Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sweaters for turtles. (Who knew?)

I have never been a big fan of turtles. They're not very attractive. They're not very cuddly. And they don't do much. Unlike cats. (And, okay, dogs.)

But this website may have changed my mind about turtles (and tortoises). Presenting Mossy Tortoise... the maker of sweaters (or cozies) for turtles!

Talk about tapping a market you didn't even know existed!

Here are some of my favorite tortoise cozies.

The birthday candle...

You don't look a day over 100!

The Stegasaurus cozy...


The Easter bunny tortoise cozy....

(Hmm... he doesn't look very hoppy, does he?)

And last, but not least, the roasted turtle, I mean turkey, cozy.

Though you may not want your turtle (or tortoise) to be sporting this end of November, if you catch my drift.

And lest you are thinking, "Okay, J., I'll give you that those turtle sweaters are kind of cute, but who would actually buy one of them?"

Apparently 1,365 turtle (or tortoise) lovers. That's who. (Not bad for only being open 14 months.)

I am so in the wrong business.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Castrating a few Congressman might be more effective

I saw this video titled "Squeal" on YouTube this morning. It was in the "Animals" category of YouTube's "most popular" page. So I immediately thought "Piggies!" (I love a good cute pig video.)

Well, I was sort of right....

Turns out, it's a political ad for Joni Ernst, a Conservative (Republican) from Iowa running for U.S. Senate. And I have to say, I was a bit disappointed.

When Joni said, "I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm, so when I get to Washington, I..." I was SURE she was going to say, "I'm going to castrate some Congressmen!"

Instead, she promises to cut pork.

While there is nothing wrong, in theory, with cutting pork (though pork-barrel spending can be a boon for districts, as it often creates jobs or things helpful to a particular community, which is why Congress men and women favor it), I can't help but think that castrating a few of the pigs in Congress might be more effective.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What's the matter with being brunette?

As a proud brunette, I have never understood why so many of my sister brunettes dye their hair brown -- especially when the blonde hue looks so obviously fake.

Do any of these celebrities really look better as blondes than as brunettes? (That would be a rhetorical question.)

Not that I am a fan of Kim Kardashian, but wtf?

Do you really think you look better as a blonde, Kim? (Personally, I blame this on Kanye.)

Seriously, what's the matter with being a brunette?

Am I missing something here? (Clearly, I was not in line when Clairol was handing out the blonde Kool-Aid, even though apparently my mother was.)

According to various studies, there is no conclusive proof that gentlemen prefer blondes (despite the successful 1953 movie with Jane Russell, a curvaceous brunette, and Marilyn Monroe, a former brunette). Indeed, in several studies when men were given photos of the same woman with various hair colors (brunette, blonde, and redhead), the brunette was equally or more attractive than the blonde.

Is it because blondes have more fun?

[FYI, I am pretty sure the "blonde" in the photo is my mother, a former model -- and brunette.]

More fun than whom, brunettes and redheads? And what do you mean by "fun"? If by "fun" you mean spending several hours and hundreds of dollars every few weeks at some beauty salon or spa dying your hair, than yes, blondes do have more fun than us brunettes.

By the way, that slogan, "Is it true... blondes have more fun?" which launched a million (more) blondes, was the work of Shirley Polykoff, a talented copywriter who was tasked with helping Clairol make dying one's hair acceptable. Polykoff's campaigns were so successful that between 1956, when she came up with her first campaign, "Does she or doesn't she?" and 1962, sales of Clairol hair dye jumped from $25 million to $200 million. And today, hair coloring is an over billion dollar a year industry. Clearly, someone's having fun.

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against natural blondes. (Okay, maybe a little something. But that's for a different blog post.) I just don't understand why so many perfectly attractive brunettes feel the need to dye their hair blonde. Almost all the dye jobs I've seen aren't even very good. And you can tell by their roots that they are brunettes.


Thank goodness for Katy Perry -- a blonde who became successful after she dyed her mane brown.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The things cats have to put up with! (Namely dogs)

The things cats have to put up with -- namely dogs.

I mean, can't a feline just relax on the bed without being disturbed by some crazy canine?

Apparently not.

Don't puppies realize that cats need their 20 hours of rest and simply don't have time to play?

Silly puppies.

And when will dogs understand that cats rule (and dogs drool)?

What do cats have to do, put up a sign?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Nine ways to tell it's Spring

Spring officially begins here in the United States at 12:57 p.m. EDT today, Thursday, March 20, 2014. Though considering all the snow and ice still clinging to the ground here in the Northeast, we New Englanders (and Mid-Atlantic State folks) might be forgiven for not knowing it was spring.

Herewith nine ways to tell spring has sprung (even if there's still snow on the ground).

1. Google posts an animated Spring doodle celebrating the Spring or Vernal Equinox on its home page.

2.You suddenly see crocuses (those little purple flowers) everywhere.

3. March Madness. Which, I've been told, has nothing to do with being pissed about the weather.

I can just feel that billion dollars burning a hole in my pocket!

4. Every time you turn on the television, you see an ad for Cadbury Creme Eggs (which is now owned by Hershey's)...

or this one for Kingsford Charcoal, which I totally relate to.

Quick! Someone get this blogger a burger!

5. You can (almost*) count the number of days until Opening Day of Major League Baseball on your fingers.

*Sorry, MLB, but I refuse to consider those games in Australia Opening Day. For me, Opening Day is Monday, March 31st. Go Mets!

6. Every farm-to-table restaurant has fresh asparagus on the menu.

 7. Your wife starts nagging you about "spring cleaning" and that to-do list she gave you, like, six months ago.

8. You suddenly have the urge to wash your car.

9. People seem a little nicer, including you. (Except maybe for the ones who screwed up their bracket picks, or whose NBA and/or hockey team suck, or whose wife keeps nagging him about spring cleaning and that to-do list she gave him months ago, which he still hasn't gotten to.)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A brief history of the selfie

In November, Oxford Dictionaries named selfie the international Word of the Year.

[For those of you unfamiliar with the word selfie, it is, per Oxford Dictionaries, "a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website."]

According to Oxford Dictionaries (the people responsible for the Oxford English Dictionary), the first use of the term dates back to 2002, though the word didn't really take off until 10 years later.

I, however, would argue that selfies have been around for much longer. Much much longer.

For example, take a look at this selfie Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn did when he was 24, back in 1630.

[Hmm.... I wonder what filter he used?]

And here's a selfie Vincent van Gogh took back in 1889.

[I bet van Gogh used the Mad Artist filter.]

And here's a selfie Pablo Picasso did back in 1901, during his blue period, when he was 19 or 20...

And this crazy one he did six years later, in 1907.

Those twentysomethings, I tell ya.

And Andy Warhol was, like, the King of the Selfie.

You try getting someone to pay millions of dollars for your selfies -- and hang them in a museum.

Though getting millions of people to watch your music video titled #SELFIE? Not a problem.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What's in a name?

As a writer, I always get a little nervous when people talk about banning words.

Yes, in a perfect -- or just civil -- world, there would be no bad or pejorative words, words used to show contempt or to belittle or disrespect another person. But more often than not, the real culprit, or evil-doer, is not the word but the person speaking or using it.

Words, while they can be cruel, or cruelly used, only have the power to hurt or to harm if you allow them to (except in the case of libel or slander).

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never harm me.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not endorsing the use of hateful or hurtful words. But I don't think the solution is to ban them.

Which brings me to the Ban Bossy movement. Brought to you by Sheryl Sandberg's nonprofit organization and Girl Scouts of USA, Ban Bossy is an effort to help instill confidence in young girls -- to encourage their leadership skills and initiative instead of disparaging or belittling their attempts to lead or take charge by labeling them as "bossy." Or as Ban Bossy puts it:
When a little boy asserts himself, he's called a “leader.” Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded “bossy.” Words like bossy send a message: don't raise your hand or speak up. By middle school, girls are less interested in leading than boys—a trend that continues into adulthood. Together we can encourage girls to lead.
As someone who was called bossy more times than she can remember (and is still called bossy), I get it. Though it never held me back. (Hey, someone's got to take charge. Might as well be me.)

But instead of banning the word bossy, why not teach girls to ignore it -- or to embrace their bossiness?

Indeed, why not start a movement to turn the word from being something pejorative into something positive? After all, you can't spell bossy without B-O-S-S. And doesn't everyone want to be the boss, or head, or supervisor, of something, or someone? Isn't that what Sheryl Sandberg has been preaching when she talks about "leaning in," to get women to take charge of their lives, to embrace their inner boss and go for it?

Once upon a time, not that long ago, bitch was a pejorative term to describe a certain kind of woman (cruel, immoral). And in some cases, it still is. But today when we call someone a bitch goddess, it means she is wildly successful.

Not that I'm encouraging people to call little girls bitch goddesses.... 

But being called a bitch never bugged me either. Instead of taking the term as an insult, I took it as a mark of the speaker's lack of vocabulary or intelligence -- or dislike of women (or women who speak their minds).

In fact, when one charming boss (hi Jonathan!), who had a reputation for making his female reports cry (and for banging his shoe on a desk), called me a bitch, I smiled and looked him in the eye and said, "You know the difference between a slut and a bitch? A slut will sleep with anyone. A bitch will sleep with anyone... except you." He never called me a bitch again.

So instead of banning words like bossy, let's embrace our inner bitch goddesses, ladies, and show the world who's boss.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Blah blah blah

[Alternate title: Are you boring your dog?]

I know what you all are thinking: Blah blah blah. Another J-TWO-O blog post. Blah blah blah.

But bear with me. This is a good one.

Remember the Gary Larson Far Side comic strip "What we say to dogs. What they hear"? (In case you don't, here you go.)

Well, now, thanks to YouTube poster HappenNow02, we have proof that "blah, blah, blah" is exactly what dogs* hear -- and say to their masters**.

Once again, life imitates art.  

*and husbands

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Invasion of the Giant Red Plastic Snails

Is any garden safe from...

The Invasion of the Giant Red Plastic Snails?!

From my research, it appears these giant red plastic mollusks hail from Italy -- and have slowly (very slowly) been making their way around the globe, sliming New Yorkers earlier this winter.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Because sometimes you need '80s music

Ever have a moment when something out of the blue suddenly reminded you of a favorite song or band? A moment when suddenly you remembered, with a smile, that song that had you dancing in your PJs in your bedroom, or singing out loud in your high school senior lounge or in your college dorm room? A song, and a memory, that made you a little happier, or a little less sad?

That just happened to me recently while working on an article. While doing research, I came across a web design agency with the name New Haircut, which has an amusing Home page -- and made me immediately think of the 1980s New Wave band Haircut 100.

Remember Haircut 100's "Favorite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)"?

Man, I loved that song.

Next thing I knew, "Blue Monday" by New Order popped into my head. (WARNING: Do NOT click on that link unless you have seven minutes to spare.)

And how many of you spun 'round your room (like a record, baby) to Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)"?


And you couldn't walk into the Senior Lounge of my little all-girls high school without hearing Boy George and Culture Club. (I can still hear Kim G singing "I'll Tumble 4 Ya.")

Ah, the 1980s. I miss your music, though not your big hair or shoulder pads.

So, what were some of your favorite 1980s groups or songs? Please leave me a comment. And to hear and see more 1980s New Wave classics, click the 1980s label below.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Love isn't blind. It's deaf.

As I have gotten older, I have come to realize that love isn't blind. It's deaf.

How else can you explain all those marriages where the women is an avowed Liberal Democrat and the husband is an avowed Conservative Republican (or vice versa)?

Or those marriages where the woman constantly nags and belittles the man, in public or in front of friends, putting him down or contradicting him?

Or those relationships where the man constantly insults the woman or completely ignores what she says?

Just watch an episode of HGTV's House Hunters or House Hunters International (which the spouse and I do, frequently). How else can you explain why these couples, who often have wildly divergent tastes and requirements and concepts of money, and disparage or ignore one or the other, are together? It must be because one or both are deaf. (Or she is, or was, gorgeous, and/or great in bed, or he's got loads of money or is a hunk.)

From personal experience, I know that being a little deaf can go a long way. How else can you explain the spouse and I being together for 23 years now? Of course, it could be my sparkling wit. (Lord knows it ain't my cup size.)

Anyway, what do you all think? Is love deaf? Or maybe some men and women have a mute button when it comes to certain things. Or their brains translate nagging or insults into words of endearment... or a request for beer.

[For more on this topic, check out my post titled "The Secret to Happiness." So true.]