Finding Margaritaville in the ‘Hood

by Bob Sparrow

Late best friend, Don Klapperich, introduced me to Jimmy Buffett’s music in the late ’80s via cassette tapes from Saudi Arabia. I have since collected all his music, videos, read all his books including the Margaritaville Cook Book. My Sirius Radio in mostly on  the ‘Margaritaville’ channel, I’ve seen him live in concert numerous times and recently went to San Diego to see the play, Escape to Margaritaville, based on his music and lyrics, much like the play Mama Mia is based on ABBA’s music. The production is hilarious and is eventually headed to Broadway. I am clearly a big fan – a Parrothead. What is the appeal of a singer whose voice is more a kin to that of a carnival barker?  The vibe he creates!

Marge, Jeanne, Diane, Julie, Reta, Linda, Althea

Last weekend, we decided to celebrate the first weekend of summer Jimmy Buffett-style by hosting a ‘Finding Margaritaville’ party for our neighborhood. How do you find Margaritaville? Where is it? Some people say it’s in the Caribbean, other say it’s in Key West somewhere around Kokomo. According to Mr. Buffett, “Margaritaville is a state of mind where there is booze in the blender, good weather and colorful characters, just on the edge of paradise with a dash of reality thrown in to add flavor.”

Dianne, Pam, Kathy, Shelly

Well, that comes very close to describing the neighborhood we’ve lived in for the past 32 years, especially the part about the colorful characters. It was here I was going to start listing some of the characters and their accomplishments/antics, but there are 20 some couples that live on the two streets that make up ‘the ‘Hood’ and there is not room here to do them all justice and I wouldn’t want to leave anyone out, so let’s leave it at it’s a neighborhood filled with interesting, giving people where you can always find booze in the blender.

Banana Dolphins

Marge, her monkey and parrot in her tree

A good example of this giving neighborhood occurred when I asked if anyone in the ‘hood wanted to donate money to help the guide we had in Nepal after his home was destroyed in the 2015 Kathmandu earthquake – I had $1,200 on my doorstep that afternoon!   If someone is sick or housebound for any reason, neighbors will take turns preparing dinner for that family – and we have a number of outstanding chefs in the ‘hood (Rob Warren & Richard Wade immediately come to mind). When our kids were growing up and playing at each other’s house, wherever they were at lunchtime the mom would fix lunch for the whole gang. No one ever worried about where their kids were or if they had eaten lunch. It is an amazing group of people with whom we are lucky to be associated.

Phyllis & Starlet

Captain Jack

At 6:00 on Saturday, the house and yard were in their final stages of decoration; inside the ‘food island’ highlight was the pineapple palm tree, thanks to Marge Dunn and the dolphin fruit plate, thanks to Linda and Starlet. The best decoration outside was the Margarita machine; the surrounding palms and pool complemented it nicely. Partygoers arrived in full ‘Parrotfanalia’. Aside from the 40 attendees who were within walking distance of our house, more importantly within crawling distance home, we had a few family members to add a bit of spice to our already colorful cast of characters; including Linda’s 91 year old mom, Phyllis, who didn’t miss a beat, Linda’s sister, Starlet both in from Minnesota and my brother, Jack, who lent his deft bartending skills to the party, his wife Sharon and her son Brad.

‘Creative’ winners, Dunns, Baldwins & Webbs

Marc Webb, the Pied Piper, started the ‘pool party’

We had a contest to find out “Are You More Creative than Jimmy Buffett?” where couples had to change the titles of Buffett’s songs to something more original.  I can’t write all the answers we got here due to our PG rating, but needless to say the ‘hood is very creative.  So of course the party was a success, how could it not be with this group? As they say, a good time was had by all, especially those who jumped in the pool with their clothes on later in the evening – alcohol may have been a factor.

I’ve probably forgotten a few things that happened that night, but I know this, the ‘hood has been a great place to raise our little kids and a great place to raise a little hell.    Fins Up!

Phyllis bracing for the start of the party

 

Tanis, Stefanie, Lisa, Doug, Keren, Sandi

The Unexamined Life

by Bob Sparrow

“The unexamined life is not worth living”

Spoken by Socrates at his trial after he chose death rather than exile

philosopherIt was suggested by more than one reader that my last blog, the one about ‘creative’ Christmas gifts, was simply filler, fluff, no real depth, mailed in, not intellectually challenging, stimulating or provocative.

I offered excuses about the hustle and bustle of the season, my new work schedule, another birthday, travel demands (Dallas, Salt Lake and Vegas in the last 60 days).  But after searching for the many layers of that last blog, I discovered that it was a piece with no layers at all and in fact had no redeeming social, or for that matter, antisocial, qualities. So, as an apology I proffer a Top 10 list (along with my cogent comments) espoused by an All-Star cast of deep, philosophical thinkers to help you put your New Year’s resolutions in perspective.

  1. I will say yes to life

Nietzsche, means rediscovering the seriousness one had as a child at play.  (Pretty heavy when you think about it)

  1. I will grow collective

Badiou commented that when people find love, they realize life offers them more together than it does alone. (Can we really trust a guy whose name is BAD  I.O.U.?)

  1. I will be present for others

Authentic engagement is world-disclosing work. Implicitly, by trying to enable the other, I acknowledge the value of sharing a world with them.  (I think he means, wherever you are, be there!)

  1. I will be a giver not a taker

Ask yourself, ‘What unique contributions can you make that could empower others?’ (Great arm farts probably don’t count)

  1. I will focus on the things I can control not the things I can’t

Genuine self-control is equal parts focus, drive and humility. (and perhaps some prozac)

  1. I will be a meaning maker

We must be prepared to disrupt ourselves every now and then in order to see the unexpected opportunities in daily events and take our lives in new directions.  (We have to look no further than the latest election to affirm that we have indeed disrupted ourselves)

  1. I will convert negative emotion into creative energy

Anger can be a gift. Channel it into a creative activity (Some are more ‘gifted’ than others)

  1. I will question everything

By learning to think skeptically, we are not only better able to identify things that have real meaning, relevance, and value in life, we are also enabled to identify the things that lack meaning, relevance, and value (I know what you’re thinking – this blog lacks meaning, relevance and value)

  1. I will celebrate abundance

Everything is fed by the flow of radiation from the sun. Hold out your hands to the sun. Feel it vitalize the molecular flows of your body.  (Sun worshiping – it’s all come full circle)

  1. I will never give up

Sartre argued that authenticity involves making a fundamental choice about how to live – as a philosopher, writer, communist, whatever. The caveat is that we acknowledge that this is only a choice, and there are other choices we can make in life. Camus argued for what is ultimately, I think, a more uncompromising position: that existential authenticity demands that we admit to ourselves that our plans and projects are for the most part hopeless and in vain – and struggle on regardless. This, for Camus, is existential revolt – to affirm the absurdity of life and continue. (I couldn’t have said it any better myself, actually I couldn’t have said it at all!)

Final words to think about when making your resolutions, from former publisher of Success magazine, Darren Hardy . . .

“Resolutions tend to focus on what you are not (skinnier, wealthier, punctual).  As you try to focus on the life you want, you’ll be fixated on the things you haven’t accomplished”.  He suggests that resolutions should start with your abundances and expand them.

Or you could forget about resolutions this year and just curl up with your new Santa Farting Butt Pillow.

 

HAVE YOURSELF A FIZZY LITTLE CHRISTMAS

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Music, in all of its forms, always seems to evoke memories of times past.  That is never more true than at Christmas when emotions run a bit higher and hearing a carol on the radio can make even the most hard-hearted a bit sentimental.  I have been listening to the “Holly” station on my satellite radio and find myself drawn back to some wonderful Christmas memories.  Here are just a few – and to make sure you read until the end – I am also including Pop’s Christmas Ice Cream Fizz recipe.

“Silver bells, Silver bells, it’s Christmas time in the city.”

The City of Paris tree

The City of Paris tree

“Silver Bells” was our mother’s favorite Christmas song.  I remember back in the 1950’s we had a record player that was roughly the size of a modern day refrigerator.  I thought it was a miracle of engineering that we could stack records on top of each other and they would drop in succession.  At Christmastime our mother couldn’t get enough of “Silver Bells” so each time it concluded she rushed to the record player to keep the next record from dropping so she could hear it again.  The song was our anthem; every year during the Christmas season we got dressed up, including gloves and hat, to make the 22 mile trip into San Francisco.  We had three destinations:  the Christmas tree in the City of Paris rotunda, the windows at Gump’s, and getting a sundae at Blum’s on Union Square.  Only Gump’s has managed to survive.  Blum’s closed in the 70’s and Neiman Marcus is now in the City of Paris building.  The magic of the City of Paris Christmas tree was not only its 40 foot size, but the decorations – tricycles, dolls, trains and all manner of toys, bright lights, glass bulbs and a huge star on top.  Each year it was a bit different and each year I stared at it in wide-eyed wonderment.  When Neiman Marcus bought the store they tried to carry on the tradition but judging by this year’s effort – a metal, blue spiral cone hung upside down – they have done an abysmal job of it.  Where is the magic in that?  Makes me glad I grew up when I did.

 

“Silent Night, Holy Night”

Our grandmother was in her 50’s when our grandfather died in 1948.  She never re-married.  She referred to him constantly and loved to keep his memory alive through stories.  She had a full life but was always a little sad around the holidays when she missed him most of all.  His favorite Christmas carol was “Silent Night”.   When all of our relatives would come on Christmas morning our mom would always have Christmas albums playing (by now we had graduated to a “console”).  The problem was that “Silent Night” would bring our grandmother to tears.  Unfortunately, of the approximately 87 Christmas albums our mother had, “Silent Night” seemingly appeared on all of them.  So my job was to remember the various “cuts” on the albums where “Silent Night” was placed and then race to the console to skip over the track before grandma dissolved into tears.  I can’t hear that song today without thinking about her and about the countless times I practically tripped over the Christmas tree lurching for the record player.

Through the years we all will be together, if the Fates allow…”

A jolly man indeed!

A jolly man indeed!

This will be the 15th Christmas without our dad.  I miss him just as much this year as I did that very first one.  He was a happy, joyful guy, always kind and helpful to others.  He was also one of the funniest people I’ve ever met.  All year long he embodied the Christmas spirit and when I was very young I thought he even looked like Santa,  with his twinkling blue eyes, rosy cheeks and a stomach that shook like a bowl full of jelly.  He loved the holidays, welcoming friends and family alike into our home.  Our whole family misses his loving spirit but we also recognize we were very lucky to have him as long as we did and are grateful that he left us with so many cherished Christmas memories.

“…So have yourself a Merry Little Christmas now.”

One of Pop’s hallmarks was the Ice Cream fizz he served every Christmas morning.  Oh sure, most families had hot chocolate and cider while we were drinking gin.  But don’t judge – it has given a roseate hue to many a Christmas morning.  So this year we are once again sharing his recipe so that you and your family might also enjoy this wonderful tradition.

 

 

POP’S CHRISTMAS ICE CREAM FIZZ

Fill a blender 1/4 full with ice cubes

Add 6 jiggers of gin

Add 4 scoops of French Vanilla ice cream

Add 1 small bottle of soda water (the size you get in a 6-pack)

My brother Bob adds an egg so the white adds some froth, brother Jack doesn’t add an egg.  Personally, I’d add it just because you can then claim it’s a protein drink.

Just blend it well and – voila – you have a concoction sure to put a positive spin on everyone and every thing!

Our mom served them in a wine glass with a dash of nutmeg.  As we got older we would conspire with Pop and ditch the wine glass for  a chilled beer mug from the freezer. Saved having to go back for seconds…or thirds.

 

We wish everyone a Happy Holiday season – we’ll be back in 2017!

 

I’m Not Making This Stuff Up!

by Bob Sparrow

turkey-hat

Who wouldn’t look good in this?

Some of you may remember that last year around this time, I posted a blog entitled ‘Gift dog-go-proIdeas for Those Who Have Everything’.  It was one of our least read blogs, but I did hear from readers who found it helpful, not for finding things they would really give to someone, but for putting into perspective the things they actually bought. “Hey, that laundry soap on a rope wasn’t as stupid as that yodeling pickle!” So, here I am again this year, with another selfless act of providing you with great ideas for gifts for that person who may not have everything, but you can be sure they don’t have any of these!

Doggie Go Pro – Tired of a bird’s eye view? Get a dog’s-eye view with this ‘fetch mount’ camera.  Shouldn’t your dog be able to capture his adventures on film?  Only $399.99 – film not included.

coffe-mug-hoopYour Cup of Joe – You coffee lovers who didn’t jump on the coffee mug in the shape of a vodka-mugtoilet bowl last year, probably won’t jump on this coffee mug in the shape of a basketball, complete with hoop and ready for dunking marshmallows.  Or you may want to just be honest and get the ‘There’s A Chance That This Could Be Vodka’ mug

What could be more romantic than snuggling up with that special someone withsabutt_2_thumbnail your own Santa Farting Butt pillow.  Aside from the Santa beer fart smell, it comes in various holiday fragrances, my favorite is reindeer breath.

ashtrayTrying to get that special someone to stop smoking? Here’s the perfect gift, the ‘Black Lungs Ashtray – the more you smoke, the blacker it gets.

The Faux Tummy Stuffer – we all over-indulge during the holidays, what with all the cookies, candy and booze laying around.   It’s hard not to become an alcoholic or chocoholic at this time of year; so when people comment, “Say, that extra weight really looks good on you.”, you can surprise them by revealing the Tummy Stuffer that makes you look fat, which takes their attention away from how really fat you are.

hillarynutcracker1_thumbnail

Hillary Nutcracker – no comment

spray-timeTime in a Can – Is that special someone tired of the convenience of a wristwatch, but wants to know the time?  Here’s your solution; just carry around this ‘Time Spray Can’ and you can spray the time on anything. Now that’s convenience!

You’re welcome!  You’ve still got a few more shopping days left!

S.P.  Suzanne and I wish you and your family the very Merriest of Christmases

 

Are You Ready For Summer?

by Bob Sparrow

stonehengeWhile some people like to call Memorial Day the ‘unofficial start of Summer’, I like to call Memorial Day the official recognition of those brave men and women who paid the ultimate price for preserving our freedoms.  The ‘unofficial start of Summer’ when I was a kid started at about three o’clock on the last day of school – which was typically around the middle of June.  However, the ‘actual start of Summer’ in the Northern Hemisphere occurs this year next Monday, June 20th at exactly 9:34 a.m. PDT when the sun reaches its northernmost point of the equator, but you probably already knew that.  So during this last week of Spring I’m going to help you prepare for Summer.

As sister Suzanne explained last week, preparing for summer for those in Scottsdale means getting out of town.  But some of us, who actually have to live in the same house all year long, have to ready ourselves in other ways. To wit:

Summer Songs – Nothing says summer like a great summer song, so I’ve put this compilation of ‘A Baker’s Dozen Summer Oldies’ together, burned them onto a CD and will be listening to it all summer.  If you’d like a copy, send a self-addressed CD envelope to me and if your among the first 25 to do so, I’ll throw in some old Ginsu knifes that I’ve had lying around here for several years.

Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer – Nat King Cole

A Summer Song – Chad & Jeremy

In the Summer Time – Mungo Jerry

Summertime – Louis Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald

Summer Nights – John Travolta and Olivia Newton John

Summer (from Four Seasons) – Vivaldisongs-of-summer-660x265

Summer Breeze – Seals & Crofts

Summer of ’69 – Bryan Adams   

Summer in the City – Lovin’ Spoonful

Summer Wind – Frank Sinatra

Summertime Blues – Eddie Cochran

The Boys of Summer – Don Henley.         And for my friends in Michigan . . .

All Summer Long – Kid Rock

 Or you can just put on some Beach Boys.

Exercise – Remember the New Years’ resolution about losing that weight and really getting into shape?  Yes, round is a shape, but just a reminder that you have about 4½ months before you start nibbling on that Halloween candy and attending those holiday parties.  Now is the time, even if it’s just walking, to get out of the house.  What are you doing still sitting at your computer?  Go outside!!  You can finish this later.  It only goes downhill from here anyway.

Summer attire – No, you haven’t lost that weight and so you’re not buying that new wardrobe, but hey, it’s summer, buy some loose fitting Tommy Bahama or  Margaritaville stuff along with a pair of Sanuk ‘beer cozy’ flip flops – the most comfortable flip flops you’ll ever own! Find them at REI – you may even find other cool stuff there that will get you outside.

BBQ – Yes, you can still do your favorite chicken or ribs recipe, but make this summer the one that your bbqguests rave about your ‘new’ barbecuing skills.  Try some rack of lamb as well as grilling some fruit and vegetables – watermelon, pears, how about grilling some lettuce for a Caesar salad?  Corn and artichokes are awesome on the grill.  Be different this summer.  You can find a recipe for grilling almost anything on line.  Go crazy – you’ll thank me later.

Summer Blockbusters – I understand that it’s early, but so far it doesn’t look like Tinsel Town will bust too many blocks this summer. So far we have The Conjuring 2, Warcraft, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, X-Men Apocalypse; Alice Through the Looking Glass (featuring Johnny Depp wearing his wife-beaters).  Clearly Baby Boomers are no longer the ‘target market’.  Reruns of M.A.S.H. and The Twilight Zone may be of more interest.  You should be outside anyway!   
crowds

Travel – What about travel? you’re asking.  Summer used to be the time for those trips to the mountains, the beach, the national parks as that’s when our kids were out of school, but most of our reader’s kids have kids of their own, so I suggest that you stay away from those places and spend the summer planning to go there in late September or early October when the kids are back in school and the weather is still nice.  Beside, ‘summer gas’ is more expensive that ‘winter gas’.  What?!  Yes, the oil companies would have us believe that they are two different products, but we understand supply and demand economics.

Sunblock – If you take nothing else away from this blog (which is very likely), take this: being tan is no longer cool, it’s asunblock sign that you don’t understand actinic keratosis, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma or melanoma.  I don’t either, but just put on sunblock!

Summer Quotes – I’ll leave you with some summer quotes.

“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability” – Sam Keen

“Summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most  beautiful words in the English language” – Henry James

“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco – Mark Twain”

“Some of the best memories are made in flip flops” ― Kellie Elmore

“Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it . . . in summer school” ― Josh Stern

Enjoy your last days of Spring and next week, don’t forget the sunblock!

 

How Are Those New Year’s Resolutions Going?

by Bob Sparrow

Resolutions (1)It’s only half-past January and statistically 46% of you have made New Year resolutions that are now 100% in jeopardy. The rest of you didn’t bother to make any resolutions, so once again our blog will be useless to you. For those still reading, as a public service, ‘From A Bird’s Eye View’ is offering simple, yet ineffective ways to approach your resolutions this year.

First, let’s look at the word resolution – it come from the root word ‘resolve’.

(ri-zolv) a transitive verb (duh, who didn’t know that?) of Middle English/Latin origin, originally meaning to dissolve, melt or loosen.

Inexplicably, over time, this word has come to mean ‘to come to a definite or earnest decision about’.   So essentially the meaning has changed from ‘loose’ to ‘definite’ – with this kind of beginning, it’s no wonder resolutions are so hard to keep. But let’s not let semantics get in the way of our resolve to help you attain or forget those resolutions you so optimistically made just a few weeks ago.

I’ve done a little research and, in order of popularity, here are the Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions nationwide, Top 10followed by what some have said are insightful, others have dubbed useless, suggestions that could help make this year different . . . or not.

  1. Weight loss – by far the most resolved lie of every New Year. This harkens back to the original meanings of ‘definite’ and ‘loosen’, as in you’ll ‘definitely’ be ‘loosening’ your belt. Statistically, middle-aged to older adults gain between 6-8 pounds per year (women a little more than men – sorry ladies), so in order to lose weight, you not only have to lose the extra weight you already carry around, but lose the weight you don’t even have yet! Not fair. Let’s face it, you’re probably not going to lose weight again this year, so just buy bigger clothes so you ‘feel’ thinner.
  1. Improve finances – Unless you have a plan to win the lotto, get a different job, are in line for a big promotion, have a rich relative with a bloody cough, or are delusional about how the government is going to help you, this is not a resolution, it’s a wish. Want to improve your finances? Stop buying those $5 lattes every morning! And just so you know, statistically, right after you win the lotto you’ll be struck by lightning.
  1. Exercise more – This is a trap resolution, if you don’t exercise at all, lifting another glass of wine would be exercising more, so here’s a real tip: Don’t underestimate the power of the walk. Every day, start at your house and walk 10 minutes down the road, then walk back. That’s it! If a bar or a Baskin-Robbins is 10 minutes down the road, walk the other way.
  1. Get a new job – Many who read our blog are either retired or too far down the road in their careers to genuinely consider this resolution, so reword this one to say, ‘Get spouse a job’.
  1. Healthier eating – The list of foods that are healthy and unhealthy for you continues to change on a regular basis; so let me make this simple; assume the foods you’re currently eating are or will be on the ‘healthy’ list and continue to eat  them, and drink . . . more water and less alcohol. Wait a minute, did I just suggest you drink less alcohol? Forget that, but do drink more water.
  1. Manage stress better – this resolution assumes a) you have stress and b) you’ve been managing it poorly. It’s been reported that a certain amount of stress is actually good for you, so this year assume that whatever stress you have, is good for you. There now, doesn’t that feel better already?

7. Stop or reduce smoking –If you are still smoking, you already know that cigarettes contain more than 70 cancer-causing chemical compounds, which along with second-hand smoke, significantly affects yours and other’s respiratory organs and immune systems and that half of all long-term smokers will die of tobacco-related death. So there’s nothing that I’m going to write here that’s going to convince you to stop. However, if your doctor has told you, like mine has, that your body is actually low on the tar and nicotine found in Cuban cigars, then smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.

  1. Improve a relationship – If you’re bad at relationships, which statistically all of us men are and we just don’t know it, start with something simple, like improving the relationship with your dog. Let him know that you’ve peed on the carpet a few time yourself, of course you spent the night in the doghouse, but it was like camping with your dog. Just remember that your dog will forgive you long before your spouse will.

9. Stop procrastinating – I’ve got a lot of stuff on this, but I’ll get it to you later.

  1. Stop/reduce drinking alcohol – I think this one was worded incorrectly, it should read, Stop reducing alcohol drinking. This raises several questions:
    1. What alcohol has the best affect on your health?
    2. If some amount of alcohol is actually good for you, isn’t more better?
    3. Can I actually drink someone handsome or pretty?
    4. How does alcohol actually improve my personality?
    5. Does alcohol really make me invisible sometimes?
    6. Why does alcohol make me sing better?

wine arobicsI think the key here is to remember that whatever the question, wine is probably the answer!

 

However you’re managing your resolutions this year and even if you didn’t make any, the good news is that January is almost over and then no one will be talking about resolutions anymore.

 

The Night Before Posting

by Bob Sparrow, with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore, author of The Night Before Christmas

'twas

‘Twas the night before posting and I had not a clue,

Should I write more of Christmas or the year that is new?

My head’s filled with carols that are driving me crazy

My shopping’s not done and my blog thoughts are hazy.

No travel this month or adventures been on

And I’m wondering if the creative juices are gone.

Could it be all the food and the drink I’ve consumed

That’s dulled all my senses?  This week’s blog is doomed!

Then a Grinchy idea popped into my head,

Instead of some prose, I’ll do rhyming instead.

This will be cinchy was my first lazy thought

I started to write; and discovered it was not!

I remembered back when our subscriptions were low

When we tried to rhyme news that most readers don’t know.

So I still didn’t have any subject to write,

No people or places to shine a bright light.

Suzanne wrote last week of our holiday caper

And I stooped to hawking some Trump toilet paper.

What I now look to ponder is the day Christ was born

And the glee of a child on a bright Christmas morn.

And looking to others to help where we can,

To enjoy peace on earth and good will towards all men.

Of families that gather by a warm Christmas fire

And pray that our leaders will lead and inspire.

To thank all who serve, those brave women and men

Whose Christmas with family they’ll miss once again.

To share Christmas joy in the time that you spend,

For nothing replaces our family and friends

So to briefly conclude what I wanted to write,

Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night.

*****

From our families to yours, Merry Christmas

and a Healthy & Happy New Year!

 

Gift Ideas for Those Who Have Everything

by Bob Sparrow

It has been said that the ‘holiday season’ is a month of incredibly intense craziness and stress interrupted by a few brief moments of joy.  I’m not sure who said that, maybe it was me, but part of that craziness and stress comes from trying to figure out what to get that person who ‘has everything’, and once you’ve figured it out, where to find it.  As always, we’re here to help relieve some stress by providing you with some ideas of unique gifts that not only will make that ‘special someone’ sit up and take notice, but mark you as a unique gift-giver . . . or a crazed, eccentric nutcase.

usb2This first item is for that person who thinks ‘everything’ is a flip phone, a Brownie camera and an eight-track cassette player, who you’ve been trying to bring into the new millennium for years, albeit kicking and screaming.  Yes, it’s a typewriter, but with an attached monitor and a USB port, – it’s like training wheels for cyber-phobics.

 

This next item is for that person who thinks they have the perfect coffee mug, with a picture of (fill in the blanks) and the words mug‘World’s Greatest (fill in the blank).  Not so fast!  Fellow workers will be wiping tears of laughter from their cheeks and those in the coffee klatch will be flushed with envy when they see that brown liquid swirling in this porcelain  mug.  One lump or two?

face-butt-towel

And while we’re on the subject of bathroom humor, here’s a towel that is sure to please those who have been confused about which end to use to wipe their face . . .  and other parts.  Color coordinated.

50 Shades

Fifty Shades of Chicken is for that chef on your list that has every cookbook ever printed, except this one!  This completes the study of the Big Three Bs of cooking: Baking, Broiling and Bondage.

pickel

If your ‘person who has ‘everything’ is fairly mindless, OK, completely mindless, then they’re going to really enjoy the yodeling pickle.  Don’t you wish you would have invented it?

soapSoap for Christmas?  Yes, but not just any soap, this is soap with a beer scent; and who doesn’t want to smell like beer?!

 

putterThe ‘Potty Putter’ is for that golfing nut in your group that just can’t get enough of the game.  Ideal for the crapy golfer!

 

vest2ugly There’s no guarantee that your man will look like these two hunks in his new Christmas sweater or vest, but isn’t it worth a shot?  Only comes in XL and XXL.

 

To ensure that we are politically incorrect to both parties, we’re offering that political junkie on your list the option of using either of these toilet tissues.  Get both for the independent or fence-sitter!  Let the good times roll.

H tp        DT tpSince most of these items are on-line (like who would actually carry this stuff in a store!?!!) you still have time to order now and make someone’s Christmas special.

Hope this helps

 

The Holiday ‘Season’ Schedule

by Bob Sparrow

onions2

Creamed Onions – YUCK!

When I was growing up, back when the earth was still cooling, there was no such thing as a ‘Holiday Season’ – there was Christmas. Thanksgiving was when Jack, Suz and I, had to get ‘slicked up’ and go to our aunt and uncle’s house and eat creamed onions and turkey that was cut so thin that it only had one side. New Year’s was a non-event that meant Christmas vacation was nearly over and we’d soon be headed back to school.

Things have changed a bit since then; with the coming of television, the ‘Christmas Season’ was created and subsequently commercialized.  More recently, with the advent of political correctness, the ‘Holiday Season’ was born, to make sure we weren’t excluding anyone from the season’s buying bonanza.

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Unoffensive holiday symbols

  The way I see it, it’s a five-game ‘season’ where first, everyone gets on their game uniform for the ‘kick off’ at Halloween, followed by Veteran’s Day (which apparently is a non-league game), then into the meat of the schedule with Thanksgiving and Christmas and concluding with the ‘finals’ on New Year’s Eve.

So let’s look at the ‘season’, game-by-game.

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Cheery Halloween mask

Halloween

How it started: It was originally an ancient Celtic religious celebration where they would bless and convert Pagans.

What happened? We took the religion out of it and now we just try to scare the bejesus out of kids with ugly masks and scary movies, while we bless and convert non-diabetics to diabetics with a sugar over-load. The American Dental Association also thanks you!

Veteran’s Day

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AMEN!

How it started: In 1919 Armistice Day was created marking the end of World War I on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour. In 1938 Armistice Day was declared a legal holiday and in 1945 it was changed to Veteran’s Day to recognize and celebrate all veterans.

What happened? Years ago Veteran’s Day was just a scrimmage, but fortunately, it’s become a little more celebrated in recent years, possibly due to the numerous conflicts we’ve put our brave men and women in armed forces through, but it’s still no Halloween! Personally, I’d eliminate Halloween and put greater emphasis on this holiday by having kids dress up like veterans and seek out service families and veterans to ask if they can help them in any way. Schools could ask their students to write a letter to someone in the armed forces to thank them for their service, but don’t count on it replacing the sanctity of Halloween anytime soon.

Thanksgiving

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“Sorry about taking your land”

How it started: The Pilgrims wanted to celebrate a bumper crop year as well as show their benevolence toward the Native Americans, specifically the Wampanoag tribe, by inviting them to a feast and tossing them a drumstick after they vanquished them and took their land. OK, maybe they didn’t just take it; they did give them $24 worth of beads and trinkets for Manhattan. Subsequently the Wampanoag tribe suffered an epidemic, thought to be smallpox brought over by the English, which helped them establish their settlements. Years later, the King Philip’s War resulted in the deaths of 40 percent of the tribe. Most of the male survivors were sold into slavery in the West Indies, while many women and children were enslaved in New England.

What happened? Well, wouldn’t you continue to celebrate such a joyous occasion? We do, with a feast of turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce and pies of various fruits and nuts on Thursday and when the ladies realized that the men were spending the rest of the weekend watching football, they said, “Ladies let’s go shopping!” and thus ‘Black Friday’ was created. But even with its calorie-busting meals, football overload and guerilla combat shopping, Thanksgiving still has the redeeming quality of bringing families together – and that’s a good thing!

Christmas

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Remember Christmas?

How it started: The first recorded date of Christmas was in 336 AD (No, I wasn’t there!); a few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the December 25th.  Although with shepherds in their fields at the time of the birth, it probably wasn’t in the winter at all.

What happened? Because this is the big cash cow of the season, the decorations and carols start in late October and continues through New Year’s Eve and beyond; it’s the ‘Big Game’. Yes, it’s been commercialized almost beyond recognition, but if you work at it, you can still find or better yet, create the ‘spirit of Christmas’, by helping those less fortunate or just experiencing a young child’s unbridled enthusiasm when they see that Santa hasn’t forgotten them. So work at finding the ‘spirit’ this year, as Vince Lombardi once said, “Giving isn’t everything, it’s the only thing!”  OK, maybe I made that up.

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When do you want the new year to start?


New Year’s Eve

How it started: The year had to end sometime!

What happened? When the year really ends is a long story involving various calendars, but suffice it to say that historically a bunch of politicians and church folks have moved the start of the year around since the beginning of time, mostly just to suit their purposes. So don’t get too fixated on December 31st as the end of the year, it was originally the vernal equinox (around the end of March) and it could go back there if it will make someone some money or get someone elected.  No matter what the date, it’s always the time of year when we lie to ourselves about improving our lives ‘next year’ with some unrealistic resolutions.

This Thursday will mark the halfway point in the season, so relax and enjoy the ‘halftime show’ – it’s usually at the ‘kid’s table’.

Happy Thanksgiving!

2015 Reviews, Previews & Predictions

by Bob Sparrow

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The Eagles backstage – me, NOT!

–  For me 2014 started here with the discovery, or rather the re-discovery, of The Tape’ – a mysterious offering from dearly departed, best friend, Don of Saudi Arabia, which has turned into an allegorical journey in search of . . . ? More discoveries are coming in 2015.

  •     –  Last year’s backstage cocktail party with the Eagles turned out to be more of a nose-bleed seat and a hot dog in the balcony, but their music was still magical.

–  I watched a car salesman, beaten and bloody, slink into his manager’s office with his tail between his legs as Linda drove away in her new 2015 Chevy Yukon

–  In 2014 I learned that Samoans, by any other name (even one as misleading as Caramel deLites) are still my favorite Girl Scout cookie, although I understand I’ll be paying more for them in 2015 – what a surprise!

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Missing woman turns into a homicide

–  The case of missing Carley Scott, to which I was introduced by a hitch-hiker I picked up on the ‘Road to Hana’, turned into a homicide when Carley’s jawbone and burned clothes were found by police. Ex-boyfriend, Steven Capobianco has gone from a ‘person of interest’ to being charged with murder.  Trial is set for sometime in 2015.

–  An economic forecast: I predict that 2015 will find Reverse Mortgages moving Forward.

–  Independence Day (not the 4th of July!) revealed our founding fathers to be just as quirky as some of today’s politicians, which is no easy task!

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Trekking the Himalayas

–  If my adventure to South Africa in 2013 was the ‘Trip of a Lifetime’, then my adventure in Nepal and the Himalayas last year was the ‘Trek of a Lifetime’ – it was a spectacular journey! I’m glad many of you could join me vicariously through my daily posts. I am now frequently asked, “Hey, where are ‘we’ going next?” Stay tuned.

–  It wasn’t as foreign, but just as beautiful – that’s the trekking through Glacier Nat’l Park, Yellowstone, and Alberta, Canada and our visit to neighbors the Nelsons at their second home on Flathead Lake, Montana this past summer. You’re all probably wondering if after our encounter in Jackson Hole, WY, if Sandra Bullock will ever leave me alone . . . more on that later.

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Is she still stalking me?

–  Earlier this year, while making a fool of myself at some of our ‘local’ tourist spots like Venice Beach, the Western White House and the Queen Mary, I missed my induction into the University of Utah Athletic Hall of Fame – it’s just as well, it turned out that they had plenty of ‘red shirts’ to clear the dishes and sweep up after.

–  Twenty fourteen concluded with a tribute to, and a debate with, my favorite sister, my favorite writing companion and simply one of my favorite people on this planet.  If you’re a regular you know she writes so well from the heart, while I tend to write from somewhere around the elbow, but whatever your preference, I predict much more of the same coming from us in 2015.

–  A big thank you to our regular readers in 2014 for enjoying our writing enough to encourage us to keep on doing it. Truth is, we’d probably do it anyway, but you need to know that your comments, your ‘sharing’ and your subscriptions make it a labor of love for us. Thank you so much!

2015

Bob & Suzanne wishing you an adventurous 2015!

If you’re not already a subscriber, we encourage you to become a ‘bird watcher’ in 2015 and follow and ‘share’ our adventures and observations.  That’s at least a resolution you can keep!

Hope you make 2015 matter.