Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Best UK Commercial

I was reminded yesterday of a very funny commercial that I find is entertaining to watch. It was voted the best commercial in the UK a few years ago. I don't even need to introduce it. It speaks for itself.

My students thoroughly enjoyed it. The teacher I am in for used to play it for us when I was in his class, and now that I am in control of the class, I had the opportunity to play it since it's in his plans. Let's just say it's an example of meretricious advertising--attracting attention in a vulgar way. This technique is easy to remember with this commercial.

Watch it here. It's not even 30 seconds. Tell me what you think.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

All Girls or All Boys?

Give this hypothetical question a minute of thought: If you had eight children, would you choose to have all boys or all girls? Which would be easier to handle? Which would be the least expensive in the long run?

A friend of mine posed this question over the weekend, and I think you can get into pretty heated, debatable conversations over this one. A couple was arguing it, and the guy wanted guys and the girl wanted girls. Makes sense, doesn't it? We side with our own gender because we understand it. But which would be the easiest/best in the long run?

Boys seem to be the least expensive. They will be more apt to wear hand-me-downs and not require as many "things" and accessories to be bought. BUT they will also be the most damaging (ruining cars, lawn mowers, clothing, etc). The puberty stage for both genders is difficult, but it seems more crazy and heightened with the ladies. Boys go through it more smoothly, but when they're not mature enough yet, they are surely more rambunctious and out-of-control.

Personally, I think boys might be the easiest. That's just me.

But what do you think? Which gender would you choose to raise? All girls or all boys?

Monday, April 28, 2008


Timbersports: Have you ever heard of such

I was in a hotel this weekend, browsing the limited television channels, and I could not turn the station away from this crazy event: timbersports. I have never seen or heard of this before. I'm sure people are angry at me about this since I live in upstate New York and consider myself a lover of the Adirondacks.

For those of you unfamiliar to timbersports, apparently lumberjack types of activities are assembled and used for competition with big, hulky guys. Watch a video of it here. Such events are as follows:

Springboard - The competitor uses two spring boards to ascend to the top of a nine foot pole and chop a firmly attached 12" diameter block from the top of the pole. The block must be chopped from both sides.

STIHL Stock Saw - Competitors begin with both hands on the log. When the signal is given, the sawyers, using identical STIHL professional 066M chain saws, make two cuts through identical logs. No more than 4" of wood, which is marked by a black line, can be cut.

Underhand Chop - The competitor stands, feet apart, on a 12"-14" log. At the signal, he begins chopping through the log. Before chopping all the way through he must turn and complete the cut from the other side. Time ends when the log is severed completely.

Single Buck - Competitors make one cut through 18"-20" of white pine using a single man cross cut saw. The competitor may have a helper to wedge the log and keep the saw lubricated. Time ends when the block is clearly severed.

Standing Block Chop - Competitors race to chop through 12"-14" of white pine. The competitor must chop from both sides of the log and the time ends when the block is severed.

Hot Saw - In this event the competitor uses a customized chain saw with a modified engine. At the signal, the competitor starts the saw and makes three cuts. The competitor must cut no more than 6" from the log which is marked with a black line.

Crazy, huh? I couldn't believe such a thing existed! And these competitors are so serious about this. They are really into it. It makes me think: Is this their job to compete or an extracurricular activity? Or, do they do wood-working for a living and this is a hobby? They seem so good at it to just be playing around. This is serious stuff! And they could get really hurt. They're competing with axes and saws. It's insane. I couldn't do these things. These men are ridiculous too. Some have beer bellies, some are just ripped. It just makes my jaw drop.

In my research, apparently this has been going on since 1985, my birth year, which is a pretty long time (22 years up to this point). They even have college competitions for who is the best lumberjack, essentially what these competitors are fighting for.

Who ever started this thing? Who even got the word around for people to come to this and train for this? It's completely bizarre to me.

Has anyone seen this before? Turn to ESPN2 this week to check it out. What do you think of it?

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Crocs. I never thought the day would come when I would buy a pair, let alone dedicate a blog post to them. I've done it.

BUT, I am still not a fan of the original Croc slide-on shoes. I think those are cute for children who have troubles tying shoes. You know, when mom wants to slip out of the door quickly and junior just doesn't understand the concept of sneakers or shoe laces. On adults, I think they look a bit strange.

My purchase, a long contemplation, was over the Croc flip flops. When I saw my uncle about a week or so ago, he was wearing a pair that looked incredibly comfortable and not as obnoxious as the normal Croc slide-on shoe. I was intrigued. Normally, I just spend the cheap $5 purchase at Target or Walmart for a pair of flimsy black flip flops that eventually deteriorate within the next few months. But I love those because who cares what happens to them or what you do to them? My last pair was destroyed by a walk I took on railroad tracks covered in tar. Bad news. Bad ideas.

But, after spending $30, I became the proud new owner of solid black Croc flip flops. And let me tell you, I do not regret the decision. I wore them for the rest of the night after I put them on, and the literally like molded to my foot. Where the flip flops bounce back and forth from the ground to the bottom of your feet, these like suction to the bottom of your feet. I don't even feel like I'm wearing anything. I'm barefoot, but not. It's amazing.

So, as summer approaches, don't overlook the Croc flip flops. Overlook every other kind of Croc they sell--ESPECIALLY THE CROC HEELS. I can't believe it's true. Have you seen these things? My god, they're hideous! Why Crocs!? Why!!!!????

What do you think of Crocs? Yay or nay?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Oprah's Book Club

Who has strong feelings either for or against Oprah?

I don't get why, but people have such a strong opposition against Oprah. Then again, some people absolutely adore her. I feel like people either love her or hate her--no in between. It must be the money/popularity/power thing...

Anyway, the point of this blog stems from books (of course) because of Oprah's book club. I was going through my books this past week and I noticed how many were stamped with Oprah's book club stamp. It just made me think...

Who chooses these books? Oprah? How does she have the time to do that?

Has Oprah read and approved all of these books? When does she read them? Doesn't she have a busy, busy schedule?

What qualities must a book have to become in her approved club? Do they have to do with oppression of some kind? What criteria must they possess?

One thing I noticed too is that some are old classics, such as Fitzgerald, and others are newer, like James Frey. How are these picked out of the millions published?

Do the authors need to agree to being a part of this? Do they have any choice in the matter? Some are dead...

Here is a list of the books in her club:

The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
The Deep End of the Ocean by by Jacquelyn Mitchard
The Meanest Thing to Say by Bill Cosby
The Treasure Hunt by Bill Cosby
The Best Way to Play by Bill Cosby
Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons
A Virtuous Woman by Kaye Gibbons
A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines
Songs in Ordinary Time by Marry McGarry Morris
The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou
The Rapture of Canaan by Sheri Reynolds
Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi
She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb
Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts
Midwives by Chris Bohjalian
What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage
I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb
Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen
Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman
Paradise by Toni Morrison
A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton
Vinegar Hill by A. Manette Ansay
River, Cross My Heart by Breena Clarke
Tara Road by Maeve Binchy
Mother of Pearl by Melinda Haynes
White Oleander by Janet Fitch
The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
Jewel by Bret Lott
House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz
Open House by Elizabeth Berg
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
While I Was Gone by Sue Miller
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Back Roads by Tawni O'Dell
Daughter of Fortune by Isabelle Allende
Gap Creek by Robert Morgan
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
Cane River by Lalita Tademy
Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail by Malika Oufkir
Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio
We Were The Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates
Sula by Toni Morrison
Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
A Light in August by William Faulkner
Night by Elie Wiesel
The Measure of a Man by Sidney Poitier
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

I want a book club. I want my own list! (See my LibraryThing website on the side link to see my books...)

Have you read any of these books? Which do you like/dislike? Can you answer any of my above questions?

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Yesterday I explained my new interest in poetry--something I wish to share with others. When I read some poems, they just click. I know what they're trying to say, and they say it in such a powerful way. And they're not all boring and dry. Some are pretty interesting, on pretty cool topics.

This poem, "Nineteen" by Elizabeth Alexander stuck out to me. An amazing poem on youth, loss of innocence, and Vietnam. Enjoy.

by Elizabeth Alexander

That summer in Culpepper, all there was to eat was white:
cauliflower, flounder, white sauce, white ice cream.
I snuck around with an older man who didn't tell me
he was married. I was the baby, drinking rum and Coke
while the men smoked reefer they'd stolen from the campers.
I tiptoed with my lover to poison-ivied fields, camp vans.
I never slept. Each fortnight I returned to the city,
black and dusty, with a garbage bag of dirty clothes.

At nineteen it was my first summer away from home.
His beard smelled musty. His eyes were black. "The ladies love my hair,"
he'd say, and like a fool I'd smile. He knew everything
about marijuana, how dry it had to be to burn,
how to crush it, sniff it, how to pick the seeds out. He said
he learned it all in Vietnam. He brought his son to visit
after one of his days off. I never imagined a mother.
"Can I steal a kiss?" he said, the first thick night in the field.

I asked and asked about Vietnam, how each scar felt,
what combat was like, how the jungle smelled. He listened
to a lot of Marvin Gaye, was all he said, and grabbed
between my legs. I'd creep to my cot before morning.
I'd eat that white food. This was before I understood
that nothing could be ruined in one stroke. A sudden
storm came on hard that night; he bolted up inside the van.
"The rain sounded just like that," he said, "on the roofs there."

What do you think? Analysis? Comments? Likes/dislikes?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I don't know if anyone here is into poetry, but I am becoming quite a fan myself. I think the poetry class I'm taking it really having an effect on me.

Anyway, check out this poem, "Housewife" by Anne Sexton. This poem really speaks to me because I am from the heart of suburbia. The moms I grew up around were mostly housewives. My mother was a housewife for a long time, as were my two grandmothers. I think this poem speaks to them and other housewives who felt shackled to the house even though they were blessed with the fact that they were financially comfortable and didn't have to work to earn a living.

by Anne Sexton

Some women marry houses.
It's another kind of skin; it has a heart,
a mouth, a liver and bowel movements.
The walls are permanent and pink.
See how she sits on her knees all day,
faithfully washing herself down.
Men enter by force, drawn back like Jonah
into their fleshy mothers.
A woman is her mother.
That's the main thing.

This woman has an attachment to her house, perfecting it and spending more time with it than her husband. It is a living, breathing entity. But what do the last two lines mean? Any idea?

What do you think? Meanings? Likes/dislikes?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A More Perfect Union

This post is a little put off since this speech was delivered quite a while ago, but I would like to share a few thoughts on it since I think it is extremely important.

The speech I am referring to is Barack Obama's speech on race, "A More Perfect Union." Race is such a prevalent issue in this country, so this is so important to hear about and understand, especially from the point of view of a candidate who has a very high chance at becoming our next president. Especially for Barack Obama, who has been deemed the title of the black candidate, hearing his two cents on race is imperitive. And he surely does a great job at dissecting the racial issue in America and talking about how to possibly overcome that.

One thing I really like about Obama is that he writes his own speeches, unlike many political figures who give speeches. I love the effort he puts in--very thought-provoking. His writing is very intelligent too; we have a smart candidate here on our hands.

Below, I want to paste sections I find critical and important, for those of you who did not watch, hear, or read what he wrote, just check out these paragraphs, skim through them, to see the gist of his message.

"This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign - to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together - unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction - towards a better future for our children and our grandchildren."

"But I have asserted a firm conviction - a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people - that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice if we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances - for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs - to the larger aspirations of all Americans -- the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives - by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny."

SOLUTION: "In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world's great religions demand - that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother's keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister's keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well."

*** "For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle - as we did in the OJ trial - or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright's sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she's playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies." ***

"I would not be running for President if I didn't believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation - the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election."

Obama's words are so wise and true. He states that we are at a "racial stalemate" and then quotes from William Faulkner: "The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past." Racial issues still are around even though we think of the Civil Rights Movement and laws passed because of it to have cured the problem, but the problem isn't completely solved. Beliefs and ideologies are still in tact and can be quite hard to break.

But as Obama pledges, we can change. He professes and promises change and hope--two things this country needs. I put my faith in his words.

What did you think of his speech?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Dylan Songs

Bob Dylan: music legend.

I was watching an excellent biography on his life on A&E--very informative--and they went into great detail about the meanings behind his songs as well as the details surrounding his personal life and career. Being a Bob Dylan fan, I know many of his hundreds of songs, but perhaps I don't always take the time to take it a step further and really listen to his messages.

Dylan was quoted in the biography, "My songs are pictures, and my hand makes the song to those pictures." He surely does create ideas, images, and opinions about his time period. He picked up on what was going on around him (especially during the tumultuous 1960s) and put words to it, speaking on behalf of his generation. He deemed himself a master of the language more than a musician. Interesting that he ties himself more with his lyrics than the songs themselves...

Before I get into the songs, I just briefly wanted to state the origin of Dylan when he changed his name from Bobby Zimmerman to Bob Dylan. A childhood friend reports that Dylan was really into a poet called Dylan Thomas, and he took the name from him because he liked it and he had cool ideas. Others report other origins, but we'll never know unless Dylan states it himself.

Below, I am going to state the songs and meanings as depicted in the A&E biography I watched only a day or so ago:

"The Ballad of Emmett Till:" social commentary on a black man who whistled at a white woman during the 1960s and the effects that man suffered from his behavior.

"Oxford Town:" social commentary on the attempts of integration on his college, the University of Minnesota.

"Blowin' in the Wind:" voice for the Civil Rights Movement.

"A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall:" on the Cuban Missle Crisis.

"Song to Woody:" a tribute to Dylan's musical inspiration, Woody Guthrie.

"Don't Think Twice It's Alright:" on his first heartbreak with his first serious girlfriend Suzie Rotollo.

"The Times They Are A-Changin':" on the social change of the 1960s.

"Subterranean Homesick Blues:" on the Youth Movement of the 1960s.

"Mr. Tambourine Man:" unknown origin from Dylan himself, but allegations of a drug reference as the tambourine man as the drug dealer himself calling out to the youth. Dylan denies this, but commented that drugs bend the mind a little, as he introduced them to the Beatles, inspiring albums such as Rubber Soul and Revolver.

"Hurricane:" commentary on the incident where the Hurricane boxer was falsely accused of murder.

"Like a Rolling Stone:" on Vietnam from the eyes of the youth generation.

"Idiot Wind:" on Dylan's bitterness, separation with wife, his pain, and personal problems after success.

"You've Gotta Serve Somebody:" on finding Jesus Christ, an attempt at Christain Rock.

What other songs/meanings do you know? What Bob Dylan song is your favorite and why?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Uncle Duke and Gonzo

I swear, this will be my last post on Hunter S. Thompson for a very long time. I thought I might string them together as I am becoming obsessed and want to record/share this information that I have just encountered since reading Gonzo.

Two big comments in this post: the origination of "Gonzo" and Uncle Duke in the Doonsebury cartoon.

First, those familiar with Hunter S. Thompson know that he created a new style of writing, Gonzo journalism, and that he wore and sold Gonzo merchandise. In his first big hit as a book, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, his sidekick character, Dr. Gonzo, a character based on his attorney who accompanied him on the trip, shows the word in his name.

But where did Gonzo originate?

In the book Gonzo, a detailed explanation is given. Basically, there are three different explanations. First, Hunter stumbled across the word from the R&B song "Gonzo" by James Booker. Hunter played it over and over, becoming obsessed with it. It's purely an instrumental song. Gonzo, the song title was "Cajun slang that had floated around the French Quarter jazz scene for decades and meant, roughly, 'to play unhinged.'" To play unhinged, definitely Hunter's writing style.

Since Hunter played the song over and over, he received a nickname as 'the Gonzo man.' Hunter's friend who deemed him the title, Bill Cardoso, said that his Kentucky Derby piece was pure Gonzo journalism. He then stated, "the term was also used in Boston bars to mean 'the last man standing.'" How would that apply to Hunter? The last man standing?

Next, I wanted to briefly talk about how Hunter was inserted as a character into the Doonsebury cartoon as Uncle Duke. Again, from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Duke comes up because of Hunter's character, Raoul Duke. But Hunter was so big that he was characterized. At first he was angry stating that if he ever met the cartoonist in person, he would light him on fire. In later years, he seemed to like the character and cartoon however.

Wikipedia describes Uncle Duke as such: "He was portrayed as a happy-go-lucky, congenial stoner and alcoholic journalist who struggled to meet his deadlines. Once he became solidified as a main character rather than a recurring character, his personality gradually morphed to make him into a sociopathic con artist whose drug abuse and drinking took on a darker, albeit gallows humor, tone." Even further into Hunter: "When first introduced, Duke was working as a writer under Jann Wenner for Rolling Stone magazine, much to Wenner's chagrin and aggravation over Duke's inability to meet deadlines and/or maintain coherence within the confines of his articles, which were often written with the aid of controlled substances." That defines Hunter to a T when he was working with Rolling Stone.

I will insert some comic strips here. Check them out. It's interesting to look at them as Hunter. The one above is so interesting because it's a tribute to Hunter's passing. Very cool.

That must have been crazy to be so famous that a cartoon creates you as a character. Even more, Hunter had such a distinct personality that it was fun and easy to insert him as a character in a cartoon. One can't really say that about too many people, even famous people or artists. Hunter had the costume, the personality, the drugs, the writing style and behaviors--it's just perfect to impersonate. It's also what makes him iconic and hard to forget.

Last note: Hunter always used the phrase "fear and loathing" throughout all of his articles and books he wrote. He did not come up with the phrase on his own, however. He stole it from a section of prose from a Tom Wolfe novel. Interesting tid bit of information.

Anyway, what do you think about Gonzo, Uncle Duke, or Fear and Loathing?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Hunter's Words

I finished Gonzo over my spring break, and let me tell you: what a read. It was a long book, since Hunter S. Thompson knew and influenced so many people that so many people had to comment on his life, but it goes by pretty quick. It's very interesting to see all the different perspectives that people interpreted of his life and personality. All very similar, all very interesting.

The facts that interested me were just that he totally controlled his life. Even when he died, he needed to control that too. He started to phsyically wear down, and he had been this dominant physical presence his whole life. So when he was becoming an old man who needed help functioning, he knew that was it, so he ended it himself with a gun in front of his typewriter.

After they discovered his dead body (after he pulled the trigger when his son and family were in the house to visit), they found this note in his notebook from four days prior to his suicide:

"Football season is over

No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun--for anybody. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax--this won't hurt."

Crazy huh? He knew he was going to do it. He was just planning the right time without letting on when it would be. That must be crazy--deciding when you will die. Too much power, too much control in my opinion. Too scary.

They didn't mention launching off his ashes in the giant Gonzo tower constructed by Johnny Depp though. I didn't realize how strong their relationship was. Before they made Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Johnny lived in Hunter's basement, interviewed him constantly, and just hung out with him talking, watching sports, shooting guns, etc. Friends commented that he got Hunter so down to a T that it became pretty frightening. It would be since Hunter was so insane. Insane is brilliant though, brilliant, insane.

Now Depp will star as him again in The Rum Diaries, the next book on my to-read list. Apparently this was in the works before Hunter died, but his death kind of got in the way. Excited for that to come out.

The last bit I wanted to comment on was a question that Hunter posted in his kitchen that he reflected on every day:

What is the desired effect?

I think it's so interesting. You can apply it to whatever you're doing, especially when it comes to creating, like he did so constantly. I am going to ponder on that one, sit on it, if you will, and see if it brings me anywhere new or special.

Below, I am going to paste a tribute to my good friend Paul who dressed up as Hunter for Halloween about two-three years ago. Awesome costume. He had the personality to fit it too. And to my surprise, a lot of people knew who he was. Quite impressive.

Does anyone remember when they heard Hunter S. Thompson died? Any interesting memories or stories you heard about him? Do you like/dislike him?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Cruise Staff

I feel bad for the staff members who work on cruise boats. For those of you who have traveled on a cruise before, you know the staff I'm talking about. I mean the men and women from a different country other than the US who work seven days a week, ungodly hours, and who put in tons of effort into each shift.

These crew members must think that we Americans are so greedy and indulgent. I mean, that's what a cruise is, isn't it? Pure indulgence and instant gratification. It's that one week that a person can relax, be waited on, eat as much as he/she wants, and do whatever he/she wants when he/she wants to. We stuff our faces (even at the midnight buffet after wolfing down a 4 course meal), drink ridiculous amounts of booze at every hour, lay out until we're red and brown tan, spend insane amounts of money on artwork, massages, jewelery, booze, etc., or push each over in line as we wait for food, drink, entertainment, or boarding.

I mean, just think of the outsiders' perspective: They're working on these cruise boats because it's better money than they can make back home. They overwork and get big checks (for them) that they can send home to better the lives of their loved ones, despite the long separation that they cannot have. And every day they watch family reunions, honeymoons, anniversaries, etc. They're surrounded by togetherness and happiness when they must feel so lonely. We eat large meals, throw out a lot of it. They must think we are so pompous and indulgent. You know, I can't even imagine what they think because I am trying to put myself in their shoes. I have no idea how it feels to be in their shoes. I have never lived in a third world country. I am an American. I am one of the people on the cruise boat that is being catered to left and right. But I do have sympathy for these poor staffers.

And we come in by the loads every week. We all must be the same to them. We stroll in with our lousy vacation t-shirts (you know, those ones dads wear with that ugly Hawaiian print) and American bills wadded up in our hands. We're ready for a vacation every week of the year, and we'll throw our money at anything just to relax and break away from the stressful work life that consists America. But they don't know that life either. It's probably a better life than they know, but the cultures clash so much. It's just so strange to see them juxtaposed together. Simply strange.

And they'll work their butts off just for that tip that we're supposed to give them at the end of the cruise. But not all people leave tips--and not all people leave generous tips. That must be such a downer when they put in their effort (not knowing how much they'll be tipped) and they end up with a lousy couple of dollars. Each cruise line is different, but I know that some of them work harder for their money than they should.

That's my two cents.

Has anyone ever cruised? Has anyone swapped stories with one of their staffers on the boat that really effected them?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Spring Leave

I will be absent from the computer for a week or more since I will be traveling. I will return. Enjoy what I have so far. Much more to come.

Enjoy the warm weather--don't be a hermit. And smile.


Here I go again on Hunter S. Thompson.

Well, I'm in the middle of Gonzo, a compliation of commentaries from those who knew Hunter while he was alive. The book chronicles his entire life, and it is filled with rich stories about the crazy stunts he used to pull. I will probably blog at least once more on my new discoveries.

What I would like to post here is an address he wrote while he was very young. He was probably in his teens when he wrote this. It's called "Open Letter to the Youth of our Nation" and was printed in 1955. Let's see what you think.

"Open Letter to the Youth of our Nation"

Awake from your slumber of indolence and harken the call of the future!

Do you realize that you are rapidly becoming a doomed generation? Do you realize that the fate of the world and of generations to come rests on your shoulders? Do you realize that at any time you may be called on to protect your country and the freedom of the world from the creeping scourge of Terrorism? How can you possibly laugh in the face of the disasters which face us from all sides? Oh ignorant youth, the world is not a joyous place. The time has come for you to dispense with the frivolous pleasures of childhood and get down to honest toil until you are sixty-five. Then and only then can you relax and collect your social security and live happily until the time of your death.

Also, your insolent attitude disturbs me greatly. You have the nerve to say that you have never known what it is like to live in a secure and peaceful world; you say that the present generation has balled things up to the extent that we now face a war so terrible that the very thought of it makes hardened veterans shudder; you say that it is impossible to lay any plans for the future until you are sure you have a future. I say Nonsense! None of these things matter. If you expect a future you must carve it out in the face of these things. You also say that you must wait until after you have served your time with the service to settle down. Ridiculous! It is a man's duty to pull up stakes and serve his country at any time, then settle down again.

I say there is no excuse for a feeling of insecurity on you part; there is no excuse for Juvenile Delinquency; there is no excuse for your attitude except that you are rotten and lazy! I was never like that! I worked hard; I saved; I didn't run around and stay out late at night; I carved out my own future through hard work and virtuous living, and look at me now; a respectable and successful man.

I warn you, if you don't start now it will be too late, and the blame for the end of the world will be laid at your feet. Heed my warning, oh depraved and profligate youth; I say awake, awake, awake!

Fearfully and disgustedly yours,
John J. Righteous-Hypocrite

How much is this still true today, over fifty years later?

Hunter wrote another essay during this time called "Security." Here are two questions from the essay that consider some thought and attention:

"Is security a utopian goal or is it another word for rut? ...Where would the world be if all men sought security and had not taken risks and gambled with their lives on the chance that, if they won, life would be different and richer?"

"Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived, or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?"

What answers do you have for these questions? Comments on his writings?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Sunscreen Song

Everybody's free to wear sunscreen.

Sound familiar? Anyone who listened to popular radio or music during the late 90s (1999 to be exact) is aware that this line is from "The Sunscreen Song," an adaptation of an essay that was turned into a song by Baz Lurhmann. This song was changed from an essay originally titled "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young" by Mary Schmich and published in the Chicago Tribune in 1997.

A friend of mine randomly put this song on, and so many memories piled into my mind. I had totally forgotten about this song. It takes me back to early high school where I ate up every word and copied some lyrics on a folder. It was an innocent time. Years later, here I am, looking back on the words to remember how true they are and which ones now seem more important or that I understand more now that I am older and more experienced at life. These lyrics seem to be aimed at a high school class (as the song addresses the audience as the class of 1999), and now that I am out of high school, I can better appreciate the lyrics.

Here they are.

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.


Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.


Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

Now I ask you, why does he insist on the sunscreen factor? Even though it's so obvious, I never really dissected it before. Is it because he didn't care for his skin when he was young, and sunburns cause wrinkling which is unpleasant with age? No young person thinks that much ahead. We all think we're invincible. What do you think?

Which lines have you learned from after high school? Which do you think aren't so important?

What have you learned after high school that you would include if you wrote your own address?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Crazy Marley

I've waited a little while before I posted on Marley again. Marley is about four and a half months now; she's still as spunky and aggressive as she was as a kitten. Well, she still is a kitten, but she's a little bigger and a little longer.

This little girl is just so high and low. When I'm up and walking around, she's darting around my feet, not wanting to a miss a thing. When I sit down to use my laptop, she HAS to sit directly between me and my laptop. She always needs to have her attention, and I give it to her. I love when she lays with me. She's a great sense of warmth.

I am going to post a series of pictures of this adorable little girl. From these pictures, you should be able to tell her rambunctious behavior and her crazy little personality.


Marley has crazy play dates with the little heart bean bag that my brother made me for Valentines Day one year in the 1990s when he was in elementary school. She beats this guy to death. It's a strange relationship. Look at how angry she gets!

And then after her vicious play sessions, she passes out.

And then she finds a new trick... a new place to climb...

And then passes out...

Or she passes out like this...

Last but not least, the crazy girl.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Walk at Forts Ferry

It's that beautiful time of the year again in New York: it's almost spring. Last week was filled with melting snow, high winds, and cold temperatures, but this week might be the week to turn straight to spring with no turning back. No random snow storms (fingers crossed).

It feels like spring because of the warmth. It smells like spring, that grassy, outdoor smell that fills you on a nice walk. It's wonderful.

I miss taking walks like this. We used to take beautiful walks like this once a week back at Cortland. Central New York had gorgeous areas to walk through on a nice spring afternoon. I need to find some nice spots out here in Upstate New York. Does anyone have any recommendations for me?

Since the weather is so nice, I can't keep myself inside too much without feeling guilty. I went on a nice walk yesterday, and I would like to post some of my findings. Let's see what you think.

What do you think?