Time to Open Your Christmas Presents!!

The Interview Seth Rogen James Franco

Christmas present number one. The Movie

Picture it folks. It’s Christmastime, folks are running about, gathering their families, buying gifts, getting ready for the biggest holiday of the year and prepping for just about anything but a spoof movie that deals with a fake interview/assassination plot on the weird little leader of a weird little far away country that most people don’t bother to take very seriously one way or the other.

No one at the studio seems to know how they’re going to get the word out and market this thing so…some marketing genius decides to do a spoof story about how the weird little country is threatening to do dire things to our big country if we actually show this puppy to movie goers across the country on Christmas day.

The story “gets legs” and soon, every news outlet in the USA is carrying it, spending valuable air time talking about the threat to a major movie maker (Sony) and the implied threat to USA movie goers. Hacking stories are everywhere and soon, what was probably just a joe average little spoof movie has received a billion dollars worth of free promotion and raised a moral “free speech” question in the minds of movie goers everywhere. Online rentals are up. Small independent movie houses across the USA open it to multiple showings on Christmas day, and before you know it, the little spoof movie that probably wasn’t going anywhere, is making money by the truckload and becomes one of the most watched, epic films of 2014!

Sounds too crazy to be true? Maybe, but what if it isn’t? What if the whole thing is a magical brainstorm dreamed up by some kid fresh out of college who is trying to impress his bosses that he actually knows how to come up with a unique and novel marketing idea to push an “also-ran” movie product into the “blockbuster” category? I don’t imagine James Franco and Seth Rogen really give a damn one way or the other. They’re probably happy enough just knowing they’re part of one of the most uniquely marketed movies of 2014! Merry Christmas!

Christmas present number two. Keeping Colorado Green.542237_10151364921141007_1767857415_n

So, what is it that keeps Colorado so green? Is it the beautiful climate? No. Is it the fresh mountain air? No. Is it that wonderful magic moisture flowing down from the mountains? No. It’s a little green plant that’s almost the same color as money and they call it Marijuana!

I still don’t quite know how we did it, but a year ago, much to the consternation of the religious right and conservative politicians all over our state, Colorado opened it’s doors to recreational marijuana and nothing’s been the same since! Naturally, there are all the attendant problems that come with an industry that’s growing like a bad weed (no pun intended) and is being inundated with every conceivable problem and regulation any state or civic group can possibly come up with.

What is complicating the recreational marijuana issue is not just a supply of good smokeable weed, it’s a new twist on an old tune and they call it “edibles.”

Edible marijuana is the new SBD (silent but deadly) and fast becoming the preferred version of this plant that is now taking over Colorado like a prairie fire. Back in the old days, if you dared slip outside to “sample the goods,” pretty soon everyone within fifteen feet of you knew exactly what you were doing because you smelled like a pot factory! With “edibles,” the smell problem might be gone but rest assured there are still a barrage of hurdles and regulatory hoops the manufacturers have to jump through to remain compliant according to State rules. The State on the other hand is getting up bright and early every day dreaming up new rules and regulations in order to keep their fingers wrapped tightly around the throats of the producers to make sure they are bleeding the proper amounts of cash into the state coffers to keep the legislative wheels properly greased.

On and on it goes. As we come to the conclusion of 2014, lets say congratulations to the courageous entrepreneurs of Colorado who had the guts and foresight to legalize this little plant. They showed the world the potential for a mega industry in our state and the greenness of the upside. That’s a hell of a lot better than giving in to the doom and gloom of the conservative “reefer madness” crowd, and the darkness of defeat. So…keep on keepin’ it green folks! Merry Christmas Colorado!

Send me your comments and critiques. I’ll be sure to read them all and use them if I can.

Have a great week everybody!

Rod

Music and the Military

In the months tguitars-for-vets-logo-300x160hat I’ve been playing my guitar for the Vets at the Denver VA hospital, I’ve been treated to a whole gamut of stress results among those I’ve been able to work with. Sometimes it’s positive, sometimes not so much. Sometimes it takes a little time. After they’ve had a while to get used to you, it seems that even negative personalities soften a little and sometimes conversations or music relationships evolve that are quite rewarding. What comes home to you in a big way is the worth and worthiness of these people who in reality are just somebody’s kids like yours, mine or anyone else’s who have just received a heapin’ helpin’ of some not very good stuff!

Sometimes, with the right kind of love, care, and attention, these people can calm the sweats and fears and find a place deep down in their psyche to put the nightmares away for good. Hopefully they’ll be replaced with love and warmth so they can find a way to heal and bring the calm and normalcy into their lives they all sorely need.

One of those ways, believe it or not, is music. Not just to listen to or sing along with, but to be involved in as a player. Every week when I’m sitting there by the coffee kiosk, I’ll notice someone watching extra closely and you know it wont be long before they start a conversation about music and some song or some singer and “How do you play that” or “How did they play so and so?”

That’s when friendships begin and this week, as we close in on Christmas, I have to look back at all the wonderful gifts PTSD1I’ve been given in the form of these Vets who sometimes want nothing more from you than a warm smile, a couple of tunes and the chance to kick things around and just be their friend.

I’m not trying to say this as some kind of psychiatric guru who suddenly has the keys to Ft. Knox as a healer, I’m simply addressing it as someone who needs friends and friendship just as much as these folks do, and music (especially guitar music) is the bridge that helps us cover the gap.

The electric guitar first showed up on bandstands 75 years ago when Benny Goodman hired Charlie Christian and it’s been delivering dreams and boosting spirits to millions ever since. I’m absolutely sure that a good many young men and women who feel their lives are barely worth living turn to this instrument to find solace when they’re down to the bottom and every other door in their lives seems closed.

The awful, horrifying statistic that I heard about this week is that 22 PTSD Veterans per day are committing suicide! That is a fact that turns your stomach upside down and what makes it even worse is that retiring republican senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma voted no on the 22 million dollar Clay Hunt suicide prevention bill because it was too expensive! Too expensive? We spent over 80 million dollars during the last administration on a couple of guys so that they could teach us torture techniques and to my knowledge no republican raised a whisper about that? Never in my lifetime did I ever believe you could put a ceiling price on saving lives and now you tell me they’re not worth it and 22 million to prevent PTSD suicide is too much?

PTSD3These days, the game of life deals us a lot of cards that we can’t do anything about. No more, no less. You play the hand you’re dealt and don’t bitch about the outcome. There are however, certain things we can change if we work at it and that is politics and those we elect to represent us. Politicians are like everyone else. They’ll try to calm down the constituents who are yelling the loudest! So everybody, let’s get out there and start yelling! Use mail, phone, laptop and any other communication form you can think of to get their attention. Don’t just yell at your life partner, pick your favorite (or not so favorite) politician and start in. They’ll get the message! We just have to make sure they hear it!

Send me your comments and critiques. I’ll be sure to read them all and use them if I can.

Have a great Christmas Holiday everbody.

Thanks again,

Rod

 

DID TOO!..DID NOT!..DID TOO!..DID NOT!……

CheneyThis week, almost from the moment Diane Feinstein took the podium to read aloud the findings of the CIA Torture Report on “enhanced interrogation techniques,” lobbyists, politicians and Republicans everywhere began screaming from every corner about the hatchet job being done on some of America’s highest standing politicians and even the core values of the good old USA itself.

Torture is a word that conjures horrible pictures in your mind and “We don’t torture” has been the mantra of those individuals most involved in the cases Ms. Feinstein read about in her report. Chief amongst the people being looked at most closely in all this, is non other than ex President George W. Bush and his erstwhile Vice President, Mr. Dick Cheney.

Even though it’s been said that Bush is the one responsible for signing off on the EIT’s, frankly I’m not convinced that he possessed the intellectual curiosity to know what they really were. In the whole President/Vice President relationship, it always seemed to me that Bush was Pinocchio to Cheney’s Geppetto and was only useful to Cheney when it was necessary to stand behind the podium and convey a message to “the people.” One thing you must admit, they did have him looking good prancing around the deck of that aircraft carrier with the “Mission Accomplished” banner on it when we declared victory over Iraq!

I think it’s probably safe to say that Diane Feinstein won’t be on the Cheney family Christmas card list this year, but I’m also inclined to believe that she couldn’t possibly care less! Cheney has a knack for the unusual so Feinstein won’t be the biggest problem he’s ever faced! Memories roll in of when he was in office and created an energy policy behind closed doors, turned the Enron guys loose on California, and in a very short period of time, had that state on it’s knees, on the edge of bankruptcy, begging for mercy!                                                                                                                                             10537735_665890526837338_9149993080934533626_n

Everywhere he’s ever gone, confusion and chaos follows Cheney like a cloud. Long before the USA invaded Iraq, a story floated around that the oil giants were lining up to divide the huge oil deposits of Saddam’s country into specific areas to see who was going to get what portion of the spoils and Cheney was in the thick of it. So was Iraq really just about OIL? You’ll have to ask Cheney and Bush and your ears might turn a little red with the answer you get!

It’s no secret that the Bush administration did everything it possibly could to tie Saddam to the 9/11 attacks which would make him and his oil rich country complicit and a juicy target when it came time for the invasion. Remember WMD’s? I’ll bet Colin Powell is still pissed off about that one! It’s also no secret that Iraq was home to some of the largest military prisons where the “EIT’s” took place and some of the most horrendous sins against humanity occurred. To see the “whitewash” playing out on our TV screens on the six o’clock news, it’s doubtful that any US officials will ever pay a price for these acts and some of the greatest travesties of our time will go unpunished. Remember the Geneva Convention? Perhaps all of us who claim something like “waterboarding” isn’t torture, should go back and read what Geneva has to say. That way, next time we’re dumb enough to get into something like this, and have to answer for our sins, we’ll know who to send over there in handcuffs first!

DISTORTION.JPGOne thing is for sure. The public relations stakes in this whole mess could not be any higher. Everybody knows that if it can be proven that laws against humanity were broken and the USA is the culprit, our standing with all other major countries of the world is in deep jeopardy and someone is going to the crowbar hotel for an extended stay and that someone is definitely not a little peon like you or me.

So much for my political meandering about the sins of our former government and the players within who liked to walk on the shady side of the truth when it came to saying things like, “We don’t torture!”

Please send me your comments and critiques. I’ll be sure to read them all and use them if I can.

Have a wonderful Christmas holiday everybody!

Rod

Santa Claus has come to town!

SCis comingWell here we are folks, ’tis the season to be jolly, Fa La La La La, La La La La! This week the Labor Department announced that 321,000 jobs had been created in November and oil is in the low sixties and falling! Those are some pretty sweet gifts to find under our country’s Christmas tree and if you happen to be Baracka Claus, something to toot your horn about! On top of that, it was reported that because so many new jobs were being created, (5.8% unemployment) demand for workers is up and base wages are actually rising for the first time in years. That’s a total 2.65 million jobs that have been created during Mr. Obama’s tenure and is one of the greatest rebounds from tough financial times since the great depression and the history of the USA! Thanks a bunch Santa!

In addition, for those lucky enough to have a 401K account, this week the Dow finished up at 17,958. That’s about 10.000 points above the 7,949 it stood at when he took office. Many of the conservative prognosticators in the beginning were predicting that it would fall below 6,000 and never recover, so…if you based your investment package on those kind of words, that’s not exactly the way things went. It’s a pretty good bet that you’ll have to send the Rush Limbaugh types a large lump of coal to put in their stocking!

Santa comingJust in case I paint too bright a picture about the wonderful fiscal condition our country is in, let me say here that we’ve got plenty of stuff on our plate to be unthankful for! Primary among those problems is the fact that there are approximately 1.6 million workers in this country who can’t afford a visit to see Santa Claus this year because the only work they can get, pays them $7.25 an hour which wont buy a whole lot of time at the Christmas Tree! In a country that’s experiencing one of the greatest financial recoveries we’ve ever seen, it’s a shame that the ultra rich and well connected (I classify politicians amongst the well connected) don’t seem to see fit to offer our poorer working citizens anything close to a living wage!

SC is comingAmong the darker problems that I see in our bright picture is the spectre of racism against blacks and out of work minorities which has never been more blatant than it is currently. Is it tied to minimum wage folks and those who can’t get ahead far enough to take a rightful place in society? The way I see it, that’s affirmative. According to the way society looks upon them, minorities and lower end wage earners simply don’t “equal up” to the rest of us and therefore don’t carry the same value as a millionaire in a Mercedes. Consequently, that makes them an easy moving target for some neanderthal with a  gun, a badge, and a warped sense of duty to the force, the municipality they serve, and whoever just happens to write their paycheck.

It seems to me that one of the major travesties of our times is that we purposely spend more time trying to hold these people down at the bottom rung of society’s ladder existing on those starvation wages rather than offering them a living wage so that they have an opportunity to lift themselves to where they can take an equal place and exist like everyone else!

Recent events in New York, Cleveland and Ferguson Missouri are ample proof that we still have a long way to go before we can say those well worn words, Merry Christmas to ALL and mean it! Unfortunately, there are a whole lot of rich folks and politicians who are getting fat off poor folks labor and would much rather maintain the status quo rather than helping out their fellow man, so it’s up to us to keep working to try to make it a Merry Christmas for ALL!

Send me your critiques and comments. I’ll be sure to read them all and use them if I can.

Have a great week and a great Christmas everybody!

Rod

 

 

 

 

Holiday Season The Atria Way

Atria ApplwOn the west side of Denver, there’s a nice, middle class neighborhood named Applewood. I-70 winds  its way through it on it’s westward trek up through the first hogback of the mountains, and nestled neatly close by is a wonderful retirement community named appropriately enough, Atria Applewood.

I’ve known the folks at Atria Applewood ever since I started entertaining seniors a few years ago. They are a classy, well run organization and it seems that they constantly look for unique and unusual ways to occupy and entertain their residents at the same time. This year’s entry into the “unique ideas” category is an event I’m going to take the liberty of calling the “Christmas Craft Fair.”

The “Christmas Craft Fair” is an event where local folks, some with relatives who are residents at Atria, and also,Video 32 0 00 00-01  some of the residents themselves display items they’ve made or unique ideas they’ve come up with for sale as holiday gift items.

The gift ideas were unique and original. There were crafts and Christmas Wreaths or knick knacks and other Christmas decorations. Some folks had food recipes for things like really delicious hot chocolate or spaghetti sauce (which was killer) while other folks had created hand painted glassware and on and on it went.

Video 52 0 00 05-09I really don’t know who came up with this idea or who was actually “in charge” of this whole soiree, but the lady I was working for is someone who has been my friend and a mainstay at Atria for a long time. Her name is Nikki Crouse. She and I have enjoyed a wonderful work friendship as long as I’ve been entertaining seniors so that made this event not only something fun to play, but also something fun to be part of. She was also the one in charge of the camera for this event so if your picture looks funny…blaVideo 19 0 00 00-01me Nikki!

Since this was my first “Christmas” party of the season, one of the things I had to do was the same thing I have to do every year and that is “relearn” some of these tunes. I know that sounds dumb, but sometimes a little review is in order so that you can knock out the cobwebs and once again you end up with a whole new level of respect for the craftsmanship that went into them in the first place! There is an old story about Mel Torme sitting in Bakersfield California on the hottest day of the year when he wrote “The Christmas Song.” I’m not positive that it’s true but if it is, he certainly wrote a great song about Christmas on a hot summer day!

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There’s really not a whole lot more to say about a wonderful party like this. It was a wonderful day and a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season. It probably sounds a little overdone but we do have so much in our lives to be thankful for. Far too often the message gets lost and we have to be careful or we simply lose track, so………..

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY!

Send me your comments and critiques. I’ll be sure to read them all and use them if I can.

Thanks and have a great week everybody!

Rod