Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

Dear All,

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral celebration of the winter/summer solstice holiday, practiced with the most enjoyable traditions of religious persuasion or secular practices of your choice with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.

I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2009, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make our country great (not to imply that it is necessarily greater than any other country) and without regard to the race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.

By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms:

This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her/himself or others and is void where prohibited by law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.

Disclaimer: No trees were harmed in the sending of this message; however, a significant number of electrons were slightly inconvenienced.

Further Disclaimation: I lifted this part and parcel from an email I received from our office in Germany. It's more funny to me that it came from our friends in the EU. Where it originated I don't know.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Oulsham's Crystal Ball - Sarah Palin Won't Just See Russia From Her House

Dean of the Academy of Future Diplomats at the Russian Foreign Ministry, Igor Panarin, predicted several years ago that the United States would fall in 2010. He is now being interviewed two times a day for Russian television and print media.

Professor Panarin says that massive immigration, moral decline, and the fact that US foreign debt is based upon a "pyramid scheme" will lead to social unrest, civil war and unbreachable influence by foreign interests. This will begin to happen in the autumn of 2009, unless Barack Obama can "work miracles, but by spring he will find there are no miracles." To bolster his argument, he said some American eggheads in 1976 predicted the fall of the USSR in "ten to fifteen years" and Russian people laughed at them.

California and the west will become part of China. Texas and the south will become part of Mexico. Michigan and the north will become part of Canada. The east coast will become "Atlantic America" and will try to join the EU. Hawaii will become part of either Japan or China and Alaska will revert back to Russia, which was "part of the great Russian Empire in the past."

Some people in Russia are taking him seriously.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Year In Review - Television

Television is horrible for the most part. We have 400+ channels of non-PPV TV, and mostly we watch reruns of Seinfeld and Everybody Loves Raymond. However, there were a few bright spots:

1. The single greatest comedy show in the history of television is Curb Your Enthusiasm. I am hoping Santa brings me seasons 4 and 5 on DVD because as soon as all of this holiday nonsense is out of the way I'm going to finish watching seasons 2 and 3.

2. In spite of its all-Liberal-brain-deficient cast (I'm talking to you Laura Linney), John Adams was a superb, fairly faithful screen adaptation of the David McCullough book. Take some time and watch it then go read the book.

3. I love NFL Sunday Ticket on my DirectTV and Sundays this fall have been spent in the comfort of my living room watching my beloved New Orleans Saints have a typically mediocre season.

4. Craig Ferguson and Jimmy Kimmel are funnier than the worn out and boring Leno-Letterman-O'Brien triumvirate.

5. The Office is funny because I like stupid humor. 30 Rock is funny because I like intelligent humor.

6. We should all avoid watching the CSIs, ERs, Houses, and Law and Orders of the television world simply because bringing that much murder, depravity and sadness into our homes on a couple of times a week basis is not good for our spirits or our collective emotional balance.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Year In Review - John McCain

Five reasons John McCain lost the election:

1. Acting like a cat on freshly waxed floor during the "financial meltdown."

2. Trying to beat a Socialist by acting like a Socialist will never work and that's what the McCain team thought was a good idea.

3. By age 73, adults, particularly one's who have spent 20+ years in the United States Senate, should have a clear and well-defined political philosophy and set of principles that they are not willing to stray from.

4. Sarah Palin, a political novice who leaned toward the corny side, was mishandled by unprincipled McCain campaign aides. Contrast her speech at the GOP convention with stump speeches made in late October.

5. Relying too heavily on the GOP Old Boy Philosophy. The GOP OBP is real and legitimate and found all the way down to the Ward level, it just never had a name before. Republicans truly believe that by paying their dues, towing the line and supporting the ticket, they earn the right to run for the office of their choosing. The Republicans re-elected Bill Clinton in 1996 by allowing Bob Dole to adhere to the GOP OBP.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Year In Review - Music

Remember the important rule of The Year In Review, this has nothing to do with what we were told to watch, listen to or think this past year, this is my Year In Review.

1. Album of the Year - Carbon Leaf - Indian Summer. The more I listen to this the more I realize what a tremendous album this is.

2. Best Artists With Winter In Their Name - Surpassing Edgar who surpassed Johnny we have a tie for first place with Winterpills (hard to find but worth the effort) and Wintersleep (their song Weighty Ghost is Song of The Year).

3. Song Of The Year - Wintersleep - Weighty Ghost

4. Favorite Band With An Annoying Name - Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams. Don't let the name turn you off, this band is really good.

5. Artist of the Year - Mississippi John Hurt. Melodic blues that makes being a sharecropper sound like it might be okay. Oh, but the innuendo!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Year in Review - Christmas Carols

1. The Creepiest Carol award goes to Dean Martin and "Baby, It's Cold Oustide." Runner-up is Dean Martin and "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer."

2. The Most Annoying Christmas Carol award goes to anything sung by Sarah McLachlan. Someone get this woman a Paxil.

3. The Greatest Christmas Album award goes to perennial favorite Phil Spector and his Christmas Album. Okay, seriously, he should really be winner of the Creepiest Carol award, but that album is awfully good. Runner-up is the first Harry Connick, Jr. album - the second just sort of seems profit motivated.

4. Best Christmas Carol For People My Age award goes to Christmas Wrapping by the Waitresses or Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer by Elmo and Patsy.

5. People Who Should Be Banned From Recording Christmas Carols award goes to... We have a tie: Sarah McLachlan and those dogs that barked Jingle Bells.

6. Most Racist Christmas Carol award goes to White Christmas.

7. Best Christmas Carol That Actually Has Anything To Do With Christmas award goes to Silent Night. Runner up: O Little Town of Bethlehem.

8. 2008 Most Ubiquitous Christmas Carol award goes to Winter Wonderland setting an amazing record of 49 straight years as the winner of this award.

9. Christmas Carol I Did Not Hear Once This Year award goes to Do They Know It's Christmas? Which is not necessarily a bad thing.

10. Best Christmas Song Of All Time IMHO award goes to Father Christmas by Greg Lake.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Video Of The Week Message From Oulsham

My sincere apologies for the lack of updation on the Video Of The Week. To make up for my remissiveness, I have posted probably the funniest Santa video I have ever seen.

Oulsham Figures Out Why America Is Going To Hell In A Hand Basket

First of all, last night I referred to a Chinese restaurant we occasionally frequent (oxymoron) as "Fu Man Chu's" in front of a person of mixed Asian heritage. Non-plussed, this person replied, "I know the Mall like the back of my hand and I don't know where that is."

So, me and the SO are having a nice dinner at Fu Man Chu's. She the Chow Fun, me the Dan Dan. I ordered a Manhattan and then remembered halfway through it that I really don't like bourbon. I do however, like tequila.

But this is not the point of the story.

There was a foursome behind us (my viewpoint), two "adults" and two high-school aged persons of female descent. One of them (YL #1) was rather adept at chopsticks (I am better having had way more practice), but she was having fun picking up dumplings, ice cubes, her fork, etcetera. This caused the other young lady (YL #2) to pick up things with her chopsticks and hand them off. Now this is where I come in.

I commissioned a scientific study that proved dirt is only six days older than me. "Oulsham, freakin' A, you old SOB," you might be saying right now. Umm hmmmm. But, the "adults" (AH #1 & AH #2 - you figure it out) at this table were even older than me, or at least they didn't age as well as I did. So they get into the act, and now it is a laughing, talking loudly, free-for-all of chopstick passing, chopstick picking up straw wrappers, chopstick throwing ice cubes. I behaved like this when I was a teenager running loose on the streets of ennui-suburbia, but after like my 18th birthday I sort of calmed down.

Now there are half a dozen or seven tables staring at these cretins as they have their little chopstick party. People (up to and including me) are actually saying things out loud even, yet the morons keep chopsticking it up.

Women even older than I, and couples even younger than I, were staring incredulously, and annoyingly, at the fools and their chopsticks. When would it end I thought. YL #1 looked around and saw almost the entire restaurant staring at her and her foolish dinner companions and she turned bright red and the chopstickery ceased. The pater familias of the group looked around and then began using his inside voice again. Horse's ass thought I, out loud, but only out loud enough for my SO to hear.

The rest of dinner was pretty good.

Thank you.

Friday, December 19, 2008

TWIR - Unspecial Edition

Next week we begin the highly anticipated Year In Review. I can't wait to see what I think of everything that happened in 2008. I'm sure I will be amazed.

1. Last Saturday I suffered a near season-ending Christmas shopping injury as I threw my ever-precarious broken back out. The Ops Director where I work bought me one of those Lazy-Person-Squeeze-The-Trigger-And-Pick-Crap-Up-From-The-Floor Things (LPSTTAPCUFTFT). It was meant as a joke but I actually use it because I tend to drop things alot.

2. I can't wait for this Recession/Deflation/Depression thing to be over so we can get back to worrying about Global Warming and Britney Spears again instead of actually having to think about things like our future and our finances.

3. The "It's Okay to Wish Me A Merry Christmas" buttons were a smash hit. If we still are all celebrating Christmas next year I will make more buttons.

4. Wall-to-wall coverage last night of the Big Storm that hit us today. I have two words for the skeezlebutts on my television - It Rained. I wonder what else they get wrong on a regular basis.

5. Dean Martin is creepy. I think his creepy factor has increased post-death. Every time he sings that "Baby it's cold outside thing," or calls Rudolph "Rudy" I get those special chills reserved only for those of us who are in the know. If you don't know what I am talking about - don't ask.

6. I'm thinking of renaming The Blog "The Semi-Coherent Rantings of a Middle-Aged Malcontent" but I really hope I don't live until 98, because I can't imagine how crotchety I'll be at that age.

Too Bad The Band Was Too Loud For People To Hear Their Conversations

Last night was my yearly visit with the great unwashed masses. Last night was the Youngest Sham's Yearly Holiday Concert. Being the proud parents we are, me and the SO got seats in the center of the auditorium - perfect for viewing and listening. "This will be great," I said to myself as I sat down. "Yes it will, indeed," I replied.

Well it wasn't. The student musicians were excellent, but as usual the cretins I was forced to sit near haven't learned anything since last year.

Let's see...there was the woman who sat behind me. Listen lady, the point of whispering is NOT to whisper as loud as possible. Loud whispering is far more obnoxious than regular talking. Well, eventually, this moron's kid came on to play and she picked up the video camera and put it right in my ear. I could hear her breathing and the motor of the camera. Hey lady, how about helping me out and buying a digital camera and breathing into a plastic bag next time? Thank you.

Then there was the foursome a few seats away from her. First of all during a nice quiet handbell version of Winter Wonderland, one of them decides to hum along - loudly and out of key. Listen honey, that might go over in your living room, but out in the real world you've got to keep it down a bit, and you're way old enough to know that by now. When her grandkid finally came on, her daughter (I presume) proceeded to shout over the sound of the band as she pointed out to the humming oldster where their kid was at. This was accompanied by the parent / grandchild next to them who actually carried on a complete conversation about what their little monster was doing on stage during the last song of the evening.

The rest of the people in the auditorium seemed capable of behaving themselves, or maybe their prescriptions were recently renewed, so once again, I have concluded this is payback for some egregious thing I did to some old fart in a movie theater when I was a teenager.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Rhombus of Corruption and Incompetence

I pay an enormous amount of property taxes. Way more than you do, unless you live next door to me, and if you do live next door to me, do me a favor and put your stupid little dog on a leash so it will stop crapping on my lawn.

I live in a county that has had the same Freeholders for twenty years. To those of you who live in normal states, Freeholders collect property taxes, make speeches and have something to do with the road department. The Freeholders in my county have a Public Affairs Department. On Monday my county's Public Affairs Department sent out a press release with the following items: wash your hands after you go to the bathroom (20% of us don't {and you know who you are [I added that part]}); Halloween can be scary for pets; and visit Ocean County, it is a nice place. The budget for the Public Affairs Department is $1.2 million a year. Neighboring Monmouth County, which has 100,000 more residents and a ton more McMansions owned by people who have now found out they're not as rich as they wanted their neighbors to think, has a Public Affairs Department with an annual budget of $362,000. Two of our illustrious Freeholders are Joe Vicari who has more government jobs than a Chicago ward chairman, and Jack Kelley, who seems to be unemployable outside the public sector. I pick on these two specifically because I campaigned for them in the early 1990's and I am insulted in the extreme that my time and talent went to elect such utter fools.

There is a county road by my house that has been the scene of three fatal accidents totaling eight fatalities in the past two years. The county claims it doesn't have the money to fix the road so they threw some signs up after fatality number eight in November.

If you voted for these arrogant cretins in the past fifteen years because they are Republican, and you are Republican, and Republicans stand for small government and fiscal responsibility, and Hooray For Republicans, you should be as ashamed of yourself as I am of them.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Sense of Entitlement - Kennedy Style

Caroline Kennedy says she wants Hillary Clinton's Senate seat. She says she's qualified and ready. Okay, Little Miss Camelot, go out and campaign for it and earn it. Just because you are Caroline Kennedy doesn't entitle you to anything you haven't earned, oh wait, it's New York politics, of course it does.

On another note, one that will actually affect people, NY Governor David Patterson is going to raise in-state tuition costs $600 to cover New York's serious budget shortfall. He is also going to raise welfare stipends. Does anyone besides me get this? He's going to make it harder to become a productive, tax paying member of society and easier to become a non-productive societal leech.

How about, less Caroline Kennedy and more common sense and political backbone?

Monday, December 15, 2008

People I Would Like To Throw My Shoes At

I have never thrown my shoes at anyone. I did fling a flip-flop at one of our dogs once, but that was more or less part of a game of fetch. I have contemplated whipping my wing-tips from time-to-time, but I have never been so mad that I actually took them off and took aim.

In Middle-Eastern culture, throwing one's shoes at the object of one's contempt is considered the ultimate sign of, ummm, contempt. Also, putting your feet on your desk and showing someone the soles of your shoes is disrespectful. Eating with your left hand is extremely bad, and can get you jailed in some places still. Of course, if you know anything about Turkish-style toilets, you wouldn't eat with your left hand either.

There are like eight people I would like to throw my shoes at, but none of the eight would likely give them back, so after the satisfaction of boinking them on the head with my Nikes wore off, I would be left temporarily shoeless, which could prove problematic.

I do want to know what's going to happen if someone throws a shoe at Barack America. Will that person be labeled "racist?" Will the media be incredibly incensed, or will they, as the dope on NBC said this morning, be "sending a clear message to the President?" Will Rod Blagojevich toss his Timberlands at Rahm Emanuel? Will the guy in Iraq get his shoes back? And while we're talking about him, does he not know that it is always bad form to wear white socks with leather shoes?

Thank you.

Friday, December 12, 2008

And Another Thing

So let's say you work at KFC. And one of your co-workers, probably the one with the giant forehead and close-set, Blagojevich-type eyes, says, "Hey! After we close, what say we strip down to our underwear, climb in the sink we use to clean the pots and pans, and take baths together?"

Do you say, "Excellent! But let's have someone take pictures of us and then we can put them up on our MySpace page under the title "KFC Moments!"?

Okay, so far, fairly plausible. But then you go to your third co-worker, who not only thinks it's a great idea, but she decides to climb in the sink with you while another person takes pictures, and no one stops to say, "ewwwwww."

Now, I might be a little out of touch, and I am certainly not one to go all Puritan on anyone, but I have a question...

How horrible of a complete skank do you have to be to even come up with this idea, let alone follow through on it? I've heard of hair in my cole slaw but this is an outrage. And, having worked fast food as recently as thirty years ago, I can tell you those sinks are not somewhere I'm looking to take a bubble bath.


WARNING: This week's TWIR contains religious references which will most likely be offensive to somebody out there.

While I am driving, I often think "What Would Jesus Do?" This happens most often right after some moron pulls out in front of me and then makes a left turn two blocks up the road. One of the biggest differences between me and Jesus is I would use my supernatural powers to smite the offender, whereas Jesus would probably either ignore the offender or would flash his lights until the offender pulled over at which point He would get out of His Car and mildly point out the offender's offense in a manner that would be hard to ignore.

That got me to thinking about Barack Obama and what he would do. So after every TWIR item, just say to yourself, "What Would Barack Obama Do?"

1. The Governor of Illinois wants to sell your former Senate seat to the highest bidder. You understand Chicago politics but doubt the rest of the country does.

2. Car manufacturers are drowning in the stupidity of Big Labor and Dumb Management, both groups who donated heavily to your political machine.

3. Your favorite football team has the number one offense in the league, is fundamentally tremendously talented, yet can't win important games, especially the ones they play in Chicago.

4. You wanted to move into Blair House on January 2nd, thirteen days ahead of the traditional date President-elects move into Blair House. Your request has been denied so you might have to pay for your own housing an additional thirteen days.

5. You tie your right shoe because the lace is loose, but then the left shoe, which heretofore was not in need of a tying, starts to act up and gets all put out like it's been neglected. Sometimes the reverse of this happens. You try to ignore the now loose left shoe, but you're busy and, say maybe in a subway station and it's not a good time to stop and tie the other shoe.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Three People I Am Concerned About

At lunch yesterday I saw a guy with the worst rug on his head I have ever seen, anywhere, in all of my long years looking at people's hair. It was some kind of horrible synthetic hair that probably had warnings about getting too close to heat lamps and the roast beef bit at the local salad bar. It sat up high on this dude's head like a hawk and the only thing natural looking about it was, (I paused writing here for like 15 seconds while I contemplated my next word), nothing. Even the woman sitting with him gave me a knowing look as I walked by.

Here are my concerns:

1. Who told this guy he should wear this in public? Does he not own a mirror? Why does his family not respect him enough to be truthful?

The other two people I am concerned about:

2. Older women who drive around in cars loaded with garbage, clothes, newspapers, and McDonald's bags. You've seen them - their cars only have room for them and maybe some more junk. Someone please explain.

3. Even older women who take in like 75 dogs or 112 cats and then don't clean up after them. I don't think these people just decide to take in strays and then say, "Ah, what the hell, it's only a little dog crap." I am accepting explanations on this as well.

Monday, December 8, 2008

My Horoscope

Today someone I know will embarass themselves in public.

I quickly ran down the list of likely suspects, and quite frankly, there were a lot of them. So if you know me and you publicly embarrass yourself today, give me a call. The stars have determined that I must be there to interecede on your behalf and I am ready, but here are some things I will not help you with:

1. Public flatulence - you are on your own unless you have a dog nearby.
2. Forgetting to wear your clothes when you leave the house - that's a dream and I shouldn't be in your dreams.
3. Oatmeal on your blouse - pathetic, not so much embarassing.
4. Snorting when you laugh - seriously.
5. Making fun of someone who you don't realize is standing right behind you - don't get me involved.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

TWIR - Pre-Christmas Edition

Without further adieu...

1. Animated Ginger Men are creepy in all cases. There are no exceptions.

2. There is a billboard on Route 9 in Howell Township with a wonderful likeness of the real Santa that says (and I am not making this up), "Santa is coming to town. Don't Hit Him. Drive Sober." Funny at first until you think of the thousands of little kids that pass that billboard everyday who will be screaming in abject horror.

3. The "Official Oulsham It's Okay To Wish Me A Merry Christmas" buttons are a huge hit among the tenured teacher crowd and thumb-in-the-eye free-thinkers everywhere. It's really been fun.

4. I am listening to "You're A Mean One Mister Grinch" as I write this. Meh.

5. I hope the recession doesn't cause Santa to bring me socks and underwear at the expense of stuff he could afford to buy me when the economy was good and his 401K was growing.

6. I filled my truck up for $25.55 yesterday. Woo-frickin'-hoo! The $175 I will save this month over the cost of filling it up this summer will more than come in handy this year.

7. If you're a grudge-holder or actively punishing someone who slighted you, how do you reconcile the celebration of the season? Spreading peace and glad-tidings are not greeting card concepts, they're real keys to happiness during our Earthly sojourns.

8. Go shopping. Be smart and responsible and buy with joy and the peace of knowing that you have people who will be happy with whatever you buy them.

It's going to snow tomorrow, just a little, but Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Update: It's OK To Wish Me A Merry Christmas

The first batch of buttons are almost gone. I'm not shocked by the response, because quite frankly, these buttons are fan-frickin-tastic! You probably won't get one this Christmas season, but that will be your fault.

So far, no one has complained, which sort of bums me out because I have all these great arguments lined up about why the button can't hurt people. But I haven't gone shopping yet. High school students, college students, college faculty, high school teachers, regular working people, and I think some Communists even, have all embraced the button. Is it possible that regular people are OK with wishing people a Merry Christmas, but it's just the media that grabs onto a few annoying eggheads here and there so they can stir the pot a bit?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Once A Dragon Always A Dragon

The NY Football Giants have sold what legacy they claim to have about being a stand-up organization to a bunch of thugs and criminals just so they can win football games. The irony was not missed by me that on the same day Plaxico Burress kissed his good fortune goodbye, a man who worked for 50 years to shape the lives of young people retired.

To those of you in my area this will mean something personal. Warren Wolf, the only football coach the high school I went to ever had retired yesterday. I grew up in a football crazed town because of Coach Wolf. As a kid I went to every school sponsored football camp I could and I played for one year but quit because I was small, slow and disliked pain. But that doesn't mean I didn't learn.

I seriously disliked high school and almost everyone I encountered during it, especially people older than me. That was me more than them. I was not proud of anything except the Brick Dragons football program. As I grew away from my school years the one constant was always the Dragons and Warren Wolf, and that I was connected to them both just because I was an alumni.

Many years later I helped Coach Wolf put together the school's first on-field video system and I was impressed by his demeanor. He was really a likable guy. Coach Wolf went on to serve as mayor, freeholder and assemblyman and this is where I encountered the non-football Coach Wolf. As a member of his own political party I worked against him for mayor in 1992. There were a lot of reasons for this that had nothing to do with Wolf. Wolf was defeated and his political career pretty much ended then - at least in the public eye. I always felt a little dirty for working against him, especially when it turned out the people I was aligned with were as crooked and inept as they come. But that's politics.

But all during this, Coach Wolf was a gentleman and his even manner and affability overwhelmed the utter meanness he was up against. Years later, while I was running my publishing company we crossed paths again. He had written a book about another New Jersey coaching legend and I worked on a proposal to publish it. He remembered me from our political days together and I never heard back from him, but he was a complete gentleman even though I'm sure he felt he had reason not to be. He just let it drop and didn't do business with me, which I completely understand. I had an "I-told-you-so" coming to me, but he trusted me enough to have figured that out on my own.

I didn't play football for Coach Wolf, but I learned valuable lessons from him nevertheless and for that I am grateful to be a product of his high school and his town. I hope his retirement is long, healthy and peaceful, and if I see him in the stands at a Brick Township High School football game next year, I'll be sure to shake his hand and say "thank you."

Monday, December 1, 2008

Cyber Monday

"Merchants cross fingers for strong 'Cyber Monday' as retail figures show Black Friday weekend no big deal." So reads the headline on FOXNEWS.COM.

Idiots. Retail sales were up 7% on Friday over last year. In this economy that's really big news. Amazing news.

Depression peddlers and sensationalists should be boycotted.