Saturday

( DON'T ) SAY IT WITH FLOWERS

Leroy Greer’s lawyer, Kennitra Foote, says that her client’s attempt to “say it with flowers” is going to cost him $300,000. Greer asked 1.800.Flowers to send some posies to his girlfriend, with a note that said, "Just wanted to say that I love you and you mean the world to me!" Now his outraged wife is asking that $300,000 be added to her divorce settlement which was already in the works when she found out about the honey on the side.

The florist sent his bill to his former home. The wife got it. (Why is she opening his mail?) She called them and asked that the details of the bill be sent to her. (Why did they?) The rest is all rage and greed.

Greer is suing 1.800.Flowers for $1 million for breach of contract and deceptive trade practices (thereby alerting a few million more people around the globe who may have missed the news he was screwing around.) The escalation of jackpots in this tale is staggering and absurd, at every level.

The Greers were already in the throes of a divorce, so I assume they had agreed the marriage was over. So what’s going on?
Does Mrs. Greer feel if a busted marriage is worth $x, adding in the fact her husband may have a lover makes it worth $x plus $300,000?

If she had found out he was sending the flowers to a gay lover, would the price go to $x plus $500,000?

What if Greer had had an unnatural fondness for goats? My guess is the sky would have been the limit!

Earth to Mrs. Greer: It’s over. For whatever reasons known best (or unknown best) to you and your husband, the marriage expired and you were both on your way to moving on.
So move, already!

How much Greer finally pays in the divorce settlement won’t be decided by Mrs. Greer, or even by Ms. Foote ( who still gets her legal fees for the divorce work PLUS her piece of the $1 million from 1.800.Flowers should Greer prevail, AND more legal fees for that representation.) A judge—hopefully a voice of reason in this chorus of irrationals-- will decide who gets what in the end.

1.800.Flowers told Greer’s wife he sent flowers to someone. His note said he loved that person, but this is hardly the same kind of flagrante delicto as finding one’s husband bedding down a topless young thing on the matrimonial bed one Sunday after he said he was singing in the church choir.

People say our society is too litigious. Worse, it is immature, stupid and excessive.
The Greer case points out the absurdity of trying to put a price on a broken marriage. Stuff happens, and grownups need to cope.
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Sunday

A DEMOCRAT ON DEMOCRATS

Who needs terrorists? Americans are doing a good enough job of wrecking this country all by themselves by keeping self-serving patsies in office instead of removing them for activities often unconstitutional and sometimes illegal.

I’ve been a registered Democrat most of my life (though in the last decade I’ve refused to name my party when registering to vote because I’ve had enough of my privacy invaded.) Like a lot of liberals, I’m fed up with the inertia and pragmatism of most Democrats who would rather stand by and let the country go to hell than risk voters’ ire and possibly lose in their election bids.

Recently we found out that thousands of our own weapons for Iraq are unaccounted for and have probably fallen into the hands of our enemies. This on the heels of a final reports that the military did, in fact, lie about NFL hero Pat Tillman’s death (now known to have been caused by friendly fire) for fear of incurring national anger and embarrassment.

I don’t know what they were afraid of. The country seems incapable of good old-fashioned outrage, the kind that publicly exposes incompetence and deception, refuses to tolerate graft and corruption and throws the bums out. What this country needs is a good shot of people taking to the streets by the millions screaming, “Enough!” Nothing gets government’s attention like a livid citizenry smelling of revolution (the kind that gets idiots thrown out of office.)

Democratic pols have been playing to the far right because their own left and the center have become lap dogs. Democrats continue to help empower the fanatical fascists and America’s becoming Iran!

I’m angry that Democrats voted for a prescription drug bill that forbids government from negotiating reasonable prices with the already-too-powerful pharmaceutical lobby.

I’m sick of Democrats saying they support personal liberties while repeatedly extending Bush’s power to spy on private citizens.

I’m provoked that Democrats voted for a higher farm subsidy than W wanted, (prompting at least one Republican congressman to be amazed that the Dems are a better friend to rich farmers than the president.)

Mostly, I’m outraged that Democrats sit by, day after day, paralyzed by their addiction to power, allowing an obviously incompetent and dangerous administration to lie, cheat and steal without fear of contradiction.

The Democratic party lost the last two elections in which the odds were overwhelmingly in its favor because it hasn’t the testicular fortitude to spirit more than 20% of voters to get off their butts and go to the polls.

Have we given up on America?

We can fly all the flags we want, attach ribbons to the backs of our cars by the dozens, but it all means nothing because we are handing the country over to the enemy by our own inertia. Democrats should lead the charge for change by cleaning up their own act, and NOW!
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Monday

Umbria Is Dragged Into Our 21st Century Nightmare

I attended the University for Foreigners many years ago, when Perugia, Italy was a bucolic Umbrian city with a motley student population from around the world. The visitors did not impose on Perugia’s Etruscan dignity. Instead, that city’s serenity flowed into our veins and the international visitors soon adopted the gentility of the locals.

I have returned to Perugia often over the years. In the fall of 2005 I found the streets jammed with students from Asia, Africa and Europe and the cosmopolitan feel of the new Perugia was full of jazz festivals, Louis Vuitton knockoffs for sale on the streets, cellular phones galore and even fast food.

Yet, sitting on the terrace of the old Brufani Palace Hotel with the tranquil Umbrian patchwork below, one could still imagine that the cares of the outside world stopped at the shores of nearby Lake Trasimeno.

In Perugia’s medieval piazza where a signature griffon keeps watch, one could still hope never to be swallowed up in today’s antagonisms. Here, it seemed, Sikhs and Sunnis, Asians and Europeans, blacks and whites, even Jews and Palestinians still studied, lived and played in harmony.

All of that changed recently when Italian authorities arrested three Moroccans, part of the 10,000 strong Muslim community within the city’s 150,000 residents. An imam and two followers, organizers of an Al Qaeda training school in a mosque outside Perugia’s city walls, were taken into custody. Also seized were maps of Rome’s Da Vinci airport and the city of Bologna, poisons and training films on how to fly a Boeing 747. Later, 20 more students from the mosque were also arrested, according to the BBC.

These reports devastate me as an alumna of the same university some of these terrorists doubtless attended to learn the Italian language. My Italian roots also recoil at the horrific thought of a suicide bomber striking some of Italy’s ancient and irreplaceable historic sites. Imagine a 9/11 equivalent leveling the Colosseum or the painstakingly reconstructed city of Pompeii. Picture the horror of Florence on fire or The Roman Forum and ancient Ostia decimated by bombings.

Friends in Umbria say their lives are changed permanently now. Though they follow international news events daily on CNN, the BBC and other global news stations, until the recent arrests they felt they would be safe in their hilltop homes surrounding Perugia’s center. They believed the myth of international harmony and neighborly respect the Universita’ Per Stranieri (the foreigner’s language school) had always projected.

Now even Umbria braces herself. From the once peaceful Assisi of everyone’s St. Francis to the lyrical Spoleto where ancient warriors spilled hot oil from hilltop palace walls to stop attacking enemies, to Gualdo where farmers still look forward to their annual, and ancient, wheat thrashing feasts there is silence.

The next sound we hear from Umbria, I’m afraid, may well be the hopeless moan of 21st century resignation.
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Saturday

What Language Is This?

Î.Â. ßçûêîâ óËÕÔÅÒ × ÎÁÌÉÞÉÉ as well as Ëå÷åíèå çóáîâ and íÏÖÎÏ ÎÁ ÚÁËÁÚ

I have no idea if, in sharing these phrases from a Spam email I received, with you the readers, I am asking my editors to print something obscene, threatening to the national security, or detrimental to my own reputation.

But I have decided to bite this bullet and write about how insane (and inane) it is that I (and all of you with email) continue to get several Spam messages a day written in the proverbial “Greek to me.” I don’t even know what language most of these messages are in.

I realize that bloggers, hacks and web perverts trying to seduce us to websites selling all manner of garbage to view and/or buy are emailing to a global audience. But doesn’t it occur to these idiots that people who can’t read their message are not going to play their game?

If it is a matter of using a language that is recognizable to the largest possible audience I would expect to see more messages in languages that use the Roman alphabet, or Japanese, Chinese and other script used by huge numbers of literate peoples. Instead, we get this mystery alphabet—maybe Greek, maybe Coptic—who knows?

More insulting are the mass mailings from those con men and women who write to us in broken English. Barnum was right when he said there was a sucker born every minute, but how many suckers are going to invest money to help an alleged widow of a diplomat or supposed African businessman who can’t communicate with them for openers?

If I were really the winner of all the lotteries and free prizes I am told I won every day (in emails unopened and reported by me as Spam) I would be the luckiest person ever. With that kind of good fortune I would spend less time checking my emails (or writing columns) and more time at the nearest racetrack or casino. I would also own about 22 BlackBerries, 35 Razr phones and even e few new iPhones.

I would never have to cook again were I willing to believe that every meal at Applebee’s, Red Lobster and other chain eateries I wouldn’t subject my dog to were really available gratis to me and my family. If these e-hucksters really expect most of us to turn over our most personal information so we can have our bank accounts pirated and our credit ratings ruined, don’t they realize they are going to have to offer more than a free cup of chowder or a bowl of chili?

So let’s challenge those who think we are all dumb enough to fall for their snake oil emails.
Write to us in a language we can understand, with an offer we can’t refuse. Better yet, take us off ALL your lists.

Or, as they say in Bosnia, Siberia, or wherever many of you come from, “ Î.Â. ßçûêîâ óËÕÔÅÒ × ÎÁÌÉÞÉÉ .” and also,” Ëå÷åíèå çóáîâ …” and, “ íÏÖÎÏ ÎÁ ÚÁËÁÚ !”
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Friday

POLITICS: Even in Tragedy, One Hand Washes the Other

As the stunning misery of the bridge collapse in Minnesota unfolded endlessly across my TV screen this week, I was taken with the unflagging ability of politicians to be political even when the world is -- literally-- crashing around their ears.


Each official who took the microphone (to grab another moment of national exposure)remembered to thank the appropriate big-wigs in the audience. Department heads thanked their underlings, lawmakers thanked police and fire personnel and, of course, everyone thanked voters (now referred to as the "great and brave people of this city....blah,blah,blah...")


Why do I feel that as soon as the last body is recovered and the dead are buried these spokespeople will return to their desks to get to work on the next "back room deal?" As I think about that, I can almost hear the shuffle of campaign contributors from the construction trades rushing to line up at the politicians' doors, looking for the next pork-barrel contracts to rebuild the bridge.


Am I too cynical, or have I just lived long enough to know better?

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Mary Ann Sorrentino

Mary Ann Sorrentino
Italy Series of articles runs Aug./Sept/Oct 2015

Hope for the Future: Uruguay 2007

Hope for the Future: Uruguay 2007
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About Me

Hillsboro Beach, FL/ Cranston, RI, United States

"JOACHIM" - Oct. '92-March '08

"JOACHIM"  - Oct. '92-March '08
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Castel Del Monte

Castel Del Monte