Monday, December 3, 2012

Politically Correcting Christmas

Be warned--the politically correct police have run out of everyday faux pas to pursue and are now coming after Santa Claus.

A child advocate named Pamela McColl has decided that the classic holiday rhyme "'Twas The Night Before Christmas"  needs to be revised because Santa is a smoker.  She has published a new version that has removed the lines, "The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath".

McColl's reasoning is that 25 percent of long-term smokers first pick up the habit before age 10, and that having a beloved children's character smoking in the middle of the living room is a bad influence.

I must have read this tale a hundred times over the years, and I never once thought of Santa as a smoker.  It is all part of his "jolly old elf" persona.  I would imagine the reference to smoking goes over the head of 90 percent of us, but McColl is apparently convinced it will result in millions of children writing to Santa for a pipe and tobacco in their stockings.

What's next?  We will be deleting the references to Santa going up and down the chimney because it is technically breaking and entering?

What about the line about his protruding stomach?  Will that also be changed because it appears unhealthy?  A Santa with washboard abs is just wrong.  And what about the reference to his stomach as "a bowl full of jelly"?  Somehow the line "shook as he laughed like a bowl full of tofu" doesn't have the same ring.

If we are going to p.c. Christmas, let's just take it all the way and do away with the term "elves."  Couldn't this be considered derogatory?  Perhaps it would be more correct to refer to them as "vertically challenged production and shipping coordinators."

I agree that there are certain terms and expressions that should not be part of polite society. However, in an effort not to offend anyone or make sure children are only exposed to healthy images, we are taking things a bit too far.

There have always been and will always be smokers, overweight people and other characteristics we deem less than ideal in this world.  Perhaps these are not the best lifestyles or attitudes to pursue, but it allows children to understand that everyone has attributes and qualities that make them unique.  And just as those around them can reflect good examples, it is not a bad idea that they are exposed to behaviors NOT to imitate.  It does not take much to make them understand that smoking is what causes Grandpa to have yellow teeth, a bad cough and smell like an ashtray.

There are some icons in the world with which you simply do not mess, and Santa is one of them.  So I will take my Santa chubby with pipe smoke circling around his head, thank you very much.

And if anyone suggests he should not wear red because it represents gang colors, may they be strung up with garland in a pear tree occupied by a partridge, three french hens and four calling birds with full stomachs.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Annoying The Vote Out Of Us

The saying "every vote counts" certainly hold true in any election, but I am really starting to feel honored with the caliber of people who are vying for my support in this election.

I have been disconnecting, ignoring and blocking political phone calls for months.  In the past four days, I have hung up on former President Bill Clinton, actor and former Senator Fred G. Thompson, and Clint Eastwood.  The fact that these are recordings are merely a technicality.

I usually have some choice words for these robo-callers before I hang up.  I know they can't hear me, but it does my blood pressure good to let them have it.

The closer this election gets in both proximity and statistics, the more both parties break out their "big guns" and bombard us with mail, media ads and phone calls.  I have to wonder how effective this is when we become so overwhelmed with political statements and conflicting information that we are essentially numb to their messages.

I like to have the "Today" Show on in the mornings as I prepare for my day.  Yesterday morning, three out of every four commercials were political ads.  Out of these three advertisements per station break, two of them were from the Super PAC trying to elect Mitt Romney.

I suppose this blitzkrieg was supposed to persuade me that Romney is the more effective, desirable candidate.  Frankly, the only effect it had on me was sheer annoyance.  Surely not the result for which they were aiming.

The barrage of these ads did encourage me to change my mind, however.   I changed my mind about listening to the "Today" Show and turned on the Sonic music channels on our satellite dish.  These are blissfully commercial-free.

I really hope I have the chance to hang up on Barack Obama and Mitt Romney themselves.  That would really do wonders for my ego.

I have to admit however, that I did enjoy speaking to Clint Eastwood.  I explained that I could not talk at the moment because I was too busy having a conversation with a table lamp.

He understood completely.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Election 2012--Lighten Up, People!

I always knew going into this election year that some people were simply going to lose their minds over this political contest.  What I did not expect was that so many would lose their sense of humor.

I recently put a photo on Facebook that I found on another friend's page that parodied Mitt Romney's Big Bird comment at the last debate.  It featured several Sesame Street characters holding guns and knives and, to paraphrase the quote, basically said that it was going down with Romney.  Perhaps there is something warped about finding a picture of public television characters holding weapons and beer bottles while using street language amusing, but that is for another blog.

Although I was just posting a funny photo, I was chastised by two people who wanted to know why I was making a statement that Sesame Street needs federal funds when they make millions on merchandising.  Funny but I thought I was just copying a picture.

Sadly this is only one example.  Shannon recently had to "unfriend" someone on Facebook  when they attacked her for posting a political cartoon.  When she messaged him to ask him to please respect her views, she was told he would not show any restraint because she was "responsible for the deaths of thousands of people."  Never thought a cartoon held that much power.

Why does society feels when it comes to politics, it is perfectly respectable to attack and belittle those whose views differ from their own?  Is it part of the general rude and disrespectful behavior that now permeates our society, or is our political system encouraging radicalism and intolerance?

I have many friends with differing political views, but what would ever cause me to refer to them in terms such as neo-Nazis capitalists or baby-killers?  I simply cannot comprehend becoming so wrapped up in politics that it is acceptable to cross the boundaries of tolerance and decency, but more and more people do it every day without thinking twice.

When our founding fathers created a two party system, do you really think they envisioned constituents firing weapons into political offices full of people or a public refusal to cooperate with an opposing political party simply out of spite?

Regardless, I refuse to let this election rule both my life or my sense of humor.  I stopped getting a local newspaper years ago because they allow people to write into a forum and basically make fun of the political views of others.  I saw more mature behavior in a preschool sandbox than these so-called adults exhibit.   I certainly plan to vote in this election, but I am confident I can do the research and make up my mind on the issues without the help of political calls, advertisements and forums that pose as "news."

I for one will not allow this election taint my character or my sense of humor. Perhaps it is because I have learned over the years that I can only be responsible for myself and my own actions and decisions.  I do not waste time worrying about things beyond my control.

More than likely, however, it is because I do not believe this next election will mean the end of America if President Obama is elected for another term.  Nor does it dictate that lower class will be wiped out and the middle class decimated if Mitt Romney is the winner.

I know this because we are a nation of innovation and strength.  We have weathered storms before.  We survived British colonialism.  We survived a civil war.  We survived Herbert Hoover.  We survived Jimmy Carter.  We will persevere no matter who is in the White House, and succumbing to fringe elements that pits one against the other and leaves no room for compromise or a difference of opinion only weakens us.  United we stand. Divided we fall.

I only hope that respect, tolerance and humor will persevere as well.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

No Cure For Olympic Fever

The Olympic flag still flies and the torch still burns for a few hours, but the games of the 30th Olympiad are winding down.

I am sad.

I am a self-proclaimed Olympic junkie.  I will watch Americans compete in anything from the marathon to Dressage, although I do draw the line at synchronized swimming.

I know for a fact that I am not alone.  Even people who normally despise television will be glued to their set for hours watching something like rhythmic gymnastics.  No one I know is a water polo fan, but dress some players in red, white and blue and slap an American flag on a swim cap and you have the potential for a national phenomenon.

And we love it when America wins.  There is something profound about watching your flag being raised at any Olympic medal ceremony.  The fact that we blew away everyone else in the medal count is not too shabby either.

It's not necessarily the memory of watching America rack up medals that stays with me.  It is the moments of profound sportsmanship and true determination that I most admire.

It is the first female athlete from Saudi Arabia competing in spite of death threats in the hopes of paving the way for other young Muslim women to follow.  It is the disabled athlete from South Africa running in an Olympic race on his prosthetic legs.  Or the hurdler from China not making it over a single hurdle due to an injury, but finishing the race by hobbling down the track on one leg and kissing the Olympic rings on the final hurdle before being helped off the field by his fellow competitors.  These moments prove that you do not have to have a medal around your neck to be a true champion.

All good things must come to an end, so I will take comfort in the fact that the winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are only two years away.

Gotta go.  The gold medal game in handball is starting

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Anyone Seen My Ice Pack?

Today's entry will be a short one, not because I have little to say but because I only have one hand with which to type it.

I had surgery last Friday to repair damage to my thumb.  I have worn out the cartilage and since the bones were painfully rubbing together, the only option was to fuse them.  I am in heavy cast from my fingers nearly to my elbow for at least a week and will be in a soft cast for the remainder of the summer.

With age 50 only a few years away, I  am beginning to realize that the old adage of "with age comes knowledge" is true.  What I did not expect to find it is the knowledge of how what we eat affects digestion, the position in which we sleep determines how our backs will feel in the morning or that our joints can accurately predict weather patterns.

Getting older is no walk in the park.  It is more like a hobble.

Not that I am scanning infomercials for mechanized chairs or hearing aids just yet.  All things considered, I am feeling pretty good and taking steps to stay that way.  I am still surprised at times, however, to notice how I can mark the passage of time by how well my reading glasses still keep everything in focus.

It amazes me sometimes to see how many products out there are being marketed to keep those of us who fall in and around the Baby Boomer bracket young and spry.  It seems to be especially true for women.  I think this is due to one of two factors.  It could be that we simply are the vainer sex and are willing to spend more money staying that way.  Or perhaps it has to do with the belief that men become more "distinguished" as they age while we need to worry about the morning we climb out of bed and it all hits the floor.

I am especially intrigued by then success of the novel "Fifty Shades Of Gray" which is supposed to reveal what middle-aged women really want.  I can tell you that. 

Forget the romance.  We want a great chiropractor to take care of our aching backs.  We need a good massage therapist to help our stiff muscles and joints.  An expert shopper to help us find clothes to hide the sags and bulges.  Finally, a great makeup artist to disguise those wrinkles.

Now there's a great American tell-all novel.  I could call it "Fifty Tubes of Ben-Gay."

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Years ago, I heard the saying, "If you want to see eighteen years fly by, have a child."  I realized how true this was several weeks ago as I watched my daughter graduate from high school.

The tiny baby of long ago has grown into a lovely young woman who is anxious to take on the world.  As I wonder where my little girl went, I am reminded of the lyrics to the song Sunrise, Sunset from the musical Fiddler On The Roof:

Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?
I don't remember growing older
When did they?

When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?
Wasn't it yesterday when they were small?

As both my children enter new phases in life, one off to college and the other entering high school, I realize Cliff and I are also entering new passages in life.  As they grow more independent, that Empty Nest Syndrome looms ever closer.  As someone who has dedicated the last 18 years of my life to raising my children, there are some aspects in that time to which I look forward.  Others, not so much.

If there is anything I have learned during this 18-year journey, it is to cherish every moment, no matter how mundane it seems.  Take pictures, journal and scrapbook as much as you can to preserve those precious memories.  Pick and choose your battles carefully, and never, ever sweat the small stuff.

After all, the days may seem long when they are little, but the years are incredibly short.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Fire In The Hole! Latest Salvo Fired In The "Mommy Wars"

Apparently both sides in the Mommy Wars have been a little too quite lately. Naturally, someone had to lob a grenade into the opposite camp.

The truce in the Mommy Wars--if there ever really is one--was broken last week when Democratic Strategist Hilary Rosen criticized Ann Romney by saying she has never worked a day in her life. Ouch.

First of all, I believe that any women who raises children and manages to hold on to her sanity deserves a medal. Any woman who raises five boys should be an automatic candidate for sainthood.

However, I get what Hilary Rosen was trying to say, albeit badly: As a woman of means, Ann Romney cannot really identify with the everyday challenges of a working or stay-at-home mom because she always had resources such as housekeepers, nannies and gardeners at her disposal. How many of us can lay claim to that?

The question remains, however, if that statement should have been made at all. When women continually lob jabs at each other for the choices we make, it makes us look petty, catty and quite frankly, bitchy. We play perfectly into the stereotypes that many have of us when we continually criticize each other's roles in society.

Why is it so difficult to accept that we all make the choices that work best for ourselves and our families? The notion that working mothers are selfish and stay-at-home moms are lazy and stupid should have gone the way of shoulder pads and big hair. Still, someone manages to throw those very stereotypes in our faces every few years.

I think the problem arises because many women are uncomfortable with the choices they make. A mother working outside the home often feels guilty because it is not possible to be there with her children at all times. A stay-at-home mom may worry that she has wasted the thousands of dollars she put into her education and lament the fact that her family may have to make financial sacrifices. The easiest way to ease that guilt is to throw barbs at someone who has chosen opposite her situation.

Until we recognize that neither choice is easy and that very few of us live a charmed life, the Mommy Wars will continue to make headlines. The time has come to stop pointing fingers and start supporting each other for the decisions we make. After all, no one should criticize a woman until they have walked a mile in her pumps, or her Keds.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Playing Politics With Dr. Suess

I thought Americans had really gone off the deep end over the election four years ago. Grab your life preservers and nose plugs, folks, because here we go again.

If you thought the rhetoric and ridiculous claims were bad in the last election, you ain't heard nothing yet. Apparently Fox News' Lou Dobbs was ranting earlier this week over the movie "The Lorax". He claims it is an attempt by the Obama administration to push an environmentalist agenda and spread "propaganda" about sharing.

How dare we teach our children to share and care about the earth. The horror of it all.

First of all, I really have to give kudos to Obama for his influence on a book that was written in 1971, approximately 41 years before he took office. Now that's power.

More to the point, have we really become so polarized that we have to make a political statement out of Dr. Suess? Theodor Geisel was certainly an influential writer, but I must of missed the communist propaganda in "Green Eggs and Ham".

I used to read my kids "One Fish, Two Fish. Red Fish, Blue Fish" all the time. Does that make me a socialist for dividing the fish equally or a member of the Nazi party for singling them out by color?

I would hope that people who hear rhetoric this ridiculous would step back and reevaluate why they base their opinions on political pundits instead of taking the time to do some research and come to their own conclusions. I have a feeling I would be disappointed.

I bet if I look hard enough, I can find an "agenda" in many of our children's classics. I dug a few out of the attic just to prove my point.

"Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See" by Eric Carle is clearly about voyeurism. All of those animals spying on each other are obviously teaching children that they could have lucrative careers as Peeping Toms.

"If You Give A Mouse A Cookie" by Laura Numeroff is pure socialism. Look what happens when you give too many handouts. We end up with a society of unappreciative mice demanding more freebies, hogging our remotes and raiding our refrigerators.

The worst has to be "Pat The Bunny" by Dorothy Kunhardt. Imagine a book encouraging children to chase down and manhandle rabbits for all these years. I'm surprised PETA isn't burning copies and holding boycotts outside of Barnes and Noble.

I'm not sure if I should be more worried about a world that would use a children's movie to promote a political agenda, or the fact that I read my children all of those disturbing books when they were small.

Let's hope Lou Dobbs doesn't get wind of these controversial works of literature. After all, with gas prices approaching $4 a gallon and unemployment still in the double digits, discussing the radical views of children's books and movies such as "The Lorax" sure seems relevant.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Memories of JoePa

It is with great sadness that I heard of the passing of former Penn State Coach Joe Paterno this morning.

The debate continues about Paterno's role in the Penn State scandal allegedly perpetrated by former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. Questions regarding how much Paterno knew and whether he should have done more will undoubtedly cloud his legacy for a long time.

In my mind, however, the world has lost a great man.

How many football coaches alive today have donated their own money to upgrade a university library? How many of them have not taken a salary in over a decade, preferring instead to donate that money back to the university? How many can boast such a high graduation rate among their players?

Beyond all of that, it is the personal connections to Paterno I will remember the most. He was not just a figurehead, but an actual presence on that campus. It was not unusual to see him walking around the grounds on an ordinary day. I had the privilege of sitting next to him and his family at a mass on campus one Sunday.

My fondest memory will be the one summer when I was taking classes and staying in the dorms. During dinner in the dining hall, I was seated with a group of girls in a semi-circle around one of the tables. A male acquaintance walked by and said it looked like we were forming a panel to rate guys.

It suddenly occurred to us that this was a great idea. Someone donned pens and paper and we retired to the quad area outside the dining hall, faced the lawn chairs toward the hall entrance and proceeded to rate guys as they walked in and out on a scale of one to ten. We were nice for the most part--I don't remember anyone getting less than a seven.

We had been at this for about a half hour when who should walk by but Coach Paterno himself, heading into the dining hall to join his players. Someone shouted "Give that man a ten!" We all did, of course, along with a loud chorus of whistles and cheers. This earned us a smile and a wave from Paterno.

The world may remember the coach. The world may recall the scandal that unceremoniously ousted him from his job. I will choose to remember the man.

Coach, you will always be a "ten" in my eyes.