Saturday, August 29, 2009

I Don't Need No Doctor

My doctor wants to hook up with me.

I went for a routine physical exam the other day and the doctor found almost nothing wrong. I was hoping for better news. I’m at an age where my contemporaries begin to alternate tales of their highly successful offspring with a litany of maladies and they suffer from and the medicines that sustain them.

I’ve got nothing. Soon our gatherings will consist of my friends sitting around the table sorting their pills into those S M T W T F S containers while describing poor urine flow, with me just rolling my eyes and eating all the foods they can’t digest any more. Meanwhile, I think my doctor covets my healthy body.

I use Metamucil but that’s not a sign of age or even a problem anymore; it’s part of staying healthy and being young. Their new “commercial oozes sophistication … packed with images of hypnotically gliding, smiling young women getting ready for a night on the town… Along with the new campaign has come a drop -- from 55-plus to 35-plus -- in the age of the product's target audience.” Metamucil is starting a youth movement.

I don’t drink alcohol very much. I put that on the checklist. Before the exam I had to go through this list and note that I don’t smoke, I don’t pee too much or too little and I have no sexual dysfunction. I wasn’t sure why I even filled out the form because the doctor repeated most of the questions during the exam; twice I was asked “so… no sexual dysfunctions or any problems there?” Trying to say it in a way that didn’t reveal a non-medical interest.

At the time I just assumed that she gets a kickback from any Viagra/Cialis/Levitra prescriptions she writes. (Did I mention my doctor is a woman?) Looking back later, after the other incidents, I thought she – what? - wanted me to prove it? Was she just confirming that I could perform if she decided to actually hit on me?

I was always bad at reading signs that girls were interested in me. After any chance to react to it had passed, someone would ask me, “Didn’t you know that Shirley likes you?” “Likes me, likes me?” “Yeah.” “Shit! Why didn’t you tell me?”

I eat a lot of blueberries. And cruciferous vegetables. And other good antioxidants and vitamin packed foods. I don’t know if that’s why, but my blood pressure is to be envied and my cholesterol numbers are posted as an example to others of the perfection that can be achieved if they really try. My PSA, the measure of prostate cancer risk, is 0.45 where less than 4.0 is good.

I’m very happy about that. I mean, I’ll take bad cholesterol to get myself into the aging-illness bingo game. But I don’t want cancer. A little swollen prostate might be okay, but I had no luck there either. As an aside, guys, it may be a little embarrassing to have a female doctor check your prostate, but it is more than made up for by the fact that she has slender, feminine fingers. In years past, when I went to a male urologist for this exam, I selected a Vietnamese man because he had tiny exploring digits.

My doctor is a short, thin woman, getting even smaller with age (She’s a bit older than I am and, I think, covets my youthful body). She examined my prostate and then looked at me with a smile and said it was “not enlarged at all - smooth and soft and perfect.”

Here is where I started to detect something uncomfortable – not in my prostate, just in the atmosphere in the examining room. Looking back, I recall that she said that about my prostate like she might tell me “your eyes were as clear and blue as a mountain stream - the ones they get water from to make ice cold beer.” As if she could peer into my soul and see what moved me. But I still didn’t really catch on at that point.

I use sunscreen. Even when I go to LA to hang at the beach for a week. People at work make fun of me because I come back less than tan. That’s one of the reasons that the doctor found a minor problem to tell me about. I have a vitamin D deficiency. She said it’s common in the Midwest. We don’t get enough “good” sun and we use protection. (Was there a huskiness in her voice when she said “use protection”?)

She gave me a prescription for vitamin D. That’s right. There is prescription strength vitamin D. That is so lame. When the guys are sitting around talking about their Flowmax prescriptions, I’m just going to keep that vitamin D thing to myself. I asked her, “Can’t you just prescribe that I need to move to Southern California and live on the beach?” She said, “I can. The insurance company won’t pay for it, though.” She smiled, letting me know she liked my sense of humor and she could keep up.

Then she found the other thing. I have small cyst on the bottom of my right breast. “It appears totally benign,” she assured me; “just a normal, subcutaneous cyst.” I was relieved, but she wasn’t done. “However, you could have somebody check it out, if you want.” I looked at her, letting her know that I was cool, but, sure, I could let somebody check it. “I can send you to my ex-husband. He’s a surgeon. He will probably just remove it.”

She went all that way to not only make me feel vulnerable and like I needed her, but to let me know she was not married. That’s when sitting naked on her examining table with nothing but a thin paper sheet separating us became very awkward. I stared at the brochures about cancer and thought about baseball and dead puppies.

She left the room soon after and I got dressed and went out to get my prescriptions and the referral to her ex-husband. But I couldn’t shake the disturbing feeling.

My doctor wants to hook up with me.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

We Report, You Decide ... Not to Advertise

Promoters of white supremacy are dropping sponsorship of Glenn Beck because he called President Obama “a racist”.

Glenn Beck is a mentally challenged man, hired to host a talk show by Fox News as part of their ongoing effort to reach out to their fan base. Beck was on the Children’s Show, “Fox and Friends” when he made the remark about the President; however it caused 90% of his sponsors to drop their advertising from Beck’s own show.

I was surprised that one of the defecting sponsors is Clorox, who, ironically, always want everything to be whiter than white, effectively promoting white supremacy. (Glenn Beck, coincidentally, is one of the whitest men on television).

Having sponsors boycott a show is not a new phenomenon, and I assume it is a preemptive strike to avoid having people boycott their products in protest of Glenn Beck.

I have never gotten into boycotting specific advertisers because of the shows they sponsor. I just boycott all of them by recording shows and fast-forwarding through the commercials. Or I boycott by getting up to go to the bathroom. Or I watch the ad but effectively boycott the company by not understanding what the hell they are talking about or how it relates to the product they want to sell me, the name of which I never remember anyway.

Sponsors aside, what I really don’t understand is how these talk show hosts or town-hall-meeting-protesters get away with calling President Obama a racist or a Nazi.

I would think that any self-respecting Nazis would be offended by people associating our black President with their good name. Where is the backlash from Nazis, neo-Nazis, neo-con Nazis, etc. about this whole thing?

I would expect the real racists to be reacting in anger and calling into the Fox talk shows, railing against calling this compromise-loving, bi-partisanship-seeking, can't-we-all-get-along, black man a "racist".

Come to think of it, maybe those are the groups that the advertisers fear and the real reason they pulled their ads.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Dancing With the Falling Stars

Seeing an ad for the upcoming season of Dancing With the Stars, I realized the reason I don’t watch it: it is The Love Boat without a plot.

The Love Boat was on TV back when there were only three networks so everybody watched all the same shows and Aaron Spelling produced every one of them. So, if you lived in America from 1977 through 1986, then on Saturday night you watched The Love Boat followed by Fantasy Island.

And the premise of the Love Boat was that has-been stars would all show up on the same cruise and compete for camera time. They would have Sonny Bono and Ethel Merman fall in love or Ernest Borgnine reconcile with his long lost daughter, Charo, or something like that. The cheesey factor got so bad on Love Boat the Lauren Tewes, who played the cruise director, starting stealing drugs from the ship's doctor so she could get kicked off the show.

Fantasy Island was the Love Boat with mystery, dream fulfillment and a midget in place of love, family drama and a wacky crew. The B-list guest stars were the same people recycled though another Spelling production.

Now that Aaron Spelling is dead, the new showcase for washed up entertainers is evidently Dancing With the Stars. The upcoming season features Kelly Osbourne, Melissa Joan Hart, Donnie Osmond, Debbie Mazar and Tom DeLay, who is, I guess, doing the Sonny Bono part from Love Boat. When it was on, I had no choice about watching Love Boat, but I can choose not to watch Dancing With the Once Famous, and I exercise that choice happily.

One upside for the formerly famous: with the limited number of shows back in the 80’s, Love Boat/Fantasy Island was the last stop on the downhill slide for performers. The DWTS celebrities have the luxury of feeling superior to the D-list stars who aren’t even worthy of passing through DWTS on the way down. Those people go straight to I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Biggest Loser

The TV show that I am most embarrassed to admit having watched more than once is “Man V. Food” on the Travel Channel.

Adam Richman starts out each show explaining that he is not a competitive eater, i.e. he’s not competing against other men to eat the most of one item of food. "Adam will take on the city's toughest food challenge. Whether he's devouring the Atomic Hot Wings platter in Pittsburgh, or a 13-pound pizza in Atlanta.”

Some will suggest that I object to MvF because it is too manly for me, the guy who watches Project Runway and So You Think You Can Dance. I have explained my interest in those shows and how they do not diminish my manliness; I find it hard to look away from Mario Lopez on ABDC because he is a clown, not because he is so damn cute.

Why am I embarrassed to have watched MvF? What could be more awesome than watching a man eat a 10 pound hamburger or destroy his palate with a sandwich topped by jalapenos, Serrano's, habaneros and ghost peppers?

I see no shame in MvF just because it is a show watched in sloth, one that you watch only because nothing else is on. And I see no shame in that MvF revolves around other disgraceful sins of America: gluttony and waste of food. One man’s sin is another man’s pleasure of the flesh.

Yes, MvF is food porn. The pictures ought to be scrambled on your TV. You sit down on the couch with your bag of nacho cheese Doritos and the remote, start clicking around the channels and there’s a guy with 4 pounds of cinnamon roles on his plate, about to dig in. You start to get a little aroused and all drooly. Before you know it, your Doritos are gone and your chin, your fingers and the front of your t-shirt are smeared with the orange shame of self-indulgence; you feel at peace and ready for a nap.

And there you go: That is not Man versus Food. Any implied conquest is a delusion. Man conquers food when he kills it, because by doing so he conquers Nature. And I’m not talking about taming the land and farming. Anyone can defeat a head of lettuce. It takes a man with strength and courage to bring down an animal and make it into his food; even if the guy has to hire a helicopter and take a high-powered rifle to chase down and slaughter some moose, he will do it.

Man is not challenged in MvF. Consuming the hottest peppers in the world or the biggest hamburger in Duluth is only playing with yourself. If MvF is food porn, the sex porn equivalent would be Adam sitting in his cheap motel room with a stack of Hustlers, seeing how many times he could, um, “respond” to the pictures.

MvF is not man versus food any more than ODing is man versus drugs. MvF is man against his weakness; it is food’s revenge. A real competition against food would consist of putting me in a room with 4 pounds of cinnamon rolls, a 10 pound hamburger, a few pies and a couple liters of beer and see how long I could go without consuming any of it. Man versus food is any time I get a plate of French fries and try to leave just one on the plate. (Sadly, even if the last one is undercooked, bruised and cold, I will eat it – and enjoy it.)

Someone will try and tell me that if I want to see that struggle, I should watch the Biggest Loser. No, that is a woman’s show about eating right and exercising. The only thing for men on that show is Jillian, whom we can drool over while we eat Doritos. On TBL, everyone loses weight, so everyone is a winner. Who wants to see everyone win? If “everyone is a winner” were a desired goal, we Americans would negotiate with our enemies instead of bombing and shooting them. Women would be world leaders instead of men.

Of course, that would free us men up for more couch time, shamefully manipulating the remote and conquering the Doritos.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Know When To Hose 'Em, Know When To Fool 'Em

The constitutional amendment to allow casinos in Ohio will kill puppies and kittens.

If you want to get people to vote against something, there are two proven methods:
1) Tell them it will raise their taxes.
2) Tell them it will hurt some innocent, pitiable victims.
If you go with option 2, the harm you claim does not need to be factual; people will not read the actual proposed law, they will believe what you say if it creates a perception that there’s a threat to their family (including pets)..

A recent example is the charge by some that the proposed health care legislation would establish “Death Panels” to decide if your grandparents should die. A catchy phrase that people can repeat always helps put the argument over. “Weapons of Mass Destruction” was another recent driver of policy.

Locally, in Ohio we have a new example of the “Pitiable Victim” strategy. “Foes: Casino plan hurts church festivals” (I lied about the puppies and kittens). Notice that the victim is not the Church; it’s the Church Festival, your source of summer fun, inflatable rides, beer and gambling.

Universal health care sounds good until you realize it means killing those family members we can’t afford to take care of. Casinos bringing in tourists and tax money sound good until you realize you can’t play Texas Hold ‘Em in the church parking lot next month. (And also when you realize that everyone else already has their own casinos so we’re just losing our own money). Festivals are a big deal around here, killing festival gambling might be worse than killing grandma.

Gambling is not specifically named as a sin in the Bible (I’m counting on you all not having actually read the document) but love of money, greed, coveting another’s money are all bad things in either the Torah or the New Testament Bible. Probably in the Koran - I mean - I am sure in the Koran also. So I figure the priests and ministers of the churches don’t organize the festival and probably avoid the events so as not to have to toss the moneychangers from the Temple … er, Church.

Those same religious leaders can’t actually push this initiative to protect gambling at church (possibly because it’s a lie, which is one of the commandment even priests follow). So the leaders are probably not the “Foes”; who is? It is “opponents including ‘church groups’…and attorneys for TruthPAC, a casino opposition group financed in part by horse tracks.”

Ah, the horse tracks. I am not cynical enough to suggest that it is the horse tracks who would be hurt most by the existence of casinos and that they just fabricated this “Demise of the Church Festival” story to divert our attention. Wait. Yes I am exactly that cynical, and more!

The basis of the claim is that “The very last paragraph of the proposed six-page constitutional amendment states that lotteries and bingo would not be limited by passage of the casino issue”. The contention is that church Monte Carlo nights, poker games etc. would be banned because they are not specifically mentioned. . I don’t really know if that’s true; I haven’t read the proposed amendment. But, if it is, the amendment would likely outlaw other forms of gambling not specifically mentioned, like life insurance and stock investments.

Monday, August 17, 2009

I Heard the News Today, Oh Boy!

Clear, concise communication was in critical condition after a confrontation with a local newscaster last night.

First the reporter read this headline,
“A man drowned after a swim in a Boone County lake this afternoon.”
How ironic would that be, for the man to swim in a lake and then go drown somewhere else? The man more likely drowned while swimming in the lake, not after.

Okay, I suppose you could argue that the man had stopped swimming – if he had kept swimming, he wouldn’t have drowned. So, technically, yes, he drowned after swimming. I would have let the reporter get away with that if it hadn’t been for the other story he read the same way.

He reported that
“an elderly woman was killed after her car collided with another vehicle on route 53.”
Oh my god, what happened? Did the people in the other car get mad and shoot the old woman? Did the paramedics arrive and say, “Uh oh, looks like the old girl broke her leg; we’re gonna have to put her down.”?

It turns out that she died after the collision but was essentially killed by the collision, not killed after the collision.

Whoever wrote those stories made the reporter look stupid after he read them.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


A friend of mine told me a story about her daughter and the son of a neighbor playing together when they were 3 or 4 years old. The two mothers went to check on the kids and found them both naked, with the little boy trying to insert a toy car into the little girl in, um, a place he would not have found on another little boy.

My comment to my friend was “whenever you put together a boy, a girl, and a car, you’re going to have trouble.”

That was the theme of movies and songs in the early rock and roll era when I was growing up. Boys and girls have been a dangerous mix throughout music history but the tragic third element that sparks death varies based on genre. In folk and old-time country music, if your sweetheart wants to take you down by the river, don’t go; I’m just sayin’. In blues and jazz music, there’s no escape; your lover will hunt you down with a gun (see “Frankie and Johnny”).

But in rock and roll, scientific studies prove that death comes by motor vehicle 95% of the time. I recently read someone else’s blog entry about sad songs. One commenter said that the saddest song was “Last Kiss” by Pearl Jam. The really sad part was that this person was so young she did not know that was a cover version of the original from the early 60s, the heyday of the teen death rock and roll song.

“Last Kiss” falls into the category of “boy and girl together in the car”. In that scenario, the girl is a passenger and she always dies. “Teen Angel” is the earliest “hit” I could find in this sub-phylum. In that song the boy doesn’t kill the girl through reckless driving; instead, the girl, stupefied by love (as teen girls always are) runs back to the stalled car to get the boy’s class ring and is hit by a train. (Note: The class ring was symbolic of true love, "going steady", in 1960). But we are left to wonder: Why had she taken the ring off? Had they been fighting? Did he kill her, park on the tracks and then make up the story about her running back to the car? Was his last name Peterson?

The ring element makes a nice link between “Teen Angel” and “Tell Laura I love Her”. The difference is that “Tell Laura…” belongs to the sub-phylum “Love-sick boy alone in vehicle ends up dead.” Tommy wants to buy Laura “everything” which is comprised of “flowers, presents (and) a wedding ring.” If only he had had the good sense to get a job. Instead he enters a stock car race to win a prize, but crashes and dies. I know the lyrics sound hokey when you read them, but if you have ever seen Sha Na Na do this song live… for the last verse they form the chapel where Laura prays and the music swells … “alone in the chapel she can hear him cry….” … it still brings chills, just thinking about it. This is my favorite teen death song.

A few years later the Shangri-las recorded a love-sick boy death song, which again involves both a ring and a vehicle, but in this case it’s death on a motorcycle. "Leader of the Pack" is wholly unbelievable in its premise: the girl’s parents tell her has to break up with the boy and she just complies. In real life she would have snuck out to hook up with him and gotten pregnant – possibly later throwing the baby off the Tallahatchie Bridge. Anyway, in this song, he drives off, crashes and dies.

There is much debate among students of teen death music about "Leader.." It states that Jimmy was "from the wrong side of town". Is this a code for inter-racial coupling? (Worse than teen pregnancy in the 1960s). The question stems from the girl's friends asking "whatcha mean when ya say that he came from the wrong side of town?" Some scholars postulate that the friends were just "total ditzes" because they just don't seem to comprehend simple declarative statements, such as, "My dad said, "Find somebody new", to which they respond "whatcha mean when ya say that ya better go find somebody new?" Further support for the ditz theory comes at the beginning of the song when the friends ask each other, "is she really going out with him" when everybody at school knows about the relationship and Jimmy's death.

The "accident" is also controversial; was his vision just clouded by tears or did he deliberately crash? The same question can be asked about Laura’s Tommy. “No one knows what happened that day, how his car overturned in flames.” Numerous literary studies have postulated about this. Was Tommy losing the race and so saddened that he could never afford the flowers or presents, let alone the ring, that he wrecked his car on purpose? Was there an insurance policy naming Laura as his beneficiary? (Evidence: “it was just for Laura he lived and died”) Was he just driving a crappy car that burst into flames and overturned spontaneously? (Evidence: he couldn’t afford flowers so he couldn’t afford a good car). My theory is that he was killed by God for having pre-marital sex with Laura (Evidence: “Laura and Tommy were lovers”). Undoubtedly they had sex in the back seat of that very same car he died in, which is why it burst into flames. She went to the chapel to ask forgiveness for her sin, which is what Tommy should have done instead of giving in to greed (another deadly sin!) There may be a clue about the lyrics in this reenactment.

By the mid-sixties the boy/girl/car death songs were dying out. In the late 60s and 70s drugs became a bigger part of the music and overdose the more favored means of death. Now would be the time for a return of the car death genre, only now it would go something like this:

Laura and Tommy were lovers
That’s what everybody read
“Laura is in a relationship”
That’s what her Facebook status said.

Tommy also declared his love
While driving his car around the street
He had a cell phone and a Twitter account
So here’s what Tommy tried to tweet:

@Laura: I <3 u
@Laura: I need u
@Laura: do not cry, my <3 4 u will never di….

And, of course you would be able to download a “ring” tone of the song.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

John and Les and Eunice

I called the E! Entertainment celebrity death desk today and talked to my friend, Giddy Golightly.

ME: You busy today?

GIDDY: No, just the usual. You know, waiting for people to die. They have to go in a packet of three or I have no "Celebrity Death Roundup" show.

ME: Well, we've had three in August already.

GIDDY: Wait. What? Who?

ME: Well, John Hughes.

GIDDY: Oh my god. I know. (SNIFF) Oh my god, I learned about real life from his movies. "Sixteen Candles", "The Breakfast Club", "Pretty in Pink" - I learned how to be a teenager from those movies. Oh my god. I can't believe he's gone.

ME: Well, maybe it was time.

GIDDY: I know. Right. Wait. What?

ME: Well, he died before he could make "Beethoven's 6th" or "Home Alone 5". I think he peaked in the early nineties. I'm just saying.

GIDDY: Sacrilege. Who else died?

ME: Les Paul died today.

GIDDY: Les Paul Who?

ME: Just Les Paul. He created a classic electric guitar and invented a lot of recording techniques. He's very well known in the music biz. Plus he had a recording career way back, solo and with his wife.

GIDDY: If you say so. Who is the third?

ME: Eunice Kennedy Shriver. She created the Special Olympics and built it into a worldwide organization.

GIDDY: Oh, of course. She was the best Kennedy, wasn't she?

ME: The very best.

GIDDY: But, oh my god. These are three totally different people. Films, music, sports. There's no connection.

ME: They all created very special things. All of them meant something to your generation and others: rock and rollers, teenagers who just wanted to fit in and feel special and special people who just wanted to fit in. You can build your show around that.

GIDDY: It'll be a nice tribute to all three.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Myth Debunked: At Woodstock They Weren't Really Stardust or Golden

Having just summarized 1969 (as I remember it), I had to check out this article “Debunking Woodstock: What really happened?” Mainly I was curious. What “myths”? This was Woodstock, not Roswell, or Bigfoot.
“Drugs and nudity were rampant, food was scarce and traffic was hell. Oh, and there were several deaths and births. Those are some of the myths that have been passed down over the years about the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, which happened 40 years ago this weekend, Aug. 15-18, 1969.”
Are those myths? Tall tales, perhaps or exaggerations, maybe. My assumption that the author doesn’t grasp the definition of “myth” is supported by his equally loose hold on “debunking”, which, to him, consists of having someone tell him a different story.
“… Howard Loberfeld, who attended at age 15, (says) ‘I went with a sleep-away camp…and every one of (our parents) called the camp and said ‘Get my kid out of there! We heard there’s deaths, we heard there’s no bathrooms, we heard there’s no food and we heard there’s drugs!’’ … Loberfeld says, he and his buddies ‘just noticed a lot of music, a lot of fun and a lot of community.’ OK, so there were drugs, as Loberfeld found out when some long-haired dude walked by him yelling “Reds! Reds!” But he was so young and naive, he thought the dealer was talking baseball: “I remember thinking: he’s a Cincinnati fan.’’ When Loberfeld and company were forced to cut their festival stay short because of parental concerns, ‘We were quite angry and we told our parents that we don’t know what the New York media was saying, but we didn’t notice any of that stuff,’ he says.
These kids go to camp thinking, "camp sucks, why do I have to go, my parents hate me," and the end up at the greatest music event of all time… with drugs …and nudity. Here's the conversation Howie had with his folks:
Hello Muddah, hello Faddah
Uh, yeah, I’m at, Camp Granada
Well okay, but, please don’t you flip
They took on a special sort of field “trip”

Don’t believe the, New York media
And the drug tales, that they feed ya
No, I’ve not seen, LSD here
But I’ve seen flying purple lizards wearing rain gear

Don’t take me home, oh, Muddah, Faddah
Or make me go, back to Camp Granada
Just leave me at this farm where, I swear,
I don’t see those women swimming bare

You know when they got to sleepaway camp, the older counselors said, “Screw this hiking and s&!#, we’re taking these nerds to Woodstock. Sex, drugs and rock and roll, baby!” Then they threatened some horrible consequences if the kids ever told what really went on.

Howie’s claim of naiveté about drugs sounds like today’s baseball players denying they took steroids and, even when they did, they thought it was vitamins. It’s like Bill Clinton saying, “I tried marijuana but I didn’t inhale.” Howie Loberfeld is probably hiding his youthful drug use and nudity at Woodstock because he’s planning to run for some Republican political position – he’s already learned to blame stuff on “the New York media.”

The “reporter” also tries to debunk stories of nudity by quoting Bonnie Geffen, who says she never got naked. You know that if Facebook had existed at the time, every ones of these liars would be totally busted by the pictures which would still be floating around the internet.

You know what might have helped the reporter with this story? He could have just rented the movie. The drugs, the nudity, the food scarcity; that was all there. The death was not, but that was confirmed. All that’s left is the birth. Maybe that didn’t happen. Who really knows?

After all, “if you can remember Woodstock, you weren’t really there.”, which may be the case for both Howard and Bonnie, speaking of debunking myths.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The 40th Anniversary of 1969

(The format of this entry is a tribute to the Year-In-Review essays of Dave Barry, whom I have always wanted to be and who, 40 years ago today, invented Al Gore.)

A lot of 40 year anniversaries are popping up this year, causing people to ask me what the heck was going on in 1969. They ask me because I am one of the few people still alive from that year.
1969 was a year of transition. In ’69 some thing were going one way, some things were going the other. We had dichotomy out the yin yang. There are a remarkable number of events from 1969 that I have left out because I lost most of them in the hazy days of Woodstock. Here’s what I remember (after looking at Wikipedia):

January 10 – After 147 years, the last issue of The Saturday Evening Post is published. The Post was no longer relevant. Norman Rockwell’s America was gone because hippie vegetarians refused to eat turkey on Thanksgiving or even wear shoes and a shirt to the dinner table.

January 12 – Super Bowl III: The New York Jets of the American Football League defeat the heavily favored Baltimore Colts of the National Football League, prompting a decade of commercials featuring Joe Namath..

January 13 – Elvis Presley, without the support of his old band, The Crickets, begins a comeback, recording among other songs, "In the Ghetto", which opens with the lyric, “On a cold and gray Chicago morn, a poor little baby child is born, In the ghetto.”
That baby would later become Barack Obama.

January 20 – Richard Milhouse Nixon succeeds Lyndon Baines Johnson as President. LBJ lost largely because he publicly picked his dog up by the ears and also exposed a scar from a gall bladder operation.

January 30 – The Beatles give their last public performance, on the roof of Apple Records. The impromptu concert is broken up by the police. Paul McCartney dies in the melee.

February 4 – In Cairo, Yasser Arafat is elected Palestine Liberation Organization leader. After drinking heavily in celebration, he wraps a table cloth around his head, establishing his trademark fashion statement.

February 24 – Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District: The U.S. Supreme Court rules that the First Amendment applies to public schools: something many Americans had long prayed for.

March 17 – Golda Meir becomes the first female prime minister of Israel, and declares that her country “too skinny, like a chicken wing”, and everyone should “have a nosh”.

April 9 – The Harvard University Administration Building is seized by close to 300 students, mostly members of the Students for a Democratic Society.
April 20 A grassroots movement of Berkeley community members seizes an empty lot owned by the University of California to begin the formation of "People's Park."
These events started a college league for student protest which ends with the shootings at Kent State, Ohio in 1970, where Paul McCartney is killed.

June 1 – In Montreal, Canada, Give Peace a Chance (which brought about the end of the Viet Nam War) is recorded during the famous bed-in for peace by John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

June 18–22 – The National Convention of the Students for a Democratic Society, held in Chicago, collapses, and the Weatherman faction seizes control of the SDS National Office, saving Chicago police the budgeted funds set aside to disrupt the dissidents.
The Weatherman group became infamous for bombing banks and other symbols of “the establishment” in protest of the war in Viet Nam. Though they failed to end the war, these same young people later became part of “the establishment”. They joined large brokerage firms, where they bombed financial institutions with toxic mortgage-backed securities leading to the collapse of the economy.
One of the Weatherman leaders was William Ayers who, in 1969, befriended little Barack Obama, in the ghetto.
June 28 – The Stonewall riots in New York City mark the start of the modern gay rights movement in the U.S.

July 14 – Football War: After Honduras loses a soccer game against El Salvador, rioting breaks out in Honduras against Salvadoran migrant workers, prompting a brief Salvadoran invasion of Honduras. U.S. sports fans continue to insist that the baseball “World Series” is the biggest sporting event on the planet.

July 16 – Apollo 11 lifts off, headed for the moon.
July 17 – The New York Times publicly takes back the ridicule of the rocket scientist Robert H. Goddard published in 13 Jan 1920 that spaceflight is impossible.

July 18 – Edward M. Kennedy drives off a bridge on his way home from a party on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts. Mary Jo Kopechne, a former campaign aide to his brother who was in the car with him, dies in the incident, along with Paul McCartney. Teddy thus kills his Presidential hopes, saving potential assassins all the trouble.

July 20 – The Apollo 11 lunar module Eagle lands on the lunar surface. The world watches in awe as Neil Armstrong takes his historic first steps on the Moon.

August 9 – Inspired by Armstrong’s moon walk, for the cover of their last album, the Beatles have their photo taken walking across Abbey Road. Paul McCartney is run down and killed by a passing motor car.

August 9 – In response, members of a cult led by Charles Manson murder Sharon Tate and her friends at Roman Polanski's home in Los Angeles.

August 15–18 – The Woodstock Festival is held in upstate New York. This three days of peace and love, sex and drugs failed to end the war but did establish a new marketing demographic: the Woodstock generation. Not coincidentally, the first Gap store opened in San Francisco in 1969.

September 2 – The first automatic teller machine in the United States is installed in Rockville Centre, New York. Thousands of New Yorkers immediately draw out all their savings and go bankrupt just because it is so damned convenient.

September 20 – The very last Warner Bros. cartoon of the original theatrical Looney Tunes series is released: Injun Trouble.

September 26 – The Beatles release their Abbey Road album, receiving critical praise and enormous commercial success. But they break up anyway, prompting a brief invasion of Graceland by Beatlemaniacs.

September 26 – The Brady Bunch premieres on ABC,
And then, for something completely different,
October 5 – Monty Python's Flying Circus first airs on BBC One.

October 16 – In an ironic parallel to the NY Jets defeat of the Baltimore Colts in January, The "miracle" New York Mets win the World Series, beating the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles 4 games to 1, prompting a brief invasion of New York by Baltimore. The Maryland fans are quickly repulsed by Stonewall activists.

October 29 – The first message is sent over ARPANET, the forerunner of the internet. Al Gore claims credit for the idea.

October 31 – Wal-Mart incorporates as Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., with the stated intent of global domination.

November 9 - A group of “Amer-indians”, in response to Warner Brothers cartoon, “Injun Trouble”, seizes Alcatraz Island for 19 months.

November 10 – Sesame Street premieres on the National Educational Television (NET) network. Al Gore claims credit.

November 15 – Dave Thomas opens his first restaurant in downtown Columbus, Ohio. He names the chain Wendy's after his 8-year-old daughter, Melinda Lou.

November 19 – Apollo program: Apollo 12 astronauts, whosis and whatshisname, land and walk on the Moon. No one back on Earth really gives a crap about this. Nevertheless, without Apollo 12, there would not be Apollo 13 and several important links to Kevin Bacon would be gone.

December 1 – Vietnam War: The first draft lottery in the United States is held since World War II . Several resisters decide not to play until the pot gets really big.

December 6 – The Altamont Free Concert is held at the Altamont Speedway in northern California. Hosted by the Rolling Stones, it is best known for the uproar of violence that occurred in which Paul McCartney died. According to Wikipedia, Altamont “is viewed by many as the ‘end of the sixties.’”
Duh. It was December 1969

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Great Moments in Accounting - A to ZZZZZZZZZZ...

During dbrief periods of wakefulness the other day, as I was writing about Deloitte, I was trying to remember the Big Eight accounting firms. You know, trying to recall how many there were, what were their names and who merged with whom to form the Big Four.

I had a head start because I had interviewed with at least six of them when I moved to Cincinnati and I worked for Ernst & Whinney when they hooked up with Arthur Young. But I am embarrassed to say that I failed to come up with all eight.

I forgot Price Waterhouse, probably the only one that normal people would think of because PW always audited the results of the Academy Awards. That was the dream job of every young accounting student, CPA wannabe: to appear at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion with the host, Johnny Carson or whoever, and receive worldwide recognition in not just Accounting for, but Publicly Certifying the Oscar votes. It’s an awesome responsibility.

Turns out I did not have the right stuff for PW; maybe that’s why I blocked their name. Best not to dwell on such things too much. Trying to recall the orgy of mergers that changed the face of Big Accounting made me think about the folk and rock group evolutions in the 60s/70s. Even though there were only 8 firms in the Big 8 (I looked it up) I can more easily remember the members of Buffalo Springfield and how they became Poco, Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young), Loggins and Messina and Souther, Hillman Furray or how Cream split and you had Traffic, Blind Faith etc.

While researching the Big 8::4 auditors, I wondered if there is any repository of accounting history and artifacts. Turns out, the Accounting Museum opened in 1989 in New Jersey. New Jersey: home of mobsters, corrupt politicians and felonious rabbis. Nice place for an accounting museum. They can spotlight great moments in embezzling and have a special exhibit on Arthur Anderson (Enron’s auditors – now defunct).

The actual museum is (was?) located in some accountant’s office. I’m sure it boosted their client list as the public flocked to see the star attraction, “an accounting ledger dating back to 1873” or the turn-of-the-century adding machines. I would hope they also had something documenting the first known double entendre joke about “double entry accounting”.

(The picture at the top is Luca Pacioli, the Father of Double Entry Accounting. I don't know if the person behind him is Mrs. Double Entry saying, "Luca, your multi-tasking with the ledger and the pie chart has got me so hot. Come to bed, sir, and show me the big 8".)

PS - please vote in the poll at the top right.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Accounting dSheep

My mind wandered. I couldn’t help it. I was so sleepy.

I awoke Tuesday morning from fitful dreams to find that I had a sinus headache. I took some drugs and that made me sleepy. Not the drugs, but the lack of sleep the night before, followed by the relief from the headache, had me aching to just to lie down and snooze.

Not even lie down. I snoozed at my computer. Come on, I work in accounting; it’s a wonder I stay awake any day, right? I was sitting there, hand on my mouse, moving some numbers around a spreadsheet. Then the numbers started to come out of the screen like a 3-D movie and dance around. Then I did that thing where you jump and open your eyes and look around real fast to see who had caught you sleeping. No one. Or at least, no one who stopped and waited so they could laugh at me. Not that time. Or the next time I nodded off. Or the next.

There was no way I was going to make it through the webcast last night. My company does business in China. Deloitte, one of the big accounting firms, had a webcast about doing business in China. The webcast started at noon today. That is, it was at noon on Wednesday in Hong Kong. Which was midnight in Cincinnati Tuesday night. Or Wednesday morning. It depended. Was I still awake Tuesday night or had I been asleep and I was now awake on Wednesday morning? I was both.

I was getting punchy. I logged in to the webcast. I was in the “lobby” watching a clock count down, waiting for the show to start. “The webcast starts in 5 minutes.” I looked at the title. “Deloitte dBriefs.” Of course they were not really debriefing, they were briefing; but with “Deloitte”, you HAVE to put dBrief. It’s cute.

My mind wandered. Just Deloitte? It’s really "Deloitte, Touche", right? Not like “touché”, more like “toosh”. It’s kind of a funny word. Not as much as “three-way” or “corn hole”, but sorta funny. But they just go by Deloitte. What did they do with Touche? De touche is in de briefs. Can’t touche that.

I couldn’t help it. I was so sleepy. If I were Deloitte, I would have gone out and recruited some kid with exactly the name I wanted. I would have sponsored him (or her) through an accounting education, brought him up through the firm and made him my partner. His last name would have to be “Deway”. “We are Deloitte and Deway”. Our clients would see us as their savior in all accounting troubles. Instead of being in the Big Eight or even the Big Four accounting firms, we would be part of the Trinity.

Deloitte. It’s Deloitteful, it’s delicious, it’s delovely. Deliver de letter, de sooner de better. It’s not delivery, it’s Digiorno.

I jumped and opened my eyes and looked around real fast. I was alone in my living room with my laptop. Someone from Deloitte was on there, saying, dats dEnd of dBrief. Now let’s all go to dLobby, let’s all go to dLobby, let’s all go to dLobby …

Then I woke up. It was Wednesday morning.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

At Least I Didn't Bust My Sack During the Game

There are a couple of things particular to the Cincinnati area that cause people to look at you funny when you say the words.

One of them is a "three-way:, which is not a sexual liaison with an extra person, it's just spaghetti topped with chili and cheese.

The other is "corn hole", which is not where you apply the corn cob in the outhouse (we use a Sears catalog) and has no unnatural sexual connotation, it is just a bean bag toss game.

When either of these phrases comes up in conversation among the locals, it causes tourists to titter like adolescent boys. But let's all try to be mature for now and get through the rest of this story.

This past Saturday my neighbor had a birthday party which included a corn hole tournament on the front lawn. The bean bags are tossed underhand and a right-hander pushes off with the right leg, flexing the foot and calf..

So, because I am old and out of shape, my right calf ended up a little sore after the tournament. Since this was beer-in-hand corn hole and we played for about 4 hours, I didn't really notice right away. Sunday and Monday, though, my calf started to really tighten up if I sat for more than 4 minutes or so.

That meant that on Monday, every time I left of my office, I was hobbling like Dr. House. It caused people to inquire what was wrong with me. Naturally, I told them I had spilled a hot Skyline meal on my leg and burned myself.

Why did I say that? Because, even at my advanced maturity level, I would rather say I had an injury from a three-way than say that I was walking funny because of a marathon corn hole session.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Wild Cherry, Wild Myths

In an attempt to reform my own personal care of my own personal health (before some government bureaucrat comes between me and myself) I have been using yogurt instead of doughnuts to stave off the 10 a.m. hunger attacks. I eat Yoplait fruit flavors, but I often get sick of the artificial sweetener taste – except when I eat the Very Cherry, with that “cherry” flavor that does not exist in nature: the cherry flavor that brings back the sticky, red sweetness of Smith Brothers cough drops.

Smith Brothers cough drops were an important part of the health care system we had when I was a child. It was a system firmly based in the free enterprise, capitalist economy. We knew that, if we got sick, Vicks, Smith Brothers, St. Joseph and others were there to restore our health without relying on the demonistic insurance industry or the socialistic government.

Now, as I understand it, what is being debated in Congress is not actually health care reform but reform of our system of access to health care. This is not limited to providing watered-down, government cough drops and vapo-rub to the millions uninsured. Republicans have also revealed that the Democrats plan would also introduce health care rationing (no. 6 under "coverage"), a restrictive element that does not exist under our current system of supply, demand and insurance funding.

A more disturbing change embedded in the current Democratic health care reform bill is the provision that requires old people to end their lives early (see fact # III) Again, this is troubling because that practice belongs in the free market, with tobacco and fast food companies, not with some communist government stooges.

These types of un-American policies are to be expected from a President unfamiliar with our culture because he was born in another country - Obama was born in Kenya, this I know, because the Birthers told me so. (see fact I) They have not yet produced a birth certificate to prove it, but I have faith that they will soon.

Getting back to Smith Brothers, these men played a little-known but important role in our economy beyond their selfless dedication to curing scratchy throats. In doing my research on them I found this website featuring one of their ads. The blogger here says, “The Smith Brothers have first names! I never knew that.” Of course they had first names, they were “Trade” and “Mark” as indicated on the packaging. This is the origin of the legally registered product names we now call “trademarks.” (Similarly an early edition of the Brothers Karamazov listing their first names, Copy and Right, on the cover led to the legal form of protection for written material.)

Coincidentally the first ad on that site is one imploring parents to protect their child’s right to keep and bear Daisy rifles. Sadly, 50 years later the Obama administration has taken away our BB guns, claiming we would put our eye out (see fact XII). Once more, the visible hand of socialism has smacked the invisible hand of capitalism and robbed us of freedoms in a way that, back in the 40s, happened only in isolated autocratic places in our country.

The third ad on that page is about Ronnie Morlock who, after being voted the most popular boy because of his shoes, disappeared from the face of the earth. I believe Ronnie became despondent when Thom McAn stopped making their shoes in America. Morlock undoubtedly moved to some other country like Canada where they still manufacture their own goods and they aren’t being ruined by government health care and gun control.

A long day of calling Rush Limbaugh to complain about these atrocities has made my throat raw. Oh, for a box of Smith Brother cherry flavored lozenges!