Katy Perry and Pepsi Picking on Fat Kids?

Katy Perry and Pepsi Picking on Fat Kids?

Katy Perry and Pepsi are picking on fat kids. At least that’s what certain groups are claiming after criticising the pop star for promoting the sugary soft drink. Other groups are actually going so far as to say that the 28 year-old performer is making kids fat.

 

The Lonely Wake

Marshal sat on the front row of collapsible chairs that had been set up for the viewing. Stifling a yawn, he stretched both arms over his head and looked around at the empty seats. Relaxing his arms, he dropped his hands in his lap and they immediately began searching for a cigarette. Patting pockets and dipping quickly in the top of each one to feel for a packet of smokes or the top of a lighter.

Finding none because he had stopped smoking when the man in the coffin in front of him had died after a life-time of inhaling carcinogenic chemicals from the filter end of a cigarette; Marshal found instead his electric cigarette and he popped the “filter” end into his mouth. He inhaled deeply and the damned thing cut out, just as it always did when you hit it too hard.

“Shit.” He flung the e-cig halfway across the room. It rebounded off a wall and rolled over to the coffin in front of him. Marshal just looked at it. Rubbed his lips with his hand and wished again for a cigarette. The funeral home did not allow smoking anyway. Not in the building at least. That had to be the ultimate irony. There was no way that a corpse was going to suffer from second-hand smoke.

Marshal chuckled at the mental image in his head of this asinine idea. He could picture an advert on the telly, “Don’t bury your loved ones smelling of ash, wait till you get outside to smoke. This has been a public service announcement.” Unfortunately, when the commercial played in his head, the announcer sounded like his dad. Or course his dad could not front any commercials nor could he do any type of voice over work because he was lying in the coffin in front of Marshal.

He couldn’t have done it when he was alive either, because dad had not been an actor or a performer. He’d been a mechanic; a damned grease monkey his whole life. He owned his own business and when the smoking ban had been made law, he just looked at the health inspector who told him he had to put a “no smoking” sign up. With a cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth, his dad just looked at the guy. He drug deep on his smoke and blew a cloud of it into the inspector’s face.

“Sure pal, I’ll get right on it. It’s not like I have anything else to do; like fix cars or anything.” His dad never beat around the bush. The old man was stubborn and blunt, qualities that had made him a success in his chosen field. He was a “fixer” who never gave up on a broken car. Even if he could not fix the car immediately, he would never cannibalize the car by stripping it for parts. No, he would take the non-working carcass and put it behind his shop. Then with a bar of soap, he would write “in progress” on the car’s windshield.

Marshal sighed and got up to pick up the plastic cigarette. He knelt down, grabbed it and started to stand up. Instead he stayed where he was, at eye level with his dad’s corpse. He wondered idly if he should get a bar of soap and write “in progress” on the lid of the coffin.

He looked at his father lying in the fancy box that the insurance policy had paid for and he thought about how the man would have laughed at the idea of someone putting makeup on him to enhance his “lifelike” appearance. Marshal’s eyes immediately focussed on his dad’s hands and the pristine nails that in life would have been grimy with year’s worth of honest dirt under each one. He wondered if they’d used make up there as well or maybe bleached them.

He finally stood up to the sound of his ankles cracking and his knees popping. He walked back to the chair in the front row and stopped. He looked out over the empty room.

“I don’t know dad, do you think if I move that I’ll be able to get another seat?”

Not waiting for an answer, and to be honest it would have disturbed him a lot if he got one, he sat down in the same chair.

“Oh well, better safe than sorry, huh.”

The old man had told Marshal that when he died, he wanted a wake; just like they’d had in the old country. He loved to tell about his grandfather’s, “Your great grandpa,” he’d say, wake in Ireland. How his great-aunt Tillie had drunk too much stout and gotten hold of a bad cockle and threw up in the rose bushes “for hours.” And how he’d almost lost his virginity in the back room with cousin Rachel.

“A funeral should be an event, Marshall.” He’d said. “People don’t know how to do it now. You don’t just grieve; you celebrate the life of the dearly departed.”

He insisted that an all night wake should be held at the funeral home that he himself had chosen. It was specified that a “dry” bar be set up in a corner of the room and that the doors should be locked at closing time. The guests would then spend the night drinking and telling stories about Clancy O’Toole.

Marshal looked over at the portable bar in the corner. Bottles of sour mash whiskey and gin and rum stood like lost soldiers with no place to go. A grand total of ten glasses made up a circle to the side of the bottles and the countertop sat shiny and empty waiting for the soldiers to fill some them up and go to war with sobriety.

He stood and wandered over to the bar. One quick drink to celebrate the man who’d died after the rest of his family, bar his one son. The business man who had no friends to mourn his passing or to tell amusing stories about him; the man who raised Marshal to be more outgoing and friendly; the man who loved tinkering with broken cars more than interacting with other people.

Spinning the cap off of a bottle of whiskey, Marshal spurned using a glass and lifted the bottle to his lips. He sniffed the stuff and held the bottle in a toast, “Good bye dad.” He took a long leisurely drink from the bottle, feeling the fire scorching first his throat and then hitting his stomach like molten lead. His eyes watered and he took a deep breath only to blow it back out, like a kid struggling to blow out the candles on a cake.

He walked back with the bottle clutched in his right hand like a Bowery bum, plastic e-cigarette in his left hand between his first and second finger like a real cigarette. The long drink he’d taken from the bottle left him a bit dizzy. “Shit dad! I think I’m out of practise!” He chuckled. “I think I’m a bit tight already!” He took another long drink from the bottle, it didn’t burn quite so much this time. He also felt dizzier immediately.

As he looked at his dad’s coffin, he noticed that the old man’s head seemed to be nodding in agreement to his last statement.

Marshal stopped. “What the hell?” He took another couple of tentative steps toward the coffin. “Dad?” The head nodded again in assertion. Marshal’s heart jerked painfully. “What?” He moved closer and each step he took was registered by his dad’s nodding head.

Marshal’s eyes were focussed on his dead father’s face, willing himself to not look at the hands. He knew that if he did and the hands were moving, he would scream; a grown man’s scream to be sure, but a scream nonetheless.

Heart pounding, he moved right up to the coffin his gaze locked onto his father’s face. He was watching his dad’s closed eyes. He knew that they were going to open any second and then he’d either have a heart attack or a stroke. He moved one step closer and he saw his dad move slowly almost like he was going to take a breath.

“Fuck this!” Marshal whirled around and started to move away from the coffin, tangling his feet in his urgency he fell; right on top of the whiskey bottle. He lay still and felt liquid flowing under his chest, damn, he thought, I’ve just made a hell of a mess. He laughed shakily and felt pretty damn foolish. He also felt tired and for some reason sleepy.

I’ll just close my eyes for a minute and then I’ll ask someone for a broom or a mop and clean this mess up. Just for a minute.

At nine o’clock sharp Dennis opened up the viewing room of the funeral home. The first thing he noticed was the man lying on the floor. It looked like he had passed out or something. “Must have been a hell of a party,” he said. He walked over to the man on the floor and knelt down to give him a gentle shake.

As he reached out to touch the man’s shoulder, he noticed the smell. Whiskey and something else, the minute he touched him, he knew what the other smell was.

After the ambulance came and the police finished asking their questions and searching the “crime” scene, Dennis signalled to his assistant Stan.

“Let’s move the other dearly departed.” As they moved toward the coffin, Stan chuckled. “I hope you remembered to call a carpenter about these loose floorboards. Mister O’Toole there looks like he’s about to come out and help us.”

Michael E. Smith copyright 10/01/2013

Still Singing the Cigarette Electric

a lit cigarette in an ashtray

Okay, it’s been a couple of weeks now with the new E-cigs that I’ve opted to smoke instead of the traditonal ones.

So far so content. I don’t miss the mess, ashes everywhere, dog ends to dispose of without getting a public littering fine; or the unsightliness, yellow: fingers, teeth, mustache and tongue. I also don’t miss the smell. It is a little socially off putting when you know you smell like a giant ashtray.

Now for the expense. So far, despite claims to contrary, I’m still spending roughly about the same amount for the damn electric cigarettes.

Why?

I’m not sure. The companies say that each cartridge (a cartridge is what carries the nicotine and the vapour inducing stuff that mimics smoke) equals X amount of cigarettes. I have two words for that claim.

Horse Pucky.

Now I am the first one to stand up and say that yes I am a heavy smoker. In a world where anything over five fags a day is heavy, I’m king at a daily consumption of fifteen plus. But that is not, I think, the problem.

I think the problem is, that unlike traditional smokes, the fake fag (cigarette in English slang parlance), is not a real ciggie. You don’t smoke the E-cig until you reach the dog end and then put it out, more often than not, relighting another one minutes after. No the problem is you don’t have to stop puffing at all.

If you don’t run out of battery (a problem that is becoming less so) or out of cartridge, you can keep on puffing. So even though it is better for you (a fact that the jury is still out on) you wind up “smoking” more than if you were smoking the traditional cigarette.

My only real ‘gripe’ is that the cartridges don’t seem to last as long as advertised. But as my daughter quite sagely pointed out, “You’ve always got it in your mouth.” Kind of sounds like an adult pacifier, doesn’t it.

Still I’m very proud of the fact that apart from nicotine I am not putting any other more harmful chemicals in my body. I won’t even mention the fact of no tar coating and clogging my lungs. I am also pleased that my car no longer resembles or smells like an ashtray on wheels. I don’t have to stand outside to smoke in nasty weather and I don’t have to buy the heavily overtaxed fags that the stores are flogging.

I do still like the ‘odd’ smoke of the traditional variety. There is something so relaxing about rolling a cigarette and lighting it, dragging in that first lungful of smoke and exhaling with a mental, “Ahhh.”

So even though I disagree with the E-cigs claims, I’ll stick to the new ‘space age’ science fiction fags for a while longer.

A photo of 117mm e-cigarette
A photo of 117mm e-cigarette (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Singing the Cigarette Electric

English: Electronic Cigarette
English: Electronic Cigarette (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am trying the new E cigarettes…again. For those of you who haven’t heard of them, I’ll give you a crash course in these electronic smokes.

As far back  as four years ago electronic cigarettes have been making the rounds. I remember vividly a Russian (well, he sounded Russian) cabdriver trying to sell me some from the boot of his car. Essentially a cigarette with no tar, no harmful chemicals (if you discount the nicotine, which we all know is bad for you) and no nasty smoke for non-smokers to bitch about.

E-cigs produce a vapour that you can inhale and exhale just like the real thing. You can also get them in different flavours. *Avoid the cinnamon like it was the plague, blecch!* Of course the big selling point is that you can smoke these babies anywhere. Although it is interesting to note that the “anywhere” e-cigs have a blue glowing tip instead of the red one, in case a non-smoker freaks out when you “light up” in you local pub.

Just like real cigarettes, there are loads of E-cigarettes to choose from. And believe me, friends and neighbours, you need to be careful which ones you try. Oh, they are not dangerous, but, they can be labour intensive and a downright pain in the Ass.

Of course the biggest pull for me is the fact that these things are about a third of the price you spend on a pack of smokes. Oh yeah, a big pull. But when you look at the downside, are they really worth it?

The downside is that some (not all, I hasten to add) of these fake cigs have about a five puff limit on each battery. You then have to plug the cigarette into a charger, either a usb charger or other more time consuming chargers. The time it takes to charge varies, but let me tell you, it is always a lot longer than the amount of time that you got smoke out of it.

I first tried these new fangled smokes two years ago. After a couple of months of dicking around with the damn things I went back to the real thing. But they have gotten better, improvements have been made. Although they are still a bit of a pain in the butt. They aren’t as bad as they used to be.

its hard keeping this one on one hand and the ...

 

I suppose it’s a case of getting use to the things. I do know that they provide the same pleasant satisfying feeling I got when I smoked the real thing. They are more socially acceptable ( I don’t have to hand a sign around my neck with the word “Unclean” written on it) I also suppose that not being able to chain-smoke them is also a bonus.

Essentially I am getting the best of both worlds, I am smoking without really smoking and I am saving money. I do need to point out that the initial outlay can be a little pricey.

I do worry though. With the new electronic cigarettes, you have no need of a lighter or matches. That makes me a little uneasy. I keep thinking about the last few scenes in The Fifth Element. Our heroes have figured out how to operate the device that will save the world. One of the little boxes requires fire.

cigarette lighter
cigarette lighter (Photo credit: viZZZual.com)

Out of the five people in that room only one person had fire in the guise of one solitary match. So call me paranoid, but, I will still carry a lighter or a box of matches. I mean, just in case I need to save the world or anything.

Smoking

its hard keeping this one on one hand and the ...

I don’t expect many people to read this post. Smoking has become the new “bad” of this millennium. In this new age of the “Nanny” culture, it has become very popular to sneer at smoking and smokers in general. Smokers have, in effect, become the new social lepers.

I won’t lie, I’ve had a love affair with smoking since I was twelve years old. A few of my friends and I “passed-the-hat” and pooled our pennies together to buy a pack of Winstons. It was love at first inhale. I never had the typical first bad reaction to smoking that most of my friends suffered. It was the beginning of a life long  addiction that I would quit again and again, but still come back to.

Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s bad for me. I also know that it makes my clothes smell…and my hair, skin, etc. But nothing can calm me down or satisfy me faster than that quick puff (or drag) on a cigarette, cigar or pipe. Nicotine patches, or gum, or mints just don’t have the same affect. Oh it cures the nicotine craving all right. It just doesn’t touch the inhale/exhale exercise that also makes smoking so addictive.

I’ve tried electronic cigarettes and they come close, but as the saying goes, no cigar. I’m sure that one day someone will develop one that works as well as a cigarette. But I’m not holding my breath.

English: Electronic cigarette charger
English: Electronic cigarette charger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am just amazed, and a little shocked, to see how socially acceptable it has become to vilify and castigate smokers. I even had a colleague tell me in no uncertain terms that I was going to die a horrible death because I smoked. Nice. I’ll try to return the favour the next time I see them eating red meat. And no I’m not a vegetarian.

I hate to break it to people, but smoking isn’t the only thing in the world that kills people.   LIFE kills people. Like Katherine Hepburn said, “Of course life is hard, it kills you.” We are all going to die…of something. The human body is not built to last indefinitely. We all just choose our own brand of poison to push it towards it’s expiry date. Look at the facts. Everything is pretty much bad for us. Booze, most foods (at least the ones everyone likes), sun; well you get the point, I’m sure.

I’m just surprised at how hostile folks have become to smokers in general and how phobic they are. Yes lab rats have shown that second hand smoke can kill – and now it seems third hand smoke as well, what ever that is – and that several really bad things occur to major organs and arteries from the same first, second and third smoke inhalation.

So yes I know it’s bad for me. I also know it’s bad for folks around me. I don’t blow my smoke on other people and have never smoked around anyone who is phobic about it or has health related issues. Okay?

So I will be quitting again. But not for any of the above mentioned reasons. I’ll be quitting because it’s become too costly to continue for much longer. The British government has taxed tobacco so much, it’s become the smoking equivalent of caviar. This is all in aid of getting folks to quit. Kind of like killing the golden goose in my opinion. Smokers, like drinkers, put lots of tax dough-ray-me into the coffers of the government. Making it too expensive is cutting off a huge source of revenue.

Still the most annoying thing about the new “smokers are nasty” spiel is how really un-PC it is. How politically correct is it to tell someone they smell. Or to make nasty comments about their personal habits. So don’t be surprised if the next time I’m in town and having a smoke in the open air where my “nasty habit” will not invade your pristine lungs, if you give me a nasty look or comment I might just flick an ash in your eye.

You have been warned.

smokin' the pipe
smokin’ the pipe (Photo credit: leff)