31 December 2018

Wherein I Write My Last Post of the Calendar Year and Discuss Various Topics, The Photo of Rihanna Below is Gratuitous

I have to squeeze in one more blog post before the end of 2018. To the delight of many I've written far less on this blog this year than any previous (excepting those years in which this blog did not exist and most especially those years before the advent of the internet). I have any number of excuses for the lack of postings but the best are: working on novel, depression, laziness, helping bringing about peace in the Middle East. This last one has been particularly time-consuming and I must say not altogether successful -- yet. Give me time and I may be able to work things out. Hey, I'm just as likely to bring peace to the Middle East, or anywhere else for that matter, as is that knucklehead who currently occupies the White House.

Sadly the depression (was that just a pun?) was all too real and even laid me low this morning. Mine is a strange case that has the psychiatric community scratching their heads. My mood can go up and down like a yo-yo within a day, within hours, and sometimes within minutes. My lows can get pretty far down there and its a cause for concern but I've managed to avoid walking on the Golden Gate Bridge. I can joke about it, it's happening to me.

The novel is nearly ready to be peddled. I hate this part. I like to write, not sell. I don't want to have to write the perfect query letter, I want someone to look at what I've wrote and say, "brilliant, we'll take it." Hard work and not the kind I enjoy. I've also started to sketch out the prequel which I'm quite excited about. This is a different kind of fictional experience for me because I know where the story is going in advance. I hope to be able to share more about my writings in the future.

Oh yeah, another excuse I have for not posting more is....the holidays! It gets crazy around here during the holidays. I used to have a boss who was constantly going on about how "crazy" it's been recently and how particular times were "crazy." This is a great catch-all for pardoning yourself for ignoring someone or something. You've got: "it gets crazy around here before the holidays" followed by "it gets around here during the holidays," and, of course, "it gets crazy around here right after the holidays." That covers several months of the year. You've also got "it's our busy time of year" and we're getting ready for, or going on or just back from vacation. School age children add to your excuses. You've got the start of the school year and the end of the school year, and if their high school age, the end or beginning of the semester and if they play sports or in theater or a chorus or a band or the chess club that can add to the "craziness."

Laziness is my biggest bugaboo. TV used to make me lazy but I moved on from that and then the internet came along and that can really add to your laziness. Twitter, You Tube, Instagram, message boards, can all kill one helluva lot of time. Prudent use of the internet is a big net positive but time wasting is a huge deficit to your productivity and ultimately your happiness. I've been off work the past two weeks and have thus suffered from not having a routine. I've needed some down time but tend to get into bad habits such as the aforementioned wiling away of hours on the damn internet.

Today's news included word that the disgraced comedian Louis C.K. had performed recently and included in his routine poking a little fun at the survivors of the Parkland survivors. Clearly this is a man who has never heard the term, "too soon." I mean this is way way way way too soon. Plus the jokes were tasteless. It's a free country and the man can say whatever he wants and it's great that comedians push boundaries (all the great ones have or do, such as Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Richard Pryor) but sometimes you can push the wrong boundary or push it too hard. You'll know if you've gone too far if people turn away from you or lambaste you. One thing that CK said was to question why we should have to listen to the survivors. A better question is why do we have to listen to Louis CK? I know I don't want to anymore.

But let's end up on a happy note. My 2018 was much better than my 2017 a year which two of my best friends died, I had a horrible rash that lasted months, I had a "minor" heart procedure and a "minor" foot surgery. On the plus side there was a trip to Europe. This year no one close to me died and I had no physical ailments to speak of other than losing a tooth. Of course there was no trip to Europe but there was one to NY and DC.

I now look forward to 2019, maybe things won't be so "crazy" all the time.

22 December 2018

Various Topics Here Include a Chat With Santa, A Missing Tooth, Advice For the Depressed and Films

When I spoke to Santa Claus recently (see my full interview with him from last year) he was very clear that Donald Trump was going to get a lump of coal in his stocking. “After all, he loves the stuff so much.” The irony.

Santa went on to say that the government shutdown will not effect work at the North Pole. “We don’t get a dime out of the US Government, not since FDR. The Finnish government gives us a little but we’re pretty much self sustaining.”

I asked Mr. Claus again about how he manages to make it to so many houses in one night. His answer had a lot to do with psychics and thermo dynamics and other scientific mumbo jumbo. He drew some illustrations on a giant chalkboard but it was all Greek to me.

Santa refused to divulge what I’m getting this year although he assured me that — according to his records — I’ve been a good boy. This was a relief.

In other news….

I’ve been off work this week as I will be next week. The complete and total absence of having to ride busses and subways — particularly during rush hour — has been blissful. It won’t be long before I retire from the workforce and will thus be recused from commuting.

I’m minus one of my teeth. In the world of dentistry it is the number ten tooth. It had been loose for awhile and so I made a dental appointment, the day before said appointment it fell out. I was tying my shoes pre work out and the sucker just leapt out of my mouth. I put it in my locker and proceeded to go run nine miles. The dentist couldn’t put it back in because the area’s in bad shape. I’ve “got options going forward” like an implant or a bridge and meanwhile have a hole where good all number ten used to reside. The thing about my “options” is that, even with insurance, they are pricey. I have great health coverage such that last year I had surgery on a foot to pare down an errant bone and it barely cost a nickel. But my dental care is another matter.  All I want for Christmas is my number ten tooth.

Running is a temporary cure for depression. It can keep the dark moods away for over 24 hours. This morning I was in the very depths and only the thought of my family kept me from contemplating suicide. But I managed to run eight miles and have since felt terrific. I am working with my shrink on a long term solution to the miseries. It’s a helluva long process and we might wrap it up about ten years after I’m dead. Better late then never.

If you suffer from depression, let people know. Encourage them to check in on you, particularly if you live alone. I have a loving spouse who can always tell if I’m depressed so I’m quite lucky. Not everyone is. Tell anyone you trust. Don’t isolate. If you know someone who suffers from depression, check in with them regularly, particularly if you’ve got reason to believe that they’re suffering. It makes a tremendous difference.

Ya know what the difference between famous and non famous people is? Famous people can talk to other famous people. If you’re famous, people are going to return your calls. If you’re not famous you can 't even get the phone number of famous people and if you do they’re not going to answer or return your call. Think about. If you’re Leonardo DiCaprio and you try to contact Paul McCartney, you’re going to get through to him. If a regular schmoe like me calls Sir Paul….Yeah, right. I have some former students who were on Saturday Night Live together (two as writers one as a cast member) and they got to meet many of their heroes. I’m okay with not being famous but I’d like to meet McCartney and Chris Rock and Martin Scorsese and most of all Rihanna.

It’s been a pretty good year for films and I’ll be publishing my top ten for the year soon. I here have to admit that two of the recent films I saw were in theaters and on Netflix at the same time and I opted to watch them on the latter. This had nothing to do with saving a few bucks and everything to do with avoiding fellow theater goers, far too many of whom ruin the show. There are of course talkers, then there are cell phone abusers, people who rip through their bags to get at food they’ve smuggled in and lastly people who chomp loudly on pop corn or whatever else they’re devouring. All it takes is one idiot. Speaking of idiots…the president of the United States. Am I right, ladies and gentlemen?

14 December 2018

Random Thoughts, Opinions, Observations, Comments and Missives

Anyone else think that the TV show M*A*S*H was on about five years too long? Most of the original cast was long gone by the time it wheezed through its last season.

There are words from my youth (when dinosaurs roamed the Earth) that you rarely hear anymore. For example, people don't quarrel anymore. Nor do they bicker. No one is ever cross with you. You don't meet people who are bashful. Children don't engage in rough housing or horseplay. No one is told to beat it or to scram. And people don't ever seem to be lonesome.

I don't like rap music. It in no way shape or form appeals to me. I also don't like punk rock, heavy metal or country and western. For some reason a lot of white people are afraid to say that they don't like rap. Silly.

Here are sentences you only ever hear in movies: "I don't want any trouble." "I'm afraid I'll have to insist." "You'll learn to love me." "This is bigger than the both of us."

People who deny that climate change is real and man made are, in my opinion, just as stupid as people who believe that the Earth is flat or that golf is a sport.

I kind of miss the variety shows that were so prominent when I was a kid. Shows where there was a host, various acts performed, like a singer or a musical group and a comic and there were skits. Why don't we have those? SNL is sort of like one, but I could do with the old fashioned variety.

MSNBC isn't really a news channel. My wife watches and enjoys it as do many people and there is a lot of good content. However I was on the treadmill last night for over an hour and one of the TVs had MSNBC on. Their entire programming was dedicated to Trump -- as it often is. Not a word about Yemen, Syria, Brazil's new incoming president, the strife in Paris, the trouble with Brexit  the rapist who got no jail time, the incoming congress, poverty in America, climate change or the space program. Ridiculous.

Just wondering. Is there a bigger idiot than Betty Devos (not counting the current president?).

So the NFL is happy to employ wife beaters but draws the line at someone who started a peaceful protest. So very American.

Is it wrong that I love to look at pictures of Rihanna? They make me happy. Mind you I'm happily married and would much prefer a romantic evening with my wife than with Rihanna. But I still like how Rihanna looks.

How come Santa Claus has never been Time Magazine's Person of the Year? Name someone who brings more joy to people's lives, particularly children. You can't do it.

Ya know what was great? When you didn't have to listen to people talk on their telephones. You can't escape it anymore. People will jabber on their mobile phones anyplace, anytime. It used to be you had to be in someone's house to hear a phone conversation, or if you walked by someone on a public phone. I'll never get used to it.

When I was growing up we had five TV stations, now there are hundreds plus streaming services, so there's a helluva lot more to choose from and shows that aren't on regular broadcast channels aren't encumbered by censorship rules. Despite that I find the vast majority of TV shows that I've had any exposure to at all, to be garbage. But there were some excellent shows on TV in 2018. The best, in my opinion, being Last Week Tonight With John Oliver. I also enjoyed: Better Call Saul, The Deuce, The Good Place, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Orange is the New Black, Brooklyn 99, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Barry.

Speaking of TV shows, The Simpsons has deteriorated a lot these past few years. The show's heyday was during its first seven or so seasons and the quality remained fairly good for another 11 or 12 years, but in the last decade it has become a pale reflection of its former greatness. Might be time to hang 'em up.

If you follow college football one thing you know for a fact is there are way too many bowl games. When I was a kid (and dinosaurs roamed the Earth) there were about ten. That was too few. Now the pendulum has swung too far and there are four times that amount. The product is diluted when you have too much.

Sometimes I look around when I'm riding a bus or on the subway and I'll be the only person reading a book. Most people are looking at their phones and getting info bytes. There's a lot to be said for narratives. I worry about what's happening to reading habits (as in they'e vanishing).

On MUNI yesterday the transit cops, as they occasionally and quite randomly do, boarded to check everyone on my bus for either a transfer receipt or to see that they used their Clipper card. As far as I could tell they checked everybody, except me, the old white guy wearing a tie. Second time that's happened. Who says white privilege isn't real?

How many books over how many decades is it going to take to sort out the mess that is the current administration? There was a helluva lot written, and still being penned, about Nixon and Watergate but that was child's play next to this. It's going to be a lot for historian's to wade through.

As Christmas approaches it is once again evident that the Republicans are the party of Scrooge (before the ghostly visitations). They hate poor people, preferring to lower taxes for the rich and keep the minimum wage as low as they can. They don't give a fig about gun violence, global warming, asylum seekers, immigrants or people of color. They have no conscience as evidenced by their refusal to stand up to the Moron-in-Chief. Bah humbug to them!

To all my fellow progressives: Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays, whatever floats your boat.

06 December 2018

It's Not About Date Rape, For Crying Out Loud, Read the Lyrics

In the last few years there's been much talk about how the oft played Christmas song (though it has not a wit to do with Christmas) "Baby It's Cold Outside" is about date rape. This Christmas season a number of radio stations have stopped playing it, though one relented and is playing it again after much protest. Here's the crazy thing: there is no rape, date or otherwise in the song. The brouhaha is much ado about less than nothing.

At no point in the song does the woman say any of the following: get your hands off me, leave me alone, stop doing that, put it back in your pants, or anything else that suggests that the man is forcing himself on her. Rape is nonconsensual sex and there is no evidence anyone is so much as touched in the song. What the song is about is the age old art of seduction which  I believe is still commonly played by men and women. The man is trying to convince the woman to stay, most likely for the purpose of making love. There is nothing wrong with that, unless at some point she says "stop!" which she never does. Indeed the woman seems to be interested in this seduction and her objections are based on what others would think. For example she says: "My sister will be suspicious," "My brother will be there at the door," "My maiden aunt's mind is vicious," "There's bound to be talk tomorrow," "At least there will be plenty implied." She also says, late in the song: "You've really been grand." The song ends with both parties saying: "Baby, it's cold outside." In other words they are singing together and are of one mind. Who knows, maybe she'll spend the night. And yes, maybe he will rape her, but we can't conclude that from the song.

For the life of me I can't figure out where the notion came from that there is a rape involved in this charming little ditty. My only conclusion is that people raising objections haven't bothered to carefully listen to the song, let alone read the words. Who has time to look into things when jumping to conclusions is so much faster and easier?

Baby It's Cold Outside

(I really can't stay) But, baby, it's cold outside
(I've got to go away) But, baby, it's cold outside
(This evening has been) Been hoping that you'd drop in
(So very nice) I'll hold your hands they're just like ice

(My mother will start to worry) Beautiful, what's your hurry
(My father will be pacing the floor) Listen to the fireplace roar
(So really I'd better scurry) Beautiful, please don't hurry
(Well, maybe just half a drink more) Put some records on while I pour

(The neighbors might think) Baby, it's bad out there
(Say what's in this drink) No cabs to be had out there
(I wish I knew how) Your eyes are like starlight now
(To break this spell) I'll take your hat, your hair looks swell

(I ought to say no, no, no, sir) Mind if I move in closer
(At least I'm gonna say that I tried) What's the sense of hurting my pride
(I really can't stay) Baby, don't hold doubt
[Both] Baby, it's cold outside

(I simply must go) Baby, it's cold outside
(The answer is no) Baby, it's cold outside
(The welcome has been) How lucky that you dropped in
(So nice and warm) Look out the window at the storm

(My sister will be suspicious) Gosh your lips look delicious
(My brother will be there at the door) Waves upon a tropical shore
(My maiden aunt's mind is vicious) Gosh your lips are delicious
(But maybe just a cigarette more) Never such a blizzard before

(I got to get home) But, baby, you'd freeze out there
(Say lend me a coat) It's up to your knees out there
(You've really been grand) I thrill when you touch my hand
(But don't you see) How can you do this thing to me

(There's bound to be talk tomorrow) Think of my life long sorrow
(At least there will be plenty implied) If you caught pneumonia and died
(I really can't stay) Get over that old doubt
[Both] Baby, it's cold
[Both] Baby, it's cold outside