Saturday, February 21, 2009

"The Florist Thinks I Should Use A 9-Iron..."

This just in…

Obama’s approval numbers “remain high” although they have slipped from their highest point.

And most Americans would like to see him achieve legislative accomplishment in a more “bi-partisan fashion and not just because the Democrats have a majority in Congress.”

Well, there you go.

The American people have weighed in on the success/failure of the Obama presidency.

Which is one month old today.

Happy anniversary, there, Mr. Prez.

One month down, ninety five to go.

Or forty seven if the Republicans have anything to do with it.

And that’s as it should be.

This country is a republic and in a republic we choose people to represent our points of view in the hallowed halls of Congress.

And there shall always be, at a minimum, at least two sides to every point of view.

Admittedly, when the point of view in power is contrary to our own it can be pretty annoying.

But, I’ll take that over the alternative anytime.

The alternative is one point of view dictated to all with an iron fist, boot and/or military.

Think Hitler.
Or Kim Jong Il

Or your wife when she finally gets tired of your lazy ass staying parked on the couch watching ESPN all weekend.

Dissent and spirited discussion about it are the bedrock of the freedoms we enjoy.

And everyone, in this country, is absolutely and, without a moment’s question, entitled to his or her opinion.

So here’s my opinion.

Pollsters need to go away.
And get real jobs.

Let me try to share the madness that inspired the method.

Over the years, I, like you, have had my share of accomplishments.

For the sake of our chat here, let me pick one.


I have written essays, short stories, film and TV spec scripts, articles for magazines and periodicals and, of course, have blogged my little hoofies to the quick here for a little over a year or so.

(An anthology of said blogs, by the way, is in the works to be published in the coming weeks…tell friends and family and stay tuned….and now, back to our program…)

Here’s the point I know you’re patiently waiting for me to make.

I don’t make it a habit to ask the manager of the very well run Winn Dixie down the street if I should take out the third sentence of the fifth paragraph or if he thinks a strident tone will be effective in a piece than one that strikes a more conciliatory note.

And, quid pro quo, I don’t expect him/her to ask me if I think they should put the dairy section all the way into the four day by wagon train back of the store or not.

Obviously, we are both intelligent people.

And we could probably come up with respective opinions is asked for them.

But the act of asking for them is irrelevant.

As would be our answers.

He can’t know why I am constructing my written piece in the manner I am choosing.

I can’t know why I have to plan a long weekend just to get to the dairy section. (Even if I do, which I do, but only because I worked in the grocery business for a while way back when…but that’s another episode…)

We do what we do because we are involved in the day-to-day operations of our respective activities and we, and only we, have a complete and comprehensive perspective on what is required to get the job done.

I don’t want the pilot telling me how to write.

The pilot doesn’t want me telling him how to fly the plane.

I don’t want the doctor telling me how to keep my readers interested.

The doctor doesn’t want me telling him which gauge suture to use.

And those folks who stick the microphones in our faces and ask us to, essentially, do that would be of a whole lot more use if they would come up with some of more substance to fill the airwaves.

Like more Gilligan’s Island.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

"Just Ahead...Van McCoy's classic tribute to DC..."The Hustle"!

Bitching about government is like making fun of Paris Hilton.

It’s far too easy and obvious an activity.

So, this will be short and sweet.

Check out this information from an online story about the stimulus package.

Government oversight: Board to oversee stimulus bill spending will get $84 million to do the job. House bill allocated $14 million while the Senate bill called for $7 million. There is also more than $100 million more for various inspectors general in different agencies.

Veterans: Nearly all items for Veterans Affairs were reduced and the $2 billion the Senate wanted for VA construction was wiped out altogether.

Take a couple of seconds and read those two one more time.

Like you, I understand I am a civilian and can’t have a full grasp of what it takes to govern and/or administrate on a day-to-day basis.

As much as we would like to think so, two and two doesn’t necessarily add up to four when you are dealing with complicated issues.


Even the professionals will tell you “politics is perception.”

And here’s the perception.

They couldn’t find the money to improve services or facilities for the people who sacrifice life and limb to protect our way of life.

But they’ll spend 84 MILLION dollars merely to keep an eye on how the rest of the money gets spent.

And 100 MILLION dollars for “various inspectors general”.

They, I gather, would be those appointed to keep the eye on how the rest of the money gets spent.

Wouldn’t you love to know how much each one is going to make?

Given what I know about people who work for Federal agencies, let me offer you this:

I’ll bet the rest of the money I’ll make in my life against your one-dollar that each and every one of them will be bringing home a six figure salary, minimum.

As I said, bitching about government is too easy and obvious.

But I, and I imagine you, can’t help but be a little curious.

Oh, not about how those who work in those jobs do those jobs.

More about how they sleep at night.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

"I Think...Therefore, I Am Dad...."

Here’s something that might not flip your flapjacks this morning.

Sooner or later, you are, no matter how hard to resist, going to turn into your mother or your father.

Don’t matter a hoot in hell how hip or unique or even “mavericky” you perceive yourself to be, you are going to find yourself stepping up someday to accept the sash and scepter and even if the sounds coming out of your mouth are your own, the premise of the thoughts being expressed are going to be either paternal or maternal.

It’ll most likely sneak up on you, catching you off guard, even knocking a little wind right out of you, the first time the realization dawns that you have crossed some line from the horizon scanning of your youth to the wistful look back over your shoulder that comes with age and experience.

And there’s a real good chance that the first time you realize it, it will sound something like this…

“In my day…”

Or something to that effect.

Although I’m sure you’ll find some way to be hip, unique or even mavericky about it.


I’ve been having those little moments for years.

And, much like herpes, you don’t so much get rid of them as you simply learn to live with it.

Matter of fact, I had a little moment this morning.

When I read this news story…

CNN) -- Craggy-faced film, television and stage actor James Whitmore has died at 87, the Los Angeles County, California, Sheriff's Department confirmed Saturday.

Details of his death and funeral arrangements were not available.

Whitmore notably portrayed Harry Truman, Will Rogers and Theodore Roosevelt in one-man stage shows and created memorable characters in many movies and TV shows, including "The Twilight Zone."

According to entertainment Web site, Whitmore won a Tony award in 1948 for his gritty Broadway portrayal of an Army sergeant in "Command Decision" but was replaced by Van Johnson in the film version.

Whitmore won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in the 1949 film "Battleground." He was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar in 1976 for "Give 'Em Hell, Harry," the film version of his one-man show about Truman.

The actor won an Emmy in 2000 for his performance as Raymond Oz in a three-episode arc on the ABC legal drama "The Practice," according to

Movie fans may remember his subtle portrayal of aging prison inmate Brooks Hatlen in 1994's "The Shawshank Redemption" with Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman.

He played U.S. Navy Adm. William F. Halsey in the World War II epic "Tora! Tora! Tora!" and was an imperious ape in the 1968 classic "Planet of the Apes."

Whitmore looked natural in cowboy boots and hat, appearing in such TV series as "Bonanza," "The Virginian" and "Gunsmoke."

He also did commercials for Miracle-Gro plant foods.

According to, Whitmore was born in 1921 in White Plains, New York. He was married four times: twice to Nancy Mygatt, for four years in the '70s to actress Audra Lindley, and since 2001 to actress Noreen Nash.

He was the father of three children, including actor-director James Whitmore Jr.

Now, the sharpest and brightest of my regular readers are already waiting to see what point, beside the obvious, I’m about to make here.

The obvious, of course, being that with the passing of yet another actor/actress, etc who played a role in my childhood (I’ve included the clip of the Twilight Zone episode mentioned above that I recall vividly from said childhood), I’m obviously doing a whole lot more looking back over my shoulder and less scanning the horizon in front of me.

Ergo, I have become (have been for a while) my parent(s).

Uh, actually, no.

My point is that here’s a man who had an acclaimed and very public life of over seventy years and never ONCE appeared in a tabloid, be it print, radio or TV version, because he had been taped berating his young child on a voice mail or had fallen in love with another man’s wife on a movie set or done one or more stints in rehab while he struggled with his drug/alcohol/sex/weight problem(s) or been photographed getting out of a car at a premiere while obviously wearing no panties.

Hell, he even managed to have four marriages, including two to the same woman and STILL didn’t make the Enquirer, Star or Access Hollywood.

He was a stage, TV and movie star whose career was alive and well for well over a half a century and I’m willing to bet all the money in my pocket against all the money in your pocket that three out of four people reading this piece will be heading to Google simply to find out who the hell this guy was.

A celebrity who lived a discreet and dignified private life.

James Whitmore.

A guy who gave me a big fat “I have become my parent” moment this morning.

Because right next to the obit was yet another story about Amy Winehouse.

And the first thought that popped into my head when reading about her?

“In my day…”

"Thank Ya'll..Now, For My Next Number...Some Perspective On World Affairs..."

My guess is that Tim McGraw is a pretty nice guy.

And his wife, Faith Hill, offers up a positive vibe, as well.

In fact, I remember meeting Faith when she was first getting started and I found her to be sincerely cordial and sweet in a non-sticky way.

So, for the record, my instincts are that Mr. and Mrs. McGraw are nice people you and I would enjoy having as friends as neighbors.

Having said that…

Well, come on, if you know me at all you knew there was going to be a “having said that…”

I haven’t changed my mind about the McGraws.

But this morning, I heard Tim, for about fifteen seconds, on a radio interview show and what he said reminded me of something I’ve wanted to say, for a long time, to a number of those who make their living entertaining us with song.

Shut up and sing.

In fairness to Tim, he was only answering the question that was asked of him.

Which is, I offer you, the core of the problem.

Not the answering.
The asking of the question in the first place.

But that’s another chorus and verse.

Back to this morning’s moment.

The question was one of those inane interrogatories that need to be permanently prohibited, by statute, if necessary, from the list of questions inevitably asked of celebrities.

And I didn’t really hear the whole question but I know, from the answer, what the first five words were, bet the farm.

“What do you think about…”

The general topic was world affairs and/or the state of the economy because Tim’s answer applicable to same.

“…I think in this difficult time, in the world where we live and with all the struggles that we’re experiencing in the country right now, that it’s important for us to take stock of what we have, show our thanks for the blessings that we………………”

It went on from there for a few more seconds.
Yada, yada, yada.

Tim McGraw is unquestionably entitled to his opinion.

And, God bless that zany Constitution, unquestionably entitled to express it.

But morning crankiness, not to mention basic human envy, notwithstanding, I think it fair to say that I’m not alone in being totally weary of hearing what wealthy celebrities have to say about the “struggles that we’re experiencing…” et al.

First of all, I don’t really shell out the twenty five bucks for the CD, the hundred bucks for the concert seat (or grass on the hill, as it were) and/or the fifty bucks for the T-shirt (only FIFTY percent cotton, mind you) in exchange for the geopolitical/sociological opinion of the celebrity whose name graces the CD, concert ticket and/or T shirt. (Actually, I don’t really shell out any of it at all, but you get my drift)

Second, I think the operative word in Tim’s answer is “we’re”.

As in “the struggles that we’re experiencing…”

Having a hard time finding good help at one of the three homes, there, Timster?

No matter what the “oh, you’re just a curmudgeonly misanthrope, dude,” segment of my audience here might think, I really do cheer for people like Tim and Faith, who have gone after, and achieved, the American dream.

You go, guys.

But until either or both of you has to “struggle” as you make the choice between buying groceries or paying the light bill while trying to find affordable day care for your three girls because neither one of you can afford to give up your second, or third, jobs, spare us any suggestion that we count our blessings.

Shut up and sing.