A vomitous prescription

Well, in the latest example of why life sometimes takes serpentine detours into the margins of unfairness, we apparently are facing an impending shortage of legal drug dealers, also known as pharmacists.Meanwhile our town has more illegal drug dealers than its does flies doing sorties over heaps of garbage. Sometimes we can’t shake irony as easily as a cocker spaniel shedding water after a dip in the Schuylkill.

A green light to urban bliss

It’s rarely a bucolic journey driving in downtown Reading.First of all, you’re riding in tandem with the anxiety of not knowing whether at any moment a ricocheting bullet is going to zing some bark off your windshield or your forehead.Even worse, you invariably hit so many red lights you swear you’re inhabiting a red-light district even when you’re aren’t inching past Seventh and Franklin.And now that there are so many nocturnal festivities transpiring at the Sovereign Center and the Sovereign Performing Arts Center, gridlock is as much a part of our urban landscape as trash.Little wonder a civic pall hangs over our fair city. Let’s face it: Folks stuck in traffic aren’t smiley people. Patience quickly wears thinner than Paris Hilton if you spend an eternity waiting for a green light. My wife once knitted an entire sweater while stuck at a red light at Fourth and Penn. I know. I was there — sitting beside her and swearing a Technicolor blue streak.Well — a drum roll please — there’s good news on the cue. Soon downtown traffic will flow as regally as the Nile River. Thanks to a $529,000 signal upgrade, new signals will be installed at 58 downtown intersections. The signals will be linked to a computerized network that will enable traffic planners to synchronize the lights and adjust them for periods of heavy traffic. By fall, traffic should zip through town like baked beans through a goose.After that, all we have to do is draw a line through the trash with a coordinated citywide hauling plan and put a muzzle on all the guns.Then rename Reading, well, Nirvana.

Hitching a ride through the holocaust of evil

Sometimes you read something so horrible that it makes the air stab at your lungs.Case in point: A Florida woman confronted a neighbor accused of sexually assaulting her 7-year-old son and threatened to call police, but then accepted $600 in hush money and let the man molest the boy again, authorities said.How can it be that some people can allow their morals to be reduced to such a vile pile of crap? Are they bivouacked with the devil? Or just going out of their way to burn a path straight to hell?

NFL end zones now are dead zones

Sometimes the suits who run the NFL from their underground command bunkers are as dense as the core of Jupiter.One of the great mysteries of the game is their aversion to excessive celebrations, especially end zone theatrics that punctuate touchdowns.These dudes are afraid such creative and orchestrated displays of emotion will spread like blotches throughout the land and infect us all with something as frivolous as fun. The choreographed antics of such celebrated action poets as T.O., Joe Horn, Chad Johnson and Steve Smith now likely will recede into the mists of sporting fable.Another swirl in the spiral came to pass today when the No Fun League owners empowered the zebras to penalize teams 15 yards on the ensuing kickoff for excessive celebrations anywhere on the field.The only expressions of emotion now allowed are spikes, dunks, Lambeau Leaps, spins, dances, simple celebrations and expansive smiles. In short, joy must be spontaneous and it must have a short shelf life. I realize there always will be purists and Puritans spoiling our fun. But this latest NFL legislation strikes me as unfathomable and eminently irrational.Next thing you know the NFL will dress up the cheerleaders like mummies and restrict their booty shaking to the strains of a Strauss waltz.

Apparently hot to trot everywhere but the bedroom

Spurned lovers sometimes speak with spiteful, forked tongues. So take what Nicklas Soderblom says with a grain of salt.And why doesn’t anybody ever take anything with a grain of pepper? But I digress.Who the hell is Nicklas Soderblom? The former fiancé of “Desperate Housewives” star Nicollette Sheridan. The two are pictured above in apparently happier times.You know Nicollette, of course. She’s the smoldering blonde whose Edie Britt character is simply spongy with sexiness.Men are drawn to her enticing allure like cold hands to a fire. Her come-hither look clings to her pouty face like a spider.According to Nick, Sheridan is a spectacular actress worthy of an Emmy. Because he claims she ain’t all that hot between the sheets.The contradiction suddenly makes her character seem transparently false. “I guess she’s sexy on screen, but definitely not in a real-life relationship,” he said. “She uses her sexuality to get what she wants and as soon as the ring is on her finger, she stops wanting to have sex. She’s afraid of commitment.”Talk about shattering illusions! Talk about destroying fantasies! Harrowing disappointment has slid into me like a drawer being slammed shut — splitting my insides like a cantaloupe left out too long in the hot sun. Suddenly I really feel sorry for Michael Bolton, the singer who sometimes sounds as if his tongue is glued to the roof of his mouth. He is Sheridan’s latest fiancé and he probably gets to cuddle his microphone more intimately than he does Nicollete.

When it comes to serving mankind, the balls apparently are in our court

Testicles historically have been somewhat important to mankind.Let’s face it: Without them, ancestors dating back to our Biblical forefathers wouldn’t have begat generation after generation after generation, etc.Besides their biological importance in begating, testicles have a vital psychological component as well.Before it became fashionable to send women to war, testicles frequently helped motivate men to charge hell-bent-for-leather into battle even though they knew they were soon to be so much mincemeat.Extrapolating matters, it’s not a coincidence that the sword and then the missile became phallic symbols.In modern times, testicles sometimes give men the gumption to stand up to the women in their lives.Of course, you may or may not be cringing by now that I’m blogging about testicles. Granted, it’s not a subject that usually is politically correct. But testicles suddenly are hot news because they just might be able to pinch hit for embryonic stem cells.If so, they could help us leap over a whole pile of moral, religious and ethical issues in providing a controversy-free source of versatile cells in treating such medical maladies as Parkinson’s, diabetes and spinal cord injuries.German scientists, who are especially adept at poking around in the lab, have found that the testes of mice can behave like embryonic stem cells. Embryonic stems cells are a good thing when it comes to combating disease. But they’re a bad thing in the eyes of many religious people, and George W. Bush, because human embryos are destroyed in the process of harvesting the cells.But German lab tests have found that the testes of mice can mimic the behavior of embryonic stem cells. And the German medical researchers are confident that human testicular cells can do the same.The only drawback to this would be the actual process of removing the testicular cells from a donor. I don’t know about my fellow men, but such a scenario leaves me with eyes glazed as a Krispy Kreme.I wouldn’t exactly be nuts about becoming a donor. But if such an ordeal translates into a giant step for mankind, I’m willing to stand up and be a man about it.

The ever-elusive search for a bolt-lock on illegal immigration

Hot-button issues during election years are always fertile breeding grounds for entertaining rhetoric.For instance, the volatile matter of illegal immigration is boiling on the front burner these days.There are 11 million illegal immigrants in our country, and at least one or two of them are residing in Greater Reading.Some people consider these folks to be interlopers in our big trapeze act.The House passed measures that would make being an undocumented immigrant a felony and would erect a 700-mile fence along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border.Tough measures indeed to caulk the cracks, trying to prevent illegal aliens from oozing through the seams. Granted, some folks are finding those measures more difficult to swallow than a Corona or a Sol or a Dos Equis. Now the torch has been passed to the Senate to address the matter. The dynamics of the political infighting has the spinmeisters in full throttle as they perform the Mexican hat dance with their vocal cords. By the way, George W. wants to allow illegal immigrants to stay if they have a job that no real Americans want to dirty their fingers with. After all, business is business.Others, however, are taking a hard-line stance — calling for mass deportation of illegals. I guess that would have the trucking business revving its odometer. I’m surprised that nobody is screaming to erect a fence around Greater Reading. That could help stem the enormous churn of students in the Reading School District.Such a fence could serve as a platform on which to stage tunes, gags and anecdotes to entertain all the tourists flocking to our town.Of course, the trick would be to distinguish between the illegal immigrants and the tourists. Perhaps a citizen E-Z toll booth on the Penn Street Bridge may be coming soon.

So much for domestic tranquility

Berks County in recent months has been plagued with several high-profile murders or suicides percolating from apparent domestic disputes. The apparent murder-suicide that abruptly terminated the lives of two Pennside housemates is the latest example that relationships suddenly can go lethally ballistic.Getting along with people we live with is a never-ending balancing act. Such dynamics can be as sticky as pine tar. Sooner or later, somebody, much like the circus folks with the shovels and wheelbarrows dutifully walking behind the elephants, is going to suspect they’re getting the short end of the stick.And if they’re really trespassing into the margins of emotional tumult, they snap with hissing velocity and punctuate matters with the flash of gunpowder.The bond between human beings seldom has the aura of blue steel. Often it’s about as stable as taffy. And when it pulls apart dramatically, it can leave nothing but wreckage in its wake, forcing their loved ones to swallow the scalding sadness.Al Walentis has blogged eloquently today about the John Reigle nightmare.But at the risk of piling on, I do feel compelled to wonder if the hermits are onto to something. They indeed may be lonely. But they are out of harm’s way.

A bird's eye view of the Apocalypse

Apparently avian influenza is just a bird’s hiccup or two away from extrapolating into a global pandemic that will alleviate traffic congestion everywhere.And everywhere includes Berks County, a k a Greater Reading.It’s somewhat comforting to read that local public health care and emergency officials are following the Boy Scouts’ mantra of Be Prepared.So why is anxiety settling over me like a shroud? Why is fear spreading in my gut like wet cement? Or is that simply a cage of rabbits somehow stuck in my stomach? And why are doomsday scenarios unspooling like horror films gone berserk in my mind’s eye?Well, I have this dreaded feeling that federal, state and local officials will handle any bird flu epidemic with all the adroitness of yours truly wrestling with a crab claw.Oh, well. Look on the bright side: PennDOT need no longer fret over the clogged 222 corridor to Allentown.

All the Scotch tape and paper clips in the world can't put together a fractured relationship

While my retinas have been scorched by the firestorm of comments I’ve received about the Bean family tragedy, it has ignited in my heart a more profound respect for the sanctity of marriage.Once the intoxicating buzz has worn off, it does take a deep reservoir of resolve and resiliency to make a marriage stick to our ribs. Relationships can be slicker than a glacier, and sometimes it’s a slippery proposition for us to navigate through a long-term commitment without losing our balance.Ideally, matrimony is a state of bliss. But there is the ideal. And, sadly, sometimes there is the real. When the champagne turns into vinegar, a marriage can turn so mean that even God might hesitate to intervene. Love, fidelity, compassion, understanding, commitment, compromise and faith are just a few of the essentials to a solid, satisfying relationship. Still, nobody has been able to bolt-lock the secret to having all spouses look into one another’s eyes and still hear romantic melodies resonating from the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. Perhaps Dr. Phil and/or Oprah can mix blue smoke and mirrors with strobing flashes of wisdom. I can’t. Charming, feathery fairy tales of a princess and her Prince Charming are for children, not adults.A marriage’s destiny should be until death do they part. But when a relationship turns so dirty that even a good shampoo and shower won’t suffice, perhaps it’s best to cut your losses and run.