Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Hey hey Paula

The Paula Deen debacle reminds me of a joke I heard as a boy:
Jesus is preaching when he is interrupted by a throng of men dragging a woman. "Teacher," one of the men says, “this woman committed adultery. What should we do with her?"
Jesus replies, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."
Moments later, a little old lady pushes her way through the crowd, picks up a giant rock and hurls it at the adultress, smacking her upside the head and causing her to collapse.
Jesus sighs as he turns to the old lady. “Mother, I was trying to make a
point here.”
So am I. My point is this: There isn’t anyone screaming bloody murder about Paula Deen who hasn’t uttered a racial slur or, at the very least, laughed at a joke that belittled someone’s ethnicity or essence. You know the kind of slurs I’m referring to – wops, spics, cannucks, krauts, cheese-eating surrender monkeys, polocks, slopeheads, dotheads, towelheads, zips, nips, micks, crackers, hymies, haoles, chinks, camel-jocks, kikes, dykes, oreos, goyim and there are others this honky peckerwood gringo could list if I were so inclined but I’m not.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not condoning the word Ms. Deen allegedly used in a deposition. It’s a word that is particularly hurtful and offensive to African-Americans and, given our nation’s bitter racial history, many Americans are more sensitive to it than they are to slurs against other ethnicities. Much of the blame for the word’s continued existence can be placed on the founding fathers who, when drawing up the Constitution, could have (past tense of racial slur for a person of Japanese descent) the problem in the bud by outlawing slavery at the get-go but instead deferred the matter to be determined by future generations. The result? The bitterest, most deadly war in American history that left a divide we like to pretend no longer exists but does. If our country had truly been founded as a nation in which all people were created equal, the word would have disappeared generations ago. But ours, alas, isn’t a perfect nation. No nation is.  
Ms. Deen has gone on TV and begged for forgiveness, endless stories have been written about the incident, sponsors and the Food Network have given her a drop kick, and tens of thousands of Americans have registered their own opinions on message boards.
Here's mine. It's something I wouldn’t have said in my younger days when I was more judgmental than I am now that I realize that nobody, especially me, is perfect. Let's forgive Ms. Deen, put the story to rest and instead focus on matters more important, such as a government that’s making a mockery of our civil liberties. 
We Americans are a forgiving people. We drive Mercedes built by Germans who turned the other way as their government killed six million Jews. Not to mention Nissans and Toyotas built by people whose military bombed Pearl Harbor, staged the death march to Bataan and other atrocities. Former Congressman Anthony Wiener, who had to resign after tweeting a picture of his dick, stands a good chance of becoming New York’s next mayor. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, who once belonged to the Ku Klux Klan, went on to become a revered member of the Democratic Party and U.S. Senate. We’ve forgiven Martha Stewart. We should forgive Paula Deen, too.
Unless, of course, you're without sin, in which case you are free to hurl away.

Monday, June 24, 2013

St. Joseph, the patron saint of real estate

Our Connecticut house, a rambling colonial that, according to the realtor's marketing brochure, “is sited beautifully, halfway up a rolling ridge, with a driveway that leads up through a sweeping front yard enhanced with mature trees and a brick front walk,” is on the market.

The “For Sale” sign went up three months ago. So far … zippity do dah. 

What to do? Turn to St. Joseph, the guy the Bible says was betrothed to Mary when she gave birth to Jesus. I’ve always admired Joseph because, frankly, if my fiancee had given me that story, I wouldn’t have been as magnanimous about it as he was. If anyone deserves sainthood, he does. 

I had no idea that Joseph is the patron saint of real estate until friends – Catholics, Protestants, Jews – told us that if we really want to sell, he can help. 

Specifically, they advised us to buy a statue of St. Joseph and bury it, upside-down, in the yard. This, according to experts featured in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, and the testimonies of dozens of believers I found online, will draw buyers like ants to a picnic. There is, however, much debate about where the statue should be buried. Some say three feet from the front door. Others say in the back yard. Or in a flower bed. Or next to the “For Sale” sign. 

Seems bizarre not to mention sacrilegious but as of ten minutes ago, a made-in-China St. Joseph statue – $6.99 at a Christian Book Store –  is upside down in our yard. 

I just pray I was able to bury it deep enough in the rocky soil of Connecticut that the yard men don’t run over it with their mowers.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What my Facebook friends are up to this summer

Don’t know about your friends but, thanks to Facebook, I know how my circle of intelligent, highly-accomplished friends is spending the summer:

Chris Smith likes Purina® Cat Chow®

Mitch Hughes is reading Living with Chronic Halitosis on Goodreads

Margo Quisenberry is at the law offices of Divorce Attorney Marcus J. Sandler

Jane Alvarez joined the group Legalize the Right to Bitchslap Stupid People

Winthrop Quisenberry is at the In-And-Out Motel in Annapolis, Maryland with Catherine Morrison

Shirley Carson likes Omaha School of Mortuary Science

Leonard Jones likes LaToya Jackson’s status

Marilee Linney birthed a butterscotch disc in Candycrush Saga

Sarah Young likes Summer Entertaining with Cool Whip®

John Mohr likes Quilted Northern® bathroom tissue

John Mohr likes Metamucil®

Leo Spangler commented on Laura Jensen’s status: “Why can’t you remember where you left the baby? She’s probably awake and hungry by now"

Bill Feinberg likes the group Guns Don’t Kill People, Guns with Bullets Do

Debbie Ramsey ate an entire pan of brownies in Farmville 6

Debbie Ramsey harvested a field of Mary Jane in Farmville 5

Marjorie Grossman and 837,503 other women liked Bill Clinton

James Chapman likes Lotromin® Jock Itch Anti Fungal Spray

Suzy Leachman voted Not Sure on the poll question: Should Serial Killers be Prosecuted to the Full Extent of the Law? 

Lawrence Ellerbee shared Tom Dryden’s post What My Facebook Friends are Up to This Summer

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Father’s Day commercial I’d like to see

I laugh every time I see a Father’s Day commercial for the simple reason that the models who play the “fathers” are no more fathers than my dachshund, Billy Ray, who had his gonads surgically removed as a puppy.

A guy in a typical Father’s Day spot is a twenty-something pretty boy in swimming trunks. He has a hairless chest and washboard abs and is beaming happily as he runs out of the surf with his adopted children (one boy, one girl) and his wife. You know the kids are adopted because there’s no way the wife, who is equally delighted to be reveling in quality family time, having just flown in from Milan where she works during the week as a runway model, ever carried anything heavier in her belly than a grape -- she allows herself to eat one every other Saturday.

These commercials are hilarious. And completely unbelievable.

Here’s a script for a Father’s Day commercial I’d like to see.

Beach scene. Fortyish balding man, his hairy potbelly quivering over the waistband of his swim trunks, is emerging from the water, holding his son, who appears to be about five. The kid is bawling, screaming in pain. Camera closes in on the kid’s foot, which is bleeding.

Man thrusts kid into the arms of his wife -- imagine Kathy Bates as she looked in "Misery", wearing a one-piece swimsuit and a floppy hat -- who is sitting in a beach chair.

(Mom): What happened?

(Dad): I think he stepped on a stingray or something.

Dad leans over and opens a cooler. He removes a PBR and pops the top, spraying beer all over the kid, causing the boy to cry even harder.

(Dad): Did you bring any Band-Aids?

Dad plops into a beach chair.

(Mom, angrily): Who do you think I am, Florence Nightengale? I thought you were watching him.

(Dad): I thought you were.

Cut to close-up of mom, who is furious.

(Mom, accusingly): You were too busy drooling over that slut with fake tits.  

Cut to close-up of blood gushing from kid’s foot.

Cut to wife, realizing there’s blood all over her.

(Mom): Shit, it’s really bleeding. We have to go to the ER.

(Dad): I took him last time. Your turn. It’s Father’s Day.

Mom, holding kid who is screaming louder than ever, gets up and runs off camera. 

Dad takes a sip from his beer and winks at the camera as slut with fake tits walks into the frame and sits down in chair vacated by the wife.

Cut to box of Band Aids. Type supers over.

 Pick up an extra box for Father’s Day weekend

Happy Father's Day.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A "live" chat with the cable guy

Note: This is my fourth consecutive post about TV -- strange for a guy who has always claimed he prefers a good book over watching the telly. All I can say is hey, it's summer. There's no need to improve oneself. Which, of course, is why you are reading instead of War & Peace.

My wife and I are binge-watching Downton Abbey on Netflix. We want to be ready for season four which is set to premiere next year on PBS. Netflix, unfortunately, only offers episodes from the series' first season. 

No problem. We have Comcast cable's "On Demand" which enables us to watch past episodes of certain shows. So I picked up my Comcast-supplied remote and went to the On-Demand screen of my TV to find out if we have the ability to watch the other two seasons of Downton on cable.

The Up, Down, Left and Right directional keys on the remote -- the ones that enable users to move the cursor on the TV screen to make programming choices -- weren't working. I checked the batteries. They were fine; every other function of the remote was working as it should. I assumed the problem was temporary and would magically resolve itself as Comcast equipment issues often do.

But the next day, the keys still didn't work. Not wanting to call Comcast, an ordeal that requires a lengthy wait to speak to a human during which you are bombarded with recorded messages telling you how much Comcast values your business, I logged onto to try and find instructions for "unsticking" the remote keys. But I couldn't find anything addressing my specific problem. That's when I saw the "Chat with a Comcast representative" button which, after filling in my name and account information, I hit. 

Below is a transcript of my exchanges with the Comcast representative who identified himself as Ryan. I cut-and-pasted it at the end of our "chat" which took the better part of an hour thanks to gaps of two, sometimes three, minutes between responses on his part. 

Market research shows that 97 percent of you would rather read this transcript than War & Peace, which is approximately the same length


  • Ryan > Hello Tom, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Ryan. Please give me one moment to review your information.
  • Tom > My issue is that my remote works fine with one exception: When I go to the On Demand menu page, it freezes -- can't move the arrows up, down or sideways.
  • Ryan > Thank you for taking the time to chat with us today.
  • Ryan > Tom, it is definitely not good to know that your remote is not working when you go to On Demand menu page. I can’t imagine myself having those equipment issues especially because cable TV is part of my daily routine.
  • Ryan > You have reached the support for cable TV service. Rest assured I will do everything within my means to address your concern today.
  • Ryan > Tom, can I ask you a few questions to assist you better. Would that be fine?
  • Tom > Yes.
  • Ryan > Thank you.
  • Tom > You can cut the politeness and just tell me what to do. I know you're a computer anyway.
  • Ryan > Is this problem also occurring on another box?
  • Tom > I don't have On Demand on my other TVs.
  • Ryan > I am not a computer, Tom. I am a real person.
  • Ryan > Tom, would you be able to tell me when this started happening?
  • Tom > Last night. Turned on the TV just now and the same thing is happening.
  • Ryan > I see.
  • Ryan > Thank you for providing the account holder's name, phone number and service address on the chat initiation form.
  • Ryan > There are some steps we will take together to resolve your concern.
  • Ryan > Are you currently at home with access to your TV and equipment?
  • Tom > Of course I am. Why would I write you if I weren't?
  • Ryan > I have to ask because some customers chat with us when they are at work or outside their homes.
  • Ryan > Alright. Let us troubleshoot the box.
  • Tom > OK.
  • Ryan > Tom, please reset the cable box exactly as outlined below:
  • Ryan > 1) Turn off your TV and cable box.
  • Ryan > 2) Unplug the power cord to the cable box for a minute, then plug it back in and wait for it to boot up.
  • Ryan > 3) If your cable box has a clock, please wait until it displays the current time on its front panel then turn the power back on. If it does not have a clock, turn the power back on after a minute.
  • Ryan > I would like to set proper expectation that your On Demand and guide data may take up to 45 minutes to reload.
  • Tom > OK, shall I do that now?
  • Ryan > Yes, Tom.
  • Ryan > Take your time.
  • Tom > I have done it.
  • Tom > Since this may take 45 minutes, what are the odds this will work?
  • Tom > OK, I will turn it back on.
  • Ryan > Yes, turn it back on and try accessing On Demand.
  • Tom > OK, hold on.
  • Ryan > Sure. I'll be here.
  • Tom > The cable box won't come on at all. And yes, I have double-checked the connection. It's plugged in. When I first plugged the cord in, all the lights lit up but now ... nothing.
  • Ryan > Is there a power button on the front display of your cable box? If so, can you please manually turn it on?
  • Tom > OK, the green "power" light just came on.
  • Ryan > Thanks for the update.
  • Tom > The TV says "no signal."
  • Tom > The green power light on the cable box is flashing.
  • Tom > At least the TV and cable were working when we started this chat.
  • Ryan > Tom, are you using coaxial connection? If so, please make sure that the TV is set to either channel 3 or 4.
  • Tom > It has always been set to one of those channels.
  • Ryan > Is your TV still showing "no signal"?
  • Tom > Yes.
  • Ryan > Please do make sure that it is turned on.
  • Tom > Yes.
  • Tom > Yes.
  • Tom > Yes.
  • Tom > You must think I'm an idiot. Of course it's turned on.
  • Ryan > Tom, can you please double check the cables and power connections to your cable box, your television, and any other equipment connected to your entertainment setup to make certain they are correct and securely connected? Please ensure that your Audio/Video connections are configured properly -- specifically the "video out" port on the cable box.
  • Tom > Now there is NO MENU on the On Demand page. Just a tiny screen featuring a woman hyping movies.
  • Tom > OK, the TV and Comcast is finally working.
  • Tom > But there is no menu on the On Demand page.
  • Ryan > Let us give it a few more minutes.
  • Tom > OK, now the menu is back on the page. But I still can't move the arrows!
  • Tom > Back where we started.
  • Ryan > Alright. Let us try to remap the keys.
  • Tom > What does that mean?
  • Ryan > What is the color of the OK/Select button on your Comcast remote?
  • Tom > Red.
  • Ryan > The buttons on the Comcast Custom 3-Device universal remote control can be reprogrammed (remapped) to control various functions.
  • Ryan > To remap (reprogram) a remote key:
  • Tom > This is taking a long time. Can't I just take the stupid remote to my Comcast office and get a new one?
  • Ryan > Yes, you can do that Tom. However, let me provide the steps to remap the keys in case you still want to try this fix.
  • Ryan > 1) Press the CABLE button.
  • Tom > OK, let's go.
  • Tom > Done.
  • Ryan > 2) Press and hold the Setup button until the Cable light blinks twice; then, release Setup.
  • Tom > Where is the Cable light so I will know where to look?
  • Tom > Is it on the button itself?
  • Ryan > Yes, it is the cable button itself.
  • Tom > OK, it blinked twice.
  • Ryan > 3) Enter 994. The Cable light will blink twice.
  • Tom > I did that. The TV is now on the Comcast Employee News Channel.
  • Tom > Shall I do it again? The light did flash but now I'm on the employee news channel.
  • Ryan > Yes, please do it again.
  • Tom > It says I am not authorized to visit.
  • Tom > Every time I pressed one of the digits the cable light lit up.
  • Tom > So it lit up three times. And I'm still on the employee channel.
  • Ryan > Tom, are you on channel 994?
  • Tom > No, I'm on 998, the employee channel, which is what I get when I press 9-9-4.
  • Ryan > Can you please do it again from step 1?
  • Tom > OK. Hold on.
  • Tom > When I pressed 994, it took me to channel 998 again.
  • Ryan > Let us proceed to step 4.
  • Ryan > 4) Press Setup once. The Cable light will blink twice.
  • Tom > Done.
  • Ryan > 5) Enter the following codes for the function you want to program.
  • Ryan > 00051 - UP
  • Ryan > 00047 - DOWN
  • Ryan > 00049 - LEFT
  • Ryan > 00045 - RIGHT
  • Tom > Do I enter them all?
  • Ryan > Yes, Tom.
  • Ryan > 6) Press the button on the remote for which you want to control the function. The Cable light will blink twice.
  • Tom > OK, did it.
  • Tom > But the cable light didn't blink twice any time
  • Tom > Shall I go get a new remote? It's 2 miles away.
  • Tom > This is ridiculous.
  • Tom > I could have crawled there by now.
  • Ryan > Tom, I really appreciate your cooperation. Can you please go to the On Demand menu page and see if there is any improvement?
  • Tom > YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Tom > It works! That was easy. :)
  • Ryan > Thank you, Tom.
  • Ryan > Is there anything else that I may be able to help you with today? I would be glad to help you further.
  • Tom > God no!
  • Ryan > Comcast appreciates your business and values you as a CusTomer! We constantly strive to meet and exceed your expectations. We hope that you will take a moment to complete the survey that will follow after our interaction. Your feedback will help us to continue improve how we serve you.
  • Ryan > Tom, thank you for choosing Comcast as the provider of your services. It has been a pleasure having you as a part of Comcast family.
  • Ryan > If you need assistance in the future, please do not hesitate to contact us through Live Chat or E-Mail (available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week). Comcast also offers great FAQ and Help forums located at to help you solve many issues on your own. You can also reach us through our Hotline 1-800-COMCAST (1-800-266-2278). Our goal is to provide you with a consistently superior CusTomer experience - that's our guarantee. Learn more about the Comcast CusTomer Guarantee at
  • Ryan > Enjoy the rest of your day!
  • Ryan > Goodbye for now!
  • Ryan > Analyst has closed chat and left the room.
For the record, once I was able to navigate the On Demand menu, I learned that Comcast has season two of Downton for which it charges $1.99 per episode. But it doesn't have season three.

So, I joined Amazon Prime for $79 a year where I can have both seasons streamed directly to my TV, not to mention lots of other programming for which Comcast imposes upcharges on top of my monthly subscription.

If you don't hear from me for a while, there's a good reason: I'm busy watching TV.