In honor of the 90th anniversary of the birthday of Charles Schulz (1922-2000), creator of the immortal "Peanuts" comic strip, father of Linus, Lucy, Charlie Brown, Sally, Schroeder and, of course, the beagle Snoopy, we explore the Tao of Peanuts.
Lucy: Why do you think we're put here on earth Charlie Brown?
Charlie Brown: To make others happy.
Lucy: I don't think I'm making anyone very happy. Of course nobody's making ME very happy either. SOMEBODY'S NOT DOING HIS JOB!
Charlie Brown: What can you do when you don't fit in? What can you do when life seems to be passing you by?
Lucy: Follow me. I want to show you something. (They get to the top of a hill.) See the horizon over there? See how big this world is? See how much room there is for everybody? Have you ever seen any other worlds?
Charlie Brown: No.
Lucy: As far as you know, this is the only world there is, right?
Charlie Brown: Right.
Lucy: There are no other worlds for you to live in, right?
Charlie Brown: Right.
Lucy: You were born to live in this world, right?
Charlie Brown: Right.
Lucy: WELL LIVE IN IT THEN! Five cents please.
Snoopy: My life has no purpose. My life has no direction, no aim, no meaning. And yet I'm happy. I can't figure it out! What am I doing right?
Linus: What would you say you want most out of life, Charlie Brown? To be happy?
Charlie Brown: Oh, no. I don't expect that. I really don't. I just don't want to be unhappy!
Charlie Brown: I've developed a new philosophy. I only dread one day at a time!
Linus: I don't like to face problems head on. I think the best way to solve problems is to avoid them. This is a distinct philosophy of mine. No problem can be so complicated that it can't be run away from!
It's that time of year when the mailbox is chock full of retail catalogs attempting to sell, sell, sell and one begins to wonder how the Postal Service could possibly be $15 billion in the red with all this glossy paper crisscrossing the country and landing on my countertop. There's a Land's End here and a Signals there, here an LLBean, there a Grandinroad, and then, there's the grand-daddy of them all, billed as "America's Longest Running Catalog," Hammacher Schlemmer, "offering the Best, the Only and the Unexpected for 164 years" (according to the cover) -- or, as it's known around my house, "the catalog with things you never knew existed, that you don't really need, at prices you really can't afford." This is the type of catalog where every item is preceded by the definite article "the" -- as in "The Glow in the Dark Driver Ejecting Bumpercrafts" or "The Best Electric Wine Opener." (I kid you not.)
The latest edition of the catalog came over the transom with a strange gadget pictured on the cover, something that looks like a cross between a unicycle and a droideka destroyer droid from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.
Unfolded, "The Folding Electric Mini-Farthing" still has much in common with the other two, since encountering any of them could very possibly lead to an excruciatingly painful injury, if not a sudden death.
Moving on from unsafe transportation you really don't need, we have the "and why exactly do I need this?" toy: The 50 Foot Snowball Launcher.
According to the catalog copywriter:
"This toy blaster makes and launches softball-sized snowballs up to 50 feet, allowing rapid, long-range assaults during neighborhood snowball confrontations Simply place snow in the forming chamber and close the lid. It packs three perfectly spherical snowballs. To blast your mark, place one snowball in the muzzle, aim the launcher, and pull back the slingshot mechanism..."
And then there are the oxymorons:
"The Healthiest Deep Fryer," which purportedly uses only one tablespoon of oil and "The Filterless Air Purifier," which uses "billions of harmless electrons that attach to air impurities and convert them to negatively charged ions," and "The Healthiest Potato Chip Maker."
And then there are the WTFs:
"The Powered Pumice Stone," and "The Remote Controlled Tarantula" and "The Thinning Hair Boar Bristle Brush" and "The Pain Relieving Neuromuscular Stimulator System." And I am only on page 21 of 88!
And if you are so gullible as to purchase "The Hands Free Hair Rejuvenator"
(pictured at left, below) at $699.95 a pop, I have some property that used to lie along the Jersey Shore to sell you!
Gozer the Traveler. He will come in one of the pre-chosen forms. During the rectification of the Vuldrini, the traveler came as a large and moving Torg! Then, during the third reconciliation of the last of the McKetrick supplicants, they chose a new form for him: that of a giant Slor! Many Shuvs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Slor that day, I can tell you! (Rick Moranis, Ghostbusters)
Hostess Brands, Inc., maker of the iconic U.S. snack Twinkies announced Friday that, rather than try to settle with its striking factory workers, it is going out of business. Founded in 1930 in Chicago, the company, in recent years, found itself fighting a losing battle on multiple fronts, as alternative snacks multiplied and many Americans at least attempted to adopt healthier eating habits.
Yet who can ever really let go of that yellow cake riddled with greasy goodness and those strange little holes on the bottom and that fluffy filling, made of who knows what? Probably better that we didn't know what it was made of!
Here's an appropriate requiem for a taste of my childhood...
Larry Groce, “Junk Food Junkie”
“I open that door so slowly, take a peek up north and south,
then I pull out a Hostess Twinkie, and I pop it in my mouth...”
“I'm afraid someday they'll find me just stretched out on my bed,
With a handful of Pringles potato chips and a Ding Dong by my head!”
Disgraced former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich has traded his job in the kitchen at the federal prison in suburban Denver for a gig in the joint's library. Blago, who is serving a 14-year sentence for felony corruption conviction was apparently bored out of his mind as a scullery maid washing pots and pans. According to his former lawyer, Blago has also been trying to stave off boredom by reading biographies of former presidents. Perhaps dreaming of what might have been...
How informed are voters? So informed that two dead men were re-elected last Tuesday. Unfortunately, they will not actually be able to take their respective offices and serve out their terms because they are... to repeat, dead.
Florida Democrat Earl Wood died on October 15th at the ripe old age of 96. At the time, he was campaigning for a 12th term as the tax collector for Orange County, an area that encompasses Orlando and environs. During the campaign, his opponent noted that Wood rarely came to the office while pocketing a salary of $150,000 and collecting a $90,000 pension. Nice work if you can get it, and apparently, in some locales, you can get it even if you die....
Meanwhile, in Bibb County, Alabama, Republican Charles Beasley, age 77, won his seat on the Bibb County Commission with 52 percent of the vote, despite being dead for almost a month.
Wow, think of how the losers must feel... It's one thing to lose to a living, breathing opponent, but to be beaten by a corpse...
Maybe you're like poor little Abby...
Or maybe you're not...in which case, if you'd like to continue to get your political freak on after this election is over in 3 days (on the other hand, is the campaign ever really over???), but I digress... If you believe that the race for president used to be a kinder, gentler process... have I got some books for you!
Let's start with an intriguing read about the very first presidential campaign...
A Magnificent Catastrophe: the tumultuous
election of 1800, America's first presidential
Edward Larsen (Free Press, 2007)
Here's a vivid retelling of the presidential election campaign between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson that brings the fierce rivalry that was called "America's Second Revolution" to brawny, brawling life and reveals the pivotal roles played by Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. The bitter infighting and the sophisticated political jockeying of 1800 put paid to the notion that America would be governed by enlightened consensus. Instead, it resulted in the two-party system we know today. Readers will find a plethoria of similarities between the intense electioneering of THEN, and the heated political races of NOW.
(Same as it ever was...)
Leaping ahead almost 100 years...
Realigning America: McKinley, Bryan, and the Remarkable Election of 1896
R. Hal Williams (University of Kansas Press, 2010)
The presidential election of 1896 is widely regarded as one of the few that brought about fundamental changes and realignments in American politics. New voting patterns emerged, a new majority party seized power, and national policies underwent a paradigm shift to reflect new realities. The monumental struggle between Republican William McKinley and Democrat William Jennings Bryan set new standards in financing, organization, and accountability. Back then, the Republicans were the party of central government, national authority, sound money (think: the gold standard), and activism, while the Democrats preached state's rights, decentralization, inflation, and limited government (and the silver standard). (Say what????!!! I know, you have to read it to believe it!) It's also the campaign that birthed Bryan's stem-winder "Cross of Gold" speech. Williams paints a vivid portrait of down-and-dirty, two-fisted politics when the participants still wore waistcoats.
On the lighter side....
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the White House: humor, blunders, and other oddities from the presidential campaign trail
Charles Osgood (Hyperion, 2008)
You can always count on Charles Osgood to provide a good laugh while he enlightens. Here he presents a treasury of anecdotes from presidential campaigns over the past seventy years. You'll find lighthearted speech excerpts, interviews, and press-conference quotes from the campaigns of such presidents as FDR, Truman, and JFK. Who could imagine the dour Bob Dole wise-cracking to reporters? But after a loss in the primary, he quipped: "I slept like a baby--every two hours I woke up and cried."
Campaign coverage... gonzo style:
Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72
Hunter S. Thompson (Warner Books, 2006)
Darkly humorous, off-beat, moody... to say the least. In this newer edition of the classic account of the dark, very dark, underbelly of American politics, the original "gonzo" political journalist presents his frankly subjective, very subjective, observations on the personalities and political machinations of the 1972 presidential campaign between Richard "Tricky Dick" Nixon and the straight-arrow George McGovern, who just passed away at the age of 90 on a few weeks ago.
Pair it with...
The Selling of the President
Joe McGinniss (Penguin, 1988)
McGinnis wormed his way into the inner sanctum of Richard Nixon's 1968 campaign for president. What he found was a nest of advertising technicians, ghost writers, P. R. experts, and pollsters who cynically plotted the re-branding of a loser into a winner and the clever packaging that sold America the most corrupt Presidency in its history.
You ever wonder what type of person actually thinks he (or she) is qualified to be President of the United States? Crack this one open...
What It Takes: the way to the White House
Richard Ben Cramer (Random House, 1992)
Talk about the audacity of hope? How do these people convince themselves that they have the right stuff to sit behind a desk in the Oval Office and trod the floor where Lincoln, Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower paced? (Okay, Roosevelt didn't pace, he wheeled.) Journalist Cramer chronicled the 1988 campaign and put the candidates -- Robert Dole, George H.W. Bush, Joseph Biden, Richard Gephardt, Gary Hart and Michael Dukakis -- under the microscope and on the analyst's couch to glean some insight into the qualities that lead to success or failure as a presidential candidate. Watch the candidates as they make their way through the primaries, fine-tuning stands on issues, struggling to retain their individuality while being hounded by ravenous journalists, pummeled and massaged by numerous handlers and browbeaten by their image wizards. Dukakis comes off as a humorless know-it-all (maybe it's a good thing he lost), while Bush the Elder emerges as a compulsive nice guy and witty, too, such as when he quips, "I deny that I have ever given my opinion to anybody about anything.''
The ability to read + the ability to vote (and actually doing so) = Freedom.
To find out more about me, click on the Not Your Average Jo tab.