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Showing posts from February 1, 2009

Young Enough -- Writer's Poke #176

Once you hit your mid-30s, it's probably common to wonder: "Where do I fit in? Am I young? Am I old? Most likely, I'm somewhere in between, but what does that mean?"

My daughter is still a toddler, but I have friends my age who have kids in high school. Are we really the same age? In all likelihood, they will be grandparents in just a few years. Can I really be the same age as potential grandparents?

Such thoughts make the mind shut down.

Just this morning someone my age said, "We're young enough," and the idea really struck me. There will come a point when I might not be able to say that. What age is that I wonder? When I reach that age, will I automatically know it?

One thing for certain: I plan to age the way nature intends. When I start to go bald, I will shave my head -- no comb-overs for me, thank you. No tummy-tucks, no face-lifts, no fancy hair dyes to cover the gray (sorry Emmit Smith).

No pretending that I'm not getting older, and that at some …

Nice -- Writer's Poke #175

If you ever watch House Hunters, you know that most people have very limited vocabularies.

Q: "So, John, what do you think of the kitchen?"

A: "It's nice."

Q: "And how did your lobotomy go?"

A: "It turned out very nicely."

Sure, it makes a great drinking game, but why can't the average person be more descriptive? Why is it that everything is "nice," or if we're even more jazzed by what we see, we think that "very nice" adequately expresses the idea? Doesn't that mean that there are various levels of "nice," and if so, why are we so opposed to using a more specific word to more vividly describe what we're seeing. And more importantly, what we're feeling.

In contrast, some MTV "reality shows," such as Parental Control and Next seem horribly scripted. While watching, you just know that the people involved in the shows would never talk that way or that they would even be capable of thinking u…

Skin on the Strip -- Writer's Poke #174

One of the little things I like to do when I stay in a hotel is check out the number of escort services listed in the town's yellow pages. Any city that's moderately big has at least a few, but probably no place has more than Las Vegas. Hell, if the phone company was smart, they'd create a whole separate directory -- maybe instead of the yellow pages they could call it the black book (or the red-light book?).
Las Vegas is one of the few places where such matters are not just hidden in phone books and industrial areas. Skin is advertised right on the Strip. Of course I've noticed that the farther north on the Strip you go, up around the Stratosphere, for example, the more likely you are to find Mexican-Americans handing out baseball-cards of Veronica and Amy, and maybe the twins -- Misty and Sarah. 
Most people tend to walk on by, ignoring the outstretched offerings of the smut peddlers. But the last time my wife and I hit the Strip, we collected all the cards we could. T…

Denny's-mania -- Writer's Poke #173

Denny's used its Super Bowl ad to invite America to a free Grand Slam breakfast, and families with litters of children responded.
The offer was good from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., and when I headed to my local Denny's at 1 p.m., the parking lot was still completely full, and cars were parked down the street. Even the adjacent vacant lot was half-full. All this for a free Grand Slam that retails for four bucks on weekdays.
People were standing in a line that extended out the door, patiently waiting in 10 degree weather for up to half an hour. For Denny's. Was this an advertising stunt gone wrong?
"I'd hate to be a waitress working at Denny's today," I heard one Nascar-jacket wearing gentleman say and then spit three feet from me. At that point, I decided a free meal wasn't worth the hassle. After tax, a coke, and a tip, I was planning on it costing me at least five dollars anyway, and so I headed down the street to Culvers. 
Did Denny's really lose any money o…

Three Wishes -- Writer's Poke #172

If I were somehow granted three wishes, my initial reaction would be to wish for health, wealth, and happiness.

But why wish for things that are within my power to control? That is, at least to some extent, I control the power to be healthy, wealthy, and happy. To "wish" for these things seems to indicate that they must be given to me by a power greater than myself. And I reject that.

So what's worth wishing for? What about something like World Peace? That's something that a lot of people would like to see happen, but is it worth wishing for?

What I'm working through in my own mind is: when does the wish eliminate a person's willingness to work for it? If we can work for world peace, then why sit around wishing for it?

Save the wishes for the impossible. If it's possible, you don't need a Genie. Just the willingness to believe and work hard.

So, if you had three wishes, what would you wish for? And more importantly, knowing there's no one around to gra…

Life Is a Flower -- Ace of Base

Steve Martin said that when you listen to banjo music, you can't be angry at the same time. The instrument's sound is just too upbeat.

Listening to Ace of Base works the same principle. Here's "Life Is a Flower," which is the same tune as "Whenever You're Near Me" with alternative lyrics.

Silly video, but you can't watch it and be angry at the same time. Or, if you are angry when you start watching it, you won't be by the end -- unless you're one of those few people that hates Ace of Base, which means you really hate life, and there's no cure for you.

Why I Hate the Steelers -- Writer's Poke #171

The first Super Bowl I can remember watching was Super Bowl XV. The Oakland Raiders beat the Philadelphia Eagles, and it wasn't even close. After that game, I inexplicably became an Eagles fan.

I grew up in a small town in central Illinois, and all of my friends were Chicago Bears fans. But even in first grade, I didn't understand why people felt obligated to support the team in their region. Yes, I liked the Bears, but the Eagles were my team.

But why didn't I become a Raiders fan? And what explained the negative reaction I had to other teams? I hated the New England Patriots and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the silliest of reasons -- I just didn't like their uniforms.

Other teams, though, I simply hated without cause. One of those teams was the Pittsburgh Steelers.

An Eagles fan might hate the Redskins or the Cowboys, and that is easy to explain as they all played in the same division. Explaining a hatred of the Steelers is not so easy. Not only did the Steelers play in …