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Friday, June 21, 2013

Embracing the Obvious: Teaching Texting Thru Driver’s Ed

I’m dumbfounded and contrite that it took me so long to finally realize what this country needs to dramatically increase safety on our roads and really make this a better living world for all of us … It was so simple!

Driver’s Ed classes, driving courses, and Motor Vehicle Departments at large need to focus on teaching new—and especially experienced—drivers how to text message efficiently while they’re on the road.

You see, the problem is that people are not fully equipped to text and drive at the same time. Their brains haven’t evolved far enough, nor have they been properly instructed in how to combine the two seemingly disparate acts into one.

You must notice it as often as I do. You’re innocently heading down the road when the oncoming car suddenly starts veering into your lane, looking like they’re going to hit you head on. Then, usually after you’ve had a strong, sour dose of adrenaline internally injected into your nervous system, the oncoming car regains control and jerks back across the yellow line. Needless to say, as the car passes you see that the poor driver is struggling to efficiently text message on their phone-computer-device thing while worrying over bringing their car to the next destination as soon as possible.

While some people will make a fatuous argument that this is a negative result of people combining too many activities into one moment, I say otherwise. This, to me, is really a winning example of American resourcefulness and industry. There are places to go and things to be communicated, and if God has given us the means to do both simultaneously, then it’s our responsibility to get it done.

Yet being such an independent lot, we Americans sometimes fail to seek out the guidance and instruction necessary to take it to the next level. That’s why I believe it should become mandatory for people to receive several hours of practical instruction on how to text message efficiently while driving.

For instance, there are eye coordination practices that make it much less likely to smash your car into an oncoming vehicle. There are numerous abbreviations that could be used to consolidate the content of your message. There are certain sections of roads—certain highway patterns—that just don’t need to be observed as closely as others, such as straightaways and two-lane roads. And, of course—once we’ve massaged the proper dual capabilities into our still-evolving brains—there are mental means by which you can absolutely be concentrating on two things at once, and it just becomes a matter of holding the phone-computer-messaging device a little higher so that it is properly taking up half your line of sight, along with the windscreen.

Of course car companies, computer tracking companies and the government at large have already done such a great service for humanity by installing these large, blue-screen GPS devices atop dashboards. This is great because it gives drivers something else to look at beside the road. This is already a clever opportunity for people to begin learning that they needn’t—heck, they shouldn’t—be wasting all that attention on one thing, like the road around them. Instead, they’re beginning to grasp that part of their attention can be used to watch this little television-like screen, and, of course, another part can certainly be well-spent sending off the myriad messages that have become so vitally important to the betterment of humanity. (For instance, “Hi, how RU?” and “LOL,” to name just a couple.)

Again, the real crime here is that I—a self-centered, somewhat abrasive complainer with new hairs appearing in his ears on a regular basis—should fail you faithful Blah-ugh! readers by not seeing—and fervently advocating for—such an obvious boon to us all much sooner ... and much more fervently. I’m contrite (not to mention gaseous).

I think it’s important to note that new, young drivers will probably need much less instruction on this topic, for their brains are already being bred for this new kind of split-level thinking. It’s the older neurological holdouts, such as myself, who will really need to be retrained. (Fortunately some of us have gained valuable related experiences with writing notes and reading elegant passages in books while we’ve been driving, but we all know it becomes an added skill when bright blue light is added in.)

Please help spread the word about this. Forget everything else I might have told you in the past—I don’t even remember what that might have been, but that’s good—and let’s focus on getting some real tidy legislation passed toward this objective instead.

We need safer roads out there and I’m absolutely convinced this is the only way to get them. It’s a modest proposal, really, if you think about it, and there’s not much else that’s so wrong with the world at this time that we can’t give this some serious attention.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

More Crap About Movies, Me & My Mania

June 19, 2013:  Part of me feels I should be honored that so many people invest their time in reading my Blah-ugh! Another part of me, however, feels many of you should be doing so much more on my behalf, and you're not, so clearly things even out.

So it's June and I'm still not a bride, though I find myself spending more and more time trying on gowns. I understand that weddings are all the rage these days. I can't help but think of a great Dave Berg cartoon wherein a woman is sharing her regrets over some of the text in her wedding ceremony. "I'm going to do it differently next time," she says. Hilarious! ... Whatever happened to Dave Berg anyway? He's probably dead, like so many of us. I think Don Martin's dead too, though I honestly don't really care, having been a dedicated Sergio Aragones man myself.

Which brings me back to The Flintstones. I'm really starting to have a problem with Wilma, who just seems the most incredible B. Did you see the one with the beauty contest, where they're arguing over who has the most beautiful baby? Wilma just flatly says, "Why, of course, anyone can see that Pebbles is much more beautiful." I mean, it's appalling. But then, what's stranger is how fast Betty ultimately forgives her. What the hell's her problem?! I just don't see how that couldn't cloud their relationship forever going forward. Betty is either a blessed forgiving saint, or a nitwit, and I'm starting to suspect the latter.

But I didn't come here to talk about the Flintstones -- or the Rubbles, for that matter. I wanted to share about some films I've recently seen, about the insanity of the human race, and about how badly I'd like to kill my cat. The thing is, however, I won't share about two of those things because, really, I know no one wants to hear about them. All you care about is what I think of movies. That's all I am to you -- a movie buff. A fan in the buff. Why, the implications are downright intrusive, and I am wearing pants as we speak.

I'm not really sure what I'm trying to say here, but a lot of that can be blamed on the cat -- Bob -- who seems to spend a great part of his day dreaming up ways to annoy me. And now, suddenly, he's sitting there all innocent, like we're casual friends and he can just lounge atop the table and pretend he isn't out to destroy me, as so many people and animals are.

But I digress. I wanted to touch on some of my recent film joys and discoveries. I really, really liked Django Revisited, or Unchained, whatever he was. It was Quentin Tarantela's finest hour, and while I found it utterly disturbing for its brutal depiction of slavery -- which I want to make clear at this point, I'm dead set against -- it also had many moments of jovial blood-letting and fun, happy squib explosions. He really did something of a winner, although he of course has to go and ruin it by trying to act in it, which really just annoys us all, though we pretend it doesn't, like the sycophantic scum we are, enabling QT's narcissism and bad acting, pretending we're happy about it, just so he'll like us. Yeesh, you people drive me crazy!

I also saw a pretty good movie with this guy Ryan Gooseling, but I can't remember what it was called. It was about this guy who drove a car and kind of killed people when he wasn't driving. Except then it got kind of stupid because they had to bring this woman into it and she didnt' kill anyone, so I don't really see what the point of her character was.

I may have mentioned seeing Iron Man III, which I loved, because that guy Robert Downey is just great, even though I saw some special feature clip of him on Youtube and he had his shirt off and it was actually kind of disturbing. This, in turn, motivated me to see Iron Man I and II, which I watched in order, and it was great fun, mainly because he kept his shirt on. That's real acting!

I also saw a handful of Marx Brothers movies this week, and let me tell you, if you don't like the Marx Brothers, you're just an idiot and that's all I have to say to you. In fact, if you don't like them -- I mean, if you can't even like Harpo, let alone Groucho -- then I have no use for you or your family, and I'd like you to stop reading this Blah-ugh! immediately. You clearly don't appreciate it on the numerous levels that are required and you're taking up valuable ether space from lunkheads who would be benefitting from reading this crap.

Yes, I hold the Marx Brothers high in my realm of genius. There are so many brilliant moments in their films, I can't even explain them all. If you've never seen one of their movies, I can recommend most of them, although right now I'm feeling a particular fondness for The Big Store, despite all the racial improprieties, A Night in Casablanca, despite the fact that they make fun of Germans, Go West, despite all the racial improprieties, and At the Circus, despite their possible mistreatment of a seal.

Which all reminds me, I still have some chocolate hidden in the kitchen drawer ... Gotta go! Rent "A Night at the Opera" and watch the expression Harpo makes after that cad who whips him scolds him in front of his friends after he passes him the business card, and he looks at the woman standing next to him ... Absolute genius! It is, dare I say, even funnier than this Blah-ugh!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

On The Flintstones (and a Tiny Bit About the Infestation of Pointless PR Schmucks)

June 13, 2013:  Good Morning, Class ... This week we -- (meaning me) -- were  -- (meaning was) -- torn between between writing about why PR people are such uselesss, unnecessary, resource-sucking schmucks whose meaningless purpose in life centers on driving poor, innocent, good-intentioned writers like myself to the point of sour diarrhea with their utterly pointless and time-consuming formalities and importunate moronically self-consumed bullshit ... and writing about The Flintstones. For my own relative peace of mind, I thought it wise to go with The Flintstones.

It's a tad surprising that my Blah-ugh! has, up until now, omitted any Flintstone commentary, for it's a grand show and certainly a vitally important cultural, social and, dare I say, political lynchpin. Yet it's a big world out there. I realized this week that the Blondie (Chris Stein) song "Shayla" deserves an entire entry of its own, for Chris'sake, so with that kind of pedantic focus I'm having to regularly apply, it'll be years before I ever give Steven Spielberg his long-warranted and overdue due.

Anyway, I remain a faithful Flintstones fan, as we probably all do. But that doesn't mean -- like with everything else about me -- there aren't authentic concerns and questions that will probably never be answered. For instance, who was Gerry Johnson and why did she (or he) replace Bea Benederet as the voice of Betty Rubble? Why, in fact, did they stop crediting Benederet in the controversial 3rd Season? What was Wilma's relationship with Boney Hurdle really about (or, for that matter, her history with Rodney the Knife Thrower) And why was I so stupid my entire life as to believe that line in the opening song -- "Through the courtesy of Fred's two feet" -- was "Rudolph, turn and see a place to eat"? (Although, the more I think about it, there really were some valid reasons.)

It's hard to know where to begin writing about a show -- a phenomenon, really -- to which one could devote an entire series of books and perhaps several college courses. The clever use of animals to perform their menial tasks and replace modern automated machines alone is worthy of an essay. (I find it interesting how, even though it was in primitive times, some of the inventions are much more practical than what we have today, such as the turtle jack that will actually lower your car when you tell it to. Of course, some make no sense at all, such as the elephant sprinkler that Barney invents; I mean, how much water can it really hold in its trunk anyway?!)

Where to begin focusing? For one thing, it's fascinating to realize that the great Allan Melvin was one of the regular supporting voices on the show -- something I didn't ever realize until last month! Those of you (cretins) who don't know the name will recognize him not only as the extremely annoying Sam the Butcher from The Brady Bunch, but also Archie Bunker's neighbor and sometimes friend Barney Hefner. (A good trivia question, if nothing else -- Who graced the cast of three of the best and most important TV shows of last century?) I assume you already know that the Great Gazoo was voiced by the great Harvey Korman, who as you must also know did the voice of Carol Burnett.

We just started on the 5th Season last night and it's surprisingly startling how the show demands that you suspend reality going forward. Honestly, I never had a big problem accepting things like the Barney 'Copter (a.k.a. the Flintstone Flyer), Barney's invisibility, or Fred fighting the Bull-osaurus in Rockapulco. But Season Five starts right away with the introduction of Hoppie (the hoparoo -- a much less believable animal than Dino ever was). By the second episode Barney takes Fred to Dr. Len Frankenstone to help restore his sense and, consequently, he switches his personality with, respectively, Dino's, Barney's and ultimately Wilma's. (You probably also remember this episode as including the disturbing oddity of Dr. Dracuslab and his three bats; I mean, come on!)

But I don't want to imply I have a problem with any of this. I don't. It's just surprising to me that a show that was able to establish such a frank believability as a human drama had to, after only four full seasons, resort to such high chicanery. For example, in the rodeo episode, Pebbles suddenly has blue eyes in one scene. I mean, what the hell is that about?! Do they need to, from a dramaturlogical standpoint, establish her obvious love of her daddy by flashing new blue baby eyes? It just seems odd to me, that's all ...

I love The Flintstones, and could spend valuable hours reminiscing about a litany of Flintstone-related moments and experiences -- the spy woman who's "too important to be captured," the gravel-voiced song cameo of Ann Margrock doing "I Ain't Gonna Be Yo Fool," the walk and accompanying jazz music of Perry Gunite walking across the room in the bar to order "Rocks over rocks," Rock Quarry, the extreme oddity of Bam-Bam and Pebbles singing that "Let the Sunshine In" song, Uncle Giggles, "slalom," Wilma as the Happy Housewife singing "Make Your Hubby Happy," Fred's "Pass the poi!" line, "H-E-P-L," The Flintstone Canaries singing the Soft Soap theme on the Hum Along with Herman show, the grissly choking sound the cop makes when Fred tries to drag him through the hole in the wall of his new addition remove that's partially on Barney's property, Grandma Dynamite, Betty as Mrs. O'Lady, the Happy Anniversary song, and of course the cameo by the Beau Brummels, as the Beau Brummelstones, singing their awesome song "Laugh Laugh."

I could go on ... One day I may have to ...