Saturday, December 19, 2009

It's here!

This might be as far as I venture out today.

Friday, December 18, 2009

No two snow forecasts are alike.

Tonight: Mostly cloudy with snow showers developing after midnight. Chance of snow 60%.
Saturday: Windy with snow of varying intensity. The snow is more likely to accumulate during the afternoon. High around 30F. Snow accumulating 2 to 4 inches.
Saturday night: Windy with snow, heavy at times. Low 23F. 5 to 8 inches of snow expected.
Sunday: Mostly cloudy with snow showers around in the morning. High 34F. Chance of snow 70%.
We have been through this before. The Storm of the Century is headed for us and we should run, panicking in the streets for the fate that awaits us. Uh-huh.
It was March 1, 2009 the last time they told us to be afraid of the snow. A foot, they said. Some of us rushed out to buy a shovel which, I'm happy to say, still sits in my storage area as shiny and new as the day I brought it home (April 30, 2009), and they tell us that I may finally get to use it. Uh-huh. It's coming.
Thousands of people have already rushed out to their local shopping malls in anticipation of being snowed-in for (thankfully) the last shopping weekend of the Christmas season. I know, because I had to endure their traffic on my way home from work tonight. I can still proudly proclaim that I haven't stepped into a shopping center, mall or department store since Thanksgiving, and with any good fortune, I will not do so until at least December 26.
I've charged my camera battery with the idea of posting some photos of the great storm we are expecting here. It's slated to start after midnight and continue until around 6:00am Sunday. I have enough cat food to see me through and a few movies and DVR'd content to make it through the 36 hours. What really frosts me is that it's going to ruin a perfectly good weekend and clear out just in time to go back to work on Monday.
I know, we're big pussies when it comes to snow. We panic and rush out to buy bread, milk and eggs as though we couldn't get through a day without French Toast. We embrace the concept and even revel in it to the point that the local news will lead with the story, even though it hasn't happened yet. On Saturday, they'll dispatch several reporters to places around the area telling us how treacherous it is and how we should "stay home unless we absolutely have to go out" as though we would wander aimlessly without purpose if it weren't for their warnings. It's a public service.
Undoubtedly, one of the local stations will have nailed the snow forecast - unless of course, we don't get any - which is another possibility, and they'll use it for three months in their promotional advertising. OK, so you told us it would snow.
Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Too good to be true.

Yesterday I posted a rather brief and cryptic analysis of the death of Oral Roberts, self-proclaimed healer via God who died from ... some disease. For his trouble he collected millions of dollars from people who believed him because - well, we want to believe I suppose.
It's the same reason we want to believe in Santa Claus, or more accurately, why parents want their children to believe. They say it's childlike wonderment or some junk, but it's really our parents perpetuating a myth on our young minds that has its roots in a belief in some healing power or that we are somehow not just amorphous blobs of protoplasm wandering aimlessly - which of course, we are. And we're too young and naive to realize that not only do good kids get stuff at Christmas, but the kid who beat us up in the playground and the one who cheated on his math test got stuff too. Nicer stuff than we got, too. Maybe Santa isn't as diligent as we were led to ... um ... believe? Another fine life lesson.
We like to think that we have some influence over things, hence superstition and other such nonsense designed to relegate responsibility to something that has nothing to do with our actions. We like blaming things on other things, and if we can use luck we're a happy bunch. If we are bad at something we're unlucky, but if someone else is good at something they're lucky - especially if we don't like them very much.
Likewise, we like to think that we're more important than we are, which is why we invented Twitter, Facebook and - egad - blogs to give us a voice in the wilderness and, in Twitter's case, followers who leap and bound on our every Tweet as though what we thought had some mystical importance. Mostly, it's just a bunch of stuff that happened.
So people like Oral Roberts and Santa Claus exist in our minds and we give over to them some other-worldly gift and think that they can either heal our wounds or make us happy by giving us junk.
Even though our common sense (or what's left of it) tells us that we're all alone here, wandering aimlessly, we cling to these things to the point that when others tell us that we're clinging to a thread we are offended and condemn them to Hell or a lump of coal.
Religion is a perfect vehicle because the only people who know for sure are dead and the Santa Claus bit is acceptable because we know that when we have children we'll get to pull the same crap on them, so there's a little revenge in the deal.
And the only thing we like better than relegating responsibility is exacting revenge for the people we blame for stuff.
Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Evangelist heal thyself.

TULSA, Okla. – Oral Roberts, who helped pioneer TV evangelism in the 1950s and used the power of the new medium — and his message of God's healing power — to build a multimillion-dollar ministry and a university that bears his name, died Tuesday. He was 91.
Roberts died of complications from pneumonia in Newport Beach, Calif., according to his spokesman, A. Larry Ross. The evangelist was hospitalized after a fall on Saturday.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Another TV train wreck.

For weeks I've been reading and hearing about a new show on MTV called Jersey Shore that I was told is guaranteed to be offensive to Italian-Americans to the point that it has been protested and at least one advertiser (Domino's Pizza) has pulled its ads from the show. That meant I had to see it.
I swallowed hard and watched not one, but two episodes of this show.
The premise is that the producers have taken 8 kids from the New York area and put them together in a beach house in Seaside Heights, New Jersey - hence the name. Then, as is the formula, a camera crew follows them around filming their antics.
I don't understand what is offensive about it, since the kids portray themselves as "Guido's" and "Guidettes." They are perpetuating the stereotype because they are the stereotype. At first, I thought that the people protesting the show had a point, but now I'm not so sure. If someone goes on TV and calls themself "fat" should we protest because it's offensive to overweight people? I lost track of the number of times they used the word "Guido" to describe themselves. They know what they are, and they're proud of it - one would think.
It isn't as though it was a scripted show (although it might be) and some writer is making it up - these people actually exist, so if Domino's wants to pull their advertising, or some Italian-American groups want to file a protest, they should be protesting the characters, not the show. Those people would be acting like that regardless of whether they're on TV or not.
As for the show, it's reprehensible on many levels, but oddly interesting. They think they're so cool and beautiful (to the point that one of the girls actually calls herself "hot") and I can't help but wonder what their parents are thinking now that the show is on the air.
One of my favorite moments came when one of the girls (Hoopi or Snookie - something) called her dad and told him that she was leaving after 2 days because she felt like an outcast, which I'd guess is her most redeeming quality. Dad, in his fatherly wisdom encourages her to stick it out and not be a "quitter," as if to say, "It's OK, soon you'll be making friends and having promiscuous sex like the rest of them. Be patient." Naturally, she stayed.
I'm watching their antics in the nightclub and in the house and I'm thinking, "I wonder if they realize that this is going to be on television?" They're wonderfully uninhibited, and seem to revel in themselves. Anyone outside their ethnic circle doesn't exist and they profess to only be attracted to other Guido's and Guidettes to the point that they'll actually tell you to get lost if you dare to approach them.
Oddly, with 8 characters on the show you'd figure that I could find at least one to like and root for, but alas, I cannot. It's disconcerting. They're all either full of themselves, users and/or the kind of people you'd like to run over with a lawnmower.
Of course, nobody outside their social circle would want anything to do with them - unless you just wanted to score a quick BJ or hang with one of them for a few hours and go home. It's really a closed society, and part of me felt sorry for them being so naive of the rest of the world and the fact that their behavior is socially abhorrent.
The fact that they don't care what we think is probably why they're on TV in the first place, and I found it to be a mild stroke of genius that the producers found them and put them together in a house. It's yet another example of odd behavior being foist upon us, and we're supposed to be shocked that such people exist and are willing to be exploited, even if they don't think they are being exploited - which might be the crux of the program, if it indeed has a crux.
I actually might watch it again. It's sort of like going on a safari to see wildlife in its natural habitat. Then you go back to your office cubicle and resume your life. Meanwhile, the animals are galavanting around, oblivious to you and your mundane (by their standards) lifestyle. Watching the show is probably the only way I'd get to see people like that interacting in the wild.
And it's not nearly as offensive as the show they promoted during it ad nauseum - Teen Mom.