Tag Archives: satire


Sit back and put your feet up. It’s time for American Madness!

Hey, feeling a little bored tonight? Or maybe you’re not in the mood to hear how your spouse spent his or her day. Well, we know what you can do. Just turn on the TV, sit back on the Lazy Boy, tell the kids to stop fighting and turn your attention to the man on the screen.


Sure, this is what you need: applause and laughter filling the room, contestants squealing in delight. And you only have to wait there quietly as Steven Harvey gets the show rolling.

“Contestant Number One,” Steve says, addressing an attractive young housewife from Akron, Ohio. “Your first question is worth $5,000. Answer correctly and you’ll win your choice of two fabulous prizes: a three week trip to Hawaii for you and your family, staying at the Honolulu Five Seasons luxury resort or, second choice, a year’s worth of food and medical supplies for a drought-stricken Nigerian Bantu village.

Somehow all this talk about prizes makes you think about your Christmas gift list, so you hardly notice the photos that flash across the screen, first the group shot of the African villagers, about 50 in all, then a photo of the Five Seasons Hilton, as seen through a grove of palm trees.

Before you can shake free from your reverie, Contestant Number One correctly answers her question and chooses the Hawaiian dream trip, joking to Steve that she’d always wanted to wear a grass skirt.

That girl has a good sense of humor, you tell yourself. Not like some other people you could name. That starts you thinking about your boss, and if you were looking at yourself you’d notice wrinkles appearing on your forehead and the muscles around your mouth tensing up. Steve’s carnival barker voice returns your roving mind to the images on the screen.

“Contestant Number Two,” he calls. “Your first question is also worth five thousand dollars. Guess correctly and you get to choose between a genuine Tiger Woods golf cart, or securing the release of Juan Diego, a political prisoner in Venezuela who’s been imprisoned for three years.”

Contestant Number Two, a robotics repair technician from Derry, New Hampshire, reminds you of your older brother, Sam. There’s something in the way he leans his head sideways that reminds you of Sam, and you find yourself getting excited as the prize pictures flash across the screen. You even murmur a cheer when he correctly answers his question. But then, when he hesitates in choosing his prize, you experience a surprising level of irritation that relates more to your feelings about Sam than Contestant Number Two.

“Can I see the golf cart again?” Contestant Number Two requests.

Instantly, the Tiger Woods golf cart, with Tiger at the wheel, fills the screen.

“And the political prisoner…?”

As Juan Diego’s image appears, shown hidden in the depths of a tiny cell lit by a 60 watt bulb, you rise from your chair. You have it in mind to head for the  kitchen, but you pause at the threshold to hear Contestant Number Two choose his prize.

“I’m sorry,” he says. “I thought it was someone I knew from school, but it wasn’t. I’ll take the golf cart.”

You’re already in the kitchen by the time Steve Harvey sums up the score and leads into the commericals, saying, “We’ll be right back to see which of our contestants gets to choose between a fabulous antique Persian rug worth $10,000 OR,” he suddenly shouts, “a year’s temporary housing for twenty of America’s most desperate homeless families. But first, these important announcements.

Staring into the refrigerator, you realize you’re still bored. Or maybe you’re just hungry. In either case, you make yourself a banana and peanut butter sandwich, fetch a glass of milk and take them back to the living room. 

You return just in time to see Contestant Number One shouting and jumping up in her excitement at winning the beautiful antique Persian rug.

“I, Betty Crocker.”

​I was born at the age of 42.

Betty’s Favorite “Look”

​Some of you might regard that as a handicap, but at the time I assumed everyone was born fully grown in a corporate test kitchen. In fact, I still think of it as an advantage; like being born with a silver spoon in my hand.

​My parents were industrious and successful advertising icons themselves. Mom was the housewife on the Crispy Cornpads cereal boxes, Dad the cartoon character in the Gillette Safety Razor commercials who always stroked his chin and declared, “Feels smoother, too!” 

​My parents were proud of me from the start and encouraged me to think of myself as more than a mere advertising symbol. Knowing from their own experience how difficult life could be for someone who never had a childhood, adolescence or early adulthood, they arranged for me to play with other celebrities like myself. Thus, I led a very active social life, and still fondly recall those days when the Gerber Baby, the Morton Salt Girl (what a klutz!), the Ivory Snow Mother and myself would stay up till all hours of the night exchanging recipes and baby care advice.

​It’s easy to judge one’s parents by today’s standards, but in truth it was a far different world back then. So, it’s not surprising that my parents wouldn’t allow me to play with Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben, or that my father threatened to lock me up in the kitchen if I so much as glanced in the Marlboro Man’s direction.

​Ah, the Marlboro Man! There was a fellow who could turn the head of any woman who spent most of her days on cake mix boxes. But like most things in life, the dream was far more interesting than the reality. Later on, when I had the chance to date Mr. Marlboro, I found him to be dull, insipid and totally lost without his horse. Not only that, there was an aura of stale smoke always hovering around him and fouling his breath. It was all you could do to let your nostrils open for even the smallest intake of smelly, cigarette-reeking air.

​I laugh now to think of my father’s Victorian attitudes, but having worked in men’s magazines his entire career, he had seen too many unsuspecting females whose advertising careers were ruined by associating with the wrong type of commercial characters. So, except for a brief relationship with that boy who kept getting sand kicked in his face in Charles Atlas ads, I was never allowed to go out on dates until the start of the Second World War.

​The war years, with their food shortages and rationing, were lonely years for me, and I recall staring down long empty supermarket aisles waiting for a chance to wave at the Gorton’s Fisherman or Tony the Tiger as they went by. By then, I had developed a line of hot breakfast cereals that put me on the shelf next to the one real love of my life.

​Modesty forbids me to reveal the intimate details of my relationship with the Quaker Oats Quaker — or ‘Quaky’ as we used to call him — but you’ll most likely remember from the fan magazines that we were seen at all the “in” places, dancing till dawn, burying ourselves in confetti, drinking champagne from Buster Brown slippers.

​Sad to say, it was an affair fated for an unhappy ending. Inevitably, gossip about our relationship reached into the corporate headquarters of both our companies, and rulings came down from both mountaintops forbidding fraternization between competing brands. Quaky went into brief seclusion while I was given the first of my “new looks” by my personal illustrator, a total revamp that not only changed my look but my entire personality as well.

​To be honest, with my new personality I suddenly discovered new appetites rising up within me, so that stuffy old icons like Quaky began to have about as much appeal as cold oatmeal. Shocking to say, I began seriously looking around for the kind of relationships my father had always worried about.

​And so, girls, I began to experiment with more exotic spices.

NEXT: “No Kitchen Could Hold Me,” Betty’s honest look back at her “lost years” and her torrid, love-hate relationship with the Pillsbury Doughboy.


Clarence The Clown Cries Foul!

Much has been said about the vigor and unseemly haste with which seven members of the Cambridge City Council voted last Monday evening, May 18th, to approve the Normandy/Twining (N/T) proposal to build an unprecedented 195’ tower in Central Square.

2014-2015-City-Council-web-500When told this final version of the agreement, officially an ‘amendment by substitution,’ with its last minute language changes, had not yet been read or even proofread to ensure completeness and adherence to previously agreed terms, the councilors waved away any concern.

“Hey!” one of them cried out, “if it’s good enough for Mark, Al and Tony…” referring to developers Mark Roopenian, Alex Twining and their attorney, former City Councilor Anthony Galluccio. “…then it’s good enough for the Cambridge City Council!”

“Right on!” another agreed. “Where do we sign?”

Shouting down objections from Council members Carlone and Mazen, who pleaded for a week’s delay in order to read and thoughtfully respond to this latest draft agreement, the seven councilors quickly voted “Aye!” and Mayor David Maher abruptly declared “So moved!” sharply gaveling in the council’s approval.

Barely had the echo of the gavel’s harsh retort subsided before certain oddities written into the agreement began to emerge for inspection.

First among the agreement’s controversial clauses was language that transferred to city ownership a still-undetermined percentage of N/T’s newly zoned surface parking lot after 5 years, as agreed, but shockingly in exchange for two city-owned parking lots and one city park “to later be determined.”

clownUpon later investigation it was learned the language transferring ownership of the parking lots and city park to N/T was accidentally retrieved from a DPW proposal of possible summer venues for Clarence the Clown and His Talking Jackass, a popular outdoor children’s entertainment.

When asked why the size of N/T’s gift deed transfer was still left uncertain in the agreement, Attorney Galluccio explained, “Obviously it depends on how many Cadillacs, Hummers and pickup trucks we have in the lot; something we won’t know until the first weeks of occupancy.”

Also somewhat controversial, the new agreement indemnifies all city councilors from actions or lawsuits, “including ethics investigations” resulting from their approval of the N/T petition. This apparently in response to the recent disclosure that six out of the seven councilors voting for approval—Councilors Cheung, Maher, Toomey, Simmons, McGovern and Benzan—had received campaign donations totaling almost $12,000 from N/T and related associates in a series of payments doled out over two years.

When learning he received a scant $950 from N/T in comparison to Councilor Cheung’s $3,000, Vice Mayor Benzan showed his customary modesty and self-effacement, declaring,” Hey, I’m the new guy on the block. Give me time; I’ll catch up to the veterans.”

Also, under the terms of the final approved agreement the city vowed to continue to ignore the impacts of gentrification. Specifically, the Community Development Department was enjoined against “any research that would quantify displacement of current residents. Or any study that might undermine the often-stated claim that luxury high-rise developments will house more poor people than they displace.”

Commenting on that restriction, Iram Farooq, Cambridge’s Acting Assistant City Manager for Community Development, smiled at the interviewer and said, “Not a problem. We do that everyday.”

In response to complaints about mistakes in the final draft agreement, Attorney Galluccio promised to deliver a corrected version for the council to vote on and review…”sometime during their next scheduled council meeting.”


DISCLAIMER: THE ABOVE ESSAY IS SATIRE, though there may be far too many chunks of reality and truth buried within the sarcasm and farce. A reader questioned my post as though some of the items mentioned might actually reflect (FOR REAL!) what was ultimately included in the revised Amendment by Substitution, which was submitted at the last minute, during public comments, to the city council. I have no idea what wonderful offerings or missing agreements will ultimately be discovered in that document which seven city councilors so quickly approved. Aside from the figures given for Normandy/Twining campaign donations to city councilors, nothing I said in my essay is meant to be believed or taken as fact. Again, this is meant to be SATIRE.
















A Cheer-Up Note From Rosie

Dear Sister:

I just had to write when I heard the news about you and Frank. Figured you might need some cheering up.

What can I say, Sis? You and Frank separating; who would have thought it! You just never know.

Like with my Sal. He was such a sweet guy before he lost his line manager’s job at McDonald’s. The loss didn’t hurt his disposition—not much! Remember what a pain he was last Thanksgiving when he kept complaining the gravy wasn’t thick enough and the cranberries were staining his teeth?

Well that was a hard time to get through. There were days I felt like telling Sal to take his crybaby face out of the house. He was depressing the kids, for heaven’s sake!

But then, thankfully, Sal got himself a government job and everything changed. At long last, we were standing again on solid ground. Pray the Lord, Sister, you never find yourself relying on unemployment checks for the food on your table.

Sal's new bosses at the office.

Sal’s new bosses at the office.

From the very first I noticed Sal’s lighter side start to return, and it became a lot easier to be around him, even in the mornings which is his toughest time. Of course having a fulltime job, Sal wasn’t around so much and that helped too.

Sister, the new job with its regular hours and government benefits was a godsend. Our only complaint was the money. Sal’s new job is a Grade 10 which is entry level and definitely underpaid. The position is listed as “Intelligence Extractor” but everybody knows that means Sal works for the government as a torturer. Actually Sal is ranked lower than a fully qualified torturer. More like a torturer-in-training.

Can you imagine Sal a torturer? Honestly, it makes me laugh. Sal can’t complain to a waitress about cold oatmeal, how’s he going to join the Spanish Inquisition? I asked him if he had to wear a black mask and he laughed.

But Sal didn’t laugh any about his Grade 10!! It ticked him off, as well it should. He thought his years at McDonald’s entitled him to a higher grade, I’m not sure why. Otherwise, the job is pretty good. I mean the benefits are great and Sal likes the people at the office. Says they’re pretty laid back when they’re not performing their torture specialties. (It’s weird but Sal can’t tell me if he’s working for the CIA, NSA or FBI. “Big secret,” he says, adding he’d have to kill me if I find out. Then he laughs like he’s making a joke, hah, hah!)

Like I said, Sal seems happier and much like his old self. Of course, every once in a while I notice him staring at strangers on the street and I can tell he’s sizing them up like they were future ‘clients’.

Sal says he can’t help it. He says he can’t look at anyone these days except as a potential client. That includes me and the kids, which is very stressful, but Sal says they told him the problem will go away. Once he finishes his training.

And talk about stress, Sal’s training program has been nothing but stressful! There’s a shortage of torture-eligible prisoners to practice on, so trainees like Sal are forced to double up. Sweet Jesus, don’t let the war end before Sal completes his training! (just joking)

The one thing I can’t decide is what to tell the kids. Tommy, Tuppence and Bradbury are only 4,8 and 10, you know. I told them their daddy works in the front lines of the War on Terror. What else could I say? How could I be honest about their daddy’s employment when they’re not old enough to understand that torture in defense of freedom is a noble profession?

Anyway, Sister, I just wanted to write and tell you how sorry I was to hear about you and Frank, and to cheer you up a bit. I have to run now. We’re going to a church supper tonight once Sal gets home from work.

We’re bringing the beans.

Hugs and kisses,


“I Am A Rock”, (How To Train A Rock, Part 3)

Dear Paul Steven Stone:

 I have been reading with great interest your articles on how to train rocks, and especially enjoyed your insights into the complexities of our inner workings (yes, I am a rock myself). Unfortunately, most of what you say is very silly and far from true. More like supermarket tabloid trash than hard rock reality.

graystonePaul Steven, I don’t believe you could recognize a real rock if you tripped over one in your kitchen.

In any case, the time for sitting back in stoic silence has passed. As a tribal elder, I have been asked to write and clarify  a few basic truths about rocks.

And, yes, to offer you a friendly warning.

For millions of years we rocks have lived our lives in quiet harmony with nature and its creatures, with the exception of one particularly troublesome species. I refer, of course, to you humans who can’t seem to live in harmony with anyone or anything except your own hubris and unquenchable appetites.

Many centuries ago, it was decided by the Council of Rock Elders that we rocks would conceal our highly evolved spiritual and intellectual development from your species until such time as you were able to relate to us as equals. Since it will take at least another millennium before human beings can evolve to even the lowest of rock levels, and since you persist in writing about us as if we were semi-conscious, emotionally volatile household pets, the time has come for rocks – humbly represented by myself – to step out of the closet.

To begin with, and forgive me if I appear immodest, but rocks are actually the most consciously and spiritually advanced creatures in the universe. I’m sure even you, Paul Steven, must have heard about The Big Bang; that cosmic explosion some billions of years ago that hurled matter in all directions and created the universe? But did you ever ask yourself what it was that actually exploded on that momentous day?

(With my extra-sensory perception I sense an answer already forming in your mind.)

Yes, Paul Steven, it was a rock! One giant, inconceivably humungous rock. The first inhabitant of our universe and Great Great Granddaddy to the entire worldwide family of present-day rocks.

Interestingly enough, that first colossal rock was originally called “God” until your species took up the term and used it as an excuse for heaping indignities and abuse upon each other. You can be certain rocks never kill each other, or fan the fires of hatred and intolerance, in service to our God. Occasionally, no doubt, someone gets hit in the head by a rock, but that’s usually a function of the natural laws governing moving bodies rather than messianic fervor or religious intolerance.

If I were your God and saw the way everyone behaved in My name, I’d sue you all for defamation of character.

As for all your innuendoes about our being dense and dumb, suffice it to say we rocks are deeply connected to our inner selves, which is why we sometimes appear heavy or immovable or, perhaps even “stuck” to imperceptive mutton heads such as yourself. No matter how we appear, however, the truth is you do not know us. You do not know what gentle, kind spirits we can be, even though time and again we have proven our innate rigidity and toughness. You do not know that we live our lives without envy, greed or acquisitiveness. Or that riches bore us as much as fancy attire or faddish styles.

You also don’t realize that once we were the rulers of this beautiful and fragile planet, but in our humility stepped back to allow others their chance at the wheel.

Paul Steven, I am a rock. Unadorned and unashamed. As we used to say back in the quarry, take me as I am or toss me at a ham.

And another thing . . . you write that rocks are quiet creatures, often silent because we have little or nothing to say. Another patently false assumption based on your species’ inability to hear the high-pitched frequency at which rocks normally speak. Once again, it is your failings that cause you to infer our deficiencies. Were you able to hear rocks speak, you would not believe the high level of our discourse.

From time to time, when we wish to purposely inject elevating rock influences into the human zeitgeist – say through philosophy or literature — we employ human savants, secretly tutored by rocks, as vehicles for our messages.

With whom did you think Plato was actually conducting his dialogues? And the Immortal Bard? The truth is, without the assistance of his Rock Muses, Shakespeare wouldn’t have been able to come up with a rhyme for spoon in the month of June!

But now we are traveling through worrisome times, Paul Steven, both rocks and humans together. Evil energies have been set loose by the collective madness of your pitiful race and if they are not soon put in check they will destroy all that we rocks have striven to create and preserve.

That is why I have been asked to write this letter. As a friendly warning that we rocks will once again resume management of Earth’s planetary affairs if you humans aren’t up to the task.

This is not a threat by some hostile alien force, Paul Steven.

 This is a promise from the rocks of the world.

Either clean up your act, or take the next train out of town.

Don’t make us play hardball, Paul Steven.

You could get hit by a rock.


Sincerely yours,

Graystone Of The Back Garden


This was the third in my rock trilogy of essays detailing “How To Train A Rock,” which coincidentally is also the name of my story and essay collection. To read the first essay in the trilogy, go to here; you’ll find the second essay here.. For more information about “How To Train A Rock,” go to Amazon or my web site.