NIPPIES on-line magazine - Issue 13
November 21st - December 31st, 2003

Welcome to NIPPIES - since 1999! We take little "nippies" out of every subject.

VIP = (Very Important Person).

NIP = (Not Important Person) - to some.

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December 31st, 2003 - January 1st, 2004

Tom Jones, Donna Summer, and all of us at NIPPIES wish you a Happy You Know What...

We at NIPPIES had a house party tonight. Well, we cooked and prepared for a party that our son hosted and is still hosting as we type. (Everyone is spending the night here.)

This is not a boisterous party like the one he had three years ago. At that one the floor boards in his second floor bedroom actually could be seen shaking as 35 kids danced in the New Year. To help ring in 2004, only five of his closest friends came to our home.

After the dips, chips, fruit and fruit dip (equal parts marshmallow creme and cream cheese - whipped) and ziti had been served, we settled down to wait for the official countdown. And, at midnight, went out on the porch and banged the pots along with our neighbors. (We're not terribly cool in this 'hood, but, then again, we don't care who thinks what of our corny customs.) After the pots had been put back into the cupboard under the kitchen sink, everyone settled down to watch Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, and whatever else the little box had to offer.

If I didn't feel old before tonight, I certainly do now.

Our son's friends are all around nineteen-years-old. These healthy, thin, attractive young people sat there and watched, fascinated, as the wonderful and ageless Donna Summer sang on one of the New Year's Eve shows. "Stephanie", the girlfriend of Josh, watched Donna for a few seconds and then blurted out, "Oh, she's oooold". I took a look at Donna, and honest-to-gosh, she looked terrific. She looked better than many forty year olds I've seen. But I'd forgotten how old even thirty looks to a fresh-faced-and-taking-youth-for-granted nineteen-year-old.

Of course, thirty will not look so old to Stephanie when she gets past 35. But that age is still a long, long way off for her.

Next came the guest I'd been waiting for all night - the legendary Tom Jones! .

Now, I'd heard from a friend of ours (who performs a lot in Vegas) that Tom Jones "looked real old" in person. This particular musician is only about 28-30 years old. So we at NIPPIES were curious about how Tom Jones, who is over 60, but not much over 60, really looked. Finally, Jay Leno introduced Tom Jones. "The Voice" appeared on stage dressed all in black, with his hair in a dark, rather afro-like hairdo. His face bore a goatee and a darkish tan, which, I must say, did look a bit like it came out of a bottle. "His tan looks so fake," commented Jess, our son's girlfriend. But Tom Jones' eyes were just as blue, and overall he looked very good to me. He didn't sing any of his old songs, which is to his credit. And he didn't do his gyrations, either. Again, to his credit. I thought his movements were very age-appropriate. Still, the kids giggled. Poor Tom wasn't moving like a rapper. That is enough to cause mirth in the under twenty crowd.

At this point, I decided to wander into the office and type up this little summary of my New Year's Eve. Perhaps there is someone over forty out there who is home alone and will find this and, perhaps, smile knowingly at what I am writing.

In case you didn't know, Conan O'Brien is definitely the favorite of the under-30 crowd. The kids started watching Conan and his friend and head musician, Max Weinberg. The approval of this show was palpable. They especially enjoyed Triumph, The Comic Insult Dog and laughed loudly when Triumph told Simon, the ascerbic talent judge from American Idol, that for him (Simon) to tell people they aren't talented is like "poop telling vomit it stinks."

Of interest: Conan's guest tonight was Amy Sedaris. You may remember her as "Jerry Blank" from the 1999-2000 TV sitcom, Strangers With Candy. "Jerri" was a very unattractive 46 year old ex-drug addict who returned to high school as a freshman. The show, as ridiculous as it sounds, was very funny. In real life, Amy Sedaris is only 42-years-old, is very attractive, and looks very unlike "Jerri Blank". Amy had a supporting role in J Lo's 2002 hit, Maid in Manhattan, and in the 2003 Christmas hit, Elf, which starred Will Farrell, James Caan, Mary Steenburgen, Edward Asner and Bob Newhart.

By the way, in 2004 Strangers With Candy, the movie, will be released. Amy Sedaris will star, of course, as Jerri Blank.

That's all for tonight. We at NIPPIES hope that you are all sharing your first day of the new year with loved ones. And if you happen to be alone, we hope that you won't be next year.

December 28th, 2003

Hello Again to Neil Simon's classic -The Goodbye Girl

We at NIPPIES have always thought that Neil Simon's 1977 The Goodbye Girl was thee very best romantic comedy ever made. In our opinion, Richard Dreyfuss had everything to do with the tremendous success of the film. Without Richard, it would have been a successful film, no doubt. Neil Simon is a genius. But with Richard Dreyfuss, this movie was just a runaway train on the steepest Alps slope. The Oscar® he received for his performance as "Elliot Garfield" was well deserved. (I can still remember watching the Academy Awards and cheering when he picked up his statuette.)

Marsha Mason, who was Mrs. Neil Simon during the filming of the movie, was terrific as "Paula McFadden". However, with all due respect to Ms. Mason, I have a suspicion that Richard Dreyfuss ("Dem's MY rules...") could have carried off this film with any one of several other good actresses in the female role.

Here's the plot, for those of you who have never seen The Goodbye Girl... "Paula McFadden" is a former Broadway chorus girl and single mother who has been recently dumped by her live-in love, "Tony". (Tony is only referred to in the film.) Paula and her daughter, the precocious 10-year-old Lucy (Quinn Cummings), had been living happily with Tony, a mildly successful off-Broadway actor, for a couple of years in his Greenwich Village apartment before Tony permanently exited for his big break in Hollywood. Enter Elliot Garfield, who has come in the middle of the night- a very rainy New York City night - from Chicago to lay claim to the apartment he has sub-let from his acquaintance, Tony. Paula and Lucy grudgingly allow Elliot to live in the apartment he has paid for, and the hilarity is immediate as these three very different people try to make ground rules by which they can all peacefully co-habitate. After the usual bumpy ride, Elliot and Paula fall in love. The predictable story line does not detract from the electricity generated by this film. The magic of the original Goodbye Girl has to be experienced to be appreciated. It simply cannot be described.

So, when a commercial came on TNT announcing that a remake of this movie classic, our ears picked up. Any movie that was even half as good as the original film is worth watching, we at NIPPIES reasoned.

The 2004 remake of The Goodbye Girl stars Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond) and Jeff Daniels (Dumb and Dumber/ The Butcher's Wife/ Terms of Endearment). Hootie and the Blowfish perform the theme song, Goodbye Doesn't Mean Forever, which is shown with the TNT spots for the film. (The original theme song was sung by David Gates of the band Bread).

Can Jeff Daniels and Patricia Heaton generate enough chemistry to explode on the screen the way Dreyfuss and Mason did? Probably not. But that's OK. Even half the chemistry would be enough to cause a satisfactory POP.

The Goodbye Girl premiers on TNT beginning Saturday, January 16, 2004, at 8 p.m. EST. You can watch this remake Saturday or Sunday at 8 p.m. If you'd like to read an interview with Jeff Daniels about his role as Elliot Garfield, copy and paste the URL below:
Learn more about the movie at this URL:

December 27th, 2003

Riddle: What do Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth have in common besides the crown?

While doing some ancestry and genealogy research, we at NIPPIES stumbled upon an interesting item in a January 1890 newspaper. This little tid bit goes to show you that things haven't changed all that much for British royalty in the last 100 or so years...

London: Queen Victoria's family are worrying the life out of the old lady. What with the piccadillioes of the sons and daughters and grandsons, and the marital troubles of the daughters and granddaughters, she is overwhelmed with trouble. Surely in her case we again find illustrated the truth of the old adage: "uneasy is the head that wears the crown".

See what we mean? The answer to the riddle, if you haven't already figured it out, is obvious: they both had children who led scandalous lives. Of course, when your mother is the Queen of England, just about anything you do can create a scandal.

********************************************************************************************* "Call From Santa" calling card disgrace...

We at NIPPIES are fairly certain that this year is the last year that our little one will fully subscribe to the belief that Saint Nicholas comes to our house to drop off presents. We wanted to do something very special for her this year. So, when we saw the calling cards hanging from a peg hook at Toys R Us that promised a call from Santa, we picked one up. The cost was $4.99.

A few days before Christmas, we got out the card, dialed the long distance number, and followed the computerized instructions. These instructions included stating the name of our child, and the best time to call. Then, we settled back and waited for the big moment. We could hardly wait to see our little girl's face when she actually talked to "Santa".

The hour and the moment arrived. The phone rang, and we sent our daughter in to answer the telephone. After a few seconds, she ran from the phone to get her LIST! Santa wanted to know what she wanted for Christmas. Quickly, I ran up the stairs-two at a time-to listen in to the conversation. My husband remained in the room to watch her face.

When I picked up the phone, I immediately could tell that the whole conversation was computerized. "Santa" was asking my child what she wanted, but there was obviously not a live human on the other end of the telepnone. I ran back downstairs and was terribly dismayed to see the crestfallen look on my little girl's face. My daughter dropped the telephone without saying a word. There was no joy on her face. Rather, she looked like she was about to break into tears.

My husband, who had been listening in during the entire "conversation", explained to me that the computerized Santa had waited a few seconds after asking what our daughter had wanted (this was during the time that my daughter had run to get her Christmas List), and then had immediately gone into another automated statement about how wonderful the list had been-even though he'd not been told a list by our daughter-and he'd see what he could do, etc. Other prerecorded cliches were added, and then "Santa" hung up.

Shame on this calling card company. I'm sure they made a fortune-quick buck style- by duping all of us into thinking we were bringing a little extra delight into our children's hearts. But all this calling card company did was disappoint the an innocent little girl who will be too old to get a call from Santa Claus next Christmas.

We at NIPPIES called Toys 'R Us to encourage them to get the cards off their peg hoods. We sincerely hope they took our advice.

December 26th, 2003

Did you get a Martin guitar for Christmas? Lucky you!
You may want to read this!

Did you know that in 1929, the famous C.F. Martin Guitars company of Nazareth (near Allentown in southeast Pennsylvania), PA, which currently starts about 300 guitars per day, sold more ukeleles than guitars? Times have changed. When is the last time you saw someone playing a udelele?

The C. F. Martin guitar company, which is now called Martin Guitars, has been family owned since it's founder, Christian Frederick Martin, Sr., began the company in 1833 after a move from Germany to New York City. (The senior Martin had been both a cabinetmaker and a guitar maker in his native Germany.) A member of the Martin family has run the Martin company, which moved from New York City to Nazareth, PA, in 1838, since its founding. The move to Nazareth, Pennsylvania came about because Christian Friedrich Martin, Senior, became homesick for his native Germany after five years of living in New York City and wanted to live in a community which more closely followed the customs and traditions of his homeland. Nazareth, PA, which had a large German population at the time, fit the bill.

The C.F. Martin Guitar company has been headed by:

Christian Friedrich Martin, Senior 1833 - 1873
Christian Frederick Martin, Junior 1873 - 1888
Frank Henry Martin 1888 - 1948
Christian Frederick Martin III 1948 - 1986
Christian Frederick Martin IV 1986 - present

You can actually tour the Martin Guitar Museum in southeastern Pennsylvania to learn about their history in the music industry. The Martin Guitar museum gets several hundred thousand visitors per year, according to Dick Boak, the artist relations manager at the Martin company. Mr. Boak is justifiably proud to be part of the Martin Guitars company, which makes guitars of the finest woods and with painstaking care, as you can see if you watch the (cable) televised PCNTour of the company.

On the televised tour, Dick Boak says:

"Anybody who's somebody plays a Martin guitar."

Famous Martin guitar artists include Paul McCartney, John Lennon and Elvis Presley. Need we say more??

Guitars made by Martin are made of a variety of finest woods such as mahoghany, hard maple, East Indian rosewood, cedar, and spruce from the Northwestern U.S.

So, if you were one of the lucky recipients of a Martin guitar this Christmas, you should cherish your instrument!

December 24th, 2003

The Story of the Birth of Christ

We at NIPPIES want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. If you are a Christian, or even if you are not, we hope that you realize why this day is special.

So many of us have lost sight of the true story of Christmas. We shop, we bake, we hang wreaths and decorate the Christmas tree. But most of us rarely, if ever, stop to think about how all this started.

The story of Christmas is the story of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Jesus was born over 2000 years ago to a virgin named Mary, a young Jewish girl. The Angel Gabriel had appeared to Mary to tell her about God's plan for her to give birth to His only son, who would come to redeem the world from Original Sin. Mary, at the time of Gabriel's appearance, was betrothed to Joseph, a humble and God-fearing carpenter, and even though she must have been very frightened, she accepted God's will. This is what Christians believe. The story of Christmas is rooted in the birth, to a virgin named Mary, of a little baby in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago. The birth was predicted in the Old Testament, and gave cause to the writing of the New Testament.

We at NIPPIES are Christians, but we are not theologians. So we rooted around the internet to find a good explanation of why we celebrate December 25th. Below is a link to a very good explanation of the birth of Jesus Christ. It is written from a Biblical standpoint, with Biblical references. We hope you enjoy this story and will share it with your family. And we at NIPPIES hope that all of our readers, both believers and non-believers, have a safe and happy holiday season.

The Story of the Birth of Jesus Christ

Our Jewish friends are celebrating Chanukah this week. Here is a link to an explanation why those of the Jewish faith celebrate Chanukah (Hanukah), as written by a Rabbi:

The Story of Chanukah by Rabbi Yaskov Menken

December 21st, 2003

Catholic Schools: The Best Choice For Your Catholic Children

With the approach of the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, and of the Christmas season, I have been inspired to write about a subject which is very important to me. I am going to write about the benefits of sending your children to Catholic schools.

There are thousands of Catholic churches and many millions of Catholic parishoners in the United States of America. Yet the Catholic school enrollment in many areas of our country has been steadily declining over the past few decades. Many wonderful Catholic grade schools and Catholic high schools have either consolidated or closed their doors altogether in recent years.

During the post-WWI years of the 1950s and 1960s, there were dozens of Catholic grade and high schools in the dioceses across the U.S. Many towns had one Catholic high school, sometimes two or three, and many parishes had a Catholic grade school where the majority of teachers were nuns and/or priests. There are many less parochial schools today. The rising cost of Catholic school tuition is one reason for the decreasing enrollment: there are far less religious (Catholic priests, nuns and brothers), who taught for little or no compensation, to staff the Catholic schools today than there were a few decades ago. The lay teachers who teach in today's Catholic schools must earn a living, and therefore must be paid decent salary. And even though these dedicated and highly competent lay teachers ask for much less than their public school colleagues, their salaries cause tuitions in our Catholic schools to be much higher than they were a few decades ago. (We at NIPPIES have never believed that higher salaries, such as those demanded by many public school teachers, draw "the best and the brightest", as many trachers' unions like to brag. Higher salaries only draw those looking for higher salaries, in our opinion.) But if we are completely honest with ourselves, we must admit that tuition alone is not the reason for the decline in Catholic school enrollment. All one has to do is take a look at the parking lots of our Catholic churches on Sunday mornings and see the many expensive cars parked there to know that money is not always an issue with Catholics. (And when money is a problem, there are many tuition-assistance programs to help those in need.)

No, higher tuition is not the only reason for the decline in the enrollment of our Catholic schools. The problem is that many of us, no matter what religion we may be, have become so busy with our lifestyles that we often put religion, and, more importantly,God, on the back burner. A few of us have even kicked Him out of the kitchen altogether!

It is the opinion of this writer that the diversion from religion has to do with the good times that our country has experienced for the past several decades. During the days of World War II (and the Viet Nam war era), and for years following those horrible days of war, churches were packed with the faithful who went weekly, or daily, to pray for their loved ones who were fighting overseas. Sometimes the faithful went to thank God for their safe return- or to pray that the soul of their lost loved one would rest in peace. People needed God, and they prayed to and visited His churches often. Today, even though we are involved in a war, it is not currently of the same magtitude as was World War II or Viet Nam. The vast majority of us do not have loved ones stationed in Iraq. Things are very good for many Americans, and American Catholics are no exception. And when things are going well, we humans tend to forget about God, except for the weekly trip to Mass or the quickly said night prayer.

We remembered God, however, very much on the day of September 11th, 2001. We at NIPPIES went to our church that day, and I can tell you that the pews were creaking with fervent souls bowed in prayer. And we continued to go to church during the days and weeks after that horrible tragedy. But we soon put God back on the back burner again, and went on with our lives.

As a Catholic who attended Catholic schools all my life and who has personally experienced the benefits of a Catholic education, I think that it is very important that Cathoiics everywhere seriously consider giving their child, or grandchild (or any loved one), the gift of a Catholic education.

Catholic schools teach much more than just how to earn a living. They teach us how to live - as Christians. The children in Catholic grade and high schools attend Mass regularly. They learn about their religion - on a daily basis. The children in Catholic schools are not only allowed to pray openly, but they are taught prayers. And they are not only taught the Ten Commandments, but they are encouraged to live the Ten Commandments.And if everyone followed the Ten Commandments, we probably would not need any other laws. The children are taught consideration for others-and many more values which are just as important as reading, writing, math, and SAT preparation.

The other night, at a party, I had the privilege of speaking to a very nice woman who is the mother of a child who has a slight handicap. The mother told me the story of why she took her son out of a public grade school and sent him to a Catholic school.

While attending the public grade school, this child was taunted so much for his slightly askew gait that he would burst into tears each morning when the school bus arrived to pick him up. The boy's mother spoke to the public school principal several times about the teasing and how it was hurting her son. Little was done, other than lip service, about the daily taunting and physical abuse (including shoved down a flight of steps) at this public grade school. Finally, in desperation and against the initial protestations of her non-Catholic spouse, she took her son out of the public school and enrolled him in the Catholic grade school near their home.

The nine-year-old boy came home from school very excited the first week with stories of his wonderful experience at his new Catholic school. He actually couldn't get over how differently the children treated each other at his new school. He told his mother that if you dropped a book "the kids don't kick it away from you and laugh", and "if you go through a door, Mom, they actually hold it for you instead of letting it slam on you." Needless to say, the mother was very happy with her decision to send her child to the Catholic school. And now, four years later, her son is in seventh grade and doing very well. He has made many good friends.

This is NOT a paid ad for Catholic schools. On the contrary: I haven't even consulted with my local diocese about this article. I simply believe in the Catholic school system. My own daughter is enrolled in a very wonderful Catholic grade school in our area. My son graduatted from a Catholic school, and I am often told by people who know him how kind and polite he is. I can tell you from personal experience that children are taught to respect and care for each other and their fellow human beings in Catholic schools. Of course, there are the usual bullies- as there are at every school- but bullying is not tolerated. I believe in the Catholic school system, and support Catholic schools in every way I can.

If you want to learn more about the Catholic schools in your diocese, contact your local Bishop's Office and ask for the Education Office.

Please consider sending your child to a Catholic school, and help your children to learn more than just how to earn a living. Help them to learn how to live!
And remember to support oru Catholic schools in any way you can. Because once they are gone, they may be gone forever...

December 18th, 2003

Hunger and Homelessness On the Rise in the U.S.-Even Among the Employed

A report released today by the U.S. Conference of Mayors revealed that requests for emergency food assistance rose 17 percent from last year. The survey was taken in 25 large U.S. cities. The city of Denver, Colorado, where requests rose 48 percent this year, had the greatest rise in need for emergency food assistance. Other major U.S. cities reporting a startling increase in the number of hungry were: 40 percent in Louisville, Ky., 27 percent in Providence, R.I., and 25 percent in Charleston, S.C.

"The world's richest and most powerful nation must find a way to meet the basic needs of all its residents," said Boston Mayor and Conference President Thomas Menino. "To address hunger and homelessness we must all work together to confront our national affordable housing crisis and turn around our sluggish economy."

According to the report, increased hunger and homelessness occured as a result of unemployment, low paying jobs ( Federal minimum wage hasn't increased since 1997 and is still $5.15 per hour ), high housing costs, alcohol and drug addiction, and the rise in the cost of energy and utility bills. In other words, even people who are employed are finding it harder and harder to make their paychecks stretch far enough to cover all of life's basic necessities.

Here are some interesting statistics from the report:

59 percent of the people requesting for emergency food were members of families.
39 percent of the adults requesting emergency food assistance were employed.
Requests for shelter by homeless families increased by 15 percent.

These are startling statistics, and underscore the ever widening gap between the haves and the have-nots in our country.

Read the report put out by the U.S. Conference yourself by clicking on the folloring link:

Please, if you are fortunate enough to be one of the "haves", be generous this Christmas season, and thoughout the year, with your donations to organizations such as the Salvation Army, or other favorite charity who help to feed the hungry and shelter the homeless!

December 14th, 2003

Saddam Hussein Captured!

Citizens' of Baghdad and all of Iraq, not to mention all of the free world, celebrated the long-awaited capture of the Madman of Baghdad, Saddam Hussein. Christiane Amanpour was in London and was reporting from CNN that messages of happiness and congratulation have been pouring into President George M. Bush's-and Prime Minister Tony Blair's-office. Tony Blair addressed his nation, and the world, in a press conference. President George Bush is scheduled to hold a press conference at noon Eastern Standard Time.

Called Operation Red Dawn, the raid was carried out by 600 members of the U.S. Army 4th Infantry Division on a rural farmhouse, owned by Hussein, near his hometown of Tikrit, where many Sunii loyalists no doubt had knowledge of his presence. Saddam Hussein was found crouched in an 8-foot hole, which led to other mice and rat filled holes.

According to David Ensor, National Security Correspondent, the capture of several members of Saddam Hussein's inner circle during the past few weeks led to U.S. intelligence gleaning enough information to finally pinpoint Saddam's hiding spot. According to Ensor, it wasn't one man providing information as to Hussein's whereabouts, but rather a chain of "human intelligence" which led to Saddam's capture. It is not know who will benefit from the $25,000,000.00 reward which had been offered for information leading to Saddam Hussein's capture.

CNN's live coverage included comments by Aaron Brown, Wolf Blitzer, Christian Amanpour, Barbara Starr and other CNN top dogs. Photos are being shown, live via satellite, of people dancing in the streets in Baghdad and throughout Iraq. People in Tikrit, where Saddam was capture in a rural home and where many Suniis live, were reportedly more subdued than the rest of their fellow Iraqis. Obviously, there are many Saddam Hussein loyalists in Tikrit, Saddam's hometown, or he would have been captured much sooner.

The mud hole where Saddam Hussein spent his last moments of freedom had an air supply, was about 8 feet wide, and had tunnels which led to other holes which were occupied by mice and rats. The rural property near Tikrik had no outside security, and Saddam, who had a rifle and $750,000.00 on him, offered no resistance. (The man is crazy, not stupid). On the video footage which we at NIPPIES viewed this morning, and which we are sure the rest of the world will see over and over and over again, Saddam looked dirty, disheveled, nervous and resigned to his fate, but was, according to reports from CNN, in relatively good physical shape. A U.S. military doctor is shown, on the tape,examining a heavily bearded, tired and frightened looking Saddam Hussein. The medical examiner, wearing rubber gloves, seems most concerned about finding lice in Saddam's beard.

Live reports from Iraq by important members of their government reveal that an "open and fair" trial will be given to Saddam Hussein.

The man who is responsible for the suffering and death of more people than most of us have hairs on our head has been caught. The wheels of justice grind slowly.

December 11th, 2003

A Special Section on the 2003-2004 Flu Season

Everyone everwhere is concerned about the current influenza outbreak - and some worry soon-to-be epidemic - that has now (as of Dec. 13th), according to news reports, spread to all 50 states in the U.S. It is widespread in 24 states, according to CNN reports. The U.S. Government has purchased an additional 250,000 doses of flu vaccine, and over 100,000 have already been distributed.
Over a dozen children have already died, according to news reports, from the flu. Should you get a flu vaccine? Where are the flu shot locations? What about the recently approved by the FDA,alternative, live vaccine nasal spray mist, called FluMist, now being offered as an alternative, in some cases, to the flu vaccines? (The flu shots do NOT contain a live virus).

The Center for Disease Control (CDC)has put up a special page with flu information. You may want to visit this page first:

Center for Disease Control - CDC special FLU web page

Here's a link to the FDA's information page on the new live influenza virus vaccine nasal spray mist (intranasal) called FluMist, which was approved by the FDA on June 17, 2003:
FDA's Information Page on the new intranasal influenza virus vaccine called FluMist (Page no longer available)

Has your family doctor or your child's pediatrician informed you that his or her flu shot supplies are depleted? Here is another thing you can do: call your state or local health department to find out where the locations are where they still have supplies of flu vaccine. The U.S. government has purchased, as of December 13th, as additional 100,000 doses of the flu vaccine, with more on the way. The flu vaccine is being distributed to those at high risk, and to others, as well, in some cases.

The link for most state health departments in the U.S., and for some local health departments, is here:


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also has a special "hot topics" page on the flu:

FDA / Flu

One bit of information garnered from CNN: Dr. William Schaffner, of Vanderbilt Medical Center, informed viewers that if you have an allergy to eggs, you may not be a candidate for the flu vaccine. Please check with your physician if you have, or suspect you have, an allergy to eggs before getting a flu shot or taking any flu immunization.

Please remember to stay home if you do get ill, wash you hands often, and encourage your children to wash their hands. It is important to make sure you educate your children on how to stay healthy this flu season without making them unduly frightened. Remember, they may get the flu, despite all precautions.

God Bless, and stay healthy! And remember, NIPPIES is NOT a medical advice source and we are NOT giving medical advice! Nor do we endorse any product or advice, and none should be inferred! Please ask your own physician about which steps are right to help prevent and/or treat any medical condition or problem, including the flu!

Did you come to NIPPIES after typing keywords in a search engine such as or Yahoo!, etc., and can't find the entry? Don't despair.

Past issues of NIPPIES are also listed in the archive section at the bottom of this page.

Click here to go to NIPPIES.COM

You can read literary works from the public domain!

Past great literature featured on includeLost On Dress Parade and The Coming Out Of Maggie by O. Henry. Children's classics are scheduled to be posted soon.

Articles from October 16th - August 13th, 2003 are now in Issue #11 of NIPPIES on-line magazine. Scroll to the bottom of the page for the link!

Articles from November 15th - October 18th, 2003 are now in Issue #12 of NIPPIES on-line magazine. Scroll to the bottom of the page for the link!

December 11th, 2003
DISCLAIMER:The following article has been reprinted from a newsletter issued by Governor Blagojevich of Illinois. The article, and all links and information garnered from links in the article, has been reprinted as a courtesy and is meant only as an offering of general information, and not as an endorsement on the part of NIPPIES on-line magazine. No endorsement should be inferred.
That said, we at NIPPIES do admire Governor Blagojevich's courageous battle to keep the price of prescription drugs down for the citizens of Illinois.

Report Finds Canadian Drugs Safe to Import
Prescription Drug Facts

Skyrocketing drug prices hurt consumers and taxpayers.

  • The average cost per prescription for seniors rose by 48% between 1992 and 2000, and is expected to continue increasing another 72% by 2010 (Families USA study).
  • Twenty-two percent of seniors let prescriptions go unfilled and skip doses of medicines to make prescriptions last longer, and close to one in four seniors report spending at least $100 per month on their prescription medicines (study by Dana Gelb Safran, ScD, Director of The Health Institute at Tufts-NEMC).
  • While prices soar, more Americans must pay for their medications out-of-pocket. The number of Americans without health insurance the entire year rose in 2002 to 43.6 million, or 15.2% of the population.

Many U.S. consumers are turning to other countries for relief.

  • Right now, consumers in Canada pay 30% to 50% less for the same drugs.
  • More than one million Americans already purchase their medicines from outside the American market.
  • In 2001, pharmaceutical companies imported $14.7 billion of drugs into the United States for Americans' consumption.

Claims that Canadian drugs are unsafe is false:

The feasibility report found that:

  • The Canadian regulatory system provides health and safety protections that are substantially equivalent to those provided in the State of Illinois.
  • Drugs sold in Canadian pharmacies are manufactured in facilities approved by Health Canada.
  • Though not identical in statutory and regulatory text, both countries' methods of ensuring safety and efficacy of prescription drugs are comparable.
  • The United States and Canada have comparable requirements at virtually every level for the warehousing and storage of pharmaceuticals.
  • The educational requirements for licensed pharmacists in the Canadian provinces visited - Ontario and Manitoba - are as rigorous as those of Illinois.
  • The professional regulation of pharmacists in Ontario and Manitoba appear to be as rigorous as professional regulation of pharmacists in Illinois.
  • Reporting of incidents involving internal process errors was more rigorous in Manitoba and Ontario than in Illinois.
  • Canadian pharmacies fill prescriptions in amounts supplied by the manufacturer in sealed containers only. They do not open manufacturer supplied containers, count and repackage to fill the prescription as done in US. This provides an added measure of safety.

Click here to view the full report

You can help Governor Blagojevich and Congressman Emanuel continue to fight for passage of legislation that will allow pharmacists, wholesalers and consumers to buy FDA-approved medications from other industrialized countries by signing our petition.

Click here to sign Governor Blagojevich's online petition.

December 8th, 2003

The Flu Vaccine Panic - What to do?

Everyone is talking about it. The "deadly" flu. And the two major pharmaceutical companies who make the flu vaccine are finished making it for this year, and are on to making next year's batch, according to CNN news. So what to do?

Well, also according to CNN, there is still plenty of flu vaccine out there for the asking. The problem, they say, is finding it. It is recommended that children, the elderly, and "caretakers" be vaccinated against the flu this year. So if you call your doctor or pediatrician and their supply is depleted, and they don't know when more is coming, what can you do?

One suggestion, for healthy people age 18-49, is to go out and ask your pharmacist to order you the "mist"*.(please read next paragraph for a differing opinion on this). CNN said ther is no prescription necessary (again, read the next paragraph for a differing medical opinion about the safety of administering the flu mist without a doctor's supervision and advice) for this mist, according to CNN,and it is a good alternative to the flu shot when the shot is not available. Those under 18, the chronically ill, or elderly should not use the mist without seeing a physician.(read below for a different view about the "mist")

We at NIPPIES spoke to a physician's office after the CNN report about the flu mist being "ok" for those between 18-49, without a prescription. The physician's representative disagreed with what much of what was said on CNN about it not being necessary to have a doctor administer the flu mist. She stated that the mist is a LIVE vaccine and should NOT be administered without a doctor's supervision and advice, in the opinion of those at her office. This is not our medical advice or view...we are just passing on an opinion.

Here's a link to the FDA's information page on the new live influenza virus vaccine (intranasal) called FluMist, which was approved by the FDA on June 17, 2003:
FDA's Information Page on the new intranasal influenza virus vaccine called FluMist

Here is another thing you can do: call your state or local health department to find out where the locations are where they still have supplies of flu vaccine. The link for most state health departments in the U.S., and for some local health departments, is here:


Other helpful sites which feature links and flu information are the Center for Disease Control web site:

Center for Disease Control - CDC web site

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also has many links and informational pages about colds and flu:

FDA web site

Good luck, and stay healthy!

December 6th, 2003

To Kill A Mockingbird: A DVD Worth Renting

Most films made over four decades ago have long been forgotten. To Kill A Mockingbird, the 1962 Academy Award-winning film (Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay) based on the Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning (1960) novel, is one of the exceptions. To Kill A Mockingbird remains not only a perennially popular book, but the film version is now available on DVD-a sure sign of a film classic.

I was too young to see To Kill A Mockingbird when it was released in 1962. For whatever reason, when it came out in the movie theatres during the early years of the Civil Rights movement, my elder sisters went to see it without taking myself and my younger brother along. I read the book during my high school years and was moved by it. Throughout the years, I've seen parts of the film, but never the whole movie. So when I saw the DVD on the local video store shelf, I decided to take it home.

I watched the DVD version of To Kill A Mockingbird with my nine-year-old daughter. She was entranced by the film from the opening credits: the music is harntingly beautiful. The first scenes show a close-up of the sort of inexpensive, little toys a small child might keep in his or her treasure box even today:jacks, glass marbles, an old watch which no longer worked, and odds and ends that only children of limited means-or great sentimentality-would value. My daughter happens to be both. I explained to her that, although the film was set in 1932 small-town Alabama, a time and place far removed from her own little world, she should pay particular attention to the details for several reasons:1932 was the year when her own grandmother-my mother-was about the same age as the children in the film; 1962 (the year the film was made) was when I would have been about the same age as "Scout", the little girl who narrates the film as an adult, and now, 2003, when my own daughter is in the midst of her tender childhood years and could, perhaps, someday share the wisdom of To Kill A Mockingbird with her own child. My daughter liked the mirror-in-a-mirror-in-a-mirror effect of that explanation.

Mostly everyone knows the two-fold plot of To Kill A Mockingbird:a young boy (Jem Finch, portrayed by Philip Alford) and his sister (Scout Finch, who narrates the film and is portrayed by Academy Award winning child-actress Mary Badham) growing up in small town Alabama during the Great Depression, learn how ignorance, prejudice, and hatred can wreak havoc on an innocent man's life as well as on the moral fabric of an entire community. Fortunately, Jem and Scout's father is not afflicted with the same ignorance, prejudice and hatred that colors the views of some of his fellow townspeople. Attorney Atticus Finch (portrayed by Gregory Peck) takes on the unpopular job of defending an unjustly accused, very poor black man, Tom Robinson (portrayed by Brock Peters) against charges of raping and assaulting a poor white farm girl. Atticus' courage teaches his children the importance of tolerance, fairness, and fortitude.

The secondary plot, but an important one from which the title of both the book and the film are derived, deals with the Finch's next door neighbor, Boo Radley. Boo (portrayed by thirty-one-year old Robert Duvall) is a recluse who lives with his parents, seemingly does not speak, and has not been seen in the neighborhood since he was a young boy some fifteen years prior to the opening of the film. Throughout their developing years, Jem and Scout hear stories about Boo's horrific appearance, anti-social behavior, and general personality deficits. Their fear of-and curiosity about-Boo Radley snowballs until it becomes intolerable itch that must be scratched. Scout and Jem, at first as afraid of Boo as their less enlightened neighbors (both adult and under-age), get to know Boo Radley throughout the fifteen-month time span that the film covers,and their knowledge of who Boo really is will change their lives forever.

Of interest: Scout and Jem have a summer friend who comes from away to stay with his aunt, another neighbor of the Finch's. Dill, the summer friend, only has limited presence in the film, and not a lot of importance to the plot, but his character is off-beat and memorable. He is a precocious, wealthy, old-beyond-his-years child. It has been said that Harper Lee, the author of the best-selling book and co-writer on the film version of To Kill A Mockingbird, based the "Dill" character on her own childhood friend, Truman Capote. Also of note: the child actor who played Dill, John Megna, is Connie Stevens' brother. John Megna passed away in 1995 from a HIV related disease.

To Kill A Mockingbird was directed by Robert Mulligan. The script was co-written by Harper Lee and Horton Foote. Harper Lee was born in 1926 (the same year as the fictional Scout). Harper Lee has long claimed that To Kill A Mockingbird is not autobiographical and not based on a true childhood experience. She wrote the book, her first and only novel, while working as an airline reservations agent in New York, where she moved while still in her twenties. Ms. Lee reportedly never gives interviews, is a very private person, and, for most of her adult life, has divided her time between her homes in Alabama and New York.

Gregory Peck, who won the Best Actor Academy Award in 1962 for his role as Atticus Finch, has referred to To Kill A Mockingbird as his favorite film among his own movies.

There are many faces in Mockingbird which will look familiar:Paul Fix (as the judge who appoints Atticus to defend Tom Robinson), who stared as "Marshal Micah Torrance" in 1958's The Rifleman, and also as true crime writer "Richard Bravo" (Rhoda's loving grandfather) in the 1956 Oscar®-winning film, The Bad Seed; Rosemary Murphy (Atticus' kindly next-door-neighbor, Maudie), who was nominated for several Tony awards during her long and distinguished stage career, including a nomination for the 1967 Pulitzer Prize winning play, A Delicate Balance, by playwright Edward Albee; Alice Ghostly (Dill's gossipy and uppity but small-minded aunt), who portrayed "Esmeralda" from 1969-72 on Bewitched and William Windom (the sarcastic prosecutor), who went on to star in the 1963 TV hit The Farmer's Daughter, as "Congressman Glen Morley", as well as "Dr. Seth Hazlett" (1985-1996) in Murder, She Wrote, are a few whose names should ring a bell.

Last, but not least, there was the outstanding performance by Brock Peters. Brock, who portrayed Tom Robinson (the falsely accused black man), was born in New York City in 1927. Today, as is much of the rest of the supporting cast of TKAM, Brock Peters is still active in films and voice-overs. His most recent work includes portraying "Henry McCord" in The Locket (TV-2002), "General MiQogh" in Star Trek: Starfleet Command III (2002), and as the voice of "Jomo" in the 2002 animated film, The Wild Thornberrys Movie.

To Kill A Mockingbird is not only a DVD worth renting, but a DVD worth buying and taking out to view and review from time to time.

December 4th, 2003

The Pepsi Boy - Hot Dog Girl Commercial: So Darn Cute!

"Hurry, hurry, come here!" Those were Mr. NIPPIES words as he called me in to look at a commercial. He knows that I do not, as a rule, like commercials. So we at NIPPIES knew it had to be a good one.

And so I left my pile of dishes and walked the short distance to the television room. On the screen was a girl with glasses who is dressed up in a vividly-colored (oranges, reds) hot dog suit. The girl was attempting to hand out flyers for a restaurant who sold-what else-hot dogs. Most people who passed by either ingored her or refused the flyers. Those who took the brightly colored pieces of paper generally threw them in the nearest trash can. After a few commercial seconds (which was supposed to be, most likely, an hour or so in real-time), the girl, feeling quite dejected, begins to walk. (Anyone who has ever worked telemarketing or other sales job will feel great empathy when viewing this commercial).

It isn't long before she spots a soulmate across the street. A boy, equally uncool, is dressed up as a Pepsi can in a Pepsi suit. The hot dog girl and the Pepsi boy make eye contact. They walk toward each other. They touch. It is love at first sight. The message is plain: hot dogs and Pepsi go well together.

This Pepsi commercial has no words until the end. It's adorable. Next time you see it- watch it. It's a winner.


Going Once, Going Twice, I'm Gone

We at NIPPIES plan on purchasing new living room furniture within the next year or two. So when we saw some neon-orange, black and white signs for a nearby furniture auction, we consulted with our little one in the back seat. "Should we go?", we asked. "Sure, Mommy!", was the enthusiastic response. I made the quick left.

The building where the auction was being held happened to be in the same building where my husband and I had, years before, made other furniture purchases. At that time, it was a privately-owned furniture store with a reputation for good, solid furniture at a fair price. The lone salesman, a middle-aged man named Frank who had been there for years, worked on a commission and gave great deals. Frank either was a great actor, or else he genuinely liked people. Personally, I think it was a case of the latter.

I parked the car in the rear of the store, helped the little one out of the car, and climbed the sloped parking lot towards the front door.

The sign on the once-glistening and now grimy glass front door announced: "No merchandise may be removed until the end of the auction. YOU are responsible for any and all damage that may occur to your purchase once you bid. CASH OR MAJOR CREDIT CARD ONLY - ALL SALES FINAL".

I'd never been to an auction before and attempted to orient myself by wandering through the couch and loveseat filled rooms, which bore no resemblance to the cheery and tastefully-decorated showroom I remember visiting many years ago. The merchandise was defininitely not high-quality. However, the price tags suggested otherwise: the average price per couch was about $1400. Loveseats went for about $1100. The stuff looked slightly used and reminded me of the furniture you see in those colored-flyers where you can furnish your whole room-end tables, lamps and all- for under $1000. Curiosity got the better of me, and so I stayed.

I must have looked slightly bewildered because, after a few moments, a large, middle-aged woman, who was dressed in medical scrubs and appeared to be a customer, turned her head as she walked by and asked me if I knew how "these things work." No, I responded, I've never been to an auction. She was a helpful soul, and quickly filled me in on the basics: you must register to bid; some "stuff" you can get dirt cheap and other items are over-priced; if you see anything you are interested in, you put your "paper" on it and "they" will bring it upstairs to be auctioned sooner rather than later, etc. I thanked her and went over the to portable desk to register.

The young man behind the desk, who appeared to have a personality which was light years removed from that of good-old friendly Frank, asked for my license. He took it, entered some information into a cash-register-like machine, then handed it back to me along with a stapled packet of orange-colored papers. The papers were a set of instructions and rules, along with my official auction number (606), and finally, on the last page of the packet, a sheet of paper which could be ripped in two. One of these two pieces of paper could then, as the woman in scrubs had told me, be placed on the item I wished to bid on.

My little one and I proceeded to look at the furniture again. "Mommy, this stuff looks old." She was right, of course. It did look old. Most likely because it had been loaded and reloaded in trucks over and over again when it didn't go at auction. We cut the browsing short, and proceeded upstairs to the auction "for the experience", as I told my daughter.

It was an experience. There was a lot of junk being auctioned that day. Not only furniture, but "milk-glass" fruit bowls, which looked like the type of glassware that comes free with flowers delivered from the florist, were on the block. There were no takers even when the price was lowered to $1.00. There were also a lot of junk and novelty items, like recreations of old railroad signs and other things that people like to place around their finished basements, being offered. Some of it went and some of it was carried off the floor. A nice recreation of a Tiffany "dragonfly" lamp went for $90.00. If it was made-well, and you can't tell if it was or not from a distance, it was a bargain. In the forty-five or so minutes we spent observing the auctioneer doing his spiel (he was fascinating to watch), I didn't see any of the couches or loveseats carried onto the floor. Some bedroom sets went rather cheaply, and a dining room set went for more than I thought it was worth. Finally, my daughter had had enough of the chilly atmosphere and fast-talking man behind the podium. We left.

Later that night, I took the time to read the full set of rules that were in my packet. They were truly frightening, and enough to scare any potential bidder away from that particular auction. It was made clear in the rules that once you bid on something, you must pay for it, no matter what. While this is a fair rule, what isn't fair is that it was stipulated that you must also leave that merchandise sitting on the auction premises-and therefore vulnerable to any type of damage-until the auctioneer, at his "sole discretion", allows you to remove it. The time of removal is normally at least two hours after the auction ends, but can at a later time-again at the "sole discretion" of the auctioneer.

I'm sure that every auction is different. Some must surely offer treasures to be had at bargain prices. This auction, however, wasn't one of them. And the next time I see a neon-orange, black and white sign inviting me and my credit card or cash to come visit, I'll pass right on by.

November 28th, 2003

Canadian Health Minister asks that drug companies stop advertising... We at NIPPIES stumbled upon an article on the internet about how Canada deals with health care costs. (The health care "industry" is one of NIPPIES' pet subjects, as you know.) Anyway, the health minister of Saskatoon, John Nilson, urged a federal committee to "stop pharmaceutical companies from doing direct advertising in magazines and on television."

Nilson explained his request: "Advertising of prescription drugs can result in inappropriate and unnecessary prescription drug use...It drives up the cost of health care and undermines the efforts of physicians, pharmacists and others to promote optimal drug therapy."

You can read the article, entltled

Nilson asks Ottawa to reject pharmaceutical ads

yourself by copying and pasting below:

Again, we at NIPPIES ask, why don't our country's politicians discard all the smoke-and-mirrors that many of them use in their faux attempts to cure the very ill (with terminal greed) health care system in the U.S.? I would vote almost any day for a politician who has the guts to stand up against the pharmaceutical lobbyists and just say NO. Perhaps such a courageous representative could also get a committee together to sit down and tackle the greed in the "health care industry". A great way to start is by writing a bill which would greatly limit the mark-up of prescription medications in the United States and prohibit the massive advertising campaigns which have saturated our television, radio, and print media.

Ted Kennedy and Tom Daschle, are you listening??

November 25th, 2003

Medicare Reform Bill: Who Benefits? The pharmaceutical industry, private insurance, and doctors, that's who.

Update: 10:00 A.M. - The Medicare Reform bill has passed the Senate (54-44) and will soon be LAW. (Does anyone doubt that President Bush will sign on the dotted line). This is a very sad day for Americans, and a very happy day for the pharmaceutical industry, private insurance companies, and for physicians. As Senator Ted Kennedy stated: today the HMOs,the pharmaceutical companies, and the insurance companies are the big winners. Our government will put over $400 BILLION dollars in the next ten years into the golden coffers of the pharmaceutical companies- and the threat of Canadian drug re-importation was squashed with the passing of this bill. Physicians also were spared the much feared 4.5% cut in their fees for Medicare patients that was looming on the horizon, and instead got a 1% increase with this law.

Senator Tom Daschle, a strong and outspoken opponent of the Medicare Reform bill (or, as some call it, the Medicare Compromise), made a statement after the vote. Dashle said in no uncertain terms that the lobbyists from the pharmaceutical and insurance companies had "packed the hallways" in support of this bill, and they will reap the benefits. Senator Ted Kennedy, another strong and outspoken opponent of the Medicare Reform bill, also expressed his disappointment in the passing of the bill. He has said, over and over, that this is the first step toward the "privatization of Medicare", and expresses grave concern that the privatization of Social Security is next.
Read on...

We at NIPPIES didn't know if we were for or against Medicare Reform bill, which is over 1200 pages in length, until we did a search on the internet and found out that the drug companies spent $135 million dollars lobbying FOR its passage. (see Based upon the amount of lobbying dollars, we at NIPPIES knew, without a doubt, that this law was about profits for the pharmaceutical industry: the Medicare Reform bill removes the government's ability to haggle over prescription drug prices. Much thanks to this morning's National Public Radio broadcast for enlightening us on this aspect of the Republican-sponsored Medicare Reform bill soon-to-be-law.

Does the NIPPIES staff need to tell you that the pharmaceutical industry contributed heavily in 2000 to the REPUBLICAN party? The Republican party sponsored the Medicare Reform bill. Republicans who opposed the bill include John McCain, a courageous man.

A little further searching revealed another interesting fact: that the Medicare Reform bill, if passed, will provide a 1% INCREASE in the amount paid to physicians for Medicare patients. Compare this to the planned 4.5% CUT that was planned for Medicare physician fees, and you don't have to be Einstein to know which way the AMA was leaning on the Medicare Reform bill.

The link which leads to the "Society of Nuclear Medicine" web site ( can be copied and pasted below. The article you will read, which came from the American Medical Association, states clearly that this is the last opportunity "we" (the physicians)will have to stop the proposed 4.5% cut in physicians' fees from becoming law on January 22, 2004 and urges all members (physicians) to literally stop everything and begin a barrage of phone calls, faxes, and e-mails to each and every member of your political representation, "including your two Senators. The message is simple: VOTE FOR THE MEDICARE PRESCRIPTION DRUG BILL!". But you'd better hurry if you want to view this article. We at NIPPIES have the feeling that once this bill becomes law, this shameful bit of rah-rah from the AMA will disappear quickly from the American Medical Association and the Society of Nuclear Medicine's web sites.
Link to is no longer in service.

Yes, we at NIPPIES know that the amount paid in physicians' fees for Medicare patients is low. We know that very well. And we know that many physicians are no longer taking Medicare patients because of these low fees. However, what IS sad is that so many, many physicians are continually pleading poverty in an era when then have never been wealthier. And we at NIPPIES strongly resent the cloak of concern for their patients that so many doctors hide behind when their real agenda is protecting their bankroll. To have a massive and very well-organized campaign (by the AMA) to push this Medicare compromise through the House and Senate based mainly on a fee increase for physicians in just plain selfish.

Edited December 4th, 2003: A recent visit to a doctor's office revealed at least one reason why some physicians are fed-up with the whole Medicare system. This particular bone specialist told NIPPIES that a large percentage of his practice involves treating the elderly. On the day we visited his office, he had just learned that Medicare was refusing to pay him for injections he had given to many of those patients...even though he clearly understood that these injections were covered.

There was an excellent article recently in The New Republic, written by Jonathan Cohn, about who benefits from the Medicare Reform bill: Medicare Reform: The Real Winners. We at NIPPIES are waiting for permission and the correct URL link from the folks at, but until we get that, we will paraphrase the article. Jonathan Cohn stated that the new Medicare Reform bill will put over $400 BILLION over ten years into prescription drug sales. Most important, it states that the "drug company lobbyists" managed to dump a provision that would have legalized the very popular, and currently illegal and FDA opposed, trend whereby Americans are re-importing cheaper- at up to a 80% savings - drugs from Canada. Canadian law protects its citizens from the price-gouging on prescription drugs.

It is ironic that earlier versions of the bill garnered support from senior citizens because it had a provision which would make it legal for the re-importation of drugs from Canada. This WOULD have meant that the seniors who are now purchasing drugs from Canadian pharmacies, at a reduced price of up to 80%, would have been able to do so legally. That part of the Medicare Reform bill went by the wayside once enough support for this bill was gathered to ensure its enactment into law. A typical bait-and-switch trick from tricky policitians and lobbyists.

It's no wonder that everyone is confused about who really benefits from this Republican-sponsored bill.

The whole Medicare Drug Reform bill is very confusing. We at NIPPIES believe the Medicare Reform bill was intended to be confusing. The we at NIPPIES don't think the major drug companies are confused about this bill. Surely the pharmaceutical industry biggies are doing a joyous jig as the Medicare Reform bill heads toward the Senate today for final approval. This whole thing is a smoke-and-mirrors effort to take the focus off the Canadian drug reimportation trend, which has been eating up the prescription drug profits for pharmaceutical companies. Something had to be done, and fast!! And, as always, the huge drug companies will get what they want. As always, it's "for our own good". Ahem.

All this would be so unnecessary if our government just passed laws like the Canadian laws which limits - severely - the amount of money that drug companies charge for their prescription medications. Canada did, why can't we?

November 21st, 2003

Triumph the Insult Cosmic Dog on Fresh Air with Terry Gross

We at NIPPIES are big fans of National Public Radio (NPR). We've talked about that in the past in our articles, and if we had 200 million dollars to leave in our will to NPR, as did Joan Kroc, the late wife of McDonald's restaurant chain founder Roy Kroc, we would. So it was not unusual for us to have our radio tuned to 89.9 FM, our local NPR carrier, last evening. What was unusual, however, is that the guest whom Terry was interviewing actually made us laugh right out loud. Fresh Air with Terry Gross is always entertaining, but not usually humorous.

Terry Gross's guest last evening was Triumph the Insult Cosmic Dog, who is really comedy writer Robert Smigel. Smigel was gut-busting hilarious. He speaks with a totally phony accent which is supposed to be French, but doesn't sound like a French accent. He had Ms. Gross in stitches with his constant use of purposely bleeped-out expletives-references to pooping-and his inability to understand why it is an insult for a woman to be called a "bitch". "Should a female dog be insulted if she is called a woman?", he asked.

Smigel/Triumph also spoke about his "63 years" in show years, that is. This was the first line we at NIPPIES heard, and it really caught my attention. I immediately turned the radio up from low to clearly audible. By the time Triumph/Smigel got around to asking Terry Gross if she had asked Garfield the same stupid questions she was asking him, we at NIPPIES were hooked. The Garfield crack was clearly a reference to the interview Terry did with Bill O'Reilly of The O'Reilly Factor a few weeks ago; O'Reilly walked out of the interview shortly after asking Ms. Gross if she'd asked Al Franken the same hard-line questions as he was being asked.

Triumph the Cosmic Insult Dog continued to entertain us with his rage over the old censorship rules. One of his favorite sayings is that he'll "poop on you", and he complained about the time he appeared on the old Steve Allen Show. He was not allowed to use the word "poop", and had to say he wanted to "relieve himself" on Steve's glasses.

Robert Smigel is the longest running writer on Saturday Night Live; he's been writing for the show since 1985. He's also a regular guest, as Triumph the Cosmic Insult Dog, on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Smigel is the creative genius behind the animated short TV Funhouse on Saturday Night Live, and classic SNL sketches such as The Superfans, The McLaughlin Group, The Sinatra Group. His father was a dentist who introduced tooth bonding to the public, according to his bio.

Also on's bio: In 2000, Robert Smigel was sued by because they claimed his Triumph the Cosmic Insult Dog character made comments about's TV sock puppet dog. We at NIPPIES don't know the outcome of that legal matter was for Robert Smigel, but we're sure Triumph had a sudden urge to "poop" on one of the opposing counsel.

Triumph has a new CD, Come Poop With Me, featuring such tracks as "Underage Bichon" and "Lick Myself".


Big News: Face Transplants

An article appearing today on, from Reuters Limited, stated that the skills needed for plastic surgeons to transplant one human face to another are already well established, according to a report by the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

The article goes on to say that, despite the available skill and technology to carry out a face transplant, there are still concerns about the psychological impact that such radical operation would have not only on a recipient, but the recipient and donor's family, as well. There are also concerns about the long-term effects of the anti-rejection drugs a recipient would have to take to keep the body from rejecting the face transplant.

"We do not feel that the time is appropriate at the moment," stated Professor Sir Peter Morris, the president of the Royal College of Surgeons of England to room full of reporters.

"It is one of the most exciting possibilities for plastic and reconstructive surgery," said Michael Earley, a plastic surgeon at Mater Misericoriae Hospital in Dublin.

All seem to agree that the recipient of a face transplant would not necessarily look like the donor. This is because the bone structure beneath the face would, of course, be different. Still, many in the medical field seem to think that a face transplant would be beneficial to those patients whose own face was greatly disfigured due to disease or injury. Changing Faces, a charity headed by Dr. James Partridge, whose own face was burned in a fire at age 18, welcomed the report given by the Royal College.


Fix-It Yourself Department: Sears Large Capacity Washer Woes

Do you have a Sears large capacity washer that stops right after the first cycle, or any cycle, and won't finish the load of wash? We at NIPPIES did. The washer was only 3 years old when this happened, and, knowing that "they don't make them like they used to", figured that it was time for a new washer and started scouting the newspapers for an appliance sale. Until, as a last resort, we pounded the top of the washer near the corner. It worked. The washer started right up and continued through the drain, rinse, drain and spin cycles.

This little bit of self-repair worked for a few weeks. Then the Sears washer died once more. Again, we at NIPPIES started looking through the newspapers for sales on washers. But once again that little light bulb in our head went off. We went to the basement, looked under the lid to see what was beneath the corner we had customarily been pounding, and saw a little oval-shaped hole. Hmmm. We ran and got an old, large-head toothbrush that we keep for scrubbing the group on the bathroom floor tiles and stuck it down into the little rubber-lined hole. Viola! Once again the washer started working.

We at NIPPIES have been using this method of self-repair on our now four-year-old Sears large capacity washer for nearly a year. And, knock on wood, the thing continues to work. Maybe it will work for you, as well.

Want to read more??

Read articles from past Nippies issues!

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Read what Ralph Nader has to say about President Bush's proposed $250,000.00 cap on medical malpractice awards...this response by Ralph Nader reveals what physicians' lobbying groups, such as the AMA, and insurance companies DON'T want you to know... :

Ralph Nader: Selling the U.S. Government to the Insurance Industry. ..MUST READ

Want to write to your U.S. Representative? NIPPIES recommends that you click here for addresses:

U.S. Representatives Addresses

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U.S. Senate Addresses

By the way, if you're reading NIPPIES in search of information on Amy Leland, the blonde Dell girl intern who is missing from the commercials of late, check for past articles!

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