Friday, January 16, 2009

Finally, Somebody Is Talking Sense Around Here; On the Horizon (Somewhere); and GWB Signs Off ... FAST (Friday Roundup)

Welcome to the first Friday Roundup of 2009. Grab a chair.

That's IT! We're cutting back! ... In a monumental effort to cut the spending, the husband walked in from work, sat the family down and said, "Kids, money is tight. So I'm letting your mother go. I can't afford her anymore. We're getting a divorce."

That's not really what happened. But they might have taken that news better than the news he actually delivered.

"We're cutting the cable bill. Starting next week, we're down to the basics." If I could do a cartwheel, I would have. Three networks and the national anthem at midnight?! Oh, happy day! No more Hannah Montana and Suite Life of Zach and Cody? What, Lord, have I done to deserve this?

Yet I stood alone in my celebration. "What's going to happen to us, Daddy?" Sob, sob, sob. "What will we do on weekend nights? How will we watch [insert name of lame show here] and [insert name of another lame show here]? What does this MEAN?"

"Oh, for heaven's sake, you'll read a book or play a board game. You aren't going to shrivel up and DIE."

"Stop it, Mama. This isn't FUNNY." Sniff.

"Who said anything about 'funny'? Nobody is trying to be funny. All I'm saying is ..."

And then, the trump card. "But Daddy, what ever will you do when football season begins?"

How many days until kickoff? 231? I'm not a betting girl, but if I were, I would wager that's how many days we'll go without ESPN and ESPN2.

What will Michelle wear? ... On this morning's edition of The Today Show, the compelling story about what the next first lady will wear during the inaugural events came on the heels of thorough coverage of the US Airways flight that floated along the Hudson River. What just happened? Why the anticipation about a dress? Why do we put up with this? And that reminds me of a book I read last week, Why We Hate Us by Dick Meyer. This book is so relevant right now and will make you second-guess everything you tolerate and/or do. Truly, a breath of fresh air.

New digs on the blogosphere ... Look for my review of Meyer's book on a new blog I will begin hosting later this month. I've set a personal deadline to crank this thing up, and frankly, I'm tired of putting it off. I'm just not going to reveal my self-imposed deadline, in the event that I need to procrastinate a while longer and take care of real business.

Along those lines, I should add, is the epidemic that is spreading throughout newspapers and magazines and MAKING IT REALLY HARD FOR ME TO MAKE A LIVING. So, what does a person like me do when times are tough on the job front? Commiserate with people in the same ugly boat, of course! And here is what my friend, Alan, Mr. Outdoors and Newspaper Diehard, had to say in an e-mail Thursday:

What's interesting to me is what happens when newspapers scale back and die b/c the "target age" group uses Crackberries now for their "news," but when they become 35- and 40-year olds wanting to know more than a 140-character Twitter post about the "OMG bomb in Izrael kilz kids!" they won't have anything to read.

Yes, Alan, that IS interesting. And I hope you readers are feeling guilty and ashamed and will rush out to buy newspapers and magazines. Kill a tree, save some jobs, save an industry.

"Peace out, homies" ... That was the transcript of George W. Bush's farewell speech Thursday night. At least, that's all it could have been. Time got away, I called a friend, the friend said, "Are you watching the speech?," so I turned on the TV and all of its three-channel glory at 7:09 (according to one clock). AND THE SPEECH WAS OVER AND THE PRESS CORPS WAS APPLAUDING. What??? What could he have possibly said in only nine minutes to summarize eight years of serving as leader of the Free World? I need to go Google something. This is puzzling. Or is this how basic cable works? Quippy, short speeches worded like Twitter posts? If we paid more, would we hear more?

Yippee for Friday! This has been a particularly hard work week. One that has been full of deadlines, surprises and some fun stuff. And some not-so-fun stuff. But all these things keep us hopping.

Peace out, homies.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Facebook, Schmacebook--Somebody, Please, Stop This Crazy Train

You will find a lot of nice people on Facebook named Amy Cates. Perhaps they are nicer than I am, and you should befriend them. You can become lifelong friends who share menu plans and vacation pictures and leave snappy little notes that include clever directives like, "You go, girl!"

I would like to make one thing perfectly clear: I am not on Facebook.

I have indicated my disdain for Facebook many, many, many times in this space, but apparently, it's not clicking. Because in one of my mailboxes today, I had eight -- count 'em, EIGHT -- confirmation requests to become friends with people who are, say it with me, ALREADY MY FRIENDS. Most of these friends already know my phone numbers, e-mail addresses and street name. Most know my kids, my husband, my likes, my dislikes, my food allergies, my favorite colors. They have seen my filthy garage. They have seen me without makeup and a bra. They know they can phone me day or night.

What more do you want from me???? My SOUL?

"Amy, what in the world is wrong with you? Why would you NOT want to be a part of the world's largest social networking site? It's just for fun."

The reasons are very simple. For starters, the prospect of this person hosting a Facebook page would be like waving a vial of meth (does meth come in a vial or a sandwich bag?) in the face of an addict. A bottle of Thunderbird in front of a wine-o. A bottle of Lortab in front of ... OK, let's not name names. We all have our vices. Facebook, it seems, caters to the addictive personalities. It provides some sort of fix. And people, we ALL have addictive personalities. Some of us are bold enough to admit that we know our weaknesses. I have purposely avoided IM, the Blackberry, texting and Facebook because my brain might well explode if I am prescribed one more overflowing daily dose of personal communication. If I have to monitor one more blip, bleep, ring, update, inbox or flashing light, I'll be huddled under a bridge like a troll, eating boogers.

If I had a Facebook account, I would watch it like a hawk and post updates like, "I am eating a Wheat Thin." Or, "My kids are being loud." And, "Why can't my husband do something with that pile of leaves in the side yard?" And I would check my friend count, compare it to other people's friend counts, poke around other pages for hours each day, learn what people ate for lunch and what their weekend plans might be, gloss over their pictures and wonder why I wasn't invited to that particular dinner party, grow increasingly paranoid about why so-and-so blocked me as a friend (was it something I said?), pretend to be intrigued by ultrasound pictures and shots of New Year's Eve fireworks, and so you can see why I might end up huddled under a bridge like a troll and eating boogers.

Secondly, my fierce opposition to Facebook has something to do with not wanting to fall prey to peer pressure. I'm the hold-out. The Lone Ranger. The one who stays home on Friday night. The kid who knows the value of "Just Say 'No'." The wallflower. The last kid chosen in kickball. The one who sits at lunch by herself.

["Why is she just sitting there?" ... "It's because she isn't on Facebook. And who did her hair? Her mom?"]

I ran into a friend at a mall recently and she said, "Omigosh! You really need to get on Facebook!"


"Because EVERYone is on there! I am, so-and-so is, so-and-so is there. Oh, and also so-and-so and so-and-so and so-and-so."

"What you're saying is, I am the only one who is NOT on Facebook."

"Yes! You have GOT to get on Facebook!"

Then I asked her to wipe the drool from her chin and consider enrolling in a 12-step program to help get this thing under control.


Is Facebook today's Rubik's Cube? Mood ring? Pet rock? Members Only jacket? Will our culture simply wear this thing out until it's a punch line?

Probably not, but a girl can dream.