Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: Movie stars with a bug for politics

When I read last week, Matthew McConaughey is considering running for governor in his home state of Texas, I thought he’s going to be late for meetings because he makes such a production of getting in his Lincoln and driving anywhere. Think of all the mumbled poetry and cufflinks-adjusting before he even gets a half mile down the road.

One imagines wife Camila never asks Matty to fetch milk for the kids’ cereal because, as we know, if he encounters an 1,800 pound bull in the road, he will ease the Lincoln into “park” and pause to salute the bull’s size and stamina before announcing softly: “Yes. I will take the long way around.”

Meanwhile, the AlphaBits remain dust dry.

I hear you: That’s just a role he plays; he’s not like that in real life. But what if he is? I’ve seen Matthew McConaughey interviewed many times and he’s shockingly similar to the vaguely angsty guy in the Lincoln, pontificating about mundane topics in an oddly captivating manner…

“How does a bill become a law? How is the Texas sky white some days and blue the next? I don’t know. Maybe you don’t know either. Maybe it’s not for any of us to know…except the bull.”

OK, I made that up, but you weren’t completely sure at first, were you?

And what of his ramblings about returning to his roots, via Lincoln, of course.

“There are those who say you can’t go back. Yes. You can. You just have to go back to the right place.”

Camila: “Yoo hoo, it’s called the grocery store and it’s where the milk lives. Really not that complicated pretty boy.”

While he’s a fine actor and totally nails the “Is he dumb as a box of hair or was that super deep what he just said?” vibe, I wonder if Governor McConaughey would be, as the Texas saying goes,“all hat and no cattle”?

Voters don’t seem to think so. A recent poll showed he’s 12 points ahead of current Republican Governor Greg Abbott who doesn’t even have an Oscar and whose campaign slogan should be “Not much to love here but at least I’m not Ted Cruz.”

No sooner had I learned of McConaughey’s gubernatorial aspirations than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson confirmed he may run for president in 2024. Naturally, I assumed Johnson meant of the Screen Actors Guild or Beverly Hills Kiwanis but no. As in, leader of the free world, comes with a drafty house full of portraits of dead white guys and a live band that plays your theme song when you walk into the room…that presidency. No disrespect but I’m not sure “ability to raise one eyebrow freakishly high while leaving the other as is” is a legit qualification for the job.

The Rock, an affable enough wrestling champion turned action film star, set lofty goals for himself since just a pebble so maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. He told reporters “I will run for president if the people want it.” No. No, that’s not how it works. The “people” won’t even get vaccinated in sufficient numbers. Don’t listen to THEM. The “people” are wearing mom jeans again because influencer bot Kylie Jenner said we should. Clearly, the “people” cannot be trusted!

Astonishingly, 46 percent of Americans polled said they would consider voting for Johnson. Longtime frenemy “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was heard to say: “What????” about a billion times.

Interpreter: “I believe, Mr. Putin, the president has invited you to, er, smell what the rock is cooking…some sort of American idiom, I suppose.”

“Ack. American idiot’s more like it. Also, tell him to put his shirt back on; that’s my thing.”

Movie stars make great…movie stars. To put it in Lincoln lingo, y’all just need to stay in your lane.

Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Write her at [email protected].

Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: Hating on sign art…to the moon and back

Since when did it become perfectly OK to marginalize and criticize an entire group of people simply because they…fill their homes with “sign art”?

Is it so awful to encourage living, laughing and loving? Or to celebrate that, at certain times of the day on this big blue marble, it really is “five o’clock somewhere”?

The very phrase “sign art” makes some of y’all wanna barf like nobody’s watching. I saw that eye roll when you spotted the recycled tin plaque reminding us “Today is a good day for a good day.”

While I don’t mind any of those (much), I admit to feeling cringy when I see those manifesto signs in foyers and living rooms proclaiming just what type of fam operation you’re running. It’s the ultimate humble brag…“In this house we say please and thank you, love one another, make good choices, count our blessings, keep our promises, smile always, eat well, enjoy the little things, read good books, make memories, encourage others, conquer our fears, dream big, count the stars…

Oh, no, you freaking don’t count the stars. I mean while I will defend brief, pithy feel-good’s, these “we’re better than y’all” signs just make me want to “Make Pour Decisions!” because, you guessed it, “Everything happens for a Reisling.”

The “our fam is better” is just obnoxious and worthy of as much lampooning as possible. Wouldn’t it be better to install a truthful sign in your home? Hmmmmm? Here. I’ll help you get started…

“In this house, we…exaggerate our charitable contributions at tax time, pee in the shower most mornings, only floss before we go to the dentist, pass off those Costco stuffed peppers as our own, do our kids’ math homework, visibly pout and get a little drunk after getting a “C” on said math homework, blow leaves into the street clogging storm drains because “taxpayer,” feel irrationally happy when best friend visits and has gained at least 15 pounds from the looks of it, don’t change the sheets all that often, think people who count the stars can’t afford cable…” You get the idea.

Some of the “family” themed signs invite amused scrutiny: “Families are like branches on a tree; We grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one.”

Translation: “Yeah, we’re related but we are NOTHING ALIKE. Also, your branch doesn’t fork nearly as much as it should, just sayin’.”

There is way too much loving someone “to the moon and back” which, as I’ve said before, is a finite number soooooo what are you really saying here?

“I love you exactly 480,000 miles and not one mile more.”

Maybe the best way to appreciate sign art is to use it ironically. “This is My Happy Place” in the laundry room, for example. Or perhaps use sign art to let the boss know how you really feel on the next Zoom call.

“Er, Mike, does that rustic sign in your background say: “PAY ME MORE YOU CHEAP BASTARD”?

Mike: “What? How did that get there? This is my happy place!”

In the interest of full disclosure, I have two of these signs in my own home—only two because, as you might imagine “I Collect Moments Not Things” (kidding; I LOVE “things.”)  Truth is, they were both gifts and I love the friends who gave them to me. One playfully defines a true Southerner and the other reminds me “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” This came to me at a time when I needed a daily, no, hourly reminder of that truth and I’m not ashamed to say it helped. If this makes me a “sign art” hypocrite, well, I guess you’ll just have to understand “This is Us.”

Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Write her at [email protected].

Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: Shouldn’t we all have learned French by now or something?

Now that the CDC has cleared vaccinated folks to, literally and figuratively, feel free to move about the cabin, maybe it won’t be long before our pandemic confinement ends, and we can resume weightier thoughts than pondering why Leanne Ford always seems stoned on her HGTV show.

The realization that we are, as Southerners say, “in the short rows” makes me feel I should’ve done so much more this past year. All those months would’ve been the perfect time to re-read—er, read—the classics, learn more complex –er, any—yoga poses or bake beautiful braided breads, er, box muffins.

Although the year had potential for much personal growth and soul-searching, I wasted it pondering useless questions like how many crop dusters could land on Matt Gaetz’s forehead at one time.

To feel a little better about things, I decided to volunteer at a vaccine clinic. There were lots of jobs available and I chose the “observation room” where the freshly vaccinated must wait for 15 minutes to make sure, in medical speak, “they don’t fall out.”

I was told to select, and douse with disinfectant, a supremely unflattering blue vest that would identify me as a fully background-checked volunteer. There was an informative training session which was useful for the others but not for me because, as I explained to the doctor in charge, “I have watched all 17 seasons of “Grey’s Anatomy” so, yeah, I got this. Quick follow-up: Are those pizza-flavored Combos in the break room free?”

I was given a walkie-talkie so I could summon a paramedic immediately to the observation room in case anyone was having an allergic reaction to the vaccine. Pfffft. Did they not hear the “Grey’s” training part? I could separate conjoined twins at a plane crash site using  a ball point pen and Twizzlers, for heaven’s sake. I hitched the “walkie” as we say in the bidness, to my belt loop and promptly forgot it was there.

The first clinic was for the very elderly, a mix of singles and couples. Because there were several vaccine stations and observation rooms, many of the couples were temporarily separated and that’s when I witnessed a curious phenomenon: Men would arrive and anxiously ask “Where’s my wife?” before setting off to find her. Women had a different reaction: “Huh. He’s not here,” they’d say before sinking into the soft chairs, smiling and closing their eyes. Every. Single. Time.

The other revelation was the male 85 plus demo can be quite flirtatious. At least five asked me if I would “date an older man.” I shared this with another volunteer who said “Don’t flatter yourself. They’re looking for a nurse with a purse.” Oh.

A week later, I worked the teacher clinic. No flirting and no lost spouses but an admirable ability to follow the rules. When told they could leave at 5:13 for example, not a soul tried to bolt at 5:12 or waited until 5:14. “I’m a rules-follower” said every single one of them, while pulling out papers to grade during the “nice 15-minute vacation.”

Using my semi-impressive medical background, I quickly deduced (A) absolutely no one was going to fall out, much less deliver conjoined twins and (B) the hardest part of the job was sanitizing the chairs once vacated.

“Please place this post-it note on the headrest when you leave,” I said 857 times one day. “That way I will know which chairs to sanitize.”

The teachers, you guessed it, placed the sticky notes on the headrests. Everybody else? Floor, chair seat, chair back, armrest of the seat next to theirs…

During the clinics, I’m often thanked for being a “health care hero” among other wholly undeserved comments. It’s sweet but something tells me they’d be less impressed if they knew how much I love free Combos.

Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Write her at [email protected]

Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: The November loss that plagues the nation

Image: https://www.jeopardy.com/

Friends, our nation remains divided on exactly who should be in charge these days. November was a long time ago and still we are undecided, adrift, unable to agree on who should lead and who should admit this is quite simply not their time.

So, I ask you all to search deep within your hearts for the answer. Should it be Savannah Guthrie or Aaron Rodgers? And what of Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Andrew Yang style long shot whose “hat in the ring” has many “Jeopardy!” viewers saying, “not even if the bum rang my doorbell and gave my family a thousand bucks a month.”

Who will win the people’s confidence and stride purposefully to the, uh, place where you stand while we hear the polished announcer proclaim: THIS. IS. JEOPARDY! Yes, well. We didn’t really think it was John Wick now did we? I mean there’s a children’s librarian from Lower Catgut, Arkansas, standing there looking all plucky and knowledgeable. Of course it’s Jeopardy! Don’t you see the cereal bowl of vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup balanced on Nana’s lap?

When longtime host Alex Trebek died last November, many of us wondered if he could ever be replaced. Alex was so courtly, so wise, so good at small talk even when the contestant wasn’t. How many times did he rescue someone’s rambling story about having seen a two-headed goat that was, remarkably, not going anywhere.

Because you don’t just replace an American game show ICON like you’d switch shampoo brands, the folks at “Jeopardy!” decided to audition a few famous people for the gig to make sure they made the perfect choice.

The list of candidates is not so much impressive as long. Some are really good at it (the aforementioned Ken Jennings and the show’s longtime producer Mike Richards stand out so far). Others auditioning by guest hosting for a week at a time include Katie Couric, Sanjay Gupta, Bill Whitaker…

And others? Well, we’ll just have to see.

I’m starting to think I should volunteer for tribute, so to speak.

If kids’ vaccine-skeptic Mayim Bialik got the gig, how hard can it be? I think Alex Trebek, whom I had the privilege of meeting at an event where I was not invited to be on the show (helps if you haven’t had too many “Potent Potables” the night before is all’s I’m saying) must be looking down on all this with bemusement.

Who can fill Alex’s butter-soft Gucci loafers? Since ratings matter most, maybe they should consider going with a more, er, controversial lineup. An old editor of mine put it another way after a newbie reporter filed a dead body story that included gory details toward the end.

“Get the maggots in the lead!” he bellowed. And you thought journalism was easy.

Consider the maggoty ratings gold of current “it” couple, Harry and Meghan.

“Markle, m’love, introduce our contestants today.”

“I’m sorry, Ginger Bear, I just can’t believe all these people are here. Why won’t they LEAVE US ALONE?”

“That’s just the studio audience, pet. They’re not here for us; they are here to watch the show!”

(Sulkily) “Oh. I knew that.”

Or how about deeply dishonest “Aunt Becky”? Lori Loughlin would get the viewers tuning in.

“Here are the categories for today’s show…Famous Cheaters, SAT vs. ACT, Does It Really Matter, I’m So Stinking Rich, My Daughters Know I Think They’re Stupid and, finally, Stop Making Fun of My Brown Pantsuit.”

Perhaps handsy New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo could host a week.

“The answer is: “A good start.” And, yes, the question is “What do you call a 1,000 lecherous bosses at the bottom of the ocean…”

I stand ready to serve. And my two-headed goat story rocks by the way.

Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Write her at [email protected].

Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: After COVID confinement, chemistry is a bit off

Last night, I was maybe 18 minutes into what could best be described as a speech to a friend who is also fully vaccinated.

Thinking back on it, she honestly didn’t seem that into what I was saying for the last 17 minutes or so. I cared not. When you’re finally able to talk in person to a friend for the first time in 13 months, well, you forget your manners.

Did I detect a pained look when I interrupted her by holding up my hand? Was she so bored she was thinking about chewing her own flesh so she could slowly disappear? Hmmmm.

The subject, since you ask (you were going to, right?), was my new hot tub. But that was just the first minute. The other 17 minutes, now that I’m thinking about it honestly in the cold, caffeinated light of day were spent on the sexy subsection: “Hot tub chemistry.”

Wait. It’s soooo much more interesting than you think. To hear about it. Unendingly. Because after more than a year of not speaking in person to hardly anyone besides the supermarket cashier, I’ve forgotten the basics of polite conversation.

“And then, here’s the tricky part because you want to make sure your pH is perfect because if it’s not, no amount of sanitizer—chlorine, bromine, minerals or what have you—will work properly. Let me give you an example…”

At the end of our visit, I was pretty pleased with how much I had taught my friend about hot tub chemistry even though she lives in an apartment and most likely has no immediate need for this information.

I’m not completely rude. I also shared with her the importance of chair socks, which I discovered in Month 2 of pandemic isolation and have frequently blogged about but, oddly, have had no feedback whatsoever. I guess some people don’t mind if their hardwood floors are scratched by unsocked chair legs. Savages.

Over the past 13 months, I realized the way I greeted my husband (who has worked out in the world in his very same office the entire time!) was exactly how it was when The Princess was a newborn. I plugged into him like a dying cell phone seeking news “from the outside.” Where adults interacted and did adulty things like talk about “action items” and “lunch.”

Back then, it was almost endearing how I hung on his every word. Now, with only two morbidly obese cats as my all-day companions instead of an adorable infant, I just seem, well, pathetic.

“And then what did he say?” I asked.

“Who?”

“I don’t care. ANYBODY!!!!!”

Because I only went to the grocery store for most of my confinement, I may have seemed needy to certain store personnel.

“Huh. Paper or plastic, you ask? I dunno. What do you think? I mean both have their advantages and disadvantages, am I right? Hey! Let me tell you about algaecide because, if you ever get a hot tub, you’re going to need…”

Oh, if only I were making up that conversation.

Fast forward to our first fully vaccinated, masked and socially distanced restaurant visit last weekend. Fun fact: I no longer know how to behave in public, period. I’ll have the scallops. No! The flounder. No, the ribeye….No,no,no,no…how about the halibut? Why? For the halibut—get it? Hahahahahaha!” Did Duh just duck under the table?!? I changed my drink order THREE times.

A word of warning: As we all venture out into the world again, carefully and vaccinatedly, we may stumble when trying to navigate, well, simple conversation. We can’t help it. We’re just so tail-waggin’ happy to be able to talk to someone that doesn’t poo in a box behind the washer.

And another warning: If you DO decide to install a hot tub, you’re going to want to keep a close eye on that Cyanuric Acid. Trust me on that.

Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Write her at [email protected].