America’s Love of Train Wrecks

I grabbed from another blog I’ve been slowly shutting down.  Initially written during the height of the Charlie Sheen meltdown, I decided it is fitting since I recently saw headlines about Ashton and Demi having marriage problems and about whether Charlie Sheen has fallen off the wagon, as well as a friend posting a link today about how Scarlett Johansson’s nude pics have been leaked.

It amazes me how people can ask, rhetorically or not, “How did Charlie Sheen get 1 million followers on Twitter?” or “Why does the media keep talking about Charlie Sheen?” right before digging into the latest story about him on their favorite new site or clicking through a dozen articles on the entertainment sites.  Are people really that thick?  Now I sound like one of them, right?  Charlie Sheen has imploded and aside from the same media that has always been available to celebrities (newspapers, TV, radio) he’s got the world of social media that he can control –Twitter, FaceBook, YouTube, web sites, etc.  He can, and is, broadcasting his message… and the masses are eating it up.  Why is he doing it?  The same reason the mainstream media does it… because it sells.  He’s got more followers on Twitter now than he probably ever would have if he hadn’t blown up like this.  The masses give him power.  They will read and listen to what he has to say because it sounds funny, maybe to empathize with him, or to make fun of him, but they keep him in the spotlight… exactly where he wants to be.

To a large extent, this is the same reason dimbos like the Kardashians, Paris Hilton, et al., are famous.  It certainly isn’t because they have talent.  Stupid “reality” TV is making celebrities out of talentless, halfwits who may or may not realize that half their “fame” is because they are being made fun of.  Jersey Shore is a joke.  All the bimbos and dumb asses throwing themselves at the various Bachelors and Bachelorettes… ridiculous!

Oh, hey, there’s a new clip of Miley Cyrus… yeah, you’re just waiting for that train to completely derail, aren’t you?

Don Henley hit it on the head years ago…

…and, sure, I’m (potentially) capitalizing on this same love of train wrecks by blogging about/dropping the names of Charlie, Paris, and Miley and hoping to get hits from searches for them.  Feel exploited yet?

Quote: “Nothing is Trivial”

Little things used to mean so much to Shelly- I used to think they were kind of trivial. Believe me, nothing is trivial. – Eric Draven, The Crow

I love this quote.  The Crow is actually full of great one liners, but thrown in with all the action and thrash music are some very good quotes and scenes that make this a fantastic movie.

When I’m having a disagreement with my wife about something I think is stupid or “trivial,” this quote comes to mind… sometimes not right away, usually not until I’ve calmed down, but it gets there and it makes me try to look at things from her perspective, when I might not have been able to do so in the heat of the disagreement.

Nothing is trivial… You may think it is, but someone else probably has deep feelings about whatever it is, especially in a relationship.

Here’s a short clip that gets to the quote above…

Enough is enough, already!

originally posted 10/15/2009 7:37 am

Oregon Apartment Complex Bans Flying the American Flag

(headline for this article: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,566341,00.html?test=latestnews)

Are you freaking kidding me???  The apartment complex is afraid someone will get offended by seeing an American flag flying from an apartment or car or a sticker on a car?  They can get over it!  They are in an apartment complex in one of the states in The United States of America.  If they don’t like it, they can take their happy asses back from whence they came…and if they are American and don’t like it, they can try to find a better country to which to emigrate.  Good freaking luck on that one, pal!  Maybe you don’t agree with our foreign policy or are concerned about all the business the government is trying to poke their heads and dig their money-grubbing fingers into, but this still beats just about anywhere you can find to live.

It’s way past time for us to stop concerning ourselves with someone being offended by seeing the U.S. Flag flying high in all her glory.  (It’s also way past time for us to stop catering to all the special interest groups, but that would be a whole other post.) Why is it that we’re the only country that doesn’t have the balls to say, “It’s too bad that you don’t like it.  It’s our flag and we’ll fly it where we want.  If you don’t like it, shut up and get out!”

It’s time for us to get back to standing tall because we’re Americans, especially on our own soil.  We have so much freedom, that for the sake of free speech/freedom of expression, we allow people to burn our flag in our own streets… unceremoniously and maliciously.  Try that anywhere else.

The article also mentions that they won’t allow flying sports team flag on cars either.  Are they afraid someone’s going to get offended because someone watches a different sport, or roots for a team that’s doing better than theirs?  Really?  If we let this go, what’s next?  Better not let them wear outerwear that has flags or sports teams logos, either.  They might be spotted heading in and out of their apartment.  What if I’m sad that they can afford $100 shoes while I have to hit Payless or a thrift store.  How about we just all go nude?  No, that wouldn’t work either.  Someone’s bound to have a better looking body than me, right?  That could hurt my feelings, too.  We could all wear the same color muumuu and bags over our heads so that we all look the same and figure wouldn’t matter because it would be hidden under the muumuu, but that wouldn’t quite do it either…  I’m not as tall as Shaq, or maybe someone his height would be ashamed because he’s unusually tall.  I guess we’ll just have to sneak into our apartment and never come out so we don’t risk offending or being offended by anyone.

Is that a bit extreme?  Yeah, but we seem to like extremes lately, and go out of our way to cater to them and/or avoid them.

***Note:  If you were offended by this post, too bad! Deal with it!

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Edit:  Seems like some folks read my post… just kidding.  By the time I had finished this and published it, there was a follow-up article (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,566740,00.html?test=latestnews) which says the ban was rescinded.  Amazing how a little scrutiny and national attention can do wonders to squash stupid policies…sometimes.

Ideating: Forced March Chickens

originally posted 10/2/2009 2:35 pm

This is the first in what will likely be a series of posts that I’m going to name by “borrowing” from IBM’s ad wizards:  Ideating.  No, we don’t get paid to lie around in a dark room with a pillow just to think stuff up.  Our ideating is water cooler chat, coffee talk, but not scuttlebutt as gossip doesn’t count as ideating.  Most of these topics don’t just spring up as random thoughts; rather, they are the end result of a chain of thoughts or discussions about some news/article/etc. someone saw or heard.

Yesterday we somehow we got on the topic of the organic food industry and the lack of regulation by the FDA and the lack of regulation of the different terms used to describe these products.  This lead to a “free range” chicken discussion and that I’d read a year or so ago that as long as the chickens were allowed to roam free for only thirty minutes a day, they could be called free range.  A co-worker pointed out that if all you do is leave the chickens a way to leave the coop, but feed them in the coop, they simply won’t leave… no motivation.  In the interest of having the chickens hit the range, I suggested an old toothless fox be introduced to the chicken coop.  The toothless fox would still try to catch the chickens, forcing them to flee the coop and get some “free ranging” in while trying to escape the fox.  While the fox may scare the chickens, it’s ultimately good for them…they get exercise and if the fox catches one, it gets a massage as the fox tries to gum it to death.

**Please note that most of our ideating isn’t going to be based on hard scientific facts and we don’t actually advocate harming animals and/or people.  These are just things we talk/joke about.

A few R.I.P.s

originally posted 9/24/2009 8:20 pm

Today, Patrick Swayze lost his long battle with pancreatic cancer.  While not all of his movies had the success of “Ghost” and “Dirty Dancing”, many did have a healthy following and got lots of replay value on the TV.  “Dirty Dancing” doesn’t do much for me.  “Ghost” is a great movie.  Two of my favorites are “Red Dawn” and “Road House”.  Two others off the top of my head that weren’t the best movies I’ve ever seen, but that I don’t have a problem watching again when they show up on cable are “Black Dog” and “Next of Kin”.  R.I.P. Patrick.
Read more about Patrick Swayze on Wikipedia:  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Swayze

Another celebrity who died this summer that I failed to write about was Michael Jackson.  I’ve heard lots of people claiming he was the most talented musician/individual in the world.  I don’t know about that, but I do know that he wrote a lot of fantastic songs and could dance his butt off.  Who knows how many more hits he could have produced if he hadn’t run into the legal, monetary, and medical problems that plagued him since the Nineties.  I heard a statistic on one of the billion news segments dedicated to MJ after his death that said he was sued around 1500 times.  How ridiculous is that?  R.I.P. Michael.
Read more about Michael Jackson on Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Jackson

Probably the one celebrity who died this summer who had the biggest impact on my life was John Hughes.  Impact probably isn’t the right word, but for lack of a better one, I’ll use it.  “Sixteen Candles”, “Pretty in Pink”, “Weird Science”, and “The Breakfast Club” are not only great comedies, but they also showed Hughes’ ability to deal with some of the life issues of the American high schooler in the 80’s.  Other films that he wrote that I put on my list of films that rate somewhere between ‘will watch multiple times’ to ‘own it’ to ‘it’s a great film that everyone should see’ are “Vacation”, “Mr. Mom”, “Ferris Beuler’s Day Off”, “Planes, Trains & Automobiles”, “The Great Outdoors”, “Uncle Buck”, “Home Alone”, “Curly Sue”, and “101 Dalmations [1996].”  R.I.P. John.
Read more about John Hughes on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Hughes_%28filmmaker%29

Yet another “celebrity” that we lost this summer was Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy.  While I am not a fan of his and, in general, don’t agree with most of the things he championed, it can’t be denied that he was a very popular and influential senator.  R.I.P. Ted.
Read more about Ted Kennedy on Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Kennedy

I’m sure I’ve missed some of those who died this summer.  Some folks find it surprising how many people —”Celebrities”— have died this summer.  What we’ll likely see as the next few years march on is a greater number of “celebrities” dying.  This doesn’t necessarily indicate that more of them are dying, but that more of the folks who are dying are known to the general population due to the explosion in TV and movies since the 60’s/70’s.  For those I’ve missed, R.I.P.

It may not take a village, but…

originally posted 9/7/2009 8:46 pm

Tomorrow the new school year begins in our area for public schools.  If you read my post on Karma, you already know how my wife got a job very near the end of summer.  It was close enough to the school year starting that by the time they gave her a start date we had about a week and a half to figure out how we were going to get our girls to and from school.  With my wife working roughly 30 minutes from away, the bus would have to be on time every day and she’d have to hope to not run into traffic problems on the way to her school lest she be late for work.  I could have put the girls on the bus, but by the time I spent the 30 minutes after that to get to work, I’d have had to stay at the office until around 6 each evening in order to log my 8 hours for the day…and we’d still need an after school program for the girls.  We looked into a couple programs that would have provided the opportunity for before and after school care and there were two:  the city’s parks and rec runs one and the other is the YMCA.  Both would have cost about $130 a week for before and after care, and I’d have felt compelled to drop the girls off earlier in the morning than necessary because of the high cost of the before care.  As it turns out, last night’s “girls night” at our house bore some very unexpected fruit.  Hold that thought, now, as I setup my village.

A few years ago, my wife and I bought a house in PUD (Planned Urban Development — the kind with an owners association and architectural guidelines)… my wife made friends of some of the neighbors who had kids, even started a playgroup for mommies who lived in the community.  We had hopes of findingng those kinds of friends who watch each others kids, spend lots of time at each others’ homes, and, generally, know so much about each other that they’d not be allowed to leave the collective alive…  hehehe —kidding, of course, but you know the kind of friends I’m talking about.  Anyway, after 5 years in that neighborhood, we still hadn’t found that.  We moved to an old, well-established neighborhood.  Of course, there weren’t a lot of younger coupler in this neighborhood, but you can’t beat the location.  Two years ago, we put our girls into a private school where my wife had been hired to teach.  The girls made some good friends and my wife made acquaintances with some of the parents of the kids in our daughters’ classes.  When we entered our daughters into the lottery for the communications magnet school (public school) and they were accepted, it was a no-brainer…  our girls were going to public school and saving us a bunch of money.  My wife was also tired of working at the private school, but I’ll not go into that.  Our disassociation with the private school, though, made it easier for my wife to be more friendly with some of the parents of our girls’ friends.  As the summer began, they (the girls and my wife) began spending more time with some of these folks and very soon were also invited over to the (at least) once a week family get-togethers in the evenings.  Over the course of the summer, these came to be known as mojito nights.  (I don’t think that requires any further explanation, huh?)  Eventually, I also started going to mojito night… I can’t really recall why I wasn’t going in the beginning.  Long story, short:  We’ve found the friends we’ve been hoping to find for the last ten years or so.

Still holding that thought from earlier?  Last night, the ladies were having a good time chatting and relaxing and, I guess, the conversation turned to what we were planning to do with the girls.  One of the ladies offered to have us drop the girls off at her house before school since she has a son going to school there as well, and she’ll take them to school.  She also offered to pick them up after school and keep them until my wife gets there to pick them up.  So we don’t feel like we’re taking too much advantage, she’s going to let us pay her $10 a week for this.  The other lady offered to be her backup, if needed.

We’ve been very fortunate to have the support of my wife’s parents over the years, but have lived for many years without friends like we’ve now found so we know that it doesn’t really take a village to raise a child… but it certainly can make things a lot easier so I’ll offer up a big THANKS to all those villagers out there who know what I’m talking about.

It’s not just a coincidence…

originally posted 8/24/2009 10:24 am

Karma. I’m a big believer in it.  Not necessarily the Hindu definition, but more of the Western interpretation of it which can be stated in a couple old adages:  “You reap what you sow” and “What goes around, comes around.”  It’s a universal maxim.  If you do good, good will come back to you.  Not immediately necessarily, but eventually.  If you’re a dirt bag, sooner or later, the cosmos will call you on the carpet and you aren’t going to like the results.  I don’t actively go around thinking about good things to do so that I can get a good return.  I don’t think it really works that way.  I just generally have a positive attitude and help folks when I can.  I’m nowhere near rich, or, at this point, well-off, but I still donate to causes I think are worthy.  If I’m not in a hurry, I’ll usually let a car that’s waiting their turn into the lane of traffic or wave people across the street… little stuff like that.  I’m not in a position to accomplish big things for others, but Karma isn’t necessarily about that.  It’s about doing what you can without expecting something in return.
Here’s an example:  My wife got a call this past Saturday morning offering her the job teaching at the school at which she’d interviewed Friday afternoon.  She got the call for that interview that same Friday morning after the principal of that school had gotten a call from one of her colleagues who was a friend of our neighbor.  Thursday night, my wife had been chatting with our neighbor about her job hunt for a teaching position after she took two tickets to the local theme park to the neighbor.  The neighbors don’t have a lot of money to spend on taking their kids to a theme park and they had asked if they could have “even just one” of the single-day tickets I get as part of my compensation package from the theme park where I have a part-time job.  We don’t spend a lot of time visiting with these neighbors, but we decided to give them two tickets since we hadn’t already promised them to anyone.  We didn’t expect anything in return, but it sure worked out great.  Would my wife have gotten called for this position anyway?  Maybe.  The school is expanding, but my wife is certainly not the only qualified teacher for this position.  Coincidence? I’ll go with Karma.

Comments:

Sherry Halpin wrote (8/24/2009 2:14 pm):
That’s a great story!!

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