The Dreaded Double Dip

Today Great Britain published statistics indicating that its economy has slid back into recession, making England the victim of a dreaded “double dip” recession.  Economic officials in the United States are holding their breath and hoping that the American economy doesn’t suffer a similar fate.

“Double dip” recessions are no laughing matter — but we can all use a laugh now and then.  And who can hear the phrase “double dip” without thinking of this classic scene from Seinfeld:

Dancing at Cementos

The last couple of Saturday nights some of us that work and hang out at the Windward Passage (Amy, BJ, Dana and Mark) have been heading across the street to Cementos to enjoy some live music and dancing. Last night one of the guys in our group said that he hasn’t been on the dance floor in almost thirty years and there’s no way we would get him to dance.

Dancing is always fun because you can do your own thing, the swim, the monkee, the shake, the pony, the hitchhike, the mashed potato or the twist to name a few. Of course for most of us guys dancing is not our forte and the women definitely excel in this category.

That is except for one woman, Elaine Benes below getting down to some dubstep. As George describes it “a full body dry heave set to music”. No matter what you do on the dance floor you can rest assured your better than Elaine !

The Inoculatory Pre-Golf Personal Information Exchange

If you are a married man, you’ve probably experienced this scenario.  You and your wife are friends with a couple.  You innocently mention to your lovely bride that you are going to have lunch, or a beer, or play golf with the male member of the couple.  When you return home afterward, your spouse bombards you with questions.  How is Mike’s mother adjusting to the new iron lung?  Has little Elroy accepted the riflery scholarship to Duke?  How is the family dealing with the mysterious, apparently voodoo-related death of the family cat?

You sheepishly admit that you didn’t talk about any of that stuff — or anything else of significance, besides.  And your wife, arms crossed, fixes you with a withering glare of disbelief — causing you to shrivel inwardly with intense embarrassment, realize for the first time the full and tragic extent of your brutish insensitivity, and vow that you will finally become a decent, nurturing member of human society.

Well, we all know the last part doesn’t really happen.  After your wife gives you her amazed reaction, you actually think:  why would I want to talk about any of that stuff that when I’m playing golf?  Still, the encounter with your wife was somewhat unpleasant, and it would be best to avoid similar occasions in the future.  But how?

Here’s a suggestion.  The next time, spend the first five minutes exchanging high-level family information with your friend.  Nessie has been named citizen of the week at the juvenile detention facility!  Sally’s aunt has developed a powerful rash of unknown origin!  The Jones family had a grand time at their bullfighting camp!  Seize on those drab nuggets of personal information and lock them away in the recesses of your brain, because they will be your lifeline when you get home.  Then, turn to more interesting conversational areas — like sports and which episode of Seinfeld was definitive.

At home that night, when your wife asks the inevitable questions, you can retrieve and the casually throw out the stored personal information, perhaps with a little embellishment.  Sure, your wife will have countless detailed follow-up questions that you can’t possibly answer.  Don’t even try.  Just shrug and say that Ken said he didn’t know — and then add, with a hint of sadness, that you sensed that he really didn’t want to talk about it, and you didn’t want to intrude into what might be an area of intense personal concern for him.  Who knows?  Your wife might actually conclude that you are making progress as a human being and now possess more sensitivity than a gnat.

Big Ten, Big Lame

The Big Ten — having ditched decades of tradition by deciding to split into divisions and play a conference championship football game — has decided to make matters worse by giving the divisions the lamest names imaginable.

I am not exaggerating.  One division will be called “Leaders” and the other will be called “Legends.” Seriously, who came up with these names?  Did the Big Ten actually pay some marketing gurus for these ludicrous efforts?  And were the names tested before focus groups of teenage nerds who love Dungeons and Dragons?  Why settle for “Leaders” and “Legends”?  Why not call one division “Ring of Power” and the other “Battleaxe of Gondor”?

The Big Ten Commissioner tried to lessen the excruciating embarrassment by saying that “Legends” refers to the many Heisman Trophy winners and College Football Hall of Fame members from the Big Ten, and “Leaders” recognizes the leadership position of Big Ten schools.  That explanation is the skimpiest fig leaf ever.  It’s obvious that whoever devised these names doesn’t know beans about the Big Ten or its history.  If you have to have a “Leaders” division, wouldn’t one of the teams any knowledgeable person would automatically put in that division be the University of Michigan — whose well-known fight song egotistically refers to the Wolverines as “the leaders and best”?

These pathetic division titles make the Big Ten look like some desperate wannabe that hopes to build its rep through big-sounding names rather than through actual gridiron accomplishment — like the Seinfeld episode where George Costanza tried to encourage people to call him “T Bone.”  C’mon, Big Ten!  Leave such humiliating social-climbing antics to the lesser conferences, like the Big East or the Mountain West.  If you want to be the Big Ten, it’s time to act like it.

Weird Robots And The Japanese Soul

What is it with the Japanese and robots, anyway?  They not only seem to be obsessed by them, they act on their obsessions in very weird ways.

Consider the Youtube clip below.  It shows a “female” Japanese robot known as HRP-4C, pictured at left, singing an annoying song as several young Japanese women frolic around her doing dances from the ’60s.  The robot herself looks like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz from the waist down, like a high-end blow-up doll from the neck up, is wearing what appears to be a yellow shower curtain, and has enormous “man hands” a la Seinfeld.  The robot looks like she could palm a medicine ball or crush an elephant’s skull with those mitts!  To top it off, the robot has a whiny voice and is about as fluid in her dance moves as the robot from Lost in SpaceDanger, Will Robinson!

Somewhere, in some dark, kinky corner of the Japanese soul, there may be an explanation for why a Japanese company would apparently spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop a half-Tin Man, half-humanoid robot with grossly oversized hands and then program it to sing a crappy pop song involving choreography that is a few cuts below Glee — and for that matter an explanation for why a Japanese audience would sit and watch the resulting production.  Let’s just hope we never actually figure out what that explanation is.

Now Comes Scooter Time

Kish and I are in our fifties, and in our daily mail we regularly receive grim reminders of our advancing age, our likely physical and mental infirmity, and our imminent demise.  First it was AARP mailers that came within days of our 50th birthdays, then it was brochures for retirement planning and funeral insurance.  This week, we received information from The SCOOTER Store.

That’s right — it is apparently time for us to consider retreating from the bipedal world and joining the ranks of scooter-bound seniors seen in the classic Seinfeld episode.  The mailing we received urges us to take a “FREE Personal Mobility Assessment” that includes eight questions like “Do you sometimes feel left out by not being able to get together with family and friends?” The cover letter promises to work with Medicare and health insurers and adds:  “What’s really amazing is that you may be able to get a power chair or scooter at little or no cost to you with Medicare and private insurance.”  Even better, if you send in the Personal Mobility Assessment you get a FREE Puzzles and Games booklet!

Does anyone below 50 even receive mail delivered by the U.S. Postal Service anymore?   Most of our daily mail delivery is this kind of ageist claptrap.  Don’t they realize 50-year-olds use email?  And do they really think we 50-year-olds are going to be left trembling with excitement by the offer of a free Puzzles and Games booklet that could jazz up our humdrum existences?  It’s insulting.  What the heck — why not really play to senior stereotypes and offer a free DVD of the first season of Matlock and a Viagra sample if we send in the Personal Mobility Assessment and take that first, tentative step toward scooterdom?

Festivus

For all of us Seinfeld fans December 23rd marks the date that Festivus is celebrated. Festivus was the alternative holiday that Frank Constanza, George’s father created as an alternative holiday to Christmas due to it becoming so commercialized.

George shows his fellow office workers donation cards he made in their names to a fake charity called the “Human Fund” so he would not have to give office Christmas presents. His boss finds out and George makes up the excuse that he made up the “Human Fund” because he feared persecution for his beliefs of not celebrating Chrismas, but celebrating Festivus. George’s boss goes home with him to see Festivus in action. 

The celebration begins with the “Airing of Grievances” which takes place immediately after dinner has been served. It consists of lashing out at others about how they have disappointed you during the past year. Frank says “I got a lot of problems with you people and now you’re gonna hear about it”. 

This is followed by the “Feats of Strength” where the head of household selects one person at the Festivus celebration and challenges that person to a wrestling match. Festivus is not considered over until the head of household is pinned in a wrestling match. 

I was surprised to learn from the internet that the comedy writer who wrote the epsiode actually celebrated Festivus with his family as far back as the 60’s. Here are some questions that Daniel O’keefe, the comedy writer answered on line about his REAL family holiday.