Tuesday, November 5, 2019

A dachshund's plea

Me in happier days, before Tom Dryden tried to starve me
to death, with the stuffed dachshund Santa brought.
Even though he is stuffed, he is smarter than Billy Ray,
the Dryden dachshund who, without warning, disappeared.

My name is Rupert. I am, as you can see, a dachshund.

My biological mother was a bitch. My father took off before I was born.  Two-and-a-half years ago I was adopted by Tom Dryden and his wife. 

I am posting this message to Tom Dryden's blog to let his readers, who may be under the impression he's a nice guy, know that he is anything but. He is trying to kill me. Specifically, to starve me to death.

It started on Sunday and I can’t understand why this is happening.  I thought he liked me. Heck, he always said he loved me. How could I have been so wrong? 

Being of German descent, I am, I freely admit, a stickler when it comes to schedules. I like my life to run like the German Federal Railways — on time, to the split second. That’s especially true when it comes to mealtimes. 

Animal trainers and nutritionists say it is important for dogs to dine at the same time every day, to "stick to a schedule." I have always striven to do that but, being eight inches tall, I can’t reach the kitchen counter to fix my own meals and have to rely on Tom Dryden to  measure out the half-cup of kibble (Salmon & Rice) I eat twice a day, pour it in a bowl, take it out to the lanai, and place it on the floor. Tom Dryden was always supportive, serving me precisely at 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. 

But on Sunday morning, breakfast was served an hour late. To the minute. The sun was already up. My stomach, by the time the bowl was finally set in front of me, was growling loudly. I considered growling loudly myself but decided against it since I didn't want to be accused of being grumpy. I assumed Tom Dryden was having a bad day but made sure, when he tried to pick me up after the meal and place me on the sofa next to him where he was reading, that he knew my displeasure. 

The same thing happened later in the day. Dinner was a full hour late, to the exact second. I was so weak with hunger I could barely make my way to the lanai.

Yesterday was a repeat of Sunday. 

My fear is that mealtimes will become later and later and, eventually, stop altogether.  I now realize that is what must have happened to Billy Ray, the dachshund who was living with the Drydens when they brought me here. He kept getting thinner and thinner and one day, simply disappeared. Now I know why. 

I don’t have access to the phone and if I did, the person on the other end would most likely have trouble understanding me. Luckily, Tom Dryden left his MacBook on the floor, and is in the shower, so I can pound out this message and post it to his blog.

Can one of his readers call the ASPCA or some other social service agency and report Tom Dryden for animal abuse?

Thank you and God bless. 

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Silence would be golden

On November 9, 2016,  I sneezed violently and my ears began to ring. That was nothing unusual. My ears often rang for a few seconds after a cough or sneeze. But the ringing has continued, nonstop, ever since. 

After undergoing a series of hearing tests, an ENT physician told me I have tinnitus, and nothing can be done about it.  Adding insult to injury, he said that people with chronic tinnitus (about 20 million Americans according to the Tinnitus Foundation) aren’t really hearing anything. The sounds we hear are auditory hallucinations. While we perceive we hear something, there is nothing there. But, because perception is reality, we are indeed hearing something, even though we aren’t. (Got it? Me neither.) 

Ringing isn’t the right word to describe the sounds inside my head.  Ninety percent of the time I hear this. The rest of the time it is this

And it's relentless. Every single sound  — every conversation, every TV show, every song on the radio — is filtered through those sounds. The volume varies. Sometimes it’s low. Sometimes it is so LOUD I can barely hear over it. 

It is hard to believe the sounds I am hearing aren’t being heard by people around me. For the first year or so, I would sometimes smoosh my ear against my wife’s ear and ask if she could hear the noises reverberating inside my ear canal. She never could. Which is hardly surprising since they are apparently real only to me.

The sounds are particularly loud late at night. I keep a whirring fan next to my side of the bed in an attempt to drown them out so I can relax but the fan doesn’t always do the trick and some nights I don’t get to sleep at all. Last night was one of those nights.

We had gone to dinner with friends. Across the room a one-man band was performing songs from the sixties and seventies. The songs he had selected were particularly obnoxious   — some of most annoying ever recorded. The amplifiers were cranked up so high I could barely hear a word anyone at the table was saying. I simply nodded my head in agreement whenever someone looked my way and said something, assuming I was participating in the conversation. As I lay awake replaying one of those conversations, it occurred to me that I may have nodded yes, I agree that Hillary Clinton should run again.

This morning the sounds I’ve been hearing for the last four years have been replaced by this God-awful song from last night. It’s as if the one-man band was somehow able to record over the magnetic tape inside my head that, for the last four years, has been playing a continuous loop of radio frequencies and chirping crickets.

If I am to be condemned to hearing music 24/7 for the rest of my life why can't it be something soothing like Pachabel’s Canon in D Major or St. Saens' Carnival of the Animals?  

Hell, “I Got You Babe” or  "You Light Up My Life" or “I’m Henry VIII I Am" or even "Disco Duck" would be preferable to what I'm hearing.

Don't you agree?

Monday, October 14, 2019

Jose's withered American dream

A withered magnolia tree in our front yard
with dead plumeria bushes in the background,
planted in July by our landscaper, Jose

Arriving home from a 12-day vacation last month, I was surprised to find our yard looking like a jungle.

Turns out that Jose, the landscaper who takes care of our yard and eight others on our street, hadn’t been seen for three weeks. A lapse of three weeks wouldn’t be much of a problem most places but here in south Florida where things grow super-fast — especially in the rainy season — three weeks of growth is equivalent to three months up north. 

Nobody knew where he was. Those who called Jose's cell phone received a recorded message it was disconnected. Those who called the number on his billing statement got a message the voice mailbox was full.

Rumors were rampant. One neighbor heard that Jose was at the bedside of his brother in Texas, who had been in an accident, but would be back soon. Another was told by one of Jose's competitors that Jose was in a coma, and his business was closed. Others heard that Jose was in jail or in an ICE detention facility.

A friend who has owned in the ‘hood longer than the rest of us said the same thing happened six or seven years ago; Jose disappeared and his customers had to scramble to hire other landscapers. Six months later Jose knocked on their doors and said he had been in the hospital. Feeling sorry for him, most re-hired him. I inherited Jose in 2014 when we bought our house. The previous owner recommended him highly and said Jose knew our yard and its convoluted irrigation system inside-out so I kept him on.

The latest story making the rounds is that Jose has been deported. Someone says he heard that Jose wasn’t hospitalized years ago as he claimed. He was in jail for driving under the influence, and was apparently arrested for the same crime last month.  Several articles I’ve found online say one DUI conviction isn’t enough to get someone sent back to his home country but a subsequent arrest is grounds for automatic deportation.

Jose was, as far as his customers knew, in the U.S. legally. He owned a big truck with a trailer, lots of equipment, his business was incorporated, and had a crew of blowers, edgers and trimmers who wore uniforms with the logo of his company. To have gotten through the gates of our community in the first place, he had to present proof of insurance to the homeowners' association. I can’t imagine any insurance company would have sold him a policy if he didn’t have a green card but I may be wrong.

In July, I paid Jose more than $5,000 to design and replant the planted portion of our yard directly in front of the house. He and his crew ripped out overgrown junipers, ferns, arboricolas and variegated gingers and replaced them with hundreds of colorful plants that Jose had recommended. I was impressed with his knowledge and creativity and delighted by the appearance of our new front yard. Jose promised the new plants would grow quickly and guaranteed he would replace any that failed to thrive. In the weeks since he disappeared, a magnolia tree, 40 plumeria bushes, and 30 blue daze plants have withered and died, and some of the others are looking iffy. They were doing fine when I left. I don’t want to think how much it’s going to cost to have them dug up and replaced with something else.

All of Jose’s customers have, by now, hired other landscapers. Tony, the guy I hired, is doing a great job. He has removed invasive Brazilian pepper vines that had overtaken the palmettos between our back yard and the golf course, fertilized and applied weed killer to the grass, trimmed palm fronds that were turning brown, and handled many other routine tasks Jose was supposed to address on a regular basis but rarely did unless I asked him to. I’m happy with his service, and Tony is thrilled to have the additional business. 

Whatever misfortune befell Jose, his behavior in the days since is unacceptable and if he was to show up today, I wouldn’t hire him back. He had all of our phone numbers and a service that sent out his monthly invoices. The least he, his wife, or one of his workers, could have done was to get a message to one of us so we could let the rest of his mystified customers know what happened. 

That said, I feel badly for him. Jose worked six days a week under the relentless Florida sun in steambath-like humidity. He always wore a big smile that displayed the whitest teeth I’ve ever seen and was invariably pleasant whenever I would flag him down and ask him to get off his riding mower to discuss something I wanted him to do. Jose wouldn’t have left Mexico if he didn’t believe he could improve his lot in America, but any hopes and dreams he had are now gone.  

And so is he.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Life and death in Skidmore

My wife and I are watching a six-episode documentary entitled “No One Saw a Thing.” It is about the town of Skidmore, Missouri whose residents, in 1981, watched one or more of their neighbors blow the head off Ken Rex McElroy as he and his wife sat in their pickup outside the town's bar.

The title stems from the fact that, to this day, nobody has come forward to identify the person(s) who pulled the trigger(s), even though up to sixty townspeople may have witnessed the incident. Rumor has it there were as many as three shooters, but the authorities will never know for sure. All the shell casings were picked up and they, along with the guns from whence they were fired, were thrown into a van whose driver supposedly took them to Wyoming. It seems like overkill (pun unintended but I'll let it stand) to transport the guns 600 miles to dispose of them — the Missouri River isn’t that far away — but that's what townsfolk say happened.

McElroy was Skidmore's homegrown Darth Vader who terrorized everyone in town. When his kids were accused of shoplifting penny candy, he shot the owner of the town’s grocery store. He was accused of raping a teenager and burning her parents’ house to the ground. Those who crossed him were threatened with death and stalked. 

Skidmore residents were perfectly happy McElroy was killed and none of the people interviewed by the filmmakers seem to have changed their minds in the 38 years since. The only downside they acknowledge is the publicity. It is safe to say Skidmore will never be selected to host the Democratic National Convention though the NRA would likely find the welcome mat out. 

The producers, clearly, had a hard time wrapping their heads around the fact that nobody has ever told the police whodunnit even though everyone who was there that day knows or knew -- many if not most have passed on to that great shooting range in the sky. McElroy’s wife named a man she claims she saw pull the trigger but said the police "didn’t do nothin’. Ain’t no one been indicted and 38 years later, it is unlikely anyone ever will be. 

As someone who grew up in a rural Missouri town with only a few hundred more residents than Skidmore, I followed the McElroy murder from the git-go. I was living in New York at the time and the incident received extensive national and international media coverage. Knowing I was a small-town Missourian, friends and co-workers asked me for details as if I personally knew the victim and perpetrators. 

I didn’t but I do know lots of people who wouldn’t have hesitated to take matters into their own hands if my hometown had a McElroy-type character.  

It’s difficult for most Americans to understand that many tiny rural towns don’t have full-time or, even part-time, law enforcement officials. It does no good to get a restraining order against someone like McElroy because there’s nobody to enforce it. The nearest officer may be 10, 20 or 30 miles away. Skidmore residents felt they had no choice so, being practical Missouri types, took matters into their own hands. And those that were there that day still don’t give a damn what anyone may think, they’d do it again.

The documentary, available to stream on the Sundance Channel, incorporates footage from a 60 Minutes story Morley Safer did shortly after the shooting. Townsfolk who were interviewed nearly forty years ago are, today, every bit as matter-of-fact about what happened as they were then.

My city friends who watch it will shake their heads and ask how in the hell something like this could happen. 

My small town Missouri friends won’t have to ask. They know. 

So do I.

Friday, August 16, 2019

A free t-shirt for all my readers!

The folks who run New York Senator Kirstin Gillibrand’s campaign have decided that I want, or can be convinced to want, her to win the Democratic nomination for president. 

I’ve received dozens of messages from Gillibrand on my Facebook feed, including the one below inviting me to, “Enter to win a whiskey with Kirsten.”  

The premise is simple. Send money to help Gillibrand secure the nomination; get entered into a sweepstakes for the chance to have "a whiskey" with the senator.  I assume we'll each get our own glass and won't have to share in case one of us has a cold sore.

The ad's secondary objective, without a doubt, is to make Gillibrand out to be someone voters would like to have a drink with and I, for one, would most definitely welcome that opportunity. I'd ask her, while waiting for the bartender to pour our drinks (make mine a Maker's Mark on the rocks) why she, a lawyer, doesn't believe in due process because she led the charge to force Al Franken, a senator who actually accomplished something, to resign without so much as a hearing. But I digress. 

As an advertising professional, I find the headline uninspiring. Why didn’t the writer use alliteration to add interest?  “Win a Kalhua with Kirsten." "Win a Kamikaze with Kirsten." Or (ideal for Utah where a substantial percentage of voters are Mormon teetotalers),  “Win a Kool-Aid with Kirsten."

The ad makes sense only to those who know Gillibrand bragged that whiskey is her beverage of choice, as if that is a reason for anyone but Jack Daniels stakeholders to vote for her. 

I thought Gillibrand's advertising couldn’t get any dumber until two days ago when I saw the ad at the top of this column, inviting me to “Chip in $1, Get a Free T-Shirt.” Apparently Gillibrand needs 130,000 individual donors to contribute at least $1 in order to qualify for the next round of Democratic debates, so some marketing whiz came up with the idea of offering a shirt to every contributor.  

There are so many things wrong with the ad that I hardly know where to begin. 

For starters, it is deceptive. The t-shirt isn’t free. You have to give at least $1 to get it. 

And there’s an economic issue here. There isn’t a third-world sweatshop that can produce a two-color screened t-shirt and ship it to America for $1. Not to mention, the campaign has to pay someone to put each shirt in an envelope, address it, and pay the postage.

Knowing something about t-shirts  -- I produced tens of thousands in my agency days -- I’d have to guess each shirt is costing the campaign at least $4.50 to put in the mail,  probably more. If everybody who orders one contributes just $1, they’re going to lose a load of money. 

I contributed $1 immediately, and received two emails. One told me to expect my t-shirt in six to eight weeks. The second asked if I would consider increasing my contribution. I deleted it. 

Today I received a follow-up message asking me to reconsider the amount of my contribution. I wrote back. “No."

It gets dumber.  Although I first saw the ad two days ago (and my son did too, because we laughed about it), it is still showing up on my Facebook feed. Gillibrand's social media experts know I clicked through, contributed money, and they should have instructed Facebook to stop showing it to me because every time it appears, they have to pay Facebook a fee. Surely by now, at least 130,000 Facebook users have figured out they can get a shirt worth at least $4.50 for $1 and, if they support one of her opponents, help drive Gillibrand's campaign into bankruptcy. Are Gillibrand's advisors even keeping tabs on how many shirts they have promised to send, and how much money they will have to shell out?  Clearly, the senator and her advisors have no understanding of basic economics, much less marketing. 

Whatever, I’m looking forward to my new t-shirt, which should be arriving soon. 

The rag I use to scrub my grill is saturated with so much grease I'm afraid to put it in the washing machine. 

This will be the perfect replacement. 

Monday, August 5, 2019

Fraud department, may I help you?

Bank Call Center Rep: Credit card fraud department. To whom do I have the pleasure of speaking today?

TD: Ny name is Thomas Dryden. I just got a text that someone tried to use my card in Europe.

BCCR: Alright Mr. Thomas, I see you are calling from the phone number we have on record for you. Can you tell me your password?

TD: Dachshund. That’s d-a-c-h-s-h-u-n-d.

BCCR: So, you are saying you didn’t attempt to charge 23,352 euros at the Casino de Monte-Carlo in Monaco 12 minutes ago?

TD: That’s right. I’m at home. And I’m looking at my card. It hasn’t been out of my possession.

BCCR: Okay Mr. Thomas. We will open an investigation into that charge, cancel your card, and send you a new one with a new number which you should expect to arrive in eight to ten days.

TD: Wait a sec, I use that card every day. I must have at least a dozen accounts on auto-pay – my cable, gym, cell phone, water bill and others. Am I going to have to contact them and give them the new number?

BCCR: Yes, Mr. Thomas.

TD: Is there any way you can get the new card to me faster?

BCCR: We can send it express mail. You’ll have it no later than Wednesday.

TD: Thanks, that’s doable. And thanks for notifying me about the fraud. Good catch.

BCCR: As long as I have you on the phone, Mr. Thomas, can we review some more charges to your card?

TD: Sure, good idea.

BCCR: Yesterday at 7:37 p.m., $55.98 to TGIFridays, Naples, Florida.
TD: That’s legit. We went with friends for Happy Hour. They’re running a special, all the appetizers you can eat, just $12.99 per person. They were pretty awful but hey, they were filling. And cheap.

BCCR: Saturday at 7:24 p.m, 640 euros to Madame XXX and her Nubile Nymphettes, Amsterdam.

TD: No, that’s not legit. How could I have been in Amsterdam at the same time I was in Florida?

BCCR: Alright Mr. Thomas, we will mark that charge as suspicious. How about Saturday at 5.02 p.m., $39.01 at Exxon Mobil, Bonita Springs, Florida?

TD: That’s legit.

BCCR: Friday at 2:25 p.m., $192.52, Bud's Best Cannabis Dispensary, Denver, Colorado.

TD: No, that’s not mine, either.

BCCR: Alright Mr. Thomas, we will investigate that charge.  

TD: You don’t have to investigate. I haven’t been to Colorado this decade.

BCCR: Friday at 10:11 a.m., $39.02, Ace Hardware, Bonita Springs, Florida.

TD: That’s legit.

BCCR: Thursday at 6:19 p.m, $103.11, Publix Supermarket, Bonita Springs, Florida

TD: That’s legit, too.

BCCR: Thursday at 4:42 p.m., 460 Singaporean dollars at Raffles Bar, Singapore.

TD: No. Unfortunately.

BCCR: I beg your pardon?

TD:  It's not legit.

BCCR: Just a few more, Mr. Thomas. Thursday at 3:54 p.m., $44 Cinema Multiplex, Estero, Florida.

TD: Yeah, we took our grandsons to see Toy Story 4.

BCCR: Thursday at 1 p.m., $35.14 to CVS Pharmacy, Bonita Springs, Florida.

TD: My allergy prescriptions. Legit. 

BCCR:  Okay Mr. Thomas, I see that all other charges took place in Florida and have already been posted to your account, so they are legitimate.  Please allow up to 48 hours for delivery of your new card.

TD: Okay, I'll be looking for it.

BCCR:  Thank you for calling (Bank Name). Is there anything else I can do for you?

TD: Yes.

BCCR: And what is that, Mr. Thomas?

TD: If you ever find him, introduce me to the person who made all those charges. He’s having more fun than I am.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Comebacks to stupid comments you’ll get when when you announce you’re moving to Florida

Thanks to Boomers like me, Florida has overtaken New York as America’s third most populous state. According to demographers, a thousand Boomers are moving to the Sunshine State every day. That’s 365,000 new (okay, "old") Floridians a year.

And the numbers are only going to increase thanks to new laws limiting deductions for property taxes and state income taxes, that are propelling residents out of tax-happy northern states like New York, Illinois and New England at ever-increasing rates. Our property taxes here are roughly one-third of what we paid in Connecticut for the same size house that didn’t come with a pool, golf course views, or friendly neighbors. Plus, Florida has no state income tax.    

If you’re among the millions of Boomers who are going to be moving here, be advised that everyone – family, friends, co-workers  – will want to express their opinion when you tell them you’re heading to Florida.  Some will say they’re happy for you. Some will say they are jealous. And others – perhaps the majority of folks around your own age – will make comments so stupid or nasty you’ll have trouble refraining from decking them. 

Why? Because you are their contemporary. The fact that you are retiring to Florida makes them feel old, a state of being many Boomers refuse to acknowledge. If you’re old enough to move to Florida, then they must be old enough to move, too, and that, for some reason, makes them feel compelled to explain why they would never consider it. 

Here, for your convenience, are quick comebacks to some of the most common comments you will receive when you tell people you’re moving to Florida. 

“I would never want to live around old people.”  
“Fine. I hope nobody ever forces you to.”

“I went once and couldn’t stand it – it was so phony.”
“You went to Disney World for Chrissakes. Disney World isn’t real.”

“I couldn’t move to Florida. This is my children’s home.”
“In case you haven’t noticed, they don’t live with you any more. When was the last time I saw one of their cars in your driveway? Thanksgiving? Christmas?  Have you ever considered they might prefer spending the holidays on a Florida beach rather than driving through a blizzard to be cooped up in a musty-smelling house where the windows haven't been opened since October?”

“I couldn’t live anyplace that doesn’t have four seasons.”
‘Let me get this straight. You are saying you would miss raking leaves, picking up fallen branches after sleet storms, shoveling show and paying fuel oil bills that, in any given month between November and April, amount to more than you made in a year on your first job?” 

“There’s no culture in Florida.”
“Au contraire.” (Be sure to use that term. It’s French, which means you know a thing or two about culture.) “There’s the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Heat, Jacksonville Jaguars, two ACC and one SEC college football teams, the Daytona 500, the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing, Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede in Orlando, and the Live Mermaid Theater in Weeki Wachi Springs. What more could you want?”

“I can’t stand Southerners”.
“So don’t move to Mississippi. Everyone in Florida is from the north. People who live in the south already enjoy mild winters so they don’t move there.” 

“What are you going to do all day?”
“Golf, tennis, swim, sail, windsurf, take walks, and ride my bike 365 days a year, after which I'll go to an open-air happy hour with my new friends. What will you be doing when the snow’s piled up so high you can’t open your front door?”

“People there are so different from the people here.” 
“Yes, getting away from closed-minded bigots like you was a significant factor in my decision.”

“What if you hate it?”
“I’ll move back. At least I am willing to try something new rather than ramble around a house that’s too big that I have to spend most of my disposable income to maintain while growing old in a town geared to young families that has no social services whatsoever for its senior citizens.”

"It must be a million degrees in summer." 
"Yep, northern and central Florida – Tallahassee, Pensacola, Jacksonville, Orlando and Ocala for instance -– experience hot, humid summers. But the southern half of the state, the part below the frost line which runs roughly from Sarasota to Vero Beach, enjoys tropical weather that doesn't vary all that much from month to month. Temperatures rarely reach the mid-nineties, even on the Fourth of July. The highest temperature ever recorded in Naples and Ft. Lauderdale was 99. Miami reached 100 exactly once, on July 21, 1942. How many 100-plus degree days do you have to endure summer after summer? Your A/C bill will be higher than mine."

“Florida’s too flat.”
“You really are desperate, aren’t you?”

“Will you ever be back?” 
“Yes, for your memorial service unless you die during the winter in which case I’ll send a lovely spray of flowers” 

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Goodbye Alfred E. Neuman

The publishers of MAD announced this week that the magazine is toast. It will still be published but will contain nothing original, only recycled material taken from its archives which must be pretty extensive because, like me, it has been around for 67 years.

MAD is — was — a humor magazine. Humor is no longer relevant in a nation where everyone seems to have lost theirs.

According to DC Comics, MAD’s publisher, the magazine topped out at 2.8 million subscribers in 1973. It has less than 150,000 today. 

In the late 1960s, when I was in high school, MAD was considered the gold standard for irreverent adolescent humor. Nothing was sacred. Its writers made fun of anyone and everything, from JFK to Castro to Batman-ia to Woodstock to Nixon. My buddy Craig, who moved to my tiny Missouri hometown from LA our freshman year, introduced me to MAD. We inhaled every issue and laughed our asses off. I emailed him the sad news about MAD today and he wrote back, reminding me he once owned the first 100 issues.

Magazines are folding right and left and those that remain are disturbingly thin, but MAD wasn’t your typical magazine. It didn’t accept advertising. And because it didn’t, its creators didn’t have to kow-tow to advertisers or pander to any group. MAD was an equal opportunity offender, taking on subjects some folks held sacrosanct and finding the humor in them. 

The primary reason MAD folded, the reason comedy clubs nationwide have gone out of business, the reason you no longer see comedians on late night TV who make you laugh out loud, the reason situation comedies on TV no longer make you smile much less laugh, is because comedy writers are scared shitless of offending so they are writing material that is, literally, witless. With the exception of self-deprecation, humor is almost always at the expense of someone or something else, who becomes the butt of the joke. Humor writers are no longer able to joke about women, Democrats, Republicans, socialists, liberals, conservatives, Whites, Blacks, Latinos, Latinas, Asians, gays, straights, transgenders, politicians, entertainers, athletes, Italians, Poles, rich, poor, Christians, Muslims, Jews or people who are fat, thin, bald, young or old, without offending someone. 

We have become a nation of thin-skinned, humorless snowflakes who take offense at anything that makes fun of us or our beliefs, refusing to concede the possibility that humor can be found in almost anything we take seriously or hold dear.

College kids seem particularly sensitive and, as a result, joyless. Jerry Seinfeld has returned to stand-up comedy, but refuses to play college campuses, claiming political correctness has robbed students of their ability to see humor. But getting back to MAD.

A month or so ago Trump sent a tweet comparing Democratic presidential aspirant Pete Buttigieg to Alfred E. Neuman, the gap-toothed mascot who has appeared on the cover of every MAD issue since 1956. When you look at their pictures side by side, there is definitely a resemblance.

Buttigieg responded that he had to google Alfred E. Neuman, he hadn’t heard of him.

There is, I readily admit, no reason someone Buttigieg’s age (37)  should be familiar with a cartoon character who was at the height of his fame 45 years ago but this old fart found Trump’s observation hilarious. Say what you will about him but Trump does have a sense of humor. I still laugh at his contention during the 2016 primaries that former Texas Governor Rick Perry started wearing glasses to make him look smart. But I probably shouldn’t have put that in writing. Some of you will write me off because I just said something positive about Trump. 

Did I say I voted for him or agree with his policies? Nope. The mere fact that I mentioned Trump's sense of humor will be enough to convince some snowflake readers that I must like him and so, because they hate him and everything he stands for, they will no longer like me, in which case all I can say in response is (scroll down even though you know what's coming) ...