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My New Year Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down List
by Beth Boswell Jacks

Mark Twain once wrote: “I, like all other human beings, expose to the world only my trimmed and perfumed and carefully barbered public opinions and conceal . . . wisely, my private ones.” Mr. T, I couldn’t have said it better.

Really, giving a thumbs up to a particular column topic is not always easy.

Sometimes I decide to write a certain column simply because I have a single point I want to make. For example, if I wanted to make the point that Ann Coulter is a pea-brain, I’d compose my thoughts around that one theme. But in this case, I can’t use that topic because I promised early on in my column-writing career that I wouldn’t discuss politics or religion.

(And I agree with Erma Bombeck that the third hands-off topic is cereal preferences. I’ve never written about cereal and won’t. You’re welcome.)

So that settles that. I’ll pass on describing Ann Coulter as a bonehead, even though I’d like to.

Eliminating the blathering political hate queen, therefore, from my list of potential topics for this week left several possibilities: (1) the interdependent global economy, (2) hairless cats, (3) teeth whitening strips, or perhaps (4) the resurgence of Barry Manilow.

After serious consideration, none of those four got a thumbs up -- so now you see how I found myself smack in the middle of a “Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down” frame of mind.

An “Atta Boy . . . or not” type of column began to form in my head.

Every newspaper and magazine we open at the beginning of a new year has articles telling us what’s in and what’s out, what gets a thumbs up and what gets a . . . you got it, an “in one year, out the other” sort of thing.

So here’s my personal list. Take it for what it’s worth, which ain’t much, but do understand nothing’s put here without lengthy deliberation (or at least as lengthy as the time it takes me to shower).

Shall we begin with these carefully barbered opinions?

THUMBS UP to the renewed popularity of fondue. Way cool in the early 70’s, fondue is back and are we glad. (How many groovy sets did YOU get when you married?) Just remember to drag crusts through the cheese in a figure 8 pattern to keep the mixture emulsified. Which brings me to:

THUMBS DOWN to anything not mixed well. Like hair dye or Metamusil.

THUMBS UP to Mississippi and Louisiana, among the twenty states who upped their funding of the arts. Yes!

THUMBS DOWN to decoupage and macramé. Artsy? But ugggly.

THUMBS UP to Bo Diddley, singer-guitarist, who just turned 75.

THUMBS DOWN to Paris Hilton. I thought she was a hotel. She must be somebody important, but I’ll probably never know.

THUMBS UP to dental office personnel who now soothe jittery patients with aromatherapy and sensuous foot massages. Ahhhhh.

THUMBS DOWN to dentists who’d rather drill my teeth than rub my feet.

THUMBS UP to the endangered peregrine falcon. Two thousand nesting pairs nationwide have now been counted. You GO, falcons.

THUMBS DOWN to the 105 pound birdbrain who was crowned Fruitcake Champ after swallowing 5 pounds of fruitcake in 10 minutes. She’s also set records by eating 43 tacos in 11 minutes and 68 hard-boiled eggs in 8 minutes. All together now: “YUK!”

THUMBS UP to the thousand pound python (almost 50 feet long) discovered in Indonesia. They say the thing eats 3 or 4 live dogs a month. Hey, buddy, you eat what you want -- tacos, fruitcake, whatever. No insults here. Stay, boy, stay!

THUMBS DOWN to anybody who tries to eat my dog Pharaoh.

THUMBS UP to Rod Stewart, whose album titled “As Time Goes By” was selected one of the ten worst albums of 2003. Those critics ate too much fruitcake. I say the album is easily one of the ten best ever . . . and I'm still enjoying it.

THUMBS DOWN to Britney Spears and all other kinds of noise pollution -- including Ann Coulter’s mouth.

Hey, now, as Vonnegut said, “So it goes.”


Editor of USADEEPSOUTH, Beth Boswell Jacks is the author of 3 books (Grit, Guts, and Baseball and Snippets I and II) and is also a weekly columnist for a number of Southern newspapers. Readers and editors may contact her at bethjacks@hotmail.com.
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