Saturday, December 26, 2009

Be-Bopping Baby Boomers

I'm now listening to and enjoying music never intended for people my age. You know the drill. We're supposed to hate the crap young people listen to today. Isn't that the way it's always been?

Even with an MP3 player I still listen to the radio. For most of the last twelve years I've bounced between two local radio stations, mostly for weather and traffic information. Lately I'm turning the dial to a third option that provides neither weather nor traffic. The newest entry in the Athens radio market features 50 minutes of decidedly dance-oriented current hits every hour.

I love it! My favorite song right now is Tik Tok by Ke$ha. As they used to say on American Bandstand--it's got catchy lyrics, a great beat and is easy to dance to--I give it a 10. I'm a huge fan of Lady GaGa. I'm also big on Britney's new song (3), a catchy tune by Pitbull (I Know You Want Me) and half a dozen others on the play list.

As a middle-aged man, I'm supposed to hate this music. Instead, I'm dancing in my seat at traffic lights. My head is bobbing and nodding to the beat as I sing my own version of the lyrics. I'm sure it's quite a sight to those on the road around me.

But that's not the worst of it. In the privacy of my bathroom I dance with reckless abandon every morning. I'm dusting off and updating dance moves I haven't used since the 80s. If I could just find something Gaga-inspired to wear, I'd go out clubbing to show off all my new moves.

I'd do it, I swear I would...if I could only stay awake late enough to go clubbing. It's probably just as well. There isn't a club in the world ready for the dancing fool that is...

The Crotchety Old Man.


Friday, December 25, 2009

The Bounty of Christmas Past

Growing up, Christmas was the one day of the year you could count on our family being home. Any other day we could be anywhere. But Christmas we were home.

Mom's presents were wrapped and under the tree well before Christmas, with gifts from Santa securely hidden nearby. Dad usually did most of his shopping in the days before Christmas Eve. He'd come home, drag bags down the back steps and spend the rest of the day wrapping presents in the basement.

I got everybody up Christmas morning. Well, not directly. But I did coerce my sister into asking my parents if we could get up. Most of the time it was still too early. We'd go back to bed and ask again 15 minutes later. I did sleep until 7 one year, but was in my 20s at the time.

Santa artfully arranged gifts for me and my sister on either side of the tree. Everything was fully assembled and ready for action. When we were little the displays rivaled anything seen in department store windows. To my knowledge, no pictures were ever taken.

After gifts from Santa had been admired it was time to open the rest of the presents. The shear volume made taking turns impractical. Instead, we all tore in with abandon. It was all over in 30-minutes or less.

Then we had a couple of hours to enjoy the Christmas bounty before guests arrived for dinner. You never put stuff up because everyone coming over wanted to see the gifts. This practice started when we were young and continued out of habit well beyond the time anyone cared what we got.

By the time guests arrived we were cleaned up, wearing new clothes and reeking of new soaps, shampoos and colognes. Grannie and some of our relatives from Dad's side of the family hit our house for early dinner, and my Aunt Doris's house for a late dinner. Mom's family tended to drop by after dinner for an evening of the latest board games.

Dinner was always the same, give or take a side. Turkey, country ham, dressing, mashed potatoes, scalloped oysters, sweet potatoes, green beans, corn pudding, gravy, Waldorf salad, cranberry sauce, and brown-n-serve rolls. Grannie usually brought chocolate meringue pies and tons of her homemade candy and fudge.

After dinner we spent the day playing with new toys and games. Board games were a constant, with favorites changing as we got older and as new games came along. Sometimes somebody even took the time to read the rules, but mostly we just made it up as we went along. Good times were had by all.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Screening Facebook Status Updates and Stuff

My addiction to Facebook continues. The inner me requires that I read each and every status post of every one of my 250+ friends. It's beyond exhausting.

Some of you thanked me for tips about hiding applications like Farmville, Yoville and Mafia Wars in an earlier posts. Eliminating all the extraneous crap still leaves an overwhelming volume of posts to read. More drastic measures were needed.

For the most part, I'm interested. I enjoy seeing pictures of my friends' parents, kids, grandkids and pets even if we're unlikely to ever meet. I enjoy reading status updates and look forward to the next post for most of my Facebook friends.

Most, but not all. Repeatedly post comments, links, and/or pictures that offend or annoy me and sooner or later I'm going to click "hide". Here are a few of the reasons I hide friends on Facebook:

* Your profile picture is a bird. I'm not talking the feathery kind, either. While the obscene gesture may be fine for your friends, it's not appropriate for mine. Click.

* You posted a crude link, comment or photo. I'm all about some naughty. But nasty is inappropriate. Click.

* You post the results of quizzes about your sex life or sex organs. I don't care and suspect your friends don't either. I'd also guess you haven't had sex in ages. Still waters run deep. Click.

* You try to advance your absurd political agenda. I'm all for freedom of speech. I've even had some great debates with FB friends with views different from my own. But start talking about missing birth certificates or the intellectual attributes of Sarah Palin and I'm done. Click.

* You think I rely on you for information about something other than you, your family and your local sports teams. I don't. Click.

* You won't shut up about your faith. Yeah I're shouting from the rooftops. I'm more impressed with a quiet faith. All that noise gets on my nerves. Click.

No doubt, some of my friends have hidden my posts, too. I'd guess it's because there are too many of them and/or they're tired of hearing about our silly little dogs. Oh well. You can't please everyone. Trying is what keeps me...

The Crotchety Old Man

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Late-Blooming Dog Lover

If you are born one way or the other, I'm pretty sure I was meant to be a dog lover. As with most things it took me a while to figure this out. Allow me to explain.

I had tropical fish and hamsters growing up. I would have enjoyed both more had they not been banished to the darkest corner of the basement. The fish were interesting, and I've had aquariums on and off ever since. Hamsters were too prone to escape, and in the end, not all that cuddly and more than a little smelly.

Soon after I moved out I wanted a dog of my own. But my third floor apartment and the fact pets were prohibited made dog ownership problematic. A coworker had kittens, so I got a cat. In fact over the next 15 or 20 years I got several cats: Damien, Mehitabel, Penelope, Damien II (The Sequel), and Sadie. All had their good points but Penelope was the best of the bunch.

Now we have little chihuahuas, Tico (15 months/7 pounds) and Toodles (8 months/4 pounds). They are infinitely more demanding than any of the pets I've had before. But worth it.

Tico is a sweet, well-behaved little dog and a very positive role model for his younger half-sister. He's very friendly and gets along with most dogs and all people. He's also smart. He knows all his toys by name and is quick to learn new tricks.

Toodles gets sweeter all the time. She's a talker with an extensive variety of sounds. She can express frustration a dozen different ways. She won't let me out of her sight, and stays at my feet, by my side or in my lap as much as possible. I'd take her with me everywhere if I could get by with it.

The two of them together are a constant source of entertainment. They wrestle, play keep away, fetch and tug of war, and chase each other in mad circles around the house. Whatever the game they follow a set of complex rules only they understand. Adorable.

Never say never, but I really don't see me ever getting another cat. The dogs wouldn't approve. And I'm pretty sure I'll always have a dog. Why wouldn't I? I'm a born dog lover and...

The Crotchety Old Man

Friday, December 11, 2009

I Heart Wendy Williams

I think I'm falling in love with Wendy Williams. She's beautiful, chocked full of common sense and happy to share her opinion on any and all topics. She's like crack. One time and I was hooked.

She's been on the radio for a long time. I didn't notice her until I caught her new television talk show. The Wendy Williams Show originates on BET but appears on lots of different stations. If you haven't seen the show, you really need to check her out.

Wendy looks like a cross between Rupaul and Barbie. She's 5'11" in stocking feet (size 11) and is rarely out of five inch heels. Picture a a tall, African-American Dolly Parton with butt-length hair instead of Dolly's signature bouffant.

Wendy's breasts deserve a paragraph of their own. They are magnificent! We're talking a very perky 40DD. She loves to wear tight-fitting dresses to emphasize her 40-30-40 figure. Her girls leap out at you like barely contained basketballs. Kim from Real Housewives of Atlanta looks flat-chested next to Wendy.

Wendy makes a grand entrance at the start of every show. You can tell by her beaming face she is absolutely thrilled to have an audience. People send in videos of little girls in long, straight wigs imitating Wendy's tag line and theme song: How YOU doing?

The addictive factor is Wendy's audacity. Whether gossiping about celebrities in her Hot Topics segment, chatting up her guests, or answering audience questions, Wendy tells it like it is. She'll say anything. She makes me laugh. That's quite a feat considering I am...

The Crotchety Old Man

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Last Square....

We're used to seeing sizes shrink so the producer can avoid a price increase. A pound of coffee becomes 13 ounces, a box contains a few ounces less cereal than before, and a half-gallon of ice cream is now only 1 1/2 quarts.

The price stays the same, but we're getting less for our money. Producers figure we don't mind paying more per pound (or ounce or whatever) as long as we don't have to pay more at the cash register. Makes sense. Or maybe they think we won't notice.

As a man of a certain age I've adjusted to countless of these petty little changes with little more than a grunt and a shake of the head. Yeah, shrinking packages are annoying. They don't, however, change the quality or the experience. Coffee, ice cream, and cereal taste exactly the same as before.

But now they have gone too far. Have you bought toilet paper lately? The makers of the brand we have loyally purchased for ages trimmed half an inch from the width of every roll. I know a half inch doesn't sound like much. And with most things it's not. But with this particular product, fractions of an inch matter.

This little cost-saving measure has significantly changed my experience with this product. I've lost confidence. Lack of confidence means we're spinning through twice as many rolls as before. Am I alone???

Give me the option to pay more for width--a feature I have perhaps taken for granted my entire life. Had I known this change was coming, I would have filled our entire garage with the old wide rolls. I would have, or my name isn't...

The Crotchety Old Man

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Gardening on a Budget

I wonder if there is such a thing as a frugal flower gardener. I'm thinking no, because flower gardening in and of itself is a rather frivolous activity. Frivolity is verboten among the frugal. Hence, the idea of a frugal flower gardener is an oxymoron.

On the continuum between wants and needs, flower gardening comes down somewhere much closer to a want than a need. You can debate this all you want. But when it comes down to food, flowers, or something for your flower garden, you better pick food or the state will take your kids. Honest.

Some of you will suggest the answer is a garden budget. I laugh at your garden budget! How does one budget art? My suburban landscape was a blank canvas when I moved here. After more more than a decade of additions, deletions, and countless edits the garden has become a work of art. I could never allow a lack of resources to limit my artistic vision.

The limit has been my artistic vision, or lack thereof. Experts want you to plan your garden and gradually implement your plan over several years. My style is a lot and experimental. I see something I like, buy it, find a place for it, and hope for the best. If it doesn't work, I'll move it. A flower garden evolves.

Every gardener I know is prone to excess and likely to be generous with more vigorous selections. A longtime gardening friend orders enough perennials from various catalogs every year to completely fill her garden two or three times. Another prowls small nurseries throughout northeast Georgia in search of rare and unusual plants--and anything else that's too nice to pass up. I like shopping for bargains at big box garden centers--Lowe's, Home Depot, Walmart, KMart. I'll find a place for it...somewhere.

We wouldn't be gardeners if we didn't pick up a few things at the annual sales conducted by organizations like the State Arboretum of Georgia and the UGA Horticulture Club. It wouldn't be fall without a few more packages of spring-flowering bulbs--you know--just to replace those eaten by squirrels and chipmunks. Come summer we'll need more annuals and a couple of big pots to brighten things up.

My garden spending is too often penny-wise, pound foolish. I will spend $15 for a flat of annuals without a second thought. In fact, I routinely buy 6 to 12 flats of annuals every spring and every fall. I love the instant color and the ability to change things up every year.

Getting me to spend the same amount for a shrub or tree is a different story. I won't do it. Why? Because adding trees or shrubs requires a lot more thought. I'd have to research the right plant for the spot, consider all the various cultivars and forms to identify the desired variety and then search the Internet to find THE ONE. If I choose poorly, well, it's a permanent decision!

That's right. I will spend $75 for annual flowers certain to die before the end of the year before I'll spend $15 for a more permanent plant. Think I'm crazy? Shows what you know about art!
Follow CrotchetyMan on Twitter