Sunday, August 30, 2009

Time Is Flying

Today is Sunday, August 30, 2009. That means the day after tomorrow is the first of September. For most of the U.S., school has already started. In fact, school was out for the summer where I live the second week of May and started back on August 10th. It really caught me off guard when I saw ads in July for back-to-school clothes and school supplies. Somehow it just didn't seem right. It was the middle of summer, how could school be starting already? When I was in school [back in the dark ages :)], we attended classes until Memorial Day (observed here in the U.S. on the fourth Monday in May) and didn't return until Labor Day (the first Monday in September). Obviously…times have changed.

And didn't Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday in November in the U.S.) used to be the start of the Christmas shopping season? The Friday following Thanksgiving day the biggest shopping day of the year? And now? It's still the biggest shopping day, but now the stores have already been bathed in Christmas decorations for what seems like weeks. The radio stations start playing Christmas music much earlier than they used to. The Halloween trick-or-treaters have barely cleared the neighborhood streets the night of October 31st and the next morning we see Christmas decorations on the same houses where witches and goblins had reigned supreme the night before.

Then there's the larger scale of time. Wasn't it just a couple of years ago that we were celebrating the Millennium? How many of you watched at least some of the live television coverage of the year 2000 being ushered in from various countries around the world in different time zones through spectacular visual extravaganzas? And there was also the fear of Y2K when everything remotely computer related would suddenly stop functioning and bring the entire world to a halt one little second after 11:59:59pm on December 31, 1999.

And finally we come to the most dreaded acceleration of time. I'm not sure exactly when it started, but for several years now my birthday has come around quicker and quicker. I thought I had only one birthday month per year among the other months. Therefore, only one birthday per year. But now…well it seems like my birthday month is rolling around every seven or eight months. I swear my last birthday was only six months after my previous birthday. Bad enough getting older, but does it need to happen so often? And so quickly?

I'm sure there must be some type of scientific explanation for this phenomenon, but is there any way of stopping it. At least the escalating birthday part. :)

Am I alone in this? Do any of you have the sensation that time is speeding up, especially the turning another year older part?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

America's Least Favorite Foods

A couple of weeks ago AOL posted the results of a poll where members were asked about their least favorite foods. Over 78,000 people participated in this survey. The top twenty disliked foods were determined not only by number of responders who mentioned the food, but also the vitriolic content of their comments. I'm listing the top twenty foods along with comments from the poll.

How many of these are on your list of least favorite foods?

20) Blueberries – "Blueberries taste a little like aluminum to me."

19) Maple Syrup – "Just a whiff of maple syrup and I get nauseous."

18) Cilantro – "Just the smell and taste make me ill."

17) Onions – "Raw onions. Yuck. Yuck. Yuck.,"

16) Cooked Carrots – "Raw is fine, but cooked should be illegal."

15) Raisins – "Raisins cooked into a dish remind me of roaches from my old apartment."

14) Peas – "They smell like somebody who hasn't had a bath for a week."

13) Oysters – "Anything chewy that never breaks down like clams or oysters, yuck!"

12) Pea Soup – "Blechh! Split pea soup makes me gag."

11) Sour Cream – "It's like expired chunky milk, I have to hold my nose and look away."

10) Gelatin – "I can't stand to eat Jell-O with the way it wiggles around in my mouth."

09) Tuna – "The smell of it makes me sick."

08) Brussels Sprouts – "Nasty tasting things, but when you eat them cold after having been overcooked, they're even worse."

07) Beets – "They look like they'd be good, but the taste is just vile."

06) Okra – "Okra releases a funky slime when not fried, smells like a gym locker, too."

05) Eggs – "I can't get a hard boiled egg down. The yolk is no problem, but the consistency of the white part makes me turn green."

04) Mushrooms – "Mushrooms taste like dirt."

03) Mayonnaise – "Mayo is the most disgusting substance on the face of this earth. It reeks."

02) Lima Beans – "Lima beans are evil."

01) Liver – "Just the smell of fried liver can make me have an autonomous near-hurl."

Some of the items on this list of twenty least favorite foods came as a surprise to me while others were expected. The one thing I found very interesting was how many times a poll responder gave smell as the reason for the food choice (eight of the top twenty). Smell does directly impact our sense of taste. If we hold our breath (or hold our noses) when putting a bite of food in our mouths, it doesn't have much of a taste without the smell. When you're sick or have a bad cold and your nose is stuffed up, you might try to eat but you find that the food doesn't have a taste.

I do want to point out that not even a hint of chocolate appeared on the list. And for that matter, wine wasn't on the list either. That means my favorite foods are safe! :)

What are your favorite and least favorite foods?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Phobias For The Twenty-First Century

Phobias…those irrational fears of just about anything you can think of. Most of them have been out there for centuries. Some of them have been handed down through families.

But like so many other things, the twenty-first century has brought us a whole new collection of things that provide irrational fears.

Nomophobia is the fear of not having cell phone contact, whether it's due to a dead battery or because your network doesn't have coverage where you are. A fate worse than death?

Vidigameaphobia is the fear of video games. This can cover everything from simply being afraid of the games to the fear that the games could come to life. Wait a minute. Come to life? Hmm…maybe I need to buy that Indiana Jones game after all.

Interphobia is exactly what it sounds like…fear of the World Wide Web. Now that's a phobia to avoid at all costs.

Dextrophobia and its counterpart Levophobia offers us a couple of really strange phobias. Dextrophobia is the fear of everything to the right of your body while Levophobia is the fear of everything to the left of your body.

Coulrophobia has actually been around for a long time and is still going strong. It's the fear of clowns. Didn't Stephen King have a clown as one of his evil entities?

Alektorophobia is an extreme fear of live chickens. Maybe the scope of the fear should be expanded to include people who look like Col. Sanders?

Pupaphobia is related to Coulrophobia. They might even be first cousins. It's the fear of puppets. Not sure what you'd call the fear of a clown puppet.

Sesquipedalophobia, as the length of the word suggests, is the fear of very long words. Wouldn't a shorter word be more appropriate?

Cathisophobia is one that those of us working at computers need to avoid at all costs. It's the fear of sitting.

Genuphobia is the fear of knees. That must be really difficult in summer when warm weather clothing means lots of knees sticking out there for anyone to see.

And here's a bonus phobia to carry us through the twenty-first century. This has to be the ultimate fear: Phobophobia. Yep, it's exactly what it sounds like…a fear of fears.

My primary fear is bugs and other creepy crawler things. My fear is totally rational, of course. Do you have any irrational fears (or rational ones) you'd like to share?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sexiest Spies On TV And In The Movies

What is it about spies that sparks our imagination, whether male or female? Sexy ... Exciting ... Dangerous ... Desirable ... Mysterious. They appeal to us on many levels.

TV Guide recently compiled a list of the top fifty sexiest spies on television and in the movies. For the sake of brevity, I'll only list TV Guide's top ten.

10) Daniel Craig (James Bond--movie)
9) Tom Cruise (Ethan Hunt in Mission Impossible--movie)
8) Diana Rigg (Mrs. Peel in The Avengers--television series)
7) Robert Redford (Joe Turner in Three Days of the Condor--movie)
6) Halle Barry (James Bond--movie)
5) Pierce Brosnon (James Bond--movie)
4) Jennifer Garner (Alias--television series)
3) Harrison Ford (Jack Ryan character--movie)
2) Brad Pitt/Angela Jolie (Mr. and Mrs. Smith--movie)
1) Sean Connery (James Bond--movie)

Relating to the entire list of fifty, there are several things I found interesting.

Three different actors made the top fifty list for portraying the same character. Ben Affleck, Alec Baldwin, and Harrison Ford all played Jack Ryan in various movies from Tom Clancy novels.

#28 on the list wasn't an individual, it included the entire cast of the television series Mission Impossible with special mention of Barbara Bain and Greg Morris.

All the James Bond actors made the list except George Lazenby. Timothy Dalton was #45, Roger Moore #27, Daniel Craig #10, Pierce Brosnon #5, and Sean Connery (not a surprise) at #1.

And other characters who were portrayed by different actors in the television series vs. the movie. At #38 we had Ann Hathaway as Agent 99 in the Get Smart movie and at #24 we had Barbara Felton as Agent 99 on the Get Smart television series. At #23 we had Uma Thurman as Emma Peel in The Avengers movie and at #8 we had Diana Rigg as Emma Peel on The Avengers television series. At #22 we had a tie of Robert Conrad and Will Smith portraying James West in the television series and movie of Wild Wild West.

Who are your favorite spies in movies and television? Is it because they're sexy? Because of their bravery? Their cleverness? Their abilities to do their jobs? Let me know.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Television SitComs We Loved

Today I want to talk about some of the old television situation comedies with the great ensemble casts of characters that made us laugh and kept us coming back for more every week.

My cable company carries the TVLand channel with its classic old television series intermingled with TVLand original programming. And there's Nick At Night with its slate of newer sitcoms from the 1990s. One of the other channels I have on my cable is WGN out of Chicago. They have a Sunday evening schedule they refer to as Retro Television. They show several of the old situation comedies from the 1970s and 1980s … those shows with the terrific ensemble casts that never failed to entertain week after week.

Let me be a little more specific here. I'm not talking about the situation comedies where the main characters are the mother, father, and children with the stories revolving around the trials and tribulations of that family unit.

I'm referring to those sitcoms with a diverse group of characters where the circumstances throw them together, usually a work setting. WGN has been airing one of my favorites of this type of sitcom as part of their Retro Sunday night lineup…WKRP In Cincinnati. And then a couple of weeks ago I noticed they had added another favorite, Barney Miller, to their Sunday evening schedule which also currently includes ALF and Newhart.

Fun shows with marvelous performers portraying carefully crafted characters, each of whom could easily carry an individual episode of the series even if they aren't the primary star of the series, characters who each have their own distinct personalities and functions within the group.

Some of these ensemble characters are constantly befuddled and confused such as Mr. Carlson on WKRP. Others are the voice of reason amid periodic moments of chaos such as Barney Miller trying to deal with the many oddballs who file through the squad room of New York's 12th Precinct. And still others are totally outrageous such as WKRP's Dr. Johnny Fever. And a special nod to the character of Jennifer Marlow from WKRP, the beautiful sexy blonde who also happens to be highly intelligent and makes no effort to hide that intelligence behind the 'dumb blonde' persona—a refreshing change from the normal characterization of the sexy blonde woman at that time.

So many brilliant sitcoms from the 1970s and 1980s that were very successful thanks to a great ensemble cast portraying non-family members who functioned together week after week. In addition to the above mentioned WKRP in Cincinnati and Barney Miller, some of my favorite ensemble casts from those decades are Night Court (every character a true gem), The Bob Newhart Show (his first series where he played the psychologist), and the incomparable M*A*S*H.

I know there are several great sitcoms from that time frame that I haven't mentioned. What are some of your favorite sitcoms from the 70s and 80s? Let me know which ones you liked and who your favorite character is.