Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lazy End of the Year

If you have stopped by the blog to look for brilliance today, I don't know what to tell you. I'm feeling tired and more than a little lazy. Now, the slightly sore throat and headache I have doesn't help. But I'm going to blame my malaise on the laziness that hits us all the last two weeks of December, because if I don't, I have no blog entry, and I've promised myself to put something up at least once a week.

Do you feel what I feel at the end of every year? There's so much to do in December, so much to accomplish...holiday cards, gifts, travel plans, visits with friends, and so on. And we all seem to look forward to the start of a new year, or at least we say we do. And yet, the last thing, the very last thing I want to do with my last two weeks of December is scurry around.

I want a lazy end of the year.

I wonder if it's that we tend to do too much all year round, especially at Christmas time. And I also wonder if we've lost the ability to rest. It's so rare to find someone who will say, "I didn't do a thing today. I just relaxed and sat with my thoughts and got refreshed through some quiet time." We don't rest enough. We fill our time instead with activities, activities, activities.

Now, it's not all bad to be busy. And of course, we have seasons when we have to be busy. But in the times where we can be free to rest, we often choose to be busy then, too, and we wear ourselves out.

So, while I feel I have no profound wisdom to offer right now, I am going to finish this blog entry with a simple bit of advice:  Don't be afraid of a lazy end to your year. 2011 is ready to start up any minute, and you can come up with your resolutions and start running around to them in a few days. Go ahead and relax and rest as you see 2010 on its gentle exit. You've earned it.

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Little-Known Quotes from Your Favorite Christmas Characters

We all know the official story of Rudolph, Santa, Hermie, and our other favorite holiday characters. But they have said plenty off camera too. And now, you can catch a glimpse into the workings of their minds. Merry Christmas! (Or as I like to call it, Merry Where's My Luggage? See earlier blog entry.)


"I don't care what anybody says. White Christmases stink!"
-Heat Miser

"Yeah, sure, like Christmas in Hawaii is 'normal.'"
-Snow Miser

"Bumble bumble bumble."
-The Abominable Snowman

"There's nothing better to celebrate Christmas than holiday lights!"
-Rudolph

"Too many holiday sweets will rot your teet. Be sure to brush."
-Hermie

"Every year, the Great Christmas Tree rises from a tree farm to bring gifts to good children."
-Linus

"Rocks for Halloween, coal for Christmas... If I'm going to get stones, then how about diamonds?"
-Charlie Brown

"I'm melting! I'm melting!"
-from Frosty's audition for The Wizard of Oz

"I'm melting! I'm melting!"
-from Witch's audition for Frosty the Snowman

"Yes, I did exclude Rudolph from the Reindeer Games. But I excluded Ben Affleck too, didn't I?"
-Coach of North Pole Reindeer Games

"Look, if all I did was hawk kids' toys, I'd be no better than Mayor McCheese."
-Mayor Burgermeister Meisterburger

"So. All you have is magic corn, and all it can do is make deer fly. No, no, I appreciate your help. Really."
-Jess and Kris Kringle talking with Winter Warlock

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Gifts for Sci-Fi Fans

I know, I know. Buying Christmas gifts is hard enough for normal people. Far more complicated for those of who are not normal (i.e., sci-fi and fantasy fans). You're sighing as you read this because you're saying to yourself, "Why couldn't I buy you cheese and meat baskets like a normal person?"

Well, not to worry. There are plenty of Internet resources to help you buy your gifts. Here are just two:

E-How's how to choose Christmas gifts for a sci-fi fanatic. (Yes, someone put this on e-How).
http://www.ehow.com/how_4557049_choose-christmas-gifts-scifi-fanatic.html

A webpage of miscellaneous sci-fi trivia, clips, and products. I like the Darth Vader snowglobe, in which he's building a Death Star out of snow.
http://www.misscellania.com/miss-cellania/2006/12/7/sci-fi-christmas.html

Hope that helps you show love to the geeks and nerds in your life. We appreciate your efforts!

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

New Christmas (er...Holiday) Rules from the Thought Police

In light of new discoveries in health, science, and sociology, the following changes must be made immediately to the celebration of Christmas (er...the holidays) to save the planet from destruction. Please note the following rules and enact them immediately. Thank you.
                —The Thought Police

1. Due to the possibility that man has created global warming, Santa Claus is hereby prohibited from flying his man-made sleigh through the atmosphere, as its passage may disrupt the normal function of the ozone layer.

2. In response to a recent study showing that people who get less sleep look (and therefore possibly are) less healthful than those who get a full eight hours of rest, parents are hereby prohibited from staying up until two in the morning on Christmas Eve (as well as other holiday eves and birthdays) to wrap presents or assemble bicycles.

3. As rising diabetes rates are becoming a global concern, cookies are hereby prohibited from being left out for Santa's visit.

4. Due to PETA's recent protests, milk taken from cows, goats, or other animals is hereby prohibited from being left out for Santa's visit. (Note 1: FDA regulations requiring proper refrigeration of milk products also necessitate the prohibition of illegal use of milk for late-night chimney visitors. Note 2: Soy milk may be used as a substitute only if the soybeans are grown organically and harvested by a cooperative in recognition of green-earth policies and fair employment laws.)

5. In an effort to reduce bullying and prevent hate crimes, Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer will be escorted to and from Santa's sleigh by a protective detail, and a restraining order of 5,000 yards is hereby instituted between Rudolph and any reindeer who in the past prevented him from playing in the reindeer games.

6. In the spirit of holiday inclusiveness, the seasonal holidays will now officially include the celebration of Festivus, and Festivus poles may be erected anywhere that Festivus practitioners deem appropriate, whether the poles are attractive or not, as long as they do not create a road or health hazard.

7. In the spirit of respecting others' religious or non-religious beliefs, please refrain from using the following phrases: Merry Christmas, Happy Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, Merry Festivus, Pleasant Solstice, and It's the Season of Reason. The following phrases, however, are deemed acceptable for public use: Don't Park There, Snow Again?, Where's My Luggage?, and Glad I Have Today Off Because I Don't Feel Like Working.

8. In an effort to distribute wealth equally throughout the world, any gifts that you attempt to give will be forcibly removed from your home or car and sent immediately to orphans in India and Africa.

Thank you for your attention to these matters. We appreciate your cooperation. Have a happy celebration of Where's My Luggage?

Copyright (c) 2010 The Thought Police (aka Michele Chiappetta). All rights reserved.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Music Is a True Writer's Muse

Okay, here's the deal. Sometimes, music is just a nice background filler. Sometimes, it's a tool to change your mood. Sometimes it uplifts and inspires. Sometimes it helps you clean the house.

But sometimes, it makes me want to write. The best music is a writer's truest muse at times.

Music that is a muse for a writer makes you see things in your head. Makes you picture places, people, movement, mood, action. It sometimes creates a story that just begs to be fleshed out and told.

Case in point: "The Last Mile" by Tree Adams.

This is a guy I never heard of until today, though he's been around and working in Hollywood for a while. And recording. And doing all the stuff that artists do.

But man, oh, man. The music editor for the TV show "The Good Guys" used "The Last Mile" for a shootout scene in a recent episode. And I sat up and took notice. Why? I don't know if I can fully explain why. But the music, the lyrics, the mood of it all made the writer in me light up like a sky filled with lightning. Energy coming out of my fingers now, begging me to write.

I see that music telling a story in my head... I see the character, duster rising up in the wind as she stands atop a hill, looking down at her quickly impending future. Her friends moving in behind her, ready for the fight they are about to descend into. Their future isn't written yet, but danger is hanging just ahead of them, and they are about to willingly pass into it, full force, and face death with courage.

I know just what piece of writing that scene goes into. And I'm eager to get into that piece of writing like nobody's business. That's what music does for a writer sometimes. It whispers in your ear and gives you artistry. Just like a muse. For that, I'm grateful.

Check out Tree Adams, "The Last Mile," on iTunes. I recommend it.

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Raining on Holiday Parade in Tulsa

Okay, I know I promised you holiday humor again this week. And I will keep my promise if I can with a second post later this week. But right now I have to be serious for a minute.

What is up with the big to-do about calling a parade a holiday parade instead of a Christmas parade in Tulsa?

I'm a Christian. Okay. I get it. Sometimes it feels like we get rejected for being Christians. And sometimes Christians take a beating in the media and in people's opinions. At times, we do need to take a stand against disrespect toward our religious beliefs. If, for example, I have to submit to being scanned or patted down in the airport, while a Muslim woman in full garb can walk past because being scanned or patted down violates her religion, that's not fair to me, and I can protest. If I get criticized for taking a principled stand against abortion (I believe you don't have a right to choose who lives and who dies), then so be it. I'll take the heat. I am not opposed to taking a stand for my beliefs, and for being criticized by those who disagree with me.

HOWEVER...

I also think Christians have a way of wasting time on non-issues instead of focusing on the issues that are truly relevant. Case in point: This stupid holiday parade in Tulsa. We had to debate the name of the parade politically, in committee, wasting government time that really needs to be spent elsewhere (like on figuring out how to fix our bleeping streets here). Why? Because it used to be called a Christmas parade, and now it's called a holiday parade.

Some would say this isn't just semantics. I agree with you. Some would say it's sending a message. I agree. I think the message it is sending is this: Jesus loves all the children in Tulsa, whether they know Him or not.

Yup. That's what I think. Because I think, at the bottom of it all, parades at the holidays are for our children to have fun. For them to know we love them. For them to know that adults like to have fun too. And I don't have any problem letting all the Jewish, Muslim, atheist, and other non-Christian children in Tulsa come to a parade during December. Maybe you do. I don't know what to tell you if you do.

I can tell you this, though. By making a huge deal over the word Christmas (vs. the word holiday), Christians in Tulsa are sending the message that we don't love people who won't use the word Christmas. I'm sorry, but my Bible never says the word Christmas will save anybody. Not even the name Christ will save anybody. It's believing in Him that saves, according to the Bible. And I don't know how you can convince people He is worth believing in, if His representatives on this earth are constantly acting full of themselves, snotty, argumentative, and angry all the time.

If I were not a Christian right now, I can tell you that seeing a bunch of Christians argue over a stupid parade would not make me at all interested in becoming a Christian. I think this argument over the parade does nothing to show the love of Christ, but goes a long way to showing the banality of human beings. No one comes to God through human idiocy. I think all religions would agree with that.

How about we put Christ back in Christmas by truly loving those who don't believe the same way we do? And finding ways to show them, to prove to them, that we love them in a way humans ordinarily don't love? That will show Jesus to people far better than any parade labeled "Christmas."

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Everything You See in Entertainment Starts with Rudolph


It’s the holiday season…and Christmas shows are beginning to air. So are seasonal commercials, all of which seem to have the Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies playing in the background, as though there are no other winter songs to choose from. But that’s a subject for another blog. Let me get right to my point: I’ll bet you never realized how many movies and TV shows have their origins in a line of dialogue from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

I know what you’re thinking. The Chipper Muse has been drinking! But no, no I haven’t. I’m serious. The idea dawned on me when the king of the Island of Misfit Toys says, “A toy is never truly happy until it is loved by a child.” Which, of course, is the inspiration for Toy Story. And anyone who has seen Elf knows that it was written and filmed with Rudolph in mind.

With my trusty notebook, I watched Rudolph this year, paying close attention to the dialogue that became the building blocks for well-known Hollywood productions. And just as you might suspect, I found quite a few of our favorite films and programs were inspired by the red-nosed reindeer. Let me show you. And let the holiday fun begin!

Line: “Who ever heard of a skinny Santa? Eat! Eat?”
Inspired: Fatso, a movie about a fat guy who can't stop eating

Line: “Suddenly it hit—the storm of storms!”
Inspired: The Perfect Storm and The Day After Tomorrow, both about killer storms

Line: “Someday I’d like to be a dentist.”
Inspired: Little Shop of Horrors and The Marathon Man, both with famous dental scenes

Line: “That sounded terrible! The tenor section was weak.”
Inspired: American Idol (and you think Simon is original)

Line: “I’ll never get off this island. Never.”
Inspired: Lost (self-explanatory)

Line: “That stupid elf song is driving me crazy!”
Inspired: Glee

Line: “My name’s Clarice. Hi.”
Inspired: The Silence of the Lambs

Line: “Like I said—the outside world is full of danger.”
Inspired: Witness (the grandfather was supposed to say this, but it got edited out)

Line: “All he thinks about are silver and gold.”
Inspired: Wall Street

Line: “The Bumble sinks.”
Inspired: Titanic (aka, the “bumble” to its bumbling shipbuilders)

Line: “Oink, oink, oink, oink.”
Inspired: Hot Fuzz and Police Academy

Line: “As good as everyone feels, this is no time to celebrate.”
Inspired: Die Hard (What do you think “yippee-ei-oh-kay-ay” means?)

I’ll be back next week with more Christmas humor. See you then!

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful For

For

A Thanksgiving Poem

There are so many things I’m thankful for.

For…
Happy, bright-colored memories
Raucous laughter with friends
Peaceful moments on my porch

For…
Lingering walks on sunny days
Blue skies and clouds at sunset
Calm ocean waves easing onto sandy shores

For…
The unexpected birth of clever ideas
Wisdom-laden insights
The play of words upon the page

For…
So much more than I can give account for

Yes…
So many wonderful things I am
thankful
for.

Happy Thanksgiving from The Chipper Muse!

Copyright © 2010 by Michele Chiappetta.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lit Twit (Literary Twitter)

Welcome to the mind of The Chipper Muse. I was on Twitter last night, and for some reason, I wondered this: If famous literary characters were alive today and on Twitter, what would they be tweeting about?

Naturally, I immediately thought the idea was hilarious. Possibilities are endless. Here are just a few ideas, in 140 characters or less (as Twitter rules demand). See if you can name them all. If not, there’s an answer key below.

@callmeish:
Finally sighted whale. It’s white. Maybe can finally kill it and get back to Beantown for some chowder, beer, and women!

@nomoregatz:
Whew! Wild party last night. Tons of crashers, but D- never showed. Got to chat with neighbor from Midwest. Nice guy, but kind of naïve.

@greatdane:
I hate my uncle! I hate my mother! I hate everyone in this stupid castle! Oh, and my Dad’s ghost is haunting me. Sigh.

@spiceguy:
If I drink the drugged water, I’m going to be a freak. But I’ll also rule the universe. Hmm…

@bakerstreetboy:
Everyone else wondering about hounds, as though it’s some big mystery. Not! It’s a cinch. Like being in elementary school.

@jiltedbride:
I don’t care how old I am. I still look d—n good in this wedding dress!

@gregors:
Is it just me, or do I look like a bug today?

@teddybear:
Where did I put that honey?

@samstheman:
I can’t believe all these egg recalls. How am I supposed to make my favorite breakfast?

@junglelover:
Jane! Jaaane!

@riverrunsdeep:
What is up with my aunt? She keeps trying to change my clothes and cut my hair. She calls it civilized. I call it prison!

@greekgod:
Man, my foot is killing me today! What’s up with that?

Answer key:

1. Ishmael, Moby Dick 2. Jay Gatsby, The Great Gatsby 3. Hamlet 4. Paul Atreides, Dune 5. Sherlock Holmes, Hound of the Baskervilles 6. Miss Havisham, Great Expectations 7. Gregor Samsa, The Metamorphosis 8. Winnie the Pooh 9. Sam I Am, Green Eggs and Ham 10. Tarzan 11. Huck Finn 12. Achilles, The Iliad

Thanks for playing! Feel free to add your lit twits in the comments section. I'd love to read them.

Copyright © 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Why Robots Will Never Rule the World

If you’re the average person, you never worry about robots taking over the world. Because you’re normal.

But if you’re a science fiction/fantasy/horror fan, particularly the obsessed kind, you worry about questions like this all the time. When will robots take over the world? When will aliens like the Borg or the Bugs show up in our air space to destroy humanity for no apparent reason? When will everyone realize that vampires/werewolves/ghosts/clones of William Shatner are real and living among us? It’s never an issue of “if,” only of “when.”

So when Hollywood recently announced that Steven Spielberg was making a movie called Robopocalypse, sci-fi fans everywhere squealed in delight. Not only do we finally get to see Spielberg meld his love for sci-fi and war movies (after which I assume he will finally be able to die happy, having achieved his greatest goal in filmmaking: Saving Private E.T.). But we also get to have paranoid discussions of how computers are taking over our lives, when they will become self-aware, and what they will do to us when they realize we’ve been using them to surf naughty sites and do simple math because we’re too lazy to do it ourselves.

But I want to reassure you. No matter how many times you’ve seen Terminator, no matter how much you fear your car will become possessed like Christine… Technology will never take over the world and destroy humans.

How do I know this?

Simple. Robots are essentially walking, talking computers. And computers are stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Case in point: I went to the store the other day. When the clerk rang up the M&Ms I bought, the computer spit out a coupon for me. Was the coupon for M&Ms? Of course not. The coupons that the cash register spits out are never related to products I actually buy, or brands I use often. They are always a suggestion for something else. Something I never use. Something I don’t want.

The other day, the store computer recommended I buy Raisinets next time. Because they’re healthier. (Thanks, computer health Nazis.) I know this computer isn’t smart, because I didn’t just buy chocolate. I also bought maxi pads. Because (sorry, guys) it was that time of the month for me. And as any human with a brain knows, you never, never, never mess with a woman during her time of the month when she wants chocolate. You just leave her alone.

Trust me. If that dumb cash register computer isn’t smart enough to know this about half the human population, then it isn’t smart over to take over the world in my lifetime.

So, we can all relax and face our future with confidence. And enjoy Robopocalypse without fear… unless Spielberg drops out and James Cameron or M. Night Shaymalan takes over the director’s seat. Then it’s time to run for the hills.

#

Extra Bonus: In case you want to survive a robot apocalypse, there's a website for that:
http://www.ehow.com/how_5881996_survive-robot-apocalypse.html

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The World Series It's Not

Highly charged moments. Dramatic back-and-forth struggles. Scores counted. Highs and lows. Bragging, showing off, and trash-talking. Proud winners. Sore and dejected losers. Vows that things are going to be different next time.

No, I’m not talking about the World Series. I’m talking about yesterday’s elections.

I care about our elections as much as the next person. In fact, there’s a 50-50 chance I care more than the next person, because the average turnout for elections in our country is typically 50% or less.

That’s not the only way I’m different, because I don’t just vote. I also try to base my vote on my best assessment of something that many voters never talk about.

Not issues. Not political affiliation. Not age, or gender, or color. Not popularity.
I’m talking about character.

Let’s be real. Politicians of any ilk have the potential to abuse their power, be irresponsible, fail to show up for votes, appease their party more than addressing the needs of their constituents, and otherwise do the things that make them…well, you know…politicians.

I don’t care whether you are a Republican or a Democrat. You can still lie. I don’t care if you’re for or against abortion or gun rights or fiscal responsibility if I can’t count on you to fulfill your office with wisdom, diligence, right motivation, and class.

A politician of character is like any other person of character. Such people respect others, do their best, act with humility, exercise passion with discipline and discernment…

Such people are hard to find. Yet they are exactly the ones I trust the most to represent me. Not Republicans. Not Democrats. Not Independents. Not Christians. Not non-Christians. Not career politicians. Not Tea Party-ers. People of character.

Many Americans will rejoice over the latest election results. As though it is the end of the World Series and they can go home celebrating. But government is not a game. And it’s not over. We don’t win until the people we’ve just elected actually prove themselves with wise actions.

I’m watching and waiting. We’ll see, won’t we?

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Trucks for Rebels

Author's Note: According to “Guerrilla Trucks,” a Newsweek article by Ravi Somaiya, October 14, 2010, rebels and insurgent groups around the world use the Toyota Hilux as their vehicle of choice. In response to the article, I’ve crafted a commercial for the Hilux. (To read the article—and I recommend that you do—visit www.newsweek.com/2010/10/14/why-rebel-groups-love-the-toyota-hilux.html. For more on the why behind this piece of writing, read further down.)

Toyota Hilux—The truck for today’s rebel

Political power struggles. Religious disputes. Wars on terror. Economic instability. It’s true, we live in trying times.

But you don’t have to struggle to make it from battle to battle. Not with the Toyota Hilux. We’ve been the military vehicle of choice for insurgents across the world since the 1960s. Time-tested, fast, highly maneuverable, the Hilux packs a powerful punch on any field of conflict—rural or urban, from the mountains of Pakistan to the trash-filled streets of Somalia.

The Hilux sports a high-ground clearance and steel-frame construction, making it highly durable and versatile on rough ground. Our trucks seat up to 20 soldiers comfortably—ideal for your troops as they travel through terrorized crowds, dismount to beat troublemakers into submission, then get back on the road in time to make it to their next guerrilla bombing in no time flat.

And the truck bed is so strong, you can mount a heavy weapon on the Hilux with a minimum of effort. It’s so easy to go armed, you’ll never want to go anywhere without the Hilux.

So, when you need to make it across your war-torn country, don’t just take any vehicle. Take the Hilux—the official truck of Al Qaeda cells everywhere.

Remember… the Toyota Hilux… Because you can’t overestimate the value of a truck that’s fast, never breaks down, and can support a heavy weapon.

~

Author's Explanation:
Just for the record, I’m not criticizing Toyota alone. I’m pointing the finger at every corporation that puts profit above people, every person who uses good things to do evil, every marketer whose work crosses the ethical borderline, and every journalistic organization that fails to cover the moral heart of a story (in this case, the conflict between technology and people, corporate profit and ethics). I’m even pointing the finger at myself, for every time I have shrugged my shoulders over something that matters, just because it seems like it will never change.

The truth is, I believe in change. And I believe in doing the right thing. It may not happen across the world. But it can happen within each person’s heart as we choose what is right, day by day, in the little ways that we can. And that’s one reason why I write.

Thanks for reading!

~The Chipper Muse~

Copyright © 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

An Open Letter to Sci-Fi Fans

In another effort to be silly, here's an addendum to last week's post about the important facts our kids do and do not know. I hope you get the references, since they are all geek related.

A recent poll revealed that 17% of American children—aka our future leaders—think that the Death Star is the furthest planet from the Earth.

Listen, I get it. I do. No one can reasonably expect jock dads and cheerleader moms to know their sci-fi. That’s why it is up to us, the legions of nerds, geeks, Chuck wannabes, and gamer girls, to stand up and be heard.

Who else but comic book readers and Evil Dead fans can explain to our nation’s kids that the Death Star is not the furthest planet from Earth because it is not a planet, nor is it a small moon. It’s a space station!

(And by the way, the Death Star would technically be the furthest space station from Earth, if only the rebels would stop blowing it up! But I digress.)

It is time for Trekkies and Harry Potter fans to stand up and be heard. It is time for Team Jacob and Team Edward to stop fighting and step up to the plate for the fight at hand. We have to teach our kids to appreciate the nuances of sci-fi history before it’s too late.

When are we going to take this threat to the future of sci-fi seriously? When?

When your children tell you that the line “Sorry, I can’t do that, Dave” is from a Wendy’s commercial? Is that when?

When they think that an Airbender is a Nike shoe? Is that when?

When they believe that Snooki wrote The Lord of the Rings? Is that when?

When they tell you that the Enterprise is a car rental agency, and not Captain Kirk’s ship? Is that when?

I tell you, we sci-fi fans can’t let this travesty go on any longer. We have to act now. The future of humanity depends on it! Let’s take the children around us under our wing and get them reading Robert Heinlein and Frank Herbert immediately, before it’s too late.

Go out there, and make it so!

Thank you for your attention, and godspeed.

~The Chipper Muse~

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

TMZ on PBS: It’s Our Only Hope

Who was the first person to set foot on the moon? If you said Neil Armstrong, you are correct. If you said Buzz Lightyear, you’re so, so wrong. But don’t feel bad. At least you are not alone. One in five children think it was Buzz too.

We live in what is commonly referred to as the Information Age. Perhaps, though, we should call it the Misinformation Age. Shared knowledge about our world is a key thread in the fabric of society. And I hate to tell you this, but the cloth is unraveling and about to fall down around our ankles.

Just consider some of the historical and scientific “facts” that kids these days have come to believe:
  • 11% believe Isaac Newton discovered fire. And why not? Striking a match is an action that produces an equal, if not exactly opposite, reaction.
  • 11% believe that Albert Einstein was Frankenstein’s brother. Albert Einstein. Frank Einstein. Makes sense to me.
  • 17% believe that the Death Star is the furthest planet from Earth. Well, it’s not a planet, or a small moon for that matter. It’s a space station. But it could be the furthest space station from Earth, if only the Rebels would stop blowing it up.
  • 5% believe that Christopher Columbus invented liposuction. As an Italian myself, I know this isn’t true. But I wish it was. I’ve inherited the Italian fat thighs, you see, and I could use a relative in the cosmetic surgery business to give me a free treatment.
Sadly, another 17% of our kids mistook President Obama for Mr. T, even though the President doesn’t wear chains, sport a Mohawk, or go around saying, “Whachoo talkin’ ‘bout, fool?” (Strangely, no one mistook Vice President Biden for Murdock, even though they are both crazy as loons. But I digress.)

I can’t imagine where the stars of Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader have been imported from, but they are obviously not from around here, because they know stuff. This general lack of knowledge that so many of our kids suffer from… Well, it is definitely disturbing. But even more disturbing are the facts that our kids actually get right. For example:
  • 65% know that Britney Spears shaved her head. I find this disturbing because it means far too many kids are reading People magazine, which is a crappy rag. Can’t we at least hook them on something cooler, like Rolling Stone or Blender?
  • 55% know that model Jordan has been married twice. Okay, I know I’m not a kid anymore, but I don’t even know who Jordan is. One of Michael Jordan’s spawn, maybe?
How is it that so many American children don’t know basic history and science, yet they do know how many times Lindsay Lohan has been before a judge? I suspect the only solution to this disturbing trend is a drastic one…one that I find utterly distasteful. And yet it is the only thing that might work.

TMZ is going to have to move to PBS.

I know you’re thinking this will never work. But it has to. Obviously, our kids are already hooked on that bottom-feeder of a show. How else can we explain why they know so much about Kanye West’s tweets? So, we’ve got to act fast by pairing the TMZ cast with lovable Sesame Street puppets to teach our kids some edumacation before they start to think Snooki wrote Hamlet.

We don’t even have to worry about the intelligence of the TMZ staff, or any of the celebrities they talk about. I mean, do you think they know any more than our kids do? No, I don’t either. But if we can get them to read cue cards, we’ll be okay. We can write down the facts we want to teach our children—such as, “Abe Lincoln was a president, not a car salesman.” The TMZ cast can sit with Grover and Oscar and Elmo, and simply read the cue cards in between making dumb jokes about Beyonce’s latest comments to photographers at LAX.

Just consider the benefits… Pairing TMZ with PBS will make PBS seem much hipper than Lawrence Welk reruns will ever accomplish. TMZ could benefit from the respectability that a little time with Big Bird can bestow. And our children will finally be able to learn that Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, not Steve Jobs.

These are desperate times, and we don’t have a minute to lose. We can’t allow the future wage earners of America to be utterly unable to count to ten, or we’ll never get correct change at McDonald’s ever again. So we’ve got to make our stand now. I can only hope we’ll rescue our kids in time…


Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

You Had Me at Your Headline

Today, you get my musings on word choice, particularly as it applies to the most feared beast  in the world of copywriting—the headline. You will be made or broken when you face this dreaded foe...

I'm a firm believer in the power of words. Of course I am. I write for a living. I write in my spare time. I teach writing. I know through much experience that words matter. They can make you, or they can break you.

And that's why I hate writing headlines.

Yup. They're a pain. It's hard to get the right balance of cleverness, punch, and clarity. If you get to write your own stuff and it's cheeky, like my blog, you can add a little humor and pop. If you have to write for a more staid, traditional market, like my non-profit employer, you have to be more serious and to-the-point, without being trite.

That's why I really hate writing headlines on the job.

But because it is such a challenge to write a headline that works, I notice them everywhere and think about them all the time. Well, I think of them when I read them. But anyway, here are a few headlines I found online today, along with some thoughts about why I like them. Or wisecrack comments that have nothing to do with writing, but that I think are funny. It's me, the Chipper Muse. You'll get both!

For fun headlines, go to Geekologie (www.geekologie.com), the "geek blog dedicated to the scientific study of gadgets, gizmos, and awesome." Just tell me you don't want to race right over there to click on these articles:
  • What Your Facebook Picture Says About You.  Now you're worried about it, aren't you? Of course you are. Check it out. It even has a chart, so you can see how many degrees your head can tilt before it indicates that you're unstable.
  • Of Course There Is: Sexy Chewbacca Costume.  Admit it. It creeps you out. But you still want to see the picture.
  • Jessica Alba Says She Has Cellulite.  Okay, I confess, I like this one because I'm female and I'm jealous. Take that, sexy Hollywood star who gets paid to work out every day while I sit at a computer typing and increasing my own cellulite. I hate you, and I'm going home now.
Now, for dismal headline writing, let's turn to my old friend, www.MSNBC.com. I know this may seem unfair. After all, they are a news site, and they have to be serious, while Geekologie gets to act like the written version of The Big Bang Theory. But that said, MSNBC routinely comes up with headlines that are such gobbledygook that I suspect monkeys are not only doing the typing, but doing the editing too. Here's a few samples from today:
  • Report: Condoms clog Games village drains.  So, maybe you got hooked on the word condoms. Snigger all you must, Ren and Stimpy. I get it. But I can't help but be (a) disgusted by the idea so that I don't want to read about it, and (b) shocked that someone spent time doing a report on it. Whatever happened to book reports? Or other, more normal reports?
  • Suffering from buyer's remorse? E-mail us!  This isn't even a headline. It's not a story. It's a call to depressed, lonely people to write to MSNBC instead of writing the next Unabomber Manifesto. A kind service, no doubt. But not a headline, even though it is masquerading as one.
  • Study of gay parents shows kids are well adjusted.  Classic MSNBC sloppy writing. Shouldn't we call it a study of gay families? If not, it's only a study about parents and not the kids. You can't know how well adjusted the kids are, unless you have studied them.
By the way, I fully intended to comment on the Tulsa World's current headlines, since today is the Tulsa Bloggers Meetup. But I can't, because the Tulsa World's website is so slow that I can't get it to come up on my computer. I guess they don't want the Chipper Muse reading their articles. They are afraid, very, very afraid.

Or their IT guy went to lunch early today, I'm not sure which.

Anyway, what do you think about headlines? Have you seen any you thought were hilariously demented? Pathetically written? Or possibly even brilliant? Let me know. I crave your comments. They give me fodder to write more for you.

Ciao for now!

~The Chipper Muse~

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Atheists Know More About God Than You Do

Note: Today, I’m going Onion-style here with a blog in response to an article on msnbc.com posted 9/28/10, titled “Survey: Americans don’t know much about religion” by Rachel Zoll of the Associated Press. To read the article, go here: http://msnbc.msn.com/id/39397251/ns/today-today_people. To figure out what I mean by Onion-style, go here: http://www.theonion.com/

According to a recent survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, American atheists and agnostics score higher than American Christians on tests of religious knowledge.

Stunned by the survey results, people across the country took to the streets in what is widely believed to be the largest spontaneous protest to a survey since polls revealed that sports fans prefer Wisconsin cheese to Brett Favre by a two-to-one ratio.

In one small town in Delaware, parents picketed a local school. Nell Crater, whose twin sons attend eighth grade, threw up her hands in despair when asked why she was protesting.

“It’s bad enough that my boys can’t do math or make the track team. I have given up hope that my boys will ever be rich or famous, no matter how many times I read The Secret. But now I find out that I can’t put them in the priesthood either?” Tears ran down the woman's face as she added, “I don’t even know why I dabbled in witchcraft when I was a teenager. It doesn’t work.”

Responding quickly to allegations of poor teaching in schools, the National Education Association (NEA) issued a strongly worded press release: “The Pew survey has revealed many troubling realities—realities that the NEA has attempted to bring to public attention for quite some time. Our children don’t know that Martin Luther started the Reformation. They don’t know that Maimonides was Jewish. But they do know how many lines Justin Bieber had on the season premiere of CSI. Our teachers certainly do not broadcast lousy TV in our classrooms. The blame lies elsewhere.”

Alan Starr, an adjunct professor of literature at the Bricktown Community College near Oklahoma City, shared his frustration upon hearing the Pew Forum’s findings. “A 32-question test, and the highest score was a 21? That’s an F. An F! I don’t care if the atheists do work hard and hand in their work on time! Why are we rewarding them with attention like this? I don’t care if this isn’t a real college. We don’t have to graduate people who get Fs.”

Political spin-meister John Carville put a more positive twist on the news. “Only half the people surveyed knew the name of the Islamic holy book or the first book of the Bible? Why, that just means the American public is looking for some new, fresh faces in the upcoming elections. It’s time to put Twilight on the ballots in November, and really get us a winner. That’s a change Americans can get behind.”

Experts in religion were much more cautious in their response, urging people to avoid overreacting to the survey findings. According to Jim Pickens, theologian and marketing guru at Heavenly University in San Francisco, “Americans have a long history of not knowing anything about anything. So, this Pew survey is nothing to be concerned about.”

Pickens also pointed out that the survey has positive implications. “These results could be used to better the lives of Americans in ways we haven’t even fathomed yet,” Pickens said.

“For example, if atheists and agnostics know religious facts better than religious people, it may mean that they study new things more intensely before they reject them. This could easily explain the sudden interest in things that seem ridiculous to most Americans—such as a large number of hits on a Perez Hilton YouTube video, or a high level of interest in Big Brother 12. People who don’t believe in God or aren’t sure could be playing havoc with our TV ratings and Google search results. That says something about how we live today.”

In a public statement issued live to the press earlier today, the Pew Forum defended its findings. Pew spokesman John Bench said, “Hey, we were just asking questions. Next week, we’ll be asking how many people prefer McDonald’s to Burger King after attending Sunday morning services. This stuff is not that big a deal.”

Copyright © 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fall TV Snark, Part 1

Note: This post is a part 1, which totally assumes that I will remember I need to do a part 2 sometime. We'll see if I manage to pull that off.

It's fall TV season. At last. I no longer have to risk flipping the channels and seeing unwelcome footage from Big Brother whatever the number. Now we can talk about the new TV season, and I'm very excited to add my two cents. Of course, since I'm the Chipper Muse, I'm not giving you anything like an official review here. I'm just making snarky comments and hoping you laugh...or cry...or just feel something, darn it. Stop being such a cold, wet blanket and feel something.

Kidding, you're not a wet blanket. You're my reader. I LOVE you!

Here are my fall TV observations so far:
  1. I'm not surprised Gibbs got away with murder on NCIS. But the director burying the file? And then the little text at the end from David saying "I found him" (as in, she found Gibbs' enemy and is going to go all Mossad assassin on him)? Whoa nelly. Politically incorrect Americans and Israelis? I predict a really touching plot about a misunderstood Muslim this season. It's the only thing that's missing.
  2. NCIS:LA now has two sad, brooding, lost adult males on it... The favorite, G. Callen, is so orphaned that he doesn't even have a first name. (At least Tiny Tim had a first name, for crying out loud.) But now G. has a rival in Marty Deeks. (Is Deeks a real name, by the way? Anyone ever met a Deeks?) Deeks is depressed because he lost his partner because of a crooked LA cop, and also I guess because his snarkiness needs to come from some deep-rooted pain in his character. We'll have to wait and see who is cuter in his sadness. I think that's the writers' point on this one.
  3. Linda Hamilton on Chuck. Comments, anyone? Okay, I'll go. I still wish it was Lynda Carter, but okay. Okay. I'll adjust to the other Linda. She looks a little worn, but spying will do that to you. And how about our tax dollars going to hire hot CIA agents to work at a fake Buy-More? I think if Obama cuts that part of the budget, we'll all be fine. In the meantime, I don't know if this season is going to work for me.
  4. I didn't watch this, but I read that Hasselhoff got kicked off Dancing With the Stars. Yet the Situation (some kid from Jersey) is still there. Where's the justice, my friends? Where...is...the...justice?
  5. Finally, Randy Jackson is finally signed to the next season of American Idol, and thank goodness. If he didn't agree to his contract, his replacement was going to be an actual DOG, barking at the contestants. That would have been annoying.
I'll have to get back to you on Castle, since I haven't watched it yet. (Hey, the guy is ruggedly handsome! I have to give him my full attention!) Crap My Dad Says (or whatever its official TV name is) airs later this week, so I'll have comments on that soon. But I expect to love William Shatner...because I love William Shatner. Whether I love the show, who knows? Oh, and Fringe starts soon, and I'm looking forward to seeing what they do there. Was it just me, or didn't it seem obvious that Universe 2 Olivia was an imposter? I mean, after all, what girl can dye her hair and restyle it with bangs that fast and in a strange parallel world where she doesn't have the right cash (Martin Luther King Jr's on the $20 bill) to buy hair supplies? Come on!

I'll be back next Wednesday with something. Who knows what? That's the fun of The Chipper Muse.

Ciao for now!

Copyright 2010 (c) by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lessons I Learned From 9-11

ChipperMuse Extra: I wrote this piece last year for an exercise in my writers group. I haven't polished it too much, because I think that defeats the purpose of a piece like this. The events of September 11 still make me consider my place in the universe. The thoughts I share below are just some of my personal observations. And to answer the question everyone wants to know, I was at work in Stamford, CT, when I heard the news. I spent the day listening for traffic that wasn't there, flinching every time a military helicopter flew overhead, and hoping that the people who worked at our city branch had been nowhere near the World Trade Center.

No one ever expects disaster. Not even the most hardened pessimist. The negative thinker may expect trouble. He may expect fear. But he doesn’t expect terror. Whenever we say we’re expecting the worst, we merely mean we’re expecting bad news. Because no matter what we may say or think, no one ever expects true disaster. It’s not in our DNA to do so. And that means when disaster and terror strike, you just can’t be prepared for it. That is Lesson #1.

That is what 9-11 felt like to me. When the Twin Towers were struck, I was struck too.

I can’t convey how unreal things felt to me. My first awareness of what happened came within minutes of the first tower being hit. My coworker M— got a call from an aunt of hers. M— was anxious by nature, so it wasn’t unusual to see her become agitated. But when she got off the phone, she turned to the three of us who were watching her and said, “The World Trade Center was hit by an airplane! I’ve got to go see the news.” And then she dashed out of the room to run upstairs where our employers had satellite television set up.

My two remaining coworkers and I stared at each other. We couldn’t wrap our minds around what M— had said, because it just didn’t compute. We turned on our radio, though, to get the news. It was so soon after the first plane crash that no one realized what was going on. The second tower had not yet been hit, and I could still imagine it all as a tragic error, rather than a planned act of terrible violence.

The radio reports were confused, so I tried to get the news online. But this was impossible because the news sites were overloaded from the excessive web traffic. So I eventually went upstairs to the TV. I needed to know what was happening. And that is Lesson #2: You can’t make decisions and take action unless you have knowledge and understanding. Ignorance is not bliss. It is a slave’s chain.

You must understand the reality of your situation before you can be free. You need the whole truth, not just partial truth. I was trapped in the realm of incomplete understanding after the first tower was struck. I assumed the “worst” as I could imagine it then—an awful accident, but an accident nonetheless. I was only enlightened after the second plane crash, because at that point, it became clear that the whole thing had been planned.

Only in knowing that we were under attack could I think about what I needed to do in the face of such evil. And that is Lesson #3: Evil is a real thing. It exists in the heart of each person. It can bloom in the most horrific ways. And it requires a response. I don’t believe in doing nothing. I don’t believe in telling people, “To each his own.” There are many grey areas in life, but not everything is grey. Some things are black and white, good or evil, and we each have to choose where we will stand.

And that is Lesson #4: We all have to choose. And the choice you make has consequences. What you choose matters. If there were a label I could give to the age we live in, I’d call it the Age of Irresponsibility. So many people live their lives as though their choices don’t matter. Even those of us who care about our choices and how we affect other people… Yes, even I am easily tempted to choose what I want and place the blame elsewhere. But ultimately, I am the reason for everything I get in life. And I am responsible for how I treat others.

I may not choose how others act. I can’t control what others believe. But I can always, always, always choose what I believe. I can always choose what manner of response I will make to every moment of life. So can you. Don’t let yourself be lulled to sleep in the Age of Irresponsibility. We are all accountable for our decisions. So let’s have the guts to make every choice with conscious awareness of what it will cost you and others.

Why do I say this? That’s Lesson #5: You can’t take anything for granted. What starts out as a normal day at the office can end in death, or injury, or grief. Nothing is guaranteed for you in life. The only thing you ever truly own is yourself—who you are deep inside your heart. Friends, family, possessions, positions… All of those things can be lost.

But the true you is eternal. The real you is affecting people every day with the choices you make. Let’s not wait until later in life to think about these things. Let’s think about them today. Let’s choose wisely today, and live well. We may not have tomorrow.

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

You Can Check In Anytime You Like...

Many people have decried the newest Facebook feature, known as Check In. So now, The Chipper Muse must weigh in and set everything into the proper perspective.

To those who haven’t heard (you know who you are!), Check In allows Facebook to use GPS technology to check you into the locations you visit. If you’re not much of a techie, just think of it as Facebook’s version of tagging you like wildlife. Check In enables you to ensure that your Facebook friends and family will know where you are at all times. At. All. Times. Who wouldn’t want that?

For people who think everyone cares how much coffee they pound at Starbucks each day, Check In is a dream come true. But for others, Check In seems like a Big Brother feature, a way of keeping track of your movements, a violation of your privacy. The debate rages under the shadow of Facebook’s many questionable policies.

Personally, I think the controversy is overrated. Check In has many advantages that far outweigh the nuisance of feeling like you’re a criminal with a tracker strapped to your ankle (and it’s a lot lighter too). Let me point out the most obvious reasons to use Check In:

1. Check In is a perfect tool for one-upping other people.
Sure, the next time you go to a truly exclusive event, like Chelsea Clinton’s wedding or Lindsay Lohan’s next hearing, you can kick it old-school and rub it in your friends’ noses by sticking out your tongue, saying Nyeh-Nyeh-Nyeh, and laughing mockingly. Or you can join the 21st century and lord it over people the way it is meant to be done in the Internet age—online and publicly accessible to people in other states, countries, and time zones. Now that’s what I call an e-diss.

I
 picture this use of Check In to blow up big time, especially after pro football season gets off the ground. Instead of goofy, old-fashioned dancing, you can expect to see wide receivers pull out their phones and “check in” at the other team’s end zone. By the Super Bowl, pedestrian put-downs and childish humiliations will finally be a thing of the past.

2. Check In raises peer pressure to new heights.
If you have an injured ego or low self-esteem, and if you’ve been longing for a new way to try to earn ineffectual brownie points with people who will never respect you, this is your answer. Check In will work especially well for school-aged kids who love to be bullied. Just check in wherever the “cool” people tell you to go. Check in at the big party hosted by people you hate, in order to prove you were cool enough to go. Extra points for everyone involved if the cool people publicly humiliate you while you are checked in at their hangout.

If you belong to a team or any kind of group that demands you behave exactly like everyone else to fit in, you’ll love Check In. I know lots of people who are already using this feature to check in to church, because as we all know, there’s no better way to be like Jesus than to draw attention to ourselves and point out how spiritual we are. The only thing that could possibly be better is to look at the Facebook pages of all our friends, find out who didn’t check in to church, and then criticize them. Thank goodness, Check In makes that possible.


3. Check In is an effective electronic way to lie.
Let this idea sink in for a moment. I think you’ll love its implications. After all, who is to say that you weren’t at work or in class when you checked in there? Just check in as you pull in the parking lot, then wheel right around and take off without checking out.

Unfortunately, Check In is empowered right now by actual GPS locations, which means you have to show up at the place you’re supposed to be, even if it’s just for a moment. That’s risky. But with some creative hacking, the GPS tracking could easily be disconnected. Imagine how free you’d be then. No need to show up at the actual location to give yourself an alibi. Just use the hack to fake check in at a busy Starbucks on the north side of town, while you’re actually doing whatever you want to do on the south side of town. It’s brilliant.


4. Check In benefits everyone, not just you.
If Check In were simply a self-serving feature, I could understand all the whining about “privacy.” But Check In is a great way for you to reach out and touch your entire community.

Admit it. You hear plenty of statistics on the news, but what you really want is to become a statistic. That’s where this Facebook feature comes in handy. Just check in at your vacation spot, and your neighborhood theft ring will be better able to plan a little B&E. They can plug Facebook into their Google calendar for even greater convenience. Think of how many hungry criminals and their families (and their drug dealers) you can feed in a week, just by using Check In. Probably at least as many people as you could feed by giving regularly to Feed the Children. What a great way to pay it forward to people in need!
Naturally, the Check In feature demands a follow-up. I’m certain Facebook is working on it as you read this. It will be called Check Out, and you will be able to use it anytime you want to turn your brain off and let other people do your thinking for you. It’ll be an app for your smartphone, and you can download it while you’re driving in heavy traffic, so no worries. I’ll make sure to write a review of it as soon as it’s available for testing.

In the meantime, don’t worry about the privacy debate. Just do what Facebook says. They’re taking over the Internet anyway. Resistance is futile.

~Ciao for now!~
The Chipper Muse


Copyright © 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Finding the Funny in Small Pieces

Today's Thought:
Some of the funniest moments in life are found in the small pieces of your day, the unique little moments that you can't predict.


ChipperMuse Extra:
I love the small surprises that make each day unique. It's how my brain works. I notice the oddities, the funny moments that make me laugh. When I share my observations with others, they laugh too. It seems my sense of humor is rooted in my affection for the unexpected, coupled with my ability to laugh at myself for my own reactions to the unexpected.


This weekend was a great weekend for laughs, even though none of the places I went were associated with laughter. No funny movies. No comedy shows. Nope. I went to a live music performance, the farmers market, Shakespeare in the park, the local coffee shop. I didn't go looking for humor. But humor found me in small pieces.

Here's an example:
The best farmers market in town is located in a tiny artistic neighborhood, known as the Cherry Street District. On Saturday mornings, the street is blocked off for about two blocks so vendors can set up their booths. This Saturday, as I walked into the blocked-off zone, a spray-painted sign caught my eye. The blue writing read "Porch Music," followed by an arrow pointing toward a side street. I wondered what it meant, but I didn't stop. I did my shopping.


When I was done, I headed back the way I came, and sure enough, I heard music. So I headed down the street to find three college-aged men in t-shirts and jeans, their hair unbrushed and frizzy-wild, playing some cool music. They were good. If they were older than 21, I'd be surprised. They didn't look completely "out there," but they looked out there enough that I suspect if a doobie got passed around, they wouldn't say no. You know what I mean?


There they were on their porch, playing music. Porch Music. Yup. I got there just as the guys finished their song. Another woman was standing a few feet away, watching. Two girls were sitting on the grass across the street. I joined in the tiny, barely audible smattering of applause. The lack of a crowd didn't matter to these guys. They were full of the self-delight and confidence that men seem to have at age 21. It probably helped that the crowd, small as it was, was made up entirely of women.


They addressed us with amusement: "Thanks for all your applause. What a great audience! We're here every week." I thought, "Of course you're here every week. You live here. It's your porch."


I had to laugh because it was so unexpected. How often do you walk by a sign that says "Porch Music?" This was a first for me. The boys were clearly having a great time with a situation that would have damaged a more delicate ego than theirs. An ego like mine, for example. I don't know if I would have had the guts to play on my porch and then address my miniscule fan base as though I were Bon Jovi. But I admire people who can do it. Boys aged 21 probably excel at that better than anyone else I know.

I laughed all the way around the block back to my car. Two days later, I'm still chuckling at the whole moment. It was wonderful. Small. But very wonderful. A reminder that life is great, when you look at it the right way.

Ciao for now!

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tiger Woods and the Art of Using Humor Wisely

Today's Topic:
"The Tiger Woods jokes don’t seem quite so funny now that Elin Nordegren has let us in on her pain." (quoted from Jason Whitlock's article "Elin's Interview Should End the Jokes", posted 8/26/10 on MSN/Fox.com's sports page, link to follow: http://msn.foxsports.com/golf/story/elin-nordegren-interview-makes-tiger-woods-jokes-unfunny-082610)

The ChipperMuse Extra:
Huh? Since when was Tiger Woods' infidelity ever funny? Infidelity is never funny. It wounds hearts, damages intimacy (sometimes irreparably), and causes havoc in a person's marriage, finances, job, relationship with their kids. Et cetera is an understatement of what gets affected by a decision to betray someone's trust.

Trust can take an incredibly long time to repair. Sometimes it is never repaired. Tiger has done something to his wife and kids that may never heal fully. And it wasn't their choice. Especially the kids. They never asked for this. Yet they have to deal with the repercussions of it.

And that was funny to people?

I'm not saying we can't laugh at the world we live in. The Chipper Muse is all about laughing at the absurdities of life. There are things we all need to laugh at, in order to make life better for ourselves and others. And then there are things that are tragic and full of grief, and not at all funny. It's important to know the difference...and to honor that difference with wise choices and wise words.

I respect author Jason Whitlock for confessing his complicity in the joke-making. This kind of honesty is refreshing when we see it, especially when it sets things in proper perspective. That's what true comedy, and especially satire, exists for. Humor helps us keep life in proper perspective. We make fun of things that we have given too much attention to. And we highlight things that need more attention.

Humor has its proper goals and proper uses, and I'm in favor of using it right...because that's what empowers humor to its greatest effectiveness. Wise usage.

Thanks for "humoring" my seriousness. I'll get back to mocking bad MSNBC writing or sharing my foibles soon enough!

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Real Entertainment...

It's been a while since I've been able to post, so I thought I'd start out with an easy softball to hit...

Today's news (see MSNBC) features an article on a canceled pig wrestling event at a county fair in Montana. Apparently, the group of wild pigs kept eluding capture by the fair officials and never made it to the wrestling event.

I say this: Give the pigs some credit. They know how to generate entertainment. Their antics were the stuff of the greatest pig wrestling event of all time. Plus, they made the national news. Those are some media-savvy pigs. I'm impressed. I need to hire them to promote my blog...

Friday, July 2, 2010

Woot! I'm Back!

Hi, all. It's true... I'm baaaack!

The move went smoothly, and I'm unpacking boxes daily and getting my new digs all nice and homey and most importantly...very ME. Soon, I will have a lair that befits Lady Nightblade (I believe I posted an explanation of that alter-ego name for myself a while back. You can find it in the archives.)

I should probably blog some hilarious insights about the process of moving. Off the top of my head, though, I got nothing. This is probably due to a combination of (a) fatigue resulting from packing, toting, downstairs, upstairs, inside, unpacking; AND (b) Holiday Weekend-itis, the wellknown affliction affecting full-time workers everywhere on the Friday before a long holiday weekend. But I will soon reassume my task of finding the funny in the everyday.

Really...I'll write something brilliant this weekend. Brilliant, I tell you! Brilliant.

In the meantime, try to read every review of The Last Airbender that you possibly can. Poor M. Night Shamalan. (Shaymalan? Shlaymayan? Mayan? Schlemeiel-Schlamazel? I'm not sure how you spell it.) Anyway...poor guy has managed to something you don't see very often. He peaked his directing career with his first movie and has gone slowly but steadily downhill ever since.

His movies no longer inspire film lovers. But they do inspire some great satire! Some of the funniest lines I've ever read, I've read about his latest movie by disgusted movie critics who are wishing they pulled their eyes out before they went in to watch The Last Airbender. I love it.

Happy Fourth of July, people! Enjoy the holiday along with me, and then stop by TheChipperMuse for my uniquely brilliant, funny, insightful writing on July 6.

Thanks for your support!

The Chipper Muse ;D