Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Prime Time Pornography

I made the mistake of tuning into CBS for distraction the other day when I walked on the treadmill due to bad weather outside. I should have known better, as I had seen bits and pieces of their Monday night line-up before when looking for something to watch and was not impressed with those shows. This time, however, after I heard the first couple of vulgar comments-I refuse to call them jokes since there was nothing funny about them- I wondered if the writing could get much more offensive. Well, yes, it could. And did.

As I write this, I am having a hard time finding the words to explain how the content of these shows made me feel. I find some situations funny that other people don’t, I know that styles of humor have changed over the years, and I know that humor is in the eye of the beholder and all that, but this so-called humor was so disheartening to me, so demoralizing, so crass, crude, and disgusting,  I simply could not let it pass without taking a stand against it. The problem with taking a stand is that I will risk offending some of my readers. It also means that to prove my point, I have to  know what I am talking about, which means I had to watch more of this kind of garbage for evidence.  And there was plenty of it to gather.

Dear readers, at this point I have to warn you that the next paragraph gets rather graphic, so you may want to take my word for it that the content in these shows was grossly unacceptable and skip on down to the next paragraph. Logical  and effective criticism requires proof,  so here we go:

In disbelief and dismay, I watched the rest of “Two and a Half Men,” followed by “Two Broke Girls,” and “Mike and Molly,” all within the time frame of what is considered prime time viewing when kids will most likely be watching  and when, I would think, the best writing should be showcased to bring in the most viewers. Apparently not. What I heard was several references to oral sex (Really? This is suitable prime time storyline?), followed by a scene of oral sex being administered in a car while the car zig-zagged all over the road, several references to warm milk and masturbation, emailing pictures of your male “junk” to girls on their phones and ways to make it all look bigger, the mothers of two characters having a lesbian encounter, one mother boasting that she made it from one coast to the other with the clothes on her back and a tube of lubricant, and there was much more, but you get the idea.

I used to have a poster in my classroom that said, “Use good judgment, good taste, and good manners.” I always tried to impress upon my students that if they were ever in doubt as to an action to take, if they would apply one or all of those three concepts to their possible response,  they would make the right choice. Heavens, just good manners alone would rule out all the things I saw that night on TV as suitable to show to mixed company and all ages.  I know all the things I saw as inappropriate in these TV show exist, but that doesn’t make them acceptable in public situations. My husband used to watch ‘Two and a Half Men” when it first came on, and as time passed and the show sank to new lows, even he, who has worked construction, been in the army, and has heard all the four-letter words, found it embarrassing and quit watching. We have enjoyed early  “Big Bang Theory” episodes, but even it has become more and more saturated with sexual situations or remarks that really don’t enrich  the story. And the trouble is, CBS is not the only offender; the other networks have obscene programs, too.

I am definitely not a prude, and I don’t advocate going back to the early days of television where married couples were only allowed to have twin beds.  Sex is a part of life, but goodness, sex could be targeted in much more appropriate ways in these shows.  But life is full of every day situations and dilemmas  that could be used as the subjects of sitcoms. Shows like “Frazier,” “Cheers,” “Wings,” “The Cosby Show,” even rule-breakers like “All in the Family” were about real life and were actually funny, and when the subject of sex came up, they didn’t resort to the vulgarity writers seem to think they have to inflict on us today.

I watch the ads for some of the current movies, and without even seeing the whole movie,  I know that things aren’t much better on the big screen. I can’t help but wonder, is life imitating entertainment, or is entertainment-and I use the term loosely- influencing life? Another sad aspect of all this is the fact that people out there actually choose to watch this stuff and think it’s funny.  What does that say about the average intelligence, manners, morals, and taste of our American public?

I’ll not watch these shows again. My TV has an on-off button and a channel-changer, and I have books to read and other things to do next time I am faced with nothing worthwhile to watch on TV. And I can brave the bad weather and walk outside rather than on the treadmill when there is nothing worth my attention on TV. But what else can we do? I don’t know who these people are who get to be counted in the Nielsen Rating systems that keep a record of programs watched or how it is that the shows get their popularity ratings. Maybe the networks just make that up. All I know to do is not watch offending shows, write the networks, and/or boycott the sponsors-which means you have to watch to see whose ads are running, but I guess it could be done with the mute button on.

I know it’s a free country. Some of you may think the shows I find offensive are funny, but some of this trash is just not right. At the very least, it should be shown after hours, and surely the subject could be approached with more style and class than sitcoms employ now.

The trouble is, I don’t seeing things getting any better in the future.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Nature’s First Green Really is Gold


Now don’t panic-I’m not putting you through an English lesson on poetry-and we could look at this one on several levels, but Robert Frost said it best when he wrote “Nature’s first green is gold/Her hardest hue to hold.” We drove down to the Texas Hill Country for our Spring Break respite and were rewarded with all shades of green to compliment the emerging wildflowers.




I love the bluebonnets and all the other colors of the rainbow that come out in the Spring, but I think it is the crisp, bright greens that I notice first. Up here the mesquite trees with their bright yellow green are what stand out against the brown of everything else as they leaf out. Down south the mesquites are joined by other trees and lush bright green grass as a backdrop for all the color of the flowers.


And it is all so seductive! The temptation is to take a picture as you cruise over the top of every hill, turn every corner, as it seems that every new patch of flowers is even better than the last. So, naturally, I take too many pictures and could bore you silly with all of them. But I have picked some of my favorites to share with you.


The weather was overcast for most of the visit, which sometimes wreaked havoc with the best light for optimum color, but sometimes it created a nice contrast, like I think it did for this picture.


How about Texas longhorns (not the orange kind, however-Whoop!) in Texas bluebonnets?


Most everyone who makes a bluebonnet trip feels compelled to plop the kids down in a good stand of blue for the obligatory bluebonnet picture. We didn’t have any kids to inflict this ritual on, so Mari got to pose for us. And let me tell you, posing a baby is a piece of cake compared to coaxing this dog into just the right spot, facing just the right way, standing just so for her portrait. After this shot, she wandered off to explore and took an unexpected swim when she slid down the bank into this stock tank trying to get a drink of water.


IMG_6993Note the white bluebonnet in the center. Texas A&M has developed a maroon bluebonnet, but I had not seen a white one before.

IMG_7013I didn’t really want the fire hydrant in the picture, but it blends in quite nicely since it is painted blue and red to match the flowers, and I have to think the color scheme was no accident.

IMG_7024Redbuds were also pretty on this trip. This one was in a yard, but the wild ones are equally colorful.







IMG_6874The yuccas were also in bloom. These are called Spanish bayonets, I think, and they are huge and add a nice contrast to the colors in the wildflowers.


Wisteria was blooming all over the place, too, like this one in Johnson City and this big one that had taken over the treetops.





Just as Frost reminds us at the end of the poem that “Nothing gold can stay,” be it the innocence and beauty of one’s youth or the bright green of Spring, savor the color while you can. Its gold is fleeting. Timing is everything.


Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf’s a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

Robert Frost, 1923

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dreary Saturday Blues


Pity Party Central here. B.B. King is wailing about the “Stormy Monday Blues,”  and as much as I like B.B. King, Bobby Bland does that particular song better. The sky is overcast and gray, as it has been for several days,  the wind is still blowing, the temperature is 40 damp degrees, and I just finished wading through the March issue of Vogue magazine, just a few pages short of matching the thickness of an unabridged dictionary, lusting after gorgeous shoes that I can’t afford, have no place to wear, and would feel foolish clomping about in anyway, reading about the rich and famous, cynically yet enviously reading articles written by people who seem to have such insight and worldly understanding of the human condition, not to mention smooth writing skills and good vocabulary, all the while wondering if their lives really are any more meaningful than mine.


So Mari and I wander outside in the mist in an attempt to shake our cabin fever and hope we can find answers to the meaning of life.

I had to admit the gloomy weather at least brought a modicum of moisture that we severely need. And the rocks are actually prettier when they are wet from the drizzle.



I also realize that I am much more at home clomping around in my tennis shoes taking pictures with my canine companion than I would be tottering around in overpriced heels at some vapid society social trying to think up something philosophical to say to some plastic person I had just met.


And then, there it was, peering at us quietly through the gray fog, a sign that, indeed, things would get better. A bunch of yellow daffodils had managed to bloom despite the wind and cold and drought.

We came back into a warm house to all the comforts we could possibly want and more probably than we needed, and it hit me that I was, like most of us, pretty much where I am supposed to be, and have been doing pretty much what I was meant to be doing all along.

Now it was Etta James singing the blues, and like what happens in most cases when listening to the blues, the blues seem to float away on the notes someone else sings, and contentment takes their place.


And just as sure as that old sun will come up in the morning, I know that things always look better in the sunrise and the promise of a new day.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ben’s Basketball Game

Our neighbors down Highway 84 at Sudan watched their girls’ basketball team, the Nettes, become the Class 1-A state basketball champs. The town was giddy with pride and joy over the team’s accomplishment, as they should have been. But we traveled south last weekend to watch our grandson, Ben, play his last YMCA league game, and we were pretty darn proud, too. We have no idea if his team won or not; they don’t keep score. But what fun!



They don’t do much that comes under the heading of regulation play: the ball is slightly smaller; the goal is lower; boundary lines are pretty much overlooked; fouls are virtually non-existent; time is loosely kept by the ref checking his watch from time to time, and, as I mentioned, no one keeps score. Except all the grandparents. We’re just sure Ben’s team won. I mean, come on- he made most of his baskets.

003 (2)

Ben is number 15. His teammates are six and seven year-olds, and they played eight games together. The high point of his season was when he made six baskets in one game.



They all had fun; they all got to play. They each even received a medal at the end of the game. It may not have been the state championship, but it was to them.


Just wait ‘till next year!