Alex — Our 11-year-old stray adopted from a shelter in Washington, DC
A few years ago, a famous Italian winemaker came to the United States on a mission. He was determined to open up a new restaurant in the Seattle area.
The winemaker and aspiring restauranteur was in the process of hiring his staff. While conducting job interviews with each applicant, he made it a point to pose one rather unusual question to each of his prospective employees. It didn’t matter if the position was for manager, cook ,waiter, or dishwasher. The question was always asked.
“Do you own any pets?”
Pets? This seemed like a very strange question. Especially for a job interview at a restaurant. After all, the applicants weren’t applying for jobs in a pet store.
But the winemaker had his personal reasons for posing such a seemingly oddball question. Immediately after asking about their pets, he watched the eyes and monitored the expressions of all those who were sitting across the table, eagerly hoping to be part of his new restaurant. He listened carefully to the way each applicant spoke about their pets. Were they excited? Were there expressions of love in their voices? For those who did not own a pet, was there a desire to get one someday? For those who no longer had a pet, did they grow up with dogs and cats? If so, how did they feel about them?
Naturally, this was a curious thing. The winemaker was asked what any of this had to do with owning and operating a successful restaurant.
“Why do you ask every applicant if they own a pet?” he was asked by the person who told me this story. The winemaker’s answer was intriguing.
In 2004, that line pretty much summed up George W. Bush’s re-election slogan. He ran a presidential campaign based entirely on fear — and it worked. The slogan later became Bush’s swan song when he left office, since there wasn’t much else to brag about during eight years of crony capitalism, unless pushing the economy to the brink of depression deserves mention.
Indeed, at least President Bush could make one bold claim, which was — “he kept us safe.”
We won’t spend too much time here, citing the obvious white elephant taking a dump on simple logic. Recall, the worst attack on America since Pearl Harbor happened on President Bush’s watch. Accordingly, for anyone to suggest the former president “kept the nation safe” brings to mind the absurd imposition hypothetically posed to Mary Todd Lincoln on the night of her husband’s assassination at Ford’s Theatre. “Other than the gunshot blast to your husband’s temple, Mrs. Lincoln — did you enjoy the play?”
A few days ago, a story appeared in the Las Vegas Review-Journal about a so-called “superstar DJ.”
I know. I had to do a doubletake on that one, too. “SUPERSTAR DJ.”
He reportedly earned $2 million last year.
Just in case you don’t get it — a “superstar DJ” is a personality (I cringe at the notion of celebrity) who is invited to a special event — usually a hot nightclub opening or swim party — to come in and (hold your breath) spin records.
That’s right — spin records. As in pop a few LPs on a turntable and pump up the volume.
Which begs the first question — wouldn’t it be a helluva’ lot easier to just load up a few CDs, hit the “play” button, and watch the dancing begin? In the ecstasy-laced fantasyland of velvet ropes, VIP lines, and $22 cocktails, you think anyone in these high-priced insane asylums would know the fucking difference?
So, like I said — the “superstar DJ” shows up on a busy Friday or Saturday night and plays club music. You know what I’m talking about — that inpenatrable thunder of batshit with the bass turned up so fucking loud your eardrums explode. You know, that techno-jizz created by pre-programmed software. You know, that mindless industrial gunk played so goddamned loud you can’t even hear the person next to you screaming in your ear. Then again, maybe that’s the appeal.
I’m told these clubs are little more than meat markets. How anyone actually picks up someone in one of these places is a complete mystery. I mean, what’s a the typical opening line, “What a nice girl like you doing in a shithole like this?”
The opening scene in “Beasts of the Southern Wild” begins with great promise. We’re introduced to an enchanting seven-year-old girl, played to perfection by newcomer Quvenzhane Wallis. She takes us by the hand on what will be a narrative adventure into her unseen world — the murky backwaters of the Louisiana Bayou. As starting credits rolled, I thought to myself that I was about to experience one of the best films of the year.
Instead, an hour later, I was standing out in the lobby following a walkout.
So — what happened?
Critics have fallen all over themselves in reviews of this film. It’s received almost universal praise – for cinematography, story, performances, and originality.
It’s easy to see why the reviews have been so positive. Indeed, the film is original. It’s emotional. It’s a tremendous cinematic achievement, especially given its low budget ($1.8 million, paltry by Hollywood standards). Filming in a swamp, which is the setting for the entire film, must have been a daunting challenge. Moreover, for a film with no known actors, the performances prove to be not only realistic, but perhaps too convincing for conventional tastes.
There was some encouraging news last week. A series of polls was conducted in several nations. The polls intended to measure religious faith and atheism. The findings were published last Friday.
The bottom line is — religion is on the decline. Or, as I prefer to think of it — enlightenment is on the rise.
That’s positive news to those of us fatigued by the insufferable influences of religion on politics and society. How refreshing to learn that increasing numbers of people everywhere are rebuffing the archaic superstition of some giant “sky daddy,” rejecting the whimsy of a paternal heavenly dictator who sees and knows all.
If the poll numbers are to be believed, the shifts in faith (and lack thereof) are stunning. Globally, belief in religion declined 9 percent since a similar poll was taken back in 2005. That’s just eight years ago. This number is based on 50,000 people who were polled in 57 different countries.
In the United States, the number of religious followers declined by 13 percent. But that number pales in comparison to Ireland, where religiosity declined by a whopping 22 percent. To be fair, the weakening of Irish faith may have a lot to do with recent scandals that have plagued the Catholic Church, which remains the dominant faith in Ireland.