Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Further Reflections

I've been thinking it over, and I've decided that my Christmas treetop angel looks more like Nellie Olesen from "Little House on the Prairie" than Ethel Mertz.

That would sort of fit with the attitude. If she marries a gay husband, it's clinched!

Christmas Tree 2008

I've got almost all my shopping done. Just two more things to buy, which I have to get at Walmart, because they only sell them there--one of them is the new AC/DC album "Black Ice," which my Dad wants. Who knew that Walmart would have the exclusive contract?! I baked cookies, which turned out very nice, except for the burned ones (I ate those).

I'm hitting the road for Peoria this afternoon. I was going to wait until tomorrow because it's supposed to snow today, but then I heard that it was supposed to start today and continue into tomorrow and start again, so I figured I'd better get the hell out of Dodge while the gettin's good.

Have a great Christmas, all! Talk to you latah! (Unwanted Advice will be taking the week off, but will return in its regular timeslot next week.)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Little Christmas Tree That Almost Could...

I don't have a big Christmas tree anymore--I donated my 6 1/2 foot artificial one to Brown Elephant a few weeks ago, so I'm using the miniature treetop fiber optic one I bought for Mom's room in the nursing home last year.

It wasn't a terribly expensive tree, and the bulb seems to have burned out on the bottom. After disassembling the base and determining that it's NOT just a simple 15 watt bulb I need to replace, but rather something resembling the headlight on Mr. Magoo's car, I decided to just dig a small string of lights out of my closet and use those for illumination. While I was going through the box, I also came across a treetopper I once bought in a fit of tacky nostalgia back during college: a white satin angel with a resin head (looking ever-so-slightly like Vivian Vance) and a tinsel halo. It plugs into any socket on the string of lights and holds a candle (represented by a similar white light).

Over the years, it's lain forgotten in my box of decorations (with good reason, you might say). But this year, something in me cried out for something familiar and fun. In the absence of that, I decided to use the angel again. After being in the box for so long, its dress is somewhat creased and rumpled, giving it the effect of being lifted on the right side:

Christmas Tree 2008 002

The angel's face bears an expression of what, I suppose, should represent serenity, but instead registers complete apathy:

Christmas Tree 2008 004

Behold: Ethel Mertz, holding a candle in while somebody peeks up her dress, and not really giving a shit...

Ho ho ho!

Saturday, December 20, 2008


What was funnier in the late 1960s/early 1970s than "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In?"

The bloopers, that's what!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Unwanted Advice - December 19, 2008


What does one say to a friend who offers to sell one back one's wedding present? I gave her the gift some time before the wedding, which I was unable to attend. After the wedding, she approached me, said that she was unable to use my gift, and offered to sell it back to me. Suggestions for a civilized response would be appreciated.



Tell them you already paid for it once and don’t intend to pay for it again. If she really can’t find any use for it, tell her to donate it to a charity—surely somebody needs it. Too bad she can’t trade it for some social skills, because that’s what she’s really lacking.

DEAR ABBY: I'm not sure how to react to something a friend of mine recently told me. We have known "Lois" and her husband for more than 30 years. They no longer live in this city, but visit occasionally. When they do, we always invite them to stay in our home.

On their last visit, Lois was talking about her only child, "Deidre," whom I have always liked. Lois, out of the blue, began chuckling and then told me that Deidre does a good imitation of me. Lois sat there giggling for a few minutes, then said that Deidre sounded almost as much like me as I do. I made no comment.

Frankly, I was taken aback that someone would do an imitation of me. I got the impression that Deidre has been doing my "act" for a while, and I found it disturbing. My husband says it's a form of flattery, but I think it's demeaning. I also think impersonating someone for the amusement of others -- especially if the person is not around -- is rude. What do you think?



I think “Lois” is a bitch and she seems to have raised one, too. But that’s not what you wanted to know, was it?

Since she seems to get such a kick out of mimicry, tell her that your dog does a great impression of her, especially after it eats any table scraps containing garlic.

(Oh, and once this merry madcap leaves town, make up the spare bedroom for your husband. Tell him it’s a “form of flattery” that you value his good night’s sleep so much that you’ll let him spend it all by himself without disturbance from now on.)

My husband and I have built and begun using a second home. We have entertained some wonderful houseguests here.

Last weekend, a couple of longtime friends, "Shirley" and "Arnold," came to stay for three days. They were the most miserable three days I can remember, mostly because of Arnold.

He dominated all conversation, expected all his food to be served to him -- even though the dessert course was explicitly buffet-style -- made noises while eating and never once offered to prepare any food.

The final straw came during the last night of their stay. Arnold came into the living room in his pajamas, lay down on the couch and, when he saw what we were already watching on TV, said, "I prefer the History Channel." I was so dumbfounded I could only laugh.

Needless to say, we are not planning to invite Arnold and Shirley back (which creates some other problems). What, if anything, should I say to this couple? And are there any books or other resources on "how to be a good houseguest" that I can send him anonymously?



Be grateful—you only had him for three days. Imagine poor Shirley, who has to live with the bastard every day.

It would be a waste to send Arnold a book on guest etiquette, because he sounds like the type of person who is unashamedly selfish and piggy, and it would be lost on him. It also wouldn’t be very anonymous, since he’s unlikely to have any other friends, and so who would send him that kind of thing except you? Also, you’re likely to piss Shirley off, because no matter how big an asshole a guy is, there’s always a devoted mate who’s blind to his faults, or overprotective because of them.

The best advice I can give is that you just don’t invite them any more. To be a “good host,” you’re really expected to kiss your guests’ asses, and most of them were raised in barns these days, sadly, so they’re too ignorant to accept your hospitality in a civilized way.

Get dogs—they’re better company, and at least when they piss on the floor, it’s usually an accident.

DEAR MARGO: I have been dating a guy for two years, and when we met, everything was perfection. We have had ups and downs, of course, but I feel there's one thing that is always putting a strain on our life: My boyfriend is totally obsessed with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Everything he does revolves around them, from the clothes he wears each day (always a Penguins hat and/or shirt) to the car he drives (his license plate boasts the name of his favorite player) to his room, which is covered floor to ceiling with 8 by 10 pictures, jerseys in cases, pucks, sticks, game-used skates and hockey cards.

He needs to go to all the home games (42-plus over eight months), and he goes alone because he only has one ticket. His hockey mania takes a huge toll on our relationship because it involves a large chunk of time away from "us." We both work and go to school, so our time is limited, but the Penguin season in the mix makes it much worse. I end up feeling unimportant to him -- almost as if he has a second girlfriend and he's cheating on me with "her."

Please help me find a way to make him understand my feelings and to lessen the strain on our relationship.



And let me guess—you don’t even live in Pittsburgh! Unfortunately, once a guy has this disease, it’s rarely cured. I’ve heard of ardent fans who collect their favorite sports team memorabilia, but that whole license plate thing puts it over the top.

Frankly, he sounds dull and annoying. And consider this: any guy who’s so obsessed with a sports team that he has to wear its logo every day and has another man’s name on his license plate sounds a little suspect. Do you really want that sleeping next to you?

DEAR ELLIE: My wife loves me but isn't "in love"; she left last month. We're sharing custody of our kids. There's no other man.

Her adoptive parents divorced when she was 10. She never again saw that "father," and her "mother" died when she was 17. I was her only relative. I think she's having a mid-life crisis (she's 38), so I'm not dating, divorcing, nor pressuring her to come back yet.



Oh, brother, the old “I love you but I’m not in love with you” line. Sorry to sound stingy, but I can’t stand people who use childhood traumas to justify craven, gutless behavior in the now. What, her parents disappeared, so now she’s going to disappear from her family’s life?

What a gal. She’s probably mad as hell that you haven’t begged her to come back, too. Wouldn’t it be funny if you were all better-adjusted without having to worry about her emotional drama? Somebody needs to tell Joanna Kramer that taking care of her kids comes before “getting her head together and doing her thing” (insert feathered headband and fringe vest here) and that abandonment is not a smart way to treat her “only relatives.”

DEAR AMY: My eldest son entered high school this year, so now I wake up rather early to get him up and drive him to school.

Due to my schedule change, I have noticed my next door neighbor's routine. Every morning she irons her clothes in front of her window in the nude. I discovered this one morning when I was coming back into the house after taking out the trash. At first, I didn't believe what I saw.

There have been a couple of times I thought she saw me and darted out of the room. The next day the blinds would be closed. I have had this unfortunate experience four or five times now, and it happened again today. I am furious.

My husband says I should talk with her and act as if she must not be aware of her visibility. I don't believe she is unaware, and I am not sure I can do it nicely.

We both worry if it isn't handled well there could be backlash against us in the neighborhood as she tries to cover up her behavior. We have two teenage sons to worry about being exposed to this situation, not to mention the fact that some of the neighbors down the street must see this, as well. Until this situation is resolved, I feel I have to change my morning routine to try to avoid her. This is hard to do because my kitchen is alongside her window.

Please help me handle this situation with grace.



Frankly, I’m more worried about the fact that you drive your teenage son to school. Is he too precious to take the bus?! Cut the cord, lady.

As far as the neighbor, the fact that you never really noticed this until you started waking The Little Prince up for school suggests to me that it’s not really been an issue until now. It’s annoying, but if it chaps your ass so much, you could ask that she please close her blinds each time she’s going to iron au naturel. Beyond that, there’s not much you can do—it’s her house, and unless she comes in your kitchen and waves her tits in your face, it’s sorta not in your jurisdiction.

You mention that she’s also in the sightline of other neighbors. Maybe one of them could take it up with her. There’s no reason for you to be the spokesperson for the whole neighborhood (unless you feel the need to micromanage everyone the way you do your perfectly capable teenage sons). The fact that you say you might not be able to manage such a conversation with tact is another good reason to let someone else be the ambassador (God, it must be magic living with you).

If all else fails, try closing your own blinds.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's Naughty AND Nice!


Looking for something fun to do tonight? Sure, we all are! If you're near Ukranian Village*, come on out to Betty's Blue Star Lounge to see The Joans! We're playing with Girlie-Q Burlesque Review for their show, "HoHoHolidaze!" Show starts at 9:00, The Joans are up at 11:00PM.

Admission is only $10, and Betty's is a cool place! So come on out--hell, it's only one more day of work to live through! And think of the memories you'll be making. It's better than any gift you'll get--especially this year!

*If you're not near Ukranian Village, you can still make it! I'm reliably informed that taxis will travel there.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Unwanted Advice - Dec. 15, 2008

DEAR AMY: My 75-year-old mother called the other day to talk about the Obama election, and she proceeded to tell me that she has been a "closet racist but now she's coming out of the closet." She said she hates all people of color.

After initially thinking she was joking, I came to realize (to my horror) she was not.

I went to my sister with this revelation and told her how upset I was and that I was embarrassed to be her son.

Several days later my mother called to tell me she couldn't believe I went running to my sister and that, in fact, she was joking. She said I need to "get a life."

I responded that I fail to see where the humor is in all of this but agreed that we would add this to the list of topics we could no longer talk about. I am still very upset and wonder if I should just let it go.



The first thing that crossed my mind was that you should ask Sister Stoolie why she reported your conversation back to your mother. But then I realized that if I’d heard something that unbelievable about my mom, I’d want to confirm it with her, too, and she’d know where I’d heard it.

You seem like a reasonably intelligent person, so I’m betting that you were right the first time, and your mother was not joking when she made those comments. But she realized after talking to your sister that she can’t just go around saying shit like that without it coming back on her in some way, because it will get around. Regardless of her real feelings (you can’t really do anything about those, because at her age she’s likely to be as as stubborn as a nanny goat), you should just tell her she’s never to say those things in your presence again and then drop it.

But first, tell her you’ll “get a life” when she gets a conscience.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 17-year-old, happily married girl, but I have a problem. My 15-year-old cousin "Rayleen" likes my husband. She calls his cell phone at all hours of the night, and last week she sent him a letter telling him that I was cheating on him (a lie!) and that when he decides to get a divorce from me, if he wants a "real woman" to give her a call.

Rayleen has always had a thing for older men, but this time she has just gone too far. I know my husband loves me and would never believe her, but I'm not sure how to tell my cousin to stop. I don't want to be mean, but she can't have him.



Back up a minute. Did you just say you’re “17 years old and happily married?”

You did? That’s what I thought. Well, now that that’s out of the way…

Forget being “mean.” Your cousin is psychotic in an “Alicia Silverstone in ‘The Crush’” kind of way, and that means you shouldn’t need to tell her to stop. Her mother (who might possibly also be her sister) should be doing that. If she refuses, perhaps you should mention to Cousin Rayleen (Is that really--? Oh, never mind) that you’re saving the letter, as well as all the cell phone messages, and if she keeps it up, you’re turning the whole kit and caboodle over to the juvenile authorities.

You might want to mention that there aren’t many trips to the Dollar Tree or the discount shoe and purse outlets once she lands in juvie. Bet she cools it right then and there.

DEAR ELLIE: My wife is very hard on my mom, who brought me up on her own, but since she's retired from her office job, she's lonely.

My mom baby-sits our three kids every day without pay, as my wife works. But when my wife gets home she always finds fault with something my mom did. I tell her to ignore small things, but she doesn't. What can I do?



Remind her that your mother keeps the kids safe and happy—for free. Tell her to be grateful and shut the hell up.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it ever appropriate to hire a baby sitter to assist with guests’ children? At our Thanksgiving meal, two toddlers and a 5-year-old were dismissed by their parents from the table while parents lingered over dessert and coffee.

I jumped up and tried to run interference while topping off coffee cups and clearing away plates, but the three children with minimal supervision managed to wreck my home.

When they come over at Christmas for another family meal, would it be rude to have a baby sitter on hand to assist the children with their plates, and then direct their activities away from my rugs and antiques when the children are through with their meals?



It sounds like that’s the only alternative, since their parents are too preoccupied with their pie to notice when their kids are knocking over lamps and vases.

What’s more, I think you should stick the parents with the baby-sitting bill. When they complain, assure them that it’s far cheaper than replacing what their kids wrecked last time.

(Don’t expect them next Christmas—but that means fewer places to set!)

DEAR MARGO: I will get straight to the point: My boyfriend is in love with my mother. A few weeks ago I brought my new boyfriend, "Max," home to meet my parents. Max immediately fell head over heels for my mom. I've told him that she's happily married to my father, but he ignores that fact completely. Since the day he saw my mom, he has asked her out three times, attempted to have sex once, and even threatened my dad to "back off, or else."

This situation is quite uncomfortable for my entire family, but whenever I try to talk to Max about it, he claims to be in love with me and only me -- not my mother. I know this is false, and I'm not sure how to end it all. I love Max very much, so I ask you, Margo, how can I tell him to step away from my mom while keeping him in my grasp?



As long as we’re getting straight to the point, allow me: What planet are you from??!

The situation is “uncomfortable,” you say?! Well, gee, I can’t imagine why!

You should worry less about keeping your grasp on this fruit loop and more about the grasp you don't seem to have on reality. And maybe think about what kind of deadbolt to buy for your door. If you believe him when he says he loves only you—after he’s propositioned your mother and threatened your father—then you deserve whatever happens next.

Tell him to stay away, or your father will meet him at the door next time with a rifle. That should clear things up.

Friday, December 12, 2008


My favorite modern, made-up word. Referring to the gulf between the users of dry humor and those who can't understand it. Perhaps this was their problem! (I know it explains a lot about the people in my life.)

Due to technical difficulties (the file is on another computer), Unwanted Advice will not appear today. Look for it Monday in its regularly scheduled time slot, then again next Friday.

And you know what that means--TWO Unwanted Advices in the same week! Aren't you positively dizzy with excitement?! (Oh, that's the glaag, is it? Where can I get some?)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Can You Hear That...?


That's the sound of the shit hitting the fan.

Hope Daley has a good dry cleaner.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Unwanted Advice, 12/5/08

DEAR AMY: I have a problem with the mother of my daughter's school friend. She has no defined sense of boundaries.

When this woman comes over to our house to pick up her child from play dates or visits, if I leave mail or papers on my counter, she doesn't hesitate to go through the papers under the pretense of looking for a school-related item that she wanted to check on, and look at whatever interests her—papers, magazines, mail, etc.

She has also taken books off my bookshelves to browse without asking if she could look at them, opened my kitchen drawers and cabinets, and wandered into rooms I don't want guests to visit.

I have removed my papers, mail, etc. from their normal places if I knew she was coming over and closed doors to those rooms that have doors. I've also removed items from her hands if they are not hers.
Somehow, this seems like an abnormal way for me to have to deal with this nosy person in my own home.

How can I set boundaries with her without having to conceal everything I don't want her to touch and without being rude?



I wouldn’t worry about being rude. Somebody needs to put the smack down on this bitch, and it looks like it’s going to have to be you, since she’s clearly too obtuse to take a hint.

The tragedy is that, to many people, this is normal behavior nowadays—sadly, we live in an “information culture,” in which, with an absence of anything meaningful to do anymore, people fill their time satisfying their curiosity and poking around, even in places they don’t belong. There are no boundaries anymore, and you know what’s even worse? If you try to set boundaries, you’re the one who’s looked at askance. After all, “if you have nothing to hide, etc., etc.”...and all this “snoop on your neighbor-ism” that’s been encouraged by authorities under the auspices of “reporting suspicious behavior” has given these rope-swingers even more encouragement to try their hand at Miss Marpling.

Ain’t that a bitch??

Nevertheless, it’s your house and your rules. Tell her to keep her mitts off your stuff, or she’ll go home minus at least one. And tell your daughter to make friends outside the neighborhood.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I just found out that his daughter and her boyfriend duped everyone -- including us -- with a formal, traditional wedding ceremony, but the "marriage" is not legal. They had no intention of being legally wed, but felt that because they are having a baby, they were entitled to a formal wedding.

We paid a large amount of money to attend this wedding, Abby, including gifts and a bridal shower. When confronted, they showed no remorse for their deception. In fact, they are extremely arrogant about it. They say it's their personal business and consider themselves "married in the eyes of God."

I am furious over this scam, which affects more than 100 family members and friends. Please advise.



“Married in the eyes of God” is what people say when they just want to live together in a committed relationship without getting married. And it precludes throwing a fancy fake wedding just to get lots of loot. These two pencil-trolls weren’t married in the eyes of God, they were married in the eyes of Macy—and I don’t mean William H. or the guy who played Maude’s husband, either.

Since they’re expecting a baby, they’ll be needing diapers, and lots of them. So take a large Pampers box, fill it with worthless toilet paper, gift-wrap it and send it to them. When they call to complain (and you know they will), explain that in the eyes of Johnson and Johnson, those are diapers.

BONUS ABBY (if one can call it a “bonus”):

DEAR ABBY: I need some serious advice. I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis a year ago. My condition is stable. I have taken the necessary precautions such as dietary changes, exercise and prescription medications.

My husband and I have been married eight years. This is my second marriage and his third. My husband is a very stubborn man. Once he makes a decision he stands by it until death.

He has recently announced that should I become incapacitated and unable to perform my "wifely duties," he is going to find a "sex buddy." What should I do about this announcement?



What you need is a big-ass pair of hedgeclippers to lop off his nethers. That’s what you need. This man isn’t “stubborn,” he’s an irresponsible asshole.

You could, perhaps, remind him that as long as he’s “standing by decisions until death,” he could start by honoring the one he made when he married you.

Tell him that vow still “stands until death,” but that if he’d like to change his mind, you’d be glad to kill him and set him free.

DEAR ELLIE: My wife of 10 years has never initiated sex in our marriage. In recent years, whenever I try to get romantic, she pushes me away, saying she's not interested. She says women don't need sex (she's mid-30s, beautiful, in good shape), so I'd better get used to the idea of not having it.
We've had sex once in six months. She's an aloof person, not concerned with my feelings or needs, but she doesn't realize or admit this. I don't want to cheat or end our marriage (and I'm sure she's not cheating), but I don't know what to do.



Tell her you understand completely. Say that she’s SO right—women don’t need sex. And since she won’t give you any, she’ll of course understand when you won’t fix the garbage disposal, mow the lawn or take care of home maintenance. After all, men don’t feel the NEED to do those things.

Also, tell her you’re sure she’ll understand that since she’s not willing to give you physical intimacy, you’ll be getting it elsewhere. Then buy her a big kitty cat to share the bed with her. Hope it sheds.

DEAR MARGO: My best friend has a problem with men. She thinks they can't stop falling for her. They're always flirting with her, she says, but she doesn't acknowledge the wildly flirtatious things she does to attract their attention. Recently, one of the city's wealthy bachelors pressed up against her and asked for more. She was shocked, as she didn't know what "more" meant, so she says. "Helen" has been married for 10 years and has kids, and this behavior troubles her husband. Not long ago, I gave her a list of things I've witnessed over 20 years, including flirting with my own husband. (When he didn't go for it, she called him the sensitive type, insinuating he was gay!)

I can see beyond her problem, and she is actually smart and a lot of fun to be with. But recently she scolded me for making her feel "insecure about her innocent behavior" when she "was just trying to be nice." Our friendship suffered. While it is true that she is beautiful and attracts attention for that alone (she was once a well-known model), she is in her 50s and her 20-something behavior is sometimes embarrassing. She flirts with waiters and anyone who is male. I guess my question is: What is the best answer when a friend with a problem asks for advice, when the truth I already offered was turned back on me?



Well now I’m going to play Dear Margo to you and ask you why this woman is your best friend. If she doesn’t realize that provoking a man into frottage (look that up—I won’t explain it) and flirting with a friend’s husband, then insinuating that he’s gay when he doesn’t reciprocate, are inappropriate ways for a married woman to behave, then she’s too stupid or stubborn to take advice, and you shouldn’t bother offering any. Her behavior is clearly not “innocent,” nor is she just being “nice.” “Nice” is baking a pie for somebody, not giving them a lap dance.

If she asks again, just say, “Helen, there’s no point in my giving you advice, because you only resent it and you’ll just do whatever the hell you want anyway. But you’d better get a prescription for a good antibiotic. You’re going to need it.”

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Turkey Tales a/k/a, A Holiday Flick

This was a strange Thanksgiving for me--it was the first one without my mom, and life's just been generally weird lately. But I felt like I still had a lot to be thankful for, and I was productive at least--the pumpkin that I cut up and cooked (remember "Tina Tuber?") made five pies!! I was informed by three people at work that it was the best pumpkin pie they'd ever had. My dad left me a voice mail on Monday saying that it was "awesome." So maybe I'll try it again next year.

I don't have any pictures of those, unfortunately, but I did manage to get a few little snippets of my family gatherings while I was home. (Except for my Dad's house--I forgot my camera when I went! I'll get them at Christmas...)

And here they are:

Hope it was fun for you as it was for me. See you at Christmas!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

"I Hate Them"

Brad Pitt hates the papparazzi. He also hates talking about his family, because he says it "cheapens" them somehow.

It's a little late to worry about that, isn't it Brad? And while we understand your disdain for mercenary lowlifes who stake out your property in camos and try to ambush your family as they head to the local co-op, you must have realized that with fame comes a price: loss of privacy. Suck it up, buddy.

And it's understandable that you don't like to talk about your family much, but let's face it--what else're you gonna talk about? That huge body of work you've churned out lately???

What. Ever.