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Winter deserves the cold shoulder

The Baltimore Sun

So this has certainly been a cheery winter around here with the economy in the tank, tax hikes, BGE rate increases, gas prices soaring and the price of a gallon of milk costing more than a cow.

I see there was a big boat show in town over the weekend. How many people showed up for that, 15?

And 10 of those were probably on the cleaning staff.

Who can afford a boat these days?

I bet the place was so quiet they started vacuuming and putting away the chairs an hour after the show opened.

Don't bother turning on the TV to get away from it all, either. Because with the writers on strike, what's on is every moronic reality show you can imagine, shows that will literally make your brain dribble out your ear if you watch too much.

(Check out Fox's new The Moment of Truth for the ultimate in brain rot. Contestants are strapped to lie detectors and answer embarrassing questions in front of family and friends and a hooting studio audience that makes Jerry Springer's crowd look like a Bible study group by comparison.)

(Sample question: "Have you ever had sex with someone the same day you met them?" Oh, yeah, this is one classy show. You'll feel better about the direction society is headed after this one.)

Oh, and don't think you can head down to the local saloon to relax and blot it all out with a drink and a smoke.

Maryland's new smoking ban goes into effect this week, after which they'll probably throw you up against a wall and cuff you for firing up a Marlboro Light with your beer.

In the meantime, I have turned into my father, yelling at everyone in the house to turn off lights when they leave a room.

In fact, I actually find myself lying in wait to see if someone leaves a light on, which is just a step away from stalking your own family.

The reaction to all this from my wife and kids is: I have to chill.

Sure, chill. Easy for them to say.

I planned to show everyone in the house the latest BGE bill, so they could see how we're getting hammered here, except I can't really figure out the bill myself.

The whole budget-billing thing still throws me. I look like a confused cocker spaniel studying a parakeet when I look at that bill.

And when I'm not yelling at the kids for lights, I'm fighting the usual Thermostat Wars with my wife.

She leaves the house, and I turn the heat down.

I leave the house, and she jacks it up so high you could grow Spanish moss in the living room.

BGE is killing us, I say. Don't you care about that?

Turn up the heat and be quiet, she says.

Then she pads off in her parka and mittens to watch TV, her little way of letting me know the house is too cold.

But this is the kind of winter it's been, gray and gloomy and heavy on the weirdness.

Just a few days ago, the big story in the news was this: Chuck Norris, campaigning for Mike Huckabee, slams John McCain for being too old to run for president.

Yes, CHUCK NORRIS! That's the kind of dignified presence you want associated with a run for the highest office in the land.

For the record, Chuck Norris is 67. John McCain is only four years older. So you talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

Norris, he probably goes out every morning and karate chops a few steer on his ranch and delivers a few roundhouse kicks to the goats, just to stay in practice.

And he has a problem with a guy four years older running for president?

A guy who's seemingly robust and eager to tackle the job?

Is this what politics has become in this country?

Washed-up action stars calling news conferences to tell who they're endorsing for office and ripping the other candidates' vitality? Like any of us would actually care?

What's next, Sylvester Stallone stumping for Barack Obama and bashing Hillary Clinton for not being able to do 20 push-ups?

Steven Seagal campaigning for Mitt Romney and accusing Rudy Giuliani of needing 10 hours of sleep every night?

Oh, I can't wait for spring.


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