Too much risk to share those outdated mints with anyone
So this will sort of be like Chapter 2 about obsessions.
But first, there is something else I wanted to tell you about.
Early last month, the esteemed movie critic Roger Ebert died. I’m sure you are familiar with his succinct thumbs-up, thumbs-down critiques of films he liked or didn’t like. He was also noted for his terse comments about the “dogs” in moviedom — the dogs, of course, having nothing to do with real canines, just with films difficult to sit through without nodding off.
A couple of examples were offered in a news story on his passing. One referred to a movie he called “a long, dry slog. It’s not funny, it’s not smart and it’s interesting only in the way a traffic accident is interesting.”
Another review was of “Heaven’s Gate” (1980), of which he said, “It is so smoky, so dusty, so foggy, so unfocused and so brownish yellow that you want to try Windex on the screen.”
That is classy writing. It puts me in mind of my own all-time favorite movie review, written by John McCarten in The New Yorker, about 1951.
He wrote: “‘The Duchess of Idaho’ starring Esther Williams and Van Johnson opened last week at the Tivoli. Miss Williams is good looking, but she can’t act. She is one up on Mr. Johnson.”
That was the entire review. I loved it. But I digress. Back to the topic of obsessions.
As I pointed out, we all have them. A lot of readers confessed to having them. One, Bud Boylan of Lyndhurst, noted that one of his obsessions is sending me notes through the mail. There is nothing wrong with that, except that every time he wants to pontificate, which is good, it costs him a stamp, which is bad.
If he doesn’t have a computer, he might consider going to the library and sending me an email. That way I would receive his thoughts within a day — or maybe within three weeks, depending on where he sends the email.
See, I have computer access at The News-Herald and at Lakeland Community College. But alas, I remember to turn on my computer at home only once or twice a month, because I keep forgetting.
Also, it is on the dining room table, it is kind of in the way when we are eating, and it has a lot of important stuff piled on top of it.
Every time I want to turn it on, I have to move all of the stuff, set it aside, and eventually return it when I shut the machine off.
The other day I went through all the stuff and threw away more than half of it. I now have much less stuff to move when I turn on the computer.
But back to obsessions — please. I pointed out that the lady of the house has an obsession that will not allow her to serve any kind of food if it is past the expiration date.
She is really serious about this, so I do not dispute her — ever.
But is has gotten so that whenever I go grocery shopping with her and I select, say, a bottle of tomato juice, I inspect it carefully to make sure it will not expire for about a year.
That way, if we don’t use it right away, nobody will get killed drinking day-old tomato juice.
I’ll tell you who has millions of cans of food on their shelves — restaurants across the country and the U.S. Army.
Do you suppose it’s possible that any restaurant, or any Army base, has ever served a meal that included food from a can that expired a week ago, a month ago, or even five years ago? Hah!
Do you ever go into a restaurant kitchen and ask to inspect the cans and bottles for expiration dates? I don’t. Maybe you do.
But what I wanted to tell you about is Altoids. Around 2005 I retired from full-time at the newspaper and started at the college. About that time, we were at a party with Sam Petros, the noted builder, as in Newell Creek in Mentor, and he offered me a ginger Altoid. It was great. So I wrote a column about it. (It doesn’t take much to set my mind in motion).
A few days later I arrived at my desk at the college for the first time and was greeted by many thoughtful gifts — T-shirts, coffee mugs and several tins of ginger Altoids, lots of them.
I still have several containers. I am still enjoying them. I looked at one of the tins the other day. It said, “Best if consumed by May 2006.”
They are still very tasty. But I don’t share them with anyone because, you know, I can’t be too careful.
I understand very well how the Grand Jury operates because I once served as its foreman. We never had a case come before us of anyone who was indicted for serving an outdated Altoid, and I don’t want to be the one who mars that record.