Sunday, December 27, 2020

45 years of the Drydens

I always write my blog posts but today is no ordinary day, it's our 45th anniversary.  So I'm going to let these pictures tell our story. There are no words to express what I want to say anyway. Peace and love. -- TJD

December 27, 1975
Hannibal, Mo.

December 25, 1982, a month away from parenthood.
New York

October, 1988
St. Maarten

Circa 1995, St. Maarten

25 years into this experiment, Dec. 27, 2000, St. Kitts

August 23, 2003,  on our front porch, Wilton, CT

May 2008, Philadelphia

35 years to the day, December 27, 2010,
on our deck, Wilton, with Topanga,
Bonnie and Billy Ray

2012, Naples, FL

40 years, Key Largo, 2015

September, 2019, Auvignon, France

We haven't taken any pictures in 2020 and even if we had, you wouldn't want to see them. Trust me on this. 


Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The 10 best moments of 2020

Some folks say 2020 has been the worst year ever but I’m not complaining. 

Sure, I’ve had better years, but 2020 wasn’t all that bad. Like most of you, I’ve stayed close to home, but that’s okay, we have Netflix. Our Scottish vacation had to be canceled but Loch Ness and the Isle of Skye will still be there long after COVID-19 has been eradicated.  And yes, the year started off badly in January when routine cataract surgery went awry, leaving me mostly blind in my right eye. But once elective surgeries were allowed to resume in May, I had a second operation that restored some of the vision.

Other than those blips, 2020 has been a great year. Here are 10 highlights:

1. March 26:  My two-year term on the Board of Directors of my Homeowners Association ended. No more calls from people complaining about the color their neighbors painted their front doors. No more meetings between right wing nuts and crazy left wingers to mediate whether Fox News and/or CNN should be allowed on the TVs in the fitness center. No more emails from foul old people bitching about anything and everything imaginable, from the type font on the web site to the brand of Pinot Grigio served at the annual Volunteer Appreciation event. I have my life back.

 2. May 25:  Though I ordered a single scoop of Dulce de Leche, the counter person at the Haagen Dazs Ice Cream store gave me two because she said the store was closing for good and the owner told her to get rid of it.

3. July 5:  The veterinarian was able to bring our dachshund's diarrhea -- that's what happens when you eat a gecko -- under control.

4. October 19:  I got a flu shot at our local Publix and received a $10 gift card. 

5. November 13:  NASA reported an asteroid the size of a London bus narrowly missed earth. 






Thursday, December 3, 2020

The world's best chili is from ... Hatton, Mo.?

This morning it was 48 degrees here in southwest Florida. Today's high is projected to reach only into the mid-seventies. Where the hell did I hang that Polar Tec jacket I haven't worn since January? No way I'm walking the dogs without it. 

The few days of chilly weather we experience every year in this corner of Florida means it’s time to make my annual pot of chili. Having watched the forecast — I hadn’t seen the weatherman that hysterical since Hurricane Irma — I masked up and went to Publix to buy the ingredients yesterday. It’s simmering on the stove as I write and it’s requiring all the willpower I possess (which isn’t much) not to ladle up a bowl and eat it for breakfast.

As might be expected of someone who was born in Mexico, I grew up eating chili.

OK, the Mexico of my birth is in Missouri, 25 miles southwest of Santa Fe and 11 miles north of Auxvasse, where I was raised. My mother’s chili, which she mercifully served only rarely, was made with something I haven’t seen and have tried to forget for years — a brick of Rice’s ® Chili from my father’s general store. The brick was a congealed lump of suspicious-looking meat, chili powder, onions and beans, to which cooks were expected to add water and tomato sauce or ketchup. The end-result was revolting. (Sorry, mom. You know I loved everything else you made but your chili sucked.)


Luckily, there were places in my tiny town that served up a decent bowl of chili. The Chalet Cafe’s menu, which was limited primarily because the Chalet was smaller than our master bathroom, included a tasty albeit greasy chili. Multiple civic, social and church groups regularly held chili and pie suppers as fund-raisers. I looked forward to the school cafeteria’s chili, served weekly during the winter months, which was always a treat.

But the best chili of my youth wasn’t made in Auxvasse, it was made in Hatton, a tiny farming community a few miles west of town. Hatton consisted of a couple of houses and a Methodist Church where I attended youth fellowship meetings — not that I gave a rat's behind about religion even then but the food was always good. The only other building I recall was a community center where the folks of the Hatton area and their lucky guests gathered regularly for some mighty fine farmwife-cooked meals that often included chili, which was invariably accompanied by pimiento cheese sandwiches. The sandwiches were delicious — pimiento cheese made with Velveeta should be declared a national treasure — but Hatton Community Hall’s chili was out-and-out sublime. 

I’ve searched the world over for chili that good ever since but without success. I’ve had chili in Mexico, Australia, Russia, even Chile. I once ordered a bowl of chili in a Mexican restaurant in Windhoek, Namibia that was made with ostrich meat and it wasn’t half bad. But none have come close to Hatton Community Hall chili.

In recent years chili’s popularity has skyrocketed but it wasn’t all that long ago it was considered exotic by many Americans. I remember one snowy evening in 1978 I went with friends to Manhattan’s Lone Star Cafe, a Texas-themed restaurant/nightclub, and ordered a bowl. My companions, all native New Yorkers, looked at the bowl when it arrived as if contained baby parts. None had ever tasted chili but all admitted they had heard of it. All asked for a taste. Most admitted it was damn good. Several ordered their own bowls.

Today, chili is ubiquitous. You’ll find it everywhere from chain restaurants to bars to fine dining establishments to fast food restaurants. Wendy’s, for instance, sells millions of bowls every year and pours millions more over their taco salads. Here’s a link to a recipe that claims to replicate Wendy’s chili and it’s pretty good. The secret? Vinegar. 

Chili fans can find hundreds if not thousands of recipes online, including some that don’t include meat and/or beans and/or tomatoes. (What’s the point?)

Over the years I tried dozens of those recipes  but none came close to Hatton chili until, a few years ago when, my sister, who lives in central Missouri, purchased at a garage sale a cookbook entitled The Hatton Extn. Cookbook, Vol. 1 and Vol 2, 1992, for 50 cents and sent it to me.

OMG! It contained the recipe for Hatton Community Hall Chili, submitted by a girl I grew up with. She is no longer a girl — she’s a grandmother — but I haven’t seen her since high school so she’ll always be a girl to me. 

The recipe, which calls for 5.5 pounds of meat, makes enough to serve the seventh fleet, so I reduced it and adapted a few of the ingredients. For instance, it calls for “2 lbs. of dried beans”. From what little I know about beans, you have to soak them overnight, then pick through them to discard the rock-hard ones. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Like I said, I don’t know beans about beans. The hell with that, my version uses canned beans. Quicker, easier, just open and dump.

The secret of Hatton chili is something I haven’t seen in any other recipe: Tomato juice in lieu of fresh or canned tomatoes. I have to imagine that Hatton cooks use canned juice made from tomatoes raised in their gardens, but Campbell’s Tomato Juice is less trouble. (Just make sure you don’t buy the salt-free version.) Given the absence of tomatoes, the consistency is more akin to a hamburger soup with beans than to any chunky chili with which you may be familiar. So be it. It’s delicious. Not to mention quick and easy. And it freezes well. The recipe below serves 10. Enjoy.


1 1/2 lbs. hamburger

1 1/2 lbs. ground turkey

1 large yellow onion, diced

1 large can (65 oz.) tomato juice 

1 1/2 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. pepper

2 tsp. sugar (really!)

2 15.5 oz. cans kidney beans

Fry the meat with the onion until the meat is brown and the onion is tender. Drain the grease. Add the tomato juice, seasonings and sugar. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat and let simmer for 30 minutes or so. Five minutes before serving add the drained beans. Send Tom an email thanking him for this most excellent recipe.

Note: It isn’t necessary to use ground turkey if you can’t stand the thought of turkey in your chili. You can make an all-beef version of the recipe but if you are trying to limit your intake of red meat, be advised that turkey, when fried together with the hamburger, takes on the characteristics and taste of the beef. That’s the way I make it and can’t imagine it could taste any better.

Monday, October 26, 2020

California governor Gavin Newsom answers your questions about Thanksgiving safety guidelines

Dear Gov. Newsom:

I plan to comply with the safety guidelines you issued for Thanksgiving celebrations — the event should be held outside and last two hours or less, no more than three families can attend, no singing, six feet of distance between guests, and bathrooms must be sanitized between each use — but have a dilemma. My four children are married and all have children. Are they considered four families or are we one family?

JR in San Jose

Dear JR:  If they live with you, you are one family. If not, they comprise four separate families and don’t forget that you and those who reside under your roof are also considered a family unit by the State of California, so we’re actually talking about five families here. Tell the two children you are least thankful for that, under normal circumstances, they and their families are welcome but not this year. 

Dear Gov. Newsom:

I am confined to a wheelchair and unable to sanitize my bathroom between uses. If I rent a port-a-potty for my outdoor celebration, must it also be sanitized after each visit or does your edict apply only to indoor bathrooms?

Barbara in Santa Barbara:

Dear Barbara:

Thank you for pointing out this critically important omission my health experts somehow missed. I have extended the guidelines to require sanitizing port-a-potties and outhouses after each use.

Dear Gov. Newsom:

I’m planning a quiet Thanksgiving — only myself and my 99-year-old mother. We live in a cabin high in the Sierras where the average temperature in late November is near zero. Must we a) celebrate outside and b) sit six feet apart?

Mountain Man 

Dear MM:

Yes. Rules are rules.

Dear Gov. Newsom:

Months ago I invited 18 guests for Thanksgiving but the balcony of my condo is only 80 square feet so it will be impossible to seat them six feet apart. What can you suggest?

Beverly in Beverly Hills

Dear Beverly: Move your celebration to one of California’s beautiful open spaces, like Death Valley, where there is plenty of room. Be sure to provide each guest with a cloth mask and a bottle of hand sanitizer.

Dear Gov. Newsom:

If a wildfire is raging near my home on Thanksgiving, must we still hold our celebration outside?

Nadine in Napa

Dear Nadine: Yes, but look on the bright side. You won’t have to turn on the oven to roast the turkey.

Dear Gov. Newsom:

My family traditionally sings “We Gather Together” before we sit down to dinner. Is it permissible to hum it if everyone is wearing a mask?

The Osmonds

Dear Osmonds: No. Humming would violate the spirit of my guidelines which are intended to protect all Californians. Planes equipped with listening devices will be circling our state's major cities and if we detect humming, you will be subject to arrest and/or fines. 

Dear Gov. Newsom:

I no longer want to live in a state in which my every move is controlled by despots like you. I am planning on jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge at noon on Thanksgiving Day. Any final advice for me?

GG in SF

Dear GG: Make sure you stand at least six feet away from any other Californian who is doing the same thing. 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Four intelligent TV series to stream on Netflix

My wife and I have spent almost every night for the past seven months of COVID-induced isolation watching streaming video. We’ve binge-watched TV series on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Showtime, Acorn, Apple TV, HBO, PBS and Starz, even though we don’t like the same types of shows. 

She loves murder dramas. I hate them. If I want to watch victims being chopped up into little pieces by insane people, I could tune into the nightly talk shows on CNN or Fox News. 

I love WWII series. She detests them. 

We could, I suppose, watch the shows we each prefer in separate rooms, but we like to watch together with our dachshund and Jack Russell terrier curled between us. So we compromise about the types of TV series we watch. 

We are picky. We research shows that sound promising on the internet and are constantly asking friends whose judgment we trust for recommendations. Having been disappointed often, we tend to avoid much of the drek that comes out of Hollywood. For instance, we watched the first two episodes of the much-balleyhooed “Morning Show” on Apple TV before pulling the plug. Starring Jenifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell, the 10-episode series purportedly cost $300 million to produce. Our dachshund could have written a script with fewer holes in it. We turned off “Ozark” on Netflix after a few episodes for the same reason. Though some of our friends say otherwise, we found it unbelievable and unwatchable.

And so, as a result, we watch lots of foreign series. Over the last few months, we’ve been fortunate enough to find not just one but four extraordinary foreign series on Netflix, all of them written for viewers with triple-digit IQs who eschew the sci-fi, teenage and/or vampire series that dominate streaming media. 

If the experts are correct, the second wave of the Coronavirus is going to be hitting soon and we’ll all be stuck at home again. So here is something to help you pass the upcoming lockdown — four outstanding series vetted by yours truly, his wife and, of course, our dogs, who can now bark in four new languages. 

3 seasons, 30 episodes

Birgitte Nyborg, the leader of a minor political party, unexpectedly becomes Prime Minister. She knows little about governance or behind the scenes political machinations, but episode by episode, becomes accomplished, confident and, at times, ruthless. As her career flourishes, her family falls apart — her husband leaves, her teenager has a breakdown. How she balances all these demands is the core premise of the show and it doesn’t necessarily end the way you think it will. Borgen’s secondary characters are also well developed. Kasper is the party’s spin doctor, who always knows what to do except when it comes to his own life. Catrina is a workaholic TV anchor, who, like Birgitte, wants it all — love, kids and a high-powered career — but keeps making questionable choices. Many cast members portray journalists and you’ll learn how the Danish media covers politics. For instance, when an issue arises, politicians representing all sides of it gather on a TV soundstage and debate. That’s an idea American politicians and networks should adopt. Borgen, by the way, means “the Castle,” a nickname for Christiansborg Palace, the house of Denmark's three powers: Parliament, the Prime Minister's Office and the Supreme Court. 

3 seasons, 36 episodes 

Fauda is Arabic for “chaos" which ensues in every episode of this taut thriller. A below-the-radar team of the Israeli Defense Force is assigned to infiltrate the West Bank. Their job: To identify and stop terrorists before they can strike. Like the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Fauda is violent — characters are blown to bits by bombs, stabbed, tortured, mowed down by Uzis and beheaded. There’s fanaticism on both sides of the fence and this series helps American viewers understand why. Filmed in Israel and its occupied territories, Fauda is, at once, fascinating, disturbing, thrilling and enlightening. If you liked “Homeland” on Showtime, you will love Fauda. It’s twice as intelligent, better written and the acting is superb. Lior Raz, who plays Doron, the protagonist, is a master actor. You feel his pain, rage, sorrow and loss. Another standout is Shadi Mar’i who plays Walid, a batshit crazy terrorist whose star is ascending until … well, you’ll have to see for yourself what happens. 

Call My Agent 
3 seasons, 18 episodes 

Four self-absorbed, ultra-competitive Paris talent agents learn that the owner of their agency, who kept them all in line, has dropped dead, leaving the firm and their futures in “fauda” (See? You’re already learning something new.) Each episode features a bona fide French celebrity who plays himself or herself as one of the agency's clients. The agents work to extract themselves and their entitled clients from difficult and often compromising positions while trying to balance relationships with spouses, co-workers who are current lovers, co-workers who were former lovers, potential clients, the French version of the IRS,  and a wealthy new boss who bought the agency on a lark, knows nothing about the business, and wears a man bun. The dialogue is witty and smart, and the characters are likable — even the ones you shouldn’t like, like Mathias who refuses to acknowledge the daughter he fathered during a one-night stand and is now diddling his spinster secretary while his wife tries to extract money from her wealthy father to buy him controlling interest in the agency. As someone who spent his career in creative (advertising) agency environments, I loved this show. Bet you will too. 

Bonus Family 
3 seasons, 30 episodes 

Mattress salesman Martin is bitter because his ditzy artist wife, Lisa, has left him and moved in with schoolteacher Patrik, who several years ago divorced his humorless architect wife, Katja. Between them, the four principal characters have three children including two boys the same age, one a Goofus, one a Gallant, and a rebellious teenage daughter. Martin has moved in with his widowed mother who, it turns out, has had a lesbian lover for the last 20 years. Lisa forgets to take her birth control pill and becomes pregnant while still married to Martin; she keeps forgetting to sign the divorce papers. Katja appears to be a cold fish but is having torrid nooners with her married boss. In short, everyone in this bonus family — the term Swedes call it when two families become one --  has issues. The characters navigate parenting, finances, housing, pregnancy, jobs, eldercare, medical care, marriages, divorces, new loves and former spouses, as American viewers get insight into Sweden and its unique brand of socialism. For instance, when Lisa and Patrik’s baby arrives, he has the luxury of leaving his job to stay home for 18 months because he’s being paid by the state to take paternity leave. You’ll care about these characters and, when the series ends, you’ll miss them because, like your family, they’re dysfunctional but good people muddling through, trying to do the best they can. 

Note: Netflix gives the viewers of many of its foreign series the option of listening to voices dubbed in English over the original actors’ voices. Don’t choose that option. Choose the audio in the language in which the original was shot, then select “English subtitles.” You’ll be surprised at how many words in, say, Danish are the same as they are in English. And you won’t be distracted by characters whose lips aren’t in synch with what they are saying. 

Funny, but my wife sometimes asks me to turn up the volume. I tell her she doesn’t speak the language anyway so what's the point? But she’s right. It’s great to hear the actors’ authentic voices, even if you can’t understand 99 percent of what they are saying.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

First day of first grade

Grandson Teddy's first day of first grade, at home

Grandson Teddy's first day of first grade. At home. 

My grandson, Theodore, started first grade this morning. 

I remember the day in September 1957 I started first grade. It was raining, so my mother drove me in her tank-size Chrysler sedan. Cars didn’t have bucket seats then. The Chrysler had an armrest that folded down from the center of the bench seat, and I sat on top of it, trying to stay as close to mom as possible. I was excited as all get-out -- I had looked forward to the big day for months --- but nervous. Our tiny farm town didn’t have a kindergarten, so the first day of first grade marked the first time I’d be away from home for anything other than a playdate or birthday party. 

Upon arrival I met my classmates. I can still name at least 90 percent of them  — Mark Penn, Jane Mills, Kenny Smithee, Debbie Montcalm, Jerry Wyss, Connie Sue Knipp, Billy Welch, Patty Jensen, Jerry Senevey, Lana Foster, and Sheila Rountree.* To this day I stay in touch with many of them by Facebook.

Our teacher, Mrs. McCune, was approximately five hundred years old. She wore wire-rim glasses and, once the weather turned cool, a red, orange and gray checkered wool jacket like the one every teacher in the Auxvasse Public School seemed to have. 

Over the next nine months she taught us to read from a series of Dick & Jane primers. The first word of the first primer was, “Look” followed by “Look, look, look.” Dick was pointing out something to Jane that their dog, Spot, was doing. Sally, their younger sister (who, for some reason, never earned title status), was introduced a few pages later as was Puff, their cat.  

Mrs. McCune taught us numbers and how to add and subtract them. To this day, addition and subtraction are all I am able to handle math-wise, which is why I became a writer instead of, say, a rocket scientist — and to painstakingly copy block letters from the alphabet posters taped above the blackboard. She spent what seemed like hours trying to get me to hold my pencil the way the other kids in the class held theirs. I never understood what the fuss was about — I held my pencil just fine —  but for some reason she was convinced the odd way I held it (and still do) would prevent me from a normal education. I loved the weekly spelling bee competitions and usually made it to the Final Four but Lana invariably won. 


Mark and I were the only kids whose parents hadn’t taught us to tie our shoelaces, and for months we drove Mrs. McCune crazy, asking her three or four times a day to bend down and tie ours. Finally, she offered a silver dollar to whichever one of us learned to do it first. I still have it, proof positive that those who accuse me of being tight-fisted and having the first dollar I ever earned are right.

Our school didn’t have a library — it didn’t even have a cafeteria for the first few years — but the Daniel Boone Regional Library bookmobile came around every few weeks and our first grade class was allowed inside for ten minutes to look for the few books for beginning readers that we could check out. Mrs. McCune told us that those who read ten books and gave oral book reports would, at the end of the school year, receive certificates signed by the State Education Commissioner.  I read nine, which I figured would be enough to earn me the certificate, but it wasn’t. I was the only kid in the class whose name wasn’t announced as a recipient during the all-school assembly in May.  From that experience I learned A) if you want something badly enough, you need to work for it because close isn't good enough and B) to read constantly. I still read two or three books a week.

All of which brings me back to Teddy.


Teddy’s memory of his first day of first grade will be that he sat at his laptop computer in his family room. He lives in the District of Columbia where the schools — if they convene at all this school year— won’t begin until at least November due to the Covid pandemic. Until the powers that be deem it safe for D.C. schools to open, he will have two hours of online instruction every day. I’ve never heard of first graders having homework but hopefully he will be assigned some, so his bright mind will be engaged in schoolwork for more than two hours a day.

I assume Teddy will meet his classmates for the first time online. Surely they will be able to see each other. But, he won’t be able to play Red Rover or kickball with them at recess, to chat with them at lunch, or interact with them in any manner other than remotely. He won’t be asking new friends over to play after school, or attending classmates’ birthday parties. He will not learn to sit as quietly as possible for seven or eight hours a day. He won’t be raising his hand to ask to go to the bathroom, or to get a drink of water from the fountain in the hall. There will be no school assemblies. His teacher won’t be standing over him to see how he holds his pencil (if first graders even use pencils in our digital age. Teddy's parents bought him a laptop). He and millions of other kids who are starting virtual first grade will miss the social interaction which is every bit important to a first grader as the three Rs. 

A friend recently posted a photo of his twin grandchildren on their first day of first grade. Unlike Teddy, the twins will physically be attending school, but the photo shows them in masks, which they will have to wear at all times, as if they are hostages, which, in a way, they are. It is impossible to tell if those adorable kids are smiling under those masks — I hope they are — but who would know? 

The idea of bright eyed, vivacious first graders starting school in their home by computer, or sitting in a room full of other children whose sweet voices are muzzled by masks, breaks my heart. 

It will be interesting to see how the class of 2032 fares over the coming years compared to children who had conventional first day of first grade experiences. 

Maybe they’ll do just fine.  

This old grandpa sure hopes so. 

*Note to anyone in my class reading this: No, I didn’t forget Betty Sue Hudnut. She didn’t join our class until second grade. Don’t ask me why I remember stuff like that, I just do. And here's an odd coincidence. As I was writing this, I got a call from the younger brother and cousin of two of my first grade classmates. He lives on the Atlantic side of Florida but is coming over to the Gulf side in a few days. I haven't seen or talked with him in more than 40 years. We're getting together this weekend. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Ghost reveals headlines for remainder of 2020

Like Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, I had a dream last night in which the future was revealed to me. Think things can’t possibly get worse? You ain’t seen nothing yet. Here are some of the upcoming headlines and stories the Ghost of the Rest of 2020 told me to pass along to my readers.

Category 8 hurricane splits Florida in two

August 29 — A Navy plane has spotted the southern half of the severed peninsula containing Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Palm Beach, Ft. Myers and Sarasota, approximately 20 miles off the coast of Cuba. Reporting from the White House, CNN’s Jim Acosta says that, because President Trump recently changed his official domicile from New York to Palm Beach, which is no longer a part of the United States, he is an illegitimate president and must resign.

Coronavirus vaccine withdrawn after trial

September 27— Placed by the Trump administration on a fast track for approval, the vaccine, which was administered to 5,000 volunteers earlier this week, was withdrawn after it was discovered that all 5,000 indicated they plan to vote for Trump and, when questioned, were unable to name a single Democratic candidate for any office. “We’d rather spend the rest of our lives in our basements than submit ourselves to a brain-washing vaccine that has obviously been developed by pharmaceutical companies trying to win favor with Trump,” CNN’s Chris Cuomo told CNN’s Chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper.

CNN: Even Melania isn’t voting for Trump

October 14 —CNN last night reported 43 times between 7 pm and 8 pm that First Lady Melania Trump told one of the network’s interns she has no intention of voting for her husband in the upcoming election. CNN later withdrew the story after Mrs. Trump called the news desk to complain. Anchor Anderson Cooper said Mrs. Trump told him the story was a “big fat lie, just like that orange orangutang’s life has been.”

132 million mail-in ballots marked “Biden” received by Alabama Election Commission

October 19 — Joe Scarborough, co-host of CNN’s “Morning Joe,” insists that the ballots, which were delivered yesterday afternoon by the United States Postal Service, are most likely on the up and up. “The population of Sunbelt states like Alabama is growing at an unprecedented rate,” Scarborough told his co-host, Mika Brzezenski.  “Alabama’s Election Commissioner should consider them legitimate until and unless proven otherwise."

Manhattan buried by volcano

October 21 — The 433 residents remaining in Manhattan who refused to flee due to the Coronavirus are assumed dead from the volcano, which emerged without warning from the ground beneath the Central Park Zoo, burying what was once America’s largest city beneath a mountain of bubbling lava. CNN reports that President Donald Trump laughed when told the news, saying "They weren't going to vote for me anyway" and "Now I can collect the insurance payout on Trump Tower."

Biden replaced after debate gaffe: “Who are you people and what country did you say this was again?” 

October 23 — The Democratic National Committee, meeting in emergency session last night following the debate, named Hillary Clinton to replace Biden as the party’s candidate for president. CNN News President Jeff  Zucker praised the committee’s selection of Mrs. Clinton whom, he said, actually won the 2016 election but "Trump and the Russians stole it from her."

Kanye wins presidency

Nov. 4 — The world was in shock this morning after a record voter turnout in the United States which saw incumbent Donald Trump win Alaska, challenger Hillary Clinton win California, and Kayne West sweep the rest of country’s electoral votes. West’s wife, Kim Kardashian, announced at the victory party that she is introducing a new line of lipsticks named after former first ladies, including Betty Ford Fuchsia and Michelle Obama Opalescence, which will be released in time for the inauguration. 

Canada and Mexico station troops along borders to prevent Americans from claiming political asylum

Nov. 5 — CNN reports a line of cars containing panicked Americans bound for Mexico reportedly extends from Tijuana to Seattle. The line waiting to cross into Ontario from Detroit extends 725 miles all the way down I-75 to Atlanta. 

Thanksgiving canceled after Coronavirus infects turkeys, pumpkins and potatoes

Nov. 22 — Anthony Fauci, former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN that Stovetop Stuffing and Heinz Gravy are the only staples of America’s national holiday deemed safe for human consumption. The Trump administration issued a press release insisting the food chain is safe, which was reported by all news media except CNN which, Trump told Fox News' Sean Hannity, is a “very, very bad company.”

Bleakest Christmas ever after Coronavirus claims lives of Santa, reindeer and elves

December 15 — Mrs. Karen Claus, in an exclusive interview with CNN, told the network that she is holding up well, despite the loss of her husband and his co-workers, whose deaths, she said, “are directly attributable to Donald Trump.”