Category Archives: Dean Martin

Hot Air

Great Things To Come

Well now, another trip around our old pal Sol is just about complete.

That is, if our life-giving star still is out there. I dunno. I haven’t seen it in — what is it? — weeks? My sunglasses are around here somewhere, probably. I really don’t know since I haven’t had to use them since last goddamned July.

Anyway, I’m still alive, you’re still alive, and the world hasn’t blown itself up yet so I suppose we’re in as decent shape as can be expected.

Have a swell 2016. I know I will. My beloved Cubs will become World Series champions for the first time since 1908, woohoo!

If y’ain’t got optimism, y’ain’t got nothin’.

It’s Inevitable

Around this time of year, newspapers and TV news shows are filled with suggestions about how to live a healthier, happier life. Eat the right things, exercise, play with the dog, listen to music — these are all the secrets to longevity.

Of course, to borrow a line from Rodney Dangerfield, at this point in my life if I do all the right things I’ll end up getting sick and dying.

Happy New Year!

Are You Disgusted Yet?

Of late, academic researchers have attempted to understand and define the differences between liberals and conservatives in scientific terms. Papers and studies have been published purporting to explain the gap between me, for instance, and the likes of those who’d vote for Mike Huckabee or Ben Carson.

There are, apparently, identifiable distinctions between the brains of Ls and Cs. Many of these distinctions harken back to our collective history as tree-swinging simians millions of years ago. This even though many conservatives pooh-pooh the idea that our great-great-great… uncles and aunts really were tree-swinging simians.

In any case, one such peek into the scientific research into this brain gap caught my eye this AM. Alexander Hurst in the New Republic takes a gander at the disgust response as a catalyst behind the rise of one Donald M. Trump who, ironically, disgusts me so much I might even delay breakfast by 43 seconds and that is a remarkable reaction indeed.

Donald Trump


The disgust Hurst refers to, though, is far more visceral than mine regarding the most interesting political creature since Dick Nixon. I’m disgusted more in a theoretical sense. Hurst asserts that Trump’s appeal is based on the brand of disgust that served to protect our species from rotting food, poisonous fungi, and dangerous members of that foul pack of alien Homo Sapiens sapiens who live on the other side of the mountain.

Trump, Hurst points out, gets the willies from a wide range of everyday things. He washes his hands an extraordinary number of times in a day, he detests shaking others’ hands, he refuses to touch elevator buttons, and he even insisted his sex partners be tested for sexually transmitted disease before he’d treat them to the heavenly delight of his manly essence.

Hurst also reminds us how Trump expresses his own disgust at things like Hillary Clinton’s need to go to the bathroom and Megyn Kelly’s menstruation.

Plenty of things in Trumpland disgust him.

White-coated lab geeks at Virginia Tech University did a study in 2014 of MRI readings of people’s brains while they were being shown images and examples of disgusting things. The study revealed that the brains of Ls and Cs reacted so differently that the researchers were able to guess who was on which end of the political spectrum simply by looking at their MRIs.

Trump, Hurst asserts, positions issues such as Mexican immigration as that of a wave of filthy, dangerous contagion. Mexicans entering America illegally, Trump implies, are nothing so much as foul germs that’ll sicken and weaken our holy land. Disgusting, in short.

Hurst writes:

The response to disgust is recoil, which in many ways is the opposite of curiosity. Disgust doesn’t generate a desire to to better understand a complex issue, but rather a wish for a simple explanation and an impulse to shut out what is so disgusting. By presenting America’s problems as the spread of an infectious disease, Trump immediately generates the disgust response.

The disgust response feeds into an “in-group” response: What is disgusting is exterior, and the group must be protected from it, which in turn provides comfort and reinforces a shared sense of identity.

You can buy this explanation or not. It’ll have to do for me just now; there has to be some reason people dig this comb-over orangutan.

The Pencil Today:


“So long as you have food in your mouth, you have solved all the questions for the time being.” — Franz Kafka


I was just wondering how long our food fetishist mania will last.

Oh, I’m not talking about the move toward more natural and locally-produced foods and homemade meals. We all agree it’s better to eat a nice bowl of stir-fried vegetables and brown rice than it is to scarf a Whopper, Coke, and fries.

A Double Whopper With Cheese

I make a banana bread that’s twice as tasty as a Sara Lee cake. My oatmeal cookies and Italian butter cookies make Oreos taste like so many plastic lids.

Sure, it’s a big investment of time and labor to eat well and right but we have to be creative about the whole deal. For instance, I try to cook two or three dishes every Sunday afternoon, making enough to last the rest of the week. Once a month I make a huge batch of spaghetti sauce, freezing it in four separate containers and then using one a week for my rigatoni fix.

My Heroin

A frozen pizza takes 25 minutes or so before you can dig in. My homemade pizza takes about three hours, including the time it takes to make the dough and let it rise. But man, when I eat it I know I’m doing better than Tombstone (which, by the way isn’t at all bad tasting.)

When I make my own pizza, I control the amount of cheese I put on it. I throw on good green things like spinach. I cut down on the salt and add more garlic powder to the sauce to make up for it. I use whole wheat flour. It’s a flat out better food than something I grab from the freezer.

Nobody can argue that making your own meals, using wholesome ingredients, and minimizing the use of white sugars and white flours isn’t smarter than the alternative.

Brown Is Better

But I can find a lot to argue about with the people who are obsessed with food. The Starbucks switch from using cochineal as a food coloring is a case in point.

The coffee chain has been using cochineal to make its some of its drinks and food look red for years. Cochineal is South American and Mexican bug whose shell weight is nearly 25 percent carminic acid. People have been using carminic acid extract mixed with elemental salts to produce a red dye for 500 years.

Carminic Acid-Covered Cactus

In fact, the sainted Mayas and Aztecs revered the insect and its dye so much they often used them as currency and tribute. I call the two peoples sainted because so many folks today speak in reverent terms about them, as if anything and everything they did was superior to our venal, corrupt, tyrannical society.

Some of those folks, no doubt, jumped on the viral bandwagon that made Starbucks stop using cochineal.

It’s ironic because cochineal is a natural food product. And I was under the impression that we were trying to get more natural in our grub. (This despite the fact that things like arsenic are as natural as, oh, quinoa, a South American grain popular with the Bloomingfoods and Whole Foods Market crowds.)

Mango-Quinoa Salad

So thousands of people got online and shrieked at Starbucks to stop using cochineal. Why, I don’t know. One theory has it that vegans are repulsed by the use of the once-living critter product.

Now that’s ironic because I can’t picture many vegans having a jones for Starbucks’ Strawberries & Cream Frappucino, Strawberry Banana Smoothie, Raspberry Swirl Birthday Cake Pop (what the hell ever that is), Mini-Donut with pink icing, and the Red Velvet Whoopie Pie. These are the only products Starbucks dumps cochineal into. My understanding is that vegans want only the purest, non-animal foods in their bodies, not products whose names sound like sex toys or Cracker Jack prizes.

The Red Velvet Whoopie Pie? figures the whole thing is the result of the “Ugh, gross!” reaction.

“Our distaste at the thought of ingesting bugs is based on cultural factors rather than the properties or flavors of the insects themselves,” Barbara Mikkelson writes on the urban legend-busting website. “Western society eschews (rather than chews) bugs, hence the widespread ‘Ewww!’ reaction to the news that some of our favorite foods contain insect extract.”

Here’s the funny thing: Starbucks now will begin replacing cochineal with lycopene extract from tomatoes. The tomato was long thought to be a poisonous fruit, especially after a 16th Century British barber named John Gerard wrote that tomatoes contain deadly toxins. Brits and American colonists refused to eat tomatoes for the next 200 years based on Gerard’s single statement, which was probably based more on the fact that the dark and uncivilized Spaniards and Italians ate them as much as on the presence in tomatoes of trace amounts of the glycoalkaloid tomatine.

A Plateful Of Poison!

Tomatoes really didn’t become popular for use in America until the late 1800s, so strong was the mistaken notion that they were noxious.

If you’re a glass-half-empty kind of person, you might conclude we haven’t learned a thing in half a millennium.


The only song I can think of that mentions pizza is this ditty by Dean Martin.

You may know this already, but Martin was never much of a drinker, despite putting on a lush-y facade in his eponymous 1960s television variety show.

Dean Martin, Buddy Love (With Stella Stevens), and Jerry Lewis

And another thing, he wasn’t the inspiration for the Buddy Love character in the Jerry Lewis movie, “The Nutty Professor.” Buddy Love was an oily, arrogant, perfectly tailored ladies man who’d take over a piano bar and sing love songs at the drop of a hat. Truth was, Buddy Love was Lewis’s own doppelganger.

The Pencil Today:


“Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” — Aristotle


I don’t know exactly why, but I’ve been a bit down the last few days.

Now, I had no intention of being a buzz killer for the holiday so I was really steaming up my cranium, trying to figure out something gay (in the word’s old school definition) to say.

Not Me!

Wouldn’t you know it — this crazy, mixed-up world came to my rescue.

Here’s a flash from our friends in Ft. Wayne. Police had to block off Interstate 69 yesterday because there’d been an ice cream spill.

Yes, yes, yes — 40,000 pounds of ice cream covered the pavement after the truck carrying it had tipped over. And, as icing on the cream, the truck driver suffered only minor injuries.

It’s A Tough Job But Somebody’s Gotta Do It

The truck had been carrying thousands of cylindrical containers of Edy’s ice cream. They rolled around on the concrete in the near-freezing temps.

How about that for a Merry Christmas? Can you imagine what Roald Dahl would have done with this story?


Okay, I did my duty — I went positive to open today’s proceedings. You know I wouldn’t be myself without visiting the dark side, so here goes.

Kpop is evil. That’s all I have to say about it. Evil.


Back to the good news: three Bloomington elementary schools made the state’s Four Star School list. Binford, Childs, and Lakeview’s ISTEP grades all made it into Indiana’s top 25th percentile. Nice job.

Now, make sure the kids do not listen to Kpop.


Here I go, slipping into darkness again. today offers the 13 Most Horrifying Classic Christmas Songs of All Time:

  1. Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer
  2. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
  3. Santa Baby (Eartha Kitt version)
  4. 12 Days of Christmas
  5. The Christmas Shoes
  6. Baby, It’s Cold Outside (Dean Martin tries to force sex on a woman!)
  7. Away in a Manger
  8. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (by the Jackson 5 — need I say more?)
  9. Do They Know It’s Christmas? (the Band Aid treacle from 1984: “And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time” — snow in Africa?)
  10. You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch
  11. Winter Wonderland (two little kids want to get married and then have the snowfall cover up their ensuing secret activities)
  12. Jingle Bells
  13. Please, Daddy (by John Denver — which is bad enough — the first line is “Please, Daddy, don’t get drunk this Christmas”; and I was afraid of being a buzz kill?)


Christmas Eve 1968 was cold and sunny in Chicago. I remember having to ride with my daddy-o to the Walgreen’s late in the afternoon to pick something up even as my sisters and their families were arriving at the house. The sunset was glorious, with high red, mauve, and violet clouds in the extreme southwest. It was one of those moments I knew I’d remember for the rest of my life. I flicked on the AM radio and this song came on:

Merry Christmas to all my Christian friends and Happy Giftmas to everyone else.

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