Thursday, May 21, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend

It's here at last, Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start to summer. If you're like most people, you'll be doing one of two things: camping or getting together with friends and/or family to do a little grilling and perhaps a little more drinking.

I will actually be doing a bit of both. Teresa, Christopher and I will be camping in eastern Oregon this weekend. While we're in our home away from home, I expect we'll do a little drinking, especially some red wine with some grilled steaks on Saturday. I also plan to try my hand at making some apple cobbler in our dutch oven.

I hope each of you has a wonderful and safe holiday weekend. Whatever you'll be doing this weekend, I hope you will take a few moments to remember the real reason for Memorial Day.

Whether you agreed with the specific policies at the time or not (and I disagreed with many of them), take a moment to honor those who did their duty as it was given to them and in the end paid the ultimate price. Because we as people are sometimes unable or unwilling to understand, accept, or tolerate a point of view that does not agree with our own, others are asked to put themselves in harm's way

Perhaps one day, those we remember on Memorial Day will seem to have come from an almost mythical past, somewhat in the same sense that we now think about the medieval era (the legends of King Arthur, for example). Sadly, though, I feel we are destined to continue to try to resolve our differences on the battlefield and that there will be new names to remember on Memorial Days to come. Would that it were not so.

Monday, May 18, 2009


These days, it seems as if time is folding in upon itself. Since joining Facebook several weeks back I have been able to engage in an electronic form of time travel.

In the last few weeks, I have reconnected, albeit superficially perhaps, with two people I went to college with years ago (32 and 15 years, respectively), another handful of people I worked with in another lifetime when I was in television, a couple of friends I haven't seen or spoken to in more than a decade, and even a couple of family members I last spoke to seven years ago.

As a result of joining Facebook, my past has come careening into my present. Thanks to joining Facebook, I had the opportunity to meet up with a friend from my days living in Alabama, a visit that would not have occurred if not for Facebook.

Now that this time spiral has begun, there seems no end to the potential pieces of my past I might encounter again. Last night, I got a call from my cousin Vince, whom I had not spoken to in nearly seven years. It so happened he was going to be laying over in Boise and wondered if he could stay the night with us.

We had a nice, although short visit before he flew out for home this morning. I was struck by the fact that he sounded the same as he did the last time we talked but looked more like his dad than ever.

Although his visit was not directly connected to my having joined Facebook, it seems that act has set a whole chain of events into motion. I spent years running and hiding from large chunks of my past. Now it seems Facebook has become one of the tools (along with therapy) through I can stop the running and make peace with the more negative aspects of my past and embrace the good pieces that also got left behind. And that's a good thing.

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Little Wordplay

I was coming out of my therapy session on Friday, and I noticed three or four EXIT signs in the space of what seemed like 20 feet. My mind, being twisted the way it is, started to play around with the word.

After seeing the third EXIT sign, I started to read it as "Ex-It," as in the flavor of the month celebrity. We are big believers in celebrity. The vast majority of us kneel at the altar of fame.

I suppose it's always been that way. In the 1920s, the world went wild for Charles Lindbergh after he flew across the Atlantic. These days, we have massive parades for every sports team that wins a championship in its respective league.

Of course, not everyone can be a famous aviator or athlete, but most of us want our moment in the sun, our time in the spotlight. Leave it to television to provide not one but several "solutions."

First, there was the good old game show. Some, like Jeopardy, require some ability or talent. Others, like Let's Make a Deal and The Gong Show, only seemed to require a willingness to throw all human restraint out the window.

Now, with shows like American Idol, people can combine their quest for fame or notoriety with their need for instant gratification, provided they fit the right age demographic and are prepared to fade from public view almost as far as they arrived.

Aside from Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, has any winner or finalist from American Idol shown any staying power? Ruben Studdard is now trying to make a living in touring companies of Broadway shows. What about Clay Aiken and Taylor Hicks? Whither they?

Chances are, those who have fallen so fast will not be back. We live in a society searching so frantically for the Next Big Thing we have no time for "yesterday's news." While we say we like a good comeback story, we seldom allow it to happen.

One notable exception, for better or worse, appears to be Britney Spears. For several years starting in the late 1990s, Britney was definitely "it." Her face and voice (not to mention her lack of attire) were everywhere. Then she spiraled out of control and, if anything, became more famous, because if there is anything we like more than a successful celebrity it is one rushing headlong toward the inevitable train wreck.

Yet, just as things began to quiet down and Britney was moving toward "Ex-It" status, she managed to stage what so far has been a fairly successful comeback. Perhaps it is only a temporary reprieve from "Ex-It" status. If that is in fact the case, she will have plenty of company as an "Ex-It."

Isn't it funny the journey one's mind can take just from looking at a sign.