Saturday, November 24, 2007

Shocking Talk: Don Imus

Remember the ‘shock jock’ they fired, and now rehired? Don Imus who has a reputation for being controversial (he wears a cowboy hat and lives in Manhattan for crying out loud) finally stepped over a line that he has danced on for a long time. Shock jocks are not scary linemen for the Pittsburgh Steelers, though some of them act as though they have been hit too hard too many times. These formidable mouths stir the s---t and do it in a way that boosts ratings instead of getting a knuckle sandwich when they are seen in public, which isn’t to say that some of them haven’t feasted on that five fingered delicacy. What really gets me is this guy, who I have never listened to, used the phrase, “nappy headed ho’s” to describe a winning, mostly black, women’s basketball team. He said it once, but within days I have read it and heard it at least a dozen times over. The word ‘nappy’ supposedly describes the kind of hair blacks have and the only time I have heard the word ‘nap’ was talking about the rug or what the baby was doing. Since when did ‘nappy’ become a word that was associated with black hairdo’s? If Imus had said, “afro headed ho’s” it may not have come across as badly. Then again there is the word ‘ho’ and that can’t mean what John Wayne meant when he said, “Westward Ho!”. Cleary the long road to ‘ho’ (sic) is now what Imus is faced with having been canned for doing what he does best, insult and infuriate people who are too high on their pedestals. Let’s face it, there isn’t a person alive who hasn’t been insulted for their looks, race, sex, financial standing, what they eat, where they live, what they drive, what they wear, and who they are dating. It is pathetic that this has turned into a national debate when we are faced with the biggest financial meltdown due to sub-prime lending practices that will be making ‘ho’s’ out of suburbanites who can’t meet their mortgages all too soon.
The media, the black leaders, the outraged are acting like they are on a playground at recess and wagging their fingers at the maverick among them who has the audacity to call a ‘spade’ ….well, you know. Those young women who won their title have so much to celebrate that in their state of mind and euphoria could just roll over Imus like so much paste under the wheels of the Hummer he probably drives. “That’s right Don, we are number one, and the nappiest, headiest, ho, ho, ho ‘ing’ bunch of basketball players in the country. And by the way, you look pretty lame wearing that hat when you ain’t no cowboy.”
It use to be that people matched wits, but we have become literally ‘wit’ less and rely on others to make our case. Nobody has called Al Sharpton anything he hasn’t heard, nor for that matter Jesse Jackson. Mind you those young women probably haven’t heard themselves called, ‘nappy headed ho’s” before but would they have gotten upset or the attention if somebody hadn’t picked up the story? Words only have the power we give them. The word ‘denial’ has no meaning to George Bush so it doesn’t exist for him. The world could be going to Hell in a Samsonite and George would be saying, “How lovely they re-paved this route with good intentions.” We decide what the word means to us. Call a woman who only speaks Croatian a ‘slut’ and she is oblivious to your slur. Ignorance is bliss. Call a white man ‘niggardly’ and he will be confused because even though he knows he isn’t black, he will take it as an insult, but only if he knows what the word means. By the way it is the dictionary, “niggardly” which means “ungenerous”, “stingy” and “miserly.” So what are we saying? Slang has hijacked the meaning of words so one man’s compliment is another’s insult. Nowadays if a person under 30 says something is ‘sick’ they are saying this is very, very cool. If they say it is ‘dope’ they are not referring to weed or idiots but to something slick and desirable. So in a particular case being called a ‘sick dope’ could be the best compliment you get all day!
At some point somebody turned a word into a weapon and the rest of us bought into it. When the floor product came onto the market ‘Spic & Span’ did the people in the Hispanic community take offense when clearly they had every right to say, “Just because we clean your floors doesn’t mean you can name the product we use after us.”
A NYC cabdriver was going on a rant one day about something and he used the word ‘Eggplant’ do describe a group of people. My mind went to Italian’s because they make eggplant parmigan but the cabbie was taking about blacks. How did it come to calling Negros a purple vegetable? Who thought of this and said, “Great idea” and while we are at it lets call the Asian’s “Pears”, Irish “Potatoes” and the English, “Muffins” and the French ‘Dressing’.
Name calling has all the destructive power of a warm breeze. However we as a country have become a nation of cowards living in fear. Why do I think that? Only a people living in fear could confiscate my corkscrew before I get on a plane because of the remote possibility that I have the capacity to overpower the rest of the passengers and hijack a plane with it. It is fear that makes us do foolish things, like buy guns to protect ourselves against others who also have them. (By the way their guns are bigger than yours and holds more bullets) Fear makes us view other races and nationalities as a threat, instead of with curiosity. A child has no fear, (ever watch them on a skateboard?) but is soon taught to be suspicious of others by their role models, which unfortunately isn’t Spiderman or Wolverine. Fear now dictates our actions and re-actions.
The girls on that winning basketball team were so ‘high’ from their win that when somebody said, “Imus called you all a bunch of ‘nappy headed ho’s” they either said, “Whatever” or “You mean he mentioned us?!!!” When you are at the top (literally) of your game, name calling is the last thing that is going to bring you down because if it wasn’t, the loosing team could really ruin it for the victors by insulting them, Have you ever heard of that working? When you are on the top, even “Sticks and Stones” won’t break your bones because you will have an entourage of followers who will gladly ‘take the hit’ for you. These girls are winners and you can say whatever you want about a winner, it doesn’t change that fact. But if you are a looser, it is a completely different story. You have the right to collect sympathy which people will willingly give you. A person who is down is not to be kicked…. hard anyway. Shock Jocks don’t kick people who are down. There is no fun in that, it’s too easy and it is ‘bad form’ even for them. They want to taint, trouble, tarnish, hassle, and harass those people who are riding high on their hogs or resting on their laurels. Don Imus brought them up to talk about (insult really) because they are winners and as such can take some ‘Roasting.’
In his own ‘red-neck’ way Imus was saying, “Look at those girls go, they are stomping on some poor white trash ass now.” That would not have gotten the same response because the ‘poor white trash’ lobby isn’t that strong up on capital hill but if it was, Rush Limbaugh would be their spokesperson.

Copyright 2007 Michael Marlin

Sunday, October 14, 2007


My title today is taken from the Buddhist expression, "If you can't find peace where you are standing where do you need to go to find it?" We have learned to gripe about anything so if you can't find something to complain about in this moment, what makes you think that something lousier is going to come along? When people say to me, "I can't complain," I respond, "I guess you aren't trying hard enough." Learning to bitch convincingly is a not a task to be taken lightly. Get completely committed if you are going to persuade another person that your complaint is worthy of sympathy. Don't just whine but take the time to ratchet yourself up as tight as the waistband on the pants of a champion pie eater, and then cut it loose like a wild bull out of the chute and sweep everybody else into it. Isn't that we all want? When we tell our story that we want somebody, anybody to say, "You poor thing", which for some strange reason makes us feel better. Getting someone else to feel miserable with us is a time tested tradition that was made famous in the "Show me State". That's why we all know the expression, "Missouri Loves Company". Since they spend so much time doing it Jews created a special word, 'Kvetch' which some say is the origin of the word, 'Bitch'

To find grief where you are standing is easier than finding happiness and that is nothing to complain about. Look around you and notice everything that could use improvement. Are you getting the idea? You car sucks, unless it is a hybrid. And your wardrobe? I know, "You use to complain that you had no clothes, until you met a man who had no body". Then there is your hair, face, eyes, ears, teeth, lips, waist line, hairline, which is enough to have you watching commercials in earnest looking for the solution that will work in 3 to 6 weeks or your money back. You have lots of reasons to be discontent (and I haven't even mentioned the government's war on anything/everything) so, "If you are going to complain, be grateful".
8 Michael Marlin 2007

Thursday, September 27, 2007


On Broadway, at last count there were four major shows that are based on movies. I saw two in one day. Broadway has caught the “green trend” and has gotten into the recycle game. The big difference however, is that when you recycle a can or a plastic bottle, the next item made from that material does not resemble the original product. Plastic bottles become paint brushes or door handles or any myriad of things. True, aluminum can be crushed, even without the help of critics, and turned into another can but this time instead of it being filled with soda it is now grown up and contains a beer.
Seeing Spamalot was disappointing as all of the good jokes from the movie were just being retold live. I have already heard, “I blow my nose in your general direction” from any number of friends. And yet the audience was laughing so hard you would think they never saw the original. It used to be after seeing a movie it would prompt you to read the book but here after seeing the play, I wanted to see the movie.
But now the creative minds have been side stepped because the big money learned long ago that once people spend a certain amount on their ticket, they will feel obligated to enjoy the show. I chose to stand for Spamalot and the ticket cost me 21 bucks. There was a seat available for 300 dollars and had I spent that I would have been royally pissed off. After all there was a King on stage.
There is more money in the world than talent and nowhere does it seem more prevalent than Broadway. Spamalot won a Tony for Best Musical and I don’t know what the competition was but giving an award for a show that is making fun of itself and other musicals can’t be ‘seriously’ funny. I got to see gags which made references to Fiddler, Phantom, Wicked, and Game shows. So instead of creating something anew, let’s make fun of stuff we have already seen. It will only appear funny if you were a savvy theater buff and had already seen and remembered the other shows or just dropped 200 dollars on tickets.
The Industry, which is what this business that is filled with artists has become, is taking old TV shows that people remember and remaking them as movies while movies are being made into musicals. The fact that people remember them, no matter how bad they were, is worth more and a safer bet than doing something new. Take the Brady Bunch Musical, please.
If the industry is going to go to the extreme of dumbing the content down, because then neither they, or you will to have think about it, why not go all the way. Why doesn’t somebody try to do what Max Bialostok did, and con the NY public in coming to see something that is so bad, so inane but so incredibly marketed that the producers can giggle like teen age girls about how the pulled and “Enron’ on the public. Bad taste has never gotten anybody thrown in jail. Bad taste simply gets you great press, as is evident with the Paris Hilton phenomenon.
Let’s see “Reality Broadway Musicals” because it is such after all it is already such a great success on TV. Why wait for the TV show to go to film before bringing it to Broadway? Go straight to stage with it.
For starters people would be lining up around two blocks and small commerce would spring up along that linear grouping of people. There won’t be just hotdog, pretzels, cold drinks and ice cream. There will be rolling carts being manned by photographers to take your picture which you will need to get cast. There will be publicist to write your resume, there will be make up artists and acting coaches. Working with you all the way to the front of the line and then cutting you loose once you walk through the front door, thus delivering enduring proof that P.T. Barnum was not only a great showman but a prophetic seer as well.
Once in the theater reality Broadway will cast all the parts for people coming in off the street. First, make one person the producer who will soon be wetting his pants with glee when he learns he will not have to pay for union labor. He will then choose somebody else to direct who will in turn select a casting director. That person will hand out the parts to would be ushers, ticket takers, bartenders, custodians and other front of house personnel. If you know somebody, or have a great body that the casting director, director or producer wants, you can get a part as a choreographer, stage hand, light board operator or sound man. To actually get a part on stage will remain, as it has always been done in show business, a random process. After turning in your 8x10 and resume, you will become a carefully screened individual who will be told to compete against the others who are also going for the same part. Even without a script they will have no difficulty finding plenty to say about why the other person isn’t qualified without ever speaking about their own talents, which will also be non existent.
Call it Jerry Springer meets American Idol. People will do anything for fame. People will not do anything for money, unless you have a lot of it. But in reality TV there isn’t any money for talent or the writers so why should it be different on Broadway?
It doesn’t matter if someone on stage can’t sing because the audience will entertain themselves by talking about how bad they were and enjoy that experience. It won’t matter if you can’t act because nobody in the audience would be able recognize your ability, even if you could.
Reality Broadway will run longer than anything out there because as long as there are people who want to be in the limelight, they will line up outside the theatre to be a part of the show. But the real genius behind all this is people will pay for the privilege to be taken advantage of, so long as you spell their name right.
© Michael Marlin 2007

Saturday, August 25, 2007


American’s have a love/hate affair with their garbage. Clearly they hate it because they don’t want it around and can’t wait to get rid of it. However they clearly they love it because they keep making more of it. Garbage, trash, refuse, disposables, rubbish, junk, waste, debris; crap by any other name would still smell as sour. There is so much garbage created that the Fishkill Landfill, outside NYC is the only other manmade object visible from space after the Great Wall of China. Except the Great Wall was built about 1000 years ago from stone blocks not Diet Coke bottles and Pampers.
In Europe recycling is free however they charge you by the pound (kilo) when your trash is hauled away. But that is silly European garbage and doesn’t contain American culture. Yes, our culture is one of consumption and with everything consumed (unless it is a buffalo and you are an Native American Indian) there is garbage left over. That’s our culture; Earn, Buy, Consume, Dispose, Repeat.

According to the Clean Air Council:

 American’s in 2005 generated approx 4.5 lbs of waste per day. That is 1642 lbs per year or another way to look at it: 16, 420lbs per decades. That is more than 8 tons of garbage per person per ten years.

 Each year, Americans trash enough office paper to build a 12-foot wall from Los Angeles to New York City.

 Americans toss out enough paper & plastic cups, forks and spoons every year to circle the equator 300 times. (most of those countries than lie along the equator will have no use for those items, because they are starving to death)

 Almost 1/3 of the waste generated the U.S. is packaging.

 Every year, Americans make enough plastic film to shrink-wrap the state of Texas.
(This last statistic shows some promise of being useful because had this been done prior to 2000, there would have been a greater likelihood “W” would have stayed in Crawford, TX)

 The amount of glass bottles Americans throw away every two weeks would have filled both World Trade Center towers.
(All of those bottles may have stopped them from collapsing)

 Forty-three thousand tons of food is thrown out in the United States each day. In one year that amounts to 15, 695,000 (Fifteen Billion, six hundred ninety five million) of wasted food. (How long has it been since you heard the line, “Finish you dinner there are starving children in Africa!” It use to be china but not anymore)

 America is home to 5% of the world's population, yet it consumes 1/3 of the Earth's timber and paper; making paper the largest part of the waste stream at 37.5% of the total waste stream.

And America is only 300 million people.
If China's per capita resource consumption were the same as in the United States today, then its projected 1.45 billion people would consume the equivalent of two-thirds of the current world grain harvest. China's paper consumption would be double the world's current production. There go the world's forests. If China one day has three cars for every four people, U.S.-style, it will have 1.1 billion cars. The whole world today has 800 million cars. It would need 99 million barrels of oil a day. Yet the world currently produces 84 million barrels per day and may never produce much more.
Source: Lester Brown, American Scientist Online

Well it’s a good thing that America, which represents about 5% of the world’s population has been able to consume about 25% of the world resources otherwise that huge military build up would have been a waste of our money. As it is, we are ready to fight to the death, (or at least send our young people to fight to the death for us) to protect our right to consume as much as we want, as quickly as we can. We are discouraged to think. We are encouraged to consume. If the opposite was true we would see more educational programming than commercials, right?

There needs to be a new plan put into place as we are ‘greening’ the planet which involves people no longer being able to ‘send out’ their trash but will have to live with it as long as it remains solid waste, once it has dissolved you can simply flush it down your toilet, nobody will know. But as long as it is solid it needs to stay with you, at home, in the car, at the office, on vacation….the trash stays with you! Soon people will be looking for ways to compost those old items that you can’t give away.

Since you have already got that burial plot picked out, why not do the planet a favor and bury your garbage in the hole, while you get cremated and fed to the gold fish. That second home may soon be the primary dump as people will be looking for creative ways to do something with their trash. Storage units are a big business these days as people have more stuff than will fit in their homes, but trash units will need to be ten times the size of the current lockers because we throw away more than we keep. But since we will no longer be able to throw anything away, ever again it will change the way we live. It will be consider a gracious and loving act to steal from people and they will thank you for making their loads lighter and their apartments roomier.
The rich will be able to hire the poor to keep their trash for them thereby increasing gainful employment for those who have lived without but are now not going to be given the choice. Since there are more poor than rich, the poor will be competing with each to get the business of keeping the trash of the rich. They will impress upon their prospective clients that they are poorer and therefore will have fewer things to buy and less trash of their own. These people will have lots of empty space that can be filled with the garbage of the wealthy which will in turn give the rich more space of their own, that allows them to consume more things. Since the poor are most likely the ones making the stuff the rich are buying doesn’t it makes sense that it goes back to them in the end? Now that is what I call recycling.
© Michael Marlin 2007

Thursday, August 9, 2007


Recently an idol was born although manufactured would be a better adjective and I might say it is nice to see something manufactured in America these days. It won’t be long before China starts importing their own idols for us to worship since we have been consuming pretty much everything else they send to our shores. But American Idol has just selected a fresh 17 year girl who is now our very own “diety.” I heard it said by one of the judges that this was a singing contest, not a popularity contest so why don’t they call it American Singer? Because we won’t worship at the feet of a singer, we need idols since long ago our spiritual connection to the real thing got supplanted by our cell phone connection. And you know what happened to the last batch of us who choose idol worship over “you know who.” It doesn’t matter because in less time than it take for a fish to mature, we will have forgotten this idol and our attention will be turned to the newer, shinier idol, who is even now, at this writing waiting in the wings.

I have been in show business, since 1975 where my first stint was with the circus as an elephant groom so I can dish some dirt on the industry with more credibility than most. One of the most poignant things I have ever heard was from a well known British Singer/Composer Anthony Newley who said, “Performing artists and entertainers in America are like Kleenex, you use them once and throw them away.” This I heard in 1985! Of course by that time I had been retired from my shovel for some ten years but I should have kept it as it would be useful even today. It takes a shovel and the willingness to resist the gag reflex when watching the industry fabrication phenomenon.

The definition of a fad is something that is created from the top and moves down. A trend on the other hand starts at the bottom and moves up. Fads are created by the industry executives with the hope that it moves far enough down the food chain that us single celled thinkers can consume it. Trends are created by the rest of us, the people who are referred to as ‘grassroots’ and when they take hold the top of this chain responds and gives us what we have already been giving ourselves. The Grateful Dead, Phish, organic food, recycling, Fair Trade were not created for us, but created by us and that is why they lasted. Okay, Jerry died but everybody does, his music however lives on.

The Dead were America’s longest running band with some 25 years of playing and touring…..what is the likely hood of our new Idol making it to one tenth of that with a prominence and fan base that will last longer that 2.5 years? By that time she will be leaving the gleam of teen hood and becoming an adult woman and we all have seen what happens to immature singing stars once they hit twenty. They are doing everything they can to stay in the public’s eye which inevitably means humiliating themselves for all of us to see, because the only thing that holds American’s attention more than watching a star rising is watching it crash and burn.

So to our new winner, “Save your money like they won’t buy your records tomorrow, don’t believe what the press writes about you, make and keep your friends on the way up because if you are nice to them today, they will be there for you tomorrow when all the ticket buyers have long gone home and forgotten who you are.”

© Michael Marlin 2007

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Paris Hilton & Why We Don't Have Royals


It use to be when you would invoke the name of Paris what came to mind was the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Bistro’s, or rude Frenchmen. Nowadays Paris is always followed with, “Oh her” referring to the heiress to the Hilton Fortune who has just landed a stay at the “Big House” where room service is bread and water. Given her flagging ratings in the daily media this is just the thing she needs to bounce back. It didn’t put a dent in Martha Stewart image though she does seem to be decorating more with stripes these days. Jail is now becoming something of a default detox center but in this case it is American’s who will have a break from the Paris Habit.
What made America different than the Old Country is that there was to be no royalty in the New World. Though we said goodbye to Dukes, Earls, Viceroys, Counts, Kings, Queens and Jacks we didn’t rid ourselves of the need of someone more powerful than us who would offer their protection and do our thinking for us. In the old country the royals were groomed, schooled, mentored, tutored to take on the roll of ruling the masses. Sure there was always the odd ball who insisted that the moat be filled with cream cheese but they were the exception to the rule. You don’t need a lineage or breeding to be in front of the adoring masses today, you just need money. Paris may have the lineage of Conrad Hilton but her breeding has only been demonstrated on the internet. American’s have been duped into accepting celebrities as a poor substitute for royalty. Royalty takes years to develop as it requires doing deeds of great merit, casting off barbarians, forging alliances, acquiring lands and grinding the serfs underfoot. Today all it takes is a couple hundred million dollars and it doesn’t matter if you inherited it or made it all selling porn on the internet, American’s will flock to your image and lay tributes at your alligator skin clad feet. What you say or do isn’t nearly as important as how much money you have because with the latter you can buy people’s opinion about what you say and do. In the end you won’t care because even though people may loose interest, your money will continue to make it.
© Michael Marlin 2007

Monday, July 30, 2007


Raining Mango

Mango is one of those fruits that just saying the word starts the salivary glands drooling which is foreshadowing to the actual eating of the fruit. A deliciously messy affair that some people only eat them in the bathtub. Tasty though it may be, the flavor last longer than most fruits due to the fact that you will not get it all out your mouth until your next flossing rolls around. I have spent good money on mango and have enjoyed every mouthful until I moved to Hawaii.
My humble little cottage sits underneath three mango trees which are currently in season and the entire place smells like an over ripe smoothie. At night, when walking outside, it is never clear if that lump under my slipper sandal is a toad or a mango, neither making much of a sound when stepped on but there is a tendency to slide a little bit more on the mango. The toad, on the other hand, dries flatter.
The trees are as high as 50 to 60 feet tall and a mango falling from that height has the potential of causing serious injury or death. Killed by a mango?! What could be closer to the absurd than that? But to clarify, it isn’t always the mango landing on your head that kills you, but the fall that subsequently occurs once knock unconscious by this favorite fruit. The dangers are very real as not more than a day ago, I was picking some up when a fruit bomb landed on the ground right in front of me with a hard thud. Had that thud been made from the mango hitting the back of my head, I would have been seeing stars and little birdies.
It was necessary to rig a tarp over my cottage to eliminate the sound of them hitting the roof which had the ring of a front end loading musket packed with squirrels being shot off. In the middle of the night the loud, “BANG!!” would jolt me out of a deep slumber thinking I was in the middle of a drive by dream.
There is a lot of mango falling and at last count an estimated 60 to 80 mangos fall each and every day. And for every mango that falls and is not picked up, 300 fruit flies take up residence to propagate their kind. It doesn’t matter that fruit flies don’t bite, as their danger comes from inhaling them and choking to death. Though there are no recorded incidents of this happening, I have found myself gagging and coughing as the little buggers were going after the mango that was stuck between my teeth.
Unable to process them all, many of these tasty treats end up turning into a brown sloppy mush which I load into a wheel barrow and dump on my banana patch. The ones that are fit for human consumption are collected with a large tarp that is suspended which catches the ones plummeting to the ground in mid-plummet. The entire thing is rigged in such a way that they roll down the tarp and into a waiting trash can lid which would have made
Rube Goldberg proud.
Each morning I gather those precious darlings, place them into a cooler and look around to find buyers or barterers. Though I have been in show business all my life, I can tell you from my own experience that selling my first harvested batch of mangos was every bit as satisfying as standing on stage receiving the applause from an audience. We as a culture are so far removed from where our food comes from that kids think chicken comes from plastic packages and cereal is grown in boxes. But I know that mangos really do fall from the sky.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Take a look around you and you can easily add up the value of thing on your calculator, since you long ago lost the talent for doing figuring in your head. There is my first example. It takes talent to do multiplication and division in your head, it costs a few bucks to buy a cheap calculator. Calculators have become so cheap that they include them on your phone and you can even get them on your watch. Though I haven’t had a reason yet to figure the square root of 4:20 pm or how many minutes I would wind up with if I divided 9:37am by 11:11pm the time may come that I can do that calculation on my watch, but time myself while doing it. I don’t have the talent to do the task but I have the money to pay for something that will do it for me.

There is a talent to cooking, but most of us would rather eat out and spend the money than learn how to make that deconstructed corn chowder that you see on the Food Network or make the Triple Layered Chocolate Flat Line Cake that they whip up in 30 minutes on “I’m Baked!”
Money makes us lazy, but we will work our butts off and our fingers to the bone to get it. Once made, we go out and get the reconstructed surgery for our ass and our fingers and though
funny it is closer to the truth than we care to admit.

American’s work harder and longer than any other western country and Stone Age man had more leisure time than modern man. Then again Stone Age man did not have a closet full of clothing, matching shoes, HDTV, microwave popcorn or lint traps, so who cares that they had more time on their hands, they were bored.

It takes more time to cultivate talent than it does to make money. If I sat down to learn piano it would take so much time to learn it to a level that somebody would want to pay me to listen, say 3000 hours, that in the same amount of time I could have made, (one moment while I use my calculator) close to $20,000 working at a minimum wage job. The likelihood of finding a job as a piano player is very small, so I would probably have to supplement my pay working at that minimum wage job anyway. This is why you can pull into numerous fast food restaurants but really have to look to find a live piano player. We have distanced ourselves from talent and think that it is only others who have it by luck or inherited it. It takes talent to recognize talent and if we don’t have it, we can’t acknowledge it. The sad truth is, we will work harder for money, than we will to cultivate our talents because in the end, few will be able to appreciate our talents as much as our money.

© Michael Marlin 2007

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Home of the Brave? Not.

A Nation of Cowards
My bone to pick today is how the ‘Greatest Nation on Earth’ has become a bunch of gutless cowards. This image doesn’t sit well with the beer swinging, truck driving, macho man view that we have of the American Tough Guy. We fancy ourselves as a Rambo, Dirty Harry, ultimate fighting champions that can take on the entire world yet inside we have been taught to fear our own shadows.
The odds of being a victim of a terrorist attack is less likely than being eaten by a shark, yet we act out our days as if it is an imminent possibility. When our security at airports is frisking shriveled and barely able to walk senior citizens, it is hard to say that we are being brave. Perhaps the security people are thinking that these people have less to live for and a shorter life expectancy so they are more likely to blow themselves up than a young person who has their whole life ahead of them.
But there hasn’t been one case of a little ol’ lady busting down a cockpit door and hijacking an airplane, so what are the odds that it is going to happen? We have been led to believe that our tweezers, corkscrews and nail clippers are capable of being dangerous weapons. We all have learned to ‘toe the line’ and that is not an act of bravery. A brave person challenges the ‘status woe’ and doesn’t act like a sheep.
We fear our food, we fear bacteria, we fear getting laid off, we fear growing old, we fear nudity, we fear the authorities, we fear death, we fear hell, we fear criminals, we fear the strange. We fear for our lives on the highway and thusly justify driving enormous vehicles ‘just in case’ we get into an accident. We are so hooked on fear that we can’t get enough of it for ourselves so we will fear for our children’s safety and our parent’s health too. Fear has us act in two ways. We either cower, thus the word coward, or we act with bravado. To be brave is to be daring, fearless and bold. Bravado is a false bravery rooted in bluster and boasting. We as a nation have cowered to our governments demands on us and acted with bravado towards the rest of the world. When we went to invade Iraq there were a lot of people pounding their chests and acting with ‘bravado’ yet now, several years later, we have no more stomach for an endless war half a world away.
According to our national anthem we are ‘the home of the brave’ but when was the last time you did something that was courageous? Soldiers put themselves into harms way by dodging bullets and roadside bombs but when was the last time you put yourself in harms way besides dodging your boss or a stranded roadside motorist? Soldiers do without comfortable bedding. Can you do without a disposable cup and bring your own? Soldiers bunk with each other. Can you carpool so we can reduce our need on foreign oil that those soldiers are fighting for? Soldiers carry 50 to 60 pounds on their backs. Can you carry the responsibility of a citizen and write to your congressman? Soldiers are sweltering in 110 degree heat while wearing full body armor. Can you sweat a little by turning up your thermostat in the summer and reduce your demand for energy. Soldiers have a tour of duty that is a year or more in a country that is not their own. Can you turn off the television for an hour a week and donate your time the community you live in. Apathy is a good excuse for cowardice. Don’t shrug it off, take it on. Take on the challenges that face all of us by doing your part. A thousand tiny actions by a million people will have a far greater effect that the heroic efforts of a few.
Do you have the courage to ask the person who just threw their cigarette butt on the ground to pick it up? Do you have the courage to face off with another adult when you see they are mistreating their child? Do you have the fortitude and bravery to enroll others once you have been enrolled to save what is left of our planet? It takes no courage to remain in the stands and cheer those who are on the playing court. It takes real guts to get off your ass, to move out of your comfort zone and do something that will make a difference. Just as one person will not solve the problem of litter, neither will one person win the day. Start by asking yourself the hard questions like, “Can I do with a little less while doing a little more?”
What moves a populace to take action is self preservation but what American’s are mostly interested in doing is preserving their life style. Want to show the rest of the world what we are really made of? We can start with a rationing our precious resources instead of gobbling them up like pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving dinner. If American’s cut down on their driving, eating, and spending we will send the message that we are still a determined, motivated, energized people and will once again demonstrate that, “the land of free is really the home of the brave.”
©Michael Marlin 2007

Friday, July 6, 2007



I love the Food Network, watching somebody else work has become my idea of entertainment. The alternative is watching me work. There are all kinds of cooking shows on TV now from how to’s to don’t do’s. There are offerings for every taste from the backyard griller to the gourmet thriller. The only one that is missing is Irony Chef. This will be my offering to a nation that is already overweight. .
There are 129 million overweight or obese people in this country, 60 million of those that are considered obese and 9 million consider severely obese (American Obesity Association)
Using my own Body Mass Index it would look like this. I divide my weight by my heights and multiply 704.5.
I am 5’ 8” and weigh 150lbs. I would have carry 30 extra pounds to be considered overweight, 50 extra pounds to be obese and 110 pounds overweight to be severely obese. There are 60 million people who are overweight, 60 million obese people, 9 million severely obese. Now this is just based on my body size and weight. By extrapolating my generalizations you will get a whole mess of zero’s behind some numbers, which will look like these people standing in a buffet line. The 9 million people who are in the severe category of 110 lbs over weight there is 990,000,000 pounds of fat. From the merely obese or 50lbs overweight there is 3,000,000,000 pounds of fat on the hoof. From the other 60 million who are just 30 lbs overweight, there is 1,800,000,000 pounds of fat to be harvested. Total this up and you get. 5,790,000,000lbs. Let me spell it out; Five Billion, seven hundred ninety million pounds of F.A.T walking around among us.
The average female Humpback whale weighs 25 tons or 50,000 lbs. It would take115, 800 whales to equal the amount of excess body fat that exists in America, (By the way that is ten times the number of the world’s population of Humpback whales which is around 12,000 to 15,000)

Is it only obvious to me what the Irony Chef should be cooking up? Liposuction is a huge industry. There should be more recipes put in front of the millions of viewers watching how to take a pound of flesh, or in some cases, 110 pounds of flesh and feed a family of five with a variety of tasty meals, but unfortunately not lo-fat ones, through the winter months. We hunted whales to the brink of extinction as the number of Humpbacks once totaled about 150,000 but there are 69 million people who are carrying around between 50 and 110 pounds of fat. Let’s consider this a new energy resource for America and look into ways to harvest all those excess calories and use it to heat our homes, power our cars, light our lamps, and cook our food. Unless these walking energy mines are family or someone we truly love, will we have a problem with asking them to do their patriotic duty and giving the nation what they clearly can do without?
So step up, if you can and do the right thing for your country and your fellow American’s.
There are radical Muslim fundamentalist who have been convinced and now believe that if they blow themselves up they will go to heaven. What do American’s get from blowing themselves up these remarkable proportions? You don’t need to stretch (mark) your imagination to consider a program where people be patriotic and donate their fat to help us reduce our dependency on foreign oil. There are about 270lbs of oil per barrel. We have the equivalent of 21,444,444 barrels of fat that can help American reduce its foreign oil habit for one day. We use about 20 million barrels of oil each and every day. So America Bon Apetit!