Archives for category: American culture


Yosemite National Park is 123 years old today, but like all national parks, monuments and zoos, it’s closed because of the federal government shutdown.

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Here’s a beautiful and very original video from the folks at Chipolte. The video makes its point very effectively, and may suggest the future of what restaurants offer. The video definitely oversells the vision of what Chipolte is, but even so, Chipolte’s aspirations of what they would like to be suggests a trend toward more vegan and vegetarian options on restaurant menus. As more people become aware of the cruelty and abuses involved in factory farming, restaurants like Chipolte will have the edge in meeting customer demand. BTW: Chipolte (CMG) is traded on the NYSE and looks like a good buy.

Last week, I read the tragic story of a 15-year-old Californian who died after falling from a third floor hotel balcony. The young man was visiting Berlin as part of a school tour, and was under the influence of alcohol at the time of his death. According to authorities, the youth had consumed a large amount of whisky and had been celebrating with his classmates.

In Germany, minors are allowed to consume and possess beer and wine at 14, as long as they are in the company of their parents or legal guardian. At 16, minors can consume and possess beer and wine without parental consent, and at 18, they have access to any distilled liquor.

Unlike the USA, Europeans aren’t puritanical when it comes to alcohol consumption. Most people learn at an early age how to drink responsibly. This young man’s death is not uncommon, especially among young tourists visiting Berlin from the USA and Scandinavia where alcohol prohibitions are tough. When an inexperienced young person comes to Berlin, it’s like a license to binge.
Moment of Joy
Despite the controversy surrounding next week’s New Yorker cover, I love it! Inappropriate? Promoting a gay agenda? Trivializing an important moment in civil rights history? Nope. It’s just a sweet symbol for gay marriage and love.

Discrimination still exists and most states still forbid same-sex marriage, but the train has left the station and there’s no going back. Homophobia is losing steam, and this week’s Supreme Court decisions mark a giant step toward equality for all Americans.

Ever need to pee while watching a movie? Your dilemma is solved. The RunPee.com app tells you the best times to run and pee during your favorite movie without missing anything important. It’s regularly updated with the latest movie releases, and its built-in timer can be programmed to discreetly vibrate as an additional reminder. Welcome to the 21st century. 

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that ABC had done something really cool by permitting YouTube to show some of its movies from the 1970s TV series The ABC Movie of the Week. Many of these movies were quite good and unavailable on DVD. Unfortunately, my elation over ABC was premature. A couple of days ago, I discovered that most of these movies had been deleted. 

Airing these long forgotten movies was the sort of thing that could have helped ABC develop a sort of cult following and reminded people that ABC even existed. It’s unlikely ABC will ever get direct revenue from these movies, but they could have gotten some positive viral marketing. No wonder network TV is losing its audience and quickly becoming irrelevant as an entertainment medium.  
I wonder if this fashion trend will make it?


Bewitched was an American television series that ran from 1964-1972. It was one of my favorite shows. It continues to play in re-runs, and is currently on Me-TV in Portland at 8:00 PM. Surprisingly, the show still holds up.


Perhaps, the biggest controversy on the show was the switch of Darrins. Dick York played Darrin from 1964-1969 until Dick Sargent replaced him. The phrase “Darrin Syndrome” (AKA “The Other Darrin”) comes from the show. It’s a term for replacing a character on a TV show without explanation. It happens a lot on TV shows, but in the case of the character Becky in the series Roseanne, there were jokes about the switch. In one episode, the family was watching Bewitched on TV when the actress Sarah Chalke (the second Becky) remarked that she preferred the second Darrin. 
The ABC Movie of the Week (1969-1976) was a weekly television series featuring made-for-TV movies. The show began with dazzling graphics (1969 style) and with this hard to forget introduction:

The Move of the Week. Presenting the world premier of an original motion picture produced especially for ABC. Tonight, on The Movie of the Week

I remember watching these movies with my mom. They were on a little past my bedtime (8:30 PM), but my mother would make an exception and let me stay up to watch. This television anthology series featured a lot of B movies, but there was some remarkably good stuff too, including Tribes with Jan-Michael Vincent, Go Ask Alice with William Shatner (yes, that William Shatner), How Awful About Allan with Anthony Perkins, and That Certain Summer with Martin Sheen and Hal Holbrook, the first TV movie to deal sympathetically with homosexuality. 

Sadly, few of these movies have been re-broadcast. Now, ABC has done something cool! They’ve put dozens of these movies on Youtube, in full and without commercials. They bring back a lot of memories. The last few days, we’ve been watching a few of them, including Along Came a Spider with Suzanne Pleshette, and Home for the Holidays with Sally Field, Jessica Walter, Eleanor Parker and Walter Brennan. Even though some of these movies are disappointing, quite a few are still entertaining. 

We forget that in the days of pre-cable television and the internet era, people had few entertainment options. The Movie of the Week was a gem; and although, these movies were low budget and never demanding, the acting was generally first rate and the scripts innovative and tightly written. 

Today, I received this flyer in the mail. I remember when the Girl Scouts would go door-to-door selling their cookies. It was a way of teaching young women to be entrepreneurial. Then their parents started doing the job for them, selling the cookies to co-workers, and the emphasis seemed to shift from teaching children basic business skills to generating revenue for the organization. Now, the cookies are being sold online. Are the girls even involved anymore?