Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Great and Powerful Trump?

I am not the only person to think of the Wizard of Oz (the character and the movie) when watching (or reading about or listening to) the President of Trump (the Organization, who is about to become the next President of the United States.*)

As some of you may recall, Stephen Colbert had a recurring bit on The Late Show in 2016 titled "Road to the White House" (which is where that image comes from), which featured Trump as the Wizard in his Wizard of Oz parody.

But as we get closer to the Inauguration,* and I hear about Trump's various rantings and promises, I keep harking back to that scene from the movie where Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion confront the Wizard....

Tell me if this dialogue seems eerily prescient (or familiar).

DOROTHY:  If you were really great and powerful, you'd keep your promises!

WIZARD: Do you presume to criticize the great Oz? You ungrateful creatures! Think yourselves lucky that I'm giving you an audience tomorrow instead of 20 years from now!


WIZARD: Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain! The Great and Powerful Oz has spoken!

SCARECROW: You humbug!

DOROTHY: You're a very bad man!

WIZARD: No, my dear, I'm a very good man. I'm just a bad wizard.

Now substitute "Press" and/or "Democrats" for "Dorothy" and/or "Scarecrow" and "Trump" for "Wizard" and "Oz" and "president" for "wizard" (in that last sentence) and PRESTO! It's like L. Frank Baum predicted Trump over 100 years ago!

For those of you who didn't slavishly read every Oz book (like I did), the "Wizard" was actually a humbug, "a willfully false, deceptive, or insincere person," who was blown to Oz in a hot air balloon, and falsely worshiped as a great man and made leader of the kingdom,

However, when the Wizard is finally revealed as not a great man but a humbug, he is sent on his way, back to whence he came from -- succeeded, briefly, by the Scarecrow and finally by Ozma of Oz, the rightful ruler of Oz, a benevolent, compassionate leader, adored by her subjects, who refuses to resort to violence.

So maybe there is hope for us yet.

*I think I just threw up a bit typing that.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

And now a word about bras

Or rather bralettes. What we old folks used to call bras (making bra sort of a retronym, like corded phone and cloth diaper.)

Bralettes, i.e., bras without molded or padded cups or wires, are apparently all the rage. Especially at Victoria's Secret, which dominates the lingerie market (with a 61.8 percent market share -- who knew?). Which I find highly amusing.

For YEARS, all bras (or nearly all) were "bralettes." Then came underwire bras, and padded bras, and pushup bras, and sports bras, and t-shirt bras... and, finally, bralettes, aka basic bras (albeit in a variety of colors and lace).

I guess everything old is new again.

Though how many women, especially those over the age of 21 or who've had a kid, really want a bralette?

I don't know about the rest of you ladies, but as a lifelong member of the Itty Bitty Titty Committee, who nursed a kid for 12 months, I enjoy a little padding and pushing in my brassiere. And I bet most women feel the same way. Though, clearly, there is a market for bras without all the bells and whistles -- or wires and molding. (And I do think the front-close bralette is pretty, if not practical.)

But ladies -- and gentlemen -- let me know what you think (via the Comments). Do you prefer your brassieres to lift and shape (and supplement -- what the lord has forgotten, stuff with... foam)? Or do you fancy something that is "all you" (for better... or worse)?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Hasta la vista, American manufacturing jobs

Much of President-Elect Trump's campaign centered on bringing back manufacturing and other blue collar jobs to the United States, by getting companies that had shipped factories and jobs overseas, or to Mexico, to keep their plants or factories here -- and to deport all those illegal immigrants supposedly taking good ole American jobs.

The problem is, it's not immigrants or foreigners taking or eliminating good ole American jobs, it's machines -- robots, programmed to do the work of several men (or women) in much less time. 

So if Trump really wants to bring back American jobs -- to humans -- and prevent the cyber apocolypse, he needs to take steps now. Though it may be too late....

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Will Barbie ever be President?

While strolling through the Clearance section at a Florida Walmart the day after Christmas, I came upon this, the Barbie President and Vice President dolls:

My first thought was: Wow, bet Barbie is really bummed she lost out to Tanning Bed Ken and Evangelical Ken. My second was, Wow, Mattel made Barbie President and Vice President dolls? Who knew? And my third thought was, oh what could have been. Now here lies (or stands) Presidential Candidate Barbie in the Clearance section, selling for $19.

I have continued to think about those Barbie President and Vice President dolls, which, sadly, I did not buy. (I know, I should have.) So I decided to search for them online and found the official Barbie President and Vice President website.

And ladies, you will be delighted to know what Mattel believes is the way to inspire young women to seek higher office: Good fashion sense!

Just read the descriptive copy on the Barbie President and Vice President page (and weep):
From campaign tales to election events to decision-making moments, these partners are ready to inspire stories around leadership in polished outfits worthy of the White House. Barbie doll as President takes the lead in a red and white jacket with smart black detailing, a classic blue skirt, sparkling earrings and black shoes. The Vice President doll is a strong second-in-command wearing a yellow peplum jacket, black pants, black shoes, a beaded necklace and black eyeglasses. Play out a world full of storytelling possibilities and career opportunities with this powerful duo ready to lead young minds into imagination because with Barbie, you can be anything.
Yes, young ladies, you can be anything -- as long as you are fashionably dressed. So inspiring! If only Hillary had dressed better -- and had Barbie's figure! Then maybe Walmart would have been discounting Tanning Bed Ken for President dolls.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas is for the birds

Welcome to another episode of J-TWO-O's Wild Kingdom. This week we will be focusing on the birds of Sanibel, Florida, home to the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

For those of you unfamiliar with Sanibel, the island has two major claims to fame: some of the best shelling in the United States and some of the best bird watching. So for someone like me who loves hunting for seashells and has discovered a passion for bird watching later in life, Sanibel is paradise. And this year, I got to spend Christmas day on Sanibel doing two of the things I loved the most, shelling in the morning and bird watching in the afternoon.

While the shelling was a bit of a disappointment, the bird watching was not. Not only was Wildlife Drive free for Christmas, but Ding Darling was swarming with birds -- from a crowd of ibis to a pod of pelicans to a bowl of roseate spoonbills to a flight of cormorants.

Sadly, I was only able to get good photos of a handful of these fine feathered friends, due to my zoom lens not being able to zoom enough. (I called out to several birds to fly over next to me, but they did not listen to me.) So look for another bird post in the not-to-distant future.

[To find out the names of the birds, hover over the photo.]

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Revenge of the ignorant. Is it too late for America to wise up?

There's a piece in Monday's Boston Globe titled "Yes, there is shame in not knowing." In it, the author, who teaches writing at New York University, argues that it's not okay to be willfully ignorant -- and that people who refuse to seek out knowledge, or who willfully refuse to believe facts, should be ashamed and shamed.

While I agree with Taylor that willful ignorance is shameful, it is precisely articles like this, and people feeling shamed -- or looked down upon by "the media" and "elites" -- that has resulted in Donald J. Trump, who pandered to people's baser instincts and flouted knowledge and truth and facts, being elected president.

Indeed, I would argue that we now live in a time, at least in this country*, where being ignorant (being proud of a lack of intellectual curiosity and not caring about facts or the truth or attaining knowledge) is considered a virtue, and makes you "a real American," and being smart (having an intellectual curiosity, wanting to learn, a desire to gain knowledge) is bad and makes you "elite."

[I don't know about all of you, but I'd sure as heck rather be in the elite camp than be considered uneducated or ignorant. But, as my 18-year-old daughter just reminded me, amongst pre-teens and teenagers, it's often considered cool to be stupid and not cool to be or act smart. And it's the same among some adults, sadly.]

Lest you think this is the first time in recent history where being considered smart -- as in intelligent, well-prepared, and thoughtful -- put one at a disadvantage, especially if running for higher office, it's not. Just cast back to the 1990s, which could well be considered the Era of the Nerd, where young wiz kids who were good with technology could and did make millions -- and having an MBA, JD, and/or PhD seemed to be de rigueur** to getting ahead.

Then in 2000, the Supreme Court Americans, many as a slap in the face to or rejection of nerdism, and specifically know-it-all Al Gore, elected George W. Bush, who proudly boasted of his poor record as a student and showed a lack of interest in learning or intelligence briefings. And soon after we had 9/11 and a war in Iraq to show for it.

Now we have president-elect Donald J. Trump, the new hero of the uneducated and ignorant, who tells us he doesn't need to read or have daily intelligence briefings because he is "like smart," smart in this case meaning not knowledgeable nor mentally alert, nor witty or clever, but shrewd.

And it's true that he outsmarted a field of Republicans with his boasts and his lies. And he outsmarted the mainstream media with his sales pitches disguised as breaking news and big announcements. But it is only a matter of time until some terrorist or foreign power outsmarts Trump -- and inflicts serious damage on our country. (Per the CIA and FBI, Russia already has)

So my question is, when are Americans going to wise up?

* in many places, though not all
** Does using phrases like "de rigueur" make me an elitist?

Sunday, December 18, 2016

2016 NYBG Holiday Train Show

As everyone who reads this blog regularly knows, I am a HUGE fan of the New York Botanical Garden. We have been members for years, and I visit the NYBG as often as I can.

But in all the years we've been back on the East Coast, we have never gone to see the New York Botanical Garden's world famous Holiday Train Show. Until last night.

Although the Garden typically closes by 6 p.m., on a handful of nights (10, to be precise) during the Holiday Train Show, it reopens from 7 until 10 p.m. for Bar Car Nights. And if you have never been to the New York Botanical Garden at night, let me tell you, it's magical. Especially after a big snowfall.

But whether you go at night or during the day, the New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show, which runs through January 16th, is worth a visit, as you will hopefully see from this video the spouse took...


and my photographs of the great G-scale trains and the amazing recreations of famous New York City landmarks.

[Click on each photo to enlarge it.]