Category Archives: hot topics
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!
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.
I don’t necessarily judge a book by its cover but this book; “Idiot America: How Stupidity Became A Virtue, in the Land of the Free” caught my attention by the title alone. You can purchase it here: http://amzn.to/1pqKSpH at Amazon, or I’m sure other places as well. It was on the New York Times Bestseller list when it first came out but quite frankly, I rarely pick books by their rather snooty or in many cases laughable lists that have movie stars that can’t write at #1 for about 5 minutes or pop stars at 21 writing biographies when they haven’t really lived, so NYT lists are pretty much useless to me. Anyway this book was funny and sad at the same time and I felt very, very true about our land of the free and the brave and the stupid. I am an Amazon affiliate so I receive a small commission if you purchase through my link.
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.
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.
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…
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
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. )
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?
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.
You can purchase the 50 Shades trilogy at Amazon; http://amzn.to/1muYQuC and pass it around to your friends. I’m an affiliate so I get a very small commission if you click through my site and purchase. I’m sure used copies are available as well.