Sunday, September 03, 2006

Time to Put Up the Labor Day Tree!

Scoff if you want to; holidays have become so ill-defined, it's like they were all put into a blender set on puree, rendering a repugnant muck.

I call this color "blar". This is a term that was invented in my childhood, when, in spite of maternal commandments, we mixed all the Play-Doh colors together. What color is that? Well, I have now removed that question that's been nagging you in the back of your mind for decades. Your appreciation for this is best expressed by cash. Thank you in advance. Also, to add in a courteous reminder, I still have the negatives.

But, I digress. Already.

Here we are in the middle of Labor Day Weekend. This generates a lot of excitement and causes deep personal reflections, especially to children. "Where," they cry plaintively, "did the summer go? We just got out of school!" I, having grown a tad older and gotten much wiser, have no more answer for them than I did when I was their age demanding an answer to the same question, only in less polite terms. Back in the old stomping grounds in Middletown, Rhode Island, they still start school when you're supposed to: after Labor Day. In those days, that seemed to be the only thing that Labor Day was good for: it was the "two minute warning" to let you know that the game was just about up. Here, in the perverse and unnatural locale where I am in exile, they started nearly a month ago. My spouse, a teacher, had to go in for her first day on August 1st. The Theory when they started backing up the starting date (and ending earlier at the close of school) was that it would be better if the "Holiday Break" (not being allowed, of course, to call it "Christmas Break" even though it still is) marked the end of the first semester or the second quarter or the 50% mark, whichever math irritates you more. Probably the percentage; is it not a common sight in a restaurant to see a patron weeping at the effort to compute a damn 15% tip?

More digression. Right.

Anyway, Labor Day seems just about pointless and blar these days. Labor unions have lost a lot of their influence, and nearly everybody seems to be working. Those toiling in retail are working even harder, because of the "Labor Day Sales Events". I have no idea what the big draws are for such sales (other than to see this year's Christmas decorations and sales in the stores. This is getting ridiculous. More blar), since I avoid going anywhere on this weekend if I can help it. The streets, stores and beaches are crammed with people. In some, sane places such as Rhode Island, it's the last "back-to-school" shopping push. Here, the reasons seem to be different. First off, there's all the usual "work commute" vehicles on the road, because "Labor Day" or not, they have to work. The shoppers are out in force buying whatever it is that's the bait. This is made even worse at places like the mall parking lot, where you can waste a lot of time and $3-a-gallon gas waiting to get a parking place. Why? Because there are a lot of people going needlessly around and around.... "I'm not taking a parking place more than three in from the end!" TRY WALKING, YOU IDIOTS! IT WON'T KILL YOU!! Still, there is one more cardinal reason why people have left the house, and one that I can understand. To get away from the TV. Why?

Honestly, I just can't deal with watching the Jerry Lewis Telethon any more, not for years. No, I'm not saying nor implying in the least that there's anything wrong with it, and certainly the cause is worthy. I've watched it before (pieces, at least), donated, and even volunteered to answer phones at the local cutaway location. After this many years, it's stale to me; same old same old. Jerry, getting progressively more irrational from the lack of sleep; Ed McMahon, who used to be funny. Used to. Celebrities, many of whom are performing part of their community service sentences. A whole lot of BS about something really exciting "coming up soon!" "Soon" being telethonese for "five hours from now". Too little time given to the kids, and what the new research is really doing (well, in my opinion).

Jerry, your telethon needs a makeover. As much as I hate to even think of something that would cause some moronic producer to use it as yet another reality show, you need a different tack, some new draws, and the unpredictability that makes people curious. They keep watching that way. Do NOT ask anyone at PBS. I needn't explain why.

Look, bringing in younger, more pelvic acts isn't going to cut it. Sure, I laugh riotously when some poseur is caught lip-synching for the 40th time, but other shows already do that. No, I think you need to speak to the core of what reliably draws audiences, year after year: Sex, violence, and pointlessly intrusive special effects. And start numbering the telethons as if they're sequels to the first one. For the life of me, I can't understand it, but for some reason, people will go to see a sequel of something that had no merit in the first place. Like the Dukes of Hazzard II:Boss Hogg's 'Rhoids. People must not be paying much attention; maybe they assume that because it's a sequel, that the first one must have been good, otherwise they wouldn't risk the money for a sequel. Suckers.

What does sex have to do with finding a cure for Muscular Dystrophy? Not a damn thing, but it works on nearly anything, doesn't it? Hell, they're using sex and entendre to sell things like Depends and Chia pets. Yes, yes, it would be reprehensible, but you ARE trying to raise money.

What's the point of all this aimless rambling? I don't know; it's the middle of the Labor Day weekend and I have some spare time. Because, unlike most of the unfortunate people out there, I'm actually not working during the Labor Day weekend. I never could fall in step with the majority....
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