Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thoughts For Christmas

Call me old fashioned. It’s okay. I am proud of being old-fashioned when it comes to Christmas. It could also be said that I am stuck in my ways. Again, when it comes to Christmas, I am okay with being labeled as such.

The Christmas holiday has changed so much since I was a child in the 1970s. I often wonder if my parents thought of that in the 1970s. Was Christmas for them in the 1940s different? Have you ever watched a movie that depicts Christmas in the 40s? It looked so magical. The same goes for the 1970s; there was magic in Christmas from baking cookies as a family to decorating the tree as a family to visiting relatives throughout the season.

I am convinced that the very same things that have broken down our society over the past several decades has changed Christmas. I only hope that I can keep it alive the way I remember it within my own circle. So let's look at the changes that really put a curl in my mistletoe, shall we?

The Music - Music is the biggest change about Christmas that affects me. And some of that is attributed to the artists. Plus, I am pretty sure that much of this change is MY fault. You see, I cannot begin to accept the artists these days that perform remakes of Christmas music. I know it is my fault because I might say that I do not like the version of this carol that N’sync did but I like the way that John Anderson did it. Complete bias. I know this. You see, when I grew up listening to great Christmas music by the greats like Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis, Jim Nabors, Doris Day and more, how can you go wrong? These were “my” Christmas carolers. But my children don’t get it and I do get why. Now there have been some great original Christmas music come out over my lifetime but performed by some of my favorite artists so here comes that bias again. But think about some modern pieces that are just so wonderful. Songs like "Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses, "Do They Know It's Christmas" by Band-Aid and try this if you have not heard it, "(It Must've Been Ol') Santa Claus" by Harry Connick, Jr. But really, how many different ways can one stand the same carols being done? If they are definitively different or classy, then maybe they are worthy of a listen but I do not find that the case and I find myself browsing through the CD racks around this time of year looking for new compilations of the good old stuff.

The Programs - like the music, my tastes with television and movies are pretty much the same. Here again, I grew up watching great masterpieces of Christmas such as “Scrooge” with Alastair Sim who, in my humble opinion, is the best ever Ebenezer Scrooge. “It’s A Wonderful Life”, I mean you cannot go wrong with this holiday classic. Even children’s cartoons; “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, A Charlie Brown Christmas” and all of the Rankin-Bass productions. These are classics!! I am glad that many of these still air these days. I am more fortunate in that I have many of these on DVD and can watch them all season long should I wish to do so. Again, I am very critical of remakes and reboots but there have been good new original program, and I am not referring to ABC Family originals..bleh. Oops, my bias is showing again.I'm talking about "Polar Express" or "A Christmas Snow". Good original movies that pull at your heart strings and make you just feel good when you watch them. I do not think that we need another remake of "A Christmas Carol".

The Traditions - we come from all nationalities and backgrounds and I am not here to talk about your own traditions as they are very dear to you. But let’s talk about 1970 and 2010 (and forward) as it pertains to radio stations. You know when I was a child growing up, Thanksgiving was the “start” of the holiday season as far as music was concerned. Radio stations might play a carol here and there in the mix but you had to wait until Christmas Eve 6:00 PM for the All-Christmas music marathon to start and it would be like that until 11:59 PM Christmas night. And my butt was parked in from of that AM radio at 6 o’clock to listen to the non-repeating marathon of music to fill my heart with joy and anticipation of what Christmas morning would bring. Now they are going all - Christmas at November FIRST! Five years ago it was Thanksgiving. Some stations started BEFORE Halloween. C’mon people!

How about the commercialization of Christmas. Show of hands, who remembers when nothing was open on Christmas Day? Now everything is open which means someone has to work which means families are broken up on the holiday. If you want to see one reason society is collapsing, look no further than the Christmas season. Black Friday sales are now beginning on November FIRST. Stores that used to open at 5AM or 6AM on Black Friday are opening at 6 and 7 PM on Thanksgiving. “Thanks for dinner, mom. I gotta go get a deal on a TV and an Xbox for the kids”. What is that?! They now have reality TV shows that follow crazy people going Black Friday shopping. I cannot believe my eyes. And one wonders why there are dysfunctional families.

Retailers get a big part of the blame. Why are the Christmas trees and decorations out BEFORE Halloween? Can we get past the current retail groping before moving ahead three holidays? Who is making these decisions? I’d like to send Matt Damon and Ben Affleck to their board meetings (where are my Kevin Smith fans). But I know how to deal with it, I don’t buy into it.  That’s right. I don’t shop on Black Friday. I don’t go to the malls. I’m told there are great deals to be had. Okay, but what if I do not need for anything? No need to go out.I have Amazon and Cyber Monday!

Maybe I am just grumpy. You know what? That’s okay too. Because while you are out there in the hustle and bustle, listening to the same six Christmas songs over and over again while leaving your family behind on Thanksgiving to fist fight your way to a cheap TV or a pair of socks, I’ll be the grumpy old-fashioned man who is set in my ways having a holly jolly time with my family while drinking a glass of eggnog and watching some football while Bing Crosby serenades me in the background with the classic rendition of “White Christmas”. I am good with that. Merry Christmas to All and to All a Goodnight!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Random Thoughts 10/14/2017

Several weeks ago, I decided to take a break from Facebook. This decision came after an argument that was driven by the NFL players utilizing the National Anthem to protest their feelings about injustice and police brutality and so on and so on and so on. 

This argument was not about the protests, this argument was over the fact that I still watched my beloved Philadelphia Eagles despite my anger at the players for disrespecting the National Anthem. Did you catch that? Someone was angry at me for not boycotting the watching of my team. 

I'd like to address three things here. One, this petty argument. Two, the so-called protests and three I want to to discuss social media and what I learned while away from Facebook. 

As to the argument on Facebook. I am proud of the fact that I have the freedom to choose what I do and when I want to do it. So long as I harm no one and I do not break the law, I am free to do things and say things. I have the right to my own opinion as do all of us. Something that we have lost over the years since the birth of "social media" is the ability to respect others. People no longer respect one another's opinions. The way I was raised, you respected people and you earned respect from people. Treat others as you would want to be treated. 

I left the world of talk radio after ten years because it became apparent to me that you could no longer have a rational debate regarding politics and the direction of America or the world without pissing someone off or losing friends. As I stand here making a decision to come back to radio to discuss anything but news and politics, I am learning that no matter what the topic is, there will be haters. 

I have lost friends because I am neither Republican or Democrat; yes you read that correctly. I have lost friends because of my opinions and most recently I lost friends because, since I still watch football, I am disrespecting the flag, the anthem and this great country. Sounds absurd doesn't it? I am in charge of my thoughts and my actions. No one else. 

Now for these protests. I am not going to get into some trap about whether it is right or wrong for them to protest. I will say that I am not allowed to just break out in protest at MY workplace. But I feel like if you really want to make a difference then wouldn't it be better served, if you went out and really did something about it to really make a difference? Hold a rally, mediate town halls so the people can speak openly with police or any other of a hundred things that can be organized that says "hey, I'm making a difference". Because right now, your just being an asshole with you fist in the air or getting on your knees. What does that teach the kids looking up to you? That it's ok to disrespect your country, your employer's time and money? Just wondering...

So I removed myself from Facebook and it felt oh, so good. I almost did not come back. I did continue to hang out on Instagram and Twitter. Instagram, so far, is a pretty safe place to hang out. Mostly people's lives unfolding in picture collages and memes and it's an easy way to stay in touch with minimal discussion. So because of that, also not so much arguing and bickering. 

Twitter is much the opposite and in some respects, it could be worse than Facebook. The disagreements in Twitter far outweigh, in numbers alone, those on Facebook. If you ever want to see haters in action, all you need is a two minute trip to Twitter. It does not matter who you are or what you do. You will be bashed, insulted, humiliated and hated on Twitter. So if Twitter is so bad, why did I hang out there when I got off the Facebook hate train? Because you can't look away. It's like a fatal car wreck. You want to look away and leave but you can't! 

So really, leaving Facebook for a time or forever would make little to no difference. Whether you frequent Twitter, Facebook or any other social media site, one thing stands out; social media is far from being social. Among many other factors, social media has had a hand in the destruction of our social skills and the ability to communicate rationally and socially with our fellow man/woman. No one steps out from behind the keyboard to visit with someone in person or discuss the state of affairs or show pictures or talk about vacations and sports. Hell when that does happen, it turns into spite, anger and all out fighting. 

The next time I need a real vacation from this mess, I'll turn it all off.