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Much Ado About Nothing – Period Party

Much Ado About Nothing July 19, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

I got an invitation to a Period Party. As a writer – well, in the loosest interpretation of that word – I thought I’d been invited to a fun little soiree involving punctuation and editing marks. My brain was so busy trying to decide which red gel pen I’d take as a hostess gift that it took a while to realize this wasn’t what the invitation was at all. I’d actually been invited to a party to “Celebrate and Welcome” a ten-year old girl into womanhood.

Maybe it’s because I raised boys. Maybe it’s because I’m older, but I honestly thought it was a joke. But no, for some bizarro reason, Period Parties are a thing. Now, I don’t want to be indelicate here, but as I run the memory reel back several decades to when I started my period, I don’t remember wanting to have a big, public party that included neighbor ladies I barely knew.

No, I was mortified at the realization that I was being forced against my will towards adulthood (I recognize now, a wise instinct) and that my credibility as a hard-core Tomboy was going to be increasingly compromised. To make it all worse, my older brother cemented my mortification in place by teasing me unmercifully. Poor thing, he had such little practical experience with PMS, but that’d come later. Basically, happy, carefree life as I’d known it was officially over. This was a reason to sob in my room, not throw a party.

While the struggle to overcome my curiosity to witness firsthand what must surely be an indication of the fall of our society, I’m going to find a polite way to decline the invitation. That there simply is no party-appropriate wrapping paper for whatever impossible gift I might find (what the heck do you even take to such a party), I know myself well enough to admit I’d never get through the event without making way too many inappropriate jokes. Let’s blame that back on my brother.

Instead, I think I’ll throw myself a menopause party. I’ll invite all my friends who will show up in comfortable clothes, bring lots of wine, fight for the best spot under the ceiling fan, and collectively not care about what anyone else has to say about it. And it will be the best party ever. Period.

Much Ado About Nothing – Letterbox

Much Ado About Nothing July 12, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

It’s time once again to open my mailbox at MuchAdo@TheSourceWeekly.com. This is something I do quite frequently … if, of course, by “quite frequently” we mean every few years. While I was hoping for emails containing glowing feedback about my column or a letter from the Pulitzer committee congratulating me on my win, I found instead a lot of unrequested correspondence.

I do appreciate Zodor Horseshoes taking the time to message me, but I’m really not in the market for horseshoes. Now if they had donkey shoes, I’d consider getting a donkey and putting him in a nice pair of lace-up saddle shoes in a color that complimented his donkey-ness.

I got quite a few messages screaming out in the subject line that “Gluttony is a Deadly Sin” and begging me to “Stop Being Obese.” Admittedly, I was a bit taken back by their assessment of my body mass index based simply on my email address, but I did skip that last Oreo cookie just the same. Otherwise, I would have had to open the email for a “Christian Friendly Weight Loss Pill.” Believe me, I was tempted because I’m curious how exactly you religiously align a diet pill. But the whole “Lead me not into temptation” thing had me on the delete button instead.

Single Spark Events, though, did get my attention with their email about the “Monster Margarita Festival.” I had no idea monsters enjoyed an occasional alcoholic beverage! They sent another email about the “HUGE Kids Festival” which I deleted. I felt bad for the smaller kids who would obviously not have a festival. I did forward their email regarding the “Kingwood Free Kids Festival” to Children’s Protective Services as I thought it unconscionable that there’s an event passing out free kids. As a parent, I can tell you, there’s no such thing as a free kid.

Unfortunately I simply didn’t have the mental fortitude to open all 28 messages about boosting my brain power. Obviously, someone actually reads this column and has identified a dire need. I do appreciate the tenacity to continue sending those messages several times a day, but should my brain power ramp up any further than it is, I’d blow circuits, fry my hair, and become a one-woman OSHA reportable incident.

Meanwhile, keep those cards and letters coming! You have the address. No electronic stamp required!

Much Ado About Nothing – Win A Cremation

Much Ado About Nothing July 3, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

I had this actually sent to me, so you can’t accuse me of making this up. Besides, you can’t make up stuff like this. One day in the mailbox, there’s a letter from The Neptune Society announcing the opportunity to “WIN A PRE-PAID CREMATION!” … Really? What’s second prize?

Naturally, this sets off a fire storm of questions in my mind. Questions like, what do you do to get on this mailing list? Do they know something that I don’t? I mean, I’ve been running! I’m healthy! Are they after my gold fillings?! Do I have to be present to win? What if I do win? Do I have to collect immediately, because I’m not doing all this running to go ashes-to-ashes quite this soon.

So I go to the website looking for some answers. I want to know if I win, can I transfer the prize? This might be the perfect solution for what to get my dad for Christmas this year and at just the right price for my budget! However, I’m almost sure that wrapping up the prize certificate with a box of matches would certainly send any hopes of an inheritance up in flames.

What I did find on their website is information on how my cremated remains can be placed in an underwater memorial reef off of Key Biscayne, Florida. I’m married to an Italian, but this gives a whole new meaning to “sleeping with the fishes.” Becoming a citizen of their “classical recreation of The Lost City” 40-feet underwater lets me do my part to rebuild the coral reefs. Yeah, I get to be fish food. And my family will all have to be certified scuba divers to come put flowers on my gravesite. Which isn’t a bad thing. I’ll find out which of them are truly devoted to my memory and which ones need to be haunted by the Ghost of Christmas Future!

Regardless of how charming the whole contest seems at first glance, I think I’m going to pass … on the contest. Not pass on. Which would then make me rethink trying to win a free cremation. For now, I’ll just wait for Ed McMahan to show up and tell me I might have already won a million dollars.

Much Ado About Nothing – Snakes

Much Ado About Nothing June 27, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

Forget about “Snakes on a Plane.” Let’s talk Snakes in a Pool Toy. While one is simply a bad 2006 movie with Samuel L. Jackson that was made, I’m sure, for the sole purpose of bringing the entire airline industry to its knees, the other is a true story of horror like Hollywood could not invent. It seems a perfectly nice family in Arizona came joyfully bounding out of their house last week to play in the pool only to discover a rattlesnake in the pool noodle. Not since Biblical documentation have people actually walked on water.

But wait! There’s more! There had been some canoodling with the pool noodling rattlesnake because baby rattlesnakes came slithering out as well. In my humble snake-fearing opinion, this is reason enough to fill your pool with cement and adopt a large family of mongoose. What’s worse, the fire department in Buckeye, Arizona says this was not the first report of poolside reptile possession of foam toys. Now if you’re wondering why the fire department is involved with this situation, just ask the homeowner near Helsinki, Finland who can blame a snake for setting his house on fire.

As any sensible, rational person would do, this homeowner – who has remained nameless because no one could probably pronounce his name anyway – poured gasoline onto a snake he found in his yard. Mind you, the snake was trespassing on private property, so there is a level of culpability on the snake’s part for what happened next. It seems he managed to ignite himself on a hot lawn mower and then in a flaming blaze of retaliation, flung himself close enough to the house to set it on fire. Snakes are diabolical like that.
And that right here, my friends, is why you can’t trust snakes. With snakes you’re not safe to go out into your own yard, board a plane, or even use the toilet in peace. Oh yes, they show up there, too. Even the Target store in Lithgow, New South Wales, Australia had a snake in the underwear display. Of course this is a brilliant marketing ploy as anyone who finds it, will definitely need a pair of clean underwear. Google it if you’ve run out of material for your next nightmare.

All this to say: Be aware. Watch your step. Carry a hoe.

Much Ado About Nothing – Hurricane Season Again

Much Ado About Nothing June 20, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

Hurricane Season started a few weeks ago. Again. I’m not sure I’m ready for this, to be honest. As I type this, I’m half asphyxiated with paint fumes from 14 doors, door frames, and hundreds of feet of baseboards all shiny with their fresh coat of oil-based paint. I still have a tendency to lie down on the floor to try to hug my carpet, that carpet that took no less than three months to get ordered, delivered and installed. And walking into a kitchen that has working appliances and running water still conjures a real sense of awe. No, I’m not sure I’m ready, nor do I think I’m alone in that.

Already we’ve had a “rain event” that had every news outlet and meteorologist frothing like rabid wolverines over computer models, chances for development, and generally calling for the end of human existence as we know it on the Gulf Coast. In response I’d like to say, “Stop that.” On behalf of everyone suffering with PTSD (Post Traumatic Storm Disorder), please cut the hype, doomsday predictions, and storm mongering. It makes us all break out in ugly hives or drink too much. It’s only June and already some weather girl is strapping herself to a light pole on Galveston Island waiting for her chance to be the next Jim Cantore on the Weather Channel.

If you know someone who flooded during Harvey, try to be sensitive that it’s been a long, stressful, exhausting year. Avoid making loud noises, especially those that sound like nail guns, air compressors, or power tools. Do not brag about how close the water came to almost but not actually getting into your house. This makes people who flooded hate you in a grind-your-teeth, plot-your-demise kind of way. Please don’t ask if someone had insurance unless you’re offering to purchase a sofa or replace the damaged lawn equipment. Insurance policies bring their own brand of demonic headaches.

In May, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said there was a 75% chance of above average activity during this year’s hurricane season. I don’t even know what that means, because hurricanes are like tax audits. If you’re the one that gets it, your day is pretty much ruined. Now’s the time to pick your religion and pray that someone else draws the short straw this year.

Much Ado About Nothing – Manners Refresher

Much Ado About Nothing June 14, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

Gather around everyone! It’s time for a quick refresher course on some foundational principles for being a decent human being. Don’t panic, it’s nothing complicated or scary. No one is going to expect you to cure cancer or kiss your sister, but we’re getting a little lax on some lessons we should have learned in Kindergarten. Let’s get started.

“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” I understand that sometimes there are not-nice things that need to be said, but any Southern lady can tell you that you can say not-nice things in a nice way. Punctuate just about anything with “Bless your heart” and it’ll go over much better than just being ugly. If our words were physically manifested on our bodies, we might think twice about spewing out a bunch of sour ugliness. By the way, this rule applies tenfold for anything posted on the internet.

“You don’t build yourself up by tearing others down.” This includes your country, your elected officials, your parents, other sports teams (with the exclusion of the NY Yankees), your boss, the other drivers who can’t use a turn signal (bless their hearts), and most certainly anyone of a different race, color, creed, heritage, religious faith, or country of origin. If you struggle with this rule, refer to the one above and just keep your mouth shut.

“Lead by example.” If you want your kids to be productive, self-sufficient assets to society then be that. If you want to live in a world that’s not filled with hate, fear and intolerance then don’t be hateful, threatening and intolerant. Be the change you want to see.

While this is pretty basic stuff, so many of us seem to have lost sight of how to play nice with the other children. It’s not enough to just accept that haters are going to hate. We can do better than that and be bigger than hate. I understand that no one wants to be told they have bad breath, but, at the same time, sometimes you just need a helpful breath mint, a friendly smile, and a cheerful “Bless your heart” to save you from some unnecessary embarrassment. Think of this as a breath mint for your manners. Now go out there and be better humans!

Much Ado About Nothing – Willis Carter

Much Ado About Nothing June 6, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

The City of Houston paid a sculptor to create this massive, 32-foot tall, weird, reflective bean thing then proudly planted it near the Museum of Fine Art. I’m not sure why that much metal was wasted on such a thing when there is a real hero desperately in need of recognition and adoration, a true man among men: Willis Carrier. This man should be elevated to saint status, have elementary schools named in his honor, and every July there should be an official holiday complete with parades. Willis Carrier invented the air conditioner.

Where would we be, oh sweltering Gulf Coast of Texas, without this man? Houston wouldn’t be the fourth largest city in the US, that’s for sure. Instead the entire area would be populated by drunk, divorced, chaffed, irritable isolationists and boasting the highest homicide rate on the entire planet. Satan himself would sell his luxury condo for pennies and leave town grumbling about intolerable conditions.

Willis Carrier isn’t just cool, he’s the King of Cool. I suppose when one of your relatives is burned at the stake as part of the Salem Witch Hunts, you become a little hyper-sensitive to being hot under the collar and embody a new motivation for redeeming your family’s name and reputation. Talk about a Phoenix rising from the ashes!

Certainly there needs to be a distinctive tip of the hat to the Egyptians for figuring out how to make clothing out of cotton. Without them, we’d still be wearing wool all summer, which a large majority of people were through the 1800’s. Even swimsuits were made out of wool until the 1930’s! Just the thought of it makes me scratchy, chaffed and irritable.

Without Mr. Carrier, we’d be facing a world without leather car seats, ice cream trucks, and Slurpees®. Humidity would be an unstoppable, mold-growing, hairdo-killing scourge. We’d have no safe retreat from mosquitoes, sunburn, or the neighbors. To be honest, without Willis Carrier’s air conditioners, we’d have long since given the lower half of the Louisiana Purchase back to France and thrown in pretty much every other state south of St. Louis.

So today when you crank that thermostat down to single digits and your house is like a frosty beer mug, stop and send up a prayer of thanksgiving to Willis Carrier. Oh yes! Thank you!

Much Ado About Nothing – Family Court

Much Ado About Nothing May 31, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

In this trough between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, there is no better time to take a look at some examples of beautiful, happy families in their natural habitat: the courtroom. Parents are busy suing their children while the kids are getting lawyered up to go after their parents. Tell me, Hallmark, how are you going to handle this fine kettle of smelly family fish?

In St. Louis, 17-year old Anthony Dwight is suing his biological parents because he was born white. Did this boy skip Biology class in school? Exactly why would he expect his very white, Midwestern parents to produce anything but a white child? But yet he wants to hold them responsible for their “selfish desire to bring another white child into this world,” which, I’m sure, no one regrets right now more than they do. Of course, this is nothing that $20,000 to pay for the treatment to turn his skin color to “dark black” wouldn’t cure. Maybe they just need to turn his behind a bright red.

And Michael Rotondo. THIRTY YEARS OLD and his parents had to get a court order to have him removed from their couch after eight years! I’m guessing they already tried throwing his Xbox into the front yard so when he frantically ran out there to reclaim it they could lock the doors and bar the windows. This college educated, deadbeat dad then whined in court that he didn’t have money for moving boxes so he couldn’t leave. I don’t know about the liquor stores in New York, but around these parts, you can pick up some nice, sturdy boxes for free.

Since I’m always looking for the silver lining, I’m ready to jump on the opportunity presenting itself here! I am going to hang out a lawyer shingle for my new firm, “Grow the Heck Up Legal Services.” I’m not sure what white Anthony Dwight is paying his lawyer (where did he get that money?), but I’ll represent his parents for free. That I’ve never been to law school is beside the point. I’ll simply show up in court and throw out the GROW THE HECK UP defense. Same with Michael Rotondo: Grow the Heck Up! Case closed.

Ultimately, though, the way to avoid these situations all together is, when you have the choice, just raise hogs instead

Much Ado About Nothing – Hacked

Much Ado About Nothing May 24, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

My next door neighbor got a United Nations Development Programmed grant. No really! He sent me a Facebook direct message to tell me he got $150,000.00. His exact words were, “I’m no joking or pulling legs.” Here’s where it gets really exciting: he saw my name on their lucky winner list, too, and I should contact the claiming agent RIGHT NOW to claim my lucky prize (link included). What are the chances?! I just wonder why he didn’t mention it to me 20 minutes earlier when we were chatting at the mailbox.

Needless to say, I didn’t click on the link, but I did go take a look at the profile of the “claims agent.” It was a nice touch to have pictures of money, but there was also a meme posted that wasn’t in English. A quick hop over to Google Translate to discover my agent is bilingual in Kwa, the native language of the Yoruba people in Benin, Africa. Pretty impressive for a guy who, from his profile picture, looks like Mr. White America and studied at Texas A&M. Anyway, my online conversation with my neighbor ended when I reminded him I work the US State Department. Go figure.

But wait! My luck had not run out! Two days later I got another Facebook direct message from an elderly friend who I very rarely speak to letting me know that ups had just brought him $50,000.00 and that I “needs” ups to bring it to me, too. I had to think about it for a minute before I realized that ups was not the opposite of downs but UPS, the United Parcel Service. Again, a link was shared that I could contact my agent to claim my big prize, too. Uh huh. I’ll do that, and then I’ll use my ups money to buy a unicorn.

From pictures on the internet, Benin, Africa seems to be where National Geographic goes to take pictures of topless native women with baskets on their heads. How does this country have enough broadband and electrical grid to power this kind of nefarious industry? That Benin is the birthplace of the voodoo religion may not be of any small coincidence. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to send my bank account information to Winnie Mandela.

Much Ado About Nothing – Stalker Stories

Much Ado About Nothing May 17, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

So a guy in Phoenix, Arizona meets Jacqueline Ades through an online dating site. They go on one date. She got a nice dinner and he got 65,000 text messages, a butcher knife, visits to his office, and the woman arrested while taking a bath after breaking into his house. According to the police reports, Ms. Ades was sending no fewer than 500 text messages per day to this guy following their date. You have to believe this dude is thinking he should reconsider that nice girl his mother knows from church and stay off the Tinder app.

But don’t think that the United States has a corner on the weird stalker market. Sure, having Brittany Spears and Taylor Swift as citizens does sway the numbers dramatically into our favor, but Japan is making a strong move into the creeper industry. Not in a way you’d expect, though.

In the US and in many first world countries, when someone retires, they find an interesting hobby: golf, taxidermy, competitive dog grooming, performance art. But in Japan, an increasing number of people over 60 are spending their free time being weirdos. In that country, the number of reported stalkers over the age of 70 increased 460% between 2003 and 2012 and is now 9% of all reports. While this is alarming and frightening, you still have to be impressed that there are that many older folks who can utilize the internet, text message, and drive at night well enough that someone is calling the police.

To be honest, I’m a bit baffled at how this is happening at all. Does Japan not have bingo or bus trips to casinos? Quilting clubs? Genealogy groups? Surely there’s a way to entertain mom and dad so they aren’t forcing the waitress at Japan’s equivalent of Denny’s to buy a Rottweiler and screen her calls.

And how does Ms. Ades in Arizona send that many text messages? Unless you’ve got a 17-year old out an hour past their curfew, you don’t need to send that many messages to anyone. At what point does the phone just overheat and explode?

The world is a strange place and getting stranger. Your mother was right when she told you to lock your doors, wear your seat belt, be home before midnight, and for goodness sake, don’t talk to strangers!!

Much Ado About Nothing – Train Trip

Much Ado About Nothing May 10, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

When was the last time you took a trip with your parents? The last one for me might have been a family camping trip in the early 1970’s that involved hot dogs getting dropped in the dirt, swear words getting muttered during the set-up of a canvas tent, and a whole lot of mosquito bites. Since my dad now states he’s “in the 4th quarter with no time outs remaining,” it was probably smart to not put off taking another trip together. This time, though, we decided on something that didn’t involve airplanes, uncomfortable beds, or hot dogs – things we dislike. So I booked an Amtrak train to Illinois to visit his 96-year old sister.

Since we were going to blow my inheritance on this adventure, we reserved a “luxury sleeper car” with two beds and a private bathroom. Compared to, say, a polyester sleeping bag on the ground, it was definitely luxury. Conveniently, with the bathroom set up, you could easily sit on the toilet and shower at the same time. Actually, you almost had to sit on the toilet to shower. To be completely honest, I have serious concerns about what happened to the people who were in the less than luxury cars.

Then, what should have been a 24-hour trip from San Antonio to Bloomington, turned into 36-hours of Uber, Trailways, Hertz, the train, and six hours of hard wooden benches in the Fort Worth station waiting for a little engine that actually could before we finally made it where we were going. You see, Amtrak is a wee bit loose on their schedule maintenance and it doesn’t take much to completely derail them. Figuratively speaking, of course.

But I loved every minute of it. I loved listening to my dad and my aunt tell the stories and tall tales and family legends from generations back. He taught me how to play cribbage (I won). I taught him how to take selfies (sort of). We learned to decipher train whistles (two long, one short, one long = crossing). And we shared an amazement at how you could get a really good steak and a really good night’s sleep on a train.

It was a little “Thelma and Louise” mixed with “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” with a touch of “Grumpy Old Men” and it was the best trip ever!.

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Much Ado About Nothing – Rutabagas

Much Ado About Nothing May 3, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

I decided to eat rutabagas. There are zero logical reasons why. I’ve never knowingly eaten rutabagas before, but I’m all about an adventure. So, armed with a Google search and a shopping list, I set out to inflict rutabaga recipes upon my household for an entire week. All week, all rutabaga. Other evil dictatorships have their tortures; I have rutabagas.

Step One: rutabaga identification. First of all, rutabagas should not be confused with rhubarb. While rhubarb is another vegetable that’s really fun to say, rhubarb looks more like weird reddish purple celery. From what I understand, with half a plantation worth of sugar, you can make it into a pie, and should I decide to do rhubarb week, I’ll test that out. Rutabagas, however, look like turnips grown just downstream from the Chernobyl Nuclear Site. According to Wikipedia, it’s “a root vegetable that originated as a cross between a cabbage and a turnip.” Thankfully, there were no graphics on how you cross breed turnips and cabbages because I really didn’t want that visual stuck in my mind’s eye. What happens in the vegetable bin stays in the vegetable bin.

Interestingly, I also learned that in Europe rutabagas are commonly used to feed livestock in the winter and are often carved out to make lanterns at Halloween. Therefore, my thinking is that if Bossy the Cow will eat them raw and frozen, then how bad can they be baked and smothered in lots of butter? And if it truly does go way south, I can use the rest for nightlights. At less than a buck a pound, it’s an obvious win-win situation, right?

Rutabaga Night #1: Roasted Rosemary Rutabaga Fries. This is just one more sad attempt to make you think you’re eating French fries when you’re not. Accented with plenty of red wine and ketchup, these were actually pretty good.

Rutabaga Night #2: Baked Garlic and Herb Shoestring Rutabagas. I should have quietly stepped back from this one when it required putting a rock-hard root vegetable through the utensil we got suckered into buying that’s supposed to make zucchinis into spiraled spaghetti things. However, with plenty of red wine, we were able to improvise.

Rutabaga Night #3: Carrots and Rutabagas with Lemon and … Okay, let’s be honest. The rutabaga lanterns are cool. And the red wine was great with the pizza we ordered.

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Much Ado About Nothing – Exploding Ants

Much Ado About Nothing April 26, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

In the dark, misguided world of ants, there’s a complete spectrum of ant terrorism that threatens all the insect world and beyond. The raspberry crazy ants must surely have a rap sheet for cocaine possession equivalent to the collective total of the Rolling Stones. Fire ants are just mean in an ugly, unified way, showing no thought or remorse in their attacks. And then there are the real extremists: Exploding Ants. These are the ants of mass destruction.

While I have some really great people in my tribe of friends and I would do almost anything for them, I’m probably not going to blow myself up to protect them. I’d take a bullet for my kids, but I’m still not sure I’d voluntarily explode my personage on their behalf. In the same vein, I’m not a good candidate to be an ISIS bride with a body bomb in a crowded market in Syria. That’s just not me. Not so, though, for exploding ants!

When threatened, these little ISIS-like insects will sacrifice themselves by exploding their bodies and sliming their enemies with a sticky, yellow irritant that either scares them off or kills them. If they don’t run away, I’m guessing the enemy may die of shock as much as from being slimed. Because honestly, the last thing you expect when you’re in hand-to-hand-to-hand-to-hand (they’re insects, they have a lot of hands) combat with an ant, is for it to suddenly pull the pin and blow up.

All this is not to scare you. You can still sleep at night, because exploding ants seem to be found primarily in the rain forests of Borneo. Unless you’re reading this in a wet Borneo tree, then ramp up your concern levels. But how long before they show up here? How long before other insects catch on to this trick? Or reptiles?! Personally, I’d love to see all snakes explode. But what if it continues to spread? How long before you’re hiking through Yosemite and Yogi Bear explodes because you startled him? You only have to Google “exploding whale” to see the video of what happened in Oregon in 1970. (No, really. Do it.)

As a responsible journalist, I’m here to write the news, not invent it. If you think I’ve made all this up, check it out for yourself at www.ExplodingAnts.com. But wear your Kevlar.

Much Ado About Nothing – Bee Aware

Much Ado About Nothing April 19, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

Just when you think it’s safe to go back into the house, they show up. Hundreds of them. And they’re all buzzing and flying and crawling, coming into my home while I stand by seemingly helpless and mildly horrified: BEES! A swarm just smaller than something conjured by a frightening Stephen King novel was invading my house, establishing their own independent colony, and usurping my authority over my own domain. What these little airborne bumble bodies didn’t know was that they’d picked the wrong house.

Okay, they weren’t exactly John Belushi dressed as a Bandito bee demanding all our pollen. Nor were they the Astro’s Biggio, Bagwell, and Berkman. For that matter, they likely weren’t even killer bees at all. They were relatively harmless European honey bees excited over spring in full bloom looking for a place to set up shop for their honey buzzness. It just couldn’t be in my house.

Armed with the power of Google, I called three bee removal companies, all of which said they’d come to my house and spray them dead for a “fair and reasonable price to be negotiated later.” Suddenly, I’m more horrified by the bee wranglers than the infestation. With the exception of their South American cousins with anger management issues who actually want to kill off any life form near their hives, bees are actually on the more loveable end of the insect spectrum (as opposed to say, cockroaches). No possible way did I want the bees murdered in cold honey!

I wanted these bees relocated to a nice field of clover more than two miles from where I now live. I wanted them to forget my address. Forget my house. Forget the belief that taking over my attic was like annexing Poland as a first step to total world domination. Because, let’s face it, my house is only big enough for one all-important, omnipotent queen bee, and I’m still wearing the crown in this hive. So they just needed to be moved on.

Fortunately, I found apiarists (guys in bee tamer suits) who came immediately to calmly and politely remove the buzzing interlopers to a new better-suited location. So at the end of the day, I’m happy. The bees will be happier. And my check cleared so the bee guys will be happiest of all.

Much Ado About Nothing – Royal Wedding Prep

Much Ado About Nothing April 12, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

The invites are out for next month’s royal wedding, and I wait anxiously for mine to arrive, the whole while brushing up on a few key royal guest no-no’s in order to not be sent to the Tower to await beheading.

First of all, don’t hug the Queen. Did you hear that, Michelle Obama? Don’t hug the Queen. I know it was just that one time you put your hand on her back, but she’s squirrely about the whole personal space thing. I think this goes back thousands of royal generations. You think the Marquis de Sade is your buddy and just wants to give you a warm, happy hug, and the next thing you know, there’s a knife in your back. Happened all the time, just ask Julius Caesar. Sure the Knights of the Roundtable wear metal suits, but hardly practical for the Queen. This may be why you’re not invited this time. And why President Trump is also not invited.

Secondly, don’t send texts, update your status, or tweet. Really? I’m considering the caliber of the guest list here. Don’t people at this level have “people” to do that for them? Don’t they clench their jaws and say, “James, send a line to Mumsy to have Buffy’s polo pony walked.” Or “James, FaceBook that Lady Wallingford looks like a stuffed platypus in that horrible dress LOL.” The key here is to wait until after the nuptials to worry about Buffy’s polo pony. And remember that Lady Wallingford is one of your FaceBook friends, so she’ll read that.

Other tips: Back up when leaving the presence of the Royals. I don’t know if that is related to the fact that the lactose intolerant rarely get invited to these things or not. Just back up and don’t knock anything over. Also, ladies must wear a hat. The one you wore to the rodeo is a no. Yankees baseball cap is a double no. I wouldn’t even wear that one to a dog fight. Think pretty but low profile. You don’t want Lady Wallingford to smack it off your head because she can’t see the bride.

Prince Harry and Meghan are contemporary and a bit unconventional, but don’t expect that to mean that all the rules are right out the royal window. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to check the mailbox again.

Much Ado About Nothing – Coffee Cancer

Much Ado About Nothing April 5, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

And in happier news… well, there’s none of that. But California says your coffee will give you cancer, so you’ve got that to look forward to. According to the courts, roasting coffee beans creates – along with a steamy, hot cup of Joe — a chemical called acrylamide which has been linked to cancer. As a result, there has to be a warning posted to protect us from ourselves. Although, I’m not sure how you’re supposed to read the warning if you can’t actually pry your eyes open without drinking the coffee first.

I’m not a coffee drinker myself. To be honest, I’ve actually never had a cup of coffee in my ever-lengthening life. I went through college during the age of Jolt Cola, which was the equivalent of a caffeinated atomic bomb. You drank one at the beginning of the semester and didn’t actually sleep again until a week after mid-terms. So I never found the need for coffee, nor did the taste appeal to me. But I understand the bond people have with their coffee cups. How else do you explain Starbucks?

So correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t every researcher and nutritionist touting the health benefits of coffee? You only have to Google to find studies showing it reduces risk of heart disease, hair loss, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, and lowers the risk for early death. Unless you die of acrylamide sourced cancer, I guess.

Tell me, too, why aren’t those same courts up in arms about the fact that there’s also formaldehyde in coffee beans that comes out when you roast them. As I recall from my high school biology days, anything drenched in formaldehyde wasn’t exactly healthy.

Maybe it’s because I’ve grown up in the shadow of the petroleum and chemical plants most of my life, but I’m thinking there are bigger risks out there than a café-latte-expresso-mocha with a shot of moo juice (or whatever you call those expensive designer coffee drinks). There are a lot of people doing a whole lot of things to keep folks from being exposed to nasty stuff. But we have to face the facts that we’re a Better Living Through Chemistry kind of society and it comes with risks. So does stepping out your front door on a daily basis. So enjoy your coffee, but wear your seatbelts.

Much Ado About Nothing – MLB Opening Day

Much Ado About Nothing March 29, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

It’s been exactly 148 days of dark, cold, baseball-less winter. Four months and 28 days since the Houston Astros won the 2017 World Series. But it is Opening Day for Major League Baseball and I’m as happy as a tick on a fat dog. The Cracker Jacks® are cracking, the hot dogs are grilling, and the Astros are gearing up for another run on the Title. These are the days filled with great hope, optimism, and a belief that all can be right with the world. Until it’s not.

There are some weird things brewing in the back offices of America’s game. Since I haven’t gotten the call up to take over as the Commissioner of the MLB, there isn’t much I can do about these proposed changes. Obviously, if I had any say at all, the Astros wouldn’t be playing in the American League West; there’d be no such thing as a designated hitter; and there’d be a cap on salaries and ticket prices.

So somewhere in the Halls of Power, someone is drunk. In order to speed up the game, the MLB is proposing that each extra inning starts with a runner at second base. I can only wonder if the players will also be expected to sell those $1 chocolate bars to raise money for the party at the end of the season, if there will be 10-run rule, and will the winning team get free snow cones from the concession stand?

From someone who sat up to watch all 18 innings of the Astros game against the Atlanta Braves in 2005, I think this is a ridiculous, pointless rule. If they’re going to do that, then why not just call the game after five innings? Why play at all? Just send the two owners to the mound and flip a coin. Heads gets a win and a bath in a cooler of blue Gatorade. Tails has to eat one of the new pickle corndogs that the Texas Rangers will be selling at their stadium this season. Poor food choices are just one more reason to not like the Rangers. If you need more reasons, hit me up. There’s a long list.

From the five-year old with a glove bigger than his head to Jose Altuve once again besting his own batting records, it’s finally time. Let’s Play Ball!

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