Monthly Archives: January 2014

Calling All Readers: Book Suggestions Needed

Gone Girl pngFriends, your nominations are requested for the Valentine’s column on suggested reading. Please send your top picks with a 10-wordish pitch as to why we must read them.

Spelling counts. No it doesn’t. But as I’ll be ripping your referral word for word,  packaging counts. And in a world where beauty matters, I admit that book covers can sway the Decider, me.

Nepotism Allowed. Only you have to pitch it, ‘kay?

Examples courtesy of Lynn-O and Stonehenge:The Goldfinch

Gone Girl — Gillian Flynn — Annoying because the characters are SO unlikeable.  Despite that, you can’t help but sticking with it to figure out what’s going to happen (and ultimately you care).
The Goldfinch — Donna Tartt — post-modern David Copperfield + Holden Caulfield rolled into one.  MUST READ!
NOTE: Whoever writes the best pitch, subjectively and arbitrarily selected by the Decider, will receive (eventually) a very good book via Media Mail.

“10 surprising things you may not know about Martin Luther King Jr.”

MLKMLK’s 1963 March on Washington speech is as stirring as the first time you heard it. Favorite parts include “When will you be satisfied?” in the middle and “Go back!” after that. His transcendent oratory backed by tireless work! His beautiful face!

Here are some fakts with the video of the speech. Listen this time with an ear to the church-style MLK Man of the Yearencouragement from listeners near the mike (“Yes!”  “Uh huh.” “Amen!”). Video of the crowd is great.  Mahalia Jackson’s interesting contribution noted here with stills of that day.

Today I will write a check to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Morris Dees’ outfit does sooper cool stuff, like (legally) taking a white supremacist compound and turning it into a summer camp for disadvantaged youth of color. Oh man, that is justice, baby. Amen.

Out With The Old, In With The New…Program

grey on grey

One shade of grey.

January’s column historically presents (hilarious!) fake predictions for the new year, contributed by the wingnuts I call friends. Not this year, due to lack of participation (read: interest) last year. Well!

We will, however, do our annual Suggested Reading column. Please submit nominees with 10 words on why; books don’t have to be prizeworthy, just something-worthy.  These may appear in the Sooperbowl issue under “Other Interests.” This year the Sooperbowl falls on Groundhog’s Day. If the groundhog emerges and sees the shadow of a wardrobe malfunction, it’s, er, halftime?

When I’m not busy being chased by snow devils, finding grocery items marked reduced to clear, or serving as a cautionary tale, I’m gathering information on the meaninglessfulness of life to share with you, dear Reader. Let’s proceed in an orderly fashion. Reduced chaos is part of the UVG 2014 New Program for All.

Snow Devils: Did you know that when you see a snow devil, you can make a wish? Same goes for sightings of blimps, salamanders, exploding light bulbs, and DHART. My lunatics invented these rules, and of course with DHART the wish is for the occupant of that medical emergency helicopter. You can make up rules, too—we need all the luck we can get. I saw a snow devil while snowshoeing and didn’t even make the wish until days later while sledding in my car on glare ice; my wish was to survive. Wish granted. See? It works! The next wish will be that it doesn’t go tens below zero again. Your car’s otherworldly sound upon starting and the radio dial’s groaning reluctance make a girl…nervous. Brutal cold does not grease the wheels of the 2014 New Program (lit. or fig.).

Reduced To Clear:  Store items discounted with these three precious words should include not only expired vitamins, discontinued products, and foodstuffs past their prime, but also those with asinine labeling like Snack Pack’s “As much CALCIUM as an 8 0z. glass of MILK” (emphasis theirs). Adults who can read don’t consider Snack Pack® a source of anything more than tasty goo; if we want to ingest or give kids calcium we’ll grab a stick of Cabot, for God’s sake. And three words for purveyors promising a Vitamin D Blowout!!! (exclamation points theirs):  count me in. With overcast wintry skies fostering deep mid-winter psychoses, northerners need all the D we can guzzle. Vigilance is part of the New Program. Vigilance!

On Serving as a Cautionary Tale:  This would be me discussing football (“So the linebacker, he receives the ball?”), slashing my enfant terrible way through moronic Facebook posts or comments, and in some of my, uh, “career” “choices.” It’s a prickly job, the archetypal role of cautionary tale, but someone’s got to do it. Besides, being the object of scorn and ridicule has its advantages. One, expectations of you are exceedingly low; if you say or do anything remotely smart, people get excited—even laudatory. Also, as a believer in the beautiful soup of our combined creatural energy, I feel we either add to or detract from this stew via our moods and actions. Your minusculest chuckle, dear Reader, elevates our collective vibration! Feeling good and making others do so is important. But as much as I strive to make people feel good or even hoot, I can only intentionally elicit so much.  If they are laughing at me behind me back, discharging a solid guttural blast at my expense, well that’s a freebie. The collective soup wins. Earth needs all the laffs she can get. Laugh at my expense, babies. Laugh it up.

The Meaninglessfulness of Life:  By this I mean that as meaningless as our lives often seem, they are full in that we have impact that half the time we don’t even know about (nod to It’s A Wonderful Life, which we forget promptly upon viewing). I’ll leave this one to Christopher Hitchens, the deceased, British-born, non-partisan equal opportunity offender, writer, philosopher, intellect, lush, and fearlessly funny professional soap boxer:

“A life that partakes even a little of friendship, love, irony, humor, parenthood, literature, and music, and the chance to take part in battles for the liberation of others cannot be called ‘meaningless’ except if the person living it is also an existentialist and elects to call it so. It could be that all existence is a pointless joke, but it is not in fact possible to live one’s everyday life as if this were so.”  – Hitch-22: A Memoir

snow on ice

Snow on ice on water on…more ice?

Cosmic joke or no, grab all you can get, people. Get all you can need. Give it back tenfold via your laffs without even trying. Make up luck rules that square with your own New Program for 2014. See what happens. And by all means, report in. Good day.

Ann can be reached at or ann.aikens.7 on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter at @uvgvt or on the nuclear green thing on the upper right at

Coffee Helper Helps

coffee helperFor people with precious little time, those with dexterity issues, and anyone who likes to distance himself from paper or, at the very least, coffee filters,  it’s the perfect gift.


Happy Eastern Orthodox Christmas!

If You Can Report Colder Weather Than This

18 below…I hope you don’t have a dog to walk.

The ReelFeel® here will be 44 below by 4 AM—bad, per AccuWeather®, for kite flying, swimming, and breathing. Not to worry…it will soar to 12 below by 8 AM, when you can resume normal activities. Like hacking away at ice formations on your car, calling in sick, and going back to bed.

Ann Aikens

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