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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).

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.

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.

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).

Much Ado About Nothing – Period Party

Much Ado About Nothing July 19, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

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

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

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

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

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

Much Ado About Nothing – Letterbox

Much Ado About Nothing July 12, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much Ado About Nothing – Win A Cremation

Much Ado About Nothing July 3, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

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

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

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

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

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

Much Ado About Nothing – Snakes

Much Ado About Nothing June 27, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

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

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

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

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

Much Ado About Nothing – Hurricane Season Again

Much Ado About Nothing June 20, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

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

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

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

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

Much Ado About Nothing – Manners Refresher

Much Ado About Nothing June 14, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

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

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

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

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

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

Much Ado About Nothing – Willis Carter

Much Ado About Nothing June 6, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much Ado About Nothing – Family Court

Much Ado About Nothing May 31, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

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

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

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

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

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

Much Ado About Nothing – Hacked

Much Ado About Nothing May 24, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

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

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

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

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

Much Ado About Nothing – Stalker Stories

Much Ado About Nothing May 17, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much Ado About Nothing – Tide Pods

Much Ado About Nothing March 1, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

“God grant me the detergent to wash my clothes, the food to fuel my body, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I honestly thought that the Tide pod thing had reached the pinnacle of stupid until I read a headline in the New York Daily News that said “State lawmakers implore Tide to make less tasty-looking detergent pods.” Obviously someone hasn’t realized that you can’t out-think stupid.

In case you’ve actually been leading a productive, useful life and missed it, the youth of today, the leaders of tomorrow think its fun to challenge each other to explode one of the plastic laundry detergent pods in their mouth. While this might get a bunch of other idiots to watch you do it on YouTube, it also gets you a certain level of priority in the Emergency Room since you’ve likely just poisoned yourself.

Ok, so we can all accept that teenagers have a propensity for stupid. As I recall, teenagers of my Dad’s generation had a thing for swallowing live goldfish — although in their defense, live goldfish aren’t considered deadly bio-hazards. My generation covered ourselves in baby oil before lying in the sun which is why so many of us are dealing with skin cancer. You can already see the increase in risk and the decrease in smart.

What has me smacking my own forehead in utter amazement is that government lawmakers – people that someone actually cast a ballot and put in office – are now trying to pass legislation to keep companies from making anything but food look like food. Have we devolved to such a level of ignorant that this has to happen?

If people will eat Tide pods for fun, then I can assume there are people who will still be reading this, so I’ll just say again: You can’t out-think stupid. Before you ever pass the law that requires soap to look like dirt, teenagers will have long found something more ridiculous and dangerous to do. It’s obviously not enough to just go out and win a trophy, since everyone has one of those.

The way I look at it, teenagers are finally washing their own mouths out with soap. If they could find a way to paddle their own rear ends, there might be a glimmer of hope for the future of our society.

You can also find “Much Ado About Nothing” online at www.thewriterjean.com.

Much Ado About Nothing – Olympics

Much Ado About Nothing February 14, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

I’m sorry, but there will be no column this week. For that matter, next week is kind of questionable as well. Honestly, don’t really look for much from me until after the Olympics are over. I’m completely and unashamedly addicted. If there were a 12-Step Program for Olympic coverage, I’d have the meetings at my house – during the commercials, of course.  Otherwise, please no talking.

I’ll watch anything Olympic. Every sport. Preliminary qualifying rounds for the Skeleton could be broadcast at 3:40am local time and I’m setting an alarm. I don’t want to miss one thrilling moment of seeing tiny people go screaming headfirst down a treacherous ice track on a tiny sled at 60mph to what could be, with one misjudged turn, their untimely death. This year, brothers from Latvia are battling each other for a medal in the sport. One is at his third Olympics with no medal and the other one earned silver in Sochi. Oh the drama! I’ve got to see how it comes out. Meanwhile, I’ll wait while you go Google “skeleton” and “Latvia.”

Over the past three years and 50 weeks, I haven’t thought about – and certainly haven’t watched – men’s half pipe competition. Now? Now, I’m asking the cashier at Target how did the Canadian not land that backside triple 1440 nose grab? Then I’m leaving the store in complete shock that she was not as impressed with his follow up chicken salad and the backside rodeo. I’m completely baffled by some people’s priorities.

I think it was utterly brilliant to hold the Olympics in South Korea. With the attention of the entire world focused on the Korean peninsula, there’s no way that wacky North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is going to misbehave with one of his atomic missiles that seem to always be pointed at us. Nothing makes the whole planet side against you than screwing up the Olympics with a hostile act of aggression. For that matter, I’m even building up some hard core resentment against Mother Nature for her failure to cooperate with the events in the mountains.

So, if you’ll excuse me, the women’s biathlon qualifying rounds are starting. How do you not watch a bunch of girls awkwardly slush through the snow with a rifle on their backs then stop and shoot the nose off a gnat? Chant with me now: USA! USA!

You can also find “Much Ado About Nothing” online at www.thewriterjean.com.

Much Ado About Nothing – Zombie Ants Redux

Much Ado About Nothing February 8, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

Originally published May 6, 2010, I’m rerunning this column as proof that no one – not man nor beast or even ants – are safe from the Zombie Apocalypse.

I was sitting around somewhere recently where I had to wait. Probably a doctor’s office or the oil change place or something. This is usually the only chance I have to actually pick up a magazine and thumb through it. At this particular hurry-up-and-wait location, I picked up a back issue of Texas Monthly to read the article on fire ants. Oh, that was a mistake.

It seems that those wacky researchers at Texas A&M have discovered that there is this certain type of fly that will lay eggs in the neck of fire ants. The larvae then start to feed on the fluids of the fire ant’s body until it gets to the brain. As it devours the ant brain – and what a gourmet meal that has to be – the ant slowly becomes a zombie. The ant zombie then mindlessly wanders away from the mound forgetting that it has important work to do, like organizing commando raids on innocent gardeners.

Eventually, far from the mound it used to call home and completely devoid of brain function and bodily fluids, the ant’s head finally just falls off and the new fly emerges.

First of all, this whole thing has a gross-out rating of 38 on a scale from one to 10. I hate fire ants as much as the next guy, but fly larvae who live in ant necks and eat their brains is disgusting. Don’t get me wrong, just because it’s disgusting doesn’t mean I’m not all for it. I just think that there’s a B-horror movie script in this: “Attack of the Zombie Ants” or “Lord of the Brain-Eating Flies.” Feel free to pause here and come up with a few of your own.

Secondly, what super nerd A&M scientist happened to be tagging along behind some pregnant fly to discover she was planting larvae in ant necks? Or did he work backwards? “Hey, where did all these headless zombie ants come from?” Either way, there’s a guy out there who probably needs a make-over on several levels.

What is completely alarming, though, is that more and more I find myself wandering into a room and wondering why I’m there, sometimes feeling dehydrated … Could someone please come check my neck?!?!

You can also find “Much Ado About Nothing” online at www.thewriterjean.com.

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      My next door neighbor got a United Nations Development Programmed grant. No really! He sent me a Facebook direct message to tell me he got $150,000.00. His exact words were, “I’m no joking or pulling legs.” Here’s where it gets really exciting: he saw my name on their lucky winner list, too, and I […]

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