Next Generation Ultra Quirky Guide to Binging in Quarantine

Next Generation Ultra Quirky Guide to Binging in Quarantine

In a recent interview, an expert on choice warned that although we demand an unlimited array of choices in every sector of our existence, wading through them all can be exhausting.  Just to put that into perspective, it would take eight months of non-stop viewing to watch everything NEW on Netflix this year, which may sound like an appropriate challenge to some, and if so, go for it, but for the rest of us, some parameters of choice are helpful.

Lots of binging advice is out there, and those recommendations are useful for the most part, but they tend to coalesce around generally fairly widely viewed options.  This guide opens doors which have been opened less frequently with the expectation that some will cause the reader to tingle in anticipation and some to shudder.

I Like Sketch Comedy, But I’d Rather Not Have The Horrible Reality of My Life Today Thrown In My Face Again This Week      

SCTV

A tribute to SCTV, the Canadian comedy universe that aired from 1976 to 1984 will be airing on Netflix in May.  Directed by Martin Scorsese, 

the collection of clips and interviews with cast members can only whet the appetite for the sustained comedic genius of Toronto’s Second City actors, including John Candy, Martin Short, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, and Joe Flaherty (pictured here) as well as the “Hoser” humor of “The Great White North” featuring Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas.

Jimmy Kimmell hosts and an appreciative audience responds to the clips and commentary, but, folks, this is only the gateway enticement to a world that defies description.  

For the Comedy Iconoclasts of 'SCTV,' a Joyful Reunion Tinged With ...

The photo above includes Martin Short’s character, Ed Grimley, later teleported to SNL, but the episodes of particular note begin with SCTV’s Monster Chiller Horror Theater, hosted by Joe Flaherty’s Count Floyd.  Those who have not seen John Candy at the top of his game as Doctor Tongue ought to watch the entire run of Monster Chiller Horror Theater.  A quick jog through the titles only hints at the treasures that await:

Dr. Tongue’s Evil House of Wax, Dr. Tongue’s 3D House of Cats, Death Motel, Dr. Tongue’s 3D House of Stewardesses, Slinky – The Toy From Hell, Dr. Tongue’s 3D House of Beef, Blood Sucking Monkeys, The Making of 3D Stake From The Heart, Dr. Tongue’s Evil House of Pancakes, 3D House of Slavechicks

Your Best Bet:  Monster Chiller Horror Theater: The House of Cats, in which Dr. Tongue turns women into cats, also in which Dr. Tongue perfects the 3D experience  by moving closer or farther away.

I Really Like The Mind Bending Shows That Warm The Heart But The Next Season Of Russian Doll Hasn’t Appeared Yet … Oh … And It Could Be Set In Toronto, That’s OK, Even If This List Turns Out To Be Pretty Canadian

BEING ERICA

Being Erica – totally Toronto, and if you are ok with therapeutic time travel a pretty nifty way to combine second chance do-overs with tangling up fate, the present, the past, and dating.  

Erin Kapluk plays Erica Strange, seated here on a couch with her therapist known as Dr. Tom, played by Michael Riley.  

Erica is a moderate mess, 32 years old and overqualified for the lousy job from which she is fired in the first episode.  So far, so what, but as she has a nut allergy, the plot thickens when she drinks a cup of hazelnut coffee, ordinarily NOT the magical whatsit that carries an adventure off to Fillory, Narnia, or Oz.  In Erica’s case, screwed up personal life, professional life, family life have all been sparking like thunderclouds waiting for Erica to be hospitalized where an uninvited counselor, Dr. Tom hears an account of her dilemmas and offers to help.  When she finally hits bottom and crawls into Dr. Tom’s office, he asks her to list a lifetime of regrets.  He picks the 1992 Fall Formal as her first time trip, allowing her to return to the humiliation of having gone full-vomit after binge drinking in high school, losing her boyfriend and beginning the slide of shame from which she has not recovered. We and Erica assume she’s just going to make a few good decisions, erase the legacy of shame, and return to a world in which the unsullied Erica might have thrived.  It will come as no surprise that time travel doesn’t work that way. The lessons she (and we) learn are more complicated.

 Hey, These Canadian Shows Sound Pretty Great, Eh?  Got Any More?

SLINGS AND ARROWS

Bunches of them, but the next option offers the rare opportunity to combine the occasionally venal, always absorbing life behind the scenes ala Waiting For Guffman with some surprisingly 

effective performances of  Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, and King Lear.  Rachel McAdams (left) is the ingenue in the first season, replaced in the second and third by Joanne Kelly.  

Mark McKinney of Kids In The Hall, playwright and actress Susan Coyne, and Comedian Bob Martin created this excruciatingly wonderful account of three seasons in the life of the New Burbage Festival, a down-at-the-heels Shakespearean repertory company.  The cast of characters includes every sort of theatrical type, exercises in boundless egotism, directorial choices that defy description (A Romeo and Juliet in which the actors do not touch), and a fumbling executive director who fancies himself a musical comedy star.  Three wonderful seasons.

I Like British Humor, But British Situation Comedies Are As Lame As The American Versions

TASKMASTER

For sheer amplitude of wit, almost certainly obscene, the panel shows – Eight Out Of Ten Cats, Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown, The Big Fat Quiz Of The Year, Would I Lie To You – cannot be matched.

Taskmaster, described as “Clever and Stupid in Equal Measure” is a game show of sorts.  Host Greg Davis (Seated on throne) and flat-affected adjudicator Alex Horne, the show’s creator (Taking punishment on right) set tasks that comedians must complete in order to win the game/season/nothing?  The completion of tasks often strains credulity as in “Do something that looks impressive in an hour” which yielded Romesh Ronganathan’s short film classic “Tree Wizard”.  Other tasks (Knock all the rubber ducks to the ground) was widely hailed as “Stupid, stupid fun”

And what more can we ask of fine television after all?

If I hear Dick Wolf’s “Dun Dun” sound effect one more time, I will personally carry out a crime to be solved on Law and Order, but I like gritty police procedurals.

NO OFFENSE

OMG, nothing like this anywhere on American television.  Turn on the captions as this procedural is set in Manchester, and for all I know, the accents are accurate, certainly indecipherable at times.There are a number of extraordinary qualities to the show, the first of which is the indelible cast of characters, many of whom are pictured here.  Detective Inspector (DI) Vivienne Deering (Holding the badge above) runs a division of the Manchester Metropolitan Police with blunt (more than occasionally obscene) tough love and good humor.  She and the several female detectives that make up this force are clever, tough, kind, and eminently competent.  This is definitely NOT a jiggle and bend Bay Watch company of kewpie dolls.  Imagine buddy cops who are smart, complicated, and completely developed characters.  The men on the show are as compelling, including a forensic specialist who may be among the most curiously effective odd characters to hoist a corpse.  Each season presents a complex of criminal and personal activity resolved for the most part by the season’s end, although as is true of the best of series procedurals, actions in one season have consequences in the next.

You said before that too many choices makes our heads hurt.  SO, Is that it?

HALT AND CATCH FIRE – THE COMPUTER REVOLUTION PICKS UP IN SEASON TWO

WIRE IN THE BLOOD – CRIMINAL PROFILING

THE OA – STILL AROUND – DIVE INTO SEASON TWO

PEEP SHOW – IF YOU’RE EAGER FOR MORE BRITISH HUMOR

BETTER OFF TED – YOU MISSED IT?  REALLY?

March 20, 2020: Twenty Things I Did Not Worry About Today

March 20, 2020:              Twenty Things I Did Not Worry About Today

  1.  Washing my car
  2.  Losing weight
  3. Remembering the name of that guy at the gym
  4. Renting the equipment to sand the deck down to bare wood
  5. Avoiding kids and moms selling Girl Scout Cookies
  6. Making sure there’s no dog hair on my sweater
  7. Avoiding Cadbury mini chocolate Easter eggs
  8. Being stuck behind the person who smells like sausage and sage in line at Safeway
  9. Music Award Shows
  10. Getting my bracket ready for March Madness
  11. Getting tickets on line for reclining seats at the movie theater – not too close to the screen
  12. Losing my car keys
  13. Losing my wallet
  14. Finding stations to listen to diurng the NPR Fund Drive
  15. Returning the call from the dentist’s office
  16. Making reservations for a cruise
  17. Wondering when Steph and Klay might both be healthy
  18. The state primaries
  19. Returning overdue library books
  20. The Royals, aliens, celebrity breakups – gossip papers and magazines at the checkout counter

Democrat’s Hoax Inconveniences millions in China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea

Democrat’s Hoax Inconveniences millions in China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea

There’s nothing funny about absurdity that puts lives at risk, but satire is the only response some of us have left.  

We are all at risk, of course, most notably those over the age of 50, but given the disservice partisan denial does to those who are told to discount the certainty of viral infection, the subgroup most at risk may be Republicans over the age of 50.  

Fox news and other right wing pundits have downplayed the risk of the novel coronavirus, explaining to viewers and readers that the pandemic panic is yet another ploy on the part of the left to attack the presidency of Donald Trump.  Fox host Sean Hannity observed that the current concern about novel coronavirus was, “Like they’re (Democrats) hoping Americans get sick and die and that we’ll all lose a fortune in the stock market because of the jittery stock market.”

Wow!

After the President’s disturbingly underwhelming press conference was cooly received by those who are concerned about the spread of the virus in the United States, Hannity put it this way:

““All the same people who have done the same thing for three straight years. … Russia, Russia. Ukraine, Ukraine. And impeach, impeach. Now, corona, corona.”

He’s not wrong that those issues have been and are being raised by the same people, those issues being attached to perceived assaults on the Constitution, but the tenacity with which Hannity and others make global pandemic a partisan issue is confounding.  Apparently, there is efficacy in playing fast and loose with the truth in order to gain and keep power, and people only know what they are allowed to know, but …. an observable world does exist outside of Fox world, and one would think, well … one would think.

Ainsley Earhardt on Fox and Friends encouraged travel right now.  Apparently it’s not only safe to fly; now is THE safest time to fly.  Why? “Everyone I know (sic) that’s flying right now. (sic) terminals are pretty much dead.”

Uh huh.

One would think.

As has been true since the start of his term, the president’s relentless egoism and self-interest has been enabled by a Senate majority that has abdicated moral authority.  Vice President Pence’s gushing testimonial to the president’s leadership provided an Alice in Wonderland upside down window into the attitudes of the coalition of yes men and women standing in El Jefe’s shadow, but the impeachment process which offered Senators the opportunity to consider the president’s vow to support and defend the Constitution revealed the reality of partisan politics.

Today’s reality, however is not about politics.  It’s about all of us. Today our hearts might be with the sons and daughters of parents languishing in nursing homes and critical care facilities.  As reported by CNN, yesterday’s declaration of National Emergency a change in guidelines for nursing homes and long-term care facilities from the CDC. 

“The guidelines now urge facilities to restrict all visitations except for “certain compassionate care situations, such as end of life situations.”

“She said she woke up crying this morning,” Bridget Parkhill said, whose mother is in the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington. The center has been linked to 25 coronavirus cases, according to the Associated Press.

Parkhill and her sister, Carmen Gray, sat outside their mother’s window with a picnic, trying to soothe her on the phone. They say their mother came to the center for rehab from a knee replacement and ended up getting coronavirus.

Parkhill says the process has been horrible and both sisters try their best not to show their mother the dread they feel.”

The dread we feel.

Good News! If You Have Symptoms, You May Be Able To Wait For Testing

Good News!  If You Have Symptoms, You May Be Able To Wait For Testing

Good News!  If You Have Symptoms, You May Be Able To Wait For Testing!

What do the NFL, the NBA, Broadway, the Pope, and the Disney Corporation understand about this pandemic that the Trump team has yet to figure out?  

Only moments ago, the president of the United States declared what he called a National Emergency, as he put it, “Two very big words.”  Apparently that declaration arrives even as he contends that “we are in very strong shape.” Disregarding the best advice of every practicing physician, clinical care giver, and ordinary informed citizen, he then shook hands with the ranks of corporate chiefs flanking him in this celebration of the union of government and business.  The declaration was buttressed by the insight that the president had memorised the Stafford Act which allocates funds to states and localities in times of emergency.  

I, like Will Ferrell as Mugatu, feel like I’m taking crazy pills.  For example, I’m pretty sure I heard the President offer this opinion two days ago:

“The vast majority of Americans (sic): The risk is very, very low.  Young and healthy people can expect to recover fully and quickly if they should get the virus.  The highest risk is for elderly population with underlying health conditions. The elderly population must be very, very careful.”

Careful to …?  Come on, we’re elderly.  Throw us a bone. What’s the drill?

Ah, cover our mouths when we sneeze and stay away from people with symptoms.  Oh, and wash hands.  

The clear message from the assorted sycophants was that most people don’t need to be tested, this will pass, and that should people get sick, the new rules will allow doctors from another state to jump in to help.  Oh, and wash your hands.

In a press conference that went right past self-congratulatory to celebration, the president’s coterie thanked him effusively for his far sighted leadership in avoiding a health disaster in the United States.  Recalling yet another high point in unfortunate prognostication, the phrase “Mission Accomplished” comes to mind.  

Dr. Fauci, who also endorses hand washing, declared that the administration was, “proactive, leaning forward, trying to stay ahead of the curve.”  Unfortunately, both he and the president seemed somewhat confused about what had brought the downsizing of the Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense, often known as the pandemic office.  “I didn’t do it,” the president reminded the press, also clearly advising them that he was not responsible for the lag time in making test kits available. His words will ring through the annals of time.  “I don’t take responsibility at all,” a bold assertion for any head of state to offer a nation in crisis.

And even more good news:  We got a great deal on oil.  Apparently we are now “energy independent” which will be good news for all those flights, cruises, and auto trips … oh … wait.

Apocalypse Watch 2020 is getting tricky.  On one hand, the former governor of Alaska and former vice presidential candidate appeared on The Masked Singer as a bear rapping Baby Got Back, which, I gotta say, drove the dial pretty deep.  On the other, the unleashing of the full power of the federal government and the business partners in emergency response was displayed by Dr. Deborah Birx holding what appeared to be a Science Fair’s C minus poster upon which the path to testing was presented.

Actually, the poster was not really necessary, as the president’s opinion is that, “We don’t want people to take a test if we feel they shouldn’t be doing it and we don’t want everyone running out and taking(sic),  Only if you have certain symptoms.”

Ah Hah!  And it is this directive that brings Google into the picture.  The president seems to believe that Google has 1700 engineers working on a website as he spoke, a website that would allow virtual triage, probably in place by Sunday night.  Yesterday, Sundar Pichai, the Chief Executive Officer of Alphabet sent an email to employees advising them that Google is working on testing, also asking for volunteers to work on that task.  It seems that the president’s description may have been premature as Google immediately sent out a statement that the work was in the very early stages.

We can expect the Google product to match Dr. Birx’s poster, but it too essentially asks the responder to respond if symptomatic. A “YES” allows the subject then to begin the process of seeking testing, which we are lead to believe, will take place in a Walmart parking lot.

Tough choice as I post this piece.  Picture of the Birx poster or of Sarah Palin in a bear costume?  Pretty much a toss up when it comes to meaningful response to a pandemic already very much here.

Free Bacon For Life

Free Bacon For Life

Just scrolling around, reading urgent nation-threatening stories from the Washington Post when the article on NATO was interrupted by a quarter page picture of bacon, the announcement, “Free Bacon For Life”, and the invitation to do whatever would happen were I to actually cick on the banner.

I don’t eat bacon or anything taken from or derived from mammals, observing that when I look in my dogs’ eyes, I see someone in there. The which is actually beside the point, as even if I were able to justify eating a slice of pig, one of the most intelligent of mammals, I’d really only need so much. And, there’s something about being attached to an endless supply of bacon for a lifetime that strikes me as oppressive.

“Honey, the bacon truck is here. Did you hose down the bacon vat?”

Once upon a time in a kingdom far, far away, I did enter an All-You-Care-To-Eat establishment, let’s call it The Captain’s Trough, a spacious establishment with the aforementioned trough running the length of the building. There are many issues at play in considering a dining option that promotes itself as a tribute to gluttony, the most unexpected of which is the mechanism by which the “food” is replenished. I’ll return to the actual “menu” and the actual “diners”, but it was in observing the teams assigned to the replenishment of the various tubs that I understood the scale of operations such as these. The runners (and they were moving!) sped from the kitchen to the groaning board pushing carts laden with comestibles defying description. Mashed potatoes, boiled cauliflower, sticky rice, Clamlike-chowder, the mixed vegetable medley, the lamb curry, the chicken curry, the gravy – all indistinguishable. Good news! The Pork entrees (B-B-Que Pork, Pork Choplets, The Ginger Pork, Chinese spareribs, and ham) were all fire engine red. Easy to spot. The chicken entrees, similarly color coded, were chartreuse, the beef dishes a coffee brown.

Once off-loaded, the steaming trays were quickly emptied then filled again. Did the same patrons return more than once, I wondered? Indeed they did. And again. Here too, my attention was hijacked by the same eager crew hit the tables, scooping up dishes as they emptied, clearing space, not allowing the feeders diners to rush the trough with plates dripping with the remains of the previous foray. The diners stood, the crew swept in, clearing and wiping, preparing the table for the next round.

I ought to find an illustrative photo to accompany this piece as words alone cannot convey the distance between recognizable and familiar protein and the approximation sitting in their approximated sauces. Some came closer as they were bound to a bone of some sort, but even I, no student of chicken anatomy, knew these bones were of a different species.

The trough, as I suggest, was unguarded, as was the chocolate fountain and the dessert bar, but drink were charged separately, and the establishment’s signature yeast rolls were parcelled out with a keen eye on each tray. The replenshing crew feigned ignorance when asked for another basket. “Huh! Rolls? I’ll ask in the kitchen.” This subterfuge raised a question that ought to have come to mind much earlier. “If the cost of providing rolls is a limiting factor in generating profit, how inexpensively has this chicken broccoli surprise been tossed together?”

Best not to ask the unanswerable question.

To return to the provocation of this reflection, I do wonder exactly how this Bacon-For-Life thing works, and thus the quandry. In order to find out what this offer actually entails, I have to click on the banner, and with that action a chain of events is launched, immediately out of my control. Not only do I place myself on the this-guy-is-nuts-about-bacon data base, I am tagged forever as a consumer eager to buy and buy again, as long as the product is offered in bulk … and for a lifetime.

Some things are best left to conjecture. The mind wanders through a labyrinth of untended thoughts, now tinged with the aroma of soggy bacon.

Another good day.

What’s In A Name?

What’s In A Name?

For a brief moment, before my wife snapped me back to reality, I thought it might be a great advantage to name our newly born son “Senator” or “General”, figuring most people don’t pay close attention to much beyond the name, so what the heck, why not start at the top? As I have said with regret on numerous occasions, “seemed like a good idea”, and yet, so not.

As my first thought is almost always entirely off base, cheerfully acknowledging my questionable judgement, I surrendered. Not one to let a challenge slip away, however, I have been keeping track of equally presumptuous names over the course of the last thirty years or so and now offer my observation that in the sports world, some names are strikingly more predictive than others.

The world of sports is wide and filled with wonderfully evocative names. Let’s cut to the chase (we’ll return to that name before we’re done) and begin by assuming that some of the most striking names were received rather than given. Did Mother Berra look at a squalling child and say, “That’s my little Yogi?” Probably not. Similarly, we can be assured that Rabbit Maranvill, Dizzy Dean, and Hacksaw Reynolds did not spring from the womb with the names by which they came to be known. More contrived nicknames such as Darrell “Dr. Dunkenstein” Griffith and Charlie “Piano Legs” Hickman arrive on a yearly basis, but my interest is in the actual given names that seem to predict a particular sort of career in sport, in football to be precise, and as quarterback to be particular.

Let us return to Chase, shall we, a name that demands superior athletic ability; pity the sluggard named Chase. What hope has he if not at the deep end of the athletic pool. Yes, a banker named Chase could probably skim by, but your attorney? Your masseur? Your psychic? No, Chase is an athlete’s name, and widely applicable across several sports. Baseball has a few Chases (Utley, Headley, Whitley and, in a stunning departure from the “ley” tag, Anderson and Wright), football (Daniel, Blackburn, Coffman); boxing and wrestling (Stevens, Beebe, Tatum) and auto racing (Elliott, Austin) have their share. Chase is fairly evenly distributed across several sports and, in an odd crossover, seems to be ok for Country musicians as well. Not neutral; the stakes are still high for anyone walking around as “Chase”, but there is some range of opportunity. Less obviously annointed athletes, such as the McCaffreys, Christian and Dylan, could be running backs, point guards, folk singers, or corporate executives.

You name a kid “Colt”, however, or “Troy”, or “Peyton”, or “Brett”, or “Cam”, or “Ty”, or “Kellen”, or “Carson”, or “Landry”, or “Kirk”, or “Gage”, or “Cole”, or “Shea”, or “Bryce”, or “Brock”, and the world will expect that kid to be calling a snap count in his sleep before the first day of school. These are not interior linemen; these are quarterbacks. Of course there are quarterbacks of some quality who have climbed to the top with ordinary, more pedestrian names. “Tom” has done well. “Aaron” and “Matt”, “Russell”, “Philip”, “Patrick”, all earn a hefty paycheck, but they could as easily have ended up as running backs, wide receivers, or even grunts digging their paws into the turf at the line of scrimmage.

“Shea” is not a hard-nosed brawling tackle with a penchant for grabbing runners by their nether bits. “Colt” isn’t spitting teeth while jamming his knuckles into kidneys and ribs.

Another obvious difference between quarterbacks and the rest of the universe, I am shallow enough to admit, is that quarterbacks with a few notable exceptions, are handsome. Other positions have a claim on good looks as well; J.J. Watt is a god, Clay Matthews does Thor, Reggie Bush looks great on the field and off, but … most of the shakiest of Division I or II quarterbacks and almost any NFL quarterback is posterchild material.

Let’s just do the not-Tom Brady – not Aaron Rogers – not Russell Wilson quarterback sweep and see what turns up.

Mat Leinart? Come on! Jesse Palmer? Whoah! Case Keenum? Teddy Bridgewater? Nick Mullens? Ryan Tannehill? Drew Lock? Brett Hundley? Matt Barkley? Chase Daniel? A.J. McCarron? Blake Bortels?

I was on a roll there, and then … alright, there are some goofy looking quarterbacks as well. I have to admit that after watching this season’s Hard Knocks, Mike Glennon’s improbably long neck remains an uncomfortable memory. Similarly, Ryan Fitzgerald’s beard is off-putting; just too much. Josh Rosen deserves a better deal that he’s had with the Dolphins, but, ok, maybe not a poster. There’s something about Trevor Siemian’s eyes. Too close together? Moving in opposite directions? On the Trevor track, Trevor Lawrence? Am I the only one to see an Afghan hound?

Look, I’m a balding short guy with no chiselled features and a decidedly uninspiring midsection; I have no room to cavil. At least, and perhaps this is the weakest of defences, I am not matriculating down the field as a Chip, Chase, or Colt.

That would be a lot to live up to, and I suspect my wife’s excellent instinct has saved our children considerable grief. Good thing I can’t name my grandkids.

Grandma’s Mike Drop

Grandma’s Mike Drop

My son recently returned from a happy reunion with good friends. They’d gathered to celebrate the marriage of a college pal whose family threw themselves into celebration with great abandon. Families are tricky under any circumstance and downright dangerous when the spirits rise. A relatively jolly round of toasting had warmed the room when the groom’s grandmother grabbed the microphone and annonced:

“The time has come for me to rank the grandchildren.”

The plug was pulled, the amp cooled, and most of the audience was spared grandma’s itemized assessment of an entire generation. She went on at length, with brio, but without amplification. One or two tender shoots may have been bruised, but most of her spawn were spared.

Awkward? Certainly. Worst ever? Probably not.

Toasts are almost guaranteed to bring acute embarassment and lingering regret. The Best Man stands and raises a glass to the groom and a former girl friend, the Father of the Bride describes her toilet training, a friend tries to make a profound connection between favorite food (hot dog) and husband to be -“He’ll be the hot dog you swallow now.”

Cringeworthy.

Fear of public speaking is endemic, and a spur-of-the-moment toasting raises the stakes for anyone not comfortable ad-libbing in front of a crowd. On the other hand, some of the most carefully prepared toasts can miss the mark every bit as grotesquely.

“60% of marriages end in divorce, and in the rest you get to live happliy until death.” Glasses raised. “”Here’s hoping you die.”

I’m old enough to have heard my share of mangled speeches welcoming new employees to the team, one of which went south immediately and sank more emphatically with every effort to recover some slight vestige of dignity. The speaker, a man of about sixty-five, hoped to introduce a new employee who had been a childhood friend of his daughter.

“Here’s Leslie” would have sufficed, but, no, the impulse to get personal could not be squelshed.

“I remember when Leslie used to come over to our house, a cute kid with braces and a pony tail. She was more developed than Emily who was jealous of her figure…”

This aside was intended to prepare the audience for an appreciation of Leslie’s mature judgement and precocious ability as a manager, but slid sideways from the start.

“Boys were crazy about Leslie, surrounded her in droves, but she managed to beat them off without hurting their feelings.”

He must have been aware of the sudden shocked silence in the room. He reddened and tried to recover.

“I mean with a stick or club.”

Nice try.

“Not hurt them, you know. She’s always had a great touch …”

By this time, Leslie had left the room, his wife and daughter were seething, and the event was permanently scarred.

I’ve made more than my own share of bungled announcements, almost all of which were delivered in earnest and all of which backfired even as I spoke. Intending to thank the chair of the school’s prom committee, a school mother named Hickey Bitsy. I’m pretty sure I called her “Titsie”. I’m still blushing. Later, also in school setting, I tried to call returning students to a higher purpose: “Don’t hold back. Let a Math teacher share his fascination with Math with you, let an English teacher carry you into books that can change your life, let a language teacher French you …”

Just shoot me.

Actually, looking back on a career and life filed with things I most profoundly wish I hadn’t said, ranking grandkids seems relatively benign. I am determined to keep my feet out of my mouth, but I may need a designated interrupter on hand at all times to prevent me from digging yet another trench from which there is no escape.