Monday, January 28, 2013

What Difference Does It Make?

President Obama began his second term by accidentally giving a campaign speech instead of an inaugural address. He seemed to be hinting, if not actually saying, that the problems in America are caused by “Alan” and if he will just shut up, open his wallet and jump on The Freedom Express things will be much better.

                             The Biggest Problem Facing America

The President exposed his true Progressive-Kennedy wing of the Democratic Party bonafides when he basically said that none of us can be truly free until two men can marry. He said, “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”  This thought did not spring from Washington, Madison, Jefferson, or Lincoln, but rather from Garth Brooks who said, “When we’re free to love anyone we choose…then we shall be free”.

This was the President’s outreach to those who disagree with him: “We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate.”  I will translate this for you: “Hush. You lost the election. Na Na Na Na”. In the President’s Ivy League Professor Lounge World only conservatives (Republicans) are absolutists and name-callers. You wonder where he was when his former deputy press secretary produced a commercial that held Mitt Romney responsible for the death of a woman.

Speaking about spectacle, the day after the Inaugural, Future President Secretary of State Hillary Clinton finally gave her testimony before Congress regarding what happened in Benghazi on September 11, 2012.  The administration spent a good part of the fall explaining that Four Americans (including the Ambassador to Libya) were killed due to a viral YouTube video. They invested a lot of effort trying to convince people that this video was so offensive that it caused a group of peaceful people to grab some RPGs and go and kill some Americans. Of course, that wasn’t anywhere near the truth, which was that it was a planned al Qaeda terrorist attack.

              Future President Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

When questioned about this, Future President Secretary of State Clinton said, ““With all due respect, the fact is, we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or because of guys out for a walk one night who decide to kill some Americans, what difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator.”

That is the glorious result of someone that has been drenched in situational ethics their entire adult life.  It was the difference between being honest with the American people or lying to the American people. There wasn’t even a good reason to lie about it. Most Americans realize that even though Bin Laden is dead, he probably had some crazies left ready to pick up the ball.  It was just an inconvenient truth in the middle of a competitive Presidential election.

“What difference does it make?” is probably on the Clinton Coat of Arms. Paula Jones: what difference does it make? Whitewater: what difference does it make?  What difference does it make that President Clinton is a chubby chaser and how he likes to “relax” in the Oval Office?

If the political smarty pants are right, we have at least 12 more years (4 Obama + 8 Clinton  Redux) of this.  But what difference will it make?  Nothing, except a man will be able to marry another man.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

P.E.F. *Performance Enhancing Fantasy

It is getting to the point that the off-season of our favorite professional sport, college football, is almost as fun as the season itself.

It used to be the off-season of college football was about the recruitment of high school players leading up to The Put On A Hat with Momma Day (National Signing Day). Also, there were the inevitable stories of players committing various felonies and misdemeanors, particularly here in Georgia. It got so bad that I suggested there should be a headline in the sports page of the newspaper: NO UGA PLAYERS ARRESTED THIS WEEK.

Well, a couple of years ago, an Alabama fan, upset that Alabama lost to Auburn  poisoned the iconic oak trees at Toomer’s Corner in Auburn and called up Paul Finebaum’s radio show to brag about it.  Then, last year, Bobby Petrino had a wreck on a motorcycle while riding with a woman who was not Mrs. Bobby Petrino.  The image of Bobby Petrino in a neck brace was probably the highlight of the football season for me.  Now, we have the strange case of Manti Te’o.

                       I know being hurt isn't funny, but.....

In case you have been living under a rock, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o claimed that his grandmother and his girlfriend both happen to die on the same day, right before the Michigan State game. Te’o played one of his greatest games against Michigan State because nothing fires up a player more than having both your Mee-Maw and your soul mate die on the same day.  Then came the revelation last week:  the girlfriend not dead, Yay, she’s alive! No, she’s not because she was never existed. There was never a girl named Lennay Kekua.

                                 Not bad for somebody who isn't real.

Supposedly, Te’o is a victim of “catfishing”, a MTV term young people use for when a person uses the internet to pretend to be something they’re not, like good looking. If you believe Te’o, he fell hook, line and sinker for this girl, who did not exist.

Of course, I am suspicious of Te’o story because my son is the same age as Te’o and I know a lot of guys in that age group. I can say with confidence that most young men’s IQ range between 45 (for the smart ones) to 00 for the average guy. Also, I was a 22 years old at one time and would have killed for a pretend girlfriend, preferably one that looked like Bo Derek.

I’m not sure of a reason why somebody would want to prank a Division I linebacker. Division I linebackers are not known for having a self-deprecating sense of humor and the idea of public humiliation over a girl that did not exist would likely be met with a horse collar tackle if you catch my drift. That’s one of the reasons, I’m not buying Te’o’s claim of innocence.

One theory  being floated around is that Te’o is a homosexual and used the “girlfriend that lived in California” as a way to keep nosy people out of his business. The problem with this theory is that “being gay” is always the reason some people use to explain any type human behavior. You drive fast-you are gay. You drive slow-you are gay. You like to listen to Metallica-you are gay. You don’t like listen to Metallica.-you must be gay. Anyway, if Te’o was gay, somebody would have come out of the closet by now (ha, ha) and claimed to have huddled with Te’o

My theory is: he got together with this other guy and created this “ideal girl” as a goof and it just grew out of control. Why? Because he’s 22 years old and thought it would be funny.

I find it interesting that Te’o used the death of his supposed soul mate as motivation in his game against Michigan State. It was a Performance Enhancing Fantasy or P.E.F. If she had died a week earlier, he might have won the Heisman.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Cake Left Out In The Rain

As much as I hate to admit it, I am a Baby Boomer, the group of wonderful children born between 1946  and 1964.  Our parents were "The Greatest Generation", the people that survived both a Great Depression and Great World War. Our generation was “The Not So Hot Generation”, which survived Non-cable/satellite TV and riding bicycles without helmets .

One thing we have going for us is our music totally, and no pun intended, rocks. It used to be that people sang and played instruments. They sang with deep, deep conviction regarding things like leaving cakes out in the rain. People were always leaving cakes out in the rain in the 60’s.  You’d come in the house and ask your Mom if there was any cake and she’d tell you to check outside.

 This is where the cake was left out of the rain: MacArthur Park

I am a late Baby Boomer (1959) and I spend a lot of time wondering what happened to the music of my youth. Why is music so bad now?

I think I know the day the music died. It was the day Van McCoy recorded “The Hustle”. You remember that song? Here are the lyrics: “Do the hustle. Do the hustle”.  The first couple of times I heard that song I thought the lyrics were, “Do the hot dog. Do the hot dog”. I come by this talent of misunderstanding lyrics naturally because my mother never understood a single lyric in the rock era. She thought, and this is the truth, The Culture Club song “Karma Chameleon” was “Come to me, Leon”.

One thing that might have killed the music was the 70’s singer-songwriters. There were a lot of depressing songs in the 70's that never made a lot of sense. Everybody had seen fire and rain. The cat was in the cradle and you are ignoring your kid.  I am I said I am to no one there and no one heard at all because no one was there that had ears.  I found your diary underneath the tree and started reading about me but then I realized it wasn’t about me so let’s just forget I mentioned it. There is this bullfrog, his name is Jeremiah, and he’s a good friend of mine.

One cheery-upbeat feel good song of the 70's was “The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald”. This was a song by Canadian Singer-Songwriter Gordon Lightfoot. If there is anything that says “depression” it is “Canadian Singer-Songwriter”. It commemorated the sinking of the bulk carrier SS Edmund Fitzgerald in Lake Superior on November 10, 1975. That’s what people sang about in the 70’s: boats sinking and “making sweet love”. (“Making sweet love” is a phrase you will find in all genres of music in the 70’s. From rock to soul to country, if people were not dying in sinking boats, they were “making sweet love”.)

             This is the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

One depressing 70’s song that I like is “Mandy” by Barry Manilow. If you do not want to have your sexuality questioned, never admit on Facebook that you purchased this song on iTunes. Trust me on this.

“Mandy” is a special song about a special girl who could give without taking.  Let’s face it; girls who can give with taking are about a dime a dozen. If you can find one that can give without taking, with all of this uphill climbing and nothing rhyming, I suggest you don’t send her away.

    I look at this picture and think: He needs a haircut.

“Mandy” could also kiss and stop people from shaking. This could revolutionize medical care in this county. Just think of how much money could be saved if Mandy and her medical kisses were in America’s emergency rooms.

Patient: “I’m shaking and I can’t stop!”

Doctor:  Nurse Mandy. Kiss this man!”

Nurse Mandy: (smooch)

Patient: “I’m cured!”

The problem with “Mandy” is that it led straight to “The Copacabana” and music has been in the dumps ever since. Looks like we'll never have that recipe again, oh no.

Friday, January 11, 2013

My Robot Bodyguard

A couple of months ago, I took one of our cars to the dealer for some repairs. They had to keep the car for a couple of days, so they gave me a loaner car, a $44K Buick LaCrosse.  The Buick LaCrosse is a mid-sized luxury sedan that “envelopes you in luxury”, according to General Motors. This is unlike my first General Motors product, The Chevette, which enveloped you in cheapness. (The slogan for The Chevette by the ad agency Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Dukakis & Bentsen was "It's not a car-It's a Chevette!")

 My loaner LaCrosse had the safety feature of  side view mirrors with blind spot detection. You’re driving along and the mirror blinks/beeps when there is a car, animal, side of the garage, Joe Biden, or whatever  is in your blind spot.

I’ve been thinking about that feature and that I need a blind spot detection for my own life.

My problem is this: I was raised in one of those families which believed that it was their duty and obligation to express their opinion, whether it was wanted or not. It didn't even have to make sense. It was our opinion and you needed to hear it for your own edification. We didn’t care about your “feelings” because you had some “problem” we needed to “point out” and if you didn’t “like it” that was “tough” because you are “stupid”.

So I  became an adult that said whatever popped into his mind, particularly if I thought it was funny. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. My wife has helped me stay out of big trouble, but it is a big job.  But I need more. I need B9.

B9 was the name of the robot in the 60’s television show “Lost In Space”. This is the plot of “Lost in Space”. A family of astronauts (Dad, Mom, Hot Teenage Blond Daughter, Semi-Hot Brunette Daughter,  Goofy Looking Kid Brother, Handsome Single Astronaut that probably wants to hook up with the Hot Teenage Blond Daughter, and a foppish stowaway named “Dr.” Smith, who always gave me the creeps) were in space and they were lost. That’s the show!

B9 hung around with the Goofy Looking Kid Brother named Will Robinson. He was Will’s friend. They would discuss a topic and if something vaguely human would come up B9 would say, “THAT DOES NOT COMPUTE”.  

When a monster or a space bad guy would come around, B9 would flail his robot arms around saying “WARNING-WARNING” or “DANGER WILL ROBINSON”.  I need that. Except I need mine to say “DANGER ALAN MANIS” because I probably wouldn’t pay attention if it told me “DANGER WILL ROBINSON”.

When my wife was pregnant with our son, we were trying to come up with names for the baby. We were one of those couples that decided not to learn gender the baby before birth.   So we came up with two names: one for a boy and one for a girl.

Well, the boy name we had picked out we had to discard for various reasons. The girl name was “Mary Rebecca”. I told the people at work about the name and got several negative responses. So I asked my wife if we could re-think the girl’s name. This is when I needed B9 to say “WARNING-WARNING”.  Mary was my mother in law's name and at that time she was in the hospital with a fairly serious condition.

I asked about the name “Victoria”. (DANGER ALAN MANIS) I mentioned this girl I knew in college in Louisiana that I thought was the bee’s knees and her name was Victoria and we could call the baby “Tori” or “Vickie” that was my, um, friend’s nickname. (DANGER-DANGER).  In all honesty, this young lady was never a girlfriend, but that's not because I didn't pray about it.  Nobody had ever told me that it might not be a good idea to name your daughter after a girl you lusted after.

My wife said this and I’m highlighting the words as she did when she spoke them to me:

"WE are NOT going to name MY BABY after some girl YOU had the HOTS for."

Needless to say, the girl’s name remained “Mary Rebecca”. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Cheer Up, Republicans

Look up, Charlie
You'll see a star
Just follow it and keep your dreams in view
Pretty soon the sky is going to clear up
Cheer up Charlie,do
Cheer up Charlie
  -Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory

To say 2012 was a disappointing year for those of us on the Republican side of the river is an understatement.  It was a kick in the political nads that wanted to make some of us throw our hands in the air and give up even trying to participate in the national conversation. Participating in the national conversation has become so toxic and so mean it is just easier to ignore all of the tweeting/posting provocateurs and go down to our basements and play with our collective train sets.

I’ve created a little game called: I Should Have Known Romney Was In Trouble.  You sit around a table and yell out incidents from the 2012 campaign when we should have known Romney was going to lose. The most obscure wins! (My favorite: the kerfuffle over an incident in 1965 which supposedly had Romney cutting the hair of a fellow prep school student who may/may not have been gay. The student, who died 28 years ago, never mentioned the incident to his family. Nevertheless, Romney apologized for something he didn’t remember and may never have actually happened)

It wasn’t that it was such a bad candidate or campaign. It is just none of their big ideas worked. For example: Clint Eastwood. In February, he does a car commercial that is probably the best ad in the Super Bowl telecast. Team Romney gets him for the Republican National Convention and puts him in a prime time spot to endorse Mitt Romney. And Eastwood goes on Prime Time TV, looking all Dirty Grandpa Harry, ad- libbing to a chair.

There are several others, with the only consolation being that if you are a Calvinist, it all makes sense. Otherwise, a country mired in very weak recovery if not already in recession re-electing a President whose big idea is to raise taxes on the evil rich ( by his own definition, millionaire and billionaires are those families that make over $250K a year), does not compute.

As the young people would say, it is what it is. We are now faced with an embolden President and his enablers in the Press who think he is the best thing since butter. He has all of the major cool celebrities on his side. We have John Boehner (pronounced “Bayner”) who looks like the Meat department manager at Kroger.

                      Be sure to try our veal- John Boehner

On just about every major issue, The GOP is stuck with the Fuddy-Duddy group. The ones that don’t want “marriage equality” or “immigration reform” or a million other things which make us seem like a cultural stick in the mud when our critics are being charitable. When they are not being charitable, which is most of the time, we're called Nazis and bigots. It doesn't help that there is a portion of us bound and determined to prove our critics right by insisting on seeing Obama's birth certificate/college transcripts/driver's license.

But, cheer up guys. It has been worse. In 1964, that magnetic personality, Lyndon Baines Johnson, won in a landslide against Barry Goldwater. Goldwater's slogan was: "I will blow up the earth. Come on, it will be fun". Johnson took the overwhelming victory to mean that the country  was ready to be mired in an unwinnable land war in Southeast Asia.  We won in 1968. Okay, it was with Nixon, but it was a win.

The GOP has some great governors. Each has some problems, like Chris Christie who weighs 400 pounds and may actually be a Democrat. But, the Republicans have some young talent that may be able to win a Presidential election. One of these days.