Thursday, March 21, 2013
Friday, November 16, 2012
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
It’s that time of year again… Everywhere we look, we see ghosts, goblins, witches, and skulls with flashing eyes. There are cauldrons and tombstones in front yards, and jack-o-lanterns on porches. It’s the time of year when it’s OK to be scared. We even like it, we seek it out. Scary movies by candle light, haunted houses and hayrides – costume parties, and trick or treating. Halloween can be so much fun, with no restrictions on age. I remember wearing those cheesy costumes, which tied in the back like some highly flammable, neoprene johnnie, with the plastic masks, which not only trapped every breath you exhaled, but had eye slits specifically engineered to allow zero peripheral vision. After all, why would you need to see to the side while crossing the streets at night? There were always dangers too – I mean, aside from running around in dark clothes at night, partially blind, while having to avoid open flames. There were creepy guys in vans, candy laced with LSD, razor blades in apples, and a whole slew of other things to watch out for. And as it turned out, the apples got tossed, all guys in vans were creepy anyway, and I never ate a Laffy Taffy and saw my army men perform the closing number from Godspell.
But now Halloween has a new ‘creepy guy in a van’ - Parents. Not all of us mind you, just a select, whiney few.
And for what? What is in it for the fun-busters? I don’t totally blame the schools. They unfortunately have to acquiesce to whoever complains the most, which is easier, and less expensive than getting sued for something. But why go out of your way to take the fun out of everything. What is it about Halloween that so offends you, or your little snowflake? Just like with the war on Christmas, (which I’ve written about in the past), we are giving more and more power to the oh-so-moral minority. And if we continue to refuse to take a stand, the proponents of political correctness, and overprotective parents will take the fun out of everything.
Look, I’m all about keeping kids safe, and God knows they need to eat healthier, put down the Xbox controller, and get out on the bike. But I really don’t believe in taking the childhood out of childhood. Let them be kids, and have a little fun once in a while. They have enough pressure on them. Look at us adults. After a long week at work, we can head out for a few cocktails and blow off some steam. Once a year, we can’t let the kids throw on cape and a little makeup, and throw them a few Snickers bars? (That’s a normal Friday night for me btw…)
Bottom line – let’s let our kids be kids. It goes by fast. Life will get serious for them soon enough – ahead of them is work, family, bills, and unending responsibility. My son just turned 17, and it’s amazing to me how quickly it happened. Ultimately, they have so little time to be silly, dream about being an astronaut, write letters to Santa, and dress up and pretend to be their favorite super hero once a year. It is unfathomable to me why there are those who would want to take that away.
“A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men” – Willie Wonka
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Remember, back in the day, when you’d feel sick, and your mother would take you to the doctor, (or he’d come to you)? He’d check you out, take out his script pad, and write a prescription for something that would make you feel better. (Usually something with codeine and alcohol, mind you… just what a growing 7 year old needs). What a concept – a doctor deciding the best course of treatment to cure what ails ya. But in recent years, we seem to have removed this burden from medical personnel, whom I’m pretty sure have to go to special schools for this kind of stuff, and opted to entrust drug manufacturers, and advertising agencies. Oh, yeah… and Wilfred Brimley. He’s got diabetes ya know. How funny it must be for a doctor these days. He tries to prescribe something to help with excess acid, and even though he’s got more things on his wall written in Latin than the Vatican, we kindly let him know that we’d like the purple pill instead, because hey – the guy in the commercial looked relieved. How did this happen?
OK – it was a rhetorical question. We all know how. Money, money, money… Pharmaceuticals are a multi-billion dollar industry. I remember the big rivals were Tums vs. Rolaids, and Tylenol vs. Excedrin. Now, it’s a bit more high stakes. And the saturation is absurd. Every commercial break during any show, movie, or sporting event on TV will have at least one product in the so-called healthcare family. Whatayagot? Joint pain, acne, athlete’s foot, high blood pressure, lines, circles, belly fat? They have commercials for herpes medicine. Do they not think a licensed MD can handle herpes? They need to get you to go and request stuff? I’d actually like to see the alternate version of the herpes commercial. Girl in the foreground, guy walking up behind her with a very serious look on his face… Girl begins, “I have herpes”. Guy – “and I… WHAT??? I thought this was a Pepsi commercial!!! Get Sid on the phone!”
I have another question – When did we all get so sick? Everyone seems to have ‘something’. Acid reflux is popular. Depression is huge. Hypertension, high cholesterol – the list goes on. Let’s not forget the acronyms… PAD, ADHD, GERD, Afib, IBS, PTSS and PMDD, which is kind of like PMS on steroids… Oy. We need drugs to cope, drugs to stay awake, to curb our appetites. We have drugs for erectile dysfunction, and drugs to help us sleep, (talk about your ups and downs)… There is even a drug now that acts as a supplement to your depression medication in case it doesn’t work by itself. I’m no doctor, but isn’t depression medication supposed to alleviate your depression symptoms. If not, isn’t it just pretty much a Tic Tac? So, just a recap – there is now depression medication for depression medication. You can’t make it up! Look - I don’t deny that some folks really have afflictions, where medication is a necessity, but come one.
I also find it quite intriguing, (as if to say, ‘hmmmm’), that there is plenty out there in the way of treatment, but not a lot in the way of prevention. Why? There’s no money in it. It really isn’t a horrible thing for the bottom line to have a high percentage of the population with what seems to be a cornucopia of ‘treatable’ ailments. Think of the dichotomy - It’s not uncommon to see a McDonald’s commercial hyping the new 1/3 pounder, followed by a Lipitor commercial. Beautiful! I don’t know. Maybe I’m nuts. Some things just really don’t make sense to me. Like, why have the red pistachios when you can have the tan ones and not have stained fingers? – Anyway, maybe we should take advertisements for what they are worth, (some are kind of funny), stop surfing WebMD, maybe try adding a healthy element or 2 to the every day, and let the medical folk make the medical decisions – not Madison Avenue.
Damn – now I want pistachios.
Monday, July 27, 2009
It was July 20th, 1969… Just a little over 8 years after President Kennedy made his speech in which he mentioned, “achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” Which was a scary gauntlet to throw down to the folks who actually had to do it. Virtually all of the technology to fulfill this little promise to the American people had yet to be invented. But, apparently Marilyn wanted a moon rock necklace, so… And granted, it did take close to half a million people, and around $22 billion, (that’s 60s money btw), but they did it. And with that, folks began to wonder… Are we done? What is our next great achievement?
All through our history, it seems there’s been something to strive for. Great achievements to better mankind, and keep America competitive and strong. Edison, Westinghouse, Bell, Morse, Eastman, Ford… and the list goes on. How about Wilbur and Orville Wright? A couple of bicycle repairmen who were stupid enough to think they could fly! Louis and Clark heading West to see what was out there. Of course, they eventually hit LA and immediately got hammered by the fashion police. “Beaver pelt in June? Puh-lease…” We climbed Everest, (without Gore-tex mind you). Made it to the North Pole. We had the industrial revolution. Yes, we actually made things, and were impressed by progress. The cotton gin, the printing press, and moving pictures wowed the people of their time. It seems very rare nowadays for folks to really be taken aback by great feats, or new technology. Is that the problem? Are we just unimpressed? We have people living in an orbiting space station, our iPods contain entire record collections, doctors can now do ‘micro’ surgery with actual robot arms, our GPS systems hold our hand and guide us to Aunt Millie’s house, our favorite vacation spot, nearest restaurant, or strip club… (I hear!)
I think about my son’s life, and the things he’s always known. There has always been digital music, DVDs, camcorders, video games, microwave ovens, personal computers, and cell phones. Maybe it does take more to impress someone who has been inundated with technology their entire life. Those of us who are a little more mature, and wiser… aw hell – older, remember having to mess with antennas, and the dreaded ‘outer’ dial to try to limit the snow on a UHF channel so we could watch the 3 Stooges. Then suddenly, there was crystal clear cable… magic! Pong, Commodore computers, bag phones – all of these great strides in technology really got our attention back in the day. How about safety? When we were kids, the only airbag we had was maybe a sibling sitting between you and the steel dashboard of your parents car… You know, the one with the seatbelts stuffed way down between the seats. How about medicine? We have over the counter remedies for ailments that killed people not so many years ago. They taste better too!
I do think that’s the case. We seem to be simply hard to impress. Throughout all of the Apollo hoopla, I heard over and over again, ‘why haven’t we done anything great since?’ I don’t think it’s a case of lack of great achievement on our part. I think great achievements happen at a rate that we are either accustomed to them, and therefore almost numb to them, or we just can’t keep up. Imagine the guy who just got an echocardiogram done so his doctor could see a live, 3D, multicolor view of his heart beating to check on a murmur he heard. This guy is now on the road, talking to a client in Japan on his Bluetooth, his GPS guides him to his next meeting, as his iPhone gives him up to the minute traffic updates, (Yes – there’s an app for that)… And, ironically, this is the guy who’d say, “Ya know, we can put a man on the moon, but we can’t stop the condensation on my iced coffee from dripping on my pants when I take a sip!”
‘and that’s the way it is…’
Walter Cronkite 1916-2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Mask? Check… Purell? Check… Panic? Check… Okay – you can leave the house now. But, no shaking hands, no kissing, no hugging, no sneezing, and whatever you do – try to refrain from licking any pigs. (Didn’t see that on CNN, I’m just assuming.)
Yes, my friends, it’s upon us – the 10th plague. At least that’s what the cable news folks want us to think. The Swine Flu is back! It’s been a while… I think last time through, it toured with Boston, and Blue Oyster Cult. But this is a different strain – harder to contain, scarier, and infecting more people… Like Amy Winehouse after a bender. This new strain is a viral cocktail comprised of not only swine flu, but human, and bird flu’s as well. What the hell is going on in Mexico anyway? Should someone tell our neighbors to the South that the ‘Speak n Spell’ where you point the arrow to the farm animal and pull the string, is not a talking ‘spin the bottle’ game? Actually, it seems that the most likely origin is one of the biggest factory farms in Mexico. Sure, factory farms heavily contribute to high methane emissions, land degradation, nitrogen pollution of land and water, and now - new diseases… But Oh my God! The meat just falls off the bone!!!
Whatever the cause, can we just calm down a little? What is it about peril, and impending doom that we Americans find so alluring? Simply mention things like ‘new strain’, or ‘pandemic’, or ‘virulent’, and suddenly we all turn into Glum from the Gulliver’s Travels cartoons – you remember that depressed, monotonic, “we’re doooomed… We’re all gonna die”. And the media loves it. The apparent Apocalypse is great for ratings. Of course, they don’t just report the news, which would be that there are only 50 cases in the U.S. – hardly reason to panic. (that’s as I’m writing this – if, when you read it, the world outside looks like NYC at the beginning of ‘I am Legend’, maybe I was wrong). But they go on and on with ‘worst case’ scenarios;
“If the disease were to morph further, causing people to, say, spontaneously expand to 4 times their normal size, those wearing unnatural fabrics, like polyester, could suffocate in their own clothing… And if this were to take place as the sun exploded, there would be little hope for the cotton wearers as well, Tom…”
And why is the media staying away from what’s really going on? It’s really starting to smell of conspiracy… Think about it – Chicken Pox, Swine Flu, Mad Cow Disease, Eastern Equine Encephalitis…. I can’t be the only one to whom it’s painfully obvious that Old MacDonald is the Angel of Death!!!
And how much of the evolution of these diseases is our fault? Antibiotics are over-prescribed by doctors, and misused by us. We’ll sometimes take them to avoid getting sick. Which not only doesn’t work, but over time has helped to breed more resilient bacteria. That’s why we never see Penicillin prescribed anymore. It was the miracle cure for a time, was prescribed for everything, (I think at one time it came in a Popeye Pez dispenser), and now most bacteria is immune to it. There is also the argument that antibacterial soaps may be contributing to different types of bacteria becoming more resilient. We used to wipe the counter with a sponge, now we have the entire CDC in a spray bottle. ‘Out damn spot… Out I say!’ (I know – King Duncan wasn’t bacteria… But I heard he was a fungi).
Look, when it comes right down to it, Swine Flu 09 is an aggressive form of influenza. We’ve all had the flu. It’s not fun… It’s not Leprosy either. Unfortunately, like other strains of the flu, this will be dangerous for the very young, and very old. All we can really do is what we would normally do to avoid catching a cold. Keep your hands washed, try not to get sneezed on, and I already mentioned the ‘licking the pig’ thing. Also, keep in mind – during flu season in the U.S., an average of 40 million people get the flu, resulting in about 35,000 deaths. – That’s every year - But they don’t keep a daily tally for this on cable news. So as we see Swine Flu cases begin to rise… and we will - every day… maybe we can try to keep some perspective, and try not to panic. Oh - If anyone needs me, I’ll be in my custom built, ISO 14644-1 certified, hermetically sealed ‘clean’ bunker, complete with redundant HEPA and ULPA air filtration, and reverse osmosis water purification. By the way, I dictated this blog… keyboards are the petri dishes of the office world.
Good luck everyone…
“A-th-th, a-th-th, a-th-th – That’s all folks!”
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Is the entertainment industry completely out of ideas? From movie remakes to an almost constant barrage of so-called ‘reality’ shows… their incredible lack of creativity is evident at every turn. What ever happened to writing? There is an actual Writer’s Guild, so there must still be writers. No reason to have a guild if not. I’m really not actually sure what a guild is to tell you the truth. Sounds prestigious enough. I wonder if they have a secret handshake, and have to wear a red, tasseled fez to meetings where they take ‘minutes’ and talk about dues and stuff. Can I start a guild I wonder? I could probably join theirs, since I’m doing more writing right now than ‘the guild’ did over the entire Bush Administration. It’s kind of our own fault though. If they put it on TV, we tend to just watch it - whatever it is.
I guess I just don’t see the appeal of the reality show. I live in real life – I don’t want to watch it when I get home. I want revenge fantasies. I want to see the guy in the movie do what I wanted to do to the nit-wit who cut me off in traffic, but couldn’t because I’d go to jail. I want to see Dr House be extraordinarily un-PC in a ridiculously over the top PC world - and get away with it. And I want Jack Bauer to keep having much worse days than I could ever have. Why do I want to see a gaggle of pampered housewives, who want for nothing, and contribute nothing, sit around, whine about their lives and bitch about their husbands… Isn’t that what we have neighbors for?
I don’t care if Brodie Jenner gets a new ‘bro’. I don’t want to see your intervention, or little people buying groceries, or top chefs, top models, cougars, millionaires, bunnies, sextuplets, survivors, racers, or Joan Rivers try to smile. And I’m fairly convinced American Idol represents the unlocking of the 4th seal of the apocalypse. (You know Randy Jackson had to have made some sort of deal with the devil – ‘dog’).
What I’m really annoyed with is what’s going on in the movie industry. I recently sat through ‘the Day the Earth Stood Still’ with Keanu Reeves. I’m a big fan of the original from 1951, and wanted to see what they did to it… Ugh! Just another empty, boring script relying on CGI to get them through. Why? Why do these studios feel the need to mess with the movies we love. Is it ego - the feeling they can ‘do it better’? Or is it purely economics? They’ve already sought to destroy The In-laws, Sabrina, Psycho, Planet of the Apes, and King Kong, just to name a few. And this year alone, the list of remakes slated to be made are Arthur, The Birds, Clash of the Titans, Karate Kid, Footloose, (oy!), The Dirty Dozen, and My Fair Lady. There are actually about 40 others as well.
OK – You may be thinking this is a fairly benign thing to bug me as much as it does, or that I’m a little crazy, or being a little dramatic, or that it takes me too long to return calls, or that I look really good in baseball hats - and that may be true. But I think movies are an art form, like paintings, or songs, or books. A representation of someone’s vision, passion, effort, and sacrifice. You’d never see a picture of a seated, homely woman with a crooked smile, drawn in crayon, and entitled ‘Mona Lisa’, hanging in the Louvre. And while recording artists cover songs all the time, they don’t change the lyrics… Well – P Diddy aside of course.
Look – ranting aside. There’s nothing wrong with a little mindless TV – whatever relaxes you, and helps mark the end of your long day is fine… Hey, one of my favorites is a reality show - Deadliest Catch - and I love South Park... doesn’t get more mindless than that. It just disturbs me that Housewives of Orange County, and Who wants to Marry a Millionaire are now synonymous with American Culture. From the golden age of television, to the magic of Hollywood, America set the standard in film and television entertainment. There is a certain responsibility that comes with that, and I hope that is something we don’t lose sight of.
(I wasn't kidding about 'Idol' - Locusts to follow... Dog!)