Friday, November 19, 2010
BY BELINDA M. PASCHAL
'Tis a month before Christmas, the traditional time
When I herald the season in lyrical rhyme.
A takeoff on Clement Clarke Moore’s classic verse,
Two thousand and six was the year it ran first.
That first column mocked the melee in the malls –
Customers decking each other while decking the halls!
Rushing through stores like a bat out of hell,
Almost dogpiling Santa Claus, ringing his bell!
More rapid than eagles those shoppers did bound
To be first in line at a shop across town.
Pushing and shoving and being obnoxious,
Grabbing iPods and Playstation 3’s and X-Boxes!
Oh-seven’s verse talked about shopping online –
No mob scenes, no price checks, no tired child’s whine.
No lifting a finger ‘cept clicking the mouse
Like Santa, Fed Ex brings gifts straight to your house!
No long checkout lines and no NASCAR-like races,
No more zooming around searching for parking spaces.
No hundred-pound packages weighing you down,
No schlepping to every darn store in the town!
Two thousand and eight took a look back in time
Before techno-gadgetry entered its prime.
Back then, we had toys with eternal shelf-lives;
Now each year, an updated version arrives!
In our day, we marveled at dump trucks and dolls,
Etch-a-Sketch, Lego and spongy Nerf balls.
If we ran out of batteries, we weren’t defeated;
Our imaginations were all that we needed.
Then technology reared its computerized head,
Sending sales that once flourished deep down in the red.
The playthings ensconced in the Toy Hall of Fame
Took a backseat and I know where to place the blame:
On VTech! On Leapster!
On Elmo and Mindflex!
On Wii and 360,
On Wall-E and D-Rex!
At the top of the shelves!
In the toy stores and malls!
They flash away, flash away,
Flash away all!
In oh-nine, I bemoaned the state of our nation:
Out of work, out of cash, economic stagnation.
Tight purse strings made Christmas a challenge for many
Who balanced their checkbooks down to the last penny.
As children wrote long lists of treasures assorted,
Their parents lost sleep wond’ring how to afford it.
For the undying wish of most moms and most dads
Is to provide their kids with what they never had.
But some did arise early on Christmas morn
No presents bedecking a tree so forlorn.
Yet many still offered praise, glory and thanks,
‘Cos their hearts were more full than their wallets and banks.
And so, this year’s message echoes that from the last:
Let’s not mourn the ghosts of those Christmases past.
Rejoice in the moment, not in yuletides of yore,
For the present's a gift not sold in any store.
Exchanging gifts is one aim of this season,
But always remember the prevailing reason:
Joy and good cheer aren’t encrypted or coded,
And love is a heartsong than can’t be downloaded.
Friday, November 05, 2010
BY BELINDA M. PASCHAL
So it’s late at night and I’m flipping through the channels, when I happen upon a program called “Inside the Milky Way.” I’m excited and intrigued because I’ve always wondered how one candy bar could be so chocolaty and so nougat-y at the same time. Imagine my dismay upon learning the show actually was about stars and planets and nebulae and a bunch of other space junk. Talk about a letdown – I was crestfallen by the discovery that “clusters” referred to a group of stars rather than the nutty goodness of a Snickers bar.
Oh, sure, I could have read the onscreen program description, but that would require a degree of effort exerted only by those who aren’t pathologically sloth-like sluggards. (Which is also why I didn’t change the channel.) After watching the show, as well as the subsequent “Drugs, Inc.” (NOT a documentary about the pharmacy business), I felt disgruntled with TV networks for not making program titles more truthful. If I had my druthers, viewers would know exactly what they were getting with just a glance at the channel guide.
For instance, “The View” would be renamed “Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah” and “Dancing with the Stars” would be called “Dancing with Mostly D-List Entertainers and Athletes.” See where I’m going with this?
Here are a few more examples of what program descriptions would look like if I were running the show(s):
“$#*! My Dad Says” – “Fourteen More Minutes of Fame Than It Deserves”
“CSI: Miami” – “The David Caruso School of Bad Acting Presents ‘Sunglasses Off, Sunglasses On.’”
“Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?” – “Shamed By Children On National TV.”
“Maury” – “Breeders & Cheaters”
“Law & Order: Los Angeles” – “Really? Another One? Are You In Competition With ‘CSI’?”
“The Real Housewives of Orange County” – “Rich Shrews With Way Too Much Free Time.”
“Ugly Betty” – “In Show Biz, Ugly Girls Are Just Pretty Girls With Glasses and/or Braces.”
“Beverly Hills 90210” – “Thirty-Year-Olds Playing 18-Year-Olds Who Talk Like 40-Year-Olds”
“Happy Days” – “Whatever Happened To Chuck, The Oldest Cunningham Kid, Who Went Upstairs and Never Came Back Down, and Really, Fonzie, Aren’t You A Bit Old To Be Hanging With Teenagers?”
“The Nanny” – “The Lady Whose Voice Peeled Paint Off The Walls.”
“Last Call With Carson Daly” – “I Know … I Thought I Was Cancelled, Too!”