Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Gluttony Is Olympian Sport on Travel Channel

When did gluttony become an Olympic sport?

The Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food Nation promotes over-eating as a Herculean and manly trait.

Complete with crowd encouragement and melodramatic music, Adam Richman travels the country eating at restaurants that offer supersize platters for gargantuan eaters.

Richman huffs, puffs, and sweats his way through seriously oversize portions that may be seasoned with the hottest chile peppers and spices.

Comparisons to athletic training are explicit and frequent. The show’s star frames his showdowns with obscenely large meals at competitive events. The recipes – burgers, pizza, and the like – are loaded with carbohydrates and calories.

This show is so popular that Man vs. Food Nation evolved from the original program, Man vs. Food.

The promotion of gluttony is disturbing – especially when no show similarly glamorizes a gourmand for eating wisely controlled portions of healthy foods.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly one-third of the U.S. population is obese. The number of obese children has doubled since 1980, and fat adolescents have tripled.

The consequences of obesity are serious health problems – from diabetes to heart attack and stroke – and early death.

We often think the word obese is a politically-correct way to avoid calling someone fat. In fact, the definition of obesity is being fat to the point where a person’s health is harmed.

CDC is so concerned with the effects of our national gluttony and poor eating habits that web page after page is devoted to such topics as U.S. health care costs are as out of control as our eating – and the link is scientifically proven. Travel Channel’s contribution to this health quarmire, Man vs. Food Nation, is unconscionable. And that's not all. Similar programming that vaunts over-eating includes World's Best Places to Pig out, for example. What's next -- a program that shows a smoker traveling the country to over-indulge the best tobacco? Travel Channel is one of several liftstyle networks conjointly owned by Scripps Networks Interactive (70 percent) and the Tribune Company (30 percent).
There’s lot of irresponsible programming on TV, of course. People rant about sexual content, depictions of unmarried parents, and violence, for example. Controversy reigns because the nation cannot agree about social values.

The jury is not, however, about the link between gluttony, obesity, disease, and death. The consequences gluttony contribute our overburdened health care system.

Scripps Interactive and the Tribune Company are irresponsible to air a show that promotes over-eating as a competitive sport.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Fort Lauderdale Murals: Trompe L'Oeil Street Art

A huge mural graces the side of a three-story building at 1995 East Oakland Park Boulevard in Tamarac. Trompe l'oeil street art is a free delight among Fort Lauderdale things-to-see.

The sunset colors recreate the glowing peaches of a subtropical evening. Details, such as the shadow of a bird, add to the realism.

The artist has left name and phone number for admirers.

A few blocks away, a sub sandwich shop advertises its location at 1100 East Oakland Park Boulevard with this clever rendition of a European-style street cafe.

This colorful scene artfully disguises an awkward corner where a strip mall abuts an older, larger building. A patch of blue sky at the right top blends with the normally blue skies of South Florida. Even the yellow bricks, left, are fluently incorporated into the mural.

The close-up, below, shows the colorful palette of this creation.

I enjoy the murals that seem to be cropping up everywhere, adding interest to otherwise blank or even unsightly walls. Cheers for these street artists.

More Murals

Scroll down to see mural on Las Olas Boulevard.

Historical mural on Broward Boulevard is last photo.

Mid-century modern buildings at beach

Mid-century modern buildings, Seven Isles, off Las Olas Boulevard

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The Wise Crone Archetype Is Depicted in Long Interviews with Real Women

Interest in the third face of the maiden-mother-crone archetype is spawning books, articles, and even a magazine. One of the best is The Living Spirit of the Crone, fluently written by Sally Palmer Thomason (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, Theology and Sciences series).

The wise crone is emerging as a woman symbol for conscious aging.

Fluently Written and Very Readable

This highly readable book is a serious contemplation on growing old for women. Starting with feminist efforts to reclaim the wise crone archetype as a woman symbol of feminine power, Thomason effectively uses the long interview format to bring into focus the epiphanies of late life for specific women.

This is both the strength and the weakness of The Living Spirit of the Crone. Thomason uses the best practices of ethnographic research by checking back with her sources to comment on whether her interview descriptions capture the essence of what each wanted to express. In one instance, she has even translated the interview into a prose poem.

Interviews Offer Depth Not Glib Anecdotes

I don’t want anyone to think that this means the work is a dreary academic tome fit mostly for researchers. These interviews are deep and rich insights into how women built a new life stage in a society that worships sexual youth and beauty, overlooks the second face of the triple goddess, and denigrates the last stage of the maiden-mother-crone.

The contrast favorably with the anecdotal stories that little popular psychology and often barely scrape the surface of an exemplar’s life story. Such stories often imply that they are somehow universal descriptors of human experience.

To her credit, Thomason avoids this pitfall by pointing out the deficiency of interpreting the case histories as universal. She writes:

Each Interview Story Is Unique

Trying to comprehend the multiple and mysterious facets of aging is like trying to embrace a giant amoeba. When squeeze in one direction, it squirts out and dribbles off in another direction . . . this is not surprising, for the process of aging mirrors . . . [the] changing process of life itself. . . . Extemporaneous stories from other women give profound testimony to the reality that personal meaning is situated in place, time, and culture. . . . We all have a story within. If we listen carefully, we find clues of what we value and who we are becoming” (p. 18).

Walker reviews some well-worn material for the reader who may not have done much previous reading about aging. This includes tracing the history of the crone archetype and etymologies of words such as hag and witch that have origins reverencing older female as sources of wisdom. This is all part of decades-long feminist historical research to bring to completion the maiden-mother-crone triple goddess as a woman symbol of for the wise crone.

Aging Is Not a Disease To Be Treasted

Thomason summarizes the trend of science to identify aging as a medical condition to be treated, rather than as a stage of life to be honored. The book culminates by referencing the work of Carl Jung.

She suggests that successful aging is a time of growth and increased connection with the unconscious.

She proposes the last trimester of life as a time to write a “new script” for our lives. This includes reflecting on what we have learned, being aware that we may choose our conscious responses to the unbidden and often unwanted conditions of our elder years, and to greet the imminence of our own ends as part of the mysterious processes of birth, life, and death. By doing so, the older woman may hope to grow into the role of the wise crone.

Get inspired! Write your unique late-life script.

Source: Thomason, S.P. (2006). The living spirit of the crone: Turning aging inside out. In K. J. Sharpe (ed.) Theology and the Sciences series. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

LaQuinta Ad Uses Cliche and Stereotype and Is Not Humorous

LaQuinta recently has been hawking the comfort of its hotels to business travelers with a salesman who leaves his room so refreshed that he is able to . . .

At this point, a large block of ice slams the table in front of two men dressed in a Hollywood fantasy of Eskimo garb.

The announcer suggests we all “Get a clue.”

“No one needs a clue” one of the ersatz Inuits says sourly.

Thus a tired cliché that isn’t particularly humorous is piled on top of a stereotype of Northern native peoples. The suggestion that listeners "Get a clue" simultaneously insults viewers' intelligence whilst suggesting that we are – wink, wink – smarter than the announcer so that we don’t need the clue.

Yes well of course, we out here in TV land are well versed in tired cliches, after all.

Particularly irritating is that the supposed Eskimo does not resemble any native American, which genetically are relatively hairless.

The man appears Mediterranean, South American, or Mexican -- but certainly not Inuit.

I can only hope that LaQuinta gets a clue and retired this ad soon.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Mayhem Actor Dean Winters: Why I Love Allstate’s Bad Boy

Actor Dean Winters injects just the right amount of devilish charm into Allstate ads in which he portrays Mayhem.

Even at an age when I'm old enough to know better, the sexy grin and knowing wink of a Bad Boy still has seductive appeal.

The series started with Winters portraying a curvy female jogger with headband described as awesome. An ogling driver ends up with his car wound around a post.

He manages to simultaneously portray and skewer a texting teenage girl who leaves a bashed fender in a parking lot. The sexism of these two ads has been protested.

As a longtime feminist, my take is not that Allstate is making a general statement about all females wearing pink or being shallow, anymore than it is saying that all garage roofs will cave in from snow. It is, after all, portraying mayhem, which is by definition, random and unpredictable – not stereotypical.

Part of Winter’s appeal as Mayhem is the glee with which he portrays the result from each accident. Even as he survives battering in each accident, Mayhem laughs with unfettered joy.

And isn’t that part of the appeal of the Bad Boy, laughing in the face of all authority figures?

Allstate’s Mayhem shows up undaunted from each mishap, sporting an increasing amount bruises, dirt on his face, torn clothing, and other signs of, well, random mayhem.

Winters intones moodily about how you and the snow on your garage roof are growing heavier – until eventually the roof caves in to Mayhem’s delight.

Mayhem chortling as he scrunches under the dashboard, a bandaid clearly visible, pretending to be the voice of an out-of-control GPS system. “Recalculating,” he cries out at the last possible moment, too late for the driver to avoid an accident.

I’m not the only viewer enjoying Winter’s performance. The Internet is filled with chatter of women who invite Mayhem to run into them.

Ah, the Bad Boy – the once and future prince of our hearts.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Why I Love Florida: Scenes from St. Petersburg Skyway Show Gulf Beauty

Vistas of the Gulf of Mexico seduce the traveler to pause at a rest area.

It's hard to believe that a busy six-lane Interstate highway is just a few hundred yards away.

Gnarled trees spread their branches across the path in a natural arch.

A weathered log creates an elegant pattern of lines and curves.

Local residents park pickup cars in the shade. Boat trailers wait for day trippers to return with coolers of fish. Kayakers paddle in after a full day on the water.

The wind was stronger than reported, the kayakers tell me, which made rowing more challenging.

The wide purity of the blue water gleaming in the sunlight.

Trees at water's edge create abstract designs with their branches. It is illegal to cut mangroves in many places, because they create valuable ecosystems for sea creatures.

Scrub pine wave their feathery branches against the blue background. Color and texture, broad vistas and intimate byways, create the endless appeal of natural South Florida.

Try as we might to pave over Paradise, small bits and and pieces survive to inspire and delight.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Origami Kusudama Is Interesting and Fun Craft Project

This is my second origami kusudama.

It is a bit flat on one side, shown in the photo below right. I did not understand how to glue together the five-petalled flowers to form half the globe.

I started paper crafting a few years ago. I focused on modular flowers and stars. I tried to make a kusudama, but it got all sticky.

I did not have proper glue, so I used a collage finishing coat. This is a liquid and less precise than the mini glue gun I used this time.

I also was using proper origami paper, which is thin. So the combination of the liquid and thin paper turned into rather a sticky mess.

For this , I used heavier card stock and a glue gun. The flowers also were larger than those of my first effort.

This kusudama is made of 60 folded units. It is not particularly hard, but it takes some patience. The directions are located at Folding Trees.

I love the tactile feel of paper and the wonderful colors. I am taken aback at the expensive prices for many of the pretty gilded print Japanese origami papers. I will have to find wrapping papers and other substitutes.

I’ve bought my first book about origami folding by one of the best-known artists, Origami Inspirations.

Artists take great care to figure out patterns, often using their knowledge of mathematics. So the folding instructions are copyrighted and not necessarily available free on the internet.

I also bought a day calendar, Easy Origami Fold-a-Day: 2011 Day-to-Day Calendar

So far, the folds are too simple to be interesting. Some of the models require coloring in eyes and noses or wheels and so forth to make the ambiguous folds look like something.

On the other hand the Mukeriji book is beautiful even if all I do is look at the wonderful color photos of her work.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Tired of Fending Off Retailers' Requests that I Join Their Charity Efforts

Why is it necessary for every store I visit to solicit my assistance with the retailer's charity endeavors?

Today, I went to three stores, and two wanted to know if I wanted to leave cash behind to donate to the retailer's pet cause.

"My favorite charity is National Public Radio. Would you like to take some money out of the register so that I can send it along to them on behalf of your store?" I asked in exasperation.

Times are hard, but corporate begging only motivates me to avoid local stores. It is especially annoying that Publix supermarkets and Whole Foods markets solicit me every time I am at the cash register. I shop frequently for fresh food, so I can easily be asked to donate two or three times a week.

Now TJ Maxx is asking us to donate to diabetes.

My employers ask me to give annually -- to charities and school foundations.

I do not mind that students try to put their ideals in action with food drives and toy drives and fund-raising for worthy causes. This is what young idealists need to do.

I feel differently about corporate retailers I must visit if I wish to eat. I do not go to the supermarket to give to charity; I go to do my grocery shopping.

I am a grown-up.

I can decide where I want to send my money without being nudged and reminded every time I open my purse.