Archive for the ‘World’ Category

Subtitle: John Himmelman’s further descent into curmudgeonry.

I’ve seen my last movie in a movie theater. Unfortunately, it was Ironman 2, a big letdown after the first Ironman. Oh well. The movie itself had nothing to do with this decision. I still love watching movies, but for now on it will be in the comfort of my home.

So, you know what did it? Having to pay $9 to sit through a long string of TV commercials prior to the movie. These are commercials you cannot mute. You can’t get up and go to the fridge or switch to another channel. You’re held hostage as commercial after commercial blares out of the theater’s Dolby speakers. This practice began years ago with “The Jimmy Fund”. This caused a bit of controversy, but it was difficult to complain about helping sick kids without coming off as a misanthrope. Then they started sneaking in other commercials – usually one or two – irritating, but survivable. Having gotten away with that, they began adding more and more. Betsy and I walked out of Destinta Theater in Middletown, CT as the 5th commercial came on. We got our $18 refunded. At the Marquee Cinemas in Westbrook, we were assaulted by 8 commercials! And this was well after the movie was scheduled to begin. I’m not talking about coming attractions, mind you. I actually enjoy those. We’re talking about TV ads on the big screen.

A couple of people have suggested showing up later in order to bypass said assault. But then you run the risk of getting lousy seats.

And it’s just WRONG!

We pay a hefty price to see this entertainment! Add to this what we overpay at the snack bar. We should not be subjected to ads once the movie is slated to begin!

I know that some of you are rolling your eyes. You really don’t mind commercials. Well I hate them. In fact, my first blog entry was on how TV ads manage to annoy the bejeezus out of me.

When our son Jeff moved out, we turned his room into the entertainment room. It has a big screen TV, DVD player and surround sound. There’s a wide range of affordable refreshments downstairs and adult beverages. And a comfy lazyboy chair. When we want to watch a movie, we dim the lights and settle in. Amazingly, no one screams at us from the screen, trying to sell us stuff we don’t want.

I know I’m not alone in abandoning the theater experience. It’s probably part of the reason the theater owners are sullying what they offer by subjecting their paying customers to ad barrages. If I’m not there to see them, they can’t bother me.

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Forget spending trends, gross national product data, personal income and outlay analysis. Ignore new construction numbers and manufacturer shipment, inventory and orders reports. I’ve come up with a better economic indicator. The longer we go without reading or hearing the following qualifier, the better our economic condition:

“In these economic times,…”

Nary a day goes by without crossing paths with those four words. Nary, I say! Turn on the news, pick up the paper, click on an article and I defy you to make it through the day without being reminded that the economic times to blame for — whatever — are “these”. Sometimes the adjectives “trying”, “difficult”, or “troubling” are unnecessarily plugged in before “economic”, as if we need to be reminded that said economic times are not “booming”. Aren’t we now at the point where we know that certain limitations in our actions are no longer affected by the economy of, say, 1644, or that of the distant future?

Do you know what I think it is? I think saying something like, “In these economic times we need to tighten our belts and, um, batten the hatches…” makes us sound like we’re financially savvy. We’re fiscal smarty pantses. We’re reading the signs and deciding accordingly.

I know, I know. It’s also a grim reality.

Please don’t mistake this little observation for a lack of empathy for those who’ve had the wind knocked out of them by the downturn in the US economy. Believe me, I’m one of them! This is merely about the words used — ad naseum. It’s one of those instances where I unwittingly pick up on an over-repeated word or phrase and cannot stop noticing it when it crops up. It’s like listening to a speaker who has “Umisitis”. As soon as you realize they fill every silence with “um”, you can’t help but notice every single agonizing instance of it. Or when someone can’t relate a story without saying, “So he’s like…. and then she’s like…. but then he’s like….” You start anticipating every “like” to the point where you just want to pierce your eardrums with a lobster pick.

I propose we take advantage of this verbal tic and use it as an economic indicator. It could be shown as a graph depicting the number of instances “In these economic times…” is used in the daily media/conversation cycle. This would give us a good overall view of the Nation’s recovery. We can watch and rejoice as that phrase dwindles, or, dare I say, takes on a whole new meaning, such as, “In these economic times I’d be a damn fool to NOT buy a new hover boat!”

Naturally, this would require an unprecedented monitoring of American communication, a thankless job to say the least. But you know what? These economic ti…, I mean, the times in which we live beckon such sacrifices.

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It’s great that the former president was able to contribute to the release of the two women held prisoner in North Korea.

But now for the most dangerous part of their ordeal – the ride back with Bubba!

I hope he doesn’t expect his usual payment.

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Global Cooling

global-coolingI was bundling up to head out into the cold when a friend, Ed Riccuiti, a writer and former science editor, said “Remember how in the 70’s everyone was talking about the ice age we were heading into?” Wow! Now that he mentioned it, I did! At the time, I was in high school in Long Island, New York. Part of the reason the global cooling scenario stuck in my head was because it had inspired me to look into the last ice age. You know, to get a sense of what we were in for. It was then I learned that my home was sitting on a terminal moraine scraped about 20,000 years ago from the surface of what was to become my current home state of Connecticut. While I knew I would never be around to see this ice age, I wondered how my descendants would fare.

As the years passed, I heard less and less about the impending “big freeze”, to the point where I forgot all about it until that recent reminder. It turns out that while there was slight downward temperature shift from the nineteen-forties to the mid-seventies, only about ten percent of the climatologists saw it progressing to another ice age. Most of the talk was generated by the media (National Geographic and Time Magazine among them). It did make a good story. The shift to the current talk of global warming moved in like a racing glacier (which is still pretty slow). It’s sure picked up some speed in recent years, though.

Given the choice between global warming and global cooling, I’d opt for the latter. Why?

    You can pile more layers on, but there’s a limit to how much you can peel off.
    The Long Island Sound ice bridge would make it easier to visit my relatives in New York.
    Woolly Hippos! Can you imagine it?

Would the Ice Capades just be called the Capades?

Anyway… as far as global warming goes, it’s hard to deny that, yes, we’re warming up. I have an open mind to the possibility of it being helped along by humans. Some say it’s hubris to think people can actually change the climate of the earth. I’m not so sure.

But, man! I can’t help but temper my opinion on this with the realization that in a mere thirty years I’ve heard the trumpeting of both extremes!

Heading out now – have to take another stab at chipping away the ice in my driveway.

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