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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
    Nov182011

    Eggplant Caper

    Guest article by David Snell.

    This article was inspired by my last article, "Food Glorious Food." David, a former ABC News Correspondent, is now the principal of Snell Communications, and wrote this story for his grandchildren. 

    Marjorie and I were mad. 

    Mother said we had to eat the Eggplant, but it tasted terrible. How terrible? So terrible we were ready to run away from home if we had to eat it. Usually we liked what mother cooked, and when we didn’t,  we knew the rule.  We could just sit there until we liked it. If there was cake or pie for desert, that usually helped to change my mind, but tonight there wasn’t any desert and, besides, the Eggplant was terrible.  Did I already say that?  Well, it was.

    I sat at the table looking at the Eggplant, then looking at Marjorie looking at the Eggplant.  This time was different.  This time, we would stand up for our rights. How do you do that when you are six years old? I didn’t know, but Marjorie was nine-and-a-half. She was so old  she’d already lost her baby teeth and got most of her new ones. That’s pretty old, right? So, when Mother and Daddy left the kitchen, Marjorie said, “Let’s run away from home.” 

    That sounded like a good idea to me. Both of us hated the Eggplant. Mother said we had to eat it.  Running away from home was the only answer.

    “I'm sorry you feel that way," said Mother. "We'll really miss you," said Daddy.

    They did seem sorry and I thought about changing my mind, but then Daddy got out his billfold and gave each of us brand new dollar bill. Wow! A whole dollar. It was more money than I’d ever had in my whole life.

    Mother and Daddy waved goodbye from the front porch. Marjorie held my hand and we walked off down the street right through the middle of our town. As we passed the grocery store and the drug store, I looked back to see if they were still watching us. They were.

    I had never been downtown without Mother or Daddy. Now, I held tight to Marjorie’s hand as we crossed the street and walked another block toward the edge of town. “Village limits,” said Marjorie, reading the sign on the side of the road just past the Skinner house.

    Now, when I looked back, I couldn’t even see our house.  Now, when I looked past the sign all I saw was a field of corn – that Daddy told me a week ago was “knee high by the 4th of July” – and a long, empty road. I looked up at Marjorie. She was looking at the long, empty road, too.

     “It’s getting kinda dark,” I said. “Maybe it’s too late to start running away from home tonight,” she said. She was right.  I knew she was right. So, right then, we turned around and walked past the sign and past the Skinner house and back into town. That was when Marjorie had a great idea. “Why don’t we go to the drug store and get a milkshake and talk it over,” she said. So that’s what we did. We drank our milkshakes and we talked it over.  I don’t remember what I said, but I do remember what we decided.  Running away from home was the right thing to do (The Eggplant tasted terrible), but we should go home, get a good sleep, and start out in the morning.

    There were hugs and kisses when we got home, but our happiness didn’t last. “You can stay the night,” said Daddy, “and we’ll only charge you a dollar each.” My heart stopped beating.  I felt a lump in my throat.  Our grand plan wouldn’t work after all. Those wonderful milkshakes (mine was chocolate) cost us more than we knew. On our way home from the drug store I had jingled three silver coins in my pocket, enjoying the sound.  Now, I felt my mouth start to quiver.

    “I only have these,” I said.  “Marjorie said we should get a milkshake. “Well,” said Daddy, “I don’t know…”  “Clair,” said Mother, in that kidding tone of hers. “I think we can make an exception.” I didn’t know what “make an exception” meant, but her hug  made my stomach feel better. “We’ll only charge seventy-five cents for tonight.”

    Is that what I have? What a relief. After I got my jammies on and said my regular “Now I lay me down to sleep” prayer, I fell asleep, happy to be in my own bed and no longer sure about running away from home. I woke up to the sounds of morning, feeling great after a long night’s sleep. I stretched and looked out the window at my favorite climbing-tree, the one Marjorie and I had been climbing before supper last night--- BEFORE---The thought hit me like the stomach ache I got when I ate too much Christmas candy. Running away from home?  We were RUNNING AWAY FROM HOME.   

     I walked downstairs slowly, trying to delay what was about to happen.  Marjorie was already sitting at the kitchen table and Mother was standing by the stove  “Are you hungry for pancakes?” she said. 

    Was I ever!

    David Snell (Snell Communications)

     

    Friday
    Nov112011

    Dry Martinis And Other Weather

    Last summer, I took a trip to Washington, DC, but due to unusual weather, I had to pack both my hurricane and my earthquake outfits. “On the go” has taken on a whole new meaning due to climate change.

    Richard Muller, physicist at the University of California Berkeley thought previous studies based on global heat balance were wrong, so global warming deniers eagerly funded his independent Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project.  But, things didn’t quite work out as they expected. Former skeptic, Dr. Muller said, “Our biggest surprise was that the new results agreed so closely with the warming values previously published by other teams in the United States and the United Kingdom. Global warming is real. Perhaps our results will help cool this portion of the climate debate.”

    The deniers who had embraced him are now attacking his credibility, and turning to people like the British charlatan, Lord Monckton, who has absolutely no expertise whatsoever in this area, but is denying away at his heart’s content, while also claiming he has discovered cures for numerous diseases.

    I’m not sure if it was Monckton who started the rumor that polar ice is melting, because those pesky white bears have extraordinarily hot breath and keep panting on the glaciers, but he can say anything he wants---and there are people out there who will make it worth his while, and others who will believe him.

    Of course, as droughts choke out the crops, seas rise, icebergs melt and polluted air becomes more toxic, we can always ignore science and say, “Hey, it’s not our fault!” So whose fault is it?

    Jay Leno said it best: “Climate experts say we should tell villagers in developing countries to reduce the amount of cooking smoke they generate to help fix global warming. You know, it’s as if these people don’t hate us enough already. I mean, they live in mud huts, they have thatch roofs, and their clothes are made of straw. We pull up in a bunch of Humvees and SUVs going, “Hey, you want to cut the smoke out of here?”

    Solution: Texas is cracking from drought. Move Texas to Bangkok. They have plenty of water.

    Esther Blumenfeld (Whether it’s cold, or whether it’s hot, there’s going to be weather, whether or not.)

    Friday
    Nov042011

    Food Glorious Food

    I recently read that ¼ of Americans have a food aversion at any given time. Of course, those with health problems or allergies need to avoid certain foods such as sugar, salt or peanuts, but why is it that people just don’t like certain foods?

    Until I was a guest at a Chinese Dim sum breakfast, I thought I could eat anything, as I helped myself to small portions of steamed any things off of the rolling cart. However, when the “White Cloud Phoenix Chicken Claws” rolled by, I gasped, and not so graciously said, “Oh, My God, it’s chicken feet!” I don’t like toothpicks after my breakfast---let alone as a part of it.

    Some fascinating research has been conducted concerning food preferences. The entertainers, Penn and Teller went to a restaurant in Southern California that features not only an extensive water menu, but also a water Sommelier. They filled the $7.00 water bottles with water from the hose behind the restaurant, but people preferred what they thought was the fancy water. Similar experiments have been conducted with wine. Given a choice, wine tasters preferred the wine from what was labeled a  $100.00 bottle of wine--- not realizing the wine had been switched with a cheap brand and the other bottle labeled $6.00 contained the expensive wine.

    Food labeling matters. No one wanted to even taste “Smoked Salmon Ice Cream,” but a few people said that the “Frozen Savory Mousse” tasted good.

    Also, for me it’s location, location, location! I personally don’t enjoy eating a hamburger at the zoo or a fish taco at an aquarium, but that’s a matter of respect. My father-in-law insisted he didn’t like anything cooked with onions. My mother-in-law told him it was celery, and he loved it.  George H.W. Bush uttered one of the most famous food rejections, “I’m President, so no more broccoli!” I don’t know why he doesn’t like broccoli, but it is a fact that some people just don’t like green food. My mother disliked the smell of peanut butter, so I never had peanut butter sandwiches.

    Food preparation also makes a difference.  On the East Coast, people like their vegetables crisp. In the South, they prefer their veggies almost mushy. Sweet tea is served in Southern restaurants, but when I asked for iced coffee, I was told,” I don’t know how to make that.” A friend traveled to Helen, Georgia and asked for sourdough toast. The waitress said, “Where do you think you are boy, San Francisco? You got a choice of white or brown bread.” In all fairness, when I was in San Francisco, I asked, “What kind of tea do you have?” And the waiter said, “I don’t know. I don’t read Chinese.”

    I read that tamales are now a popular substitute to turkey on Thanksgiving. Somehow, I can’t envision a Presidential Tamale Pardon. Oh, well, to each his own.

    Esther Blumenfeld (“Food is an important part of a balanced diet.” Fran Liebowitz)

     

    Friday
    Oct282011

    Good Deeds And Other Punishing Behavior

    I don’t encourage drop-ins. I do not visit with people without calling them first, so consequently, if someone unexpectedly rings my doorbell, I rarely open the door. Without fail, surprise visitors usually come by when I’m in the midst of a writing project, or if I’ve just stepped out of the shower. I feel no obligation to accommodate them.

    However, last night, a neighbor frantically pounded on the door, rang the bell and yoo-hooed the owls out of the trees. Against my better judgment, thinking that it must be an emergency, I opened the door. As I stood there in my, “Women are from Venus” nightshirt, with shower hair and no makeup, she said, “Your hair looks great, my phone is out of order, and I have to call my daughter to tell her I am okay. Can I use your phone?” She is one of my nicer neighbors, and since it was a semi-emergency I let her in.

    She made a quick call and was on her way toward a quick exit. As I opened the door, a little Chinese boy wearing a plaintive look and Boy Scout uniform greeted us both. He looked at her, unfurled a long order list and said,” “Would you like to buy some caramel corn for my troop?” Whereupon, my neighbor pointed at me and said, “I think you want her.” And then she left, and I was stuck with the little salesman.

    New neighbors moved across the street a few weeks ago, and their little boy is Chinese. I thought little Michael looked taller than I remembered him, but a uniform can make any little man look bigger. He seemed a bit confused when I said, “Michael, if you promise not to bring any of that caramel corn to my house, I will give you a check for your troop.” Notwithstanding, he happily took my check, as his beautiful Chinese mother materialized and thanked me. When they left, I remembered that Michael’s mother is not Chinese.

    So, I let my neighbor in to make a phone call. That call cost me $15.00 (standing at the front door in my nightshirt) for the Boy Scouts of America, and I do not know why those strangers came all the way from China to ring my bell. I am never opening my front door again!

    Esther Blumenfeld (digging a moat)

    Friday
    Oct212011

    Trail Mix

    Every morning I hike a few miles in Sabino Canyon, a beautiful spot in the Santa Catalina Mountain Range that began its formation over 12 million years ago. Hiking is one of the most exciting ways to explore the magic of the Southwest.

    I like venturing off the beaten path, but even those who hike the main trail to the top of a mountain are expected to follow some basic rules:

    1. Runners and hikers are expected to yield to equestrians, which makes a lot of sense unless you enjoy getting run over by a horse.

     2. Bicyclists are supposed to yield to everyone and to announce themselves when they are behind someone. They should avoid using a bullhorn, because that could spook a tourist, and spooked tourists leave bigger scat than non-spooked tourists.

     3. Anyone going downhill is supposed to yield to those gasping on their way uphill.

    4. Groups of women should not block a trail, but if they do, it’s best to let them go ahead of you, so you don’t think you are being followed by a flock of cackling chickens.

    5. Using headphones or ear buds is not a good idea, because you might miss a shout of “ mountain lion!” “I didn’t hear it coming” would look dumb in your obituary.

    6. If you plan to go any further than the parking lot, carry water, wear a hat, bring sunscreen and carry a cell phone. I even carry a soccer whistle in case I come across game, and in the mountains that can be some game!

    7. If you hike to the top of the mountain, remember you have only hiked half way, unless you want to jump off.

    8. Leave no trace that you have been there. That means if you quaff an energy drink, you should have the strength to toss the can into a dumpster.

    9. Share a friendly greeting. I often ask camera-snapping tourists if they’d like me to take their photo to include the photographer. Most visitors are thrilled, but not if I order someone to get into the picture and he doesn’t know those people.

    10.  If you see a celebrity, leave him alone. One day, I spotted the model, Fabio running down the path with his long hair flowing behind him. Unfortunately, he was wearing a shirt.

    During the summer season, we suffer a shortage of rain, but not a shortage of stupid. Someday, I’d love to own a tee shirt with a picture of a big cigarette and the words, “Keep your butt off of my trail.” By the way, everyone stops when a rattlesnake crosses the road. No one cares why he wants to get to the other side. Of course if you sit on a big rock to rest your footsies, you just might find out.

    Esther Blumenfeld (there’s a tarantula on my welcome mat)