Friday, November 29, 2013

Didn't We Just Do This?

I hate the holidays.  Well, not really,  but I do dread them almost as much as I used to be giddy with anticipation of their approach when I was young.  Don't get me wrong, the food, fun and family doings are all enjoyable.  It's the velocity of their annual arrival and the finality of the door slamming on another year that gets me down.  Didn't we just have Christmas?!  What year is this anyway?

Yesterday was Thanksgiving.  I realize that's no news flash but it also marks the second year where my wife and I were guests at the table of our youngest daughter Katie and her family.  It was a treat to be with Kate and her husband Doug,  a creative man with a turkey and other tasty traditional Thanksgiving goodies.  I saved room for slices of three different pies provided by Doug's stepmother, his sister Debbie and the the kids' friend,  Christine.  (Pumpkin, Apple-cranberry, and chocolate pecan in case you were wondering.) As my four year-old grandson, Dan, would say, "It was scrumptious!"  I won't need to eat again until July.

We lingered, like most families, for a long while after the feast talking about everything from the value of heirloom jewelry and corn futures,  to the recent acceptance of nephew Michael to Baylor University.  There were laughs about previous Thanksgiving mishaps, childhood stunts, job related stories, the usual stuff of family get togethers.  Seated next to Dan,  I was able to keep him entertained with my passable Donald Duck impression and, when that failed, the fart app on my I-phone.  I "kill" with the Yo Gabba Gabba crowd.

As afternoon became evening it struck me that sometime while I wasn't paying attention the holiday torch had been passed.  Thanksgivings and future Christmases are now the province of Katie and Doug's generation.  There was no memo or meeting to attend, but the compilation of birthdays has moved Linda and me from host to guest for these traditions.  We are now the "old people" who, when not doting on the grandkids, talk of pensions, medicare and how the country is going to hell and aren't we lucky we won't be around to see it. 

As I said, I am beginning to hate the holidays.  They're fun but a big fat reminder that another year is up on blocks and the clock is ticking.  Friends are falling by the wayside, bucket lists need attention or  trimming, and suddenly there is a real awareness of past mistakes that demand correction …if possible.  I plan to get on that right after the holidays.

The hand off has been made.  The kids now own the season until one day--you might as well say next week--they'll look around and wonder just when their own kids took charge.  It's life.  Thomas Lynch, the fine poet and essayist, said it best:  "So it is with this life, we hammer at the moment until all that's left is memorable."

And, as long as we're quoting, let's let the English poet John Betjeman take a shot at this predicament.

"You've been given just one life in this world that matters and upon which every other life somehow depends as long as you live, and also given the costly gifts of hunger, choice, and pain with which to raise a modest shrine to meaning."

Good luck with that.  The clock is ticking.

In the meantime, I wonder if there is any more of that pie?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Generational Passage

It changed everything.  For those of us alive at the time it was a watershed moment.  Boomers like me can instantly tell you where they were when the news broke that the president had been shot.  It was the end of childhood innocence and the birth of a scepticism that persists today.  

I was in ninth grade study hall studiously not studying when the school intercom began to carry the news from Dallas.  The surreal broadcast emanated from WHO radio in Des Moines, the closest network affiliate to our small  northwest Iowa town of Spencer.
How could this be?  This was America.  People were hardworking, god fearing, upright defenders of  the free world.  Our president was the man responsible for the most powerful nation on earth.  The generation in charge, our parents, were the people who saved the world from Hitler and the Emperor of Japan.  Finally, after catching their breath from that massive undertaking, they had elected one of their own, John F. Kennedy,  a young decorated Naval veteran as president.  He was a Catholic--the first--with a beautiful wife and two lovely children.  He was also a leader who believed in a strong defense, lower taxes and was pro-life just like many other Democrats of the day. His successor, LBJ,  a shameless political opportunist, was largely responsible for steering the party into the ditch on the left where it remains mired today.   The economy was humming, the war in Vietnam barely on anyone's radar and the Russians had just blinked after being caught placing missiles in Cuba.

When Walter Cronkite, the "go to" newsman of the time,  confirmed that the president was dead school ended for the day.  Local high school football games were canceled nationwide.  Adults and kids wrapped up everything early that day and headed home for one of the strangest and saddest weekends in memory.  People sat transfixed before the glare of black and white television screens watching the almost Shakespearean tragedy unfold.  News anchors looked exhausted and every face sad.  

The Top 40 radio stations that were the drumbeat of my generation dropped the Beach Boys, Dion and Fats Domino for the somnabulistic drone of funeral dirges interrupted only by hourly newscasts featuring only  THE story.

Blame began almost immediately.  Finger pointing from the left centered on a climate of right wing hate said to be prevalent in Dallas at the time.  All of this in spite of the obvious fact that Kennedy had been felled by a bullet fired by a Castro loving little communist named Lee Harvey Oswald.  Naturally, on Sunday,  conspiracy theories exploded as Oswald was shot by nightclub owner Jack Ruby.  

Conspiracy?  Who knows?  Though it is uncharacteristic for even two people to keep a secret for fifty minutes let alone fifty years, maybe there was some nefarious plot to kill JFK.  I doubt it, but will keep an open mind.

Of one thing I am certain:  Fifty years ago today my generation began a transition from youthful optimism to a more realistic and educated cynicism.   More sobering and still haunting, we watched  overnight as our parents became at once and forever no longer young.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Give Me the FUN Guy!

Hands down I'm taking Rob Ford.  At least in Toronto they have leadership that provides a few laughs.  Here in what was once the greatest nation in the universe we--well, no one I know--have decided that it was a good idea to elect a president who had never so much as run a car wash.  Barack Obama,  once described by his equally incompetent and inexperienced sidekick, Valerie Jarrett,  as a man so intelligent he had "been bored all his life"  now has plenty to keep him occupied as the cornerstone of his social engineering and wealth redistribution agenda, national health care, crashes around him.  Thanks Barry, it was a swell idea.  We finally found the ultimate "style over substance" liberal clown to claim the title "WORST PRESIDENT EVER!"from that hopeless Georgia hillbilly, Jimmy Carter.  Congratulations.  Now, please leave so we can find someone funnier to run the country.  
"Did ya like me in Tommy Boy?"
The first five or six folks in the Hoboken phone directory are likely more qualified than B.O. but I'd really prefer the Toronto Tons O' Fun, Rob Ford.  I realize that we'd have to waive that "native born American citizen" thingy in the constitution but am fairly certain that we already have.
Get me that large and IN CHARGE mayor from the Great White North!  Any guy who looks that much like the late Chris Farley has got to be our man.  Did you see him in his football jersey?!!  Comedy gold my friend!  Ford Nation forever!  

So the large lad enjoys an occasional debauch and a cocktail or three…So what?  He shoots from the hip, fears no PC police and HATES taxes.  That certainly puts me in the booth yanking the lever for the Robster when it's time to vote.  With luck he'll be able to work his partying magic (and crack pipe) on all branches of our currently useless government and render the entire executive, legislative and judicial branches so completely gassed to the gills they can no longer do us harm.

The time is now!  The man is Ford!

Hook up the sled dogs and mush on down to D.C.
We could use some laughs.

"First order of business:  every Friday is jersey day."

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Automotive Hall of Shame

Back in the 1970's American Motors gave us the Gremlin, a car so unattractive that I thought it impossible for automotive engineers to create a mode of transportation more embarrassing to drive.  Of course the French managed to top Gremlin with their putrid cockroachmobile, the Citroen.  But who would ever be caught driving a car made by cheese eating surrender monkeys?  Oh yeah, an old boss of mine who eventually died of embarrassment. (I'm still smiling.)

 Whether it's because we now have, in spite of the demise of American Motors, more pencil-necked geeks designing cars,  or an abundance of car shoppers with no taste, there is now a veritable plethora of crappy sleds on the road.  

To prove my point, has recently conducted a survey asking respondents to name the most embarrassing cars on U.S. roads.

The results:

1. The Smart Car
2. Nissan Cube
3. Hummer H2
4. Chevrolet SSR
5. Volkswagen New Beetle
6. Subaru Baja
7. Lincoln Town Car
8. Pontiac Aztek
9. P.T. Cruiser
10. Honda Element

Probably the sole reason Pontiac went to the boneyard.

For Chrysler fans who miss the 1930's

Just proves you CAN make a bad idea worse.
Where is it written that hybrids must look like a turd on wheels?
The worst idea EVER for an American car.  Gremlin!

We've all at one time owned cars that were best parked blocks away from our destination and practically had "loser cruiser" stenciled on the door, but we ditched them just as soon as we could for wheels that looked cool.  My first car was an ugly old '54 Buick Century that ran like a champ but looked like a  Kardashian butt.  I swapped it for a red '65 Ford Galaxy convertible that made me look like a player.  The only problem was it ran like Henry Ford himself pissed in the tank.  It was NEVER  right!  EVER!  I didn't care.

Life is too short to drive a stupid looking car.  

Don't let the greenies fool you.  The only non-embarrassing hybrid ride is the Tesla.  The others are the automotive equivalent of mom jeans and real Americans DON'T DRIVE FUGGLY CARS!

Citroen is reason enough to hate the French.  God, what an ugly car!

Here's your car!  The 2014 Corvette Stingray!
Tell 'em Groucho sent ya...  
Buy it!  Nothing exceeds like excess.  Embrace your inner coolness.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Yours For Halloween Safety

Halloween is one day gone and I'm already making revisions for next year's candy disbursement program.  Last night, in spite of several trips to Costco to lay in multiple bags of candy gratuities for the neighborhood's pint sized freeloaders, we hit rock bottom shortly after 8PM.  The little socialists came in waves and, thanks to my very liberal son-in-law who relished dumping fistfuls of MY candy into the gaping sacks of the juvenile extortionists, never left our porch with less than a year's worth of calories.  It was the gimmiecrat philosophy writ large on my own front porch.  Disgusting!

"You'll be the most popular house on the block," he said.  It was as if Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi were right there!  
"You're an idiot," I explained.  "Who wants to encourage the little beggars to come back for more next year??!!"
When my four year-old grandson returned from his trick-or-treat run loaded to the gunwales with sugary swag, I put him in charge of handing out candy at the door.  It warmed my heart to see him carefully dole out spare rations as he told his contemporaries to "Go home" and "get off my porch".  I love that kid!  He has registered Republican and "management material" written all over him.  I should have fired his dad much earlier in the evening.  

Costumes, at least in our area, were better this year.  Lots of creativity, though none as convincing as my grumpy old man ensamble.  I've nailed that one, if I do say so myself.

Of some concern to me of late is the adult costume situation.  As more grown-ups dress up for Halloween I'm seeing a dangerous trend develop.  Many women are wearing what appear to be highly flammable get-ups.  I actually felt very warm just being within reach of some of the dressed up moms who accompanied their kids on their candy grabbing rounds.  This is distressing!

Naturally, as a good American, I would like to help rectify the situation.  May I suggest that any women thinking of sporting a Halloween costume next year first take a picture of themselves and email it to me.  That will enable yours truly to inspect the outfit to see if it looks like it might burst into flame.  

Believe me when I say that it is NO trouble.  I'm just happy to help.  I'm a giver.  I just keep giving and giving.
Safety first is my motto!
Looks fairly safe, but I'll need more information.

Always happy to help the health professionals.
Needs more candy!