Category Archives: entertainment

National Anthem is About the Nation, Not the Singer

They sing the wrong words. They sing the wrong notes. Sometimes, it is as if they are singing the wrong anthem.

I am tired of listening to singers butcher the national anthem. The “Star-Spangled Banner” is a gorgeous, moving, challenging song. Lately, the mashed, twisted, rearranged versions I am hearing make my ears ring; not from the bombs bursting in air, but the notes twinging, twanging and trilling without ever finding a home.

Listening to Christina Aguilera’s version of the national anthem during the Superbowl on Sunday was so horrific to me that I did not even notice she had messed up the words. Her notes were so wrong, so off, that I completely missed the fact that there were no ramparts anymore. Honestly, all the trilling really is just a sign that she cannot hit and/or sustain a note.

When I was a younger man, people sang the national anthem the way it was written. And, you know what happened, everyone sang along.

That is what I want. I would die and go to heaven if I could perform the national anthem at Arrowhead with all 73,000 people belting it out with me.

Now, that would be powerful. That would be awe-inspiring. That is the way it used to be.

Sadly, singers think it is all about them now. That is the problem; our selfish, hey-look-at-me culture. They want to be applauded for how great they sang the anthem and how they “made it their own.”

It does not belong to them. It belongs to the nation. It is not about them. It is about our nation.

That is what we have forgotten. It is time for us to take it back. Let’s put the “nation” back in our national anthem.

Need to be Cured of Drug Commercials

Leg won’t stop shaking? Here, swallow this pill. Eyelashes not long or thick enough? Here, take a swig of this. Scared to meet new people? No problem, we can fix that. Sex life not quite what it used to be? Believe me, we’ve got you covered.

It seems there is a drug for every possible malady nowadays. There are so many things called “sicknesses,” “disorders,” or “diseases” now that I never even knew existed, and somewhere on the market, there is a drug to cure each and every one of them.

Until I found out what RLS meant, I was wondering why they were drugging the Mormons. Now, thanks to Requip of course, we all know that RLS is an acronym for “Restless Leg Syndrome.” Who knew there was such a thing? I always thought if someone’s leg was shaking, they had to go to the bathroom (of course, there are plenty of drugs to help dampen those urges, too).

I was so shocked the other day to see an advertisement on television for a drug called “Latisse” that actually claims to make eyelashes thicker. I guess this is for the women who do not have the time for mascara. Of course, it comes with a warning about how it might irritate your eyes. It does not seem like it would be worth it to me. Big eyelashes, but red, irritated, watery eyes. What a strange trade.

The social anxiety commercial always makes me laugh. I believe it is for a drug called “Clarocet.” The actor in the advertisement is so happy to be out at a party, finally able to mingle with people again. The funny part is when the side effects are listed. It is totally hilarious.

“May cause diarrhea, incontinence, bladder-control problems, sudden mood swings and/or impotence.” Wow, that is totally amazing. Whoever takes that drug is going to be the life of the party.

They will want to mix and mingle. All their fear of social interaction will be gone. The only problem is going to arise when they wet themselves while going bipolar on the other party guests. Yeah, they will be going out again real soon after that. Seems like they should have just embraced their anxiety.

The whole impotence thing leads us up to my last complaint. What is it with all these Viagra and Cialis commercials? I was watching the American League Championship Series the other night and it seemed like every other commercial was for these two pills. What in the heck is going on? Can’t this go back to being a private matter?

I am so tired of seeing those people in the tub. I wish they would just be clean already. Does Cialis really just make you want to take a really long bath outside while the sun sets? Perhaps these men do not need the drug at all. It is the inordinate amount of time they spend in the bathtub that is causing the problem.

It is time to return to the better days of the past, when I could turn on the T.V. and not be confronted with all these advertisements for drugs. We all need medicine some time. We know where to get it, and our doctor or pharmacist can help us figure out what to get. We do not need the T.V. to tell us.

Taxes, Death and . . . Easter Grass?

Everyone knows the phrase, “The only things that are certain are death and taxes,” is used when discussing events that will go on forever.  To those two, I would like to add Easter grass, for it also is eternal.

It is already the middle of September, nearly five full months since Easter passed, yet that does not seem to matter to the Easter grass. It is still hanging around. I cannot believe it.

It has become a joke in our house. Some how, some way, it seems about once a month or so, a piece of Easter grass adheres to the bottom of my foot as I am walking around the house. I run to find my wife now to show her (for some reason, this does not happen to her). I exclaim, “Mary, you won’t believe it. There is a piece of …” She interrupts and shouts back, “Easter grass!” I respond, “Yes, Mary, yes and it is stuck to my foot!” We laugh about it and I swear to her that I will never use Easter grass again, even though I know I probably will.

Easter grass is just simply amazing. It has reached the point where I am just totally astounded and in awe of its absolute resilience.

How does it stick around for so long? Where does it hide? Why does it only come out every once in a while? Why does only one piece come out at a time?

To most everyone, Easter grass is just fake cut plastic that you fill a basket with for your children once a year. Yet, there are three important lessons we can learn from the Easter grass.

One, don’t give too much of yourself at once, people will just be overwhelmed by that. Parcel yourself out and give a little bit each time, spread over the course of lifetime (I think the lifespan of Easter grass has to be at least 400 years).

Two, hang in there despite the odds. We have vacuumed the house dozens of times since Easter and we have one of those fancy Dyson “It-doesn’t-lose-suction” vacuums; yet, the Easter grass has the sheer tenacity to still be around. One cannot help but be impressed.

Lastly, it might be a small thing and it might even annoy you, but if you find the humor in it, that’s all that matters in the end. For a month after Easter, it drove me nuts. Now, I just can’t help but laugh (while still being totally astonished by it).

For most of my life, when someone asked me to list three things that we could count on forever, I could only think of the two — death and taxes. Now I know what my third thing is — it is Easter grass.

I can step on it from one Easter to the next. I could probably step on it for the next 400 years if death wasn’t one of the three things on the list. That truly is miraculous.

Sticky Gum on Shoe is Pet Peeve

sticky situation copy

People who chew gum and then proceed to spit it out on the ground should be forced to step on, pick off shoe and chew said gum some more. I am so tired of stepping in other people’s gum. It is truly disgusting.

Who are these people who spit their gum in parking lots and on classroom floors? Have they never stepped in gum before? Hasn’t everyone? Did they like it or something?

In my flip-flops today in the grocery store parking lot, I was about to step into the car when I suddenly adhered to the asphalt. Something warm and gooey had a hold of me. I lifted my foot up and the horrid adhesive rose with me.

It was so gross. I proceeded to drive with my foot sticking to the pedals because I could not get all of the gum off. It was inside the tiny treads of my flip-flops.

This is definitely a pet peeve of mine. I just do not understand how this can happen. You must know your gum just fell out of your mouth. Pick it up and throw it in a proper receptacle! Don’t leave it for my shoe!

I could go on about this for much longer, but it is time for me to get on the road. Take care everyone. Feel free to leave your own comments (maybe even some of your own pet peeves!) below. Thanks.

VP

Discovery Channel Spreads Shark Fear

"Chaplin" Swims By, Showing Off. Shark Diving was One of the Greatest Experiences of My Life. Photo by VP

"Chaplin" Swims By, Showing Off. Shark Diving was One of the Greatest Experiences of My Life. Photo by VP

I was shocked and dismayed the other day when I saw the new commercials promoting Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. Once again, the television network is misrepresenting this magnificent creature in the name of ratings.

The first short spot did not grab my attention or bother me too much. It showed a guy floating on his back in the ocean with his big belly protruding into the sky. After about nine seconds, he was taken under and the picture switched to a frame that said Shark Week premieres Aug. 2.
 
It is the second clip that infuriated me. You see the hands of a guy removing a lens cap from a camera, as many amateurs do while the film is running. He then says something like “Hey Biv,” to this girl who is in the water, hanging on to the edge of the boat. In a cheerful voice, she says, “Hi. Hello Mom, hello Dad, hello kids at home.” As soon as she gets out that final word, she is violently yanked back into the water and taken under. The screen switches to an underwater view with the words Shark Week oozing blood.
 
Promoting the special Shark Week programming this way shows a complete disregard for the facts by the Discovery Channel. They say the series is meant to help with conservation efforts of sharks, and yet, all the commercials and promotional materials spread illogical and unfounded fear. Who exactly is going to want to save a shark after watching them attack people all week? If people claim to know about sharks based on the misinformation presented by the Discovery Channel, they know nothing.
 
When people seek out the facts for themselves, instead of relying on a network desperate for viewers, the problem of shark attacks proves not so chilling. In a review of the International Shark Attack File (ISAF) as presented on the Ichthyology site of the Florida Museum of Natural History, it is discovered that there were 118 alleged incidents of “shark-human interaction” in all of 2008 worldwide.
 
“Upon review, 59 of these incidents represented confirmed cases of unprovoked shark attacks on humans,” the ISAF said (1). “Overall, the 1990’s had the highest attack total of any decade and the first decade of the 21st century will exceed that total. The growth in shark attack numbers does not necessarily mean that there is an increase in the rate of shark attack, rather it most likely is reflective of the ever-increasing amount of time spent in the sea by humans, which increases the odds of interaction between the two affected parties.”
 
Out of the millions of people participating in recreational activities in the ocean, the number of unprovoked attack is very low — 59 in 2008 and 71 in 2007. While there is great trauma involved if one is attacked, the odds of being attacked are astronomical.
 
According to a quiz on the MSN Encarta encyclopedia site, the odds of being attacked by a shark are roughly one in 8 million (2). You have a better chance of dying from the following: Falling down the stairs — 1 in 200,000; adverse reaction to the sting of a bee, wasp or hornet — 1 in 5.9 million; or drowning in your bathtub — 1 in 800,000. Where are the shows about these dangers? Where are the dramatic promotional spots of people being chased by bees, dropping their towels to step into the tub or carrying laundry down the steps? We don’t sell fear of these things, so why sell fear when it comes to sharks?
 
In 2000 (actually the highest year on record for shark attacks with 79, according to the ISAF), my best friend Clay Morgan and I went scuba diving with sharks off Walker’s Cay in the Bahamas. It was hands-down one of the greatest experiences of my life. I will never forget it.
 
Yes, it was scary. When Clay first told me he was going to do it, I thought he was completely insane. Then, he told me he was going to do it by himself. Overcoming my natural fear, I said, “No, you’re not. I’m going with you. That is, if you want me to.”
 
Before we went, I purposely watched the movie, “Deep Blue Sea,” figuring that would be about the worst it could get. Surprisingly, it did serve to calm my nerves, somehow inoculating me to the fear.
 
Once we there, cruising out to the dive spot, I asked the boat’s captain if he had ever had a customer bitten by a shark. He said no, but he had heard some stories from other captains. In the stories he heard, however, the humans had always done something stupid and provoked the shark, such as the guy who grabbed the shark’s tail so it would turn around for a picture.
 
Well, of course the shark bit that fool. A dog bites you, too, when you suddenly grab its tail. Most people I know would attack you if you unexpectedly grabbed their derriere. This is not an uncommon reaction by most animals to such an act.
 
As we stood at the aft of the boat, preparing to jump into the crystal clear water, fear and adrenaline surged in my body. I could see the cold, dark shadows of dozens of sharks swimming below me. I began to have second thoughts. Just then, Clay jumped. I shrugged my shoulders, thought what the heck and jumped in after him (the captain told me later that he was about to push me in because I was taking too long!).
 
Once we were down with the sharks — grey reefs and blacktips — my fear disappeared as I was mesmerized by the sight of these awesome creatures gliding through the water around me. There is just no way for me to completely explain my emotions as the sharks surrounded me. My only suggestion is for all of you to do it someday for yourselves.
 
I nicknamed the one in the photograph above “Chaplin,” because he was a ham, coasting slowly towards me and rotating his body as he cruised by me, showing me what a great swimmer he was, even upside down. It was just a completely surreal and ethereal experience for me.
 
That is what I remember about my experience with sharks — I remember how dreamlike the experience was, how heavenly. I do not remember the fear.
 
Don’t buy into the garbage the Discovery Channel throws at you to get you to watch. Just go shark diving for yourself to discover the truth about these incredible animals.
 
My only suggestions are that you stay on the first floor (thus avoiding those deadly steps) and you go unwashed (no need for those scary baths!). If you follow those two simple suggestions when you take your shark-diving trip, I can almost guarantee you will be all right.
 
 
 
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed it. Feel free to share your comments below!