Wednesday, September 6, 2017


For as long as I can remember, I have always disliked the telephone. No, let me amend that: HATED the telephone. In my view, it’s always been an infernally intrusive pest, an insidious serenity-disrupting nuisance. For me, the ringing of a telephone doesn’t engender feelings of curiosity, or excitement, or anticipation; au contraire, my overwhelming reaction is invariably some mental variation of “Shut the <bleep> up and leave me alone!”

Of course, most folks have no such issues with answering a call; they pick up the phone, say “Hello?” and cheerfully proceed to engage with whomever and/or whatever is on the other end. Frankly, I don’t understand how anyone can maintain their composure in the face of so many horrible possibilities... I mean, think about it! Oh, sure, it might be Publishers Clearing House informing you that you’ve just won all the gold in Fort Knox. OR –and infinitely more likely– it could be the IRS saying that you owe them all the gold in Fort Knox. OR a wrong-number moron wanting to speak with Mr. Elmo Bugg. OR some idiot offering to sell you condo timeshares in Leviticus Notch, Iowa. OR The-Most-Annoying-Guy-In-The-World inviting you to come with him to Wal-Mart for the Annual Bowling Ball Blowout Sale. OR the eight millionth telemarketer with a Bangladeshi accent asking if you’re home. OR... but you get the idea, right? Call me a paranoid old mossback, but I am done with putting the receiver to my ear and hearing some obvious cretin demand, “Who IS this??”

Now, it wasn’t as bad in the good old days (cue me angrily waving my cane and shouting) when telephones were restricted to homes and booths on the street. Back then, you could actually evade the nerve-shredding BRR-I-NNG! by driving in your car, going to the beach, relaxing with a book under an elm, or climbing Mount Whitney. But nowadays, since the advent of portable cell phones –which, I am convinced, will hasten humanity’s inevitable extinction– there is no escape. Everyone has a phone, and they take the blasted thing everywhere they go; it’s become more of an appendage than a device. Not only that, cell phones have  seemingly become the primary form of human-to-human communication: abominations such as “texts” and “tweets” have not only reduced large segments of the populace to glassy-eyed fanatical phone-peckers (including the orange-haired you-know-who), but have given rise to an execrable form of shorthand typified by hideous acronyms like “ROFL” and “SYL”, or even worse, bastardized misspellings such as “UR” for “you’re”. Alas for the English language! The ability to converse in complete, grammatically-correct sentences has been so vitiated by this cell-phone/tweet/text addiction that I wouldn’t be surprised if, in the near future, humans lose the capacity to speak in anything other than grunts and squeals, like wild pigs or tapirs... sic transit gloria mundi!

Fortunately for me, I have an amazingly wonderful Significant Other who has none of these issues. Cool as a cucumber, she wields her iPhone with aplomb & skill, taking messages, arranging appointments, keeping everything from dissolving into chaos, and thereby sparing me the necessity of ever using my own iPhone for anything other than playing idiotic slot machine games based on Willy Wonka. Not only that, but being highly educated, she speaks in beautiful complete sentences that are music to my ears, and she absolutely shares my loathing for “UR” and “LOL”. Bless her heart!

But I still HATE the damn telephone, and– hey, wait, check it out! I just won 54 million dollars on the Oompa-Loompa Bonus... wow! Peck-peck-peck-peck...


Lannie Woulff

Monday, August 21, 2017


“Behold, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your territory, and they shall cover the face of the earth, so that no one can see the land. And they shall eat what is left to you... and they shall fill your houses and the houses of all your servants, as neither your fathers nor your grandfathers have seen, from the day they came on earth to this day...”
                                                                                               Exodus 10: 4-6

As I anticipate the upcoming thirtieth glorious year I have lived here in lovely Palm Springs, my mind overfloweth with appalling visions of crowded sidewalks, congested streets, overflowing restaurants, clogged traffic, lumbering RVs signaling left from the right turn lane, jam-packed movie theaters, supermarket aisles swarming with pallid Midwesterners buying cheap Styrofoam beer coolers and fluorescent green float noodles... in short, all the horrendous mental pictures that can only mean one thing: once again, inevitably, it’s TOURIST SEASON!!

Dammit to hell! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr...

Do I sound like a crusty, cranky, misanthropic old curmudgeon? Good, because that’s exactly what I am... at least from October, when the weather cools and the tourists arrive, through the end of May, when the intensifying solar furnace finally scares away the few remaining vacationeers (‘snowbirds’), who mistakenly consider daytime temperatures of 101° to be “hot”. (We long-term locals don’t even take notice below 110°.) Then –Hallelujah!– the roads clear, the crowds vanish, the birdies sing (until they collapse from heatstroke) and peace reigns once more in our sleepy little desert paradise.  

Of course, a churlish attitude like mine is distinctly at odds with those of the city fathers, merchants, and restaurateurs, whose livelihoods more-or-less depend on this annual invasion by multitudes of cash-dispensing out-of-towners. Yeah, I get it, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I mean, how would you feel being mired in traffic behind a behemoth Winnebago from Saskatchewan going half the speed limit and slowing down to gawp at every Burger King as if it’s the Taj Mahal?? Trust me, you wouldn’t, especially when it transforms what would be a ten-minute drive during off-season into an hour-long patience-shredding nightmare.

Meanwhile, since I really don’t want to stroke out from road rage, over the years I have adopted certain survival techniques to keep from losing my mind: First, whenever I’m compelled to venture forth into the tourist maelstrom, I’ve learned to stick to hidden back roads and out-of-the-way routes; which, while longer distance-wise, at least aren’t frozen into near immobility like the main thoroughfares. Also, I have gotten to the point where even from a distance I can instantly recognize –and execute fast lane-changes to avoid– many of the alien license plates, especially those from states where everyone, and I do mean everyone, seems to be in desperate need of remedial driving lessons. (The worst of these odious plates sports a detestable little green tree; every time I spot one, I can feel my blood pressure exploding upward.)

But you know what’s really odd? Despite this systemic antipathy toward tourists, I have actually spent most of my life living in various vacation destinations: St. Thomas, in the Virgin Islands; Eilat, on the shores of the Red Sea in Israel; New York City (a brobdingnagian concrete termite’s nest but nonetheless a tourist mecca for sure); and even Washington D.C., where nary a day goes by when the entire metro area isn’t smothered under a tidal wave of visitors. Come to think of it, the only time I truly escaped the tourist hordes was when I lived by myself on a small family farm in Northern Virginia: twenty-five acres, me, my cat, some cows, and blessed peace... “Far from the madding crowd”, as it were.

Now, by way of being somewhat less of a grouch, I suppose I could –should?– try to feel a bit more welcoming toward all these goggling, clueless, perpetually lost, sunburned, camera-toting, traffic-jamming, beer-quaffing, economy-stimulating human locusts... but no, I’d better not. My Malcontent Certification is coming up for renewal, and I can’t take a chance on it being revoked.

In conclusion, let me say this: If you’re ever thinking about coming to Palm Springs, my advice is... don’t. Just say ‘no’. Please. It’s not all that great, anyway. Would I lie? Dusty, hot, boring... Seriously, why not go somewhere really interesting, like Tristan da Cunha?

Y’all be good (or not),
Lannie Woulff

Sunday, August 13, 2017


Having lived my first five decades on the male side of Gender Street, I am naturally familiar with the ever-ongoing masculine imperative to be obsessed with all manner of “guy” things: Cars, sports equipment, firearms, motorcycles, snakes, knives, cherry bombs, dirt, profanity, fake rubber vomit, enormous dogs, itching powder and so forth. It’s all perfectly natural, and to be expected; as the old rhyme goes: “Snips and snails and puppy-dog tails.”

But perhaps the most guy-ish, testosterone-y thing of all is... wait for it... drum roll... FACIAL HAIR. Beards, mustaches, sideburns, muttonchops, handlebars, the nubs; by whatever name, they are all variations on a hirsute theme that’s as old (maybe even older) than homo sapiens itself. Have you ever seen a depiction of a clean-shaven Neanderthal? I haven’t.

Now, back in my guy days, I too harbored a powerful longing to obscure my distressingly smooth features with coarse black hair... although, in my case, the coarse black hair never really materialized, or even got much past the silky fuzz stage. Possibly my body was trying to inform me that I was really a girl and that I should abandon such a futile endeavor, but in any event, my efforts were... well, somewhere between pathetic and dismal. Being a bullheaded sort of fool, however, I did  finally manage to grow a meager mustache –it took me three years– that would have made Fu Manchu die of embarrassment, which I mistakenly believed made me look more manly. (To this day, I cannot look at old pictures of Mustachioed Me without wanting to hide in a cave somewhere.) In the end, I shaved it off the same day I quit wearing a filthy disgusting baseball cap and initiated my gender transition. The ‘stache has been gone for going on two decades now (hallelujah) and will never come back, thanks to five years of incredibly painful, incredibly expensive, and incredibly worth-it electrolysis... yay!

Where am I going with this? Well, I’ll tell you. One of my current pet peeves/rants/diatribes has to do with the fact that nowadays so many men of all ages run around sporting the wildly-popular, damn-near ubiquitous Unshaven Look... what I refer to as The Scruffies. As you may have guessed, I am NOT a fan of this trend; to me, it makes guys look unkempt, shabby, lazy, smelly (even if they aren’t), unsavory, and generally primitive. Plus, looking at these horrible facial umbras always makes me itch. What on earth possesses guys to do this?? I simply can’t see the attraction; although, full disclosure, my beloved Significant Other assures me that LOTS of women not only don’t mind, but actually LIKE fields of bristles on their men’s cheeks. Well, possibly so... but if you ask me, they need to have their heads examined.

When did this Scruffy phenomenon start? Where did it originate? Well, here’s my theory: Those of us getting on in years surely remember the 1980’s television series Miami Vice, with its pastel colors, cigarette boats, non-stop gunfire, and criminal druggies being dispatched by Detectives Tubbs and Crockett... the latter played by perpetually unshaven Don Johnson, who, I firmly believe, established for all time the archetype of the Scruffy Sexy Hero. Thanks a lot, Don... I loved your show, but why-oh-why couldn’t you find a damn razor??

Of course, many –in fact, probably most of today’s young Scruffies never even heard of Don Johnson or Miami Vice... and yet, here they are by the millions, polluting the landscape with unshorn facial follicles by the trillions, and it just drives me nuts.

As it happens, I am greatly blessed to have two magnificent young gentlemen in my life. One is a nephew, brilliant beyond words, thoughtful, kind, with a heart bigger than the planet Jupiter. The other is my soon-to-be stepson, a genial six-foot-five ripped Adonis who is so blindingly gorgeous that he blots out the sun... I kid you not. Do I even have to bother telling you that BOTH of these incredible male specimens are card-carrying Scruffies? With heavy facial growth?? Whenever either of them comes for a visit, I cringe inwardly, hoping against hope that they will have picked up a Bic or a Norelco or a machete and MOWED THE LAWN... For the love of God, Montressor!

Needless to say, my wishes go unfulfilled, and I end up being heartily kissed by what feels like a wire barbecue brush. Naturally, with typical male good humor, both my beautiful boys find Lannie’s "Scruffy" issues quite hilarious. They chortle, tell me how much they love me, kiss me again (ouch!) and promise to shave the next time.

And, you know, bless their hearts, once in a blue moon they actually do... but not nearly often enough. And it grows back overnight! Hopeless...

Envisioning a clean-shaven world,
Until next time,
Lannie Woulff

Sunday, July 16, 2017


Another fine Sunday morn here in blistering hot Palm Springs... perfect time for another unhinged rant, so let’s have at it, shall we?

I am not a dog person. From earliest onset of awareness, I have been a cat fanatic. (Actually, thanks to gender transition, I can now proudly claim to be a Crazy Old Cat Lady, which pleases me to no end.) Now, I don’t mean to re-ignite the eternal Cat vs. Dog debate (the conclusion is obvious, anyway) and I hasten to point out that I am, and always have been, an all-around animal lover. In my view, ALL the beasties are fabulous creatures and more-or-less preferable to homo sapiens: Aardvarks, kinkajous, macaques, lemurs, iguanas, flying squirrels, cats, tigers, lions, leopards, panthers, black widow spiders (whose habit of devouring their male counterparts after mating is extremely cool), and yes, dogs too; especially wolves, who are indescribably magnificent.

But having said which, I repeat: NOT a dog person. To me, dogs’ servile adoration of humans, aside from being wholly unwarranted, isn’t an appealing character trait. Neither is their happy willingness to chase sticks, bite at tires, bark incessantly, and leave steaming piles anywhere, any time. I just don’t see the attraction, y’know? I mean, if your kid did these things, how long would you stick around??

But there is one dog-related issue that chaps my butt more than any other: the whole “service dog” thing.

Now mind you, there is no question that so-called “Service Dogs” do exist; absolutely they do, and what’s more, they are extraordinarily brave and devoted animals, deserving the highest admiration. My parents owned a retired service dog once, a Golden Retriever named Newman, and by gosh that pooch was a hell of a lot smarter than 98% of the people currently serving in Congress, to say nothing of more honest. Newman passed away years ago, and I honor his memory to this day.

But what drives me hopping mad is the way so many undeservedly-entitled dog-owners assign the respected “Service Dog” designation to any old undistinguished cur, just so they can take it places where ordinary dogs aren’t customarily allowed. Seriously, where do they get off?? Just because it’s easy to buy some cutesy red dog vest online that says “Service”, that doesn’t mean you can bring your hideous Patagonian Poop-Yap into a restaurant where I’m eating! Bloody outrageous, I say. Especially repugnant are these teacup-sized little horrors who are lovingly referred to as “Therapy Dogs”... gimme an effin’ break. Their owners need therapy, all right, LOTS of it, but they ain’t gettin’ it from some misbegotten mutt.

The worst part of all this is that by co-opting a title that rightfully belongs to the highly-trained GENUINE service dogs , these canine frauds diminish the respect level that the others have rightfully earned... and I think that’s just plain wrong.

Nonetheless, it bears pointing out that, as is always the case, the fault here lies entirely with the humans, not the animals. Whatever else they may be, like them or not, dogs –and all other animals­– are permanently, unassailably innocent.

Uh-oh, I better shut up now. My Therapy Cat, Xena, is fixing me with a baleful glare that says, “Dammit, are you scribbling away in that idiotic blog again??)

Until next time, take care, have a good’un.

Lannie Woulff

Friday, July 7, 2017


It’s been six years since I posted an entry in this blog. Six years... wow! That may strike some as an astonishing display of idleness, but the fact is, it’s quite consistent with my lifelong habit of being spectacularly lazy. You see, I am inordinately fond of Doing Nothing, and in fact have perfected it into something of an art form. Whilst the rest of humanity ceaselessly scampers hither-and yon with almost frantic haste, I am perfectly content to sit on the sidelines, my mind in neutral, in a bemused state that, at full strength, leaves me only dimly aware that I’m alive.

Now, lest you think otherwise, this is not the same as meditating. From what I gather, meditation actually takes some effort; which, of course, is utterly incompatible with sure-nuff sloth. I mean, if emptying the brain requires any concentration at all, it’s far too much work for the likes of me. Not that sitting cross-legged for hours droning OMMMMMMMMMMMMMM isn’t an admirable way to kill time, but it’s still activity (sort of), and consequently far “outside my wheelhouse”, as the saying goes.

As you might suspect, some folks find my penchant for being lazy annoying, if not downright disreputable. This is especially true of my loved ones, who are mostly high-IQ go-getters with endless accomplishments and accolades to their credit. My late mother, a brilliant lady, never got anything less than an ‘A’ all the way from kindergarten through college –a feat which I easily managed not to replicate– and my lethargy drove her nuts. (Sorry about that, Ma.) The thing is, from the outset I found school to be a stupefying bore; pretty much the only thing I liked about it was the opportunity to sit for hours and daydream while the teacher babbled incessantly about things no reasonable person would want to know. I mean, who in their right mind gives a flying fick about the Gadsden Purchase??

Still, every rule has an exception, and on a few occasions I have “gotten it together”, as they say, and actually done stuff. When I was a lazybones thirteen-year-old boy I absolutely rocked my bar-mitzvah, blew the entire congregation away with my high-C soprano reading of the weekly Torah portion (the longest of the year, natch). I graduated from Princeton (God knows how), then in my early thirties I emerged from my comfortable torpor long enough to not only open a marine sporting goods boutique on the shores of the Red Sea, (which was madness) but to go bankrupt doing it (which was inevitable). There have been other minor eruptions of industry along the way, none of which had any real lasting impact.

But amazingly, and of most significance, I have written not one but two novels (pretty good ones, too) and am well into a third. How I’ve managed to do this is an absolute mystery to me, since writing is some of the hardest work imaginable. Still, incomprehensible or not, I must admit that it isn’t altogether unpleasant to be able to say “Hey, look what I did!” 

I’ll don't suppose I will ever understand the Type A workaholic busy-as-a-bee mindset, but so it goes. As far as I'm concerned, live and let live, and long may everyone prosper.

Good heavens... this post has gone on for far too long, and I’m much too lazy to write anything else... for now, at least. With luck, I'll be back before another six years has elapsed.

Bye-bye and be well,

Lannie Woulff