Sunday, January 25, 2009
My parents tried to shelter me as a child.
I have made up for it since then, but they tried.
I wasn’t allowed to go to the local bowling alley. There was a pool hall there.
You know, “that game with the 15 colored balls, it’s the devil’s tool!”
They tried to shelter me from Playboy Magazine…
And Cheech and Chong…
Actually, the whole pot culture.
Ironically, the one time Dad called us all together – to ask if we knew what a “roach clip” was – it was his youngest son that knew the answer.
Maybe my older brothers just knew it was time to play dumb.
Anyway, last week, while reading the Memphis Flyer, I stumbled across an ad for the Horseshoe Casino in Tunica, MS, promoting an upcoming appearance by none other than Cheech and Chong!
As I said, over the years I made up for lost time. I’ve listened to their albums. I’ve seen “Up In Smoke” and “Nice Dreams”. Whenever I call a former secretary, I always ask, “Is Dave there, man?”
She knows it’s me.
The duo broke up in the 80’s and I’ve watched Richard “Cheech” Marin try to break into serious acting – co-starring with Don Johnson on “Nash Bridges” and holding bit parts in “From Dusk ‘til Dawn” and “Once Upon a Time in Mexico”. Tommy Chong went on to a regularly occurring role in “That 70’s Show”, plus a brief prison stint for selling his own line of “Chong’s Bongs”.
As my college psych prof used to say, “Must have been a good weekend; lots of brain damage!”
But now the drug-duo is back together. Doing stand-up again. And I wonder: what will they talk about?
Contraband Geritol? Really wicked Mexican Fiber? Their "little blue friend"?
I mean, really! These guys are… what? Freakin’ old, man! Cheech is 62, Tommy is 70!
They were great once. But we all need to realize at some point that it’s time to put away the “shtick” that got us through our youth and face the reality of the day.
By the way, should they look out at the audience in Tunica, you will undoubtedly hear Tommy Chong say, “Hey, Dave’s not here, man!”
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Yes, the woman is attractive. And stylish. Some compare her to Jackie Kennedy.
That’s supposed to be a compliment.
But Michelle Obama is so much more than Jackie Kennedy.
Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis was born into wealth. She attended private prep schools, and after hopping around among several colleges, finally finished a bachelor degree in French Literature at George Washington University. From there she worked as a society columnist for a Washington newspaper, then married a Kennedy.
(Wikipedia sure makes me seem smart, doesn’t it?)
Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama's father was a city water plant employee; her mother was a secretary at Spiegel's catalogue store. Michelle, a product of public education, was salutatorian at Whitney Young High School in Chicago. She earned a Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, from Princeton, and her Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School.
She has always been politically active, seeking changes in the conditions of poor and black Americans.
She has worked for Sidley Austin Law Firm in Chicago, on staff for Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, as associate dean of students at University of Chicago, and was vice president for community and external affairs at University of Chicago Hospital when the presidential primaries started. She was earning twice as much as President Obama was when he was just a Senator.
On top of that, she is the proud mother of two.
After all these years, we still don’t know what to do with smart, powerful women. So we comment on their clothing, and dismiss them as if that’s what really made them who they are.
So stop with all the fashion nonsense. You’re just doing it to denigrate her. Michelle Obama is not some bimbo cheerleader… or a brainless fashion model… or some pop-culture boy-toy. She is a true role model -- if the press will let her be. Michelle Obama is a bright woman who has much to contribute as our First Lady.
Much more than a keen fashion sense.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Monday, January 12, 2009
DAMNED IF YOU DO…
Back when the price of a gallon of gas was soaring toward $4 per gallon, our government told us it was all our fault because we have become too dependent upon foreign oil. They suggested that we drive less, and pressured automakers to step up production of electric and hybrid cars; they even offered financial incentives for us to buy fuel efficient vehicles. So we cut back, and used car lots became glutted with SUVs.
Then the economy tanked and gas prices dropped to now $1.60 per gallon.
So now our federal government is crying because we are not using enough gas, which means they are not receiving enough taxes to keep the road-tax coffers filled. The government’s solution: double the gas tax.
I guess I should have just continued driving my Hummer out to my mailbox all along!
Conservation = Bad! Taxes = Good!
DAMNED IF YOU DON’T…
In the January 8-14 issue of the Memphis Flyer, editor Bruce VanWyngarden noted some of the cuts which he and his spouse have started to make as the recession heats up – he waited and bought a shirt marked down from $79 to $19 at Banana Republic; he bought fireplace starter logs for $2.99 at Ike’s instead of the $14 logs at Schnuck’s; he canceled his premium cable channels, etc.
Cutting back on person expenses is wise when money grows scarce.
Unfortunately, he notes, such cuts only make the recession worse. If you decide to put off buying that new car for a year, the car salesman (and others on down the assembly line) takes the hit.
VanWyngarden opposes the government bailout and the proposed stimulus bill. Instead, he calls for a return of the Works Progress Administration – part of FDR’s New Deal. Instead of throwing money down a rat’s hole, why not create jobs and put people back to work?
I have argued this for a long time, but have been surprised at the opposition I have received from liberals and conservatives alike. Apparently, some think we are too good to dig ditches, while others argue we are not smart enough to dig ditches (since we dig ditches with fancy machinery now instead of a shovel). I say give 'em a shovel!
We will never dig ourselves out of this financial mess we are in until we can convince people that the government’s job is not just to give you money.
Don’t they know it’s the government’s job to take our money?!?
DAMN… JUST DAMN!
Paul & Caragh Brooks recently were married… in a Taco Bell… in Normal, Illinois.
The bride wore a $15 hot-pink dress.
The restaurant was decorated with balloons and streamers.
Employees displayed “hot sauce” packets which read, “Will you marry me?”
The preacher, dressed in a t-shirt, received his license over the internet.
And as the happy couple exchanged their vows – “Would you like nachos with that?” – the regular customers continued to mill around and order their tacos and burritos.
FINALLY!... NO, REALLY. FINALLY!
President-Elect Barack Obama has finally realized what a mess President Bush has left him. Yesterday he announced, “Everyone is going to have to make some sacrifices.”
It only took him 3-months to read my blog. [See blog post “Sacrifice”, October 28, 2008.]
Maybe there is hope after all.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
The floats are amazing to see on television – even more amazing up close. A few years ago, we went out the day before the parade to watch volunteers put on the finishing touches, then again to see all the floats on display after the parade.
I have continually refused offers to attend the parade itself – I don’t like crowds.
Which brings me to the point of this blog. Following this year’s parade, Peter Apanel wrote the following email to the LA Times: “The Times reports that an estimated 700,000 people attending this year’s Rose Parade. That figure is obviously false, so I’m wondering why the Times continues to report false attendance figures year after year.”
To answer that question honestly, one has only to recall the history of the parade. The “Tournament of Roses” was originally designed by real estate investors to show off sunny southern California to the rest of the country, to entice people to move west.
And it worked. California is full. You’d think they would stop it already!
Still a major marketing venture – although the parade is brought to you “without commercial interruption” – it wouldn’t look good if Eubanks/Edwards announced, “We’ve got about 100,000 people out on the street today, give or take a few thousand.” ...especially since, in the early days, spokespersons for the parade used to throw around a crowd number of more than 1 million!
Sounds like a “preacher count”.
Everyone knows preachers can't count. How else could you explain how I was told by the previous pastor that my church had 150 average worship attendance when, in fact, the AWA for the past three years has hovered around 120?
The question of crowd counts has always been a bone of contention. Remember the “Million Man March” in Washington – at which the march organizers boasted of achieving their goal, while the U.S. Parks Service came up with a significantly different number? And some today are estimating 1 million will attend President Obama’s inauguration – a physical impossibility unless you count the people sitting in a coffee shop in Williamsburg as being “in attendance”.
In the 1980s, someone did the math and determined that, at maximum capacity, the Rose Parade route would only hold about 512,000 people. In 1991, a reporter indicated that the parade route would only hold 130,000 people per mile “if they’re all standing up, packed tight as sardines the whole way with no room for coolers, chairs or empty spots at the back”.
Apanel raised the issue about crowd counting apparently because he already knew the answer to his question. By his math: “The route is 5.5 miles long, or 29,040 feet. So, if you allowed two feet per person, for spectators standing shoulder-to-shoulder, it would take 29,040 people to form one row of spectators along both sides of the entire parade route. Therefore, to have 700,000 people in attendance, you’d need to have 24 rows of people, packed together like sardines, on both sides of the parade route. Obviously, that’s a physical impossibility, and, just as obviously, the density of the crowd, with all the chairs, coolers, blankets, and other gaps, comes nowhere near maximum density.”
Which leads me to the following conclusion: Peter Apanel has WAAAAY too much time on his hands!
(Info taken from an LA Times article, 01-07-09)
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Over the Christmas break, I took my favorite niece to see the movie “Marley & Me”. She’s twelve, the rating was “PG” and the commercials indicated it was a comedy about a dog. Can’t go wrong, right?
By the way, matinees in California cost $8.75. Ouch!
The first half of the movie was funny – all the scenes you saw in the trailer plus some. Owen Wilson and Jennifer Anniston were immediately likeable as John & Jennifer Grogan, but I had trouble separating the two popular actors from their roles.
OK, I had also recently seen Anniston’s nude magazine shoot.
But I digress…
About halfway through, the movie took a strange turn. With the arrival of a child, John & Jennifer are bickering. The baby is crying, the dog is barking, the house is too small, Jennifer has given up a career to have a family… life is not like they had planned. The arrival of a second and third child only make it worse. Plus, for some inexplicable reason, John is unhappy with his wildly successful career as a newspaper columnist.
Just like real life.
But if I had wanted real life, I would have stayed at home!
Then it got worse. Suddenly I realized that Marley (the dog) is aging. We had seen him as a puppy. We had seen him as a teen dog. We had seen him mature. Then comes the comment: “What’s the matter, boy? Having trouble with your hips?”
Are you serious??? Are we really going to see Marley grow old and die?
I hate to spoil the ending, but you need to hear this if you haven’t seen the movie. Near the end of the movie, John takes Marley to the vet, who declares, “There is nothing more that I can do.” They decide to put him down.
Marley, not John.
Not only do we get to see John’s farewell to his boon companion of 15 years, we get to see a protracted death scene – flashing between Marley laying on the vet’s table with an IV delivering the lethal drug and one of John’s children watching videotapes of Marley as a puppy.
Again, if I had wanted real life, I would have stayed at home. As one who had to watch his own dog put to sleep, the scene conjured up way too many memories.
Fortunately the theater was dark.
No, Pirates never cry!
There is a funeral scene – yes, for Marley – and at the end of the movie, John decides to deal with his grief by writing a book… which was turned into a movie… this movie... which I had just paid $8.75 to see.
I salute David Frankel, the director, for making a film that could so violently wrench my emotions; you had me all the way!
But, John Grogan, next time you need grief therapy, don’t turn it into a movie!
And I will never forgive the ad firm that portrayed this movie as a comedy!
Shame on you!