Peeve du Jour

My Photo
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Gotta see what's around that bend in the road. Send comments to:

Friday, December 25, 2009


Out of Order

Let's say you go to a popular family restaurant and as you're being seated the waiter asks, "May I take your order?"

"We haven't even seen the menu yet."

"There's one in the kitchen and another one by the back door. You can see them on the way out."

This is pretty much how it works at a McDonald's drive-thru. You pull up to the order box and a squawky voice says, "Welcome to McDonald's, may I take your order?"

I haven't even seen the menu yet because it's about ten feet beyond the order box.

Why isn't the menu somewhere before the order box? That way, I could see what's available besides Big Macs and Quarter Pounders and maybe make a choice before I get to the order box.

Let's say you go to a well-known bank and need to fill out a deposit slip. The table with the deposit slips is at the front of the line. Why isn't it at the back of the line, or somewhere nowhere near the line, so customers can fill out their paper work, then get into the line and be ready when they get to the front of the line?

And why don't banks have calendars on the tables so we'll know what the date is when we fill out those deposit slips? When I get to the window I always have to ask the teller what the date is. She always looks at me as if I were a hermit.

I guess I could just print a copy of a McDonald's menu to glue to my dashboard, take home a stack of deposit slips to fill in before I go into the bank and carry a calendar with me at all times so don't have to inconvenience any tellers.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Car Alarms

Is there anything more useless than a car alarm?


But for today, car alarms will do.

The apparent function of a car alarm is to let your neighbors know that you have a car alarm and that it works. Apart from that, what does it do? 

Deter theft? Nah. From  the time the bad guy triggers the alarm, you have about 30 seconds to get dressed, run downstairs and confront the car thief. By then he's gone.

Does it scare thieves away? Maybe, but he takes your car with him.

Does it alert you to a possible theft? Only if you're home or within ear-shot of the alarm. Problem is, it also alerts every neighbor within a half-mile radius.

I bet 99% of the time the alarm goes off because a bus drove by and rattled the alarm trigger or a dog peed on a hubcap. 

Last week I listened to an alarm going off intermittently for about 2 hours, from 10:30 PM until a half hour past midnight. I finally went to investigate and found a big shiny BMW at the curb about a block away. The elderly owner had just come out of a banquet facility, unaware that his alarm had been going for two hours. The valet parkers knew about it but since they hadn't parked the car, had no idea who owned it. I guess the owner came out to check his pee-soaked hubcaps and that's when he discovered what the entire neighborhood already knew. He had a loud, annoying car alarm. Great.

So he stood there listening to the alarm going off by itself about every three minutes. He'd click and disarm it, and three minutes later it went off again. This went on for another hour until the guy finally went home.

I had a car alarm once. One night it went off when a coyote walked by. The battery on my clicker had died and I didn't know how to rip the wires out. It was dark, I had no flashlight, and I wouldn't know where to look, anyway.

My neighbors loved me.

Car alarms - about as useful as a finger on the back of your head.

If car alarms played It's a Small World people would find a way to shut it off within ten seconds.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Crinkle crinkle little star...

I serve on the executive board of a couple of organizations and whenever we have a board meeting, a fast food meal is included. Usually something like Quiznos, Subway, McDonald's or any number of similar restaurants that serve "to go" meals wrapped in paper. As we eat, the meeting gets under way, and by the time we're all done eating, the president of the group is already delivering important information for us to consider, to take action on or to vote on. And as he's speaking, board members begin crumpling up the paper wrappers that their food came in. I think it's a special, high decibel, ultra-crinkly paper specially imported by fast food joints for the express purpose of drowning out speakers. Crinkle Drowning.

Maybe Crinkle Drowning is a Pavlovian response to quiet moments when someone is delivering a punchline or making a very important point. If there's a food wrapper in front of you and there's no food on it, it must be crumpled. Not later, not soon, but RIGHT NOW.

That inability to resist crunching sheets of food wrapper paper into as tiny a wad as possible is like a dog being told to sit and stay while a cat runs across his path. Or a kid being ordered not to scream in a horror movie. Impossible. Mother nature has a built in mechanism that automatically overrides all orders. People just can't resist crumpling up a food wrapper. They just can't leave it alone, flat on the table, until the speaker is finished. They GOTTA crumple that thing up RIGHT NOW!

Maybe it's a psychological holdover from childhood when you'd let mommy know you were done eating by clanking on the table with your spoon.

"Look at me, mommy. I'm done!" CLANK CLANK CLANK CLANK CLANK.

"Ooh, good boy, Bobby. You belong to the Clean Plate Club. Now you can have some dessert."

Is this a universal trait or is it just an American obsession? Do executive board members in Mexico crumple their corn husks? Do board members in Asia do a drum roll with their chopsticks? In Switzerland do they toot their Alpenhorns?

"Elementary, my dear Watson. The murderer was..." CRINKLE CRINKLE CRINKLE CRINKLE CRINKLE

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Yatter Yatter Yatter (Part A)

Is there a law that says announcers and spectators have to yatter, scream and make gorilla noises throughout every event they're watching? Not just sports events on television but awe-inspiring events in nature, too. Why can't people just observe without commenting? STFU!

Some years ago I was in Glacier Bay, Alaska watching 400' high chunks of ice calving from Margerie Glacier. It was a magnificent thing to see. Each calving was preceded by a series of loud cracking noises as the ice then broke away from the glacier and plunged into the bay. The instant there was a cracking noise everyone began yattering.


"There's one!"

" Here it comes!"

" Here we go!"

Then when the ice broke and began to fall, all I could hear was more yattering.

"There it goes!"

"Oh my God!"

"Look! Look!" as if everyone was not already looking at what was going on in front of them.

I hate it when someone yells, "Look! Look!" at something I'm already looking at.

"Look at the wave!"

"Look at the water!"

"Look at the ice breaking off the glacier and falling into the water!"

You'd have to have a serious Attention Deficit Disorder to miss it.

Even from 1/2 mile away, these calvings are very loud. The roar of the breaking ice crashing into the water, along with the crumbling 400' high towers of ancient ice roaring down behind it, was pretty much drowned out by all the observers screaming, yelling, cheering, pointing and telling everyone to "Look! Look!"

I doubt this happens when one is alone in nature. It's only when we're with other people that we feel compelled to verbalize everything we're observing as if everyone around us needed an announcer to tell us where to look, to explain what we were looking at and what they should do before they could fully grasp what was unfolding before them.

Here's a link to a typical video of a calving glacier I found on YouTube:

Yatter Yatter Yatter (Part B)

Is there a law that says graduates of Sports Announcer College with a BA in Blabbermouthology have to team up with an equally qualified graduate in order to get a job? These guys always wind up being announcers and color commentators on football and baseball games, and boxing matches. And all they do is yatter throughout the event. Yatter Yatter Yatter Blah Blah Blah Yatter Yatter. They interrupt each other, finish each other's sentences and talk about what I just saw as if I were watching the radio.

What do they have against letting me hear a sports event?

The worst of these are announcers at boxing matches. The two or three announcers just never shut up. They tell me what the boxers are thinking, what they have to do to get the job done, what the other guy has to do to prevent the other guy from getting the job done, what his strategy is going to be, what it should have been, and what a boxer has just done. By the time he speaks the words needed to describe what the boxer has just done, the boxer has delivered five or six more punches, so I don't know what the hell the announcer is referring to. And I don't care to begin with. But I have no choice. If I want to watch the match, I have to put up with the announcers.

So I never get to hear the punches getting delivered, that brutal smack of leather to ribs, fist to face, the grunts, the groans, the crowd. No. All I hear is Yatter Yatter Yatter Blah Blah Blah Yatter Yatter.

Wouldn't it be great if one of those sports channels had an "A" and a "B" option for viewers. Choice "A" is for announcers, choice "B" is for no announcers. They'd make a fortune from subscribers who'd choose "B" and save another fortune by not paying for announcers.

Here's a great example of Yatter Yatter Yatter Blah Blah Blah Yatter Yatter at a boxing match:


Saturday, October 03, 2009


There's a half a glass of water on my table...

We've all heard the hoary old adage that claims "The OPTIMIST sees his glass as half full and the PESSIMIST sees his glass as half empty."

Just typing it produces a flood of colorful expletives in my throat, snarling to get out.

Be happy you have a half a glass of anything.

The REALIST asks...

"How big is the glass? Is it an Oktoberfest beer stein on wheels with two handles and a lid or is it a champagne flute with a cute little stem?"

"Was it full before you came along or was it empty to begin with?"

"Are you trying to fill a half-empty glass or are you emptying it?"

"Are you putting the contents to good use, beneficial to the global community or are you draining it for personal gain?"

"Did you already drink your half and now you're saving the other half for your neighbor?"

"Are you drinking from a full glass and now you're whining because there's only a half glass left?"

"Or are you drinking from a half glass knowing it will soon be a drained glass?"

"Are you peeing in the glass and YOU'RE only half empty?"

"Are you completely full of shit or half full of shit?"

I think a real optimist would relish the idea of a glass that's half empty. It indicates accomplishment and synchronicity with the universe. Conversely, the true pessimist would love a glass that's half full because it indicates one's inability to achieve fulfillment and an acknowledgment of man's utter failure to communicate with the dead.

I like a double shot glass filled to the brim with a fine bourbon which I quickly make completely empty, followed by a good bartender who fills it with another double snort of fine bourbon on the house.

What if your glass is 75% full and 25% empty? What the hell does that mean?

If you live alone is your bed half full or half empty when you sleep in it?

If your backyard swimming pool is filled to the brim and a hippopotamus sneaks in at night, is it completely full or is the circus in town?

The mind boggles.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Attention Old People

Introspective observations of a curmudgeonly geezer-avoidance advocate.

At what point do old people start acting like old people? I'm convinced people act their age primarily because other people keep reminding them what their age is, and those other people have some misguided notion of how you're supposed to act at that age. Before you know it, you're looking at catalogs from The Scooter Store and The Neptune Society. If you'd just ignore those other people you wouldn't be acting like some old fart.

I know a lot of lively, intense and creative people who ignore the annual candle-lit sing-alongs that celebrate another walker-assisted step away from childhood. They draw cartoons, they tell jokes, they sing, they write, they dance, they teach, they use their brains for some sort of creative endeavor, and they do it as much as possible with like-minded people.

If you're surrounded by old people who act like old people who constantly invite you to join the Misery-Loves Co., Inc., find some new friends. And by new, I mean younger, smarter, livelier and more curious and who haven't given up yet. They're learning, observing, experimenting, exploring and creating. There's so much more to do than The Price is Right and Oprah. Stop watching what everyone else is doing, get off your ever-widening butt and let people watch what you're doing for a change.

Get up, get out and do something. Stop frittering away the hours reading the obituaries and remembering lost youth. Get to know some people who are not in the obituaries yet, and start creating new memories by reenacting Great Moments from Lost Youth. Stop lamenting the things you never got to do and go do them. Quit blowing the entire day groaning about what hurts, how much and how often and start thinking about ways to get laid.

Oops. Nap time...

Friday, September 18, 2009


Kanye West Part 2

Just read where Kanye West is going on the road. Hope it's the road to oblivion.


Too Much Paper, Man

If I sent letters to my friends like the crap-filled letters my credit card company, cable company or bank sent me, I'd be spending a small fortune on postage, killing about three trees a week and filling my friends' recycle bins with my share of the forest.

Every time I open an envelope from my credit card company I have to sift through 5 to 10 postcard-sized ads, colorful flyers that show me what I can get for free if I buy something first, time-sensitive offers that expired yesterday, discount notices, buy one - get one free certificates for a salt-and-cheese pizza from some pizza joint in the next county, and manufacturer's coupons for things I've managed to live without for decades, before I find the invoice or statement. And when I finally get to the invoice or statement, no matter how carefully I remove it from the envelope, yet another piece of crap will flutter out and fall to the floor.

Actually, fluttering to the floor wouldn't be so bad, but I never realized how strong the wind was under my kitchen table, and it always blows the piece of paper into the most remote corner of the kitchen, reachable only with one of those old- fashioned grocery store pincher-grabber gizmos for plucking things off the top shelf of Maxwell's Delicatessen without resorting to a ladder.

And the return envelope always has a secondary flap on the back, with more useless information, that I have to remove before sealing the main flap. Ever seal the envelope before you removed the secondary flap? After the glue has dried you realize your mistake and the only way to fix it is with duct tape.

Finally, after sealing the envelope with extreme prejudice, I discover the check still sitting on the table because I forgot to put it in the envelope.

Then I find out I only have a pack of 2¢ stamps left over from the last rate increase.

I guess there's something to be said for online banking and bill paying.

But I gotta wonder - if I'm getting 12 pounds of paper crap in my mail every week, and companies are sending the same mail out to millions of customers, is that really the best use of a tree?

And don't get me started on the ads I've been getting from The Scooter Store!