Thursday, December 3, 2009

Some water-cooler conversation, provided you can find a water cooler.

Now, finally we can put a number to it. 701,000.
Female solo artists account for eight of the top 10 albums on The Billboard 200. Susan Boyle leads the pack as "I Dreamed A Dream" debuts at #1 with sales of 701,000.
701,000 official nitwits in the world. Now that we know that, we can get on with our lives. This is why we'll never do away with these so-called "talent" shows where celebrities are foist upon us. It's a pandemic worse than Swine Flu. It's worse because the only cure is death. I dreamed a dream ... that people actually had to have worked for their art instead of just showing up on a television show and being force-fed to the public. I can dream.
MONTPELIER, Vt. – Richard Phillips, the ship captain toasted as a hero after he was taken captive by Somali pirates, ignored repeated warnings last spring to keep his freighter at least 600 miles off the African coast because of the heightened risk of attack, some members of his crew now allege.
Well, you can hardly blame the captain. Who's going to believe you when you tell the captain to look out for pirates? C'mon - what year is this?
Viewers of "The Today Show" Wednesday morning were treated to an unexpected interview and announcement by actress Meredith Baxter, who is best known for her role as mom Elyse Keaton on the beloved '80s sitcom "Family Ties." Baxter's interview with Matt Lauer started off a bit awkwardly, but finally the soft-spoken actress revealed her announcement: She is a lesbian. The thrice-married Baxter, who has five adult children, went on to explain that she's been living openly with her partner Nancy for years.
Well then, that's a relief! I was afraid we'd never know the truth about her. Now I can get some sleep. So, here's a question: Why is this an interesting news story and the junk about Tiger Woods is considered tabloid trash? It's suddenly mainstream media fodder to admit you're a homosexual but it's prying into ones personal business to talk about extra-marital affairs. That makes good nonsense. Suppose Tiger was having an affair with another man and he "came out?" Would that be on "The Today Show" too, or do you have to be a has-been 80s TV actress to get on? Just asking.
Starting this Saturday (December 5) at 8:00am, Walmart will be offering a $50 gift card with every Wii purchase, bringing the effective price of the console down to just $149.99 - and that's easily the best deal on a Wii ever seen.
And what will you spend the fifty bucks on? Wii games, that's what. Making the effective price $200. And I bet you have to wait 2 months to get the gift card - after you've clipped out the bar code and filled out five forms. What a deal! Whatever happened to cash? I wonder how popular the sale would be if the gift card was for $49.99 instead of $50? Can we stop it already with the 99 cents?
And while we're at it (or you're at it, more accurately) can we pass some legislation banning the nine-tenths at the end of the gasoline price? Try asking for a gallon and see what kind of change you get. Where's that nine-tenth's coin? It's back there with the further sixpence and shilling in the graveyard of lost world currency.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Life in the modern world is a bitch.

There's an online poll going on at CBS3 (one of the local news TV stations) asking if the recent Tiger Woods scandal has made you change your opinion of him. I answered "no." The reason I said no is because I never liked him to begin with. It's difficult for a scandal to alter ones opinion when the offender is seen as kind of a punk.
Since my only impression of him is what I see on the golf course, what I see is a petulant child who seems to be spoiled by success and whines and moans whenever things don't go his way, throws clubs when he misses shots and berates journalists and fans if they dare to make noise while he's playing. He's a gentleman as long as he's winning, but he's what we humans call a "sore loser," and those types of people like things to go their way all the time.
Now, he's apologetic - as we humans tend to be - because he got caught doing something he's been doing for a long time. Presumably, had he not been caught his dalliances would have continued merrily onward because, we know, he's not sorry because he was wrong, he's sorry because he got caught.
That isn't just about Tiger. It's about every person on the planet who gets caught doing something wrong and issues an apology. Usually it starts with the phrase "if I offended anyone, I apologise" as though the people who weren't offended don't deserve an apology because the guy ran a couple of stop signs at three times the legal blood alcohol limit. Only if you're offended - then, I'm terribly sorry.
Most times their lawyer draws up the apology and the punk reads it. We know this because words like pejorative and circumstantial couldn't be spelled and probably have to be rehearsed in the bathroom mirror, but there they are. The sentence structure is straight out of Stanford Law School.
I don't know if it's a good trait of mine or not, but generally I can tell a skunk almost immediately, just as I can tell a good person. First impressions aren't always fair, but life isn't fair either. In fact, here's a little tip to help you get out of jury duty, if you're so inclined.
When the lawyer starts asking you questions, you tell him, "I can tell if a guy is guilty just by looking at him!" That should just about do it for your jury service. Next!
Another little tip: Cell phone cameras are everywhere. They're so small now, they look like iPod mini's, but they pack a wallop. Before you know it your little keg stand is all over YouTube and you'll look like a jackass for telling your wife [slash] girlfriend that you were at a lodge meeting [sorry for the Flintstones reference].
Be careful out there.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Do as I say, not as I do.

I'm a bad American. President Obama is speaking on TV tonight, and I'm sitting here wondering which of my DVR programs I'm going to watch to fill the hour. I figure whatever he says I'll read in the newspaper tomorrow. So, maybe I'm not such a bad American after all, it's just a matter of time management.
I'm not big on foreign affairs and the Middle East. I've never been. I'd make a lousy Jew, because I pretty much ignore the region. I figure, they've been fighting for five thousand years and they'll be fighting for five thousand more. I don't know of another culture that is as combative. Everything they do over there - Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, Iraq, Iran et al - is designed to bring their hatred of somebody to the front. It isn't the way I conduct my life and I don't understand why a culture would want to propagate that sort of thing.
Since I was a kid (when dinosaurs roamed the earth) I've been hearing about tensions between the Jews and the Arabs or some other group. We've been contributing to the war efforts of one or the other of them for decades and where has it gotten us? Three-dollar a gallon gasoline and a lot of dead young men and women, that's where.
One thing I ask myself: Why would a God who supposedly cares about life and humanity place the one most valuable asset (oil) under the most disruptive area on the earth? If he had put a giant oil field in Australia we would probably be paying a dollar a gallon for gasoline.
It causes me to lose faith in ... faith.
The president is going on TV tonight to tell us that he is sending 30,000 more people to Afghanistan to fight some war or other, and simultaneously tell us that he has a 19-month withdrawal plan. That's nice. How would I feel if I were a kid going over there knowing that the guy who sent me wants me to come home in a year and a half? I'd feel like a driver with 11 points on his record - Don't get into trouble. Is that really the best plan? The guys at Fox News are going to piss their pants over this one.
Meanwhile, I'm checking my DVR recordings. "Heroes" is on.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Cult of Personality.

The Tiger Woods story is a microcosm of how we view and treat celebrities and how they treat us. I'll spare you the sordid details, since you've probably already read or heard enough to write your own blog. Suffice it to say the whole story smells and one wonders about the golf club damage to his vehicle and the cuts on his face to the point that we ... um ... wonder.
What I'm getting out of the story (after days of agonizing analysis) is a lesson in celebrity treatment and what the public wants from them, which is usually more than they're willing to give.
Celebrities want the limelight, the money and fame but when it comes to sharing the intimate details of their social life, they draw a thick line. Unless you're Madonna-esq, in which case you write a book detailing your sexual escapades.
But if you drive an Escalade and play golf for a living, you tend to be a lot more close mouthed about your dalliances and the goings-on of your family life. But the celebrity in you makes it acceptable or even necessary for those of us in the [quote] real world [unquote] to pry into your life because - well - we think you owe us the sordid details. We want to hear about your troubles because maybe it will make you look a little more like us and maybe we like it when you drop a rung or two on the ladder because, as Don Henley once sang, "We love dirty laundry."
On the other hand...
You don't want to tell us because your personal life is your business, and if you don't want to talk to the police or hold a press conference describing how your vehicle turned into a wreck, that's your business and none of ours. You are a private citizen and if you don't want to talk you don't have to. You don't owe us anything but your efforts on the golf course, stage or TV screen and if we don't like it, well ... we can ... um ... lump it.
You see, celebrities are just like us; only they have a larger audience. Our world consists of our family, friends and co-workers. The difference is that our dalliances can cost us our jobs, while celebrities' escapades make them more interesting somehow. If I carried a gun onto an airplane and got caught I'd probably lose my job. If Charles Barkley does it he's a quirky goofball who flaunts the rules for his own benefit and his life goes merrily onward. Not that Charles would do that ... I'm just saying.
If I ran into a few stationary objects in my neighborhood at 2:25am and refused to speak to police, I'd guess that I'd have some questions to answer, but if I didn't want to tell anybody they wouldn't know. And no, I wouldn't blog about it.
The difference between me and Tiger (outside of a 100 handicap) is that when he does it, it's newsworthy because ... well, he's Tiger Woods - the Muhammad Ali of our generation. Maybe he understands that or maybe he doesn't. Either way, we think he owes us an explanation, but all he owes us is 4 rounds of golf every week.
The bigger issue is the Internet, The National Enquirer and 24/7 talk radio and media outlets. Maybe Bobby Jones drove into a lake once or Arnold Palmer cussed-out a kid? We might never know because either the media wasn't around, nobody had a cell phone camera or there just wasn't enough interest. The presence of modern technology (including the recording of 911 calls) makes it impossible to lead a normal life - even if you're a normal person. Ask Michael Phelps about that one.
When we stop treating celebrities like Gods and remember that they are fallible humans like the rest of us - albeit with a larger audience - we'll be better off.
Leave him alone and let him play golf. You don't really care if his wife beat him with a golf club. Do you?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I don't follow instructions.

It was a strange weekend. I lost 2 pounds. That in itself speaks for what a strange person I am. Where most people eat like ponies and spend three days regretting their gluttony, I ate the usual amount and took a container of leftovers home. I'm funny that way.
I was also able to go three days without speaking to anyone. That in itself speaks for what a strange person I am. It's partly because nobody speaks to me and partly because I have nobody to speak to. If the cat could talk I'd be a happier person, but he makes an odd whining noise that I haven't yet been able to interpret.
I'll go to work tomorrow and people will ask about my Thanksgiving. When I say that mom roasted a chicken, they will reply, "A chicken?" As though I committed a crime against nature by eating something besides turkey on Thanksgiving.
Even though, every big family Thanksgiving dinner I ever attended (many years ago) consisted of people complaining about (a) the time it took to cook the turkey (b) the quality of the turkey and/or (c) wondering why they cooked so much food. It's repeated behavior in ninety percent of the households in America. We are a species that is slow to learn.
I was supposed to go out on Friday and spend money on doorbuster sales and join the crowds of shoppers frolicking in the mire. I didn't do that, either. Afterward, I was supposed to spend the rest of the day regretting the money I spent and vowing not to do it again. It's a holiday tradition - for some.
So now, it's back to normal (or as close as I get) and the next 25 days or so of planning for a holiday that I could just as well sleep through. Christmas is for kids and couples and I have neither, but I'll spend the next month enduring holiday music and promotional advertising for things that I have little interest in.
It's like a 30-day fraternity prank.