Sunday, June 29, 2014

"...We're Looking For Someone With A Winning Smile, A Way With People...And Very Limber and Flexible Shoulder Muscles..."

There's a new dance sensation sweeping the nation.

And, as the kids like to offer, it's going viral, baby.

In it's more playful moments, it can actually appear to be cute, charming even a little coquettish.

But in it's more often than not usage these days it's simply, at best, annoying and, at worst, infuriating.

So listen everybody /  there's a brand new drug
makin' people apathetic/ till they do the shrug /
do the shrug

Ah, the shrug.

Not familiar with this latest massively manifested move?

Sure you are.

Think back, pilgrim.

You walked up to the hilariously, obviously satirically named customer service desk at your local big box store and spoke thusly....

"Hi, I want to return these __________"

"Uh, do you have a receipt?"

"Sure do. Here it is."

"Oh, okay. Oh, uh, I can't take these back."

"Oh, really. And why not?"

"Says right here on the bottom of the receipt that all returns must be made within three working minutes of one working day after purchase."

"Well, surely a bright, engaging young hilariously, obviously satirically named customer service representative can see that that policy is, well, just silly."

Then comes the shrug / she's doin the shrug.

This buoyant little be-bop even works when you can't actually see it.

"Hi, I'm trying to find out why my cable bill has me charged with fourteen viewings of  "John Carpenter's Hamlet starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, Rob Kardashian and Nancy Allen" when I know better than to EVER get near a button that might even accidentally have me ordering "John Carpenter's Hamlet starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, Rob Kardashian and Nancy Allen". Could you help me?"

"I'm sorry you've having a problem with that and I can help you today. Could I get the last four numbers of your Social?"

"- - - - "

"Thank you for that information. Could I ask you to please hold for a moment while I bring up your account and verify that you are not a member of any subversive organization, do not subscribe to the teachings of Buddah, Islam or Dr. Oz and that you are, in fact, who you say you are?"

"Uh, sure."

"Thank you for that permission."

A period of time now begins, usually running anywhere from three to eleven minutes, depending on vendor, product and/or your truthfulness about your membership in any subversive organization."

"Thank you for holding. According to our information, you actually ordered this particular movie thirty six times but since you are a loyal customer, we discounted you twenty two times and only charged you for the fourteen on your bill. Is there anything else I can help you with today?"

"Seriously, you're going to charge me for fourteen viewings of something I didn't order at all?"

then comes the shrug/ he's doin the shrug.

I honestly haven't been able to figure out if this insidious little response reflex is about incompetence on the part of those who engage in it or simply some kind of tragic neurological manifestation of the overload they, personally, suffer given the volume of customers they must deal with on a daily basis because of the rise in crappy products and/or service in the first place.

Either way, it's a total buzzkill for those of us who stop by the counter or jump on the line, each time filled with a fresh optimism that whoever greets on the other end of either venue will wash our problem away with a zeal and zing that makes OxyClean look like a waste of time.

And, frankly, underneath it all, I really think there's something else going on here.

The shrug is more than just a sloughing off of intention to actually affect any assistance, restitution and/or repair.

It's really becoming the internationally recognized symbol for "I can't really be bothered."

A non verbal edition of the time honored "look, just get off my ass and suck it up, okay?"

Because great customer service is perilously close to becoming a sixty two point Scrabble score oxymoron.

And while there's really no excuse for their behavior, I can totally see a reason why these shruggers shrug in the direction of us shruggees.

In large measure, because so often even those well meaning CSR's who valiantly lift our problem up to their own higher power are often stymied with the shake and shimmy of the supervisor shrug.

Somewhere, sooner or later, up the line, far too often, any potential solution is stymied by the shrug.

Ah, the shrug.

What's next in the evolution of consumer assistance?

Who can say?

Except to note that just as the foxtrot gave way to the twist that gave way to the jerk that gave way to the hully gully......

...the "happy to help" gave way to the "hmm, not sure" that has given way to.....the shrug.

Annoying, frustrating, even infuriating.

But, in all fairness, not as bad as what lurks just beneath the surface of that shrug.

The middle finger.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

"...Those Who Have Been Longing To Punch Her Out Have Probably Moved On To A Desire To Soccer...."

Thank you, Ann Coulter.

I finally realize what has been bugging me for a long time.

This past week, the darling of the demonic demagogues offered up the following opine as regards the game of soccer and America's current passionate embrace of the World Cup matches.

I've held off on writing about soccer for a decade — or about the length of the average soccer game — so as not to offend anyone. But enough is enough. Any growing interest in soccer can only be a sign of the nation's moral decay.

• Individual achievement is not a big factor in soccer. In a real sport, players fumble passes, throw bricks and drop fly balls — all in front of a crowd. When baseball players strike out, they're standing alone at the plate. But there's also individual glory in home runs, touchdowns and slam-dunks.

In soccer, the blame is dispersed and almost no one scores anyway. There are no heroes, no losers, no accountability, and no child's fragile self-esteem is bruised. There's a reason perpetually alarmed women are called "soccer moms," not "football moms."

Do they even have MVPs in soccer? Everyone just runs up and down the field and, every once in a while, a ball accidentally goes in. That's when we're supposed to go wild. I'm already asleep.

• Liberal moms like soccer because it's a sport in which athletic talent finds so little expression that girls can play with boys. No serious sport is co-ed, even at the kindergarten level.

• No other "sport" ends in as many scoreless ties as soccer. This was an actual marquee sign by the freeway in Long Beach, California, about a World Cup game last week: "2nd period, 11 minutes left, score: 0:0." Two hours later, another World Cup game was on the same screen: "1st period, 8 minutes left, score: 0:0." If Michael Jackson had treated his chronic insomnia with a tape of Argentina vs. Brazil instead of Propofol, he'd still be alive, although bored.

Even in football, by which I mean football, there are very few scoreless ties — and it's a lot harder to score when a half-dozen 300-pound bruisers are trying to crush you.

• The prospect of either personal humiliation or major injury is required to count as a sport. Most sports are sublimated warfare. As Lady Thatcher reportedly said after Germany had beaten England in some major soccer game: Don't worry. After all, twice in this century we beat them at their national game.

Baseball and basketball present a constant threat of personal disgrace. In hockey, there are three or four fights a game — and it's not a stroll on beach to be on ice with a puck flying around at 100 miles per hour. After a football game, ambulances carry off the wounded. After a soccer game, every player gets a ribbon and a juice box.

• You can't use your hands in soccer. (Thus eliminating the danger of having to catch a fly ball.) What sets man apart from the lesser beasts, besides a soul, is that we have opposable thumbs. Our hands can hold things. Here's a great idea: Let's create a game where you're not allowed to use them!

• I resent the force-fed aspect of soccer. The same people trying to push soccer on Americans are the ones demanding that we love HBO's "Girls," light-rail, Beyonce and Hillary Clinton. The number of New York Times articles claiming soccer is "catching on" is exceeded only by the ones pretending women's basketball is fascinating.

I note that we don't have to be endlessly told how exciting football is.

• It's foreign. In fact, that's the precise reason the Times is constantly hectoring Americans to love soccer. One group of sports fans with whom soccer is not "catching on" at all, is African-Americans. They remain distinctly unimpressed by the fact that the French like it.

• Soccer is like the metric system, which liberals also adore because it's European. Naturally, the metric system emerged from the French Revolution, during the brief intervals when they weren't committing mass murder by guillotine.

Despite being subjected to Chinese-style brainwashing in the public schools to use centimeters and Celsius, ask any American for the temperature, and he'll say something like "70 degrees." Ask how far Boston is from New York City, he'll say it's about 200 miles.

Liberals get angry and tell us that the metric system is more "rational" than the measurements everyone understands. This is ridiculous. An inch is the width of a man's thumb, a foot the length of his foot, a yard the length of his belt. That's easy to visualize. How do you visualize 147.2 centimeters?

• Soccer is not "catching on." Headlines this week proclaimed "Record U.S. ratings for World Cup," and we had to hear — again about the "growing popularity of soccer in the United States."

The USA-Portugal game was the blockbuster match, garnering 18.2 million viewers on ESPN. This beat the second-most watched soccer game ever: The 1999 Women's World Cup final (USA vs. China) on ABC. (In soccer, the women's games are as thrilling as the men's.)

Run-of-the-mill, regular-season Sunday Night Football games average more than 20 million viewers; NFL playoff games get 30 to 40 million viewers; and this year's Super Bowl had 111.5 million viewers.

Remember when the media tried to foist British soccer star David Beckham and his permanently camera-ready wife on us a few years ago? Their arrival in America was heralded with 24-7 news coverage. That lasted about two days. Ratings tanked. No one cared.

If more "Americans" are watching soccer today, it's only because of the demographic switch effected by Teddy Kennedy's 1965 immigration law. I promise you: No American whose great-grandfather was born here is watching soccer. One can only hope that, in addition to learning English, these new Americans will drop their soccer fetish with time.



First, a necessary disclaimer.

I'm not a big fan of soccer. But it should be noted that I've never really been much of a sports fan in general.

I can enjoy a good game with the best of them but my interests, as a rule, tend to run in other directions.

To each his, her and/or their own.

That said, here's some random thoughts as regards our always amazing Ann's soccer slant.

Let's see.

An internationally recognized sport, popular in countries all around the world.

An opportunity for Americans to be a competitive and spirited contributor to a global activity.

An activity that, for the most part, injects positivity and sportsmanship, even worldwide camaraderie into a global culture often dehydrated from the lack of the cool, refreshing waters of positivity, sportsmanship, even worldwide camaraderie.

An activity that, dare we whisper it out loud, actually brings people of all races, creeds, colors and/or international origins together for brief periods of time.

Well, hell's bells, no wonder Coulter's six foot long knickers are in a twist.

What kind of devil's work is afoot here?

Meanwhile, here's one more thought.

Ann Coulter is a doorknob.

And while this piece isn't even close to the first I've ever written either preaching, pronouncing and/or pillorying the supposed wit and questionable wisdom of this Lenny Bruce in drag wannabe,  it is the first written since the little intellectual itch I've had for such a long, long time has finally been scratched.

For the first time, I now realize who Ann Coulter is.

Andrew Dice Clay.

Whether solely for the purpose of furthering an entertainment based career or just to poke people with a stick to see what kind of reaction will result, Coulter is operating, almost line item by line item, right out of the playbook of the "shock comic" whose presentation consisted of simply spewing whatever foul, flaming, incendiary, obnoxious, even just plain tastelessly rude thing that came into his head out of his mouth presumably to further his entertainment based career by poking people with a stick to see what kind of reaction would result.

And morons, dimwits, idiots, any member of any cast of any TV show that's title begins with the words "The Real Housewives of" and, one can imagine, pretty much the lion's share of the populations of Mississippi and Alabama practically made the master of misogyny a god on the order of those who fling fire to write rules on stone tablets and send misbehaving couples packing from gardens of goodness.

 For the longest time, despite my basic disdain for Coulter's cacophonies and my "mama didn't raise no idgit" awareness that she wasn't exactly Eleanor Roosevelt, I have made an honest effort to get past her snarky and seek out the pearls surely hidden amongst the swine.

Right up to early this past week when she kicked just a little too high, leapt just a little too far, let one idea too many bounce off of her head and into the big net that will, hopefully, some day be used to gather all the wack jobs of the world and put them in the happy place they really were meant to be.

Ann Coulter, it turns out, is neither prophet nor priestess.

Neither tribal elder nor middle aged twit.

Neither prescient political  pundit nor pompous pontificator.

She's just a shock comic in heels.

And making a pretty damn good living at it, too.

So spew on, there, superstar.

Make hay while the sun shines.

And the idgits are listening.

As for me, I finally get it.

And for that, I have to sincerely say....

thanks, Andr.......


Saturday, June 14, 2014

"....School Used To Be A Place To Shoot For The Stars......"

Getting tougher to be a teacher.

Truth told, it was never the easiest of occupations, this noble quest to bring young people to some level of knowledge and ability, all the while having to struggle against not only the bureaucracy that inevitably thwarts and inhibits progress in the name of organization but the culture that, for each generation, distracts, even discourages, any allegiance to whatever manifesto the applicable "establishment" is offering up.

And now, of course, you have to factor in the occasional to semi-often prowling of the school hallways by some psychologically malformed malcontent who has decided to depart this cold cruel world but not before inflicting as much as pain as possible with the assistance of a few well thought out weapons of one effective caliber or another, a couple of hundred, or thousand, rounds of flesh tearing ammunition, the 2nd Amendment and, of course, that vanguard of our Constitutional rights, the NRA.

It's not all gloom and doom news, though.

Still a little learning going on in our institutions of learning.

Some Shakespeare.

And a little Einstein, too.

That's all just ahead.

First, though, here, now, the news...

MUSCATINE, Iowa — It’s the last thing a teacher wants to have to think about: what to do in case a shooter is in the building.

Mass shootings in the past year like Sandy Hook, and the one at an Oregon high school on Tuesday, have led a few Iowa middle school teachers to take action, and invent a device that will protect their classrooms.

“The Sleeve” is a 12-gauge carbon steel case that fits around the door’s closer arm, securing the door from the inside. The Sleeve can withstand more than 550 foot-pounds of force, making it nearly impossible to open from the outside.

Teacher Daniel Nitzel got the idea from the school’s active shooter training.

“We were instructed to tie a belt or a cord around the closer arm. It seemed like a logical way to secure a door without having to go into the hallway, [but] it took us a long time to get a cord, stand on a chair, and tie a knot, which could potentially be the most important tie of your life.” said Nitzel.

“I can tell you in our training, all five rooms that the teachers were trained in; the doors were breached, the cords were ripped, and the officer who was portraying the active shooter came in and killed all of us,” Nitzel said.

That’s when Nitzel and his colleagues formed the company, Fighting Chance Solutions, and began designing blueprints for The Sleeve. He said it’s been ten months in the making, but they finally have it ready and waiting for patent.

“We look at it as a cheap insurance policy. If you have someone out in the hallway, and you have an active situation, a dangerous situation unfolding and [don't] want to go out into the hallway and lock your door, we want to provide you with a way to close that door,” said Nitzel.

The Sleeve is lightweight and compact, so it can be quickly applied and removed from the door’s opening mechanism in case of an emergency. It also allows the teachers to keep the door closed without having to enter the hallway to lock it from the outside, keeping them safe from harm.

“I think it’s a great product. It’s going to buy kids and teachers time for shootings,” said Muscatine Police Chief Brett Talkington. “These shooters [are] going to be pulling on the door. If they can’t get in, they’re going to move on.”

The Sleeve still awaits patent, but a local community college is fitting buildings across campus with the device.

Meanwhile, a little further down Resilience Road....

In the wake of dozens of school shootings over the last year and a half, many schools and parents have decided to turn to bulletproof school supplies in order to save children from unexpected disasters, most recently embracing beefed-up blankets.

According to the Huffington Post, an item called the Bodyguard Blanket has not even been available to purchase for two weeks, but sales for ProTecht’s product are incredibly strong. In fact, the company’s managing partner, Stan Schone, stated the safety device has already “far exceeded our wildest expectations.”

"We have been contacted by several private and public schools that have shown great interest and by many concerned parents wanting to purchase them as well," he told the Post in an email. "Private sales have been very spirited and far greater than anticipated."

Originally designed as a way to offer students more protection in the event of a tornado, the $1,000 blanket resembles a padded mat with straps that can be worn like a backpack. The blanket is 5/16-inch thick and covers a student’s entire backside. When a child ducks and covers, the pad is strong enough to protect users from 9mm bullets as well as falling debris like metal shards and nails.

The Bodyguard Blanket is just the latest in a line of bulletproof school supplies by various manufacturers, many of which see sales spike following school shootings. Following the Sandy Hook massacre, for example, the Washington Post reported sales of bulletproof backpacks and other supplies doubled or tripled, in some cases rising more than 500 percent.

As noted by NBC News, events like the Sandy Hook massacre and the Virginia Tech shooting have lingered in the minds of schools, and they have proven willing to spend money in order to protect their students.

Yet for schools that, on average, the National Center for Education Statistics says spent about $11,000 per student as of 2010-11, adding $1,000 each is a significant expense. For ProTecht’s Schone and Steve Walker, the Bodyguard Blanket may not be able to deliver all the benefits of safe rooms or tornado shelters, but they are still cheaper alternatives for institutions short on money.

“By no means would we ever say that this is more protective,” Walker said to the Oklahoman. “But when you have budget constraints, this might be a viable alternative.”

That sentiment is not shared by many safety experts, however. With so many products on the market – bulletproof whiteboards, binders, even pencils – school safety consultant Ken Trump from Ohio argues they are taking time and money away from establishing much better safety procedures.

"It may be well-intended but it’s not well thought-out," Trump told NBC. "I would ask this question: If you need a bulletproof backpack, wouldn't the child also need a bulletproof front pack and a helmet and a Captain America shield?"

Trump, along with Michael Dorn of the school safety group Safe Havens International and Gregory Thomas of Alan Thomas Security, also said that that enhancing school drills and investing in prevention would go much further than purchasing bulletproof objects.

"In the past five years we’ve seen draconian cuts to school security and emergency planning programs," Trump added to NBC.

"Schools have limited resources and they ought to use that money very wisely, put it into an additional school psychologist or a school police officer, train your staff and work with first responders. The most valuable school security tools are invisible

Meanwhile, on the stupid side of the street...

How many school shootings have there been since Sandy Hook? It depends on who's doing the counting.

After the deadly shootings at Reynolds High School in Troutdale, Oregon, Everytown, the  grass-roots gun-control group launched earlier this year by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, published a list of what it says is every American school shooting since the Dec. 14, 2012, massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. There have been 74, by Everytown's count.

The group defines school shootings as incidents in which "a firearm was discharged inside a school building or on school or campus grounds" and includes "assaults, homicides, suicides, and accidental shootings."

Mark Gongloff, a Huffington Post editor, used Everytown's list to create a map and posted it on Twitter, where it was quickly retweeted more than 1,000 times.

Media outlets, including CNN, the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and Yahoo News, published stories citing the map and Everytown's figure.

Charles C. Johnson, a conservative journalist and former contributor to conservative website the Blaze, took to Twitter in an effort to debunk Everytown's list, claiming many of the incidents the group classified as a school shooting — including suicides and gang-related violence — should not have been included.

“It’s not a school shooting when someone goes and shoots a specific person on campus," Johnson wrote. "It’s a shooting that happens to take place at school."

By Johnson's count, just seven of the 74 incidents listed by Everytown should have counted as school shootings. (The rest, as Johnson put it on Twitter, were "fake.")

Several conservative outlets — including the Blaze, Hot Air and the Daily Caller — picked up Johnson's criticism of Everytown's "inflated" list.

On Wednesday, publishedan article concluding that "15 of the incidents Everytown included were situations similar to the violence in Oregon — a minor or adult actively shooting inside or near a school" — and tossed out shootings that involved "personal arguments, accidents and alleged gang activities and drug deals."

That didn't sit well with Annette Holt, Chicago Fire Department battalion chief and the mother of one of the victims of a shooting excluded by CNN.

"Whenever a gun is fired at school, parents are rightfully terrified," Holt wrote onthe Huffington Post. "Students are rightfully terrified. Try explaining to a shocked and devastated community that the school shooting it's mourning is disqualified because the gun was fired as the result of a 'personal argument.'"

Holt continued:
I suppose if your innocent son is shot by a gang member, it doesn't make the cut. Or if he was shot in an "accidental" shooting (how it's an accident that a gun wound up on school grounds to begin with is beyond me). Or if he pulled a gun out in a classroom and shot himself. Or if he got into a "personal argument" and was shot down in the type of mild playground fight that happens every day in schools, but turned deadly in that instance because a gun was present.
Maybe I should be giving CNN credit because they've managed to do something Washington politicians could not. They've reduced the number of school shootings across the country. But their insistence that 59 school shootings — which have killed 25 people and injured 40 others — don't matter isn't much consolation to parents like me.
Everytown, meanwhile, is standing by its list.

"We use very clear criteria for what constitutes a school shooting and we state exactly what we do and don't count," Erika Soto Lamb, communications director for Everytown, wrote in an email to Yahoo News. "[CNN's] analysis makes light of the 60 other school shootings where fatalities and injuries occurred — not that they had to, ANY gun going off in ANY school should be cause for alarm."

Remarkable thing, the human spirit.

A horrific, and increasing, threat to our students.

In response, two inventions designed to counter that threat.

Even if both are, admittedly, properly filed in the folder marked "something better than nothing".

Because if a suicidal shooter wants in, they're going to find a way to get in.

And a "blanket" that leaves any part of the human body vulnerable leaves the attached human vulnerable.

At least, though, Daniel Nitzel and the people at ProTecht are trying.

And, at the very least, they are talking about the problem.

Which is more than can be said for a lot of people whose sole response to any comment regarding weapons is a passionate, even angry, and, yet, now wearying few minutes of rhetoric as regards their right to bear arms.




Here's a thing.

Seeking solutions to, as opposed to Band-Aid patching of, the problem is, for now, an exercise in futility.

Because solutions cannot be discovered if no one is willing to actually have the conversation.

Sputtering and spewing about 2nd Amendments is not the same thing as conversing.

And let's don't even waste a moment's breath talking about the unconscionable insanity of debating what does, or does not, constitute a "school shooting".

Let's just be thankful for small favors.

That some kids may actually get all the way through the educational process without ever having to slide a sleeve on a door or cower beneath a bulletproof blanket.

And that, for now, despite bureaucracies and bullets, a little schooling actually occurs at school.

Some Shakespeare.

"...the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars...but in ourselves..."

Along with a little Einstein.

" cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it...."



City, State

School Name


1.1/08/2013Fort Myers, FLApostolic Revival Center Christian SchoolK-12
2.1/10/2013Taft, CATaft Union High SchoolK-12
3.1/15/2013St. Louis, MOStevens Institute of Business & ArtsCollege
4.1/15/2013Hazard, KYHazard Community and Technical CollegeCollege
5.1/16/2013Chicago, ILChicago State UniversityCollege
Houston, TXLone Star College North Harris CampusCollege
7.1/31/2013Atlanta, GAPrice Middle SchoolK-12
8.2/1/2013Atlanta, GAMorehouse CollegeCollege
9.2/7/2013Fort Pierce, FLIndian River St. CollegeCollege
10.2/13/2013San Leandro, CAHillside Elementary SchoolK-12
11.2/27/2013Atlanta, GAHenry W. Grady HSK-12
12.3/18/2013Orlando, FLUniversity of Central FloridaCollege
13.3/21/2013Southgate, MIDavidson Middle SchoolK-12
14.4/12/2013Christianburg, VANew River Community CollegeCollege
15.4/13/2013Elizabeth City, NCElizabeth City State UniversityCollege
16.4/15/2013Grambling, LAGrambling State UniversityCollege
17.4/16/2013Tuscaloosa, ALStillman CollegeCollege
18.4/29/2013Cincinnati, OHLa Salle High SchoolK-12
19.6/7/2013Santa Monica,CASanta Monica CollegeCollege
20.6/19/2013W. Palm Beach, FLAlexander W. Dreyfoos School of the ArtsK-12
21.8/15/2013Clarksville, TNNorthwest High SchoolK-12
22.8/20/2013Decatur, GARonald E. McNair Discovery Learning AcademyK-12
23.8/22/2013Memphis, TNWestside Elementary SchoolK-12
24.8/23/2013Sardis, MSNorth Panola High SchoolK-12
25.8/30/2013Winston-Salem, NCCarver High SchoolK-12
26.9/21/2013Savannah, GASavannah State UniversityCollege
27.9/28/2013Gray, MENew Gloucester High SchoolK-12
28.10/4/2013Pine Hills, FLAgape Christian AcademyK-12
29.10/15/2013Austin, TXLanier High SchoolK-12
30.10/21/2013Sparks, NVSparks Middle SchoolK-12
31.11/1/2013Algona, IAAlgona High/Middle SchoolK-12
32.11/2/2013Greensboro, NCNorth Carolina A&T State UniversityCollege
33.11/3/2013Stone Mountain, GAStephenson High SchoolK-12
34.11/21/2013Rapid City, SDSouth Dakota School of Mines & TechnologyCollege
35.12/4/2013Winter Garden, FLWest Orange High SchoolK-12
36.12/13/2013Arapahoe County, COArapahoe High SchoolK-12
37.12/19/2013Fresno, CAEdison High SchoolK-12
38.1/9/2014Jackson, TNLiberty Technology Magnet HSK-12
39.1/14/2014Roswell, NMBerrendo Middle SchoolK-12
40.1/15/2014Lancaster, PAMartin Luther King Jr. ESK-12
41.1/17/2014Philadelphia, PADelaware Valley Charter HSK-12
42.1/20/2014Chester, PAWidener UniversityCollege
43.1/21/2014West Lafayette, INPurdue UniversityCollege
44.1/24/2014Orangeburg, SCSouth Carolina State UniversityCollege
45.1/28/2014Nashville, TNTennessee State UniversityCollege
46.1/28/2014Grambling, LAGrambling State UniversityCollege
47.1/30/2014Palm Bay, FLEastern Florida State CollegeCollege
48.1/31/2014Phoenix, AZCesar Chavez High SchoolK-12
49.1/31/2014Des Moines, IANorth High SchoolK-12
50.2/7/2014Bend, ORBend High SchoolK-12
51.2/10/2014Salisbury, NCSalisbury High SchoolK-12
52.2/11/2014Lyndhurst, OHBrush High SchoolK-12
53.2/12/2014Jackson, TNUnion UniversityCollege
54.2/20/2014Raytown, MORaytown Success AcademyK-12
55.3/2/2014Westminster, MDMcDaniel CollegeCollege
56.3/7/2014Tallulah, LAMadison High SchoolK-12
57.3/8/2014Oshkosh, WIUniversity of Wisconsin – OshkoshCollege
58.3/21/2014Newark, DEUniversity of DelawareCollege
59.3/30/2014Savannah, GASavannah State UniversityCollege
60.4/3/2014Kent, OHKent State UniversityCollege
61.4/7/2014Roswell, NMEastern New Mexico University-RoswellCollege
62.4/11/2014Detroit, MIEast English Village Preparatory AcademyK-12
63.4/21/2014Griffith, INSt. Mary Catholic SchoolK-12
64.4/21/2014Provo, UTProvo High SchoolK-12
65.4/26/2014Council Bluffs, IAIowa Western Community CollegeCollege
66.5/2/2014Milwaukee, WIMarquette UniversityCollege
67.5/3/2014Everett, WAHorizon Elementary SchoolK-12
68.5/4/2014Augusta, GAPaine CollegeCollege
69.5/5/2014Augusta, GAPaine CollegeCollege
70.5/8/2014Georgetown, KYGeorgetown CollegeCollege
71.5/8/2014Lawrenceville, GAGeorgia Gwinnett CollegeCollege
72.5/21/2014Milwaukee, WIClark Street SchoolK-12
73.6/5/2014Seattle, WASeattle Pacific UniversityCollege
74.6/10/2014Troutdale, ORReynolds High SchoolK-12

Sunday, June 1, 2014

"...To The Stars, Alice....To The Stars....."

Odd are this news will cause the Brady Bunch theme to pop into most people's heads.


Well, turns out what rang my bell was a little Rodgers and Hammerstein..

(CNN) -- Ann B. Davis, known for her role as housekeeper Alice Nelson on "The Brady Bunch," died Sunday, close friend Bishop William Frey said. She was 88.

According to Frey, Davis fell and hit her head Saturday morning in her bathroom. She suffered a subdural hematoma and never regained consciousness.
Appearing in her trademark light blue maid's uniform with a white apron, Alice anchored "The Brady Bunch" with her cheerful attitude and witty one-liners.
In a 2004 interview with the Archive of American Television, Davis described how she created the character.
"I made up a background story. I did have a twin sister, so I used that as a basis. ... I cared very much about this family. It was my family. It was close to my family as Alice would ever get. I would have died for any single one of them at any point," she said. "You know, they wrote me such gorgeous things to do, as the intermediary between the kids and the adults, and between the boys and the girls.
And they gave me funny things to do.
In real life, Davis said she wasn't quite as handy around the house as her beloved character.

"I basically don't do that well with children, although my sister says I'm a great aunt," she told People, adding that she hates to cook.
"When it's my turn in the house," she told the magazine, "we just eat out."
Davis had planned to study medicine at the University of Michigan but caught the acting bug from her brother, who was a dancer in the national company of "Oklahoma," according to a biography of the actress on
Her big break in Hollywood came when she won the role of Charmaine "Schultzy" Schultz, the secretary on the 1950s sitcom "The Bob Cummings Show," IMDb said.
But to generations of American TV viewers, she was best known as Alice.
Frey, who knew Davis for 38 years, said fans often told her that they felt like they'd been raised by the character of Alice.
"Look how well you turned out," she would reply.
"All of us wish we had an Alice. I wish I had an Alice," Davis told People magazine in 1992.
"What you see on 'The Brady Bunch' was who she was," Frey said. "She was a very faithful Christian person."
Davis mostly retired from show business in the late 1970s to settle down in an Episcopal community.
"I'm convinced we all have a God-shaped space in us, and until we fill that space with God, we'll never know what it is to be whole," she told People.
Even as she turned her focus more toward religion, she appeared in commercials and several stage productions.
In the 1995 "The Brady Bunch" movie, she played a truck driver, persuading a runaway Jan to return home.
She told the Archive of American Television that she loved working on the small screen.
"The neatest thing about television is that they write for you. ... They find out what you can do, what you do best, how it works, and how they can use you. And so from there on, it's wonderful. Because it's different. It's not like playing the same play forever and ever and ever," she said. "But the character's still the same. It just gets better and more developed. So that's great fun."
I was, and always will be, a fan.
But as much for the class, dignity, graciousness, et al that Ann B. showed throughout both her personal and professional life as for the wonderful characters she created and left with us.
I watched "Schultzy" as a kid on the family black and white Emerson console.
By the time that whole bunch of Bradys came along, I was at an age where "family entertainment" more often than not set off my "schlock" alarm.
But even as I traveled through my rebel without a clue phase, I knew, instinctively, that, schlock or not, Ann B. was doing the work with class, dignity, graciousness, et al.
Twenty or so years ago, during my Nashville songwriter by night, music store manger by day period, I was gifted with the chance to meet the lady, as she came through town doing a book promo appearance to hype her "Alice's Brady Bunch Cookbook".
Only had the chance to chat with her briefly but everything I had ever suspected about her turned out to be spot on.
She was gracious to the max. Classy without pretense. Dignified without airs.
Which is why when the news came along today and people almost automatically found the "story / of a lovely lady /" playing in the background of their respective reminiscences, I was hearing Richard and Oscar.
Because this was one wonderful lady.
And, at the same time...
There is nothin' like a dame,
Nothin' in the world,
There is nothin' you can name
That is anythin' like a dame!
Susan Olsen, one of the original Brady kids and a Facebook friend, offered this post just a little earlier today.
I was waiting for it to reach the news before saying anything. Yes, it's true, our beloved Ann B. passed away this morning. I loved her work even before I knew and loved her. When I was five, I got the Hong Kong flue. I missed a lot of school and stayed in bed watching TV. I loved the Bob Cummings Show because I enjoyed Ann B. in the role of his secretary "Schultzy". I was overjoyed when I learned... that I would be working with her on Brad Bunch. Already a fan, it was only icing on the cake to get to know her. She always treated us kids with respect and we knew we were working with greatness. I'm happy to know that she never lost her beautiful mind and razor sharp wit. She will be dearly missed by the many who knew her and the many more who felt like they did. I'm sure there is now a bright red sports car tearing up the clouds in heaven.
I'm happy I got a chance to meet the dame behind the wheel.