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Cranky are us 

With the master of poignant Observers off in Washington, D.C., this Observer grabs the mike to get cranky. Here's our demand: The autotuned video of Julia Child on AETN, coming right before "Downton Abbey," has got to go. Watching the "artist" Bob Ross is painful enough, but to hear him autotune "Happy Little Clouds" is enough to make you heave every cookie in the jar, and AETN makes you watch him before Masterpiece Theater too. And Mr. Rogers as well! Please. Not only are these videos awful, they go on forever, making the wait for "Downton Abbey" a nightmare. Hear our prayer, AETN. Take these abominations — insulting Julia Child, making the already sickeningly saccharine Ross even more ghastly and creating a head-scratching Mr. Rogers — and commit them to the sinkhole of hideous ideas. We'll try to forget about the horrible moments spent watching them.

And another thing: There's something hilarious about the daily paper's long-winded editorialist criticizing the president's inaugural address. Not everyone can put words together like Mr. Editorialist, no sir. Thank God. Guess we should be grateful he doesn't refer to the first lady as "Miss Michelle."

Meanwhile, this Observer has no truck with either the local daily's editorials or "Masterpiece Theater," finding both to be overwrought, self-important anachronisms that are best disregarded with prejudice. Well maybe that's a bit of a stretch. While we do find "Downton Abbey" to be a bit soap-opera-y and stuffy, it is nowhere near as repellent as the D-G's right-wing op-ed demagoguery, which is so often dressed up as patronizing, quasi-homespun aphorism. "Dear misguided young person, It was wholly a pleasure to read your letter supporting the idea that homosexuals are human beings who deserve equal protection under the law and the same rights as normal folks. However, as one of the Upholders of Civilization, duty compels me to disabuse you of such airy notions and blah blah blah..." Ugh. Moving on...

Last weekend the Observer traveled up to The Hill — also known as Fayetteville, or Fedvul — to visit the in-laws. Our better half had ventured up the day before with Junior in tow, and Junior and our mother-in-law (grandma codename: Giggy) had a big ol' time on Friday, playing and going on a walk and having snacks and watching a little "Monsters Inc." and all that good stuff.

Now, 15-month-old Junior is obviously the cutest, sweetest, most charming and preternaturally gifted child who ever donned a onesie, at least as far as your Observer and his kinfolk are concerned. But we must confess that in addition to those fine qualities, he also is a tiny, highly efficient mobile germ factory. Being exposed as he is at daycare to all those other adorable little petri dishes means that he too brings home every contagious, malady-inducing microbe making the rounds. When he first started daycare last year, your Observer was sick for what seemed like an eternity with a merry-go-round of assorted illnesses. But since then, his parents' immune systems have mostly kept pace with all the fun stuff he brings home.

Not so for the grandparents, though. By Saturday morning, poor Giggy had been laid low. She spent the entire day in bed and when Sunday morning came down and she was still worse off than ol' Kris Kristofferson sang about feeling, she went to the doc-in-a-box for the inevitable flu diagnosis.

Meanwhile, Junior and Mr. and Mrs. Observer still felt fine, but in the interests of playing it safe, the doc prescribed Tamiflu for all parties.

The Observer is old enough (and from a town small enough) to remember those quaint, bygone days when pretty much every business except for the churches was closed on Sunday. Heck, when we were a wee childe, even Wally World was closed on the Lord's Day. Imagine that!

It was nice back then, to drive around on Sunday with everything shuttered, the whole town taking a brief respite from the relentless churn of capitalism. But when illness strikes, it sure is nice that those seemingly ubiquitous docs-in-the-box and 24-7 mega-pharmacies are open for business, ready to fix you up with a scrip and some canned soup and liquids. We suppose we'll trade these modern conveniences for the slower pace of the old days. Might as well, it's not like we have a choice.

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