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A Sunny Place for Shady People

Pithy, contrarian, politically incorrect and curmudgeonly rants on sex, money, power and politics and religion and philosophy. In short: Nothing matters, everything changes and there are no guarantees. The rest is rationalization and bribery. (c) Tom Milner 2002-2003. DIRECTORY of offensive POSTS at Archives: 07/09/03. RECOMMENDED BLOGS: Archives: 07/29/03. email: theoldbuzzard AT sunnyplaceforshadypeople DOT com.

Saturday, December 28, 2002
Monday, December 30, 2002

Ace time of year, in early upcoming January, to make appointments and think fondly of dentistry.

It's also the dreary month of the IRS salutation, Holiday Accounting and General Hangoverville.

Do you really want to squander another gorgeous spring or summer day in the nervous waiting room and in The Chair? (Most dental fear springs from anticipation; it then erupts quickly in the saddle and passes.)

Because of these fears and phobias, focusing on the practitioner, dentists suffer high rates of suicide, viewed as torture artists.

We're not the cheerleaders here. This isn't Happy Teeth Month. This space hasn't been rented (yet) by the American Dental Association.

We, of course, abhor the dental moment just like anyone else. And we won't invite you to share our suffering of past extractions, crown and bridge and root canals.

Palliatives are amply available.

Dentists are forever experimenting with how to assuage the anxious.

While we've been partially satisfied with such balmy procedures as hypnosis, acupuncture and general anesthesia, a new American instrument promises drug free euphoria while under the scalpel and drill.

This novel appliance is the Alpha-Stem SCS (and will soon be a profit center in oral surgeons' offices). Cranial electrotherapy stimulation painlessly passes an electric waveform through the brain via a couple of electrode ear clips.

Patients zap themselves at will with no after effects.

Ask for it by name.

As for the old fashioned, like us, we'll continue to embrace joyfully the charms of nitrous oxide.

Happy January.


The rant appears on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.


Thursday, December 26, 2002
Friday, December 27, 2002

The only trick that sometimes works in defeating the circles of hell that constitute corporate voice mail is to pretend your phone is an old rotary model (thus depriving you of buttons to press on command).

Of course, the most arrogant enterprises simply don't want the business of people so technologically blighted and conservative that they use these old rotary phones and will just condescendingly, after several painful minutes, terminate you.

The Voice Mail Runaround is a racket run amok as the too efficient handmaiden of convenience for the merchantry, and is symptomatic of what's lacking most in American commerce: punctilious customer service. (Or even plain old ordinary customer service.)

From the local fruiterer to the local headshop, patrons are routinely treated as swinish interlopers, an unwanted distraction.

The modern merchant's lament might well be: this would be a great business if it just weren't for the customers.

Vendors don't give a damn about either you or your patronage.

Unless you're very very big.

How they remain in trade is a mystery.

As we have often said to these vermin: "We'll in the future no longer burden you with our business."

They do not care. They metaphorically spit in your face.

Finally, don't make that first mistake of pressing a "1" for English, or you'll never emerge from Voicemail's Kafkaesque loop.


The rant appears on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.


Tuesday, December 24, 2002
Wednesday, December 25, 2002

A once reputable publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, has just issued Talking to God: Personal Prayers for Times of Joy, Sadness, Struggle, and Celebration by one Naomi Levy (264 pp., $19.95).

Levy, we're assured, is the first credentialed female Conservative rabbi to head a West Coast congregation. (In other words, we're not talking hard shell Baptist here.)

Further, she insists that "the remarkable" emerges "when we stop trying to pray to God and start talking to God instead." (Then: why the formulas?)

(LA Times Book Review, Dec. 22, 2002).

Sounds to us more like Dial a Prayer.

We will not read this nonsense, but will "review the review" concerning such asinine foolishness.

We condemn -- yes, condemn, just like the Papists -- a book which promises pre-packaged, ready-for-delivery entreaties (not rambling self-initiated conversations as apparently promised) on topics as absurdly diverse as "unfaithfulness, sleeplessness, pregnancy, miscarriage, addiction, integrity at work, suicide ... [and] procrastination...."

The utter effrontery of this woman's pride (of prayer?) and flamboyant piety in even wildly imagining that an already overburdened, confounded and ill paid deity has the leisure to ponder such pleas is beyond our ken.

Where the ready-to-wear supplications for the home team, big lottery payoffs and touts on the ponies?

Is nothing sacred?

Now, we always thought talking to oneself was damned healthy anyway, which is ostensibly what this guidebook is all about.

But why aren't these "requests" on perforated pages for handy pocket or purse?

If prayer is so elusive to the inarticulate inclined to gratify themselves in this way, perhaps the book will find a cunning niche.

Personally, we still favor the old fashioned prayer wheels in which we insert our written but still piddling petitions, and churn the drum vigorously.

Works every time.


The rant appears on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.


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