Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The War on Christmas

We’ve once again entered into a scary time. Sure, we’ve been here before, but as the years go on, the threat evolves. It becomes more intense, and less predictable. It’s getting harder to foresee where it will happen, or by whom. It may be at the mall, at work, or while innocently walking down the street. But it’s inevitable… You will at some point be drawn into the newest round of the war on Christmas. Yes, I remember a time when ‘Merry Christmas’ was a nice friendly greeting… Now, for some, it’s tantamount to calling one’s mother some sort of farm animal. How did this happen? It amazes me the silly battles some folks are willing to fight, and how year after year, the offenses get more and more absurd. Displays bother people, Christmas carols bother people, commercials, T.V. specials, store ads, and of course, the afore mentioned greeting bothers people. And once again, by ‘people’, I mean a relatively small group of whiners, who were probably somehow wronged around the Holidays… who knows, maybe they got shit on by Prancer during a Christmas Eve fly-by, (though I hear that’s good luck, sans the dry cleaning). So now they need to pick fights with folks who actually have a little cheer.

It all started a while back with a few people complaining about manger scenes being represented on state, city, and federal government properties… OK, I get it. Separation of church and state. It doesn’t bother me, (because I’m not a whiner), but I get it. We trust God on our money but he needs to keep his damn kid off the lawn! If only Christ had run for office. “Re-elect Alderman Jesus – I promise fewer stones on the dirt road to the future”

It didn’t stop there though. The last thing you want to do is give a squeaky wheel a victory. Next, it was the word; ‘Christmas’. We can’t call it Christmas… That’s too… um… Christian! Silly Christians… Having a celebration for the birth of Christ who, incidentally, happens to be the basis for their entire religion, and having the audacity to name it after Him? Shameful! It’s funny how every Christmas attack is based in religion, religion, religion. But the whiners always fail to stop and think, (which takes effort, and usually results in the ingestion of extra strength Excedrin), about the fact that Christmas, while being 1st runner up on the Christian holiday calendar, has also become it’s own secular holiday, almost completely removed from religion. We put up Christmas trees, make snowmen, we have candy canes, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, the Grinch, and the Grand Poobah himself... Santa Claus. Let’s face it, 2 of the founding properties of our nation were freedom of religion, and that ours would be a Capitalist society. Christmas has it all! You can celebrate the birth of your Lord and Savior, and get 25% off a 46” Sony HDTV flat-screen with free shipping.

I know, I know… It’s not just Christmas this time of year, there are other celebrations going on as well. Which is fine – the more, the merrier! Wait, can I still be merry? I’ll have to check. We also have the Freedom From Religion foundation who believes in… well, not believing. Which is also fine, or would be if they weren’t on a crusade to 'free' the minds of the faithful who are hypnotized by religion, which I think actually makes them a religion… Phew! But why? Why do they care? Let me celebrate what I celebrate, believe what I believe, leave me in peace to watch ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, drinking my egg nog, (with a little Captain Morgan), and LEAVE ME THE HELL ALONE! As for vernacular, I’m a ‘Merry Christmas’ guy… But hey - Say Happy Holidays if you want, or Happy Hanukah, Happy Kwanza, and for the Freedom from Religion folks, Happy Thursday afternoon! It’s just a greeting. An effort by someone you may not even know, to be a little friendly… Where’s the crime in that?

I guess it just escapes me, what exactly the whiners get out of these little victories. Is it a gripe with the Catholic Church? Believe be, I have an issue or two with it myself. But like Hanukah, Kwanza, the Solstice, or Festivus for the rest of us, Christmas – religious, or secular, hurts no one. Some of my dearest memories are adorned with Christmas decorations. I remember being around 7, creeping down the stairs in feet pajamas, into the parlor while it was still dark. We had one of those silver foil trees that changed color as the wheel of different colored gels passed in front of a spot light that shined on it. Off to the side, Santa left me my Roadrunner pedal car… Still in my top 5 best gifts.

But nothing beats creating the magic. My absolute fondest memories are of my son on Christmas mornings. His mom and I would always have Santa leave something behind, a sleigh bell in the yard, a note… One year, he knocked a brick out of the chimney – it was right on the living room floor! That Santa… The best part though, was the look on his face that second he saw the toys, and realized Santa had been there… I’ve experienced nothing else that rivals the feeling of seeing that face. Then we’d play the ‘Charlie Brown Christmas’ soundtrack, and he would ‘have at it’! And I’m not alone… There are millions of others with millions of memories just like that to cherish. Memories that would not be were it not for the magic of Christmas. Why would anybody want to mess with that?

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night…”

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Industry of Cool

The other night on VH1 classic, there was a highlights show on ‘Live Aid’ from 1985. I have the DVDs from the show, but haven’t watched them in a bit. The highlights show was cool because it showed one song each, from only the real heavy hitters of the show. Clapton’s ‘Layla’ segueing into Queen’s ‘We are the Champions’ followed by David Bowie, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, The Who, and Paul McCartney. This got me to thinking, how lucky I am to be a fan of music, and to have grown up when I did. To have so many great artists, so many heroes of folk and rock around at the same time. The first album I can really recall listening to, was Abbey Road. It was at my cousin’s house… I was only 4, but I remember the apple on the album spinning around, and I remember sitting on that braided rug, looking at the album cover picturing these four strange guys crossing the street, in front of that white VW Beetle, and singing along with ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’. Fun song for a kid – then you find out later, your first favorite song was about a serial killer… I’m so conflicted.

After that, the radio and I became good friends. At bed time, I needed the lights out, and the radio on. Oh, and what a good friend it turned out to be. I was introduced to The Guess Who, Led Zeppelin, The Stones, The Kinks, (who by the way would be my first concert), Jim Croce, The Who, CSN, Cat Stevens, and on and on and on… I loved music. Eventually, I would be able to listen to my brother’s 8-tracks when he wasn’t around. It wasn’t easy either, I had to make sure I left each one on the right track, at the right place in the song where he had left it. Of course, anyone under the age of 35 has no idea what I’m talking about. You never had to learn the tricks of putting pennies on your turn table’s needle to play a record that had some scratches in it, or sticking a matchbook under one side of an 8-track tape to stop ‘bleeding’ from another track… Jesus, I’m old! But so are you if you know what I’m talking about. Sneaking a listen, which entailed ‘touching my brother’s stuff’, was worth the risk of bodily harm and potentially eating through a straw for a while, because being able to listen to a whole album was an experience quite different from hearing a scattering of songs on the radio, inserted amongst a cacophony of commercials, traffic and weather, and witty DJ banter. A whole album with all the fades, intros, and nuances that could never be heard on the radio? Nothing like it.

It was more of a special thing when albums came out back then… an event. There was sort of a ritual to it. Depending on the artist, you could get lost in the artwork on the cover. You’d read the liner notes. Then gently place the needle on the shiny black space before the first track, then just sit, listen, and read along with the lyrics on the album sleeve. The first album I ever bought with my own money, (that I probably got from my mother), was Elvis Costello’s ‘My Aim is True’… I actually still have it. Of course, the version I listen to now is digitized, and on my Ipod. And while it’s amazing to me still, that I have an entire record collection in the palm of my hand, and can take it anywhere, I do miss that feeling of bringing home the newest collection of 10 or 12 tracks you’ve waited months for, (or in Pink Floyd’s case, a presidential term), in that flat square bag, the likes of which are only seen in calendar stores now, and listening to it for the first time through those giant padded headphones that could block out the ambient noise of a 747 revving for take-off outside your window. We don’t really listen to albums anymore. We’ll put one on in the background at work, or at the gym, but it’s just for noise. Itunes, Zune, and Amazon allow you to buy 1 song, or 2, or 5… whatever you want. These days artists seem to try to compile a collection of hits, as opposed to an album. It’s a shame, but it’s not entirely their fault. Their record company’s bottom line, coupled with our ever shrinking attention spans, dictate what an artist has to do to survive these days.

Yes my friends, somewhere along the line, art, and artists have lost their way. Stardom used to be a by-product of artistic success, now it’s the goal. And a new hit on the radio meant just that – new. This past Summer’s biggest hit was Kid Rock’s ‘All Summer Long’, which was essentially ‘Werewolves of London’ with some ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ mixed in. The chorus even had the words ‘sweet home Alabama’ in it. Are you kidding me? The same is true in Hollywood. Remakes, remakes, remakes…

Think about it… Our parents, and grandparents had Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Sanatra, The Andrew Sisters, Benny Goodman, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley, to name a few. And again, I’m lucky to have had the great artists I had to grow up with. Some of the greatest songwriters, singers, and musicians who ever lived, have written the soundtrack to my life. I wonder, in this world of Itunes, American Idol, and Making the Band, if there will be any ‘great’ artists remembered from this generation. I hope so, there are some really good bands around right now. I hope one day they can be free of A&R people, focus groups, and sales charts, so we can really see what they are capable of. I hope my son can look back on a moment as powerful, and as tangible as my Abbey Road memory.

“… and they will ruin rock and roll, and strangle everything we love about it… And then it just becomes and industry of cool.” - Lester Bangs (Almost Famous)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Quid Pro... No

We hear the word politics, and we think about… well… politics. Someone running for office, or making a deal to get a bill passed, or seeing a mayor appoint his brother in law, Del, Head of the Traffic Dept right after he gets fired from Dairy Queen… again. And while those are all prime examples of politics, they don’t quite cover it all. There is politics in almost everything we do, all day long. There’s politics at work, in the schoolyard, sometimes in the family, (I’m sorry if you’re not the Golden Child… But there is one, isn’t there?) There is politics behind what you listen to, what winds up on TV, or in the theater. How about what shelves in the super market certain foods go on? In the 80s, we even had the Politics of Dancing! (Never dreamed I’d ever reference a Re-Flex song… Ah well, at least I stayed away from Wang Chung!) Miriam Webster defines politics as, ‘the use of intrigue or strategy in obtaining any position of power or control’. Intrigue, and strategy… talk about your wide open parameters. Intrigue can be achieved by pretending I’m who I need to be in order to appeal to those who will ultimately give me what I want. And strategy can be everything from shaking more hands than my opponent, to having him killed! So let’s call it what it is; pretentiousness, and craftiness… Sounds more familiar, doesn’t it? I just described a person or two that you know, who has probably achieved a certain position, or salary, or something, they probably didn’t deserve. And they did it through the use of… SURVEY SAYS!… Politics.

It kind of starts in grammar school. You let the cool kid in the class sneak a peek at your test so he can find out that the Gettysburg Address in not in fact where Abraham Lincoln lived. He subsequently passes the test, and gratefully picks you for his kickball team at recess… You’re ‘in’. That’s politics. The same is true through high school. What you wear, the bands you listen to, who you make fun of, sometimes even the grades you get, can all have to do with impressing the people by whom you want to be liked, and accepted. Acting a certain way to achieve a certain position, or status… That’s politics. And in a perfect world, the workplace would be governed by the simple premise of ‘he/she who works the hardest, does job the to the best of his/her ability, and takes pride in every task, no matter how large, or miniscule, will advance the fastest in status, and compensation’. But that just ain’t how it works, is it? Having the right connections, hanging out with the right people after work, flirting, even dressing a certain way can have more of an effect on advancement in the workplace than doing your job well. Oh I’ll admit it, I’ve tried that route… The flirting, the clothes… didn’t work for me. Apparently, I wasn’t Ted’s type. Plus, I found out that a guy wearing short skirts to work every day throws up some red flags in the HR department! On the bright side, I got out of any duties involving climbing ladders… and the severance package was ok. Plus, I’m almost done with counseling. Haters! They were just jealous because I had the legs for it… Politics!

The thing that really gets me, is politics is based on favors… Quid pro quo. Aren’t we supposed to do unto others as you would have done unto you? The golden rule – we learn that pretty much from the time we can comprehend actual words. Are the rules of politics written in the Bible anywhere?

“And the Lord sayeth, ‘thou shalt scratcheth the back of thy neighbor, and gain promise through such favor that he shall scratcheth thine, even whilst thinking thy to be a scumbag’. The word of the Lord.” Hypocrates – 29:2.

How did we get stuck with this lunacy? Why can’t we just do something because it’s the right thing to do, instead of expecting some sort of compensation, or favor in return? Politics, in all its forms, breeds distrust. We don’t trust our elected officials anymore, because they are politicians… Yes, they’ve made a life of this sort of behavior. I can spend months bashing my opponent, and telling perspective voters that he is not qualified, or experienced enough to do this job. Only to completely reverse my stand later on, because now I’m out of the race, and he is a member of my party. These things are always overlooked because, “that’s politics”. No matter how crazy, or disreputable, or downright dishonest these candidates, senators, governors, mayors, or presidents appear to be, “that’s politics”, is like a get out of jail free card… We’re just accepting of it. We just think, ‘That’s how they are’. How crazy is that?

There are those who think politics is a necessary evil… a way to get things done. I see no positive side to it, in any aspect of life. I’ll say it again – politics breeds distrust. You want to know another way to get things done? Caring… (No, I don’t need a hug, or a tissue). Simply giving a shit about your community, or your neighbors, or your child’s quality of education, healthcare, etc., and doing something to effect positive change without expecting something in return. I’ll scratch your back, and hopefully, when mine gets itchy, (though it shouldn’t, the cream worked really well), someone will be there to scratch it. Seems like a better system to me. There is a good movie called ‘Pay it Forward’ that portrays the enactment of this type of philosophy. If something nice is done for you, do something nice for someone else one day, and so on, and so on… Sounds simple. Interestingly enough, the concept was actually first written about in 1784 by Benjamin Franklin… A politician!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Droopy banks

OK. New day… new bowl of confusion. Maybe you folks can help me out. I just read a couple of articles outlining some newer, local laws that are being strictly enforced, I assume for the good of all mankind. One is here in Massachusetts. A small town called Holliston is now at its limit, (for you moms out there, that means they’ve ‘had it up to here!’) regarding offenders of its helmet law for cyclists, and rollerbladers. While I think it’s a good idea for kids 16 and under to wear a helmet, I think it’s the parent’s job to see to it, not the town counsel. But that’s beside the point… Now, to further enforce this law, the Police, charged with public safety, law, and order, will now add taking Johnny’s bike away to their list of daily hazardous duties. How embarrassing to be in your cruiser responding to a call, siren wailing, lights flashing… with a pink Schwinn hanging out of your trunk. You can’t make this stuff up!

The other article was about Riviera Beach, Florida where the police are making sure its citizens are adhering to its ‘droopy pants’ law. People are not allowed to have more than 4” of their underwear showing. I wonder if the police have to carry little tape measures on their belts. Do these guys with their pants down on their hips look stupid? Of course! But as Americans, isn’t it our right to look as stupid as we want? I could see if they were wearing red fuzzy thongs, or God forbid it was laundry day forcing them to go commando… But they are pretty much just showing boxers. I saw a girl at the market the other day wearing a pair as shorts. And what of bikinis? Pretty much bra and panties for the beach, no? (That was merely for comparison… I fully support a woman’s right to wear as little as she wants…) Where was I… Oh yeah. For a third offense, you can be locked up for this. Yes – jailed! Holliston offers free helmets if you don’t have one, Shouldn’t Florida offer belts? I for one am much more offended by women who abuse the limits of spandex at a physical, and molecular level, and by white guys with dread locks. Where’s the justice there? Should we hand out free mirrors?

What got me on that silly little tangent is the current debacle on Wall Street. It kills me how we tend to focus so much effort on so fervently enforcing these little laws on little people, but will bail out big, powerful corporations which, in their extremely risky pursuit of a quick and very profitable turnaround, destroyed thousands of families, have spun our economy into turmoil, and will ultimately cost us taxpayers billions. These big lenders offered mortgage deals to people who did not qualify for loans, and would therefore sign up for anything for the chance to own their own home. It’s the American dream. Who wouldn’t go for that?

What happened was… When the rates were lowered after 2001, central banks made a lot of money available to help stimulate the economy, the success of which required a quick return on investment. So sub-prime mortgages were offered, at a higher initial rate to folks with a credit rating lower than 600. Thousands of these high risk loans were written. However, these plans hinge upon the borrowers refinancing at a better rate once your house increases in value. What could possibly go wrong??? House values plummeted, making it difficult to impossible for these people to keep up with payments, and stay in their homes. Houses were foreclosed upon, loans didn’t get paid, yatta yatta yatta. So, just to recap… Lenders; Fannie Mae, Freddy Mac, Lehman, AIG etc. gambled with these risky deals. They lost… and we the people are left to pick up the pieces. The government’s taken over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but Lehman and AIG are in real trouble because the gov won’t bail them out, which is actually a good thing. We’d be pretty much rubbing elbows with Socialism at that point. Besides, I never got bailed out on my investment. A promising young chemistry professor said he could cure several different deadly blood diseases with an enzyme in yak’s liver, and needed money for research. Well, that didn’t work out. How could I have known that Yak was his uncle’s name? Never saw that coming. Neither did Yak for that matter… The trial’s next week. My point is… capitalism is based on a certain amount of risk. People tend to be careful when risk is involved. If someone’s there to bail you out, why not go for broke? (so to speak).

Of course, mine is a very simple, very basic overview of what is in large part the reason we’re in this pickle. (Meaning I put it in terms I could understand). I know it’s a very complex series of events. Some which could not be helped, and some which could easily have been avoided. So we know what happened, and why, but will anyone ultimately pay? The last time something similar to this happened was the S&L scandal. Of the Keating 5 senators involved, 1 was severely reprimanded, 2 were ‘criticized for acting improperly’… Oh the humanity! And 1 of the 2 members who were ‘criticized for poor judgment’, is currently our Republican presidential candidate. 5 years in a Vietnamese prison, AND criticized by the ethics committee? The man should have a cape! Wouldn’t it be funny if the only one to get in trouble for all of this is the banker whose pants are too low, showing more than 4” of his Alan Greenspan boxer shorts?

Monday, September 8, 2008

And the oval office goes to...

Wouldn’t it be cool if we were able to elect a Hollywood president? My son commented this past weekend during the movie ‘Air Force One’, “I want that guy to be our president”. It got me thinking… (no ‘burning smell’ jokes please), it is not the first time I’ve heard that notion, or thought it myself while watching an actor’s portrayal of a fictional president. After all, they are always so much more interesting, have more integrity, and usually, less of a jaded past than the members of the political ‘value menu’ from which we always have to make a choice. I know, it’s a lot easier to make up a person on a page, and for that person to make the right life and death call when a script dictates his/her decision, as opposed to doing it for real… every day, with no one to yell ‘cut’, so they can do it again. But we’ve all thought it. From Jeb Bartlett from the West Wing, to Andrew Shepard, to the first TV female Prez, McKenzie Allen. Writers are always able to inject something into these characters that appeals to us in a way that real candidates don’t seem to be able to. OK, so lets break it down. If we could elect a Hollywood president, who is the best concrete hand print for the job?

Ya gotta love Henry Fonda… (I actually think there’s an Amendment to the constitution that says so. It includes Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne as well if I’m not mistaken). He was the president twice. ‘Young Mr Lincoln’, and again in ‘Failsafe’. Experience aside, I think one assassination, and one nuclear attack rule him out. The latter would also exclude Peter Sellers’ Merkin Muffly from ‘Dr Strangelove’. Sure’ he’d be fun for a while, but the last thing we need is Slim Pickins riding the back of a nuke to the ground like some eradiated mechanical bull. And unfortunately, Gina Davis, who played President Mckenzie Allen in ‘Commander in Chief’, probably wouldn’t get elected due to the fact that she was formerly the 50’ woman. Aside from being an abysmally bad movie, people get pissed when you step on their Volkswagens. We also have had two presidents who had to guide us through alien attacks. Jack Nicholson, in ‘Mars Attacks’, who didn’t do so hot amidst the crisis, since his character was a boob. Not his fault though, it was written that way, and is a funny movie. Then we had Bill Pullman as President Whitmore in the I wish there was some way to get those 2 hours of my life back classic, ‘Independence Day’. Personally, I think he peaked as Lonestar in Mel Brooks’ ‘Spaceballs’.

So now we know who’s out. Let’s meet our candidates, shall we? You ‘24’ fans out there remember David Palmer. Not much to not like about him. Good decision maker, always tried to do the right thing, and let’s not forget… at a most crucial time for his team, he was able to hit the homerun off the curve ball, without Jobu’s help, giving the Indians the pennant that year… Winner in my book. We have Kevin Klein’s ‘Dave’, who had to impersonate a corrupt president he just happened to be the spitting image of. A good, honest, simple man who wanted to help people. Of course, he was never tested on a security/military front. After all, he was a former CIA assassin in ‘A fish called Wanda’, and he couldn’t even k-k-k-kill K-K-K-Ken. Still, I like Dave. Thus concludes, the ‘possible, but long shot’ fictional president category.

OK - We’re down to the big 3, starting with Martin Sheen’s Jeb Bartlett. Let’s face it, Jeb rocked. Cool, collected, and very intelligent… Used the Bible for strength, not as a play book. Plus Sheen served his country in ‘Apocalypse Now’, worked 30 years for Blue Star Airlines, and served as Chief of staff under Michael Douglas… who oddly enough, as Gordon Gecko, tried to take over and liquidate Blue Star. Hmm… bygones I guess. And what about Michael Douglas’ Andrew Shepard… Come on ladies, ‘The American President’. Widower, raising a daughter alone, leader of the free world… and looks good in a suit. I have to say, I did like Andrew Shepard… good movie president. Plus, Michael helped clean up the streets of San Francisco, and got Joan Wilder out of a jam or two. But the imaginary movie press would definitely dig up dirt about the affair with Glenn Close in ‘Fatal Attraction’. Which may end his bid right there. Ironically, Close has white house experience as well having played both first lady, in ‘Mars Attacks’, and vice-president, in ‘Air Force One’. Which brings me to my choice of movie presidents. I have to agree with Ryan on this one and go with President James Marshall, played by Harrison Ford. He makes politically unpopular, potentially career ending policy based on the fact that it’s the right thing to do. Stays behind with his family, beats up Gary Oldman and the bad guys, then jumps in the cockpit and flies the plane. Aside from that, he was part of Force ten from Navarone, recovered the Arc of the Covenant, and the Grail so the Nazis couldn’t get them, thereby taking over the world. He was deputy Director of the CIA, (though Alec Baldwin is still my favorite Jack Ryan). Not to mention the fact that he covered Luke in his final run at the Death Star’s exhaust port, and he is most famous for doing the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs… Are you kidding me? He can be my president anytime.

Agree with my little rantings or not, after all, they are just that. But think of this… Maybe finding a movie, or TV president we relate to in some way, would help us better realize the qualities and character of someone we would actually want to do the job. Sort of a $10.50 glimpse into our potential future. We see clothes, cars, and hair styles we like in movies, why not the traits of a good leader. After all, the men and women who create these characters are looking for something else as well.

Please don't forget to vote - for real!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Grand 'Open' Party?

I hope you’re all paying attention kids… This is an amazing time to be alive. Whether you love politics, or you don’t. Whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, or Independent. Whether you think Diet Dr Pepper really tastes like regular Dr Pepper, or not. It is now official. We will either have an African-American President, or a female Vice-President. Think about the magnitude of this… The Nineteenth Amendment, giving women the right to vote, is less than 100 years old. And the National Voting Rights Act, which prohibited voting qualification or prerequisite to cast a vote, (mainly targeting blacks in the South), was only passed in 1965! Now, for the first time in our nation’s history, one of the two most visible representatives of our government will not be a white male.

Does this mean there will be drastic, sweeping, much needed change in Washington? Who knows… but I think it increases the odds a bit. I must admit, I don’t really know anything about Sarah Palin. From what I’ve read, she’s known for shaking things up… Good for her, and good for Tina Fey, who will be the obvious choice to play her in the movie someday. As far as the other camp goes, Barack is finally being a little specific, and giving more detail regarding his plan for the future. It’s nice to hear him say something in the midst of all of these speeches. I heard Hillary the other day, still talking about glass ceilings, change, the future, and building bridges… I had no idea what she was talking about. Partially my fault, I took ‘Spanish’ in high school and not ‘Bumper Sticker’. Is it me, or when she gives a speech, does she sound like Loraine Newman as Prymaat Conehead?

I have to say… For the first time since this lunacy began, I really am interested in seeing what happens. I hope, for our sake, that the Obama camp can pull it off. McCain has gotten way too George W for me. I hope Barack is truly able to affect change where it is desperately needed. I hope he is supported in his endeavors. I hope he restores faith in the members of our armed forces, and only puts them in harms way when ABSOLUTELY necessary. And I hope he restores America’s reputation around the world, and we’re once again OK with being represented by our elected officials. As you may know, I haven’t been a die hard, weak-in-the-knees supporter of Barack Obama…

But I do have hope!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The thrill of victory...

So… Are you watching the Olympics? NBC says you are. The telecasts of the Beijing Olympics are averaging close to 30 million a day. It has trailed off a bit since swimming came to an end. And by swimming, I of course mean Michael Phelps, whose dominance in the water cube earned him a record 8 gold medals. Oddly enough, the pinnacle of the Neilson numbers was achieved at the very beginning of the games… before the first dive, serve, pitch, leap, or jump-shot. It was the opening ceremonies, which averaged over 34 million viewers. Second to that is the night on which Michael Phelps took part in the 4x100 medley relay to win his 8th gold medal. This was NBC’s best Saturday night, ratings-wise, since 1990. An average of 31 million watched that night, with the number jumping to 70 million during the race. The show in 1990 which the Olympics beat out was a very special episode of “Empty Nest”… So, Saturday turned out to be a double whammy for Michael, as he was overheard saying that ‘medals were nice and all, but he couldn’t live with being involved in something with fewer viewers than anything starring Kristie McNichol’… I’m paraphrasing of course.

And… like any event where the world strives to get along for a couple of weeks, there is no shortage of controversy, conjecture, and conspiracy. Again, starting with the opening ceremonies. Turns out that several of the groups of children in the parade, representing different regions of China, were not from those regions at all, but just kind of thrown together and given a banner. Part of the perfectly synchronized pyrotechnic display was CGI, and sound enhanced… Not unlike the crowd sound at a Pats game I imagine. And the cute little girl who sang ‘Ode to the motherland’ was actually lip-synching to the voice of a girl, kept behind the curtain because the Chinese thought she… well… had a face for radio. OK – no big deal. No medals involved in walking in the parade. (but with ‘trampoline’ being an Olympic event, we’re not far off). Any sport in which the medal winners are left to the discretion of judges, have seen some problems. There have been issues in boxing, fencing, synchronized diving, (which seems to have sprouted up overnight like a zit on prom night), and of course… gymnastics. In one event, Nastia Liuken of the US, scored identically, down to the hundredth of a point, with her Chinese opponent, Kexin He. Yet was awarded the silver medal due to a bizarre tiebreaking method the judges used to ‘name’ a winner. Is there some sort of bias, or conspiracy here because our hosts are dominating in gold medals, and half of them came from ‘judged’ events?

Funny thing about Americans… We don’t like to lose. It’s amazing how the attitudes in articles, and blogs, and on radio and TV have turned since week one, when Phelps sucked up gold medals like Pac-Man after a power pellet. Now the attention turns to bias, and cheating on the part of the Chinese who have claimed 45 golds to our 26. Look, I personally think that judged events are kind of silly. Sure, they all take incredible training, and skill… although, in equestrian, the horses kind of do all the work. (relax Lauren, it’s just a joke!) But judges are human. They can have a bad day. She may not like your outfit, or your country… Maybe he got a speeding ticket on the way over. The girl at Dunkin Donuts put cream instead of skim milk in her coffee, or maybe there’s a painful itch he can’t scratch because the damn camera’s on him. There will always be controversy in judged events. Then there’s the cheating argument. I love how people are spouting off about how the Chinese divers, and gymnasts do not look 16… They’re CHEATING! This is your argument, you bozos? Yes… let’s launch a full investigation into this so we can expose to the world that not only are they kicking our collective ass, but they’re using their 7th graders to do it! Brilliant…

By the way, we are leading overall in medals 82 to 79. So can we just shut up, put the conspiracy theories to rest, and just enjoy the rest of the games in the intended spirit of Olympic tradition? Root for your country’s athletes, or another country if you happen to like that particular diver, or hurdler, or badminton player… speaking of which, has badminton changed that much? I remember games in my backyard as a kid, and the players on each side of the net played with a Budweiser in their off hand, and a Marlboro in their mouth… They have it easy now. But I digress… All of these exceptional athletes have worked incredibly hard to get there. Shouldn’t we just cheer them on, celebrate when they win, and feel a little bad for them when they come up short? Someone has to win, and someone has to lose… That’s life! Jim McKay had a great tag line at the end of his introduction to ‘The wide world of sports’, that I think perfectly describes what the Olympics are all about from the athlete’s perspective. “The thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat.”


Friday, August 8, 2008

Brought to you by...

Hey kids… I know, I haven’t posted in a bit. (I am of course laboring under the delusion that people actually read this). I, like the rest of you, have been spending most of my time making decisions. We are deluged with choices, every day, all day, in every aspect of our lives… From the time you get up – Folgers or Maxwell House? Ivory or Dial? Crest or Colgate? And you haven’t even left the house yet… Cars, insurance, investing, which pain reliever to choose, Coke or Pepsi, PC or Mac… Come on! Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to have choices. But do they have to be in our faces every waking minute. Advertising is a part of everything we do, see, and hear, all day long. You can’t watch TV, listen to the radio, surf the net, drive on the highway, go to a sporting event, or get your mail without some sort of recommendation on what to eat, drive, or clean your bathroom with. So how does it work? It must, right? Advertising budgets can range into the millions. But we are not children. How is it we can be so swayed into being convinced we need the newer I-phone, a vacuum that picks up ball bearings, or a razor with 5 blades?

I think a lot of it has to do with ours being such a disposable society. Replacing something is so commonplace, because throwing things away is really no big deal these days. We used to have TV repairmen, cobblers, tailors, haberdashers, and vacuum repairmen. Now, it tends to be easier, and cheaper to just toss it, and head to the mall for a new one. We’re also a competitive bunch… Keeping up with the Jones’ has become a second job for many of us. And new gadgets come out every day. Do you really think every one of those GPS units on the dashboard of every car is getting used all of the time? We all can’t be that lost. But they’re cool, and they talk… and Fred’s got one. Another thing the advertisers have tapped into brilliantly, is our vanity. How will purchasing a bigger TV, or 20” rims affect my image? We fall for it… we fall hard. If I get a Bowflex, I get the girl. Get rid of my gray, I get the girl. Axe body spray, 5 girls at a time… and apparently if I drink Miller Chill, I get the sweaty girl in the tight dress. But what if it works out? What condom do I buy? And if I need….. assistance - should it be Viagra, or Cialis? (BTW – If my erection lasts more than 4 hours, I’m not calling a doctor, I’m calling everyone I know… I’m just sayin’).

I guess I’m just sick of it all… I currently have no one to sue, my deodorant appears to be working ok, and I don’t notice the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles (probably because I haven’t been to Lense Crafters and can’t see them). But it gets worse… Have you noticed the ads are now louder than the show you're watching? They’ve increased the volume of the commercials on TV. We thought we had them beat by using commercial breaks for a trip to the bathroom, or to go make a bag of popcorn. But now, when we’re refilling our Sprite, Mountain Dew, or Fresca, we can still hear about the best pad to use during our period. There’s an industry fraught with choices. I personally don’t have periods… not since I turned 40 anyway, but with feminine products taking up an entire aisle at the market, I don’t know how you women do it. You can’t give guys those kinds of choices. I need half a Paxil just to make it down the cereal aisle. And speaking of cereal, does milk really need an advertising campaign? Beef? Cheese? We’re all moderately aware these things exist… How about watching a Red Sox game on NESN, and seeing a commercial telling me I can watch the Red Sox on NESN… Are you kidding me?

It’s only going to get worse my friends. Not only is the game brought to you by Buick, but there’s a Budweiser half-time report, Geico updates, and a Gatorade recap. I wonder when the first sponsored wedding will be… Can’t you see it? The grooms tux looks like a NASCAR jumpsuit. The cake is shaped like a giant Coke can, and then the wedding song, brought to you by the Discovery Channel – ‘boom-deyada boom-deyada boom-deyada boom-deyada’… If an advertiser can get a product placed, he/she will do it… One day we’ll all be sponsored… Just walking around with Jiffy Lube hats, and bags of Doritos, handing out coupons. Won’t those initial conversations be riveting. “Bob? Name’s Ted… Nice to meet you. – Say, do you find your toilet tissue to be soft enough?” “I tell ya Ted… TP’s fine… It’s those damn untimely herpes flair ups.”

I don’t have an answer… I’m just venting. And hey, I’ll admit it. Some commercials are really funny. But being so inundated with products all day long, it really is a lot of work to keep reminding ourselves that we don’t need everything corporations say we do. My Ipod is 4 years old, and has a black and white screen, but still works perfectly, and holds everything I need it to. I can’t bring myself to replace it for a color screen, and hard drive space I don’t really need. Sure, I’m walking around with the digital version of a hand-crank Victrola with a cone speaker… But I can live with that.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Decision 08... Oy!

Are we too dumb to vote? I’m not talking about intelligence, I’m referring to knowledge. The valedictorian is equally as likely to be mired in the minutia of political rhetoric as the 8th grade dropout who couldn’t make heads nor tails of them books what gots them squiggly lines in ‘em. We are once again on the precipice of a presidential election. I know! Hard to believe since they started campaigning just after the ball dropped on the new millennium, but it’s really almost here. We are about to grant someone a position of unmatched power, and responsibility, whose decisions can and will directly affect our daily lives, and our children’s future. Second only to the President’s power and responsibility, is ours as Americans, to make an informed decision regarding who that person should be, and to make our voices heard by casting our vote. So how do we do it? How do we maneuver through all the pages, ads, blogs, slogans, sound bites, web sites, speeches, news clips, and scandals and come out the other side with a definitive choice? Why do we vote for who we vote for?

A lot of people liked George W. Bush because he seemed like the kind of a guy you’d like to have a beer with. There are plenty of people I know who are fun to have a beer with. None of whom I would give the launch codes for NORAD! How about a war hero? Washington, Grant, and Eisenhower fit that bill. FDR was the great motivator. He took office while the country was at one of its lowest points, and convinced its citizens they could overcome, and accomplish anything. Ironically, political experts agree that had we known at the time, we never would have elected a man in a wheelchair… especially for 4 terms. And then there’s TV. JFK was the first good TV president. He could deliver a great speech, and he looked good doing it, as did Reagan, and Bill Clinton. The problem is, substance can be overlooked, for good or bad, when we simplify someone down to ‘looking good’ speaking well’ or being a hero. After all, we are human. We get vibes from people. The most insignificant, miniscule detail can make us like, or dislike someone immediately.

We now have our Democratic, and Republican candidates, officially. John McCain, and Barack Obama. I must admit, I did like McCain 8 years ago. I liked how he had no problem going against party lines if he believed in something. Now, his stance on our continued presence in Iraq, and his surprising opposition to the new GI bill just screams of more ‘Bush years’. Plus, he just looks like your frail old uncle. Can’t you just picture him walking into the oval office wearing and old zip-up cardigan sweater, and Tom Mix pajama bottoms, and asking Vladimir Putin if he knows where he left his apple juice? And then there’s Barack, who admittedly has the ability upon opening his mouth to turn grown men into 13 year old girls at a Jonas Brothers concert. Even Tim Russert, (over whose passing I’m truly sad), admitted to being a little ‘weak in the knees’ after hearing Obama speak. But is he saying anything different, or saying the same thing in a different way? The Democrat’s platform is always “change”. Maybe we’re just paying more attention because change is something we really need right now. But what will he change, and how? This is my question… Do we know what we’re voting for? Again, a lot of us, yours truly included, walk into the voting booth not as informed as we should be for the decision we are about to make. So who’s to blame?

While I think it’s ultimately our responsibility to keep ourselves informed regarding what’s best for our country, - after all, we are ‘the people’ – I think the candidates should lay out plainly, and simply, what they are planning, and how each item will be executed, and paid for. Don’t go to a nursing home and talk about health care, or go to GM and talk about keeping jobs here. Lay out everything for everyone. They raise tens of millions of dollars for their campaigns. I think they should be required to spend the first of that money on an hour of TV time – talk to us about how you’re going to do the job. They can even use a pretty slide show, or Victoria’s Secret models, or a Robert Smigel cartoon… Whatever acts as a shiny lure for our ever shrinking attention span. It should be carried on every network… then the people will have no excuse. Hey – Ross Perot was a bit of a loon, but he did it, and after that half hour, you knew exactly where he stood… In the middle of a poppy field with the rest of the Lollypop Guild… Still, it was a good idea. It would be campaign money well spent, as opposed to yard signs, bumper stickers, and t-shirts. Which are nothing but advertisement for the uninformed, and undecided.

The bottom line is, we should know what we’re voting for. This is an awesome privilege that was fought for, at great length, and loss, 230 years ago. Now, in 2008, we are born with these rights, so it’s easier to take them for granted. We require great knowledge of our country’s history, and the inner workings of our government and its people, from immigrants looking to become American citizens. They are tested on this information. Should we require more from those looking to become an American citizen, than we do from ourselves? Sure… this election is a little different because 78% of the country is unified in wanting Dubya out! Retirement will be good for him… No more worrying about 'nucular' threats, and he can spend more time on the 'internets'. But wanting someone out is one thing. Someone has to take his place, and they’ll have big shoes to fill… You’ve seen clown shoes, they’re huge! We will need an exceptional person at the helm to steer us out of the eye of this storm. And it’s up to us to put a little time in, and decide who that person should be. If it helps, we could look at this process as practice, so our voting skills will be well honed for the next season of American Idol.

"Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist."
-George Carlin (1937-2008)

You will be missed...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

One giant leap

As I’m typing this, at the dizzying rate of about 18 words per minute, 210 miles above Australia, Mike Fossum, and Ron Garan are doing some final safety checks for the first space walk of Space Shuttle Discovery mission STS-124, at the International Space Station. This particular mission will deliver the 37’ long, second module of the Japanese Kibo laboratory. Most of you probably didn’t know this, and let’s face it… probably don’t care. We Americans really don’t pay a lot of attention to the space program anymore. It’s just not something that excites us. If we could only make it a reality show... 'Survivor: Sea of Tranquility' or 'Dancin in the Stars'... it may get more ratings. I have to admit to being a bit of a space geek. I watch the launches, the docking to the ISS, space walks, landings, all of it. I’m still amazed we are able to execute these missions with such precision. Everything like clockwork, from the launch, to docking two objects orbiting the earth at 17,500 mph, to having the wheels touch down 2 weeks later at Edwards AFB within a minute or two of when the mission plan said they would months earlier.

The allure has waned quite a bit from the days of the space race in the 60’s, and early 70’s I’ll admit. It was exciting. Not that I was around for much of it. I was 3 in July, ’69 when Neil Armstrong stepped off the pad onto the moon’s surface. I was probably just annoyed that Sesame Street wasn’t on. But for those of you who were more cognizant, and not fresh out of diapers, it must have been terrifying in 1961 for our adversaries, the Russians, to be first out of the gate when Yuri Gagarin first orbited the Earth. Then John Glenn caught us up in ’62… Then back and forth from there like an aeronautical ping-pong game. It was more of a time of heroes, and the mystique that surrounded them. Seven men, (originally), literally testing new technology on the job, in extreme harms way. Aside from the technological milestones, and giant leaps forward, these extraordinary risks unfortunately resulted in the Apollo 1 tragedy, where Gus Grissum, Roger Chaffe, and Ed White, who coincidentally executed the first space walk 43 years ago today, died in a fire on the launch pad. Sadly, they would not be the last. We would later suffer the loss of Space Shuttles Challenger, and Columbia.

So why do we still do it? What do we get out of the risk, and the expense? Initially... We had to… It’s the human spirit. Why cross an ocean 500 years ago? Why venture West 200 years ago? We do it to see if we can, and to see what happens if we succeed. I always hear people say, “we should put that money to better use!” The current NASA budget is only 1.2 cents of every tax dollar spent, and there is a return on investment... With the military at 42.2 cents, and free health care, free food, and free housing programs totaling 33.3 cents, I’m thinking there is another column or two in the federal budget where we could cut, and reallocate funding… Especially where education is apportioned a pittance of 4.4 cents, and Law enforcement 3.9. Thanks for making good on all those 911 promises George!

Well, what are the benefits? What do we get for our $17 billion a year? The results are all around us: CAT scans, critical care monitoring, the jaws of life, advances in food storage, Velcro, the technology to analyze a smaller biopsy sample so they can be taken with a needle instead of a scalpel. Airbag triggers, pacemakers, hydrogen fuel technology, the reversal of bone density loss, hydroponics, (which also helps Taco Bell’s late night sales), and EVERYTHING you do that has anything to do with a satellite. I could go on, but you’re probably bored enough.

The shuttles are to be retired in 2010. I’m really hoping to get to Florida before then to see a live launch. I’m not sure what it is that makes it exciting for me. The countdown hits t –10, the igniters light the main engines, then 3… 2… 1… And the massive solid rocket boosters fire, and up it goes. Amidst the shear violence of millions of pounds of thrust, it rolls gracefully, and slowly disappears above its long, white vapor trail. It’s one of those things with me that makes me feel like a kid again. And with all the crap adults have to deal with every day… What’s wrong with that?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Sticks and Stones

I’ll tell you… I liked the world a whole lot better when ‘PC’ stood for personal computer. And while the new PC, I’m referring of course to political correctness, rivals the computer in how it is inserted more and more into our daily lives, it does not tend to be for the common good. These days, Americans perpetually walk on eggshells in an attempt to not offend someone in our earshot… At work, at the market, at the movies, the bus, dinner parties, bars, restaurants, etc… we’re constantly in danger of someone, somewhere, being offended by something we say, do, or wear. When did taking offense become a hobby? Are there clubs? Does it burn calories? Is there a web site for info – youowemeanapology.com perhaps? When did we get so sensitive?

I, like many of you, grew up in a ‘sticks and stones’ world. You were called a name, you dealt with it. Not picked for the team, you dealt with it. Picked on because your plaid slacks, that your mother thought looked ‘snazzy’, were 3 inches too short, I dealt with it. (What… It was the seventies!) We developed coping skills. Some learned how to just take it, and move on. Others would resort to a punch in the eye… I opted for humor and sarcasm for my schoolyard defense. I went that route because I figured windmill slap-fighting with my eyes closed while screaming wouldn’t do much for my rep with the 4th grade girls… much like the plaid Haggars.

Political correctness has even seeped, thanks to a new wave of over sensitive parents, into grade school. We are now attempting to shelter our kids from adolescence itself. Here’s one for you… School children can no longer play Dodge ball! I defy you to show me a better metaphor for life than dodge ball… things constantly flying at you from every direction, some you need to try to catch, some you need to get out of the way of. Some will knock you down, forcing you to learn to get back up, and get in the next game. Every day we get out of bed, those little red balls fly at us, and test our ability to dodge them… Metaphorically I mean, of course… Unless you happen to live next door to the dodge ball proving grounds or something. Then I suppose you literally have to dodge them, which I assume is quite annoying. And if you think dodge ball is too emotionally distressing for your little angel, wait until he hits high school with only ‘hugging’ as an extra-curricular skill.

And as you probably have noticed, nowhere is the PC virus running more rampant than the entertainment industry. I honestly don’t know how news anchors, and talk show hosts do it. They can’t make mistakes. And if they do, the only way to avoid losing his or her job is to endure unending apologies, sensitivity trainings, suspensions, and donating time or money to a charity he/she probably never heard of before. And aside from mistakes, what of things said in jest? Have Americans lost our sense of humor? Special interest groups, and the religious right, (a.k.a. the perpetually offended), seem to have ever increasing influence and power over dictating what is, and is not acceptable, and funny. And with their numbers, they are able to hit entertainment where it lives… Advertisers. If we're not careful my friends, what is morally acceptable for us to see and hear will be left to the discretion of groups of modern day Zealots who think evolution is a myth, and television entertainment peaked with Hee Haw.

I sometimes wonder what other countries think of us these days, foreign policy aside of course. How must we look to someone who just lost everything in a flood, or a bombing, and we’re on the news protesting because of the controversial content on some highway billboard. How soft are we going to get? Do we need to change the old axiom, ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will cause me, and my family deep emotional distress remedied only by some time off work, a cash settlement, and an on-air hug from Oprah’? Or should we act like adults, and either shrug it off and move on, take it as a joke and laugh along, or stand up and return fire… Metaphorically I mean, of course. Unless someone is really shooting at you while he is making fun of your shoes… Which would really be mean.

So where will it end? Can’t you just see the end of the next Die Hard movie? John Maclaine, not quite as dirty and sweaty, (because that denotes poor hygiene), chewing sugarless gum, (because smoking is bad), pointing his finger, (no no… no guns), at the bad guy, (not really a bad guy… there are no bad guys, just bad actions), who oddly bears no resemblance to any specific ethnic group so as not to offend. He delivers his new and improved tag-line, “Hippey-ki-yay mother probably didn’t hug you enough!” Bad guy, (again… not really bad), breaks down and sobs… They hug it out – fade to black.

You’ll really burn through the popcorn at that blockbuster, huh?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Number 9 to go

Ok… Fast food. Like it or not, it has become a necessary evil in our society. No matter how healthy we try to be; more veggies, less sugar, more exercise, less booze… occasionally, we all find ourselves ordering a meal, by single digit number, off a lighted plastic menu board. Whether we’re too busy, on the road, or we just forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer, we’re all guilty of a food chain box lunch now and again. No big deal though… I’m a big believer in the ‘everything in moderation’ axiom. And I must admit, I’m a sucker for a Big Mac. Though, I’m not quite sure between which layer they slip the laxative, it’s not in the jingle… but it’s in there. And I don’t get the super-sizing thing. How much Sprite do we need? I wound up with a ‘bucket o Coke’ from Taco Bell not long ago that dropped the ambient temperature in my car 4 degrees… I wanted a drink, not something to dump over my car to rinse the suds off.

So why do we do it? That’s easy… convenience! It’s fast, and we don’t have to cook, or clean. It’s fast food! And now, with the advent of the drive-thru, we don’t even have to get out of our cars anymore. Just drive up, shout into the clown’s mouth, get a muffled acknowledgement of your order by someone who may, or may not be Charlie Brown’s teacher... Then pay, grab your bag, and find yourself in a rage 10 blocks later when you find out Timmy, your 16 year old ‘chef’, forgot to hold the pickle on your double beef buccaneer burger. He just didn’t earn his $6.15 an hour today, huh?

The problem with the drive-thru, I’ve noticed, is that it forces us to choose between speed, and getting off our butts. It amazes me how big a line people will wait in to not have to get out of their cars. I walked up to Dunkin Donuts this morning, and counted 9 cars waiting in the drive-thru, 2 of which were out on a very busy street. I went inside, straight to the counter, no waiting, got my coffee, walked out, and only 3 cars had moved. Doesn’t that take the ‘fast’ out of it? We can’t take fast out of fast food. It disrupts the natural order of things… Dogs should chase cats, muzak should never be on your ipod, and greasy, unhealthy food should be fast – period!

Disruptions to the universe aside, having to walk 47 steps from the car to the counter might not be the worst thing for some members of the fast food devoted. As you all well know, Americans are carrying a bit more insulation these days. A condition that won’t soon be remedied by pizza deliveries, Chinese buffets, and yes… the all mighty drive thru. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not for doing away with these things, by any means… Don’t take away my Shrimp lo mein, or my KFC variety bucket… (Yeah, I know - I didn’t even touch upon the fact that we buy some of our food in buckets.) People should be able to eat what they want. Moderation, remember? But if looking for the remote, and showering are forms of exercise for you, maybe offset the cheese fries with some baby carrots.

As for the rest of you… Remember - without the ‘fast’, a Whopper is just a big, crappy hamburger. So, let’s do our part… Too many cars in the drive-thru negates the whole fast food concept, and could conceivably destroy civilization as we know it. I don’t know the exact ratio. There has to be some sort of burgers per minute formula out there I’m not privy to… Boggles the mind if you think about it long enough. Now I know how Newton felt.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Not my fault

Ever wonder where accountability went? It’s amazing to me that so many things can happen, every day, to so many people, and it’s no one’s fault… unless of course there’s a settlement involved. If I spill my hot coffee on myself, I can blame Dunkin Donuts. Drink too much, and wrap my car around a tree? It’s the bartenders fault. It’s not even our fault anymore if we’re overweight. It says so right in the commercials. Just two tablets a day with diet and exercise, and you’ll shed 40 lbs the first day. Since when does diet and exercise need help? Forget about the two tablets and just put the cupcake down, and take two steps back.

And then, enter the ugly cousin of culpability… The lawsuit! If I bang my head, trip on the curb, or get hit by a foul ball at Fenway, I’m potentially in for a pay day. What’s down the road? Will we sue our parents because we’re too short, or just plain ugly? Sure, I’m involved in litigation now with my mother, but that’s different… It’s her fault I’m a quarter Ukrainian. Very hairy people… you should see my drains!

I think an effective way to stop lawyers, and perspective plaintiffs from entering into frivolous lawsuits, is by making them pay the court’s time if they lose. Punitive damage cases adversely affect our everyday lives. Insurance costs, quality of health care, even how the police, charged with keeping us, and our children safe, can effectively do their jobs. You can sue me if I call you a name! But that’s a whole other blog…

So where did we lose it? When did personal accountability become extinct? How often do you hear the phrase, “Sorry, that was my fault… I’ll take care of it.” Let’s face it, until the Microsoft Anti Boo-Boo chip gets implanted into the cerebral cortex of each person on the planet, we’re all gonna goof up… almost daily… right?

Who knows? Maybe we could change from the top – down. Our present administration could start things off… “I’m sorry… We screwed up. We’ll take care of it.”

What? Could happen…