The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local Columnists

December 8, 2013

MICHELE M. BENDER | Shop until you drop

NANTY GLO — Is it my imagination, or have advertisers dialed back the Christmas hype this season?

Shaq’s peddling pain meds, Gold Bond everything and Buicks, while Brooke pitches milk, Foster Grants, Lazy Boys and Latisse (“Miracle Gro” for eyelashes), but that’s pretty routine.

K-Mart shows a couple suffering uncontrollable spasms. Neighbors explain they’re “gifting out.” They’re also insulting everybody’s intelligence.

The Miley Cyrus Obscenity Prize goes to “Joe Boxer Underwear.” Six young men sporting tuxedo tops, Santa hats and boxer underwear equipped with bells, gyrate to “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.”

Advertisers drag out the old reliable stuff when shoppers approach desperation. Only folks in late stages of agitation and frenzy would purchase Clappers, Snuggies (blankets with sleeves and hoods, ideal for cult members), chia pets or the singing fish mounted on his wooden plaque.

Have you seen the ad for the colorful, motion-sensitive talking plastic parrot on his gold perch? The “voice-over” points out his “advantages” too enthusiastically ... actually scary. “No food to buy,” says the voice. “No water, no mess, no cage to clean. Enjoy your pet effortlessly.”

A STEPFORD PARROT!!  Have mercy!

Readers, do you have a senior on your list? Let me, for once, seriously, help with gift ideas!

1. Gripper sox. Readily available, low-priced grips keep seniors snug and safe.

2. Old Brooklyn Lantern. Rarely costing more than $15, this battery-operated gizmo requires no oil, wick, or flame. (I have two!)

3. A copier. We don’t need a multi-tasking unit that scans, faxes, prints and makes breakfast. A simple copier will help us geezers preserve documents, receipts, instructions, RXs and more. An actual copy of something is awesome to prove YOU are not some senile wingnut.

4. A Trac Fone. I have a “landline” and a cell, but my Trac Fone is strictly for emergencies. The phone itself is usually under $20. And, yes, you have to purchase time cards three or four times a year to keep it active.

Consider the alternative: a pricey “life-saver” system. A Trac hour is $20. Three or four times a year adds up to maybe $80. And you only buy the phone once. My gal pal Denice gave me mine eight years ago. It’s always in my walker bag, or in one of those inconspicuous “wristlets” that are popping up everywhere. Men can easily hook one to a belt or pocket.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local Columnists
  • Local Columnists

    Robin L. Quillon
    Chip Minemyer
    Tom Lavis
    Mike Mastovich
    Cory Isenberg
    Zachary Hubbard
    Michele Bender
    Bill Eggert


    July 6, 2010

  • Michele Bender MICHELE M. BENDER | Time to can clutter

    I’m “downsizing.” Sixteen years ago, this house was perfect for me. I gave parties. Friends came and stayed for weekends. Great insulation protected visitors from highway noise.
    Yep, I had the time of my life.
    But I’m 16 years older, and my friends are, too.  They no longer travel like they did. Parties wear us out by 10 p.m.

    June 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Siehl, Jim color JIM SIEHL | Richland student excels in class, on field

    Ben Verhovsek is a humble, soft-spoken young man who by his nature resists all forms of public adulation.

    June 14, 2014 2 Photos

  • Music, comedy on tap for pre-Thunder bash

    With Thunder in the Valley right around the corner, organizers are hoping to make this year’s event the best yet and are holding a launch party to get people in the mood for the motorcycle rally.

    May 10, 2014

  • Jim Siehl JIM SIEHL | Music to my ears

    Seldom has $15 produced such a high level of entertainment as it did a few weeks ago when I found myself in the second row just left of center keeping back the tears once again during my third live performance of “Les Miserables.”

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Curtis, Shawn SHAWN CURTIS | Pirates win has familiar feel

    As much as all the fuzzy feelings of the 2013 season came to an end when Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano fired a first-pitch strike to Emilio Bonifacio at 1:14 p.m. on Monday afternoon at PNC Park, the 1-0 win took the shape that many Pittsburgh wins did a season ago.

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Eric Knopsnyder ERIC KNOPSNYDER | A fresh take on funnies

    Did you notice some funny business in our comics pages recently?
    Many of you did and contacted the newsroom to ask why “Doonesbury” and “For Better or For Worse” were no longer appearing in our publication.
    There’s a simple explanation: They are no longer being produced.

    March 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Siehl JIM SIEHL | Basketball officials never win

    Today’s column bounces from local politics to basketball after two previous articles concentrated on Jesse Topper’s successful launch into a new career as a state representative.

    March 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Michele Bender Michele Mikesic Bender | Playing the name game

    So, did you decide on the ‘popcorn dress’  for the church dinner?” asked Judi, my Communion Lady.
    “No, I think the ‘hydrangea dress’ might be better,’’ I answered.
    “You name your clothes?” Denise’s jaw dropped.

    February 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bill Eggert Columnist Photo Bill Eggert | A heartfelt message of thanks

    February is the month the medical community sets aside for matters related to heart health. That makes sense, given that Valentine’s Day is right in the middle of the month. So it was ironic that I found myself dealing with the matter of the heart in a serious way this month.
    This column is a valentine to the staff of the Conemaugh Health System.

    February 22, 2014 1 Photo


What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

     View Results
Order Photos

Photo Slideshow

House Ads