GOLF – WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING

three stooges golfingNerd girlDorf on Golf

I have always admired women on having some degree of “fashion sense”, the ability to put colors together properly and outfits that match. It appears to be an engrained quality which almost all women possess. One-out-of-a-thousand don’t get this fashion gene and no matter how hard they try they can’t get it together and stick out like a sore thumb. It’s not that they don’t go shopping or they don’t try to look good or they don’t want to look good…they just can’t do it and I feel sorry for them especially when they are in a group of well dressed women. The woman with the dark green blouse, brown slacks, and navy blue shoes, that’s her…that’s me. I am the one-in-a-thousand man that no matter how hard I try I cannot play golf. I’ve got the excuses down…it takes too long, it is a boring game, I’d rather play tennis instead…but in reality I just totally suck. Spending 35-years in the advertising business and never being able to play golf was a drag. Most men can at least hack it for 18-holes, those that don’t regularly practice and worship golf as some sort of religious experience. Many men are great at the game, play once-a-week, belong to a country club and spend at least one day a week M-F playing with clients. You have 4-hours to entertain, sell, bullshit and have fun all in the name of work…and if you’re lucky your company will pick up the tab. Not me…I sucked so bad I got more done at lunch. It wouldn’t be good for my clients to see me swearing, throwing clubs and shooting above 120. It’s not that I haven’t tried. I tried to play regularly after college and the first few years in the biz, but I never got any better and I grew to hate the game more and more. It got so sad that my friends would compliment me on any shot that got off the ground and landed in a fairway…any fairway as long as you could see where it landed. It wasn’t the least bit fun either, around hole-5 I would ask how much longer only to find I had 13-more holes of this agony. Playing 18-holes of golf to me was similar to my own personal Bataan death march. I hated every step, every swing…driving the cart became my only relief. My hatred hit a peak in 1983  when I was asked by the station I worked with, KTTV, who at the time carried the Dodgers live, to play in the Dodger sponsored Boy Scouts of America Golf Tournament at the Wilshire Country Club. My foursome included Al Campanis and his son, another man who was a Wilshire member and myself. Teeing off at the 1st hole was like singing the Star Spangled Banner naked at the Super Bowl. I was exposed for all to see and nowhere to hide. As the players names were announced each would hit a rocket shot off the tee and get applause as their ball went sailing down the fairway. Well soon enough they announced Craig Kinney was up…I prayed for one miracle shot, please let me hit it far enough to get away from the gallery, which was about 100-150 strong watching each player as they hit their first shot. I stepped up to the ball, complete silence, they didn’t know me from Adam, how bad could it be…horrible, my first shot was topped and my ball didn’t even make it to the women’s tee which is about 15-feet away. 0-for-1 and it was still my turn to hit as I was clearly farthest from the hole. My head got hot, my mind blurred and I walked up to the ball and without a practice swing I just hit it as hard as I could. It went in the air and thru some trees until CLANK it hit something solid like a house. At least I could walk away from the gallery, no clapping, just some under the breath murmers like it’s gonna be a long day. It was the longest day ever. Play was slow, the other 3-players in my group were good and 4-hours later I crawled into the clubhouse with a score of 118 which was about 46-strokes off the lead. My score would have been higher but the other players in the group would just mark down an 8 (snowman) on holes that could have been as high as 10-12. We politely said good-bye and I headed straight for the bar. It turns out I won a Dodger tournament golf bag in a pure luck drawing which is like a bald- headed man winning a hair dryer and brushes. It was cool looking but only drew cob-webs sitting in my garage until I finally gave it to a friend who could use it. Why did I suck so bad at this game? I could play baseball, toss the football, shoot hoops, hit a tennis ball…but I could not hit a golf ball. It wasn’t genetic, my dad was a great golfer, it was personal. Even my wife could beat me straight up at golf. She hits the ball 100-150 feet straight every time while I scatter shots in every direction racking up more penalty strokes than actual shots taken. The real hurt is when my friends suggested I wear a skirt on the golf course…OUCH.

One eye-opening insight I got into golf was the Country Club crowd. I got a chance over the years to visit Lakeside, Oakmont, Bel-Air, and the prestigous Los Angeles Country Club. One similarity…everyone is old, male & white. This is not a stereotype, it’s real. The only minorities I saw were cutting the course or serving the food. Women were less than 1% and were present only because their husbands belong. Helpers would polish your shoes, hand you towels in the bathroom, even wash your ass if you asked kindly. There was a popular expression in the 60’s & 70’s about ” The Man “.  “The Man” keeps holding us down, I can’t get ahead because of ” The Man”…”The Man” being established white America who ran all the corporations and the rich who controlled the economy. I had always thought this to be such a vague generalization or even an excuse, I was wrong. I found out where “The Man” lives…in Country Clubs. Old, rich, white men in butt-ugly sweaters. I mean it is like you ate every color of sherbert ice cream and then threw up in a batch of wool. They take this wool and make golf sweaters from it. Then they get color blind tailors to make slacks that may or may not match. The only place you could fit in is a Country Club…Judge Smails is alive and well.

As I get older I’ve got golf looking at me in the face again. I mean, that’s what my wife and I are supposed to do. Move out to the desert and golf…God, I would rather live in the La Brea Tar Pits. Which leads me to the one positive thing I can think about golf…the courses themselves are located in some of the prettiest pieces of real estate in the country. I wouldn’t mind just walking the 18-holes without having to hit a ball. I would certainly get more exercise than stepping in and out of a cart. I’ll suggest this to Country Club Boards…let the public pay to put on shorts, t-shirts, and sneakers and walk on their courses like a nature walk. It should go over big, just try to avoid the NRA members hiding in the bushes.

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WE NEED MORE AWARD SHOWS

Audrey                         Miley

On Monday, Oct. 21 the first stop of the awards season began with the “Hollywood Film Awards”, an award show so early in the season that many of the films haven’t even debuted yet. There are approximately 60 televised award shows for cinema, television, and music that will be broadcast on TV this year. This is good…BUT WE NEED MORE.  We need to constantly honor those whose lives are already 100X better than the average working stiff. We need to praise those who wear a new designer gown for each show. It used to be the Oscars was the one big night we could see our heroes , but now we have so many more…People’s Choice, Kid’s Choice, MTV, VH1, BET, Foreign Press, Latin, Billboard and dozens more which give us a glimpse into the lives of the rich and famous. The amount of award shows has grown tenfold to the point where we can weekly see how drone our lives are compared to the beautiful people. We can see what gown Anne Hathaway has chosen for one show and what Taylor Swift is wearing for another. Then in the following weeks we can re-see it on TV entertainment shows and grocery store magazines…still not enough. We must keep in mind what is important…actors and musicians are just like us – only better.  Having the latest designer gown, Tiffany necklaces, skinny bodies is what we all aspire to and only a precious few actually achieve it. Plus we get to hear their Nobel prize worthy acceptance speeches which must be written by second graders. The second the actors are on their own and don’t have a script to read, they sound like babbling idiots, ” Oh God, I never thought I would win. I want to thank my agent, my parents, my plastic surgeon, my spouse and I want to thank God.”  Why have I never heard that in church, that God loves actors and musicians more? I always hear about people who are on missions to help others, feeding starving children, building churches and schools…why aren’t the pastors telling us to take up acting classes?

I particularly like to hear how physically demanding making a movie is on an actor. It could take up to 3-weeks vacationing in the Caribbean to get over it. If it gets too demanding their is always the stunt double to take over. I thought laying tar on a rooftop during summer was hard work, no, being on a remote location shooting a film is far worse. We continue to honor the rich and famous especially those who don’t want to be seen in public. We know who they are dating, what outfit they wore to shop for more outfits, where they are vacationing, and even attempt to look like them. What fascinates us so much much about celebrities? …actually I have my theory. There are two basic reasons, 1) $$$ – The television award shows make money. The networks make a good profit on a show that is fairly easy to produce…one location, low talent costs, minimal writing all add up to low production costs. Set design is your major concern. Advertisers line up to be associated with the rich and famous because they sell products. Ratings are good as people clammer to see their idols even camping out at the actual event to see the stars walk in. The second reason is more subjective but since it’s my blog here it goes, 2) People idolize the rich and famous [ idolize – to love or admire to excess]. Call it escapism from their daily lives and a reflection of our society. People like people who are good looking , skinny, rich and famous. That is my best observation. There are award shows for humane causes such as teachers, NAACP,UNICEF, philanthropists, but they all fail in the ratings. These people are not attractive and uninteresting with no sense of style. There is even one and only one show for radio…as the expression goes ” She has a radio face” which is not a compliment but a way of saying she could never be in TV or film because of her looks. Unattractive people do not sell products. Overweight people do not sell products. Nobody will come out and say it but how can one ignore it. You just need to look at the people on commercials, newscasters (particularly female weather casters), and models. We try to derail the notion that thinness is more attractive, particularly to young girls who just aren’t built that way, and we all agree that more needs to be done…it just makes good sense. But it doesn’t change and I don’t think it will any time soon. I went to a Dodger game with a friend, Dean Darr, and we sat one section above the owners box. It was a play-off game and the premium seating area was full of celebrities and very successful businessmen sprinkled in with some superstars from other sports. Many brought their wives and their was a definite pattern. The women were considerably younger, had some work done (lips are the worst, can spot it in a milli-second)  and dressed to be seen. I mentioned the likeness of all the women to Dean and he replied ” It’s their job”.

Why are people so enamored with the rich & famous…we just are and always have been. It’s not right or wrong, it just is. We aren’t alone in the US.  English tabloids put ours to shame, Kobe is mobbed by fans in China, Justin Bieber is mobbed everywhere, and Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian are known worldwide for having done nothing. The Academy Awards were first broadcast in 1953. Before that the newspaper and radio gave us our information on celebs like Mary Pickford(20’s), Greta Garbo(30’s), Katherine Hepburn and Bette Davis(40’s). Television quickly became the mainstay during the latter half of century until the internet took us to hyper-speed in getting our info. Game Over. Celebrity watching became our jobs. I leave you with one chicken-and-egg question. Are we watching them because the rich and famous are always in front of us? or are they followed because the public demands information about them?

CONCERTS – JUST PLAY YOUR HITS

The Byrds

Concerts can either be a lot of fun or a total drag. The easiest way to make it a total drag is to announce at the beginning of the concert that the group is releasing a new album and will be playing all the new songs from it – bummer. First of all you have spent $150.00 on a pair of tix to see a group you have loved for years and know their hits by heart. After paying another $20.00 for parking and getting a “buzz” on before the show you are psyched to have a good night. Seats are decent, crowd is excited, your with a good friend…all the stars are lining up. This will be a classic time. Then BAMM…the lead singer announces how excited they are about releasing a new album after so many years. What? A new album after 15-years and the drummer has written the majority of the songs. What could be worse? Oh, that’s it, they will perform all acoustic tonight. Don’t want to hear that, please make it untrue. I’ve bought every album (yes, album), had posters up on my wall (since moved to the garage), bought a $40.00 t-shirt at the last concert, and this is what I get…crappy new acoustic songs. This is fraud, false advertising, rip-off…REFUND. I just want to hear the group’s hits from 1-15 in order of my favorites with #1 played again during the encore. I’ve suddenly lost my buzz, anger is kicking in and I can’t walk out because my car is pinned in 5-deep. My overly optimistic buddy says something moronic like “Maybe the new songs will be great also”…Bullshit. Anything all acoustic will get old before the first song ends and the chances of new songs being any good are 100-to-1.

I want to leave but I would never get out of the parking lot and my friend wants to stay, so I stay and it gets worse. On the very first song the lead singer is yelling in his microphone for everyone to stand up…hate that…only thing worse is when they ask you to clap your hands and swing your arms back and forth and here it comes in the middle of the song. That isn’t fair if the song sucks. Am I going to be standing for the whole concert or will others agree this night is going south fast? Fortunately all the standers and clappers are overtaken by the suckiness that is testing new songs on a audience. After each song the cheering is softer until one or two or three people shout out ” play Close to the Edge”, “play Satisfaction”, ” play Whole Lotta Love”…just play a hit we can get up on our own and cheer about. They never figure it out. Night ruined, money wasted, too messed up to find my car and I just ripped my $40.00 groupie t-shirt on the way out.  RULE #1 – Classic groups MUST play their classic hits at a concert. Forcing an audience to listen to crappy new songs makes it legal to rush the stage, beat the crap out of the band … acoustically, like shoving a guitar pick in their ear or a harmonica up their blow-hole.

PRIZE – Name the group in the picture above and get a mention in an upcoming blog, or not, just name them if your a music junkie ( members included Jim McGuin, David Crosby & Gram Parsons)  .

WHEELS ON SUITCASES

suitcase“Mankind isn’t so smart. It took us 5,000 years to put wheels on luggage”. This could be the single most long awaited innovation in history, at least during my lifetime. Family vacations used to be an absolute nightmare to pack up and move a family of five from one location to another. Suitcases had no wheels and had to be carried from point A to point B. No thought was put into making the suitcase lighter and many still had wood construction. In the late 50’s and 60’s plastic took the place of wood in suitcases which made them lighter but still no wheels. You could place a number of suitcases at an airport on a cart with wheels, which makes me wonder why no one at that time thought to put the wheels on the suitcases itself. Traveling was a hassle, pick up your loaded suitcase today by hand and see how far you can carry it. Now imagine one suitcase in each hand and a cosmetic case under one arm. It looked like todays TV show ” World’s Strongest Man” as contestants are challenged to carry heavy weights a designated distance. The father was the lead mule and expected to carry as many as humanly possible. This made for one cranky dad which just makes the situation worse as that in turn made everyone afraid of what might come out of his mouth.  At least you didn’t have to worry about being backhanded while he was still carrying. Mom’s luggage was inevitably the heaviest and always included a second bag. Each kid tried to handle their own, not a good time to complain about it either. On the count of 10 everyone would pick up their assigned suitcase and go as far as possible until your arms felt like fire. Time to put it down, let your arms find relief, then on the count of 10 try to get more distance. Finally the youngest would drop and dad had to carry his own three suitcases to the next point, then return to carry the youngest one’s suitcase to catch up with the group. This is how progress was made and everyone was in a bad mood, you could swear one of the suitcases was full of shot puts.

The first wheeled suitcase was introduced in the early ’70’s but took a while to be used by the general public. They originally used a leash to pull wheeled suitcases, but more times than not the luggage would tip over due to poor balance. They eventually got it right and now traveling with luggage is remarkably easier. Of course 9/11 came along and security became a new factor, but that’s another story. The wheeled suitcase is a modern day marvel. In the running now for the silver medal in useful inventions is the GPS systems that make it very difficult to use the excuse, ” I got lost”.  Remarkable how it guides you to your destination…then you can get out and wheel your suitcase into the hotel.

OFFICE CUBICLES

slave ship                     cubicle

I am absolutely convinced that the person responsible for designing office cubicles was a direct descendent of the person who designed slave ships. Remember those illustrations you would see in Jr. High American History books that would show slaves crammed in rows upon rows, shoulder-to-shouder, maximizing every inch of the ship’s interior to transport as many slaves as possible. The illustrations were inconceivable to me, I truly wondered who in their right mind could plan on transporting people in that manor, and I didn’t wonder about much in those days. Well generations later a great, great grandchild was asked to make illustrations of how to cram as many workers as possible into an office space and the cubicle was born. Rows upon rows of identical cubicles all made from a pre-fab material that could be erected overnight. Overhead it would look like a prison block, but prisons have doors. I was locked away in 2001 in a cubicle exactly identical to those of my 48 co-workers. I was lucky in that mine was at the end of the row so I only had one direct neighbor while others were surrounded on both sides. You initially just stand in it and look at the grey fabric walls, the type you can stick thumb tacks in, and then at the the hard surface area which is your counter-top to work on. There sits a lone computer. Behind you is drawer space for your files, two file drawers per worker. There is also two cabinet like storage areas with swing open fronts for more storage or personal items. All are made from a pre-fab metal with key holes for which you will never see the key as the workers didn’t think about matching the key to each cubicle despite the fact that the only difference between the 48 cubicles is that they are all individually numbered. Mine is cubicle #19. Oh, there is also a moveable coat hook that attaches on the top of one of your walls with one plastic hanger per cubicle to hang your jacket. Some of your fellow workers stop by to see your workplace and say how lucky you are to be at the end…must be my lucky day. You go visit theirs and it is the exact dimensions as yours with the same coat hanger and it goes on and on…identical working headquarters for everyone. There is NO DOOR…this is key in cubicle living. Doors would offer privacy and be far less efficient in keeping tabs of your workers by instantaneous interaction by management. BAM…you look up and their is your manager standing where a door should be…busted with no chance of retreat. You are locked in this square space with only one way out and that way is being blocked by one of the biggest A-Holes in the company. You can tell him to get the hell out at which point you will be told to follow him into his office, with a door. The door is paper-thin so all screaming and ranting can be heard by all. It’s no secret your getting a new asshole installed. Or you can do what 99% of ass kissing office workers do and comply with management. Your told to get to work done right away but no one can get started without their computers being signed on correctly by IT. They have 48-computers to sign on, so you must take some satisfaction in being #19.

You are now alone in your own private space exactly similar to 48 others. Then  it hits you…first in the stomach with slight nausea, then in the head with minor anxiety, a one-two punch that is cubicle fever. This is it. This is what I’ve become, number 19 cubicle among 47 others. At age 47 you have embarked on a new voyage that would last 12-years, all within the confines of a 4′ X 6′ box. The workers in their 20’s don’t seem to mind as it is all they have ever seen. The 30ish crowd are working feverishly to out do their 30ish counterparts, the 40ish group are still analyzing what their lives have become and the 50+ group are just calculating how many more years until retirement…a pleasing thought, sort of like a soldier in his foxhole counting his days until his duty is up. Needless to say there is no roof on the cubicle, items can easily be thrown over the wall into the next cubicle, which does happen as soon as you get settled in and are desperate to try it. You must just accept the fact that anything said in your cubicle will be heard by all the cubicles around you and some much farther than you would imagine. It actually makes a such a constant sound that you no longer notice it. To make a private phone call you simply grab your cell phone and leave the area undetected by management. This happens daily…particularly with those interviewing for a new job or those having relationship problems, everyone speculates as you leave the cubicle area.

In the next several weeks each employee will try to humanize their individual cubicles with family pictures, a basic requirement for married workers, sports “stuff”, each showing off their favorite team, calendars, mirrors, whatever makes you feel different. Women usually prefer a mirror, a unique lamp, and a piece of framed art (usually with a French twist) and actually can make it visually attractive, for a cubicle. A minority do absolutely nothing as to say if I get fired I can be out of this hole in 60-seconds. My personal favorite is the poster of a window with an idyllic outdoor scene to make believe you are out in the woods looking at a waterfall while in reality it is just a pre-fab grey cubicle. The cubicle’s evolve as time goes on…upgraded speakers for your computer, custom lamps, more sports “stuff” and a big crowd pleaser anywhere is the cubicles with candy dishes to welcome you in. Unfortunately there is always the office pig who grabs handfuls at a time thus leaving the the once bountiful dish empty and exasperating the owner from filling it up so it goes empty never to be re-filled.  Pigs would never think about spending $1.99 on a bag of candy and re-filling…it actually never occurs to them. Candy gone, move on to another cubicle until the whole office just gives up on candy, not just because of the cost and work involved but they realize candy attracts the co-workers you would least like to see. Victoria Secret calendars are popular with the 20ish men but these will soon come down when Human Resources gets a complaint. The 50+ crowd have a funny habit of crossing off the days on their calendars as to make retirement seem closer. Over time people come and go but the cubicle endures. Then it happens…a modern miracle. The company has downsized and they are bringing people from another floor onto your floor. The maintenance crew refigures the cubicle lay-out to fit in more and after getting the OK from upper management the modern day cubicle does what it does best…come apart and re-invent itself. On Friday you are asked to take down everything from the walls and on Monday morning when you walk in the office it has magically changed. There are now 62-cubicles where there had once been 48. You notice the aisles betwen the rows are thinner and the rows extend beyond where they had before and your cubicle is suddenly not as long or deep. Just a small sacrifice to pay to get in 14 more workers. As you sit at your desk on Monday morning staring at blank walls again the one-two punch of cubicle fever hits you hard…what has my life become. I feel like a calf being prepared for veal. The same pictures, calendars,mirrors, sports crap go back up and by Monday afternoon the office is back to it’s day-to-day cubilife. You do notive the managers offices haven’t been downsized, just a perk of corporate life but it doesn’t really bother you as their work lives seem more miserable than most.

Cubicles have become ensconced in the corporate world and are here to stay until a more efficient way of cramming workers into a restricted space can be designed. I always thought stacking them in a bunk-bed style would double the work space, but I’d never mention that. In the past decade the most overused business term has been ” Think outside the box” to the point of saturation. It particularly became popular during the 2008-10 economic downfall when revenue sources dried up. Every meeting would end with ” Think outside the box ” and then we would all go back into our boxes. On November 15, 2012 I walked out of my cubicle for the last time…it felt more like the cubicle regurgitated and threw me up and out.  I never did get to see how hard you needed to kick to knock the cubicle walls down.

NOTE – I would definitely recommend watching the comedy “Office Space” to get a visual of the cubicle. It is a very funny movie…” Ummm, I’m gonna need you to go ahead and come in this weekend”.

ARE YOU OK?

LawnmowerOne of the last things I want to hear after a bad accident is the standard question,    “Are you OK?”.  Imagine being at a friend’s house and going out to the backyard where he is mowing the lawn. You surprise him as you say hello and the mower runs over your foot nearly severing several toes. Blood is everywhere and is squirting out of your foot like a garden hose. You are almost in shock when you hear that most obvious of questions…Are you OK?  “Yeah, I’m fine…is the mower alright?”  “Sure, just great…why do you ask?”   “I’m OK…much worse things can happen.”

“NO, I’m not alright you freakin’ moron, you nearly took my foot off…get me to a hospital”  ” Take a look for yourself…does it look OK to you?”  ” Could we please stare at my foot a little longer before we do anything”

Or your standing on the sidewalk and an air conditioning unit falls out of an apartment window right above you landing on your head. “Are you OK?”  “Yeah, just fine, in fact I feel a lot cooler now”.   “Good thing the hospital is close, gives me more time to lay here and bleed out of my ears and nose”.  ” Should we tell the owner where their air conditioner is?”.

“No, I’m not OK, a f-in air conditioner just fell 10 feet straight on my head. I could be dead in 10-minutes. Could you maybe help me rather than asking if I’m OK? Isn’t it a little obvious when you see a crushed skull that I’m not OK?”

When you see someone who has just suffered a terrible accident maybe try asking “Can I help?”

JOCK STRAPS

jockstrapWhen did these go out of style and how come nobody told me about it? I started to work out and the first day in the locker room I put on my classic jock strap with the penis cup and two straps going over the butt and a comedy club broke out. The whole place was cracking up and I was the headliner. I didn’t even know what compression shorts were, needless to say everyone under the age of 55 have been wearing them for years. I had no defense, just memories of shooting a jock strap across the room by pulling the strap like a sling-shot, or shoving it in someone’s face and asking what it smelled like. Or the best was to rub instant heat balm on the inside and wait for the pain to kick in. We also enjoyed writing our friend’s name in bold inside the strap and shooting it from second floor into busy quad area. Old locker room memories. Jock Strap out…compression shorts in.