Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Sands of Time Stick to my Feet

At the Police Academy graduation the other night, Peggy and I were wryly bemused to see that one of the women in the class had the same name, homophonically, as a fairly-well-known '80's male rock star. I won't embarrass her by naming the singer, but when I asked Dan if his classmate had been the object of jibes over her "famous" name, he looked at me and said " Who else has that name?" It would be the same if, twenty-five years from now, someone popped up with the name Kris Daughtry.

As someone who bears the name of a famous person (whose name is no longer quite so well-known) I am aware of how it feels, believe me. And I can tell you, the people who ask if I am related to the World War II general are always at least my age or older. Now, you can tell me why people assume that I have the same characteristics as that flinty old general.

While we're talking about the Army, here's another sign that we have yet to figure out a way to get that sand to stay in the upper part of the hourglass. There's a young man who waits for his school bus right along my daily path to work. I have always thought that he looked like the Man Show Boy, who was a character on The Man Show, the jejune, sophomoric, childish, hilarious show on cable hosted by the incomparable Adam Corolla and the comic genius Jimmy Kimmel. So, seeing this kid waiting for the bus in the time-honored fashion of kids since the first school bus pulled up someplace always made me happy, to think of the sophisticated comic bits that Adam and Jimmy came up with for the precocious tyke. To this day, humorists regard sketches such as "Boy Scout," "Buy Me Beer," "Man Show Boy Sells Cookies," "Man Show Boy Picks Up Girls," "Man Show Boy At The Beach," " Fake ID," and "Watch My Son" as the ne plus ultra of American wit.

The MSB on my way to work has grown, gotten eyeglasses, and even now can be seen socializing with the girl from across the street who waits with him and one other boy along the road. In previous years, he would stand clutching both his books and his jaw, but now he seems downright garrulous, laughing and jackpotting.

But, he sometimes wears a full-out camo fatigue uniform, from the cap to the boots, and that must mean he is in some junior ROTC program at his school. I don't want to turn this post into a whole examination of our need for a stronger defense system, and throw in a couple verses of "Where Have All The Flowers Gone?" and bemoan all of our lost childhoods. I'd just rather see The Man Show Boy try to date beach beauties than storm some beach in some far-off land, that's all.

And today I am going to close with something on another topic. It seems that Britney Spears's younger sister is pregnant, news which seems to have the entire world in a spin cycle. To me, it seems emblematic of what happens when you take unpolished individuals from a cultural backwater and give them riches beyond measure, and it's really none of my business if this kid wants to mess around and propagate at will. As of now, her family can afford to keep the baby in Osh-Kosh B'Gosh and Pampers for many years, so it's nothing to me, except for the sad reflection on our cultural mirror when a woman, asked about it by some reporter who should have been out asking questions about something that mattered, said "I don't blame Jamie Lynn; I blame Nickelodeon." That's right, put blame on the cable network that shows the half-hour sitcom starring JLS. The entire sad thing is clearly the fault of a television network.

Next fall, that woman's vote for president will count just as much as yours. Jamie Lynn Spears still won't be old enough to vote, but hold on...that sad day is coming, too.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Random Thoughts while waiting for the ice storm...

...I'm sitting here listening online to the late, great Jean Shepherd, whose late-night radio show kept me and millions of others up late! The show I'm hearing is from November 23, 1971, and he discusses a trip to the Grand Ole Opry, where country music lovers can still hear the amazing singer Jean Shepard (no relation). At this time of the year, people like to watch the movie A Christmas Story, based on Shep's stories about the holidays and that coveted Red Ryder b-b rifle, but the body of his work, spoken and written, goes far beyond that mo'on pitcha. Check it out on podcast: ...Just yesterday, Peggy and I asked a dear friend if her son and his lovely girlfriend had made any wedding plans. As of 2 PM, the answer was no, but we got a heartwarming late-night bulletin via magical email - and congratulations to Chris and Molly -they are engaged! As a man who has been happily married for 34 years, all I can say is, marriage is the BEST thing to ever happen to me, and I wish nothing but love and joy for those two happy kids!.. Today's weather forecast is calling for what "they" call a "mixed bag." Snow, sleet, freezing rain, rain, and marshmallows are all supposed to be, well, raining down on us tonight and tomorrow. Back in March, we had a surprise snowstorm around St. Patrick's Day, to the sorrow of bar and tavern owners all over town, and within a couple of weeks after shoveling snow and ice, I was right back out there moving the lawn. Here it is December, and today I spent time blowing, mulching and bagging the last of the autumn leaves so they won't be encased in ice tonight like one of those prehistoric bugs in amber...What a surprise dep't: How about those gasoline prices going way up high just before Thanksgiving? And then coming down? And don't you want to bet they'll go up again in time for Christmas? Seems to me the oil companies were disappointed this summer when the forecasts for several major hurricanes failed to come true - disappointed because oil companies love natural disasters such as Katrina, because disasters enable them to raise the price of oil to hitherto-unprecedented levels. I get the feeling that this summer, they said, "Oh the hell with it; let's just raise the prices because we can...and because the president is a bible-thumping oil baron (I stole that one from Zippy the Pinhead, and it remains my favorite sobriquet for the Current Occupant), who's going to stop us?" I hear people complaining all the time about the high price of gasoline, yet not a word from "W"...Add two more items to the list of foods I like that most others shun...egg nog and fruitcake. I guess most people will sip some egg nog to be sociable at the holidays - it is the most popular nog of them all - but fruitcake has more cheap jokes being hurled at it than the cast of "Dancing With The Stars'' and I wonder why. This rich, moist hunk of heaven with nuts and fake fruit is one of the reasons I wish December started in September and lasted until August. If you receive a fruit cake for Christmas and do not wish to consume it, just let me know and I'll come 'round and pick it up and give it a good home...Christmas shopping is fun and I love the whole spirit of the malls and the Avenues and the specialty shops. All except for the big electronics stores like Best Buy, because going in there constitutes an assault on the senses. But I'm going to give a shout-out to the WalMart in Towson, because two different clerks in two different areas of that store went well out of their way to help me find just the right items last Saturday night. I know it's tough, working retail, and I know the hours are horrible and the pay is not great and the patience it takes to deal with some of the customers suffering from rectal-cranial inversion while shopping is incalculable. Beyond saying thanks to the young lady who helped me get ready to celebrate the holiest day of our faith by finding a video that features mayhem and disorder of the type usually seen only on a city bus, I find that most stores, if you go to their website, have a comments section where one can express their gratitude. If you have something good to say about a person, why in the world would you keep it to yourself?...Congratulations to Officer Doran, who used to work with me and recently transferred to the county Police Dept. He just graduated from the Academy on Thursday evening, and starts his patrol career on Monday - working the same precinct as his sister, who also left my workgroup to become a police, and has had a sterling career for four years there. I don't think I would have made a good police officer, lacking patience as I do. But having worked at 911 for a long time, I have a lot of friends who are police, and it's often a thankless job. David Spade says, when you watch "COPS" on FOX TV, notice how many shirtless people gripping cans of beer in the living rooms of their poorly-appointed homes are not surprised to see a police officer in their living rooms. People ought to behave, simply stated. But they don't: hence the need for police. If you don't speed when you drive, if you don't make it a habit to rob convenience stores or shoplift from large electronic stores - no matter how troublesome their throbbing aural and visual assault - the chances are, you won't come in much contact with the police...What's your favorite Christmas song? I vote for Bing Crosby's "Do You Hear What I Hear?," but whoever wrote that Christmas Shoes song should have to listen to it over and over and over and over.