Monthly Archives: January 2011
“Here, try this.”
“What is it?”
“It’s a partially formed chicken fetus.”
“No, it’s a delicacy.”
We’ve all had this conversation. Maybe not about eating a chicken fetus, but something just as disgusting. How many times have you seen something, either in real life or on television that looked absolutely disgusting but was declared a delicacy?
Why not try this poisonous puffer fish called Fugu?
Are you worried that it’s both gross and deadly? Don’t be! Hey, it’s a delicacy. And if something is a delicacy, it must be good. You only think it’s disgusting because you’re an uncultured swine. Eat up!
If you do a Google image search using the word delicacy you may want to place a bucket next to your chair. First, you have the partially formed chicken fetus that I mentioned. This is a delicacy in the Philippines, and I know that my friend Joel has tried it. After that you have a picture of what looks like a badger pancake hanging on a hook. Scroll down and you’ll see cooked rats and fat grubs on a stick. Then you’ll see some octopus and a bowl of fruit bat soup. It goes on and on, and you get my point. In general, delicacies are repulsive.
Did I mention that the definition for delicacy is Something pleasing and appealing, especially a choice food? Sounds about right.
Is the whole world playing a joke on us?
I am bringing this to your attention so that you will not fall into the trap of eating something simply because it has the right label. Just because something is a delicacy does not mean that it is good, delicious, or desirable. Chances are it’s actually something disgusting.
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
A chicken fetus, a bowl of worms, a cow tongue, a poisonous fish, a bloated badger, a bat, a rat, and an octopus by any other name (delicacy) is still disgusting.
And if you’re thinking that me eating a hamburger or a chicken wing is along the same lines, let me remind you that it’s just meat that I’m eating. I’m not eating feathers, eyes, tentacles, tongues, or feet. I’m just not that sophisticated.
I like Bill Cosby. Some might say that I’m obsessed with the man. How could I not be? He’s as much of a character as Chuck Norris and a source of many laughs, whether they are with him or at him. Bill Cosby has been a pop-culture powerhouse for nearly half a century. So when I came to the realization that I don’t know his true origins, you better believe that it rocked my world. How could I not know how Cosby started his career in the spotlight? Let me explain.
My first exposure to “the Cos” was his massively popular sitcom, The Cosby Show. As a young boy I just assumed that he was an actor and always had been. Eventually, I learned that he was also a comedian. Alright, so Cosby started as a comedian, and, just like Tim Allen and Ray Romano, transitioned to actor on a sitcom based on his stand-up. This makes perfect sense. Well, it’s not that simple.
Cosby attended UMass Amherst, my alma mater, where he pursued a degree in Psychology, or something. I know that he obtained some kind of degree at some point in his academic career that had to do with child development/ psychology. You see, that makes a lot of sense when you factor in another stage in his career, children’s programming. He created a character named Fat Albert, which was turned into a cartoon. I’ve never seen Fat Albert, but I know that it is meant to be funny and at least a little educational.
Related to Fat Albert, Cosby also had something to do with the program, The Electric Company. The Electric Company, if I understand it, is a type of educational program for children similar to Sesame Street, but it came before. Cosby appeared on this show, at least sporadically, and I think he played a role behind the scenes as well.
This is all great, but what about the stand-up comedian stage in his career? Did Cosby start out as a comedian and then use that fame to work on his child-focused programs? The mystery deepens. And I’m not finished!
Recently, I watched an old show called I Spy. Cosby was the first black actor to have a starring role on a major television series. I think what I just said is true, but it’s only based on the testimony of one baby boomer. Anyway, Cosby was very young on this show, and from the looks of it it came out in the early to mid-seventies. This really throws me off. Now it looks like he started as an actor before pursuing other endeavors. Is it possible that he started as an actor, became a comedian, and then invested his time in children’s programming? It’s possible, but is it true?
How did Cosby end up being what he is today? I know that I can just Google this and find his brief history on Wikipedia, but I want to do it the old fashion way. I want knowledgeable people to help me out.
Help me to solve this Cosby mystery. And where does Ghost Dad fit into it all!
I watched quite a substantial amount of television as a child. To give you an idea of exactly how much I am talking about, I recall taking a survey that asked me how many hours of television I watch daily, and I thought that the high number was a little low. My mother gets embarrassed when I bring this up, but it’s mostly because of my older brother and sister. I watched a lot of television with them, and then I watched a lot of television by myself. So if you’re wondering if it rots your brain, take a look at me. I am the result of thousands upon thousands of hours of television. My brother will not miss this opportunity to poke fun at my intelligence. Bring it on, Chuck! I know you’ve watched even more television than myself.
Anyway, I bring this up in order to address something that has been bothering me for many years. Within this vast ocean of television there is one show that has managed to slip into the deep. Even in this age of YouTube and Google I have not been able to narrow down my search. I am going off of so little information, I am not sure that I will ever be able to find this long-forgotten show. In other words, I need the help of real people to find this show. I need you.
If my memory serves me right, this show was on Nickelodeon way back in the early nineties. It is possible that it was on Disney, but I am 90% sure that I watched it on Nickelodeon (Not Nick! Nick is what the kiddies call it nowadays. We Millenials weren’t so lazy. Five syllables, baby!!)
The show was set in an apartment building or maybe an office after hours. I believe that there was a puppet who was a janitor. He had a dirty blonde mustache and I think his name was Sam. And honestly, that’s all I remember. It was a show on Nickelodeon in the early nineties set in an apartment building/office after hours with a puppet janitor that might have been named Sam. You can see why I am having trouble.
I’m asking for your help. Maybe you know what show I am talking about. Or, maybe I made all of it up, and all of that television really did mess with my brain.
For a good number of years I have wanted to work in a think tank. Have you ever heard that term before? They seem to have a lot of think tanks in Washington D.C. As far as I can tell a think tank refers to a group of people who work together to develop various policies, strategies, and solutions. But how does one join this exclusive group? And what exactly goes on inside one of them? The following is my vision of what really happens inside one of these think tanks.
There are between five and thirty people. Some of them wear expensive suits and others wear stained t-shirts. The reasons for such a range in attire are two. First, the members must wear an outfit that provides them with the confidence to work at their mental maximum. Second, the discrepancy in clothing produces a deep sense of competition. The bums have to prove their worthiness, while the well-to-do battle their own feelings of inadequacy as a result of the threat posed by classless slobs challenging their mental prowess. Competition is at the heart of any high-powered professional endeavor.
There is a room filled with every type of candy. Twix, Snickers, lollipops, licorice, jelly beans, cadbury eggs, Hershey bars etc etc etc… This room is locked and guarded by a middle-aged man suffering from delusions of conspiracy theories and major paranoia. The crazy man is the only one who knows the combination to the lock. He is under strict orders to only open the room once he feels at ease. This means that the members of the think tank must first accomplish their lofty objective before they can have any chance of getting the candy. The rationale behind this is, if a crazy paranoid person finds their solution to be satisfactory it must be so. It’s air-tight logic.
There are twenty-seven televisions lining the walls of the main room. Showing on each is the film, Bill Cosby: Himself. The film is playing exactly one second off from the one next to it. This creates a hypnotic echoing effect, which is magnified by Bill Cosby’s ridiculous voice. Indeed.
The room is constantly being pumped with pure oxygen. Well, oxygen laced with a rare gaseous form of the drug, speed.
Every two hours a cake is delivered to one of the members. The cake says, Happy Birthday Tim. It says that on every cake. The name, Tim, causes people to think harder. Also, the cake is made out of speed.
A crack team of helper monkeys run around the main room wearing butler outfits. One of the monkeys is dressed as a doctor, but he has no formal training.
At random intervals the power is shut off to the main room. This sends everyone into a frenzy until the power is restored. Once the power is restored, members are required to flip a coin until it lands on heads three times in a row.
There is one room that serves as a ball pit.
Chinese food is constantly being delivered. But there are no utensils.
At the end of every day the members of the think tank are tranquilized and flown to a secret military base. When they wake up they are told that the world is spinning in the wrong direction, and Tuesday no longer exists.
That’s probably something like what really goes on in one of those think tanks.
I want in.
When we hope in or for something, I hope we are hoping for something better than hope. To put it another way, when we hope for something, that thing should be better than hope itself. To put it even another way, hope should be based on the belief that what is hoped for, when obtained and made a reality, will be more fulfilling than the idealized longing that preceded it.
For quite some time, I have been motivated by hope. But now it appears as if some of this hope is becoming a reality.
I’m at an incredible moment in my life. It’s incredible for what has happened, and it’s incredible for what could potentially happen.
About a month ago, I met a girl. Her name is Nicole. I knew almost immediately that Nicole was something special. As I get to know her more, I am taken aback by her beautiful heart and awesome personality. Here is a good woman. Here is an intelligent, sweet, honest, hilarious woman who not only exists, but also acknowledges that I exist. I’d say that’s a good place to start. Is she for real? Incredibly, yes.
Recently, I have also been pursuing a job at a publishing company. Last week I had a phone interview, and this Wednesday I have a legit face to face interview. I have never been this close to obtaining a job in the field I want to get into. Naturally, this has taken up a good deal of my time and attention.
Since graduating from UMass, much of my motivation has come from hope. I have hoped and believed that God had a good future for me. And even though my life had been largely uneventful, post-graduation, I felt in my heart that those things that I was hoping for would someday become a reality. At this moment in my life, I am beginning to experience the transition from hope to reality. And so far, hope has been put to shame.
I want you to know that I am still very much devoted to this blog. Though the events in my life as of late have shifted my attention, I am still passionate about writing in this capacity. I have a number of good ideas for posts that I have been tossing around, and I can’t wait to share them with you.
Birds are falling from the sky, and fish are dying all over the place. There are stories popping up all over the news and internet regarding these strange phenomenons (or is it phenomena? Haha, sounds like that muppet song, Mahnamahna! Anyway…). Here are just a couple of links if you want to check it out for yourself:
See!?! I didn’t make it up.
We live in an age of mass communication. I can talk to someone on the other side of the world in a flash. We can send messages on our phones, and watch live video from some country that we’ve never heard of. This instant communication makes the world seem a lot smaller. Not that long ago, if an earthquake devastated a region on the other side of the globe, you and I would not have heard about it for days or even weeks. And not that long before that, we may not have known about it at all. So where am I going with this?
As a young boy, I had a touch of the hypochondria. I had a heightened awareness of my entire body as a result of the realization of my own mortality. I would think to myself, Is that normal? Is that the right color? What is that pain in my side? Every little apparent abnormality was scrutinized to no end. I had a new awareness, but lacked the understanding to interpret things appropriately. This is along the lines of what is happening in the world today.
I recall a class in which a discussion broke out about the end of the world. At that time I raised my hand and said, “Does anyone else find it a little convenient that only now, when we have the ability to monitor the entire world, we recognize that the world is falling apart? I mean, you’re telling me that after all this time, only when we’ve just begun to connect and understand the world as a whole it is coming to an end?”
Now, I’m not about to say that everything is perfectly fine with the world. Certainly there are plenty of environmental and man-made issues posing a threat to the fragile deck of cards that is civilization. What I am saying is that it is easy to make unreasonable connections, which lead to unfounded conclusions. If you do a little research, you’ll find that mass die offs happen fairly regularly. Somewhere between 150 and 200 instances occur just in the U.S. every year. So why are we only hearing about it now?
One reason for the news coverage is surely connected to the timing of them all. At the start of the new year a bunch of birds drop dead simultaneously over a small town in Arkansas. New Year’s is highly symbolic. It stands as a marker for the end and the beginning. It reminds us that time is marching on toward some great and terrible destiny. It’s no wonder that at such a time people would flip out.
Another factor is the approach of 2012 and all of those end of the world prophecies that go along with it. Any strange global occurrences can then be attributed to the approach of this ominous date. Also, many religious people believe that the end is at hand, so any signs from the heavens could indicate that Judgment Day is around the corner.
The media has a finger on the pulse of the masses. They know what gets us going. By reporting all of these events, they are able to create the impression that all of them are connected. We don’t usually hear about these events, but now that the media has decided to focus in on them it appears to us that it is unique and alarming. Much like an author chooses to direct the attention of the reader by introducing intentional characters and action, the media has the ability to shape our perception of current events.
We live in a volatile time. The world, at any given time is on the edge of oblivion. So it would be foolish of me to say that the world is certainly not approaching some dramatic conclusion. But it would also be foolish of me to say that it certainly is. The future is unknown. Even Jesus addressed this when he said…
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’” (Mark 13: 32-37)
We don’t know the end. And believe me, that’s a good thing.
A long long time ago, in the sophomore year of my college career, I helped to create a holiday. Samm Zachs, Jon Vickers, and myself developed something called Guilt Free Day. Here’s the deal.
I was tired of hearing how guilty people felt after eating something fattening and delicious. You’ve probably witnessed this, or perhaps been one of those people yourself. My reaction was, if you’re going to eat something delicious why not simply enjoy it without all of the negative attitude? No one is forcing you to eat the ice cream or McDonald’s, so stop complaining. Either eat it and love it or don’t eat it at all. Guilt Free Day came out of a response to this attitude.
On Guilt Free Day one has the freedom to eat whatever they wish without having to justify anything. If you want to put butter on your Milk Duds, go right ahead. If you want to eat Chinese food and pizza in the same meal, you got it. It is the one day a year in which you can eat terrible delicious food without feeling a heavy conscience. Sure, if you overdo it you will feel like death, but that’s the name of the game. Even if your body protests, you can still put your mind at ease. It’s Guilt Free Day.
Now, initially there was some confusion regarding the scope of this freedom. People began to ask if they could skip classes or not study on Guilt Free Day. Let me set the record straight that the day is intended only for food. It came as a response to people bellyaching about calories, so let’s keep it simple. You can’t hurt people on Guilt Free Day. You can just eat unhealthy food without feeling guilty.
Every year, a date must be set for this special day. In 2011, I have chosen Wednesday, February 2 as the official Guilt Free Day of 2011. This is also Groundhog Day. I figure, this is at the peak of the winter doldrums, and if the groundhog sees his shadow we will all need a little morale booster.
So let it be known throughout the land! Guilt Free Day is nearly upon us.
Let each man and woman celebrate as they see fit.
Disclaimer: The creators of Guilt Free Day are aware of the ever-growing obesity epidemic in this country. That being said, Guilt Free Day exists as a matter of principle, and not as a means to alter the regular diets of average Americans. Every individual is responsible for his or her radical food intake on said day… and every other day.
Eat responsibly- ish
It just wouldn’t be New Year’s Eve without Dick Clark. That must be why they force a dying man, suffering the crippling side effects of a stroke, to host a major event one night every year. It’s tradition! To get a better idea of what I’m talking about, please watch this clip.
Disclaimer: This is not a subtle indication that I believe that the Jews control the media and therefore force Dick Clark to host the new year’s show every year. I just think the song is appropriate.
Tradition is the reason we force Dick Clark out of his bed. Tradition is the reason we prop him up and give him a microphone, even though he can’t speak clearly. And tradition is the reason we watch the same lame New Year’s Rockin’ Eve program every year.
So what am I suggesting? I’m suggesting that we stop torturing Dick Clark, and simply hand it over to Ryan Seacrest. They’re basically the same person anyway. Dick hosted American Bandstand, and Ryan hosts American Idol. Dick hosted his own radio show, and Ryan hosts one as well.
We have to let go of this tradition! Or else future civilizations will think we have a tradition of torturing the infirm.
While I was getting my haircut last week, the barber discovered that I had a strong affinity for movies. This led to her statement, “I understand that it’s nice to escape from the world while you’re watching a movie.” I simply nodded my head, but inside I recoiled. Is that really how she feels about movies? And is there any truth in that statement for how I feel about movies? Needless to say, I have been thinking this over ever since.
I’m sure there are people out there who watch most movies just to be entertained and swept off to a new life and environment. Just look at the success of Avatar. The main attraction wasn’t the characters or an emotionally engaging story, but the film’s ability to convince you that Pandora exists and you are a resident. That was the selling point of the movie. Many millions of people bought it.
There is a level of truth to the desire for escapism when anyone watches a film. We like to experience new places, people, and events. But is that the driving force behind my own love for the cinema? I don’t believe that it is.
A good film makes you forget that you’re watching it. I often catch myself getting lost once a film has encouraged my engagement with its characters and plot. This is the magic of movies. They sweep you off to a place you’ve never been. Yes, but what happens once you’re there? Do you simply absorb pleasure from various types of sensory stimulation? Do you think to yourself, this is nice, but it has nothing to do with my real life? I can say with great certainty, I don’t. The value of a good movie isn’t just found in its ability to temporarily suspend our belief, it is also found in its implications for our real lives.
Consider the film, It’s a Wonderful Life. It does a wonderful job of convincing us that Bedford Falls, NY is a real place, and that George Bailey exists. The characters act like normal people (Mr. Potter may be a little more blatantly evil than a real person) and the events of the film make sense in context. We are even willing to accept that an angel intervenes in George’s affairs in order to save his life.
It is very satisfying to watch George find peace and redemption. But what is it about this film that really impacts so many viewers? I believe it is its simple, true, and profound message about life. Every life has a purpose, and every person has the ability to influence others and the world in positive ways beyond their understanding. The film causes us to consider this for ourselves. Do we truly believe this for our own lives? What amazing implications if this film is speaking the truth.
When we watch a character suffer, we have the opportunity to relate, and even draw strength. Remember Samwise Gamgee’s speech in The Two Towers film?
Frodo: I can’t do this Sam
Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come and when the sun shines it’ll shine out the clearer. Those are the stories that stayed with you, that meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think Mr. Frodo, I do understand, I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances a turnin’ back only they didn’t. They kept going, because they were holding onto somethin’.
Frodo: What are we holding onto Sam?
Sam: (Picks Frodo up by the arm) That there’s some good in this world and it’s worth fighting for.
When we relate to characters, even fictional ones, we see ourselves in them. We wonder, could I have the same courage and strength? Could I endure so much hardship? Even though they’re not real, they have a real impact on our lives.
Movies (books too, and even video games. All stories) entertain. Movies allow us to escape this world for a time. But movies also teach us about the world, and ourselves. A good movie has vast implications for our lives and the world.
So don’t go on about pure escapism!