It’s Time To Put Another Old Queen To Rest

When Queen Mary (pictured above), wife of King George V of England, died in 1953 at age 85, she was buried with the pomp and circumstance befitting a queen in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle:

An appropriate ending to a long and full life.

Now another Queen Mary, this one also 85 years old, is at the end of her long and full life, and nobody knows what the hell to do with her.

She is this Queen Mary:

This Queen Mary resides in, and is owned by, the city of Long Beach, CA.

Queen Mary of England was quite the grande dame, and no doubt considered her namesake ship a fitting tribute to her…grande dame-ness.  

The 80,000-ton Queen Mary was built by England’s Cunard-White Star line, with construction beginning in 1930 at a Scottish shipyard.  The ship cost $17.5 million, more than $338 million today.

The Queen Mary sails into New York Harbor, 1936.

When the ship took her maiden voyage in May 1936, she wasn’t just huge (more than 1,000 feet long) and fast – she was “the grandest ocean liner in the world,” according to  Celebrities and other wealthy passengers enjoyed five dining areas, two swimming pools, beauty salons, a grand ballroom, air conditioning in some public rooms, and a host of other luxurious amenities.

In 1939, with the second World War on the horizon, the Queen Mary was converted to a troopship, carrying soldiers to various battlefronts. The ship’s hull and funnels were painted battleship gray, earning the ship the nickname the “Grey Ghost,” and it could carry up to 15,000 soldiers at a time:

After the war, the Queen Mary was refitted for passenger service, and she continued sailing until her retirement in 1967.  Her second life began in Long Beach, opening as a tourist attraction, hotel and museum in 1971.

It was a good idea then.

But that was then, and this is now:

It’s not a surprise that an 85-year-old ship may be sinking.

It’s not a surprise that an 85-year-old ship requires a lot of expensive maintenance.

And it’s not a surprise that there’s a lot of blame and finger-pointing about who didn’t provide that maintenance and who’s going to pay for it now – the city of Long Beach, which owns the ship, or the most recent of the various companies that have operated it.

What is surprising to me is how many really bad options there are for the Queen Mary’s future, including these, according to various articles: 

  • Spend $23 million in immediate repairs to prevent it from potentially capsizing.
  • Spend $175 million to preserve the vessel for the next 25 years.
  • Spend between $200 million and $500 million to preserve it for the next 100 years. 
Long Beach City Council Member Suzie Price; she is NOT standing on the deck of the (probably sinking) Queen Mary.
  • Spend between $105 million and $190 million to transport the Queen Mary to a scrap facility and dismantle it.
  • Transfer responsibility for the ship to Long Beach’s Harbor Commission, which I guess would put them on the hook for the costs.
  • One wit on the Long Beach City Council, Suzie Price, suggested making the ship a national monument, and putting it under the control of a federal agency.  That would then put all of us taxpayers on the hook for the costs.

Memo to Council Member Price:

Then there was a reference to a vague plan to “build entertainment around the ship would generate the tens of millions of dollars needed to do more repairs,” and I can see some possibilities in that. 

For example, the city could host daily “Will the Queen Mary Sink Today?” parties and charge admission to watch in person.

Or how about selling raffle tickets – “Guess the Sinking Date of the Queen Mary!  Whoever Comes Closest – Wins!”

Or how about Long Beach charging people to come aboard the ship dressed in costumes from 1912, and do a reenactment of the sinking of the Titanic – with an actual sinking ship?

“This ship is actually sinking!” “Yeah! Cool!”

And that sinking would be the real deal, because just like the Titanic, the Queen Mary has lifeboat problems too, said the Los Angeles Times article:

“…the ship’s lifeboats and lifeboat support systems show significant signs of rotting and deterioration and need to be removed and replaced.”

Other issues:  “Structural steel is corroded, the bilge system is aging, the hull is compromised, and leaks and safety hazards abound.”

Not only that – the Queen Mary has been closed due to COVID since May 2020, and no reopening date is scheduled. 

It’s clear that something must be done with an 80,000-ton possibly sinking pile that’s generating no revenue.

And there is an option, also in that $105 million to $190 million range, that will give the Queen Mary a third life – and life to lots of others, as well:

The Queen Mary could become an artificial reef.

According to,

“For decades old and decommissioned vessels have been scuttled and purposely sunk to create artificial reef structures.”

Just one example is the retired Navy ship Spiegel Grove, now a massive artificial reef off Key Largo, FL:

An article about the ship-turned-reef says,

“Before the Spiegel Grove was put down on the bottom, basically we had a sandy, flat bottom; with no structure, no complexity, no coral at all.  This structure has provided incredible relief and complexity for use of marine life.”

That marine life includes delicate corals and invertebrates, and more than 200 species of fish.

And fish aren’t the only benefactors – the Spiegel Grove has also had a significant economic impact on Key Largo, generating an estimated $25 million in tourism revenue in it first 10 years as an artificial reef:


Perhaps it’s time for the City of Long Beach to give the Queen Mary the final – and environmentally helpful and revenue-generating – resting place she deserves.

Perhaps it’s time for the City of Long Beach to remember that old saying about boats:

When They Finished Shooting This Commercial, Were They…

I’m of the old school – maybe really old school – of thinking that…

There are some human activities that should not be shared.

Flossing your teeth at a restaurant table is one.

Picking your nose…enough said.

And another human activity that should not be shared – I say this as strongly as possible – is this:

What’s she doing?  I’ll talk about that in a moment.

First, let’s set up the scene.

It’s family dinner time.

We’ll start with #1, our Fantasy Family – everyone eating, enjoying each other, sharing stories about their day, smiling and connecting.  Quality time:

Now we’ll move on to #2, our Reality Family – everyone eating, on their devices, smiling and not connecting, at least not with each other:

Now here’s Family #3 having dinner, everyone eating, but this time sharing the same device – the television:

Let’s stay with Family #3.

They’re eating dinner and really focused on the TV.  A commercial comes on, and at eight seconds in, they all see this:

She’s the same woman seen above, but now you get the big picture:

She’s sitting on a toilet.

She’s sitting on a toilet, talking about…


During the dinner hour.

And this isn’t a one-off – she’s joined by other toilet-sitting, poop-talking women:

During this 60-second commercial we’re treated to a number of statements, such as:

“I’m comfortable talking about poop.”

“I love pooping.”

“Don’t be shy about pooping.  Pooping is powerful.”

Because I knew you’d want to know, I counted the number of times we hear the word “poop,” or some variant, in this 60-second commercial:

That’s about once every three seconds.

Here are more of those statements:

“I’m a woman, and I poop.”

“I’m a woman, and I poop.”

“I’m a woman, and I poop – regularly.”

We’re also treated to the bowel movement euphemism “#2,” both in the voice-over, and here:

So we now know that this 60 seconds of magic is brought to you by Garden of Life, a company that makes probiotics, which are described on some websites as follows:

“Probiotics are live microorganisms promoted with claims that they provide health benefits when consumed, generally by improving or restoring the gut flora.  Probiotics are considered generally safe to consume, but may cause bacteria-host interactions and unwanted side effects in rare cases.  There is little evidence that probiotics bring the health benefits claimed for them.”

But the Garden of Life commercial doesn’t mention that, probably because the actresses are too busy saying…

“You poop, girl.”

“I poop, she poops, all women poop.”

“This is my favorite part of the day.”

This last referring, of course, to the woman’s time on the toilet.

There are two other women in the commercial, but they are not sitting on toilets:

I mention them because the one on the left in the pink bathing cap will make a later appearance you do NOT want to miss.

I’ll also mention that none of the women ever say the words “Garden of Life” or “probiotics.” 

“Poop-splaining,” yes.  “Probiotics”?  No.

It’s almost as if the advertising agency who created this commercial did two separate commercials and spliced them together.  One for Garden of Life, and the other – some sort of video manifesto about being not just a woman, but a proudly pooping woman.

And speaking of the advertising agency, I wish I could have seen the casting call announcement when they were looking for these actresses.  I’m imagining…

A bit of research revealed that Garden of Life’s ad agency is Humanaut, and their motto is, “Poop today, penises tomorrow!”

My research also revealed that some media outlets made a…stink?  About the “poop-powerment” commercial:

According to the article,

“‘We made an ad talking about how in the year 2021 women and commercials should be okay talking about poop,’ explained David Littlejohn, Humanaut Chief Creative Director.  ‘And then to our surprise we had our ad rejected by several networks, telling us it’s still not okay for women to use a four-letter p word ending in oop.’”

That was the good news…for some viewers.

The bad news, for Family #3 and the rest of us:

This commercial is running through the end of the year.

I started this post by suggesting I think there are some human activities that should not be shared.

Remember that lady in the locker room – the one wearing the pink bathing cap?

At the very end of the Garden of Life commercial, she gets the last word.

We’ve seen that Garden of Life does think this human activity should be shared.

And – apparently – this human body part, as well:

Let’s Establish This Up Front:  I Am No Fashionista.

If I were ever featured in one of those Fashion Dos and Don’ts articles, I’d be in the Don’ts column, with a black box over my eyes, like these images:

But as fashion-ignorant as I am, even I am aware that at one time, this was fashionable:

This was the “hobble” skirt.

And it was a really, really bad idea.

Maybe it wasn’t the worst fashion idea ever – that would be hard to determine, as we have so many bad ideas to choose from.  Like this:

1970s: The Osmond Brother wearing polyester leisure suits – it doesn’t get better than this.

And this:

1980s: Leg warmers; how do your calves get chilly when working out?

And this: 1990s to today: Platform sneakers, platform shoes, platform anything:

What got me started on hobble skirts?

I was watching a documentary about the United States in the years 1900-1914, and saw film footage of women dressed like this:

And like this:

They were taking baby steps, some quickly, some slowly, but baby steps.

Why baby steps?

Because their skirt – that “hobble” skirt – was impeding their walking.

Let’s talk about that word “hobble.”

One definition is to “walk in an awkward way, typically because of pain from an injury.”

Another definition:

“A device which prevents or limits the locomotion of an animal, by tethering one or more legs.  Although hobbles are most commonly used on horses, they are also sometimes used on other animals.”

This is what a horse hobble looks like:

You can see the resemblance:

Who came up with this dreadful idea?

Well, who are the primary designers of women’s fashions?


And the man who claimed credit for the hobble skirt was Paul Poiret (pictured), a leading French fashion designer and master couturier during the first two decades of the 20th century.

The way I figure it is, back around 1907, our pal Paul was sitting around one day, trying to come up with a new idea for his next fashion show collection, and…

“Sacrebleu – I’ve got eet!  I will deezine an outfit wiz zee skirt so narrow, oui? it will restrict how zee woman walks.  Rather like zee hobble on zee horse, oui?

“And I will call it…zee Hobble Skirt!”

And when Poiret’s assistant asked him why, Poiret replied, “Eet’s new!  Zat is all eet takes, for fashion to be new.  Zee women will wear eet, and zay will love eet!”

And many Parisian women did, starting around 1908.  New York women soon followed:

Zee – I mean, the – hobble skirt had arrived.

Women who were already suffering the horrible constrictions of corsets on their upper bodies…

…now chose to equally constrict their lower bodies by hobbling their legs with their skirt.

And the world rushed in to accommodate them.

Bertram L’Estrange wrote a song for dancing in a hobble skirt:

And when New York women struggled to board streetcar steps due to their hobbled legs – forcing other riders to wait and wreaking havoc with the streetcar schedule – a special “step-less” car was designed, and debuted in New York in 1912:

The back of the postcard says, in part:

“The central portion of the cars is built close to the ground and the doors are in the center of the car, the steps being only about six inches from the ground.”

Those “hobble skirt cars” were pretty darn nice of the New York transit system.

But not everyone was as nice about hobble skirts – like this writer in the New York Times in 1910:

“The ‘hobble’ is the latest freak in women’s fashions.  The hobble skirt suits none.  But many, too many, women will wear what the fashion authorities decree.”

And women did, until the hobble skirt’s popularity waned as all fashions do, and it was considered passé in 1914.

And now, in 2021, women are too smart to wear such a ridiculous, restricting style.

Yup:  This is 2021.

And alas, so it this:

Amazon, July 26, 2021:

And don’t be fooled by the “Pencil” stuff – a hobble by any other name is still a hobble:

What I Feel About Bugs Is What Indiana Jones Felt About Snakes:

I hate bugs.

When a bug comes into my home, I kill it.

I didn’t invite that bug, it’s unwelcome, and it’s dead.

As long as the bugs stay outside, I leave them alone.

But a bug in my house in a dead bug walking.

Or flying.

Or crawling.

So you can imagine my revulsion when I saw this headline:

With this photo:

Eat bugs?

The article assures us that,

“Around the world, two billion people in 130 countries eat insects regularly.”

So what?

If those same two billion people decided to jump off a cliff, does that mean that I should, too?


I hate bugs.

I will not eat bugs.

I don’t care how many pictures and how many examples they give me about yum-yum items made with bugs.

Like this:

This is Tiziana Di Constanzo, and she puts cricket powder in her pizza crust.

She also holds cricket and mealworm cooking classes in her London home.

She and her husband, the above-pictured Tom Mohan, have a startup company, Horizon Insects, which is looking to join, says the article, “Europe’s nascent edible insect scene,” which already offers lots of bugs-included stuff like chips made from crickets:

Beer “flavored with protein from insects”:

And pasta with “mealworms as one of the main ingredients”:

By now you may be wondering – as am I – why I’m spending so much time looking at this dreadful stuff.

This was an effort to reassure myself that this bug-eating madness is confined to other countries, not to my country.

Alas – I am not reassured.

My research revealed A Guide to Buying Edible Insects updated just last month:

The article begins,

“Welcome to the exciting world of entomophagy!” 

Entomophagy means “the practice of eating insects, especially by people.”

There’s even a word for this.


The article continues,

“Below you will find a list of North American companies producing edible insects in various forms…”

Oh, no.

Bug-eating has already infested my country.

The site lists U.S.-based companies offering insect-based ready-to-eat food, protein powders and bars, edible insect flours, and “Just Plain Edible Insects,” like these:

There are, apparently, a whole lot of people out there making edible bug products and eating edible bug products.


Not me.

No, nope, never will I eat bugs.


Have I been – unknowingly – already eating bugs?

Going back to the Associated Press article,

“…humans may end up eating more insects indirectly because the market that shows the most promise is for feeding animals…The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it for chicken feed in 2018…”

Oh, no…Caterpillar crud in my chicken today…tarantula in my steak tartare tomorrow…

You think I’m kidding?  Check out this article, which includes an image of Tarantula Tempura, as featured on the Smithsonian Channel in 2018:

OK:  But even without insects added to the food fed to animals raised for human consumption, my research has made me aware that I’ve been consuming insects – indirectly – all my life.  According to

“Insects are naturally eaten by cattle, pigs, poultry and fish as part of their species-appropriate diet.”

Chickens happily feast on ticks, grasshoppers, pillbugs, spiders, termites and flies.

Animals were already eating insects; I eat meat and fish; therefore, I eat insects.

And since it’s unlikely I’m going to go vegan, it appears that I will continue – indirectly – to eat insects.

So I guess I’d better put on my Big Girl Pants…

And deal with it.

Care to join me for lunch?

The giant weta is among the largest and heaviest insects in the world. With a side salad, serves four.

I Keep Thinking TV Can’t Get Worse. I Keep Being…

I was researching information for a blog post when I happened across something I’d never heard of.

This occurs a lot – encountering things, events and people I’ve never heard of.  This often leads to more research and, hopefully, an opportunity to slightly decrease my ignorance.

Also, sometimes, an opportunity to skewer that thing, event or person.

The thing I’d never heard of was this program on the Discovery Channel:

The premise of Naked and Afraid is putting two strangers, naked, in some of the most extreme environments on Earth.  They’re left with no food, no water, no clothes, and only one survival item each as they attempt to survive on their own.

After 21 days, the participants are supposed to end up at something called the “designated extraction point” where they’re picked up by helicopter or some other vehicle.  They’re also given their updated PSR – Primitive Survival Rating:

But…why naked? 

And why are they doing this?

I learned that Naked and Afraid has been on the air since 2013, for 12 seasons. 

How have I never heard of this?

Partial explanation:  It’s a reality series, and I don’t watch reality series.

I also learned that each episode’s two participants – a woman and a man – are survivalists.

Survivalists – people who practice survivalism – have a “mindset with the goal of keeping themselves alive through adverse circumstances.  These circumstances could be anything, from a devastating flood or earthquake to a nuclear attack or civil war.”

Or, in this case, surviving a reality TV show.

I immediately formed an image of naked young or young-ish people, probably in good shape, cautiously moving through a dangerous place, looking for something to eat, while trying not to get eaten by something.

I’m picturing people with a knowledge of how to hunt animals, what plants are safe to eat, when water is or isn’t safe to drink, capable of building a shelter, capable of existing without cell phones or Starbucks or wine.

And in Naked and Afraid, they’re supposed to do this for three weeks.

I still wasn’t learning…

My research continued, and led me to this very helpful article about the “naked” part, written in 2013, right at the time of the show’s debut:

The author observed,

“When the first clips of Naked and Afraid hit the internet, the show got a lot of attention, as shows with naked people tend to do.  It seemed like the latest series to push the bad taste envelope:  Survivor, but nakeder.

“But the show is more serious-minded than that; the body parts are blurred out and the participants are so busy with the daily tasks of surviving there is no hanky panky or embarrassment at all.  The title promises a titillation the show doesn’t even try to deliver on, while doing what good titles should do:  bring the show attention.”

So…body parts blurred…or strategically cropped out:

This answered the “naked” part:  It’s used in the title is used to…titillate people.

That still leaves the…

Why do these people do this?

Since a picture – or in this case, a video – is worth a thousand words, I decided it was time to have a look at Naked and Afraid.

In addition to that why? I wanted to see what has kept viewers interested for eight years and 12 seasons.

I went on YouTube and randomly chose a three-minute video with this description:

“Elite survivalist Matt Wright manages to catch a warthog to bring back to camp in Africa.”

I had NO idea what I was letting myself in for.

Wright – who is naked but not blurred or cropped, at least in this image – uses a bow and arrow to shoot and kill a warthog:

Wright speaks to the camera:

Wright raises his fist in triumph:

Wright guts the warthog, and we get to see the guts:

Warthog guts.

End of video viewing.

I did – sort of – get an answer to the why? in this article:

According to the article,

“The official description of the show states that the contestants must survive on their own for 21 days and that ‘the only prize is their pride and sense of accomplistment.’”


“…several interviews with former cast members revealed that they are on the show for the experience and the reaffirmation that they can indeed survive in the wild.”

However, the article continued, in 2014 it was revealed that participants…

“…are given a ‘weekly stipend to compensate for their lost wages.’  The rules of Naked and Afraid posted in 2014 revealed that the contestants would be paid $5,000 in cash.  Additionally, they would also be given round-trip flight tickets to the location of the survival challenge and put up for two nights in a hotel.”

I’ve answered my why? questions, and come to this conclusion:

Overall, Naked and Afraid sounds like a really horrible, way-too-long first date. 

So, what happens to the participants afterwards?

Do they hook up and have a happily-ever-survivalist after? 

Do they go their separate ways, with their “pride and sense of accomplishment,” and new Primitive Survival Rating bragging rights?  Like the afore-featured Matt Wright:

Finally – and none too soon – in the interests of ending this on an upbeat note, I’ll share a truly inspiring story of another Naked and Afraid participant, who describes herself as the “ultimate survivalist”:  Kellie Nightlinger:

According to numerous online sources, Kellie and her fellow-survivalist were starving after spending two weeks in the wild when…

“…she devised an innovative way to catch fish using her private parts as bait and then trapping her meal between her legs:

“Said Nightlinger, ‘We were very hungry and needed fish for our survival.  We needed something with protein and because the water was so muddy, traditional fishing methods wouldn’t work, so I had to improvise, adapt and overcome.’”

Inspiring, yes?

This also inspired an idea.

The Discovery Channel features fishing shows, like Life on the Line and All on the Line:

I think they should give Nightlinger her own fishing show, and call it…

Hmm, let’s see. 

We’ve got Life on the Line and All on the Line – how about…

Movie Review:  Get It.  Watch It.  Bring Kleenex.

Release date:  2015.

Review, short version:  All thumbs up.

Review, long version:

I’m semi-reluctant to write about Dark Horse for fear of not doing the film justice.

I thought Dark Horse was such a good story, so well-done, and it resonated with me so deeply, but…

Can I do it justice?

Well, here goes.

Dark Horse is, on one level, about a horse.  But it’s not a “horse” movie.

On another level, it’s about horse racing – steeplechase – but it’s not a “horse racing” movie.

Steeplechase: Take a racetrack, add many obstacles.

Dark Horse is about a group of people who dreamed.

And they dared to dream big.

To get started we head to Blackwood, a town of about 24,000 people in southern Wales:

It’s a working-class town – the average income today is around $34,000 annually, so most people in Blackwell doesn’t have money to burn.

They averaged even less money back in 2000, when Jan Vokes (pictured) was working two jobs, one as a barmaid at the Blackwood Working Men’s Club.  Getting involved in horse racing had never crossed her mind – thoroughbred horseracing is, after all, known as the “sport of kings” because generally, only royalty and the very rich can afford it. 

Think Queen Elizabeth II and her thoroughbred, Estimate:

QE II and her horse, Estimate, after it won at Royal Ascot, 2013.

Owning a thoroughbred racing horse is a very expensive proposition.  Figures I found from 2019 suggest that buying a championship quality thoroughbred “costs between $100,000 and $300,000” plus expenses, including a trainer; feed and bedding; blacksmith, veterinarian and dental services; entry fees for races; trainer and jockey fees if your horse does well in a race.  Add in various types of insurance, plus taxes, and it’s indeed a sport for the wealthy, not the working class.

And the reality is, you can spend enormous amounts of money on a thoroughbred, and for whatever reason, it turns out not to be a winner.  Or it’s a winner, but it gets hurt and can’t race again.  Or its injuries are so severe, it must be euthanized.

A bad day for the horse and the jockey.

Owning and racing a thoroughbred horse is so far out of the reach for most people, that most people don’t even think about it.  And that included Jan Vokes, back in 2000.

Jan wasn’t a stranger to animal breeding – she’d bred champion whippets, both show dogs and racers, and once won a prestigious Welsh pigeon race.  But a horse?

“Uffern na!” (Hell, no!) as they say in Wales.

Jan was at work at the bar one night when she overheard a local talking about how he’d lost a lot of money when he got involved with a racehorse, and that he’d promised his wife he’d never do anything like that again. 

Something clicked for Jan.

It’s called a dream.

Howard Davies and his wife, Angela.

She tracked down the man from the pub, Howard Davies, and “asked him if he’d show me how to set up a syndicate.  He thought I was dotty…”

Dotty:  British slang for somewhat mad or eccentric.

Syndicate:  A group of people who agree to invest in something together; in this case, the success of a horse that hadn’t even been born, much less run, or won, a race.

A huge part of the charm of Dark Horse is seeing these residents of Blackwood tell their unlikely story:  Jan, who had a dream.  Howard Davies, who’d promised his wife never again.  Jan’s husband Brian, who, when she shared her dream, told her, “You can’t, you silly mare.”

And the friends and acquaintances whom Jan approached about joining her syndicate for 10 pounds a week.  They also thought Jan, or at least her idea, was dotty.

Until something clicked for them, as well.  Jan’s dream became their dream.

And the group’s horse became “Dream Alliance,” the “dark horse” of the film.

Brian and Jan Vokes with Dream Alliance.

The phrase “dark horse” means, in part, “a candidate or competitor about whom little is known.”

Little was known about Dream Alliance.

Dream Alliance, 2009.

And then that all changed.

And that’s all I’ll say.

But if I may, two suggestions:

First, don’t go online and read anything about Dream Alliance or Dark Horse, or about Dream Horse, the 2020 feature film based on the story.  Just sit back, watch Dark Horse, and allow yourself to feel – as Howard Davies put it…

The “elation when you can do something, particularly when no one gives you a chance.”

Second, turn on the film’s English subtitles.  English with a Welsh accent is lovely, but can be a bit challenging to understand.

Now:  Join Jan and her friends and, as the Welsh would say…

Breuddwydiwch yn fawr!

Here’s A Must-Miss For Me:

I’m fascinated by sharks.

From the largest:

Whale sharks grow 40 feet long – and longer.

To the smallest:

Dwarf lantern shark.

To my personal pick as the weirdest:

Hammerhead shark.

Though this guy is a close second:

Goblin shark.

So awhile back, when I learned about the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week on TV, I was intrigued. 

Here’s my recollection of the first episode I watched:

First, it’s an hour-long show.

Second, subtract 12 minutes for commercials, so now it’s a 48-minute show.

The first 47 minutes are spent as follows:

Four guys in a boat somewhere on some ocean, looking for sharks:

Guy #1:  I see one!  A shark!  Over there – see?

Guy #2:  I see it, too!  I –

Guy #2:  Oh, wait a minute.  That’s just a floating pile of garbage.

Guy #1:  Oh.  Darn it!

(Some time passes.)

Guy #3:  There’s one – see the fin?  It’s a great white!

Guy #4:  Get closer, you guys!  It’s a great white, for sure!  It’s a…

Guy #4:  It’s a sunfish.

Guy #3:  Oh.  Darn it!

(More time passes.)

Guy #1:  Why don’t we throw some chum into the water?

(Voiceover explains that “chum” is chopped fish, fish fluids, and other material thrown overboard as bait.)

Guy #2:  I’ll do the chum, you guys keep your eyes open.

(More time passes – 47 of those 48 minutes.  And then…)

All Four Guys:  WOW!  DID YOU SEE THAT? 

The End.

I thought – or I should say, I hoped – that this episode was a one-off, and the next show would reveal more sharks.

Instead, what I watched during Shark Week consistently seemed to be people on boats spending much more time looking for sharks than ever actually encountering sharks.

Shark Week and I parted company.

This year, when Shark Week rolled around again on July 11, I rolled my eyes. 

What’s the big attraction? I wondered.

I started doing some research, and learned that Shark Week has been around since 1988 – proof that even if I don’t get it, plenty of people do. 

I learned that a respected institution – NOAA, the National Oceanside and Atmospheric Administration – associates itself with Shark Week:

And that respected publications, like this one, do stories about Shark Week:

I learned that respected (and otherwise) celebrities get involved in Shark Week, this year including Dr. Pimple Popper, Brad Paisley, Josh Gates, and Tiffany Haddish:

And that merchandisers are involved in Shark Week all year round:

The Discovery Channel’s online store offers 11 pages of merchandise, including Shark Socks, Shark Face Masks, and Bobblehead Hammerhead Sharks:

That last item, alas, is sold out.

And I learned the Shark Week 2021 schedule:


Considering the participation of the very august NOAA, Newsweek, and Dr. Pimple Popper…

Surely I could find a show that interests me?

I’ve still got tonight and tomorrow.  Let’s look at the schedule…OK, this sounds promising:

Monster Sharks of Andros Island:  A team of shark researchers travel to Andros, the largest island in the Bahamas, to determine if it’s a new Great Hammerhead hotspot, and they’re using reports of a half-octopus, half-shark creature known as the Lusca to help them locate massive sharks for their study.

Guy #1:  What is it again, that thing we’re out here looking for?

Guy #2:  A Lusca.  There’ve been Lusca sightings around Andros for decades, but no one has filmed or photographed one.

Guy #3:  It’s a half-shark/half octopus and can grow up to 75 feet long.  Here – I’ve got an artist’s image on my phone:

Guy #4:  Is that what it’s called?  I’ve seen that thing a million times. 

Is This “Involuntary Servitude”? 

When I was a kid, I heard an adult say that prisoners make license plates.

Since an adult said it, it had to be true.

This added to my knowledge about prisons, which then was as follows:

If you did something bad, you could be locked up in a prison, and make license plates.

I confess that until recently, I didn’t give much thought to what people in prisons do.  I’m sorry that there are people in prison, sorry that we need a prison system, and especially sorry when I read about wrongly convicted people.

But as to what kind of work prisoners did?

I didn’t think about it, until I read this recent article by San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Charles Clark:

This led me on a quest for more information, about prison workers in and outside of California.

I’ve now learned that the license plate part was and is true, according to this article:

“About 80% of license plates in the United States ARE made in about eight prisons.  Some of those prisons actually make plates for more than one state.”

And in my state:

According to the article:

“Behind the thick granite walls at Folsom State Prison lies a factory where inmates…manufacture every single license plate used in the state of California.

“Just over 120 employees make up the inmate workforce at the California Prison Industry Authority’s license plate factory – the only place license plates are made in the state.

“The factory operates from 7am to 3pm Monday through Thursday and produces between 45,000 and 50,000 plates a day, making it the largest producer of license plates in the United States.”

It turns out that inmates all over the country in state and federal prisons are working, and they’ve made or are making a variety of items including Books for the Blind, park benches and picnic tables, military clothing, canoes, road signs, and even wearing apparel for both prisoners and the public at Eastern Oregon Correctional Institute:

“Their commercial product line includes apparel with logo designs, blue jeans, jackets, work shirts, sweatshirts, T-shirts, hats and more…”

And according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons,

“Institution work assignments include employment in areas like food service or the warehouse, or work as an inmate orderly, plumber, painter, or groundskeeper.”

During the pandemic, some state-run prisons shifted to supplying government agencies with essentials to battle the coronavirus, like hand sanitizer and protective gear. 

And during California’s wildfire season – this hit particularly close to home – for years, thousands of male, female and teenage inmates have worked as firefighters.

California inmate firefighters, 2015.

One of those firefighters, Amika Mota, was featured in the above Charles Clark Union-Tribune article. 

The firefighting came later; in 2008, when Mota arrived at the California Institution for Women, she refused her first assignment “because the head of the program was abusive to other inmates.”

The punishment, according to the article:

“For a time she lost access to visitation and phones and couldn’t see or talk to family or friends.  She also wasn’t allowed to buy from the commissary, so no more snacks or hygiene items.  And, for good measure, she was put in ‘the hole’ [solitary confinement] for 45 days…”

I was shocked.

In my ignorance, I assumed that prisoners volunteered to work and could request their assignments.  Working, I thought, was a good idea:  It could help alleviate boredom, and possibly provide useful work skills, a sense of accomplishment, and a feeling that they’re contributing to society.

To learn that some prisoners are required to work and required to accept their work assignments, and punished if they refused…

They’re already in prison.  Isn’t that punishment enough?

Yes, it’s true that some prison work – like firefighting in California – is done on a voluntary basis.  But in Mota’s case and many others…

Some people have names for it:

“Forced labor.”

“Involuntary servitude.”

“A vestige of slavery.”

And it’s legal, as written into the United States Constitution.  The 13th Amendment, ratified in 1865, says,

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” 

Involuntary servitude is also currently allowed under Article 1 of the California state constitution, if that servitude is being used to punish a crime.

One could argue that prisoners are paid so it’s not slavery, and it’s true – though some inmates are not paid, many prisoners are.

As a sampling – according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, “Inmates earn 12 cents to 40 cents per hour for these work assignments.”  California’s inmate firefighters “earn as little as $2.90 per day.”  In some prisons, making license plates pays “35 cents to 90 cents per hour.”

And those wages can be garnished for victim compensations, parole violation fines, and/or to offset the cost of a prisoner’s incarceration. 

So prisoners aren’t making much money – but somebody is:


The taxpayers.

According to an August 2020 New York Times article, “Using incarcerated firefighters [in California] saves the state’s taxpayers an estimated $100 million a year.”

And how about those “45,000 and 50,000” license plates made at Folsom State Prison?  No union wages, no benefits, just more savings for us taxpayers.

That’s only in California’s prisons, and only the firefighters and license plate makers.  Now think all state and federal prisons in all 50 states, and how those savings add up.

The more I learned, the more complex this topic became:  How those few words in the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution enabled the post-Civil War South to continue profiting from the forced labor of the formerly enslaved.  The disproportionate number of minorities doing forced labor due to the disproportionate numbers of minorities in prisons.  Then there’s the whole issue of inmate workers in privately held for-profit prisons.

And this, from a 2017 Los Angeles Times Op-Ed by a former inmate:

The writer said, in part:

“I consider most of the criticism lobbed at prison labor – that it’s a form of slavery, a capitalist horror show – unfair, and even counterproductive in the effort to reform the justice system.

“My prison job made me feel like I was fulfilling my existential duty to society: I was contributing…Any change for good that happened within me while I was incarcerated grew out of my job.”

But…it appears that in California, an opportunity is coming to lessen my ignorance and gain a better understanding of this complex topic.  From the Charles Clark article:

“In mid-June, a bill dubbed ACA 3 moved out of the State Assembly’s Public Safety committee…It aims to amend California’s Constitution with a ballot measure [in 2022] that would completely ban involuntary servitude.

“If ACA 3 gets approved in the Assembly and Senate and is passed by California voters, our state would join several others that have banned such labor in prisons and jails over the last five years, including Colorado, Nebraska and Utah.  At least 12 other states also have similar legislation or ballot measures in progress…”

I anticipate much debate about, and media coverage of, the progress of ACA 3, and I plan to be much better informed before California’s November 2022 election.

I’ve also recently learned that in December 2020, legislation dubbed the “Abolition Amendment” was introduced by Democrats in the U.S. House and Senate.  It failed to gain traction before the session’s end, but last month lawmakers reintroduced legislation to revise the 13th Amendment, according to this article:

The article reminds us,

“Constitutional amendments require approval by two-thirds of the House and Senate, as well as ratification by three-quarters of state legislatures.”

So, a possible amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

A possible constitutional amendment in California, and 12 other states.

To decide if it’s…

“Involuntary servitude”?

Or an “existential duty to society”?

We’re Witnessing The World’s Most Expensive…

Yesterday, July 11, billionaire Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic (and Virgin Atlantic, and Virgin Records, etc.) traveled on his VSS Unity…

…Making him the first billionarie founder of a space company to actually travel into space aboard a vehicle he helped fund.

On July 20, billionaire Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and the world’s richest man, will travel on his Blue Origin New Shepard rocket’s first passenger flight…

…Making him the second billionaire founder of space company to actually travel into space aboard a vehicle he helped fund.

Welcome to the world’s most expensive…

According to the Virgin Galactic website, Branson’s goal is to make the world a better place:

According to the Blue Origin website, Bezos’ goal is to make the world a better place:

And space travel certainly will make Branson and Bezos’ world a better place.

Cost of a reserved seat on Virgin Galactic:  $250,000, with more than 600 reservations at last count.

Cost of a reserved seat on Blue Origin:  To be announced after Bezos’ trip.

While you’re waiting for that announcement, you can – no surprise here – spend some money at Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin online shop:

And talk about making the world a better place – this new industry has given Branson and Bezos unlimited photo opportunities to light up our world:

In addition to making the world a better place, the two billionaire’s approach to space travel has an important similarity:

Their spacecraft are designed to come apart.

According to a July 9 CNN article,

“[Branson’s] VSS Unity will be affixed to a massive mothership, called WhiteKnightTwo, that looks like two sleek jets attached at the tip of their wings:

“The mothership takes about 45 minutes to cruise along and slowly climb with VSS Unity to about 50,000 feet.  Then, when the pilots give the go-ahead, VSS Unity drops from between WhiteKnightTwo’s two fuselages and fires up its rocket engine, swooping directly upward and roaring past the speed of sound.”

VSS Unity’s flight without the mothership lasts 14-17 minutes.

Bezos’ New Shepard vehicle “is a capsule and rocket system that fires off vertically from a launch pad”:

At some point the capsule separates from the rocket system:

The flight lasts about 10 minutes, and both capsule and rocket system return to Earth.

Another similarity:  Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin already are referring to their prospective clients as “astronauts.”

And another:  Astronauts on both the VSS Unity and New Shepherd will experience weightlessness.

And the most important:  If successful, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin will make billionaires Branson and Bezos just what they needed:

More billions.

I labeled this the “world’s most expensive pissing contest,” and it appears at least a few others share a similar – if less pungent – point of view:

And this, perhaps the most excoriating of all:

This writer’s observations include:

“…this will be the summer of the billionaire space race, as we witness who can burn through more money and public attention in the effort to escape the bonds of Earth’s gravity for, well, a few minutes.”

“…any honest assessment of the billionaire space race shows that it’s less the dawning of a new epoch of universal space travel than the world’s most expensive infomercial for a network of self-dealing billionaires who plan to make a lot more money down here on terra firma.”

“At a time when our earthly inequities could not be more clear, it is obscene to allow moguls to pour their untaxed billions, earned on the backs of precarious workers, into private ventures divorced from everyday concern or accountability.”

You’ll notice that both The New Republic and Los Angeles Times reference Elon Musk (pictured), yet another billionaire spacecraft builder. 

Musk’s SpaceX has already carried 10 astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA, and his company’s first private spaceflight is coming up in September for another billionaire who’s purchased a three-day, globe-circling ride.

I haven’t said anything about him, but a few days ago Musk had something to say about Branson and Bezos, in this snarky comment on Twitter:

“There is a big difference between reaching space and reaching orbit.”

A three-way pissing contest!

Musk, at least, is upfront about his intentions.  According to the SpaceX website, a seat on his “Rideshare” program…

…starts “as low as $1M.”

And like Bezos, Musk’s SpaceX has a shop:

During my research for this post, I discovered that humans aren’t the only ones to engage in pissing contests:


“…in scenes akin to a showdown at the OK Corral, the winner of the physical combat almost always turns out to be the lobster that urinated first.  And well after the fight is over, the winner keeps pissing.  By contrast, the loser shuts off his urine valves immediately.”

So, since Branson went into space before either Bezos or Musk, it looks like he gets…

The Signs Seen…

There’s a gas station in Gauteng, which is one of the nine provinces in South Africa:

A gas station story isn’t normally something that would go viral, but the owner of the gas station, Alison Billett, has put it on the online map.

From what I’m recently reading, when Alison bought the gas station years ago, it came equipped with a chalkboard, a perfect place for writing and sharing quotes – some funny, some topical, some inspirational.

Alison decided to continue the tradition, and now people make a point of driving by the gas station just to see Alison’s handiwork.  They, in turn, are sharing this “gas pump wisdom” – on Facebook and Twitter and numerous websites.

And now, because I think Alison’s gas pump wisdom is so well-done, I’m sharing some of her quotes:

I wish Alison many more years of inspiration – and a big supply of chalk!

Book Review:  Was This Author Getting Paid By The Word?

Publication date:  May 2021

Review, short version:  Three out of four skunks.

Review, long version:

I’d heard of, but hadn’t read, any of Maggie Shipstead’s books, so when her latest, Great Circle, caught my eye, I thought I’d look into it.

The information on her website was scanty, at best:

So I read the blurb on Amazon, which pretty much matches the blurb on the book’s dust jacket.  The premise sounded promising – the lead characters are a female, Marian, who becomes an aviator in the early 20th century, and an actress, Hadley, who portrays the aviator in a 21st-century movie.

The book is 608 pages and that appealed to me, as well – I like sinking into “big” books and staying there for a good, long time.

Sometimes I take notes when I read books, so I can refer back to an earlier character or event.  I did this with Great Circle, and I was only on page 15 when I knew there was a problem.  I wrote:

“Does all this information pages 15-19 have anything to do with the story, or is it extraneous?”

The more I read, the more I wondered, “What does this have to do with the story? Why does the author think I need to know all this?”

Here’s an example.

We meet a character, Annabel, who will be the mother of the 20th-century Marian, and Marian’s twin brother Jamie.  On page 24 we learn that at an early age, Annabel’s father began sexually abusing her.  At age seven, she hiked up her dress so the cook’s son could see her genitals.  Annabel’s Nanny has taught her to refer to her genitals as her “cabbage,” while a boy’s genitals were “his carrot.”

Annabel’s cabbage-exposing ends with her being caught by Nanny and locked in a dark closet, and then her mother “beat her on her bare legs and backside and called her wicked, wicked, wicked.”

At some point, when Nanny isn’t around, Annabel begins exploring her cabbage – masturbating.  But at age nine her mother catches her, and again calls her “wicked.”  “The next night Nanny bound Annabel’s wrists, and she slept with her fingers interlaced as though in prayer.”

A doctor is summoned, and his treatment involves applying a leech to Annabel’s cabbage.  She’s also given nightly medication that sends her “into a bottomless sleep.”  It appears her father continues the sexual abuse, even during her drugged state.

Annabel begins menstruating at age 12, a monthly reminder, her mother says, to “be always on guard against, yes, again, always:  wickedness.”  Annabel is sent away to school, and resumes masturbating.

End of example.

It’s too sad and it’s too bad that Annabel had a horrible childhood, but since it appears that Annabel dies when the twins are infants and has no further presence in their lives, let’s go back to my questions:

“What does all this have to do with the story?”

“Why does the author think I need to know all this?”

Annabel gets married and become the mother of twins Marian and Jamie.  When the twins are infants, Annabel is on an ocean liner with them that sinks.  The twins are rescued but Annabel vanishes, presumed dead.

If the twins never meet their mother, what the hell does Annabel’s sexual abuse by her father and her masturbation and menstruating have to do with Marian becoming an aviator and Hadley portraying Marian in a movie?

The more I read, the more I wondered, “Is this all TMI, or am I crazy?”

Though, after the past 15 months, who’s to say what’s crazy?

I also wondered, “This book got rave reviews and was on the New York Times best seller list.  Am I the only person who feels this way?”

Ah…a few Amazon reviewers to my rescue.

The last time I checked, The Great Circle had only about 1,200 reviews, but 87 percent were four- or five-stars.  I headed straight for the bad reviews and discovered that no, I wasn’t the only one who felt as I did:

…MOST of the information is extraneous to the story.  After I finished the book I kept thinking to myself “Why did I need to know ALL of that?” …The superfluous information throughout this novel did NOT impart a deeper connection or empathy with the characters… I think the novel could easily be edited and slimmed to 400 or less pages without sacrificing the momentum of the story. 

Thought about quitting several times
I’m an avid reader and usually agree with rave reviews.  Sadly, this is one I don’t.  I love long books but found this to be too wordy and pretty boring in several places.  Too many details that didn’t have anything to do with the story.  It felt like the author wanted to show off her extensive research.

Far too much detail that just adds to the length of the book without being meaningful – boring.


I kept slogging through Great Circle to page 50 and gave up.

Life’s too short to slog.

Earlier I referenced the book’s dust jacket, and I understand that its function is to sell the book.  Now I’ve reread it and have to say – this book’s description was in overdrive:

“Epic and emotional, meticulously researched and gloriously told, Great Circle is an astounding feat of storytelling and an exhilarating tour de force.”


I’m guessing the dust jacket author was also getting…

Update:  June 30, 2021

When it comes to books, clearly I am clueless as to what’s hot…and what’s not.

Even knowing this, I’d barely finished writing this disparaging review about Maggie Shipstead’s best seller, The Great Circle, when I was nonetheless amazed and astounded by this, in my Sunday newspaper’s Arts+Culture section:

Not just an article about Shipstead and her book – a front page article

A front page that jumps to another full page.

With not one, or two, but five images.

All of…Maggie Shipstead.

I’ve yet to see my newspaper do a spread like this about President Biden, or any head of state, or community leader, or, or, or – and they go way overboard for this author and her verbose-to-the-max book?

And speaking of getting paid by the word?  The newspaper review – it’s 1,400 fawning words, like these:

“It’s rare that a book can be described as both a ‘feminist epic’ and a ‘perfect summer novel,’ but Shipstead has skillfully crafted a compelling novel that blends both historical fiction and modern-day travails.”

And these:

“Shipstead builds their worlds with the deftness of a fantasy writer and cleverly inserts suspense with the precision of a master thriller writer.  The result is both poetic and precise, grounded and glorious.”

Did this reviewer read the same book that I did?

Well, that I tried to read?

Since I’m not getting paid by the word, I’ll leave it at that.

And leave The Great Circle here:

Ah, Summertime!  Baseball And Barbecues And…

The name “Hallmark” has always meant greeting cards to me, and I like their Shoebox line of cards, some of which are funny:

So, buy funny Hallmark cards?


Watch Hallmark TV stations?


I’ve never watched either Hallmark station, designated HALL and HALLMM in my TV book, the latter standing for “Hallmark Movies and Mysteries.”

I’ve suspected that the movie plots would be so saccharine they’d send me into sugar shock, like so many non-Shoebox Hallmark cards do:

Back to the Hallmark TV stations, and why I’ve avoided them.

In addition to saccharine, I also suspected the movie plots would be repetitive, trite and boring.

To confirm or deny this, I did the gird-your-loins thing, visited the Hallmark TV website and read a few plots:

Confirmed, as predicted:

So when I’m perusing my TV book, my eyes normally skip right over HALL and HALLMM.

But last week, something did catch my eye:

My calendar says it’s summer.  The weather says it’s summer.  Yesterday was July 4.

Doesn’t all that just scream…

A bit of research revealed what Hallmark is doing:

In a similar article, the writer – no stranger to saccharine herself – said,

“Now that summer is here, it’s a little disheartening to know that days filled with Christmas cookies, gingerbread houses, and tree decorating are so far away.  Luckily, Hallmark has a solution for the post-holiday blues:  Hallmark Channel is now airing Christmas movies year-round, so you can catch one every Thursday and Friday of the year.

“…I’m especially looking forward to escaping reality with a festive Christmas movie each week.”

But – how can Hallmark come up with so many plots for so many Christmas movies?

Additional online research revealed that a goodly number of people have also girded their loins, watched HALL or HALLMM, and tackled this topic.  It appears that Hallmark doesn’t concern itself with originality, and I think this writer nailed it:

Here are the seven plotlines:

  1. Deceased Parent Leads to Other Parent Needing Help from Child, Which Leads to a Love Connection
  2. Over-Worked Child Plans to Skip Christmas, But Gets Fired and Must Return to His/Her Parents, Which Leads to a Love Connection
  3. Big City Man Travels to Small Town Christmas Place to Destroy It in the Name of Big Business, Falls in Love Instead
  4. Cold-Hearted Man Hates Children/Animals But is Forced to Care for Children/Animals at Christmas, Needs Help from Neighbor/Co-Worker, Which Leads to a Love Connection
  5. One Down-On-Their-Luck Person Receives a House/Land from a Distant Relative, but So Does a Real Estate Developer/Lawyer and Though They Don’t See Eye-to-Eye, They Will Learn Love Through Remodeling this Free House
  6. Bad Attitude Non-Christmas Person Reunites with Old Flame Through Very Unlikely Circumstances and Falls in Love
  7. A Person Going Through a Bad Breakup Must Also Keep the Breakup from Their Parent/s, Which Leads to Hiring Someone to Play Their Former Flame

But just in case Hallmark does decide to try some new plots, another online wit created this – I promise this will be more fun that actually watching a Hallmark movie:

A Review Of A Book Review:  Whew!  And I Thought I Was Snarky!

My Sunday newspaper has a one-page book section, usually with an in-depth book review that’s flanked on the left by the New York Times’ hardcover fiction and nonfiction bestsellers lists.

This past Sunday, first thing I noticed on the page was the headline for the book review:

And the second thing I noticed was the New York Times’ #1 fiction bestseller:

My immediate response was, “Interesting juxtaposition!” 

Specifically, the book review’s snarky headline is immediately adjacent to the same book that’s #1 on the bestseller list:

Before I talk about the snarky review of The President’s Daughter – and yes, the review is as snarky as the headline – some context:

The book’s authors are Bill Clinton, United States President from 1993-2001, and James Patterson, “the world’s bestselling author and most trusted storyteller,” according to Patterson’s website.

The President’s Daughter is their second collaboration, the first being The President is Missing, published in 2018.

The President is Missing debuted at #1 on June 24, 2018 on the New York Times’ bestseller list:

And on June 27, 2021 The President’s Daughter did the same:

Let’s go back to the snarky review of The President’s Daughter in my newspaper.

I should clarify that my use of the word “snarky” is a compliment. 

Here’s a definition:

When someone suggests that something I wrote was “snarky,” I like it.

The author of the newspaper’s book review is Ron Charles of the Washington Post:

And I’m guessing from the phrase “satirical series” that Charles wouldn’t be offended by my describing his book review as “snarky.”

Here’s how the review starts:

“Over the past three years, Bill Clinton and James Patterson have developed a bankable formula:  In their previous thriller, a U.S. president went missing.  In their new thriller, a president’s daughter goes missing.

“If this keeps up, someday we’ll have to read a thriller about the president’s lost cat, his missing keys, an errant sock.”

Love it!

Reviewer Charles compares the hero in the first book to the hero in the second:

“It’s a change as startling as the shift from tan to beige.”

And how’s this for snarky?

“But it would be unfair to say that there’s no suspense in The President’s Daughter.  Again and again, I was on the edge of my seat, wondering, ‘Can this story get any sillier?’” 

Charles takes a swipe at Clinton:

“With this brave and monogamous hero, Clinton has once again revealed such a naked fantasy version of himself that you almost feel embarrassed for the man.”

And notes that Clinton and Patterson perhaps took a swipe at Hilary:

“Keating is now out of office, replaced by his own vice president, a conniving woman with ‘short blond hair perfectly styled and in place.’  (I’m dying to know how that line went over at the Clinton breakfast table.)”

There’s more, but I’ll make this my last quote:

“Drawing inspiration from America’s most advanced missiles, the text of The President’s Daughter is capable of hitting multiple stereotypes simultaneously.”

So, my thanks to Ron Charles for his snarky book review, for two reasons:

  1. He’s saved me from reading The President’s Daughter.
  2. He’s allowed me to save my snark for other targets topics.