Saturday, October 31, 2009

My 2009 Happy Halloween High-Fives

Retired Hooters Girls

In honor of Halloween, I wanted to present a tribute to all those brave souls whose creative energies and imagination focus on this day each year. These fun-loving, spirited people fearlessly don wonderfully bizarre or interesting costumes that bring laughter and happiness to all those they encounter. While I still have to give props to those who rent or purchase costumes this time of year, I think a great big high-five should go out especially to those that make their own costumes, often at great expense of time, money and, well....dignity.

Halloween has always been a special holiday for me and I'll admit I've had my share of out-there costumes in the past, but I think as one generation of revelers passes the torch to the next we see people continuing to push the envelope as to the degree of costumed weirdness. Many may find it completely distasteful that there is a 6' tall bloody tampon working his way through the buffet line at this year's Halloween party or be offended by the sight of a trick or treater dressed as a suicide bomber, but who is to say what's taboo anymore?

Let's face it, we have largely outgrown our appreciation for clowns and pirates and vampires because they have become conventional (some would say, corny) and don't elicit the same kind of "wow" response they might have in the past. Even pretending to be celebrities, politicians or TV characters is getting to be kind of stale, so why not crank it up a notch! We need a little shock value to help zap those synapses in our neocortex, and as cute as "Raggedy Ann" might be, it doesn't excite a lot of interest. (Now, a very slutty Raggedy Ann would be a different story.)

Without further adieu, and with the help of our blessed internet, I present some of my favorite Halloween costumes:

This is my friend Tally. This year he decided for Halloween he would go as a "One Night Stand". "But I'm still safe about it," he says. Kudos, my friend, for spreading the word of safe sex as you are spreading....well, never mind.

Now who wouldn't appreciate such a brilliant homage to one of Alfred Hitchcock's most famous thrillers, "The Birds." This bloody blonde beset by blackbirds, made famous in the movie by Tippi Hedren (Melanie Griffith's mom, for you trivia hounds), looks superb as the hapless victim.

With all the attention given Transformers, it's nice that Disney's other robot hero, WALL-E, is getting some recognition. It's great to see what can become of some imagination, a little paint and a cardboard box.

I absolutely love this costume. Thanks to technological advances, (in this case a portable DVD player attached to his front and a small video camera on his back) he effectively pulls off the illusion that he has a great big bloody hole going right through him. Very nice indeed.

I can't forget to give a tip of the hat to pet owners that dress up their dogs or cats with some unique and clever disguises. A three-headed dog? Works for me!

Say what you want about costumes for the ladies, you still can't go wrong dressing like a slut. Whether it is a slutty pirate, a slutty kitty cat, a slutty french's all good.

"Octomom" may be insipid tabloid fodder for some, but to many she is an eternal spring of humorous pleasures to drink from. I think the lips makes the costume in this instance.

I hope you all have a very safe and enjoyable Halloween this year.

And if you do bump into that certain guy in the buffet line, do yourself a favor and don't ask him for the ketchup. Wow. Really.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Giving Up More Love For Man's Best Friend

Tonight my dog Ringo was having a little stomach distress and wasn't eating as he usually does. This usually occurs after he overindulges (read: steals most of Rufus' food too.) Now I know this happens frequently with dogs and you can usually find them eating grass or whatever to calm their tummies and they are back to normal by the next day. But instead of just accepting this and leaving it at that, my wife and I go into full panic mode and have to hold him and cuddle him and rub his belly and pet his head and say soothing things to him like he is some 20 lb. 4-legged hairy infant with a penchant for pissing where he shouldn't.

I know I have spoken before in this blog about my love for dogs and how much we pamper and spoil our little dog-kids, but I couldn't dream of being any different. Our "boys" as we call them are such an intricate part of our lives and their happiness and well-being is important to us like it is for our children and one another. Some would blame "empty-nest syndrome" but we were always like this, even before kids came on the scene. And for you cat people, we feel the same way about our two "girls" too.

Often you will see stars like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton and their pooches in the media and hear about how they insist on special brands of bottled water for them and how they dress them in designer doggie-wear with matching sunglasses and carry-bags ad nauseum. I won't tell you I shower my dogs with diamonds and filet mignon because I don't. But I can tell you that I love my animals with more heart and soul than any self-absorbed celebrity ever could.

Recently we had to have the house tented for termites and were forced to move out for a few days, which meant putting the four critters in a kennel. This was a new experience for all of us and I tried to impress on the girl at the counter that these were very special animals and that they needed the utmost care and attention. She offered me an upgrade where, for a few more bucks each day, they would spend some extra time with them, take them on longer walks and in general not ignore them as they would the rest of the dogs in their charge. Of course I leapt at that without hesitation. Of course, whether they did anything different we will never know.

There was a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach the moment we left them at the kennel and I had to fight back tears as we drove away. I knew that the kennel was a pet hospital with round-the-clock vet care available and caring, animal-loving technicians and helpers (at least, according to their website) but I also knew what a traumatic experience it would be for them and how their separation anxiety issues would be stretched to the limit. Teresa and I shared our fears and concern for them as we left town. We were both overcome with sadness for having to "abandon" our boys like that, but unfortunately we had no other option available.

We spent the next few hours driving to my parent's house where we were to spend a couple nights before returning home and retrieving our pets. Unfortunately once there we received a phone call from the exterminator rep saying that a problem had come up when the gas company guy broke something removing the meter and created a gas leak. Since the exterminator company was unable to tent the house, it was rescheduled until the repair could be made. It ended up taking three extra days before we could return home.

I remember being so angry that some fool just sentenced my boys to three more days in jail - albeit a clean jail with walks, food and fresh water - and wishing I could somehow rescue them. The fact that this delay resulted in additional expense and a major inconvenience for us (we had to check into a hotel, buy clothes, meals, etc.) was minor to how awful we felt about having to keep them in a kennel longer than anticipated. The eventual reunion was a tearful one with guilty apologies going out to all the "kids."

I thought about this tonight as I was reading my friend Tom's blog, Reinvention: The Journal of a Dog-Lover, Book-Reader, Moviegoer and Writer , and how he is struggling to resist the overwhelming temptation to bring a dog back into his life after the death of his beloved Basset Hound, Maggie, almost two years ago. I know exactly how he feels because I went through the same anguish just three years ago after we had to put our Pomeranian, Tina, down because of a terminal illness.

There's this terrible vacuum that's created when you lose a loved one, whether it is a friend, a family member or a pet. You have all this directed love to give; this very specific type of caring and nurturing that needs an outlet, and yet there is none to be had. Dog lovers like myself and Tom understand this only too well. I wouldn't expect everyone to feel this way about their pets, but to some, animals bring out something very special in them. Just watching them play and interact, or even just snoring on the couch, it makes me feel like someone has reached out to my soul and given it a great big hug. Add to this their unbelievable capacity for showing affection and devotion and you have a winning combination.

To me, my boys are the very embodiment of love. The gentle cuddling and affection they show us continues to amaze and astound us even two years later. They remind me so much of babies sometimes it's hard not to think of them like that. They cry when we leave them and get all excited when we return; they love to give hugs and kisses and grab our hands when they feel the need to be held or touched; and they are most comforted and protected when they are laying beside us in bed sharing our warmth. It's a wonderful feeling being a dog owner, especially to two wonderful dogs like ours. The joy they give us and our family is incomparable. Which is why I know it will be devastating when they finally pass on.

But we know as dog owners that losing our pets is inevitable. No matter how you try to steel yourself from the grief, there is no escaping it. And while some might wonder why we choose to endure the sorrow of losing one dog after another, I believe we can all agree that the joy they bring and the lessons they teach us about ourselves are more than worth that painful price.

A few weeks ago we finally got around to watching a movie called Marley & Me, based on a book by John Grogan. It's a heartfelt story about his life with his yellow lab and the experiences that he and his family shared with this lovable yet neurotic dog. Watching it I couldn't help but identify with many of Marley's entertaining exploits and how the family coped with his often hyperactive personality. And yet by the end of the movie you learn to appreciate the unconditional love and affection a canine companion can bring to one's life.

Here's a quote from the book that sums up nicely that beautiful and genuine soul that is a dog.

"A dog has no use for fancy cars or big homes or designer clothes. Status symbol means nothing to him. A waterlogged stick will do just fine. A dog judges others not by their color or creed or class but by who they are inside. A dog doesn't care if you are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his. It was really quite simple, and yet we humans, so much wiser and more sophisticated, have always had trouble figuring out what really counts and what does not. As I wrote that farewell column to Marley, I realized it was all right there in front of us, if only we opened our eyes. Sometimes it took a dog with bad breath, worse manners, and pure intentions to help us see." - John Grogan, Marley & Me

There are so many dog lovers out there in the blogosphere, but two blogs that I would like to recommend are the previously mentioned Reinvention: The Journal of a Dog-Lover, Book-Reader, Moviegoer and Writer, which is a great read, and Life With Dogs. Please do yourself a favor and check them out if you haven't already.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I'm Not Wired, I'm Just Extremely Alert

I don't have many vices, but I do drink coffee a lot (some would say to excess) because I feel it gives me that added boost in the morning and helps to complete my transformation from zombie to office drone. Judging by the boundless number of coffee establishments in this country, my guess is that I am not alone in this addiction. I thought about that fact this morning as I was just finishing my first pot.

As for drinking coffee the rest of the day and into the evening, I don't really have an explanation for that one. Unless, of course, it is to stave off the excruciatingly painful pounding in my skull that causes my eyes to bleed, my body to convulse and an abnormal desire to shove an icepick into my nasal cavity to make the pain stop. Caffeine withdrawal can be a real bitch sometimes.

I know that caffeine is bad for you and that the health problems associated with it can be serious. But aside from trouble sleeping, frequent urination, headaches, dizziness, jitters, irritability, anxiety, seizures, confusion, dehydration, faster heartbeat, muscle tension, nausea, stuffy nose, tiredness, stomach pain, ringing in the ears, fast breathing, high cholesterol and occasional vomiting of blood, I just don't see the down side. Until now, anyway.

Recently a study conducted at Durham University suggested that people that consume high levels of caffeine (including tea and energy drinks) were three times more likely to have hallucinations, including hearing voices and seeing people and things that are not there. For people who are already prone to hallucinations (me), this can be quite troublesome. How long will it be before "Don't drink and drive" applies to coffee? I mean, who hasn't seen the occasional imaginary stampede of green and orange zebras merging onto the freeway from time to time? Show of hands?

I have a hard enough time dealing with my pseudo-reality and the chorus of voices in my head as it is, and now they are saying that caffeine may just make it worse? That would explain why I am always seeing a frog in my coffee cup. But if true, why haven't there been any warning signs posted at Starbucks? A simple "Our Starbucks barista's do only have the one head and are not snake people with tentacles, just in case you were wondering. And if you hear voices saying to try the Guatemala Antigua Medina, it's probably just God talking to you." Very strange indeed. Incidentally, I do like the sign there that says that "Children left unattended will be given a cup of espresso and a free puppy." That's taking kindness to another level.

Nonetheless, as a public service I have listed for you here some of the warning signs that may indicate that your coffee habit has put you into the elite class of coffeeholics that need to heed the health warnings:

Signs You've Had Too Much Coffee...

You've worn the finish off your coffee table.
All your kids are named Joe.
Chuck Yeager thinks you need to calm down.
Instant coffee takes too long.
Juan Valdez named his donkey after you.
People can test their batteries in your ears.
People get dizzy just watching you.
Starbucks owns the mortgage on your house.
The nurse needs a scientific calculator to take your pulse.
The only time you're standing still is during an earthquake.
The Taster's Choice couple wants to adopt you.
When someone asks 'how are you' you say, 'good to the last drop'.
You can jump-start your car without cables.
You can outlast the Energizer bunny.
You can take a picture of yourself from ten feet away without using the timer.
You can type sixty words per minute with your feet.
You can't even remember your second cup.
You channel surf faster without a remote.
You chew on other people's fingernails.
You don't even wait for the water to boil anymore.
You don't get mad, you get steamed.
You don't need a hammer to pound in nails.
You don't sweat, you percolate.
You don't tan, you roast.
You forget to unwrap candy bars before eating them.
You get a speeding ticket even when you're parked.
You go to AA meetings just for the free coffee.
You go to sleep just so you can wake up and smell the coffee.
You grind your coffee beans in your mouth.
You can thread a sewing machine while it's running.
You have a picture of your coffee mug on your coffee mug.
You have to watch videos in fast-forward.
You haven't blinked since the last lunar eclipse.
You help your dog chase its tail.
You introduce your spouse as your coffee mate.
You just completed another sweater and you don't know how to knit.
You lick your coffeepot clean.
You name your cats Cream and Sugar.
You short out motion detectors.
You ski uphill.
You sleep with your eyes open.
You soak your dentures in coffee overnight.
Your birthday is a national holiday in Brazil.
You speed-walk in your sleep.
You spend every vacation visiting Maxwell House.
You think being called a drip is a compliment.
You think CPR stands for Coffee Provides Resuscitation.
You'd be willing to spend time in a Turkish prison.
Your first-aid kit contains two pints of coffee with an I.V. hookup.
You answer the door before people knock.
Your eyes stay open when you sneeze.
Your life's goal is to amount to a hill of beans.
Your lips are permanently stuck in the sipping position.
Your nervous twitch registers on the Richter scale.
Your only source of nutrition comes from Sweet & Low.
Your taste buds are so numb; you could drink your lava lamp.
Your Thermos is on wheels.
You're so wired, you pick up AM radio.

If you can identify with any (or all) of the above warning signs, then you may want to consider limiting your consumption for awhile...maybe just until your blood pressure doesn't cause the inflatable cuff to explode anymore...and switch to a decaffeinated coffee. I know it will be a difficult period of transition, but just remember that it's not polite to kill people who bother you, that not everyone is out to get you nor are they shape-shifting evil aliens from another planet bent on liquefying your brain and drinking it through your ears with their giant sucker tubes.

And please, if you have to go to Starbucks, just tell the pink polka-dotted minotaur or the half-girl/half-giant moth behind the counter to make it a "Tall" rather than the usual "Venti" and leave out the extra espresso shots.

You'll thank me later.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Words Are, Like, Totally Cool, Like, You Know? Fer Sure!

Like, for real, dude. Just awesome. Literally! I'm just sayin'...

The preceeding statements were brought to you by the Department Of Lazy Thoughtless Speech (DOLTS), the same same group that brought you Ebonics such as "fo' shizzle, ma' nizzle" and Skater Lingo, as in "pumping mongo."

There are a lot of really dumb words and expressions people say that are irritating, not just to me but to the general population, but because many are so deeply ingrained in our collective consciousness they are almost impossible to remove from our daily speech. I know most people are reluctant to correct others when they are trodding on these linguistic land mines because that would be considered rude, unless it's family, in which case it's just terribly annoying.

Speaking of which, it has been brought to my attention by my wife Teresa and daughter Lissa that I use the expression "you know" all too frequently in my conversations. I recognize this as a problem but it's so dang hard to stop saying it after all these years. You know? I was thinking that maybe by writing about it, that it may help to purge those words from my conversational speech, and maybe even help rid a few others at the same time.

Do you or someone you know use words or expressions that you feel should be banished from your/their vocabulary because they are bothersome or tedious? Have you too been told that you use a term too much and need to stop it because your constant repetition of said term is irksome to those listening? Or is it just me? I'm sure there other guilty parties like myself that routinely torment their co-workers, friends and family with these verbal assaults, you know?

A fine example of just such a nuisance is my wife's boss, who has an apparent fascination with the word "So," and inserts it at the beginning of every sentence she can. My old boss used to repeat the term, "type of situation," in his speech as often as other people used the word "the." It would be fun to listen to him speak and keep a running tally of each incident in his speech. (Yes, he was that interesting!)

Another example is the phrase "hella," which means "very" like in the tune "Hella Good" by No Doubt. My daughter Shannon recently moved down to Southern California where it isn't used and someone called her out on it. They told her "you must be from Northern California. Just so you know, people here don't use "hella." And for someone who hella uses it as she does, it's going to be hella tough to change. You know? (Okay, I'll stop!)

Some of the expressions people use have gotten so stale and cliché that they have become the literary equivalent to an earworm. Isn't it time we take expressions like "think outside the box," "to be honest with you", "at the end of the day" or "between a rock and a hard place" and banish them to the same conversational exile that saw the demise of terms like "twenty-three skiddoo," "see a man about a dog" and "pantywaist"?

One of the worst offenders is the word "like," which is often paired with "you know" as in "like, you know?" Often referred to as "Valspeak" because of it's connection with the way kids in parts of the Los Angeles area spoke, it became a national fad after the release of "Valley Girl," a song by Frank Zappa (and sung by his daughter, Moon Unit) which best illustrated the unique way girls from the valley conversed at the time. An excerpt from the song goes:

So like I go into this like salon place, yknow
And I wanted like to get my toenails done
And the lady like goes, oh my god, your toenails
Are like so grody
It was like really embarrassing
Shes like oh my god, like bag those toenails
Im like sure...
She goes, uh, I dont know if I can handle this, yknow...
I was like really embarrassed...

Examine the following paragraph below and see if you are a habitual user of some of these terms. You may be surprised to see that you are one of the many to fall victim to the convenience and ease of these trite words and expressions:

So, like, the other day my boy Steve comes over to hang out. I'm not a happy camper because he was supposed to bring suds but didn't, and it just got my goat. "Dude, my bad!" he says and I'm like, "whatever." It was a simple request, not like it was rocket science, you know? I mean, at the end of the day I could care less, but it was just the idea, you know? I think it speaks volumes about how much he thinks of me. I know, right? Seriously. Irregardless, we drive out to the 7-Eleven and he hops out of the truck to get the beers. But before he goes in he turns around and asks me for a few bucks to pay for the beers because he is light. I'm like, "say what? You need money for real? Why didn't you just say you were broke on the phone?" That said, he tells me "no worries, dude. I'll pay you back next Friday." I'm stunned. I needed that money for gas and that's so not fair for me to pay when he said he would. Literally. I'm just saying, if you tell someone you are going to bring suds then do it and don't bullshit. I dunno, that's my 2 cents worth anyway. It is what it is, you see what I'm saying? Here I was thinking tonight was going to be so like, awesome and stuff, and Steve goes and ruins it. I mean, literally, it was a no brainer to just get some suds and come over. His over the top failure sent the evening in a whole nother direction entirely. Instead of drinking beer, playing pool and hanging out, I dumped his sorry butt at his home and called a different friend to come over with suds. I'm all about having a good time, but seriously, let's get our act together first. For real.

The next battle of idioms is on the horizon, dear readers. Prepare yourself for the war against textspeak! BTW, WYP? DGAM IGGP. JK, ROFL! SMEM TOM PLS! IDK. IOH. L8R! It's coming and your kids are leading the charge!

Give me literacy, or give me something else! But definitely not death.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Scary and Not-So-Scary Thoughts

In keeping with the Halloween theme, I have been pondering what is scary for me and what is just (yawn!) mundane for me now and I've discovered that a lot of the things that gave me the creeps before don't anymore. Monsters, ghouls, mummies, ghosts, aliens, vampires and the typical frights of my childhood are so cheesy as compared to what puts my mind in a dither these days.

I know that you outgrow a lot of fears as you get older (fear of the dark, fear of strangers, fear of being called last in kick-ball, etc.) because as you become an adult and start your own familiy you worry less about monsters and more about paying bills and protecting your family. That's not to say the monsters aren't necessarily there, hiding in the closet or under the bed, just that they don't rate as high a concern.

Remember after 9/11 when so many of us had this all-consuming fear of terrorists and how they were going to blow up airplanes, hospitals, government buildings, power plants and poison the food and water supplies, etc.? That was a valid concern back then and being at the height of the whole terrorism paranoia, parents feared for their children's safety with some even investing in bulletproof jackets for them. Is the fear still there now? Not so much. Does that mean we are winning the war on terrorism? Again, not so much.

With the exception of phobias, which are severe anxiety disorders, most people get by with just a modest fear of things like heights, flying, enclosed spaces, public speaking, loss of bladder control in public, animals (snakes, spiders, dogs, bats, etc.) or being caught at a Jonas Brothers concert. Others get nervous on bridges or tunnels, during thunderstorms, or around fire. Maybe it is just me, but I am terrified that I will be trapped in a car, with a bat, wearing a Jonas Brothers concert T-shirt, in heavy traffic during a thunderstorm on a bridge while a terrorist is shooting at me when I need to pee. I know, the odds do seem a bit unlikely. Bats don't care much for cars, plus I keep my windows rolled up.

One of my family members (and I won't say who, Shannon) is afraid of slugs. Now you might find this amusing because slugs aren't the kind of critter that is likely to leap on you when you least expect it and begin chomping on you. But on one occasion she spotted one on the wall in the hallway leading to the bathroom and freaked out. She called her boyfriend at work and made him come home early and remove it so she could go to the bathroom. And yes, he made it home in time. I would tell you who it was, but I don't want to embarrass her.

Here are some of my current fears:

I'm afraid that California will continue to elect Hollywood actors to serve as our governor after Arnold Schwarzenegger leaves office.

Even though the caliber of actors is on the upswing from B-movie star Ronald Reagan to top box office draw Arnold Schwarzenneger, I still believe that the best politicians are people who have some education or experience in the political scene. And no, being related to a politician is no more of an advantage to being a politician than, oh, living next to Russia would be to making you competent in international affairs. Still, as actors go, I would rather go with Governor Bruce Willis than a Governor Keanu Reeves. Yippee-ki-yay, brother truckers! (Or something like that.)

My mother's driving scares me. I don't even have to be in the car and just the thought terrifies me.

God knows I love her dearly but she's 83 years old and her eyesight is so bad I swear she drives from memory. She uses those bumps between lanes like it was braille, telling her she is still in her lane. Now she's panic-stricken because the DMV wants her to do an eye exam before they will renew her drivers licence this year and she has NO chance of passing it. She even asked me if I could get her a copy of the eye chart so she could memorize it and just pretend to read it to the DMV examiner.

Okay, I am the first to admit that my mother is weird. My friends and others that have met her see the cool, funny side of her. They look at her and think, "Ahh, an eccentric Lucille Ball-type character," which is true in many regards. But I'm convinced that as she has aged, what she lacks in natural comical talent is now being compensated by pre-senile dementia. And sorry mom, but maybe it's just better for all involved if we just let pop drive from now on.

And finally two words that strike terror into the hearts of a lot of Americans - "President Palin."

I am convinced that part of Obama's presidential victory can be attributed to fears from voters that John McCain would take an early dirt nap and leave the country in the hands of a confused, inexperienced and dangerously inept hockey mom. It may have been these apocalyptic nightmares that led so many to the polls in record numbers this last year. One can only wonder how Palin would have responded to the worst recession since the Great Depression. Perhaps her experience with finances could have played a major role in turning around the economy. After all, she has seen a bank before.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Halloween Musings: It's The Great Weirdo, Charlie Brown!

With Halloween just a couple weeks away, I got to thinking about all the crazy, silly and weird things that transpire on this holiday and how it's the one time of the year where we can dress up in some disturbing, gross or ridiculous fashion (ie. as a Michael Jackson zombie, a used tampon or just Kanye West) and get away with it. Even our pets get in on the act with a little help!

Of course dressing up in wild costumes and going door-to-door begging candy from strangers isn't something you want to do all the time, but on Halloween it's normal for the kids to grab their pillow cases and put together (usually) some kind of spooky get-up and hit you up for a Snickers bar or at least some Reeses Pieces. Here's a tip for those newcomers to this holiday: avoid the cheap hard candies you buy by the pound. Kids don't want them and you are just going to get them angry. Unless you want your house to be egged, toilet-papered or otherwise desecrated, give them what they want...which is chocolate.

Many of us grew up trick-or-treating and fell in love with the holiday, including the candy, the costumes and of course the movies that have been made to pay tribute to it. But even as adults we repressed adolescents still want our Halloween fix, only now it has the additional grown-up features of alcohol, drugs and sex to further complement the occasion and we generally skip knocking on neighbor's doors looking for candy. (Unless that's your neighbor's name, in which case a big "boo-ya" for you!)

For the adults (specifically those not taking kids out trick-or-treating) there is the obligatory Halloween party. The costumes are wilder and sexier, the alcohol is flowing freely, the music is rocking out and the general mood is of complete and total reckless abandon. Throw in some beer pong, some sexy dancing, a swimming pool or hot tub and some awesome food and of course a bunch of weird, wacky people and you have yourself a fine time indeed.

In terms of costumes, you can expect to see one or more of the following at a Halloween party: a girl in lingerie with bunny ears or cat ears and nose, sexy nurse (including homicidal sexy nurse), The Joker, Sarah Palin, a guy in drag (including a guy in drag posing as Sarah Palin), the devil (guy or gal), Bruno, killer clowns, a vampire (again, both sexes), someone who crapped their pants (hopefully it's only a costume!), a Guitar Hero, a homeless guy, an angel, a witch, a pirate, an alien, a zombie, a redneck and a transformer. Of course there will be the odd guy dressed as their favorite Star Trek character or their favorite breakfast cereal, but most people just leave them alone anyway. Ewwwwwww.

And what's the deal with people getting all pushed out of shape about costumes anyway? Aren't there enough things to worry about in the world than what other people are wearing? It's not like we are going about our regular daily lives looking like zombies (well, not on purpose, anyway!) So many people complain that this is gross, or that is inappropriate or this is too revealing or whatever. Grow up people! The world isn't going to get sucked into some whirling maelstrom of chaos and destruction because some guy is wearing a pregnant nun outfit or a girls boobage is...ahem...a bit too apparent.

Yes, I know the religious "fundos" have a field day with this holiday saying we are promoting satanic blah, blah, blah and eroding the moral blah, blah, blah and forever condemning our poor, innocent children to an eternity of fire and damnation, blah, blah, blah. And to them I say, please just go find some unelectable moron to champion your pretentious, intolerant views and give the rest of us unwashed heathen a break from your sanctimonious babble.

I remember when my daughter Lissa was about 5 years old and she wanted to be Jasmine from the Disney movie "Aladdin." I took her trick-or-treating and the looks I got from some of these holier-than-thou old crones was absurd, just because she was showing her bare midriff. Come on now, it's not like I got her a stripper pole for her birthday or anything. I am happy to report that being Jasmine caused her no long-term damage to her psyche and she is neither a prostitute or a stripper. Though she is looking at a career in film. Hmmmmmm.

Seriously, I feel if it's good enough for Disney, why shouldn't it be good enough for a bunch of snarling, narrow-minded, god-fearing zealots? Seriously, it's not like I have no moral principles, I do. Now I'm no prude, but I still wouldn't let any daughter of mine wear a t-shirt that said "I'm Not Wearing Panties" or "Hell Yes, They're Real!" And that goes double for my son!

The latter is just too weird, even for me.

Have fun this Halloween! Be safe and get wild and crazy! I hear You Tube is looking for some fresh, sexy, funny, and brilliantly creative Halloween videos and you people might just be the answer to their prayers!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Memories of The Early Sixties - My First Three Years

Yeah, I'm a dog lover....why do you...? Oh you guys are so gross!

As I posted earlier, I celebrated my 47th birthday this week, or as I tell it, I celebrated the 25th anniversary of my 22nd birthday. (Please don't send presents, cash will be fine.) It's hard to believe I've been stomping around the Earth for so long and no one has discovered me and put me in a position of power, but oh well. My time will come and then heads will roll! Eww! I just had a mental picture of me as a Boy Scout Scoutmaster.

Moving on......

Reflecting on an almost half-century of life (I don't count the point of conception and the following 9 months in utero because I was still more tadpole-than-human for much of it and not yet a unique individual) I have to say that I have lived through some of the most exciting and eventful decades of this and the last century, but to my mind the sixties were the decade to top all decades.

Those who lived through it (and still remember it through the haze of psychodelics and other mind expanding agents of the time) will remember the space race, the war in Vietnam, the assassinations of JFK, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy and others, hippies and the whole counterculture momement, the Beatles and the British Invasion and the other great music of the day, the crazy fashions, the cool cars, the wild dance crazes, innovative TV shows and cool toys like Twister and Rock'em Sock'em Robots, for example.

Although being born near the end of 1962, I was a very aware baby for my time. For instance, I totally dug rock music and was a great dancer. I had a move I called "Changing The Diaper" that was the envy of many local newborns. Also, back then I thought cartoons were bitchin', Godzilla was the king of the monsters and Elvis was the coolest cat with Willie Mays not far behind him (this was way before Fonzie, of course.)

I admit that I did bend to peer pressure and experimented with drugs (mom called it "formula," but even my keen senses knew it was too good to be legal) but those were the Sixties and we all did a lot of things we shouldn't have back then. My favorite song at that time was Patti Page's "(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?" But that was before my mom began singing it to me every night before I went to bed (lovely woman, miserable singing voice.) Every night she would gently rock me and croak out that song. God, I hated that song. No amount of crying or spitting up on her would make her stop either.

Of course everyone living at that time can remember with sadness where they were when JFK was assassinated. I was sitting in my high chair decorating the kitchen wall with a combination of strained spinach and beets. Squash would have been good too, but I had already had some for lunch and disliked what they did to my diaper when I ate too much. When the news broke that we had lost our president, I wept. In fact, I was inconsolable for the rest of the year and most of the next year (what can I say, we democrats took it hard.)

As a 2-year old in 1964, several events occurred which proved to be pivotal in my life. At the time I was very much into music and when the Beatles performed on the Ed Sullivan Show, I knew then that my life would never be the same. My favorite Beatle was George, known in the press as "the quiet one." I told myself that someday I too would play guitar and then the babes would really love me. Of course I never learned guitar, and consequently the babes are still as repulsed by me as ever.

But 1964 was about more than just the Beatles or the British Invasion. We had the war in Vietnam going on and the Civil Rights Act was signed into law, LBJ was re-elected, Martin Luther King received the Nobel Peace Prize, China had dropped their first atomic bomb and the first Ford Mustang rolled off the assembly line. These were all very big deals in 1964. But to me, probably the biggest thing that happened that year was that Hasbro launched the quintessential action figure for boys, a guy by the name of G.I. Joe.

This one toy revolutionized playtime for boys for generations to follow. Something about G.I. Joe expanded a boy's imagination and you just didn't have time to explore all the possible adventures that Joe could get himself involved with. It didn't matter if he talked or had a Kung-Fu Grip or wore scuba gear, Joe was a toy for all seasons that could eat up a whole afternoon (well, including naps) just kicking the crap out of bad guys (generally played by my green army men, and sometimes Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs too.) Those of you that had a G.I. Joe when you were kids, you can all relate I'm sure. He was awesome.

The year 1965 was memorable for me because I had reached my third year of life and was much more adept at negotiating the little hurdles of childhood. The food was a lot better, the toys and games got more challenging and even my parents started to understand me more. And even as events of the day continued to unfold such as the escalation of the war in Vietnam, the many new achievements gained in space exploration, and the continuing strife concerning race relations with the riots and marches and Voting Rights Act, there was still something else that, for me, was very cool indeed. This was the year that Spaghetti-O's first hit the store shelves. They were yummy and just my size and I could wolf down a bunch of them in a sitting. I felt so grown up eating them. Plus, they were fun to throw, which is something they don't tell you in the advertisements.

Television also took on greater interest for me that year. So many great new shows started in 1965. Shows like "Lost In Space," "I Dream of Jeannie," and Hogan's Heroes were very popular. That was also the year of "Get Smart," and "The Wild, Wild West," two of my personal favorites. A cartoon show of "The Beatles" came out that year as was the first airing of "A Charlie Brown Christmas," which I still love to this day and credit for my interest in jazz music.

Yes, the early sixties were a time of great hope, great sadness and great imagination. And as a very small child living in quiet suburbia and soaking it all up, I think it really helped form the framework for who I later became in life.

So who do I complain to about that?

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