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Much Ado About Nothing – Family Pet Fails

Much Ado About Nothing October 11, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

It’s been just over a year since our well-loved dog Buster chased a squirrel across the Rainbow Bridge. I guess my youngest son believes the official period of mourning should be wrapping up: I can take the sheets off the mirrors and quit wearing black wool every day. Recently, he started a not so subtle campaign for the addition to the family with a text that said, “Talk to Dad about getting a pet from the family of Mustelidae.” This wasn’t going to be good.

I’m sure the Mustelidae’s are a very nice family but maybe we just invite them for dinner first. Before I could Google mustelidae, a follow up text explained they’re ferrets, weasels and otters, oh, and honey badgers which, according to the internet, are “very dangerous and deadly to humans.” Okay, dinner is out and I’m questioning the wisdom of letting him major in marine biology.

When I pointed out that I don’t have water for an otter and my homeowner’s association surely will frown on deadly honey badgers, he pushed for the weasel. “Dangerous but not deadly to humans,” so still no.

Today’s text read, “Hey, what about getting a family tortoise. Pass it along in the family.” Nothing says let’s have a game of fetch quite like a family tortoise. But since they live for over 100 years, he says we can pass it down for generations. Which means that there will be Ciampi’s hating us into the next century. He tried pointing out, “Every normal white family has a dog, but the Ciampi legacy is a family tortoise that’s been in the family for years.” Since I’m not driving a crossover SUV or into anything pumpkin spice, I have to do something to maintain my white mom status besides asking to speak to the manager. While the tortoise is cool in a sedate, slo-mo kind of way and a much better choice than a honey badger, it’s still a no.

Son #2 is currently babysitting hissing cockroaches for his Biology lab and is smart enough not to even suggest one as a pet, so college is teaching him something. I’m not convinced there’s another good boy that could follow Buster. I’m also not convinced that Son #2 is not giving up. But before he asks, no, we’re not getting a pet giant squid.

Much Ado About Nothing – Drug Dogs

Much Ado About Nothing October 3, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

The skies over Los Angeles have just gotten a little friendlier. Last month Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) announced you can now legally carry marijuana through the airport. While this may be good news to folks like Sir Paul McCartney who got busted for half a pound in Tokyo airport in the 80’s and actor Bill Murray who got thrown out of college in the 70’s for trying to bring nine pounds through O’Hare, not everyone is buzzing about the change, starting with how many detection canines who can look for a pink slip with their bowl of kibble.

I am not nor have I ever been a user of recreational drugs, so I could care less about the news. But I’m a sucker for a dog: stray dog, rescued dog, working dog, old dog, service dog. So I’m guessing we’re going to have a pack of well-trained pooches off the payroll now. No reason for Thor the Narcotics K9 to point out the pothead passengers if TSA starts standing for Travelers Smoking is Alright. Is there a union to speak up for dog rights? Can these dogs get an emotional support animal? Preferably not a kitten.

Before you book a ticket for the Sunshine State and pack your suitcase “with up to 28.5 grams of marijuana and 8 grams of concentrated marijuana” as allowed by California law plus three bags of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and a Taco Bell Triple Double Crunch Wrap Box, remember that once you leave LAX, you’re onboard a plane subject to Federal laws which don’t feel kindly about such things. And if you land in a state that’s not so liberal on their drug laws, you may encounter some still-employed, feisty detection canines carrying a grudge about their brothers in collars that lost their jobs and want to take it out on you.

So here’s how it rolls up: you can’t really carry marijuana on the plane, can’t have it on you in a majority of airports, and cannot smoke it in LAX. I’m not totally sure then what exactly has changed other than the drug sniffing dogs are all pointing their paws at bigger prizes on the luggage carousel instead of weeding out weed. Maybe we listen to McGruff the Crime Dog and Just Say No.

Much Ado About Nothing – Flu Snipers

Much Ado About Nothing September 26, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

While that first crisp morning might be the indicator that summer is finally considering releasing its sweaty, nasty, mosquito-infested hold on our lives, it also heralds the beginning of a new season. Good bye hurricane season, hello flu season. I know this because every form of pharmacy has stuck a sign out trying to lure me in for a shot. I don’t like shots. I’d rather have summer. But maybe without the mosquitoes.

What I find a little frightening are the grocery stores that want you to be “Shot While You Shop.” That’s just flat out alarming. Are they going after moving targets now? Why do I suddenly feel like big game hunting has come to town and I’m on the trophy list? Are they posting snipers in the produce department? I’m terrified now to slip in for a loaf of bread that I won’t be targeted by some half-crazed pharmacist with a quota, a blow gun and a flu shot dart. We’ve gone from gang-related drive-by shootings to viral-prevention walk-by shootings. The world has gone crazy.

Did you know that you’re even supposed to get a flu shot for your dog, too? Oh yes! If you don’t, then you’re a negligent, uncaring animal hater that could be responsible for some other dog getting a stuffy nose and watery eyes. Maybe even a low-grade fever and sneezing. Of course, if you don’t get a flu shot for your dog then you’ll get lumped into the group of people who don’t give their children vaccines which thereby endangers all of us. So maybe it’d just be easier to sneak in that flu shot when Rover gets his rabies update.

I’m all about everyone having a flu shot. And don’t bother crying at me about how the last time you had a flu shot you got the flu. You probably already had the flu when you got the shot. It takes ten days to incubate. Unless you’re a dog, then I guess it incubates in dog years or something. In the next few weeks, I’ll even man up and get one myself. What the heck, maybe I’ll get pneumonia, shingles and rabies while I’m at it. Or I’ll simply make a grocery list and wait to get picked off in the freezer section by the pharmacy flu snipers!

Much Ado About Nothing – Bugnapping

Much Ado About Nothing September 19, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

I get it that maybe you hate your job. I’ve had jobs I hated. One summer, I sold pots and pans door to door. Clarification: I went door to door but sold zero pots and pans. I hated it. When you hate your job, though, the smart thing to do is find another job and move on. I suggest professionalism in the hopes you’ll get a good reference and you never know who you’ll run into in the business world. Unless you work at the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion. Then all bets are totally off.

Last month, a group of employees at the Philly Insectarium finally got fed up with I don’t even know what. The list of things that could be horrible about working at the Philadelphia Insectarium are almost uncountable, starting with spending every day with a bunch of creepy bugs that you’re not allowed to stomp on, smash, or spray with Raid. I can only guess that the employee benefits package sucks. As if they’re going to offer medical or life insurance to people who work around deadly six-eyed sand spiders. Another day, another claim on the company policy! Employees dropping like rare, endangered, poisonous flies!

Whatever their reasons, employees started carting off boxes of bugs. More than 7,000 insects gone, including an entire colony of cockroaches, over several days. In case the staff uniforms pinned to the wall with large knives weren’t a clue to who the bugnappers were, then the fact that it was all caught on the security cameras made it a little easier to figure out. Police are currently investigating and have recovered some of the little creepy creatures at a residence. They found some bugs there, too. The rest are still unaccounted for – bugs and “buglars.”

According to statements, the haul was only valued at $40,000. Hello! You just committed a felony for a bunch of roaches that a lot of people would have paid you to take out of their apartments. It’s not like they lifted a priceless Rembrandt painting that could be sold on the black market for millions. No, we’re talking lizards, snakes, millipedes.

So maybe you get a job at the Insectarium because you’re just not the brightest firefly in the jar. This means, kids: Stay in School! Stay out of Jail! And, for now, don’t buy undocumented insects.

Much Ado About Nothing – Mauled by Bears

Much Ado About Nothing September 12, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

I just got back from the Emergency Room. Lots of blood, pain, and 8 stitches in my left shin from being mauled by a bear. … No, really, a bear. … Okay, a small bear. Think Paddington kind of bear. It was, after all, only 8 stitches. … No?  … Fine, the real truth is that I got mauled by the corner of the dishwasher door. The stitches are real, but the bear maybe not as much. But any good journalist will tell you, though, to never let the truth come between you and a good story. So I’m sticking with the bear.

Let’s face it, we’ve all done it. If you’ve spent any time at all in a kitchen and have experienced the posh luxury of not eating on paper plates, then you’ve probably caught your leg on the open dishwasher door at some point. And it hurts. I, however, can’t just bump my shin, mutter some form of the word poop through gritted teeth, and then move on with my life. No, I have to go full combat mode. And lose.

When the ER doc looks at your leg and says, “The dishwasher did this to you? Through your jeans? Wow. I mean, I can see your tendon” then you know you’ve pretty much done a number on your shin. At the same time you start feeling a little stupid for being so badly roughed up by a kitchen appliance. That’s why you need a bear.

I think the only thing that impressed the ER doctor more than what brought me there was how I reacted to getting it fixed. When he shot me several times in a part of my leg that is nothing but nerve endings and bear drool, I commenced with a vocabulary that would get me inducted into the Marine Corps. The guy in the next room may have needed to add heart attack to his triage notes. And the kid in the waiting room who thought he broke his arm, thought again. Pain killers should not hurt that bad.

So if anyone asks what happened, I was mauled by a bear. A Whirlpool Gold Series Bear. With delay start option. And moving forward, my trust issues include the microwave and the refrigerator. And I’m totally good with paper plates.

Much Ado About Nothing – North V South

Much Ado About Nothing September 5, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

If you listen to the Flat Earth people, you believe, if you go far enough, you can eventually get to the edge of the Earth. At that point you fall off into the Abyss to be eaten by sea monsters. While I’m relatively confident this is not factual, I do know that if you go north any further than about Oklahoma City, things are no longer as they should be.  I believe once you’re out of range of a Whataburger, a Buc-cee’s bathroom, and some way of picking up an Astros’ broadcast, you have left civilization and should turn around immediately. No one should be expected to spend any extended time in a location without a Chick-fil-A. Yet, here I am.

If the absence of sweet tea wasn’t enough of an indication that I had sadly left the South, then realizing that practically every grocery store, daycare, and dentist office sells a complete selection of hard liquor cleared up any doubts. You can spend 20 minutes browsing brands of single malt scotch at the corner gas station. There are more types of tequilas than candy bars! What happened to that “Don’t Drink and Drive” message?

Liquor stores are called Party Stores. I suppose when every store is a liquor store, you have to find a way to set yourself apart. At the party store, along with all the makings for a Long Island Ice Tea and bottles of wine that are more than my monthly mortgage payment, you can also pick up the “Cheese of the Month” which might just happen to be the 2017 Supreme Champion at the World Cheese Awards. We’re not talking Velveeta here. Not at the party store. No, sir. Go back to the Shell station for that.

Party stores have gift ideas like personalized specialty glasses for your favorite Moscow Mule drinker. Every place else just has a local jackass with a red Solo cup. Party stores offer a full deli stocked with imported prosciutto. Other spots have packages of peppered beef jerky. If you ask me, it’s all just a bit of semantics.

Maybe there needs to be a little less focus on alcohol and more attention paid to negotiating a Ninfa’s or Pappasito’s here in the frozen tundra. Michigan may not be the edge of the Earth, but I think you can see it from here.

Much Ado About Nothing – Blessed are Teachers

Much Ado About Nothing August 29, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

School is back in session. Teachers, unsung warriors that they are, have once again manned the battle lines to fight for the ongoing education of the next generation. Truly there is no level of sainthood great enough to crown the heads of these bold, brave souls who selflessly walk into the classrooms of darkness and shine a light. Let us pray.

Blessed be the elementary school teacher. Kindergarten teachers who fight the battles of noses that will ceaselessly run snot, shoes that refuse to stayed tied, and 5-year olds who are genetically coded to ask 43.2 million questions before noon of every single day. First- and Second-grade teachers with classrooms full of children refusing their lunches because they spent the morning eating crayons, boogers and Elmer’s glue. Third- and Fourth-grade teachers facing down the “indoor voice” that is perfect if indoors is a jet propulsion lab.

Blessed are the middle school teachers who have mastered the art of not laughing until the students can’t see them. Theirs is the world of “Stop that!” “Keep your hands where I can see them,” and “Bring the signed permission slip or you can’t watch THE video.” Not that THE video is going to teach anything that hasn’t already been learned on the bus.

Blessed be the junior high teachers. Theirs will be a consecrated, shiny, elevated place in Heaven for this is the special ops, SEAL team branch of teachers. Lord! Extra prayers for them!

And blessed be the high school teachers. They possess a special gifting to juggle the Ivy League auto-accepts and the unwed teenage mothers, the class president, the class clown, and the kid dealing drugs out of his third-period gym locker. They must face the AP, SAT, ACT, standardized, and the daily test of the parking lots at school.

Bless the teachers as they navigate helicopter parents, school shooters, and an education system that seems determined to break their spirits and their bank accounts. They have accepted a profession – no, a calling! – that is critical and pivotal. And not just because the nuclear waste dump wasn’t hiring. They do it for the love of the job or because they have a serious screw loose. Most likely both.

Say a prayer for them, then hug a teacher because if they didn’t do that job, you’d have to..

Much Ado About Nothing – On the Move

Much Ado About Nothing August 22, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

Heed my words: Do not pray for patience as God will provide the opportunities for you to learn it. Never ask, “What else can possibly go wrong?” Trust me, nothing tempts the Universe to yell, “Hold my beer!” more than that. And never ever, don’t ever say never. I actually said once I’d never live in the Middle East which landed me in Saudi Arabia for three years. As Harvey threatened Texas, I said, “My house will never flood.” It flooded. And then I said, “I’m never moving again.” Fill out the change of address card because I’m moving. TO MICHIGAN!

Imma gunna freeze! Michigan, where cold fronts are six foot deep! You don’t understand, people; my blood is so thin, it’s invisible! I fully expect by the end of my first winter to be found encased in ice like a Yeti on the backside of Everest, a look of miserable shock forever captured on my face. Ice belongs in tea or cream, not spread in deadly sheets across the road with the sole purpose of sending your car careening into a ditch so no one finds you until the “spring thaw” in July.

We’ve already bought a house there from a very nice couple who are gleefully laughing with giddy joy as they hippy-hop off to retirement in Florida. I think I may hate them. Despite that, they were so very kind as to agree to leave the outdoor patio heater and the snow blower for us. Snow blower? Are there YouTube videos for how to operate that? I mean, do you run out as soon as it starts snowing and blow the offending fluffy ice masses back into the sky? Do they have plow attachments for the mower? And in the name of all things holy, how do I get a pizza delivered in January?!

I’m trying hard to see the positives. I’ll have seasons and Hurricane won’t be one of them. I can look forward to summer – all 26 days of it. White Christmas will be more than just a song. I suppose, too, if I can survive three plus years in Saudi Arabia, I can probably survive Siberia. And as long as there’s an internet connection, I’ll keep writing this column.

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.

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    by on July 19, 2018 - 0 Comments

    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 […]

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    by on July 19, 2018 - 0 Comments

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    by on August 8, 2018 - 0 Comments

    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 […]

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