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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Awesome things in life

"Excuse me m'am, excuse me sir, sorry.......Uh, I only have one item. Would you mind if I went to the front of the line?" Yeah, right!

Phil Hawkes of the Arizona Food Marketing Alliance has dug up an interesting blog by a guy named Neil Pasricha. It’s called “The Top 1,000 Awesome Things”. The list started on June 6, 2008 and by posting one awesome thing per weekday since then, Pasricha is down to number 373.

You may be thinking “What are awesome things?” Think of them as universal small joys and pleasures that we can all identify with. And, while they are not necessarily big things, they are all “awesome“.

Here are some of them separated into various categories. Those are my comments in parentheses.

School: #472…finishing your last exam. (what a great feeling it was to finish up that last dreaded blue book! If you are too young to remember blue books, let me know.)
#503…walking into class and seeing a substitute teacher. (another great feeling, the kids ran the class that day!)

Pets: #622…when your dog is really excited that you are back home. (pets like dogs and cats are the best with their unrequited love.)

Kids: #392…catching the ice cream truck. (a glorious feeling, especially if it was Mr. Softee!)
#394…when your dad checks under the bed and finds no monsters. (you never can tell!)

Work: #765…thinking it is Thursday when it is really Friday. (truly a glorious feeling!)
#738…coming back from lunch and copping a much better parking spot. (stupendous!)

Driving: #597…when that police car that has been on your bumper for a couple miles finally passes. (whew!) #499… when you should have gotten a parking ticket and didn’t . (double whew!)

At Home: #475…when your dinner guests wash the dishes even though you told them not to. (great people) #606…the kid’s table. (as much as you love them, it’s nice to have them out of the way.)

Grocery shopping: #953…When the cashier opens a new line in a busy store and you are first in. (this is part luck, part savvy) #575…When the customer with a full cart let’s you ahead in line because you have one item. (what a humanitarian!)

All things food: #643…the sound of steaks hitting a hot grill. (especially if you have a beer in your hand) #870…when you get the cereal to milk ratio just right (if you don’t, it’s best to have more milk than cereal)

Random: #400…putting your own shoes back on after bowling. (that is, if they are rented shoes. I preferred to own my own bowling shoes)

Some of my awesome things would be driving a golf ball down the middle of the fairway, a trip to the mailbox with no bills waiting for me to pick them up, hitting three 7’s on a slot machine, having every traffic light on Hayden from Frank Lloyd Wright to Indian School be green, a bowl of sweet-sour cabbage soup and a brisket on rye at Goldman’s Deli, looking out my back window on a January morning and seeing the beginning of another 72 degree Arizona winter day.

How about you?

Jim McAllister writes blogs and columns for the Arizona Republic in Scottsdale, AZ. To leave a comment or read 39 other comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. You will not receive a virus.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Baby boomers turning 65

New Speaker of the House John Boehner is a baby boomer. No extra charge for tears. (AP)

On January 1, 2011, 14 days from the time I am writing this piece, the so called “baby boomers” will start turning 65. That’s right; all 77 million or so of them will start becoming 65 beginning with the one second after midnight births from January 1, 1946.

Most of us know why these folks are called baby boomers but, in case you don’t know, it is because they were born after millions of guys returned from military service after World War II. Needless to say, after living in foxholes for four years, they kept their wives busy in the bedrooms of America to the point that the population soared. When the birth rate dipped below 4% in 1964, the boom was considered finished.

Why has this subject been discussed and debated for years? I’ve never given special attention to people in the boomer age category but have looked at those born in that microcosm as fortunate only because it makes every one of them younger than I am. However, some look at 77 million people born within a 19 year period and they want to categorize them into a group with similar beliefs.

Is that being fair, especially since the categorization is usually negative? Writer Ray Cooklis (b. 1950) doesn’t think so. He says “I’m sick and tired of ‘experts’ lumping us together as a monolith of people who supposedly act alike, think alike, buy alike, and age alike.” He is resentful of being informed that “because I was born in a certain year I wear these clothes, listen to this music, or hold these views.” He also tires of hearing about how boomers are “wasteful, self-indulgent, and spoiled.”

It does seem odd that so many people can be grouped into a whole when you consider the many races, beliefs, and nationalities in the USA. For example, Cooklis mentions Spike Lee and Rush Limbaugh. Would anyone in their right mind link those two? How about George W. Bush and Barack Obama? Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton? Light years apart, right? But, they are all boomers.

Besides these examples of the baby boomer myth, how about the fact that the first and last born boomers are 19 years apart in age. That alone puts them into basically two generations with different ideas.

A recent AP poll says that “baby boomers are the unhappiest of all Americans when it comes to making love. The generation that promoted free love has become old and cranky about sex.” I don’t know who the AP polled but I know a lot of people who were born between 1946 and 1964 and I would say the LAST thing they are cranky about is sex.

I look at most people as individuals, not as a group. Besides, if those born during the “baby boom” are cranky about sex, where does that put us pre baby boomers?

Jim McAllister writes blogs and columns for The Arizona Republic newspaper in Scottsdale, AZ. To read 80 comments on this blog or to add a comment, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links and scroll down. You WILL NOT receive a virus.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Expressions through the years

A typical "juke joint" in Louisiana circa 1930s. You probably wouldn't want to "mouth off" in there on a Saturday night. (Library of Congress)

I love films of the 1930’s, 1940’s, and 1950’s. The cars are great, the street scenes in cities have a nostalgic look, and the dialogue is tremendous.

They had their own hip expressions in those days. I watch a lot of films on Turner Classic Movies and they have the best examples: When a woman would give guys like Humphrey Bogart or Spencer Tracy a hard time, they were likely to hear an annoyed “Listen, sister!” A common definition for women was “dames” as in: “Those dames don’t know nothin’". A woman’s legs were “gams” and a woman who consorted with gangsters was a “moll.” A dependable secretary or assistant to a man was known as “his girl Friday.” I suppose that was a takeoff on Defoe’s man Friday from Robinson Crusoe.

Girls were also called “sugar” and if they wouldn’t shut up were told to “quit flappin’ your lips!” Many times a good looking girl was referred to as a “Jill”, “dish”, “babe”, “doll”, or a “looker.” A woman who thought she was really something was referred to as the “Queen of Sheba.” Sometimes when a guy was pursuing a woman he was said to be “chasing skirt.”

If you were surprised or amazed by something, you were a “monkey’s uncle.” If you went to a lower end bar or club with music and dancing, you went to a “juke joint.” If you were given a drugged up drink in that juke joint you were “slipped a Mickey Finn.” If you were in an embarrassing situation, you were said to be “in the hot seat” but if you got lucky in a juke joint you may have received a “smooch” (kiss) from a babe. If you were rich you had “folding money.”

Everyone wanted to have as much as their friends or neighbors and when they did they were said to be “keeping up with the Joneses.” That expression leaked into the fifties, the decade when rock music was born along with “tough guy” punks and hoods.

By this time, the Bohemians of the 1920’s had evolved into the 1950’s “beatniks”. Beatniks were early day “hippies” as they were called in the 60’s. They were basically people who were trying to find themselves and figured the way to do it was through drugs and saying “hey, man” a lot. It was also a convenient way to find an excuse not to work, take baths, or get haircuts.

The punks and hoods of the fifties liked to refer to people in positions of authority as “Daddy-O.” For a good example of this see The Blackboard Jungle (1955) with Glenn Ford, Sidney Poitier, and gorgeous Ann Francis.

The old terminology will probably return some day as almost everything gets recycled. So, if you think something is “cool” today you may someday be saying it was “keen”, “boss”, “neat”, or maybe an entirely new word.

To leave a comment or to read the other 49 comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. You will not receive a virus. Jim McAllister writes for The Arizona Republic in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Television then and now

The console model TV in the middle looks like ours from 1949

This morning I received an email from Cox Communications telling me they are adding the Filipino Channel to their already gigantic lineup of channels. The Filipino Channel will be the first network in Asia to deliver full time programming to Filipino-Americans.

I felt a sigh of relief when I received the news that this channel is coming on board to Cox. I’m sure the entire Filipino community in America is also celebrating as I punch out this blog. Now, if we write enough letters to Cox maybe we can get the “illegal immigrant network” or maybe the “Iceland-Greenland Today” network.

Of course, I am speaking tongue in cheek but it does amaze me the number of TV stations and networks we can receive in this world of endless communication. As I look at the Cox schedule and see channels like The Pentagon Channel, Jewelry TV, and AZCapitolTV, I wonder what their viewing numbers are. They have to be miniscule but there they are, wishin’ and a hopin’ that you will punch in their numbers.

As far as Cox is concerned, I sometimes wonder how they run the place. I have had their basic lineup, digital stations, and music channels for quite a while and have been paying a monthly bill of $123. That includes TV, computer, and land line phone.

Recently, I called them and asked how I could get the Fox Business Channel. The guy said “No problem, that is part of the ‘sports-info’ tier and if you take it you will also get a bunch of movie channels, the NBA, NHL, NFL Networks and many more.” And, the cost of these wonderful additions? Surprisingly, my monthly cost dropped $4 to $119. Go figure. Maybe I should order HBO and Showtime and see if I can get the cost down to about $100.

With all this TV to watch, it reminds me of the days we had our roof antenna in Cincinnati and gleefully tuned in our three stations broadcasting NBC, ABC, CBS, and occasionally DuMont before they folded in the early 1950’s. Having our own TV was quite the luxury. Before TV became more common, we would pile into the house of a girl up the street to get our daily fix of “Howdy Doody” on a 14 inch Admiral. Later, it was Tuesday nights for Uncle Miltie on NBC with the “Texaco Star Theater.”

My Catholic friends would be steadfast in watching Bishop Sheen give out his advice on TV. I sure was glad I wasn’t Catholic; my friends said the bishop was “borrrrriiiiing” but their parents insisted they watch him.

Sports were really fun to watch. We never missed the Cleveland Browns games on Sunday as they flickered in 16" black and white. I liked the commercials for Carling’s Black Label beer, the sponsor of the games. “Hey, Mabel! Black Label!” I could use one now.

Sorry, I have to go now. I don’t want to miss the 1:00 program on the new Filipino Channel.

To leave a comment or read any of the other 47 comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. You will not receive a virus. Jim McAllister writes blogs, columns, and opinions for The Arizona Republic in Scottsdale, Arizona.