Friday, November 29, 2019

4524 Where's the Beef?


Clara Peller rose to fame by asking “Where’s the beef?” in commercials for the Wendy’s fast food restaurant chain.

No, no. Not that kind of beef.  The kind where you “settle this beef outside” if the bar or the malt shop is too crowded for a full-scale knock-down. Malt shops, should any be left, are no longer great venues for hooligans with chips on their shoulders. Bars, that’s another story.

But more to the point, where is your anger?  I mean look at what’s going on all around you and you’re holding it all in?  The president and the rest of his crime family have taken over this country and is dragging it down to third world status faster than can say “quid pro quo.”  Why aren’t you out there raging about this?

Yeah, there are other important issues in your life.  Like “what’s for dinner” or “boy was that a lousy Thanksgiving Day” when your plane to grandma’s ran five hours late and you had to slog through snow en route to the airport at 4 a.m.  

Maybe you’re worried about health insurance or finding a second nickel to rub against the one you have left. Or climate change, the war in who-knows-what-istan, or the Mets or the crack in the ceiling you noticed during your semi-annual sexual encounter.

And maybe you should have a beef with all that stuff.  But don’t diversify. But all your beef in one basket… um...basket case, trump.

Sometimes, all of the michugas we’re going through now has an upside.  Here’s one example.

There is an “Express Bus Only” lane on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. The president has placed a lawn chair thereon. The lawn chair has a sign. It says “reserved for Mr. Giuliani.”  So, Rudy, have a seat.  After telling people to “go see Rudy” about his Ukraine nonsense, trump is ready to allow the express bus to mow his “personal lawyer” down.

When do we hear the president say “I really didn’t know the guy very well?”

Happens all the time with this guy. ReXXon was only the beginning. 

Here’s an election era oddity. Former press secretary Sarah Huckabee says she doesn’t like being known as a liar. Well, Sarah, it would help if you hadn’t spent your entire tenure as press secretary lying.

Under the bus.

ReXXon was the greatest Secretary of State since Thomas Jefferson (1790-1793.) Says... nobody. An oil tycoon with business interests galore in Russia.  Now what?

Here’s the central question, whether or not you’re an American Exceptionalist: Do you want Belgium, China, Russia and Who-knows-what-istan to think of us as one of their own or as a world power? The US is a world power.  But we’re fast becoming Alsace-Loraine or -- even worse -- Monoao or Surinam, Venezuela, or a subsidiary of United Fruit, the one-time kings of Banana Republics.

Grapeshot:
-When Rudy is turned into a real two-dimensional caricature by a fast-moving MM-1 MTA bus, he’ll die like Liberace -- laughing all the way to the bank. 

TODAY’S QUOTE:
- “Hello, suckers!” -- Texas Guinan (1884-1933), Stunningly attractive actress, entrepreneur and con artist who set the pace for generations of politicians and stunning female con artists and is donald trump’s secret role model even if he never heard of her.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please send comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2019

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

4523 Quality Control




More of these would raise the percentage of products that work by reducing the number of those that don’t.

Stuff falls apart too easily these days and sometimes you can’t believe a reputation for reliability. Car companies that tout their tin with abandon are in the shop more often these days than your 1954 Mercury was.

The “Ten Year Warranty” on the name brand mattress is fiction, especially when it develops a senior sag in 18 months.

Letter openers don’t slice envelopes open; they rip them. And sometimes they rip the contents too.

We’re not talking about crap manufactured in near-slave work camps in the far east, here.  We’re talking about “Made in USA,” a slogan with relatively little meaning, especially if tagged with “of foreign and domestic components.”

What are the “components” of a sweater?  Which part or parts of the toothbrush or the pack of playing cards originated in China or Indonesia?

Quality control is a misnomer similar to “customer service,” and much of that is imported, too.

There’s a Holiday Inn around the corner.  We were having guests. We wanted to make reservations. We did. The customer service clerk was right around the corner in the hotel, right? Wrong. Try Manila.  Nothing wrong with that in principle. But not much right with it when it goes wrong. Which it did.

There is an upside to some deterioration, though.  Bad meals in bad restaurants are getting smaller.  That’s probably good for your diet, though not for what’s in your wallet. Paper straws tend to deteriorate when they sit half-submerged in super-size soft drinks, which may steer you to a smaller cup so you can finish your drink without inhaling or swallowing paper.

GRAPESHOT:
-Who do they call when tow trucks need roadside assistance?
-Is there still an easy way to force a payphone to make free calls?
-Are there still payphones?
-Where can you get replacement parts for your rotary dial phone?
-When your digital assistant can’t answer your question, does it consult ITS digital assistant or does it call a human with an encyclopedia?
-Are there still encyclopedias? 

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Comments? Send ‘em here: wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2019

Friday, November 22, 2019

4522 The Palace Are Mortified


4522 The Palace Are Mortified
Prince Andrew, pompous windbag and friend of hanged child molester Jeffrey Epstein, says he "asked her majesty for permission to step back from (his) public duties and she agreed."

Here’s how the conversation went, according to people who were listening to but spoke anonymously because, well, that’s the proper thing to do:

"Mum, what do I do now?"
"Andrew, go crawl under a royal rock."

Her Majesty's thought balloon: "Charles. Camilla. Diana. Andrew. Where the **** did I go wrong? Oh, if only that drooling, balmy Philip were occasionally coherent, he'd know what to do.”

The Palace are mortified.

Later, Her Majesty was asked by the Royal Archivist to comment for the record.  She said “I don’t think it’s proper for me to say anything. After all, I didn’t know him very well.” And she added “Perhaps I should have a second gin and tonic this morning.” 

It’s five o’clock somewhere… in the Empire. Who says America can’t teach the Brits something about deniability?

Andrew is Prince of Denmark. So among his other charities, he’s working to bring solar panels to Copenhagen. Asked about this, the real Queen of Denmark, Margarethe II said “I don’t recall having a son named Andrew. 
But there’s some English guy who keeps calling the palace and wanting to install batteries on the roof of my house.  Maybe it’s one of those phone scams. I don’t pick up the phone anymore unless caller ID says its someone I know.  And Denmark is a pretty small country, so I know most of the people.”

Historical note: Charles is trying the same project in Wales.  It’s a shorter commute.

They used to call Prince Andrew “Randy Andy.”  So, what’s surprising about his cavorting with girls young enough to be his granddaughter?
He says “I never really partied.” Aw c’mon.  That’s like trump saying he “opened the Apple factory in Texas” the other day. You know the one… it’s been running since 2013.

That no-partying claim echoes some similar old time denials:

“I am not a crook.”
“I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky”
It’s like when your six-year-old has a face full of grape jelly and peanut butter on his fingers and he says “it wasn’t me.
Or when you voice impatience to the auto mechanic and he replies “You’re next.”

Pulleeze.

You want specifics about Randy?  Go find ‘em. They’re all over the internet. Have been since Al Gore invented it.

Well, there’s one point of light in Andrew’s rambling musings since his thoroughly boring and far too lengthy interview with the BBC: He says he’ll cooperate with law enforcement investigating his mentor, the late-great Epstein… “if required.”

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ® 
Please send comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2019



Tuesday, November 19, 2019

4521 Marie Yovanovitch




Marie Yovanovitch is a superstar.  Who ever heard of her before all this Ukraine stuff started?  Who hasn't heard of her now?  She is a walking, talking example of dignity under fire.  She turned 61 on Veterans Day. And trump's gift was late in the mail. It didn't arrive until Friday.  The president -- Boss Blubber -- only tries to ruin people he loves.  Or fears.

If you had a choice of having a conversation with Yovanovitch or trump, you know who you’d pick.  On the off chance that you don’t, the choice would between a bloviating tv actor and would be Stalin and an elegant, smart woman who spoke Stalin’s language at home in Connecticut and knows … stuff. 

When you wonder what made America great, you need look no further than Yovanovitch.  She’s educated, intelligent, dignified and looks like your mommy.

When you pit this woman against Boss Blubber now running our country into the ground, you have to ask yourself “where did we go wrong?”  The answer is easy. Trash talking trumps all and trump is the greatest trash talker of the modern era.

He could have taught a master class to the NBA, which once was free of such nonsense but where it has festered and spread to the point where it’s best to wear earplugs or earbuds when watching a game in person or with the sound turned off if it’s on TV.

And as the NBA goes, so goes the rest of the basketball world. Even down to high school games.

That the windbag-in-chief tweeted trash talk about Yovanovitch while she was testifying on live TV is more than just witness intimidation, as if that weren’t bad enough.  It’s a demonstration of the lifestyle that is turning America into Somalia or Kazakhstan.

Make no mistake about it, that’s the direction in which we are headed.

The other day, trump spent two hours at Walter Reed, the Pentagon’s medical center in the DC metro area.  Why would he do that?  Here are some possible reasons.

1.    He suffered a fatal heart attack and a body double has taken over the presidency.
2.    He suffered a suspected heart attack due to his pointedly unhealthy eating habits.
3.    He went there for the “official” reason which was to get a head start on his annual physical -- which is three months down the road.
4.    He was visiting and encouraging the hospitalized troops and thanking them for their service.
5.    Hot nurses.
6.    Weather was not good for golf.
7.    Overseeing renovations. He is, after all, a builder… although not nearly as good at building as destroying.
8.    Distributed rolls of paper towels to the patients.
9.    His bone spurs were kicking up.
10.                   “We can’t tell you. Medical privacy, don’t-cha know. 

Medical privacy? You mean like the tax returns? By the time this post sees the light of day, we may know the actual reason.  But probably not.

In any event, in this story Boss Blubber has given us someone new to look up to, Marie Yovanovitch.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2019


Friday, November 15, 2019

4520 New Fiction: Caller ID




Once a valuable reference book, now, useless, but biodegradable. 

You used to have to pay extra for caller ID.  A valuable service. You’d always know who was calling.  Well, almost always. Now, it’s almost as useless as the phonebook -- which used to be free.  

Spoofing.  That means replacing the number your phone sends to … the person you’re calling.  Cops, fire departments, your grandchildren, real or imagined. Spoofing is so easy, even a kid can do it.  Or a crook. 

Phone customers have developed a market-based response to this current evil. First, many just dropped their landlines, the most frequent targets of scammers and spoofers.  

But the bad guys caught on quickly and set their autodialers to random cell numbers.

Now people don’t answer cellphones, either.

It used to be tough to resist a ringing phone. But people have conquered this problem with the Magic Chant: “If it’s important, they’ll leave a message.”  How many times have you said that already this month?

Spoofing isn’t always against the law, only when there’s fraudulent intent. Try proving that.

But all is not lost. There are defenses and you don’t even need an app or a smartphone to use them.

Here at the Wessays™ Secret Mountaintop Laboratory, our operators answer the phone “Fraud Bureau. How may I help you?” That generally results in a hangup.  Notice, we do not say what the Fraud Bureau is a bureau of.  Can’t say cops or any other law enforcement police.  That would be an actual crime.

And here at the lab, we play games with the latest iteration of the robocall, the Interactive Babe.  It’s always an automated voice of a woman.

Rrrinnng.

Us: “Fraud Bureau. How may I help you?”
Robot (cheerful, youthful): Hi! This is Lorna Dune. I’m calling you on a recorded line.  Is this Mr. Mountaintop Laboratory?”
Me: “Speaking.” (Never say the word “yes” to a robot. Explanation below.)
R: I’m here to tell you about a wonderful real estate opportunity. May I?”
M: “I will listen.” (Remember: Not “yes” or “sure” or “okay.”)
R: Well, let me ask you a few questions to make sure you qualify.  Are you breathing?”
M: “I can both inhale and exhale.” 
R: “Do you like sunny skies and warm temperatures?”
M: “I like all weather.”
R: “Give me a sec and I’ll check whether you qualify.”
M: “I’ll wait.”
R: “Good News. You qualify. Now may I put a Sunny Sky Timeshare specialist on this call with us?”
M: “First I have a question for you.”
R: You have a question for me? I’ll be happy to answer.
M: “Are you free for dinner tonight? I know I nice place nearby where we can talk some more.”
R: “I’m sorry, I can’t answer that. Any other questions before I connect you with a Sunny Skies Timeshare Specialist?”
M: “Uh. What are you wearing?”
R: Okay, I’ll connect you. Please stand by.”
Live Operator: Hello Mr. Laboratory, this is Alfred, a Sunny Skies Specialist.  Let me ask you a few questions.”
M: Sure Mr. Live Operator.  But Ms. Dune didn’t answer my last question.”
Specialist: “What was that?”
M: for the sake of our G rating, I won’t disclose the question. 

But I tell him and it has something to do with the manufacture of human embryos in a low rent motel or the back of an SUV.

He hangs up. It takes a lot of time to do this. But it’s worth it if you have the time and like to fool the foolers.  Remember, for every minute they spend on the phone, that’s a minute they can’t be trying to scam someone else.

Now, about why you never say “yes” to a robot.  Because they record the calls and can use your recorded “yes” to any questions including but not limited to “May I put you down for a $10,000 down payment?”

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ® 
Please send comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2019




Tuesday, November 12, 2019

4519 A Cascade of Catalogs





Ah, November, it’s a recycler’s paradise. Tens of thousands of dead trees will land in your mailbox between now and the December holidays.  It won’t abate until after the end of the post-holiday clearances and January white sales.

Seventeen makers of fruitcake will be among the early arrivals.  

Fruitcake. It’s what people used for building houses before the invention of bricks. This will be followed by half a dozen purveyors of cheese plates featuring 12 varieties of obscure dairy products in microscopic portions attractively packaged as everything from creches to Santa and reindeer mini murals.  

Fruit baskets. Yes, let’s all order each other fruit baskets. They’re almost as utilitarian as fruitcakes, but not nearly as durable.  Plus who doesn’t like paying $15 a pound for gen-u-wine Florida grapefruit?  Plus shipping and handling.

Fruitcakes should come with labels showing their year’s vintage.  There’s little that’s worse than a fruitcake so new you can actually take a bite without breaking a tooth or yanking a filling from one.

Where is Orson Welles when you need him? “We shall sell no fruitcake before its time.”

Back to catalogs and other forms of litter.  

Lands’ End (punctuation check, please,) LL Bean, JCPenney, Macy’s … just about every merchant who has a piece of cloth in the shape of a body or body part except the Original Catalog King, Sears.

Daytimers, Day Runners, and a million kinds of calendars. Booksellers, knife sellers, gun sellers, pen sellers. Holiday lights and other decorations. 

If you’re of a certain age, toys.  If you are of another certain age, mobility products like scooter chairs, sleeper chairs, home elevators and chair lifts.

Travel.

If you bought an automobile in the past five years, you’ll get a nice card from your dealer outlining what they’d like to sell you to replace that old rust-bucket they sold you previously.

If your house is in a “hot” neighborhood, two dozen local real estate outfits will send you mailings telling you that they have customers waiting to buy homes just like yours.

Re-fi companies, insurance companies, snow shoveling services (that’s what lawn guys do in winter.) Fuel oil, propane, coal and gas companies will be filling your mailbox with once-in-a-lifetime offers.

And who in his/her/its right mind can survive the holiday season without Netflix or Hulu or Roku? Or HBO, Showtime or Sling?

A show of hands, now.  Who sends holiday cards?  Pretty good response.  Okay, second show of hands.  Who LIKES sending holiday cards?

Anyone?  

C’mon. Don’t be shy. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Ahah! One raised hand…
Yes, you in the last row.  You’re it and because you have no competition, you are this year’s champion liker.  Someone buy that poor schmuck a certified pre-owned fruitcake.  A new one would be a waste of money.  It would lose half its value once you drove it off the lot.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2019

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Mini 011 The Eleventh of November


Mini 011 The Eleventh of November

It’s Veteran’s day, AKA Armistice Day. Today, we’re supposed to pay tribute to the men and women who serve or served in the armed forces, and that’s fine. 

But for many years, we called this “Armistice Day.” It marked 11/11/1918, the official “end” of WWI.  So, thank you, veterans, for being veterans.  But let’s not forget the Armistice of World War One.

At one time, those of us in broadcasting observed the signing of the armistice by observing one minute of silence at 11 am local time.  Eleven/Eleven/Eleven. We in broadcasting did this with the “suggested” minute of silence on the eleventh hour of the eleventh month of the eleventh day of the year.

Doing this on the radio was supposed to be a no-no. Silence on the air was the greatest sin in broadcasting. It also was illegal. Silence with an un-modulated carrier on the air was a violation of federal broadcasting law.

To this day, 54 years after the fact, I remain grateful to my handlers at New York Herald Tribune Radio for flouting the law and allowing me to shut down the mic and all else over which I had control for 60 seconds at on 11/11/65, a Thursday morning at eleven o’clock.

--WR


Friday, November 08, 2019

4518 So You Want to Be an Influencer




“Everybody wants to get in on the act.” -- Jimmy Durante.  Everyone today wants to make money by doing ...um… nothing.  They want to be in videos hawking products. Or themselves. Or each other.

A Bloomberg survey reported by People Magazine says 86 percent of young people want to make Big Bucks on line by being no more than their lovely and talented selves.

People Magazine?  You remember magazines, right? They used to be places that were, well, influential.  Maybe that was before your time. If you’re reading this, maybe not.

It’s pretty easy work.  All you need is 10-thousand or more followers on You Tube or Facebook and -- at least if you’re President the United States -- Twitter.  Maybe make some test runs on WhatsApp or Instagram, just to get the hang of things.  Later, you’ll be ready for the big time.

Here’s how to make the video.  Do something ridiculous and film it. Try to subject your viewer(s) to some product placement.

You know… stick a big Wal-mart sign behind you. Or be holding a can of Bud Light. Or be swinging a bat at an Amazon box that is hanging from a rope.

If everyone becomes an “influencer,” then no one is one. Or even worse, you’re only influencing other influencers.  What you really want is your 15 minutes of fame and maybe a few extra bucks to pay the light bill you just raised while using all that fancy and expensive video equipment and editing software.

Everything old is new again. This whole thing to become famous was nicely summarized in the 1954 movie It Should Happen to You . In it, the main character, Gladys Glover, played by Judy Holliday rents billboards all over town with her name in huge letters. It worked 65 years ago, without any “social media.”  It probably will work now.  And it’s a lot easier, though more expensive than thinking up and then actually making a catchy video.

But don’t worry all that much about the expense.  Just max out another credit card.  It’s what we do.

TODAY’S QUOTE
-“No.” -- Attorney General William Barr when asked to declare that the president has committed no crime.

SPOILER ALERT:
-There isn’t a whole lot in “Anonymous’” book about the White House that you haven’t heard already except that the author is a pretty standard-issue conservative about tax cuts and shady Supreme Court nominees.

SHRAPNEL:
--Mike Bloomberg filing for a spot on the Dem primary ballot? Guess the thinking is “If a 77-year-old Jewish guy from New York can make it in a state like Alabama, he can make it everywhere.” But please remember that filing paperwork is not the same thing as actually running.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Comments? Send ‘em to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2019

4745 An Ounce of Cure

  Forget the ounce of prevention and the pound of cure.  With everything getting odder, let’s make it a Troy Ounce of prevention.   While “n...