Friday, April 24, 2015

"My First Contest" (Or Maybe It's My Second)

For reasons I am at a loss to explain, unlike the numerous products whose purveyors trumpet what those products do in their names – “Mr. Clean” jumps immediately to mind – pharmaceutical companies appear to deliberately label their products with names that are entirely meaningless. 

Leading to this contest.  Which contains two elements.

The following is a list of medications regularly advertised on television.  At least on the channels I watch:



ABIERTO  (Wait, that’s “open” in Spanish.  Please ignore.)













The following is a list of conditions the above-mentioned medications are intended to relieve:

Elevated blood sugar.



Weight loss.

Extreme “Morning Sickness.”

Cold sores.

Blood thinner.


Breathing problems.

Alzheimer’s Disease.

Cold sores again.  (I do not, that I am aware of, have Alzheimer’s.  There are two medications for cold sores.)

Ingrown toenail.


Okay.  Element One of the Contest:

Match the medications’ names with the conditions they are intended to relieve.

Element Two of the Contest:

Identify the “Medication Name” that I personally made up.

You are unlikely the kind of people who need to be reminded of this, but…

No cheating. 

You cannot “Google” or ask your doctor.  And if you take one or more of these medications, recuse yourself from those, and continue on matching the ones you’ve never heard of.

The answers will be published shortly.  If I remember.  (Hm, maybe I do have…)

Anyway, good luck.

And enjoy the contest.

DISCLAIMER:  (TO BE READ EXTREMELY QUICKLY)  “This contest was intended for the enjoyment of the readership and was in no way constructed to discombobulate, irritate or offend.  In case negative reactions, you should desist from participating in the contest immediately, and engage yourself in some other activity.  Do not under any circumstances either sue or excoriate the writer.  Though his efforts may have been misguided, he was merely attempting to amuse.”

Thursday, April 23, 2015

"A Minute Change In The Schedule"

For more than a year now, I have taken a morning walk on Wednesday mornings and an exercise class (pilates) on Thursday mornings.  Then, due to an alteration in my pilates teacher’s situation, I agreed to move my pilates class to Wednesdays, rescheduling my Wednesday morning walk permanently to Thursday. 

Oh, dear.

The preceding may be the most boring paragraph I have ever written.  Anywhere.  Somebody recently asked me what I write about in my blog, and I said I write whatever comes to my mind, going on to explain, “But it isn’t not like, ‘I ate an egg.’” 

That, however, is what I believe I just did.

Just for fun, I considered writing that opening paragraph again, seeing if I could “top” it with an even more boring paragraph.  But I won’t, fearing I might easily succeed.

Instead, I shall judiciously move on.

No matter which day it is – be it a Wednesday or now a Thursday – the route for my morning walk remains unalterably the same.  I walk southward on Fourth Street, turn left on Rose, proceed eastward to the Groundwork coffee emporium, I purchase a small “Venice Blend” – fresh brewed or, if it is not being brewed that day, a “Venice Blend” “pour-over”, and then I retrace my steps, walking westward along Rose and northbound on Fourth Street.

Oh, no!  That paragraph was ever worse!  Dear Lord!  Have I contracted “Boring Disease”?  Oh, wow!  Maybe I’m always this boring and I am only noticing it today!  

Jehosephat!  “I made an egg” is a spellbinder compared to that twaddle.

The thing is, – he explained in the way of an excuse, a pathetically lame one but an excuse nonetheless – my now Thursday walks are less interesting than my former Wednesday adventures used to be.

Yeah, that’s it, Earlo.

Blame the day!

Although that does, I swear to you, seem to legitimately be the case.  “Thursday” is just not happening.  No woman walking four dogs at the same time, leading me to wonder, “Is she a professional dog walker, or does she just really like dogs”?  No more monitoring my natural charisma, glancing at walkers headed in my direction, seeing if can induce a smiling “Good morning” from a stranger, scoring surprisingly regularly, though considerably less so with Asian females and men from wherever.  (An adaptation of the line from Red River – “There are only two things more beautiful than a good gun: a Swiss watch and a woman from anywhere.”  Only that one is better.)

Thursday walkers seem inexplicably immune to my irresistible twinkle.  In fact, nothing is the same.  Even the birds chirp differently on Thursdays.  Less enthusiastically, it seems to me.

A RANDOM BIRD:  “We chirped great yesterday.  But Thursdays?  I don’t know, it’s getting close to the weekend and we are pretty much ‘chirped out’.”  

I fear I have lost something valuable in my moving my pilates session to Wednesdays and my morning walks to Thursdays, not the least of it being engrossing Wednesday morning material.  Thursday is demonstrably more… I don’t know, it’s like nobody’s trying.

Although I did notice one thing.

I took my morning walk – I shall, mercifully, not reiterate my route – I procured my small “Venice Blend”, and I proceeded back home.  And when I got there – I was actually putting my key in the lock when I noticed this – on the return fifteen to twenty-minute trek to my house…

I had not touched a single drop of my coffee.

Making me wonder,

Did I actually want coffee at all?  Or did I want a walk, but I could not go out on one without a specific destination?

(Which in this case cost me three dollars plus a tip.)

It would appear that as a personal value, walking for the sake of walking is unacceptable to me.  My walking requires an intention, even one, judging from the untouched cup of coffee I returned home with that morning, that I do not actually care about.

My observation suggests, that, for me, walking without a purpose is, like, “What’s the point?” similar in its meaninglessness to a ballgame where nobody keeps score.

What exactly does that say about me?

That nothing is intrinsically valuable to me and I have to set, if necessary, artificial objectives to participate?

Or that I needed something to write about and this is the best I could come up with?
And if it’s the second one, I am telling you…

Blame Thursdays.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

"Entertainment And The Culture, And Vice Versa"

Getting into global, uber, mega “Umbrella Topics”, I run into two problems.  Possibly more.  We’ll see.

First, the subject is too expansive for a single posting.  Second… yeah, I already see myself going past “two problems”. 

(Note To Myself:  Change “I run into two problems” to “I run into a number of problems.”  And when you do, delete this paragraph, because it won’t make any sense.)

(Second Note To Myself:  I did not change it.  So it still does.)

Second, writing about too big a subject opens the undertaking to massive generalization and mountains of contradictory information.  Three, I am reluctant (Read:  too lazy) to do research, rationalizing that engaging in a comprehensive research effort is endless, and doing incomplete research is as unhelpful as doing no research at all.  I therefore do no research, which may be unhelpful, but it’s faster.  

And four, I could easily be wrong about the entire issue.

What issue do I think I could easily be wrong about today?


I have long been interested in the relationship between entertainment and the culture.  Does the culture influence entertainment?  Or does entertainment shape the culture?  Or, if the causational arrow points in both directions – and more than likely it does – then which element gets the original ball rolling, and how exactly does the phenomenon play out?

My generating interest in this matter arose from my reaction to the “Top hat and tails” movies of the nine-thirties.  Although in this case, the relationship between entertainment and the culture appears to be counter-intuitive.

Think about it for a second.

It is the heart of the Depression.  You are sitting in a movie theater, having scraped up the necessary nickel for the ticket.  You have no job, your prospects are minimal and you can feel the cold theater floor through the gaping holes in the bottoms of your shoes. 

And what are you watching?

Elegant people dining at sumptuous banquets.  Drinking, laughing…

And dancing. 

My question is:

What exactly is that doing for you?  

“Distraction” is the traditional answer.  People went to the movies to forget.  (SEE:  Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo {1985}.)

Okay, I get that.  (Though I intrinsically don’t buy it.  Sometimes, when I do not have stuff to be angry about in my own life, I get angry for other people.  I don’t know why that is.  Maybe to remain sharp during the lulls in my personal annoyance.  Or maybe I’m just super-empathetic.  Whatever the reason, I get irritated at those Depression Era movies on behalf of those “others.”  Others who may have actually enjoyed them.)


We are leaving Noah Baumbach’s recently released While We’re Young, a movie that is observantly funny, but a long way from sunny.  (Ben Stiller rarely smiled.  And when he did smile, it was downright uncomfortable.)

I am noticing that the movie did not make me feel good, and I am wondering out loud what exactly we had collectively experienced.  To which the savvy and insightful Dr. M replied,

“Self-absorbed people watching self-absorbed people.”

After assimilating (with a certain discomfort) the “self-absorbed people” description – since I was one of the people who was watching – what occurred to me – and what inspired today’s writing – was that many of today’s mainstream movies – I’m not talking about the adolescent comedies or the comic book franchises – are not, as were many of the “A-List” movies of the Depression – about distraction.   They are instead about description, as in an insistent chronicling of the contemporary human condition. 

In my view at least, the contemporary human condition, as determinedly delineated in today’s movies is…

Congenitally depressed.  (Not unlike a Noah Baumbach protagonist.

We got terrorists.  The government’s snooping on us.  People keep kidnapping our children – if you are Liam Neeson’s children, on multiple occasions.  And the disparity between rich and poor is perhaps greater even than during the actual Great Depression itself.

And yet our movies choose not to distract us, but to remind us of all the things that moviegoers of the 30’s went to the movie theaters to forget.

Today’s Moviegoer:  “Really?  A movie about how unhappy I am?  I could have stayed home and looked in the mirror.”

What does this say about us?  Does it say today’s moviegoers are more honest, mature and demanding of “The Truth?” 

Or that we are nutritionally deprived of intermissional distraction? 

(Note:  Did you see how I changed sides here?  First, I decried distraction in movies; now, I want more of it.  And they say I’m not flexible.  Ha!)

There are ancillary issues at stake here as well.  Issues of hope and possibility.  And of the appropriate strategy required to ultimately prevail.  Is it an intellectualized understanding of the problems that confront us?  Or is it the spiritual energy to successfully take those problems on?

I shall leave it at that for the moment.

And await the tidal wave of response.