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Much Ado About Nothing – Death of Common Sense

Much Ado About Nothing August 15, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

It is with deep grief that we announce the unfortunate passing of Common Sense. Despite a steep decline over recent years, Common Sense had been a well-loved and critical part of the community, often playing an important part of key decisions as well as in the everyday lives of neighbors and friends. Common Sense was born from Logic and Rational Thinking, both of which died many years ago. Many will not notice the quiet passing, unfortunately, as Common Sense was rarely seen in public anymore, but the loss will be felt nonetheless.

“Forbes” magazine was quick to publish the obituary, at least indirectly. They ran an op-ed piece recently by Panos Mourdoukoutas, an economist with Long Island University, entitled, “Amazon Should Replace Local Libraries to Save Taxpayers Money.” Few things could announce the death of Common Sense more loudly than this. Perhaps Mr. Mourdoukoutas has never actually been into a public library to realize what a vibrant, progressive, necessary place they still are. I think, as a taxpayer myself, I’d rather save money by no longer funding his job at Long Island University. I wonder if you could get free shipping on an Idiot Stick from Amazon Prime that could then be used to beat some sense into that man.

Sadly, the departure of Common Sense has left an intense vacuum which seems to be impacting all aspects of life across the globe. Evidence of it was seen in Cairo where the International Garden municipal park refuses to acknowledge that the “zebra” currently on display in the zebra enclosure is actually a donkey. It’s a donkey painted with black stripes. The poor unsuspecting donkey must feel like a complete ass because the black paint is smeared and running so badly he looks more like Tammy Faye Bakker after an ugly cry. Alas, Common Sense is no longer here to step in and shine a bright light into the zebra pens of our lives.

Common Sense was anything but common, but there’s still time to keep the memory alive. We must all work together, speak up when we see dumb things happening. We must do more than just shake our heads and post pictures of the ridiculous on social media. We must Stop the Stupidity! Who remembers Common Sense?! Who’s with me?! … Anyone? … Hello? … (crickets).

What I Heard This Week! August 9, 2018

What I Heard This Week August 8, 2018

Eleven ‘financial industry’ employees ranging in age from 21 to 60, will split $543-million, the biggest prize in California lottery history after each one chipped in $2. They all plan to keep their jobs. The owner of Ernie’s Liquor store in San Jose will get his own million-dollar check as his reward for selling the ticket.


The Rolls-Royce Cullinan is a ‘very nice’ SUV and is now available as the first SUV in the British automaker’s 112-year history. For a base price of only $325,000 (I did NOT add an extra zero) you can have a vertical Parthenon (think Greek goddess Athena) grille, a spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament and umbrellas hidden in coach doors that shut automatically with a push of a button. Every Rolls-Royce is hand-crafted by 60 carmakers. It has a top speed of 155-mph, features hand-cut wooden trim and hand-sewn leather details with lambswool floor mats. Options include a rear info-tainment system where passengers can input directions to the driver, a rear center console with a whiskey decanter, a rear tailgate set with mechanized fold-out chairs and a table. Sorry, the chauffeur is extra.


According to Zillow, the median home value in Texas is $185,900 and the median home value in Houston is $178,300. So that tells me that you can buy almost two houses in either Houston or the State of Texas or you could just settle for one lonely SUV with what looks like a woman flying with sheets wrapped around her arms then stuck in the middle the hood. Priorities.


Rosamond Gifford Zoo in upstate New York is proud to announce the birth of twin red pandas, an endangered species found in Asia. Their names are Loofah and Doofah after characters in “The Land Before Time.” Then, rescued and rehabbed harbor seal pups, Tomato and Ravioli, made their public debut at Moody Gardens Aquarium. Both are considered un-releasable because of poor eyesight and neurologic & balance problems.


Shark Week: A woman and two men pulled a horn shark named Miss Helen out of her tank at the San Antonio Aquarium, wrapped her in a blanket then pushed her out of the aquarium in a baby stroller. Video showed it all, so the thief had no choice but to direct police to his personal aquarium where he had placed the shark.


Terry and the T-Birds in concert. August 18th Lake Jackson Civic Center 979-415-2600


Alan Alda, 82, star of M*A*S*H, revealed that he has been living with Parkinson’s disease for over three years. “The reason I want to talk about it in public is that I was diagnosed 3-1/2years ago and I’ve had a full life since. I thought it’s probably only a matter of time before somebody does a story about this from a sad point of view, but that’s not where I am.” Alda says he went to the doctors after reading that acting out one’s dreams could be an early warning sign of the disorder. He is also speaking out to reassure people that they do not have to be fearful after a diagnosis. He boxes three times a week, plays tennis and marches to John Philip Sousa music because it’s good for Parkinson’s. Thank you, Alan Alda.


Freaky Friday, the Musical, will broadcast this Friday evening on the Disney channel.


‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’ – This sequel seems to be a totally ridiculous mixture of joy, good songs, dance, love and all sorts of cheesy, happy and weepy moments. I cried. I laughed. Honestly, if you can’t go and just enjoy it for what it is, then leave the rest of us alone so we can continue singing.


Maya Angelou – “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”


RECENT BIRTHDAYS: Actor Patrick Stewart is 78. Actor comedian Cheech Marin is 72. Actor director Cameron Crowe is 61. Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Before moving into the film industry, Crowe was a contributing editor at Rolling Stone magazine. Actor Giancarlo Giannini is 76.  He dubbed Jack Nicholson’s voice in the Italian release of both The Shining and Batman and is the official Italian dubber for Al Pacino. Rock singer Joe Elliott is 59. Def Leppard. Rapper Chuck D. is 59. Public Enemy.


Singer Tony Bennett is 92 and just released his new single with Diana Krall. He will be at Smart Financial Centre later this month. Singer Christine McVie is 75. Fleetwood Mac. Fitness guru Richard Simmons is 70. Actress Cheryl Ladd is 67. Actor Darryl Hickman is 87. The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. Comic strip creator Jim Davis is 73. Garfield. Actress Sally Struthers is 71. Gloria Stivic on All in the Family. Jazz musician producer Delfeayo Marsalis is 53.


In nature, when a new queen splits from her original hive, all the bees with her must find a new home. So, when you see this happening it will look like a swarm (because it is) but it is pretty safe if you don’t provoke them. When you have a problem with bees, always call a professional (beekeeper) that will help protect and save the bees – not an exterminator. WE NEED BEES.


Lady Gaga announced her Las Vegas concert residency at Park Theater at the new Park MGM resort. She will have two different shows scheduled; ‘Jazz & Piano’ and ‘Pop.’


Pink Eye is transferred from person-to-person quickly, lasts one to two weeks, is not treatable with antibiotics and seems to be on the rise this summer. The strain making its way around right now is viral instead of bacterial and more resistant to medication. WASH YOUR HANDS, don’t touch your face. Learn to sneeze into your elbow since the virus can travel with a sneeze. If you have someone in your family that happens to get this charmer, then wipe down your door and cabinet knobs, wash your sheets and towels in hot water, change your pillow case often and your tube of mascara. Now, I bet that your eye is itching or watering just reading this. Mine is.


In Texas, “Aren’t you precious,” translates to “At least your Mama thinks you’re pretty.”


French lawmakers passed legislation banning students as old as 15 from bringing smartphones and tablets to school unless they are turned off. Officials believe, “This is a way to shield children from addictive habits and to safeguard the sanctity of the classroom.” Way to go!


Socrates – “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”


Saint Arnold Brewing was founded 24-years ago by Brock Wagner. His beautiful new beer garden and restaurant is open to the public seven days a week. Enjoy beer, food, architecture, art and a view of downtown Houston. Love that Lawnmower.


JOKE: I was visiting my daughter and son-in-law last night when I asked if I could borrow a newspaper.  
‘This is the 21st century,’ he said. ‘We don’t waste money on newspapers. Here, you can borrow my iPad.’  I can tell you, that mosquito never knew what hit it…


University of Houston All-American defensive tackle Ed Oliver is featured on one of four regional covers for the college football preview issue of Sports Illustrated. The headline reads: “Ed Oliver Is A Big Boss. For the Cougars Now. In the NFL Draft Next Year.”


It looks like Australia just built the world’s longest cat-proof fence bordering the Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary. It’s 27.3-miles long and after they clear the area of cats and other predators, they will introduce eleven different endangered species as part of a “rewilding” campaign. The mala is a marsupial that looks like a cross between a rabbit and a rat is only one of Australia’s most endangered mammals. Eventually the fence will extend another 84 miles making it one of the most important conservation infrastructure pieces in Australia. Feral and pet cats kill more than a million birds in Australia every single day.


Baby diapers, tissues and toilet paper are expected to get more expensive as demands for wood pulp increases. At the Source Weekly office, we can tell you that the price of paper used in this newspaper you are reading right now has increased significantly over the past few months. So please pass this paper along to a neighbor, a recycle sack or to the SPCA. We’ve got to start taking better care of our planet.


In the District of Columbia, about 18 to 22 “Violence Interrupters” will be on the streets after receiving 40 hours of mediation training. Interrupters cruise the streets of the toughest neighborhoods to identify and intervene in neighborhood conflicts and issues before they intensify. Hmmm.


This is really sad. Sabine Ntongo dropped her children off at their father’s apartment for visitation early on Saturday morning. His children cried, and the young son told his father “Daddy, I’m sorry,” just minutes before his father allegedly slit the children’s throats and left them on the bed, telling his wife he’d left her a ‘present.’ Jean Pierre Ndossoka has been charged with capital murder in the deaths of his 1-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son. I’m speechless. Stories like this used to be unusual. It seems to be the norm now.


My daughter will be studying Industrial/Packaging Design in college this fall. She plans to place special emphasis on finding more recyclable or compostable products that are safer for our beautiful home, Earth. She has longed for this career since she was a little girl. In my reading I found that Kraft Heinz Co. has just announced that it plans to make 100 percent of its packaging globally recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025. They admit that it will be a tough road. Other consumer companies that have set deadlines to make their products more friendly to the environment include Unilever (Bryer’s, Dove,  Hellman’s Knorr, Lifebuoy, Lipton and more), Procter & Gamble (Always, Bounty, Charmin, Crest, Dawn, Downy, Febreze, Gain, Luvs, Head & Shoulders, Olay, Oral-B, Pampers, Tide and lots more), Nestle (over 2000 brands including Alpo, Carnation, Cat Chow,  Friskies, Fancy Feast, Gerber, Haagen-Dazs), and Colgate Palmolive (Colgate, Softsoap, Lady Speed Stick, Murphy Oil Soap, Tom’s of Maine, Fabuloso and more).  As consumers, we HAVE to make sure that we set our standards high and ONLY buy products that are safe for our Earth.  Starting today.


Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans. John Lennon


A friend of mine has a 2-year-old son in addition to 2 older teen daughters. In my opinion, boys are just different than girls. She recently let some of her friends know that she has had to resort to the ‘old wooden spoon’ to convince him to stay buckled up in his car seat. I sent her a note letting her know that when my son was younger he had to sign and date the spoons. (I say ‘spoonS’ because sometimes they would disappear, so I had several stashed in various locations.) It wasn’t often that I actually ‘had to use’ the spoon, I just had to flash it.  Often. I do miss those days. The only thing a mom can do now is to turn off the wi-fi or quit paying their phone bill. The wooden spoon was so much more fun.


Thanks again for reading this and have a great weekend. Lisa

Much Ado About Nothing – Food Offended

Much Ado About Nothing August 8, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

Burger King offends me. Standing in allegiance with vegans and vegetarians everywhere, I must demand that they change their name. Burger, naturally, is an affront to the sensibilities of all animal lovers everywhere. Not to mention, the idea of having a crowned ruler dictating over a bun-oriented sandwich of any type seems highly archaic. To show greater tolerance and understanding, Burger King must forthwith be called Plant Based Protein Socialist Leader.

Dairy Queen also offends me. On behalf of everyone who may be lactose intolerant and unable to speak up for themselves due to irritable bowel, stomach pain and gas, I will be their voice. Again there’s the obvious issue with the crowned head of state thing, which is, of course, offensive, except to a very small portion of the LGBQT population. We’ll give partial credit for that. Otherwise, the name Dairy Queen must be updated to a more sensitive Soy Replacement Benevolent Monarch.

Freebirds World Burritos are okay. They seem to be inclusive of all avian species across the planet and have designated them as free. FreeRangeBirds World Burritos would be even better. No one wants a burrito raised in a cage, so that’d be taking the responsible extra step to ensure that there’s no possibility of anyone being offended.

Chick-fil-A, however, is a problem. While I understand it holds a high level of popularity, it has come under fire for the Conservative views of their ownership. I believe that changing the name to Empowered-Woman-fil-A would go a long way to correcting a lot of the offenses, both real and imaginary. You wouldn’t name a restaurant Babe-fil-A or Broad-fil-A. Chick-fil-A just is no longer politically correct and offends all women and those who want to be women or think their women or know women even casually.

In a world where we are all so deeply offended by every single last living thing, I think it’s time that the dining industry do their time in the hot seat. They must stop with the oppression and put the happy back in every single meal for every single person as dictated by that person’s believes and opinions no matter how individual or oddball.

So, if you don’t mind, I’d like a #2 Meal with a Diet Coke and a side of total tolerance and acceptance. Oh, and hold the onions. Onion breath is offensive.

What I Heard This Week! August 2, 2018

What I Heard This Week August 2, 2018

An experimental therapy for Alzheimer’s disease, has slowed mental decline by 30 percent in patients who got the highest dose in a mid-stage study and it also removed much of the sticky plaque that gums up the brain. Please hurry.


New federal law requires restaurants with more than 20 locations to post calorie numbers on menus and menu boards so we stupid humans can make better choices with our eating habits especially since the average American now eats approximately 200 more calories than they should per day. They’re calling it “calorie sticker shock,” as people are now realizing just how many calories most restaurant food contains. And it’s not just fast food. For instance, a plate of Chicken and Shrimp Carbonara at Olive Garden – 1,590 calories. One slice of P.F. Chang’s Great Wall of Chocolate Cake – 1,730 calories. Buffalo Wild Wing’s All-Star Sampler with Crispy Tenders and Signature Sauce – 2,450 calories. Red Robin’s Towering Onion Rings – 1,890 calories. A tub of movie popcorn – 1000 calories. So, you think a salad might be better? How about the California Pizza Kitchen Quinoa & Arugula Salad, which sounds perfect to me? Nope. It’s 1070 calories. How about The Cheesecake Factory Santa Fe Salad? 1,740 calories. And the IHOP Chicken & Spinach Salad with Grilled Chicken. 1,100 calories. We should just stay home and eat celery and drink water. Heck, a Krispy Kreme Chocolate Iced Glazed Doughnut has 240 calories all by itself, but who can stop at just one.


The manager of the only remaining Blockbuster Video store in the US says, “It’s pretty exciting that we are the last holdout…it’s very nostalgic. We have a bunch of 19-year-olds working here – it’s fun explaining to them what a floppy disk is.” – Sandi Harding


Former Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III is selling his Lake Conroe home for $2.6-million. I knew I should have encouraged and directed my children towards sports, more than I did.


Adopting stricter child marriage laws, Missouri Governor Mike Parson has signed a bill to raise the minimum marriage age to 16. What? Missouri had been the only state that allowed children at age 15 to marry with only one parent’s approval, even if the other parent objected. In May, Delaware became the first state in the nation to ban child marriage to anyone under 18, no exceptions. Hmmm. Do you know of any 15, 16, 17 or even 18-year-olds that have the education, maturity or need to be married at this age? Nope, me neither.


“It’s all about saving lives. Each life matters. When you rescue an animal from a shelter, you are saving two lives – the one that you are adopting and the next one who needs that space.” Beth Stern, wife of Howard Stern


The maker of the chocolate KitKat bar has tried for 16-years to trademark the four-finger breakaway shape, arguing that it deserves protection, but a European court ruled against KitKat and Nestle, and instead sided with makers of Kvikk Lunji, a Norwegian snack launched in 1937, two years after KitKat hit UK shelves., that is shaped almost exactly the same as KitKat.


On July 29th, 1981, thirty-seven years ago, we all watched in awe as Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer, a young English schoolteacher. Their first child, Prince William, was born about 11 months later and Prince Harry was born in September 1984.


On July 31st, 1975, Jimmy Hoffa disappeared in Detroit, Michigan. He was one of the most influential American labor leaders of the 20th century despite his relationships and partnering with mobsters throughout the 60’s. A popular belief is that he was the victim of a Mafia hit.


RECENT BIRTHDAYS: Rock musician Verdine White is 67.  Earth, Wind and Fire. Actor Ronny Cox is 80. Deliverance. Actor Woody Harrelson is 57. ‘Cheers.’ Activist Monica Lewinsky is 45. Blue Dress. Actor Daniel Radcliffe is 29. ‘Harry Potter.’ Rock star Mick Jagger is 75. Actress Helen Mirren is 73. Olympic gold medal figure skater Dorothy Hamill is 62.

Actress Sandra Bullock is 54. Blues musician Buddy Guy is 82. Movie director Peter Bogdanovich is 79. ‘Paper Moon.’ Singer Paul Anka is 77. Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is 71. Filmmaker actor Richard Linklater is 58. He was born in Houston and is now working on ’Where’d You Go, Bernadette’ which was a great book. Bet it makes a great movie.

Actor Laurence Fishburne is 57. Actress Lisa Kudrow is 55. There is some speculation that there may be a reboot of ‘Friends’ soon. Actress Hilary Swank is 44. Actor Jerry Houser is 66. ‘Summer of ’42.’  Actress Jane Lynch is 58. Actor Matthew Fox is 52. Jack Shepherd on ‘Lost.’ Cartoonist Garry Trudeau is 70. Comedian Jon Lovitz is 61. ‘Saturday Night Live.’ Soccer player Brandi Chastain is 50. In 2017, she was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

Former actor Jamie Waylett is 29. His only role is that of Vincent Crabbe in six of the eight’ Harry Potter’ films. Author Tom Robbins is 86. Game show host Alex Trebek is 78. Singer George Clinton is 77. Actor Danny Glover is 72. Actor Willem Dafoe is 63. Actor John Leguizamo is 54. Chi-Chi in ‘To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar.’  Actor comedian David Spade is 54. Actress Selena Gomez is 26. Britain’s Prince George of Cambridge is 5.


Nancy Sinatra Sr., the first wife of Frank Sinatra and the mother of his three children, died at the age of 101.  She married Frank Sinatra in 1939 as he was struggling to launch his singing career, sewing his signature silk bow ties and skillfully cooking his favorite Italian dishes, but it wasn’t enough for the husband who did little to hide his flings with stars like Lana Turner, Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe and Angie Dickinson. They divorced in 1951 and within a week Sinatra had married Ava Gardner. Nancy Sinatra Sr. is survived by her daughters, 78-year-old singer-actress Nancy Sinatra Jr. (These Boots are Made for Walking) and 70-year-old television producer Tina Sinatra. Son, Frank Sinatra Jr. died in 2016 at 72, of a heart attack.  Frank Sinatra died in 1998 at 82, also of a heart attack.


Rabbit Trail: In reading about the Sinatra’s life, I found the story about the kidnapping of Frank Sinatra Jr. on December 8, 1963, at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe. He was 19 at the time and released two days later after his father paid the $240,000 ransom demand (which I think would be about $2-million in today’s money.) The kidnappers wanted all communication to be conducted by payphone (a public telephone that is operated by coins.)  During these conversations, Sinatra Sr. was very concerned that he would run out of coins, which then brought about the habit of him carrying 10 dimes with him at all times for the rest of his life. He was even buried with 10 dimes in his pocket. Great story.


The Toronto Blue Jays have traded suspended closer Roberto Osuna to the Houston Astros in exchange for Ken Giles and two minor league pitchers. Osuna is currently serving a 75-game suspension under MLB’s Domestic Violence Policy. He was charged with assaulting a woman in May and pleaded not guilty. Hmmm.


A Baytown woman wanted for outstanding drug charges, allegedly jabbed a police K9 dog twice (around his eyes) with an eyebrow brush while police were trying to arrest her. The poor pooch was treated at a veterinarian’s office and put back on duty.


Relatives of the nine family members killed in the ‘Duck Boat’ incident in Branson, Missouri, have filed a lawsuit against the company and are seeking $100-million.


San Francisco voted to ban carryout containers and wrappers treated with fluorinated chemicals, eliminate drinking straws and many non-recyclable plastic items like coffee stirrers…single use plastics are choking our marine ecosystems and littering our world.


At least five unsuspecting League City families fell victim to a Craigslist housing scam where they signed leases and paid thousands of dollars, only to discover that the homes were already rented and owned by another company other than the one that they paid their money to. Is everything a scam now?


“Love never Dies” – The Broadway sequel to ‘Phantom of the Opera’ was touring in Houston, is my daughter’s favorite musical and we had tickets which just happened to be on her 19th birthday. We ate first at Jinya – the very best Ramen Bar and our family’s favorite place to eat right now – especially the fried Brussels sprouts tempura, the pork melts in your mouth and the Jinya Bun is like eating a cloud.  We shopped a little, then fought the horrible traffic to get to Theatre Under the Stars on time. The review I read before this show was not flattering at all, so we were not expecting perfection. Surprise. The costumes were great, the sets were outstanding, and the actors didn’t miss a beat even though it was a Sunday evening of understudies. Was the storyline odd? Yes, of course, but let’s face it, the story of the original Phantom of the Opera is pretty, dang weird. ‘A deformed man, known as Phantom lives in the sewers underneath Paris Opera House and falls in love with a chorus singer, then kidnaps her.’ The sequel just adds Coney Island to the story. Conclusion: we liked ‘Love Never Dies’ just fine.


Last night, I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend a concert with my sweet son. I say fortunate, because he is almost 22-years-old and still wants to share 70’s rock-n-roll with me. He is super lucky in his ability to procure memorable tickets. In this case, he found $9.00 tickets online, so we ordered three, but they chose instead to send four tickets along with a note AND three paid ‘Valet’ parking passes. Hmmm. What’s the catch? When we got there, we pulled up to a special drive-through section where they not only parked our car, but then someone took us upstairs in the elevator to our box seat area where we found a sofa, two chairs and four bar stools that overlooked the private twenty-person seating area and the stage. There were super nice hand towels in the bathroom with the Mercedes-Benz of Sugar Land logo on them. I felt like I had been raised in a cave and gone to the big city for the first time. We always buy the cheapest seats available and can only believe that the box seats were not selling well so they discounted them, and we just happened to win the lottery. It was great. Oh, the concert was Jeff Beck of Yardbirds fame, Paul Rodgers of Bad Company, and Ann Wilson of Heart. Ann Wilson is crazy good, but I missed the music of Heart, Jeff Beck can still play the guitar like nobody’s business, but Paul Rodgers was phenomenal.  He’s 68, but you would never know it, the way he sounded and pranced around the stage. Hard to believe that ‘All Right Now’ was his number-one hit in 1970. My only problem was with the loudness.  Easy solution, Anne-Elisabeth and I just sat inside where it was quieter and had a wonderful time.


This morning, since it was my birthday, my daughter made breakfast for me. Scrambled eggs, avocado toast and coffee. Yum. Well, as I took my first bite, I was overcome with the smell of garlic. Trying to be gracious, I smiled sweetly and asked her if she had used garlic. Yes. How much? Well, it seems that when she sprinkled, the garlic dumped out and she loves garlic, so she thought to herself, “If a little is good then a bunch must be great.” Needless to say, I will not worry about vampires or zombie apocalypse today, but please excuse me while I go brush my teeth again.


Have a great week, and thanks for reading this. Lisa

Much Ado About Nothing – Begging Kids

Much Ado About Nothing August 2, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

Parents, when you jokingly told your kids to go play in traffic because summer is wearing thin and so are your nerves, did you not realize they thought you meant it? While in Houston this past weekend, I was stopped at two different, very busy intersections in two different parts of town and encountered children begging among the cars. These kids, who ranged from maybe 7-years old to mid-teens, were going car to car with football helmets asking for money. No responsible adults were anywhere to be seen. I’m guessing there are no responsible adults anywhere to be seen in their lives period. What the heck, people?!

And so my rant begins. First of all, there is not one single microscopic fiber of my being that has birthed children that will let me encourage, support or condone this. One of these boys was barely tall enough to see in the window of the cars which made it pretty difficult to see him, especially when he started darting through the cars to get to the median when the light changed. How difficult would it be to stuff one of them into a car as traffic started moving and that child never be seen again? Seems like prime pickings for human trafficking to me, but I suppose I’m just an over-protective fatalist, right?

All that aside, not for one minute did I believe these kids were collecting money for a youth football team, maybe because I want to live in a world where there is no such youth sports league that would send children into heavy traffic to raise money. Bottom line, the kids were just begging. Stop me if this is an insane idea, but, since they’re obviously not actually playing football, maybe they could spend some of their time earning money working at a job. Crazy, huh?

If a little kid rang my doorbell and wanted to use my bucket, my soap, my water and my hose to wash my car, I’d pay him $10 to do it. I’d go $20 if he was big enough to wax it, too. If a kid rang my doorbell and said he’d do whatever job I’d give him to earn a little money, I’d invent work for him. But whoever taught these kids to go beg in traffic or even permitted it should be flogged. Rant over.

What I Heard This Week! July 26, 2018

What I Heard This Week July 26, 2018

According to the Planet Fitness website, this chain promises a “Judgement Free Zone,” where members feel comfortable regardless of their fitness level.” In New Hampshire, one member walked in, stripped off all his clothes, walked across the gym a couple of times, found a mat and struck a yoga pose. He was arrested for his nakedness and said that he thought it was a judgement-free zone (which is nothing like a clothing free zone.) There is belief that he might have been under the influence of ‘something.’


Retired attorney, Marshall Fogel of Denver, owns a pristine 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle baseball card that is insured for $12-million but believed to be worth more than that. It was recently delivered to the History Colorado Center for a 72-hour public display because the owner wanted the community to enjoy looking at the card. People told him that he was stupid to pay $120,000 for it in 1996. They now call him “wisely eccentric.” Great story.


Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon in 1994 and CEO, is now the wealthiest person in modern history, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index, which says he reached the $150-billion mark last week which is $55-billion ahead of the world’s second-richest person, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, whose net worth is about $95.3-billion.


According to Wikipedia, “Shark Week originally premiered in 1988 on the Discovery Channel and was devoted to conservation efforts and correcting misconceptions about sharks.” As it has grown in popularity it has become a super hit. Since 2010, it has been the longest-running cable television programming event in history. PS – it started July 22. Shark Week.


In Houston, another child was left behind, forgotten in a sweltering vehicle for over three hours. People get busy and forget, but it is our job to remember the little ones, the aging and animals that can’t take care of themselves. Again, add something to your back seat next to your passenger, like your shoe, something that you need or have to have when you leave the car. I left Lily the dwarf hamster in my back seat one time. I didn’t know that my kids brought her along that morning, so she could go back to my office where she lived. My son cried for 24 hours straight.


Sitting at my desk this morning while working on this column, out of the corner of my eye I saw a lady walk by my dirty office window. Since people walk by my office all day long, I didn’t think much about it until Connie came around the corner and asked who she was because she had just dropped off a beautiful plateful of decorated cupcakes. I rushed outside and found her just as she got into her car. Bluntness was the only solution, “Thank you for the cupcakes, but who are you?”  Our sweet customer had just “purchased the treats at a fundraiser for a woman with cancer” and decided to bless people with drop-off’s (but prefers to remain anonymous.) How sweet. I have told my children that in life, you are responsible for doing nice things for other people because ‘it’s the right thing to do.’ It makes both of you feel good BUT even more important is to do it anonymously, not telling a soul, because that’s when the real blessings come to heart. Thank you, anonymous, for the treats and the blessings.


The Great Texas Mosquito Festival is this weekend. In addition to the petting zoo, barbecue cookoff (brisket, beef fajita, chicken & pork spareribs), Horseshoe Tournament, Grill-Master Cookoff, Mosquito Chase 5K Run, BASF Kid Run, Washer Pitching Tournament, Carnival, Haystack Dive, Cornhole, Mosquito Calling, Mosquito Legs and Karaoke, there are guest acts – Across Life (Christian band), The Spazmatics (geek chic), David Nail (country), Shayne Still (country), Bag of Donuts (super-pop) and Kevin Fowler (modest honky-tonk country).  See page 14 for schedule of events or go to MosquitoFestival.com.


RECENT BIRTHDAYS: Author Carmac McCarthy is 85. No Country for Old Men. “My perfect day is sitting in a room with some blank paper. That’s heaven. That’s gold, and anything else is just a waste of time. Supermodel Gisele Bundchen is 38. Author & underwater explorer Clive Cussler is 87. Founder of National Underwater and Marine Agency, which has discovered more than 60 shipwreck sites and numerous other notable underwater wrecks and author of more than 70 books.

Actor Jan-Michael Vincent is 74. Airwolf. Singer Linda Ronstadt is 72. She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2012, which left her unable to sing. What a gift she has given us in music. Arianna Huffington is 68. Co-founder of the Huffington Post. Actor Terry O’Quinn is 66. John Locke on Lost. Rock musician Joe Satriani is 62. Deep Purple, Chicken Foot. 80’s Supermodel Kim Alexis is 58. Actor-Director Forest Whitaker is 57. The Butler. Actress Bridgette Nielson is 55. Last month, she had her fifth child, a girl and is mother to four sons, the oldest being 34.

Actress Phoebe Cates is 55. Comedian Will Ferrell is 51. Actor Corey Feldman is 47. Gremlins, The Goonies and Stand by Me. Sports announcer Jimmy Johnson is 75. Actor James Brolin is 78. Married to Barbara Streisand since 1998. Singer Martha Reeves is 77. Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. Businessman Richard Branson is 68. Virgin Records. “My interest in life comes from setting myself huge, apparently unachievable challenges and trying to rise above them.”

Singer Ricky Skaggs is 64. Actor Vin Diesel is 51. Singer, songwriter, actor, musician, activist, and politician Ruben Blades is 70.  Actor director George Dzundza is 73. Basic Instinct, Crimson Tide and The Deer Hunter. Actor Anthony Edwards is 56. Dr. Mark Greene in ER. Actor Benedict Cumberbatch is 42.  Rock musician Carlos Santana is 71. “The most valuable possession you can own is an open heart. The most powerful weapon you can be is an instrument of peace.”

Harrison Ford is 76. Because of script problems, the release of the ‘still-untitled’ Indiana Jones 5, has been delayed to July 2021. Yikes. That will make Harrison Ford just hours away from turning 79. It’s hard for me to believe that Raiders of the Lost Ark was released in 1981. I don’t care how old he is, I will be first in line to see him again.


A woman in Michigan once found a second-hand sofa on the street with a “free” sign attached to it so she “smelled it and everything – it looked okay.” Later, she found a 4-ft. boa constrictor in the cushions. Which leads me to this. Roommates in Virginia came home to find a snake in the toilet. I bet that was fun to watch. Talk about scaring the pee-pee out of you. After deciding the snake was real, they configured a noose on a fishing pole that enabled them to get the snake without harm. Animal control determined that it was a female ball python bred to be a pet, which was good because miles away, her owners were looking for their lost pet snake which had been missing for over two weeks. Speculation was that she came through the sewer, but more likely is she crawled into the house, then into the toilet for a drink. Either way, I’m like Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones, “Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?”


Since there have been some super, hot days recently, we all need to do our part to conserve electricity in our area. They are asking us to reduce energy usage all the time but especially between 3-7pm. Raise thermostats up by 2-3 degrees, set programmable thermostats to higher temp when you’re not at home, use ceiling fans and limit use of dishwashers, washers and dryers in the morning or late evening hours, and if you’re lucky enough to have a pool, schedule your pump to shut off during this same time. There are more things you can do, but these are ones that suck huge energy and can be started today at your home or office.


When I was in my early 20’s, one of my first (of many) dinner parties was planned around a recipe I found in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, King Ranch Casserole, a recipe unknown to me at the time, but it sounded delicious. Nowadays it’s everywhere; you know, it’s the “popular girl” at all potluck affairs. I cooked it that fated evening and it was beautiful! Just one small setback that really spoiled the night…I was a novice and hadn’t cooked enough to know the difference between condensed milk and ‘sweetened’ condensed milk, therefore the final tasting didn’t go over very well at all, so we ended up with pizza. No problem. There are currently many versions of this recipe but the following one is quick to fix because it uses canned soup and rotisserie chicken but it’s sooo delicious. Lady Bird Johnson listed King Ranch Casserole as her favorite dish to serve at LBJ Ranch.

King Ranch Chicken: 8-10 servings. Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix together meat from a rotisserie chicken and 2-tablespoons chili powder.  Set aside. Dice a medium onion and a bell pepper, sauté in olive oil and/or butter until softened, then add, 1 (10.75-ounce) nacho cheese soup, 1 (10.5-ounce) cream of mushroom soup, 1 (10.5-ounce) cream of chicken soup, 1 (14.5-ounce) Ro-tel tomatoes, 1 (7-ounce) can green chilies. Mix. Warm.  Add chicken mixture to pan. Warm. Butter a 9-by-13-inch pan and spread a small amount of the mixture on the bottom then completely cover the bottom with 12 corn tortillas, half the chicken mixture then 2 cups cheddar cheese. Layer another 12 corn tortillas, remaining chicken mixture and 2 more cups of cheddar cheese. Place casserole on baking sheet on middle oven rack for 35-40 minutes until bubbly. Remove, let cool for 10-15 minutes, garnish with sour cream, diced tomatoes, jalapenos and cilantro with a side of guacamole, a salad and some tortilla chips.


I have just written a song about tortillas. Actually, it’s more of a rap.


The University of Houston has received an anonymous $3-million gift to fund tuition for its planned medical school’s inaugural class. Since the average medical school debt is $190,000, this is huge. UH hopes to begin instruction in fall 2020.


Thoughts on flying. Having just come back from a vacation where air travel was involved, it is still fresh in my memory that one single person can deliver either a lovely memory of your flight or brutal thoughts of the whole vacation. Here goes. 1.) Keep your feet in your own space especially if you are, gasp, barefooted. I don’t care if your pedicure looks great – I don’t want to see one little pinky toe in ‘my’ personal space. Gross. Bring a fresh pair of socks with you just in case you need to take your shoes off. 2.) On one flight I thought there was a child sitting behind me – bumping, kicking, shoving the back of the seat, the side of the seat and underneath the seat, the entire flight. As soon as we landed, I reached down to find my purse on the floor and when I stood up, I hit my head on him because he was leaning over the back of my seat. A grown man. I gave him ’the look’ I give my ex-husband. You know ‘the look.’ 3.) What makes you think that you can sneak ahead and board before me? We set alarms to remind us to get our boarding passes, so set your own alarm or stand behind me in numerical order. We earned this position. 4.) Jumping on your phone the moment we unbuckle, then yelling over the loud noises that still exist. “We’ve just landed. I can talk now.”  Wait five minutes or just text. 5.) Use your elbow when you sneeze, cough, belch or anything else that has spit flying freely. Manners please.


Auction house, Profiles in History, will be auctioning off more than 1,900 personal items of Liza Minnelli from July 30 to August 1. When the singer-actress and daughter of Judy Garland, moved from NY to LA in 2015, she decided to clean house, so there will be costumes, clothes, photographs, belongings of her mom and dad, Vincente Minnelli, as well as gifts from Frank Sinatra and the replica of The Wizard of Oz shoes that Liza wore to her second wedding to Jack Haley Jr. (whose father was the Tin Man in OZ.)


Thanks bunches for picking up this paper today. We appreciate you. Don’t forget to sell something. Lisa

Much Ado About Nothing – Water-Skiing Squirrel

Much Ado About Nothing July 26, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

There may be no greater example of the brutality of Time marching on than this. Oh children, how it grieves me that, alas, I must be the bearer of this heartbreaking news, but, yes, after nearly 40 long, glorious years, the water-skiing squirrel show is ending. Please wail and gnash your teeth now. I’ll wait. For truly, this is the end of an era, as never before in our history, nor ever again in our future, will we see the likes of Twiggy, the water-skiing squirrel.

Well over four decades ago, Chuck Best, an auxiliary trooper with the Florida Highway Patrol rescued a baby squirrel that had been blown out of a tree during a hurricane. Add one toy power boat and a couple of Styrofoam water skis to a squirrel who can’t argue about it because you saved his life, plus he’s a squirrel, and by gosh, you’ve got a show! Tragically, though, in 1997, Officer Best drowns while trying to rescue his step-father who had fallen out of a boat. Neither of them was wearing a life jacket.

Now widowed, Lou Ann Best, unwilling to sink into her grief, cut a teen-tiny life jacket out of a foam beer coozie, popped it over Twiggy’s little squirrel head, and added an important message about water safety to the show. Put new AA-batteries in the boat, kids! We’re back in business!

Now, after countless thousands of loops around the shallow pool and one final, blow-out performance at last week’s X-Games, Twiggy and Lou Ann are hanging up the skis and looking forward to a quieter life in a 55+ community. Lou Ann is 55+; Twiggy is 10+, but that’s probably comparable in squirrel years. This is the eighth Twiggy in an illustrious line of skiing Twiggy squirrels. I guess Florida gets a lot of hurricanes, so lots of weirdly talented squirrels probably fall out of the trees all the time. Personally, I think I’d hang around the tree that dropped the squirrels that could pick Lotto numbers or make tacos.

So while we try to wrap our heads around a future filled with global warming, Russian espionage, and cilantro, let us take a moment to remember the Golden Years of Twiggy the Water-skiing Squirrel. And remember to wear your life jacket when you’re out on the boat. Even a toy boat (say that five times fast).

What I Heard This Week! July 19, 2018

What I Heard This Week July 19, 2018

This one was hard to write. A 29-year-old Corpus Christi woman was arrested after having sold her son, age 7, and was also in the process of trying to sell her daughters, age 2 and 3. I admit that there have been many times that I thought about getting rid of my children, but I swear, I never walked into my other office, filled out the classified ad form and paid my five dollars.


What a crazy week. My sister arrived from Austin this weekend to help me get the last of my mom’s stuff packed up and sent to either Mom’s new home in Waco, to other family members, friends or donated to a non-profit. We are fortunate to have so many non-profit resale stores in this area where you can donate and feel good about knowing that someone will love and appreciate that sweet little memory that you are releasing to a new home. In my own attic, I rediscovered a group of 5 vintage wood-carved sailors that I ‘donated’ to my sister and her husband for their new Rockport home since they lost everything in Harvey. (Now I know I have a place to stay in Rockport when I visit. wink. wink.) I am calling this my PRE-estate sale. So, Mom’s stuff is moved, and the townhouse is ready to rent. Well, almost. All was going well over there until the AC went bonkers (it’s ONLY 9-years-old) so I now must purchase a new unit, then the AC unit at my house got a less than a thumbs-up report card today, and the refrigerator in the rental unit is trying to die…a slow death at around $150 a repair job and its only Tuesday. But, when all is said and done, life is perfect, don’t you think.


Consequences: Houston Astros relief pitcher Ken Giles has, as I see it, been put in time-out for poor performance and acting out. When you’re 5 and you have a meltdown, it’s a timeout. Any mother will tell you that. When you’re supposed to be an Astros ‘team’ player and you misbehave by spouting a totally inappropriate, unflattering, four-letter directive to your team manager after he goes out to the mound to pull you from the game, you get demoted to Triple-A Fresno.  It gives you ample time to get your mind right.


In 2012, a girlfriend took a picture of her very proud boyfriend while he siphoned gas from a police car, then they posted it to Facebook and police arrested him soon after. Don’t you just love social media.


Shaquille O’Neal has listed his Orlando-area estate for $28 million. The 31,000-sq-ft property (my entire office is 2960-sq-ft. so does that mean that about eleven of my offices would fit in his house?) overlooks Lake Butler, has 12 bedrooms, 15 bathrooms (yikes, about the time you finish cleaning the last toilet, the first one would need to be cleaned again), 17-car garage, recording studio, fitness facility (no, not a fitness room, a fitness facility) and a 95-ft pool with hot tub and swim-up bar. Sigh. Oh, and the swimming complex is nicknamed ‘Shaq-apulco.’


CODE RED. CODE RED. You need to read this. SPCA of Brazoria County is filled to maximum capacityAll fees now associated with adoption of all animals is currently FREE and includes microchip, rabies and the spay or neutering procedure. What a deal! Adopt two kittens so they can keep each other company…our two Harvey rescue babies have brought so much joy to our home, filling a spot with love that we didn’t even know was empty. I went over to SPCA just a few minutes ago and took pictures. It is such a pitiful situation but most of all, it just makes me sad to know that there are so many irresponsible pet owners in our area that do not have their pets spayed or neutered. If you can’t adopt, then save your newspapers, old towels, blankets, cat and dog food, office supplies, hand soap…the list is endless. Please spread the word to your neighbors, friends, and family. Go. Today. 979-285-2340.  spcaBC.org


A group of 47 scientists are proposing that mankind sets aside half of the Earth in various reserves, in order to protect the dying bio-diversity and protect Earth’s animal and plant species. Interesting.


RECENT BIRTHDAYS: Children’s performer Raffi is 70. Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck is 69. Actress Anjelica Huston is 67. Writer journalist and columnist Anna Quindlen is 66. Actor Kevin Bacon is 60. Country singer Toby Keith is 57. Actress Katherine Helmond is 89. SOAP. She may be 89, but in my opinion, she was one of the sexiest women in television, in her day.

Actress Shirley Knight is 82. Singer musician Robbie Robertson is 75. Julie Nixon Eisenhower is 70. Rock star Huey Lewis is 68.  Attorney Gloria Allred is 77. Self-described feminist lawyer who has gone after OJ Simpson, Eddie Murphy, Tiger Woods, Michael Jackson, Anthony Wiener, Donald Trump, and Bill Cosby.  Humorist Dave Barry is 71. Talk-show host Montel Williams is 62. Actor Tom Cruise is 56.

Journalist Geraldo Rivera is 75. Singer John Waite is 66. Missing You. Rock musician Kirk Pengilly is 60. INXS. Former ‘First Child” Malia Obama is 20. Actress Joan Van Ark is 75. Boxing Hall of Fame Roberto Duran is 67. Remember his fight with Sugar Ray Leonard. Actor Ned Beatty is 81. Deliverance.  Former President George W. Bush is 72. Actor Sylvester Stallone is 72.

Actor Grant Goodeve is 66. Oldest son Steve Bradford on Eight is Enough. Playwright Tom Stoppard is 81. Shakespeare in Love, Anna Karenina, Empire of the Sun. Actor Donald Sutherland is 83. Camilla Duchess of Cornwall is 71. Actor David Hasselhoff is 66. Country singer Luke Bryan is 42.

Singer songwriter Bill Withers is 80. In July of 1972, Bill Withers stepped into a recording studio for the first time ever and just two years later he had written and recorded the #1-Hit, “Lean on Me.” His story is interesting. He was the youngest child, born in 1938 in a West Virginia coal-mining town, leaving school at age 13 after his father died. At 17, he joined the Navy and overcame his stutter, settling in California after his discharge nine years later. Although he wanted a career in music and had debuted “Ain’t No Sunshine,” he continued to work full-time in an aircraft factory assembling toilet seats because he had a hard time accepting his new career. “It was like I was on vacation from the factory and at some point, I would have to take my tool box and go back to work,” believing the music industry was fickle. Other hits included Use Me, Just the Two of Us, Lovely Day and Grandma’s Hands plus three Grammy Awards. One of my favorites.


Texas Highways was my magazine of choice a few days back and I was surprised to learn that James Avery, founder of James Avery Artisan Jewelry, died in April at the age of 96. Almost everyone has at least one piece of his jewelry. I have several and I have to say that “they’re all my favorites.” Avery earned a degree in industrial design and began fabricating jewelry in his in-law’s garage in Kerrville in 1954. He quickly found success selling his products through churches on consignment then opened his first store in Dallas in 1973. He said, “I’m not concerned about having eternal life at all. Man will be gone from this planet before too many more years. But while we’re here, let’s be kind to each other and help each other reach out and do whatever we can for each other.”


Bush’s Beans announced that Duke, the unofficial company mascot, died on June 27. Sam (his real name) was suffering from an aggressive form of cancer. Their commercials just won’t be the same.


Senator Rand Paul says he still has trouble breathing since he was attacked in his yard by his neighbor who was angry about Paul stacking yard debris near their property line. The neighbor was given a 30-day sentence, one year of supervised release, 100 hours of community service and a $10,000 fine which Paul thinks is not acceptable. He has filed a civil lawsuit against the neighbor asking for medical costs and attorney fees relating to the incident. That seems ONLY right to me.


The rescue of the boys from the Tham Luang Cave in Thailand affected me more emotionally than anything has in quite a while. Kudos to every single diver and volunteer from around the world (I heard there were over 200) that jumped in and gave everything they had, including the life of one diver, to bring the boys and their coach back. A real life ‘Dream Team.’ Finding and then freeing the Wild Boars and their coach proved to be an uncharted, unprecedented challenge because nothing like this had ever been done before. For a few long weeks their children were our children as we held our breath waiting for them to be rescued.  Success. These were the real Avengers. And btw, all the boys could swim.


In Georgia, a 14-year-old was killed when a tree fell on his tent at a Boy Scout camp. Sad. My son said that the first scout camp he attended, a huge tree fell 40-feet in front of him. I told him that things like that happen when you go outside in the real world. See above.


Remember me telling you about the fabulous new hotel in Houston that Tilman Fertitta owns…well, the construction company has filed a lien for $20 million because Fertitta’s company Landry’s has failed to pay the contractor and several of its subcontractors in a timely manner. Hmmm.


Researchers at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine are getting $5.3 million from the Patient-Center Outcomes Research Institute to study ‘medication-assisted treatment for pregnant women with opioid use disorders.’ Geez. I have a better idea. Let’s put tighter restrictions on the sale and use of opioids. Go for the drug companies and educate the doctors that are writing the prescriptions. There just must be something that can be prescribed that doesn’t cause a chemical dependency.


Chappell Hill Lavender Farm and Windy Winery will celebrate 13th Annual Lavender & Wine Fest in Chappell Hill, Texas on Saturday, August 11 from 9-3. Local crafts, lavender, plants, demo, live music.


In 2015, the FDA said they were banning all artificial trans fats from all food in the US with a deadline effective June 18, 2018. The time is now. Trans fats raise LDL “bad” cholesterol and make you more likely to get heart disease and lower HDL “good” cholesterol. Good job FDA.


Bayer (pesticide business) will merge with Monsanto (genetically modified crop portfolio) and will create the largest seed and agrochemical company on our beautiful Earth. Monsanto’s name will be dropped as part of a campaign to win back consumer trust (reference the alleged harms of pesticides and GMO’s.) Hmmm. Are our memories that short?


A Charles Schwab survey of 1000 adults show that 62% say spending time with family tops the list of things that make people feel wealth in their day-to-day lives.


29-years ago, Keanu Reeves & Alex Winter teamed for Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure…. now they will reteam for Bill & Ted 3/Bill and Ted Face the Music. Means nothing to me, but you may be interested.


Bad News: The Monkees had to postpone the last four dates of their tour because guitarist Mike Nesmith had a minor health issue. Those were the days…Tiger Beat and Mickey Dolenz.  Nice.


National Moon Day is observed annually on July 20 and commemorates the day man first walked on the moon in 1969.  NASA reported the moon landing as being “…the single greatest technological achievement of all time.”  July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 landed the first humans, Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, on the moon.


Thanks for reading this today. Have a great weekend.

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.

What I Heard This Week! July 12, 2018

What I Heard This Week July 12, 2018

If you enjoy “nibbling on sponge cake” and like your “booze in the blender”, you can now look forward to retirement, because Jimmy Buffet is due to open his first of many senior neighborhoods loaded with beachfront access, live entertainment, lap pools, spas and more, but only for those of us that are 55 or ‘better.’ The first retirement community has been named Latitude Margaritaville and is located in Daytona Beach, Florida where residents expect to be moving in by late summer. There will be two-and three-bedroom homes from $200,000’s to $350,000. Do you think that they will have happy hour before or after Wheel of Fortune?


For neighbors and friends, each Christmas I try to make a homemade cooking item like beef stew seasoning, cinnamon extract and my favorite, Madagascar vanilla extract. To make it is quite simple – dark colored bottles, Madagascar vanilla beans and lots of liquor – the better the liquor, the better the extract. I’ve got the “buy 11 Gallons and get the 12th FREE” punch card at Spec’s. I just can’t imagine a world without vanilla extract. So boring. Remember Granny on the Beverly Hillbillies used it on her neck and wrists instead of perfume. I feel the same way. (I also believe they should bottle wood smoke for men but that’s another column.) So, in Madagascar, vanilla farmers are now having to stamp a code on their vanilla beans, so if a thief steals the crop, it can be traced. WHAT. Do you know how skinny a vanilla bean is? I was amazed and totally unaware that vanilla is such a big business now. It’s not easy to be a vanilla bean either. Vanilla blooms only once a year and for ONLY ONE DAY. It must be pollinated by hand and the fruit takes nine months to mature. New vines take three years to mature. Vanilla thieves now face up to four years in jail. One farmer said it’s not enough. She wants a life sentence. “You invest all your life in growing the vanilla, stealing it is the same thing as killing someone.”


An additional note on vanilla beans: I looked up the company OliveNation, where I have always ordered my vanilla beans and to order one bean is now $9.49 plus shipping and if you happen to need 11-pounds, you’re going to be out $5,822.49 plus shipping. Look out Homemade Vanilla Blue Bell.


Seventy-two years ago, in July 1946, French designer Louis Reard unveiled a daring two-piece swimsuit in Paris. It was dubbed “bikini” after the US atomic test that took place off the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean earlier that week. The reason for the tiny swimsuit was wartime rationing of fabric. (Quit it. It was designed by a man.) Enough said. Reard had trouble finding a model to wear the revealing two-piece so he asked an exotic dancer who had no qualms about appearing almost naked in public. The bikini was a hit, especially with men, and became a mainstay of European beaches in the 50’s. His advertisements stated that it isn’t a genuine bikini, “unless it could be pulled through a wedding ring.” America was a little slower in embracing this new skimpy thing but the 60’s brought the hit song, “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini” and the beach blanket movies of Annette Funicello & Frankie Avalon, then The Beach Boys had hit after hit about California surfing and the bikini was truly born. My mother sewed, so she made my first bikini with chains of crocheted daisies in yellow and white. Funny how you remember certain things.


You must be famous if you’re known by only one name…Cher, Plato, Einstein, Mozart, Elvis, Oprah, Twiggy, Prince, just to name a few, but the most famous of all was Koko, the 280-pound gorilla who learned sign language, loved cats and learned more than 1,000 words, died in her sleep recently at the age of 46. Koko’s real name was Hanabiko, Japanese for fireworks child. She was born July 4, 1971, at the San Francisco Zoo. If you want to watch something very sweet, then pull up one of the many documentaries about this amazing animal.


RECENT BIRTHDAYS: Actor-comedian David Alan Grier is 62. Boxer Mike Tyson is 52. Olympic gold-medal swimmer Michael Phelps is 33. Actress Mariette Hartley is 78. Actress Meredith Baxter is 71. Bridget Loves Bernie and Family Ties. Actor Michael Gross is 71. Steven Keaton from Family Ties.


Rocker Nils Lofgren is 67. Crazy Horse and E Street Band. Britain’s Prince William is 36. Actress Olympia Dukakis is 87. Singer songwriter Brian Wilson is 76. Actor John Goodman is 66. Actress Nicole Kidman is 51. Actress Kathy Bates is 70. Pro Football Hall of Fame John Elway is 58. Actress Mary Stuart Masterson is 52. Actress Nancy Allen is 68. Carrie. Reggae singer Astro is 61. UB40.


Actor John Cusack is 52. Randy Jackson is 62. American Idol judge. Actress Frances McDormand is 61. Actor Chris O’Donnell is 48. Actor Nick Offerman is 48. Parks and Recreation. Actress-singer Ariana Grande is 25. Rock musician Jeff Beck is 74. Musician Mick Fleetwood is 71. Actress Liv Tyler is 41.


Actress producer Mindy Kaling is 39. Singer Solange Knowles is 32. Actress Olivia de Havilland is 102. I could write a whole book on this interesting woman. Actor Jamie Farr is 84. Cookie-maker Wally Amos is 82. Dancer choreographer Twyla Tharp is 77. Rock singer actress Deborah Harry is 73. Blondie. Olympic gold-medal track star Carl Lewis is 57. Actress Pamela Anderson is 51. Hip-hop artist Missy Elliott is 47.


Actor comedian Dan Aykroyd is 66. Crystal Head Vodka and SNL. He would like to see Nupita Nyong’o and Taylor Swift cast in the upcoming, all-female reboot of his hit movie “The Blues Brothers”. Aykroyd says, “In this movie, these ladies inherit the franchise from Elwood. You know, they get the Bluesmobile. They get to drive the Bluesmobile, they get to fight the Klan and the Nazis – it’s really neat.” Hmmm.


This morning at my office, we jumped on the subject of ‘first phone numbers’. Four of us (all over the age of, harrumph, excuse me,) aww, let’s just say that we were very young and remembered when phone numbers had a prefix…for instance, PL-24252, which was my first phone number. The ‘PL’ stood for PLAZA which was the telephone exchange. These were hubs through which the calls were routed. Phone subscribers were given a unique 5-digit number which followed the telephone exchange. After that, our office conversation was on a roll, so we discussed party lines where if you were very quiet you could listen in to other conversations without anyone knowing. Somehow, the conversation then progressed to a young age when we called the 7-11 convenience store and asked, “Do you have Prince Albert in a can?” and if the clerk said yes, then we would reply, “Well, then let him out.” We were such hellraisers, as you can tell. 😊 All our dads smoked pipes (think Mad Men) so we thought we were really clever. For those that don’t understand, Prince Albert was a brand of pipe tobacco in a cute little red can with a flip-lid or the giant economy size that looked like a small paint can. I think my dad had a key to open it that looked like a miniature flat screwdriver. When the can was empty, you never threw it away because it became home for all your treasures. Like a cigar box. AND it smelled so wonderful. Even today, I love the smell of pipe tobacco. Isn’t it funny how smells bring back sweet memories?


On July 6, 1957, Paul McCartney and John Lennon met at the Annual Woolton Parish Church Garden Fete, where there was a dog show, a brass band and The Quarry Men. Fifteen-year-old Paul McCartney showed up to watch. Later McCartney just happened to play a few songs on the guitar that he just happened to bring with him. Two weeks later he was invited to join The Quarry Men. Yikes, that was sixty-one-years ago.


An e-mail announced this week that H-E-B has FREE 1-hr delivery on beer and wine but the offer only good until 09-03-18. It was easy to download the app called Favor. Really.


Speaking of wine, Haak Vineyards in Santa Fe, Texas did it again. At the prestigious Los Angeles International Wine Awards, they won 1-Gold medal, 1-Silver medal and 3-Bronze medals, then at the Lone Star International Wine Competition they received 1-Gold medal, and 5-Silver medals. You should hop in the car and drive over to Santa Fe for a sweet stroll around the vineyard or call H-E-B right now.


If you have been reading this column for any time at all, you understand that I think we could and should treat our Earth better than we do. One of the many things we need to work on is to provide for the butterflies and the bees. Every time I hear the mosquito-man, or the mosquito-plane come by, I worry for the bees. You can help by installing more bat houses and using less pesticides. With that in mind, remember that the Third Annual Honey Expo is July 21, from 11am-5pm at Brazoria County Fairgrounds. It’s free and in addition to classes in beekeeping for adults there are classes for kids on honeybees and pollination, demos, tastings, local honey, a butterfly tent, snacks, soaps, lip balm and crafts all relating to bees and butterflies along with how we can contribute something positive to our environment. Brazoria-county-beekeepers-association.com


The first drug in the US derived from marijuana, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Epidiolex will treat two rare and severe forms of epilepsy.


In July of 1953, Elvis paid $3.98 plus tax to make an acetate record as a birthday present for his mother. The two guys that recorded it made note of this incredibly shy young singer. When they recorded him a year later they were not terribly impressed until they took a break from recording and heard him “messing around” with a guitar, playing and singing “That’s All Right,” but he sang it at least twice as fast as the original song which had been written and originally performed by blues singer Arthur Crudup. After two more days of recording, they released “That’s All Right (Mama)” to a Memphis radio station, then two weeks later released it as a single with “Blue Moon of Kentucky” as the B-side. Rolling Stone magazine lists it as “#113 of the 500 Greatest Songs of all Time.” It was an instant hit, the rest is history.


On June 23rd, Zsa-Zsa, a 9-year-old English bulldog, won $1,500 as first place in the 2018 World’s Ugliest Dog Contest. Sadly, she died in her sleep this week with no known health issues. Zsa-Zsa spent the first five years of her life in a puppy mill in Missouri until she was put up for auction and bought by a rescue group. After being adopted, she spent her days in a very relaxed position unless food was involved. Favorite snacks were Slim Jim’s or a steak burrito from Chipotle. Left to cherish her memories, is her owner, Megan Brainard and last words…help promote pet adoption.


Six Brazoswood baseball players and one player from Sweeny have been named to the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association academic all-state team. Our congratulations to Bucs’ Tanner Bundick, Ryan Faltisek, Horacio Garcia Jr., Nash Neff, Tyler Reinhardt and Daryl Soliz Jr., along with Sweeny’s Jaden Bohlar. Way to go, guys. You have made your community proud.


To help protect the environment, SeaWorld Entertainment is now removing all single-use plastic straws and plastic bags from the company’s 12 theme parks. YES! Then, Starbucks decided to remove all plastic straws from their stores. What a great start to cleaning up unnecessary plastic from our Earth.


July 17th is World Emoji Day. Can you send a message using ‘just’ emojis? I’ve tried to do that in a text to my kids. They either thought I was extremely brilliant or really, really old. I don’t know which. Oh, well.


Thanks for taking the time to read this today. It is appreciated. Don’t you need to place an ad to sell something that’s just taking up space in your garage or attic? Call Connie, Pam, Patricia or Janice.

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!

What I Heard This Week! July 5, 2018

What I Heard This Week July 3, 2018

In Georgia, a 46-year-old woman went outside in her own front yard to take a picture and a bobcat attacked her, so she grabbed the cat by the throat and didn’t let go until she choked it to death.  She was treated for rabies, a broken finger and several bite and claw wounds to her hands, arms, chest and legs. It just so happens that her father-in-law was once a bobcat trapper. What are the chances.


How to win the war on drugs: 1. Legalize drugs. 2. Require all drugs be purchased through your local cable company customer service.


A black felt Bicorn-style hat believed to have been dropped on the battlefield at Waterloo 203 years ago by Napoleon Bonaparte, was purchased at auction for more than $400,000. The buyer was an unidentified private collector from Europe.


If you didn’t get Napoleon’s hat, then there is still time to purchase a private jet once owned by Elvis Presley that has sat on a runway in New Mexico for nearly four decades. Red velvet seats may seal the deal for you. It sold last year for $430,000. Better hurry.


The Miss America organization has announced that the pageant will no longer judge contestants on their appearance. Swimsuits are out and “each candidate will participate in a live interactive session with the judges, where they can highlight achievements and goals in life.”

Golfer Bubba Watson has donated $200,000 to the Travelers Championship to support the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for seriously ill children. Pay it forward.


A woman has been ordered to pay more than $200,000 to her ex-boyfriend. Why, you ask? Hmmm…it seems that in 2013, when the boyfriend was accepted to study at Los Angeles’ Coburn Conservatory of Music, she intercepted his acceptance email and declined the “full” scholarship offer because she didn’t want him to leave her. I hope the girl will be able to get some help in the self-esteem department and eventually get rid of the huge “L” on her forehead.


Do you ever think about your own obituary and what it will say? I have a file in my desk that is titled, “My Funeral.” When I see something that I like; music, quotes, prayers, thoughts and more, I stick it in my funeral file. I believe I’m making the job easier for my children when my time comes. Well, in Minnesota, an 80-year-old woman died, and here are small bits of her obit: “She married…had two children, Gina and Jay. In 1962 she became pregnant by her husband’s brother…moved to California…abandoned her children…will now face judgement…she will not be missed…understand that this world is a better place without her.” Hmmm. A little harsh, perhaps. In Texas, the obit of a 74-year old male read…“a model example of bad parenting combined with mental illness and a complete commitment to drinking, drugs, womanizing and being generally offensive…he lived 29 years longer than expected, and much longer than he deserved.”  I just got back from a 10-day driving trip with my two kids. It was fun, but perhaps I should write my own obit. 😊


An American sperm donor, who has fathered 33 children, with 10 more on the way, has been banned from donating sperm in Israel. His nickname is ‘The Sperminator.’ Sometimes I have no comments that are printable. On a more positive note, just think of the lovely obit and all those children that he will leave behind. Surely, one of them will have something nice to say. If this isn’t enough information for you, then note that there is a documentary.


RECENT BIRTHDAYS: Singer Barry Manilow is 75. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is 75. Comedian Joe Piscopo is 67. Saturday Night Live when it was funny. Actor Thomas Haden Church is 57. Actor Greg Kinnear is 55. Tennis player Venus Williams is 38. Rapper Kendrick Lamar is 31. Baseball Hall of Fame Lou Brock is 79. Music legend Sir Paul McCartney is 76. Have you seen his ‘Car Karaoke with James Corden?’ It’s really good…a guided tour of Liverpool and some of the greatest hits ever, very sweet and very emotional.  


Actor Malcolm McDowell is 75. Remember A Clockwork Orange? Comic Tim Allen is 65. Tim the Toolman and Buzz Lightyear.  Actress Ally Sheedy is 56. The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo’s Fire. TV anchor Hannah Storm is 56. Actor Chris Evans is 37. Captain America. Actresses entrepreneurs Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are 32. Actor Robert Englund is 71. Playwright actor Harvey Fierstein is 66. Mrs. Turnblad in Hairspray. Comedian Sandra Bernhard is 63. Singer Tom Jones is 78. He still looks and sounds sooo good. Actor Ken Osmond is 75. Leave it to Beaver. Actor Liam Neeson is 66. Vice President Mike Pence is 59. Rocker Dave Navarro is 51. Red Hot Chili Peppers.


Vanna White, age 61, became the official cohost of Wheel of Fortune in 1982, has worn over 6,500 outfits, never the same one twice and helped give away millions of dollars in cash and prizes over the past 35 years. The mother of two (age 24 and 20), says she is not going anywhere anytime soon. We all have a Vanna White dress in our closet and I remember telling my daughter to just get up on stage and act like Vanna White. What an icon.


Rock singer Ann Wilson is 68. Heart. Actress Kathleen Turner is 64. That husky voice. Romancing the Stone. Singer Paula Abdul is 56. Actress Zoe Saldana is 40. Star Trek, Avatar, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Infinity War. Rapper Macklemore is 35. Actress Isabella Rossellini is 66. Actress Carol Kane is 66. The Princess Bride. Country singer Blake Shelton is 42.


O.J. Simpson is 70. On June 17th, 1994, 95-million viewers were glued to their televisions as he led police on a low-speed chase along a southern Los Angeles freeway in his white Ford Bronco. He was arrested and charged with murder in the slaying of his ex-wife and her friend Ronald Goldman. Simpson shocked the nation when he walked out of court a free man in 1995 after his defense team proved there wasn’t enough evidence to find him guilty. The case cost nearly $20 million (in 1995 money) to fight and defend. While he was awaiting trial in prison, he was allowed to continue signing memorabilia as part of a marketing and merchandising plan by his defense team to generate money. He would sign cloth numbers that were later sewn on jerseys and sign leather pieces that were made into footballs. Later he landed in prison for armed robbery and kidnapping.


Richard Harrison, better known as the “Old Man” in the TV show Pawn Stars, has died at age 77.


Mark your calendars: The much-awaited documentary about the late comic genius Robin Williams will air on July 16, 2018 on HBO. Robin Williams died in 2014. The show is titled Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind.


LeBron James announced he is leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for a four-year contract with the Los Angeles Lakers – and, cough, cough, $154 million. I wonder how much that is per day. My son says it’s $105,479.45 per day.


Speculation is that Ewan McGregor is going to reprise his role as the iconic Jedi master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, in Star Wars 9.


A 46-year-old, well-known criminal in France, escaped after an armed commando landed a helicopter in the prison courtyard then carried him away. Officials believe that they had scoped out the place with drones. BUT, there is more. He had done it before. In 2013, he took four guards hostage, then used plastic explosives hidden in tissue packs to blast through five sets of prison doors, escaping from another prison. At one time he renounced crime and wrote a book that said his life of crime was inspired by American films such as Scarface and Heat. Hmmm. No more hall passes for this guy. This has Hollywood written all over it.


In June of 1885, the Statue of Liberty arrived in New York Harbor, a gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of America.  The 450,000-pound, copper and iron statue, was reassembled and dedicated the following year in a ceremony presided over by US President Grover Cleveland and is known around the world as an enduring symbol of freedom and democracy.  French sculptor Fredeic-Auguste Bartholdi modeled it after his own mother. The statue alone (without the pedestal) cost the French an estimated $250,000, more than $5.5-million in today’s money. “Lady Liberty” was originally copper-colored, but over the years has gone through a natural color-change process called patination that produced its current greenish-blue hue. President Cleveland said, “We will not forget that Liberty has here made her home; nor shall her chosen altar be neglected.” 


US News and World Report’s annual list of Best Places to Live has several Texas locations including Austin as #1.  Other locations in Texas are San Antonio #14, Dallas-Ft. Worth #18, Houston #26, Killeen #90, El Paso #105, Corpus Christi #106, Beaumont #113, McAllen #115 and Brownsville #121.  Judging by the 5:00 traffic that we seem to be having lately in our small town, it must also be considered one of the best places to live.


In Richmond, Texas, three masked men kicked down the door of a home and held a 7-year-old boy in a bathtub of hot water to force his family to turn over cash and valuables. The boy was treated for burns. That was rather brutal.


In Italy, thieves used a blowtorch to pry open steel bars, then crawled in through a narrow window and stole a bunch of organic cheese. They did this twice in 24-hours. All in all, they made off with almost 25,000 pounds (271 wheels weighing 90 pounds each) of Italy’s famous Parmigiano-Reggiano with a total street value of $300,000.


People at Glenwood Caverns Adventure theme park in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, were evacuated because of a wildfire that was quickly stopped by fire crews. That’s an adventure that could be skipped.


In Topeka Kansas, a law went into effect that protests Good Samaritans who break into vehicles to save overheating children, animals and vulnerable adults. Why the heck would anyone need a law to protect this?


In Las Vegas, the names of about 7,200 registered sex offenders are due to be posted on a state website beginning in October. Why wait until October?  The kids and I ended our 10-day trip and flew home from Las Vegas last weekend. After looking at all the billboards and “other” things, it’s no wonder that there are many sex offenders there.


Stay cool, and many thanks to the readers that missed this column and let me know. That made me feel good, but I was having fun on vacation and rocket launching in White Sands with my daughter. More about that next week.

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.

What I Heard This Week! June 21, 2018

What I Heard This Week June 20, 2018

You must read this. It’s called “The Old Man.” An old man had lived all his life in the Florida Keys and is on his deathbed and knows the end is near. His nurse, his wife, his daughter and two sons, are with him. He asks for two witnesses to be present and to be videoed to record his last wishes, and when all is ready he begins to speak: “My son, Bernie, I want you to take the Ocean Reef houses. My daughter Sybil, you take the apartments between mile markers 100 and Tavernier. My son, Jamie, I want you to take the offices over in the Marathon Government Center. Sarah, my dear wife, please take all the residential buildings on the bay side of Blackwater Sound.” The nurse and witnesses are blown away as they did not realize his extensive holdings, and as he slips away, the nurse says, “Ma’am, your husband must have been such a hard-working man to have accumulated all this property.” The wife replies, “He had a paper route!” ha-ha


Seen on Facebook: giggle…The Coastal Bend Crawlers are currently seeking sponsors for their 3rd Annual Go Topless Weekend on May 18th, 2019. Hey, I don’t make the news, I simply tell you what I read this week and I read the above information. So?


Facebook: So apparently RSVP’ing back to a wedding invite ‘maybe next time’ isn’t the correct response.


An off-duty Houston police officer paid for a man’s groceries after the gentleman had a diabetic episode in a parking lot and collapsed.  While he was getting medical attention, his unattended groceries were stolen. Oh, no. Walmart’s surveillance footage was viewed but there was a visual obstruction in the way. The rookie police officer said that part of her job “is to care about people and to help people. I’m not just here to arrest people. I do care about this community.” She also said, “You have to treat people like they were your own family.” Years ago, a couple of people spray-painted some interesting graphics on my Volvo wagon and the police found them on Walmart video buying the paint. Love it.


George Strait is donating his services and leading a new tourism campaign called, “Find Yourself in Rockport-Fulton.” Strait says the coastal area, which was hit so hard by Harvey, is one of his favorite places.


Rosanne Barr explained her infamous tweet last month as, “Rod Sterling wrote Planet of the Apes. It was about anti-Semitism. That is what my tweet referred to – the anti-Semitism of the Iran deal. Low IQ ppl can think whatever they want.” This was tweeted on June 13, 2018. What? Rude is still not funny.

Lubbock, Texas: A land so flat you can watch your dog running away for a couple of weeks.


On September 24th and 25th, 2018, 80-year-old Bill Cosby will be sentenced for assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004. The once beloved TV dad just fired his entire legal team and retained Pennsylvania attorney Joseph P. Green. Is an appeal possible? Will Camille divorce him? Is he looking back over his life and kicking himself in the seat of his pants. The front part. I have always told my children, “NEVER satisfy a short-term impulse at the expense of a long-term goal. Never do what feels good in the moment if it’s going to cost you something that matters a whole lot more in the end. The trade is never worth it.”


The new Post Oak Hotel, owned by Tilman Fertitta, will have a 22nd floor, 5,000-square-foot Presidential Suite that goes for $12,000 per night. It has a private elevator from the garage for those that need a discreet entrance. His own 10,000-square-foot personal penthouse will be finished later this year and will be available to anyone who wants to pay $100,000-per-night before taxes. Yikes. I couldn’t afford just the taxes.


RECENT BIRTHDAYS: Singer Stevie Nicks is 70. As a member of Fleetwood Mac and as a solo artist she has produced over 40 top-50 hits and sold over 140 million records, making her one of the best-selling music acts of all time with Fleetwood Mac. Singer Hank Williams Jr. is 69. He says, “If you mind your own business, you’ll stay busy all the time.”  Actress Genie Francis is 56. General Hospital.


Singer-actor Lenny Kravitz is 54. President Donald Trump is 72. Singer Boy George is 57. Britain’s Prince Philip is 97. Attorney F. Lee Bailey is 85. Model-actress Elizabeth Hurley is 53. Olympic gold-medal figure skater Tara Lipinski is 36. Americana musician Bridget Kearney is 33. Lake Street Dive. ‘First child’ Sasha Obama is 17. Actor Timothy Busfield is 61. Thirtysomething. Actress Adrienne Barbeau is 73. Maude.


Rock musician Frank Beard is 69. ZZ Top. Actor Hugh Laurie is 59. TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz is 58. Actor-comedian Jim Belushi is 64. Actress Helen Hunt is 55. Actress Courteney Cox is 54. Actor rapper Ice Cube is 49. Actor Neil Patrick Harris is 45. Doogie Howser, M.D. He says, “Jim Henson was the only piece of fan mail I ever wrote when I was a little kid.”


D.J. Fontana was the last surviving member of Elvis’ original trio of musicians. He was a member of the Rock Hall of Fame and met Presley on the Louisiana Hayride, a country music program based in Shreveport and became his regular drummer in 1955, playing on more than 460 of Presley’s early recordings. Mr. Fontana died last week at the age of 87.


Blues Brothers Band musician Matt “Guitar” Murphy died at the age of 88. He appeared in the 1980 Blues Brothers movie and its 1998 Blues Brothers 2000 sequel. He also played in the Blues Brothers Band with the late John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd when the group performed “Soul Man” during a Saturday Night Live sketch in 1978 and stayed with the touring band until 2002 when he had a stroke and semi-retired.


Kristin Harmon, American primitive painter, actress and author, once married to actor and musician Ricky Nelson, died from a heart attack at age 72. I remember watching her on Ozzie & Harriet.


Stephen Hawking’s remains were laid to rest at a memorial service at Westminster Abbey, all while the European Space Agency blasted and beamed his words of peace towards a black hole, some 3,000 light-years away. Hawking’s work on black holes was among his most influential, building along with the ideas of Albert Einstein and challenging many scientific assumptions. His neighbors at rest will be Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton. What a Thursday night poker game that’s going to be.


Stephen Hawking predicted the world will end, global warming causes the Earth to become a fireball with a global temperature of 482 degrees and sulfuric acid raining form the sky. He predicted that humans will have to leave Earth and repopulate elsewhere.  He said, “The best hope for the survival of the human race might be independent colonies in space.” Hmmm. Let’s take better care of our Earth.


‘The question we ask ourselves is not “what we can do?” but “what we should do?”’ Apple CEO, Tim Cook


“Good friends, good whiskey and good lovin’, I want to thank you Lord.”-  Hank Williams, Jr.


All-Star pitcher Kevin Brown retired from the Yankees in 2005. Last week he saw two men in a white sports car taking mail out of his mailbox, then they sped off. The next day he waited with a gun and when they tried it again, he detained the pair (a little) while they waited for the law to arrive. The pair face charges of mail theft and forgery. Love it.


In downtown Lake Jackson, a different band plays every Friday night at the Civic Center. It’s quite nice to sit here and work and listen to background music. This past Friday evening, the band was playing “Should I Stay, or Should I Go?” when it suddenly came a torrential downpour. Were they singing that song for a reason…were they trying to decide whether to stay or go. When the rain came down, the music stopped abruptly. It was clever, so I was just wondering…


Tattoos are a permanent reminder of a temporary feeling. – George Carlin


Nine passengers were admitted to the hospital after the Sand Blaster coaster on the Daytona Beach Boardwalk in Florida derailed, sending two to the ground and eight other passengers that had to be rescued. This happened just hours after an inspection was completed. One woman fell 34 feet, bounced “like a ping-pong ball” between the rails and woke up with the coaster dangling over her head. Yikes.


John Wayne Walding – “Be a part of something bigger than yourself.”


Watermelon Salad – this is a winner at our house. Wash the watermelon with soap. Yes, wash it – it’s dirty. Then cut it in half (a round watermelon works best) horizontally. Place one half on cutting board, flesh down. Cut slices 1-2” wide depending on what size you want your sticks. Rotate the cutting board and cut slices perpendicular to the other slices. You now have sticks that can be eaten very neatly by children and adults because you have the green part to hold on to and now it’s easy to take the sticks and cut uniform squares of watermelon for your salad. Fill a bowl with your squares, add a cup or so of blueberries, a nice firm feta cheese (get a block and crumble it yourself – it’s tastier) then garnish with chopped mint leaves. It’s pretty and super tasty. You can also add thin sliced purple onions, fresh basil, kalamata olives, fresh lime juice, salt, pepper, or an olive oil vinaigrette or a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. We use a good cherry balsamic. Leftovers last for a day or two in fridge.


“That’s the greatest award of all, isn’t it? Good children.” – Sylvester Stallone


Officials say three people were killed and over 300 injured in Western Japan after a 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck Osaka.


Ocean’s 8 the movie – Danny Ocean, now deceased master thief, has a sister, Debbie (Sandra Bullock), recently released from prison, who attempts to pull off the heist of the century at New York City’s star-studded annual Met Gala. Her first stop is to assemble the perfect crew. She did. It was a perfect crew, a perfect cast, and they wore perfect clothes, but there was just a little tiny bit of something lacking. There was never the feeling of real peril and we wanted to feel danger because this great cast could have handled it. We wanted to see them put to the test. But, set that aside.  It was a fun and likeable movie. Gage and I enjoyed it.  Anne Hathaway showed what a great actress she is. It’s a thumbs up. It’s fun.


As I Get Older I Realize: 1.) I talk to myself because sometimes I need skilled and savvy advice. 2.) Sometimes I roll my eyes out-loud.  3.) I don’t need anger management, I need people to stop doing stupid stuff.  4.) My people skills are just fine. It’s my tolerance of nincompoops that needs work. 5.) The biggest fib I tell myself is, “I don’t need to write that down, I’ll remember it.” 6.) When I was a child I thought naptime was punishment. Now it’s like a mini-vacation. 7.) The day the world runs out of wine is just too terrible to think about. 8.) Even duct tape can’t fix stupid, but it can muffle the sound. 9.) Wouldn’t it be great if we could put ourselves in the dryer for 10 minutes; come out wrinkle-free and three sizes smaller? 10.) “Getting Lucky” means walking into a room and remembering why I’m there. Sigh. Thanks for reading this. Lisa

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.

What I Heard This Week! June 14, 2018

What I Heard This Week June 14, 2018

The original map of the Hundred Acre Wood from Winnie-the-Pooh is set to be auctioned in London next month with an estimated price tag of up to $200,000. Four other Winnie-the-Pooh illustrations are also being offered at the same auction. Christopher Robin, the film, is due to be released by Disney in August. With my kids all grown up now, I tend to miss Pooh, Christopher Robin, Piglet and Eeyore. Those were sweeter times than Grand Theft Auto and Battlefield 1 video games.


California will require almost all new homes to be built with solar panels by the year 2020. Why is California always light years ahead of the rest of us? Yes, what a great idea.


Mamoudou Gassama is a 22-year-old migrant from Mali who arrived in France in September without documentation. Some people in Paris are now calling him Spider-Man of the 18th, after he saw a child suspended from a balcony then scaled 4-balconies to the 5th floor to save the 4-year old that had been left alone by his father while he went grocery shopping and then stopping on the way home to play Pokémon Go. What! Not all heroes wear capes. So, our young hero is now being offered French citizenship. Someone needs to tell the dad that you don’t leave children alone ANYWHERE. Home, bookstores, bathrooms, grocery stores…ANYWHERE.


June 19th is National Martini Day. If you like gin, try Hendricks. In addition to the traditional juniper infusion, Hendrick’s uses Bulgarian rose and cucumber to add flavor. My mind says,” Cucumber. Salad. Healthy. Works for me.”


Former President Bill Clinton and James Patterson (who has written many novels including ‘The Quickie’ and ‘Kiss the Girls’) have co-authored a book, “The President is Missing.” Hmmm. In promoting the book, inquiring minds seem to be more interested in Monica Lewinsky and why Clinton never issued a private apology, as he insists that his public apology was adequate. Yikes. My mind imagines Hillary sitting at home watching the interviews on the telly, whispering to herself, “I should never have let him out of the house.” My son calls this book tour a ‘slow-motion train wreck.’ Someone should have worked with Clinton on some proper answers to the inevitable questions.


Near Baytown, a nine-month old baby girl was accidently left behind in a hot vehicle for three hours and died. Parents don’t forget your little ones. I heard you are supposed to put something next to the car-seat that you are not likely to forget. Like your shoe, because you won’t go anywhere without a shoe.


There may be ex-wives, ex-husbands, ex-football players, but there are NO ex-Texans.
In New Zealand, foreign property buyers must pass a good-character test. Matt Lauer, former Today show co-host, will be allowed to keep his ranch in New Zealand but the Overseas Investment Office does not condone the inappropriate way that Lauer behaved and will continue to monitor the matter.


“We don’t stop going to school when we graduate.” – Carol Burnett


Scientists are saying that the Kilauea volcano has now covered over 8 square miles. According to the US geological Society, the Kilauea volcano has erupted approximately 63 times between 1750 and 1982 and has been continuously erupting since January 3, 1983. Yikes, that’s 35 years.


RECENT BIRTHDAYS: World Golf Hall of Fame Hale Irwin is 73. He says, “Feeling tired should almost never be an excuse, because your body has huge reserves of energy. But if you eat badly, stay out late drink too much and so on, you’ll pay a price on the course.” TV host Anderson Cooper is 51. Singer Ronnie Dunn is 65. Brooks & Dunn till 2011. Model Heidi Klum is 45. Singer Alanis Morisette is 44. Actress writer Amy Schumer is 37. Prince would have been 60. ☹ Actor Bruce Dern is 82.

Actor Parker Stevenson is 66. Actress Angelina Jolie is 43. Financial guru Suze Orman is 67. Jazz musician Kenny G is 62. Author Patricia Cornwell is 62. Actor Michael J. Fox is 57. Writer-producer Aaron Sorkin is 57. A Few Good Men, The American President, Charlie Wilson’s War, Moneyball. Actor Johnny Depp is 55. Actress Natalie Portman is 37.

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is 95. Actress Lee Meriwether is 83. Actor Louis Gossett Jr. is 82. Actor Todd Bridges is 53. Willis Jackson on Different Strokes. Singer Nancy Sinatra is 78. Comic-strip creator Scott Adams is 61. Dilbert. Rapper and Mr. ‘Kardashian’ Kanye West is 41. Former President George H. W. Bush is 94. Last week the family celebrated what would have been the 93rd birthday of Barbara Bush.

Musician Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones’ is 71. He will release a new book in October and according to his website, “Ronnie Wood has chosen nearly 100 painted set lists to be published for the first time. Presented in chronological order, the collection follows the group’s travels to foreign rehearsal locations that were kept secret at the time. They reveal the songs rehearsed for historic performances, such as the Rolling Stones’ 2014 inaugural concert in Israel, as well as documenting the shows as eventually played. The colorful hand-lettering recalls Wood’s early art school days when he worked as a sign writer. The set lists are visually eye catching and filled with fascinating details. Wood’s calligraphy is interspersed with his own illustrations, doodles by fellow band members, and jotted notes that all add up to paint a picture of life on the road with the Rolling Stones.”


Legendary chef and TV and travel host Anthony Bourdain died at the age of 61 from apparent suicide while on location in Paris. “As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life and travel leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks on your body or on your heart are beautiful. Often though, they hurt.” – Anthony Bourdain


Jerry Maren, the last living actor who played a Munchkin in The Wizard of Oz, has died at the age of 98. He was just 4’-3” tall and 18 years old and one of more than 100 actors who played Munchkins in the 1939 classic.


Father’s Day: I’m going to share this list of tool ideas that someone sent me…Mini Battery Tester, Yeti Bucket, Outdoor Knots Guide, Nebo Cryket Flashlight, Milwaukee Bit Set, Mechanix Fast Fit Work Gloves, ‘Man in the Mirror’ Book (solving the 24 problems men face), Makita Quiet Impact Driver Tool, Gerber Suspension Multi-Plier, BenchMade Blade Sharpener, Maratac AAA flashlight, Ironclad General Gloves, Kershaw Leek Blackwash Knife, KeySmart Keyring, Leatherman Sketetool, Leatherman Style PS Multi-Tool or you can just get him something really useful like a tie to decorate his closet.


June Weddings: Chocolate fountains are so 20th century. This is the future. At my wedding we’re having a queso fountain.


Ticks are supposed to be a problem this year. Yes, even in South Texas. Consumer Reports suggests the following things to ‘tick proof’ your yard without spraying. Since ticks like the shade of taller grass and cool damp areas on your lawn, keep your grass cut and bagged, trim or weed-wack tall grasses and weeds, blow away leaves or bag them to eliminate the damp cooler areas that ticks love, trim low-hanging tree branches to at least 18-inches above the ground, or lay a mulch moat; a 3-foot barrier of mulch (wood chips or bark, not shredded) around the perimeter of your yard. This creates a dry and hot obstacle to ticks. Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks and closed-toe shoes and always perform a tick check as soon as you return indoors.


The Freeport Re-Tail Shop is celebrating its Grand Re-opening On Saturday, June 16th from 10AM to 3PM. Located at 515 W 2nd Street, this SPCA of Brazoria County thrift shop offers a unique, ever-changing selection. The flea market type layout has a “Doggone Good Deals” main area and a more select side called “The Cat’s Meow”. Merchandise includes home goods, furniture, collectables, clothing, home improvement items, office supplies and more. The re-sellable stock is donated and much appreciated. Proceeds from sales support the SPCA of Brazoria County located in Lake Jackson at 141 Canna Lane. For more information about the shelter and all programs visit the website at www.spcabc.org. Be sure to say hello to the new director, Kristen.


Saudi Arabia issued the first driver’s licenses to 10 women as they prepare to lift the ban on women driving, but some women who campaigned for the right to drive, remain under arrest.


A study is now showing that most women with a common form of early-stage breast cancer can safely skip chemotherapy without hurting their chances of beating the disease. Staging and genetic testing will be used to gauge each patient’s risk. Hmmm. As a former breast cancer patient who went through months of treatment and years of recovery, this is good news, great news in fact because it will also save huge amounts of money and chemotherapy is so hard on your heart, but I can’t stop wondering if it’s for the benefit of the insurance companies. I’m just not sure what to think. It’s supposed to be put into effect immediately, so if you are diagnosed in the future, be sure to research and get the facts.


For Mother’s Day, my music-loving son bought two tickets for us to see one of my favorites, The Doobie Brothers. They were sharing the Smart Financial stage with Steely Dan and to announce this precious gift, Gage used my existing grocery list and marked out ‘bleach’ that I had written on the top of the post-it-note. Lying on the note was a twisted piece of aluminum foil. I was of course curious and asked about the foil. He told me to figure it out for myself. Still puzzled, he offered, “Steely Dan and Doobie Brothers. A steel doobie. Get it, Mom?” I’m so glad that to-date, his college education is so thorough. He’s a funny guy. Doobie Brothers was pretty good on about half the songs, but Steely Dan was a great concert from start to finish. Fun night. Thanks, Gage, for a very, very memorable Mother’s Day. You make my job as a mom, FUN. I’m so glad that I “force-fed” music to you every day and every night when you were little.


Happy Father’s Day to all the hard-working, loving and appreciative dads out there. Thanks for taking the time to read this…Lisa

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