Thursday, April 27, 2006


Dodging the potholes of celebrity

…and more of your questions answered by
The Crabby Critic

Dear Crabby:

I watch American Idol and dream of becoming a star. My mother says it’s a waste of time to dream on that because so few make it. What do you think?

Charles in Kansas

Dear Chuck of the Aspiring Hestons:

I’ll concur with your ma’ part way. So few make it, and not always the one’s that should. Usually not the one’s that should. I mean – honestly, somebody needs to explain the lasting appeal of Vin Diesel, Jean Claude Van Damme and Bjork to me. (Aside: the list is bigger than this but I won't bore you herein with the rest. They aren't worth the effort or space). Where I differ from mom's homespun concern is in the abandonment department.


But let’s be clear about something before continuing. There are NO STARS in Hollywood today – just common people with huge bank balances. We call them celebrities.

What’s the difference, you ask?

Well, stars were primarily known for their work in front of the camera – not for how many people they’ve slept with, what drugs they’re smoking, how many hookers they’ve rented or any of that other backstage nonsense that so readily keeps a celebrity’s waning career afloat today.

Two bits of advice for wannabe’s like yourself.
One: Do yourself proud…Brad Pitt looking like ‘I was a teenage Jesus’ (right) or Cary Grant?

I know which one I’d pick to emulate!

Second: the best advice I can offer anyone who thinks they have what it takes to be like a ‘star’ is that they should never care about their audience.

Oh, surely, they should still seek to deliver as fine and solid a performance as they can. That goes without saying. But regardless of how well they deliver the goods, that performance will be perceived as good, bad or indifferent without any accurate barometer of assessment.

You see, most audiences go to the movies without any set criteria or even general understanding of what makes a film or an actor good, clever or entertaining. If enough of these misguided self-appointed critics think something’s a hit, then it is – at least in measurable box office dollars, which is all Hollywood today genuinely cares about.

Artistic success is not measured or valued at all.

It’s an unknown quantity best left for the film historian to rediscover some fifty years after nearly everyone associated with the production is either dead, senile or doing infomercials for some exercise equipment that they don’t really use.

But, the audience goes and sits in the dark for two hours like a bunch of anesthetized sheep and when they exit the theater they’ve already decided the success or failure of a film based on their own inexplicable set of mythic criteria – so vastly simplified and unquantifiable that not even studio market research can accurately predict the outcome of any film’s success even fifty percent of the time.

In the old days, the studios used to have audiences fill out preview cards after a sneak preview, where everyone had the opportunity to put in their two cents in about what they had just seen. Based on these comments the studio would then go back and re-edit or, in some cases, re-shoot portions of the film before holding another ‘sneak preview’ and then put the film into general release.

Today, the studios think they’re so much more than clever by hiring a bunch of analysts to do that thinking for the audience. But it hasn’t made films better; just more narrow-minded and unappealing to everyone but a select market share – and sometimes, not even them.

Yours truly,
The crabby critic

Dear Crabby:

Is it okay to cheat on your husband if you already know he’s cheating on you?

- Valerie in Massachusetts

Dear Two-Wrongs:

No for the same reason it’s not okay to butcher a nearby farmer’s blue ribbon sow to paint your toe nails red, just because you believe that with a couple of hundred head of pork stinking up the yard he suddenly won’t be missing the extra bacon.

In what context of proposing your question did you think I’d say yes?!?

I suppose if you want to be accused of the same indiscretions that your wandering Walter is guilty of, then you can throw caution and your diaphragm to the wind, sashay your tooty to the No-Tell Motel and Mack Tack yourself to the nearest Rico Suave for a night of mattress pounding sex. But Val – hey girl, you won’t be getting even with your husband. You’ll just be lowering yourself to his level…no pun intended.

Yours truly,
The crabby critic

Dear Crabby:

I hate going to church. Alls it is, is a popularity contest and fashion show anyway. Who has the best clothes, nicest hair, cutest body. Why should I go when most of the folks there aren’t there for spiritual reasons anyway?

Yours truly, Cynthia

Dear Anti-Christ:
- I’m kidding…

Well alright then...don't hold it all in, tell me how you really feel.

Why indeed? I’ve always been a firm believer that there is a great divide between the divine and man made religion. I believe in God.

I just don’t think He and Pat Roberson have the same speed dial.

You should remember one thing, Cynthia. Religion was designed by men initially to put the fear of divine retribution into the uneducated masses.

Scare them with a bunch of “You’re going straight to hells” and hopefully they’ll conform to whatever hidden political or religious agenda you’ve got cooked up as a sideline. It’s worked that way for centuries on some very silly premises. The problem as I see it isn’t religion itself but the ‘men of God’ those teachings have been left in the hands of. A zealot is a dangerous thing.

Churches, synagogues…and life for that matter, are teeming with people who come to show off their clothes, put on airs and generally critique their social caste without so much as paying any attention to the service taking place before them.

What matters is the sincerity invested in the act itself. A good Christian, Jew, Catholic, Muslim...etc (and you'll pardon those religions I've left out) is 'good' for the deeds performed away from that center of worship.

Certainly - we are all prone to faltering and make mistakes. However, it is in our ability to recover from these absences in good judgment and with humility, rather than saving face, that separates the truly inspired from just your average run-of-the-mill heathen in white linen.

Yours truly
The crabby critic

Dear Crabby:

I just took my family to Disneyland and was shocked by the changes they’ve made in the theme park. Actually, horrified is more like it. I don’t understand why Tomorrowland now looks like a giant pile of antiquated junk from the turn of the last century instead of its white and shiny façade that used to be there. I also think they need to put back the submarine lagoon. Why did they change Disneyland?

Barrie in Arizona

Dear Barrie:

Your guess is as good as mine. I suspect that the submarines were closed because with declining profits the attraction proved too costly and cumbersome to maintain. Do I think that’s a good reason for getting rid of a time honored tradition?

Absolutely not!

Disneyland is a cultural artifact from another time in American history when positivism in the human spirit reigned indomitable and supreme. It was created by a man whose blind optimism and creativity far outweighed pragmatic 'common sense' firmly grounded in the 'real' world. For these qualities alone - Walt Disney today is quaintly referred to as a 'visionary' rather than a daydreamer with a genuine run of mixed luck and good fortune - which is much closer to the truth. Arguably, no one stands in greater admiration of 'Uncle Walt' than I.

However, through the rubric of postmodern reflection his Tomorrow-land was very much an attraction of its day - carrying on with the early concepts of 20th century man and merely dressing him up in unfamiliar 'futurist' facades.

In recently refurbishing these facades the imagineers (those fellas who design all the attractions) have regressed to the daydreams of another great visionary - Jules Verne; and rightly so since, like Disney, Verne's view of tomorrow was steeped in a regression from that ‘tomorrow’ by those same limited trappings that were true in his own time.

Today, Disneyland remains very much a repository for our collective dreams - only now the kingdom is run by bean counters whose greatest ‘wish upon a star’ is a very callously expected ‘supercalafragalisticexpialadocious’ bottom line.

Walt wouldn’t be pleased. He’d throw up.

Yours truly,
The Crabby Critic

Friday, April 14, 2006


...or just a bit of sensible advice gone astray?

Dear Crabby:

I lost my job six months ago due to ‘down-sizing.’ My husband completely understands. He lost his last year for the same reason. Thank heaven he found something new within a few months or we’d really be in trouble right now. The problem is my extended family. They seem to think I don’t want to work but actually I’ve been looking religiously almost from the moment I realized my days were numbered at my previous place of employment. My mother, in particular, thinks I’m being lazy. I think she’s being hypocritical. She hasn’t worked since she married my father. Nobody except my husband understands. I just don’t know what to do. Please, advise. I feel so lost.

Carol in Yonkers

Dear Lost in Yonkers:

Cheer up – you’ve just been found!

Personally, I’d tell Ma’ Industry that she needs to mind her own store since the last time she actually received pay for services rendered Eisenhower was still occupying a seat in the White House. Honestly, this ain’t the same ‘get up and go’ culture that it was at the end of the Second World War.

If you listen to today’s analysts, they’ve spun a little web of capitalist dreams that proclaim a strong economy. I’m not exactly sure where – but they say it’s there.

Okay, sure - the economy’s booming – if you count the increase in jobs that require you to warble that time honored catch slogan “would you like fries with that?”

But if you’re actually looking for a career and not a part time hobby with no benefits and no hope of advancement beyond the chicken crisper – this just is not the right time for you.

Sad but true – most of today’s employers don’t want to train somebody new. They want a ready made plug-in with forties years experience poured into a twenty-two year old body. Somebody should explain to them that that ideal candidate simply DOES NOT exist.

Want some good advise: take what time you have off right now to put your home in order. Attend some local job fairs, but don’t go desperate. Just play the field. The old cliché: Good things come to those who wait often seems valid simply because those who aren’t really looking tend to exude an air of ‘hey, I’m your guy/gal’ and ‘if you don’t want to hire me, the competition most certainly will – see yah!’

Yours truly,
The crabby critic

Dear Crabby:

My husband is having an affair with his secretary. The other day I found some soiled panties in our trunk and they weren’t mine. But more importantly, I also found his secretary's home phone number and some rather pornographic messages and photos on his text messages. I don’t know what to do. I thought we were happy.

Janice in Manhattan

Dear Manhattan Melodrama:

Clearly, you’re not…or that is – you are and your husband’s not – or is, but for all the wrong reasons.

Okay, so you didn’t pick him for brains or fidelity. I’ll assume he’s the kind that you could – and have - bounced quarters off his pecs, only now it’s his secretary who’s holding the jar load of change.

Janice – your guy’s a pig, plain and simple.

You didn’t mention children with him so I’ll assume there aren’t any. My advice to you is leave. Today!

Don’t confront him.

He’ll just make up some cock and bull scenario about ‘Little Miss Dictation’ that will have you cast as the witch, her as the misunderstood ingénue and himself the guy wearing red and blue spandex – flying into the fray as her hero and savior.

But here’s the wrinkle you should remind him of – that the part of the hero is always reserved for the one true love, and when he put the ring on your finger during that ceremony where you wore white and walked with him, hand in glove, down the isle that ‘true love’ status officially went to you – not Staple-Gun Sally and her throbbing interests in sharpening your hubby’s pencil!

Yours truly
The crabby critic

Dear Crabby:

My life’s a mess.

My ex-wife is suing me for more alimony. My new girlfriend is cheating on me with my boss and I think the two of them are conspiring to get me fired. I don’t like where I’m at and I don’t know how to get out of it. My spiritual advisor said it’ll all work out one day but that doesn’t help me any. I’m close to giving up.

Jarvis in Wilmington

Dear Willie-Nillie in Wilmington

I’ll concur with you on one point – your spiritual advisor’s a kook!

I’m not saying he should have suddenly put on the Dale Carnegie/Tony Robbins thinking cap or give you the ‘10 simple things guys do to mess up their lives’ speech a la Dr. Laura – but to cop out with a ‘God works in mysterious ways’ and leave you hanging without any sort of modest suggestion is tantamount to him simply turning his back on his commitment as a pastor to invest a little more time molesting some choir boys!


Just so we’re clear on one point: I can’t offer you a step by step either, Jarvis. But what I can do is make a few constructive suggestions about avenues you may want to explore.

First things first: your ex.
She’s a cold fish and a gold digger besides, yes? Time to hire a legal piranha as your defense. Don’t get someone who just wants to plead everything out.

Get a hatchet man who understands that not every guy who gets a divorce is or was an abusive sponge. It never ceases to amaze me, just how many women with nothing to gripe about decide to stick the ax in the back of the guy they promised to love and cherish till lilies sprout from their butt simply because a bit more creative thinking and hard work was required after the flush of the honeymoon had worn off!

Want some advice about the girlfriend?

Introduce her to your ex. By my thinking these two should be bowling partners!

They’ve both had a crack at the same set of pins and balls – if you get my drift. Ditch her. Let her have your boss if that’s who she really wants. Seriously, I don’t think she knows who or what she wants. If there’s a President or CEO in your company roster I wouldn’t be too surprised if she’s starting her take over bid right now.

Can you say loveless social climber? I know you can.

About your boss – provided you’ve been doing your job correctly, he has no legal cause to fire you. If you get the proverbial pink slip now you can sue him for wrongful dismissal. But in the meantime – before economic Armageddon leaves you homeless, start the search through the Yellow Pages for another place of business. Call in sick to secretly go to as many interviews as you can. Then, when you find something worth your time, pick up stakes for a fresh start. Really, it’s that simple.

Last piece of advice, Jarvis.

Not at your current place of employment and certainly not at your next. You need to do some serious housecleaning and invest some personal time in getting your life back on track before you invite someone else to share the wealth. Right now you’re working from a deficit. But cheer up – you can turn pennies into progress with just a bit of down time. Good luck.

Yours truly,
The crabby critic

Dear Crabby:

I’m sooooo lonely.

- Barbara in Sidney

Dear Babs:

Yeah…and I’m new in town. Could I get directions to your place?!?

If you had said you were constipated I’d have a quicker solution. As the situation stands, I’ll thank you to shove a couple of prunes between your ears to get your mind off of how lonely you really are.

Everybody goes through bouts of minor depression. Yours will pass faster than you can flush an American Standard if you simply make the effort to loosen up whatever has made you ‘sooooo lonely’.

Go to a play.
Take a jog in the park.
Volunteer for any number of charities.

All these activities will put you in contact with other people who may or may not share your feelings of isolation. Even if they don’t – they’ll probably put you in touch with folks who have some ideas how to alleviate your cramping resolve to be by yourself.

Flush the blues from your mind – Babs.

They’re not permanent.
Just crappy!

Yours truly
The crabby critic

Dear Crabby:

My girlfriend of nine years is driving me nuts about getting married. I don’t want to get married. The thought of it makes me sick. What should I do?

Jorge in Stevensville

Dear Jorge:

Swallow a box of Valium before saying ‘I do.’ I’m kidding!

Seriously, why does the thought of marriage make you physically ill? Did you come from an unhappy/divorced home? Do you have friends who are married or got married and now hate their lives together? Perhaps the reason the ring finger set your heart aflutter (but not in a good way) is because you’ve equated marriage with an end to a perfectly good sex life.

Sorry, boy – can’t help you there.

But on a more clairvoyant note – I’m wondering why it’s taken your gal pal nine years to press the question. Clearly, she wants her day and probably won’t settle for just another warm and fuzzy romantic evening topped off by a bottle of wine and a rental of ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’ as her consolation prize. You have two choices, Jorge. Either break up with your girl (which, in my opinion would be a HUGE mistake) or move forward with plans to pitch a little rice on the side.

Now, why is option #1 a mistake?

Simple: you’ve been with your girlfriend for NINE years. Do you realize that if you two were married your 10th anniversary would be right around the corner?

Anybody who can put in a decade of fidelity is deserving of at least half your pension after you kick off.

You’ve found a very patient (if, slightly odd) woman to love you, Jorge. Don’t blow it by jilting her now. She’s given whatever she’s given for almost ten years. This is what she expects as repayment for that investment. Don’t disappoint her. You may even surprise yourself.

Yours truly
The crabby critic

Friday, April 07, 2006


...more questions answered by
the crabby critic

Dear Crabby:

Recently I started sleeping with my boyfriend’s sister. Do you think he’d like to watch?

Rebecca from Missouri

Dear All-in-the-Family:

There are more issues to discuss herein than time and space allow. I’m not Dr. Phil, you know. And you haven’t really given me enough to go on.

Does your boyfriend know you’re bisexual?

Does he care?

Is he?

Even if he’s the kind who gets a kink in his Calvins just thinking about two women rubbing Jello and chocolate syrup all over – any guy who gets aroused over one of them being his own sister has probably slept with his own mother at least once – maybe daddy too.

I should also add that you’re cavalier nondescript attitude toward family incest is rather appalling. Clearly, you’re not the girl to take home to mother – unless mama’s into spanking and you’ve brought the paddle.

You might, however, be one to take on the road. Can you say, side show freak and lovin’ it? I know you can.

Yours truly,
The crabby critic

Dear Crabby:

My older brother is selling drugs from our house. I know this because last night while my parents were out the doorbell rang while my brother also was out and a couple of guys asked for him. One of them had a gun!!!! They told me he should call them if he knows what’s good and as soon as he gets home but they was no good and I didn’t tell my brother anything. Should I?

Darryl in New York

Dear Darryl:

I would. Otherwise your brother might be in bigger trouble than he already appears to be.

These are not beautiful people, Darryl.

I don’t think you realize how lucky you were. These men might have kidnapped or beaten you up severely. They could have ransacked your home, slaughtered your pets and set the place on fire. They might have even killed you just to prove a point! It would have been so easy and most assuredly your brother would then be in epic trouble and have the added discomfort of having to go out and buy a black suit for your funeral.

I would also tell your parents what has been transpiring between your brother and the two felons who showed up on your doorstep acting all butch and gansta’. They need to know for their own protection, as well as your own and your brother’s.

Do you realize that right now your home is publicly known as ‘a crack house?’

That doesn’t just mean you’re libel to wind up having hoodlums, druggies, hookers and the police squatting on your stoop. You are now officially open to drive-by shootings and far more susceptible to violent home invasions because people think your brother is growing his market in the fruit cellar.

I don’t know…is he?!?

Often as siblings or parents we hesitate to turn in the one’s we love because we fear their wrath when what we really should be living in fear of is for our own safety and concern. Clearly, your brother does not have either of these interests at heart for the rest of your family.

Please, Darryl. When you read this tell your brother that men are looking for him. Then tell your parents what has been going on. Then, if I were you, I would call the police and turn your brother in for his illegal actions. You won’t win any popularity contests in the family after that, but you will undoubtedly be the smartest and most compassionate individual in the room. If you like – don’t do it for your brother or even to be liked. Do it because it is the right thing to do!

Yours truly
The crabby critic

Dear Crabby:

My mother is caught in an 80s time warp and I want her to stop having big hair. It’s embarrassing to me and my sister. When friends come over they actually laugh at her and she likes it. Please help.

Laurel in Maryland

Dear Hip-Chic:

Your mother is her own person. Misguided, thoughtless and oh so NOT fashion conscious – in your opinion, but her own person nevertheless. I can’t wave a magic wand so that she’ll miraculously be transformed into someone who doesn’t look like an escapee from a Southern Hair beauty convention.

If you’re embarrassed enough to share your concerns about her appearance herein, I will also assume you’ve had enough guts to confront mama in between her hoop earrings and mesh tank tops to suggest that she dress more appropriately for both her age and the decade in which she currently resides. But that’s about all I have to offer on the matter.

Short of writing to Tyra Banks for a make over I can’t see what good it will do to keep harping to a woman who obviously enjoys teasing her tresses more than pleasing her daughter.

My best advice to you is to limit the contact your friends have with your mom. That will alleviate all the stress you are having and it will calm the conflict of interests between you and your mother. Obviously, mom’s not-so-subtle time warp didn’t really bother you until your friends came into the picture and started pointing out how unfashionable she was to you.

So what?

So you have a mom who dresses kooky and loves life. Better that than having a mom who’s into split crotch panties, sleeping around and wearing a thong to mow the lawn.

Trust me – infinitely better.

Perhaps your mother needs to act her age and not her shoe size, but overall I think you’re being just a tad unfair to her right now.

Perhaps a little tenderness rather than dismay on the subject will carry your argument further. Think it over while listening to Cyndi Lauper. "Girls just wanna have fun"…remember?

Yours truly,
The crabby critic

Dear Crabby:

The other day in gym class Jennifer Mayfield said that my breasts looked like jelly melons. I hate her, only I was so embarrassed that I cried and everyone laughed and now I don’t want to go to gym class anymore. Should I?

Tina in Chicago

Dear Humiliated:

Yes. Go to gym class. Apart from the fact that you’ve nothing to be ashamed of, exercise will help tone you up. I suspect that Jennifer is either jealous or just a bully. Her comments were meant to hurt you and she won.

Word to the wise: you wouldn’t have won the argument if you had said that Jen’s butt looked like a Tootsie Pop.

The best thing to do when someone makes fun of you for whatever reason is to simply ignore them. The class isn’t laughing because they enjoyed your pain and humiliation, Tina. They were laughing because they were relieved Jen didn’t choose them as the target of her assault.

In the final analysis, bullies aren’t worth the time effort or self-loathing and pity we inflict upon ourselves because of them. They’re just not!

I’ve got news for you too, sugar. It doesn’t get easier the older you get. There’s always going to be someone waiting in the wings who wants to tear you down just so that they can feel better about themselves. Don’t psychoanalyze Jen. Just forget about her and go back to your class.

The next time Jennifer says something negative about you my best advice would be to turn to her, calmly and rationally and without giving two sweat socks about what’s been said, simply reply, “Gee Jen, ‘guess you’re right. You always are.”

Then, walk away. Nothing drives a bully onward to angry distraction than the object of their abuse suddenly concurring with them and not caring about their negativity in a public setting. Do that and the big bad gargoyle that is Jennifer Mayfield will evaporate like ghost.

Jen won’t hold the power then, you see. You will!

Yours truly,
The crabby critic

@2006 (all rights reserved).

Monday, April 03, 2006


…sexual quandaries and more of your questions get aired with
The Crabby Critic


Why do so many men make fools of themselves over girls, especially younger women?

Signed Shelby in California

Dear Shelby:

You’re question is a curious one, indeed. I noticed that you used ‘men’ and ‘girls’ instead of ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ or ‘men’ and ‘women’ to illustrate your equation. As such I’ll make the assumption that your inquiry is directed at May/December romance guffaws and the silly little fools who make them. To answer your question simply: men of a certain vintage (40 yrs. and up) occasionally lose themselves in a pretty face and firm thighs.

The daydream is often not entirely sexual in nature. Rather, some men envision themselves the custodians of less experienced women as a sort of worshipper/defender from afar.

Chivalry, you see, is not entirely dead – though today it often comes with a caveat.

Younger women have known about this absence of good common sense in the male animal (particularly ones who look in their mirrors and see youth slipping away – fast) for quite some time. Often these women have managed to exploit that soft spot these men have for them (usually between their ears) for economic and social gains. Certainly did wonders for a little known White House trollop named Monica Lewinsky.

But to get back to the crux of your question – ‘men’…the little dears: there comes a point in our lives when we suddenly develop the urge to feel young again simply because we’re tired of ourselves – of feeling old. When women tire of themselves they generally get a new hairdo, buy some new clothes, re-cushion the sofa or have the house painted. A few bonk the pool boy – but they’re the exception rather than the norm.

I suppose a man could do over his office or rearrange his tools in the garage, but then again as men we never tend to think of anything so uncomplicated. Instead we reassert our ‘youth’ by rediscovering it in the eyes of another woman – usually one who’s playing our insecurity like ragtime on a piano and for her own personal gain – though again, on matters of the heart and loins (not necessarily in that order) we tend to employ not even the base sense God gave a lemon.

Eventually, we figure out how wrong we’ve been. Unfortunately, by that time we’re usually working on divorce number two and affair number three.

Quel dommage.
C’est la vie.
That’s really not joi de vivre.

Your truly,
The crabby critic

Dear Crabby Critic:

Do you recommend blogging? How do I go about starting my own blog?

Erin in Tacoma

Dear Erin:

Yes I do. You can get started your own blog by typing in ‘blogger’ on a Yahoo or Google search. You’ll be taken to a site that allows you to set up your own personal internet space with all the ease of clipping your toenails. One thing I would suggest is that you have an angle before starting your blog – decide before you type – what is it you want to say and how is it that you want to say it.

The blog scene is full of personal journals written by people with really boring lives who just want to put the rest of us to sleep by sharing those moments best left private with the world.

I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t care less about who danced with whom last night a club so-and-so before tripping on their own sweat and knocking out a couple of front teeth. Really – who cares?!?

There are, however, a growing variety of blogs out there catering to the arts, entertainment, intellectual/political/social writings which are – apart from offering a fresh perspective – quite interesting to read. I’ll assume since you’ve written in to this one – I’m considered one of these in the latter category. Thanks.

But before you embark on sharing yourself with the world, I feel it my duty to outline some of the vices of the medium. First, as a blogger, you’ll have to post what is known as a profile – a personal history and bio so that people feel they can get to know you. Here’s the catch. You don’t want them to know too much.

If you post something like: “Hi, my name’s Frieda Leffingwell. I live at 4-36 Camper Street, Apartment 2A, Brownstown Virginia and I shop at the Piggly Wiggly every Thursday night between 7-8pm” ...then you have every right to expect meeting up with some horny little stalker who wants to fondle your cutlets in the frozen food section before the week of postings is out. A good profile will say who you are professionally (student, lawyer, poet, pizza maker, etc.) and give a little intro to what your blog is all about.

Do list benign details like what’s your favorite color, movie, song and band. Don’t say where you go to school, hang out in your spare time or disclose the location of other friends and family. I’d also keep posts of personal pictures to a bare minimum. For example, if you’re thing is nature photography – snapshots of begonias are acceptable. Just don’t leave the tag on that says you bought them at the Home Depot located in Richmond Hills Virginia. Some weirdo might live next door to you and recognize the pot.

I also find that people are fairly naïve about what they post on the net. I’ve seen pictures of people’s family, children, exteriors of their homes, their cars, candid nudie shots taken while on holiday, street location sign posts, etc. There was even one misguided dead head who scanned in a photo of his bill from Wal-Mart because he was overcharged for an item and wanted to prove his point of outrage in the court of popular opinion. Unfortunately, that bill also included the address of the store and this bozo’s credit card information. How moronic.

Identity fraud is an epidemic in North America.

Even if you do everything right there’s no guarantee that some scummy cocaine and arms dealer won’t wind up using your name and photo to fund a small revolution in Nicaragua. That’s the chance you take, not only for blogging, but also shopping and doing your online banking on the net. Sadly, it’s the weighty price for freedom of expression.

Yours truly,
The crabby critic

Dear Crabby:

My husband and I like to have sex in public places. One problem – we got caught last week inside a Six Flags restroom and were banned from the park. I wanna wait a couple of weeks then go in and try it again but my husband says we should just forget it and go elsewhere. What do you think?

Tareki in California

Dear Amusement Nudie:

You give new meaning to the following rides: The Demon Drop, the Plunger, the Swinger, Dive Bomber and The Big Dipper.

Thanks for giving me another reason not to use public washrooms.

Personally, I don’t see why it takes the danger factor of getting caught to get you in the mood, but if you want to ride the pony outside of the paddock I suppose the prudent thing would be to NOT repeat the race in the same place twice – especially since park security is on to your escapades. You’re lucky you didn’t get arrested for indecent exposure and receive a heavy fine and possibly some jail time. I think you’re guaranteeing yourself both if you try raising your husband’s flag at Six Flags again.

Yours truly,
The crabby critic

Dear Crabby:

My sister’s a lesbian and thinks that I’m small minded for never ‘experimenting’ with the concept. I’ve never wanted to be a lesbian. In fact, I was pretty much boy crazy from puberty on. I’m 38 now and married. Last week I had my sister and a friend over for dinner, in the middle of which my sister asked if I would French kiss her girlfriend. When I said no, my sister flipped out and called me a homophobe and a hypocrite and said that she and I weren’t sisters anymore. The whole incident upset me and my children a lot. My husband says to forget it. He also doesn’t want to have my sister over any more – period. I feel like I’m between a rock and a hard place. What should I do? I’m so confused?

Carol in Charlottetown

Dear Confused:

Don’t be! Sounds to me like it’s your sister who is a few croutons short of a salad.

Clearly, she’s insecure about her burgeoning homosexuality. More than likely she wants you to embrace her gayness. Even if you already do – she feels that you don’t. However, for her to demand that you tongue her date in front of your children is not only ill-advised and misconstrued confirmation of your supporting her lifestyle – its belligerent ignorance bordering on the extreme tacky and decidedly going against your own grain.

You can’t help loving men any more than your sister can help wanting women. Neither of you should be ashamed over the choices in lifestyles made. I doubt deep-throating your sister’s mate would have resolved her feelings of social inadequacy. More than likely they would have established some deep seeded jealousy and sibling rivalry.

I side with your hubby on this one – no second helpings for sis’ over at Casa-Carol. But here’s a thought – the next time you talk to your sister why not point out how glad you are that she’s a lesbian. After all, you can point out that while a lot of siblings steal their respective husbands or wives from one another, you can guarantee no such situation will ever occur in your household.

Yours truly,
The crabby critic

Dear Crabby:

Recently I found out that I had a cousin I never knew about. We met. He looks like Michael Bolton. I found myself feeling like I was out on a date. In fact, I think I’m starting to fall in love with him. What’s wrong with me? I’ve always considered myself fairly straight laced but now I feel like I’ve committed some carnal sin, which I haven’t. Evidently, my cousin liked me very much too. He says we should see more of one another and wants to have me over for dinner next week. Should I tell him what I’ve been thinking?

Debbie in Pasadena

Dear Blushing Bloodline:

This may come as a shocker but it’s perfectly legally to marry your cousin in twenty-six states.

For centuries, European and Middle Eastern countries have indulged in arranged marriages between ‘family’ members. According to stats along – you wouldn’t be considered as much of a freak as you may think.

Some famous familial parings; Albert Einstein's parents; Jerry Lee Lewis and his cousin; FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt; Prince Albert and Queen Victoria; even former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who briefly was married to his second cousin.

For years, it was a common misconception that intermarriages bred idiots. But according to the National Society of Genetic Counselors the risk that you’ll give birth to a three eyed, six fingered mutant with the I.Q. of a dead flashlight battery are extremely rare – not the norm.

Still, I don’t think you’re odd to foster the apprehensions you’ve expressed herein. Actually, I’ve never thought of marrying any of my cousins. It’s just a sort of unwritten taboo I’ve fostered and stuck by. I also wouldn’t tell the cousin you’ve just met of your straddle and conquest fantasies just yet – even if he does resemble a famous pop singer.

Consider that you’ve only just met. He might see you only as his cousin. He might never see you as anything else. Wouldn’t you rather have a polite familial relationship with him than say what’s on your mind right now and risk losing everything?

Control yourself, Deb. Maybe one day your constraint will pay off and maybe it won’t. But either way – one date/meeting is not enough time to decide that he’s the only man for you.

Yours truly,
The crabby critic

Dear Crabby:

Are you a virgin?

Cory in Atlanta

Dear Cory:

Are you a slut?

The point I’m trying to make is that no one’s sexual history should be made public record – ever. Evidently you’ve confused me with the many people who write in to this column, divulging their intimate little details and expecting some great shared and communal discussion on the ways of the flesh/or not, thereof. But that isn’t me.

- C.C.

Dear Crabby:

Yo’ mama!

- anonymous

Dear Anonymous:

What about her? Unless you can tell me something I don’t know, I suggest you stick to pruning your own family tree.

Any bloodline that would give birth to an idiot who has nothing better to do with his/her time than waste mine with such idiotic drivel clearly has more skeletons than Greenlawn Cemetery. Mom must be so proud…NOT!

Get out the shovel and start digging.

- C.C.

Dear Crabby:

I farted! Ha! LOL.

- Brad

Dear Brad:

…and it smells…badly!

- C.C.

Dear Crabby:

My stepfather hates me. Ever since he moved in with me and my mom he’s done nothing but make sly comments about boarding school and asking me have I ever thought of living on my own. I just turned sixteen. I told my mom what he said and she says we have to try and get along. I’m not the one suggesting he move out. What should I do?

Jeri in Ontario

Dear Put-Upon:

Your situation saddens me - greatly. You’ve become one in a growing statistic of assimilated families whose parent thinks more highly of their new shack-up than their own flesh and blood. How very sad. All things considered – I suppose you have the lighter end of the equation. Some stepfathers might want a trade-in on the mother – if you catch my meaning. The fact that yours wants you to go away - not mad, but disappear nonetheless, at least translates that you don’t have to call a locksmith for a bolt on your bedroom door.

Mom’s lonely, Jeri. Whatever transpired between her and your real father left her with a gaping hole – as far as I’m concerned, located approximately between her ears. She’s a fool to side with a stranger and leave you to fend for yourself. That’s not only unfair to you, it’s downright criminal. There’s not much I can offer to make it better.

Your mother’s going through a phase, Jeri. It’s called ‘being a sex-crazed jerk.’

Oh, by the way, unless your mom married Mr. Wrong, just by moving in with her does NOT make him your stepfather. He’s a selfish sponge who found himself a needy meal ticket. My best advice to you would be, if you have an aunt, uncle, grandparent or any other extended family who loves you very much, to go live with them for a while, at least until the idiot child that used to be your parent awakens from her romantic stupor. Your mother doesn’t deserve the honor of having you at home with her right now.

Yours truly,
The crabby critic

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