Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 in Review

The year 2009, end of another decade and a year of triumph and disappointment. Like any other year, 2009 was a 12 month roller coaster ride. It seemed every asset of our lives from financial to the arts was hit hard.

It always seems this time of year we fondly remember the people who have passed. Some deaths are more notable than others.
What I find fascinating is that death is the big equalizer. The one thing pauper or king cannot escape.

Here is a cross section of the more notable deaths of 2009. (In no particular order)

* Billy Mays, the television pitchman known for his boisterous hawking of products such as Orange Glo and OxiClean died the age of 50

* Susan Atkins, who committed one of modern history's most notorious crimes when she joined Charles Manson and his gang for a 1969 killing spree that terrorized Los Angeles and put her in prison for the rest of her life, died at the age of 61.

* Soupy Sales, Comedian died October 22nd at age 83.

* Carl Ballantine, actor best known for his role as crewman Lester Gruber in McHale's Navy but began his career as a comedian and magician. Died at the age of 92.

* Patriarch Pavle, who led Serbia's Christian Orthodox Church through its post-Communist revival and called for peace and conciliation during the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s. He was 95

* Oral Roberts, Evangelist and university founder died at the age of 91.

* Roy Disney, the nephew of Walt Disney and at one point served as the Vice Chairman of Walt Disney Company died at the age of 79.

* Eunice Shriver, one of the Kennedy dynasty and founder of the Special Olympics died at age 88.

* Jimmy Boyd, Child singer, best known for the original rendition of the Christmas song "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" in 1952, died at the age of 70.

* Mickey Carroll, who played one of the original Munchkins in the 1938 movie classic 'The Wizard of Oz' died at the age of 89.

* Ed McMahon, probably best known as Johnny Carson's sidekick on 'The Tonight Show' died at the age of 86.

* Sen. Ted Kennedy lost his battle with brain cancer and died at the age of 77.

* Harry Kalas, legendary announcer and voice of the Philadelphia Phillies, passed away at the age of 73.

* David Carradine, actor, was found dead in Bangkok . Carradine was known for his roles in "Kung Fu" and "Kill Bill." He was 73.

* Dom DeLuise actor, comedian who starred in comedy classics like "Cannonball Run", and "Spaceballs." died at the age of 75.

* Marilyn Chambers, 1970's porn star was found dead in her home at the age of 56.

* Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, Nobel prize winner and known as the "father of the green revolution" died at the age of 95.

* Patrick Swayze, actor who is best know for his dancing in the movie "Dirty Dancing" died after a battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 57.

* Captain Lou Albano, professional wrestler who appeared in Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" video, died at the age of 76.

* Michael Jackson, Pop star was pronounced dead on June 25 at the age of 50.

* Walter Cronkite, Legendary newsman died at the age of 92.

* Farrah Fawcett Actress whose poster adorned my teen-aged bedroom wall, died after a three year battle with cancer. She was 62.

And Finally Gidget, Taco Bell advertisement mascot died at the age of 15.

The list is not complete and I am sure thee is probably someone that you know personally who has past away in 209.

In reviewing this list I can't help but think of the ones that frankly, no one remembered until they died.

Death is the great equalizer; Nobel prize winner to porn star we all have to meet the Grim Reaper someday so we should celebrate life and not mourn death.

To all my readers I wish you a healthy and prosperous 2010!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Bravo England!

In recent blogs you have heard me complain about the irresponsibility and downright deceitful practices of a lot of advertising companies and manufacturers of "beauty" products for their ads. They over retouch images so people are skinnier, taller, and less wrinkly than they actually are, all to sell a product that, of course, doesn't do what is promised. Believe me I have the crows feet to prove it! But hey I earned them dam it.

Anyway, yesterday, the Advertising Standards Authority if the United Kingdom banned the complete set of Olay Twiggy ads, ruling that the post-production retouching could give consumers a "misleading impression of the effect the product could achieve." Finally someone is saying what we all have been thinking. Twiggy, the 1960's icon is now 60 years old, and looks great. No need to be excessively retouched.

Would this ban ever happen in this country? I hope so, but am not holding my breathe. As long as big corporations still stranglehold our politicians nothing will change.

In the US, we have Truth in Advertising laws. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the main federal agency that enforces advertising laws and regulations.

Under the Federal Trade Commission Act:
* Advertising must be truthful and non-deceptive;
* Advertisers must have evidence to back up their claims; and
* Advertisements cannot be unfair.

So how is making someone skinnier, look younger, or have more hair fair?

Besides all that, what is wrong with looking your age? Yes, I am also a bit guilty of retouching images for clients. But these images are for their personal use and not to sell a product. I try to make my clients look as beautiful in photos as they are... in their heads.

When the focus of this deception is to sell a product, then there needs to be a backlash. Not only are we feeding this unattainable vision of beauty to our children, now with a simple cream we can erase years of life. So that our older generation, my generation, is now ashamed of looking their age.

Isn't it bad enough that you can get a Botox injection in a strip mall?

My wife an I recently joined a gym. We work out about 4 times a week, to get in shape and to stay healthy, longer. We do it for ourselves and each other. We want to be the best person we can without canceling out the years we have had on this planet.

Self dignity and self respect should be taught and preached. Not that you can take a short cut to self respect by changing your appearance with a cream.

So bravo England and I hope this wave of truth spreads.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What Holiday Owns December?

When I talk about religion and Christmas I can already here the shouts of Grinch and Bah Humbug. It's not that I dislike the holiday season it's that there are more than one holiday during this festive time of year. The Christians, especially the members of the Advent Conspiracy forget that before Christmas there was Yule, Chanukah and sometimes Ramadan. In fact Christmas was purposely made a holiday in December to coincide with the pagan festival of Yule.

Yule is the celebration of the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. The Goddess gives birth to the God. The Sun represents the God reborn. Fires are lit to welcome him. The ancient Pagans had rituals to hasten the end of winter and bring in the spring when nature’s bounty would, again, prevail. The day is a reminder that death isn’t final; there will be rebirth.

Chanukah or Hanukkah from the Hebrew word for "dedication" or "consecration", marks the re dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem after its desecration by the forces of the King of Syria Antiochus IV Epiphanes and commemorates the "miracle of the container of oil". According to the Talmud, at the re-dedication following the victory of the Maccabees over the Seleucid Empire, there was only enough consecrated olive oil to fuel the eternal flame in the Temple for one day. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days, which was the length of time it took to press, prepare and consecrate fresh olive oil.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is the Islamic month of fasting, in which Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and indulging in anything that is in excess, from dawn until sunset. During Ramadan, Muslims ask forgiveness for past sins, pray for guidance and help in refraining from everyday evils, and try to purify themselves through self-restraint and good deeds. Ramadan is not always in December, in fact the dates of Ramadan vary, moving forward about ten days each year as it is a moving holiday depending on the moon. But I did not want to forget this very important holiday on the Muslim calendar.

Also we have Kwanzaa, which is our newest of December holidays debuting in 1966.
Kwanzaa, is a week-long celebration held in the United States honoring African heritage and culture. It is marked by participants lighting a candle holder called a kinara. It is observed from December 26 to January 1 each year, primarily in the United States. There are seven days of celebration, featuring activities such as candle-lighting culminating in a feast and gift giving.

So you see, Christmas is not the only celebration in December.
The Colorado-based Focus on the Family is continuing its Stand for Christmas campaign to highlight the offenses of Christmas-denying retailers. According to its website, because "citizens across the nation were growing dissatisfied with the tendency of corporations to omit references to Christmas from holiday promotions. (See TIME's photoessay "Have a Very Ridiculous Christmas.")

This time of year, understanding and tolerance should be the hallmark of the season. But all around us we see more and more people being ignorant and rude in the malls. being caught up in buying that special gift for their spoiled child who already has more than they should.

When I wish someone a Happy Holiday, I am being genuine. It's not because I am anti-Christian it is just that I do not want to exclude anyone with my good tidings.

I do not expect someone to scoff at me because I did not wish them Merry Christmas. But it happens, especially in the small minded town in which I currently reside. They actually get angry and try to correct you with their Merry Christmas. And really who is actually merry?

So, during this holiday season I'd like to wish everyone who take the time to read my blog a thank you and Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Condom Packaging Art Contest

Yesterday was World Aids day. A day to help raise awareness about HIV and Aids. So to promote this the Montgomery County Community College is having an art contest for condom package designs. This contest was sponsored by the Montgomery County Health Department in the hope that it will encourage college students to use a condom before engaging is sexual intercourse.

Even after taking Health 101, a great amount of college students seem to either lack knowledge of sex education or, even if they do know, don't care to use protection when they have sex. "What's the big deal with college students having sex?" you might ask. The big deal is that students are not thinking before acting, and that can lead to grave consequences. What can start out as fun can lead to sexually transmitted diseases such as herpes, gonorrhea and the HIV/AIDS virus.

According to the Center for Disease Control, 1 in 1500 college students are HIV positive. The largest groups of Americans infected with HIV are teenagers and young adults. In 2007, it was estimated that 33.2 million adults and children were living with HIV and AIDS.

With these facts, it should be clear that this is a "big deal" when it comes to colleges students having sex. So this contest seems like a great idea to raise awareness right?
Well not to everyone, ask County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel.
Joe Hoeffel stated, " I don't think the government ought to be in the condom delivery business." and he is opposed to the Montgomery County Health Commision getting involved. He actually was upset that they used tax money to support this contest. The grant money was used to rent a panel of the AIDS quilt. The amount, $500.

So if the schools cannot educate our young adults about safe sex and Aids, and the County Health Departmenst are getting blasted by small minded politicians like Hoeffel, then where do they get their facts?

That's right, other classmates and the internet. No wonder HIV and Aids is still a problem in the our colleges.

Art has always been the conscious of a society. It can take us to places of fantasy or make us think. I have always strived in my art to be socially conscious and help people see what is going on around them. Because I broach touchy, sensative subjects I too have been criticized. I applaud the Montgomery County Community Collage and the health Department and I hope the exhibition is still on display so I can actually view these condom wrapper designs and vote for my favorite.

For more information about this, check out the news report by NBC 10

Support the arts and support world Aids day. And maybe one day we can eradicate this deadly disease.