Ugly Americans Whine About Petty “Olympic Problems”

I can’t believe what crying babies some of these Americans are at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Now, I do feel that the International Olympic Committee made a poor choice, but not because hotels don’t have enough pillows or light bulbs or toilet paper. I would be far more concerned with the safety issues than the complaints of bees in the honey. Of course Russia is going to spy on us everywhere, that is what they do best, it’s not like our own government doesn’t spy.
We will never know if Putin strong-armed the IOC with wads of cash or whatever, but if you are already there you may as well make the best of it and quit whining about the lack of amenities typically found in the U.S. The egotistical reporters are the worst, they post selfies next to a broken light fixture or brown water coming from a hotel faucet. We get it, guys/gals but what is your point? Can’t you hack it on an Olympic assignment without whining? It’s not war its games.
One of the many roles of the International Olympics Committee is to “Encourage and support initiatives blending sport with culture and education.” Now, this is what they state on their website so I guess it is part of their mission statement which certainly is open to interpretation but we do know the Russian culture appears to be nothing like that of the U.S. But, it is still their culture and maybe making a mockery of  it on Twitter and Facebook etc. isn’t necessarily the classy thing to do. We don’t need to put other countries down in order to elevate ourselves we are already on top.
No, they are not enlightened about gay rights and that is deplorable to us of course, but it wasn’t that many years ago we weren’t so “open” either. We can’t push our values on other countries by name calling and admonishing them because they don’t think or act like us. Believe it or not, many other countries in the world could really care less what we think or how we operate, they have their own internal and external problems.
So, 60% of the world doesn’t have access to flushing toilets. People in the U.S. that own RV’s often throw toilet paper in a trash can every day depending on what location they are hooked-up to.  Almost everyone living in Latin America does also. In some areas of Mexico in public restrooms there is no toilet paper, but for 10 pesos a guy standing near the door will give you a small sheet of (one ply) toilet paper. I had no coins once and didn’t know of this practice. I now always carry tissue in my purse, it’s called innovation. . But the lack of this at hotels in Sochi doesn’t take away your athletic advantage at the Olympics, but people are still Tweeting their shock and dismay at lack of toilet paper in Russia. What idiots.
Evidently Russia kills stray dogs, we find this abhorrent but I have witnessed a pack of wild dogs in  Mexico go after a woman who ultimately ran into the ocean as her husband valiantly tried to fight off the dogs and almost lost a leg before help arrived. Not all countries have animal shelters because they are too busy trying to find shelter for humans. And, many countries don’t treat their dogs like members of the family because they are having a hard enough time feeding their own family.
This may not be “right” by our standards but who are we to make Russia or any other host country adopt our standards pertaining to animals?I mean, we are insulting the people of Russia, who just happen to be proud of their country too. I don’t give a hoot about Putin and I’ll bet many Russians don’t either as he has spent a sickening amount of their tax money to try to make himself look good hosting the Olympics.. He used cheap Russian labor to construct the huge venues, used some of their nearby towns and land to dump construction materials and God knows what else. He ruined local roads with heavy trucks during construction and made the already low electric supply of neighboring towns near Sochi barely operational and in many cases nil. This is how these people have to live, Americans and others get to go home to their plush toilet paper.
It’s embarrassing to see the Twitter comments, Facebook posts and Instagram photos of some of these “Ugly Americans” as they whine about bees in their honey and are not genius enough to take a spoon and remove the bee. They do know bees make honey right? It’s as if some of these people have never been out of their own comfort zone and think the world revolves around their wants and needs. It’s a Global world out there and nobody else cares that some U.S. visitors/reporters/activist groups etc. might boycott or can’t/won’t try to go with the flow and make the best of it. The Olympics is about the athletes and our U.S. pride is with them as they compete. We hope they will be safe. The whiners need to go drink some Russian Vodka and lighten up.
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Ralph Lauren’s Design Wins Ugly Sweater Contest For U.S. Olympic Athletes

Ralph Lauren got another shot at the Olympic Rings this year to design the U.S. Olympic Athletes’ clothing, or as I like to refer to his “designer” duds for 2014; costumes.  After the 2012 London Olympics fiasco which declared Lauren, or maybe he just declared himself “The Official Outfitter of the U.S. Olympic Teams for London 2012″ but neglected to tell us the clothing was made in China, I thought maybe they would just choose J Crew or Gap or Old Navy who already get their stuff from China and other places I can’t even pronounce, pre-designed.

Most of the world already views the U.S. as conspicuous consumers and Lauren’s design does little to dispel this. Americans are also thought to be loud and brash in some circles and in particular, the design of the over-the-top patriotic red, white and blue sweater is as loud and brash as they come. There are so many stars and stripes and red, white and blue things on this sweater you expect it to start singing Bruce Springsteen songs. The hat is equally as garish looking but I suppose the idea was a plethora of sweater knit stuff that kinda-sorta-almost matched, like a patchwork quilt–but not. Oh yeah, white sweatpants complete the outfit. Those snooty French are still snickering. I don’t  think they even allow sweatpants in France.

Lauren has long been thought of as the purveyor of understated elegance. His designs used to typify what most called “the classics.” In the 2012 Olympics his clothing for the opening and closing Olympic ceremony for the athletes was navy blazers and berets. The berets looked decidedly French and the blazers looked like the athletes just came from the polo club. Oh yeah that’s right, his signature brand is the polo pony. Nice way to get your brand in the Olympics Ralph, by way of China.

While the Olympic sweater design would surely win the ugly sweater contest hands down we have much more serious potential problems for our athletes. The Olympic Committee (the bright stars that chose Sochi, Russia) and the U.S. State Department are telling the athletes not to wear any conspicuous U.S.A. clothing while traveling or anywhere outside the Olympic Village as a safety/security measure. I hope these terrific athletes and their families will be safe wearing whatever they feel comfortable in as our athletes don’t need a red, white and blue ugly sweater to stand out, they do it with their American spirit, dedication to their sport and talent.  Maybe a new younger designer with those same qualities can design for the U.S. Olympic athletes next time.

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Slate Writer May Be Replaced By Penguin

English: large wooden Santa Claus and "no...

English: large wooden Santa Claus and “north pole” at Santa Claus House, North Pole, Alaska (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What a huge surprise that “political correctness” is now taking its toll on a fun, not-even-real, beloved, decades old symbol of Christmas; Santa Claus. Slate writer Aisha Harris declared in her “culture” column yesterday that Santa should be replaced with a penguin. Never mind that she called a penguin a mammal (it’s a bird, do your research).

She goes on (and on) to say that a white Santa shouldn’t be the default Santa and she felt insecure and ashamed as a child because all the Santa’s at the mall, on TV etc. were white yet in her own home the cards, figurines and ornaments depicted Santa as black. Her shame she said, came from the fact that she felt her black Santa was somehow “not real.” Is she forgetting no Santa is real? Her own father pointed out to her that Santa became the image and likeness of whatever family he visited. I was taught this about Jesus too. Everyone retains the right to decide what color their mythical symbols of Christmas, Easter, tooth fairy etc. are. I’m sure it must be in the Bill of Rights of pretend stuff.

Here are her some of her reasons taken from slate.com why Santa should be a penguin;

“Two decades later, America is less and less white, but a melanin-deficient Santa remains the default in commercials, mall casting calls, and movies. Isn’t it time that our image of Santa better serve all the children he delights each Christmas?

Yes, it is. And so I propose that America abandon Santa-as-fat-old-white-man and create a new symbol of Christmas cheer. From here on out, Santa Claus should be a penguin.
Why, you ask? For one thing, making Santa Claus an animal rather than an old white male could spare millions of nonwhite kids the insecurity and shame that I remember from childhood. Whether you celebrate the holiday or not, Santa is one of the first iconic figures foisted upon you: He exists as an incredibly powerful image in the imaginations of children across the country (and beyond, of course). That this genial, jolly man can only be seen as white—and consequently, that a Santa of any other hue is merely a “joke” or a chance to trudge out racist stereotypes—helps perpetuate the whole “white-as-default” notion endemic to American culture (and, of course, not just American culture).

Plus, people love penguins. There are blogs dedicated entirely to their cuteness. They’re box office gold. Most importantly, they’re never scary (in contrast to, say, polar bears and reindeer). Most kids love Santa—because he brings them presents. But human Santa can be terrifying—or at least unsettling.”

There is much, much more but I’ll let you trot on over to Slate.com and check it out for yourself, if you so wish. I’ve had more than my fill of her drivel and I am on a quest to have the beloved Fat Albert character turned into a mouse, but I can’t decide if it should be a white mouse…

Harris is not surprisingly getting a lot of flak for this getting-rid-of-white-Santa idea and I hear the reindeer are really pissed. The elves aren’t to happy either. They have a right to work clause that doesn’t include them working for a bird. Many do agree however, replacing a Slate writer with a penguin is a great idea. Ho, ho, ho!

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Mcidiot CEO’s at McDonald’s Need Sensitivity Tips and Maybe A Brain

The McDonald's in Sedona, Arizona is the only ...

The McDonald’s in Sedona, Arizona is the only one in the world with turquoise arches. They are not yellow because the city thought they would mesh poorly with the surrounding red rocks. The first color McDonald’s offered was turquoise which the city accepted. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Seems the McIdiots over at the land of the golden arches (golden only for management and CEO’s of course) are dispensing advice to their rank and file workers on how to live on the meager wages that McDonald’s pays. They evidently have an employee in-house website called McResource that offers “helpful tips” on how to get through the financial strains of the holidays with innovative money advice like “sell stuff you don’t need on eBay and Craigslist. Are they kidding? No, the tarnished golden arch big wigs are also telling employees who visit the site to “quit complaining” because complaining causes stress.” I myself find complaining a stress relief of sorts. And it’s painfully obvious that working for the fast food giant has got to be a giant headache. I mean, just because some people work for minimum wage doesn’t give McDonald’s the right to treat employees like they have minimum brain power. Maybe the hierarchy over there needs some “tips.” Like, how about paying a decent wage and allowing people to work more than 20 hours a week so they can actually receive some benefits? Or, how about paying a decent wage so your workers don’t have to work two or three jobs just to have necessities? Or, how about not putting up a moronic and demeaning website that displays your ignorance and offers your employees no-help-what-so-ever?

While the site is supposed to be private for employees only, we all know in this day and age privacy is a joke. According to screen grabs from the site gathered by the activist group Low Pay Is Not OK, the site also offers tips on stress management. With gems such as; “sing away stress to lower blood pressure and pack your bags and take at least two vacations a year to cut heart attack risk by 50 percent.” Now, if you work for these McIdiots for roughly $7.25 an hour where do they think you could possibly afford to vacation? Set up camp in a Walmart parking lot for free like the RV travelers do?

When it comes to digging out from debt, the McResource Line suggests employees “consider returning some of your unopened purchases that may not seem appealing as they did.” What, like food or maybe Christmas gifts for the kids? The person/persons writing this drivel really should be forced to eat McCrap food for a few months as punishment and then sent to McDonalds Hamburger University in Oakbrook, Il for at least a year of hard time. There is a section on the site relating to making ends meet which gives the enlightening advice to “break food into pieces which will result in eating less and feeling full.” Yeah, remember that when you order a cheeseburger at McD’s sometime. Break it up into 16 pieces and hopefully you will realize you aren’t really full but they sure are full of it…

This isn’t the first time the restaurant chain has been taken to task for how it approaches the financial problems of its minimum-wage workers. Earlier this year, critics say, a financial planning site put together by McDonald’s and Visa unintentionally showed, in the words of The Atlantic’s Jordan Weissmann, “how impossible it is to scrape by on a fast-food paycheck.”

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Abercrombie & Fitch Gives Paris A Taste Of More Ugly American Stuff?

Word on Champ Elysees Avenue in Paris is spreading fast. If you are unattractive or have any visible human flaws, steer clear of a U.S. based retail clothing store on the avenue called Abercrombie & Fitch. The retail chain’s CEO Mike Jeffries, whose tight-as-a-drum flawless 69 year-old face defies gravity, has been extolling the virtues of only hiring attractive people for years. And an old 2006 interview with Jeffries from Salon.com has resurfaced lately with him stating he hires good looking people to attract good looking customers. Evidently this article caught the attention of France’s official human rights watchdog. According to Reuters, they are investigating Abercrombie & Fitch over concerns the clothing retailer discriminates in hiring based on appearance.

This is not news, just rather old news to us in the U.S. as it is well documented Abercrombie & Fitch has lost discrimination lawsuits in the U.S. and Britain as well. They probably build their fines and payouts into the cost of doing business. Why else would a preppy pink shirt or a pair of rubber flip flops be so overpriced? It must be the moose logo. The moose by the way, hearkens from the day before the preppy, flip-flop clad, surfer dude, tan, uber cool (to them), half clothed, model/exclusionary look at their stores took over. It was simply an outdoor clothing/camping/hunting store. No, the guns weren’t emblazoned with the moose logo, they were actually used to hunt moose.

Inside Cover Page from 1909 Abercrombie & Fitc...

Inside Cover Page from 1909 Abercrombie & Fitch Catalog, their first catalog (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A French commissioner for human rights spokesperson has said they understand that models would have different requirements than sales staff. They have concerns however, that sales staff should not be discriminated against due to appearance/looks. What Parisians will find out soon enough however is that it is common in the U.S. for Abercrombie to hire people as models and them have them sell. Or, hire less-than-beautiful people and hide them in the back room as if they are part of the stock. For stories of what Abercrombie & Fitch has gone through to try and maintain their Stepford-like store civilization, yet try and give the appearance of total diversity in appearance, you need only look to their lost lawsuits and horror stories of past employees. Just Google the company sometime and you will find enough complaints to fill an Abercrombie & Bitch book.

Parisians pride themselves on being experts in good living or having a certain joie de vivre. The parisian youth are forming lines to get into Abercrombie & Fitch but one can only wonder why? If they are curious about the store’s clothing, the goods are not made in America. If they are looking for quality, it’s not there. How far will their Euros stretch for a pair of rubber (ugh) flip flops? Will they love being doused in the store’s signature “cologne” as they hit the door and barely see (it’s damn dark in there) the salespeople and visible staff all looking alike and all dressing alike as if they were in prep school?  Will they think it’s odd that a store staff has no diversity in appearance and all look the same in their Converse shoes or flip flops? Paris is typically a confident place that touts individualism and uniqueness but maybe Parisian youth will think it’s “cool” or maybe they might just write it off to more ugly American stuff, which in the case of their hiring policies has shown to be true.

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Let New York Voters Decide if Weiner Should Be Top Dog

file000407098139Former congressman Anthony Weiner really needs to give us all a break from his sexting, screenshots, marital discord, obsessive/compulsive or just plain creepy behavior and insincere “this behavior is behind me” rhetoric. The website “The Dirty” has accused Weiner, who is throwing his hat (or whatever) into the ring for New York mayor, of sexting with a young woman before and after he resigned from Congress in 2011. And although one might be prone to doubting a website with such a moniker, they have the goods–so to speak. The website posted pictures (screenshots) of their alleged online conversations.

It’s not that someone doesn’t deserve a second chance (such behavior on a larger and more graphic scale is what led to his resignation) but, well, timing is everything they say. Weiner didn’t appear to stop his ludicrous behavior even after his resignation from Congress a midst a flurry of apologies to his wife, constituents, peers, the family dog etc. Weiner readily admits he continued the sexting in 2012 but evidently the voters/general public are supposed to buy the but-this-time-I-really-mean-it and I’m-really-more-sorry-this-time-and-I’m cured-of-doing-stupid-stuff. If losing a congressional seat over your lewd behavior doesn’t stop that behavior in its tracks, what does?

The New York Times among others is calling for Weiner to drop out of the New York mayoral race but I say, let him run. We know that many of our politicians, past and present, equate political office with money, sex and power, so we should allow New York voters to handle Weiner how ever they see fit and pray to God that their won’t be a new hot dog in town. Oh yeah, since Weiner is now officially a laughing stock, let the jokes begin…

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Hey U.S. Government; Tap my Phone and Listen Too, I Double Dare You

Antique phone

Antique phone

I realize that our U.S. Government is only “collecting” phone records from regular Americans, non-regular Americans, possible terrorists, people who wouldn’t hurt a fly and various and sundry people who fall into virtually no category at all, kind of like an ex spouse or well, some government employees. They say they aren’t really listening to our day to day drivel but I think they should. It would give them a dose of the average American’s reality so they can quit making up statistics, theories and studies about what it is “really” like to live in the U.S. for 99% of us.

I will willingly grant the government access to my most intimate phone conversations with such entities as the Walmart pharmacy department, Macy’s billing department, Comcast Cable, my local DMV office, any insurance company I deal with and any person/place/thing with a government affiliation that I have to correspond with in some fashion or another. It doesn’t matter if it is local, state or federal they all speak or e-mail in that super-suave governmental-ese language, with notes of condescending and you are but a mere mortal attitude. I also have a hate/hate relationship with Bank of America but this list is getting boring and way too long. Suffice it to say that anytime I have to “interact” with a large corporation, I the consumer, come out on the short end of not just the stick but everything.

My Walmart pharmacy conversation was quite the lesson in economics, capitalism, and what I like to call; maybe we will get a stupid one that won’t notice. A medication I take is usually about $20. I order it online from Walmart, they give me a robot call and tell me it is ready and how much. Last week the robot told me my med was $157.00. I figured the robot got his/her wires crossed so I called Walmart pharmacy to talk to a real person (ha ha). Real person told me the $157.00 price was not an error and that they filled my prescription with a different company than my last order.

It is the same exact prescription I noted, how can this be? Well, different pharmaceutical companies charge different prices for the exact same thing, she said. So I asked her to tell me what other prices she had for my exact same medication. she put me on hold to go talk to the supposed head pharmacy guy. She came back and I swear to God, she said they had it for $157, $35 and $19.97. She then PROCEEDED TO ASK ME WHICH ONE I WANTED. I wish I could say that I am making this up but I’m not. I told her I want the one that she would pick if she was purchasing this medication and was paying out-of-her own pocket.

This happened the following month also when I ordered online. This time the $20 med cost $127. I called and asked if an online order prompted some default highest price trigger. She said I should call and tell them I wanted the lowest priced manufacturer for my prescription. I said they should call every customer they fleeced in this manner that might not be aware of the numerous prices for a simple medication and apologize. I know people who assume they are getting the cheapest price just because it is Walmart. The cheapest available should be a given not a game of Russian Roulette. I can only assume that people with drug insurance pay the premium price because they might not notice, don’t care or possibly even realize that this practice raises premiums on everyone. Needless to say, I no longer purchase anything at Walmart.

Macy’s billing department (you know, the one in India) tried to charge me $25 to pay my bill by phone a few months back because THEY were having trouble with THEIR online website. When I laughed and said I was going to cancel my card, I swear the guy said “well, how about $5?” I said “How about drop dead?” It took me 45 minutes to quit Comcast and I had to talk to three people to do it. On the other hand if you want to upgrade on Comcast you are never put on hold and it will take you two minutes. My local DMV office said my birth certificate, passport and bills with my new address on them weren’t enough to renew my driver’s license. They said I needed high school or college transcripts, my marriage certificate and divorce decree showing my name change (from a million years ago). I thought they were joking, I have renewed my license with the same name for 35 years. I ended up going to a different much smaller DMV office and got it renewed with just my birth certificate and proof of residency.

We all have these ridiculous stories of course and many of them are so unbelievable that only a phone tap could prove them true. So please U.S. Government, forget Wiki Leaks and others, just listen in on my phone for a short time and you will discover the fleecing of America is alive and well and I’m only one out of millions.

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Oprah, Lance and the Tour de Steroids

Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I watched Oprah Tuesday on CBS This Morning. This in itself is a departure from my morning news routine as I am typically a Good Morning America devotee due to my long-standing crush on George Stephanopoulos. I met him years ago when I was in the news business, I remember it well, he does not.

Oprah was telling CBS newsreader and friend Gayle King that her interview with Lance Armstrong (which is set to air on her OWN network Thursday) was “the biggest of her entire career.” This sentence alone was the biggest surprise of my entire Oprah viewing life. Oprah, of “how-to-live-your-best-life” blah, blah, blah was stating on national TV that a doper, bicycle rider was the biggest interview of her career?

I know, I know, he won all those Tour de France races and he was a big deal in the racing world then he was stripped of those titles and became a rather small deal. He apparently lied about not taking performance enhancing drugs, some kind of super drug transfusion stuff etc. and led a band of other cyclists into this endeavor where he was proclaimed a ring-leader of sorts in this huge doper-cheating-cycling scandal. I get all that. I get that he has been lying about it for years when others have fessed up and he has been ultimately calling them liars for telling the truth. But, I still don’t get why Oprah would think that this was her biggest interview ever just because he finally admits to her that he used drugs throughout his cycling career. I get that she got the interview that everone else wanted but I still don’t get why, considering the body of work she has accomplished in her life that she would consider this interview her biggest or most important.

Oprah actually said, “we were mesmerized and riveted” with some of his answers. I was mesmerized once when I saw the Pope and riveted by the sight of the Grand Canyon. How could a confession from a bicycle guy be the same? She also said that he says what the world has been waiting for him to say. Guess what? Many of us were truly not sitting around with bated breath waiting for him to utter a word. We had already figured out he was a liar because so many other cyclists had already blown the whistle. This must be the big Oprah climatic watch-my-show teaser. Oprah told Gayle via satellite from Harpo Studios in Chicago, that she studied for the interview like a college exam and had 112 questions prepared. 112 questions? Why would she not have taken a tip from Dr. Phil and just asked “What were you thinking?” and “How’s that lying been working out for you?” Surely answering these two questions could easily fill up her two-hour plus interview.

Oprah has interviewed Presidents, pop stars from Elizabeth Taylor to Michael Jackson and  everyday people who have done insightful, important and heroic things in life. To me, her interview with Lance Armstrong will be about as “riveting” as her much-anticipated interview with John Edward’s mistress, Rielle Hunter was. Another dud.

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Footnotes in Time: My Life in Shoes

English: Ruby Slippers on display a the Americ...

English: Ruby Slippers on display a the American History Museum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Clinton Speech At DNC Sure Beat An Old Man Berating A Chair

“Bubba” Bill Clinton

Last week at the Republican National Convention we saw an old man berating a chair. Last night at the Democratic National Convention we saw Bill Clinton. Perhaps one of the greatest orators of all time (for sure in my time). Clinton spent 48 minutes talking in an affable, serious, jovial, relatable, academic, authoritative, passionate yet simple way. Not surprisingly, the crowd went nuts. In a good way.

Clinton’s speech hammered home just how superficial, cloudy and ineffective the Republican’s “plans” for this Nation are. Their idea of giving the rich tax cuts while proposing cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, will leave the elderly and poor “with nowhere to go.” History has shown us, said Clinton, that trickle down economics does not work. He added, “We simply cannot afford to give the reins of government to someone who will double down on trickle down”

In July this year a team of about 40 economists from various universities, think tanks etc. came to the conclusion that the GOP had abandoned economic reality. These independent economic professors said Republican plans couldn’t possibly pass a basic economics class/test. Clinton said in his speech last night that it all boils down to arithmetic. “Tax breaks and cuts for the rich plus spending cuts (that would harm the poor) means what?” He added, “Where does the revenue come from? The middle class, of course.”

Since I have an obvious left leaning bias and make no bones about it in this blog, I thought it only fair that you hear from a Republican. A onetime early heat GOP Presidential candidate, past Ambassador to China and past Utah governor, Jon Huntsman.

Appearing on Stephen Colbert’s show recently, Republican Jon Huntsman was asked what it would mean if the GOP lost in November. He appeared to welcome the possibility of defeat, and to have thought about what good might come from it:

“The party, I think, goes to the wilderness for a while… And eventually we’re going to wake up to the fact that the Republican Party draws from a lot of chapters in history…. Theodore Roosevelt believing that the land is an important legacy to leave behind, Eisenhower who left us with the Interstate System — what would we do without our infrastructure? You can’t compete in the 21st century without infrastructure. There’s a role for government in that.”

Later, in an interview on CNN, Huntsman suggested there was something else the GOP needs to wake up to. He said one of the reasons he didn’t attend the Republican convention in Tampa was because, “You have a party that lacks inclusiveness, that is not focused on real solutions and delivering the bread and butter issues that the American people are looking for, that lacks the sense of optimism and the big-picture strategic thinking about America.”

Huntsman is a Republican that truly “gets it.” The RNC was a sea of white people lacking diversity and as Huntsman said “inclusiveness.” The DNC had the melting pot that makes up America, in attendance and as speakers. The Democrats know they have truth and reality on their side, and it showed at their convention.

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Presidential Debate Moderator Debate Much Ado About Nothing

Does the average voter in America really care who moderates the up coming three or possibly four, Presidential debates? My totally unscientific and skewed poll results, with a margin-of-error of 50%, show no. However, many would love to ask the candidates a few non-screened questions of our own. Evidently the Commission on Presidential Debates (yes, such an important commission exists) has decided that Jim Lehrer, Bob Schieffer, Candy Crowley and Martha Raddatz will ask those all important pre-screened questions so that the debates don’t turn into a game of “stump the candidate.” That fact alone gets a big yawn from me. It means Romey will not get any questions about putting his dog on the top of his car while traveling and Obama will most likely not get questioned about his origins, college transcripts or if he really quit smoking.

At the root of the great debate about the debate, is the fact that the four chosen moderators are not diverse enough. Yes, there are men and women in the mix but no African-American or Latino moderators were chosen. This so-called “snub” has caused unrest among the ranks of the National Association of Black Journalists, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies and of course Univision (the largest Spanish-language network). It doesn’t matter evidently, that Black Journalist Gwen Ifill from PBS has moderated these debates for the last eight years, she is said to be “shocked” and Livid” that she was not chosen. I guess Gwen thinks it is some unalienable right because she is a minority. This is getting crazy that an individual or organization can’t simply pick who they think will be the best person for the job because diversity now has to trump everything. Yes, our country is a melting pot which is a good thing but a debate stage can only hold so many people so the “snubbed” will just have to live with it. The Country is in an economic crisis and the big question should be what are these candidates going to do about jobs, the economy, healthcare and taxes? The crucial problems affecting our diverse nation.

Among the “snubbed” were also NBC, Fox News and MSNBC. The Romney camp evidently said they would take their toys and go home if anyone from MSNBC was chosen. So, there is a lot of childishness at work here putting together these top-level, don’t-ask-me-anything-I-don’t-want-to-answer debates. So is the answer to get a person from every ethnic group in America? Will that quell the whiners? Of course it won’t. They would then be complaining about who got the best question to ask. When in reality, the only good questions will be the ones that never get asked.

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Don’t Judge Us London–By A Lone Politician

Mitt the Twitts PR bus?I’m embarrassed. It seems our nice allies across the pond, most notably London, feel Americans have sent them the village idiot;  Mitt Romney.  Not true, we didn’t send him, honest.  He went there on his own accord, with his own agenda and  his own entourage to, I guess, smile, shake hands and look presidential. He doesn’t represent us, or behave like most Americans would in a foreign land, or behave like most Americans would in any land–including our own. Please don’t judge us London, by someone who makes up less than 1% of our population. Surely you must have a few ugly, arrogant, rich, politicians in your country that don’t have a clue? So please, give us a break. 

Mitt Romney’s first trip abroad as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee got off to a bad start when he offended his British hosts by questioning London’s preparation for the Olympics.  After getting rebuked by Prime Minister David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson and getting savaged by the British press for questioning London’s readiness for the Olympics,  Romney said he now thinks the city is ready for the games. This backpedaling is almost too funny for words. Does he really think they care what the heck he thinks? And more importantly, are his PR people out riding a double-decker bus somewhere playing tourists? Many British already think Americans are lacking in the social graces due to our habit of  “not necessarily thinking before we speak.” His PR people (I’m assuming he has the best that Republican money can buy) should really tell him his Ken doll image is really not going over well  in London so maybe he should move along to the next leg of his I-really-do-know-a-lot-about-foreign-stuff  journey, to Israel and Poland. Where I assume he will be telling jokes.

The best comeback to Romney’s rude and arrogant comments came from  Cameron who mocked Romney’s initial questioning of London’s readiness. “We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. Of course, it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere,” he said Thursday, referencing Romney’s stewardship of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games. See, this is how a put-down should be accomplished. The subtle, classy and British way. And the U.K. Sun Newspaper’s not so subtle headline “Mitt the Twitt” was more like an Americanized version of subtlety, the kind most of us can relate to.

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Rielle Hunter Book Hits High (NYT Best Seller List) And Low: Content

 I got an advance copy of “What Really Happened” a number of weeks ago with a request to write a review for the Rielle Hunter book about her, John Edwards and their daughter. I quickly responded no. It had to be a mistake I figured , as no PR firm or publisher in their right mind would want ME to review trash because I invariably would say it is trash. They must have had me mixed up with someone who blogs about books with nice pithy prose or is impressed enough with freebies to write about only the good stuff. Trust me, this book had no good stuff. Also, they must not have caught my blog of 2010 about Rielle Hunter on Oprah, that has me high on the not-a-fan-of-Hunter list.

Now, I must fully disclose that I could not finish this book. However, I am a master at the art of skimming. And I must say, so is Rielle Hunter. The book is full of her own self-aggrandizement, sounding like she accidentally fell in love with a married man and never once owning up to her role in the break-up and destruction of the Edward’s marriage. She claims the marriage was over before she arrived on the scene yet, who is she to say this? Even if it is true it is still her interpretation of a he-said, she-said conversation. She seems to have no remorse in this book for anything she has done but simply wants to tell “her side” of the story. But, her side of the story is just too flawed and unreal. She speaks horribly of Edward’s (now dead) wife Elizabeth who suffered immeasurably with not only her terminal illness but with the embarrassment, humiliation and most likely heartache of what her husband of 32 years put her through. At times Hunter acts like she is outside looking in, when in fact, she is in the midst of it all acting like someone with a schoolgirl crush. Her book comes off like everything is okay if you are in love, no matter who you hurt or what you help destroy in the process.

The book is actually pretty sickening to read and judging by the  99 customer (so far) one and two-star (out of five) reviews on Amazon, I am not alone in my opinion. Yet, the combined e-book/print version is today (July 8) number five on the New York Times Best Seller List. But then this is a world where the number one book on the New York Times Best Seller List today  is “Becoming Sister Wives” by the clan of TLC’s “reality” show about polygamous marriage–and I assume most who read the book paid. There really is a sucker born every…

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Nora Ephron Dead: Crestfallen in Chicago

While I own an extensive book collection containing  Faulkner, Steinbeck, Hemingway, P.G. Wodehouse, Somerset Maugham and many more that have long been considered classics, my favorite contemporary author has always been Nora Ephron. A classic in her own right, Nora Ephron died today at 71 leaving behind her humor, wit, charm, guts, unpredictability and intelligence in her movies, screenwriting, novels and essays. I adored her writing. Actually, I have embarrassingly enough seen her movie “You’ve Got Mail” so many times I can recite most dialogue line for line. I actually own a copy of the screenplay.

If that isn’t woman/author/crush enough, I own every book she has ever written and of course, can recite Sleepless In Seattle lines in my sleep and can’t stop in a deli without thinking of When Harry Met Sally and the “I’ll have what she’s having line.” I don’t actually purchase many movies but I own anything she has ever directed or written the

Cover of "You've Got Mail"

Cover of You’ve Got Mail

screenplay for including her last, Julie and Julia. Ephron was a funny feminist who wrote and directed roles for women that were not wimps. Often her characters were dark, or mixed up or dysfunctional for a while but by the end of the film you always knew everyone was going to feel good. Both the characters and her audience.

Back in the 1980′s I was in St. Pete Beach in Florida during the filming of her movie Heartburn. Mike Nichols was the director and Ephron wrote the screenplay. Some scenes were being filmed at the Don Cesar Hotel, a big pink monolith of a hotel that looked like a huge castle along the beach front. I was staying at a rather small pink hotel that looked nothing like a castle with almost an ocean view if you ran a hundred yards and jumped on a trampoline. One couple in our group was staying at the Don Cesar so every time we all met for dinner or drinks I would suggest we meet at their hotel bar. I was hoping to get a glimpse of anyone connected with the movie. I went to that bar twice and saw plenty of equipment, cameras, grips, people with clipboards, craft service, people with headphones but alas, no stars–ever. Many in the industry say Ephron’s Heartburn was a thinly disguised story of her marriage to Washington Post journalist Carl Bernstein, who with fellow reporter Bob Woodward reported on the Watergate scandal that took down Richard Nixon. They were married four years and had two kids but word was he had a difficult time with monogamy.

Since I love books, I always noticed the details of her movie sets and how many of them contained lots of books, desks, typewriters and then later of course, computers. You’ve Got Mail was even a story about two competing bookstores. I always felt that I could just plop myself into one of her story lines and just feel right at home. Thanks Nora, for making fiction seem so real, RIP.

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Growing up in the Catholic Cult

Confessionals in the cathedral of Santiago de ...

Confessionals in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Spain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bless me Father for I am about to sin. If you grew up Catholic, particularly in the 1950′s and 60′s and were forced to take part in the Holy Sacrament of Confession every Saturday afternoon as a kid, you remember a similar opening line. It was “Bless me Father for I have sinned.” You then went on to tell a priest who slid open a little dark screened window in the rather creepy (to a kid) Confessional box so he could hear but not see you, while you explained what atrocities you had committed that week.  Mine were usually of the I talked back to my parents or called my brother or sister a name variety. I then worried if my discretion’s were a venial sin or God forbid a mortal sin. What would a 10-year-old have to do to commit a mortal sin? I didn’t have a clue but as a child I lived in fear of committing one and being banished to hell if I died before absolution and being given a Penance (another famous Holy Sacrament) greater than the usual “say three Hail Mary’s and three Our Father’s and now say the Act of Contrition.” No wonder I feared so many nuns and priests in grammar school. Everything was shrouded in darkness, pomp and circumstance, secrecy and for many of the older nuns that should have been put out to pasture; pure meanness. By contrast, I did run into some nice nuns and priests throughout my 12 years of Catholic education but most of them “saw the light’ and eventually left the convent and/or priesthood. These I felt, were the smart ones. I stayed friends with one nun from high school who told me after 30 years as a nun, she could do more good in the “real” world. The priest that performed my marriage, a very progressive type that everyone in the parish liked, was a bit too hip for the Catholic Church, he too left for the “real” world. There was a definite pattern emerging, the good ones left. Today, the good ones don’t even join.

I used to wonder what a kid would have to do to get a Penance of saying the whole Rosary? I also wondered why the priests always seemed to give all my friends the same Penance. Was there a rule book for the punishment fitting the crime. Did taking the name of God in vain mean you had to spend a perfectly good Saturday afternoon in church reciting a million prayers? I don’t know, we didn’t do that in those days, our parents would have given us a far greater penance than the priests could ever think up. I have no idea if things are the same with Confession or any other Holy Sacrament of the Catholic Church now-a-days as I pretty much fell-away from it after my four years of Catholic High School were over. The day a Catholic priest walked into our high school and announced he was going to teach us sex education was pretty much the day I knew the Catholic Church had blown it for me.

A priest? Who supposedly was celibate, was going to instruct our Catholic girls school about sex and marriage? I found this astounding enough to ask him about it. He admitted to me privately that he was uncomfortable with the task but his higher-ups told him he had to do it. I remember saying that at least the nuns were women, would they not be as ill prepared as the priests to take a stab at it? Oh no, he said, they are not allowed to teach such things. It has to be a priest. I learned nothing about sex and marriage from this priest’s class  but I learned volumes about what the Catholic religion really thought about women. Only men can give absolution, only men can teach anything they deem “important,” only men can tell women what they should or should not do with their own bodies and when the chips are down, only men really count. All these years later, the Catholic Church hasn’t changed. They are still behind the times and out of touch, they are still arrogant, narrow-minded and operate like a well-oiled good old’ boys money machine. Now how the hell Godly is that?

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Fifty Shades of Grey Bestseller Banned in Florida and Other Places

Fifty Shades of Grey author E L James

Fifty Shades of Grey author E L James (Photo credit: rachelkramerbussel.com)

You wouldn’t think anything would be too hot for Florida but evidently the bestselling erotic novel “Fifty Shades of Grey” is too hot for some Florida libraries. Some Georgia and Wisconsin libraries have also followed suit and banned the book in some of their public libraries. According to Florida Today the Brevard County Public Library system has removed copies of the book from its 17 libraries. They claim they bought some copies before they realized what the book was about. Hmm…I wonder if they thought to ask the public, who supports the public library through their taxes and fees, if the public wants the library services director removing books the public evidently wants to read, judging by the huge waiting lists of general public for the book at libraries all over the country.

Brevard County libraries had a waiting list of 200 people waiting for the book. The people waiting for “Fifty Shades of Grey” were sent notices telling them sorry, the book has been pulled from the shelves. I imagine some of those waiting even had gray hair, what with the population of Florida and all. Some may have even read Lolita, The Kama Sutra and even The Tropic of Cancer. All considered rather racy, and all can be loaned out from the Brevard County Public Library. Imagine that. Librarians in at least four Florida counties have declined to buy the book even though hundreds of people have asked for it because they claim they either don’t have the money to purchase them, or the reviews of the book have been poor or the book doesn’t suit their community standards. I love the community standards reasoning, as if the public library is in charge of setting the standards for what the community can read, rather than the community setting the standards for what they want to read. The book isn’t for everyone but I thought book censorship was dead. I’m much more interested in the backstory of how it became the “it” book for millions of readers.

The “Fifty Shades” books are actually a trilogy of three books. They are books about bondage, sex, love and they even have a plot. They have sold over three million books so far and are in the first three spots on Amazon’s best seller list and the top three spots on the New York Times best-selling books list. I think it is a snooty attitude by some libraries because the books were self-published originally as an e-book by the author. Some book snobs think if a book wasn’t traditionally published by one of the big six publishing houses then they must be lesser-than, regardless of content. But author E.L. James published her e-book herself and it became so popular through word-of-mouth that publishers came calling after the fact and so did Hollywood with a movie deal.

I could care less what the content is, anytime someone takes their writing into their own hands and doesn’t wait around for some publisher to accept it or reject it, and tell her to change it and pays her a small advance against royalties and then takes forever to even print the damn thing, I commend her. This is what publishing should be, where the writer/creator has the control and the masses push it to the top. Big time publishing houses have been asleep at the wheel for quite a while now. Thanks to e-readers, self publishing, indie publishers and the little writers that could–they are rising to the top of the publishing food chain. Thank God.

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Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Was My Dancing With The Stars

Dick Clark, host of American Bandstand

Dick Clark, host of American Bandstand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was a pre-teen with a mission. I wanted to be a teenager so I could go to Philadelphia and be on Dick Clark‘s American Bandstand. My mom was pretty good about not bursting my bubble as we lived far away from Philly, I was years away from the age requirement of I think 13 or 14 to be on the dance show, and hundreds of kids lined up daily to be on the show and mostly the “regulars” from Philly the “dancing stars” I watched daily after school, were the only kids that actually danced on the show. But she would routinely say things like; “you’re a really good dancer and could do just as well as those kids.” Nothing like a mother to instill confidence and keep the dream alive.

When American Bandstand went national on ABC in 1957 with Dick Clark, it was on weekdays after school and the favorite part of my day. The couples on the show became stars by virtue of how well they danced, how cute they dressed, how cool they looked as a couple and how much we liked their hair styles. I got to know these dancers on a first name basis as Paula and Ritchie who won the Mashed Potato (dance) contest or Bunny who was the best at the Pony or Justine and Bob who everybody loved. I learned how to do the Stroll, the Hop, the Twist, the Locomotion and if I needed a partner my mom filled in. She taught me how to Jitterbug and once in a while when my dad came home from work and I would be showing him some of my new steps, he would grab my mom’s hand and “show me real dancing.” 

Dick Clark gave so many singers a start on his show and it was always about the music. I watched Paul Anka, Fabian, James Brown, The Jackson 5, Connie Francis and even one hit wonders like Edd Byrnes, from the popular 77 Sunset Strip TV show. Hard to believe now but his popular song “Cookie, Cookie Lend Me Your Comb” which he sang with Connie Stevens, also from the TV show, was a hit. What I liked most about the music on Bandstand was the variety. When no one paid attention to what diversity was all about, Clark was busy practicing it. He brought us singers, acts and bands from all walks of life and acted like it was normal–because it was. He was way ahead of his time in realizing all music was to be enjoyed by everyone and never pidgeon holed certain music or musicians to certain segments of the population. As many teens have said over the years on Bandstand when rating a new song, “it has a good beat and you can dance to it.”  Those words were certainly my mantra as a kid. Thank you, Dick Clark.

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My Encyclopedia Britannica Set is Dusty but Not Forgotten

Britannica

Britannica (Photo credit: SimCity0x50)

The Encyclopedia Britannica is ceasing publication of its print, dead-tree edition and will continue with just their digital online edition. I know in my head this is progress and probably makes economic sense for both consumers and Britannica but in my heart? I will miss the 32-volume printed edition that I haven’t laid eyes on in years, collecting dust in boxes in a closet because my set is as outdated as me. I even remember as a very young child learning how to spell encyclopedia from Walt Disney’s Jiminy Cricket via some goofy sing-songy bit on the after school Disney show. I couldn’t read yet, but I could sing/spell encyclopedia.

The Encyclopedia Britannica has been around since 1768, and was first published in Edinburgh, Scotland. A new set costs $1400, and it seems they have had plenty available in their warehouses these last few years. I don’t know if ceasing publication will drive the price up of used sets, think of the shipping costs of buying a set on Ebay? While Britannica has been in the digital world for many years, officials at Britannica said the print edition was just becoming impossible to maintain and keep up-to-date and of course there is the physical delivery of the huge, heavy sets. While they haven’t stated it, with the resources of Wikipedia and Google at your virtual fingertips you would be hard pressed to open an encyclopedia for information anymore, let alone pay a fee for their online encyclopedia.

When I was a kid my parents couldn’t afford to buy a set from the Britannica salesmen that rang our doorbell on a regular basis in my Chicago neighborhood and tried to get you to buy them on the monthly plan. My dad wasn’t a monthly plan type of guy, so we used the encyclopedias at the library. If a school assignment called for a paper on Paul Revere, a teacher could expect every kid in class to have the same information, taken from the same big impressive burgundy book, with only vague differences depending on writing style. If you waited until the last-minute to write your assignment, as I often did, you had to wait for hours at the library to get the specific alphabetized book you needed because other slackers were using it.

By the time my youngest brother got to school, my folks had a little more expendable income and my brother got his own Encyclopedia Set (the rat). He didn’t have to take the bus to the library as he had his own source materials right at his fingertips. The youngest kid is always spoiled of course and since he was the “brain” of the family he would sit around reading the encyclopedia as his light reading. Who does that? Certainly not my sister or I who only cracked an encyclopedia under intense pressure to perform a knowledge based task. Years later as an adult I bought a used set from a thrift store for next to nothing. I don’t even know why, I just wanted them, I loved books anyway and just liked the way they looked. Maybe I thought having them would make me look scholarly.

While I feel bad for employees of Encyclopedia Britannica, I can see that the whole world has gone digital–or will, it’s progress of course, but for us in the older generation it is bitter-sweet. A lot of my memories are tied to old stuff which is why I’m still hanging on to my old Encyclopedia Britannica set, my grandfather’s Kodak Brownie camera, my Sony 8-track, my old LP’s and my record player. If for no other reason than when I am long gone, younger generations of my family can say things like; “Wow, you mean they had to turn pages?” And then find out my old “stuff” is worth a ton of money.

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Susan G. Komen VP Karen Handel Better Race For The Pink Door

English: Mahindra 6030 Turbo tractor in downto...

Image via Wikipedia

UPDATE: I wrote this blog on Sunday, February 5, on Monday, February 6, Karen Handel  “resigned” from Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. I can’t confirm if the door hit her in the a– on the way out. 

The Huffington Post is reporting they found an inside whistle-blower at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure breast cancer charity, that has proof that Karen Handel, Komen’s vice president for public policy drove the decision to defund planned parenthood. While the deep-throat informer couldn’t hand over the goods, the Huffington reporter was allowed to view enough evidence (emails etc.) and interview the source who said Handel was heard stating “If we just say it’s about investigations, we can defund Planned Parenthood and no one can blame us for being political.” Handel, Republican politician for years and a strong anti-abortion advocate, must have missed the memo about not mixing politics and ideology with women’s health. Or the one about cancer not caring what your political affiliation is, it kills people from all walks of life–even agenda driven Republicans. Komen for the cure shouldn’t be concerned with pro-choice or pro-life just pro-cure. And that it what the “public policy” should be at Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

Komen for the Cure officials have spent the last four days lying to the public about their charity. They used buzz words like “our mission” and “new directives” to tell us that they couldn’t possibly continue to fund a group (Planned Parenthood) that was “under investigation.” When the person calling for the investigation was a Republican Congressman. In the meantime they were still going to continue funding Penn State (their research hospital) which happens to be under big-time Federal investigation. Bank of America is also a huge sponsor/partner of Komen, and they are under various State, Federal and you-name-it investigations.

Planned parenthood has gotten millions of dollars donated in the last few days, including a huge amount by the New York Mayor. The rest was given by 10,000 private donors that know an attack on Planned Parenthood is simply an attack on poor women. The Komen funding earmarked for Planned Parenthood was never used for abortions it was used for breast exams and mammogram referrals. The huge backlash on Komen, from the well-known and the unknown, especially on Facebook and Twitter caused them to reverse their course yesterday but their message that they would continue to allow Planned Parenthood to apply for funding struck some as unusual and cryptic wording.

The next time you are inclined to Walk for the Cure, keep in mind that the Komen Republican/anti-Planned Parenthood/sorority/marketing club puts a heavy emphasis on “cause” marketing so you will purchase their pink spatulas, pink socks and pink KFC buckets of chicken (very healthy for cancer patients or anyone). They slap pink on everything from tractors and cars to hats and water bottles–for a price of course. They care far more about their “brand” and being the biggest cancer charity as evidenced by their law suits against small charities that tried to use the words “for the cure.” According to Charity Navigator 21% of their donations/income is spent on cancer research and prevention and the rest on salaries and “administration.”

The head of Komen makes $500,000 a year plus traveling expenses and she always flies first class. Handel’s salary is reportedly, $400,000. Because of this fiasco, Komen hired a “crisis management team” this week because the staff and board can’t quite get on the same page with their lies. I sure wouldn’t want my donation to go for paying for a crisis management team as opposed to real help to real women with cancer. But then, I never bought into all that pink crap, it’s a ruse to make people think they belong. They are an elitist, arrogant charity that needs to kick a few butts out the pink door–and even then they have a long way to go to regain public trust. You would think the Komen foundation particularly, being a women’s charity for breast cancer would understand the power of women but they misjudged, because they were focusing on their non-charitable agenda.

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The National Anthem: The Pro Singers Just Don’t Get It

 
American Idol 's Katharine McPhee performs the...

Image via Wikipedia

Last Year at the 2011 Superbowl, with millions of people watching, Christina Aguilera decided to add her rendition of The National Anthem to the archives of flubs by trying to make the song “her own” with a few change-ups and an entirely missed line.  Her viewers and listeners were less-than-thrilled with the Grammy winner’s performance but her “people” blamed it on nerves. This is a woman who is used to performing at sold-out venues of thousands, so nerves is unlikely. Not being well-prepared and/or messing around with a perfectly good melody and not-quite landing the notes shows more at work here than “nerves.” Tons of internet polls said Aguilera’s botched anthem was an unforgivable mess.

http://www.sportsgrid.com/nfl/christina-aguilera-sings-national-anthem-super-bowl/

More recently, rock singer Steven Tyler , frontman for Aerosmith, decided to take-on The National Anthem a few days ago at the Ravens-Patriots football game. He didn’t change many lyrics but somehow I don’t think America was quite ready for the “Screeching Star Spangled Banner.” You could hear the boos of the crowd over the screeching and he has received non-stop criticism since the event. But, I ask you? Why would they ask a rocker to sing the anthem anyway? It’s not exactly like the guy has a velvet voice to begin with.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/celebritology/post/steven-tyler-sings-the-national-anthem-is-his-rendition-the-worst-in-recent-history-poll/2012/01/23/gIQAWRaWLQ_blog.html

There is of course, a long history of less-than-perfect National Anthem performances from American Idol winner Scott McCreery to Cyndi Lauper. But perhaps the worst of all anthem performances was back in 1990. Rosanne Barr (a comedian) who put on the worst non-funny performance by a non-singer and is oddly still alive to talk about it. It actually hurt her career because she was basically making fun of the National Anthem. She now lives on a farm in Hawaii, presumably far out of earshot of humans, thank God.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=x1-jWl0O34U&NR=1

I can’t sing a note, but my hearing is so far, well within the average range. I might not understand the nuances of tone and range, but I do know the average American does not want singers altering the lyrics and melody of their National Anthem. They don’t want a “stylized” version of it, they don’t want a new beat and they generally like to have it sung with feeling and heart. Just like this version sung by a young high-schooler from a Chicago suburb, who is not a professional singer–but undoubtably will be, because she gets it. This is how the National Anthem should be sung:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrQeDcMVHec

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Eight votes? But Do Iowa Caucus Votes Really Count?

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a GOP p...

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For anyone of us who ever said or even just thought “My one vote doesn’t really make a big difference, it’s just one vote out of many and I don’t really like any of the candidates anyway,” think about eight votes. Yes, as crazy as it seems only eight votes came between a winner and loser last night at the Iowa Republican Caucus. I mean that is Kate + 8 minus Kate (always a good thing) Eight Maids A Milking, Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights movie and eerily enough this 2010 documentary; “8: The Mormon Proposition.”  Yeah, I’m sure the eight is a sign from God or some high-up Latter-Day somebody.

So, when the more than 1700 Iowa caucus locations finally hand-tabulated their votes by 2 a.m. this morning, Mitt Romney received 30,015 votes and Rick Santorum got 30,007. Both ended up with 24.6% of the vote. Hardly enough for a good Iowa corn-boil. And considering Romney outspent Santorum 50 to 1, it was actually a good show for Santorum. The rest of the candidates were pretty-much busy trying to pretend how “Iowan” they really were and well, that didn’t work out too well for them, although Ron Paul did much better than expected, coming in third.

Imagine you lived in Iowa and you were on your way to vote in the caucus and you got sidetracked by going to a movie, talking on your iPhone, texting, eating dinner out, having a few beers or visiting friends. If just eight people did that, it could have totally changed the outcome of the caucus vote. But, it probably will not matter or ultimately change the outcome of who eventually becomes the Republican nominee. In 2008, Mike Huckabee won the Iowa Caucus but John McCain became the nominee, George H.W. Bush became President with only 18% of the Iowa vote and Clinton won in 1992 with 2.8% of the Iowa vote.

But, in the political scheme of things although $40 million was collectively spent in Iowa by the potential candidates, the whole scenario still smacks of running for the city council. With CNN and MSNBC trying their hardest to make it out to be a big deal with their flashy caucus graphics, panels of pundits sitting around with not much to say, and television hours spent waiting for the vote counters to finish, It’s still Iowa. A state that has older demographics, mostly white with under 5% of the people voting. It’s not a true representation of all voters at all and yet they have this power of the caucus. Yes, they have very nice people in Iowa but there are more independent voters than either registered Republicans or Democrats. So, why the heck would they be considered a cross-section of America for Republican or Democratic caucuses? Beats me, their midwestern charm, work ethic and integrity is far above any of the politicians they vote for.

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Top 10 People Or Things I Don’t Want To Hear About In 2012

 
an old post card

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1. Anything Kardashian. I don’t want to hear about their “reality” shows, or their having or not-having babies, their clothing lines, purse lines or lines on their faces. Their boyfriends, husbands, ex-husbands, marriages, divorces, diets, weight gains, sex tapes or general whining about anything. I need a total break from ALL things kardashian–for the rest of my life would be good.

2. Big banks. The only thing I ever want to hear a too-big-to-fail bank utter is; “I’m sorry I screwed up the entire economy, and we will drop our bonuses and a portion of our profits into the laps of the American people as restitution.” Aside from those words I want to hear nothing from these greedy charlatans in 2012.

3. Congress. These people are an embarrassment. Unless they make BIG strides in voting for measures that will actually help the American people, the economy and the jobs front then they need to crawl back under their rocks. I don’t mean a small token vote that will give us a little help for a few months, I mean an actual plan for Americans that puts us first, not them. If they won’t do it, I don’t want to hear any more of their crap whining in 2012–or crying, either.

4. Pseudo journalists. I don’t really need to read the same news story 100 times with no new info. The prevailing wind in journalism lately is taking an already over-done story and changing the words around and making it “your own.”  I guess they call it “spinning.” I call it plagiarism and lazy. I’m sick of this pretend journalism and would love for it to go away in 2012 (ha, ha, fat chance).

5. Twitter freaks. Some idiots on Twitter have turned a once fun, helpful , and sometimes insightful form of communication into a Twitter-robot-boring-marketing extravaganza of lifeless comments. These people need to disappear into the oblivion of cyber-space. What twits.

6.  Pundits. So, everyone with a mouth is a pundit. All it really amounts to, is a person with a point of view. Pundits are not in a secret Mensa club, or even a semi-smart club. It is not a lofty title saved for people who actually have insight, experience and knowledge of a topic anymore. Let’s face it if everybody on Fox Network can be a pundit, the term is meaningless. Pundits go away in 2012.

7. People who write books, and call themselves authors–who aren’t.  Just because you eat doesn’t mean you can write a cookbook. If you’re 25 your memoir is short-lived and if you’re Snookie from the Jersey Shore, or an aging star looking to make a few bucks, yes, you can write a book or use a ghostwriter–but that doesn’t mean it’s good. It would be great for the landfills and trees of the world to have less of this garbage clogging up the system in 2012. I won’t even get into the people who write 10 page e-books that they self publish, charge $1.99 and tell people they are published authors.

8. Women that have babies and get rid of the baby weight in three days. I’m way beyond this age but the Hollywood set seems to be telling women of childbearing ages that you can have a baby and almost like a shot of botox–instantly get rid of the baby weight. And they act like this is normal. When these narcissistic women are the ones that are not normal. Once again they focus on style and looks over substance and smart, emotional and physical health.  My wish for 2012; shallow people go away.

9. Politicians that say they get it, they understand, they’re just like us, they too used to be poor, they want the same things we do, they want to turn the country around and blah, blah, blah. Plain and simple; they are liars. They need to go far, far away in 2012.

10. The sad stories that are becoming the norm. This is America, not some third world country with no resources, no education and no freedom. It is preposterous that the U.S. Government lets Wall Street, big pharma, insurance companies, oil companies and any large business with money–dictate U.S. laws and policy. It is far more than a travesty of justice, it is a sign of a country in crisis, a country in despair and a country that has leaders that put themselves first above all else. I hope to God I don’t have to hear about any more sad stories in 2012, but I know in my heart–it is a dream.

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My Top 10 Best Childhood Christmas Gifts

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I decided I needed to write down these top 10 childhood Christmas gifts quick, before my long-term memory goes the way of my short-term memory that can’t remember what I had for breakfast yesterday.  I won’t get into the Christmas is not about the gifts stuff and how we should all be grateful for whatever we think we should be grateful for, this is strictly about the shallow part of Christmas. The materialistic, me, me, me, Santa’s list type, emotional yearning for–gifts.  Also, as a child I never bought into the it-is-better-to-give-than-receive creed. As an older and wiser adult–I still don’t buy it. Herewith, my all time favorites:

1. RED COWBOY BOOTS

I was six, I lived in Chicago, far from any cowboys except the ones I saw at the yearly Chicago Livestock Show and Rodeo at the Chicago Ampitheater. Just to be sure I got those boots, I asked for nothing else. I figured, how could Santa say no to just one request? My poor mom told me years later that she had scouts out everywhere looking for those damn red boots. Word was, the first night I had them, I slept with my boots on.

2. YELLOW TRANSISTOR RADIO

Nobody under 40 probably even knows what this is. This was even before boom boxes. It was the 1960′s and WLS Radio station in Chicago was king and so was my favorite radio disc jockey, Dick Biondi. I really NEEDED this radio so I could listen to a radio station that was more in-tune with my top 10 favorites (played over and over every hour) and much less of my parents favorites like news and talk radio (thanks mom and dad, I eventually went into the news business). This radio was yellow with a leather carrying case and shoulder strap. It was a Westinghouse and the size of a medium size purse. I didn’t need a dog, this radio was my faithful companion.

3. STADIUM CHECKERS

I have no idea why this game was called checkers because it was a plastic stadium contraption with marble-like pieces. I loved this game and since you couldn’t really play it alone it forced me to play with my sister. She was three years younger and could play the game well enough to assure my winning most of the time. Playing my folks however, was a losing situation for me. The stadium seats moved to advance the marbles to various levels. Okay, it was a much simpler time but we weren’t all zonked out on video games.

4. HEIDI

This book made me cry every stupid time I read it but I just kept re-reading it anyway. Yes, I knew Heidi was going to eventually find her grandfather but each time I read it and they would come so close to finding each other and miss, I would be yelling at the pages. This was during my sad books (Black Beauty) with happy endings era.

5. PINK ANGORA SWEATER

Only rich kids in my neighborhood had Angora sweaters, and rich kids in my predominantly working class/middle class neighborhood were few and far between. I never really asked for this sweater because I figured it was out of reach for my folks so I figured I would just settle for the scratchy mohair. When I opened that box I was never so shocked, it was just like–Christmas.

6. RED LEATHER BUCKET PURSE

These purses were very popular in the 1960′s and I had never really had a nice leather purse. I can remember this purse like it was yesterday. It was a pebbled grain red leather, a long shoulder strap and two small flaps folded inward on top of each other and it looked similar to what else? A bucket. I used this purse for many years. I suspect it was not made in China.

7. BLACK WOOL CHESTERFIELD COAT

It was all in the details. Double-breasted, velvet collar, sophisticated and perfection. I was 13 and it was my first black, grown-up coat. I remember that this coat was $50. because even though it was a Christmas gift my mom left the tags on in case in didn’t fit. This was a lot of money for a coat in the 60′s, and a huge amount for my parents to spend on a single item. But, my parents always felt quality clothing was more important that quantity. That coat lasted me all four years of high school and beyond.

8. GAS STATION

I was never into real girly type toys and thank God my parents didn’t buy me dolls I wouldn’t have played with or gender based toys that girls would have traditionally liked. My father owned a Standard Oil gas station and this was a sturdy, metal gas station with a bay for fixing cars, gas pumps etc. And of course, a Ford and a Chevy. Loved this gift.

9. HAWAIIAN  UKULELE

I don’t actually know if it was from Hawaii, but I told everyone it was. It was the real deal and not a toy and had a nice carrying case. I wasn’t very “instrumental,” I usually took dancing lessons and acrobatics. But, after watching “The Parent Trap” movie (the original one) with Haley Mills (playing twins) singing the song “Let’s Get Together yeah, yeah, yeah…” I had to have a ukulele and learn to play and sing that song. I did. My youngest brother still has that ukulele. Why does he have it? Geez, my mom must have given it to him, I need to talk to him about that…

10. FIGURE SKATES AND OUTFIT

Even though frozen vacant lots is where I did most of my ice skating my parents would occasionally take me to Michael Kirby’s professional ice skating rink in Chicago. Kirby was a Canadian National champion ice skater who started the first ice skating schools in Chicago (now long gone). I couldn’t afford lessons but I could afford the small fee to free skate whenever I could talk my dad into taking me there. I decided since it was a professional atmosphere I needed to look the part. My Christmas gift that year was the most beautiful pair of figure skates, flesh-colored skaters tights and a black corduroy short skaters skirt with red satin lining (red again). The next time I went to that rink I felt like a million bucks. And, I swear, I skated way better than in my typical street garb.

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The Ghost of Black Fridays Past

Black Friday (1940 film)

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$2 waffle maker Black Friday shopping fight I watched this Black Friday shopping video in utter shock (click on link at beginning of this sentence to see it). Then the sadness set-in as I realized how horrid, inhuman, barbaric and utterly disgusting the whole situation was. People acting like animals over $2 waffle makers points to an abysmal picture of Americans as-a-whole. This video is all over the internet for all the world to see. Here are the ugly Americans at their worst; greedy, ill-mannered consumers that will stop at nothing to purchase crap.  A $2 made in China piece of garbage waffle iron that probably has the expected life span of a week.

In other “fun” Black  Friday events yesterday, A woman who allegedly fired pepper spray at other customers during a sale of Xbox video consoles  has surrendered to authorities according to Los Angeles police. The woman  allegedly caused minor injuries to 20 shoppers at a Los Angeles-area Wal-Mart.

The attack took place about 10:20 p.m. Thursday shortly after doors opened for the sale. The store had brought out a crate of discounted Xbox video game players, and a crowd had formed to wait for the unwrapping. The woman began spraying people in order to get an advantage. Did she really get an advantage? No one seems to know if she ended up with an Xbox after all and it is unlikely she could use it in jail when she most likely will be charged with 20 counts of assault.

In a quite serious Black Friday event, a robber shot a shopper who refused to give up his purchases outside a San Leandro, Calif., Wal-Mart store, leaving the victim hospitalized in critical but stable condition.  What ever happened to the rule, if a robber approaches you, give him whatever he wants or you could end up dead? Is dying worth anything that Wal-Mart could possibly have?

Back in the simple 1970′s and 80′s when people were nice and polite and seemingly not crazy shoppers, I stood in a black Friday line a few times waiting for department stores to open at a normal time (9 am) for a couple of requested items on my children’s Santa list.  One year I stood patiently in line for an unattractive doll with its own unique name and birth certificate. It was called a Cabbage Patch Kid and it was the only thing my daughter had on her wish list. The dolls were in short supply and moms everywhere were on the hunt but I never saw a fight, or a push or an unkind word in my search. I ended up driving an hour away from my home to a friend’s Ace Hardware where he had three of the dolls and saved one for me. He said no one really thought of Ace as a place to purchase dolls and they had been on the shelf for a few days. I think he thought I was a little crazy for going on and on and thanking him profusely.

Another Black Friday moment had me standing in line at Sears for $2 plastic Star Wars figures (of course they are worth a lot now) to complete a Star Wars set complete with a carrying case. My son never asked for a lot for Christmas and it was my mission to find Darth Vader and some of the harder to find figures. Once again it was mostly moms shopping and we were all standing around a huge bin of Star Wars charactersshouting out the names of the characters we found to other moms in need of certain characters to complete a set. We were all helping each other and I walked away with a complete set, as did others. We were laughing, joking and actually having fun. No pushing, shoving, grabbing, pepper spraying or shooting. Not an ugly American consumer in the bunch–evidently a much kinder and gentler crowd and time. Ah, sometimes the good old days–are good.

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Hey Herman Cain: You Got Problems? ‘Blame Yourself’

Pizza man's here! . . . Herman Cain - Cartoon

Image by DonkeyHotey via Flickr

Herman Cain was recently quoted in a Wall Street Journal  interview criticizing Occupy Wall Street protesters stating, “don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks, if you don’t have a job and are not rich, blame yourself.”

It boggles my mind that this fountain of knowledge pizza-man was in essence, telling the people who have been hurt by the financial crisis through no fault of their own, that they were in fact, to blame. The classic blame the victim stance  from a not-so-classy ex-pizza CEO running for the Republican nomination for President.

When the Cain circus first came to town many people thought he was a breath of fresh political air. Here was a guy who had no political background or knowledge, did not necessarily have command of the English language, knew nothing about those foreign places like China etc. and had a simplistic 9-9-9 economic fix that would cost the most needy more money. That fresh air has quickly grown stale.

In the last few weeks no less than four women have stepped forward and accused Cain of sexual harassment that allegedly happened years ago, when he was head of the National Restaurant Association. Three of the women did so anonymously and one came forward complete with a press conference and attorney/spokesperson by her side.

Cain and his camp were very slow to respond to these allegations, refusing to talk to reporters about the issue for days. He kept telling reporters he wanted to “stay on message” and “don’t bother asking.” When he evidently regrouped and got all his Republican ducks in a row, he had a press conference himself yesterday and stated none of the events ever happened. He is of course, calling four women with similar stories liars. Two of the women had been paid off years ago by the NRA and signed agreements to not speak on the issue as they had been employees. This action alone would lead reasonable people to think their could be some truth to the accusations.

It is not uncommon for powerful men, bosses and those in control of others to use that power in unethical and demeaning ways. I do not know if Herman Cain did what he was accused of but four women stating they have had similar encounters with him certainly shows a pattern of behavior that would be unbecoming a President of the United States.  And if the allegations are true, he would also be guilty of lying to the American People, which might not be such a stretch from what we are used to with our present politicians.

If Herman Cain has done anything even  remotely close to what his accusers are saying, then he needs to get off his platform and go back under the rock he crawled out from.  As his approval ratings dip and his Republican nominee chances get slimmer by the day, I wonder who Herman Cain will choose to blame for his probable political fall? “Blame Yourself.”

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Congress Approval Rating and National Unemployment Rate at 9%

President Barack Obama speaks to a joint sessi...

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A New York Times/CBS News poll broke the news this week that Congress’s approval rating is 9%.  Coincidentally, 9% is also our national unemployment rate for September and most of October, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment figure seems almost eerily connected to our do-nothing-for-jobs Congress and their bottom-feeder ratings as they spent this week in session, once again doing nothing for jobs or the economy. It’s like some weird “here is a nine for you too Congress since you won’t recognize and do anything about ours.” Of course, 9% is only the national average jobless rate, some states like Nevada, have a 23% unemployment rate.

They did however, pass a really important bill in the House that would issue commemorative coins for Baseball Hall of Fame. Also, just so you don’t get the idea that they can’t accomplish anything at all together in a big way, the commemorative coins issue was passed overwhelmingly.  See, when the chips-er coins are down and the issue has nothing to do with Obama or jobs or the economy, Republicans can unite and really make a difference.

Remember that old saying about getting out of something what you put into it?  I think our Congress is actually reaping the rewards of what they have, in fact, done for the American people, our jobs and the economic situation.  I think 9% is actually pretty high but of course who knows how many friends, relatives, lobbyists, insurance companies, banks, other corporations etc. were included in the poll (oh wait, corporations aren’t people I hope they didn’t get polled).

Even though the House is a Republican strong hold right now, many polls are showing that the majority of American people, regardless of party affiliation have made it crystal clear they support President Obama’s Job Act, temporary band-aid or not, because it is at least a plan for doing something for jobs and the economy and they feel he is trying.  But, the Republicans are blocking it in Congress and have yet to come up with their own plan other than a big NO because they can’t possibly vote on an Obama plan, even if it will help the American people. Their plan seems to be politics first, people last. I wonder how low their rating can go?

Since the Republicans now seem to represent everything the American People hate about the economy, it is only a matter of minutes before they will represent everything the American People hate. When you become a politician for all the wrong reasons and you vote as a block not to help your own constituents and the American People, you will not only end up humiliated by a 9% approval rating but sooner rather than later–no job.

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Is 9-9-9 wrong, wrong, wrong ?

Caricatures: GOP Presidential Debate Participa...

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Ask any political PR person and they will tell you it’s great to have a catchy, roll-off-the-tongue, memorable catch phrase associated with a candidate. Unless that catch phrase is doomed to conjure up bad memories like trickle down economics or read my lips; no more taxes among many others. Herman Cain, of Godfather’s Pizza fame (he is the ex-CEO) and the Republican flavor of the month vying for their nomination to be the candidate for President, has such a catch phrase; 9-9-9.  While their field is plenty crowded with Gingrich, Romney, Perry, Bachman, Paul and others too numerous or insignificant to mention, none of them have the edge on the catchy 9-9-9 phrase that has defined Cain’s campaign. But, is it wrong to throw the rich, middle class and poor into the same tax barrel? Or, is it just plain stupid?

On Cain’s own website,  he says his 9-9-9 plan will “fix” the economy. It would abolish our entire tax code including any loopholes or tax credits (like the earned income tax credit for low-income earners) . His plan calls for 9 percent corporate tax, 9 percent personal income tax and 9 percent national sales tax. Cain says it would be simple and fair. I must be missing something here, I don’t see the “fair” part.  There would be no tax on capital gains or dividends so once again the rich get richer. Some of the rich that pay 28-35 percent taxes on their income would pay 9 percent and the 30 million Americans that presently pay no federal income tax because they don’t make enough to do so and are at or below the poverty level will pay 9 percent under Cain’s “simple” plan. All Americans will also have to pay 9 percent on consumer goods for gas, food and medicine etc. which of course, hurts lower-income people far more than the rich.

Since Cain’s plan is for everyone including businesses, all corporations that presently take advantage of every loophole known to mankind and typically end up paying on average 26 percent in taxes, will get a nice slash to 9 percent. Do you think they will take the tax cut and turn that windfall into jobs? Or will the greedy corporations just pocket the windfall and give their CEO’s bigger bonuses? I have my own answer on that one and it doesn’t involve helping others or aiding the general economy.

I am no economist. I don’t hail from a think tank and have a hard enough time balancing a check book but I do know that a catchy slogan does not an economy fix make. This plan is yet another idea from an ex-corporate CEO that still thinks like big business. Making the rich, richer and the poor, poorer is not my idea of “fair.” As it says on Herman Cain’s front page of his website in big block letters; “Let’s Get Real”. I can’t wait until he, or any other politician actually does–but I’m not holding my breath.

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Bloggers Shall Inherit the Earth–My 100th Blog Post

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This is my 100th blog post.  And while it isn’t the same type of milestone as say, my first bra or my first marriage it is still something I did 100 times and so could more than qualify for habit status. World of Psychology says that a habit can be formed in as little as 18 days on up to 254 days. The average they claim is about 66 days. While I am now in the habit of blogging, I feel like it is more of a necessity so that bloggers can inherit the earth.

We all know the meek are not going to inherit the earth no matter if God or anyone else says so. Lately the geeks have gotten in on the act and are pushing for the geeks to inherit the earth, just because they think they are so smart–and geeky. That’s not going to happen either because the geeks might be high-tech bastions of computer/internet/whatever  knowledge but many lack that ability to relate to the masses.

So that leaves us bloggers. The obvious reason that bloggers should inherit the earth is that we write about everything on earth. We dispense information like big-pharma dispenses pills–only better and faster and for free. We make people think, laugh and cry– often in the same post. We report on the news and more importantly on reactions to the news. We instruct people in every conceivable subject matter from baking, sewing, crafts, art, health and cooking to photography, writing, marketing, social media and affairs of the heart and soul. We bloggers are walking encyclopedias (quite an old word I know) of knowledge in our respective niches  and whether that is useful or useless knowledge is not for us to say–our readers will let us know.

I started blogging because I could pick my poison and write away. I was in the news business for years and of course, we had stringent guidelines to adhere to and other than my newspaper columns, my articles were void of opinion just as news stories should be (what a concept, huh). Blogging is very similar to writing a newspaper column with the potential to reach many more eyes. The WordPress platform is perfect for me because I’m no geek and the technical side is easier than other platforms but I do plan on self-hosting in the future (I suppose I’ll need a geek to help me).  Since my blog focuses on current news rants and raves (rarely raves) comments aren’t always agreeable but that’s okay.  Since I’m very opinionated I would expect my readers to be also. Controversy is just one step closer to inheriting the earth–and I need to be ready.

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Keeping nude or lewd pictures on cell phones or computers–stupid?

Cell Phone Cameras

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If someone hacked into my computer or cell phone the entertainment value would be nil. Sure there is that fully clothed photo of me on my sexy pink scooter (woo-hoo) and then all the how-I-spent-my-vacation photos depicting various family members, dogs and scenic highways and byways. It’s the run-of-the-mill stuff that would surely disappoint hackers looking to make a few bucks on blackmail or a quick sale to a rag magazine.  But of course,  I don’t live the life of Scarlett Johanssen, Jessica Alba, Miley Cyrus, Mila Kunis, Vanessa Hudgens or Chris Brown. I’m not in their age group and aesthetically, I appeal to a much older crowd.

Now, all these stars mentioned  and about 50 more, have recently or in this past year,  had their cell phones and/or computers hacked into and had nude or some type of compromising (to them) pictures stolen. The photos either ended up on the internet or in the hands of people who evidently had plans that didn’t involve keeping them for their own secret stash.  These stars are absolutely “shocked,”  have expressed they are “victims” and of course the FBI is now involved in the mystery-of-the-hacked-photos-caper. Evidently a “ring” of hackers are involved in this type of cyber crime according to the FBI. Putting this type of stuff on your cell phone or computer isn’t quite as stupid as filming a  private video of your escapades as some stars have done over the years–but it is a runner-up to stupid.

Nothing involving the internet is iron-clad private. Nothing involving wireless is private. If as  a celebrity, you don’t understand that your nude picture is worth way more than a thousand words then you should probably stick to taking photos of your pets or shoes.  Stars are hounded everywhere they go, why would they not be smart enough to think they might be hounded in cyber space?   I don’t get it. Where are their business managers and security people to mention; “oh, by the way, if you are ever inclined to take compromising pictures of yourself, even in private–don’t, it could come back to haunt you.”  But, then again maybe the “stars” only surround themselves with like-minded people.

According to the L A Times, the FBI has been investigating allegations of the phone hacking of multiple celebrities since 2010.  A victim, according to the dictionary is one who is harmed or made to suffer from an act, circumstances, agency or condition (such as war) and also a person who has been tricked, swindled or duped. I keep thinking of all the real victims in the country that the FBI could be probing for instead of wasting our tax dollars on celebrities that evidently don’t have a clue . I feel duped.

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September 11, 2001 carved in the memory of the living and in bronze for future generations

It is pretty rare that just a date on a calendar says it all.  But just about every American living at the time, old enough to understand ,  knows exactly what 9/11 means. On September 11, 2001, four jet liners were hijacked by suicide bombers who crashed two of them into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon and the last was diverted, thanks to Americans on the plane, to a field in Pennsylvania, where it crashed killing our heroes on board.

Most of us also remember exactly where we were when we first either saw or heard of the horrific events via television or possibly radio. For some of us old enough to remember the JFK assassination, that too was a horrible event in our history that most people define by where they were, what age they were etc. when they first heard about it. Although young, I remember distinctly I was in chorus and our teacher, a Dominican nun, came in to class in tears. She offered no explanation but then the head nun got on the school p.a. system with that towering voice and told the whole school. We got the next day off and at my house the TV was on all day (rarely allowed) and that is when I saw Jack Ruby on live TV kill Lee Harvey Oswald.  Today I barely remember what I had for breakfast but I remember that as if it was yesterday and I was just a kid.

On the morning of 9/11  my husband and I had just gotten back from an RV trip to meet up with my son and his wife and the grand-kids in Omaha at a state park. It was about a nine-hour drive for us and I slept a little later than usual.  My husband the early riser yelled up the stairs for me to turn on the TV. That was an odd statement for him and his voice sounded urgent so I quickly turned it on. Like everyone, including those reporting on the event, I was in shock.  I then saw the second plane enter the field of vision on the screen and like everyone else–it became painfully obvious that this was no accident. It truly was terror in the skies.

I have once again been watching TV all day today, starting with the 10 year memorial ceremony in New York at ground zero. It was a well thought out ceremony and the memorial itself  is a beautiful sight with the water fall pools and over 2900 names etched in bronze but it was a hard watch. Seeing the children born after their fathers perished was the hardest. Watching loved ones take pictures of the etched names, kiss the names and cry on the names was just such an emotional experience I couldn’t put the tissue box away. I can’t even imagine what these survivors had to go through over the last 10 years but in my eyes they are all heroes.

I am Irish and when the bagpipers started to play at the ground zero ceremony I couldn’t help but think of deceased family members of my own who always had  bagpipes played at their wakes. And just like the countless Irish wakes I’ve attended,  barely a dry eye was evident at the 9/11 memorial, as everyone witnessed the two weeping waterfalls in the exact footprint where the twin towers once stood.

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Abercrombie in another ‘Situation’ over elitist image control

Mike 'The Situation' Sorrentino and Karina Smi...

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Abercrombie & Fitch is losing its grip on image control as every Tom, Dick, Harry and Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino,  parade around in their over-priced duds on TV, in Italy and other places not sanctioned by Abercrombie & Fitch.  Abercrombie is “concerned” enough about its image that it has offered a “substantial sum” of money to “The Situation” and the rest of the Jersey Shore cast to cease wearing their clothes.   While it is an obvious publicity ploy,  Abercrombie is no stranger to bad publicity and lawsuits stemming from its insistence that employees project a certain image and look.  I call it the Stepford  look, they call it preppy-sexy-beachy-wholesome-college-frat-sorority look.

While I don’t watch the reality show Jersey Shore, millions do and I have seen an episode or two as the cast tans, goes to the gym, does laundry and of course parties and fights. Not necessarily a wholesome image any product or retail outlet would want to project but Abercrombie had already  jumped on the Jersey Shore bandwagon when they came out with their “Fituation” and “GTL” (gym, tan, laundry) tee shirts a while back. Who are they kidding?  According to an Abercrombie press release; “We are deeply concerned that Mr. Sorrentino’s association with our brand could cause significant damage to our image.”  This is pretty funny since their image is one of elitist discrimination.

Abercrombie has long been the bastion of the preppy-sexy look, often approaching their own customers they think have the “look” and asking them if they would like a job while applications pile up from other Abercrombie job seekers that are not considered part of the super-elite-gene-pool-brand that the company covets (they got sued and lost also for telling applicants they weren’t hiring and were caught hiring only people with the “look.”)  I suppose using the pick-of-the-litter method of hiring is okay if we are talking skill set, knowledge, experience, retail personality etc. but choosing someone because they look like a surfer dude or dud and wear flip-flops for a living seems like the bottom of the shallow barrel.

But, Abercrombie will be taking all this free publicity to the bank. People are talking about this PR stunt and advertising geniuses are scratching their heads and wishing they would have thought of the idea first.  Plus, otherwise sane people, instead of boycotting a company that has an ugly policy of hiring only the “attractive” will go buy an A&F something -or-other because they don’t fit their image either, because nobody is going to tell them what they can’t wear–ka-ching!

(I would sure say this picture I used of the “Situation” looks pretty similar to the Abercrombie ads of half naked bodies on their website and in their catalogs so what do they mean he is bad for their image?) P.S. I’m open to not wearing anyone’s clothing–I really have no image so I could readily offend anyone equally. for the right price–of course.

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Congress Gets a DD–Rating From us Standard Poor

Congress gets DD-Rating

According to our U.S. Constitution, only Congress can spend money and only Congress can set policy. Even the veto power of the President of the United States, is at the mercy of Congress–as they can override his veto power. They can override a presidential veto for political gain (or games), or because they just don’t like him, or because they are self-centered-greedy-drunk-with-power elected officials who want it “their way,” or no way at all.

I only point this out to show that no matter what our President tried-or as some think, didn’t try to do in the month-long debt crisis fiasco–it wouldn’t have mattered. The Republicans had control of the ball and they dropped it right on us. Not just we the people but we the standard poor people. The people who have no jobs, or two jobs, or low wage jobs. The people who don’t get the tax breaks of the rich and can’t afford off-shore accounts. The people upside down on their homes and sinking fast or in default. The people who Congress can’t possibly relate to and therefore refuses to help with anything more than rhetoric.

The fact that Standard & Poor’s  has downgraded the U.S. credit rating a notch is not nearly as important as why? S&P said the downgrade reflected their opinion of our political situation and said the Republicans are not likely to let the Bush tax cuts (for the rich) expire in 2012– so no new money coming in. It is a totally separate issue that S&P is grading on some kind-of fortune teller-astrological-voodoo curve, whereby they predict the future political situation rather than assessing the financial situation as it stands.

Yes, the Republicans got their “deal” and us standard poor people got to watch elected officials play one-upmanship, not play well with others, and sell us down the river so they can report back to the lobbyists, big banks, big pharma, and other big entities that make big political donations. In the meantime the real American crisis of jobs, wages and growth is once again taking a back seat so that the rich can get richer and the middle and lower class can become obsolete.

We can only hope that anyone in Congress that helped create this mess is heavily invested in the big companies that they are supporting with their votes, the “too big to fail” companies that were tanking today in the stock market.  This Congress deserves a DD–rating, from all the standard poor people in America.

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Punditry is the New Black

Punditry is the new black (photo;Lightfoot)

We are becoming a nation of pundits.  Pundits have turned much of our news into a “style ” like the eternal little black dress and the idea that black is chic to wear everywhere and anytime. The problem is pundits should not be everywhere and anytime– it’s annoying.

The term pundit originated in the 17th century from the Hindu word Pandita, meaning “learned.”  A more recent American dictionary meaning of pundit is; usually an elderly person noted for wisdom, knowledge and good  judgement–an authority. Does this sound to you like anyone we see or hear, day in and day out on any of our 24/7 media outlets on TV, radio, print or web?  I can think of only a few pundits that fit this description because true pundits aren’t in-your-face constantly, they are too busy honing their expert skills.  People like Glenn Beck, Nancy Grace, Ann Coulter, Elliot Spitzer and Bill O’Reilly are considered pundits of politics, pop culture or law. So, obviously the meaning has evolved.

Do I value the judgement of pundits? Mostly, no. I do however, value my own judgement, so if you want to just hand me the unfiltered news I think I might be able to make heads or tails of it myself. On the other hand, I would be open to a well-researched, knowledgeable opinion from someone totally in-the-loop, an expert in the field, as it were. Any takers?

The pundit label has a much more casual meaning today in a sort of casual-Friday type way. It seems you can sort-of  have knowledge and kind-of  have wisdom and flip-flop that good judgement around like well–flip-flops. Even some of the pundits that I sometimes agree with like Ed Schultz or Rachel Maddow of MSNBC , get on their TV and radio soap boxes and talk til’ I drop.  I like opinion, I even have one but I don’t necessarily need it dissected and spoon fed to me, with a dose of  bias lacking in any facts, which some pundits are prone to do.

Some radio pundits show their knowledge to listeners by cutting off their callers with differing views and TV pundits have been known to cry and yell on the air, in order to get across their infinite wisdom. These people are doing nothing to elevate the stature of pundit. There really should be levels. We have A list and B list movie stars, why not common ratings for pundits?

A “real” pundit should have the knowledge and credentials to back up an informed opinion.  It wouldn’t even hurt for some topics, to expect pundits to have serious academic or scholarly experience in a subject.  A kind of,  know-before-you-go type of thing rather than a shoot-from-the-hip style. I’ve actually heard people say that many years ago in media land, experts or pundits used to at least attempt to be unbiased and didn’t affiliate themselves with a specific movement or even align themselves with media outlets–imagine that!

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Borders Books; The Final chapter

Borders in San Mateo, California.

Image via Wikipedi

(This is an update from a Feb. blog when Borders entered Chapter 11)

It’s ironic that Borders Books, the book chain that played a huge part in putting thousands of smaller independent bookstores out of business with their superstore business model initiated in the 1980′s,  is now going out of business. It is closing the last 399 locations of Borders Books and turning the inventory over to liquidators. While I lament the closing of any brick and mortar bookstore, you could see this one coming even if you weren’t an “expert” but just a lowly consumer.

Borders always seemed to lag a few steps behind-the-times. They didn’t catch on to the increasing rise in internet book buying or electronic book purchases until it was too late. They were still selling CD’s for $22 when people were downloading music for 99 cents on the Web.

In 2001 Borders contracted its e-commerce business out to a little company called Amazon.com. For Borders this was like a death sentence according to many economists.  Amazon didn’t have the slightest interest in promoting Borders, it just wanted to be the king of online books. And of course, it took a while but it is. Borders got lost in the shuffle at Amazon and then places like Sam’s Club, Costco, WalMart and every Tom, Dick and Harry with shelf space started selling heavily discounted books.

Borders also wasted valuable years in progress and profit I feel, by hiring four CEO’s in five years that had no book sales experience what-so-ever. I found this astounding.  I mean, I consider myself a true book-person. I read them, decorate with them, give them as gifts, collect them, store them etc. but I can’t imagine owning a bookstore large or small and not putting a smart business person with extensive book knowledge at the helm. This is what happens when someone with an MBA thinks they can sell widgets and books.  People like this think product is product. But, they are so wrong. Book people are different. I might spend an hour in a bookstore picking out a book but I would spend one minute in a store picking out a widget (whatever that is).

Publishers will be the first to tell us that Americans are buying fewer books. Well, of course we are buying fewer books. The average new hardcover has a retail price of $28-$32. Mass market paperbacks are now hovering at $15 and up if you don’t get some kind of discount.  People like “Snooki” from that stupid Jersey-whatever show are penning tomes, all the while thinking the word tome is a new kind of liquor. So, high prices and low quality content certainly has to play a role in declining book sales and not just because of the fact that people are spending more time on the internet and less time reading.

Going into a bookstore like Borders is like taking part in a “book experience.” It’s the bookstore smell, the coffee, the people, the staff and of course walls and walls of books. I know E-Readers and Kindles are hot items and Barnes and Noble claims their e-books now out-sell “real” books but the act of holding a book in your hand and visually looking at the jacket and the cover and reading the blurbs etc. is all part of the bibliophile experience. If a great book is considered a real “page-turner” some people feel you need actual pages not an electronic device.  Hopefully when the big box bookstores are gone we will see the return of the smaller independent bookstores. One can only hope.

Not surprisingly, library usage is up nationwide. Of course, it is a sign of the economic times but I think it is a good thing. It gives us the opportunity to show younger readers that the internet is not literature, YouTube is not research and Twitter is not real writing.

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No Kids Allowed in Restaurant–Eat In Peace

Screaming

In some restaurants it’s no shoes, no shirt, no service. In this day and age you can add kids.  Got Kids? No service. McDain’s Restaurant in Monroeville, PA  has come under scrutiny lately because owner, Mike Vuick, has decided to ban kids under six years old from his restaurant.  Some people are criticizing him for this action and yet others are applauding his guts for his no kids allowed rule.

Some people are calling McDain’s new rule discriminatory, over-the-top, crazy, absurd and anti-kid. Others are calling the rule enlightening, fantastic, precedent setting  and shouting “it’s about time,”  from the roof-tops. Which ever side of the fence you are on you have to give the guy credit for such a bold move that is sure to be polarizing to a certain segment of the population and his town.

Vuick however, doesn’t seem to care and he is not backing down from his stance as he has more than enough customers that agree with him. It’s kind of like that movie Network where the guy says; “I’m mad as hell and I ‘m not going to take it anymore.”  According to the owner, many of his customers were tiring of eating at his restaurant in the midst of screaming, crying and food throwing kids. Some diners were even less enthralled with the parents that were either ignoring their own children’s behavior, condoning it or screaming at their kids in a public restaurant.  He said that while kids are understandably the center of the universe of a parent it is not necessarily so for the rest of the dining public.

This has to absolutely be a sign of the times. I mean, many of us grew up knowing exactly how to act in a restaurant as kids and we passed that etiquette on to our own children. Most adults over 35 can well remember the wrath of mom and dad if you mis-behaved in a restaurant or any public forum.  It was almost like you had private manners at home where you gave your brother a shove and yelled at your sister to get out of your bedroom and public manners where you didn’t utter much other than please, thank you and the meal was great. For many of us it was a treat to go out to dinner as children, and not the norm.  For my own kids it was also a special event to have dinner out, so everyone had their manners “on.’

I too have witnessed the escalation of bad manners or no manners in children over the last 10 years or so and since I’m no behavior specialist I don’t have the answers. What I do know for sure is;  it is never too young to teach children manners and make it a priority because parents that don’t will become more stigmatized than their kids–and places like Chuck E. Cheese will be getting a lot more crowded.

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Nancy Grace a Disgrace

Nancy Grace at her book party for her new book...

Image via Wikipedia

We all found out today that our justice system is alive and well and not living in a woman called Nancy Grace.  While Casey Anthony was found not guilty of first degree murder, aggravated manslaughter and child abuse she was found guilty of the lesser charges of lying to police, and basically sending them on a bunch of wild goose chases. Grace anointed herself  judge, jury and “expert” early on in the Casey Anthony case and talked about it non-stop on her HLN nightly program for CNN. The program, called Swift Justice, was taken literally by Grace who ranted and raved nightly about the guilt of Casey Anthony killing her two-year old daughter, dubbing Anthony “tot mom.’

Grace is an attorney and former prosecutor which evidently gives her the right to prosecute in a public forum, on TV, in print and anywhere else her mouth takes her, even when a trial is ongoing.  A lot of people were shocked and dismayed that Anthony was found not guilty but the fact remains that 12 jurors obviously had a reasonable doubt. Grace, on the other hand has never had a reasonable thought or it might have dawned on her that “her way” wasn’t the only way to go. I actually thought the not guilty verdict might render Grace speechless-no such luck.

Grace single-handedly ruined my favorite morning news program, Good Morning America, by her almost daily appearances in the last month as a so-called “expert” in the case.  As I drank my coffee and listened to her talk over Robin Roberts’ questions, bulldoze her answers through another commentator’s statements, screech “tot mom” over and over and criticize anyone on the program who disagreed with her “guilty” point of view, I had enough.  I no longer watch GMA, as I think they went off the deep end in considering Grace an “expert” in this case, (note to GMA) A loud opinion does not make someone an “expert.” Grace, and her unprofessional and caustic demeanor has really given the law profession (not always thought of in high esteem) a black eye, hearkening  back to the days of ambulance chasers.

Grace said she was concerned that Anthony would get book and movie deals etc. yet Grace has had her face in front of the cameras over this case for a couple of years and has milked it for all its worth. The whole case is sad, a child is dead and Nancy Grace is a disgrace.

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Abercrombie & Fitch “Look” Policy Rears Its Ugly head Again

Why I Hate Abercrombie and Fitch

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Abercrombie & Fitch is being sued again for discrimination in the workplace. No surprise here,  I am pretty sure that settling/losing discrimination lawsuits is almost like a second business for Abercrombie, or possibly for their fleet of  lawyers on retainer.  A 2004 class action suit forced them to pay big bucks to every African-American, Asian, Latino and woman who applied but was not hired at their stores. Why?  Because they had this Neanderthal hiring practice of only recruiting and hiring  white frat boys and white sorority girls because they had a certain “look.”  It took a court to tell them what most of the world knows–gee, that “looks” like discrimination. What are you guys trying to do start a new retail race of surfer dudes and duds?  A court order said they must recruit from all of us imperfect people too. But, I hear the imperfect but smart people don’t want to work in a dark cologne-fogged-surfer infested atmosphere of discrimination.

In 2009 a girl with a prosthetic arm sued them and won because they hired her, but decided to hide her in the back storeroom and then changed their mind on allowing her to wear a sweater.  The people who run these stores must be from some planet of the Stepford-people. It’s actually kind-of creepy, hiring only white,  perfect,  beachy, flip-flopped wearing Stepford employees.

Another 2009 lawsuit they lost in Minnesota was to a teen who was trying to help her autistic sister in a dressing room but they kicked her out. The mother even called to complain and explain but Abercrombie’s sensitivity training must have been a little lax. They actually said they didn’t really think she had autism-the girl got $115,000.

This latest lawsuit has to be a slam-dunk for 20-year-old college student, Hani Khan, hired by Hollister Co. (Abercrombie owns it)  in San Mateo in 2009. In her interview the hiring manager asked her if she could wear a headscarf  (she wore a hijab) in the company colors.  She said yes, and she honored that commitment.  She too was put in the stockroom but she did occasionally have to go out in “public” to the sales floor in the course of her duties. A district manager came into the store one day and caught sight of Khan. She was asked to remove the hijab she was wearing, even though she was wearing one when she was hired, she refused.   Khan needed the job to help with her college costs–I don’t think she will have to worry, I’m sure Abercrombie will be paying her tuition and a whole lot more.

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The New Food Pyramid For Dummies-A Plate

MyPlate

If you don’t understand how to eat healthy with a visual aid that many of us use every day–a plate,  then you probably only eat out of Styrofoam, cardboard or plastic anyway and it’s a lost cause.  In Our First Lady Michelle Obama’s quest for a healthier Nation and with emphasis on rampant childhood obesity, she. and USDA officials recently unveiled a new colored graphic that replaces the old food pyramid graphic that many people ignored anyway.

The new USDA pyramid is called MyPlate and depicts a 9 inch plate  (no, not a pie plate)  that breaks a nutritious diet into four sections: fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins. There is also a small circle graphic for dairy.  There is no mistaking this graphic; vegetables are green, fruits are red, grains are orange and protein is blue.  All in neat little triangles right on the plate. I don’t see a brownie or ice cream or cheese cake section on the plate so I am going to assume that kind of stuff is basically out.

Part of the new dietary guidelines also include switching to fat-free or low-fat milk and drinking water over sugary drinks. The beverage industry must have little or no clout with the FDA and Obama or else their lobbyists are asleep at the wheel. While we all know water is best for us, some of  the sugary beverage companies still hound us daily with isn’t this a cute bottle advertising?  And it’s “cool”  to drink sugar laden beverages messages.  I look for this type of advertising to pick up as they try and fight the water-is-better campaign.  Their other possibility for marketing could be additional “water” beverages to further glut the spring water, artesian water, mountain water, summer water, green water, earth water etc. market. I can’t wait to see what they come up with.

The Choose MyPlate campaign I think is a good idea and has the added benefit of helping the economy. Our average dinner plate in the U.S. is 10 1/2 to 12 inches, depending on the manufacturer.  The average salad plate about 7 1/2 inches.  That means that the 9 inch plate that the MyPlate campaign is based on is pretty-much non-existent in my cupboards, and many others.  They are quick to point out that plate size matters and portion size matters if we want to follow these guidelines properly.  So, I figure it’s just a matter of time when we will all be clamoring for 9 inch plates and there won’t be any and then they will have to be made.  Then a mad dash will ensue  to buy stock from Fiesta, Lenox, Pfaltzgraff and Noritake  and those of us bright eyes that thought of this phenomenon way ahead of the pack will be rich. I can’t wait!

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Sarah Palin’s Magical Mystery Rogue Bus Tour Starts Rolling Today

Sarah Palin - Caribou Hunt

Image by smiteme via Flickr

You don’t need tickets but donations are requested, sought after and as welcome as a homemade caribou stew.  Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin began a bus tour today that will tour the eastern U.S. and other points unknown (the bus stops are evidently top secret until she is ready to spill the beans).  She calls it the “One Nation Tour” and her “people” say that the bus will tour historical sites that were key to the formation, survival and growth of the U.S.  I don’t quite know what all that exactly means but rest assured it is all very Palin patriotic. I call it the Magical Mystery Rogue Bus Tour because well, after all she is a self-proclaimed rogue and it seems a mystery to me that if she isn’t going to run for the Republican nomination then the bus tour must hold some other to-be-explained magic.

The bus is red, white and blue and has a bigger than life U.S. Constitution painted on it along with some of the lines of the Pledge of Allegiance. The back of the bus has the painted words “Join the Fundamental Restoration of America.” The bus is large and is quite the attention grabber but the bus route outside of “going up the east coast” is mired in mystery. Her website shows a map of a few stops with todays hot spot stop, Washington D.C.  After checking out her website where it noted Palin is embarking on a tour, I could only think what kind of tour? Comedy tour? Speaking Tour?  The fundamental restoration of America thing never crossed my mind. Silly me.  I figured she was testing the waters to be a Republican nominee for President and join the other dozen or so candidates. There are so many candidates and potential candidates now, it’s kind of like club Repub.

So today Palin showed up in Washington D.C. to take part in the “Rolling Thunder” motorcycle ride. It began at the Pentagon and ended at the Vietnam Memorial.  Clad in a leather jacket, she was on the back of a motorcycle driven by her daughter Willow.  Her husband Todd and daughter Bristol were on separate bikes.  Not all the bikers were pleased with the reporters and publicity Palin and her family were receiving.  I guess they felt the Palin’s were stealing their “thunder.” Participants are typically Vietnam Vets and their families.

I don’t know what Palin has up her sleeve or even in her bus but she has purchased a $1.7 million dollar house in Scottsdale Arizona. It could be a respite from the cold Alaskan winters or to keep an eye on Bristol who also has an Arizona home.  It could also be an easier spot geographically to throw her hat into the club Repub ring.  Either way–there goes the neighborhood.

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Newt Gingrich: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner At Tiffany’s To The Tune Of $500,000?

Greta Van Susteren, host of the Fox News progr...

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Now I get it.  A “real” fiscal conservative like Newt Gingrich considers himself suitable to run the country’s budget, finances and economy yet the sky is the limit on his personal Tiffany& Co. jewelry store debt.  I figure you would have to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at Tiffany’s to accumulate the time it would take to spend $500,000 in a couple of years. I know Tiffany’s is pricey and it would depend entirely on purchases but Gingrich and his third wife Callista sure don’t practice fiscal conservatism in their “real”  life.  Don’t they know they can pick up perfectly good fake Tiffany jewelry on any New York City corner or Mexican resort town?

The ex-Congressman and Speaker of the House who has thrown his hat into the Republican Presidential nominee ring on various changing platforms like family values (he has been married three times and divorced a wife who had cancer) and of course fiscal conservatism. The Tiffany story broke yesterday by Politico’s  Jake Sherman.  It immediately made the rounds of all the usual places but Gingrich and his camp have been busy “no commenting” on his revolving charge at Tiffany’s with an extraordinarily high debt ceiling.  Interest rate? Unknown.

Shockingly, Greta Van Susteren somehow mustered up the nerve (Gingrich was until recently a Fox contributor) to ask him on her show last night about the Tiffany & Co. bill.  She of course, backed down immediately when he said “I’m not commenting on stuff like that.”  Fox has long had this love-affair with Gingrich and his political analyst skills (quite the joke to me).

So, I’m wondering if Gingrich the professed candidate does not want to comment on “stuff like that,” what exactly is he willing to comment on that just might be of interest to potential voters?  Are we really supposed to believe that he is in touch with the masses?  Or that he can be fiscally conservative with our money in Washington?  Does he think  for one minute that just because the wimps at Fox News back down from asking him questions that the rest of the media will too?  This guy is so far out of touch with real people that I can’t even believe Republicans will end up standing for whatever it is he says he stands for. The reality is Gingrich stands for the elitist, business-as-usual, good-old-boy image that even the Republicans are trying to shake.

I’m going to go out on a very short limb here and say that Newt Gingrich is toast. He’ll never win the Republican nomination and he will keep rubbing everyone  (including his own party) the wrong way until the only show he will be wanted on is Fox. That’s how you know you are toast.

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Trump Not Running For President: So When Does The Circus Leave Town?

Trump Sitting

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Surprise, surprise.  The daily care and feeding of Donald Trump’s supercalifragilistic ego does not necessarily require him to seek the highest office in the land. In a press release issued today, Trump (or whoever wrote it) stated: “After considerable deliberation and reflection (probably reflection in a mirror)  I have decided not to pursue the office of the Presidency…”  Part of his blah, blah, blah also states that he has a strong conviction that if he were to run he would win the primary and ultimately, the general election (yeah, and I’m convinced that this post will go viral and have half-a-million hits by tomorrow).  He adds that business is his greatest passion and he is not ready to leave the private sector. I also assume he wants to spend more time on his delusions of grandeur.

So, is the Trump political circus set to leave town?  Will it be possible for some of the main stream media, most notably Fox, to quit tying up the airwaves with Trump’s fake platforms and obsessive me, me, me pretend issues? It appears that Trump played his cards right under the big top media circus. He was on major news shows, major non-news shows and just about any forum with a microphone or camera. Many of us knew he would never run but he fooled a lot of the media into believing he was the “hot ticket.” I’m sure he was holding off to make sure his “reality” show would be picked up but more importantly this  maybe-I’m-running-maybe-I’m-not stuff was great PR for his show and the infamous Trump “brand.” Aren’t we all just dying for some Trump water or a Trump tie?

Trump’s polling numbers were way down the last few weeks but with Trump’s green tinted (for money) glasses he saw that he had “millions’ of followers that were willing to drink his Kool-Aid. I’m sure the three-time bankrupt business man would have loved the financial scrutiny he would have been under had he decided to be a viable candidate but as many have said he was never going to run anyway so it was never a concern.  I was hoping the Trump circus would leave town but his press release states that he is going to continue to voice his opinions loudly (I’m sure with his usual classy vocabulary) and provide valuable services to the country. If anyone believes this last statement then you are obviously one of the “millions” of his sad followers.

So, with Trump officially going back to TV boardroom land and business-as-usual, it looks like the Republicans will have to send in the rest of their clowns to join the circus. I guess with politics anymore–the circus never really does leave town.

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So does the ‘cheese stand alone’ at Chicago’s 7-Eleven stores?

Corn chips (Fritos)

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A man who allegedly stole nacho cheese from a University Village 7-Eleven found himself in jail  Sunday, according to the Chicago Sun Times.

Michael Richards, 50, bought a bag of potato chips from the store in the 1300 block of South Halsted, then illegally doused the chips in nacho cheese, Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Dan Piwowarczyk said.

When the store clerk told him the nacho cheese was only for customers who paid for it to use on corn chips in a traditional plastic tray, Richards pulled the clerk’s arm behind her back, twisted it and threatened the clerk, according to a police report. Police arrested Richards a block away Saturday, the report shows.

When Judge James Brown asked, “So what was stolen was the cheese?,” Piwowarczyk kept an admirably straight face as he replied, “The defendant was informed that it was not yo’ cheese.”

Richards, of the 9400 block of South Burnside, was ordered held on bail of $10,000.

“That’s a very low bond, for a robbery,” the judge told him.

I wish I could say this “news” report is a joke but it is not.  Callers on a Chicago radio station Monday were calling-in in droves stating that the 7-Eleven in question actually had a sign by the cheese stating  ” free cheese.”  Some in-the-know 7-Eleven frequent visitors say this particular store does keep close watch on their cheese and breathes down your neck as you are pumping that cheese on your corn chips.  I suppose this alleged cheese stealing guy may have been a little aggressive in his quest for the squirt-able, processed non-cheese product but imagine the food fight that could have erupted if he had not twisted the clerks arm but just squirted her with the yellow slop.  And what would that have been?  Battery with cheese?

So I’m suggesting to 7-Eleven that since their cheese stands alone allowing virtually anyone to walk up and pump a squirt or two they really need to enlist the aid of a “cheese watcher” so the clerks can spend more time on their customer service skills.  Also, they need to make people aware that their particular store policy is “The customer is definitely not always right” and finally they need to make a big sign and put it by that ridiculous faux-cheese that states “That’s Na-cho Cheese” and maybe some of us dummies will get the picture.

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Osama Bin Laden:Beating a Dead Horse in a Civilized Society

SEALs in from the water.

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It’s no use beating a dead horse. Osama Bin Laden is dead as a doornail and showing all the gory details (the pictures) will not make him more dead. I happen to agree with President Obama’s stance on not showing the American people Bin Laden’s blown-up skull.  What for?  So the pictures can be used for a made-for-TV-movie?  Or blown up as wallpaper for some sick-o’s computer?

Or better yet,  so we can incite more international problems and jeopardize our national security even more  just to appease a small segment of the population that only believes what they see? Showing Bin Laden’s dead photos could possibly ignite even more trouble for the U.S. from other countries and only prove that we are as uncivilized as he and his lot were.  It would look like a banner or feather in our cap or like we were gloating. I agree with Obama when he said he was not showing the photos because “That’s not who we are?”

The Navy Seals did a magnificent job. They put their lives on the line for us and got rid of the #1 terrorist in the world. His body was disposed of in a civilized manner which is far more than he did when he killed thousands of Americans at the World Trade Center and disposed of their lives.

I originally thought that his blown-off face should be plastered all over the world to show other terrorists just what could become of them if they continued down his path. But then I realized that I was not brought up in a classless society that did not respect death or giving someone a proper burial even though I don’t  feel Bin Laden really deserved one. This does not mean I am respecting the person. To me he is Satan himself.

I’m sure that this issue will become a new political platform for some far right nutcase wanna-be-presidential candidate grabbing at straws to run on. I guess it would be a lot easier than running on real issues facing us Americans and since the Obama birth certificate issue has been finally put to rest,  bringing up a “but is he really dead” issue is sure to be somebody’s trump card.  I happen to believe President Obama and while trying not to gloat I can’t help but quietly say “ding dong the wicked witch is dead.”

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William And Kate’s Royal Wedding: Enough Already!

Westminster Abbey in London

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Okay, so I’m definitely on Royal Wedding overload. I’ve heard enough about British fascinators (little headband hats), what Kate and Williams guests might or might not eat, where they might or might not go on a honeymoon and which bookmakers are giving odds on which of the three already designed dresses Kate might or might not wear.

I’m all in favor of fun and happy news over what our networks typically spew forth on a daily basis and any news that will give a backseat to Charlie Sheen or Donald Trump is right up my alley but…I think all the networks could be confusing many of us Americans with people who give a damn. Not that we don’t wish William and Kate the best, and not that we don’t think lovingly of his mother on this big day but we really don’t need the 24/7 coverage where Barbara Walters tells us how she has interviewed Princess Diana in the past, Robin Roberts reports on how BIG Westminster Abbey is and Diane Sawyer interviews a third cousin once-removed of Williams to give us some real insight.

Leave it to us Americans to turn this Royal Wedding into a media circus.  Many American news outlets will be reporting from London all week-long. NBC has said their coverage will be comprehensive and aggressive? What the heck does that even mean? It’s a wedding not a war.  ABC will have 20 straight hours of wedding coverage on the 29th starting at 4 a.m. ABC also mentions that Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer will “anchor” the wedding.  Who knew a Royal Wedding needed an American anchor or two? Or actually many more as two billion viewers are expected to watch the wedding on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, E, Bravo, MSNBC and Telemundo among many more.

And just in case you can’t take the day off from work and/or it hasn’t been declared a national holiday in your neck of the woods, the wedding will be streamed live online to IPADS, iPhone applications, Facebook, Yahoo! and Hulu. Even some of our U.S. weather channels this week have been reporting on the weather in Britain. I haven’t checked it out myself but I’m pretty sure we can count on it raining on this parade. It’s not a big deal for the Brits, they are used to it. It will give them all a chance to use those William and Kate souvenir umbrellas to keep all their hats dry.

I won’t be up at 4 a.m. to watch the Royal Wedding  on U.S. channels nor will I be watching our American news media for 20 hours-or any hours for that matter but I might take a peek at the BBC,  something tells me they will know how to cover a British wedding in short order.

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Donald Trump and Sarah Palin: Dumb and Dumber

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Evidently we now have two quasi-maybe-possible U.S. Presidential candidates that are like-minded when it comes to what they think most Americans find really important. Even with our present crappy economic problems and polarizing political climate looming  Sarah Palin  recently chose to  jump on Donald Trump‘s bandwagon of “Show us the birth certificate” President Obama, which they both seem to feel is unfinished priority business.  I guess because running on this type of platform is better than no platform at all.  And you get to go on those newsy chat shows like Fox and Friends and expound on whatever you want as long as it is shallow, repetitive and without merit. This duo truly is the Dumb and Dumber of our current political scene.

Trump, with his feet planted firmly in egomaniac mode has hired a private investigative team to look under rocks and Hawaiian flora and fauna to find Obama’s birth certificate because he doesn’t believe the one that was presented by the state of Hawaii is real or legal or I guess, up to Trumps standards of reality which of course are based on reality television.

Now Palin, who once actually said she believed Obama’s birth certificate was real and felt the birther movement was annoying and a distraction has now flipped her switch over to the dumb side stating that maybe Trump has a point or something…Of course she also had her own reality show so possibly the reality is that ego trumps all and it doesn’t really matter what facts are presented. Maybe when you are a rogue and a maverick you are supposed to spend your time waffling back and forth between fact and fiction and jumping on the nearest outspoken/crazy bandwagon?

Right now, potential presidential candidates for 2012 are a dime a dozen with no clear front-runner at all for the Republicans. So it could very well be that the most outrageous and off-the-wall candidate could win. While we as Americans concern ourselves with the debt ceiling, jobs, healthcare, taxes and real life matters, we have potential candidates like dumb and dumber that just want to take us all for a ride.  Nothing unusual for American politics to be sure but it would be nice to get rid of the clutter and quit making our politics a joke.

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Donald Trump To Join Fox & Friends News Chatter

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As if Donald Trump doesn’t have his plate full enough what with Celebrity Apprentice, business mogul-ing (Is that even a word?) and maybe, possibly, it depends…running for president next time around,  he is now set to be part of the Fox & Friends “news” show.  It seems Fox & Friends will make room on their couch for Trump every Monday morning, cleverly dubbing it “Mondays with Trump.”

I saw some of the stellar promos for Trump’s segment with such lines as: “The Donald now makes his voice loud and clear on Fox.” Boy, they must have gotten some huge powerhouse agency to think that one up. While Fox has never been one to shy away from controversial  on-air people,  I can’t quite get a handle on what Trump can bring to the news table. Unless it is just basically Trump wanting face time in case he decides to run for president and Fox wanting more ratings for their coffee klatch with Steve Doocy, Gretchan Carlson and Brian Kilmeade.

I don’t watch the trio on Monday mornings or any other morning but the idea of listening to Trump with my coffee first thing in the morning is not my idea of a good wake-up call. Most presidential candidates are distancing themselves from their pundit or “news analyst” roles on TV stations so as not to show any conflict of interest. Newt Gingrich stepped down from his Fox Perch when he supposedly became a presidential candidate. This whole thing leads me to believe that Trump isn’t going to try to run for president at all but is just more of his usual blowhard, look-at-me PR stuff.

Trump however is not any kind of analyst or commentator or pundit but a mere contributor without a  contract that will just be on Fox on Mondays, indefinitely or probably until the regular news crew gets sick of him or the viewers can’t take looking at his hair in the morning or his Celebrity Apprentice show gets higher ratings. Or until some Fox focus group tells him he doesn’t have a chance in hell of running a country if he couldn’t run a casino, and running on a platform that President Obama wasn’t born in the USA just isn’t going to cut it.

At least he doesn’t have to worry about being fair and balanced or politically correct or even accurate about anything he says, after all , it’s just FOX.

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Elizabeth Taylor: A Kid Remembers Her Movies

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It was the easy-going world of the late 1950′s. I was a kid, TV was free, our household got two Chicago newspapers a day (my parents didn’t want to miss a thing) and movies were about 75 cents for adults (much less in smaller towns). I wasn’t even close to an adult yet but I wanted to go see the Elizabeth Taylor movie Cat On A Hot Tin Roof because I guess I thought it had something to do with cats. My folks filled me in on the movie in cryptic fashion like adults tended to do in the 50′s stating it was an adult film with Elizabeth Taylor, end of discussion.  I thought it would be cool to see an adult film, my parents thought differently.

You see in the “old” days, parents actually decided what movies their kids could see, instead of the movie police. In many instances back then,  parents were a lot tougher on movie viewing for their kids than any R, G, PG system that would eventually be adopted. I was allowed of course, to see National Velvet on TV.  Elizabeth Taylor was so beautiful in that movie and I begged my parents for a horse. Promising to groom it daily, exercise it in our miniscule city backyard and board it in our garage. No dice. 

The only reason all these memories came flooding back to me today was of course, the news that Elizabeth Taylor has died today. From the perspective of a young female child, I thought she was talented, glamorous and lucky to be in movies with horses and dogs (Lassie). It wasn’t until I was much older that I witnessed the rather complicated life she had lived. Here was a child star who grew up in front of the public who adored her for her professional life and at the same time condemned her for her private life.

Taylor said in an interview a few years back that the gossip bothered her a great deal and she would often go and cry by herself.  But she admitted she made mistakes in her life and was not happy with some of the things she had done. Not making excuses she said simply “I am me.” Taylor took up the AIDS cause long before it became fashionable. Even when her own health was failing she still raised millions for AIDS and other gay and lesbian causes.

It’s not only sad that Elizabeth Taylor the film legend has died but she really is the last icon of that era. The Hollywood movie star era is over and all the glitz and glamour that goes with it. One only has to look to the recent Academy Awards last month to see that unfunny and weirdness are in and sophistication, class and glamour are gone.

I did finally get to see Cat On A Hot Tin Roof when I was much older and my parents were right, it wasn’t about cats at all.  Rest In Peace to a movie star–in the truest meaning of the word.

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The Bachelor: Finding Real Love on “Reality TV” in 11 Weeks

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If “reality” TV is supposed to be real, then why did I get the distinct impression that the final episode of The Bachelor was a bad made for TV fictionalized movie? I admit I’m not a big fan of the show but I have seen enough episodes (including last nights final ) to cast aspersions on the whole finding-true-love-in-a-few-weeks-on-TV thing. I mean, come on–get REAL.

Evidently 13.5 million of us were glued to our sets last night waiting with bated breath to see if the two-time bachelor participant and (his first time around he picked nobody) bar owner from Texas , Brad Womack would pick Chantal or Emily. With many of us knowing that it didn’t really matter who he picked because most likely he and his pick-of-the-litter are not going to be riding off into the sunset anyway.  Smart people usually don’t get on the bandwagon of finding true love in eleven weeks with a production crew in tow.  No matter how many exotic locales no matter how many hot tubs.

Such is life in this reality pick-me, pick-me saga as a bunch of women vie for one guy (who didn’t seem like any prize to me) and then wallow in grief and/or self-pity as they are cast aside for a newer or shinier or more glib model. Kind of like picking out a new car only with less thought.  I am amazed that the producers of the show still find attractive, professional and seemingly smart women to sign up for this gig.  Most of the women I have viewed on the show seem to show all visible signs of finding themselves a mate in the traditional way but they of course, wouldn’t have a shot at reality TV stardom if they just met someone at the grocery store, health club or bowling alley.

Womack said on the agonizingly long three-hour show that he knew early on that Emily was “the one.” Well, if that was the case what was the point of stringing Chantal and a few others along?  It was for TV ratings of course. Seems cruel to me but men have been stringing women along for centuries and vice-versa without the aid of TV cameras. Now that Emily and Brad are in the real world sans cameras, she has said that she is not ready to marry him and she and her daughter are not ready to move to Texas (where his business is). I guess even though the show promotes shallowness, at least some of the participants are smart enough to realize that the 11 weeks of filming and airing might not quite be enough time to build a solid foundation leading to real love in the real world.  Me, I’m a total skeptic. I give them a few months tops and he will be the ex-two-time Bachelor player that will still be playing.

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Should NPR Pander to the Right or Cut Loose With the Left?

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National Public Radio is caught between the proverbial rock and a hard radio place. They can be as liberal as they profess not to be and give up their use/need  of  partial public funding or they can keep taking those tax dollars and pretend to be neutral. 

 NPR hasn’t had a banner PR year. First came the Juan Williams firing fiasco and then yesterday NPR President and CEO Vivian Schiller (resigned and was forced out) after a conservative activist (James O’Keefe) “sting” operation taped a non-news NPR executive bashing the Tea Party and calling its members racist and blah, blah, blah.  Bashing the Tea Party in my book is not a bad thing but if you are a purported non-biased, neutral, down-the-middle-of-the-road publicly funded radio station it is nothing short of catastrophic. At least that is what the Congressional Republicans are saying as some of them discuss pulling the plug on NPR’s funding.

Depending on who you believe, NPR gets anywhere from 2% to 16% public funding from various sources: the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and other federal, state and local sources.  NPR CEO’s have stated for years that hundreds of local stations would “go dark” without the public funds. I’m no expert on their funding but I do know that with public funding it means you have to please all of the people all of the time. An impossible task. You also have to please the politically correct police and every Republican on the planet. But, many Repubs don’t like NPR so that part is a lost cause.

The best thing NPR can do is quit pandering to the Republicans just for the money. Quit trying to feign interest in being totally unbiased when human beings are involved that have obvious opinions and biases. They should also drop the we are better than everyone else attitude because clearly with all these recent problems-they are not necessarily better just different. I like different and so do tons of NPR listeners and backers but they need to get off their high horse and call a spade a spade. Yes, they are more unbiased than most news entities out there but yes, they lean-to-the-left.

But most importantly, NPR stands for PUBLIC and without PUBLIC  like myself and millions of others who give money during their “pledge” drives there would be no shows. We give because of the on-air talent, people in the field and behind the scenes workers helping to produce shows. Many could care less about their CEO’s unless they are doing something stupid, which seems a common thing lately. Maybe it is time for NPR to pander to the masses that actually listen to them and quit pretending to be something they are not. They are a great liberal news entity with excellent reporters and writers. And, that’s not a bad thing.

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The 83rd Academy Awards with the ‘hip’ unfunny people

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The 83rd Academy Awards Program was supposed to appeal to a younger demographics. The hosting duo of Anne Hathaway and James Franco even joked about the ‘hip’ quotient ( Note to producers; if you have to tell us something is going to be hip-it’s not) The word joked was actually quite a stretch. I don’t know if the humor was lacking because of the writing, the delivery, the timing or the fact that these two hosts just didn’t get it. The Academy awards is not supposed to be a vaudeville act or open mike night at the comedy club.

The Academy Awards is supposed to be a big deal. So, I think big deal people should be at the helm. A host or hostess than can command the attention and respect of this crowd is what was needed and sorely lacking. These are, for the most part,  A list movie stars and they need to be entertained by an A list star.  In between the boredom and inappropriateness of some of the acceptance speeches and the awkward on stage moments (like Kirk Douglas), there needs to be a giant in the industry to sort of even-the-keel and smooth over the rough patches, preferably with humor.

I would call it stage presence and more. The host or hostess has to have been through it all in Hollywood. Paid his or her dues to be able to relate to this audience with authority. Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Jack Lemon, Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg and Ellen DeGeneres. They all had “it”.  It wasn’t just the humor, which was great when they all hosted but their peers, as well as much of the viewing public looked up to them because of their accomplishments. Were they hip?  I really don’t think most people would utter hip and Oscars in the same breath. 

I’m not saying Anne Hathaway isn’t a beautiful girl and she seemed pleasant and all smiles and appeared to try really hard. But it seemed forced and overly scripted and not her fault that producers Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer picked her and Franco to “Give the Oscars a facelift.” Franco didn’t seem to be trying too hard and it was obvious he was totally out of  his element. They both might be in the movies but are far from Hollywood Stars and even farther from being comedians. I guess this year, I felt the whole show lacked class.  And no matter how much money you pour into a televised awards show, you can’t buy class. You can evidently,  buy “hip” but just like a facelift, it doesn’t always work.

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