The New Polar Bear Plunge

The new year is just the around the corner, so naturally I was invited to join the Polar Bear Plunge.  For you landlubbers who are fortunate enough to be unaware of this torture, the plunge is an annual winter event where otherwise seemingly normal people jump into the frigid ocean waters. Then their brain cells freeze over so that next year, when someone says, “Hey! It’s twenty below!  Grab your swimsuit and take the plunge!”, they willingly go along. 

I politely declined the invitation to join in this year’s frigid festivities.  My idea of a plunge is jumping into a hot Jacuzzi or the tropical waters of the Caribbean. I also have no desire to emulate the polar bear.

No animal lives farther north than the polar bear.  They may look cute and cuddly, but polar bears are fierce animals who prowl the Arctic wilderness, searching for seals, their main prey.  They will then grab the seals right out of their breathing holes in the ice.  Yes, you know those adorable aquarium seals who perform tricks to amaze and entertain us?  The polar bears have another nickname for them:  Dinner.

Polar bears would be very amused by watching humans take the plunge.  For one thing, the bears have thick fur which is actually made out of clear, hollow tubes.  Each hollow hair can trap the sun’s infrared heat and keep the bear toasty warm and comfortable.  This fur is also oily and water-repellent. The bears can easily shake free of water and any ice that may form after swimming. 

So humans wearing Speedos and bikinis call themselves “polar bears” and go plunging into the icy waters.  And guess what?  They get wet and extremely cold.  Go figure.

Meanwhile, the real polar bears, like some sort of Arctic superheroes, are impervious to both the wet and the cold.  Maybe the name of the event should be changed to represent a timid animal who can actually get wet and cold.  The Puppy Plunge.

Or another idea would be to change the event altogether.  One positive aspect of the Polar Bear Plunge is that it is usually held to benefit charities.  Now all we need are generous people who want to do something brave in a warm climate to help others. 

Hang gliding in Costa Rica.  Snorkeling in the Coral Reef.  Bungee jumping in Cabo San Lucas.  The possibilities are endless, and there are plenty of options that could involve bravery without hypothermia.

 

The Season of Thanksmas

Before we even settle down for a Thanksgiving dinner, the season of Thanksmas is upon us.  Thanksmas is the time when retailers try to rush us right past Thanksgiving into the season of Christmas.  You know it has arrived when the obnoxious fluorescent lighting of a store is actually overshadowed by the Christmas displays.  Everywhere you look, commercial Christmas is upon us.  Rather than subtle and tasteful decorations, most stores go for the “Santa’s elves just threw up in here” look. 

What’s the matter with savoring a holiday?   If you ask me, Thanksgiving should last for a week.  It’s a holiday that has nothing whatsoever to do with gifts, but rather family and gratitude.  (Okay, I’m trying to overlook the football, parades of lip-synchers, and ridiculous amounts of desserts.)   But even at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, Santa Claus arrives to steal the show.  Shouldn’t he be kept under wraps for his grand appearance a month later?  Plus, I don’t know if it’s really fair to leave Mrs. Claus and the elves during the start of their busy season. 

Santa Claus used to appear on Christmas Eve, but now I guess it’s all about public relations and keeping in touch with the people.  The other day I saw hundreds of children in line to see Santa at the mall.  Not only did the parents look exhausted, but the children did not seem at all excited at the thought of standing for an hour to spend a minute on a stranger’s lap.  Apparently no one questioned the fact that during the busy week before Christmas, Santa was spending an afternoon at a mall food court.

Nothing against Kris Kringle, but he would make much more of an impact if he made one annual appearance.  Let each holiday have its own day of glory.  Besides, how would Santa like it if the Easter Bunny showed up on Christmas morning?  Next thing you know, Cupid will drop the ball on New’s Year’s Eve, and the Leprechaun will pass out Valentines.  Let’s put an end to the holiday merge!  Thanksmas, Christmas Year’s Day, Valentine’s Birthday, The Fourth of Easter!

Now that the Christmas season has arrived, we should cherish every moment of it. It is a glorious holiday that deserves its moment in the spotlight. And as much as I love and respect George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, I do not want to celebrate their birthdays during a Christmas parade. 

Have a Merry Christmas, everyone!  Here are some links to some of my previous Christmas blogs:

The Unofficial Christmas Carol Awards, The 12 Minutes of Christmas, Scotch Tape and Schnitzel with Noodles, Watch Out for the Blazing Yule, Santa Gets a Makeover

Halloween and the Tenth Dentist

I am not usually one to stir up a conspiracy theory, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Halloween was invented by dentists.  They try to play up their softer image by promoting that 9 out of 10 of them “recommend Trident,” but why would they really do that?  If people stop getting cavities, then the dentist industry plummets.  The one dentist who didn’t recommend Trident was just being honest about the fact that he enjoys his BMW convertible and vacation home in Miami.  Where is he now, anyway?  Probably mysteriously “relocated” to an undisclosed location, next door to the inventor of the Chicken Dance.

When you strip Halloween down, you see it for what it really is:  a cavity extravaganza.  Kids are in it for the candy, and the bigger the better. God help you if you try to pass out raisins, unless you actually enjoy being tarred and feathered and having your effigy burned in the town square.  I love those websites that recommend alternatives for passing out candy on Halloween.  Before you consider handing out cheap, plastic toys instead of M&M’s, you might want to board up your house and seek out the Witness Protection Program. On the contrary, people who leave an entire bowl of candy on their porch are nominated for President.

As a sign of the times, the last time I opened the door on Halloween, a bunch of scowling tweens stood on my porch sans costume and stuck out their bags without a word.  No “Trick or Treat” and no “thank you.”  I suppose we will eventually have to screen trick-or-treaters for weapons.  Nothing says “holiday” like decorating your porch with a metal detector.

Halloween causes a lot of unnecessary stress for parents, so as usual, I am providing my ideas for some improvements:

Ideas for improving Halloween (for adults):

  • Instead of candy, just pour cups of sugar into trick-or-treaters’ bags.
  • Pass out toothbrushes and brochures on tooth decay.
  • Just have parents give their children a vat of candy on Halloween night.  Wouldn’t that save a lot of time and effort for everyone?
  • Skip the costumes.  Their only purpose is to make begging for candy seem “cute.”
  • We already have e-mail, e-cards, and e-pets.  Why not e-candy?
  • Have children show up at your door and volunteer to do chores around your house.  Costumes optional.
  • Make Halloween costumes and candy tax-deductible.
  • Have only dentists pass out the candy.  And a coupon for a cleaning. 

The Umpire’s Hug

Few things are as exciting as the sights and sounds of a Major League baseball game.  The way you know by the smack of a ball that it’s heading out of the park.  The way out-of-shape millionaire athletes, who have mistaken spring training in Ft. Myers with spring break in Ft. Lauderdale, need an oxygen tank after running the bases.  It’s all good, although there is always room for improvement.

I can never understand what the umpire is saying. The words are “strike” and “ball.”   I think a few extra vowels get slipped in there.  Steee-riiike!  On the other hand, the guys who sell peanuts and beer can be heard screaming their wares for miles outside the park.  Either let these vendors ump the game, or have them translate the umpire’s babblings through the stands.  Peanuts!  Ice Cold Beer!  Strike 2!

Some of the umpire’s hand signals are also unclear. To signal the sign for “safe,” the umpire stretches his hands out in the opposite direction. That’s the same sign parents give to tell their kids “That’s enough!”  If the umpire would just give himself a hug, we would all feel safe and loved, including the player who made it to base.

Whoever thought of the idea to give men white uniforms to slide around in the dirt and mud?  Clearly not a mother.  The people who clean those uniforms have to be subjected to enough bleach fumes to drug an entire terrorist ring.  Either that or they would have to throw away the uniforms after each use, which would be a complete waste of money.  The obvious choice here would be brown uniforms, which would have the added benefit of camouflaging any tobacco juice stains. 

The catcher’s stance hurts my legs just watching him. I’ve had times when I’ve squatted down to weed for a while, and I practically needed medical assistance to straighten up again. Does the catcher really have to squat the whole time?  Can’t they just offer him a chair?  It’s not like he has to run around much.

The players drop so many balls, maybe they could switch to the Velcro gloves children use.  The outfielders have so much ground to cover that perhaps they should add a fourth player.  To avoid slamming into each other, give each player his designated area and then install invisible fences.  If someone tries to cross the line, he’ll know it. 

Everyone knows the game of baseball is way too long.  Even the DMV moves faster.

Here are some ideas to consider:

There’s nothing worse than enduring one foul ball after another, especially when they originally appear to be a home run.   The fans get emotionally invested, and then their blood pressure rises, increasing their need for medication and eventually inflating health care costs.  All hits should count; just get the fans involved in the play.  They do anyway, so this shouldn’t be a stretch.

This whole concept of “three strikes and you’re out” breeds an attitude of entitlement on and off the field.  Next thing you know, people everywhere are whining, “Just give me another chance!”   Players should swing once. If they miss, they can just go sit on the bench and calculate how many more millions they just earned.  

Extra innings can get a little arduous.  If they can’t stand leaving it at a tie, they should just flip a coin, because most people have a long drive home and have to get up for work the next morning.

A lot of time is spent waiting for the pitcher and catcher to get on the same page.  They have to come up with complicated and cleverly disguised signals so they can communicate in secret code. The rapid advancement of technology should make the pitcher/catcher signals obsolete.  Even texting would be faster than what they do now.

From pitcher:  fb (fast ball)

From catcher:  lol!

The Battle of the Captains

Throughout history there have been many famous captains, but not many whom I would actually trust to sail my ship.  For starters, consider Captain Crunch, a.k.a. Cap’n Crunch, the mascot of the popular cereal.  When someone takes a job as a cereal mascot, I have to be suspicious of his background.  The Cap’n seems like a decent man, but I question his qualifications for being an actual captain, other than the fact that he found a hat with a C on it at the Salvation Army.

Cap’n Crunch does look like a captain, but he’s a man with eyebrows independent from the rest of his body.  A man who helps people solve their problems by offering them a cereal which will put them into a sugar-induced coma.  A few years ago, his full name was revealed as Horatio Magellan Crunch.  Apparently his publicist was trying to give him some credibility by naming him after two famous sailors.  George Crunch just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Cap’n Crunch was the most popular children’s cereal until it was dethroned by Fruity Pebbles.  The once formidable captain was defeated by Pebbles and Bamm Bamm, children in diapers, so I will look elsewhere for my skipper.

How about The Skipper from Gilligan’s Island? He ran their ship aground and couldn’t help them get off the island in three years.  Moving on, then…

Avast me hearties, Captain Hook is the villainous pirate captain of the Jolly Roger.  I’m sorry, but his ship’s name is too close to the Jolly Rancher, a popular brand of candy.  I don’t want to be at sea and thinking about the watermelon hard candy that gives me canker sores.

Being a pirate captain might be cool if it wasn’t in Neverland, a fictional world of children.  Also, his archenemy is Peter Pan, a boy who refuses to grow up.  It’s kind of embarrassing when your nemesis hangs out with someone named Tinkerbell and could be portrayed by Sandy Duncan.

Peter Pan cut off Hook’s hand and fed it to a crocodile.  Understandably, Hook then developed a fear of crocodiles and other reptiles.  But is this type of person you want as captain of your ship?

Captain America is cool and has an impressive physique, but he has no superhuman powers.  How can you be a superhero without super powers? He is supposedly a perfect specimen of human conditioning, but he wears a spandex body suit, which is kind of like a full length Speedo. His weapon is a shield, which wouldn’t even protect me from my toddler.  I like Captain America because of what he represents, but he wouldn’t be my captain of choice.  Mostly because he doesn’t even have a ship.  Or his captain’s license, for that matter.

The winner is Captain Merrill Stubing of The Love Boat.  Never losing his electric smile, he got people where they needed to go and solved major problems in less than an hour.  He put up with Gopher, the Yeoman Purser, not to mention several guest appearances by Charo.  Besides, who else can wear knee-high white socks and look so suave and debonair? 

Flying Monkeys on the Field

Professional athletes must be extremely grateful for their team mascots.  During moments of intense pressure, it must really inspire them to see a six-foot-tall fuzzy animal dancing on the sidelines.  Especially knowing that underneath the costume lurks a teenager who probably still sleeps with a nightlight on because he’s afraid of the dark.

Teams should aim to intimidate their rivals with more frightening mascots. Someone should choose Freddy Krueger from Nightmare on Elm Street, or at least the Abominable Snowman from Rudolph.  Or imagine coming on to the field and seeing the Flying Monkeys from The Wizard of Oz.  That would send any team running to their mommies.  Mascots should not be something you would find at a petting zoo. 

Maybe the players themselves should try to look more intimidating.  I don’t understand why teams choose names that wouldn’t even intimidate a grandmother.  With all of the amazing animals out there, I’m still questioning the Anaheim Ducks.  It was better when they were the Mighty Ducks, because at least they sounded like the opposite of the Feeble Ducks.

Some other perplexing choices:

Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox.  Spelling issues aside, the major problem here is trying to frighten your opponent with hosiery.  The Red Sox have the slight edge here, giving the impression that they may make your team’s white uniforms turn pink.

New England Patriots.  We all love patriots, but they conjure up images of people like John Adams, a great man, but hardly a fearsome athlete.  When you play a team of Patriots, your major threat is having your tea thrown into the harbor.  The good news is that they were not named the Boston Baked Beans.

New York Yankees.  Again, there is no threat here, just the fear of someone sticking a feather in your helmet and calling you “macaroni.”

Baltimore Orioles, St. Louis Cardinals, Toronto Blue Jays, etc. Birds twitter, chirp, and flitter. Do not choose an animal that can be devoured by a house cat.  Thank you, Baltimore Ravens, for choosing a fierce bird.  Anyone who has read Edgar Allan Poe can attest to the frightening image of the raven. If you have to use a bird, at least pick one that can peck your eye out.  Flesh-eating vultures would be another obvious choice.

Toronto Maple Leafs.  Are they trying to incite a fear of being dismembered by a leaf blower? 

Milwaukee Brewers.  If they would rather be out having a beer, they should just say so.

Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Reds.  Ohio needs a little help, but at least they didn’t pick Chartreuses. 

Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Penguins, Miami Dolphins.  Too cute and playful. 

Some teams have hidden meanings behind their names that actually make the choices more acceptable:

Green Bay Packers, named after a meat canning company.  Canned meat can be scary if it is past the expiration date.

Detroit Pistons.  Many people have had heart attacks after receiving their bill from the auto repair shop.

Denver Nuggets.  Have you ever seen the ingredients in Chicken McNuggets? Scary.

New York Mets.  A metropolis is extremely scary for a pedestrian trying to cross the street during rush hour.  My theory is that New York was trying to keep things simple by rhyming their teams.  Jets, Mets….

Los Angeles Angels and New Orleans Saints.  Last time I checked, angels and saints do not run around trash talking, tackling, and breaking people’s collarbones.  However, the major advantage these teams have is that their holy names could put the fear of God in the hearts of their enemies.  

The goal here is to choose things that scare you and give you nightmares.  The following teams are my Top 5 favorite picks for name choices:

Toronto Raptors

Jacksonville Jaguars

Carolina Panthers

San Jose Sharks

Ottawa Senators

Donny and Marie at the Laundromat

I have started to question the modern practice of laundry.  Back in olden days, people would wear the same smelly and dirty clothes until one day the outfit would peel itself off and walk down to the local river.  At first the perplexed folks would wrap themselves in burlap sacks and hold town meetings to crack the mysterious code of what their clothes were trying to communicate. 

Then some guy named JimBob, a Crime Scene Investigator, figured it out.  They followed him down to the river, where he summarized his findings. 

JIMBOB:  You see, you have to wash the clothes to get them clean. 

The crowd gasped as he grabbed a rock and proceeded to wash their clothes in the river.  Revolutionary.

The pattern hasn’t changed much.  Flash forward hundreds of years, and people were still trying to figure out how to use the machines at the Laundromat. Apparently the people who designed Laundromat washing machines wanted patrons to feel as though they were playing the slot machines.  I think the concept is that for a roll of quarters, you might just get lucky and win back all your clothes at the end of the game.  In their attempt to Vegas-ize the experience, they stopped short of booking headlining acts while you’re waiting for your clothes to clean and dry.  After spending so much money and having to wait for so long, you deserve to be entertained by Donny and Marie, or at least Penn and Teller.  And some appetizers might be nice, too. 

Somehow we have evolved from using a rock in the river into needing stain removers, laundry detergents, fabric softeners, dryer sheets, and machines with more cycles than the life of a monarch butterfly.

The washing machine was designed with personalities in mind.  Which cycle will you choose?  

Hell’s Angel…Heavy Duty

Average Joe…Normal

Athlete… Fast/Fast

Debutante…Delicate

People generally fall into one of two categories when it comes to doing laundry.  One type separates clothes by color and blend, carefully considering water temperature and cycle speed for optimum performance.  The other type dumps everything into the machine and deals with the outcome, usually throwing the inevitable pink tie-dye into the trash.

Using a dryer is a luxury.  Whatever happened to hanging clothes out on the line?  The Snuggle Fabric Softener bear, that’s what happened.  Women were perfectly content taking their crunchy sheets and towels off the line and picking out the bugs and grass until this seemingly innocuous stuffed animal giggled his way onto a stack of unbelievably soft and fluffy laundry.  Was there some sort of hypnosis going on there? Look closely and you will catch an evil glint in his eyes.

The overblown laundry craze has gotten out of control, and someone needs to invent disposable clothes. We already have disposable razors, cameras, and diapers, so how hard could it be? Not the scratchy paper gowns from the doctor’s office, but maybe a softer material that will self-destruct after forty-eight hours.  The money saved from not doing laundry would more than make up for the cost.  Either that or we need to take JimBob’s advice and go back to the river with our rocks.