The Idler

Nobody likes me, Everybody hates me, Guess I’ll go eat worms – Sean O’Boyle

It was a Saturday. Mom was off visiting Grandma and Grandpa, and Dad had this project underway, building new pillars to hold up the back porch roof. He was pretty good with concrete work and bricklaying, and our one brother was old enough to be of use mixing mortar and stacking bricks. So Dad put my other brother and me in charge of the dog. We were instructed to take him for long walks and try to teach him stuff. Sit, roll over, play dead, and so on. 

Of course we know now that he was just trying to get rid of us. Because it was no secret that Duffy was not the brightest beast in the animal kingdom. In fact a majority of local life forms, including vegetable and mineral, could run rings around him in the IQ department. You’d stand a better chance of teaching a sack of potatoes to roll over. Not being as challenged as our canine charge, we realized even then that the strategy behind our appointment as dog wranglers was to keep Duffy – and us – as far away from Dad’s construction project as possible. And we were okay with that.

When you take a dog for a walk, especially a beagle, he always seems to think you’re going hunting. That nose hits the pavement immediately and no matter how many times you tell him to relax, he’s determined to sniff out a rabbit for you. So naturally Duffy does his best to pull our shoulder out of its socket, because once he picks up a scent, it’s just a leash and brute force that keeps him on or near the sidewalk. We finally got to the woods behind the school where there might really be some wildlife, and once off the leash, he decided it would be a good idea to chase birds and bark at them. The birds would flee to a limb beyond his reach and watch him, maybe a little nervously but, heck, they’re birds, and he’d stand there woofing at them like maybe they’d surrender or something if he just kept it up.

We found some nice fetching sticks and tried to arouse his interest in them, but, as we were later to learn, hounds in general and beagles in particular are completely oblivious to the third dimension of reality. What might pass overhead holds no interest for them. They are focused on the two dimensions of the field they find themselves in, the plane, if you will, and the creatures to be found therein. It’s actually simpler than that. Beagles want to provoke a rabbit into running away from them and subsequently induce and encourage the said rabbit to run right past you. So you can shoot it. A persistent and well trained beagle will run the same rabbit past you multiple times, in case you aren’t too good a shot. 

Duffy wasn’t interested in fetching anything.

We tried teaching him to “shake”. When you hold your hand out to a beagle’ they just want to smell it. They want to smell everything. So, having explored the woods, climbing a few trees ourselves in the process, we got to thinking we would probably never really “bond” with Duffy, and decided to head home. Dad heard us thundering into the kitchen and, making sure we couldn’t reach his work site, suggested that, after all that exertion, we ought to feed our dog. And keep him in the kitchen. He didn’t have to say, “and don’t bother me.”

Only after Dad disappeared, did we realize that we had never fed him before and didn’t even know what he ate. There we were, 10 years old and at a complete loss about what to do with a hungry animal that had placed its complete trust in us. We got him some water and started looking for dog food. We were pretty sure it came in a can so we rummaged through the pantry, ruling out the ones with pictures of vegetables on the label. Finally we found a promising one. The label said “Dash”. We grabbed the can opener and went about opening it. It had a nice, hearty and pretty powerful aroma. We got a spoon and got some out for inspection. It looked alright. 

To this day, we can’t be sure whose idea it was to taste it, but we suppose we had worked up an appetite too. Let’s just say it was sufficiently appealing that we broke out a box of saltines and worked through half a can. We can still remember our wiseguy older brother appearing in the doorway, half startled and half amused, and shouting, “Dad, you better get in here!. They’re eating dog food!”

And that, friends, is why you will never see us eating cicadas like those freaks on TV.

The Idler

“He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.” – Declaration of Independence

That quoted item was just one of the things His Royal Majesty, George III, did to get our forefathers and probably our foremothers steamed at him. But here we are almost two hundred and fifty years later and the royals are still at it. 

Prince Harry, who is also the Baron of Sussex and possibly the Duke of Earl, recently declared that in his royal opinion, the First Amendment to our Constitution was “bonkers.” There are two reasons why we know this. First, a certain section of the news media – the idiot section, as distinct from the flat-out lying section – think that whatever a royal says is interesting. Second, the First Amendment to the Constitution protects his right to say any damn-fool thing that enters his regal noggin.

We think we’re onto him, though. A friend of ours who once went to law school told us about defamation laws in the UK. It seems that if you were to describe Harry as a hare-brained ginger gasbag without a single marketable skill, he wouldn’t be able to sue you here, but he could back home. So what he really thinks is that being allowed to call him hilarious names with impunity is bonkers. 

Why doesn’t he go home and take the Dukess with him? 

Because they’re nuts over there. It’s not just their driving on the wrong side, or all that business about taking the “lift” to the “flat” to watch the “telly.”  They have some extremely weird customs that they don’t like to let on about. Ever watch a Cricket match on late night TV? An hour in and you don’t even know if it started yet. And take the liturgical observance Christians all over the world just celebrated as Pentecost..

We read an article (which was on the internet so it must be true) that described how,.in the U.K, Pentecost is called “Whitsunday” and is celebrated in certain areas in this way, and we quote:

“Gloucester Cheese Rolling. Randwick, Gloucestershire, England:

After rolling three double Gloucester cheeses around the church, one is cut up and shared amongst bystanders and the other two are rolled down a steep hill.

Stilton Cheese Rolling. Stilton, Cambridgeshire:

Teams of four, in bizarre costumes, roll stilton cheese along a 50-yard course. They must not kick or throw the cheeses. The prize is a whole Stilton Cheese, which weighs about 16 pounds, and bottles of port—the traditional accompaniment.

Cheese rolling also takes place in other areas around England.” –

We believe with absolutely no evidence that George III’s attempt to impose this practice on the colonies was one of the complaints Jefferson enumerated in the first draft of the Declaration of Independence. He probably wanted to write, 

“He has made us to roll cheeses around on the ground and then eat them  .  .  .”

.  .  .  but was probably running out of ink and just chucked it in with “destroyed the lives of our people.”

We’re thinking there should be a contingency plan if the royals continue these assaults on our cherished institutions and documents n at.  You gotta wonder how they’d feel if we sent Hunter Biden over to London to start wiseing off about what a bunch of baloney the Magna Carta is. Hey Brits, you’ve been warned.

The Idler

“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”  –  Dorothy Parker

Welcome to this week’s edition of “Ask The Language Dude”. Yes, we’re talking about us, or maybe it’s we, the Idler, your go-to person for any and all questions about grammar and usage n at. 

Which brings us to our first complicated grammar problem: How to render the Pittsburghese phrase meaning “and that” which is a lot easier to say than it is to write. Of course, you could probably just write “and that” but that’s really not the point, is it? First, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the apostrophe, which is a little sort of elevated comma that you stick into a word to tip everybody off not only that you left out some letters, but that you’re aware you left them out and are not some sort of illiterate baboon who misspells stuff and uses run-on sentences. (It – the apostrophe, not the baboon – is also used to show possession, but let’s take one thing at a time). So if you’re not pronouncing the “d” in “and”, and who the heck wants to, you write it like this: “an’” The difficulty here is that the apostrophe does double duty as a single quotation mark, and makes for a real mess when you plunk it in there right next to a regular, or double  quotation mark. 

Still with us? So then if you’re also not pronouncing the “th” in “that”, we couldn’t blame you a bit. But you’ll want to make it “‘at” which also has a single quotation mark/apostrophe next to a regular quotation mark, but at the other end of the train. Put it all together and it’s “an’ ‘at”. 

We personally write it “n at” without the apostrophes because it’s perfectly understandable and gets the point across and because our fingers are way too fat for this keyboard. Or just use “etcetera” or “etc.” which, we’re told, is how you say n at in Latin.

Now then, those of you who want to be au courant with the latest “woke” bushwa, listen up. We’ll do our level best to bring you up to speed, but this stuff changes so fast it’s hard to keep up. For example:

Cis – One of the ones that stumped us is “cis” which, when used with “gendered”, seems to mean people who are – well, it’s easy to get in trouble here – it means you’re kinda regular. You’re a standard, boring guy who likes girls, or a girl who likes guys.  So it’s not a misspelling of a shortened form of “sissy” as some of you Neanderthals – and you know who you are – might think. Here’s what our contacts who studied in school tell us: “Cis” is a Latin preposition meaning “this side of.” Julius Caesar, inventor of the salad as well as the preposition, used it to describe the part of Gaul he was always beating up on that lay on the Italian side of the Alps.  So if you’re in Whitaker, you can describe West Mifflin as “cis-Monongahela”. But if you’re in Swissvale, you’d describe Rankin as “cis-Monongahela”. If you’re in Braddock, you might as well just shut up about it. 

Birthing Person – You probably just observed a holiday you call “Mother’s Day”, didn’t you? This only goes to show how hopelessly out of touch you are. According to Congressperson Cori Bush (D – Mars), “mother” is no longer acceptable. (We think she means the title, not the person.) The correct phrasing for mothers is “Birthing People”. So last Sunday was “Birthing People’s Day”. If you’re successful in a mining effort, you strike the birthing person lode. The kids playing in the driveway will have to ask, “Birthing person, may I?” Somebody better dig up Saddam Hussein and tell him he lost the “Birthing Person of all battles.” Those guys in the mill who used to call you names would have to catch their breath in between curses. 

Yinz R Ignernt – This is standard Pittsburghese, and is likely what your own personal birthing person will tell you when you call her that. Don’t bother telling your Grand birthing person any of this as she will probably in addition whack you with her cane. 

Intersectional – We’re not sure but we think this denotes stuff that might happen to you when you’re gassing up at that station on the “cis” side of the Rankin bridge. We saw the vid, and it was like the birthing person of all collisions.

The Idler

“Diaper backward spells repaid. Think about it.” — Marshall McLuhan

Today we want to talk about race. Ha ha, just kidding, nobody wants to talk about race.


Sometimes, one of the politicians announces that we should have “a conversation” about race, but we don’t think they mean it. They just want to pose as wise and benevolent and above it all while they point the finger at everyone else. We believe the term-of-art is “virtue signaling.” They virtue-signal so loud and long that it drowns out everything else. They furrow their brows and look very, VERY concerned and judgmental. Know who they’re judging? You. They’re judging whether you’re dumb enough to vote for them after they call you a racist.

Sometimes the TV media clowns say they want to talk about race, but they don’t really want to either. Not in any sensible way. Having people believe that there’s enormous nationwide racial tension and a huge crisis of racism makes for really great ratings for them. They don’t care whether it’s true or not (it’s not) because viewership goes up and they start making the big bucks again. Hey, business has been in the dumper ever since that awful orange man left. 

Since the media is making so much noise about unarmed people being killed by the police, let’s go ahead and ask the key question, how many unarmed people are killed by the police nationwide?

The answer is 18 so far this year. Broken down by race, 10 were white, 7 black and 1 hispanic. That’s according to the Washington Post, which used to be a pretty reliable paper. 

We don’t want to minimize the impact on those 18 people and their families. As Stalin famously observed, one death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic and we think 18 seems closer to the tragedy end of the scale. Still, if it’s racism, in a country of about 350,000,000 people, it’s not very much racism. (Also, we want to hasten to add that if someone is trying to stab us personally, we want the police to shoot that person no matter what the president says.) 

But there is another plague of violence stalking our cities and neighborhoods which the bonehead media and the fatcat politicians have chosen to ignore. That’s right, we’re talking about the explosive threat posed by gender reveal parties.

So far  this year gender reveal parties have claimed the lives of three people. In February, a father-to-be in New York was killed, and his brother seriously injured, when their gender-reveal gizmo blew up. The following month, a pilot and copilot were killed when their “It’s A Girl” plane went down in a Mexican lagoon.

In Arizona and California, gender reveal parties have touched off wildfires, one of which killed a firefighter.

In New England, in 2020, a mis-directed gender-reveal smoke bomb struck the father-to-be in a part of his anatomy that caused an onlooker to exclaim, “No need for a vasectomy now!” 

The most recent gender-reveal incident happened in New Hampshire and was a real blast. Some no-doubt rookie father-to-be set off eighty pounds of explosives in a quarry. It cracked foundations and knocked pictures off the walls of nearby houses and could be heard as far away as Massachusetts.

We, for one, wish our political hacks and hairspray media would spend more time addressing the Gender-Reveal menace and less time trying to gin up phony race panics. In fact, we will promise to never talk about it again if they will.

The Idler

“I’d be willing to bet you, if I was a betting man, that I have never bet on baseball.” – Pete Rose

The times being what they are, warm, sunny and incoherent, we thought it might be time for a Q & A  to help you understand and/or ignore some of the more confusing aspects of daily life

Q. Hey Idler, what’s the deal with Major League Baseball boycotting Georgia and moving the All Star game to Denver? 

A  Best we can tell, Georgia’s new voting law was “racist” in the estimation of some social media cranks, so MLB caved and moved the All Star Game to a state with voting laws very much like Georgia’s, but with way fewer minorities to potentially profit from the game. The more important question is why didn’t they move it here to Pennsylvania where anyone can vote as often as they want and without regard to age, sex, race, color, creed or vital signs.

Q. Former president Trump has proposed boycotting Major League baseball due to their bungling of the All Star Game thing. My question, without getting into politics ‘n at, is how we can tell the Trump-supporting boycotters from the fans who just think the Pirates suck this year?

A.Tough one. Especially in view of the fact that everyone is boycotting everyone else for something these days. We, for example, are boycotting nut rolls for the simple reason that they caused us to gain upwards of fifteen pounds over the Easter holiday. And macaroons dipped in chocolate, boycotting them too. Also, “social media” because they throw you out for disagreeing with them. Wait, if they throw you out, that would mean they were boycotting you. Either way, we never thought grown men should be “tweeting”. Not in public anyway. But to answer your question, real fans are used to the Bucs stinking up the joint, and we doubt they’ll “boycott” in the true sense of the word. So probably just Trumpsters.

Q. How long do we have to keep wearing these stupid @#$& masks?

A.  Take it easy, chief. There are exceptions to the official mask mandate promulgated by the PA Secretary of Health N At. They’re contained in its Section 3. For instance, you don’t have to wear a mask while you’re getting dental work – that’s a break, huh? If you’re working all by yourself, with no reasonable expectation of interaction, blah blah blah lawyer stuff – you can ditch the mask. The best ones, though, have to do with your personal condition. Therefore, if you have mental health issues that would be “caused or exacerbated” by mask wearing – boom! you’re exempt. Here’s another good one – if communication can only be accomplished by lip reading, you can also dump the mask. So let’s say you and your buddy are sitting on a park bench, maskless, and a masked officer of the law appears. It might go something like this:

Officer:           Alright, pal, why aren’t you wearing a mask?

You:                I’m nuts.

Officer (looks at friend) – What about you?

Friend:           What?

You:                He’s deaf

We can’t guarantee that you won’t end up in either Western Pen or Western Psych, but a good lawyer can probably get you off with time served. Course you’ll have to serve it wearing a mask.

The Idler

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

Easter. The holiday when we get REALLY dressed up for church. There are even some rules about what girls can wear that I learned from a female classmate. Pretty sure one of them had to do with white shoes. Girls have to remember a lot of stuff. For boys it was just shirt & tie, and a jacket if you were big enough to fit into the one your older brother grew out of. 

Then you spent the afternoon raiding your brothers’ baskets when they weren’t looking and swapping the jelly beans you didn’t like for the ones you did.

Then there was the uncle who claimed to have successfully avoided some temptation for lent, and now felt free to indulge. He’s the one who would bite off the chocolate bunnies’ ears and then pretend they were deaf. And that detachable thumb trick.

You never knew about the weather with Easter either, because you were never sure when it would occur until lent started. We’re pretty sure it’s based on the phases of the moon. The first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring equinox? Something like that. So it could be any time from the last week in March to the last week in April. You could have snow on Easter or a heat wave. 

Back when we were altar boys and dinosaurs roamed the earth, we had to wear, in addition to the usual stuff, big stiff starched collars and silk bow ties. Then we’d be lined up to participate in the Litany of the Saints in Latin. All we had to know was “Ora pro nobis” which was asking the saint in question to pray for us. Unless it was a group, like “Omnes angeli et archangeli” and then we had to know to say “Orate pro nobis”. Usually, Sister would give us a nod or a glare to tip us off. 

But if it was an unusually hot Easter weekend, and, mind you, air conditioning was not then “a thing” as the kids say, some poor surpliced and cassocked 4th grader would pass out in the pew. There wasn’t a big fuss made about such things back then. The fallen soldier would be spirited off, given some fresh air and a glass of water and sometimes be back in the lineup in time for the last few “ora pro nobises”.

Dad wore his one suit, but he always looked a little spiffier than usual. Mom probably got it dry cleaned for him. And he wore a hat like the ones you see Humphrey Bogart wearing in old movies. Mom would look less like your mom and more like the glamorous TV moms. She’d even have a corsage. All the girls wore white shoes – that was one of the rules – and fancy, lacy hats or bonnets. 

Then we sang. Easter songs aren’t quite as cool as Christmas carols, but they’ve got their own kind of mojo. Way more alleluias. 

We apologize for the stroll down memory lane. Easter may not be the same as it was in our long ago youth, but it’s still a special day, even in this time of pandemic. We wish you a happy and meaningful one, and we hope you can get someone to pray for us without passing out.

The Idler

“Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” – William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

So the royal family is in the news, and, as Queen Victoria used to say, we are not amused.

Here is a whole family, a lineage, a haplotype of people who do absolutely nothing useful or productive with their lives. They come by this status effortlessly, by being born or marrying into it, and they haven’t the common decency to shut up and enjoy it. Meanwhile, we amateurs are out here, also doing next to nothing, but often with a tragically limited budget. 

Look at Princess Margaret. Okay, she’s no longer with us, but when she was, she made the most of the whole royalty dodge. Someone got ahold of her daily schedule from 1955: We don’t mean to speak ill of the dead, but we find most of it praiseworthy, and anyway, this stuff only comes to light post-mortem:

9 AM: “Breakfast in bed, followed by two hours in bed listening to the radio, reading the newspapers (‘which she invariably left scattered over the floor’) and chain-smoking.” Today she’d probably substitute an Ipad for the newspapers (not that we encourage such conduct) but if you’re a princess, I guess you can smoke all you want without someone the size of and with the vocal range of, say, Mrs. Idler, telling you to “take that smelly thing out on the porch.” 

11 AM: A lady in waiting has drawn a bath for her (showers are for peasants), after which she sits for hair and makeup at her dressing table. This is sufficiently exhausting that one must pause for refreshment.

12:30 PM – Time for a “vodka pick-me-up.” They say the sun never sets on the British Empire, but at least she waited til afternoon prevailing time. This is also our rule stemming from the occasion many years ago when we cracked a cold one before noon and woke up the next day in Cleveland. Of course, it could have been bad cheese too.

1:00 PM  She joins the Queen Mother for a four-course lunch that included “half a bottle of wine per person, as well as fruits and cheese.” We would want to warn her about the cheese, but you have to figure the Royal Cheese Dude would be, like, extra careful, especially with the stinkier ones.

Which brings us to this latest royal dumpster fire. The Duchess of Sussex says she contemplated suicide. If we personally could score the schedule outlined above, and we’ve tried, it’s our buddies who would be contemplating suicide every time we called them at work. 

Listen, Toots, or rather Your Tootsness (Your Tootsosity?) you’re like the boss of two counties (there’s both an East and a West Sussex). That would be like us being dubbed Duke of Allegheny & Westmoreland Counties. (Sorry, Fayette and Greene, but there’s only so much of us to go around). 

And you know what? Not only would we be great at royalty, but our subjects would love us. When we went to the game we’d order beers for the entire stadium. When we got pulled over for speeding and informed the officer that we were the Duke of the county and he replied that he was the Sheriff of Nottingham, we wouldn’t have him beheaded or anything. (We might command him to simonize our car while we drove around in his with the siren on.)

So, Duchess, call Oprah and tell her you were just goofing her. Then have a vodka pick-me-up and a half bottle of wine. We’d pass on the cheese for now.

The Idler

“I’m packing you an extra pair of shoes, and your angry eyes, just in case” – Mrs. Potato Head, “Toy Story”

You’ve probably heard that Hasbro, the toy company, is under some pressure from nut jobs on the extreme left – maybe that’s too harsh a term; let’s call them “whackos” instead –  who think that Mr. Potato Head is insufficiently “woke”  

“Woke” used to be a pretty normal word meaning “recently, but no longer asleep”. Like if your spouse shouts up the stairs early in the morning, something like, “You up yet?” and you reply, “I woke up an hour ago!” and she says, “so who was doing all that snoring?”  Otherwise, woke was something you’d better be while driving, and something you’d try, not always successfully, to be in school. 

That’s all over now in the sense that “woke” has any relationship to consciousness. Heck, it doesn’t seem to apply even to self-consciousness since people who claim to be woke don’t seem to be aware of how stupid they sound. Best we can tell, it’s a feeling you get that you’re extremely virtuous, and everyone who disagrees with you is evil. So, yeah, it’s the feeling you get when you’re a whacko.

They also have this deal where they announce their “pronouns.” For example, If you’re pretty sure you’re a boy, you say your pronouns are “he – his – him” So if your idiot cousin Fred sees “Flower Drum Song” on the late show, and starts singing “I Enjoy Being A Girl”, he’ll probably want to tell you his pronouns. If you’re “woke” you’ll have to go along and call Fred a “she.” If not, you can probably introduce him to certain other parts of speech, including some you learned working in the mill in the 60’s and 70’s. 

Not only didn’t they teach those in school, but any syllable of them, especially the hyphenated ones, would have meant a ticket to another educational institution called reform school. Grammatically, they’d probably fall under the heading of “interjections” or “exclamations”. Maybe even a hortatory subjunctive in the style of “Let’s take you out back and beat some sense into you.” 

I guess they get excited about pronouns because they’re the only words in English that have “gender.” Now you may also have heard that the French have declared they don’t want any of the “woke” nonsense coming out of American universities. (Also, imagine being too crazy for the French!) We think we know why. All you have to do is watch Inspector Clouseau movies, or that series on Channel 13 about Hercule Poirot, and you’ll soon realize that practically ALL the words in French have gender. Hercule Poirot will say to his friend, Hastings, “Ze car, she is running well today?” See, a voiture is feminine. Inspector Clouseau will say, “Ze bombe, she has blown up in your face!” 

So a car, and a bomb, both of which we think of as neuter, are feminine in French. As you might guess, they have enough problems with pronouns without having to argue with Fred. Other languages may have the same problem, but they have not produced enough hilarious detectives for us to tell.

Finally, what’s the big deal with pronouns anyway? Why discriminate against the other parts of speech? Nouns are colorful. Verbs give you action and movement. For our money, adverbs are your coolest part of speech. They tell you how and where and why stuff is done. These “woke” people should be required to announce their adverbs. If we had to announce ours, we’d probably pick, “oddly”, “bombastically”, “unaccountably” and “vaguely”. 

The Idler

“I once wanted to become an atheist, but I gave it up – they have no holidays” – Henny Youngman

We always find ourselves a little bit conflicted this time of year. We are what are known as “cradle” Catholics, which means our parents were Catholic too – funny how that works – and of course we tagged along. Not that we’re complaining! But along with its beautiful liturgy and tremendous art and music, it also seems to be one of the religions with the most rules. And here we are – it’s Lent, right? – the penitential season, a season of fast and abstinence. So we read the rules and on Ash Wednesday we skipped breakfast, dutifully got our ashes, and headed off with Mrs. Idler to St. Maximilian Kolbe church for the fish fry, where we had one of the biggest and best meals of the year. 

The first fish fry of the season is usually all that. First, there’s the novelty. If you’re like us, cheap, you probably don’t go out to eat at lunch time very often anyway, so it’s an event. 

Then there’s the size. St. Max is like a lot of the churches and fire halls in that serving size ranges from gargantuan to stupendous. 

Finally there’s the side dish assortment: including those awesome, ethnicky, carbo-loaded delicacies like pierogies and haluski, swimming in butter. Most places have fries and mac & cheese available. The fish is more than enough but you just can’t pass by the rest.

It’s such a great and glorious meal that the idea of strapping on the feedbag that evening is totally out of the question, and this goes double for Mrs. Idler who fields most of the food prep duties chez Idler and is delighted to have a night off, especially from the dishwasher. (She is also one of those extremely finicky people who like to clean up after a meal within like 72 hours if possible. Totally OCD.) But the long and short of it is, we don’t feel very fasted, and therefore not all that penitential. 

Maybe it’s different for young people. If you only judged by the fast food commercials on TV, the natural state of modern society is for  everybody to be is pigging out 24/7. This was not the case for previous generations. 

For instance, the word “breakfast” refers not just to the “fast breaks” you see so often in all the basketball games aired during Lent, but also to the fact that in ancient times people could go for up to several hours without so much as a chalupa. The concept of “snacking” was virtually unknown in colonial America, for instance, and it was not until the pioneering work of the Earl of Sandwich  that the theoretical foundations of the hoagie were first grasped by Eighteenth century researchers. So when you fired up your first pop-tart of the day, you were indeed “break”-ing your “fast.” Contrast that to today when Wendy’s drive thru window is open practically all night. Paul Revere couldn’t have scored even tea & scones if his life depended on it. 

But, you know, in order to comply with the penitential aspect of the Lenten season, you need to give up something you really really like for the duration. We’re not going to tell you what we were stupid enough to give up, but you know all those scenes in “Lawrence of Arabia where he’s sitting on top of his camel and there’s nothing to see but endless stretches of shimmering sand and cloudless sky? It’s been less than a week, and everything is starting to look like that to us. Also we told the Panera kid we liked our coffee “straight, no chaser.” We’re hoping to complete our whole sentence unless some medical emergency (toothache, hangnail, split ends) intervenes. But it sure would be nice to get a little, you know, parole or something. 

In previous years there’s been  talk of St. Patrick’s Day dispensations. Of course, that was a question of  relief from corned beef restrictions when the big day fell on a Friday. This was not high on Mrs. Idler’s list, seeing as how she’d have to cook it. But what about a dispensation from our Lenten resolutions? Just the one day, then straight back to the desert. Honest.

Does anyone have any friends in the Vatican?

The Idler

 “Those who live within their means suffer from a lack of imagination.” – Oscar Wilde

As you well know, the Idler is here to tackle the tough issues, the confusing news stories, the kooky, wacky, nutty controversies that you, the home reader, are too busy doing your hair or fooling with Facebook to address. Or maybe you’ve been locked up for the past 10 months or so, and the combination of cabin fever and day-drinking have turned you into a crazed, sub-human wretch. (By the way, have you ever seen the “Lord of the Ring” movies with that weird, bug-eyed creature, Gollum? That’s what people are starting to look like.)

 Well cheer up, the Idler is here for you. And, as always, when dealing with all your enigmatic conundra n at, we pledge to use extremely fancy words and not make stuff up unless we absolutely have to.

Here we go then with some Q&A:

Q:        Hey Idler,what the heck are they talking about with all this stuff about “Short-selling Gamestop”?  

A:         So, yeah, we have no idea. We asked someone who used to work for a stock broker and here’s what she said:  It’s a type of maneuver whereby you would identify a sure-fire loser stock, “borrow” the stock from a brokerage, sell it to some sucker, and then later buy the same number of shares back at the now lower price and return it to the brokerage, pocketing the difference. 

So she, clearly, is out of her mind. 

Like you could go down to, say, Merrill-Lynch and go, “Hey, yinz have stock lying around in there someplace? Like in a safe, or something? So hows about we borrow some of the crappier ones, and we promise to give ‘em back to you, like, next Tuesday, okay? We’re good for it, honest.” 

They would totally have Merrill (he’s the big one, right?) toss you right out on your asset portfolio.

Also, we’re philosophically opposed to stopping games unless we were  robbed on the call.

Q:        Idler, if you won the billion dollar jackpot, what would you do with all that money?

A:         Whoa, whoa, we all did that last week, buddy. Hey, we realize that the only sensible reason to buy a lottery ticket is for the right to dream about it. We all know we’re not going to win because somebody from a trailer park in Hamtramck, Michigan always wins, and he’ll be dead broke in two years. But this recent dream sequence is over. Get back to us when one of them clears 500 mil again. Remember, if you, like us, don’t even know how to short sell Gamestop, you should probably plan on hiding it under the mattress.

Q:        So what are we supposed to watch on TV? It only took us ten months to watch everything on Netflix and Prime. Once the Superbowl is over, it’ll be basketball & hockey, right? We won’t have to watch golf or figure skating will we? But outside of sports, what’ve we got? 

A:         Pitt & Duquesne basketball aren’t setting the world on fire, but give ‘em time. The Pens will come around. You youngsters should check out some of the old stuff. There’s a cult-classic that only lasted one season, 1974-75, called “Kolchak, the Night Stalker.” The title character is a tabloid reporter who goes around discovering vampires, monsters and mummies. He’s played by Darren McGavin who you might remember as the dad in “A Christmas Story”, you know, with Ralphie and the Red Ryder BB gun? You youngsters will love the cars (he drives a ‘66 Mustang convertible) and the rotary dial telephones. He also uses something called a “typewriter.” You may have heard of them. It streams on SYFY.