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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
    Mar172017

    GOT AN IDEA

    In September 2015, Nicholas Berggruen announced the launch of the Berggruen Institute’s Philosophy and Culture Center. The Center is dedicated to encouraging new ideas and innovative thinking across cultures and disciplines, and will award an annual $1 million philosophy prize judged by an international jury. The Center collaborates with several prestigious institutions and universities. So, if you are an innovative thinker---Go for it!

    People come up with ideas all the time. Some of them, such as the futuristic technological development of “games you can control with your brain waves,” are in the realm of possibility. Scientists have taken this a step forward, and are working on activating muscle movement with brain impulses. This just might be a contender for the prize.

    However, the “Glamour Bonnet” devised in 1941, where a woman had an air-free plastic hood over her head with an attached hose and a vacuum probably wouldn’t be a good bet to win the prize since breathing wasn’t even optional.  

    Back in the 1950’s there were so many UFO sightings reported that the Air Force introduced, “The Flying Saucer Camera.” It had two lenses---one for a normal photo and the other that separated light into colors so one could detect the origins of the light.  So that’s where my tax dollars went!

    Cartoonists and Science Fiction writers often imagined fantastic inventions that are now a part of modern culture.  APPLE has perfected Dick Tracy’s wristwatch, and Buck Rogers forays into space have been realized by NASA (without the alien weirdoes). Batman’s car and Q’s gadgets have also been somewhat inspiring and replicated.  L. Ron Hubbard’s writings about space have even led to a religion.

    So why should we scoff at cybernetic contact lenses that not only help people see better, but deliver news, directions, e-mail and weather reports directly to your eyes. Don’t laugh! The technology is already here.

    And, coming to your shirt pocket is the mini “Adjustick cell phone.” Shown at Japan’s CEATEC technology convention, “the tiny stick-like device projects a usable keyboard and screen when placed on its side.” Right now, I shout at my laptop computer. I can just see myself yelling at a stick.

    So, if you are alive and thinking (two qualifications for the prize), it’s not too late to inspire the world with a $1 million idea.  Just keep in mind, that wooden bathing suits didn’t make it---But maybe if you considered Balsa Wood?

    Esther Blumenfeld (“Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity”) anonymous

    Friday
    Mar102017

    FINGER PLAY

    Every morning, I wake up, turn on the TV, listen to the weather report, and the latest Presidential Twitter, and then I turn it off.

    I don’t tweet, twitter or twiddle—-not even my thumbs. However, nowadays, babies go from thumb to pacifier, and then back to thumb again.They skip verbal communication and go from “MaMa” and DaDa” directly to “Hashtag.”

    Twittering can become a bad habit. Even a well-thought out e-mail can often become misconstrued. With modern technology, it’s just too easy to shoot your words out there before you have given yourself time to properly digest them. It’s called, “Ready! Fire! Aim!
    Consequently, it’s better to measure your words before causing a verbal tsunami.

    When I was a teenager, I got angry with my little brother for using my lipsticks as substitute crayons. So, I wrote a note to my Mother saying, “You should have only had one child!” BUT, I didn’t deliver it. I got over being angry, because my baby brother was a cute little fellow. Also, I was sure that Mother would choose him over me precisely because he was so cute.

    When someone has something important to say, it’s better to say it person-to-person, eye-to-eye, or not say it at all. Of course, that  causes a big problem because people addicted to their cell phones or tablets can’t make eye contact. It’s impossible because their eyes are glued to their thumbs, and the anatomy of communication is now overly dependent on thumbs.

    I always considered the thumb as being the big toe of the hand. People who twitter and tweet have not only become dependent on their thumbs, but totally misunderstand the value of the big toe.

    Consequently, in 2017 the “Little Piggy” nursery rhyme, would go like this:

    “This Little Piggy went to Goldman Sachs.
    This Little Piggy stayed home with his desktop computer.
    This Little Piggy was a Vegan, so he didn’t have roast beef, and
    This Little Piggy had none, because the cows gave off too much methane gas.
     And, the last Little Piggy cried “wee-wee-wee” all the way home, because that’s where he left his phone charger.

    And, you thought thumbs had it bad.

    Esther Blumenfeld (What’s so social about Social Media?)

    Friday
    Mar032017

    TAKE IT APART

    Words have always  intrigued me. As a matter of fact, I am one of those weird birds who often enjoys reading a dictionary.  So, when I recently watched a televised  discussion involving Stephen Bannon, trusted advisor to President Trump, I was taken with the word “Deconstruction,” because it seemed to be one of his favorites.

    Consequently, I looked it up, and to my surprise, I discovered that not only is “Deconstruction” a word, it is an entire philosophy. Back in the Dark Ages, when I attended the University of Michigan, one of my minors was Philosophy. So, for a week, I studied “Deconstruction,” pioneered  by the French Philosopher, Jacques Derrida (1930-2004).

    Although A. Cretan said, “Blah blah blah deconstruction blah blah blah,” I persevered. In a nutshell, Deconstruction involves questioning and revising everything we are told about the world. It applies to literature, art, music and even fashion—-breaking down—-complete deconstruction, and then rebuilding again.  Berkeley Breathed said, “Cartooning is about deconstruction: You gotta tear something down to make a joke.”

    I have no doubt that Bannon is a brilliant man, but applying Deconstruction to government is no joke! In that case it becomes an attempt to dismantle  the logic of a particular system of thought : “to ensure an institutional closure which serves the dominant political and economic interests of American Society.”

    Deconstruction in government involves cabinet picks intended to deconstruct regulations and agencies in Washington with the intent to weaken them.  Bannon says, “The United States will experience a new political order out of this.”

    Bannon’s favorite buzz words are “National Security,” Economic Nationalism,” and “Deconstruction of the Administrative State,” which involves deconstructing the current regulatory system.  He believes that, “The United States will experience a new political order out of this.” And, somewhere in the mix, he adds, “We are a Nation of culture and reason for being,” whatever that means.

    After a week of intensive study of the boring Philosophy of Deconstruction, I understand the blah blah blah reaction to it. However, it reminded me very much of a bullfight I attended in Mexico. The bull had his horns shaved to keep him off balance, and petroleum jelly rubbed in his eyes to impair his vision. Then, when he entered the ring, Picadors on horses drove lances into the bull’s back and neck muscles. This deconstructive action insured that the bull could not raise his head or defend himself. Then the banderillas entered on foot and ran around the bull with sticks containing harpoon points.  Finally, the bull became dizzy from all of this activity, and then the matador killed the already bleeding and mutilated beast. Some favored people in the crowd were awarded the bull’s ears and tail.

    As far as I can surmise, Deconstruction in government has no fixed endpoint or goal, and that repression of Society is necessary for the Philosophy to take control. So, I suggest that Deconstruction is a negative enterprise, and that people need to pay attention before we all lose our tails!

    Esther Blumenfeld (“I always wanted to put a sign up on the road to Yale saying, ‘Beware! Deconstruction Ahead!”’) Gloria Steinem

    Friday
    Feb242017

    TELL IT LIKE IT IS

    I was usually a very respectful child, but once, when I sassed my Mother, she grabbed her bedroom slipper and chased me around the dining room table shouting “ Act like a lady!” The ridiculousness of this situation stuck with me, and unfortunately I have been sassing people ever since. It’s called “Humor,” and I find it everywhere.

    For instance, recently, after attending a theatre production a woman in the audience said, “The best part of the play was when it was over.”

    Yesterday, I answered the telephone, and a man asked for “George.”  I said, “You have the wrong number,” and he said, “Are you sure?” “No,” I replied, “but I know that no one here wants to talk to you.” You have to admit that was pretty sassy.

    When driving home from a meeting, one of the women in the car remarked, “The younger members don’t want to have anything to do with the white haired ladies.” Whereupon, my friend, Paula remarked, “Any hairdresser in any beauty shop can fix that.”

    Once, when I was on a cruise, a  woman at the table ordered a plate of green beans for dinner. That was it—a plate of green beans! She said, “I refuse to gain one ounce on this trip.” I just couldn’t help but say, “I decided a long time ago not to be the thinnest woman in the cemetery.”

    Recently, the weather hit a record 87 degrees in February. I cautioned a new neighbor from the midwest to watch out for rattlesnakes, because when it turns hot, they come out of hibernation. At that, the man said, “I didn’t know they come into neighborhoods, I thought they just live in the desert.” For once, I was speechless. I should have said, “They think you live in the desert and they can’t read house numbers.”

    Last week, another neighbor fell down in the street and cut her chin. I called her husband the next day to see how she was feeling. Her husband told me that she had needed 6 stitches. He added, “Her balance isn’t very good.” Then he told me, “Today, I had to take her to the hospital for surgery.” “What kind of surgery?” I asked. “Hemorrhoid,” he replied. Relieved, I blurted out, “Well, I guess that helped her with her balance.”

    When I told my practical friend Perry, the engineer what I had said, he said, “If it was a matter of balance, she would have been better off keeping the hemorrhoids.”

    Ask, and you just might receive.

    Esther Blumenfeld (“Philosophers are good at parties, but not at cleaning up after.”) Lorrie Moore, A GATE AT THE STAIRS

    Friday
    Feb172017

    THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME

    When my husband and I moved to Tucson, Arizona, new friends warned us that, “Now that you are in sunny Tucson, you will receive lots of visitors---some of them more welcome than others.”

    The day we moved in, we discovered that a mother coyote had given birth to pups in a bush next to our front door, and Pop kept proudly marching up and down the street. So, our first visitor was an agent from the State Wildlife Department. He said, “Don’t go near the coyotes.” Do I look that stupid? “They will leave soon. Then trim the bush up from the ground, so when they return next year, their ‘cave’ won’t be here.” No cave for me. I cut the whole damn bush down.

    Our next guest was a roadrunner. He was not Disney cute when he beat a lizard to death on our front walk. Then we met a neighbor who told us that a Great Horned Owl had picked up her cat (who was obviously not hitchhiking), and all she found were some whiskers and claw marks. At that, I realized that, like Dorothy, I was not in Kansas anymore---although we had moved from Atlanta.

    It took a few days to get settled, before we received a phone call from a woman in Atlanta. “Great news!” she said. “We are coming to Tucson.” I didn’t have the heart to say, “Who are you?” But I remembered that she was a person that I had briefly met a few years ago at a loud, non-conversational party. So, as I had been instructed by my new friends in Tucson, I responded, ”That’s great, and where are you staying?” There was a silence on the other end of the line, and she said, “Perhaps, we will see you when we get there,” and she hung up. Didn’t see her then. Haven’t heard from her since, and I still don’t know who she is.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love when out-of-town friends and family visit and stay with me. I know who THEY are! I was so excited when my former college roommate, Linda came for a visit. I planned all kinds of enjoyable activities. What I hadn’t planned for was a visit to an Orthopedist. When I brought her home from the airport, I parked in my driveway (that sits on a slight slope). As she reached into the trunk to retrieve her suitcase, the case started to roll down the hill, and as she grabbed it, she broke her finger, before she even got into my house. Happily, she has come to visit a few times since and left with fingers intact.

    A few years ago, I received a call from a couple that was best friends with some dear friends of mine in Denver. I didn’t know them, but invited them for lunch. They were pleased to accept, but before they hung up the phone, they told me that they were vegans. When asked what I fed them, I always tell people, “No problem, I invited them to graze in my backyard”.

    However, the strangest visitor I had was a woman who lived in my neighborhood. One early evening, my husband was having a martini and called that I should come to see what he saw in our backyard. Looking out the window, I had a great view of a woman sitting in our mesquite tree. Her parrot had escaped and had found a perch in our tree. But that was only the beginning of my adventures with visits from unusual birds.

    My friend, Sally and I were invited to attend her daughter’s fancy party in San Francisco. So, Sally flew to Tucson to spend a few days with me before we both flew to San Francisco. On the morning of our flight, Sally shouted, “Esther, come here! You have to see this.” “This” turned out to be a very big, beautiful peacock marching up and down my front walk. I tried to shoo it away, but it flew onto my neighbor’s roof and screamed, “Help! Help!” We had to leave, so I locked the door and set the alarm so the peacock couldn’t break in.

    A week later I returned home. My front walk was covered with peacock poop. That peacock must have thought he was a goose. Anyway, it turns out he had escaped from a small backyard zoo. One of the neighbors had thrown a raincoat over him and returned him to his owner.

    I am still delighted when friends and family come to visit me, and my door is always open---except in rainy season when the tarantulas come out of their burrows.

    So come see me anytime.  If I can take it---You can take it!

    Esther Blumenfeld (Next time I’ll tell you about the bobcat who visited me, when I was sitting outside in my hot tub. But that’s another story.)