July 1, 2011
Include Me Out!
The cliché that most actors are willing to “do anything to get into a film” contrasts to an enduring reaction from the beautiful 1950s actress Peggie Castle. Best remembered as saloon-owner Lily on ABC’s Lawman, Castle’s career primarily involved B-movies. After agreeing to a role in one such movie, she read the awful script and inquired, “Who do I have to sleep with to get out of this picture?”
Castle’s quote and an announcement of this breakthrough statistic inspired this post: one born in the US in the last year has a 50-50 chance of living to be 100. To me, this is bad news. My reaction is, “Include me out!” I concur with a centenarian who, on the celebration of his 100th birthday, advised “Pray to God that you don’t live to be one hundred.” His particular family party continued with curt eye-openers. A niece who stayed close over the decades made introductions with, “This is my third daughter. Do you remember Karen?” The uncle looked at the woman and asked with some annoyance, “And who are you?”
Local news: This comes as no surprise if you’ve followed any of my previous posts. Local news insults the viewers with desperate grabs at sensationalism. I can’t help but recall a spoof of a national tabloid that gave a “headline”—“Woman feeds family dead pig as oven fails to explode!” When local news entices with “Coming up Next” and some important-sounding news snippet, I want to be spared. Leaving the viewer hanging through extended advertisements usually ends only with a 15-second of attention to a completely ephemeral item.
Cell phones: Typical exclamation at my denial of possessing a cell phone is, “What if there’s an emergency?” Being one of the very few people I know who doesn’t have a cell phone, I think I’m pretty safe betting that in case of emergency, the first person who comes along will have one. And the only Bluetooth I’ll have is after having some berry pie.
Answering machine: Occasionally, I considered an answering machine might be nice to have if Ed McMahon were about to call on behalf of the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. Since I don’t enter the game and Ed is now gone, I haven’t reconsidered. If I don’t answer the phone, I’m either not home or dead.
Computers: I understand both computers and internet access are practical necessities today. Most generations any younger than my own seem to be attached to more power than the Bionic Man, with connectivity similar to a space shuttle. Probably no reader is surprised that I type and own several manual typewriters, which I understand are rarely being manufactured any longer—but all manufacturing is becoming completely foreign to us for some reason. In fact, I prefer writing long-hand drafts. I respect technology, but am cognizant the pitfalls. Take as an example, how the printing press changed lives. Once people adjusted to readily available printed material, the next cultural shock was that ninety percent of printed matter is probably garbage. Of course, easy research and quick updates through the internet provide undeniable advantages, but you still have to step around that ninety percent – or more.
Dancing with the Stars: born with and never outgrowing the proverbial “two left feet” sufficiently explains my inattention to that endeavor. I hope he’s able to get back to his day job, but respect that Hines Ward makes good use of his talent during the NFL lockout.
Reality TV: C-SPAN is reality TV of sorts, but coverage of Congress exemplifies how government manages to defy the reality experienced by average Americans. Life is sufficient reality for most of us.
Travelling via the Friendly Skies: Though I remain registered in frequent flyer programs, voluntarily flying anywhere is no picnic these days. The proliferation of airline fees, starting with baggage and seats, makes me wonder if they’ll soon be charging to use the restroom, too.
A country without healthcare and pensions for the elderly: I’d like to see the waste removed from Medicare, but don’t throw out the baby with the bath—regardless of age. Patriotism in our country includes remaining distinguishable from Third World nations by not leaving our elderly in poverty and unable to obtain healthcare. At least Congress takes care of itself in that regard. Someday, they need to consider representing the rest of us.
Parking meters: My home town, Pittsburgh, has a long tradition of disproportionately expensive parking fees. Now the rate is three dollars for an hour at a meter. I’m told that Madison, Wisconsin has the opposite arrangement: with exceptions for permit parking at the University and Capitol areas, parking is free. Pittsburgh city administrators now seem to think parking fees and related taxes will resolve all of its financial problems. That’s a great way to ensure suburbanites and businesses stay out of the city as much as possible, but not a means of addressing serious budget issues.
Extensive weather reports: Unless the Ohio River is flooding my eleventh-floor apartment, no weather report should be more than two minutes long. Put the five-day forecast up and get it done. There’s nothing we can do about it, so just inform and we’ll deal with the weather as an incidental feature of life, as it is. Of course, when Pittsburgh has unscheduled sunshine, that is a news-maker. Next full day of sunshine is over a month away, as it usually is.
Season Baseball tickets: No explanation necessary.
Surviving the next world war: I can’t overstate the doom of surviving. My advice is to just drive into ground-zero as quickly as possible and hope for a mercifully quick ending.
Reincarnation: A corollary to the previous item. I once asked my mother if she believed in reincarnation. She answered, “Yes, but the last time around, I never imagined it would be like this.”
© Beano Cook 2011
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