Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Jeepers! Creepers?




OMG!  ROFL! LSMFT! Whatever.

It isn't often (in fact it is never) that I see an "It" item in the fashion news and can scream to myself:  I already have it!  Fashionista at last!

Of course in this case, the item is a pair of thick-soled shoes which I purchased three years ago because the high heels had to go. Never mind! Thick-soled shoes, or "creepers," are the shoe of the moment.  I read it in the Wall Street Journal so it must be true.

And here they are, straight from the fashion runway that is my closet:

Neener, neener, who's a wiener now?

While Wikipedia notes that Creepers are fave footgear of many musical subcultures such as punk, ska, psychobilly, greasers and goths, they neglected to mention geezers, wrinklies, codgers or Q-tips.  

I won't be completing my look with skin-tight skull-printed leggings, safety pins in my nose, or Draculetta makeup, but I will definitely be wearing my LOL (little old lady) trousers rolled so I can demonstrate my style cred.  

Just call me "Goody Two-Shoes."



Monday, March 25, 2013

Truckin' With the Doo-Dah Man

Stoner One: Oh, wow, man.  You're making this up, man.  Far out!  

Stoner Two: No, man, it's for real. It's in the newspaper.

Stoner One: We gotta go find one.  

Stoner Two:  One what?  A newspaper, 'cause I....

Stoner One:  Duh! One of those chapters, are those like groups? Maybe they'll, like, share.

Stoner Two:  Old hippie chicks and dudes and some of them are like grandparents and like that? They'll take pity on us even if they don't let us join officially. Peace and love and don't bogart that joint, ya know what I mean?

Stoner One:  What'd they call it?  Pappies for Pot?  Whiners for Weed?  

Stoner Two:  I told you, man, Grannies for Grass.  It was in the newspaper.  Like printed on newsprint and everything.  Like The Sunday New York TImes.  And some of them are not even old, like old old, they are MILFS for Mary Jane, or Moms for Marijuana or something like that.

Stoner One:  Oh, wow.  Can you see our moms joining ?

(Long pause.)

Stoners One and Two in unison:   NAH! 

Stoner One and Two ROFL.


No plant materials were consumed in the production of this image.



Not to say that Grannies for Grass doesn't have a louche appeal, and a nostalgic glamour (except for that time when I thought it was a good idea to stay up dancing all night on a park bench with my best friend and two guys we sort of knew instead of studying for my Shakespeare exam and . . . well, etc.), but I drill down and find that the oldsters are then getting together to quilt and play bingo and have trivia nights.  Trivia nights.  The decaying mind boggles.  

Q:  Like, who was it, you know who I mean the one who . . .

A:  Who took my Twinkie?

Q:  No, no.  The one who sang, you know, Go Ask Alice?

A:  No, no.  It wasn't called Go Ask Alice, it was called White Rabbit.

Q:  You sure? 








Friday, March 22, 2013

Dancing in the Dirt

I've only myself to blame.  In a family of political junkies, sports fans, free-thinking economists and generally all-around well-informed types, the only thing I am up on is the squoodgy lifestyle news.  Some of it is easy enough to ignore. The comparison reports on Easter hams don't bother me, since someone else will be cooking one this year, and one salt lick is pretty much like any other anyway.  

But ever since overpopulating my neighborhood with cucumbers last summer,  I pay attention to gardening news, even the distressing news that competitive dressing--and I don't mean side-dressing, aka fertilizer--has sashayed through the garden gate.  

According to the Wall Street Joutnal's  Off Duty section:  Many people who garden enter a creative fantasy mind-set, even while pulling weeds and digging flower beds, and they want to dress the part. 


Dressing the Part, Wellfleet Style
I don't have time to speculate on the creative fantasy mindsets (delusional fugue states) of these gals, but dressing the part, it seems, involves bespoke jodphurs, high-end Barbour jackets, and $500 gardening boots.  In other words, add a shotgun and you'll be all set for a shooting party at Downton Abbey.  Or a gallop on the moors. Don't forget the Hermes scarf (and if you need to ask the price, you don't deserve one).

Well, I'm in trouble, since my seasonal gardening costume is less garden party and more garden gnome. 

And I fear my scuffed and faded 30 year old Wellies are just not up to the mark, old chap.  


Future Compost

Maybe my creative fantasy mindset needs a jump start, but I don't see how a pricy equestrian get up is needed to deal with my annual spring clean-up. The only creative fantasy I indulge in is figuring out what would happen if I tried to burn the leaves in situ.  Since what I imagine is a forest fire tearing through the neighborhood, I veto that scenario, and grab the rake.







The WSJ article goes on to quote the manager of the $500 boot company:   "Everybody's secret wish is to transport themselves to a more romantic era and have Mr. Darcy call them while they're picking the flowers."

Romantic era, my ass.  Romantic error, more like.  When I think about the past I don't see myself swanning about like Lady Muck, I see myself grubbing about in the muck.  I'd be the one milking the cows, picking the peas, or feeding the pigs.  If I behaved myself, I might get promoted and be allowed to haul coal scuttles up and down the back stairs. 


Let Them Eat Mulch!
If I were wearing couture overalls, though, I'd probably find it better to engage in creative fantasy mindsets and secret time travel wishes.  Better an imaginary quadrille with Mr. D than a reality check. Better a nosegay from a beau, than a nose full of allergens. News flash to the overdressed:  gardening is dirty, sweaty work.  Think about it.  Culivating, weeding, planting, weeding, harvesting, weeding. Are you familiar with the term "stoop labor." Your hands get dirty, your face gets dirty, your clothes get dirty.  Your manicure (gasp!) will chip. You will find yourself whipping that Hermes scarf off your neck to wipe the sweat out of your eyes.  You will encounter mosquitoes, ticks, cabbage moths, tomato worms, powdery white mildew, slime mold, aphids . . . you get the picture.  Those shiny leather booties ain't gonna stay shiny long, little lady, if you are trundling compost in the back 40. Remember Marie Antoinette, and her famous fantasy mindset at Petit Trianon?  Remember what happened to her?

You'd be better off doing what we do in my neck of the woods: garden in the worn, faded clothes we wouldn't otherwise be caught dead in, and save the jodphurs for another fantasy lifestyle.  Hmm-mm-mm, where did I leave my riding crop?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Does This Thumb-Brace Make My Butt Look Fat?

Please.  Tell me the truth.  Does it?

Clothes-horsiness doesn't run in my family, with the exception of my late Uncle Charlie whose only legacy was a wardrobe full of natty suits and colorful shirts with French cuffs. Not to say that you can't dress us up and take us out once in a while, but since I left the business world my usual 24/7 look is yoga pants (see disclaimer below)* and a tee shirt, with the addition of a fleece jacket in winter. On social occasions requiring more formality, I try to make my late mother proud by aspiring to be “kippy” which in Lizzie's Lexicon meant “anyone over 60 who is wearing a bright orange and pink scarf with a dark wool coat.”

I have quite the collection of scarves, especially since I took up knitting again, but what I hadn't bargained on was having to make closet room for another set of accessories. The kind that come with trying to stay active while aging. These include but are not limited to: sunglasses with stretch holders to keep them on my face, Frankenstein boots with orthotics to keep my toe straight, and the ultimate in osteoarthritic chic: a drawer full of thumb braces, including this classy custom number.



Bespoke Brigham & Women's Orthopedic Design


My wardrobe of thumb braces have come from the most chic boutiques:  stretchy gray fingerless gloves (Amazon), off the shelf braces in nude and black (CVS), and a sporty neoprene number (North Shore Medical).  They all must think the thumb brace makes my butt look fat because they've spread the word of my decrepitude. 

I can't think of another reason why I received this fabulous catalog:  As We Change.

First of all, I love the charitable, if euphemistic, title: As We Change? Really, would you wish to receive a publication called As We Decay? A Gathering of Wrinkles? Fade 'n' Sag?

Secondly, this is clearly for women only. Even if the cover model is wearing a bathing suit, it is hardly the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition type, so no male in the household would tempted to take a peek.  This is good because it will spare me the trip to the ER to rule out concussion when he recoils horror at the stupefying array of embarrassing problem-solvers within, falls on the floor and bangs his head muttering "butt-boosting wrinkle smoother. "

Some of the items are less distressing than others. It's easy to get distracted by page after page of shampoos, creams, serums, tablets, and sprays to solve the problem of thinning and/or graying hair.  They must work, though, because the models all look like they are 39, there's not a gray hair in sight, and who wouldn't want to look like the Real Housewives of Never-Never Land?  Tempting as this outcome would be, some of these  products seem engineered to create as many problems as they solve.

Suppose I succumb to Viviscal: "Simply shake Viviscal hair filler fibers on your head and blend." Shake them on your head and blend?   With a whisk?  An egg beater?  One of the mini-vibrators on page 51? And what are these fibers made of? How will they stick to the pathetic remains of my hair?  What if I choose the wrong color?  Or add too much product? Will I end up looking like the Pointy Haired Boss in Dilbert?  What happens if I inhale them as they cascade around my head and shoulders?  Do I need a face mask to use them? 

No.  Can't waste my time worrying about that. Better to concentrate on products more appealing to us thumb brace users: active types who worrry about their flying flab. Great! There's a full range of work-out clothes, all of which feature some kind of slimming element, which is another way of saying they will constrict you so much that you won't be able to breathe very well if you actually try to work out in them.  

Oh, no, I just realized the thumb brace might make my butt and my arms look fat. Thank goodness, I can take advantage of the last chance offer to purchase Tres Sleek arm shapers which will slim my upper arms by 1/2" to 3."  Super! But where does the excess flesh go?  Will it ooze out onto my lower arms and make me look like Popeye?  Hard to guess because the woman modeling it resembles Olive Oyl. 

Better move on to the swimsuits. There are many swimsuits, a lot of them with skirts, along with oversized sunhats and some darling beach coverups that resemble strapless muumuus.  All right! I think I've found the key to butt-concealing, arm-hiding nirvana.  A  muumuu.  Problem is, AWC doesn't have any with sleeves.  Not a problem. I know where to get one with sleeves. Bonus! Add one of those oversized sunhat  and some bunion-friendly sandals and I will be ready to rock the boardwalk.  There is only one drawback (sorry, Lizzie):  even if I buy the fuchsia number with the dancing daisies, I am afraid I won't really look very kippy at all.



*No, not lululemon brand, which has recently issued a recall for "too sheer" yoga pants; a move that the L A TImes says has put their stock into "downward dog."

Monday, March 18, 2013

No Pious Deed Goes Unpunished


You mean to do a good thing.  Get some excercise.  Save the planet from your auto exhaust, or a taxi cab's auto exhaust.  You walk to downtown Boston on a brisk St. Paddy's Day afternoon.  You don't go anywhere near Southie.  You go to a chamber music concert.  You grab a bite to eat afterwards. It's not very late, but it's very cold and windy.  Your aging brain thinks it might be a good idea to take the T home (using the discounted geezer pass, of course).

Your aging brain thinks it might be  a good idea to squeeze onto the train.  You are able to extract your phone from your pocket.  You don't know where to look next.  You try in vain to get a shot of the beer cans.





No, young man in the green hoodie, I won't be investing in your restaurant, even if it is healthy fast food. I don't think your blond friend who's standing on the seat will be investing either. You might try Hong Kong.  I think you're already famous there courtesy of the nice lady in the leopard coat standing beside me who was filming the whole thing and transmitting "Happy St. Patrick's Day" video messages to all the folks at home.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Extra! Special Report: Papal Fashion


Trouserville Exclusive!  I just got a sneak peek at the  What I Wore fashion feature for next Thursday's  NYTimes Styles Section which will feature the oldster of the moment, Pope Francis I.  His Popiness shares a rundown on his schedule and fashion choices for his first week in power.

March 13
First day as Pope.  Busy.

Wore the pre-tailored off the rack whites.

Thank God no one could see my shoes.


Official Papal Tattoo

Faked everyone out by naming myself Francis--heh, heh, not the Birdman of Assisi, dudes, but Francis Xavier, Soldier of Christ, co-founder of the Jesuits, rabid globe-trotting missionary.  BTW, I find those references to Francis the Talking Mule to be offensive. FYI, I come from Argentina, not Bolivia, and in Argentina a mule has four legs.  

Considering tweeting under name @F-Papa instead of @pontifex to appeal to a new demographic.

March 14
Second day as Pope.

Visited Benedict.  Emeritus Shmeritus, but he offered me a deal on some inside information.  Told me to lose the eyeglasses, says they me look like just another two-Euro cleric.

Still wearing the god-awful, too tight, off the rack whites.  Sheesh, you think those uppity Italian tailors could have run up an XL while they were at it; not everyone has an Armani model body type.

Popemobile very comfortable compared to riding the bus to work back in Buenos Aires, though.

March 15
Third day as Pope.
Same white duds.

Issued edict declaring FrancisFrancis to be the official espresso machine of my reign--IF they can customize the paint job to gold and white.




Issued edict declaring that from now on papal robe would have divided skirt, aka, gaucho pants. 

Had lackey call Prada to put in order for red gaucho boots to replace the lame red house slippers and to ask for a matching riding crop.

March 16
Fourth day as Pope.

Received Keys to the Kingdom and Keys to the Sauna.

Told lackey to book sauna for inauguration party. 

Asked lackey to order ivory towels to replace the red ones I brought with me from home.

Found out it was a gay sauna.  Told lackey to book it anyhow, but to make it clear to the attendees that same-sex marriages would not be countenanced during the festivities.

March 17
Fifth day as Pope.

Formal wear for Sunday Mass.  Triple Crown is mucho heavy. Couldn't wait to get back and change into my ivory sweatpants, Holy Mary Mother of God tee shirt, and my kick ass Torquemada wrought iron neck chain and knuckle rings.

Grand Inquisitor Torquemada


Green beer chug-a-lug party with Sean O'Malley in honor of St. Paddy's Day.  Good times! Agreed to offer special prayers for the Patriots and the Red Sox, drew the line at the Revs. Doesn't he know I'm a San Lorenzo  fan? Ravens Rule, Revs Drool!  Did ask him if he could get me an introduction to Boston celebs Tom & Gi since she and I share a continent of origin even if we don't share the same body type.

Made note to  issue order of excommunication for Trouserville; she is a godless secular humanist and can expect the Inquisitors when she least expects it.




A big Trouserville Thank You to my sister Trish who supplies me with a steady stream of inspiration on ecclesiastical topics.  Bless you, my child.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Signs and Songs of Spring


1.  Tiptoe through the Tulips
Genuine Massachusetts Tulip



2.  It's A Great Day for the Irish

Genuine Connemara Leprechaun Scat


3.  Here Comes Peter Cottontail





Genuine Vermont Hay



Huh!  Whuh! Okay, that's what I get for shopping at Whole Foods.  Exposure to spit-take inducing products like this.

I don't know where to begin on this one.  I appreciate that Vermont agriculture needs all the help it can get, and they certainly have a flock of gnomes working overtime on developing artisanal salsas, jams, cookies, chocolates and cheeses.  But artisanal easter basket grass?  I was too shocked to check the price, but I'll bet it's more than a few jelly beans.

Yes, it's biodegradable, natural, compostable, fragrant and buying it will make you feel all warm and fuzzy, just like a bunny.  It's a teachable moment in a box if your kids are the kind who don't know that apples grow on trees.  You can explain that this is Timothy grass, it is cow fodder, and cow's give us milk, and when they can't do that anymore, they are slaughtered and ground up for dog food.

You can fill your cute grass nest with heirloom eggs and organic jelly beans for a tasteful if pallid alternative to the garishness of genuine plastic easter basket grass, technicolor jelly beans, and marshmallow eggs.  But don't save your straw for next year unless you want a teachable moment about mold, bugs, death and decay.

You might want to lay in some of that nice staticky purple plastic stuff after all.


 I like to include fun links for further reading, but I really cannot bring myself to link to an on-line tutorial on how you can make your own colorful plastic easter basket grass by shredding up plastic bags.  There is more than one of these tutorials out there.  Really, you have to go look for it for yourself.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Get Outta My Interface


In the early days of television, which were also my early days, there was a children's show about a cartoon character called Winky Dink.  Hosted by Jack Barry in a business suit, the stories revolved around WD getting into a pickle. He could always be saved by completion of a connect-the-dots picture. Quick, quick, WD needs something, let's find out what it is! An airplane! An egg beater! A barrel of monkeys!

For the true Winky experience you were supposed to go interactive. You were supposed to buy a Winky Dink salvation kit, consisting of a piece of clear vinyl and a few non-Crayola crayons. Stick the vinyl to the tv, connect the dots, save Winky Dink, scrub it clean for next week.

If your family was like mine and many, many others, your plaintive request for a Winky Dink kit was met with incredulity and derision because that was in the days before anyone would pay good money for something as inane as a piece of vinyl and some inferior crayons. Even if we had crayons, almost no one had sheets of clear vinyl or even Saran Wrap lying around the house; we still used waxed paper to wrap our baloney sandwiches. Even if there had been some spare vinyl, “You kids are not going to waste it on something as foolish as scribbling on a tv screen, and who do you think is going to have to scrub it clean when you're finished, you can't even pick your clothes up off the floor.”

If you and your siblings were like mine, you tried at least once to complete the picture by using your own crayons directly on the tv screen. You probably didn't try it more than once, though, and I don't have to tell you why.

I didn't mean to get highjacked by Winky Dink—quick, draw me some horse blinders so I can't see that Wikipedia icon—but not a day goes by when I don't feel like digging out my crayons and scribbling on my computer screen in frustration. I really wish “they” would stop messing with my interface.

Admittedly, I throw a large amount of my time into the World Wide Sinkhole, but that amount has become even larger in the past few weeks as nearly every site I use regularly has become new and “improved” and I have to figure out all over again how to do the basic tasks. Listen, guys, time is short and getting shorter all the time, can't you at least provide a warning.

Xfinity, are you trying to gaslight me by switching the looks of the sign-in page randomly? I filled out your survey to let you know what I thought, including my opinion of your silly name, but it hasn't made a difference. Why do I have to click four times to get to a readable inbox? Yes, I know you want me to look at the ads, but I have trained myself not to see the prune-faced housewife who knows the secrets of wrinkle wrestling or the geezer with St. Vitas Dance who wants me to lower my mortgage rate.  I am tired of those zaftig young things modeling Zulily outfits.  I certainly don't give a rat's rear about such news items as the bear on the tightrope or the 7 items I must remove from my kitchen right now or risk poisoning y family and friends.  Outta my way! I need to get to my very own emails targeting me for free shipping and sitewide sales, today only.

Audible, where did you hide my wish list? If I can't find it, I can't order because I rely on you to remember this sort of crap for me. Hotmail, those new color schemes are spiffy, but where do those little faces of my friends come from anyway? Gmail, why won't you tell me how to delete the build-up in my inbox at one fell swoop? And why can't I excise that really sad late-night webcam picture from my profile? As for you, Kindle, I am really happy that I don't bother to update my apps very often so I didn't have to deal with the obliteration of my library the other day.

I like novelty, I'm not opposed to change, I really don't want to sound like the kind of old croaker who still pines for her rotary phone and her folding plastic rain bonnet. But sometimes visiting your websites feels like coming home after a nice spa weekend to find that Nick Jr. has moved in and redecorated my living room with a Yo Gabba Gabba theme and I have to play find the sproiling chicken in order to open the door to the bathroom.  (No, I don't know what a sproiling chicken is; I didn't have a three-year old on hand to demonstrate how to play the game.)




Sigh! I guess I am that old croaker after all, the one who secretly pines for the monochrome monitor with the "don't touch it or it'll explode" CRT screen.  Hand me my crayons, would you? And, if you find her,  give my love to the sproiling chicken.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Just Say Chantenay


Can you say "Chantenay?"

Shawn-Ten-A. 

There, I knew you could.  Miss Rogers is proud of you, even if she's not wearing her cardigan.

Now, boys and girls, who can tell me what Chantenay is?

No, not a famous pop diva; that would be Beyonce.   Not a discontinued Cadillac roadster (Allante) or high-priced wine (Santenay).  It's not even one of those perfumes that make you wish you carried a gas mask when you are stuck in an elevator going to the 40th floor behind someone who seems to have pickled themselves and their clothes with it.

No, Chantenay is a carrot.

If you've dined out in a white tablecloth restaurant lately you have probably seen it listed on the menu as an accompaniment (please, we don't say “side dish” anymore) to, oh, pan-seared scallops with pureed turnips, truffles, and crispy shallots ("excellent choice"). You salivate. This is going to be something special, something novel, something you'll want to take a picture of and share with everyone you know.

You wait with growing anticipation. When your plate arrives (please be careful, it's hot), you poke around, you find the four tiny orange cubes. You taste them. Why it's just like eating a . . . well, a carrot. A Bugs Bunny, grocery store, snack-in-a-bag carrot. Of course, it is slathered with a sauce of three parts butter, one part salt that could make a slice of Styrofoam palatable, but it is still just a carrot.

I don't have any great nostalgia for the good old days when iceberg was the only lettuce, calves' liver (shudder) was regarded as a health food, and carrots sometimes came in cans as a component of the dreaded “Mixed Veg, ” but I think I am missing the point of the Chantenay carrots. Of course I'm missing any number of things these days what with getting older and losing my taste buds, my sense of smell, and my mind (if what I read in the newspaper is correct), but I can still let my fingers do the walking and found out something interesting.

To oversimplify, because I am not a botanist or a farmer and there is no impartial fact checker here in Trouserville, there are a couple types of ordinary carrots that have been used for years by processors: Danvers and Chantenay. Yes, that's Danvers as in Danvers, Massachusetts, where the variety was introduced in 1871. Chantenay came to us from France. Both of them came from the vicinity of Afghanistan via the Netherlands.

Turns out we've been eating Chantenays for years without knowing it, but now through the miracle of marketing they can garner a premium price on the menu.  I don't find these menus entertaining at all, nor do I find the over-described and obscure ingredients anything to get excited about.  Let's just dump those Chantenays in the compost bin marked excessive complexity and meaningless choice. Right down there with purple potatoes, micro-greens,  and samphire (that's glasswort to you, Bub, a plant that anyone can yank out of the marsh for free).

Chantenays do have some interesting attributes, though.  Look at their publicity photo.  Compare them to thin scrawny supermarket carrots.   Or to tiny little baby snack-bag carrots (which I am sure I don't have to tell you are just ground-down pieces of bigger carrots.)


Actual carrots are much larger, thicker, and longer than they appear in this photo.


Now, now, boys and girls, let's stop the sniggering. 

Miss Rogers says, "Remember, sometimes a carrot is just a carrot."

For extra credit, take a trip to  The Carrot Museum.




A big Trouserville Thank-You to my talented friend Mary who called my attention to the Chantenay on the menu during a recent restaurant outing.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

So You Wanna Be A Saint

Vatican Leaks Plan to Produce Reality TV Shows

While the Red Beanie Boys are conclaving it in the Vatican, it's not all mea culpas and politicking.
Unnamed sources have hinted that the Cards are considering a plan to produce a number of reality TV shows.

"These shows will demonstrate that we are not, as the godless secular humanists claim, out of touch with reality," said a high-ranking Vatican snitch.  "They will show the true face of the Church, and bring our message to the people of all the earth and provide a wholesome alternative to that diabolic sinkhole of perdition, You Tube."

While no shows have as yet received a Papal Blessing, a few proposals have risen to the top of the indulgence list.

So You Wanna Be A Saint
A group of  the dead, the undead, and zombies compete for sainthood. The long slog from beatification through full canonization is tougher than it seems, although fast-tracking by powerful sponsors can help.  Find inspiration in  Mother Teresa whose miracles may not have been all they were cracked up to be.

Eternal City Stripers
Day after day after day after day in the lives of the Swiss Guard.  This documentary reveals what it  really takes to carry out their vital mission of standing around all day wearing striped pantaloons and metal hats.

Survivor:  Rome to California Edition
Two groups of cultists vie for world domination in this exciting match up of  wily Old World Roman Catholics and upstart New World Scientologists.  Losers won't get voted off the altar, they'll get sent straight to hell. Infallibility versus Science Fiction:  game on!

You read it here, on the internet, so it must be true.


A big Trouserville Thank You to my brilliant sister Maureen who blogs about the world, business, marketing, life, and human nuttiness (excluding politics and religion) over on Pink Slip and who tipped me to the HuffPo article that inspired this post.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Dissed by a Device




It's official. I am living in the future. No, I don't have my own personal helicopter. There's no cubbyhole on the kitchen wall automatically dispensing gourmet meals when it senses I am hungry. Robby the Robot isn't whipping up cunning little frocks upon request.

I used to think I would be living in the future when I could get any movie I wanted without leaving the house, and while Netflix and Amazon have come pretty close on that one, more often than not all they provide is hours of mind-blinding trolling in the vaults of trash TV.

No, it turns out the future is less like The Jetsons and more like 2001: A Space Odyssey, as in “Open the pod door, HAL.”

The future is now:  I have been sassed by Siri, The Smartphone Princess. I inadvertently used her name in requesting a web search and the little snip responded with “We were talking about you, not me!” Yes, I have been told to smarten up and move along by an electronic device.


For years I've driven cars that chime a nanny chime when the outdoor temperature dips to 37F. But that isn't personal. The stilted pronunciation of our old GPS?  That's merely funny. Siri's piqued tone? That was shocking. The fact that she couldn't see my scowl made it all the worse.

I guess I'll have to get used to it, though, since it seems we are moving into a world of so-called smart and smarter devices, although bossy and bossier might be more accurate. In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Evgeny Morozov, author of the forthcoming title To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism, describes a panoply of developments that move far beyond adding safety or providing information and into the realm of social engineering.

Self-driving cars might be fun in an amusement park sort of way, but how about a tattle-tale trash can? I am so old that I remember the exciting task of burning the household rubbish in a metal barrel in the back yard. I once lived in a three-family house which had a bucket set in the ground with a foot-pedal to lift the lid. You tossed in your gooey food garbage and someone else collected it for pig food. So I am more than a bit bemused by BinCam which takes a picture of your trash, sends it to Mechanical Turk to analyze, and then posts the info to your social media sites to promote recycling, presumably through peer pressure and public shaming.

I'm so last century that I believe my empties and my junk mail are my business. I don't need or want to be awarded brownie points by an algorithm; I fill up that big blue single-stream recycling can all by my grown-up self. I will live dangerously, though, by ignoring the email from Nespresso letting me know I can recycle my used espresso capsules at Sur La Table stores. I'm in deep trouble if my character is defined by how goody-two-shoes I am about paper, plastic, or used coffee. The Bin-Cam level of scrutiny and reportage sounds too much like a really nasty elementary school, at best.

I am not a neo-Luddite who thinks that the world went to hell in a handbasket when the alarm clock was invented. I enjoy the little argument settler I carry around with me and love the fact that I don't have to write down let alone memorize phone numbers. BinCam is a bit creepy, but harmless as long as it is voluntary. However, the technology exists for monitoring, hectoring, reporting and forbidding almost anything and there is a class of visionaries out there who see reality as “broken” and themselves as the ones to fix it.

I've lived long enough to have a deep-seated mistrust of others who know what is good for me and see no problem in imposing it on me. Sure, weeding out all inconvenience, risk, frail human judgments, and accidents, even happy ones, sounds benign. Who wouldn't want to live in a world without road rage or food poisoning? But I've read enough in the dystopia genre to know where that kind of thinking leads.

It might not come to the worst, of course, but if it does, I'll just wrap my head in low-tech repurposed tinfoil to keep out the evil rays, pull my invisibility cloak around me, and throw my rubbish in someone else's trash can.


For a quick dystopic tale, in which a community adopts a way of life they call The Sameness, I recommend Lois Lowry's young adult novel The Giver.

See Robby the Robot in action in the movie trailer for Forbidden Planet.