Saturday, March 27, 2010

"Something From The Two Major Food Groups...Corn Dogs and Nachos with Extra Cheese..."

George Carlin had a pretty good take on the whole "eating healthy" thing.

He said that if the nutritional types really wanted us to eat healthier, they'd come up with more appetizing names for the good stuff.

Because given the choice between "tofu" and "twinkie", which way do you think most people will go?

In that same spirit, I came across a fun online article from the guy who does the "Eat This, Not That" thing.

Here's a couple of his thoughts regarding the "unhealthiest" foods in the mall and the "healthy" alternative.

Worst Chinese Meal
Panda Express Orange Chicken with Fried Rice
970 calories
38 g fat (7.5 g saturated)
1,540 mg sodium

It’s unfortunate that this dish happens to be one of the most popular on Panda’s menu. Consider the recipe: Battered and fried, then coated in a sugary syrup. It’s like Colonel Sanders meets Willy Wonka. Pair with a scoop of fried rice and you’ve got a dish with serious flab-enhancing potential. Here’s a better survival strategy: Skip the rice altogether and choose steamed veggies instead. Then pick any entrĂ©e besides orange chicken.

Bonus tip: You already know to watch out for calories from food. But we consume about a quarter of our day’s calories in liquid form. Read
The 40 Best and Worst Beers to find out how that’s possible, and look for the upcoming Drink This, Not That! book, which shows you how to make the smartest choices in the entire beverage world.
Eat This Instead!

Panda Express Broccoli with Eggplant and Tofu460 calories30 g fat (4.5 g saturated)1,400 mg sodium

Worst Mall Drink
Jamba Juice Peanut Butter Moo’d (22 oz)
770 calories
20 g fat (4.5 g saturated)
108 g sugars

The scary thing about this 22-ounce shake is that you can consume nearly half a day’s worth of calories in 3 minutes of spirited sipping, all under the pseudohealthy banner of the sacred smoothie. What’s even scarier is you’ll be slurping up the sugar equivalent of 6 packs of peanut M&M’s, all while thinking you’re doing your body a favor. While at Jamba, stick to their impressive list of smoothies in the All Fruit and Light categories.

Bonus tip: For thousands of tips and tricks like this one,
download Eat This, Not That! to your iPhone. It’s like having your own personal nutritionist in your pocket wherever you go--with facts on more than 100,000 restaurant and supermarket foods.
Drink This Instead!Jamba Juice Mango Mantra (16 oz)150 calories0.5 g fat (0 g saturated)27 g sugars
SAVE 620 CALORIES AND 20 GRAMS OF FAT! Make this smart swap just a couple times a week and lose more than 15 pounds a year!

The article has some other can check them out here...

Good intentions notwithstanding, I find that as I get older, I'm less informed by these kinds of articles than I am amused.

First, there's that pesky common sense thing.

The more fat, grease, sugar, etc we eat, the less "good for us" it is.

I don't think you have to be a registered dietician to figure that one out.

Second, if all other information doesn't put the whole "eating at the food court" thing into perspective, I'm thinking that there's a pretty obvious clue right in front of our proverbial faces.

Two words, Benjamin.

Mall food.

Bon appetit.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

"...Catch A Falling Star......Tonight! On TMZ!..."

There's a song refrain pogo-ing around my synaptic gaps today.

"...fairy tales can come true/it can happen to you..."

The more pop music trivia wise amongst us will, naturally, offer that the line plays out "...when you're young at heart.."


The line didn't pop into my own noggin' in that context, though.

What I heard as the admittedly non-correct meterish, non-rhyming, non-sequiterish tag was " be careful what you wish for..."

For about the fourth time in as many weeks, I came upon a "news" story detailing one emotional travail or another of one tightly wound celebrity or another.

In this case, the paragon of unquestionable talent and questionable gender, Lady Gaga,

Who, so the story goes, has apparently begun the process of unraveling from the pulling and tugging at her psyche that apparently comes automatically with membership in the rich and famous club.

Not to make light of the dark side but, as the noted Motown quartet once offered, "'s the same old song..."

Of late, Lady Gaga.

And Susan Boyle.

Back in the day, Judy Garland.

And even backer in the day, Frances Farmer.


Doesn't matter.

The names change but the story remains the same.

At some point in the process, the wear and tear on the human nervous system, subjected to the admittedly inhuman stresses of celebrity, exacts its toll on said system, in a variety of forms, the most common being the familiar "collapse/breakdown".

Of course, it doesn't help if the celebrity takes the very first steps onto the yellow brick road in borderline institution worthy shape to begin with.

Or as our thesaurus challenged friends would describe them..."a wack job.."

At this point, in the sincere, if often seemingly sardonic, quest to be part of the solution and not the problem, I asked myself, "what can we do to help?"

The answer came pretty quick.

Not a damn thing.

Because the inescapable bottom line is that the inhuman stresses of celebrity inevitably and unavoidably come with the territory.

Put less verbosely...

If you don't want to get burned, don't become a firefighter.

If you don't want to get break a bone, don't become a slalom skier.

If you don't want to be thought of as a moron with no discernible ability to inspire, lead or organize, don't become Nancy Pelosi.

And if you don't want to subject yourself to the inhuman stresses of celebrity....

...all you have to do is follow the advice of an unlikely expert on the price you can expect to pay if your dreams of fame come true.

Harry S. Truman.

"...if you can't stand the heat....."

Leave it to a Midwesterner to tell you what Hollywood won't.

Monday, March 15, 2010

"...Good Night, Mr. Phelps..Mr Newton...Captain Oveur....."

The old saying is "be careful what you wish for..."

A valid variation on that might be "be careful what you're known for..."

A long time ago, pop legend Roy Orbison told me that when he wrote his songs, he was always cognizant of the fact that if they became hits, he would have to be singing them night after night after night for the rest of his career.

He was right.

Peter Graves, who just died at age 83, could likely relate to Roy's point of view.

Because not an obit that I've seen online or on air or in print has failed to include this sentence, in one form or another...

" known as Jim Phelps, the leader of the IMF Force in the classic 1960's-1970's TV series, Mission Impossible...'

True enough.

But while, from all appearances, Graves embraced his fame as the guardian of hundreds of self destructed tapes, he deftly managed to avoid being known as a one trick pony and created a resume to be envied , starting out in the 1950's as the dad on the Saturday morning show, "Fury" to his roles in a whole film buff's Rolodex of "so bad they're good" sci-fi movies ("It Conquered The World"..."Beginning of The End")...and, in later years, following the lead of his generational peer, Leslie Nielsen , he moved effortlessly from "serious actor" to "comedy icon" with his roles in "Airplane", etc.

Most recently, he did a wonderful turn as an oversexed octogenerian in an episode of "House".

Sixty years of success in a business where fifteen minutes is the standard ration issued from the fame and fortune spicket.

Talk about your impossible missions.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

..."Uh..Merci' For Nothing, There, Ben...."

Notice anything missing this morning?

Something precious and valuable was taken away from you, most likely while you were sleeping.

Something that the wise cherish, the unwise waste and those participating in one form of pleasure or another can't ever get enough of.

Don't bother calling and reporting it missing.

There's not a jimmied door, broken window, picked lock, rifled drawer or even a foreign fingerprint in your house to prove that any nefarious activity took place.

But it was yours.

And it's gone, baby.

Admittedly, a case can be made that it wasn't, in fact, stolen, that it was, rather, merely borrowed because just as the surely as the sun rises and sets, as night follows day, as your teenager will say or wear something today that will make you question your intelligence at having had kids, it will be returned to you.

And it will be put back just as it was taken from you.

Late at night, somewhere in that etheral space between the stroke of midnight and the wee hours of the morning, replaced in exactly the same spot it from which it was taken, again with no tangible or court worthy forensic evidence that it was ever even tampered with, let alone taken from your possession and held in a metaphorical escrow.

And it happens to everyone, with the exception of a select few who remain immune to the loss with no more complicated a defensive strategy than to choose to live in a few select places

No charges can be filed, no complaint officially lodged for this particular act of acquisition isn't prohibited or even discouraged by any statue, federal, state or local.

It is, in fact, mandated by law.

And because there is no violation of law and no charges filed, there can be no one accused, tried, convicted and/or punished for the action.

No one to hold accountable.

There is, though, something, and someone, to blame.


And Benjamin Franklin.

Seems that the zany old kite flyer shared an idea, some many years ago, that would save his friends in France some serious francs by cutting down on the number of candles they needed to burn each night to keep from having to curse the darkness.

The trick, Declaration-boy suggested, was to simply limit the duration of the darkness.

But while Ben was a pretty sharp tool, he was no Gene Roddenberry and messing around with the sun/earth rotation ratios was a scoche beyond even his considerable grasp.

So, he did the next best Star Trekkian thing.

He suggested a little ratchet wrenching of the space/time continuum.

And in what has to, admittedly, be a pretty ingenious example of getting around not being able to raise the bridge by lowering the river, he invented that which came into our homes and places of business last night and left with that aforementioned precious and valuable possession.

One hour of our lives.

And while Daylight Savings Time became, and remains, a very popular concept amongst the vast majority, a clever mind could still, I think, advocate convincingly that it is, in fact, a theft of sorts.

If only because that precious hour is, rather than plucked out of the day during business hours when each and all could view it as a extra bonus mini vacation, so to speak, taken from us, instead, in the dead of night, while we sleep....

...during our weekend.

Can't speak for you, but waking up Sunday morning to find that, through no fault of my own, I'm sixty minutes closer to Monday morning than usual leaves me feeling a little robbed.

And all because the French were too damn cheap to pop for a few extra candles.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

"...Think, Think, Think, Go for The Brain Burn, Baby..."

Mark Twain.

Will Rogers.

Dorothy Parker.

Bill Cosby.

Just a few of the folks who have ramped up the quality of our lives in the past hundred years, give or take, with their ability to infuse insight with humor, wisdom with wit.

A nutritious spoonful of sugar, so to speak.

There's another name I think deserves mention.

Dean Wormer.

For the beleagured head honcho of Faber University, in the must own film classic "Animal House", was never more spot on then when he spoke the immmortal phrase...

"Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son."

That flash of waxing both practical and poetic occurred to me today as I was reading a story about a young student being "bullied" by one of her teachers.

Or to be more precise...

Not reading a story about a young student being bullied by one of her teachers.

Explanation just ahead, but first....

Let's talk about fat.

Over the past couple of years, I have spent a fair amount of time on the air talking about the "epidemic" of obesity in America.

Not so much as a matter of heath as, hopefully, humor.

After all, my shows are more Dr. Demento than Dr. Phil.

And given that I just ended a two year stint in the southern U.S. state (jury is still out on that status, by the way) that leads the nation in both adult and child obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease, it seemed a no brainer to fire my witty weapon in that direction.

And give folks the skinny, as it were.


Boiled down to its simplest, though, the whole cause and effect thing shakes out this way.

People are getting fatter because they are eating more and doing less.

Kids are trans-fattingly replacing the playground with the Playstation.

And a lot of older folks think a treadmill is a factory where used tires are given a new life.

The end result, proved beyondashadowofadoubtingly, is a decline in physical wellness.

The lesson that seems to scream "obvious" while, at the same time, falling on deaf ears is that when we replace any kind of activity with inactivity, the result is inevitably atrophic.

Or as the less verbose, articulation challenged might offer....

Use it or lose it.

In this case, cholesterol 1, arteries nothing.

Now, it turns out, that the pattern, having done a pretty good job of corroding the physical , is turning its attention to the ultimate muscle.

No, not that muscle.


The brain, baby, the brain.

The same technological advances that brought us the Wii and Playstation and subtly parked us in front of the tube instead of behind the bicycle handlebars are now offering us a source of entertainment, information and, yes, even instruction that, while ostensibly beneficial, could very likely turn out to be detrimental.


And lest I be charged with anachronism and my theories summarily dismissed, let me add that I enjoy You Tube as much as the next guy, know what embedding is and how to use it and appreciate having an easy and economical means of recording memorable life events for future generations to enjoy.

Though I'm pretty sure that my great grandkids will be as bored with watching the gray hairs flip flopping around Cozumel in 2009 as I was watching the gray hairs Bermuda shortsing around Yellowstone Park in 1959.

As with guns, drugs and the Kardashians social lives, my problem with video aint so much with the what it is as with the how its used.

And the slow but sure increase in the use of video taking the place of print in our world.

Which brings us back to the story I didn't read about the young student being bullied by one of her teachers.

Because I didn't read it.

I watched the video.

On a news website.

Where I can still, from time to time, enjoy one of life's more nourishing pursuits.


Unfortunately, the opportunities seem to waning with each new cyber day.

More and more, the typography is being usurped by the videography.

And I'm not challenged to increase my ability to discern definition or ponder pronunciation.

I just looks at the picture and listens to the talkin'.

And in that same odd way that I just know I can hear my arteries clogging when I scarf down that taco bell grande while expertly juggling the Nintendo controller, I just know that I can hear my brain putting on a few pounds while I stare at the little screen, listen to the werdz....and....

....wotch the purdy piktures.....


Shake it off.

Note to self.

Pick up that attachable book stand for the treadmill on the way home tomorrow.

Because any expert will tell you that exercising both the body and the mind is key to quality of life.

I remember reading that somewhere.

And was so inspired by it that I went right out and bought the video.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

"...And The Oscar SHOULD Go To...."

Evidence to the contrary, I do pride myself on, at least, making the effort to be a man of few words.

Or if not a few, then at least the fewest number that will do to express the thought and/or opinion at any given time.

In that spirit, I'm a big fan of those who have mastered the art of sharing deep insight in just a few carefully chosen words or phrases.

For example, some years ago, a reviewer summed up the very first Kirk/Spock/McCoy and company big screen opus this way:

"Star Trek...The Motionless Picture".

And while his singing chops are clearly a matter of personal taste, Bob Dylan, at his peak, could conjure up pages of emotions in single lyric lines.

For example:

"I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes / then you'd know what a drag it is to see you..."

With this year's Academy Awared ritual looming, I found myself appreciating someone who was able to concisely wade through the sea of ink splashed on page after page in the cause of "predicting" who and for what, Oscar wise.

The articulate artist is a lady named Kate Torgovnick who writes for a fun Web site called The Frisky.

Here's how she sees the how the major awards will, and always do, shake out.

"...The Academy tends to be pretty predictable:
Best Actress generally goes to America's sweetheart (who later gets divorced);

Best Actor goes to the guy with the most previous nominations;

Best Supporting Actress goes to a breakout star;

and Best Supporting Actor goes to the creepy guy..."

Thank you ! And (four plus hours later...) good night!

The more vigilant among us will note that two major awards are left out of that list.

Best Director.

Best Picture.

Kate has a pretty witty theory about the Best Picture award in her article.

Check it out at your leisure.

Regarding the Director thing, though, I have my own theory.

Or opinion, to put the finer point on it.

They should do away with it.

And not because I think that film directors aren't more than deserving of recognition for their work.

Au contrare', mon mutual movie buff.

My "take" on it is that the award is, at best, disingenuous, at worst, absurd.

And the proof lurking in the pudding is the common sense answer to the following question.

How can a film be voted the very best picture of the entire year and the director of said film not be recognized as the best director of said film?

(HINT: If you're even a little perplexed, the key to the answer is the use of the word "director" in the question...)

Traditionally, the producers of the movie chosen best are the official recipients of the recognition and the sacred statuette.

The director might get to tag along on the walk of fame to the podium but, as in terms of individual acclaim, is left to fend for his or her self in their own category.

And to make matters worse, the Director award is handed out before the Picture award which, as we all know, is always the last, and supposedly most exciting and anticipated, award of the evening.

Or afternoon/evening/wee hours as is usually the case with this thing.

So year after year, too often, the director of the movie that gets chosen as Best Picture gets to tag along with the producers on the walk of fame to the podium and then stand there, best frozen "grateful" smile in place, listening to the producers drone on, while occasionally being distracted by the quick flash of glare coming from an Oscar being held in the audience.

In the lap of the winner of the Best Director award.

Producers are certainly key elements of any motion picture project.
But I think it not letting the cat out of the bag to divulge that their primary function, traditionally, is to secure funding and oversee the business side of the endeavor.

Creatively, the really smart producers know that they are about as needed or welcome as a backseat driver.

So giving the Best Picture award to the producers is not just a little like giving the Super Bowl trophy to the owner of the team instead of the coach whose direction got them there .

Oh. Wait. They do that, too.

Well, another blog, another day.

In the meantime, the Oscar fix requires only a clear grasp of the obvious.

Eliminate the Best Director category.

And the best director of the year is automatically the director of the film that is chosen Best Picture.

The director alone takes the walk of fame, graciously acknowledging the team that helped put it all together, but clearly accepting, and deserving, credit for being the captain on the bridge.

And the producers are free to be part of the post game pictures, celebrations, even ad nauseum TV tabloid interviews.

Hell, they can even touch the damn thing if they want.

Provided, of course, it's okay with the director.

After all, it's he or she who won it.