Category Archives: opinion

St. Patrick’s Day: My Top Childhood Memories

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Our Irish surname was all our family needed to wear over-the-top green on St. Patrick’s Day, with little regard for appropriateness. It mattered little that we were off to school or the dentist, my father scoped out our attire hinting at times that the green quotient could be kicked-up a notch. My memories that are etched in green stone include:

1. My green hair fiasco: I wish I could say it probably happens to everyone at some time in their life, but of course, that would only be true if you were trying to impress your father with kelly green hair on St. Patrick’s Day. These were the days when primary colored hair was not at all fashionable and actually considered weird. The fiasco part came when I tried to wash out the supposed temporary rinse. It wasn’t.

2. Everyone loves a parade: The Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade when I was a kid had a pretty straightforward route. No zigs or zags or hairpin turns just straight down a long street for a few miles. I was marching in the parade and trying to Irish Dance when we would stop. There were so many parade participants and different groups, I lost my parents for a short while even though they were walking alongside the troupe as we marched.  When my group got to the end of the line there was a little confusion and for a few minutes my parents lost sight of me–you can only imagine that fear as a parent. We did quickly find each other but I was never allowed to be in the parade again. My mom said something about not being able to take the strain on her heart and my dad mumbled something quietly to my mom about hell freezing over but I heard it.

3. Send in the clown: Nobody necessarily likes to see their parent dressed like a clown–unless of course, that is their occupation. As kids, my sister and I used to cringe as we witnessed my father go off to work on St. Patrick’s Day in his bright green blazer, green pants and a green tipped carnation in his lapel. Of course, now as an adult, I would give anything to see my dad dressed once again in his green garb.

4. The green river: One year on St. Patrick’s Day our family went downtown so we could witness first-hand just how green the Chicago river really was. We were able to get really close to the river and I noticed that it really looked rather dirty and murky, with maybe a tinge of green. I guess as I kid, when I heard they turned the river green, I was expecting a river of bright green Jell-O. I think they have much improved this today.

5. The family bar: Our family used to go to a neighborhood bar on St. Patrick’s Day and eat corned beef and cabbage. I don’t remember that I even particularly liked the meal, but as kids we got to go into an actual bar and I thought that was really cool. We got to play pinball and a bowling game, plus we got to see what the big deal was about bars. We quickly figured out it was the popcorn machine and the kiddie cocktails, and some of the adults were even drinking green beer. Imagine that, we thought, who would drink that?

6. Since I lived in Chicago in a predominantly Irish/ Catholic neighborhood we had to go to church before school on St. Patrick’s Day. I thought this absurd but the nuns and priests used any excuse possible to get us to mass. They said it was because St. Patrick was a saint and we had to go. But then eventually, many of the saints got thrown under the bus because the Church claimed they weren’t “real” saints after all. My personal favorite, St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers was taken off the Universal Church Roman Calendar but I ignore this as I do most Church doctrine. I figure I could have slept an extra hour at home on St. Patrick’s day instead of sleeping through the mandatory mass.

7. The few non-Irish kids in our neighborhood didn’t really get the “green thing.” Sometimes they even tried to make fun of our outfits or corned-beef-and-cabbage dinners. I didn’t even like cabbage back then but I still stuck up for our Irish traditions, claiming our Irish soda bread was far better than their Italian bread, Polish sour dough rye or whatever they ate.

8. And of course as kids we heard the Irish sayings, many of which we didn’t understand such as “May the road rise to meet you.” What? It simply means; wishing you much success. But, Erin Go Bragh would bring giggles to our Irish faces as we struggled to figure out who the heck Erin was and why were they talking about her bra?

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McDonald’s Thinks Leadership Not Product or Culture, Cause of Sales Decline

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The first McDonald’s in Illinois  circa 1955 was constructed in Des Plains, a Chicago suburb

 

I have a crystal ball here on my desk that predicts McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson stepping down and  their replacing him with Steve Easterbrook, the company’s “chief brand officer” will make no difference what-so-ever on increasing their bottom line. Nope, the new branding guy won’t really be able to convince us (the general public) that their luke warm burgers, rubbery chicken nuggets, their pretend lattes and everything under-the-sun- wrapped in a, you know, wrap, is really good food. Or even a facsimile. We know too much.

We’ve learned “fast food” doesn’t have to taste mediocre or not fresh. We’ve learned fast food doesn’t have to sacrifice taste to be healthy. And some of us have learned that we don’t have to give our hard-earned money to companies that we feel don’t treat their employees fairly by handing out low wages and/or shorter hours so they don’t have to pay benefits. They should really just hire me to run a focus group of “regular people” and they could save themselves a ton of money on executives and pass that money down to the “real” employees that do the work. Surely they understand “trickle down” right?

Sales at McDonald’s have been declining since 2013 so I assume Thompson will be the fall guy. His salary and perks are in the millions so gee, I’m sure he’ll land on his feet. Unlike many McDonald workers who can barely make ends meet and end up being subsidized by taxpayers in the form of food stamps, healthcare subsidies etc. when we know the CEO’s are walking away with golden parachutes and we are in essence subsidizing McDonald’s.  Could some of us just  be plain mad at McDonald’s and their apparent greed? Of course, but we also know we have many good options.

Many of us have been turning to chains like Panera, Five Guys, Smashburgers, Chipotle, In n’ Out Burger, and Chick-fil-A to name a few. These chains are not trying to be all things to all people. They specialize in fresh, made to order, reasonably priced food. What they prepare they do well. You won’t find 100 items on a Five Guys menu. They make fantastic burgers and hand cut fresh french fries. There is always a line and you don’t mind waiting a short time because you know it is being made fresh for you.  McDonald’s has up to 100 items on its menu and when you go to the drive-thru you better not take the time to read it because in three seconds they are asking you what you want.

But taste and freshness aside, McDonald’s recent 21% drop in profit in the most recent quarter compared to last year at the same time ( this according to their own stats) isn’t a fluke.  While they are busy playing around with their menu and firing CEO’s our culture has changed to putting our money where our mouths are, literally and figuratively. But McDonald’s and their so-called McFamily culture doesn’t really have a clue.

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Will Old Acquaintance Be Forgot? Or Not?

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When I was a kid my folks occasionally went to a neighborhood bar on New Year’s Eve.  You know the kind, where everybody knew your name, your kid’s names, what you drove, where you went to school/church and if you ate meat on Fridays. They always came back before midnight to ring in the New Year with us kids. They weren’t big party people and my dad used to say New Year’s  Eve was amateur night, so if they went out it was only for a few hours and it was close by.

They entrusted our care to a babysitter that lived across the street from us. We thought she was older than dirt but who knows? We were just kids.  We knew she came from “the old country” but we didn’t know which one. When we asked my dad he just said it’s shaped like a boot. We didn’t get that at all so we figured it was his attempt at a joke. She always brought her knitting in a fold-up knitting bag and sat on a chair and I swear, she never moved. I mean she moved her arms and knitting needles but I don’t remember her ever rising from the chair or interacting with us. Not that we cared. We could watch TV on the four available channels without input from our dad, who typically ruled the TV with a nod of his head. Yes for Bonanza and Lawrence Welk,  no for the Untouchables (for us not him).

We were always already dressed for bed, so I never understood why the babysitter was even there? I guess to watch us watch TV and get our own snacks. My sister and I pretty much ran the show on deciding what to watch and what we were going to do but we always had a dissenter in the group; my brother Kevin. He never wanted to watch what we wanted to watch and we never liked his choices either. He was a real channel flipper. This was in the days when you actually had to walk up to the TV and manually turn a knob. Yeah, it was hard work but sitting on my brother so he wouldn’t keep turning the channel was much harder. Normally, an adult would intervene  but I think the “babysitter” must have thought we were playing a game or something and went back to knitting her 100th pair of slipper socks.

On one particular New Year’s Eve while waiting for my folks to come home just before midnight and give us their noisemakers and hats they invariably got from the bar, I heard a loud racket outside about 10 minutes before midnight. I stepped outside on our porch and I saw all seven of the McGurk kids banging pots and pans and making a hell of a lot of noise and it wasn’t even midnight yet. I ran into our kitchen and grabbed some pots and pans and of course, not to be outdone, I started banging the pots together and on the metal railing and even on the cement porch. In the meantime the folks came home, we all yelled happy New Year and my dad walked the babysitter back across the street where presumably, she had a giant boot hand-knitted in her room somewhere or that was my vision anyway.  The next morning my mom pulled out a pot to make Cream of Wheat, my sister Diane’s favorite but the pot was so dented up it wouldn’t lay flat on the burner. My mom started laughing–lucky for me.

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The Ghost of Print Magazines Past

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Sometimes my life flashes before my eyes in glossy form. Just like in the pages of a magazine, or more accurately, the pages of magazines past. The magazines that are gone but not forgotten, at least by me. I don’t just mean Look magazine or Life that everyone’s mother and grandmother read I mean the important magazines that got me through my teen years like Teen and Seventeen. The magazines that told me what I should be wearing even though I either wasn’t allowed to or couldn’t afford to comply. The magazines that showed me how to apply make-up before I was even allowed to purchase a mascara wand. Yeah, those magazines. They are all Kaput.

We didn’t have a lot of extra money as a kid but whenever Teen magazine came out my mom would come home from the grocery store with it tucked into her paper grocery bag. I would thank her profusely and race up to my bedroom, flop on my bed and read it very slowly, savoring each page. I would read about the latest teen idol, music, movies, fashion etc. It was the best 35-cent entertainment in my world.

While the older crowd was flipping the pages of the Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, Better Homes and Gardens, McCalls and Ladies’Home Journal (all defunct) I had moved on to Mad magazine for my humor and Cosmopolitan for the love, sex and how to marry a millionaire stuff. For really covert stuff my sister and I used to visit a friend’s summer cottage and find such delights as True Confessions, True Story, True Romances etc. hidden under chair cushions so the “kids” wouldn’t read them. These we felt were quite interesting if not necessarily believable despite the “True” title. We however, thought they were great summer reading. Of course at some point I grew up and started reading news magazines, literary magazines, women’s magazines and of course, decorating and home magazines since I loved DIY decorating. But, many of them have died a print death with some resurrecting online. I mean, I scan a website but I read a magazine.

So, while “foodies” still mourn the demise of Gourmet Magazine you can get your recipes online at a million different sites complete with pictures that you can’t really feel between your fingers but hey, that’s digital progress. Due to the recession (the one experts said we weren’t having) the last few years, general interest magazines were waning as advertisers were falling by the wayside and/or looking for new places to put their ad revenue. Niche marketing magazines whether online or in print seems to be what’s popular today.

If you write, bike, hike or draw tattoos a magazine exists for you. Some are print but many now have an online presence. Demographics have changed and so have the devices changed that bring us our news/entertainment information. I know the answer is that the print world and digital world should mesh. But sometimes I just like to open a magazine that I don’t have to connect to, download, worry about batteries or software glitches or all that cloud stuff, and just throw the damn magazine in my purse and be on my way.

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July 14, 2014 · 2:24 pm

Summer In Chicago 1950’s style

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I grew up in the city although it didn’t seem all that urban to me. What I though urban meant as a kid didn’t connect in my kid-brain with the tree-lined streets, lush lawns of Marian Blue grass or Creeping Bent and the Georgians, Cape Cods and Ranch style brick homes of my neighborhood.

My neighborhood was a direct result of much-needed housing for those returning from WWII who married, started having kids, in many cases lots of kids and yes, everybody knew our name. It was the law of the land I guess so our neighbors could tell our parents that we walked on their grass or tried to climb their tree or walked between parked cars or God forbid, rode our bikes in the street. We didn’t know it then of course, but we were the baby boomers.

It was a working class neighborhood for the most part with a few professionals thrown in for good measure. You could always tell who made a little more money, their houses were just a little bit fancier than the rest.  Oh yeah, everyone was Catholic. Some even wore their Catholicism on their front lawns, in the form of statues. These were usually the Italians, the Irish thought such outdoor displays tacky yet every room in their houses claimed enough crucifixes, rosary beads, holy cards, holy medals, holy statues and palms from Palm Sundays past to outfit a new church. Tacky? In many cases overkill too, but I’m Irish so I can say such things.

Everyone had a front porch or as some called it a front stoop. Folks would sit on it and talk, or watch kids play or read the daily metro newspaper. Lawn furniture? I never saw anyone with lawn furniture, not even on their lawn. Lawn furniture was up at my grandparents cottage. It was hard and metal and the back was shaped like a shell. But, in the city we sat on the cement porch.

Everyone played outside all day almost every day, especially in the summer. We found plenty to do with bats and balls, Hula Hoops, jump ropes, roller skates, chalk, dolls, trucks and toy guns. Some of us had dancing lessons or organized baseball or softball but we weren’t carted around daily by our parents so we would have stuff to do. The neighborhood was safe, we didn’t always lock the doors and we played in the alley with marbles because they would roll better. When the streetlights came on we knew we had to go inside because well, just because that was the unwritten rule for anyone that wasn’t a big kid.

My sister and I were going to take a trip back to the old neighborhood last week to see what our old house looked like now. She and my brother had been back more recently than me and of course we keep tabs on it through the news. I’m no spring chicken and I was worried about what we might see or encounter even in broad daylight. I figured two old ladies, even in a car could look like an easy mark. She agreed. We figured maybe we should spend our twilight years remembering the good times in a great neighborhood, rather than face the reality of toy guns that have turned into real guns. Alley games have now been replaced by drug deals and sitting on your front porch can make you a gang target even if you never met a gang member in your life. The streetlights rarely go on as many of them have been shot out and now what I thought urban meant as a kid is a far seedier, grittier, unsafe version of reality for my old neighborhood than what was in my mind’s eye as city life.  My old Chicago neighborhood is like a war zone and I can only hope and pray the good guys win.

My brother sent me this DVD;  http://amzn.to/1qzaaRz called Chicago, the Boomer Years. I think you can only get it used on Amazon as the PBS Chicago channel sells it for much more new.  It sure is a riot to watch if you are a boomer. I am an Amazon affiliate so I get a small commission if you purchase through my link.  My brother said he sent it because he remembers me and my sister wearing funny hats to church and saw some just like ours in the DVD. They were like a scarf with flower petals and we thought we were quite fashionable  little kids in the 1950’s.

 

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July 7, 2014 · 11:07 am

Thanks Dad, For Holding My Hand Through Life

I grew up in the “wait until your father get’s home” era. Even as a kid I found it unfair (not just for me) but for my Dad who just worked a 10-hour day and would walk through the door and have to punish one of us (usually me because I was the one with the big mouth) without having  been through the supposed crime/event/misdeed to judge for himself. He went strictly on my mother’s story. I found this ludicrous, and said so on a few occasions. I used the word unfair of course because if I used the word ludicrous he would know I had been in the basement reading his book-of-the-month-club books that he insisted were for adults and not kids. He had no idea how books about submarines and WWII increased my vocabulary. Then my dad would tell me that life wasn’t fair and blah, blah, blah and go to my room for a while and think about what I had done/said etc. I would usually write an apology because even as a kid I expressed myself better in writing.

My dad wasn’t one to yell, I never heard him swear ever and he was just as calm as anything as he glanced up from his newspaper to tell me to take off the eye makeup “I looked liked a streetwalker.” He was however, observant. We disagreed of course, especially in my teens when I was trying to spread my wings and I felt he was trying to clip them. I can still hear the old “As long as you are under my roof…and because I said so, that’s why…” These types of statements were the end of the road. We never had yelling matches or even loud disagreements, I was allowed to express myself but it was really an exercise in futility. If he did have a change of heart on something it was usually due to my mom’s influence. This all seemed perfectly normal for that era as I look back on it and it was normal for most of my friends as well. Yeah, I respected my dad but I now realize, because he was who he was, he taught me to respect others and most importantly myself.

When I won my very first, first place award from the Illinois Press Association for an editorial I wrote years ago, it was my dad who drove a couple of hours and surprised me by walking into the newspaper office where I worked.  After introducing himself to the receptionist he said he would like to speak to the award winning editor.

100_0287 The whole newsroom got the biggest kick out of that.  As I get closer and closer to the age that my dad died, I find myself thinking more and more about him, especially of course on Father’s Day. I now wish I would have paid a lot more attention to some of his  blah, blah, blah stuff that I used to let go in one ear and out the other. Thanks dad, for telling me not to worry about being lousy at math and science because you knew I had common sense and perseverance, you were right. It has served me well. And thanks dad for holding my hand all through life even when I didn’t think I needed it, I still knew it was there.

 

 

 

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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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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.

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.

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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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