Friday, September 28, 2007

Big Confession

Here it is... the awful secret that might get me kicked out of the blogosphere and drummed out of the male gender, especially at this time of national obsession with the "S" word. No, not that "S" word. Forgive me Father, for I have sinned against all that is manly. I do not like sports! Any sports. All sports are utterly incomprehensible at best, irritating at worst. I try to watch baseball, football, hockey, etc. etc. I do not understand what those people are doing or why they are doing it. I cannot figure out why the players on the field, court or whatever you call the place where they do it are doing it. I am totally mystified at the hundreds of thousands of screaming fans in the stands or whatever you call the place where they sit except when they are standing and shouting. I would surely have a nervous breakdown if forced to attend a big time sporting event. Is it God's fault? Did He leave some of my parts out of me when He made me?
Maybe He did, because I can't understand the appeal of game shows, their spastic contestants, their studio audiences or their millions of TV fans, either. What do you think, Father ... is there a chance that reincarnation might be true, so I can be complete next time around? One more question, Father. I heard that "Hail Mary" has something to do with football. Don't try to explain that to me. I wouldn't get it. Couldn't handle it if I did. What's that? You want to get this confession over with because there's a game you don't want to miss?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Boston Legal: The Old and the Horny

The wonderfully quirky Boston Legal might be the only top rated TV sitcom that is not about the young and the horny. I love it when 75 year old Denny Crane gets all overheated about the thought of seventy-something Shirley Schmidt in her high school cheerleader costume. I hope the writers don't run out of goofy ideas in my lifetime. It hasn't happend yet.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Good Words Gone Bad

The latest fine old word that has bit the dust, leaving a cloud of incorrectness, is "Senior." It seems that the youth-obsessed boomers, just getting into their sixties, will not answer to that one anymore. A local former grocery store is being turned into a magnificent center for those of a certain age but it cannot call itself a senior center because it would be boycotted by those young-thinking boomer types. So we call it Tanglewood Park. Cool, eh? It's between Tanglewood and Park Streets. The "Senior Perspectives" magazine published by the area council on aging is agonizing over what new name might be appropriate if we want anybody under 85 to read it. While we are at it we had better get rid of "aging" in the council's name. What can we become the council on?
I am so far into seniorhood that I don't even remember the first time some young clerk asked if I got the senior discount. I suppose it was traumatic. Did I really look that old? These days, I don't care what you call me. Just give me some benefits. Reward me with discounts just for staying alive for a long time.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Funeral Music as Torture

Music as torture is not a new idea. It is probably as old as music and torture. You could break the spirit of a rebellious teen ager by making him watch those old Lawrence Welk shows. Or you could send your cantankerous old grandpa to the funny farm by blowing out his hearing aids with the loudest, hardest rock you can find. Music as torture is in the news lately because it has been used to break the prisoners at Gitmo. It seems to me that playing the deceased's favorite music at a funeral or memorial service might be the highest (or lowest) form of musical torture. It is a great way to give a final post mortem thumbing of the nose or raising of the middle finger to all those in attendance that you couldn't stand. Make them listen to polkas. Or opera. Or Gregorian Chants. Or Buddhist Chants. Whatever. If you want to stick it to those you know who believe the bagpipe is an ill wind that nobody blows good, be sure to have a piper play you-know-what. It will make them crazy.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Comparing Vietnam and Iraq

I don't know who Gerald W. Johnson was or is, but he said a smart thing, quoted on today's NPR On The Media show.

Nothing changes more constantly than the past; for the past that influences our lives does not consist of what actually happened, but of what men believe happened

Friday, September 21, 2007

High Drama Addiction

I figured out what makes those nutty people go on shows like Dr. Phil. They are addicted to high drama. They thrive on fighting and craziness. They need it. They don't want to fix it, they are not interested in stopping it, they just want to enjoy it in their own weird way.They would go nuts if they had to spend five minutes with peace and quiet.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The case of the SEXY SITTER

You are a young husband and father. Your 18 year old baby sitter comes on to you. She unzips your pants. Nature takes it course. You and the sitter do a very bad thing. You go on Dr. Phil's show. You get skewered, roasted and toasted. You did not have the good sense, fortutude or basic moral values to tell the temptress to leave you alone because you are married. The mostly female audience loves it. They are ready to storm the stage and Bobbitize you so you can't do it again. The few males, dragged to the show by their wives, are squirming. Some are thinking, "There, but for the grace of God ..." Others were not so fortunate. But what of the sexy sitter? Not one word about morals or lack thereof. What's her story? Is she an innocent victim? Has she done it before? will she do it again? Ah, but there is a much bigger question. It is being asked in the network executive offices. "What can we do to top this on tomorrow's show that will keep the ratings going through the roof?"

Friday, September 14, 2007

Me and Sam McGee

We are experiencing what is politely called a "cold snap." I call it freezing to death. When I expire, which could be any day now if it don't warm up, my earthly remains will become what the mortuary industry calls "cremains." Like Robert W. Service's Sam McGee, I will order the attendants to leave the oven door closed so I can stay warm.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Dr. Phil has lost it

Dr. Phil and Robin have totally sold out to the ratings race. The new season opened with new heights of hype. I like Dr. Laura better. She gets right to the point, tells 'em what they need to hear and if they don't like it, that's their problem. There's none of Phil's "I'll give you my hard hitting, straight from the shoulder word on what you need to do right after these commercials. " I'm asleep before he comes back. Reminds me of the old story about the super salesman bride groom who spent his wedding night sitting on the edge of the bed, telling his bride how great it was going to be when they made love.

Oprah and Obama

Does Oprah have enough power to get Obama elected, or least nominated? Probably. Is that a good thing? I like what Bob Dylan said about show biz figures messing with issues like that. "For some reason, people seem to think performers have the answer to the problems of society. What can you say to somethng like that? It's absurd, really." What's really crazy is when the performers believe it.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Year's Worst Commercial?

A question for you boomers who have lost your teeth and who are driven to distraction by loose uppers or lowers rattling around in your head. Did you rush right out to grab a package of Sea Bond Denture Adhesive, inspired by those bright, happy, young, fun loving seniors singing "Bye bye ooze, bye bye yuckiness" to the tune of an old Everly Brothers song? If you did, then mabye it's not such a bad commercial after all. It did what commercials are supposed to do . I can't really be sore at the ad agency that produced the commercial. It will probably win an award. Henceforth and forever more, every person who reaches for a package of Seabond will see and hear that image in their heads. But I can be big time pissed at the Brothers or whoever now owns the rights to their songs. Can they be so hard-up that they actually took big bucks from the agency for the right to turn the song into that travesty? Is nothing sacred??

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Crazy Old Men

I don't believe in long blog posts. Who would take the time to read them? Having said that, here is a long blog post. It is my column for a senior magazine. It won't appear until sometime in October, so I must wait to see if it gets any interesting responses.

Crazy Old Men
I apologize to mental health workers and patients who might be offended by my title. I chose it because I am willing to do whatever it takes to make a reader stop to see what it’s all about.
For almost three years, I held a most interesting volunteer position at the geriatric unit of Hackley Behavioral Health. In today’s era of language correctness, we no longer speak of psychiatric wards, but that’s what it is. It is a locked, in-patient psychiatric facility with a separate unit for older patients. Old timers still think of it as Northwood. I did what they called music therapy. It was really no more than playing old songs on the piano and reminiscing with the patients, many of whom were younger than I was. I was good at it and there were some rewarding breakthroughs.
The most surprising thing I encountered there was the large number of male patients. I expected that the population of any geriatric facility would be mostly female, as in nursing homes, just because women live longer. I am still puzzled about what it is that is putting so many older men in psychiatric treatment facilities. Is it Alzheimer’s or other dementia? Addiction to drugs or alcohol? Family pressure from adult offspring whose lives are a mess? Loss of self worth because of retirement, especially if forced by downsizing, company restructuring or sale? Can’t get a new job because of age? Indulgent, mothering wives who left widowers unable to care for themselves? Involuntary commitment by family members? That was the case with many of the patients I saw.
Could it be that it is simply more acceptable for men to seek professional help for emotional problems than it was for previous generations. Perhaps we are past the notion that men are supposed to be the great, stoic dragon slayers, Clint and Arnold, shooting and terminating, keeping it all together while our women fall apart There are days when I am precariously close to checking myself in to the psych ward and asking to be pumped full of something to get me through the stuff that the twenty first century is throwing at us old guys. That is a terrible admission that men of my father’s generation would never even have dared think about, much less put it in black and white for all the world to see.
Here is a thought that won’t win me any points with any macho male types out there. Might it be that members of what we used to call the weaker sex are actually better equipped to handle life’s ego-crushing emotional blows and defeats than we men are?
I ask for comments from mental health professionals, patients, family, spouses, men who are hurting, armchair psychologists and anyone who has something to say about all this. You may be anonymous. We waive the usual rule that letters to the editor must be signed. If you e-mal me personally at, your e-mail address will not be saved unless you specifically say you are interested in personal correspondence.


It's Father Coglin

After spending far too much time staring at the screen, I find that I recalled it correctly ... It's Father Coglin or Coglen, not Cofflin. I have too much time on my hands. Now I can move on to other foolish searches. My next post will be the text of my column for a senior magazine published by the area Council on Aging here in Mishconson.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Father Coughlin

Anybody out there with the correct pronunciation of the infamous radio priest's name ? I am producing a talk that mentions him and I want to get it right. I was very young when he was spewing his venom from the Shrine of the Little Flower, but I seem to recall hearing it as "Coglin" rather than "Cofflin."

Sunday, September 02, 2007


I am ancient. I can't relate to music that came along after 1954, the last year of what are now "old standard" performers and songs before rock became the popular music of choice. So I usually like it when PBS trots out the old stars for their fundraisers, knowing that it will cause older viewers to open their billfolds, let the moths fly out and make a healthy contribution.But they went too far with their latest senior special. Sure, it's good to know that Ed Ames, Kay Starr, Margaret Whiting, Robert Goulet, Andy Williams and the Crew Cuts and the Gaylords are still breathing regularly and able to shuffle up to a microphone. But some of them looked pretty bad and didn't sing all that great.Nick Clooney's tribute to his sister Rosie was nice, and I will assume it was at his merciful request that they showed only clips of her great early performances and not later ones where she was overweight and struggling. When 94 year old Tony Martin sang or lip synched or whatever it was, I'm not sure it was the same song the orchestra was playing. It was painful. Let the old stars rest in peaceful retirement.