WHY DON’T THEY MAKE MOVIE PREVIEWS FOR OLD PEOPLE???

If you have been to the movies lately, and have come in to the theater at the listed time, you will have been bombarded with 7 or 8 movie previews. This evening, I went to see the move, “Lincoln.” Besides the annoyance of the oldsters in the back arguing with Lincoln, Grant, Mrs. Lincoln and Thaddeus Stevens, they were all appalled by the previews.
In fact, the previews really have ceased saying that the move is appropriate for 13 year olds, 17 year olds and mature audiences. Take a look these days and they will tell you that they are appropriate for certain audiences, whoever they might be.
The previews are often much louder than the regular movie (as it is with ads on TV). Turn that TV down lower, says my wife, as the ad comes on advertising some medication that will cure your flaccid member, but will also raise your blood pressure, cause your teeth to decay faster and will have you bleeding from various orifices. I do turn the TV down and then sit back and wait for my spouse, to tell me that she cannot hear the program.
That’s pretty much the same with the previews. Most mature (and that means old people) folks are not meant to be jumped out by loud explosions, bombs, car chases and other malefactors of loud noises. They are interested in having someone create a preview which encourages them to come to the movie. Even children’s movies are rife with ear splitting music loud caterwauling and 13 year olds wearing inappropriate clothing. Who thinks up these things?
Previews of scary movies are the worst. I love the science fiction horror movie genre. However, if you hit me with dismembered bodies, chainsaws rolling over young women and blood spattered death scenes, you lost me. One of the scariest movies I have ever seen was Diabolique. It had only one scary scene and that was enough. Even the classic Psycho had only one scene of violence and you had to imagine what was happening.
So, movie moguls get out your calm clipboard and see that oldsters are now a plurality of our population and they go to the movies (even in the afternoon) and try and drag us out to see your wares.

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HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU ARE NO LONGER FRIENDS?

As I have reiterated a number of times, as you get older many of your friends pass away, move to God’s waiting rooms in Arizona, Florida or the Carolinas. My brother even lives in North Carolina these days. Some say they can’t stand the northern climate anymore and they can come up and visit. Of course, you are invited to come down anytime at all and revel in the early bird specials and seeing plays and taking courses at the local community college.
How do you know when these people are no longer your friends? My mother was proud to say that she had no friends and she was not kidding. Her childhood “friend” lived just down the block from her and she never visited nor invited her to come over. That was my mother’s choice. It is not mine.
I have been a friend accumulator for most of my life. I have even taken to look up some of my high school friends to see how they are doing. My closest friends are those who I feel can be called in an emergency. Those are few and far between. Those are the rare few who are concerned with your health, know your family, and drop in once in a while. We have a few of those and we treasure them.
One of our friends moved down South to be with his daughter’s family and to be closer to his son (by plane). He spends his winters in the South and his summers at the shore up North. Since his departure from these environs, I have seen him only a few times, once to actually go to his daughter’s wedding down South.
He calls me more than I call him. Yet those phone calls make me feel that he and I are no longer on the same page, nor even in the same book. I ask him about his activities in his new home and he tells me about it all. I have not yet heard him ask me anything about my goings on. That was not what our friendship was like a number of years ago.
I am also regaled with stories of his visit to my city and the people he has seen since he has left. This is not a one-time thing, but a constant series of events that make me wonder why he has not called me or told me that he was in town. Is this a sign that our friendship is on the wane.
I would be sad to think that he has created a new life for himself that does not involve me or my family. However it turns out, I will certainly have some fond memories of our relationship- lots of fun, politics and even religion. He was the one who insisted that I come to Harrisburg to be near him and to join his Temple.
Not sure how to look at this. I don’t think that I would move from here, unless there was a physical necessity. Our daughter has asked us to move closer to her in Washington. It would be very hard to leave the capitol and give up my advocacy for rural people. They can really use the help.

LET’S GET PHYSICAL

I celebrated my the month anniversary of my knee surgery just a few days ago. I am well into my third week of physical activity at Gold’s gym. The nice thing about the gym is that they have something called the Silver Sneakers program. This program dovetails with your health insurance and does not cost anything to join. So, I am in physical activity paradise just a couple blocks from my home.
I have to go three times a week and do some home exercises for my knee on the other days. It is working out beautifully. However, I am still not content to commune with machines that seem to have some sort of hatred for me. I know that they are all good for me, but they have their own ways of doing things that do not jibe with my life force.
Each of the machines has settings for your seat, the weights, and some with two settings for your seat and the angle of your back support. Somehow each time I take out my prepared set of exercise papers, the numbers don’t seem to jibe with my body. For instance, on one of arm exercises, my feet do not stretch out far enough for me to put them on the appropriate foot rest.
The cycling machines have so many gadgets on them (including TVs), that I am not sure whether I am cycling and 74 miles an hour or is that my heart rate. There are cool down periods, emergency lines to stop the machine quickly, dials and button for incline, speed, weight, manual or programming, and many more. I am always happy to know that the machines have not injured or killed me yet.
The last twenty minutes of my routine are spent in a theater setting with treadmills. I can’t really see anything but the movie that they are playing. I can actually get on the treadmill, but the buttons are all darkened. I press as many as I can to get to the speed, the time, and the incline. I push them all till I get some sort of thing going. The movie is a godsend. I don’t think that I could do my twenty minutes without it.
There are many serious people at Gold’s Gym. The bulk uppers are not as interesting as the older people who go from machine to machine lifting 10 or twenty pounds with each sigh or other noise. I feel so much better when I hear them.
I am getting used to the warm fuzzy greeters, the trainers and the other gym operatives. They make me feel as though I belong, even if I feel that I do not.

LET’S SECEDE

Looks like there are some people in this country who believe that their states should secede from the Union. Here I thought that he had a war about that. Poor Mr. Lincoln, he is probably rolling over in his grave. Funny thing, the states where this is happening are mostly the states that tried it before. I am not sure what causes people to behave so irrationally. Is it because they lost the election? Is it something that goes so much deeper?
Let me vote for the latter. Having gotten many facebook messages from our former scholarship students ( not a bunch of them, just a few); I believe that I understand some of this stuff, in part. I believe that the media, of all stripes thought that this would be a very close election and the more right leaning media were sure that Mr. Romney would win. There was so much talk of momentum, getting this guy out of office, that they were shocked when the election was not very close. Mr. McCain got more popular votes than Mr. Romney. Mr.Gingrich has also agreed with this conclusion as has Mr. Scarborough.
What then do you say to people who were so convinced that their person was going to win, when he doesn’t? You should be very angry. There was cheating going on. The vote was suppressed. The electoral system is wrong. Why should all of those minorities get a vote? They were not here as long as we have and 50% of them can’t even speak English.
How about the woman in Arizona who ran her husband down because he did not vote. Mr. Romney won in Arizona despite her husband not fulfilling his obligation. I feel sad for people on both sides of the fence who believe what they have been told by the pundits, pollsters, neighbors and the media. Is there no room for your own thoughts?
I am not blaming the media solely, but they can be very convincing. There is so much malaise in our country because of the economy, that any port in the story gives comfort. When it turns out that you can’t even count on your friends, you start thinking out of the box and come up with irrational plans. How about becoming your own country? That would surely solve many of the problems. Then we would not have to deal with the federal government and we could only deal with our friends.
Sounds good, but for most states other than California, they are too small to become republics and too large to be insane asylums.

POOPY HEAD

Thank goodness the 2012 election cycle is finally over. I am not talking about the one day of voting (or in many cases 8 days and early voting and absentee ballots and provisional ballots).Voting is the simplest of things here in PA. We have a law that has been enjoined that we have to show i.d. We did not have to and nobody asked us. It seems to have been true everywhere.
There are no more robo-calls, wonderful brochures, with great pictures, telling you NOT to vote for the other guy.Can you imagine what that cost to send out? There will be fewer talking head pundits telling you what the real story is, or conversely telling you what’s in their bizarro world. I believe fervently that most of these folks have taken some uppers before they go on the air. They are so hyper, they make me nervous and jumpy and I don’t drink regular coffee.
I no longer have to see advertisements from people with whom I have no acquaintance telling me that they are my friend and that I have to vote for so and so because . . . How about the Hollywood and sports figures who have suddenly become expert in all manners of things from economics to social mores. Where did they train for their expertise? I am kind saddened by the trotting out of minorities on both sides of the fence crowing for their candidates.
How about the loonies, who find the election season to trot out their harebrained stories for us to consider. These stories are best left to the producers of the X-Files, but they make it into the media of all sorts. How about the wingnuts who proved that one of the candidates was the anti-Christ and could prove it by certain portions of both the Old and New Testament. Or, the group that concluded that one of the candidates was of Mexican descent and could not run for president. I wish someone would put all of these things in a book, so that I could burn it in my fireplace.
To cap this craziness, how about one of the political operatives opining that one party made the candidate of the other party look like a poopy head in the media ( no kidding). Get me out of here.

FINALLY SOME SAID IT, “PUBLIC EDUCATION IS DEAD”

I was waiting for some famous person of the correct political and economic persuasion to get up on their hind legs and let fly with the concordat that public education is dead. It happened in the pages of Good Housekeeping magazine.

“I’ve been a First Lady of the State. I have seen what happens to people’s lives if they don’t get a proper education. And we know the answers to that. The charter schools have provided the answers. The teachers’ unions are preventing those things from happening, from bringing real change to our educational system. We need to throw out the system.” (Emphasis, .the author of the article).
Now that we have finally heard it articulated by Ann Romney, we can have no doubt that there is a collection of people in this country that want to destroy, or eventually privatize all of public schools. I am assuming that these people either do not want to or have not seen the studies on charter schools that show they are not successful. That is even truer for cyber charter schools across the country. Guess who started one of the largest cyber schools, how about Bill Bennett, former Secretary of Education under Ronald Reagan. Does any of this make any sense?
Those of you who have never seen the movie, Idiocracy, it is time to see it. It is a world without education, where brains are shunned and the world is in chaos. There are groups of Ayn Randers in our country (by the way she was supported in her declining years by social security, something she really did not believe in), who are true sons and daughters of John Calvin. If you look good, are rich and made it in the world, you must automatically run things.
These sorts of people have made entre into the education world by creating management companies that have contracts with charter school boards and actually run the schools on a day to day basis. They are making hundreds and millions in that endeavor. The reason, then, to get rid of public schools, is to reap the benefits of the billions that we spend on educating our children.
These people have no sense of history, nor do they really care about the overwhelming majority of kids in this country who are now getting a great education in public schools. They even want to take over the successful schools by fiat (with help from state legislatures). Our current Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan is also a charter school freak. His failure in Chicago leads him to believe that with more charter schools (see race to the top) we will achieve even more success that they are having now.
Public education should not be a part of the free market economy. By the way, what is the free market economy anyway? Meanwhile, John Galt is laughing his ass off, while sitting in his small apartment in Carmel, CA, at the neo-shruggies.
I AM ALL OF YOU. YOU NEEDED ME AND I WAS CREATED.
WHEN YOU WERE NEW AND GROWING, YOU SAW IN ME A WAY TO KEEP YOU FREE.
I WAS BORN TO SERVE DEMOCRACY IN ITS TIMES OF TRIUMPH AND DESPAIR.
WHEN ALL OTHERS REFUSED A TASK, YOU ASKED FOR MY HELP. I NEVER REFUSED. I WORKED WITH THE REGUGEES AND OUTCASTS OF THE WORLD TO MAKE THEM KNOWING AND FREE.
I AM MIDWIFE TO GENIUS AND THE NE’ER DO WELL. WHEN THE FIRST STONE IS CAST, I STAND BETWEEEN YOU AND THE REAL TARGETS.
I AM SOMETIMES DEMANDING AND ALWAYS ENLIGHTENING. I AM WRONG FOR SOME AND RIGHT FOR THE MANY. I AM AMERICA AT ITS ZENITH AND IN ITS TURMOIL. I AM PRESIDENT AND PRISONER, MILLIONAIRE AND PAUPER. I AM BUILDINGS AND I AM PEOPLE. I AM DEMOCRACY, BUT NEVER DICTATORSHIP.
I AM PUBLIC EDUCATION. I AM GOOD AND I WORK.

REPORTERS

My experience with newspaper reporters goes back to 1969, when I became human relations coordinator for the Bristol Township schools in Levittown, Pennsylvania. It was my job to work in the communities, both white and black, to forestall racial tensions and stop racial fights within the school district. I could say that I was eminently successful in my two years in that job, but I was not. The tensions cooled when the last of the battlers graduated and either went to college or got a job.
It was during that time that I got to know the reporter who covered the education beat for the Bucks County Courier Times. His name, I do believe, was Mike Renshaw. He was a young man first beginning in reporting and was anxious to get to know the characters in the play called Bristol Township. I can say, without equivocation, that his insights into the situations were accurate and sometimes damning.
To get any story, he would accost many players and piece together what actually did occur. He even interviewed some of the kids and got his insights there. I guess he was young enough to be able to get a feel for the kids and their problems. He let me in on some things that were going on, especially the drug situation in our schools. Yes, he did go out for a drink with us once in a while, but it never seemed to interfere with his objectivity.
My next job in Kutztown introduced me to one of the most fascinating characters that I have ever met, Ade Rolfe Floreen. He was the editor of the local Kutztown Patriot. He was beyond irascible and intrusive. Ade would never believe anyone, unless you could somehow prove what you were saying. He also spent a bunch of time at the Red Velvet Saloon. I must admit that I spent many hours there too, mostly after Rotary meetings.
Ade was a particularly insistent person. Even during those moments when he seemed to be inebriated, he would always ask incisive questions. One afternoon when I was in my office, a messenger delivered a manila envelope filled with a report from the Auditor General’s office detailing the mishandling of money during my predecessor’s tenure. However, the report did not really go into the kind of detail that would have allowed one to understand that.
The auditor general, by chance, was opening a new office in Reading along with a potential Lt. Governor candidate. He handed out the report to all of the reporters, most of whom never checked with me or my office about the contents of the report. There was only one person who was interested enough to call me. Ade Rolfe came to my office early the next morning and asked if he could spend the day going over all of the material in our files related to the auditor general’s report. We certainly could not let him see any confidential documents, but all others were really public.
He marched out of the office at the end of his research and I did not hear from him until his article appeared in the Kutztown Patriot at the end of the week. His article was bombastic. He criticized the auditor general up and down, including the obvious political handling of the report. He went over each of the sections of the report and laid waste to its findings. I wasn’t sure if it did me or the district any good. However, the auditor general asked Ade to apologize. You can guess what Ade said.
The conclusion to the story was that a number of years later, the auditor general was sent to jail for a number of illegal dealings. I am not sure exactly what happened to him after that. The article that Ade wrote must have had some effect on the situation, I never heard from the Auditor General again in Kutztown after that.
In 1982, I got the job as the Executive Director at the Riverview (nee Clarion) Intermediate Unit. I have described Paul Hambke, the editor of the Clarion News to you in an earlier blog. Even though Paul and I have not seen each other in over 20 years, we still communicate with each other and he is a regular reader of this blog.
When I came to Harrisburg in 1992 to pursue our suit against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I was in a whole new newspaper venue. This was the capitol city of Pennsylvania. Stories about education took second fiddle to happenings in the city of Harrisburg and what went on with state government.
I was lucky enough to hook on with a reporter from the Harrisburg Patriot, Jan Murphy. Jan was more of an investigative reporter. She worked on some huge stories, while I have been here. She was very interested in our case, as well as some things that she could get from me as background information.
Some things that she extracted from me related to school finance and who might be the best source for an education or political source. She was also a fount of information for some of the things that I was doing in my new role as a lobbyist for the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools. Once in a while, when she had some space she would quote me. Those always resulted in some phone calls and emails, some good and some not so good.
I find Jan to be as honest as the day is long. She is truly interested in getting the story right and checks with many sources (and she has them) to get her story straight. Unfortunately, as with all newspapers, these are hard times. Jan’s paper puts out only three editions each week. However, they do have a Pennlive website that is on every day. It is through those means that she keeps up to date with her stories.
It’s not like the small towns that I am used to, where you really get to know the reporters and they get to know you. However, there isn’t enough time, or enough bars and saloons in Harrisburg for me to hang out in to meet and get to know all of the reporters.