Category Archives: current news

Is Santa Black, White Or Should It Be A 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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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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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.

(Just in case you’ve never seen You’ve Got Mail, my favorite movie, you can get it here; http://amzn.to/1nmIm8R . I am an Amazon affiliate so I receive a small commission on anything you purchase through my link. )

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