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The Country Curmudgeon

TV or not TV

I counted 11 commercials in six minutes while watching one of my favorite programs last night. Then I timed the actual entertainment time before the next “break.” That was five minutes. Throughout the program the time ratio varied, but never less than three minutes with six messages or more than 10 minutes of show.

During the Golden Age of television a program had one sponsor who had his say at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of a half-hour program. Kraft Foods and Chevrolet come to mind. I learned how to make a lot of different stuff with Cheez Whiz and why a Chevy was cool.

Shame on me

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Caveat emptor (buyer beware). I am personally acquainted with both of these.

For years I bought prepackaged American cheese, believing it was a healthy food. You know, a dairy product and therefore sacrosanct. I watched all those early TV commercials about all the nutrition and how there was all of this rich, whole-milky goodness contained in each slice.

Dress up

We never purchased costumes for Halloween when I was a kid. It was part of the fun, my parents said, to see what you could make out of things you could find around the house. This resulted in a lot of white-sheeted ghosts.

This wouldn’t have been so bad except Mom didn’t want us cutting holes in her second best percale. This created problems for a would-be Casper as you had to choose between leaving your face exposed, easily confused with a Hari Krishna, or covered, which, while not totally disabling, did lead to a lot of collisions with other grafters, er, I mean trick-or-treaters.

Energy crisis, eh?

I was working on the road when the energy crisis of the 1970s hit. Gas was apportioned by odd and even license plate numbers, odd one day, even the next, and the prices steadily climbed. For a while they even tried to limit gas to cars below a quarter of a tank.

The attendant would stick his head into the car to see your gas gauge. If you made your living on the road you were exempt, but I quickly learned that if I pulled up to the pump on the wrong day the other drivers would form a lynch mob.

The blurter — wha?

I am a blurter. It is not something I learned, it just seems to have come with my DNA. It is an inability to recognize an inappropriate remark before it pops out. Why is it that sometimes I just can’t seem to control my mouth?

Medium gray birds

Whenever we get a hard winter with a lot of snow, our bird feeder begins to do double duty. Not only does it provide seeds for birds, it also provides birds for birds.

Making the final cut

I was watching The Weather Channel the other day and a guy came on with what is, I guess, supposed to be a public service spot about how to make sure you will have great grass next year. Don’t ignore the lawn, he says. Now is the time to put in more seed, add fertilizer, etc.

What the #*!%

The 1960s died a long time ago. That was when the conventions of polite language were challenged by young people with mouths on them like stevedores. They used to say that those forbidden words were only offensive because we didn’t use them in everyday speech, so they laced theirs with something objectionable in every other sentence. This had the added benefit of horrifying their parents, brought up in a more gentile society. Anything that upsets the parents is good as far as young folks are concerned.

Gentle man of the jury

“The wheels of justice grind exceeding slow” is a popular version of “The wheels of justice grind slowly, but exceedingly fine.” However you say it, you may notice the words justice and slow appear in both versions. I can testify to that.

Small townness

Look up “town” in the dictionary. It says “smaller than a city, larger than a village.” A village is “smaller than a town, larger than a hamlet.” We can do better.

The smallest is the general store. Occasionally you can find one of these tucked away in a remote rural area. Mostly they are from a bygone era. It often also serves as the post office, liquor store and where you can buy ammunition and traps. It may have a cracker barrel and a couple of oldsters playing checkers. You can usually get a newspaper here, although maybe not today’s.