amusement for me 45 years after publication.

Dying to get my mitts on the “men’s” version for comparison,
Beth

 

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Dear Dad,

The last time I wrote to you here, I had satire on my mind. This time it is to complain. Thanks to you, I feel the need to bleach my entire body. This weekend cleaning out your garage was rough.

Even before you passed, I had marshaled the troops (i.e., your son in law and grandchildren who had no choice) to get your garage hoard somewhat under control. Just one bay of the three took us almost an entire weekend, including two trips in two trucks to both the dump and Goodwill.

Since your September demise, I’ve spent many weekend days inside your house going through mounds of paperwork (Why would you save owner’s manuals for appliances you gave away in the ’90s?), office supplies (so many office supplies) and CDs (Four copies of the same Flatt and Scruggs recording? What the heck?!) in just one room alone. At least I was in air conditioning and relative comfort.

This garage cleaning, though … sheesh. Here’s what I personally handled in just three hours:

1. Empty and near-empty bottles of all manner of small engine fluids
2. Stacks of 78 rpm records
3. Hundreds of jars of dried-up model airplane paint
4. All kinds of outdated technology (a slide projector!)
5. At least 45 different species of spiders and bugs, most of them alive and ready to rumble

Some people (you) might say, “Hold on — that’s valuable stuff!” Well, Dad, not when it has been in a detached garage without climate control and regular roach bombings.

Three more trips to Goodwill and another trip to the dump, and I’m not done yet. I see at least three more days of purging ahead of me. And maybe some therapy to address my new daddy issues.

I know it’s bad form for me to be upset with you when you aren’t physically present to defend yourself. It’s frustrating, though, because I remember the week I spent — using vacation days from work, no less — cleaning this very same garage after Mom died in 2009. And you were not happy about it (even though you asked me to do it).

When I tried to get rid of your model-airplane parts, you yelled at me that you were going to get back into building planes. When I questioned the need for 400 cassettes, you said you still listened to all of them — even though there was not a tape player in sight (the reel-to-reel player doesn’t count). When I started to throw away some dry-rotted Christmas decorations, you claimed you used them “just last year” — a statement we both knew was false when Frosty melted in my hands.

I begged you to be more aggressive in your tossing. I remember saying, “Dad, please don’t leave this all for me to clean up when you die.”

Now it’s almost 10 years later and everything is exactly as I left it. Except you’ve added more. For example, what’s this collection in the corner, Dad?

I really don’t want to put my hands in that pile.

I was not prepared mentally or physically for this garage showdown. For one thing, I forgot to bring gloves, a mask, boxes and industrial-strength garbage bags. When Katherine brought out some trash bags from the house, I felt encouraged that they were laden with “rodent repellent.”*

mint-scented rodent repellent bags

That is, until I got a whiff.

Remember my last post in which I said I have a “titanium stomach and a broken sniffer.” Yeah, well, mint-scented rodent repellent apparently is my kryptonite. I could smell that very well. And my stomach did not approve.

I really needed a hazmat suit, a cheering squad for motivation, and an OSHA-approved eye- and body-wash station. I even considered another trip to the Jeju Sauna. That’s how bad it was.

None of my friends should wonder why I like the show, “Hoarders.” It provides cognizance, comfort and coping skills all in one!

I realized, though, while I was doing an extended-surface and deep-body-cavity cleansing afterward that you are still teaching me even though you have moved on to the great beyond.

The lesson?

Never do this to your kids.

Mine will be lucky to get a footlocker from me, as I plan to chuck almost everything long before I kick it.

You know I love you, but I did not love this.

Sigh.

Say hi to Mom and Gram for me.

Your organized and aggravated daughter,
Beth

* Note that it says it is effective against raccoons. Two things:
1. Hando did not come with me on this adventure, so I guess it works on dead raccoon parts.
2. It does not work on live ones, or at least live rabid ones. Katherine tangled with one on the front porch just moments before we got there. (Ironic, no?) The rabid brethren of Hando then tangled with a car and lost.

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Dear Delta Airlines:

It sure would be great if you made sure each seat pocket contained an airsickness bag. I found out the hard way that you don’t.

No one wants to be awakened from a nap with a whack on the leg by a kid saying, “Mama, I need a barf bag!”

Luckily for my nauseated son and the lady in the seat in front of him, I have cat-like reflexes and the mom instinct to save the bag I got when I bought bottled water (no filtered system, Boston Logan? Come ON!).

I also have a titanium stomach and a broken sniffer. My other son, well … not so much. I almost needed two bags.

So much for you being ready when I am.

It was a good thing I found the stray diaper disposal bag in a different seat pocket. The bags one gets with purchased water apparently are not leak proof. It also was a good thing the sick son wasn’t sitting next to his father.

One more thing, Delta, could you please tell your flight attendants not to sneer and recoil in horror when a customer asks where she can dispose of said double-bagged goodness? It’s not something I’ve ever had to ask, so how would I know I had to dispose of it myself in the lavatory?

Your slogan, “Keep climbing,” seemed more like “Keep moving” for them. Not very hospitable.

Anyway, my son is fine, thanks in advance for asking. I’ll remember to bring extra bags for next time in case you don’t heed my advice.

Yours in preparedness,
Beth

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