Monday, January 24, 2011

Winter Blahs

All right, I admit it. Winter here is barely distinguishable from summer except that it rains some in the winter. Heck, we've had some good tennis days lately, which I know won't be the case in the Midwest until at least April. Now if I could just win a few more...

Japan has it. So do Russia and various countries in Central and South America. But nowhere else seems to set them up as a kind of cultural icon for books and movies. I'm referring, naturally, to organized crime, those tough guys with their own unique style. The FBI swooped in and rounded up over a hundred suspected gangsters last week, so we can look forward to years of ratting, snitching, whacking and guys with nicknames like Greasy Tony or Hammerhead Guido. The screenwriters are standing by waiting for the literary crumbs to start falling their way.

Our Target store isn't the biggest, though it's probably bigger than some. I was walking around it the other day, doing what I frequently do in such places. I went looking for the neckties. No question I have way too many of them already, adding two at Christmas, but I think of them as some sort of cultural canary in the coalmine. It took awhile to find them, and I was shocked to discover that in a store that size, there weren't more than a couple of dozen neckties total. This made me think that they could disappear entirely if just given some kind of unforseen push. I've read, for instance, that t-shirts almost disappeared as underwear when Clak Gable was shown not wearing one in a movie made back in the 1930s.

We have a granddaughter, Claire, whose birthday happens to fall on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20th. She's now five years old. Yay! No inauguration this year, but, for what it's worth, it's been exactly 50 years since Kennedy took office, and 30 years since Reagan took the oath. George W. Bush got the job 10 years ago after getting the final green light from the Supreme Court. I seem to recall that Kennedy's inauguration was on a very cold day, but that JFK declined to wear a top hat, dealing an inadvertent blow to the menswear industry from which it has yet to recover. Well, the guy did have pretty good hair.

The Question of the Week: Why did former dictator Jean Claude ("Baby Doc") Duvalier return to Haiti last week after 25 years of exile in France? And don't enough Haitians remember him to put the guy under arrest? Seems as though the whole country's a bit - star-struck.

Finally, I think I have a new favorite TV commercial. This one's for G.E., the industrial giant. The spot has scenes of great commercial activity taking place, but the scenes are stolen by a dancing animated baby elephant using all four legs to show his stuff to the big band classic "Swing, Swing, Swing". At least that's what I think it is. For cuteness, the elephant is right up there with those Coke-drinking polar bears that always made me laugh.


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