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2015 Summer Wonders #23: Tandem Surfing

This video is burning up Facebook–it’s a summer wonder if I’ve ever seen one.

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Found Photo: Another Summer Photo

I’ve decided we’ll be throwing these summer shots at you until the leaves start to turn–or until I get bored.summer-jams  Looks like this one is a shot from an old surfer flick.

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Funny and/or Strange Photo I Like

Katrina Torres: Pro-Bowl “Streaker”

2014 Pro Bowl

This isn’t a timely post–as usual, I didn’t watch the Pro Bowl, but I read a reference to this young lady the other day and followed up. It’s a fun story, as it turns out–and she wasn’t really streaking, exactly. The best part is that she was all over the field, as quick as liquid mercury–one of those teams ought to hire this girl to return punts–and would probably still be running–and you’ve got to love those chest bumps with the players.

http://msn.foxsports.com/buzzer/story/pro-bowl-streaker-says-she-did-it-for-special-reason-and-deion-sanders-saved-her-012814

Screenshot_3 (2)

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The Weather-Tainment Industry

IMG_0060It’s snowing outside–actually, it’s not–but I could have written that a day ago, or on almost any day in the young year of 2014 as we slog our way through the coldest, snowiest winter in recent memory.  As of Wednesday, Feb 11, we have enjoyed just 2 days with temperatures above freezing, both of which were accompanied by nights in the low twenties, with much of out time spent below 10 F.  This isn’t particularly bitter weather, especially if you’re from–say–Minneapolis or Calgary or Murmansk, nor is it particularly extreme for us, except that it has been nearly constant ever since the spooky night of our Christmas Party–December 21, when temperatures climbed through the day and maxed out close to 68 at midnight before crashing hard and fast enough to score a (barely, but still…) coveted White Christmas.

IMG_0054The constancy is what gets us.  I live in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains, in northern Appalachia, at the eastern edge of the American mid-west.  Geographically, we’re often grouped as part of the Middle Atlantic States–although it takes me a 6 hour drive to smell saltwater.  Our weather reflects the best and worst of all these divisions–hot, humid summers, rainy springs and autumns, fierce winters, occasional drought, blizzards blown down over the great lakes from Canada, and every ten years or so a N’or’ Easter storm that blows up from the south and can deliver snow by the foot.  It’s a crapshoot, but the one thing we’ve come to rely on are the respites–a few cold days, maybe a cold week, for example, is usually followed by a minor melt.

IMG_0056This year, it has just been nasty, and I have to admit that for the most part I have enjoyed it. In my selective–and possible masochistic–reckoning this is how all winters are supposed to be, and how they always were: seasons of relentless cold and giant piles of snow.

What I have not enjoyed is rampant commercialism of the weather reporting industry, both nationally and locally.  Teasing important weather-related news, branding weather as an entertainment feature, exaggerating situations to shock and awe patrons, and even running commercials featuring narrative and imagery from past storms to scare potential viewers into watching “news at eleven” newscasts has reached a shameful zenith, and I fear it will only become worse.

IMG_0039The Weather Teases have been around for a while, and they strike me as both the most dangerous and the most important.  It’s as simple as any news tease: an anchor or meteorologist pops up in a commercial and offers up some cryptic tease, often phrased as a question, of information that viewers ought to have earlier.  For example, “Will local roads turn dangerous as temperatures drop?  Find out at eleven!”  If someone has someplace to go, that’s important information being withheld, in the name of drawing viewers.  If the answer is “No, the roads will be fine,” the broadcaster is guilty of being sneaky and deceptive, but I don’t see a potentially dangerous result.  If, on the other hand, those h0015BE3Ddropping temperatures mean ice on the road after an evening of drizzling rain, people need that information–maybe to get where they’re going early, maybe to get kids home before things get worse.  Those TV Talking Heads shouldn’t be teasing between commercials during Wheel of Fortune–they should be telling us the facts, baby, “Look, compadres–it’s been raining, temps are dropping sharply and the winds are picking up.  It’s getting slippery and it’s going to be worse.”

The next one is more of a pet peeve than a cynical, possibly dangerous practice, and that’s the sudden fashion to report “wind chill factors” rather than actual temperatures.  Every boy who ever broke out of his plastic bubble knows it feels colder when the wind blows–but that TV meteorologist, who used to do traffic on a local FM station–ahem–will have a much easier time holding your attention if he skips telling you about the actual 20 degrees thermometers read in favor of a hyperbolic windchill of +3 degrees–wind chill factor. That sure makes us sit up straight in our seats, eh?  So cynical.

Next up, this is for you, Weather Channel.  If you haven’t noticed, The Weather Channel recently began a policy of naming winter storms, you know, like they name hurricanes, and then copywriting those names.  Though it hasn’t worked out very well (the idea has failed to resonate with audiences, i.e. nobody gives a damn), one can see why they would try this.  People love that hurricane thing–especially when particularly fierce storms turn out to have the same names as our ex lovers and in-laws–damned right Isabelle tore a path of death and destruction through the Dominican Republic; they should see what she did to my heart!  Folks also got a big charge a couple of years ago when a modest storm dumped a bunch of snow on Washington, DC and the media pinned the headline “SNOWMAGEDDON” over the whole thing, as if frozen zombie corpses were roamng the streets of the capitol while Jesus lifted all the pure, clean snowmen into heaven–a gross over-reaction by any accounting, but a perfect precedent for potentially profitable pandering to the public during future storms–and using the hurricane model (copywritten!) releases the dullards from actually having to cook up another catchy name…where do you go from there?  Snowzilla?  The Snow Ness Monster?  The Snow Death?  Snowsquatch?  It thrills me to no end that this marketing plan has been met with complete and total indifference by American consumers.  This year they came up with “The Polar Vortex” which doesn’t sound that monstrous, but certainly has the appropriate ring of a 1950’s science fiction thriller.

Of course I’m making a hopeless argument that few folks care enough to support–most people are sane enough, and restrained enough, to simply ignore this crap, like it’s background static, and get on with their lives.  Not me.  I have to complain about it–but I always believe the ticket to a good bitch-and-moan is a viable alternative to the status quo–and this one is easy: stop reporting weather and news in general as a marketing tactic–stop the “there’s a bad man in a neighborhood that any minute now is going to kick in a door and kill everyone inside–details at 11pm.”  That might have worked before the internet, but when I’m watching TV and the talking head comes on and says “a severe ice storm is bearing down on the region–find out where it will hit the worse at eleven” I’m not waiting until eleven-damned-o’clock to find out if I’m doomed.  I’m headed straight to the internet.  TV stations are going to learn or continue to lose viewers.  As for the storm names: guys, just stop it.  You’re embarrassing yourselves.

Inappropriate, extraneous, irrelavant, possibly sexist, definitely superfluous winter bonus: I did an image search looking for an illustration of a broadcaster with “details at eleven” and, oddly enough, the first picture through the filter was the one below.  Score.

g-travel-us-hawaii-oahu-honolulu-waikiki-girl-1983

 

 

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Belated Congratulations: Hawaii, Illinois and….

art.same.sex.marriage.gi

Hawaii and Illinois recently moved on legislation that will make them the 15th and 16th states to end discrimination against same-sex couples who wish to marry.  To them I say, “congratulations–it’s about damn time.”

I’ve mentioned before that I didn’t wish politics to intrude too heavily on this blog–not that I’m shy about my views, which pretty much amount to conservatives thinking I’m a godless liberal, and liberals thinking I’m some sort of–well, they don’t know–like a Kraken or something, a beast from the deep eager to eat up (sacred) cows and the village children whole and raw.  The thing is, marriage shouldn’t be a political topic. It’s a human thing.  We live in times of war, violence, and hatred across so many lines–social, ethnic, religious, political–who are we to deny the full measure of whatever love others might squeeze from our shriveled husk of a society?

For half of my life I didn’t give much thought to homophobia beyond a sort of smug, thoughtless disdain, but a series of acquaintances with gay folks gave me pause to consider their lives beyond the general.  I don’t know what I expected, but I quickly realized that most of their lives were exactly like mine, except for the part where a small but loud segment of the population despised them for no other reason than who they happened to love.

And that made a lot of sense?

One day I asked a friend of mine what she thought about the whole “homosexuality is a lifestyle choice” argument that was then the rant du jour of conservatives, particularly Christians.  She laughed bitterly, “the last time I went home, my parents prayed for me to find my way back from sin. At the dinner table. In high school I was Most Likely To Succeed and Valedictorian, now I’m the lesbian.  People point at me in the grocery store.  If I took someone I loved back there, it might not be safe to walk down the street holding hands.  She surely wouldn’t be welcome in my parents’ home.  I’m not ashamed about who I am, but there are times when I feel like I was seeded at the back of the pack, you know?  That’s nature–but would I choose it?  Are you kidding? I envy straight people, you put your arm around your girlfriend and walk down the street and everyone smiles and thinks: ah, young love!  How sweet!  I get obscene and demeaning catcalls and McDonald’s milkshakes thrown at me.”

phyllis-lyon-and-del-martin-in-2004This shot of the wedding of  Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin is one of my favorite pictures, not only because deep beneath my scaly, misanthropic crust I’m a romantic who cries at the end of Miracle on 34th Street and Love, Actually every god-damned Christmas, but because–hell, I don’t even need to say it.  Look at the way they look at each other!

And yet, by conservative ideology, these two are a grave threat to “traditional” marriage–like the three sacred, holy matrimonies Newt Gingrich has enjoyed.  Now, I can’t speak for those conservatives, but my wife and I aren’t afraid our marriage will be undermined by a GAY MARRIAGE OPPONENT HOLDS SIGN IN PROTEST OUTSIDE STATEHOUSEcouple of old women with matching rings.  I’m not even afraid of those leather people at the Folsom Street Fair.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I live in rural Pennsylvania and had to look that up on google–but doesn’t the reference make me sound, I dunno, uh, worldly?) I am, however afraid of this guy to the right, mostly because he reminds me a lot of what I’ve heard from these guys:

kkk

They thought God was on their side, too.  In fact, here are some quotes for you:

“Nature’s law, which is a creation of YAHWEH, dictates that kind reproduce after kind. The different people of the world were never supposed to mix. Even the different animals and species of our world practice natures law of reproduction “Kind after Kind”…

(Our) belief on homosexuality is not homophobic, but like all subjects, it’s based on our biblical beliefs. So what does the bible teach us about these perverted lifestyles. In Leviticus 18:22 we read “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind it is abomination.” Also in Leviticus 20:13 “If a man also lie with mankind as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination, they shall surely be put to death, their blood shall be upon them.” In Deuteronomy 23:17 we read “There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.”.

Its extremely clear what our Father in heaven has to say about homosexuals. Other Old Testament verses on the subject can be found in 1 Kings 14:24 and 15:12, II Kings 23:7, Isaiah 3:9 and Jeremiah 23:14. There are more verses in the Bible on this subject, but I think I have made my point. Some say the New Testament does not address homosexuality at all. So, let us read 1 Corinthians 6:9 “No ye not that the unrightous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind.” Also in Jude 7, Romans 1:22-32 and 1 Timothy 1:10. By the way, for those that don’t know the meaning of the word effeminate it means a man that takes on the characteristics of a woman.

So, as you can see, if any Judeo-Christian minister does not preach against homosexuality, he is a liar and a deceiver. Homosexuality, like a cancer, must be cut out of our society or it will grow until it kills the body, like a cancer. This is not the words of (this essay), this is the word of Yahweh.”

Sound familiar?  I hope not, because it is lifted directly from a KKK propaganda tract–though I just read some very similar words from a Baptist minister whose church is 10 minutes from my doorstep.

So, with that in mind, to the remaining states, I say:  Who’s Got Next?