Sunday, December 21, 2008

And To All A Good Night...

Dear Friends,

To the many readers of "Are We Having Fun Yet" we leave you with these holiday wishes. The editors will return next year to delight and entertain yet again!

2008, a year to abhor

foreclosures, layoffs, recession and war

death & destruction, disaster galore

financial distress, jobs sent offshore

but still there is hope, beauty and love

and faith in the cosmic power above

believe in the future and happier times

the best will come yet in 2009

Keep the faith Baby!

Wishing you joy and peace this holiday season!

Copyright 2008

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No part can be reprinted or reused in any way without express written permission from the author

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Very Democratic Holiday

(sung to the tune of
Santa Claus is Coming to Town)

Oh! you better watch out

You better not lie

You better not doubt

I’m telling you why

Democrats are going to town

They’ve got a hit list

They’re rolling the dice

Gonna get rid of lobby and vice

Democrats are going to town

They know big biz is scheming

They know when deals are fake

They know which loans are bad or good

With Lehman on the make

So… you better watch out. You better not lie

You better not doubt, I’m telling you why

Democrats are going to town.

Little reforms, Insider chums

Booty lawsuits- go after those bums

Democrats are going to town

Business Exec’s that sob boohoo

Repo Ferarris and Limo cars too

Democrats are going to town

The magnates all live in playland

They’ll get a penalty

They’re gonna spend 5 to 10 in a penitentiary

Oh… You better watch out, you better not lie

You better not doubt, I’m telling you why

Democrats are going to town.

Copyright 2008

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Republican Holiday Party

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the House
Right wingers are slurring, Obama’s a louse

The mocking begun, intending to sc
In hopes their disgust
would soon be laid bare

Lobbyists all smug in their states crimson Red

Plotting escape from the dems they all dread

In shock disbelief from their election night zap
They’d just settled plans to get cong
ress back

With Palin long gone, arose the mad hatter
It’s dirty Dick
Cheney, full of mad blather

Away to the Veeper’s top secret stash
Tore open his checkbook
, filled with GOP cash

There’s no time to rest, there are rumors to sow
With swift boat veterans, it’s on with the show

When what to my plundering eyes should appear
But tiny Karl Rove's, vendetta and fear

A political genius, at old party tricks
He knew right away, to get in his licks

Fast and illegal Rove’s couriers came
And he whistled and shouted and loudly proclaimed

Now Romney, Now Rumsfeld, Now Rudy and Jindal
On Crist, On Pawlenty, On Libby and McConnell

So up to the House-top conservatives flew
For a ruthless payback, that's long overdue

They’re plan, it was shocking, they needed a jerk
Lieberman helped with his own dirty work

Liberal dems they need to dispose
Hillary, Kerry, Teddy must go

Rumors, innuendo, to make them all bristle
Conservatives took aim at the lard and the gristle

And I heard them exclaim, to Ann Coulter's delight
Wait till 2012, when we're back for a fight!

(Up next: The Democrats respond)

Copyright 2008

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Monday, December 8, 2008


This year, it’s the Christmas Tree from hell. At least, it sure seems that way. This drama begins a few days ago when Trina and I go in search of the Holy Grail. The perfect tree. I grew up in a family where every December, the men put on their woolies and trekked out into the deep woods in search of a trophy tree. We’d trudge through the snow, braving the icy cold, armed with saws, axes and assorted implements of destruction. Frasier Fir, Blue Spruce, Scotch Pine, we knew our wily prey. Sometimes it took all day to find that perfectly-shaped tree. No Charlie Brown Christmas Trees allowed. We never, ever, came home empty handed.

Okay, so we really just went to a tree farm at the end of the street. But we did cut the tree down with our own hands and hauled it to the car like manly men. We lashed it to the roof like freshly-killed game. And as we drove home (with our hands and feet jammed into the heat vents) everyone could see that we’d bagged our quarry. They envied our prowess and the trophy tree that was now ours. Of course, the women folk also went along to make sure we didn’t bring home a tree that was:

a) too big

b) too scraggly

c) too homely

d) too thick

e) too tall

f) ewwwwww!

g) all of the above

Trina grew up in a house where the tree came out of a box. All shiny and pre-loaded with tinsel-trimmed sparkly lights. She’s not wild about live trees in general. She’s less thrilled about the whole process of hunting for a live tree. I think she gets a little woozy at the sight of sap. It usually takes a lot of begging and pleading. But Trina always indulges my hunter-gatherer instincts.

This time, we drive 60 miles to the hinterlands of central Pennsylvania. In part, because Harrisburg is prime territory for perfect trees. And partly, because there’s a Mega-Christmas Tree Farm perched right beside the turnpike. So it wasn’t too hard to find. We stealthily maneuver our car into the parking lot, careful to stay downwind to keep from spooking the trees. Of course, there are 150 other cars already in the parking lot. So the element of surprise appears lost. There’s a friendly yellow lab who wants his belly rubbed. There’s the faint scent of hot chocolate, extra sweet. There are garlands & wreaths & ribbons. And horses hitched to wagons, ready to ferry us Christmas Tree hunters to the promised land. This, I tell Trina, is perfect Christmas Tree territory. Until we see the prices. $9.50 a foot. $12.50 a foot if we wimp out and buy a pre-cut?

Back in the car, the hunt resumes. We drive through Lancaster County. The fields are freshly turned, the thick brown loam stretching into the distance. The Amish are out in force. Buggys everywhere. I wonder, do the Amish put up Christmas trees? And if so, do they hunt them down or just take the buggy over there to the Mega-Christmas Tree Farm? Trina rolls her eyes. Stopping at a convenience store, I slip a clerk some extra cash. She slyly gives me directions to the local Christmas Tree hunting ground. We quickly drive there, our hearts pounding. It’s a small Christmas Tree farm. A modest home is set in the middle of this Arboreal Nirvana. “How much?” I inquire. The woman in charge eyes me over. “20 bucks, for any tree you can catch.” We shake on it. “Deal”. Trina and I take a saw and begin to prowl. I’m ready to pounce. But time and again, Trina says, “too little”, “too scrawny”, too many needles”. Yada Yada Yada. An hour later we leave sans tree. But you should have seen the one that got away.

The minutes pass by, then hours. Darkness begins to fill the sky. We are lost. Almost magically, we find a highway. Civilization at last! And right there is a huge sign, pointing back into the wasteland we’ve just left. “Christmas Trees” it says. Undaunted, we turn back, following the jagged spore of Christmas Tree Farm signs. Until, suddenly, there they are. Christmas trees stretching out into the twilight. They charge $7.50 a foot. It’s too much. But I…Must…. Have…. A … Tree. In moments we have found it. The perfect Christmas tree. Just as I place my saw blade to its pulsing trunk, Trina shrieks “STOP”. “Are you kidding me?” “No”, she says, “this tree is already tagged. I shudder. Some other Christmas Tree hunter has beaten us to the spot. Murphy is the name on the tag attached to an upper limb. Murphy’s Law indeed. Trina and I go on. Finally we find a tree. Not quite perfect. But close enough. The girl at the exit says our tree measures seven feet. She even counts the foot-long scrawny twiglet sticking out of the top. I hand her my credit card. “Oh”, she says, “there’s a four-percent fee to use credit”. I’m beginning to tremble. I pay cash instead. $55.65. I could have gotten it cheaper at the MegaTree Farm six-hours ago…

Back at home, we resurrect the tree in our foyer. It fits “perfectly”. Lights, ornaments, ribbons. It’s majestic. We gaily wrap Christmas presents and gently place them next to the tree. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

The next day, as I add water to the tree stand, our tree unexpectedly lurches forward. It’s still alive! Putting my hands up in self-defense, I wrestle the tree to the ground, ornaments flying in all direction. Two gallons of water cascade across the floor, swamping our presents. So there I stand, maniacally ripping open gifts in a desperate race to save them before they’re soaked through. I am successful. But now, we must re-wrap everything. We mop the floor. We place the tree back in its stand. And we lash it to the walls with 15 gauge wire. Subdued, the tree knows it’s going nowhere.

Later, as night approaches, I turn on the lights. No lights. They shorted out in the flood. Those pre-packaged tinsel trees are starting to look pretty good.

Copyright 2008

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No part can be reprinted or reused in any way without express written permission from the author

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Oh Say, Can You See?

Trina and I have just returned from a visit to California. State Motto: "See what you've been missing". And there's so much not to see. That's because California is constantly covered with fog. And not just any fog.

There was Pea Soup in San Diego. Gray Mist in Malibu. Obnoxious O2 in Oxnard. Hydro Haze in Hermosa. Sea Smoke in San Francisco. Even London Fog at Saks Fifth Avuenue. There is fog everywhere.

We took a trip up the famous Pacific Coast Highway. It was magnificent. Or so we’re told. We didn’t see a thing because an incredibly thick blanket of fog rolled in off the ocean. There were waves crashing, Sea Lions barking, Harbor Seals howling, and Sea Otters ottering. We could hear them all but never got a glimpse. Trina came armed with her MagnaChroma Z280 Camera, and a suitcase crammed with digital photographic gear. But sadly, it never saw the light of day. There was nothing to photograph except that thick goopy sky. We stopped at a gift shop and admired the breathtaking sights by looking at the postcards.

It was more of the same in San Francisco. They get so much fog in San Fran, they have pet names for it, depending on where you live.

The infamous Castro Creeper is known for spreading through the Castro District, choking the locals like roaches caught in a cloud of Raid. We hiked up to Coit Tower, a well-known lookout with spectacular views of The City by The Bay. Well, you couldn't prove it by us. We couldn’t see the Bay, Alcatraz, Chinatown, or anything else. We rode a cable car back to the hotel, zooming through murky streets lined with stores, restaurants and homes. But who knows? Maybe they took us on a tour of the city dump. We were in a fog. Again.

Undaunted, the next morning we drove out to see the legendary Golden Gate Bridge. It was a magnificent sight. At least we imagine it must have been. Somewhere out there, completely hidden in the haze, was that mighty American landmark.

Next stop, Napa Valley. Thin wisps of fog rippled in our wake as we guided our rented Suzuki Sidekick ever Northward. Finally, the Fog broke. We could see! Row after row after row of grape vines. We had discovered a wino’s oasis, an alcohol-based air hole, a break in the dismal California fog bog. We stopped at several famous vineyards and sampled their finest wines. It was a moment of clarity (or was it Claret) in what was otherwise a vacation void of vision. Our time in Napa was a wonderful respite from the hazy horizons that hung over our journey like the specter of gloom. But after several glasses of Napa Valley’s finest grape juice, I realized that everything suddenly looked foggy again. Rats! Too much Vino… At least Trina was our designated driver.

We sped back to San Francisco, anxious to board a plane going anywhere. Anxious to sail above the fog that followed us everywhere. On our way back to the airport, we had to cross the Golden Gate, just as the sun was going down. I know it was sunset because the fog had miraculously lifted.

We could see the bridge, the bay, even Alcatraz. It was a moment to savor. So Trina hauled out her MagnaChroma Z280 and took about 600 photos, snapping away merrily, until the fog rolled back in again. We left before dawn, taking the redeye back home to Pennsylvania. Naturally, our flight was diverted to Richmond. Too foggy to land in Philadelphia

Copyright 2008

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No part can be reprinted or reused in any way without express written permission from the author

Sunday, November 30, 2008

California Part 2 Star Gazing

Sunset Boulevard:

So here we are on a mission to discover California’s most notable landmarks. And since it’s Trina’s first trip, we have to see the really hot spots. We’re hitting the A-list.

First stop: Sunset Boulevard and Grauman’s Chinese theater where movie stars are canonized in concrete . Trina has heard of George Clooney, but wonders, who are all these other people. Jane Russell? Marilyn Monroe? John Wayne? Losing interest quickly, we switch to a new form of sidewalk entertainment, the Walk of Fame. I have my photo taken with Nat King Cole’s marker. Trina poses with Celine Dion’s star. A lot of aspiring actors are hanging around pretending to be famous celebs. One is dressed (more of less) like Spiderman. Another appears to be Freddie Krueger. And there are two Marilyn Monroe look-alikes wearing white dresses, waiting for a passing subway breeze. They volunteer to pose for photos and then hit you up for a “donation”. I take a pass and suddenly one of those dreamy Marilyn Monroes gives me a dementedly dangerous look. Thank God I stayed away from Freddie Kreuger! We ask a security guard where to go to get a good view of the famed HOLLYWOOD sign. He tells us to go around the corner and look up. Clearly, we are tourists.

I drive Trina down Rodeo drive. She is unimpressed. Especially since she knows I can’t afford to buy anything there. Who’s the genius who decided it's pronounced Row- Day-Oh instead of Row Dee-Oh. Oh, Oh Pleeeeze!

Trina decides she needs to take a tour of the Movie Star homes. With visions of Cellulose Celebrity Sightings, we speedily embark in our rented Suzuki Sidekick. Well, we go as fast as you can in a Sidekick. Apparently a lot of people have taken the tour of Movie Stars’ homes. And it would appear that after the first bazillion tourists stopped in to say hi, all the Movie Stars took evasive action to protect their privacy. They installed very high hedges and imposing iron gates around their properties. So, we spend two hours touring hedges and gates. We see Courtney Cox’s hedge. We pass by Paul McCartney’s Gate, and Ringo Starr’s gate too. Or was it George Harrison’s? Paul was always my favorite. He has a lovely gate. We also go to see Ellen DeGeneres’ gate. This is a little embarrassing. The road leading to Ellen’s house is fairly narrow… and when we get to the end of it, there’s a BIG gate. It’s a private road. Sorry Ellen! I have to k-turn about 6 times to turn around, pretending not to notice the agitated looks from Ellen's household staff as they glare through the bars of Ellen's Mega-Gate. But hey, I’m here to tell you. It is one heck of a gate. Undaunted, we press ahead, up into the Hollywood Hills. We tool around Muholland drive and see Jack Nicholson’s gate. It’s not that impressive. But I understand he has quite a nice compound in there. We also see the gate for Britney Spears’ home. That doesn't really count because Britney lives in a gated community. So, while we did see her gate, that particular gate also belongs to a lot of other people.

We accidentally drive up to an overlook with a beautiful view of the HOLLYWOOD sign. There are lots of other tourists there, a busload of Germans having just pulled in. We ask one of them to take our picture. This German guy claims to be a serious photographer. And later, when we see the picture we can tell he is good. It’s a nice photo of Trina and me. Unfortunately, you can barely see the famous HOLLYWOOD sign behind us.

Melrose Drive:

The following day we visit our friends, Jon & Jean. Trina wants to shop on Melrose Avenue. Once there, we find lots and lots of Thrift shops. Apparently, Movie Stars like to sell their expensive wardrobes to us peons. Sadly, Jon and I do not find any Givenchy gowns for $15. And we don’t find anything for Trina either. Suddenly, there is a hubbub! People with cameras start running around. It is the famed Paparazzi!! One of them explains that Michael Jackson has returned from the MiddleEast and is going shopping. We wait expectantly, hoping the gloved one will stop to say hi. (We're feeling especially needy after being snubbed over at Ellen’s place.) Suddenly, there he is. Or rather, there is a fleet of Cadillac Escalades with tinted windows speeding down Melrose. People on the street jump up and down and wave. I’m sure inside one of those massive SUV’s Michael is waving back. The next day, the tabloids are full of reports explaining that Michael went furniture shopping, in his pajamas. But we depart Melrose Avenue with no gowns, not even one of Michael’s sequined gloves. It’s now getting late. We hop on the freeway. Traffic stops dead. An accident? A naked girl running down the median? Michael in his PJ's? Nope. It’s a wildfire. One of the biggest highways in LA is closed at rush hour just because flames threaten to incinerate us commuters. We go the back way home, past Jack Nicholson’s gate, past Dr. Phil’s massive concrete wall. After a quick 2 hour detour we have covered 12 miles and we are home for dinner fashionably late, at 8:30pm. Jon’s lovely wife Joan has kept the meal simmering. Supper is delayed but delicious. We chat into the night, sitting by Jon & Jean's gorgeous outdoor pool, keeping a watchful eye out for scary nocturnal creatures lurking out in the sagebrush. Coyotes. Owls. Michael Jackson.

Next time, Sea Elephants Meet the Velvet Fog

Copyright 2008

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Thank You! Thank You!

Thankfully Thanksgiving

Once again, Thanksgiving is upon us. A time to give thanks. For starters, I'm thankful that Thanksgiving is an honest to God, unadulterated, four day holiday weekend. You can't say that about the 4th of July, Memorial Day or any of the other less-regal three day holidays.

I think I speak for everyone when I say that us people are very thankful that we're not turkeys. Of course, I'm referring to turkeys in the drumstick and stuffing sense. Those of you who are real turkeys will have to suffer through Thanksgiving just like you do the other 364 days of the year.

I'm thankful for Mom's scalloped potatoes, yams, those little skinny sweet pickles in the relish tray and all the other yummy stuff we stuff ourselves with.

I'm extremely thankful for my wife Trina who loves me. And I'm really thankful my incredibly intelligent wife hasn't figured out what a boob she really married. Life is full of strange wonders to be thankful for!

I'm thankful for our golden retriever, Mika, and for our cats Barney & Bailey. My life would be much less full without them. Mostly, it would be less full of cleaning up various forms of pet poop & puke (and wondering which element came from which animal).

I'm thankful for Thanksgiving parades, football games and post-gorging naps on the couch. Especially football. It's just such an exciting sport to watch. And it's an All American sport to boot.

I'm thankful that Washington politicians take a "holiday recess", spending Thanksgiving in their home districts. It's just one less chance they get to "bless" us Americans with their special talents. I'll bet Barack Obama is thankful he won the election. And I'll bet right now he's scared to death. John McCain is probably thankful he doesn't have to campaign anymore. And I'll bet McCain is secretly happy he doesn't have to spend the next four years with his new BFF Sarah Palin. I wonder what George Bush is thankful for this year? For starters, he still has a job and a place to stay. But like a lot of us, his job status and home address are about to change.

I'm equally thankful that Wall Street and all the other financial institutions close their doors for national holidays. We would probably be even more thankful if they would close down a little more often.
On a related subject, I'm thankful that my investments haven't lost all their value. I'm pretty sure there's still some spare change hiding in my sofa. Some enterprising capitalist tool will eventually get around to scamming me out of whatever money is left. With that in mind, there's reason to be thankful that retirement is many, many, many years away. With this economy, I'll be working for eons, whether I want to or not.

Speaking of money, I'm thankful that Donald trump hasn't been around much lately. I haven't missed his icky hairdo either. No joke here. I'm just thankful.

I'm thankful I haven't received an invitation to appear on Dr. Phil, Oprah, or Jerry Springer. That's probably a good thing. But I have to admit, sometimes I think I must be the only person in America who hasn't gotten the call.

I'm thankful that we've all been seeing less of Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and that guy "Carrot Top". I don't know why, but they all scare me. At least I can't prove Carrot Top goes carousing without any panties... Now, there's a mental image I'm not so thankful for!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Copyright 2008

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

California Dreaming

Trina and I just spent two magical weeks in California. For those of us who normally reside on the right coast, California is like visiting another country. We fly into Los Angeles on Virgin America. Very fitting since this is my wife's first visit to LaLa Land.

San Diego:

As Trina and I drive South to visit friends near San Diego we pass through awe inspiring territory. Namely, a mountain wilderness packed with enough dead brush to kindle one of those massive wildfires California is famous for. That is, when they’re not having mudslides, earthquakes, plague, etc. We hurtle down the freeway in bumper-to-bumper traffic so dense you can get out and walk across the moving cars. Adding to the excitement are deep pockets of fog. It’s the kind of fog you see on those TV News reports about thousand car pile-ups. Stopping to stretch our legs and de-whiten my knuckles, there are signs warning us to watch out for Rattlesnakes. Now this is paradise! Our friends, Tom & Marcy, take us to lunch at a very nice outdoor restaurant. We chat about old times while fighter jets from Miramar dive-bomb our table. Nothing like the deafening roar of turbocharged afterburners to enhance any fine dining experience.

Laguna Beach:

Most people don’t know this. But the name Laguna Beach comes from a Native American word meaning, “people with suitcases filled with cash”. This is a great place to watch wealthy people at play. Hummers, Rolls Royces, Ferraris and Maseratis, all jam into shopping malls filled with expensive restaurants and shops. Again, we stay with friends, Tim & Patty. Tim takes us out on their boat. We motor along past an armada of luxury sailboats, yachts, and ocean-going catamarans. Hordes of Sea Lions are draped across the main decks of the boats that don’t have security guards. Those Sea Lion-infested boats are filthy! But the beasts seem quite happy camped out on their pirated vessels. Trina, our wilderness photographer, quickly snaps 32-hundred photos, having fallen in love with Sea Lions. Sadly, our boat ride is cut short. Dangerous currents? A hurricane? Tidal waves? No. Just more impenetrable fog. Once back on shore it's time for dinner. Fortunately, Tim & Patty know the best places to eat. And they can help us pronounce the names of all the fancy dishes on the menu. We eat at the Chez Moritz. That’s Native American for “leave your first born with the Maitre d’.


Hollywood! And our encounter with Michael Jackson in his PJs!!

Copyright 2008

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No part can be reprinted or reused in any way without express written permission from the author