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    Esther Blumenfeld  

    The purpose of this web site is to entertain.  My humor columns died along with the magazines where they were printed, although I cannot claim responsibility for their demise.  I still have something to say, and if I can bring a laugh or two to your day, my mission will be fulfilled.

    Everyone I know thinks he has a sense of humor.  Here is my unsolicited advice. If you try to be funny and no one laughs, don’t worry about it.  However, if you try to be funny and no one EVER laughs, you might have a little problem.

     

    Friday
    Sep232016

    WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?

    As a one-person focus group, I’d like to compare three commercials that are shown on television. I assume that the automobile companies pay some smart people to create these ads with the purpose of selling their cars.

    The first is a commercial for Buick. Not only do I like the story, but I can also remember the name of the car. In a nutshell---Mother and Daddy are sleeping. A toddler wakes up crying in the middle of the night and Dad turns to Mom and says, “I’ll take him for a ride in the Buick.” He obviously assumes that the smooth ride will lull the little fellow to sleep. However, the adorable toddler, strapped in his car seat in the back, loves the ride in the car and coos the night away having the time of his life. Father and son bond until daylight. Mother finds them both fast asleep at the breakfast table. The Buick is a fancy car that should obviously be purchased by insomniacs and parents of crying babies.

    The second ad is a total mystery, not only to me, but no one seems to be able to answer my unscientific survey question that asks, “What the Hell is this commercial all about?” No one so far has given me a satisfactory answer---let alone the name of the car being advertised.

    There are four people in the car, three men and a woman driver. They are all dressed in designer clothing, and obviously on their way somewhere. The mature, beautiful woman makes me think that the target buyer is the mature, beautiful woman. A young man is sitting in the passenger seat. In the back seat, another young man is sitting next to an older, sophisticated bearded gentleman, who is playing with a wedding ring. None of these people have anything to say to one another.

    Finally, the woman punches a button on the radio, and a lovely song comes fourth.  She eyes the bearded man in the rearview mirror, and he taps her on the shoulder. They both smile knowingly as the car is seen speeding down a winding road. So what’s the story here? I assume they are on their way to their wedding, but why has that left them speechless? And, if he keeps fingering that ring, he may drop it and then they will have to stop the car to look for it. By now, not only do I not know the name of the car, but also I don’t care what happens to the speechless people. However, I would like to know the name of that beautiful song on the radio.

    The third ad features a creepy looking guy driving down a deserted road. He has long, curly hair and a rather unruly beard. He has a look in his eyes that gives me the chills---not the good kind! It appears that he is on a clandestine mission. He doesn’t talk or play songs on the radio. He is deep in thought. Perhaps he is contemplating, “Is this a good day to drive this sucker off a bridge?” Suddenly, a wind blows leaves all over the highway, and he aggressively drives the car through them. This is when I suspect that he is an Uber driver on his way to a call.

    No, I don’t know the make of the car, but if it’s covered with leaves, I suggest that you call the guy, driving a little kid around in his Buick.

    Esther Blumenfeld

    Friday
    Sep162016

    SOMEWHAT OVERCAST

    As a child, one of my favorite activities was lying in the grass, on a warm summer’s day, staring at the clouds in the sky and imagining stories around the shapes they formed in my mind. Sometimes, I would see angels, or dragons, and even Neptune, the God of the Sea. I don’t know what Neptune was doing up in the sky, but, according to my fancy, He was there. Then the clouds would shift, and so would my images.

    When grownups learned about my game, they tried to enlighten me by explaining that clouds are only a collection of tiny droplets of water or ice crystals, but I never quite believed them. Imagination is a wonderful thing.

    In 1921, a psychologist named Rorschach developed a test where he recorded subjects’ projective perception of inkblots. Then, he interpreted what they saw in the blot.  I never took the inkblot test, but assume it was a cousin of my “cloud in the sky” game.  His test was later discredited as not being a valid tool in diagnosing mental illness (or I guess mental wellness.) I know that had I taken that test, he would have probably found me completely bonkers, because it’s no secret that I never was made for this world, and I probably would have said, “Looks as if you spilled some ink.”

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Grownups are still trying to ruin my cloud game. Recently, I was told that all the information, that the three billion users of the Internet, spew forth, is now stored in one of my clouds. As hard as I look, I have never seen the mass of floating pieces of data in the sky. However, I think I saw two turtles trying to catch a baby elephant. Maybe there’s a weird cloud hanging over Silicon Valley. 

    I have learned that people hear what they want to hear and see what they want to see. “A lady viewing a portrait of a nude woman, said to the artist, Toulouse Lautrec, ‘Sir, Your painting is obscene!”’  “No, Madame,” he replied, “The obscenity is in your mind, not on my canvas.”

    I don’t see any beauty about having floating data in the sky, but I’m sure that concept came from someone’s imagination. I wish he had imagined a filing cabinet and left my clouds alone. Then 3 billion people could file their information in an iCabinet instead of an iCloud.  Makes sense to me!

    Esther Blumenfeld

    Friday
    Sep092016

    WINGING IT

    The October 2016 issue of Consumer Reports Magazine features an article, “Secrets To Stress Free Flying.” After reading the article, I figured out that the first secret is to Stay Home!

    My recent trip to Washington, DC from Tucson, AZ was routed through Denver, Colorado, which suffers from daily morning fog. Allowing for this phenomenon, United Airlines arranged for a 40-minute gate change in Denver, which is okay if the departing gate is near the arriving gate.

    Of course, a flight delay was expected because it’s always foggy in Denver. Consequently, the plane arrived 10 minutes before boarding began for my flight to Washington, and naturally my gate was at the other end of the terminal.

    After deplaning, we passengers walked through what looked like a janitor’s closet, and then hauled our carry-on luggage up two flights of wooden stairs. Exiting a heavy door, we saw a long walkway, and realized that we were at the very end of the runway. Now, I know why they call it a runway. I saw no movable carts, so I began a sprint reminiscent of the OJ Simpson commercial (when he was a football hero, and no one was chasing him.)

    I finally found some movable sidewalks and New-York-elbowed my way down them yelling, “Out of my way.  I can’t stop!”  Sure, I could stop, but the other passengers didn’t know that. I finally collapsed at the gate as they were boarding my flight. Since I was one of the last passengers to arrive at the plane entrance the flight attendant told me, “No room in the overhead. You will have to put your carry-on in the bowels of the plane.” “My little suitcase is not going there,” I said. “It is filled with family heirlooms.” She said, “Fear Not!” (No, she didn’t say that, but she should have) “I will find a spot for you.” And she did.

    My seat was at the very rear end of the plane, near the lavatory, but I did have an aisle seat. Everything ran smoothly until the pilot turned off the “Stay in your seat” sign, and the stampede began toward the back of the plane. Now, everyone standing in line for his/her turn at the lavatory could use my headrest for a leaning post. The first one to reach the bathroom was a young man who decided that the toilet seat was more comfortable than the one to which he has been assigned, and after monopolizing the space for 25 minutes, the riot began. A man banged on the door and shouted, “Come out of there, you Twerp!”  I said, “Call the flight attendant. Maybe, he died in there.”  Finally, the young man exited, just as the pilot lit the “Return to Your Seat.” sign.

    But I have digressed, so, getting back to the Consumer Reports article.  It began with a retrospective; “Winging it through the years”----the good old days when passengers felt neither the squeeze on their wallets or from their ever shrinking seats.

    Here are a few magazine suggestions to ease flyer’s stress:

    Sign up for an airline credit card. The annual fee is about $100.00.

    Speed up the security line by registering for TSA pre-check screening for $85.00. Or, live to be 80-years-old, so you can keep your shoes on.

    Pay access to a day pass to an airline lounge for $60 per person.

    Bring a sweater so you won’t freeze to death before you arrive at your destination. If you do freeze to death, there will be a charge to carry you off, so don’t do it!

    Raise your heels and toes every hour, so you won’t get a blood clot, but if the guy in front of you has his seat back reclined, just kick his seat a few times---really hard!

    Get rid of germy surfaces by wiping everything down (including the person sitting next to you) with alcohol-based wipes. If you don’t have alcohol based wipes order a glass of whiskey. It only costs $8.00 a glass.

    Buy travel insurance. It only costs $100.00.

    So to ease your stress, it will only cost a single person $353.00 unless you want to pay for extra legroom. That’s about $20 an inch.

    Right now, the thin seat cushion flotation device is free, but I think that the oxygen mask is optional. Have a good trip!

    Esther Blumenfeld   

     
    Friday
    Aug262016

    A SMALL CORRECTION

    Several months ago, a home building development, near where I live, was finally completed. The street barriers came down and congested traffic proceeded as usual. All was well during daylight hours.  However, I mentioned to a friend that I could not see the road lane separations at night, and it seemed to me that drivers were weaving all over the street.

    My friend said, “I drive that street every morning, and have no trouble seeing the lines of demarcation.” So, I called my ophthalmologist’s assistant and asked, “Is it time for cataract surgery?” She said, “You were in here two weeks ago and had a complete check-up. Do you think your cataracts have gotten worse in two weeks?”  “No,” I replied, “I just can’t see the lines at night on that street.” Of course, the operational words were, “At night,” and, “On that street!” Then I told her, “I’m going to call the County Road Department and tell them to repaint the lines.” She thought that was pretty funny, and hung up saying something like, “Lots of luck with that.”

    In the meantime, I called another friend who said, “I’m all over that place on that stretch of road at night, and I’ve HAD cataract surgery.” So, I called the County Road Supervisor. He said, “Are the road barriers still up?” “No,” I replied. “Well,” he said, “The workers weren’t supposed to take the barriers down until the road was re-stripped.” He added, “I just got a notice from my inspector that those lines need to be re-painted” Then he added, “I should put you on the payroll.”

    I have had several job offers in my life, but never with the County Road Department. The next day the white lines were repainted on both sides of the street. And, the man in charge of line painting called me to see if I was satisfied with the job. I thought that was extremely nice, but a little unusual.

    I learned that before you tackle any problem, first you have to admit that there is one, and happily that the solution in this case didn’t call for surgery---only a few cans of white paint.  But, before I could get too pleased with myself for getting such rapid action, an attorney friend informed me; “That was a big liability issue and they probably wanted to avoid a lawsuit.”

    No accident. No lawsuit.  I still think that’s a pretty good deal.

    Esther Blumenfeld (“If I had an hour to save the world, I’d spend 59 minutes defining the problem.”) Albert Einstein

    Friday
    Aug192016

    NOT THAT KIND OF POT

    While channel flipping on my television set, I discovered that one of the “Housewives” had hired a potty trainer for $2000 to toilet-train her little two-year- old daughter. The deal was that in two days the job would be done. That’s a $1000 a day to get the kid to pee in a pot.

    My practical friend, Paula said, “The money would have been better spent on some expensive bottles of wine. Mommy could enjoy drinking it, relax and let nature take its course.” I think she’s right.  I have never met anyone in college who hasn’t been potty trained.

    I have, however, met college kids with potty mouths. When I was in college, I brought some colorful language home with me for my first visit. My Dad reminded me that, “English is such a robust language. Surely you can find more acceptable words to express yourself.” I studied the dictionary and cleaned up my act.

    Years ago, I took a taxi from the airport to my hotel in New York. The driver hailed from a Middle Eastern Kingdom where they never taught him how to turn off his automobile emergency blinker. Of course, every driver that passed us, shouted, “Your emergency blinker is on.” Whereupon he would yell back, “Your Mother is a camel.”

    The problem with using obscene words from a foreign language is that the recipient---as well as the person throwing them around doesn’t often understand them.  For instance, many times I have heard someone call another person a “Putz.”  It is obvious to me that they do not understand that “Putz” has nothing to do with golf.

    Sometimes, obscenities are relegated to gestures. I have a friend who, when cut off in traffic, shot the other driver a hand gesture. “What are you doing?” I asked her. She responded, “I am giving him the finger.”  “No,” I replied. “You are giving him the thumb.”

    Sometimes, it’s all in the translation.

     Esther Blumenfeld