Monday, December 31, 2007

There are no stories sadder than unrequited love, right?

My foster daughter and her husband gave me a gift of gifts this Christmas: an iPhone. I've been wanting one of these things since I first saw it. Among my many flaws is an attraction to gadgets, esepcially if they are from Apple. I've been an Apple guy since the 1980s when we brought a Mac Plus. Since then I've had a succession of Apple machine and have been very much in love .

I've successfully resisted getting an iPod, but the iPhone called an siren's song to me. My daughter consulted with my wife if I really wanted one, received affirmation and lo and behold on Christmas Day I got one.



Well, I brought the phone to the local Apple store for activation. Yes, the instructions said plug it into your computer, but I thought it would be easier (and I could get some operating tips) if I went there. No, I had to plug it into my computer I was told.

I did and found out I needed a newer operating system.

So I called Apple and asked if my iMac G5 had the memory needed for the new Mac OS. Yes, I was told. So I went back to the Apple store and spend $129 plus tax on "Leopard." Where do they get these cat names from for a computer operating system?

I came back and tried to install it only to find our that the no good rat-soup-drinking junkyard no-show muffin wrapper technician had either lied or didn't know his backside from a hole in the ground.

Another call to Apple confimed I needed more memory: $100 more to be precise.

So I ordered it and now am waiting to receive it so it can be installed.

Then I will have to install the new operating system, hitchup the iPhone and get it activated.

Boy, I hope I like this thing.

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Friday, December 28, 2007

It's nearly the New Year a time for reflection, hope and the best of intentions.

I don't make resolutions much anymore because someone will use them against me later on in the year to prove just what kind of a slug I am. Since I unwittingly provide enough ammunition for those accusations, I really don't need actively work on my critic's behalf.

In the best (or worse) tradition of pundits, I can make resolutions for other people, though. So here goes:

For incoming Mayors Domenic Sarno, Susan Dawson and Michael Boulanger, be resolved that you shouldn't make any promises that your budget can't keep. And try to schedule more than five minutes at any one event so you can give people the idea that you really care instead of simply giving them a token of your attention.

Another resolution should be to treat the press well. Give us more advance notice than an hour for press conferences, if possible. And always give your hottest stories to the staff of Reminder Publications first. You'll go to heaven if you do.

For the Chicopee Board of Aldermen, be resolved you all should get matching T-shirts that read "City Councilor." It will take some time to get people used to calling you a new name.

For the Springfield City Council, be resolved you should actually seek ways to work with the new mayor and the new Finance Control Board instead of being obstructionists. Not all of you have been that way, granted you know who you are.

To the members of the Legislature, be resolved you actually think about what your constituents want, rather than the whims of the leadership.

To folks who want stories from us, be resolved to play by the rules: give us two week's notice if at all possible; send us the notice by e-mail ( and feel free to call me or Natasha Clark to see if we've received the e-mail this is not a perfect technology.

Please note we accept bribes. Staple a $20 bill to a press release and you'll be amazed at the service you get. Wrap a press release around a fine cigar. Sprinkle a press package liberally with gift cards. Note: I'm just kidding. Sort of.

To decision makers at the big daily paper, be resolved to at least thank us when you lift story ideas from us. Hey, we love you fellow ink slingers!

To the guys who plow the snow on my street, be resolved you'll actually do a good job instead of the sloppy incomplete one I normally have to endure. There are dirt roads in Vermont that are more carefully plowed than mine in the middle of New England's fourth largest city.

To my neighbors on Beech Street with the dog you've chained to my fence, be resolved you'll actually have a moment of enlightenment and understand how terribly cruel you are to this animal.

To my neighbors on Florence Street with the chickens, be resolved you actually understand you're not supposed to have poultry running around the neighborhood.

(Don't you just love my neighborhood?)

To Lucky the Wonder Bichon, be resolved you will not see the need to lift your leg in the house, especially in the summer when the back door is wide open.

Now for the sake of equal time Damn you, conscience! I resolve to lose more weight; meet my deadline for my second book; convince a publisher to accept my third book; finish scraping and painting my house; retire my Chris and Dan Buendo voodoo dolls they don't seem to work anyway; try not to swear at the television weathermen as much as I currently do; go see more movies in theaters; spend far less time and money on eBay; and do whatever my wife wants me to do when she wants me to do it.

She'll laugh now and use that against me later.
© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Thursday, December 27, 2007

I've been meaning to post this story I wrote for a while, but just didn't get around to it thanks to the holiday swirl. I saw Burns speak and he was great. He repeated part of what he referenced in this article: how this generation's "Pearl Harbor" did not elict a reponse for sacrifice and shared purpose. Instead, Burns said the America public was told to shop. And he's right. The government with the cooperation of the major press have done their best to keep this war, especially in its occupation phase, out of the view of the American public.

Now before you all tell me it's on the nightly news every night, ask yourself what kind of stories are usually run? They are stories of attacks and body count. I don't ever get the sense of what is actually going on there, except for that. There is much much more, but are we getting the chance to learn about it through the mediums the bulk of Americans use?

Anyway, if you've not seen "The War," get a copy and watch it. It's a great film.

For Ken Burns, the award-winning documentary filmmaker, his approach to
the story of America’s involvement in the Second World War wasn’t to focus
on the presidents, prime ministers or generals, but instead to report it
through the lives or ordinary people.

And Burns is quick to add the men and women who experienced the war were
not “ordinary.”

Burns spoke to Reminder Publications last week. He will be appearing at
a signing and a discussion about “The War” at 2 p.m. Dec. 15 at the Borders
bookstore at the Holyoke Mall. Aside from the recent release of the
documentary on DVD, there is also a companion hardcover book by Geoffrey C.
Ward and Burns.

Burns said that in producing the film, the first thing one had to do was
shed any idea of a standard documentary format for the production. The goal
was to make “an authentic film.”

That task was daunting because Burns added World War II was “the biggest
event in human history.”

Burns wanted to approach the subject through four communities –
Luverne, Minn., Sacramento, Ca, Mobile, Ala. and Waterbury, Conn. – and
their citizens. To do so, once the communities were selected Burns and his
colleagues spoke to over 600 people – individuals who saw combat and those
waiting for their loved ones to return from combat.

From that group, about 40 on-camera interview subjects were selected.
They ranged from people who fought in the Pacific and European theaters to
Americans who were imprisoned behind enemy lines to young women who found
themselves working in jobs that supported the war effort.

Burns said it was a privilege to speak with these people as it allowed
him to see what it was like to experience the war.

Many other documentaries have discussed the leaders and the events of
the war and Burns thought this approach “keeps you away from what really
happens in war.”

The production took seven years to make and involved going through
thousand of hours of archival movie footage – some of it was truly horrific
Burns said – thousands of photographs and hundreds of hours of interview, he

Burns wanted to put viewers into the shoes of Americans living during
the war by cutting from scenes about the clash to Europe to the home front
to the war in the Pacific rather than covering those events in separate
parts of the film.

“Americans were overwhelmed by news,” he said.

With uncensored war footage and frank interviews with veterans and
others, Burns hoped to strip away the romance that has surrounded “the good

“The good war was the worse war ever,” he added.

Burns noted, though, one can draw some of the most positive examples of
human behavior from the war.

“The good stuff is only made better when you lift up the carpet and
sweep out some of the dirt,” he said.

The ultimate result is a film that has made a deep impression on its
viewers. Burns said he has received thousands of calls and letters from
veterans who have told him that finally someone has portrayed what being in
the war was like. Burns has received gifts such as dirt from Omaha beach and
sand from Iwo Jima from viewers.

“It’s been an amazing, amazing outpouring,” he said.

With America is currently involved in a war that was started with an
event that has parallels with the attack on Pearl Harbor, Burns noted
Americans today haven’t been asked to make any sacrifices unlike their
countrymen of 60 years ago.

He said that at signings he always asks how many people know someone who
is serving in Iraq or Afghanistan and he said only about two percent raise
their hands.

He said the lack of involvement of most American’s in today’s conflict
has resulted in a separate military class.

During World War II, Americans were in the fight together, he said.

“Today we’re all individual free agents,” he added.

He said we might be today ‘a richer nation, but we feel a poverty of

Review: “The War”
For anyone who harbors romantic notions about “The Good War,” Burns’
lengthy documentary will quickly remove any rose-colored glasses.

“The War’ is a story about how a nation of people who largely viewed
themselves as unaffected by events happening in both Europe and Asia reacted
when thrust into a conflict the likes the planet had never seen before.

And while Burns shows how Americans reacted in selfless and noble ways,
he balances the coverage by also showing that people were all too human.
Whether it is the racial tension that came with the industrial mobilization
or the shameful treatment of Japanese American citizens, this film does what
no other documentary on World War II has ever done: it relates the story of
the war in truly understandable terms.

Like “the Civil War,” the film for which Burns is best know, “The War”
uses a variety of firsthand sources and accounts. The difference with this
film is that we are able see and hear those witnesses in contemporary
interviews. This film is all the more powerful because we can relate to the
events through these people.

This film established a human link between those who experienced the war
and those who have only seen it as a historical event and I think it should
be required viewing for anyone wishing to understand the American

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas to all!

It's almost here so I'm almost through my annual Christmas anxieties:

I stress out trying to prepare stuff at work so I can take time off.

I try to relax about shopping for my wife because I want to the holiday gifts to be memorable.

I want the Xmas meal to go well....what did I forget?

I hope to find a DVD for Steve B. that he doesn't have already! It's best to ask.

And now a new worry: making sure I don't ruin Christmas by saying something insulting to friends over dinner!

Worst Xmas special: anything by Rankin-Bass...Yag! I've hated all of the stuff since I was a kid.
Best Xmas special: Chuck Jone's Grinch. Still love it.
Best Xmas movie: a tie between "A Christmas Story" "It's a Wonderful Life" and the original "Miracle on 34th Street" Special runner-up "The Muppets Christmas Carol"
Worst Xmas film: no not the obvious: "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" or "Santa Claus [Mexican version]". I can't stand "White Christmas" yeech...Danny Kaye.
Best pop Xmas album: Nat King Cole's Christmas album
Worst Christmas music: Anything involving Paul McCartney.

Your turn!
© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Here's a press release dated Dec. 12 that provides something to think about this Christmas season.

Here's an interesting formula: as more and more jobs leave this nation, our standard of living decreases. As our buying power wanes, we are forced to shop at places like Wal-Mart. With every purchase of cheap foreign goods, we potentially damage the jobs we have left.

We've got to reverse this if we don't all want to be shopping at Family Dollar.

Yeah, yeah I'm the frickin' Grinch ain't I? We're not to consider such upsetting thoughts this holiday season. Sorry....not!

Wal-Mart Christmas Ornaments Made Under
Illegal Sweatshop Conditions in China

Wal-Mart Christmas ornament workers toil 10 to 15 hours a day, seven days a week, going for months without a day off. Many workers earn as little as 26 cents an hour—just half of China’s legal minimum wage. Workers handle toxic chemicals without protective gear. Some children as young as 12 worked in the factory.

Senator Byron Dorgan holds a simultaneous press conference in the Senate Gallery in Washington, DC.

At a press conference at Rockefeller Center in New York City, in the shadow of the Christmas Tree, the country’s leading labor rights activist, National Labor Committee director Charles Kernaghan, released a 58-page report, documenting the horrific conditions under which Wal-Mart’s Christmas ornaments are made in China. The release includes unprecedented photographs and video footage of child laborers and workers in the Spray Painting department handling potentially dangerous chemicals without the most rudimentary safety gear.

The National Labor Committee’s report, “A Wal-Mart Christmas Brought to You from a Sweatshop in China” provides a rare inside view of the giant Guanzhou Huanya ornaments factory in Guangdong, where every single labor law, not to mention internationally recognized worker rights standards, are being grossly violated on a daily basis. The report can be accessed on the NLC’s website:

Among the abusive conditions documented in the report are:

Five hundred to 600 16-year-old high school students were employed last summer, along with some children as young as 12 years of age, toiling 10 to 12 to 15 hours a day, seven days a week, and going for months on end without receiving a single day off. Wal-Mart Christmas ornament workers are at the factory a minimum of 84 hours a week, while at least half the workers are at the factory 105 hours a week.

Anyone daring to take a Sunday off will be docked 2 ½ days’ wages.

Some workers earned as little as 26 cents an hour, just half China’s legal minimum wage of 55 cents an hour, which itself is not close to a subsistence level wage. Pay sheets smuggled out of the factory show workers earning a median wage of 49 cents an hour, including overtime, and $42.29 for 110 hours of work, while they should have earned $74.77. Workers were cheated of one-third of the wages legally due them. Factory pay sheets showed just eight percent of the workers earning the legal minimum wage, while 92 percent fell below that.

Workers in the Spray Paint department who develop skin rashes and sores while handling potentially dangerous chemicals have no choice but to leave the factory, as management does not pay medical bills or sick days. For quitting on short notice, workers are docked one month’s pay.

By July, the high school students were so exhausted from the grueling 12 to 14-hour shifts, seven days a week that they went on strike and brought a legal suit against the factory, denouncing the grueling, illegal hours and seven day workweeks for which they were paid below the legal minimum. The students also reported to the Labor Bureau that some 12-year-olds worked at the factory.

“With its expensive PR campaign, and masquerading as Tiny Tim, Wal-Mart is glorifying the virtue of buying cheap goods in its stores, claiming this is the real holiday spirit,” said Charles Kernaghan, “But, especially at this time of year, no American would knowingly purchase a product in Wal-Mart if they knew that bargain was based on the exploitation of children and teenagers forced to work grueling hours, seven days a week, who are stripped of their rights and paid pennies an hour. Wal-Mart will remain a Scrooge, so long as its bargains are based on the cheapening and immiseration of the lives of the young workers in China who make 70 percent of the goods sold in Wal-Mart.”

U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) said in a statement released in Washington, D.C., “Chinese sweatshops now produce not only the toys under our Christmas trees, but even the ornaments that hang on those trees. It is completely against the spirit of Christmas to produce ornaments in sweatshop factories where the workers are physically abused and financially cheated. We need to get serious about keeping the products of foreign sweatshops off American shelves. And we shouldn’t wait until next year’s holiday season rolls around before we take action.”

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Monday, December 17, 2007

It’s that time of year when memories of past Christmas seasons come floating back through the ether.

I was always quite suspicious of Santa Claus.

It just seemed to be a lot to believe – North Pole, elves and the fact he gave out all of the presents around the world in just one night.

I wasn’t a particularly smart-ass kid, but seeing Santa at Sears in West Springfield and then at Bradley’s seemed just wrong to me.

Our home at 104 Navajo Rd. in Springfield didn’t have a fireplace and chimney. There was a flue and an incinerator – remember incinerators? They’d burn up almost anything – and I couldn’t buy my parents’ assertions that Santa slid through the incinerator.

And when they offered the explanation that he came through a window, just like some cat burglar, I pretty much wrote old Saint Nick off.

The “crisis” of my teetering belief – hey, as long as I received presents, I was just as happy – was stabilized though one night when there was a knock on the front door.

Now, no one used the front door. Everyone used the side door through the breezeway, so I assumed this was someone we didn’t know.

I vaguely remember a man in a uniform and one of my parents taking an envelope from him. It was a telegram.

A telegram?! I only saw telegrams in the movies. This story took place 1960 or ’61. At that time, long-distance phone calls were still a relative rarity and telegrams were still a means to communicate quickly. However, for most people they were reserved for important and often bad news. Telegrams were official and important. You didn’t mess with a telegram.

And this telegram was addressed to my brother and me and it was from Santa!

Now, my young mind had difficulty processing all of this. We had received a telegram, a real Western Union telegram, and it was from Santa. There was some progression of logic that ended with the conclusion that Santa was real.

Wow. The doubting Thomas was silenced quite a bit. Perhaps Santa was real. After all who would send the telegram to us if he didn’t exist?

You see how trusting I am? It’s no wonder I voted for Mitt Romney for governor.

It never occurred to me that my parents had sent the telegram to us to shore up our fading belief. It worked until the next spring when there was a telegram from the Easter Bunny. That blew it. I had never believed in a six-foot rabbit distributing hardboiled eggs and candy throughout the land.

Western Union had fractured its credibility with me, too.

But those relative few moments when I thought Santa could be real were nice to savor.


When I was on the late and lamented WREB way back over 20 years ago, I was the fattest guy on the station. I’m now the fattest guy at this newspaper office. Some stuff doesn’t change.

Both Jonathan Evans and Rom Chimelis, with whom I shared the daily talk duties, were slender. Therefore, when the annual Santa Claus broadcast came up, guess which one got to don the suit?

Yup, I got to represent Saint Nick quite a few years including a gig as the official Holyoke Santa.

Now, I was a traditionalist. I didn’t say or do anything to tarnish Santa’s reputation to get a cheap laugh. And I tried hard not to scare the parade of pre-schoolers who were brought to a downtown bank from where we broadcast for a day.

Santa is one of the ultimate authority figures. His judgment would determine what kind of a holiday you had – that’s pretty big in the world of kids.

The most memorable request came from a little girl no older than four. When I asked her on the air what she wanted, she replied quickly and confidently, “Diamonds.”

And when I served as Santa for the Paper City, I was put to the test: my wife decided to bring our then wee tyke nephew Andrew to see Santa.

Talk about stress – I really didn’t want to mess up this kid’s mind when he recognized his uncle.

But thanks to a superior Santa outfit – Holyoke didn’t cut any corners – Andrew declared to my wife Mary that he had visited the “real” Santa.

I wonder if he remembers?
© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Monday, December 10, 2007

Politics is just as seductive as entertainment to me and often times they seem almost alike. In a perfect world, I'd be a full-time talking head pundit by name and an entertainment reporter by night.

What I wouldn't want to be is a pollster as pundits are supposed to offer educated guesses while pollsters are supposed to offers facts based on statistical data. Pundits can make a goof or two and still retain their jobs. Pollsters are required to be right.

The folks at Zogby sent me the following information which I'd like to share with my like-minded readers. What interests me is how the pundits are now revising their "front runner has got it locked" rhetoric to "it's now anyone's game" as we get closer to actuall voting.

And I love the whole rap on Mitt Romney: focusing on his religion and his electibility, instead of his record as governor. Under four years of Mitt (actually less as he was out of the state much of his last year preparing his run) he did only several things which meant anything to me: he fired hack politician Billy Bulger as the president of UMass and he helped formed the Finance Control Board that has helped stabilize my home town.

That's two good things I can say about him and the only good things. Essentially he was completely unprepared for accomplishing something in government. The State House is not the same as a corporation and Romney failed to learn how to work with people. Once he made sure everyone knoew this was a steppingstone, he lost any juice he had with the public and his fellow pols.

Here's what the Zogby folks are saying:

Less than a month before Americans officially begin choosing their next President, the Democratic and Republican races in the first caucus state of Iowa are essentially dead heats, new Zogby telephone polls show.

In the first primary state of New Hampshire, Democrat Hillary Clinton of New York retains an 11ˆpoint lead, down from what had been a 15 point lead in late September. However, Republican Mitt Romney's strength in the Granite State remains strong with double the support of his nearest rival among likely Republican primary voters.


Clinton leads the Democratic race here with 27%, followed closely by Barack Obama of Illinois at 24% and John Edwards of North Carolina with 21%. There has been very little movement in the Democratic race here since last month, as the frontˆrunners essentially stood still and two lower tier candidates, Senator Joe Biden of Delaware and Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio gained two points each.

In fact, this race has remained remarkably stable for the past year. Zogby telephone polling in Iowa last January showed it to be a threeˆway race with 13% undecided ˆ now, 11% say they have yet to make up their minds.
Since last month, however, Clinton was able to solidify her standing among some likely caucusˆgoers by increasing the number of people who said she would be their second choice. This is a critical factor in the Democratic caucus in Iowa. In the caucuses, a first round of „balloting‰ is conducted, and those candidates who do not win at least 15% support are ruled „unviable‰ and supporters are directed to a second choice among those who remained „viable‰ before a second round of „balloting‰ is conducted.

Last month, Obama and Edwards were much more preferred as a second choice among those candidates who appear to be unviable under Democratic caucus rules. Clinton appears to be gaining ground among those who might consider experience to be an important factor in choosing a nominee ˆ she wins the lion‚s share of support among those who make Biden their first choice, and she does well among those who would first choose New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

Among those who make Obama their first choice, Edwards is their second choice, and vice versa. Among those who make Clinton their first choice, Obama is the favorite second choice.

Among independents who said they would caucus with the Democrats, Obama leads with 31%, followed by Edwards at 26% and Clinton at 19%.

Among Iowa women, Clinton leads with 33%, followed by Obama and Edwards, both at 23%. Among men, Obama leads with 26%, followed by Clinton at 20% and Edwards at 19%. Richardson wins 10% and Biden 9% among men.

On the Republican side, Mitt Romney of Massachusetts retains a narrow edge over Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, but it is essentially a dead heat, the Zogby survey shows. Romney has lost five points in the last month, while Huckabee has soared, gaining 10 points since Zogby‚s Nov. 7 poll.

Huckabee has taken the most support from Romney, but his gain also comes as Fred Thompson of Tennessee and John McCain of Arizona lost ground.

Among women, Huckabee leads Romney, 25% to 24%, but Romney leads Huckabee among men, 28% to 26%.

Among those who consider themselves Born Again Christians, Huckabee enjoys a large lead over Romney, 42% to 22%, but he made significant gains among those who are not Born Again, moving from 7% in the Nov. 7 poll to 17% in this latest survey. Romney still leads among nonˆBorn Agains with 30% support. Rudy Giuliani of New York is third among nonˆBorn Agains.

Among current gun owners, Huckabee and Romney are tied at 27% support with Fred Thompson a distant third at 11%. Among former gun owners, Huckabee leads Romney, 34% to 28%. Among those who have never owned a gun, Huckabee leads Romney, 26% to 23%, with Giuliani winning 18% support.

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Monday, December 03, 2007

I've received inquiries on how to get an autographed copy of my book "Escape! How Animation Broke into the Mainstream in the 1990s."

And the answer is...I'm not sure! I will be having a local signing in my hometown of Springfield at 2 p.m. Jan. 26 at the grand and majestic Central Library. I'll post more details as plans are firmed up.

I'm still trying to get a signing lined up in Boston and New York, and will be lobbying a couple of places in those communities this week.

I'm debating buying a bunch of book myself to autograph and sell then through the blog. We'll see.

In the meantime, word is getting out there about the book's existence. The great animation director Michael Sporn plugged it on his blog and Jerry Beck gave it a nod at Cartoon Brew. Thanks guys!

Even the book's cover artist, Mark Martin (not the race car driver) mentioned it on his blog!

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs
Like all reporters, I am professionally ignorant.

Every day I'm confronted by mysteries, conundrums and puzzling evidence of things I barely understand. It's my job to comprehend something of which I have no experience in order to write a story that will be understood by my readers.

There are many times I am stymied, though, by events and pronouncements I see or read.

For instance, I make no claim to superior intelligence, but I like to think that, as the late Redd Foxx would say, "I ain't no dummy." Why is it then when I stand at the counter of a Starbucks to get one of the frozen coffee drinks that I like so much I never know what to ask for? I have to launch into a description and an either bemused or bored looking barista then translates what I want to Starbuck-ese. Why is it I fail to understand the language of coffee drinks when obviously so many speak it?

I don't have trouble ordering food in Chinese restaurants where the cuisine and how it is described reflects a foreign culture.

On television I seem to watch all the channels on which some firm advertises for my "old gold." Apparently, there are quite a few Americans with gold items cluttering up their houses and this firm will buy them from you. All you have to do is call a telephone number and request your "old gold kit." You toss the stuff into a "security envelope" and wait for your check. What fascinates me is that among the "old gold" inventory the happy announcer lists is dental gold. Where does one get used dental gold? Is this from an inheritance or a quiet moment with a pair of pliers? That's a little grim, isn't it? Or do you trade in gold fillings and bridgework for newer substances?

We have toilets and urinals that flush themselves because we apparently are incapable of doing such an easy task and now we have paper towel and hand soap dispensers that are automatic as well. My problem is that if I'm in a restroom for the first time I have to stand there and try to figure out what I have to do or not do in order to complete the mundane chore of washing one's hands. Do I wave my hands before a sensor or crank something? When nothing happens have I waved too much or is it not working?

A seventh grade class recently visited me on a career day field trip to our offices. Now a newspaper office is a fairly passive place, but I expected some questions, some expressions of interest stupid, stupid me.

Instead almost every question I asked in order to get to know them a bit better What kind of music do you listen to? What movies do you like? What do you do in your spare time? Have you thought about a career? were met, for the most part, with blank stares or a genial "I don't know."

So how do these kids who profess to know so little manage to understand the intricacies of half a dozen video games that can take months to learn? How come they are capable of having a half-dozen conversations going on through instant messaging, but are ignorant of what is happening in their world? What the hell are they talking about?

I'm concerned my lack of understanding might be the tip of the on-coming old age iceberg. I've often wondered why men who were snappy dressers up until retirement suddenly accept clothing combinations of checks and stripes that are usually reserved for rodeo clowns. Why do these guys wear their pants up around their nipples? And why do some wear both a belt and suspenders?

Does an old- age chromosome kick in that negates any sense of good taste?

That leads into another question: Why do we Americans prefer quantity of food to quality? How many times have you heard people say, "Well it's not the best place, but you get a lot for the money."

Take it from a fat man, life is too short for bad buffets.

If anyone has any answers, drop me a line at

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs