May 20, 2007
My friend, Christine Marsh-Rijssenbeek, a wonderfully wild
Welsh woman, married to a slightly more sedate but definitely
romantic Dutchman, sent me an e-mail after my last column:
she thought I needed a break.
And I probably did or do. Need a break. Ive been feeling
serious, parsing all the news about global warming and the
news out of the Middle East, in all its various hotspots,
most especially Iraq.
So this week, I thought I would think positive thoughts, make
note of those things I saw in the media that amused me or
The first of those things happened while I was in Los Angeles
on business. On the Monday evening while I was there, the
Television Academy had an event celebrating Bob The
Price Is Right Barkers fifty years on television
and his retirement from show business at the grand old age
of 83. My friend Nancy Wiard produced the event and in an
effort to show her solidarity, I took my jet lagged body over
to the Academy, thinking I would stay as long as my body held
up and then scoot back to my hotel.
However, the evening was enjoyable, so enjoyable I woke up,
went the course and had a good time Bob Barker, interviewed
by the urbane and witty Harry Smith from CBS's morning program,
was unexpectedly delightful and genuine. Illuminated by clips
from a very long career, Bob Barker commented upon his life,
looking back with joy on his career, without visible regret.
He learned what he did well and he stuck with it, refining
it with every performance. Come on down!
The on-air celebration will be happening momentarily.
Another thing that amused me this week was the campaign by
Paris Hilton to get herself out of jail, before she had gone.
Her people were appealing to Governor Schwarzenegger
to pardon her before her foot stepped across the sill of the
jail cell. Failing that, there was a bit of activity about
getting Paris sent off to one of the California jails where
you can pay for upgrades [yes, thats right, you can
pay for upgrades in certain jails in California]. Reports
had poor Paris abandoned by her fan base [she had one?]. With
the exception of one small Free Paris rally at
a smallish eastern university; her legions of fans have seemed
to have completely forgotten her!
I also found amusing an NPR Report that Canadians weigh less
than Americans and not because theyre healthier
[they might be] but because, for some reason, the gravity
is lighter there I heard the story in the shower and
missed the punch line about why gravity might be lighter there.
I wonder if I could jump higher if I were Canadian?
There was an uproar in Chicago over a billboard posted by
a divorce firm. Between provocative photos, one of a woman,
one of a man, was the statement: Life is short. Get a divorce.
The billboard lasted one week, earning a place in local infamy
for the law firm [as well as probably a fair share of phone
calls]. Still and all, it was amusing.
A story on Sixty Minutes, a follow-up to the young Iraqi boy
who lost both arms and was severely burned in a bomb attack
on his home, touched me. People all over the world and particularly
Americans reached out to help him. He is now in England, in
school and doing well. Every year he returns to Iraq for his
summer vacation. He inhabits a world that is a study in contrasts,
tony Wimbledon and bombed out Iraq and in these contrasts,
this young man finds things to laugh about and to care about,
while learning how to live without arms.
And that is, ladies and gentlemen, the way of the world, a
confusing pastiche of joys and sorrows. While we are faced
with global warming, wars and all sorts of other plagues,
we are also faced with the courage of survivors and the foolishness
of our poplets and the blunderings of advertising. We are
human after all, full of failures, foibles, courage, stupidity
and hope and laughter. It is what keeps us going, all