Breaking News!!!

Made ya look.

Absolutely no new news here, breaking or broken, unglued or reglued.  But I figured I would continue with my curmudgeonly theme and talk about something that has been bothering me for ages.  TV news.  Not radio news.  It helps that most radio stations only allot a small fraction of time to the news.  It helps even more that radio news lacks cameras.

TV news, not so much.  On most TV news shows:

  • Everything is breaking!  Even stories that broke days ago continue to be labeled as breaking news as reporters dig through every detail in search of some tantalizing tidbit that can be labeled as the next surprising item.  Even better, an exclusive breaking item!
  • Celebrity deaths are milked until you are ready to vomit.  R.I.P. Prince.
  • Warnings that the upcoming video may be disturbing are given gleefully over and over and over and over again as viewers are tortured with near-death and even real-death events.  It reminds me of futuristic movies I saw in my youth where death became just a part–a tool–of the larger goal:  entertainment and money.  (Has anyone else seen the 1975 film “Rollerball,” starring James Caan?)
  • Teasers drive me nuts.  “Tune in tonight for the full story!”  I was hoping to be asleep by then.  Or watching something that I actually might enjoy.  Please.  Just tell it to me now.  If you don’t, please know that I will not be tuning back in just for that snippet.  I’ll find it later on the internet if I am really that interested, thank you very much.
  • Newscasters barely out of their teens reflect the sorry state of our educational system when they can barely string a proper sentence together even when it is spelled out for them in detail.  And then, heaven forbid, something goes wrong with the teleprompter.  The result is likely to be an embarrassment to us all.
  • Most weather girls and half the female newscasters believe that professional dress means bare arms and daring necklines.  What isn’t exposed is stuffed into tiny, tight outfits better suited for date night.  Note:  If you don’t want to be called a “girl,” and would prefer to be treated like a professional woman, please dress like one.  If you don’t want someone to stare at your chest, please cover it.  It is really that simple.  Oh, God, I have become such a curmudgeon.
  • Donning hip boots and wading into rushing waters after six more inches of rain fell than you forecast two days ago does not raise my estimation of your heroic forecasting abilities.  You just look like a little idiot.  A wet little idiot.
  • By the time the weathercaster gets to the part you want to hear–after spending the bulk of their time describing the weather you and others have witnessed with your own eyes over the past 24 hours–you’ve tuned them out.  The jaded part of me, which grows larger by the day, thinks that is probably their intention.  Oh well.
  • Weathercasters think it is necessary to tell you how to dress each day, for each part of the day…  Jackets at the bus stop…  short sleeves at lunch…  umbrella in the afternoon…  hip boots yesterday…  I can figure that out myself, thank you very much.  Just tell me what I don’t know, like the forecast.  Like, now.
  • … … …

Okay, wait a minute.  I actually have some breaking news.  It fits all the criteria:  It is of timely, critical importance, weather plays a vital role, we receive relevant wardrobe guidance, video might be fun, and it is news to me.  Tomorrow is World Naked Gardening Day!  I discovered this golden nugget from nothing other than this evening’s news, oh my!

What gives this pronouncement such tremendous value?  Nothing less than its practical application to real life–my real life–which is as it should be.  Tomorrow I had been scheduled to help plant a tree as part of my volunteer duties.  The lovely volunteer coordinator heard my tiny squeak loud and clear a couple of weeks ago when I noted that I am not the best person to put in a situation with kids, and I was put on bathroom and cabin cleaning duty instead.  Oh!  How fortunate we all are!

Happy World Naked Gardening Day, everybody.  Hopefully some of our local newscasters will show up to promote the event.  Just be careful with those shovels, ladies and gents!

Parked and Blowing Bubbles

You know those people who speed up in city traffic, cutting off reasonable drivers and never letting anyone merge in front of them, only to come to a screeching halt at the next light along with the rest of the crowd?  “That’s it!” I often yell at them… “Hurry up and stop!”  Well, that’s how our springtime journey went, going from Florida to appointments in Texas and Indiana, family visits in Pennsylvania and now visiting friends and family in Virginia.  All that in about a month.  Hurry up and stop!

So, yes, we are parked for a spell now.  No, not in a parking lot.  Yuck!  (Please pardon that sentiment, Walmart.  You sure were there for us when we needed you.)  Dawny and I are parked at one of our all-time favorite campgrounds in northern Virginia.

We are fortunate to have a workamping job here, which does beautiful things for my monthly budget’s bottom line.  During past visits, I’ve cleaned one of the comfort stations, but this time around I am helping with all sorts of other stuff, too–cleaning cabins, spreading mulch, cleaning fire pits and grills, and helping during special Saturday programs put on for the campers.  On my first Saturday here, I got to taste some entries for the chili cook-off competition.  Oh!  I don’t usually eat spicy food, but the winning entry was incredible–chunky, delectable, and hothothot!

The following Saturday, I helped with the Star Wars program for the youngsters.  Building Stars Wars characters and other stuff out of legos and paper, supervising swim-noodle light-sabre duels, and helping referee bubble battles.  Thank heavens another workamper was available to put the festive into the festivities.  She came dressed as lovely Princess Leia.  Her funky side braids were even done out of her own hair.

I came as a khaki-clad curmudgeon.  While Leia interacted beautifully with the children, I managed to drag myself around to keep the grounds clean of fallen light sabers and bubble wands.  When the kids became restless, asking what was next and expressing tremendous boredom after tearing through the activities in 30 minutes flat–hurry up and stop!–well, I just had to mentally slap myself silly to keep from screaming, “You’re a kid!  Use your imagination!  Park it and enjoy!  Blow more bubbles!”

So, no, I’m probably not the best candidate to assist with youth activities.  The next time I am tapped to participate in a kids’ program, we are scheduled to identify and plant trees.  Perhaps that will be more my speed and I will be able to perform my duties with greater zest.  Shovels, dirt, and good, clean, manual labor.  The only missing item will be peace and quiet.

Meanwhile, Dawny and I will continue to appreciate and enjoy our time here.  Visits with loved ones.  Great walks.  Gorgeous spring weather.  A nice, long spell of relaxed floating around… like leaf-shaped bubbles on a sun-laced breeze.

Green, Green Grass… or not

Heavens to Betsy!  American Idol did such a good job with their farewell finale this week.  Watching the parade of 15 years of contestants, winners, judges, and others carried me back in time.  When my son was young, he and his dad and I faithfully watched that show through several seasons.  We would each pick our favorites and dutifully vote.  The show, the contestants, and the silliness of the judges helped bond us to each other with a simple thread of pure enjoyment.  Congratulations, Trent Harmon, on your big win last night.  Congratulations, LaPorsha Renea, on your almost-win (you’re still a winner).  And thank you, American Idol, for being such a pleasant, positive diversion for so many and for so long.

Music is magical.  I think it’s one of the few places you can get away with hearing what you want to hear, seeing what you want to see, feeling what you are able to feel… and, with a really good song and a bit of luck, to go a little beyond.  Talented musical artists can weave such a spell that our spirits are carried to places normally out of reach for the simple human form.  Lofty places of pure love.  Lowly places of stark desire.  Murky rooms disguising our shady sides.  And mountaintops from which truth and lies mingle and ring, resonating in each unique heart like breath on a mirror.

I have to wonder, though, am I the only person who listens to a song and selectively hears just the good stuff?  The only one who doesn’t register the dark notes often lurking behind soulful sounds… the double-edged slice of razor-soft lyrics?

Visiting my brother and sister-in-law in Pennsylvania, I came across this gorgeous farmer’s field of young, green grass on one of our dog walks.  You can’t tell from the photo, but the wind is blowing through it such that it appears as if each blade has plucked up its rooted skirts and is racing its neighbor across the field.  A million, billion grassy blades moving in one endless, synchronized sweep.

The beauty of that image got me to thinking about the song, “Green, Green Grass of Home” (written in 1965 by Claude “Curly” Putman, Jr.), especially since visiting family makes me feel so at home.  So I took a few pictures and googled the song before writing this post.  I found the Tom Jones’ 1967 version on YouTube, which I highly recommend watching.  Hubba hubba!  No wonder that fellow had ladies throwing their panties onstage to him over the course of decades!

Intending to quote some of the song’s lyrics …

“Down the road I look and there runs Mary, hair of gold and lips like cherries”

… imagine my shock when my research  brought me to good old Wikipedia and its discussion of the last stanza.  Spoiler alert for anyone too young to care or too oblivious to have noticed.  It turns out that the song is about a fellow on death row who is singing about returning home to be buried in that green, green grass after his execution!  Yikes!  Who knew??  What did he do?  I need more info…  Did he murder Mary?  Is that why she was running???

I must have heard that song a hundred times over the past 50 years.  And I never heard the dark side.  I didn’t even hear it when watching the Tom Jones video last night.  I had to have it spelled out in black and white and then slapped upside my head with a branch of the old oak tree.

Talk about dense.  Or maybe I simply possess my fair share of that uniquely human talent for wrangling a rock of absolute truth out of shifting subjective shadows.  I suppose that’s not such a bad thing.  Until you realize the grass is rooted.  Mary might be dead.  And even American Idol couldn’t forestall the inevitable.