Book Review:  Here’s One I Loved To Hate

book_01 croppedPublication date:  June 2016

Review, short version:  Skunks; as many as I could fit in the space.

Review, long version:

As I sat down to write this, I was rubbing my hands in glee.

This is a truly awful book, and I couldn’t wait to rip it to shreds.


The lead character, Ella, is the worst.

And it’s too bad, because the plot line of The Idea of Love is semi-original:  Girl meets boy, both lie their heads off, build on those lies and then tell new ones.

It’s a pathological liars match made in Heaven.

Since the story comes from Ella’s point of view, let’s focus on her.  For starters, it’s clear early on that she has:

  1. A Bachelor’s Degree in whining.cap and gown cropped
  2. A Master’s degree in lying
  3. A Ph.D. in playing the victim.

We also learn early on that Sims, Ella’s perfect husband of seven years, is having an affair with Ella’s best friend’s sister Betsy.

How do we learn this?

Sims tells Ella.

And not only that, Sims tells Ella that he’s in love, and want to marry Betsy.

And what does Ella do?

Does she point toward the front door and shout, “Get out!  I’m calling my lawyer!  You lying, cheating…

swear-word cropped larger

Does she rush to the kitchen, open the refrigerator door, pull out the dish of leftover poulette chasseur avec haricot verts (Sims’ favorite), head into the garage, open the door to Sims’ BMW M6 Gran Coupe, and dump the contents in the driver’s seat while yelling, “Take that, you…

swear-word cropped larger

Does she run upstairs, open the bedroom window and start throwing Sims’ clothes onto the front lawn, the whole while screaming, “And here’s your favorite tie, to go with this (tossing out more clothes) suit I picked out for you, and this (left shoe) and I always hated those shoes, you…

swear-word cropped larger


Instead, it is Sims’ who packs Ella’s suitcase.  Ella slinks out the front door, ending up in a crappy one-room furnished apartment, brooding endlessly about – could she have been more inventive in bed?  Cooked better meals?  Done Pilates?  Bought more bohemian clothes like the girlfriend wears? etc.

Did I mention Ella has no spine?

Spine_01 (2)

It gets worse.

Eventually we learn that Sims has become conflicted.  He’s wondering if he’s made a mistake.  So Sims, Betsy and Ella come to an arrangement of sorts:

200292204-001Ella moves back into their home, but only for a week.  Then Ella goes back to the crappy apartment and Betsy moves into the house for a week.  Repeat process.

Or as the author put it, a “week-on-week-off arrangement…a man staying put while two women rotated in and out of his life.”


Throughout all this rotating, Ella still has plenty of time for lying, whining and playing the victim.  Page 195:  “Everyone, I mean everyone, is taking advantage of me.”

But finally, finally, around page 220 (out of 239 pages), Ella begins to grow some spine.

But it’s way too little and much too late and…

Who cares?

Ella was an irredeemable waste of oxygen, and the book an irretrievable waste of paper.

Ah…that was fun.


And Now, It’s Time To Meet…

We humans come up with all sorts of excuses for breaking the law.

But on Memorial Day, I heard an excuse that topped all others.

I have dubbed the excuse maker “Ms. Originality,” and I invite you to shake your head in disbelief, as I did.

First, some context.

Key words:  Pandemic.  May 25, Memorial Day.  Beaches.

Our country has lots of beaches.

And on Memorial Day, those beaches had lots of people:

Cocoa Beach, FL:

Cocoa Beach Florida

Indiana Dunes National Park:

Indiana Dunes National Park

Ocean Beach, San Francisco, CA:

Ocean Beach San Francisco cropped

Pandemic?  What pandemic?

As long as we’re in San Francisco, let’s travel south about 470 miles, to Carlsbad, CA.

It’s a nice town with nice beaches.

And on those beaches are signs:


On Memorial Day a local TV station carried a story about the beaches and the signs.  The reporter posed by the sign…

Arti (2)

And said, “These signs are being ignored.”

That astute observation was followed by Carlsbad beach scenes including this…

Beach 1 (2)

And this…

Beach 2 (2)

And this…

Beach 3 (2)

And now let’s meet…

Miss Originality cropped

Woman (2)

You’ll notice she’s violating the “no stopping, sitting or lying down” rule.

You’ll notice she’s not wearing a face mask.

Just a hunch here – she’s not social distancing.

And now…drum roll…here is her Memorial Day excuse for violating the rules:

“It’s my respect to them, to show my respect of freedom for what they did for me, for you, and anybody else that wants to live here.”

wait what

On this Memorial Day, she felt that violating the rules was the perfect way to demonstrate her “respect of freedom.”

The perfect way to show respect for the military men and woman who fought, and died, for our freedom.

Clearly, on Memorial Day she felt honor-bound to do this.

Clearly, she is a…

Patriot_04 cropped fixed

And for Ms. Originality and other violators, said the reporter, instead of citations, Carlsbad police were choosing to educate, and depend on good judgement by beachgoers.

No judgment (2) fixed

“While Rome Burned…”

Back in March, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying that as he “fiddles, people are dying.”

I am 100% certain that Trump didn’t get the historical reference in her statement.

Pelosi was alluding to the expression, “fiddled while Rome burned,” a criticism of the very unpopular Roman Emperor Nero (37AD-68AD).  The story goes that during the Great Fire of Rome (64AD), which lasted for six days and burned 70 percent of the city, instead of coming to the aid of his people, Nero “fiddled,” and the results were tragic:

While Rome burns, Nero plays an early version of a fiddle.

The phrase, according to, means

“To do something trivial and irresponsible in the midst of an emergency; legend has it that while a fire destroyed the city of Rome, the emperor Nero played his violin, thus revealing his total lack of concern for his people and his empire.”

Trump, who doesn’t read books or anything else that might dispel some of his egregious ignorance, wouldn’t have understood the import of Pelosi’s words.

I have no trouble imaging the conversation afterwards, between Trump and one of his toadies:

Toady:  Mr. President, sir, how would you like to respond to Speaker Pelosi’s comment?

Trump:  Which comment?  That broad talks so much, who can keep track of what she 700-00027398says?  She has mental problems.  You ask me, she should be home making cooking for her grandkids.  Women got no place in politics.

Toady:  Yes, sir.  I was referring to her ‘fiddles, people are dying” comment earlier today.

Trump:  Oh, that?  Who cares?  Just more Pelosi blah-blah-blah.  Nobody knows what she meant.

Toady:  Well, actually, sir, people do know what she meant.

Trump:  Oh, yeah?  What?

Toady:  What she said was, ah…an historical allusion.allusion cropped

Trump:  Illusion?  You wanna talk illusion?  The Do-Nothing Democrats thinking they can win in November – now, that’s an illusion!

Toady:  No, sir, an allusion, not an illusion.

Trump:  So?  What was she allusioning about?

Toady:  She was alluding, sir, to Nero playing the fiddle while Rome burned.

Trump:  Nero?  Peter Nero, the piano guy?  I know him!  I think he played at my Vegas hotel.  You been there?  Great place.  Greatest hotel in Vegas.

Toady:  Actually, sir, Speaker Pelosi was referring to the Emperor Nero.

Trump:  Nero’s an emperor?  Geez, I thought he only played the piano.

Toady:  Sir, the Emperor Nero.  He lived in the first century, and was emperor of Rome.

The_Apprentice_original_logoTrump:  So?  I hosted The Apprentice for 14 years, and I got Emmy nominations!  Did you know that?  A bunch of Emmy nominations?  Too bad that whole thing is rigged, or I would have won.  Everybody says I should have won ‘em all.  Instead, I got screwed, and they gave it to the most boring show on television.  Piece of crap.

Toady:  Sir, about Speaker Pelosi…

Trump:  What about her?  You mean that “fiddling” stuff?  Is that like a violin?  See, that’s how stupid her comment was.  I don’t play any instruments, including violin.  trump magaHaven’t got time for that.  Too busy making American great again.

Toady:  Yes, sir.  So, as for your response…

Trump:  You see how I’m making America great again?  MAGA?  Get it?  Do you have one of my MAGA hats?  Everybody’s wearing them, people say to me all the time they love wearing my MAGA hats.

Toady:  No, sir.  I mean, yes, sir, I have a MAGA hat.  As for your response…

Trump:  Hey, I’ll take care of it.  I always do, don’t I?

Trump took care of it the next morning by calling his buddies at State TV, also known as the Fox Network, and did his usual name-calling, denigrating, and whining:

New York (2)

That was March, and this is May, and Trump is still fiddling:

Saturday, May 23, 2020:

trump saturday

Saturday, May 23, 2020:

Forbes_01 (2)

Saturday, May 23, 2020:

CDC (2)

Sunday, May 24, 2020:

May 24 (2)

Sunday, May 24, 2020:

CDC final (2)

Sunday, May 24, 2020:

ny times

“The San Diego Casinos Are Open, The San Diego Casinos Are Open!”


“Let’s go stand in line for two hours in killer heat to get in and give them our money!”

open_04 smaller

“I’ll get my temperature taken, and everything will be fine!”

twitter smaller

“See?  I got my mask and gloves and…um…well…my mask, anyway!”

Union Trib (2)

“Let’s risk our lives to play the slots and blackjack and bingo!”

KPBS (2)

“See?  Every other slot machine is turned off, so we’re safe!”

open_02 smaller

“And shut up about the ‘at-risk age group!’”

Not Even My Coronavirus Crazies Will Convince Me To Cook This

ice cube dispenser croppedI’d never call myself a cook, but there are some recipes I’ve got nailed.

Ice cubes, for instance (see image, right).

Canned soup.  I am a can opener meister.

Heating the soup?


Butter?  I’ve got that stick out of the wrapper and onto a plate in seconds.

Otherwise, my kitchen adventures generally look like this:


And this:

buffalo wings first attempt

And this:

spaghelli cropped larger

But the other day I encountered this glorious photo in my newspaper:


It’s Takeout-Style Hot-and Sour Soup

And thought, “Oh, does that look good!  I want some of this!”

Further perusal told me that this recipe was “especially easy.”

Better and better.

Then my eyes drifted down the page, to the ingredients:

11 herbs and spicesAll sixteen of them.

Sixteen ingredients?  Geez!

Even Colonel Sanders keeps it to eleven “secret herbs and spices”!

And the recipe directions?

Let me put it this way:  The recipe directions were shorter than War and Peace

But not by much.

And the verbs involved in making this soup?

Rinse.  Soak.  Squeeze.  Reserve.  Strain.  Discard.  Slice.  Chop.  Combine.  Mix.  Marinate.yeah-sure-whatever-cropped fixed  Stir.  Boil.  Cook.  Remove.  Discard.  Add.  Simmer.  Recombine.  Separate.  Pour.  Turn off.  Serve.

Well, I was certainly feeling the “strain,” just from reading the directions.

And when I got near the end, “turn off” sounded like good advice.

So I did.

I won’t be making Hot-and-Sour Soup, “Takeout-Style” or any style.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I left something heating in the microwave…


How To Stay Home – And Act Against Censorship

My attitude about books is:

If you don’t approve of a book, then don’t read it.  Don’t let your kids read it.  Tell other family members and friends:

“Don’t read it.”

But do not – DO NOT – tell me I can’t read it.

And do not – DO NOT – tell the world that they can’t read it.

“What,” I want to ask these people, “gives you the right to tell me what I can and cannot read?”

my_01 croppedWho are “these people”?

They’re individuals, parents, religious groups, organizations and politicians.

They’re people who have decided that their beliefs are the only acceptable beliefs, and any books that don’t echo their beliefs should be removed from schools, universities and public libraries.

If they had their way, these books would be banned from bookstores.

If they had their way, these books would never be printed.

Many of these people take the step of “challenging” books they don’t approve of.

That means, according to the American Library Association (ALA), a “formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that the materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.”

The ALA tracks the challenges and publishes an annual list of challenged and banned books:

AP (2)

Harry Potter?????

Here are definitions:

“A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group.  A banning is the removal of those materials.”

The challengers don’t limit their objections to books – they also go after any library materials including magazines and DVDs, and services like public programs featuring authors whose books they object to.

And the reasons they object are varied:  the stories have gay or transgender themes;serious cropped sorcery themes; “vulgarity and sexual overtones”; “goes against family values/morals”; “encourages disruptive behavior”; addresses teen suicide; for its religious viewpoint; for leading children to “want to have sex or ask questions about sex”; has an offensive political viewpoint; and is “disgusting and all-around offensive.”

And it’s not enough that people challenge these books and sometimes get them removed from libraries and schools.  The words “relocated restricted, and hidden” also appear, and – to my horror – burning:


2018 (2)

Paul Dorr Iowa smaller




Do the above look familiar?

Nazi book burning, Germany, 1933:


And – no coincidence, considering who’s in the White House – the number of targeted books is increasing, according to the ALA:

2016:  323censorship cropped
2017:  416
2108:  483
2019:  566

If you value your freedom and oppose censorship, there are all sorts of suggestions online about how to oppose book banning, and they’re all good.

But you can also oppose book banning right in the comfort of your own home.

Here’s how:

Defend First Amendmend larger

And here’s what:

banned books cropped

banned_03 larger cropped

banned_04 cropped

These “Spots” Are Easy To Spot

unprepared croppedSomeday, when our history books talk about the coronavirus pandemic, they’ll talk about how unprepared we – the people, and we – the government, were.

I wonder if the history book writers will also talkprepared cropped about how very prepared, and how nimble, our advertising agencies were in creating timely commercials.

Commercials – also called “spots,” by those in the know.

How, in a matter of mere days, car company spots quickly transitioned from “Buy a new car now and everyone will see how cool you are!” to…“Get six months with no payments because we’re all in this together.”

“We’re all in this together” so hurry up and buy a car!

How touching.

I’m not talking about restaurant commercials – I’m OK with restaurants talking about being “in this together” for a couple of reasons:

First, to accommodate us, many restaurants have reconfigured theirfree businesses to do curbside pickup and free deliveries.  And second, I consider restaurant employees to be frontline people – just as much as grocery staff, delivery drivers and postal workers.

Unlike car companies.

And all the other companies who are trying to sell us something just as much as ever, but disguise it as a pseudo-public service because they “care” about us.

Since I mentioned car companies, let’s start with one, namely, Lincoln:

It begins with:

Boxes (2)

We see a woman looking wistfully out the window:

Lincoln 1 (2)

The voice says,

“More than ever, your home is your sanctuary.  That’s why Lincoln offers you the ability to purchase a new vehicle remotely with participating dealers.”

So she’s getting a new Lincoln delivered, and that would be swell except for this:

Lincoln 2 (2)

So face mask, no gloves, no social distancing – and did the delivery guy disinfect whatever that is before he handed it to her?

“That’s the power of sanctuary,” the commercial assures us.

Yeah – they’ll bring a new Lincoln and coronavirus right to your “sanctuary.”

Note:  This commercial includes…

Boxes (3)

The Lincoln commercial was a mere 30 seconds long, child’s play when compared to a 77-second spot from Budweiser.

It starts out with – guess what?

Boxes (2)

The voice says, “This Bud’s for the blues…the reds…

Bud 1 (2)

And more images, one after the other, all for whom “this Bud” is for.

And then:

Bud 2 (2) fixed

Note:  This commercial includes…

Boxes (3)

But Budweiser’s 77-second effort pales when compared to a 90-second behemoth from Apple.

In it we see videos and still shots of many people doing many creative things – but only with Apple products, of course.

Again we have:

Boxes (2)

This time the voice is Oprah’s – doesn’t get any more soothing than that – but we hear her only briefly, extolling the possibilities of how the “pandemic is bringing us together”:

Oprah (2)

Followed by more videos and still shots of many people doing many creative things (but only with Apple products), right up to the end when we see:

Apple 2 (2)

Followed by the Apple icon, which is…

Boxes (3)

Are we seeing a pattern here, or am I imagining it?

No, it’s definitely a pattern, and it even has its own name:

“Coronavirus-aware commercials”:

Coronavirus aware (2)

And “COVID-Aware Ads”:

Covid (2)

And if you’re an advertising agency that’s stumped about how to convince people that you care about them, there’s an abundance of information out there, including this from AdWeek, the bible of the industry:

Ad Tips (2)

Of course, Lincoln, Budweiser and Apple are huge international companies.

But with these examples and tips, local businesses can do the coronavirus-awareness/COVID-aware thing, too.

We’ll start with…

Boxes (2)

That soothing voice says…

Tom's Tire Town

“Hi, I’m Tom, from Tom’s Tire Town.  And because I care about you, I’m here to remind you to check the air in your tires regularly.  In fact, right now you can bring your car to Tom’s Tire Town, and I’ll check your tires – for free.  Yes, free.  And that’s a savings to you of $29.95.  So, come in today, and remember…

Tom's (2)

Boxes (3)

To California Governor Gavin Newsom:

On May 8, California Governor Newsom took a hugely important step:

Headline_0-2 (2)

That’s right:  Every eligible voter in California will receive a mail-in ballot for the November 2020 election.

California is now the first state in the U.S. to provide absentee ballots to all registered voters because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Californians who may need access to in-person voting opportunities – including individuals with disabilities, individuals who speak languages other than English, individuals experiencing homelessness, and others – will still be able to access in-person voting opportunities.

Was Newsom did was smart for a number of reasons:

First:  There could be a shortage of poll workers in November.  Many election workerscrowds_01 cropped are retired or elderly, a group that falls into the high-risk category for COVID-19.

Second:  Crowded polls aren’t conducive to social distancing.

Third:  People can vote in the safety and convenience of their homes, increasing voter participation.

Fourth:  Mail-in ballots are easy.  And, according to the ABC article, the state is making it ever easier:  All return postage will be prepaid.

And here’s another reason:

Headline (2)

Bad Thing (2)

May 7, 2020:

When I heard that Trump’s valet had tested positive for COVID-19, I thought, “Of course Trump has a valet, like a lot of other pretentious rich men.”

I’d presumed – silly me – that this valet was someone from Trump’s pre-White House days, another sycophant who’d trailed along in Trump’s wake.children

You know – like Ivanka.  And Jared.  And Don Jr.  And What’s-His-Name.

So I was aghast to read that, no – the valet was not a long-time Trump employee.

Trump’s valet is a member of the United States military.

Specifically, one whose job description apparently incudes “laying out the president’s clothes.”

Which is paid for with our…

tax dollars cropped

Trump can’t lay out his own clothes.

Trump lacks the skillset of a five-year-old who declares, “I can dress myself!”

And though that kid may end up looking like this:


Parents appreciate that early, small-but-important step of their child’s independence.

A step Trump hasn’t taken.

We are paying someone to lay out Trump’s clothes.

I can imagine the conversation between Trump and his valet, discussing that day’s apparel choices:

Trump:  Whaddaya think, is it an eight-inch day?

(Trump is referring to the length of his tie, and how far down it should hang below his belt.  His ties are labeled with stickers that identify each:)

Ties (2)

Valet:  Well, sir, you wore the six-inch tie yesterday and had great success at the American Association of Retired Persons conference.

Trump:  I wowed ‘em, didn’t I?  Those old farts love how I’m protecting ‘em from all the virus stuff.

Valet:  Indeed, sir.

Trump:  Yeah.  But today I’m doing a White House lawn thing, and the fu**ing fake news will be there.  Let’s go all out.  I say eight inches!  That tie really screams “The media is the enemy of the American people!”


It turns out that clothes aren’t a White House valet’s only responsibility.  According to this article:

The Cut (2)

Trump apparently has not one, but “…two office valets and three residence valets:

“Valets who work in the Oval provide anything Trump requests, such as coffee, food, or whatever else he might need during the day.

“Residential valets, meanwhile, do Trump’s ‘laundry, iron his attire for the day, and pack his suitcases.  These employees also interact regularly with the president, delivering his newspaper or any other messages he might need.’”


Valet:  Good morning, Mr. President.  I’ve brought your morning newspapers.

Trump:  Take ‘em away.  I don’t read those boring Daily Intelligence Briefings, why would I read that fu**ing fake news?

All the Trump valets, CNN noted, are “of an elite military unit dedicated to the White House”:

Elite military unit cropped
An “elite military unit” – Trump’s five valets, dressed and ready to fetch coffee and food, lay out his clothes, do his laundry, and iron.  A good use of their years of military training.

And, CNN continued:

“They are responsible for the President’s food and beverage not only in the West Wing but also travel with him when he’s on the road or out of the country.”


Valet:  Mr. President, today would you care for McDonald’s?  KFC?  Taco Bell?

Trump:  Yeah!

fast food

The valet who tested positive for coronavirus so far remains nameless.

And Trump, who’s never shown a scintilla of sympathy for him, nor for families grieving the loved ones they’ve lost to the pandemic…

Nor an iota of empathy, of which he’s incapable…

Wash Post (2)

Had only this to say:

That his valet’s life-threatening COVID-19 infection was “one of those things.”

And that he’d had “very little contact, personal contact, with this gentleman.”

And, NBC reported,

“After learning that one of his valets was infected, Trump became ‘lava-level mad’ at his staff and said he doesn’t feel it is doing all it can to protect him, according to a person close to the White House.”

Because, truly, who is the pandemic all about?

all about me

Book Review:  Note – This Blog Post Is A…

Honest!  Not one word about coronavirus below!

“Belgravia” – The Book, Not The Made-For-TV Movie

Publication date:  2016roses three_01

Review, short version:  Three roses out of four.

Review, long version:

If you know the name Julian Fellowes, it’s probably because you’ve been hearing it – a lot – for the past 10 years.

Fellowes was the creator and co-writer of Downton Abbey, a television phenomenon that began airing in the UK in 2010 and the U.S. in 2011.  It ran for six seasons with 52 episodes, and was so popular it was crowned with a Downton Abbey feature film in 2019.

Rumors of a sequel abound.

julianFellowes was a prolific writer before Downton Abbey and since then as well, including his 2016 novel Belgravia.  Not content to simply have written that, he then wrote a six-episode made-for-TV version of the book that aired in the UK earlier this year, and was introduced to U.S. audiences in April.

Belgravia isn’t the high-profile, multi-year phenom that Downton was, but I’m looking forward to seeing all the characters and costumes and twists and turns it when it becomes available on DVD.  Though set in a different time period than Downton, the two stories have much in common:  English aristocracy, their “downstairs” counterparts, and the customs, morals – and snobbery – of both.

Belgravia (the book) opens one night in June 1815 in Brussels, just before the famous Battle of Waterloo and Napoleon’s final defeat.  That takes a mere 30 pages, then we then skip ahead to 1841 and the ramifications of events that transpired back in 1815.

Fellowes is a master at depicting English class-consciousness in a way I think is like watching two cars crash – it’s dreadful, yet you can’t look away.  Calling on a countesssnobbery without an invitation?  Unheard of!  A single woman walking in the park without her maid?  Horrors!  The daughter of an earl wanting to marry in man in trade?  Absolutely not!

And downstairs, the maid is kowtowing to and conspiring with the butler, the butler is kowtowing to and conspiring with the heir, and the heir has murder in mind.

Mix in a load of secrets and scandals, some truly nefarious and not-so-nefarious characters, gambling problems, drinking problems and the de rigueur of changing your outfits (including jewelry) five times a day, and no wonder the aristocracy needed a few months to rest.

At their country mansions, of course.

Several Amazon reviewers described Belgravia as a “soap opera” and that’s accurate enough, based on the plot description from the book jacket:book

“…in this new world, where the aristocracy rub shoulders with the emerging nouveau riche, there are those who would prefer the secrets of the past to remain buried…”

Soap opera?  Bring it on!

Fellowes weaved his large cast of characters into a plot that kept me guessing – will the Trenchard’s reputation be ruined beyond redemption?  Will Charles ever find out who he actually is?  How long can this cover-up stay…covered up?

I enjoyed reading Belgravia, snobbery, secrets and all.  And I have no doubt that Fellowes did a masterful job of bringing his characters to television.  Let’s meet some of them, shall we?

(left to right):  Mrs. Oliver (Susan) Trenchard, Lady Maria Grey, Mr. Charles Pope, the Countess of Brockenhurst, Mr. and Mrs. James Trenchard, the Earl of Brockenhurst…

movie smaller

The “downstairs” gang…


And a cast of thousands…

cast of thousands smaller

Ah, Justice…

Sometimes, there is justice, after all.

Take this recent story about a guy who decided to make money off the pandemic.

He and a bunch of cronies made multiple trips to Drakes Supermarket in Adelaide, Australia and bought mass quantities of toilet paper and hand sanitizers.

His plan was to sell the stuff on eBay and gouge people like you and me and everyone who’s gone looking to buy those items and…


This guy, who so far is nameless, figured he’d make lots of money off desperate people.

And it may have started that way.

But then eBay shut Nameless Gouger down.

And the Drakes Supermarket director, John-Paul Drake, shut him down, too.

According to this article and numerous others…

Newsweek (2)

Nameless Gouger returned to Drakes to get a refund on 150 packets of 32-pack toilet paper and 150 units of one-liter hand sanitizer.

That’s 4,800 rolls of toilet paper and about 40 gallons of hand sanitizer.

About $10,000 Australian dollars worth of toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

John-Paul Drake’s response:

“I told him that,” Drake said later in a YouTube video, emphatically extending his middle finger (which YouTube chose to pixilate):


Leaving Nameless Gouger with $10,000 worth of products instead of $10,000 in his pocket.

I call that…

justice_01 cropped

This story happened in Australia but make no mistake, it’s happening here, too.

So said many media outlets in mid-March – here’s my favorite headline:

Headline (2)

According to The New York Times,

“On March 1, the day after the first coronavirus death in the United States was announced, brothers Matt and Noah Colvin set out in a silver SUV to pick up some hand sanitizer.  Driving around Chattanooga, TN, they hit a Dollar Tree, then a Walmart, a Staples and a Home Depot.  At each store, they cleaned out the shelves.

“Over the next three days, Noah Colvin took a 1,300-mile road trip across Tennessee and into Kentucky, filling a U-Haul truck with thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer and thousands of packs of antibacterial wipes.”

Matt Colvin

The nimble brothers continued scooping up hand sanitizer, eventually amassing more than 17,000 bottles, and began selling them on Amazon:

“Mr. Colvin said he had posted 300 bottles of hand sanitizer and immediately sold them all for between $8 and $70 each.”

Amazon shut down the Colvin enterprise, said the Times article, leaving them with lots of product and nowhere to sell it.

I call that…

justice_01 cropped

Reading about Nameless Gouger, the Colvins and others like them gave me the opportunity to learn a new phrase:

retail-arbitrage- cropped

Here’s the definition of retail arbitrage, or “RA,” as some call it:

“Retail arbitrage is a simple concept.  A retail store (such as Walmart, Target, etc.) sells a product (either online or in-store) for a certain price.  You purchase that product and sell it for a higher price yourself and pocket the profit.”

And, said another source,

“The practice is perfectly legal.  According to the US Supreme Court, a retailer cannot stop someone from reselling their products if the merchandise has been legally acquired.”

Retail arbitragers have always been with us, and always will be.  And I suppose there’s nothing wrong with buying an item, marking it up a few dollars, and reselling it.

70 croppedBut the Colvins were charging up to $70 on Amazon for a bottle of hand sanitizer – and selling it to someone desperate to protect their family from COVID-19.

And one of the Colvins suggested, according to the Times, that he was actually performing a “public service.”

To the Colvins and the Nameless Gouger and all the others who hoarded, and are now stuck with their hoard instead of wads of cash…

I call that…

justice_01 cropped

happy cropped

Taxpayers Can Take Little “Comfort” From The “Comfort”

It’s unsurprisingly easy to find lots of statistics about the Comfort (pictured above), one of the Navy’s two hospital ships (the other is the Mercy, below).Mercy ship

It’s unsurprisingly difficult to find out what it cost us taxpayers for the Comfort to sit in New York’s harbor for a month, doing…

Not much.

As the Comfort sailed away from New York on April 30, the Navy was – to say the least – tight-lipped about the cost of the excursion.  According to a USA Today outlet:

“The Defense Department said it did not have information on how much the Comfort’s mission to New York cost.”

That, of course, is a lie.

Why not just say, “The Comfort’s mission to New York cost $X,XXX,XXX”?

Perhaps because after its March 28 HUGE sendoff from its Norfolk, VA home, during its 30 days in New York…

Only 182 people were treated on the 1,000-bed Comfort.

Backstory:  When the Comfort was deployed to New York, according to this article:

Market (2) fixed

“The Comfort was supposed to take in patients not infected by the coronavirus, so that hospital staff could focus on the pandemic.  However, this plan was shortsighted and poorly implemented.  The procedure used to determine who was and wasn’t infected was inefficient and time-consuming, making it hard even for qualifying patients to be admitted.

“To make matters worse, even if a patient did not have the coronavirus infection, there was still a list of 49 other medical conditions that would exclude him or her from receiving the aid on board the Comfort.”

Eventually the Comfort crew did start caring for coronavirus patients, and 11 people that were treated on the ship died from it, the Defense Department said.  Several ship personnel came down with the coronavirus while deployed to New York.

And then the Comfort went home.

Since the Defense Department wasn’t telling us taxpayers what this cost, I headed for google and searched for “cost of Comfort deployment to New York.”  Silly me – I thought I’d found an answer on the Navy’s website, but when I clicked the link and got this:

Navy (2)

“File not currently available.”

Imagine that.

So I kept looking – and looking – and eventually encountered this 2018 article:

Mercy (2)

According to the article, referring to both the Comfort and the Mercy:

“In its 2019 fiscal year budget proposal, the Navy asked for just over $120 million to sustain both ships and their on-board facilities.”

Ah!  Now we’re getting somewhere.dollar plus cropped

So, $60 million per hospital ship for one year.

$60 million divided by 365 days is $164,383 per day.

$164,383 per day times 30 days is $4,931,490.

So, about $5 million for the Comfort’s 30 days in New York harbor.dollar plus cropped

Let’s not overlook the six or so days the Comfort spent sailing to and from New York:

Six days at $164,383 per day, add about another $1 million.

And what did we taxpayers get for that?

True, the Comfort’s crew treated 182 people, and of course we’re grateful for that.

But I think what we were actually paying for was this:

Trump photo ops:

2020 Campaign Rally, Norfolk Naval Base, March 28, 2020:

trump norfolk_01 smaller

“We will stop at nothing to protect the health of New Yorkers and the health of the people of our country in their hour of need.”  [Except providing testing for everyone]

trump at Norfolk_02 smaller

“This legislation delivers job retention loans for small businesses to help them keep workers on payroll…” [like the Los Angeles Lakers]

trump at Norfolk

“We’re now the number one tester anywhere in the world, by far.”  [And as of May 3, we’re also number one in the world for confirmed cases and deaths]

Unsurprisingly, on April 30 Trump was not at the pier in New York for another campaign rally and additional photos ops when the Comfort departed.

Probably because, as the Comfort sailed away, these headlines were trailing behind it:

Salon (2)

USA (2) (2)

6 cropped

“It’s Like UNO, Except There Are Goats, Magical Enchiladas And Kittens That Can Kill You.” – CNN

Seven-year-old to Alexa:  Alexa, what’s Russian Roulette?

Alexa:  Russian Roulette is a lethal game of chance in which a player places a single round in a revolver, spins the cylinder, places the muzzle against their head, and pulls the trigger, in the hope that the round does not reach the barrel of the gun and Girl Looking At Wireless Speakertherefore fire…

(Parents walk into room and pause, horrified)

…in which case, your head is blown open, your brains and blood are scattered all over the room, and you’re dead.

Horrified Parents:  Honey, why did you ask Alexa that?

Seven-year-old:  Because at school today, Janey invited me to come over and play Exploding Kittens.  She said it’s a kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette!


When Janey said that, she was simply echoing the words of Elan Lee, one of the creators of an apparent phenomenon that’s been around since 2015.

But I’d never hear of.

Until recently, when the words “Exploding Kittens” figured prominently in the headline of this New York Times article:

NY Times (2)

“Exploding Kittens” are also the first two words in the article.

All this caused me to pause and think…

wait what

The article goes on to say that due to the pandemic, Amazon began prioritizing products like toilet paper and hand sanitizer, so “tens of thousands of customers were searching” for Exploding Kittens but couldn’t find it.

What the hell, I wondered, is Exploding Kittens?

I started at the source – – and watched a brief but enlightening video.  The game is based on a deck of cards.  Players take turns drawing from a deck of cards until…

bikini cat
Exploding Kittens include what’s described as the “anatomically correct” Bikini Cat.

“Whoever draws an Exploding Kitten card explodes, they are dead and they are out of the game.”

Well, that seems pretty straightforward.

If I’m lucky, on my first draw I’ll get an Exploding Kitten card, I’m out, and I can go do something even more challenging.

Change the stale air in my car tires, maybe?

The video goes on to suggest that players can develop “fun or cruel strategies,” and “The longer you play, the more tense the game gets.”

So – so far I can be dead, or cruel and tense.

My next stop was Amazon, where it appears that Exploding Kittens was, in fact, available, and was, in fact, recommended for “ages seven and up.”

There’s also an adult version for “ages 30 and up,” the description of which includes:

  • Same Exploding Kittens madness, but with card art much too horrible/incredible to include in a kid-friendly version.  Do NOT buy for children, unless you’re ready to have some weird conversations.
  • More than 9 million copies sold, breaking records in kids games, adult games and everything in-between.loser sad sauce cropped
  • A highly strategic, kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette.  Basically, if you draw an Exploding Kitten, you lose and you are full of incendiary loser sad-sauce.  If you don’t explode, YOU WIN!  Congratulations, you are full of greatness!

So I could be dead, or cruel and tense, and “full of incendiary loser sad-sauce.”

And while I’m being all that, the Exploding Kittens creators are being millionaires.

This I learned in an enlightening article from CNBC:

CNBC (2)

The 2016 article noted,

“Over 2.5 million decks of Exploding Kittens have been ordered in one year at $20 apiece, meaning revenues are an estimated $50 million.”

Meaning that making seven-year-olds dead, or cruel and tense, and curious about Russian Roulette, has been very profitable from the get-go for the aforementioned creator Elan Lee and his co-creator Matt Inman.

But Lee and Inman aren’t resting on their laurels, or rather – their millions.  They’ve gone on to create other games including Imploding Kittens, Streaking Kittens, Throw Throw Burrito, Bears vs. Babies and more.

But the one that especially caught my eye – and I’ve no doubt will catch the eyes of curious seven-year-olds – is this one:

crabs cropped

Seven-year-old:  Alexa, what are crabs?

Girl Looking At Wireless Speaker Alexa:  Crabs, also known as pubic lice, are parasitic insects that spread easily during sexual contact.  They’re called “crabs” because of the tiny claws they use to cling to hair.

They live on the skin and coarse hairs that are around your genitals, and they feed on your blood.  Crabs can cause discolored skin, with pale blue spots developing where the crabs have been feeding continually.  In addition…

girl scared