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.


“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].

Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: TikTok pasta unites us with feta cheese and tomatoes

First it was “Tiger King.” Later, “The Queen’s Gambit.” Later still, a sudden onset obsession with sea “shanties.” We hopscotched from one pandemic craze to the next for a year to feel “connected” to one another if only through melting a block of feta cheese on top of some cherry tomatoes and adding noodles.

Most recently the so-called “TikTok pasta” has united us, sort of, as we cook together as a nation. Well, maybe not together. Y’all have snapped up all the 70 percent sheep’s milk Greek feta so the rest of us must make do with some off-brand feta “crumbles” that are nearly expired. Thanks ever so.

It’s progress, I guess. Remember a year ago we were stalking delivery trucks for toilet paper and “LikeLysol” wipes in the pre-dawn cold in the Dollar General parking lot. Yes, a year ago, when “Corona” was most often associated with a beer we would only drink when we had run out of water, we only had eyes for essentials, barely glancing at all those plump bars of feta we would covet in the future.

That the craze came from TikTok only makes it more appealing. Nothing funnier than hearing someone who stopped getting takeout from Asian restaurants because of the “China virus” boast of making pasta from “the TikTok.” The social media platform born in China was famously scorned by conservatives for being a setup for spying on us.

If that’s true, the only thing TikTok can confirm is that Americans love a bandwagon. How else to explain those ghastly dustbowl fashions we’re snapping up at Target?

I don’t think it’s right for TikTok, previously mostly known for dance videos and “challenges” requiring you to dunk your face in flour or drink a beer while doing a one-handed pull-up, should have all the fun. Where is the Facebook equivalent? Instagram? Twitter? I’m pretty sure Parler was cooking up something before it got shut down for being, well, horrible.

Facebook, where people you disliked in high school remind you exactly why, is mostly for older folks. So, Facebook pasta could skip the exotic, youthful ingredients of fresh tomatoes, chopped garlic and imported cheese (the TikTok demo knows nothing of reflux, bless their hearts and sturdy esophagi) in favor of something more Facebooky. Perhaps a “Let Me Tell You How Sick the Vaccine Made Me” Stew. It would be exceedingly bland, involve only pantry ingredients and is best served with a “nice, small hamburger” because, at the end of the day, that’s really all we want anymore. Facebook pasta would require little effort but you would have to post a picture so everyone could respond with “Yum!” or (and I’m not sure why this phrase always makes my skin crawl, but it does) “Nom Nom.”

Over on Instagram, it’s all about lovely pictures so it follows that Instagram Pasta would have to be photogenic first. Think squid ink rotini nestled in an earthenware bowl perched on a spruce bough in Denali National Park. Because why not? Looks are everything on Insta. They will flat scatter some pomegranate seeds on anything. Matters not they feel like mouse eyeballs in your mouth.

Twitter pasta would enjoy the angry boiling of the noodles most of all. The recipe would include lots of short, snappy bits, not all of them tasteful. Think crisp bacon lardons, frizzled capers, and plenty of bitter lemon.

Snapchat would want to play but, since it disappears like a self-destructing note in “Mission Impossible” no one would ever be able to remember the ingredients. Sigh.

I could go on but there is no time. A friend of a friend of a friend said feta blocks are due at Aldi in three, two, one…

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

Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: Time for QAnon to get the, ahem, “royal” treatment

Perhaps we have a secret weapon we never dreamed of in the fight to restore sanity to all those brainwashed QAnon cult members living and breeding across this great country.

Yes, that’s right. We must now send in…Meghan Markle, who, according to Prince Harry showed him he had been mind-warped by evildoers in The Firm, which is Meghanspeak for the royal family cult.

“I was trapped but I didn’t know I was trapped,” Harry confided to  O. Note that “O,” like “Q,” is known by one initial but the difference is O uses her powers to share favorite eyebrow pencil not attempt to overthrow democracy using an army of ragtag real housewives of Racine and their idiot spawn.

“Meghan saved me,” Harry confessed to O, explaining he never realized until he married the American actress he was stuck in an oppressive situation. (To be fair, his mama tried to tell us all this stuff a quarter century ago, but apparently we weren’t ready to hear it.)

As they say in no foxhunt ever: Unleash the Meghan! You get an intervention and you get an intervention and you…well, you get the idea.

Unfortunately, we can’t just dispatch Meghan Markle to smite Q because we’re not exactly sure whether he or she is a highly placed government official or the line cook at Chili’s in Slackjaw, Mississippi. With your Jim Joneses, your Chuck Mansons, your Dave Koreshes…you knew who the target was and where he lived. This Q stuff? Much tougher.

Harry speaks in the grateful manner of one who has been freed from a suffocating life that kept him from being his true self. I imagine some of you are thinking you could cozy up to that kind of suffocation when the perks include free palaces and all the organ meat pudding you can eat but, y’all. The Firm stifles all in its culty, inbred ranks. Even Queen Elizabeth, an altogether different kind of Q, has had to sacrifice all sorts of personal freedom for the good of the Crown. Maybe that’s why she was left largely unscathed by the O interview as both Harry and Meghan stated she had been very kind to them.

Mentions of Harry’s dad, Charles, and brother, William, were decidedly frostier. To be sure some accusations were dreadful (a nameless member of The Firm asked, once born, exactly how black Archie might be expected to look as if he were on a Sherwin Williams color wheel instead of a flesh and blood baby. (“Might we expect his majesty to be a Mocha Sunrise or more of an Ebony Dreamscape?”) and some were a bit silly (who made whom cry over the flower girl dresses).

There’s speculation that Meghan’s relocating of her deprogrammed Harry to a sun-splashed mansion on the California coast signals the beginning of the end of The Firm. High time. The royal family and its hangers-on cost a fortune to maintain and once you get a sniff of the racism rooted within, you are exponentially less charmed by cute pix of royal Corgis wearing velvet coats to ward off the famous British chill.

While I’m sure some will be sad to see the demise of The Firm Cult, I look forward to seeing the Windsors gather some day like normal folk at a potluck reunion at the Legion hall with everybody wearing matching T shirts provided by that cousin who winks and says they “fell off the back of a truck.” Every. Single. Time. For now, it’s onward to  QAnon, Megs. You’re on American soil now; get your hands dirty.

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

Celia Rivenbark: Cuomo should get gone in a New York minute

Here’s my sincere and heartfelt question for male politicians in general and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in particular: Can you just keep it in your pants? And a follow-up: No. Seriously. Is that really too much to ask?

I hear you. Why wouldn’t your 25-year-old executive assistant gravitate toward your 63-year-old (grand)dad bod? Makes total sense. Come for the sagging jowls, stay for the job security if you keep your trap shut.

Did Cuomo really tell her he was fine with dating someone “22 and older”? Hide your kids, hide your wife, y’all.

Evidence of the governor’s creepsome habits with female employees is becoming increasingly hard to ignore. Much like his ear hair. Funnily enough, at the very same time, male co-workers and politicians have summoned the courage to loudly grouse about how Cuomo is a “bully, mean, not a nice guy.”

Oh, shut up. It’s not the same thing. We’re not going to grant equal time for Cuomo calling you a bad word. You think the governor of NEW YORK got his job by following high school yearbook advice to “Be Sweet!”

Cuomo is trying to appear freshly woke about how to talk to young women. It’s as if it never occurred to him that hitting on an assistant who played middle school soccer with his daughter is throuple-with-the Falwells levels of inappropriate.

What? It’s not OK to ask female employees about their sex lives while leering at them and saying you “sure could use a hug?” Who knew? I mean besides everybody. And now a third woman says he groped her at a party. Is he just a harmless, loud Italian uncle being persecuted for his boisterous personality?

After all, he’s a single gentleman with a good job, not some tattooed jobless Boogaloo boy over on TinderSpace or whatever the hell the kids use these days. He’s just rattlin’ around this big ol’ mansion in Albany in the middle of a pandemic coming off a breakup with a Food Network star.

One minute Sandra Lee is lovingly shoving a forkful of her quinoa-encrusted duck at you and the next, she splits (amicably, best of friends, blahblahblah) and you’re Covid-cooped up with your 20something daughters and their stupid boyfriends and nobody ever bothers to turn the lights off around here because apparently electricity grows on trees.

But here’s the thing. The irksome, unavoidable truth shines like a diamond in a goat’s butt: Successful politicians get addicted to power just like a meth addict except without the convenience store hookups and bad teeth. And saying that you didn’t know, that you never meant, that you would never use that power to…sounds an awful lot like a lie.

The obvious solution is to only elect women. We may not be perfect (we talk way too much about our hair, for example) but we are statistically 1,000 percent less likely to sexually harass our male staffers. Why? Because we have work to do. And when we finish, we don’t want some 25 year old’s abs in our face; we just want our fleece dorm pants, 1.5 glasses of Kirkland wine and exactly one episode of “The Crown.” No more men in positions of power. Y’all blew it.

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