Saturday, May 31, 2008

In Church, In the Store, At Home


The big news of May 29, 2008 is that the Vatican will excommunicate women priests and their supporters on the basis that Jesus only chose men to be his apostles. I agree that only men should be priests. No woman should serve the Lord in a leadership position, and as Jesus himself said in the Gospel of Saint Phonius Bogus, “Get those dames outta here!” (I think it’s somewhere toward the back). But with rights come responsibilities. The responsibility to prove that only men are serving is sacred and crucial. Therefore, it shall be decreed that prior to saying, “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” every priest shall prove, one way or another, that he is indeed male. Use your imaginations...

Show us the truth!


Whenever you find a product you really like you’d best buy a lot of it. Because the next time you go to find it you’ll discover it’s been discontinued. This version of Murphy’s Law works best on cosmetics. Several shades of Clinique lipstick have gone the way of the 8-track including my faves, Golden Raisin and A Different Rose. However, the sleight-of-product doesn’t just apply to makeup. I’ve noticed that my favorite brand of toothpaste, which used to have a sharp, minty taste, and was made in the US, now tastes bland, sugary and is made in Mexico. And try finding your favorite soap, brand of paper towels or lingerie after you’ve been buying those items for a while. Buh-bye.


The companies that produce air conditioners are staffed by mathematically challenged execs, some of who may have completed third grade and the rest who got the job because of a rich uncle. How do I know this? On account of how the instructions on the use of their product and the way the product is designed don’t jibe. “Do not use an extension cord,” intones the ominous admonition. Then why don’t they make the cords on the air conditioners longer than a two-year-old’s spitting distance? What if your window (which is where even the dimmest of humans will install the air conditioner) is over here, and the outlet is over there, eight feet away, and the cord is only 24 inches long?

Now that’s stupid!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Angry Thoughts I Have Had While Maneuvering My Bike Around Potholes

I’ve noticed that people who talk to themselves usually do it when others are around. I found this out by lurking unobserved in the vicinity of a “self-talker”. Not. A. Word. When I made my presence known, she immediately began yammering to herself.

Ladies! Tired of getting hit on? Here’s a solution, cheap and nasty. Back in the days when I had a more curvaceous figure, I was hit on quite often - not by anyone interesting, only by scumbags starved for a little attention. One day I let the pig have it. I raised my voice to fortissimo and in response to "Hey baby, lookin' sexy," shouted, “No, I don’t know where you can buy cocaine.” The offender skedaddled.

Whenever possible, speak softly or mumble unintelligibly so folks have to strain to hear you. That way you can suck all the energy out of the conversation, leaving your companion drained. Enjoy yourselves, vampires.

Drivers! Do not, under any circumstances, use your turn signals. They are a useless add-on, like your appendix. We bikers can read your minds! Oh, and we can also memorize your license plate as you sit motionless at the green light spewing drivel into your cell phone.

Disclaimer: I am quite an annoying person myself and have committed sins much worse than the above.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mercury Retrograde Coming Up!

Next Monday, May 26 at 10:48 a.m. CDT the planet Mercury goes retrograde. A planet is said to be retrograde when it appears to be moving backwards in the sky from our perspective.

Mercury relates to the sign of Gemini and is concerned with communication and short trips. During a Mercury retrograde, you may find that you have more than the usual number of problems with computers, phones, fax machines, e-mail, everyday commuting, etc. You may also be misunderstood, so think before you speak. Mercury retrograde is a good time to sign a contract that you don’t really want to sign, because chances are it will fall apart. It is not a good time to post your favorite video on YouTube! There’s a good possibility it will backfire on you.

Mercury goes retrograde three times each year, for about three weeks at a time. During the days immediately surrounding the retrograde period the planet is slowing down to a station, or stop. You might notice things with communication or transportation already starting to enter snafu territory.

Some good things to do during a Mercury retrograde: anything with the prefix re-, re-examine, re-connect, re-fine, re-place. At the time Mercury will be retrograde in the sign of Gemini, the Sun is also in Gemini. This is kind of a double whammy as far as communication is concerned, but it should be a great time for reconnecting with old friends! You may find yourself running into people you haven't seen in years and re-establishing friendships. Mercury turns direct again at 9:31 a.m. CDT on Thursday, June 19. The effects should linger for a few days afterward, but starting about the 24th of June the worst of the snafus should be over.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Life in the City

One of the drawbacks of living in the city is being forced to ‘enjoy’ obnoxious music blaring from vehicles driven by testosterone-challenged Neanderthal vulgarians. Somebody please invent a device that, when aimed at the offending loudster, either scrambles the CD, tape or 8-track or switches the radio station to classical, easy-listening or worst yet for the ego, polka!

The viaduct in Chicago at Roscoe and Kostner Aves. gets tagged with gang graffiti every few weeks or so. With all the Big Brother surveillance we have at our disposal, why not invest in a camera to snap a shot of these guys (it’s usually males who vandalize). The video of them tagging could then be posted on YouTube with the caption, “Young men get in touch with their feminine side by attempting artwork before sashaying off to see Sex and the City.” To bring these delicate flowers down, go for the jugular, their masculinity. Real men don’t need to deface property, and it doesn’t matter what orientation they are, if you get my drift.

These boneheads have too much time on their hands. What they need is to discover something more glamorous than vandalizin’, shootin’, gangin’ and druggin’. How about some farmin’? With the ultra-high price of food these days, we could use more community gardens in Chicago. How about that site on the South Side where the Wal-Mart was scotched? There are some neighborhoods that are veritable food deserts and they have plenty of vacant lots. This would provide income and nutritious food to these areas while giving former gangbangers a healthy dose of self-respect. Come on, ’bangers, help us out here! Invest some of that excess energy in the most glamorous act of all: sustaining the human race.

Final Swipe:

Speaking of masculinity and the lack thereof, if a certain columnist from a certain Chicago newspaper expended as many nouns and verbs castrating true criminals as he does trying to make Barack Obama look swishy, maybe we would stop calling them drug lords and instead call them by their rightful name, drug pansies. Kinda changes your perspective, don’t it.

3 Short Rants, the 3rd of which may not be suitable for more sensitive readers....

For the “Duh” file:

We’ve all been in this situation. You're at a restaurant enjoying your food and having an intense conversation. Just at the point you’re about to tell your companion, “…and she found out the Coke she drank contained luminous poison and she had only 23 hours to live!” the server barges in with a perky smile. “Is everything OK?” The solution: have a little flag at each table. When the flag is up, we want you to come by and ask if everything is OK. If it’s down, everything is OK. No need to ask! (Silently clearing used dishes is acceptable at any time.)

My dream car:

If I were rich and could have anything I wanted, it would be a hybrid in the shape of an armadillo, complete with 9 bands, a snout, 2 cute little ears and a tail. What? Doesn’t everybody want one of those?

If I were Bush:

If my name were George Walker Bush, I would be very careful to avoid the name Adolf Hitler, especially while visiting Israel. If my name were George Walker Bush I would be very worried that somebody might bring up the inconvenient fact that my grandpappy, Prescott Bush, was a Nazi sympathizer and war profiteer back in the ’30’s and ’40’s. If my name were George Walker Bush I would be saying, “Note to self. Only seven months left. Keep mouth shut.”

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Roll Out the Tarot!

Tarot cards have often been portrayed as scary, evil or superstitious. This is inaccurate. There are no “bad” or “evil” cards, only lessons to be learned. In fact, Tarot can be a powerful tool for spiritual growth, but there are rules that need to be followed in order to get the most out of a reading.

1. Formulate your question as clearly as possible. The more precise your question, the more accurately the cards will answer.
2. Don’t ask a question if you don’t really want to know the answer.
3. Don’t ask the same question twice hoping the cards will respond more favorably the second time. This indicates you aren’t sincere in your quest for knowledge, and Spirit will not reward you for it.
4. Don’t ask a question you already know the answer to in order to “test” the cards. See #3 above.

You don’t necessarily need cards in order to get advice. You can get information directly from Spirit, especially if you are open to what it has to tell you, and accepting of how the answer comes through. Below are two examples.

Several years ago I met a sexy janitor. He didn’t wear a ring, but that means nothing, so I asked Spirit to tell me if he was married or single. I was prepared to accept the answer, whatever it was. Later that same day I was reading my neighborhood paper and turned to the property transfers. This was the first time I had ever perused that section and there it was in writing. “123 Main Street sold to John and Mary Smith.” I thanked Spirit and immediately quit fantasizing about Janitor John.

When I decided to sell my condo I supposedly did everything right: officially put it on the market at New Moon, buried St. Joseph in the front yard and prayed to St. Joe every day. After a week although there had been several showings I had not gotten any offers. I asked Spirit, “What do I need to do to sell my condo by the upcoming Full Moon?” The answer was short and to the point: “Start packing.” Of course! Demonstrate to the Universe that I’m ready to move. I started packing that night and by the Full Moon I had a signed contract.

Tarot readings can help you face facts that you are psychologically ready to confront. As I gave a general reading to one woman she kept asking jokingly if I had installed a secret camera in her house (in another state!). The defining card for her was the Tower. For those not familiar with the cards, the Tower often signifies great trauma or upset. If she continued her life the way she had been, she was in for a big shake-up. The cause of it was not my business, but it was my responsibility to mention it to her. She admitted that she had just begun an affair. The Tower card was a reflection of what her soul wanted her to know; she was ready to face the unpleasant facts and act in a responsible way before her situation got out of control.

Tarot is better suited for spiritual growth than for prediction (timing is more the realm of astrology), but it can indicate approximately when something will take place. “When will we be able to start our business?” one couple asked me. They pulled the King of Cups, which relates to the sign of Pisces. I told them it would be between February 21st and March 20th. The following summer they confirmed that the answer had been right.

I was asked once if there were people who were unable to read the Tarot. The answer is yes, people who do not want to read it will not be able to. It's that simple. Anyone can learn if they are willing to do the soul work that it requires.

One of the most rewarding aspects about Tarot is its inclination to remind you that the Universe is always on your side, even if it seems otherwise. Often it shows that things are not as bad as you believe they are. A reading can also point out where we need to direct our attention in order to advance spiritually. Remember, nobody grows spiritually without hardships! Within every problem is a gift. Our souls seek problems because we need their gifts.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Arrogant business advice

If you are a large thrift store (I’m talking to you, Unique Thrift at various locations in Chicago) and want more people to come in and spend, spend, spend, here’s an old idea that you may want to dust off.

Instead of having several checkout registers, each with their own long pokey line, consider this. One line. Yes, you read correctly, ONE line. Just like at the bank. When a register is ready for a customer, signal with a bell or light. Are you afraid your one long line will snake all the way from your store to Slovakia? Don’t flatter yourself. It will move twice as fast. Your customers will be so jazzed at the innovation they will tell their nouveau poore friends (the way the economy is going we’ll all be shopping at your store in a few months) and your establishment will profit over time.

One more way to get customers in is to offer a discount (the percentage could be small but enough to make customers notice the savings, say 5 - 10%) for shoppers who bring their own bags. Again, this is nothing new. Aldi has been doing it for years, only they employ the stick rather than the carrot. If you want to put your purchases in a bag, either bring it or buy it.

Speaking of grocery stores, here's how they can clean up. (Jewel and Dominick's, I'm talking to you.) Know those lines that are supposedly for 10 items or less, 15 items or less, etc? Any time a customer slithers into line with more than the allotted number of items, charge a dollar for each purchase over the magic number. So you'll lose a couple clients, boo hoo. Other customers who see that you have grown a spine and are enforcing your own rules will be so jazzed they tell all their friends, and voila! your store will be packed with customers: ones who don't waste others' time. These are the kinds of shoppers who have their credit card or cash out before the register spits out the final price, and you want to keep them.

One last rant. A certain Chicago grocery chain has instructed their cashiers to address their customers by name at the checkout counter. What are they thinking??? Don't they know this is an ethnic city??? Here's a test for the management that came up with this brilliant strategy. Pronounce the following names:


If you can rattle these common names off, then by all means, require your staff to do it too. Otherwise, trust us: we appreciate your staff's courtesy and attentiveness without having them mangle our surnames. Hats off!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Misunderstood, but not for the first or last time

Being the daughter of a music teacher can be a pain in the nose. First, Pop brings home all these educational toys, like xylophones and glockenspiels. No dolls, model airplanes or coloring books (this was before video games). I wouldn't have minded, only the first thing he did was take off and hide all the B’s and F’s so my brothers and I would have to work with the pentatonic scale. Pop was a Carl Orff pioneer back in the ’60’s and Orff was into pentatonics. Big time. Good luck trying to play a song you like with the pentatonic scale.

But being the daughter of a music teacher also had social ramifications. It was 1967, I was in 4th grade, and our school had just received a gift of ash trees to plant on the school grounds. Each class was to name “their” ash tree after a recently deceased famous person. I overheard Miss O mention to another teacher that she hoped there wouldn’t be seven trees named after John F. Kennedy. When she asked for suggestions on whom to name “our” tree after, my hand shot up in the air.

He was a shoo-in. Recently deceased. Not even cold in his grave, for crying out loud, and his specialty was children’s music! Of course that was who our tree should be named after.

Miss O called on me.
“Kodaly. Zoltan Kodaly.”
“Forget it.”

We named our tree after J.F.K.


I don’t have any kids but being a former kid myself, I remember the kinds of things adults did to make me behave. All they need is an open mind and a dose of good luck. Here’s how I turned a tantrum into an adventure. It happened on Devon Avenue in Chicago back in the spring of 2001.

My sister had dropped off her son at my house while she went to work. My nephew, being a normal 4-year-old, had an attack of separation anxiety. He didn’t want to be with me, he wanted Mommy. Tough luck, he was stuck with me. I had to go to the hardware store a half mile away so I dragged that screaming bundle of nerves down Devon Avenue, ignoring his shrieks and tears. I told him, “I don’t care how ornery you are, I love you anyway,” which set him off even more. The tantrum lasted through three city blocks, two dollar stores and the Indian Sari Place. Each place we entered I apologized to the staff, looked around briefly and left without buying anything.

Finally about a block and a half from the hardware store I met my salvation. It was a huge dead cockroach in the vestibule of a restaurant.

I directed my nephew’s attention to the six-legged brown dead creature and said, “Isn’t that the coolest thing you ever saw?” The tantrum was over. He smiled and said, “Yes!” I asked if he would like to take it home. That was like asking if he’d like me to throw out his oatmeal and give him ice cream instead. I told him that if he wanted it we would have to get to the hardware store and buy a jar for it. But we had to move fast so nobody else would get it first.

So now he was dragging me to the hardware store. Problem solved.

Several weeks later I visited my sister. That disgusting roach was still languishing in a jar on the window sill. Happy Mothers' Day!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Cubs Win World Series! But not yet.

I am confident that the Cubs will win the World Series at least once by 2024, but not this year. How do I know?


That’s right, all you eye-rollers, astrology. It’s up to Pluto, the recently demoted “dwarf” planet, to obliterate the Curse of the Billy Goat.

Pluto’s orbit is elliptical and, being so far from the sun, it takes approximately 248 years to complete a cycle through the zodiac, spending anywhere from 11 to 32 years in any given sign. (By contrast, Mercury takes only 88 days to go around the sun and through all the signs.) Although some uppity earthlings decided to demote Pluto, it is still an astro-Napoleon. Small compared to the other planets, but you wouldn’t want to be up against it in battle. Pluto is a destroyer and rebuilder. As it passes through the zodiac it restructures anything needing correction which is connected with each sign.

For example, from 1984 through 1995 Pluto hung out in Scorpio. Scorpio rules sex and death. The defining issue that came to light during that time was AIDS. In 1995 Pluto moved into Sagittarius, which rules religion, philosophy, long-distance travel, and sports. Since that time religious scandals have been brought to light (think pedophile priests), the airlines underwent a major transformation due to the attacks of 9/11 (religion + long distance travel) and it was revealed that professional athletes were using steroids to enhance performance. Sagittarius is an expansive sign; this was the era of the supersize: the tech and housing bubbles, childhood obesity and the portions of fast food by that name.

Pluto has now begun its ingress into the sign of Capricorn. To the extent that Sagittarius is all about expansion, Capricorn is all about contraction. We are already seeing declines in the housing market and a reduction in the available amount of food on the planet. It wouldn’t be farfetched to assume that thin bodies will become the norm, even in the U.S., and Rubenesque figures will again be in vogue, as the most desirable body type is usually the rarest. Cars and homes will shrink to reflect the new austerity. Capricorn rules government and big business. Both will undergo major transformations during Pluto’s time in this sign. The last time Pluto was in Capricorn the Revolutionary War gave birth to a new country founded on the principles of democracy.

What has all this to do with the Cubs? The sign for Capricorn is the Goat. In order to transform, Pluto first destroys. Therefore, Pluto will destroy the Curse of the Billy Goat and with its destruction the Cubs will be in a position to win the series. However, it won’t happen this season. Pluto is currently retrograding, or backtracking, into Sagittarius for one last binge, where it will stay until the baseball season is over. So at the very least, we Cubs fans will have to wait until next year.