Monday, December 6, 2010

The Holiday Season at CVS

     Well, (never start an essay with well unless you are writing about an actual well) the Holiday Season has officially started.  Do you want to know how I know?  By the Christmas music I have been hearing at the local CVS drug stores for the past 11 weeks.  That's how I know.  When I hear Neil Diamond singing about Frosty the Red Nosed Reindeer while I peruse the shoelace selection in aisle 3, I know that October is almost half over and soon it will be Christmas time.  It gives me a real jolly holiday feeling.
      Because when I think of Christmas, the first thing that comes to mind is the great love that emanates from CVS corporate headquarters in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, pouring over me like harsh fluorescent light. And when I am bathed in fluorescent light, surrounded by overpriced Chinese child labor-made stuffed animals, overpriced wax-flavored holiday candy, bland greeting cards, and ten thousand commonplace, yet overpriced big-box drug store items, the first thing that comes to my mind is Christmas.
     The truth is that, quite aside from its being crassly commercial, completely insincere and borderline sinister, this forced holidayesque atmosphere they are attempting to create with the help of Barbra Streisand, the Carpenters, Gene Autry and myriad other musical greats and near greats is totally unnecessary because it is far too early for the true CVS Pharmacy Christmas shopper.
     Because, really, does anybody do their Christmas shopping at CVS or other such mega-pharmacies in the middle of autumn?  No.  The people who shop at CVS for Christmas are the ones who wait until 4PM on December 24th and rush over there and load their shopping carts with whatever they can grab:  book lights and foot massagers, nose hair trimmers and coffee mugs, wind-up flashlights and wart remover.  They then elbow aside all the other procrastinating losers, and make a beeline to the nearly picked-clean wrapping paper department, grabbing a few of the less ugly rolls of holiday paper. It doesn't even matter, at that point, what holiday is indicated on the paper; they'll take birthday paper, Easter paper, Arbor Day paper, whatever's left.  Then it's to the long checkout lines, where they can still pick up a few CVS gift cards for their hard-to-shop-for loved ones, and out the door with their newfound treasure.
    So why don't the good folks at the big building in Woonsocket, RI change their Christmas music policy and hold off playing it until Christmas Eve?  That way, I think, it will be so much more meaningful to their desperate Christmas shoppers.  And in the meantime, when I go in there for my daily flu shot, I won't have to listen to the stuff.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

In Defense of the Gentleman

     For years I have been noticing a misuse of the word gentleman, particularly by police department personnel describing crimes and criminals to the news media.  Here is a typical example of what one such spokesman might say in an interview for the local television news:
"The gentleman climbed onto the roof of the building and proceeded to climb down the chimney to try to gain entry.  He got stuck about half way down.  The gentleman proceeded to yell obscenities as loud as he could until passersby heard him and called 911.  After we rescued him we found illegal drugs in his possession.  The gentleman is being booked for possession, drunk and disorderly, attempted breaking and entering, and he has warrants for several prior offenses."
     Now I don't think behavior of this type warrants the use of the term gentleman.  When I think of a gentleman, I picture a well dressed man having dinner in a fine restaurant with his matronly, jewel-bedecked wife. His top hat and evening gloves have been set aside by the subservient wait staff; his monocle glints with the light of the crystal chandelier.  His ivory-handled walking stick leans in the corner behind him; his spats and high-necked collar bespeak class and sophistication.  After dinner, he and his wife stroll to the theater as he smokes his cigar.  She is wearing a sable coat and he a cashmere topcoat to keep out the evening chill.
      Is this really the type of person who would strip down to his acid-washed jeans and shimmy down a chimney with a pocket full of meth and liquor on his breath?  Would he so quickly cast aside his social standing and his prestige in the business world to boost a few car stereos at 3AM?  Are we to believe that upon leaving the theater he made an excuse to his wife, sent her home in a hansom cab and went across town to wallow in an underworld of petty crime and criminal mischief, like a cut-rate Mr Hyde?  No, I think we can safely assume that our gentleman would do no such thing.  He is no reverse Santa Claus.  He didn't build his empire by going down chimneys and stealing other people's property.
     But, just as sure I am that the man inside the chimney is not wearing a shirt, I am equally sure that the next police spokesman I see on TV will refer to him as a gentleman.  They do it all the time. Just watch the news and pay attention to the first police spokesman you hear describing the latest criminal incident.  He will invariably mischaracterize the culprit as a gentleman.   It bothers me because it not just imprecise, but incorrect.  The correct term in the case above would be a word like individual or perpetrator, or suspect or fellow, or guy or dirtbag, sleazeball, dim bulb, criminal, lowlife, genius, ignoramus, or any of 20 other words.  The shirtless guy stuck in the chimney is anything in the world but a gentleman.
      Any time a police spokesman refers to a perpetrator as a gentleman, he should have to personally apologize to all the esteemed gentlemen in cashmere overcoats and top hats who have earned the appellation of gentleman by their hard work, gracious bearing, generosity, and clean, white spats.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Big changes at Fishbrick.

I just added some widgets or gidgets or wadgets to the blog to make it blend in more with other modern blogs.  I now have a list of my followers (shout out to Monica); there is a place for enthusiastic readers to click now if they want to share my glittering insights with their Twitter followers or Facebook friends.  I have added a poll question for Monica to answer.  I've also slightly changed the title font and size and darkened the background color of the blog..  All of these changes were easy to do.  What I cannot do is fix the white block around my fishbrick such that it doesn't block the right hand side of the border.  It looks stupid.  But I cannot change it.  Maybe next week's poll question can be about stupid design flaws in my blog's layout.  I will think of a way to phrase it meanwhile.  In the meantime, here are some interesting links:

Monkeys in hats
Remove gum from your hair
Amazing octopus video

Friday, February 19, 2010

Suggested Olympic Events

The Vancouver Winter Olympiad continues in the tropical climes of British Columbia.  We all have our favorite moments at these olympics.  I personally enjoy watching the hair dye on Al Michaels' head, and also the downhill skating is great.  But most of the sports exhibited at the olympics are events that most Americans do not or cannot participate in.  I mean, when was the last time you and your so-called friends went out for a night of curling or ski jumping.  In fact, have you ever met a person or met a person who met a person who knew somebody who curls?  Such people are as plentiful as leftover beers at one of my one-man parties.  I think the Winter Olympics (am I right to use capital letters?) should include winter sports that the average joe (should I use a small letter?) can relate to.  Consequently, I have made a short list of events that I think ought to be included in the next Winter Olympics. 
  • The windshield scrape.  Participants are timed while they scrape thick ice off their windshields using a cheap, five inch long, Chinese-made ice scraper that they purchased at a drugstore.
  • The fall on ice and nonchalant recovery.  Participants are judged in how quickly they can get up from a nasty slip on the ice and act like they never fell.  Extra points are awarded for convincing the judges that there is no severe pain..
  • The driveway shovel race.  Participants are made to shovel heavy, wet snow sufficiently to allow their cars to back out of the driveway.  The object is to shovel the least amount of snow that will allow the car to be dislodged from the driveway.
  • Icicle dodge.  Participants stand under five foot icicles and must dive out the way of certain death as random icicles are thrown down upon them.
  • Gas bill cursing.  Participants are judged on how they react to astronomically high cold weather gas bills.  Points are awarded for decibel level and creativity. 
  • The jogger slalom.  Participants drive their cars down a simulated snow-covered city street and avoid  joggers who feel they must run in sub-zero weather on narrow snow-covered streets.
  • The snow shovel fling.  Participants must shovel a 50 yard driveway in their pajamas.  When they have finished, an Olympic snow plow proceeds down the street and deposits an eight foot high pile of snow at the base of the driveway.  Participants are judged on how far they can throw their shovels toward the retreating snow plow.  Style points can be earned for creative curse words, guttural wails of agony, and for sobbing.  Genuine tears are a plus.