For the Love of Sandwiches

History tells us that John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, had a habit of dining on salted beef between two slices of toasted bread while at the gambling table. Hence, the sandwich was born. It was such a great idea that it was named after him! I know a lot of other foods are named after people, but it’s still impressive.

Like any right-thinking American, I enjoy a well-made sandwich. I even enjoy a poorly made one as long as it has tasty ingredients. Bread, meat or a reasonable facsimile, veggies, optional condiments–all in a handheld form and easy to eat. It’s dining simplicity as its finest.

Here in Kentucky we eat hot browns, which we call sandwiches, but they really aren’t. White bread, layered with turkey, cheese sauce, bacon and tomato and then broiled until hot and brown. It’s what’s called an “open-faced sandwich,” which is no sandwich at all since you can’t pick it up. If you eat it with a fork, it’s not a sandwich.

You can put any kind of meat or meat product on a sandwich–turkey, ham, chicken, bologna, roast beef, liverwurst, Spam, pastrami, salami, all manner of fish, olive loaf–you name it. When I was a kid a neighbor offered me a souse sandwich. I declined. If you are familiar with souse, you know why. If you aren’t, click here. Get it, now? The same neighbor once asked my brother “You wanna mater sammich?” He declined. Offering someone a sandwich is a friendly gesture for sure, even if the “sammich” in question is itself questionable.

I’m not sure a tomato constitutes a proper sandwich. It’s like a partial sandwich. When my wife was a kid, she ate mashed potato sandwiches. That just seems wrong to me. Mashed potatoes should be eaten with your sandwich, not on it. Just because you call something a sandwich does not make it so. Perhaps not coincidently, my wife is the only person I know you does not like sandwiches. Somehow, we’ve remained together.

I’m not suggesting that all sandwiches require meat. You can have a cheese sandwich, even though the meat is missing. Even better, you can fry it in butter and call it grilled cheese. Grilled food is healthy, right? I ate a grilled cheese sandwich with country ham, bacon and pork rinds on it. I still considered it merely a grilled cheese sandwich. The angioplasty was extra. Eggs also make for a good sandwich. Fried or scrambled–it doesn’t matter.

Peanut butter and jelly is perhaps the greatest American sandwich. It must, of course, be grape jelly. Anything else is an abomination. Elvis loved fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches. My elementary school served fabulous peanut butter sandwiches. I asked my mom to get the same kind of peanut butter. Mother, a home economics teachers back when there were such things, groaned and gently noted that this “peanut butter” was cut with copious amounts of corn syrup to make it stretch further. We weren’t doing that in our home. Oh well.

I’ll admit to being a bit of a purist with my sandwiches. Nothing too complex for me. The simpler the better. If I want a complicated meal, I’ll order one. There’s nothing more disheartening than to approach a sandwich shop counter anticipating a simple and tasty ham and cheese sandwich, only to see this on the menu:

Ham & Cheese: Organic, free range ham topped with aged Alpaca cheese, persimmon dill chutney, pickled capers and sesame cayenne mustard. Your choice of zucchini, rutabaga or Belgian flax bread.

What the hell do I do now? My ham sandwich is lost in an olio of ingredients which render the ham an afterthought. I can only awkwardly order the sandwich like this:

“I’d like the ham and cheese, but I just want ham and cheese on it. And do you have any other kind of cheese and maybe some regular whole wheat bread?”

Now, I’ve ordered a sandwich which isn’t even on the menu. Oh, they’ll probably accommodate me, but I’ll be judged. Plus, I’m sure they’ll spit on it. Let’s don’t even discuss the likelihood of the order being totally screwed up, too. Don’t do this to a sandwich. Keep it simple. If someone wants to befoul it with all manner of toppings, make that an option, not part of the basic sandwich.

While we’re at it, consider condiments. Ketchup (or catsup for the more refined of you), mustard and mayonnaise are the bellwethers. Heinz makes the only ketchup acceptable to my palate, but I never know what brand is on a sandwich. Fortunately, ketchup doesn’t go on very many sandwiches, even though it’s quite tasty on almost everything. Mustard is great for ham sandwiches and a must for a fried bologna sandwich. Beyond those, it’s a tad questionable.

Mayonnaise is the most frequently used condiment. I must now–publicly and definitely–state my objection to this practice. Mayonnaise consists of oil (why eat oil?), egg yolk (okay but the grossest part of the otherwise fine egg) and vinegar (completely grotesque). How could combining these elements create an acceptable sauce? It’s like 80% fat! Why not just smear lard on your sandwich? (Ooh, that’s not a half-bad idea). People try to make it better by adding spices like cayenne pepper or something else to mask the taste. Then there’s Miracle Whip, which is kind of like mayonnaise, yet somehow different. It’s called salad dressing, even though I’ve never seen it put on a salad. If you want to make sure that I don’t take a bite of your sandwich, drench it in mayonnaise. And don’t tell me to scrape off the mayonnaise. That doesn’t work. Mayonnaise residue remains.

Let’s be clear about something else. Hamburgers aren’t sandwiches. They are burgers. How do I know this? Because they have meat patties on them and are served on buns. True, a sandwich can be served on a bun, too, but it is the basic pattyness of the burger which distinguishes it. I’ll grant you that if one were totally insane and served a meat patty between two slices of bread, it might be a sandwich. Might. I once heard an older person use the term “hamburger sandwich.” I wanted to punch her in the throat.

Onions are another issue. Understand that onions themselves–unlike, say, Brussel sprouts–are okay and can add a lot to many dishes. Why pile raw onions on a sandwich? You may as well have an onion sandwich. What–the taste of chicken isn’t good enough for you? Are you so utterly demented that you think it should taste like onions? Don’t just randomly throw onions on a sandwich. For God’s sake, at least tell a person before doing it.

Unlike onions, pickles have no redeeming value. I know, I know…you LOVE pickles, right? Well, good for you. They’re awful. I surmise that at one time cucumbers were plentiful and there wasn’t much else to eat. Since cukes won’t last forever, someone decided to preserve them and add a little flavor to them. Hence, we have the pickle. It was better than starvation, I guess. It was a bad idea then, and it’s a bad idea now. Removing them for one’s sandwich does little good because of the pervasive pickle juice which saturates the bread and anything else it touches. Everything ends up pickled. Here’s an idea: just soak your sandwich in salt water and vinegar and dig in.

Tomatoes. They’re terribly offensive to me. Now, do NOT tell me that if I love ketchup, I have to love tomatoes. Ketchup is chock full of sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup (which, by the way, is the BEST kind of corn syrup) and flavorings and whatnot. Also, that gelatinous, seedy, embryonic goo is removed from ketchup. The tomato adds nothing of value to a sandwich, unless it’s a tomato sandwich, which we’ve already dismissed as a non-sandwich. Ugh.

As an aside, have you eaten a sugar sandwich? Years ago, I read a story about a boxer named Danny “Little Red” Lopez. He was so poor growing up, that’s what he ate! I’d try one. No onions, tomatoes or pickles, please. Hold the mayo, too. But I digress.it’

How about cheese? Like any patriot in our great country, I’m fond of American cheese, but I’m no xenophobe. The Swiss gave us both tremendous pocket knives and damn good cheese. Cheddar, mild or sharp, is always a winner. I don’t know what Monterrey Jack is, but I like it. I grew up eating Government Cheese, a dazzling cheese product that goes good on everything. Of course, we can’t leave well enough alone. Gouda cheese is now offered. How about Edam, whatever the hell that is? Bleu cheese? Hell’s bells, is that even cheese? It’s more like something you’d discard in the cheese-making process. Provolone is a little weird, but I can handle it. Mozzarella is good is a sandwich– a meatball or a chicken parmesan sandwich. Oh, and speaking of parmesan–it’s technically a cheese but more like some kind of seasoning. That’s why it generally it isn’t offered on sandwiches.

I almost forgot about bread. Look, bread is bread. Let’s don’t get too creative with it. White, whole wheat, multi-grain, maybe focaccia–we don’t need more choices. Options with seeds or odd colors or shapes don’t enhance my experience. Rye bread is weird, probably the result of some ill-conceived bakery experiment. Edible? Yes. Better than normal bread? No.

It’s starting to sound like I don’t like sandwiches. Maybe I don’t. Then again, consider that John Montagu had a storied career in politics and the military, yet he remains best known for eating salted beef between two pieces of toast. If such simplicity was good enough for the Earl himself, it should be good enough for all of us. Now, go make me a sandwich.

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2017

 

 

 

Making Social Media Fun Again…for Me!

I hesitate to do this, but I must. It’s time to lay down the law for you people. You need a set of rules for your use of social media. I’m not so much concerned about how you interact with each other. My concern is more personal. It’s about how you can better interact with me. After all, that’s what important here.

A few years ago, I prepared a simple users guide for newcomers to Facebook. I must say that you failed miserably in following my advice. I am undaunted. My enjoyment of social is important to all of us and certainly worth preserving. Let’s get started.

TIMELINE CLUTTER

If I follow you or we’re friends on social media, your posts appear on my timeline. Think about that. I see what you post. You may not have thought that through. Your memes, photos, status updates and sundry ravings all pass before me. Let’s try to keep it entertaining.

What do I like? A lot of things. Babies are cute. Most small kids are, too. Jokes are good, too, as long as they’re funny. I like a clever pun. Pictures of you are okay, too, but try to make them interesting. Your selfies get tedious, unless you’re really attractive. It’s best not to risk it. Let’s keep it PG-13, too. There are other places to go on the Internet for more “mature” material.

There are many things I don’t need to see. Abused children and animals top that list. If there is a person who must see photos to know these things are bad, that person is either  stupid or insane. As far as you know, I am neither of those. Oh, and no one needs to see dead people. People who want to see pictures of dead people are dangerously disturbed. Don’t indulge them.

I know what you’re thinking: I’m unsure of what to do. What if my posts aren’t entertaining? There are three categories which never fail to entertain me:

Baby Pandas

Post a picture of a baby panda or multiple baby pandas. I’ll like it. I might even comment on it. Here’s one:

babypandas

 

I’m smiling. Don’t confuse Giant Pandas (the adorable ones) with Red Pandas. According to my research, the Red Panda is a weasel-like beast, a kind of tricked-out raccoon. I’m not saying that they don’t have their merits, but they aren’t cute enough to entertain me.

Monkeys Riding Dogs

Several years ago, a friend of mine posted a video of a monkey riding a dog recorded by him at a minor league baseball game. I laughed. I LOL’d, as it were. Here’s a picture of monkey riding a dog:

monkeyrodeo_wide-307fc1e70816bf01cb93296037a053f1e2977234-s6-c30_jpeg

I just laughed again.

I realize not everyone likes monkeys riding dogs. Here in Lexington, Kentucky, our local minor league baseball team actually cancelled a dog-riding monkey show because people complained. I guess it’s not good for the monkeys or maybe the dogs. I disagree. I’ve watched those videos. The monkeys are clearly having a blast. As for the dogs, they seem fine. Dogs are pretty affable, you know. It’s not like they’re riding Maltese or Chihuahuas. If it were apes, there might be a point. Apes are big and can be dangerous. Besides, we humans ride horses. We even race them, and I’m not 100% sure the horses even know they are in a race. We are in no position to judge monkeys–or dogs, for that matter.

Cars Hitting Buildings

I’ll admit that this is a little odd. What can I say? I’m a fan. I live in Lexington, Kentucky, a city which has an usual number of car-on-building accidents (if that’s what they really are). I’ll just say it–I am the one who first identified this phenomenon. It happens all the time here. Here’s a typical post:

carskid

I don’t know why this happens, but it entertains me, and that’s the point. One rule–don’t post about one if someone gets killed or seriously injured. The humor is in the property damage. Some folks are so kind as to post these and tag me so that I don’t miss out. Those people get it, and I like them for it.

POLITICS

As much as I dislike the topic, I must mention politics, specifically your politics. I’ll be blunt: No one cares about your political views. By “no one” I mean me. I once mentioned this in a Facebook post. One “friend” commented that I was wrong and that all his friends were very interested in his views. This same guy later called me a bigot for saying that the presidential election wasn’t the end of the world. It seems unlikely that he actually has any friends. I certainly can’t be counted among them.

I want to be clear about something. I’m not saying that you can’t post about politics. Of course, you can. That’s what the blocking and unfollow functions handle. I don’t have to see them. Prattle on if you must. Where we need to be careful is on commenting on my posts. I rarely say anything political. If I do, it’s fair game. Comment all you want. What you musn’t–nay, can’t–do is make a political comment on a decidedly non-political post. Here’s an example. Let’s say I post this status:

Wow. I can’t believe this warm weather we’re having.

This banal post doesn’t even merit a comment, unless you want to point out that where you are is actually quite cold or some other such equally uninteresting comment. Here are examples that won’t fly with me:

If Trump has his way, global warming will make every day like this.

What I can’t believe how great it is to have Trump as president. I don’t even care about the weather anymore.

The rule is simple: If my post is not political on its face, your comment cannot be.

RELIGION

Unlike politics, I have no problem with religion. I like all kinds of religions. Like Thomas Jefferson, I don’t care if you worship 20 gods or none. Good for you, I say. It’s important, though, to keep it to yourself most of the time.

As with politics, I’m not too concerned about your posts. I can’t force you to be entertaining. The same rules about political comments apply here as well. If I post about a recent sporting event, I don’t need to be reminded that God doesn’t care about it. I also don’t need a bunch of Bible passages cited or quoted. Believe it or not, I know a lot about that stuff–probably as much as you do. You’re not really teaching me anything.

A lot of people ask for prayers on social media. I’m cool with that. Pray for me, too, if you want. One caveat: I can’t participate in “unspoken” prayer requests. You know the ones:

I have an unspoken prayer request. God knows about it.

I don’t know what you’re asking for here. Maybe you’re calling down a curse on me or praying for something like the eruption of a super-volcano. God knows I can’t have that on my conscience.

As much as I am uninterested in your religion, your views on the religion of others is even less compelling. Resist the urge to deride anyone’s religion on my pages or walls or what have you. This is particularly applicable to my atheists friends–and I have quite a few. You folks tend to be very proud of your non-beliefs. Hey, I would be too if I were confident that all the many religions are wrong. Nevertheless, you must resist the urge to continually remind us of your superiority. Careful now, don’t do it in response to this, either.

I’ve not covered everything–sports, for example. It’s annoying when your favorite team wins and you act like you actually contributed to the win. I do the same thing, so I’m not exactly on the high road with this one. Likewise, we carry on about what fabulous, sainted parents we have, forgetting that we know people whose parents were little more than monsters which could procreate for some reason.

You’re probably wondering or perhaps even saying aloud: Why should I care what his clown thinks about what I do on social media? That is, indeed, a valid and thought-provoking question. I suggest, however, you consider that if you can make one person happy every day, you have not lived your life in vain. If that one person is me, we both win.

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2017

Just for the Hell of It…

Let’s talk about Hell. Oh, I’m not interested in debating whether there actually is a Hell. If there isn’t, I wasted a lot of time of being terrified when I was young. Now that I’m older, I figure the die has been cast, and I’ll just have to see what number comes up.

We know from the writings of Dante Alighieri and John Milton that Hell is no fun. I wouldn’t suggest otherwise, despite the insistence of my favorite band AC/DC that “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be.” Oh, hell, no, unless you’re a hellion. Then it’s probably hellacious.

I say the word “Hell,” but I rarely write it. It just doesn’t usually fit in legally writing or correspondence. I’m always torn about whether to capitalize it. It’s a proper noun, I suppose. Then again, capitalizing it seems to give it more dignity than it deserves.  I have elected to capitalize it when discussing the place (you know, lake of fire, brimstone, eternal torment, etc.). I don’t capitalize it when using as just a regular curse word unless the context requires it. Fortunately, I rarely write curse-filled missives. By “rarely” I, of course, mean “frequently.”

I grew up in a home where you didn’t say the word “hell,” unless you were my Dad and, even then, only when you were really mad. Until the day she died, my mother chose to spell it out–H-E-L-L–rather than ever say it. If you wanted a one-way ticket to Hell, saying it would get you to the front of the line. Needless to say, I got over all that at some point.

For Hell to be such a bad deal, we like the word “hell” or at least I do. We can have a hell of a good time. Some  things hurt like hell. As bad as Hell is, you sure as hell don’t want the hell beaten out of you. I’ve raised hell. “Oh, hell!” perfectly sums up some situations. I know people who say “Holy hell!” I don’t know what the hell that means.

It’s a hell of a thing, though, how it’s used. “Hell’s bells” is a favorite. Are there bells in Hell? Maybe they ring all the time just to add to the general misery. There may be no better curse than the classic “Go to Hell!” Those three words pretty much sum up one’s feelings. You’re telling someone go to worst place there is. “Go straight to Hell!” is even worse. You’re not countenancing even the possibility of avoiding the trip by some last ditch effort at salvation.  You can go to Hell in a handbasket, too, which makes no sense but sounds horribly unpleasant.

Sometimes, you have to give people hell. Of course, you’re liable to catch hell, too. Hell fire, you might end up going hell-bent for leather. There’s no way in hell to predict. Of course, we’ve all been through hell at some point in our lives. It’s a hell of a thing when you think about it.

There are people who live in Hell’s Kitchen. I’d say most of them are Hell on wheels. What exactly does that mean, anyway? I guess the idea that Hell could be mobile and roll about is pretty terrifying when you think about it. It’s easy to see how all hell could break loose under those circumstances.

There can be hell to pay. Or some things play hell with you. You can have a hell of a good time, but remember–the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, which shouldn’t be confused with the Highway to Hell, another fine AC/DC tune.

It gets hotter than Hell around here in the summer. Sometimes, it’s hotter than the hinges of Hell. Of course, it’s been cold as Hell, too, whatever that means.  One day there will be a cold day in Hell. On that day, a hell of lot of things are going to happen that people didn’t count on. Same as when Hell freezes over.

I’ve been all over Hell and half of Georgia looking for my car keys some mornings. I’ve walked through Hell on few occasions, too–just for the hell of it, of course.

I’ve had bad days, and then I’ve had some days that were shot to hell. You know those days–they end up in a hell of a mess. You don’t have a snowball’s chance in Hell on those days. You better run like a bat out of Hell. The hell with all that.

I guess it’s time to get the hell out of Dodge before there’s hell to pay.  See you in Hell.

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2017

AUSTRALIA: CAULDRON OF EVIL

Everyone knows I love being an American. As I write this, Donald J. Trump has just wrapped up two weeks as President of the United States. Weird, right? In that time, he has threatened such diverse enemies as Mexico and Chicago, Illinois with intervention by “troops” and “feds.” Since the President makes most of his announcements via Twitter, we’re not sure what any of that means, but we know he’s serious. Hell, he seems serious about everything. He doesn’t seem to be a fellow who enjoys a good joke.

In years past, I have beseeched our leaders to crush our international threats, primarily Canada and the allegedly “Great” Britain. I even went so far as to draw up complex nation-building plans. My warnings went unheeded, and today we remain at the mercy of our Anglo overlords. Many have no doubt wondered why I haven’t addressed the third side of the Triangle (or “Tri-Anglo,” as I call it) of Terror, the demon state Down Under.

The so-called “Commonwealth” of Australia is an island nation located somewhere way far away from civilization, unless you call Papau New Guinea and New Zealand civilized. Maybe it’s not island, just a small continent. In any event, Mr. Trump had a heated phone call with the Prime Minister of Australia–whose name escapes me–about an agreement for America to accept refugees from Australia. According to Presidential tweets, this agreement is “dumb” and he’s not having any of it. If  I know Mr. Trump–and if I don’t, who does?–he won’t stop there. I’m still uncertain if he knows who our friends are, but he knows our enemies. In fact, no President in recent memory could make enemies faster.

With President Trump in office, I have new hope. Australia is as good a place as any to start. I say accept every refugee we can hold from Australia, as long as they aren’t actual Australians.

I know what you’re thinking: Hey, those Aussies are like Americans. A lot of them are blonde. They speak English. If you’d bother to even lightly scratch the surface, you’d see this for what it is–a subterfuge hiding threats to our very way life.

A common and deadly conceit lulls most Americans into inaction when it comes to foreign lands. We believe that foreign people must look and speak differently in order to be threats. While these are certainly telling signs, they tell only part of the story.

Any  similarities between Americans and Australians are mere historical accidents. Like the United States, Australia was founded when England sent its undesirables to another continent. In the case of Australia, they were really undesirable–mostly a bunch of convicts. The Brits probably thought they were sending them to Austria where they would fit in. Regardless, they ended up being shipped off just about as far away as possible. Shouldn’t that be a clue, people? On the other hand, our country was settled by a bunch of buttoned-up, glum religious nuts. That alone makes us superior and them a dangerous criminal element.

Here is Australia:

australia_political_map

Major cities include Sydney, Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane. It speaks to the intellectual paucity of the inhabitants that they soon exhausted real names and simply made up names for other cities and towns. Thus, the land is littered with names such as Wollongong, Dubbo, Wagga Wagga, Bong Bong, Cock Wash and Mount Buggery.

What I know of Australia comes from movies and Wikipedia. It should come as no surprise that I’ve never been to Australia nor do I intend to go. Let me explain.

As we examine Australia, let us consider the three characteristics which make any country worth its salt:  1) Its language; 2) Its sports; and 3) Its people.

LANGUAGE

Australia has no official language. Think about that. What kind of savages can’t even settle on a language? Most Australians speak English, which will come as quite a surprise to you if you’ve ever heard any of them speak.

To be precise, they speak “Australian English,” which combines normal English with an accent that can only be attributed to the country’s well-known love of alcohol. They sort of sound British but not really. Where the Brits sound haughty and intelligent, Aussies come across as menacing and quite possibly insane.  “G’day, mate!” is an acceptable form of address as is vomiting on the ground when staggering out of one of their many road houses. Here is a typical Australian exchange:

Bloke No. 1: G’day, mate. I’m stoked to hit the turps, but I’d need a mate’s rate for a slab.

Bloke No. 2: Fair dinkum. I’ll drink with the flies. You gotta make a quid.

Bloke No. 1: Everything’s costing big bikkies. It’ll come good once I give it a burl.

Bloke No. 2: Good on ya.

Here’s a pointer when trying to interpret their speech: Just assume they’re talking about drinking.

I will admit that Australia gave us Mad Max, and that’s no bull dust as they might say. When the original Mad Max was released in the United States, the dialogue was re-dubbed into English. That’s right. English was dubbed into English. That’s all you need to know about this “language.”

SPORTS

Three popular sports in Australia are cricket, Australian Rules Football and something called net ball. The irredeemable nature of the culture of this nation is best explained by a brief description of each.

Cricket combines croquet with the more boring aspects of baseball. The pitcher is called a bowler. They throw the ball and one-hop it to the batter. The batter hits it with something akin to a flat-sided baseball bat. Players run back and forth and scores (runs) are made at some point. After several hours, the game or match or whatever the hell they call it mercifully ends.

In the nascent days of ESPN, the Worldwide Leader didn’t have rights to baseball, basketball, football or any other sport followed by the modern world. As a result, it broadcast Australian Rules Football. Like cricket, it combines several perfectly sane sports into one. American football and soccer with a touch of rugby (okay, that one’s not sane) are rolled together in face-paced game which appears to have no rules whatsoever. The only redeeming feature is that it is often violent. I have no proof that the players are all drunk, but they should be.

Net ball is a game where a metal hoop is secured to pole, and players try to throw a ball through the hoop. The hoop has a net attached for the ball to pass through. Sound familiar? You might call it basketball, if didn’t look like this:

net-ball

Seriously? I watched it on TV once. Once. No dribbling. Awkward passing. White people. That’s right. It’s 1930s basketball played in the 21st century.

THE PEOPLE

I’ll admit the we have common ground with the Aussies. We, too, weren’t welcome in England and had a God-given right to terrorize and subjugate the native dwellers in our new land. That’s where the similarity ends.

Coming from the questionable gene pool of convicts, the degradation of the Australian people is etched into their leathery, sunburned faces. True, they gave us Mel Gibson, a handsome man by any standards.  Despite our best efforts, they haven’t had the common decency to take him back.

The native Australians are the Aborigines or Aboriginal Australians. They were there first. They’re now relegated to what they call the “Outback.” Outback is another word for “barren wasteland.” It’s kind of like a gigantic American Indian reservation. One place they live is called Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara. Okay. I guess they came up with that on one of their famed benders.

Their idea of a good time is to drink beer until nauseous. They eat things called quandog, muntries, goanna and witchetty grubs. Are these plants, animals or something else? I don’t know, and I’m not interested in finding out. They love vegemite, a goop they spread on toast. Vegemite is made of leftover brewer’s yeast combined with vegetable and spice additives. It is described as salty, slightly bitter and malty. Yum. Politics aside, President Obama summed up this delicacy with this reaction:

“So, it’s like a quasi-vegetable by-product paste that you smear on your toast for breakfast – sounds good, doesn’t it?”

I know little of their undoubtedly bizarre religious practices. I recall reading somewhere that they have a high percentage of atheists. What does that say about a land so vile that it destroys one’s belief in the Almighty? Nothing good, that’s for sure.

I know nothing of the literature or art of Australia. That’s just as well.

As noted above, Australian cinema gave us the Mad Max films. That’s good. If you want to know what Australia is like, just watch one of those films. They could be documentaries as far as I’m concerned. The latest one didn’t even star an Australian. Brit Tom Hardy and South African Charlize Theron were the stars. They didn’t have much dialogue but at least I understood it.

What about their music? AC/DC, I’ll give them that one. Angus and Malcolm Young grew up in Sydney, but they were Scots. What about Men At Work, the band with the popular 1980s song “Down Under?” True, they were an Australian band, but lead singer Colin Hay was also Scottish. Seems Australian music is more properly Scottish music.

Back in the 1980s, they sent us their most famed comedian–Yahoo Serious. Yes, that was his name. He was just about that funny, too. We sent him back. Here’s an Australian joke:

What’s the difference between an Australian wedding and an Australian funeral?

One less drunk at the funeral.

They have all manner of odd animals. The emu is a bird that can’t fly. The koala is a bear that’s really a marsupial. It’s like a raccoon or some other varmint. Of course, the place is lousy with kangaroos and crocodiles. I know that doesn’t have anything to do with the Australian people, but it’s worth nothing for some reason.

Queen Elizabeth II is the not only the Queen of England, she is also the Queen of Australia. Why? Who knows. Her reign there makes as much sense as it does in England.

WHAT NOW?

You may be surprised that I do not advocate immediate military intervention in Australia, as I have with Canada and Great Britain. The Brits took care of this problem for us by sending these misanthropes way the hell to the other side of the world. I’ve looked at a globe, and I’m not even sure you can get to Australia from here.

We don’t have to do anything. Iran recently tested a missile, and the President put them “on notice.” Let’s do the same with the Aussies. You’re on notice, you Foster’s chugging, vegemite-eating bunch of convicts. So, there.

Step out of line, and we’ll build a gigantic sea wall trapping you on your island Hell.  Oh, and guess who’s paying for it? You’ll all be living out in Woop Woop then, mates. Until then, hooroo!

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2017

I’m Baaaack…maybe

Someone recently asked me why my flood of postings has slowed to the mere occasional drip over time. One answer would be that I have written all that I know to write, and it is time to move on. Not true–c’mon, isn’t obvious that I know a lot of stuff? Perhaps I burned out on my blog. That’s a good theory but also untrue. The truth? Writer’s block. That’s a real thing. In the 1960s, writer Joseph Mitchell wrote a fascinating book, Joe Gould’s Secret. Mitchell then spent the next 30+ years going to his office daily without ever publishing anything significant again. Scott Fitzgerald suffered from it. So, too, rumor has it, that Herman Melville quit writing for the same reason. I’m in good company it seems.

I don’t know when or how it happened. It didn’t affect my work. I’m a lawyer and frequently write. Legal writing, though, is a bit different. I regurgitate or recast facts and apply existing law to them. It’s more analysis than entertainment, if one can call what I’ve done here entertaining.

How could this happen to the author of the seminal work on small talk? My screed against Aunt Bee is so legendary that I’ve received emails from people both agreeing with and castigating me. I don’t even know how these people got my address. Who else would posit the theory, as yet unchallenged, that Dennis Rodman was, in fact, the President of the United States? My most popular piece, with almost 30,000 views, is about my hometown. It prompted this comment:

2017-28-1-21-57-36

A man or woman who can stir this kind of fervor in the reader cannot be silent–or maybe he should remain forever silent.

Over the years, this silly blog has viewed tens of thousands of times. Just today, someone in Sri Lanka looked at it. Why? I don’t know. I might not be Stephen King, but people do look at this. I guess anything on the Internet is worth at least peak. Hey, people get bored in Sri Lanka, too.

Over the last couple of years, I started many posts only to give up and delete them. I just hit a wall. That’s the block.  Imagine you are reading something, hit a word and you can’t read anymore. You know you can read but you still can’t. The words are there and you recognize them, but they don’t make sense. That’s writer’s block or something like it.

It’s frustrating. I was BLOCKED during the Trump-Clinton election! Donald Freakin’ Trump ran for President–and won–and I couldn’t come up with a single interesting post! Maybe it’s just as well. I’d hate to be subjected to a vicious tweeting or find myself on the wrong side of the Trump Wall in a few months. Folks who love Trump do NOT like jokes about him, almost as little as he himself likes them. (I can almost guarantee at least one nasty comment about how they do like jokes about him and that I am a socialist.)

Now that I’ve written this, I’m on my way back. It’s short and–for me–relatively concise. That’s a start. I’ll take it.

So, like person on an all-kale diet, I’m starting feel unblocked. A have a few ideas now. We’ll see what happens. Time will tell. In the meantime, peruse my archives. There’s something there for everyone. And more to come…

©2017 http://www.thetrivialtroll.com

BREXIT EXPLAINED IN 10 QUESTIONS (AND ANSWERS!)

As I write this, it’s been almost two weeks since Brexit. I initially called in the Brexit but was quickly rebuked for doing so. Brexit occurred on June 23, 2016. On the off-chance that future generations have electrical power to access this blog, they will doubtless be horrified by my rudimentary understanding of this cataclysmic event which will have been taught in all schools, if they are any schools in the future. By the time you read this, Europe will have descended into total chaos, cannibalism will be commonplace and the United Kingdom will have been discarded in the ash bin of history. I write this for my contemporaries in the hope that I can explain what happened and what is to come.

  1. WHAT IS BREXIT? 

It is the BRitish EXIT from the European Union. Get it? BR-EXIT? It’s a clever portmanteau borrowed from the earlier Grexit, which was the GREEK withdrawal from the EU which didn’t happen. Brexit is actually just a vote which took place in the United Kingdom on June 23, 2016 to approve the UK’s leaving the European Union. By the way, the United Kingdom is made up of a bunch of countries besides Britain or Great Britain or England or whatever the hell they want to be called. This should be called Ukexit, but that sounds too much like a Baltic country. Plus, that has the added disadvantage of being pretty much unpronounceable.

2.  WHAT IS THE EUROPEAN UNION?

That’s a damn good question. The European Union (EU) is a politico-economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe. It has an area of 4,324,782 km (1,669,808 sq mi), and an estimated population of over 508 million. The EU has developed an internal single market through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states. EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital within the internal market, enact legislation in justice and home affairs, and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries, and regional development. Is that clear enough? HAHAHAHA! I copied that from Wikipedia. I have no idea what any of that means.

3.  WHERE IS EUROPE?

All the way across the Atlantic Ocean but before you get to Russia. England is actually an island, and I’m not sure it’s really part of Europe (with or without Brexit). Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Greece, Austria, Hungary, Belgium, probably Switzerland and Portugal and a lot of other countries are over there.

4. IS AMERICA PART OF THE EU?

Another excellent question. The simple answer is “no.” If you Google it, you’ll see that America isn’t in Europe. Oddly enough, some members of the EU aren’t in Europe, either. Americans aren’t going to be part of any such foolishness as this. Remember, too, that we made our own exit from Europe in 1776. Nevertheless, we should go ahead vote to exit the EU right now, just to make clear that we’re not going to be part of these shenanigans. Before we get too high and mighty, bear in mind that we are about to elect either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton president. Maybe we should vote to exit our own country.

5.  NOW THAT BRITAIN IS GONE FROM THE EU, WHAT HAPPENS?

Whoa, whoa. No one has left the EU. The UK only voted to leave. Oh, and the vote isn’t binding. It’s more like a strong suggestion. It’s like telling your wife you want a divorce. Well, hell, so do a lot of people, but you have to take some action. Now, they have to work out the details. Or not. They can always decide not to do it. That’s right. They can stay in or leave. Pretty much the same position they were in before the vote.

6. OKAY. ASSUMING BRITAIN EXITS THE EU, WHAT HAPPENS?

Hard to say. People who fear an apocalyptic one-world new order say it’s all good. Those who embrace a world economy say it’s bad. Young people hate it. Old people like it. Scotland hates it (for the most part). A bunch of things will happen. The British pound (that’s their goofy money) will suffer or not. The UK will break up or stay together. Germany will probably try to take over the world. (That’s not really part of Brexit. It’s just something the Germans like to try every now and then). People will buy gold, because that’s what people do when things happen.

7.  WILL OTHER COUNTRIES VOTE TO EXIT, TOO?

That seems doubtful mostly because there’s no cool names to use. France would Frexit. That’s okay, I guess. Germany would Gerexit. No good–sounds too much like Jurassic and they don’t want litigation with Steven Spielberg. Spain with the Spexit? Nah. The names for the other countries are equally uninspiring. They’ll all have to stay put.

8. HOW DOES THIS AFFECT AMERICA?

Ah, this is perhaps the most important question. The immediate effect was twofold: 1) the stock market dropped sharply; and 2) millions of Americans went on-line to find out what Brexit means. I was told by three people that the stock market would drop at least 20% in the next week and that it would take years to recover. It dropped a few percentage points and recovered in a week. So, I guess you never know about Brexit. I’ve been told that it’s a sad time for Anglophiles (who, by the way, are not people with sexual interest in geometry). The dollar is now worth more in England, which would be great if they sold anything I like. It might be a good time to hire a butler or a chambermaid on the cheap.

9. WHAT HAPPENS TO THE EURO?

The Euro, of course, is the EU’s weird-ass money. I guess Euros are kind of like dollars but with pictures of foreigners on them. Get this–England doesn’t even use the Euro. Why are they bitching? They still use pounds and shillings and farthings and quid and other dubious forms of currency. Regardless, the Euro will most certainly be affected, more or less, to some not inconsiderable extent. It definitely bears watching.

10. WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?

The future is a frightening place, full of great possibilities and even greater dangers. Your greatest failures always lie there. I am a male in my 50s. With rare exception, people my age view the future through a prism of despair. The world is falling apart, young people are useless and the future is bleak. In another, they have become their parents.

Things will happen. People will claim to have predicted these things. Blame will be assigned and credit taken. As the old song goes, “There’ll always be an England.”

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2016

 

MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE: Five Changes You Must Make

When I was a young lawyer, one of my aged partners suggested that our firm should be like the “Athenian youth” and strive to leave the world a better place for our having been here. That is certainly a laudable goal. Who among us doesn’t want to make a difference? Too often, we while away our time on personal, even selfish, pursuits. I hold to the belief that each of us in our own small way can make a positive difference in the world.

You make think it unrealistic to expect to impact the world as whole. You may be right about that. After all, many of us have limited skills and even more limited work ethics. If our efforts require much in the way of ability or effort we likely will fall short. Do not despair. There ways–simple ways, in fact– each of us can make the world a better place. If we can have a positive impact on just one person, we will have made a difference.

The person with whom we should start is me. That’s right. I deserve a better life as much as anyone, maybe more. If you can do even one thing to make my life easier, you will not have lived in vain. You will have helped me. I can think of nothing more commendable.

Here are five things you can do, starting today, to improve my lot in life. Let’s get started

  1. DON’T DRIVE A CAR

The environmental damage from automobiles is well-known. Even electric cars require all manner of minerals for their construction, the mining of which is always controversial. If, like me, this doesn’t persuade you in the slightest to give up your car, consider the effect of your car on me.

Maybe you’re one of those people who always drive 10-15 mph below the speed limit. You’re annoying me. When you look in your rear view mirror and see the line of traffic, just assume I’m in that line. Why inconvenience me? I have to be somewhere–and soon. Besides, the way your drive, you’re close to walking anyway. Just go ahead and hit the pavement.

Even if you drive at normal speeds, you still need to park that car. Traffic stresses me out. I have places to go, things to do. Put bluntly, you’re in my way. Public transportation is perfect for you. Better yet, stay at home. What is so horrible in your home that you are compelled to leave it? Stay there and address your disturbing domestic problems.

Speaking of parking, if you drive you will eventually park somewhere. I need that parking spot.

Of course, some of you drive for your livelihood. By all means, continue to do so. You may be delivering something I need. Plus, someone must provide transportation to those who no longer drive. It certainly won’t be me. I’m busy trying to get somewhere.

2. DON’T PLAY THE LOTTERY

All over our great country, there are outlets available to buy lottery tickets.  PowerBalls, MegaMillions  and other variations beckon. The dizzying selection of scratch off games sit spooled like toilet paper waiting to be ripped loose by cholera-ravaged unfortunates. Riches await. Our nation’s vast network of convenience stores are the prime culprits in separating you from your money.

We all know that the odds winning big in the lottery are astronomical, on par with getting a chance to walk on the moon. Every day, untold thousands of people waste their hard-earned money on these games of chance which amount to nothing so much as a regressive taxation system. (Honestly, I have no problem with a regressive tax. The progressive tax system has never done me any favors. That rant will have to wait for another day.)

These are compelling reasons to avoid the lottery. The most important reason, though, may be less obvious. The next time you are purchasing your tickets turn at look behind you. That is me standing in line. I have patronized this convenience store for–you guessed it–the convenience of it. I know that prices are higher than at the grocery store, often considerably so. I have selected this store for the speed and, again, the convenience of it.

You, guided only by your avarice, have robbed me of the one commodity I value at that moment–convenience (are you sensing the pattern yet?). In fact, there is nothing more inconvenient than to stand in line with a cup of coffee while you negotiate a transaction only slightly less complex than currency arbitrage.

The odds of your winning the lottery are remote, at best. The odds of royally ticking me off, though, are virtually certain. Please, move along.

3. SPREAD THE WORD–SOMEWHERE ELSE

I have no problem with your religion, unless you use it do great harm to others. Even then, my problem is likely to be with how you practice it, not the faith itself. Regardless, I don’t want to hear about it. This comes from someone who has always been fascinated by religion. I’ve studied religion from various perspectives, both the faithful and skeptical. If I’m curious, I’ll get the information.

When you want to tell me about your religion, I’m very likely to be somewhere between disinterested and down right hostile. This is true even if I agree with your views. Why am I so obtuse? Religion (or spirituality, if you prefer) is a matter of faith, not argument or persuasion. Nagging or yammering at someone won’t bring him around to your views. When that someone is me, it may cause the person to adopt contrary beliefs simply to frustrate your efforts.

You might assume that I am directing this solely at Christians. You’re wrong. If, like me, you are an American, you probably live in America where most people claim to be Christian. Naturally, most of our contact is with Christians. Regardless, I implore people of all religions to follow this lead. For example, if you are Hindu do not concern me with your views of Vishnu or Shiva. I know a Buddhist, and I sincerely hope that he does not tell me of the proper path to the Middle Way. I’m comfortable with where I am, leaning much more toward indulgence than asceticism.

Nor are you atheists excluded. As a matter of fact, you’re especially not excluded. I  know you’re proud to be an atheist. Consider me to be on a “need to know” basis. I have no need to know. Here’s idea: Find a vegetarian and you two can “one up” each other on the solid, empirical grounding of your views.

At this point, some readers are preparing comments to enlighten me on why they will not be silent. You’re really missing the point, which is simply to make things easier for me. Your comments won’t do that. Plus, I’m not asking you to be silent. Just be silent around me, and assume that I am always around.

4. VOTE YOUR CONSCIENCE–QUIETLY

Everything I abhor about hearing about your religious views applies with even more force to your politics. Unlike religion which is driven (mostly) by genuine belief, political drivel is often impelled by the desire to be in the know and perhaps a bit smarter than others. These are repellent characteristics. More importantly, they annoy me and can diminish my enjoyment of such important pursuits as surfing the Internet and mindlessly watching television.

I’m well aware that there is only so much I can expect here. Politicians and talking heads are inescapable. But, ask yourself: “With all this political discourse, what could I possibly add to the conversation, given my obvious limitations?” I’m sure you’ll agree that you run a much greater risk of annoying me than contributing anything meaningful.

If you are truly committed to improving my life, you will take this to heart. That door you knock on with a fist full of campaign literature could be mine. It could be me who reads one of your wrong-headed screeds on social media. It’s not that I don’t respect your views (which I may not, of course). It’s just that I don’t care. Isn’t it unfair and more than a tad selfish to inundate me with tripe that only you and others care about it? You’re better than that–or at least you should be.

You’re angry about the state of the world. I get it. If I were you, I’d be angry, too. But I’m not you. I’m me. It does no good to have two of us angry.

5. RAISE YOUR OWN FOOD

Modern agriculture has changed the world. We feed far more people than was thought possible even a generation ago. Our grocery stores brim with foods of all kinds. Sadly, the price we pay is high one.

Additives, preservatives, chemicals and the like endanger our food supply. Our farm animals are fed steroids. Genetic modifications have made many foodstuffs risky. Most important in our daily struggle is the cold, hard fact that I frequently go to the grocery store to buy this stuff.

I like my food chock full of preservatives. I want it preserved as long as possible. Chemicals don’t bother me. I like huge, mutated chickens pumped full of steroids. I want my beef dyed red. I want my fruits and vegetables sprayed down with insecticides. I don’t want to eat bugs. In short, the modern grocery store is exactly what I want. You, on the other hand, need to make changes. Why?

You’re the person with 11 items when the sign plainly limits the checkout lane to TEN FREAKING ITEMS! You position your cart in the aisle where I can’t get by on either side. You pay with checks, like some troglodyte who just emerged from his subterranean lair. Why not see if they’ll take pelts? You use coupons. Think about this: If you need to use all those coupons, isn’t it just possible that you can’t really afford to buy food in a store?

Grow your own food. Raise chickens. Buy a cow. Even a modest quarter acre lot will accommodate at least a couple of cows. Get a hog. Grow something. Your ancestors foraged for their food. Get off your high horse (you can eat those, too, by the way) and quit acting like you’re better than your kinfolk.

Since you won’t be driving a car, raising your own food makes perfect sense. It will be convenient for you and, critically, ME. The world will be a better place–at least for me. 

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2016