The holidays are finally here and as seniors we should have it right by now. Not a chance. No matter how many times we have done this before, there always seem to be countless last-minute things to do. Two days ago as I was getting out of bed, and I jokingly said to my wife, “Please let my feet hit the floor before I hear a reminder about the first thing on my list.” The fact is, despite the “to do” list, I really do enjoy this time of year. Getting to see family and friends makes it a very special time.

As the year comes to an end, I’ve noticed lots of “top ten lists” covering every possible topic. Given the wisdom of old age, and a hint of humor, I thought I might try to construct a list of the things and/or people who bugged me in the year 2011. I know this personally cathartic exercise may not be worth the broadband its printed on, but I thought it would be a lighthearted way to end the blogging year. 

Sports Coverage 

Even though one of our sons is a television sports producer, I often want to throw something at the television when watching a sports event. The concept of “up close and personal” has gone too far. Baseball is the worst offender. While watching a game, a typical scene is a slow zoom toward the pitcher’s face, then a cut to a slow zoom of the batter’s face, a cut to a slow zoom of the manager’s face (he’s usually picking his nose), then back to the pitcher. If the batter makes contact, we generally see a closeup of the player fielding the ball, then a closeup of the first baseman as he catches the throw. If we had just arrived from outer space, we would have no idea what the field looked like or what just happened. To make matters worse, the next cut is usually a closeup of some weird person in the crowd. Forgive me ladies, but unless the person in the crowd is an attractive female, I could care less. My wise and senior advice: back it off boys. Let us watch the game from a reasonable distance.

Government

I’m not complaining about a specific government, I’m talking all government. Lately it seems the mismanagement of governments, big and small, state and local, national and international, have been shown to be too big and completely incompetent. Their political promises and wild spending have put the entire world in an economic crisis. The U.S. is as guilty as the rest of the world. Some cry out for compromise. Nay I say. That’s the crux of the problem. We need the best and most efficient plan. All compromise gives us is more false promise and economic disaster.

Famous For Being Famous

As a culture, I’m convinced we are doomed. Read any newspaper or magazine, watch any television program, and what do you see? Some rich airhead blithering on about his or her life. Unfortunately, it’s an empty and shallow life that contains nothing worth seeing or hearing. Its like fast food. Looks and probably smells good, but not very nutritious. This is what our culture has created. Famous for no reason. Believe it or not, over the years, I’ve read most of the interviews printed in Playboy magazine. For those who do not know, these interviews are considered to be some of the most insightful of the last half century. They have included heads of state, philosophers, artists, media giants, political leaders, poets, and industrial moguls. Probably bowing to cultural pressure, (and I’m just guessing here) or monetary payoffs, most of the interviews this last year have not been worthy of reading. Ironically, like many other magazines, the interviews have mostly been with actors and timed to coincide with their latest movie opening. When you find yourself halfway through a Seth Rogan interview, you realize this is not a Nelson Mandela or even a Lee Iacocca. Being famous for the ability to swear on cue or simply being gross doesn’t qualify as talent in my book. One might say, well he has made a lot of money doing it. Yes, and I’m a licensed pilot and could be rich tomorrow flying drugs across the border. I’m not sure its in the best interest of society and my fellow-man. Although . . . . .

Monday Night Football     

I’ve always loved Monday Night Football. After the first season, back when dinosaurs still roamed the earth, I thought this was the best idea television had ever conceived. Unfortunately, I was in the military and would miss the next two seasons while overseas. When I returned, and ever since, it was that pleasant event that awaited after the weekend chaos and the start of a new week. Then ESPN got the game. Now we have what seems like hours of pre-game “coverage” and analysis. When the game begins, it doesn’t. There is even more coverage and analysis. My late father used to say his ideal football game coverage was when you turned on the TV, they kicked the ball to start the game. Dad was right. Now we have “analysts” for as far as the eye can see giving their insights, or as they like to say “breakdown” of the game. And who moderates this fiasco? Chris Berman. The most annoying, overpaid blowhard in sports. If only he was as witty and clever as he thinks he is. Just kick the ball guys.

Political Pundits

Don’t you love these folks. I could only dream of having a job like this. Next time you watch a program that has one or more of these wise people on, listen to their first words. They always begin with, “I think . . .” Thank you for your opinion, but in most cases these folks were consultants for failed political campaigns. Some were successful but that’s now ancient history. What’s so funny is the track record of most pundits. In most cases, a monkey throwing darts at pictures of politicians would stand as good a chance of selecting the winner of a political issue or race.

Old Stuff

When you get to be a senior, there is a large group of our population that longs to go back to the products of our youth. Cars, bicycles, toasters, televisions, etc., are thought of by many as timeless and flawless. With apologies to many friends, I’m sorry but I couldn’t disagree more. I recall with clarity the time when my father could afford his first new car, and the several after that time. The standard procedure was to pick up the car, drive it for a week or so, and keep a notepad in the car to write down all the things that didn’t work. After that time you took the car and list back to the dealership where they attempted to correct the many problems. The same with televisions. Think about it. We don’t even have television repairmen any more. You take the TV out of the box, plug it in, and it works until the next generation comes out and you give it away. I like the new products, but do have a fondness for the way the old products looked.

Smart Cars

I had to put this one on my list. One day this year my wife Trisha and I had stopped at a Wal-Mart to pick up a couple of items. As we were getting in our car, we noticed a middle-aged women had pulled her brand new Smart Car up to the front of the store. It appeared to have just come from the dealership. It was shiny red and had the new paper plates on it. Well, we observed she had pulled the car right in front of the store in order to place whom we guessed was her elderly mother in the car. Once that was done, the lady pushed her cart a few feet to the rear of the tiny two-door car. Realize, this lady had a cart stuffed full of items in plastic bags to place in her new car. She opened the hatchback ready to start loading, but all she found was the back of her mother’s head. Now I’m very sorry for our lack of sensitivity and lack of compassion, but my wife and I howled with laughter as we watched this woman stare at her cart full of bags and the back of her mother’s head as she wondered where she would put even one bag. Not so smart after all.

Funny Names

I should state for the record, unless you did not catch it, my name is John. Not creative, not eye-catching, not musical, not unique by any standard. But, you know what? I like the simplicity of my biblical name. Others have not been so fortunate. For example, check out some of these names celebrities have bestowed on their offspring: Tu Morrow, Jermajesty, Moxie Crimefighter, Audio Science, Ocean, and Sage Moonblood. These are just a few of the bizarre names children will have to live with throughout their lives. Even more bizarre is when an adult changes his or her name. Recently, Laker player Ron Artist legally changed his name to Metta Worldpeace. One of my favorite unique and funny names comes from a student of mine at one time. Her first name was Aquanetta. A great tribute to the hair spray. My all-time personal favorite comes from the NFL. It is former New York Giant Lavernues Coles. I just like the way that name sounds. Very musical. Truth be told, in a few years, just listening to a class role being called on the first day of school is going to be very amusing.

Cell Phone Users

Just to be clear, I’m not opposed to cell phones. In fact, if you are like some seniors I know, you don’t want to be bothered with the new technology. Once again, sorry. I couldn’t live without my smart phone. To me it is one of the most important and useful creations ever. What I’m bugged about is cell phone users. Walk through any mall or down any street. Everyone, except a few seniors, are on their phones. At a restaurant recently, there was a family sitting at the table next to us. Both parents and three teens. All five were on their cell phones and did not say a word to one another. Not sure what this means for our culture and future social interaction.

Political Debates

Sorry, but I’m off the grid now. I can’t stand to watch these reality shows they are calling “debates.” Yes, he was divorced. More than once. Yes, he did misspeak. He meant to say something else. Yes, she did say that at a political rally. Are these trivialities really important? Don’t we have a President who once talked about our “57 States?” Don’t we have a President who doesn’t know how to pronounce “corpsman” even though he is Commander n’ Chief? I want each candidate to tell me his or her plan and vision for our country. Give that candidate ample time and then let the others tell us why that idea won’t work and present the details of their plan. Write it down specifically so I can compare and contrast. Our country is in trouble and spending itself into oblivion. I want the best plan and I want it soon.

Well, there you have it. The ramblings of an aging retired guy. I could have written more, but I’m lucky if you got this far. Happy Holidays.

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