Friday, June 19, 2009
Just to let everybody (or the few of you who do visit this blog) know that my family and I will be taking our vacation starting at the end of business today. We will be both home and away, but I am going to go on a real vacation--from the Internet. I am going to limit my Internet time, so it is a real, honest to goodness vacation.
But please, spread the word about Ranting and Raving. Any of my rants can still be answered, and I will do my best to follow up on the posts once I return to normalcy.
It has been fun doing this blog, even though not too many people know about it. I am still trying to improve that situation, but so far, the results have not been good. As I said previously, I am not happy with Twitter, which I think is vastly overrated.
Anyway, this is my last post until sometime in July, so have fun and I will get back on here soon.
Posted by Larry at 10:03 AM
I hate ampersands, or the character that represents the word "and."
As a writer, I think it is simply lazy when people use this symbol instead of writing out the word. I mean, how difficult is it to write out the a-n-d? If you are writing, it takes a second. If you are typing, it's three key strokes and you are done.
I also hate it when corporations use the ampersand in their names, such as Procter & Gamble. What is wrong with Procter a-n-d Gamble?
In our Internet world, people look to shorten their messages by using electronic acronyms in place of words, such as LOL, BF, etc., and in this world, the ampersand has gone through a revival, because many computer users use it to shorten their messages.
However, maybe I am a traditionalist, but I can't stand its use. When I am writing, I avoid it like the plague.
It's a-n-d for me, and it will always be a-n-d.
& I dnt cr f nobdy lks it.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
I don't watch much network television anymore, whether it is on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, or the CW or whatever they call it now.
I just don't have the interest that I once had.
Sure, I do watch a couple of things: Lost, Survivor, even ridiculous shows like Wipeout and Big Brother.
However, as far as weekly episodic dramas or comedies, I just don't get too excited about them anymore. Lost is another story. It is such a weird and quirky show, that I almost have to watch it, although I believe the quality of the earlier episodes has not been evident in the episodes of the last two years.
As far as other weekly shows, I guess I am tapped out. At 52, these shows are not developed for me anymore. I have sampled a few, and I don't find them interesting at all.
I remember that this phenomena--and change in my viewing habits--began with the show Friends. So many people raved about it that I felt I should tune it in to see what all the fuss was about. I remember the episode--it was about one of their elderly neighbors passing away, and the main cast members' reaction to his demise. I don't think I laughed a single time, and I never watched the show again.
I also couldn't get into Seinfeld. I sampled that too, but although I don't remember the episode, I don't think I laughed a single time. Funny, I went to school with him--I wasn't a friend of his, as I was a freshman in our high school who just moved to Long Island and he was a senior--but I do remember him pretty clearly.
And I have watched numerous episodes of CSI, but I simply cannot get into the show at all. To me, it is like watching an encyclopedia.
I imagine there are some good shows on network TV, but I haven't found them yet. Not that the few that I watch are any good--surely Big Brother and Wipeout are pure trash--but the ones I do watch kind of keep my interest.
What a far cry from when I was a kid, when I watched everything from Gilligan's Island to Dark Shadows to The Monkees to The Andy Griffith Show to Dragnet to ... well, you get the idea.
I guess TV simply is not as important to me as it once was.
However, I do watch numerous TV DVDs. I am currently hooked on The Mod Squad, and have Room 222 and some others just waiting for me to dig in.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
I am a huge baseball fan, a big fan of the Yankees, and this entire steroid mess we, as baseball fans, have been put through has been a horror, putting a major smudge on the game we love. Every time we hear a new name--McGwire, Clemens, ARod, Ramirez--we cringe even more.
Well, a new name has been added, even though this one was really not much of a surprise. Sammy Sosa, who testified before Congress that he did not use steroids (or barely did, since he said his English wasn't too good), has reportedly been named as one of the players on the infamous list for using Performance Enhancing Drugs, or PEDs as they are called in our acronym-happy society. Sosa was always suspect, but no one had anything on him, reportedly until now.
As a baseball fan, I am all tapped out on this mess. When I hear another name mentioned, I shrug my shoulders and basically say, "So what?" Was Sosa any different from dozens of others who used and abused these drugs? More importantly, did he abuse this stuff before these substances were deemed illegal by Major League Baseball? People forget that Mark McGwire broke no rules when he supposedly used his PEDs--none were in place at that time for his drug of choice, andro.
I know this is cheating of the highest order--not only are you cheating on the field, but many of these substances are so dangerous that you could be cheating on your life--but when I hear another name added to the list, it doesn't faze me anymore.
The game is cleaner now, although guys like Manny Ramirez still try to buck the system.
Personally, although I am not an athlete by any stretch of the imagination, I can't understand why anyone would use these things anyway. They scare me just by what's in them, and why can't athletes get what they get out of these substances more naturally? I am sure that many players don't go this route, so why do some think they are smarter than the rest?
So, Sosa has been added to the list. Yes, his name, with his 600-plus home runs, is sullied for eternity.
But does it change my love for the game? No, it doesn't.
It is, and will always remain, America's National Pastime.
If you want to see real baseball being played by players who really care, take in a Little League game. Sure, these are just kids, but as a former coach, I can tell you that these kids really love what they are doing. Major leaguers should have it in their contracts that they must attend a few local Little League games each year--not only will it show them players who really, truly love this game, but it will bring them back to their roots, when they felt the same way about baseball.
I played Little League baseball until I was 15--it wasn't in a registered Little League, it was our community's league--and my love for the game has continued to this day. My son played until he was 12, and he loves the game too.
Sosa on steroids--so what? The game will survive his lapse in judgment.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
I am a writer, so an essential tool that I use is a pen.
There are many different types of pens, but I prefer your usual, run of the mill ball-point pen. As long as it writes, I am happy. When it is empty, I get rid of it, and move onto the next pen.
I know that pen companies need to sell their product, but some of the newest "features" to pens--like cushions, wide bodies, different types of inks, and the like--kind of throw me for a loop.
Who needs all of these features--don't we just want to have a pen that writes?
Purchasing a pen is not like purchasing a car, although the pen companies want you to believe that one is akin to the other.
Personally, I just want a pen that writes.
BIC pens--France's greatest contribution to the modern world, as far as I am concerned--are the perfect types of pens for the jobs that I use them for.
Pen companies I guess must make pens more than they really are. People admit to be car salesmen, but have you ever heard of anyone who admits to being a pen salesman?
Pens should be disposable and not too thought provoking. Heck, the local bank here gives out pens for free. I don't see car dealers doing the same.
Again, just give me a pen that writes. Once it is done doing its job, it goes in the waste basket, and the next victim finds my hand.
And don't get me started on all the different types of pencils out there ...
Posted by Larry at 5:09 AM
Monday, June 15, 2009
My son enjoys rap music, and he really enjoys the four-letter-word-laden, sexist, racist and anti-everything kind that is popular among kids today. I don't really know why he likes it--I have asked him the question, and he never really answered, other than saying that "I just like it, I don't know"--but I suspect because he knows it is something "dirty," and as a 13 year old, he is attracted to doing something his parents don't approve of.
Have any of you heard some of this garbage? I have told him many times that I don't care how much money these guys have--and they have plenty--that this music really isn't music; it is gutter garbage.
Now, I sound like an old fuddy duddy, but if I do, so be it. This is not music, and although there might be a beat that the kids like, I still think they are attracted to the subversive nature of the lyrics (if they can understand them).
I would say that record companies should police this garbage, but again, that is a free speech issue. I guess even people with these mentalities have the right to say what they want in this country.
However, the way they say it is what bothers me the most. They appear to be completely inarticulate, and must resort to using one curse word after another to get their point across. And don't get me started about the constant use of the N-word in many of these songs!
When I was a kid, plenty of people spoke up through music about things they thought needed to be addressed. Everyone from Bob Dylan to Marvin Gaye, from Phil Ochs to Stevie Wonder, sang about things in their music that they felt were important. I am not saying that these people were saints, but they used music to articulate their thoughts--and they did them in at least a somewhat understandable tone (nod to Bob Dylan here).
These rappers today, "articulate" their thoughts through hatred. It's not the way to do it.
And before anyone gets on the racist bandwagon, I feel as strongly about Paul Wall's lack of real musical ability as I do 50 Cent, and the same goes for Eminem, whose popularity boggles my mind.
Posted by Larry at 5:24 AM
Friday, June 12, 2009
Just to continue my thoughts on the previous post for one last time ...
As a writer, I do believe in free speech.
However, I do not believe in the abuse of free speech, although I understand that oftentimes, the abuse is in the eyes of the beholder. For instance, my recent rant about gay marriage could be looked upon as free speech abuse by some. So could my rant on ties, or women and swimsuits, for that matter.
Whatever the case, I think we are in a new era of free speech, because the Internet has given some an electronic pulpit from which to spew their hate--and through the Internet, this hate can get to many more people than other hate campaigns could in the past.
It does appear that the Internet is akin to the Wild West now; there do not seem to be any rules, and whatever invisible "rules" there are, are seemingly made to be broken. Anybody can say anything; that is both good and bad, because while the Internet gives a voice to people who previously had none, it also gives a voice, and a certain credence, to those who abuse their privilege and responsibility.
Can rules be set in place to monitor this hate? Probably not. But Internet providers can make their own rules about what is right and what is wrong, and certainly, Nazi-themed hate sites are wrong.
I think it is about time for these providers to step up their efforts to weed out this type of garbage.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
I was very disturbed to hear that a gunman had entered the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., and opened fire.
What's worse, the alleged gunman is an 88 year old who has been fostering anti-Semitic hatred for basically his whole life.
What really gets me is that he has maintained a Web site, where he is able to spew forth his venomous attacks.
Is the Internet still the Wild, Wild West? Does anything still go on this electronic medium? Do those that allow these sites to exist have any modicum of decency?
I don't understand how a guy like this is able to get away with having such a Web site. Doesn't his Internet provider see how he is using their service? Do they care?
Evidently not. The gunman's site is one of virtually thousands that spew anti-Semitic crap, and people do visit these sites.
That's the scary thing--this hatred is out there, and there is little anybody can do to stop it, especially when it's all over the Internet.
I can't believe that people continue to believe that the Holocaust did not happen. I guess you believe what you want to believe, but not to believe that this actually happened is something so twisted to me that I simply cannot understand it.
My heart goes out to the security guard who took a bullet and died while doing his job ... from an 88-year-old piece of trash who should have been confined to some type of mental facility a long time ago.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Let me start off by saying that I love my wife dearly. She is a great woman, balancing career and motherhood, and, for that matter, being married to me, all at once. I can't live without her.
However, when it comes to bathing suits, she drives me mad.
My wife, who is 52 like I am, hates the way she looks in bathing suits. To me, she looks great--and certainly looks much younger than her years--but when she looks in the mirror, she must see something that I don't, because she hates the way she looks ...
Especially in a bathing suit.
Look, I know that bathing suits show a little more skin than regular, everyday clothes, but the idea is to wear what is comfortable and have fun in the water.
We are going on vacation soon, and I saw my wife's available bathing suits, and I thought she should go and buy a new one. Well, this led to the usual, " I don't need one" refrain, followed by "I look fat" and all the other nonsense related to bathing suits. She also said that now that she is 52, some of her bathing suits are not appropriate for her anymore.
My wife is far from fat. She works out every day. She has the look and figure of a woman in her 30s. Nobody can believe she is 52.
And we are not talking about bikinis or really skimpy swimwear. Her suits cover her up pretty well, leaving lots to the imagination. They don't show very much at all.
She actually went and tried on a few suits, but, of course, she didn't like how she looked in them.
The end result: she will be wearing the suits she has, even though she doesn't like the way she looks in them either. Of course, I thought she needed a new swimsuit, but I am only her husband, what do I know?
I am happy that I don't have such a problem. I really don't care how I look in a suit, although I wouldn't wear a tiny Speedo or something like that. I just put one on and go in the water.
With women, I know it's different, but just put one on and jump in! Don't worry about all the other things.
(And no, that picture is not of my wife. If I printed a picture of her in a bathing suit, I think she would kill me. But I repeat, she looks great in whatever swimwear she chooses.)
Posted by Larry at 5:07 AM
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
During the past few years, Hollywood has churned out one stinker after another, but at least most of these were original films, based on original scripts. Occasionally, I personally find a film that is terrific and keeps my attention, but nine times out of 10, I find myself bored out of my mind.
What's worse, Hollywood has a penchant for taking something that is perfect and making it into trash--and what I am talking about are movie remakes.
When was the last time you saw a really good remake? Well, I certainly didn't this weekend when I saw "The Day the Earth Stood Still" on video. The original movie was absolutely perfect, getting into the Cold War mood as an alien travels to the earth to actually help our planet, but no one will give him a chance because he is an "alien." It was one of the best science fiction movies of all time.
Well, the newest version of this film is trash, plain and simple. Keanu Reeves, one of the all-time worst actors ever, is this version's Klaatu, but the filmmakers changed the plot a bit, to make it more of an ecological fable than anything else. There is also a hint of romance, although nothing ever happens, between Reeves and the beautiful Jennifer Connelly, another one of the world's worst (and probably one of the most overrated) actors. She is nice to look at, but her character, who actually believes Klaatu, is vapid.
The movie is absolutely awful. I can't believe Hollywood can foist a movie like this on the public.
But they have done it numerous times, butchering classic films with updated--but horrid--remakes.
"Psycho" and "The War of the Worlds" are just two recent remakes that have not improved one iota on the perfect originals.
And don't get me started on TV shows-to-major-motion-pictures ... I don't remember the last good one I've seen, but I can tell you about some of the horrid ones, including "Charlie's Angels," "The Honeymooners" and the absolutely god-awful "Get Smart." And yes, most of the Star Trek films are awful if you are honest about it.
Come up with original scripts, that's my message. I mean, if they can remake "Psycho," who is to say that "Casablanca," "Gone with the Wind," and "The Wizard of Oz" remakes are not festering in some alleged screenwriter's imagination?
Posted by Larry at 5:28 AM
Monday, June 8, 2009
On Long Island, the only daily, mass circulation newspaper to serve the populace is known as Newsday.
I always thought it looked at itself as a better newspaper than the other major New York area tabloids: The Daily News and the Post, the two newspapers that are its prime competition. The New York Times really never entered into Newsday's equation, even though Newsday would have liked it too.
During the past two weeks, Newsday has radically changed the format of its newspaper. To me, it has made it more friendly for the 12-24 year old who doesn't generally read newspapers. It has slimmed down its size, trimmed the number of pages it produces, trimmed stories although it has increased its headlines, and generally, it has thrown out all that was good in its old format for something it considers entirely new. And, of course, it has jumped on the greening bandwagon as a more "environmentally friendly" publication.
Of course, what Newsday did not take into consideration was its readership. This now strange-looking newspaper has been taken to task by its readers in today's paper. Letters-To-The Editor writers have lambasted Newsday for ruining a good thing for something akin to The Wall Street Journal changing its format to look like the National Enquirer.
And readership is correct. The newspaper is harder to read, although it takes about two-thirds of the time to read it now. It looks plain weird, too.
The photo I have included is how Newsday once looked. I cannot find an image of how it looks now to show you the radical difference.
I applaud Newsday's higher ups for allowing the newspaper to print all of the negatives about the paper's format in the very pages that have undergone this radical transformation. However, is it just all hot air, or does Newsday plan on changing back to the old format, or at least tweaking what it has now?
I realize that a lot of newspapers are going the electronic route, and more and more papers are charging for electronic content. But one of my guilty pleasures (before, during and after my recent vision problems) is to sit down in the morning and read the newspaper. I don't need huge headlines followed by clipped stories in a totally unfriendly format.
Give me my old paper, please!
Posted by Larry at 9:42 AM
Saturday, June 6, 2009
My daughter recently returned from school for the summer break. She goes to a SUNY school, and I am proud to say that she pulled in a near straight-A cume this past semester. She is doing very well in her studies, and hopes to teach elementary education when she graduates next year. She plans on taking a few courses this summer locally.
The problem is this: she cannot find a job. As everyone knows, the employment situation stinks right now, with the country going through a cycle of nearly double-digit unemployment. For teenagers and college kids, the rate is about double.
She has been just about everywhere--from fast food to Wal-Mart to camps and beyond--but so far nothing.
Does anybody know where she can go for a job? Again, she will be a senior at college in the fall, and will be returning to school in mid-August, so she needs the job roughly from mid-June to mid-August.
As a father, I am really powerless to do anything, but I think this is the least I can do for her.
Posted by Larry at 12:29 PM
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Although I am not convinced (at least yet) that this is the greatest thing since sliced bread, I have joined Twitter.
So I guess I am going to tweet.
Am I a twit for joining up with this thing?
I don't know. Let's see what happens. Maybe it will increase traffic at this site.
Posted by Larry at 9:47 AM
I hate to wear ties. To me, they are like modern equivalent of nooses around your neck.
However, I am required to wear a tie at work. The only thing that I have found that they are good for is to wipe off your glasses.
This morning, while eating my usual breakfast of Cheerios (really a store brand knockoff) and milk, I must have gotten some of the milk on my tie, because when I got to work, I noticed that there was a stain on my tie.
I tried to get rid of the stain with some water, but all that it did was to expand the stain. Now it really looks ridiculous!
How do you get a stain out of a tie? How do you wash a tie safely?
It just tells me that ties are a waste of time. They add nothing to what you are wearing, and who is to say that one who does not wear a tie is less professional looking than one who does?
Women are not required to wear ties, although I think they would look a lot nicer than men if they did wear ties.
My conclusion is that ties are a waste of time. Especially if they have a stain on them that you don't know how to remove.
Posted by Larry at 4:52 AM
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
The Cleveland Cavaliers' Lebron James received a lot of flack for storming off the court after his team was eliminated from the National Basketball Association playoffs by the Orlando Magic the other night.
He was unhappy with both his and his team's performance, and he showed it by not shaking any of his opponents' hands and not having a news conference after the game. Some called him a cry baby, others said he was a sore loser.
He might be both, but you know what, I kind of agree with his attitude that he displayed after the game.
The Cavaliers were probably the NBA's best team during the regular season, and some experts predicted they had the talent to go all the way this year. Cleveland has not had a professional sports team win a championship for nearly 50 years, and this Cavaliers team was pegged to end that drought.
Well, they swept through their earlier playoff series, and then faced an Orlando team that, other than Dwight Howard, few people out of central Florida really know about.
Well, the Magic was another story, and whatever holes were to be found in the Cavaliers were not only found, but exploited by the Magic. Their lack of a real center was maximized by Howard, who confounded the Cavaliers from the opening tip in the first game to the final seconds of the finale.
James, as the Most Valuable Player in the league this year, couldn't carry his team to victory. The last game was truly hopeless, a blowout in every sense of the word.
Why should James be shaking hands and addressing media after such a game and such a season? He was angry and probably a bit embarrassed at his play, his team's play, and letting down Cleveland once again.
Again, this is not hockey, where players traditionally shake hands after a game after bashing heads for three periods. This is basketball, where these type of end-of-game greetings are really something new, something that has maybe started during the past five or six years or so with any regularity.
So give James a break. Do any of the sportswriters that chastised him for his behavior believe that if they were in James' place they would have acted differently?
I knock James frequently because I usually think he has a big mouth to go along with his enormous talent. However, this time, shutting his mouth has gotten him into trouble.
My question is, why all the fuss?
(And give the guy an extra break now--it has been announced that he had a benign growth removed from his jaw after the Cavaliers' playoff run ended.)
And my prediction for the finals: the Magic will beat the Lakers four games to three. I think Orlando is on a tremendous roll now, and they won't be easily stopped. Kobe Bryant and Co. will give it their all, but it isn't the Lakers' year this year. Earlier this year, I attended my first Magic game while on vacation in Florida. I was really impressed with everything surrounding the game and the team, and was especially impressed with Howard, who might be the best center in the game right now. This long-time Knicks fan continues to suffer with that team, but for one evening, I felt I was in the winner's circle once again.
Orlando in seven.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
I am not going to get into a religious discussion about this subject, nor am I going to get into the political ramifications of these type of marriages.
Let me just say that on a personal note, these type of marriages rub me the wrong way.
Marriage is an institution that has withstood the ages. Just in recent times, the function of "living together" could have destroyed traditional marriage, but it didn't.
Now we have people who claim that homosexual marriage should be as legal as heterosexual marriage.
Well, I disagree, because at least in my mind, these two marriages don't equate to the same thing.
Love is love, and I am certainly not going to argue that. But to put gay marriage on the same plane as straight marriages is missing the boat.
Marriage between a man and a woman is the ultimate sacred vow, to a commitment that is much more than a business arrangement, or a blending of two people into one union. This is a commitment that could produce offspring, if the man and woman want this.
I won't argue that gay unions are loveless; they are not. But the unique aspect of straight marriages--which is the possibility of bringing other human beings into this world--makes straight marriage the only real marriage in my mind.
Yes, a man and a woman can have children without the benefit of marriage. But at least the idea behind having children in a marriage--to provide a good home, education in a loving environment--is more apt to happen when there are offspring in a marriage--where there is male and female influence--than in a non-marriage situation. I am not saying that all offspring of non-marriages are screwed up, nor am I saying that traditional marriages always produce good citizens, but I think the possibilities of having both a mother and father--and husband and wife--in the same household adds to the positive possibilities.
If gays want to be together, civil unions are the way to go. And, of course, the government cannot tell you what to do in your own home (sort of), so if gays want to consider their unions marriage, that is fine with me--but they won't be legal.
I am sick and tired of the behavior of some of those who favor gay marriage, who literally stick their opinions down our throats. One such recent incident was the beauty queen who was chastised by a judge for saying that she was not in favor of these unions. If you have an opinion for this type of union, why can't someone else have a differing opinion?
And don't get me started about Hollywood, which has made "gay" a trend. I don't think you can become gay, it is something that is within you upon birth (I am, of course, not a doctor, and that is just an opinion).
Also, does anyone pay attention to what happens when this situation comes up for a vote? Look at California, what I thought to be as liberal a state as there is--they consistently vote this legalization down.
I once had a co-worker who said to me that gay unions will "eventually" be made legal, so why not go with it now? Well, I don't jump on bandwagons, and I don't think they will ever become fully legal, although I do believe that civil unions will become increasingly strong legally as time passes when gay marriage proposals get shot down.
Another person once asked me what I would do if my kids were gay--how would I handle the situation? Well, I know that I wouldn't abandon them at all. You can still love someone even if their situation is not one that you would have hoped for. And if they wanted to get "married," let them have love in their lives--but it won't be legal.
And to equate the same-sex marriage situation with the civil rights movement of the 1960s, as some have done--please!
The bottom line is that for what it is worth, I am not for legalized gay marriage. I don't want to equate what I have--and yes, I believe in it so strongly that I did it twice--with something else entirely.
Posted by Larry at 4:55 AM
Monday, June 1, 2009
Have you noticed that the craftsmanship of things that we use every day is not up to the standards set years ago?
We seem to be right in the middle of a "junk culture" revolution now. Everything we buy is doomed to failure at some point. It's like the say about baseball: "managers are hired to be fired." With the things we purchase, you can adapt that saying to "everything we use is bought to fall apart."
My wife bought me one of those small, digital cameras several months ago. It did everything I wanted it to do: it took digital movies, it took digital photos and it recorded sound. I only had the thing for less than six months when it broke on me during a baseball game my son and I attended this past Friday. I tried to get it working, but it was fruitless.
My son has Rock Band. He has had it for less than a year. He and his cousins were playing it this weekend. One cousin hit the drums, and one of the drums collapsed. I tried to fix it with duct tape, but to no avail.
Do you ever fix your TV, video recording unit, your camera anymore? Once things break, we trash them and buy new ones. I think this started with video recorders, where in the 1990s it started to cost more to fix them than buy a new one, so we just trashed them.
I remember the days when things lasted a long time, even with daily use; certainly, televisions fall into that category. A TV would last a generation, and if there happened to be any problems, you would call the TV man, he would come to your house, and he would fix it.
Today, computers are one of the biggest culprits. We use them every day, but I have found that after about four to five years of use, they pretty much die.
Cars also fall into that category. Once a car reaches its five-year birthday, it is pretty much all down hill.
I wish we could just trash this junk culture and get back to the time when things were made to last.
Posted by Larry at 5:02 AM