Around The Horn: When Do You Call It Quits On Books, Movies, Podcasts, Y’know, That Kind Of Stuff?

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About a month ago I was reading Lauren Groff’s much lauded novel “Fates and Furies” and I was, according to my e-reader, on page 238 of 392 (“62%” of the book, according to the display), when I put it aside, thinking I’d get back to it soon, and then never picked it up again.

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Recently I was watching a DVD copy of Oscar contender “The Revenant,” got about an hour into it – I think DiCaprio was in a river avoiding flying arrows – when I got sleepy, shut it off for the night, thinking I would finish it the next day. Haven’t gotten back to it. Watched “The Martian” all the way through since then, but not “The Revenant.”

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So: how long do you give a book, a movie, a podcast, a museum exhibit, a play, a sporting event, an ice capades show, whatever, before you decide you’re just not that into it, and you put it down, turn it off, walk out of the building?

When I was a kid, if a book didn’t grab me in the first ten or fifteen pages (6-7%?), it was over for me.

But reading 62% of a book and then deciding it’s not for you? That seems weird to me. I seem weird to me. After you’ve put 62% effort into anything, don’t you want to at least see it through, see how it ends, finish what you’ve started?

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When do you call it quits?

Realpolitik: Or How I Learned To Stop Dreaming And Accept The Pragmatic

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I give $10 a month to the Bernie Sanders campaign. They sent me a couple bumper stickers.

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I lived a year in Germany, so I know how nice it feels to pay $13 a semester in college tuition, and less than that for a doctor’s visit. And now, today, I’d gladly pay a higher percentage in taxes for benefits like that over here. And yet, those bumper stickers sit idle on my dining room table, even after Bernie essentially tied Hillary in Iowa.

How Bowie Saved The Word “Chameleon”

AU_COURANT

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In musical circles, the word “chameleon” is a slam. It’s what you say when an artist has lost his or her way, when they are trying to chase trends, to revive stalling careers. And it usually involves some shark jumping.

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Does anybody remember when Vanilla Ice attempted to go heavy metal?

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Festivus Is REAL

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A fact which itself is just mundane and cool enough to qualify as a “festivus miracle” (defined as easily explicable events that are inexplicably labelled a “miracle”).

Other Festivus worthy miracles:

My grocery bag was heavily laden with a twelve pack of beer, and it didn’t tear.

It’s a Festivus Miracle!

I ate yogurt after the expiration date on the label, and I didn’t get sick.

It’s a Festivus Miracle!

I sang karaoke at the bar, and only half the people laughed at me.

It’s a Festivus Miracle!

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Like everyone else old enough to remember the original 1997 Seinfeld episode during which Festivus was introduced to the world, I was thrilled. What seemed like another George Costanza lie turned out to be a very real tradition celebrated by his parents, Frank and Estelle, complete with the festivus pole; the feats of strength; the airing of grievances; and the red meat loaf on a bed of lettuce.

The very idea of an anti-consumerist-counter-holiday on December 23rd is a reminder of just how god damn good that show was.

And it was all REAL.

The Napalm Girl

You may not know her name, but you know her picture.

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Kim Phuc was 9 years old when the South Vietnamese military accidentally dropped napalm on civilians in her village, Trang Bang, outside Saigon, in 1972, searing much of her body. Today she is 52 and living in Canada.

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The famous picture, taken by American photojournalist Nick Ut, became one of the iconic images of that divisive, ill conceived conflict of questionable purpose.

We Are All Jews Here

*COMPOSITE* Master Sgt Roddie W. Edmonds-WWII-Field Pic with Men.jpg

The date: January 27, 1945

The setting: German POW camp Stalag IXA, near Ziegenhain, Germany.

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What happened: 1000 American POW’s stand at attention. The German commander of the camp, speaking in English, orders Jewish American soldiers to step forward. It is late in the war – by now the American troops know what is at stake. They know their Jewish comrades will be whisked to an uncertain fate, most likely death in a slave labor camp. At that moment Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds, the highest ranking noncommissioned officer held in the camp, turns to the rest of the POW’s, and says, “We are not doing that, we are all falling out.”

We are not doing that, we are all falling out.

The German commander turns to Edmonds and says, “They can not all be Jews.”

Edmonds replies, “We are all Jews here.”

The Nazi Officer presses his pistol to Edmonds’ head and offers him one last chance to give up the approximately 200 Jews in his group.

Perks

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When I had a “straight job” – working as an architect years ago – I remember how thrilled I was when, after I had been with the firm long enough, I began to earn a contribution toward my health insurance, and an annual deposit made on my behalf into some sort of cryptic, yet munificent thing called a “SEP-IRA.”

That was then.

These days, many Millennials, especially of the hot shot variety working in tech, look for benefits – “bennies” – beyond staid retirement or health plan contributions.

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Can A Dude With A Horned Helmet Be “Racist?”

Another day, another racist incident on a college campus. So depressing. These are young people, who should be full of idealism and hope and a sense of community, not hate and division.

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So I come across the latest report of some ugly racist thread circulating in Western Washington University in Bellingham – the article didn’t spell out what, exactly, was said on Yik Yak (man, I can barely keep up with Snapchat, Instagram, Grindr, and I just heard about a fight club site called Brawlr) – but I don’t need to know the specifics. I’d wager some group of white kids was taunting and threatening black kids, give or take.

Reading university president Bruce Shepard’s response, I admit it’s a pretty easy wager to make:

“I need to be very clear here: we are not talking the merely insulting, rude, offensive commentary that trolls and various other lowlifes seem free to spew, willy nilly, although there has been plenty of that, too. No, this was hate speech.”

Giving Thanks For Insurance Company Lawyers

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Don’t get me wrong. I’m like most people. I don’t like insurance. I think it’s a racket. Don’t carry it and you’re probably screwed. Carry it and make a claim? You’re definitely screwed.

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But when you own bars, that is to say, when you mix strangers and alcohol, you will appreciate insurance companies, and their lawyers, like they were Native Americans giving you a stalk of corn in the dead of winter in 1621.

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You never forget your first lawsuit. At least I haven’t. The three I’m currently dealing with I can’t say too much about – they’re ongoing, blah, blah, blah, and fairly minor (an alleged shove here, an alleged slip-and-fall there) – but that first one, well, that one was special.

Fighting ISIS

I think it’s safe to say we’re all pretty mad at ISIS these days. But what to do about it?

We can vote for politicians whose terrorism policies are to our liking.

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We can secretly funnel money from our Cayman Islands bank accounts to help arm Syrian locals who are also disenchanted with Isis.

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We can curl up on the floor and watch Sponge Bob Square Pants reruns until we get back to our “happy place”….

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or…or….we can look for stores with the word “Isis” in their names and vandalize them.

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And Now For Something A Little Lighter, A Little Higher…

File under “Did anyone not see this coming?”

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Snoop Dogg has finally done the obvious: launched his own line of marijuana, “Leafs By Snoop.” As far as the quality of the product goes, I have complete confidence in the rapper who penned such classics as “Vapors” and “Too High.” I mean, he’s like Pig Pen, only it’s a cloud of weed smoke, not dust, which follows him everywhere.

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Things I Can’t Sell In My Bar

As the owner of a bar, I am allowed to sell one of the last legal drugs out there: alcohol. Booze. Hooch. Juice. Suds. Road Soda. Lunatic Soup. Y’know, the Sauce.

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And you don’t need a prescription to get it from me. You just need a valid I.D. proving you’re 21, and cash or a credit card that won’t be declined. So it was interesting to me to find out the other day what I CAN’T sell.

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I had to drop by the local office of the ABC (state department of Alcoholic Beverage Control), the folks who regulate liquor sales, to take care of some paperwork, and there, in the waiting room, was a display case full of some very interesting – and scary – and confusing – and straight up baffling – things which I can not sell to you, no matter how good your fake I.D..