| Columns |
Thursday, 29 April 2010
Georgetown Times, gtowntimes.com
My favorite button on the TV remote is “mute.” Why? Because the loud commercials are deafening; and slowly but surely, that’s what I’m becoming—deaf! Really, someone ought to do something about this invasion of privacy that frays, sizzles and fries my last nerve!
Well, it looks like someone is at least trying: A few months back I read about a bill that was introduced by Congresswoman Anna Eshoo.
Her bill is called—get this: the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, ironically, nicknamed CALM, which is what none of us screamed-upon, irate viewers are.
Oh, the exception might be the companies who actually see an increase in sales from those lame commercials.
Rest assured, I’m not a fan and I’m not buying those products.
Ms. Eshoo herself claims she not only has to “dive for the mute button, but I end up having to close my windows so that the blast doesn’t affect my neighbors…in the cul-de-sac.” Obviously, she lives in a sunny, populated and trendy state.
Yep, that would be California. And hey, I know it wouldn’t be a problem, say, in Buffalo, New York in mid-winter. But still. That’s not the point. The point is she has a good one and I for one like her opinion.
As I often say, “You’re entitled to your opinion, but you’re also entitled to mine.”
There are so many things wrong with LOUD commercials I can’t even list them all.
So, here goes!
The worst offenders are car dealerships, followed closely by furniture stores, cell phone companies and then cleaning products.
The sad thing is these companies are trying to sell their product, when in reality, they are actually shooing folks away.
No one has to yell at me to tell me, via harsh, screaming language and extreme gesturing, how to get grass stains out of my son’s jeans.
That’s because I don’t have a son.
But if I did, that commercial wouldn’t change a thing for me.
And I’m not impressed with a 4-wheel, 10 ton pick-em-up truck, driver screaming, going through two feet of mud because a) I don’t drive through mud and b) I don’t want to drive anything that BIG!
It seems like cell phone companies do nothing but brag about their bigger towers, better reception and myriad of plans. As for furniture commercials, puh-leeze!
I don’t care if they do want to give me a 52” wide screen TV if I buy a living room set. Excuse me: but isn’t that the problem I’m talking about here? A loud TV?
I’ll bet one day in the future, documented medical studies will prove a direct correlation between loss of hearing and loud commercials.
As it is now, I’m sure more migraines occur—say, during the Super Bowl than any other time of year.
Not just from the commercials, but from the sports events too. In fact, golf is about the only quiet sporting event I can think of.
Thankfully, that is hub Russ’s favorite sport.
Have you ever noticed that the people who command the most attention and have the most rapt audiences are folks who speak softly and slowly?
Picture a golf tournament, for example, where the announcer says, “Would Mickelson even attempt this shot?
With the tournament on the line, you would think he would just lay it up.
But no—not Phil.
It looks like he’s going to try to pull off the shot of the year.”
And of course, the audience is mesmerized and hypnotized—not only by Phil but also by the announcer.
Now, transfer that same voice, both tone and volume, doing a TV commercial.
A woman softly says, “Have you got carpet stains? Well, hush, little baby, don’t say a word.
Just call us up at ‘Mockingbird’, cleaners, that is. Call 555-1212.” No yelling or screaming.
No demeaning or condescending language.
Now, what’s so hard about that? My gosh, I’d call her just to thank her for not screaming at me and then I’d book an appointment. And we have very little carpet here—mostly hardwood and tile.
I don’t know what we did before remotes, but I also don’t remember TV ads being that loud and obnoxious.
It’s as if the ad people think we are stupid, slow to learn, hard of hearing or all three.
IT’S TIME TO REVOLT! (See what’s happened? Even I’m yelling now!)
So, let’s support Ms. Eshoo’s CALM bill and regulate the volume on those ding-dong commercials.
Oh, and the next time that lawyer in the commercial tells me (quite heatedly) that he can help me if someone has done me wrong and then adds, “yes, it IS about the money,” I am going to throw the remote at him! But first I’ll hit “mute.”
Ann Ipock “Life Is Short, So Read This Fast!” firstname.lastname@example.org www.annipock.com
Thursday, 15 April 2010
Georgetown Times, gtowntimes.com
Am I the only one who has trouble knowing what to keep and what to throw away when it comes to the stuff on my refrigerator—or more accurately, what is kept under the magnets on my refrigerator door? With a blank canvas of about 3 x 6’, the possibilities of filling up all that space with STUFF are endless. Therein lies the problem. What goes up there and how long does it stay?
For instance: do you keep up that picture of your obnoxious 3rd cousin’s pudgy-wudgy, bald as an 8-ball, newborn, until they come visit you? Because you know they will! They’ve been threatening, saying Seinfeld-like, “You gotta see the baby!” for a while now. And if they do come and it’s not there, well, you get the picture. No pun intended. You may not love your cousin, but you love his heiress mother—which happens to be your aunt—and you’ve been told you’re in her will. What about the early childhood drawings, ten million and counting, that your preschool children or grandchildren have presented you with—the ones with scrawled sticks and balls and backward C’s. The list goes on and on. Christmas photo cards? From 1994? Come on, really?
I have one friend who has such a busy social calendar, you can’t even see her refrigerator. If it wasn’t for the little ray of light beside the water/ice dispenser, I don’t believe even she could find it. It seems Trisha is personally invited to every shower, christening, blessing of the animals, pig pickin’, hayride, theatre opening, store opening, ground breaking or ship christening within a hundred miles. I don’t know that she attends all these events, but she is sure to remember them, nonetheless, since the blaze of colors, letters and symbols flashes before her sleepy eyes every morning, when fixing coffee.
For me, finding the magnets in the first place is a very serious endeavor, and most have a story behind them: I’ve bought magnets on vacations in the Bahamas (oh really, who hasn’t?). I’ve been given block magnets of fancy A’s, for Ann, with the FROU black-striped and hot-pink-bow background. Cute! I’ve bought magnets with our daughter’s names, Kelly and Katie, each letter spelled out. Actually, the grands, Madison and Carly, love to rearrange them. KLY. ATK. One of my favorite magnets is of Lucy Ricardo, laughing, chin upturned, wearing a chef’s hat, chocolate smeared everywhere, with Ricky licking her face. You gotta love her! And since I’m often nicknamed Lucy for the same erratic, crazy-but-not-dangerous behavior, I get it. Plus, even though I call Russell Hub-Russ, Ricky is just as accurate.
But every now and then, I know it’s time to de-post and re-post my refrigerator magnet stuff. Standing there, I stop and pause, peruse and ponder, because if I don’t clean the refrigerator door (not the inside area, that’s done, like, never), soon I won’t even find the door handle to open it, though on second thought, that would be great for my diet. What stays? What goes? Our daughter, Katie’s weekly calendar, which hasn’t been updated since January? Yeah, that goes. A reminder for a dental visit last November? Out! Scraps of paper with scrawled phone numbers, passwords or directions. Bye! If in doubt, throw it out!
And on and on it goes. I no sooner remove the old stuff, “out with the old”, than the new stuff “in with the new” appears. It’s a game, really. Most days I don’t give this a second thought, BUT, if I happen to be in one of my aseptic, aesthetic, non-apologetic cleaning modes, there’s no telling what I might do. Here’s the thing: Rarely do I throw anything out, (for good): last summer’s bridal shower invitation for my niece, Lindsay, a favorite quote surrounded by beach and sailboats, the program for my play in 2004, in Georgetown, “Life Is Short.” Instead, I gather it all up, one by one, and seal it in a Ziploc bag until another day. But then I hesitate, pulling at least one back out: The cocktail napkin with the sexy blonde, saying, “high maintenance doesn’t BEGIN to cover it.”
One magnet that has literally stood the test of time—over twenty years, in fact—was made by Katie when she was in kindergarten. In fact, it’s so special that it stands alone with no need for competition or distraction placed under it. It’s a rather crude wooden heart, painted pink though now faded, which reads, simply, “I Love You, Katie.” And that’s one reminder I never want to forget.
Thursday, 08 April 2010
Sasee, Myrtle Beach, SC
April is a special month for hub-Russ and I, as our wedding anniversary is April 6. But this year, it’s bigger and better than ever as we celebrate 30 years of wedded bliss and an upcoming trip to a “British overseas territory in the North Atlantic,” as one source describes.
I thought long and hard about the best way to celebrate our upcoming milestone anniversary. The choices ranged from (jointly) a cruise to a far away island, a retreat at a mountaintop B&B or an all-day spa for couples; and (individually), a Bose sound system for me and new golf clubs for him. After spending countless hours on the Internet, I presented my pick to Russell: a cruise to Bermuda on the Royal Caribbean cruise line. We’ve cruised to the Bahamas four times, so I liked the thought of a new place. Plus, we would embark at Norfolk, thus avoiding the long drive to Port Canaveral that we’ve made in years past. And that’s another plus: a new cruise line for us, because we’ve cruised Carnival in the past. I know he must really love me to agree to this because his first choice was a trip to Scotland, home of golf – his much adored sport, and a dream he’s had since I’ve known him.
But, I’ve felt like I needed a “do-over” cruise for four years now. Our last one found me sick with a case of Norovirus. Out of the seven days, I was sick five and quarantined for forty-eight hours. Thank goodness our daughter, Katie, was with us then; or Russell would’ve had to go alone for dining, Broadway shows and shore excursions.
Though I write humor, I can tell you that for us, the secret to a happy marriage is balance. (And since we are polar opposites, sometimes that’s easy and other times, it’s flat out impossible.) Russell’s take on a happy marriage is this; and it’s a story he heard a while back: At his wedding, a young groom asked an old man, “What is the secret to a happy marriage?” The old man said, “You can be right, or you can be happy. But you can’t be both.” I guess the old man knew his place. But we both know our place too – and it’s called Home Sweet Home. Just to make sure you understand Russell’s dilemma and my angst, I’ve listed a few “problems” we’ve encountered.
I once hit his car in our own driveway on the way to a Southern Living Christmas Show in Charlotte. And no, he didn’t press charges.
He once stopped so I could pick wild flowers – Queen Anne’s lace, if you must know – then found big fat ticks crawling in his lap and around the car.
I’ve drug him not once, not twice, but many times to our annual “four day Morris family reunion” with 21 people under one roof. NOW we’re talking real drama!
I once used supper club as an excuse to renovate our home, ending with a carpet purchase of $2,500.
Russell loves to say, “Girl! You ain’t right!” I remind him I wasn’t right when he married me thirty years ago, but I was doing the best I could. Joke! Kidding! (Not really!)
I should’ve known when I began writing, nearly twenty years ago, that my best writing would be about Russell. The guy is hysterically funny! People actually stop me on the street and ask about him.
I should’ve known when I began writing, nearly twenty years ago, that my best writing would be about Russell. The guy is hysterically funny! People actually stop me on the street and ask about him. Not about me, but about him! If we ever go to a party or an event, when I go to introduce him, folks say, “Oh! I know all about YOU! I’ve read Ann’s books.” He’s a celebrity in his own right; unlike me, “a legend in my own mind,” which Russell accuses me of.
Russell is deadpan serious, cynical and sarcastic. You never know when he’ll come up with one of his “Russellisms,” and, believe me, there’s plenty. I think if my mother ever had to choose between us, she would pick Russell, hands down. In her book, he’s that entertaining. He is my sidekick, my straight man and my centering force. He keeps me from falling off a cliff (metaphorically) or going into a tizzy, being the Drama Queen that I am. He slows down my impatient, hurry-up and get-it-done-yesterday self. He is my George Burns, and I am his Gracie. He is my Roy Rogers, and I am his Dale Evans. He is my Desi, and I am his Lucy. He is the glass half empty (for sure, pessimist that he is). On the other hand, I am the glass totally full, running over – make that Dom Perignon – rung up on a charge card that is maxed out. In other words, we really do balance each other out: When he’s driving 45 mph and the sign up ahead says, 55 mph, I beg him to “speed up,” but he won’t, “not until my car passes the sign. That’s the law,” he says. Argh! But I’ll never stop begging. And when he hangs curtain rods (or pictures) but first carefully measures for the exact center within a hundredth of an inch, I grab the hammer and say, “Oh! Just go for it!”
When we got married, the minister said, “Do you take this woman for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, till death do you part?” Russell picked “better” and “health.” He thought it was multiple choice. That should have clued him in right there of what was to come. When we moved into our first home together, I needed a whole closet just for MY shoes. He swore he counted fifty pairs, but he was so wrong. It was fifty-seven. Even now, in our little bungalow patio home, my clothes and shoes take up 4/5 (I measured the closet) and he is down to one Closet Maid rod with three, one-foot shelves for shoes. Five years ago, on April 6, when I asked Russell what it felt like to be married twenty-five years to me, he simply said, “Like I’ve served half of my sentence.” I wonder what he’ll say this year.
For every shortcoming I’ve had, he’s tried to solve it, bless his heart. For instance, Russell is now a Dave Ramsey “Financial Peace University” facilitator. He even made me (okay – I volunteered) take the class. Everything was fine until ole Dave told us we had to cut up our credit cards. Ouch, that hurt! But that’s okay: I came home, cut them up and made pocketbooks out of them, which I now sell at Blue Moon Gift Shops in Wilmington. I am getting better with my spending, though. I definitely don’t own a charge card. Also, I definitely pay cash if I’m trying to hide a moderate purchase from him. I say moderate because I know hub-Russ will probably read this. After I pay cash, I hide the item for, say, a week or two. Then when I put on those new shiny red flats (that I bought today) and he says, “Are those new?” I can honestly answer, “Nah, I’ve had ‘em a while.” Well, what can I say? I needed some cute little red shoes to go with my new/old (I’ll never tell) black-and-white party dress, with the red sash, for our cruise!
Friday, 02 April 2010
The newest male in my life can be described as a handsome, blond, short-haired, long-legged 66 lb. puppy. It’s true. I have fallen in love with a furry animal named Gustopher Francis Poop Van Winkle, or Gus, for short. He has the MOST adorable face with a dark snout and eyebrows, especially the one Rhett Butler-like (raised) eyebrow. This one-year old fellow has completely taken over my life and my good sense. Those of you that know me KNOW I don’t do animals: no pets for this family, no sir. No dogs, cats, gerbils, goldfish, hamsters or anything that I have to be responsible for. Nothing that I have to feed. Nothing that I have to take for daily walks. Nothing that I have to take to the doctor (albeit veterinarian) for shots, sickness or surgery. Nothing that I have to take outdoors for potty breaks. And nothing that I have to train. Period.
In that respect, my life remains the same because Gus it not my dog. I don’t own him, but lately he seems to be owning me! Gus is our daughter, Katie’s, boyfriend’s dog. Michael and Gus are a package deal and it became clear early on that you couldn’t have one without the other. In fact, soon after it became apparent that Katie and Michael were in love, he actually asked her, “Katie, when did you first know that you’d fallen in love with Gus?”
With apologies to all of my friends that have pets, I stand corrected. Forgive my past apathetic attitude. Pets aren’t all bad. Sure, they slobber, they whine, they bark (I’ll NEVER get used to that!), they make a mess and they tear things up. But I now know what people mean by “unconditional love” when it comes to pets. I don’t care how bad your day has been, how much your house needs cleaning or how stressed out you are, he will still wag his tail when you come through that door, sit or stand there for you to pet him and lay at your feet when you get settled in. Gus is no different. I actually (don’t tell anyone) miss him when I go four to five days without his visiting. I say to Katie, “Tell Michael to bring Gus over. I miss him!” And he usually does.
There’s been a lot of firsts with Gus and me. The first time I spent a few hours with him was at the beach. I watched him run and chase the waves, the birds and the fish. The first time he came to our house, I (still being a non-animal lover) simply petted him on our sidewalk, then waved goodbye, as they drove off. But the first time he came inside our house: OMG! What an experience! He came in wagging his tail, sniffing every inch of air, wall, hardwood floors and furniture, and then (I guess he decided it passed the test) he actually LEAPT like a deer over the back of my overstuffed chair and landed in it. My favorite red chair. Gus sitting in it. Can you picture this? I almost couldn’t. But what did I do? Nothing. I was actually too stunned to do anything. Another first: I bought him a rubber toy and he loved it. Then Christmas rolled around and I bought him; are you ready; a stocking! Then I bought a box of treats so he’d be comfortable and happy when he visits. In the middle of all of this, Russell was just shaking his head, unable to believe the transformation in me.
But the most amazing first was when I accompanied Gus (and Katie and Madison, our 8-year-old granddaughter) to the Doggie Park! Whoa! I have never been so in awe of dogs in my life. We parked, then walked inside a double gate (a precaution to keep the canines from running out into the open; makes sense), and from there I watched a dozen or more dogs play. The sand is deep and the park is vast, but it’s evidently Heaven for Dogs. Sometimes they’d all form a circle and sort of chase each other’s tails, or their own tails, it was hard to say. Then two would pair up and run off and wrestle or gnaw at each other’s necks. Occasionally one would almost look at us as if to say, “Wow! I need a time out.” So he’d go to the water bowl, take a few gulps, then head out to play again.
Naturally, our two granddaughters, Madison and Carly, are the best. But now we have another family member and I’m pretty proud of that too. Yep, this is one grandmother who’s ga-ga over her granddog, Gus!
Ann Ipock “Life Is Short, So Read This Fast!” email@example.com www.annipock.com