SkyMall, say it ain’t so!

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The Internet and news sources are abuzz today with the tragic story, and I, too, with a heavy heart mourn the passing of another beloved comedy icon. Only hours ago it was announced that SkyMall will cease touring. SkyMall first appeared in 1990, plying its trade aboard puddle jumpers, regional airlines, and commuter flights, testing and revising its material to the amusement of audiences from coast to coast.

In 1992 it hit the big time when, as luck would have it, Johnny Carson, enroute to the Emmy Awards in which he won a statuette for Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series, glanced through a few pages of this upstart entertainer, bought a bottle of newly launched Thierry Mugler “Angel” perfume, and stuffed SkyMall in his briefcase. After this fortuitous meeting, Skymall appeared with Johnny frequently and was invited to the much desired chair, even if it was in the…well…you know.

I think even Johnny would have been delighted with this SkyMall offering. All images courtesy of SkyMall.com

I think even Johnny would have been delighted with this SkyMall offering.
All images courtesy of SkyMall.com

As Ellen DeGeneres, David Letterman, Jerry Seinfeld, and many other comedians discovered, Johnny’s stamp of approval meant overnight success; and so it was for SkyMall. In 1992 SkyMall increased its profits 100% and became a regular performer in nearly every jumbo jet flying the friendly skies. And if the skies were unfriendly, SkyMall no doubt had a solution – or could help you think of one yourself.

This brain massager is just the thing to stimulate deep thoughts

This brain massager is just the thing to stimulate deep thoughts

Readers of my blog may remember my tribute to SkyMall in my post “Getting There is All the Fun?” Over its 25-year career, SkyMall has allowed me to laugh away elbows bruised by jostled drink trolleys, fears of sudden turbulence, irritation at guys who reclined their seats into my lap, and countless hours of boredom when I discovered someone had already done the crossword puzzle in the airline magazine. But now its wit and weird wisdom is going the way of the free bag of peanuts, the free carry ons, the free meals, the free headsets, the free blankets…well, it’s going away. Without SkyMall the friendly skies will be…

...a little alien.

…a little alien.

And air travel will be the poorer for its absence.

Sometimes…

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Sometimes, in the egg carton of life you need a thick shell.

WitLoveKath - Egg Carton of Life IV

 

“Up To the Door”—A Modern Christmas Carol

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                                                        Up To the Door                                                            (sung to the tune of Up On the Housetop)

Up to the door the driver springs.
Ding, dong, ding the doorbell rings
You’re not at home to take the package,
Leaving it ripe for old-school hackage.

Ho, ho, ho!
I run tiptoe.
Ho, ho, ho!
No one will know.
Up to the porch and,
Quick, quick, quick,
The presents you ordered
Have just been nicked.

First…Hey!…An iPhone for little Nell,
Or on Ebay it could sell.
With all that money I’d be rich—
Could gorge on champagne and a cheese sandwich.

Chorus

Next…Wow!…an X-box for little Will.
Destiny ain’t just a game, I feel.
Oh! Christmas morning will be so jolly.
Of course, for you it will be melancholy.

Chorus

Dang! You ain’t near the fool I thought.
On home surveillance I was caught.
My face is splashed across the news.
I’ll be sent down to pay my dues.

Ho, ho, ho!
I’m such a schmo.
Ho, ho, ho!
How could I know?
Though in the joint
I’ll take some mocking,
I’ve learned next year to
Wear a stocking.

We Just Needle Little Christmas

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Now that the frenzy of Black Friday and the clamor of Cyber Monday have abated and the emails clogging my inbox reveal that I would have gotten a larger discount if I’d just waited until Total-up Tuesday or We-didn’t-sell-as-much-as-we-thought-we-would Wednesday, it’s time to turn my attention to other holiday-inspired activities. One of the perks of living in the Northeast is the ability to cut your own Christmas tree.  To go out into the (albeit farmer-made) forest and chop down a perfectly pruned pine just like our ancestors did, is one of the joys of the season.

Maple Lane has to be one of the most beautiful tree farms in the Northeast.

Maple Lane Farms must be one of the most beautiful tree farms in the Northeast

Maple Lane Farms must be one of the most beautiful cut-your-own Christmas tree farms in the Northeast.

As many of you know I grew up in South Florida, where the Christmas trees on offer were trucked in on October 1st from some “real” Christmas state like Vermont. They then hung out in parking lots all across town huddled together like delinquent teenagers and were on their last stump when they finally went on sale. This doesn’t mean, however, that they were lacking in fight. Surviving on the mean streets of Hollywood, meant these trees had to be tough. Their needles were stiff and as sharp as fangs, which made hanging the lights and ornaments a masochistic affair akin to crocodile wrestling. By the end of the day, my sister’s and my arms were red and scratched and our eyes teary. But it was tradition.

This tree looks so pretty, decorated for the season.

This crocodile tree looks so pretty decorated for the season.

You might think that holiday traditions were sparse in such a non-wintery place, but you’d be wrong. In fact these same beasts were the gifts that kept on giving. Instead of softly falling snowflakes, my sister, Jen, and I listened in the quiet of the night to the plink, plink of needles dropping onto our Cuban tile floor. And on December 26th  those needle banks were the site of our favorite annual event—the Pine Needle Sweep. With the tree nearly bare, Jen and I crawled through the piles on the floor shoveling as many needles as we could into baggies. Whoever had the fullest baggie won. I don’t remember what we won, but I do remember the pure thrill of the sport.

Despite these heartfelt memories, when the price of real Christmas trees began to climb, my parents decided it was time to buy an artificial one. I guess it wasn’t bad compared to other artificial Christmas trees of the 1970s. If I remember correctly, each bough hooked into its own hole on rings strategically placed along the “trunk” and the “needles” were anemic imitations of their authentic counterparts. Of course, this tree didn’t maul us, but where was the fun in that? No crying? It hardly seemed like Christmas.

At least, though, our artificial tree was green. Our neighbors across the street displayed an aluminum tree in their picture window. They “decorated” it by bathing it in light from a multi-colored revolving disk so that the tree flashed red, green, orange, blue, red, green, orange, blue, red, green…well, you get the idea…all night long. My sister and I, being sent to bed at some ridiculously early hour like 7:30 (really, we weren’t that bad—Santa knows, after all), used to kneel on our beds and watch this troubling, but oddly fascinating holiday extravaganza for hours (it was probably only 20 minutes, but that’s like 3 hours in kid time).

WitLoveKath - Needles - red tree

So when I moved north, I happily adopted the tradition of “cut your own” Christmas tree.  The unpredictable eccentricities of nature, however, can create…um…challenges. First, there’s the weather. Some years the air is pleasantly cold—just enough to make it feel like winter. Maybe there are even a few snowflakes swirling in the breeze for that Currier and Ives atmosphere. Then there are the bitter years when the temperature and the wind conspire to freeze you like the Winter Warlock in my fave animated Christmas special Santa Clause Is Coming to Town. Yeah, let’s all sing together—“Put one foot in front of the other, and cut down the first tree you see-ee-eee! Put one foot in front of the other, and soon we’ll be ba-ack in the car!!”

WitLoveKath - Needles - Mr. Winter

The second trial Mother Nature presents is the tree itself. Once, knee deep in snow and with a baby in tow, we chose what we thought was a nicely shaped, full bodied fir. But as we stuffed it into the car and secured it with bungee cords, my suspicions should have been up. And sure enough, as soon as we brought it into the house, the tree showed its true character. Like some out-of-control party guest, it dominated the family room, swallowed five strings of lights, and laughed maniacally at our measly ornaments—the entire collection of which only covered a tiny fraction of its branches.

Like the crocodile trees of my youth, it had spunk. It was jealous of the baby, swatting at him whenever he came near, and it drank copious amounts of water. I now know that it was staying fit for the nefarious purpose of escape. Twice during the night we heard disturbing noises coming from downstairs. In the morning we found the tree sprawled on the floor, no doubt tripped up by the coffee table as it tried to run for the back door. The only way we could subdue it was to tie it to nearby furniture with rope.

Well…oops!…I’ve gotta run. I hear this year’s Christmas tree pining for more water. It seems awfully thirsty lately. You don’t think? Nahh….

"Is this tree laughing, or is that just the wind through the boughs?"

“Is this tree laughing, or is that just the wind through the boughs?”

The What! Really?! Just For You Best Gift Pick Post – free shipping!

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I am so sorry. I told myself I wasn’t going to write this post this year, but, seriously, they make it just too darn irresistible. Who is “they?” Hammacher Schlemmer, of course. I have successfully ignored their daily missives touting subject lines such as “The Bearded Beanie,” “The Glow in the Dark Driver Ejecting Bumpercrafts,” “The Darth Vader Toaster,” and “The Only Exterior Pocket Impervious Carry On” (is this suitcase impervious to all pockets? Outside pockets only? Or what?).  But one morning I read “The Life Size Tyrannosaurus Skeleton,” and in a nostalgic reverie, thinking back to the days when my son would have loved to have this, I clicked.

Can’t you imagine how much the neighbors would love you if this were standing in your back yard? You’re right—maybe the front yard would be better.

Can’t you imagine how much the neighbors would love you if this were standing in your back yard? You’re right—maybe the front yard would be better.

Well, woe be unto me—for with that one click, I was hooked. What’s fascinating to me is not so much the items themselves, but the people who would buy them. I mean who has $100,000 to plunk down on a T-rex skeleton? Maybe this is how those Powerball lottery winners squander their $365 million jackpots.

So here we go. Whether you buy these items for yourself or give them to family or friends, each and every one of these “original” or “unexpected” products is guaranteed to stun and amaze. Of course, before you can put presents under the tree, you need the tree.

Why settle for those old, boring triangular things found in nature when you can show off your inner fashionista? Be careful, though. A couple of misfortunately hung globe ornaments could have decency Santa climbing down the chimney instead of gift-giving Santa.

Why settle for those old, boring triangular things found in nature when you can show off your inner fashionista? Be careful, though. A couple of misfortunately hung globe ornaments could have decency Santa climbing down the chimney instead of gift-giving Santa.

Or maybe this is more to your liking:

If you just can’t get enough of the Nutcracker during the holidays, perhaps you’d like to give this tree a spin. Yes, the “ballerina” pirouettes 360 degrees. Wouldn’t “balletreena” have been a better name? Hellooo….Hammacher Schlemmer…I am available as a freelance copywriter.

If you just can’t get enough of the Nutcracker during the holidays, perhaps you’d like to give this tree a spin. Yes, the “ballerina” pirouettes 360 degrees. Wouldn’t “balletreena” have been a better name? Hellooo….Hammacher Schlemmer…I am available as a freelance copywriter.

No one, however, does a spinning Christmas tree quite like our English cousins.

In Doctor Who’s 2005 Christmas special, Christmas Invasion, murderous rotating conifers threaten London, and in an ironic twist manage to lop off quite a few human limbs in the process. Those Brits just love a bloody good holiday.

In Doctor Who’s 2005 Christmas special, Christmas Invasion, murderous rotating conifers threaten London, and in an ironic twist manage to lop off quite a few human limbs in the process. Those Brits just love a bloody good holiday.

If you’re at the mall or the airport or the train station and you’re plumb worn out, why not take a little snooze? No pillow? No problem. This handy gadget makes slipping off into dreamland so easy.

Put it on. Go on, no one will laugh. They may steal your suitcase, computer bag, shopping bags, or purse, but really…no one’s laughing. They’re too busy taking your picture and uploading it to the Internet. 

Put it on. Go ahead. No one will laugh. People may steal your suitcase, computer bag, shopping bags, or purse, but really…no one’s laughing. They’re too busy snapping your picture and uploading it to the Internet.

Yeah, the Internet can be a scary place, what with all the hacking and…oh, wait, that’s just the cat spitting up a hairball. So, well…you know what I mean. You never know if your information is secure. Hammacher Schlemmer’s solution? The Morse Code Signal Lamp.

I foresee a whole new industry opening up in the STEM universe: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Morse Code. Pretty soon we’ll see babies hauling around Morse Code lamps and wonder whatever happened to the good ol’ days when they learned how to play apps and keyboard before age 2. Next year I fully expect the Hammacher Schlemmer  catalog to include The Original Smoke Signal Kit.

I foresee a whole new industry opening up in the STEM universe: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Morse Code. Pretty soon we’ll see babies hauling around Morse Code lamps and wonder whatever happened to the good ol’ days when they learned how to play apps and keyboard before age 2. Next year I fully expect the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog to include The Original Smoke Signal Kit.

After all this worrying, don’t you feel in the need for a little refreshment? Step up to the buffet and enjoy – as Hammacher Schlemmer puts it – “two-fisted noshing.” But how to hold the wine? That’s right—in a little holster slung around your neck.

I see just one itty-bitty problem. If both hands are occupied, how do you lift the glass to your lips? Perhaps they could include a straw? It could be one of those twisty straws or one that changes color as liquid passes through it. Something fun. A conversation starter. Because the glass hanging around your neck won’t be enough.

I see just one itty-bitty problem. If both hands are occupied, how do you lift the glass to your lips? Perhaps they could include a straw? It could be one of those twisty straws or one that changes color as liquid passes through it. Something fun. A conversation starter. Because the glass hanging around your neck won’t be enough.

So now you’re a little tipsy, or maybe you’re just unsteady on your feet. Grab these Wheeled Walking Poles and go!

All I have to say is if the time ever comes when I need training wheels again, will someone please put me out of my misery? All images courtesy of Hammacher Schlemmer

All I have to say is if the time ever comes when I need training wheels again, will someone please put me out of my misery?
All images courtesy of Hammacher Schlemmer

Credit cards at the ready? Great! ‘Cause these and more astounding must-haves are waiting just a click away.

Keep Calm and Stand In Line

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Checkout lines are my nemesis, and like Professor Moriarty stalking Sherlock Holmes or Wile E. Coyote hunting Roadrunner, I never know in what dastardly way one is going to get me. Usually it’s the short, mild-mannered line that turns out to be my downfall.

I step into place expecting a quick exit only to be thwarted by someone staring off into space as the clerk rings up and bags the items and announces the total. The customer, taken completely unawares, shakes him or herself from their reverie and pulls out a checkbook (checks? Really? It’s 2014 for crying out loud!). S-l-o-w-l-y they write the date (“what day is it again?”), the store (“how do you spell Stop and Shop?”, the amount (“how much did you say it is?”), and finally they sign their name. Then they go through the whole routine again in their register. Fire Ants climbing my legs couldn’t make me any more twitchy than I am watching this performance.

WitLoveKath - Snippets - check

A close second might be customers who thrust into the cashier’s hand a soggy wad of coupons that need to be separated, flattened out, turned around, and scanned and which invariably contain several that don’t compute because they are for multiple items or are expired. Then ensues a negotiation worthy of Congress—that’s right, no go on either side. Or there’s a sluggish amble to the back of the store to pick up the missing items. Either way, time is wasting, people!

"Do you have any coupons?" "Here you go. You can figure out which ones I can use, right?"

“Do you have any coupons?”
“Here you go. You can figure out which ones I can use, right?”

And don’t even get me started about waiting on the phone listening to some ear-splitting “music” or a happy voice telling me everything the company can do for me except answer the phone. Why can’t someone devise a way for your phone to access your own playlist to enjoy while you wait? Shark Tank, anyone?

It’s only a couple of minutes, you might say. But a few minutes here and a few minutes there add up to—wait a minute while I dig my phone out of my purse and turn it on and access the calculator…oops that’s the flashlight…and plug in the numbers…darn, hit the wrong button…there that’s right…and get an answer—an eternity. Aaack! And I still have so much to do!

Before I completely go off the rails, though, I’m trying to learn to be more chill. One way I now do this in the checkout lane at Stop & Shop is to turn my attention away from other shoppers and toward the tabloid racks—and you know what I see? Jennifer Aniston. Every. Single. Week.  In Every. Single. Magazine. I’m not a huge Jennifer Aniston fan. I never understood the obsession with her hair, and as for Brad? He’s better off. Still, I am not without sympathy. This poor woman has been pregnant for 4 years straight—without ever giving birth. This story puts the old “My Baby Is an Alien” reports to shame. Or maybe….Nahhh. And what about her marriage already? If she and Justin are waiting for that baby to be born, they may as well forget it.

WitLoveKath - Snippets - Jen Pregnant VI

WitLoveKath - Snippets - Jennifer Aniston Pregnant together II

WitLoveKath - Snippets - Jennifer Aniston Pregnant together I

At least Mary had Joseph

WitLoveKath - Snippets - Jen Pregnant VII

WitLoveKath - Snippets - Jen and Justin II

WitLoveKath - Snippets - Jen and Justin III

These two appeared in the same week. So, ok, I give up. Which is it?

WitLoveKath - Snippets - Jen Pregnant V

We could only be so lucky, but I think In Touch and Ok! would go out of business.

We could only be so lucky, but I think In Touch and Ok! and Us Weekly would go out of business.

While I cool my heels, I also think about my next story or blog post. Sometimes, my brain contains only a bunch of fragments, which, like young children at recess, beg to get out but defy organization. Now, as the holidays approach, is just such a time. So I’m going to release a few of those snippets that jumped around in my mind like Santa’s reindeer from roof to roof as I idled at Target, Books-A-Million, and Michaels Arts and Crafts this week.

1. In August Taylor Swift released her video for “Shake it Off,” which created a big brouhaha with critics and online commentators. One day while tooling along the road to Target, Jenny and I were discussing the song and the video when an inverted skyscraper of a city bus entered traffic from a side street. As the bus loomed into my lane, I slammed on the brakes, experiencing the kind of terror Captain Ahab must have felt when Moby Dick thrashed his tiny whaleboat. At the last second—our vehicles side-by-side—the bus driver righted her leviathan into its own lane with military precision. I felt a little shaky. Not from the near-miss obliteration but from the knowledge that one of my last words on earth would have been “twerking.”

WitLoveKath - Snippets - Taylor Swift

2. Here is a jacket that Jenny ordered recently. How long do designers think an extra small petite woman’s arms are?

WitLoveKath - Snippets - Jen's Jacket

3. Speaking of petite: When will someone make ear buds with a cord short enough so they don’t catch on everything or become infuriatingly tangled the moment you put them down. I swear those things are alive. Shark Tank, anyone?

WitLoveKath - Snippets - cord II

WitLoveKath - Snippets - cord I

WitLoveKath - Snippets - cord III

4. I will leave you now with one more piece of evidence that the Thanksgiving holiday will one day be as extinct as T-rex: Auto correct on my iPhone capitalizes Black Friday but doesn’t recognize Thanksgiving.

 

Flo/Rida: A State Divided (by the way, whatever happened to that guy?)

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On October 7th South Miami officials passed a resolution with a vote of 3-2 to split Florida in half, and make South Florida our nation’s 51st state. I say it’s about time. As my faithful readers know, I grew up in Hollywood, Florida, and have borne the scars ever since. Yeah, most of them are from mosquito bites I shouldn’t have scratched, but the others are deeply etched in my psyche and impossible to eradicate—kind of like the cockroach that once emerged from under our sofa dragging the roach motel (“roaches check in but they don’t check out”) behind him with one leg.

I empathize with the local politicians. South Florida and North Florida are as different as alligators and crocodiles; they may seem the same, but I assure you they are not. For one thing alligators are memorialized with a state highway (Alligator Alley), and crocodiles are celebrated in song (Crocodile Rock). South Florida has beautiful waterways; white, sandy beaches; and, most recently, the woman who set her boyfriend on fire in retaliation for his throwing away her spaghetti dinner. North Florida spawned the beloved phrase “Don’t tase me, bro,” educated the man who asked Siri how to dump a body, and….umm….who knows? The only things I remember about northern Florida while driving in and out of the state during summer vacations were the violent thunder storms and blinding rain that hit as soon as we were in sight of the “Welcome to Florida, the Sunshine State” sign.

WitLoveKath - Florida - welcome sign

Miami’s Vice Mayor Walter Harris states that the pols in Tallahassee don’t understand the environmental concerns of the south. This is probably true—for unless you live it, you can’t possibly comprehend it. One danger facing South Florida is the rising sea level due to climate change. In the north they may think this means better surfing. But southerners know that it won’t be long before way-too-revealing itty-bitty swimsuit-wearing tourists will be forced inland and, like the walking dead, wander downtowns in search of beaches that have been swallowed by the ocean.

Those northern bureaucrats also don’t have to manage the Everglades, where pythons the length of three Jane Lynches or four Kristen Chenoweths and capable of swallowing an entire deer whole slither around at will.  Although police in the north did recently have to arrest a naked 500-pound man who couldn’t fit into the cruiser—so who’s to say where the real weirdness lies.

All I can say is, "Ai Ai Ai!" Image courtesy Care2

All I can say is, “Ai Ai Ai!”
Image courtesy Care2

Miami’s Mayor Philip Stoddard went even further than Harris, expressing his frustration this way: “It’s very apparent that the attitude of the northern part of the state is that they would just love to saw the state in half and just let us float off into the Caribbean. They’ve made that abundantly clear at every possible opportunity, and I would love to give them the opportunity to do that.”

If the north is actually sharpening its saws, they might find another willing participant in Colin Woodard, who in late 2013 wrote the book American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America. Woodard suggests that America can be divided into The Left Coast, The Far West, El Norte, The Midlands, Yankeedom, Greater Appalachia, New Netherland, Tidewater, New France, and The Deep South.

Where does South Florida fit into his vision of America? Nowhere, that’s where. While Woodard includes the northern counties of Florida in The Deep South, the southern counties are only mentioned in a parenthesis floating in the Atlantic that reads (Part of the Spanish Caribbean).

Poor South Florida--relegated to non-American status. Image courtesy Tufts Magazine

Poor South Florida–relegated to non-American status.
Image courtesy Tufts Magazine

To this I take exception. Yes, the north has St. Augustine and the Fountain of Youth and lays claim to the oldest jail, oldest wooden schoolhouse, oldest drugstore, and oldest house. But South Florida trumps that with the oldest oldies and so much more!

Would not America be much less rich without South Florida’s Monkey Jungle, Parrot Jungle, Jungle Island, and the JungleQueen Riverboat? In fact, any citizen of this swampy landmass could enclose a patch of ground and proudly create his or her own Lizard Jungle, Anole Jungle, Assassin Bug and his sidekick Masked Hunter Jungle (lovely), Hag Moth Jungle (lovelier), Horse Lubber Grasshopper Jungle (one of my personal favorites since we basically had one of these attractions in our backyard, and I could tell that spring had sprung when the odor of these grasshoppers’ “spit” filled the air), Spiny Backed Orb Weaver Jungle (another “favorite” that appeared everywhere in our yard. Empty “orbs” of these spiders were the most frightening because you never knew if the spiky, dangerous creatures were crawling up your arm or your back).

The Assassin--known for its horrible sting...

The Assassin–known for its horrible sting…

...and its sidekick Masked Hunter!!

…and its sidekick Masked Hunter!!

This creature is so sturdy you could put a leash on it  and keep it as a pet. The "puppies" start out black with a red or yellow line running down the center of their back.

This creature is so sturdy you could put a leash on it and keep it as a pet. The “puppies” start out black with a red or yellow line running down the center of their back.

Beware the prongs of this  dreaded predator!!  Images courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Beware the prongs of this dreaded predator!!
Images courtesy Wikimedia Commons

So you can see that South Florida could more than hold its own as the 51st state. But two questions remain—where would the border be drawn and what would the new state be called?

Mayor Stoddard has designated a dividing line along Brevard, Orange, Polk, Hillsborough, and Pinellas counties. This area includes the South Florida Water Management district; Lake Okeechobee, a major source of the state’s water; and Disney World. The politicians’ plan may sound foolish, but they’re no fools.

Here are how the two states would appear on the map. You'll notice the little jog to collect Disney World, hereafter known as Fantasy Jungle. Image courtesy of Charles Minshew,  Sun Sentinel

Here is how the map of a divided Florida would look. You’ll notice the little jog to collect Disney World, hereafter to be known as Fantasy Jungle.
Image courtesy of Charles Minshew, Sun Sentinel

But what to name the new state? As a fan of anagrams, I wondered if scrambling the letters of South Florida would provide any possibilities. I was not disappointed:

  1. Hairdo Flouts: if there’s one thing I remember from my time in Florida, it’s women—and men—flouting their hair. Of course it was the time of luxurious locks ala Farrah Fawcett and young Shawn Cassidy.
Who could live up to this?

Who could live up to this?

Unfortunately, my hair tended more toward his than hers...but even this amount of "poofyness" was out of my reach.

Unfortunately, my hair tended more toward his than hers…but even this amount of “poofyness” was out of my reach.

  1. Hi Fraud Tools/Hi Fraud’s Loot: Since South Florida is a hotbed of illicit activity, I thought either of these might fit the bill.
  1. Ooh! Tidal Surf: I was never a surfer chick, but the high number of bronze bodies that ride the waves puts this one in the running.
  1. Dilators of Uh…: It must be the hot sun (or maybe number 2 above) that fries so many brains, but South Florida has more of than its share of wide-eyed, lights- are-on-but-nobody’s-home residents.
  1. Oh Adrift Soul: for the poetic-minded
  1. Uh…Adrift Solo: for the truly lost

Or, simply, as my daughter Jenny suggested:

  1. Crazy Town

Creating a new state takes an act of Congress, so I implore you to write your congresswoman or man and register your vote to make South Florida the new star on our flag. With your help, this nation may just become a little crazier.

Hapry Hallankstmas!

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Halloween is right around the corner. How do I know? The Christmas decorations are going up in stores around the country, and the dulcet strains of holiday tunes are streaming from their sound systems. Macy’s has announced their Black Friday hours (6:00 p.m. Thanksgiving evening), and the seasonal catalogs are already arriving in the mail; can the toy “books” be far behind?

I haven’t bought my Halloween candy yet, and I’m just not sure how much to get. Our neighborhood is on its second wave of small children, so I never know year-to-year how many visitors we will have. I’d rather err on the side of having too much candy, but I don’t want a lot lying around afterward either. Last year I picked up two big multi-variety bags and poured the tasty, colorful bars into the plastic cauldron I offer to our trick-or-treaters, anticipating their excited faces. But I couldn’t give the stuff away. Literally.  We have no gluttonous ghouls, voracious vampires, or insatiable specters coming to our door.

"Won't you take a bar or two...or ten, my pretty?"

“Won’t you take a bar or two…or ten, my pretty?”

Here’s how it went down:

At 6:15 our motion-sensor gargoyle screeches, alerting us to the arrival of the first trick-or-treaters.

Eeeeeeeek! "Wel-come to our haunted house! Bwahhahaha!" Reeeeee. Reeeeee

Eeeeeeeek! “Wel-come to our haunted house! Bwahhahaha!” Reeeeee. Reeeeee.

Ding Dong

I swing the door open to reveal a small cadre of costumed crusaders.

“Trick or Treat!!”

“Oh! You all look so cute/scary/amazing.”

They smile adorably (even the bloody mummies) and say, “Thank you.”

I hold out the cauldron. “Here you go.”

Their big eyes stare into mine. “How many can we take?”

“Whatever you’d like.”

They search the bowl and gingerly remove one bar from its depths.

Sensing that there aren’t that many trick-or-treaters out, I say, “You can take more than that.”

They look at each other warily as if I’ve just invited them to watch a show on network TV.

A couple of kids reach in again and draw out one more bar. If they happen to grab two, they put one back. “Thank you,” they say again.

Darn these easy-to-please kids! They’re hardly putting a dent in the terribly tempting treats!

“No,” I say, “take a handful!” I rattle the cauldron. “Here!”

They turn and run down the walk to their parents as I yell out, “Just one more Kitkat? How about a Twix?  One Starburst? Pleeese?”

I think I’m known as “that scary lady who makes us take candy.”

I don’t know why I’m surprised at these kids’ good manners; my kids are the same way. Once, though, when my son was in kindergarten, he stood at the door of the eeriest house in our neighborhood—the one with the undead rising from its crypt, the spooky music, the spider webs, and the tombstones—and asked for more. More money for his UNICEF box. When our neighbor dropped her coins into the slot, he deemed it “not enough,” and asked, “Can’t you give more?” And, bless her, she did, hunting up more change from somewhere inside.

"One penny?! Can't you give more?" Image courtesy UNICEF

“One penny?! Can’t you give more?”
Image courtesy UNICEF

I think this is where my altruistic son got his start. Of course, maybe he was just making them pay in advance for the future Halloween when his little sister became so frightened of the zombie that jumped out of their bushes that she cried and never went back. Either way his heart was in the right place.

I know I’m not the only one who’s perplexed by holidays. Our local stores seem always to be swept up in some kind of celebration vortex in which products for two or more holidays mingle on the shelves. Right now it’s Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas—or as I like to call it: Hallankstmas.

WitLoveKath - Halloween - Target

Soon we’ll be able to purchase sweets and presents for the December holidays while also planning ahead for Valentine’s Day (Hanistine’s Days). In January the chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, and Easter toys will join the hearts and flowers (Valenster). At Stop & Shop one year—in a marketing gaffe that illuminated for me just how “fresh” holiday sweets really are—the Easter candy debuted on the same day as the Christmas treats. The next day it was gone, but I’m sure the Cadbury Eggs and marshmallow Peeps were simply lurking in the back warehouse waiting to make their entrance with the spring patio furniture.

Now that’s scary.

"Now, do I have everything?  Halloween? Check. Thanksgiving? Check. Christmas? Check. Where's the Easter candy? Hellooo?"

“Now, do I have everything?
Halloween? Check.
Thanksgiving? Check.
Christmas? Check.
Where’s the Easter candy? Hellooo?”

What would we be without you?

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My friend Roz alerted me to this stunning music video—a remake of the Beach Boys song God Only Knows. Amid breathtaking scenery, 27 British musicians and the 80-piece BBC Concert Orchestra have created a masterpiece that will touch your heart. The video was produced to celebrate the BBC’s love of music. Proceeds from the single will also aid the BBC’s 2014 Children in Need campaign. You can learn more about the video and how it was made at the home of BBC Music.

– God Only Knows remake, produced by Ethan Johns and Bob Shennan, Director of BBC Music.

Image courtesy of Headlines and Global News

Image courtesy of Headlines and Global News

With the recent awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Malala Yousafzay and Kailash Satyarthi for their courageous “struggles against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education,” perhaps the value of children everywhere will be recognized and celebrated.

Image courtesy of acelebrationofwomen.org

Image courtesy of acelebrationofwomen.org

On October 11 the world observed the United Nations sponsored International Day of the Girl Child, which “promotes girls’ rights and recognizes the unique challenges they face.” This year’s theme was “empowering adolescent girls: ending the cycle of violence.”

Image courtesy of jis.gov.jm.

Image courtesy of jis.gov.jm.

Universal Children’s Day takes place on November 20 and provides an opportunity for worldwide understanding among children and a day of activities devoted to the welfare of children around the world.

But you don’t need to wait for a special day to help your  local or the world’s children. Today, why not remember a favorite childhood memory, and in its honor download “God Only Knows,” donate the price of a cup of coffee to a children’s charity, or share some time with a child and let them show you their world. They’re not only the future, they are our now.

Image courtesy of the International Children's Day special collection.

Image courtesy of the International Children’s Day special collection.

Roz, seeing Sir Elton John in that video reminded me of the time we tried to count the number of Elton John songs the radio station played during an entire weekend trying to win their contest for tickets to his concert.

Now, I’m going to download that song.

 

How ’bout them Apple

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It seems a bit ironic that Apple, who forged its name with an ad smashing Big Brother, has now become Big Parent, telling us what we need and what’s best for us.

WitLoveKath - Apple Big Brother

WitLoveKath - Apple Big Brother II

In the new iOS8 update, the geniuses of Apple deemed that we don’t really want to delete those photos—you know the ones: of the floor, of your thumb, of the hair, facial contortions, and unfortunately placed lumps and bumps that make you exclaim in horror, “Do I really look like that?!”.

You thought they were gone, you thought you were safe from future embarrassment, but they’re baaaack—like Mark “Appalachian Trail” Sanford and the brawling Palins.

Really, I want you to forget. I just don't want you to forget me.

Really, I want you to forget. I just don’t want you to forget me.

See all those people? You can take 'em. I know you can!

See all those people? You can take ’em. I know you can!

And where are your pictures anyway? Instead of the easy-to-browse camera roll, the pics are now sorted into dated folders. I can’t even remember what I did yesterday, much less what day I took a particular photograph.

When my daughter Jenny updated her phone the other night, she suddenly realized that a third of her songs were gone—361 songs to be exact. After much fuming and angst, she ended up having to restore every song from her computer, even the ones she bought when she was 12 that remind her of when the “girl wars” began and that she never wants to hear again.

Speaking of songs she never wants to hear—what up with the “gifting” of U2’s new album? When it didn’t show up on her phone last week amid all the hoopla, Jenny figured she was safe (she sorta likes what she’s heard of some of U2’s previous albums, but they’re no “Awesome Mix Vol. 1” Guardians of the Galaxy sound track). Then  while she was furiously (and I mean angrily—not quickly) searching for Ed Sheeran’s The a Team, she discovered, instead, Songs of Innocence. She leveled me with a disgusted stare and announced, “Well, I got it,” as if she had suddenly been infected with Enterovirus 68.

WitLoveKath - Apple enterovirus 68

Enterovirus 68 or Sounds of Innocence--which would you rather have?

Enterovirus 68 or Sounds of Innocence–which would you rather have?

I told her it could have been worse. It could have been Robin Thicke. But it got us thinking about free Apple downloads we would like to see. Here’s a short list:

  1. A $1,000,000 bank error in your favor. Here would be a great use for that “undeletable” feature.
  2. Gender equality
  3. A bra that really fits
  4. Another Harry Potter novel
  5. A spray tan that looks realistic instead of turning users into terra-cotta warriors
  6. Photographs of every time you look really good
  7. All the SAT answers
  8. A rerun of the final How I Met Your Mother—with the right ending
  9. The return of Pushing Daisies
  10. This is an oldie, but don’t we all want?…double rainbows all the way

Anyone else want to join in? Leave a comment!