Friday, September 24, 2010

The Strange Things That People Do.

I used to enjoy that "Hoarders" TV show. I enjoyed it until show after show started looking the same. It's a parade of mentally ill people collecting junk in their houses and garages. The trouble comes when it isn't just junk. One woman would go shopping and bring home the unopened packages and pile them in a room. The bigger problems are the people who wind up with a house full of trash and garbage. The sorts of things that normal people throw away without even thinking about – soda cans, wrappers and discarded food – lying around on the floor attracting bugs, rodents and finally, a TV crew.

The people who have houses full of stuff used to be kind of amusing to me and in a strange way they make me feel better about myself. All it takes for me to start housecleaning is a little clutter. For those people, a little clutter is an impossible dream, and their illness no longer fascinates me. Now I find that it makes me sad. "Oh, don't throw that out, I might need it" is the common refrain. Meanwhile, the thing they might need is a hat that has been crushed under a mountain of clothing or a half can of paint whose color doesn't match anything else in the house. Even though the show tries to help those people change and clean their home, it's only after the cameras roam through and show us the disaster that they have created for themselves. It strikes me as exploitive. So I switch over to baseball.

The ballpark holds about 45,000 people, and while almost all of them are in their seats during the game, a fair number of them roam a place called Ashburn Alley in left field, which features enough food to feed a battalion at prices that you'd have to be starving to willingly pay. They sit at tables munching on ten dollar cheese steaks and drinking eight dollar beer – while the game is being played. These people paid at least $20 to get in, plus another $15 to park their car, and they spend a great deal of their time eating in left field without being able to see the game. It's odd behavior. Either go to a sports bar and watch the game on TV or take the food to your seats. Either option is better than missing a huge chunk of the game because you can't wait to eat a cheesesteak.

We have what is known as a quarterback controversy with our football team, the Philadelphia Eagles. Young Kevin Kolb has been benched in favor of older and faster Michael Vick. The more interesting thing to me is the fact that a simple name like Kevin Kolb is mispronounced by thousands of people. It seems that we have to have an athlete in town whose name is mispronounced. Many years ago, running back Charlie Garner (mispronounced Gardener), former outfielder Pat Burrell (mispronounced Bur-RELL) and recently deposed quarterback Donovan McNabb (mispronounced DUNovan) all played several years here without fans learning how to pronounce their names properly. We now have Roy Halladay (mispronounced holiday) and Roy Oswalt (mispronounced OZ-walt) pitching for the Phillies.

The thing that amazes me about it is that all of them have heard the names pronounced correctly, yet they still cannot bring themselves to do it. I guess they're not paying attention. When they are corrected, they reply with the "whatever" retort and go about their business. I realize that English is often a difficult language to master, but Kevin Kolb would seem to be an easy enough name to pronounce, but there are still a lot of people who say colb, and not cob which is correct. They have all heard cob, but continue with colb. When they go to a picnic do they order corn on the colb? No. Now that he has been benched, his name comes up every three minutes, and every twenty minutes somebody says colb.

These are the same people who use phrases like "a whole nother thing" and "irregardless." I chalk it up to poor parenting. Perhaps Kevin should just change his name to Cob and get it over with?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Promises, Promises.

WASHINGTON – Six weeks before midterm elections, House Republicans vowed to cut taxes and federal spending, repeal President Barack Obama's health care law and ban federal funding of abortion as part of a campaign manifesto designed to propel them to victory in November and a majority in the next Congress.

The "Pledge to America," circulated to GOP lawmakers Wednesday, emphasizes job creation and spending control, as well as changing the way Congress does business. It steered clear of controversial issues such as Social Security and Medicare, big drivers of deficit spending.

Tis the season. No, not Christmas shopping. It's election season. Around here, the big race is for Governor of Pennsylvania, replacing Ed Rendell. The TV ads are coming fast and furiously, and as usual, every one of them thinks they're going to change the way government does business.

If you've lived through a dozen or so of these elections, as I have, the messages start to sound the same. I'm guessing that they hope we will forget what was said the last time. The thing that amazes me about these guys (and girls) is the tremendous ego it must take in order to say and believe the junk they say. "I'm going to change the way Pennsylvania is run," they say, hoping that we will leap into the air and scream, "All right! Finally!"

The party in control is going to tell you the great job they're doing and the party out of power is going to tell you how much the other guys stink and how they are going to come in and change things. Around and around it goes. It's worse when the sitting governor is leaving, because both parties tell you how much the old governor stank and how much better they are going to be. Those are amazing claims for people who have no job experience.

One after another of them says they're going to lower taxes, improve service (two conflicting areas), rid government of corruption and generally clean things up. It's all what we call 'low-hanging fruit,' and it's easy to pick at. Who doesn't want a governor to do those things? The difficult problems are left for after they're elected and they have to tell you that they need to raise taxes so that they can pay for all the stuff the guy before them put in place.

All the while I ask myself, "why would they spend millions of dollars to get a job that pays $165,000 a year?" I think we all know the answer to that question, and it's the main reason that nothing ever changes about government except the people running it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How do I get to A T and T Street?

On June 24, 2010, AT&T signed an agreement with SEPTA which entitled Pattison Station to be renamed AT&T Station in August 2010. The move is to increasing advertising revenue. AT&T would give SEPTA $3 million, and Titan Outdoor LLC, SEPTA's advertising partner, would receive $2 million. SEPTA is also planning to sell rights to other stations.
So, there you have it. The first subway station (that I know of) that isn't named after its address. Try telling somebody who isn't familiar with the area that they have to get off at the AT&T Station and let them figure out what street or neighborhood they are in. "Am I on A T and T Street?" No. You're in a commercial development that is represented by a corporation that has purchased naming rights to a public facility. It's almost a good idea. Give us a few million bucks and we'll confuse commuters. That seems like a fair trade.
The need for money has driven otherwise sensible people to do stupid things - like naming a subway station after a company. It's the same sort of convoluted thinking that makes me hope that someday (before I die, preferably) the government will legalize marijuana. That would be a much better option than re-naming a subway station.
Sports stadiums are no longer named after great people or their location, save Baltimore's Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Now, they are named after banks and corporations, and change names so quickly that it's nearly impossible to tell where a particular stadium or ballpark is located. Try these:
Minute Maid Park
Citi Field
M & T Bank Stadium
Rogers Centre
Safeco Field
Miller Park
Comerica Park
U.S. Cellular Field
Tropicana Field
PNC Park

Without the aid of Google, tell me where each of those Major League ballparks is located and which teams play there. Most of them have been renamed once or twice, so good luck with that. The arena where our Philadelphia Flyers play is working on its fourth name change, and is now known as the Wells Fargo Center. How romantic.
Even though the numbers (and our government) tell us that the recession is over, signs are pointing to a deflationary environment, which economists will tell you, is worse than an inflationary one. Prices are supposed to go up, they aren't supposed to go down. When prices and wages start to decline, the country becomes a strange place to live.
You start to see things like subway stations being named after corporations, and commuters that are confused. Meanwhile, those of us who are natives will continue to call it the Pattison Avenue station, because it stops at Pattison Avenue. Call us strange, but we're funny that way.
It will take at least one generation of commuters to start calling it by its commercialized name, and by then our standards will be so low that we'll be seeing school buses, taxi cabs and your forehead decorated with the logo of your favorite corporation.
Meanwhile, I'll keep calling it Delaware Avenue and West River Drive, in spite of government and corporate efforts to get me to do otherwise.
I'm funny that way, too.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

You horny little devil.

WASHINGTON – Another unfavorable decade-old television clip of tea party favorite Christine O'Donnell has emerged, this time with the Delaware GOP Senate candidate saying she "dabbled in witchcraft." Since O'Donnell's upset of nine-term Rep. Mike Castle, opponents have unearthed unflattering television clips. The most recent was aired by Bill Maher, who dug up one of O'Donnell's appearances on his "Politically Incorrect" show in 1999. The context of what led to her comments is not clear, and O'Donnell is laughing while she talks.

"I dabbled into witchcraft. I never joined a coven," she said. " ... I hung around people who were doing these things. I'm not making this stuff up. I know what they told me they do," she said. "... One of my first dates with a witch was on a satanic altar, and I didn't know it. I mean, there's little blood there and stuff like that," she said. "We went to a movie and then had a little midnight picnic on a satanic altar."

I suppose, when the Tea Party gang starts talking about "taking back America," they're talking about taking it back to the days of the Salem Witch Hunts, when the Unites States was ruled by superstitious God-fearing nitwits who thought that witches existed and people could actually control events with their minds. This event should seal the election for the Delaware democrat - whoever he is - since voters don't like hearing about covens and Satan worship, even though they would concede that Satan exists.

It's a shame, because she's almost as attractive as Sarah Palin, and we all know how you people like attractive candidates. Sadly, she might be a Satan worshiper, which is only slightly more offensive to voters than somebody who is a gun nut like Palin. Hey, there are lines to be drawn, after all. You can hide behind the second amendment, but it's tough to hide behind the first, especially if your religion is backed by Satan.

I'd say it's about time that somebody talked about Satan and devil worship. For too long we've heard about how God is responsible for things and we've heard people "thank God" for stuff. Where are all the Satan worshipers? In Delaware, apparently. It's refreshing to hear somebody talk about being a witch and hanging out with Satanic cults.

Unfortunately for the Republicans, most voters won't appreciate it. But hey, that was close, wasn't it? I almost feel badly for you Tea Party "taking back America" gang. Maybe, instead of voting for somebody merely because of their party affiliation, you can start to look at what they believe in. What a novel idea.

It makes one wonder what sorts of shenanigans other candidates are up to who didn't subject themselves to revealing interviews.