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Made In Philadelphia: Groundhog Day and Golden Showers

With some very heavy lifting by my wife, our son Owen Michael was born on February 20th, 2013 outside of Philadelphia, PA.  With his arrival came a number of changes that were expected, but not fully realized.  Nourishment, sleep, and peace of mind have all taken a back seat to Owen’s needs just like the theft of Guido the Italian Sausage that put the entire state of Wisconsin in disarray until its return to the Land of the Brew.

Dinnertime with my wife used to be a simple process revolving around whether we are going to eat in or dine out.  And this decision was often subject to change at a moments notice depending upon the day’s events.  No matter what we decided, I could always count on ending the day with a meal and my wife.  Dinnertime has now become a tactical process of not where are we going to eat, but when.  That’s right, a 7 lb. human being who can process food faster than a Cuisinart now dictates our eating routine.  Thankfully, our neighbors were quite generous in providing prepared meals during the first week of parenthood.  Unfortunately, our luck with the neighbor meal subsidy expired and we’ve been faced with a choice between Kraft Macaroni and Cheese or Campbell’s Spaghetti-Os.  We quickly found out that if we hesitated for one moment, we ended up having cereal.

Sleep was once an afterthought in which voluntary functions were easily suspended allowing the body to rest and restore itself.  If the day’s happenings required a nap or an early bedtime, my wife and I could simply just fall asleep on the couch or bed.  Since Owen, sleep is now like the feature film, Groundhog Day.  Instead of waking up to Sonny and Cher’s I Got You Babe every two to three hours, we wake up to the default alarm on the iPhone just before Owen bursts into tears.  About an hour later, Owen is resting for his next feeding, while we are resetting the alarm on the iPhone.  As an aside, “Ferberization” is not an acceptable option during the baby’s first week of life even though the third shift maternity ward staff had no problem abandoning us at the onset of his first cluster feeding.

Peace, or a state of mental serenity, was always available to my wife and I if we sought to balance the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of life.  Unfortunately, our collective anxiety was ratcheted up several notches once we finished playing house in the maternity ward at the hospital.  To remediate our elevated anxiety level, we sought out the small victories to help build our confidence in caring for Owen.  For me, the small victories ended with an early morning golden shower courtesy of my son during a diaper change.  Despite the repetitive nature of diaper changing (and being told by my wife to use a baby washcloth as a penis shield) the golden showers have continued at a relentless pace that not even the nursery walls are safe.  I believe the small victories for my wife ended during his newborn photo shoot in which he preferred to model his genitals before soiling his mother and the studio props.

Three weeks after Owen’s birth, we are realizing change.  For example, I know my little Cuisinart’s early morning feeding will result in not one, but two pretty nasty diaper changes.  I am somewhat confused as to how Owen could defecate twice in one hour through the consumption of breast milk in the middle of the night.  We’ve also come to realize that Grandparents, once thought to be overzealous, have brought some order to our life with Owen.  Slowly we are eating, resting, and relaxing easier, much like the state of Wisconsin upon the return of the Milwaukee Brewer’s missing Italian racing sausage.

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Made In Philadelphia: Episode VII and Facebook

When my wife showed me her swollen feet this past week (due to her 39th week of pregnancy), my initial response should not have been, “When does your journey to return the one ring to Mordor begin?”  I definitely should not have followed that up with, “Can you stop at Banana Republic on your way to Mount Doom and pick me up a shirt using that 40% off coupon?”  For some reason I don’t think I’ll be allowed to watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy anytime soon or be sporting a new Banana Republic shirt.  But as the clock ticks down on my wife’s pregnancy to an unknown expiration, I’m starting to think we are both becoming extremely irritable with this uncontrollable situation.  And this irritability has led to my dislike with two of the latest cultural phenomenons.

Star Wars Episode VII.  First, I am beyond excited that the Disney Company will be producing another trilogy in conjunction with Lucasfilm Ltd.  The opportunity for three generations of my family to watch the next Star Wars movie on the silver screen doesn’t come about everyday.  However, I am not excited that Lucasfilm Ltd. decided on J.J. Abrams to direct the next chapter.  I fully agree with William Shatner that he (J.J. Abrams) is a being a pig by involving himself with two of the largest science fiction franchises to date.  Since it is already a done deal, I would like to offer J.J. Abrams a bit of advice; time travel is not a viable option for Star Wars Episode VII.  If you include any elements of time travel in the next Star Wars trilogy, you will be making a mistake bigger than Jar Jar Binks.  I don’t want to see another lightsaber battle between a now decrepit Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader because the Dark Lord of the Sith found a way to manipulate the space-time continuum.  If the man behind Bad Robot Productions were smart, he would adapt Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire Trilogy for the next chapter in the Star Wars saga.  If not, a storyline involving Anakin Skywalker’s apprentice from Star Wars the Clone Wars and her disillusionment that he turned to the Dark Side could bring an unassuming figure in the new Jedi order.  My casting choice for Ahsoka Tano, is Zoe Saldana, most notably from the J.J. Abrams Star Trek movies.

Facebook.  As of 2012, over one billion users were on the social networking service that was launched in February 2004.  And as of February 2013, I am not one of the one billion plus users of Facebook (although I do peruse my wife’s account every so often).  Why?  Because Facebook is nothing more than a useless commentary on life that only serves to support one’s sense of self-admiration through the obligatory “Like”.  Do I really need to know that today is laundry day?  Do I really need to know what your meal at Chili’s will be? Do I really need to know you accomplished a personal best in your workout today?  Do I really need to know that your child slept for more that eight hours last night?  No and no and no and no, but thanks for the update.  And to help stroke your ego, I’m going “Like” your latest post even though it was both uninteresting and unfunny.  If Facebook had an “Unlike” functionality, I would join just to give every inane remark a big Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert “Thumbs Down”  Like Pavlov’s Dogs, the concept of classical conditioning could rid the inherent stupidity of Facebook’s over one billion users.  I do like the idea of viewing pictures and learning my friend’s whereabouts through the clever tagline that accompanies a check-in.  I do think businesses which use Facebook as a social media outlet to market their goods and services have adopted the next wave of organizational re-engineering.  But the more “Unlike(s)” a Facebook user receives, he or she may think twice before posting their current dissatisfaction with the weather.  So I guess I “Like” the comment and not the rainy weather?

I could go on with dissertations on remakes and reboots or cable channels devoted to major sports leagues.  Is it safe to assume that Hollywood has run out of original ideas or the concept of the NHL Network broadcasting a live hockey game each night is too much to expect?  Probably not, but without the latest cultural phenomenons what would I dislike?  I suppose by getting out and actually interacting with the outside world, the irritability would subside.  I guess that could be the plot of the next J.J. Abrams movie and it’s a good bet it would probably receive it’s fair share of “Likes” on Facebook.

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Made In Philadelphia: What I’ve Learned 37 Weeks into My Wife’s Pregnancy

At a gestational age of 37 weeks, a baby is considered “full term” even though his or her due date is still three weeks away.  Despite being three weeks out, my wife just proclaimed that our son has been officially served his first (and hopefully) only eviction notice to vacate the premises.  But before Elvis leaves the building, here are five not so shocking things I’ve learned 37 weeks into my wife’s pregnancy since our son began developing last June.

1)     There are no certainties.  At the beginning of the second trimester of my wife’s pregnancy she was diagnosed with placenta previa, a condition in which the placenta implants near or over the cervix.  Because it was a complete previa, our health care provider assured us that if the placenta doesn’t move after 28 weeks, it wouldn’t, thus making a Cesarean delivery an almost certainty.  Although initially thrown by the idea of a C-section, we became comfortable with the idea, as well as the ability to know when he would arrive.  The ultrasound exam at 28 weeks – complete previa.  The ultrasound exam at 32 weeks – partial previa.  The ultrasound exam at 36 weeks – no previa.  So much for medical science as the only certainty to this point was my wife’s prenatal yoga teacher who assured us she could get the placenta to move through her classes.

2)     Just because you’ve had a baby, doesn’t mean you have a Registered Nurse or Medical Doctorate degree.  Although we appreciate everyone’s expert opinion regarding the procedural aspects on the birth of our child since we’ve gone from a C-section to a natural childbirth, please remember these are just opinions and not facts.  While I believe Albert Einstein stated, “The only source of knowledge is experience” I think in this case it’s best to leave the clinical diagnosis and patient care decisions to the professionals who have the appropriate medical training in Obstetrics/Gynecology.

3)     The nursery is never finished.  Previously, I’ve discussed the true needs of a child’s nursery and the absurdity of over-doing it.  At some point after our son’s nursery furniture was delivered and set-up, the clothes washed and organized, and toys stowed, I foolishly believed the nursery was complete.  Unfortunately, I failed to recognize the concept of accessorizing.  For example, children’s books can’t simply be placed on the dresser or nightstand.  To fix this oversight, an “assembly required” bookshelf arrived one day on our doorstep.  And to achieve the finished product, my wife ordered customized sets of wall art to match the nursery theme.  One set, which had to be hung centered to the dresser, required a pretty hearty debate with my wife on the principles of geometry.  The other set, framed monogram wall letters comprised of an equal number of constants to vowels, will probably be left for his Papa to hang to avoid another geometry lesson.

4)     You will eventually suffer from information overload.  This term refers to the difficulty a person can have understanding an issue and making decisions that can be caused by the presence of too much information.  Information overload is particularly prevalent when mass pregnancies occur, like in new housing developments.  Between the popular book (and website) What to Expect When You’re Expecting and every other comparable publication or webpage, the expectant couple will reach a point when simple decisions are often clouded by too much information.  Should we consider a Doula or Midwife?  My wife is delivering in a teaching hospital, does that make a difference?  We didn’t exactly finalize our birth plan; will our doctor and labor and delivery nurse look down on us?  Our baby has finally arrived; is it really that bad if we send him to the hospital nursery so we can get some sleep?  Just as “no two snowflakes are alike”, every pregnancy and childbirth is different.  What works for one couple may not necessarily work for another couple.

5)     No one cares about the father.  That’s right, 37 weeks in and no one has once asked me how I am feeling about my son’s birth or my wife’s pregnancy.  Just this past week, I left work early to pick my wife up from her prenatal reformer class.  Talking with my parents on the way home, my mother asked if I was taking money away from her grandson’s college education by leaving work early that day.  Over the past nine months, our family and friends have been quite generous by purchasing clothes, bath and diapering products, and several other big-ticket items for our son.  My wife has been showered with several spa gift certificates and is awaiting the latest trend that I initially thought was a joke – the push present or push gift.  Thank you rich celebrities and the magazines and television shows that cover their every move.  If a gorgeous baby wasn’t a gift enough, that’s one more thing that will get more attention than the father.

There it is, five not so shocking things I’ve learned 37 weeks into my wife’s pregnancy.  In all seriousness, one thing I learned that is somewhat surprising is that four out of five car seats are installed incorrectly.  I am proud to say my installation, which took about 15 seconds, was done correctly and received a gold star by the Inspector.  And I’m not so shocked by that.

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Role Models

I’m not going to go into the past or talk about my past.  I’m here to make a positive influence on this.”  Mark McGwire

Everything I have heard about steroids and human growth hormone is that they are very bad for you.”  Sammy Sosa, via his attorney.

I think he misremembers the conversation that we had.”  Roger Clemens

Unlike many of my accusers, I have competed as an endurance athlete for 25 years with no spike in performance, passed more than 500 drug tests and never failed one.”  Lance Armstrong

Cheat.  Fraud.  Unintelligent.  Arrogant.  It’s becoming more shameful and less humorous.  Athletes that achieved the improbable and made us root for the impossible.  Superhuman feats that were superhuman, but only achieved through the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED).  As an adult, I can separate fact from fiction.  I know if something is too good to be true, then it probably is.  And when a confession is made, I can also look past the absurd rationalization for using PED.  A child however, cannot.  A child may have a basic understand of morals, but not ethics.  So when a popular athlete goes south because of PED, whom should our children look to for role models?

Is it Hollywood?  A-list actors and actresses who get what they want when they want it.  The same people who have personal assistants to tend to their everyday needs.  Is it our elected officials?  Government representatives who like to remind us that we must live within our means, but spend more on our country’s behalf than America collects in taxes.  The same people who act like children fighting over a ball when it comes time to play together.  Nope.  When it comes to our children’s role models, it seems as if we have no choice but to look to reality television.  And who better to view as role models for our children than the Kardashians.

We have one Kardashian who got her start for having a big ass and a sex tape.  Her two sisters parlayed the family name and a high-end boutique into tabloid fodder for an on-again/off-again relationship and a 26-day courtship with a NBA player that resulted in a made for television marriage.  The brother, a Dancing with Stars runner-up, is hell bent on some sort of sock contract.  The family matriarch, who trademarked the term “Momager”, has no problem pimping out the younger generation of Kardashians, who are actually Jenners.  Throw in a self-titled English Lord and a former Olympic champion who is more plastic than most women in Los Angeles county, and you have our children’s role models.

Since Keeping Up with the Kardashians debuted on October 14, 2007, we have been let into their Southern California homes and seen Kourtney and Khloe invade Miami, Kourtney and Kim take New York, Khloe and Lamar try something in Dallas, and now Kourtney and Kim return to Miami for the long-awaited sequel.  Throughout the years and various television spin-offs, the Kardashians have taught America the silver lining in airing their dirty laundry is tens (if not hundreds) of million of dollars (a new three-year television deal worth $40 million for the flagship show will keep them in our homes through 2015).  Whether it’s sibling rivalries, relationships, weddings, pregnancy, childbirth, or divorce, the Kardashians have drawn the interest of millions of Americans, including Oprah Winfrey.

For those who think the Kardashians are not role models, consider this.  Have they cheated reality television?  Kris Jenner disclosed her past infidelity while married to Robert Kardashian.  Have they engaged in fraudulent activities?  Kim Kardashian proved that she does not have butt implants.  Have they proven to be unintelligible?  Kendall and Kylie Jenner showed they could not only be models, but also be insightful contributors to Seventeen Magazine.  And finally, are they arrogant?  Well maybe; the Kardashians do have a reality show to broadcast their excessively high opinions of themselves while denigrating others, except for Bruce Jenner.  But after all, he isn’t a Kardashian.  Of course our children should look no further than to their parents for role models.  The best Momagers and Dadagers can be found in real-life, not reality television.

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Six Belated and Not So Inspiring New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions – I don’t do them.  I’ve never understood why someone would wait until an arbitrary date to “resolve” to better themselves.  It seems to me, that at any point in the year, someone could set reasonable goals and work to achieve them.  But since resolutions are all the rage this time of year, I decided to put some together, despite being a full-week late.  Therefore, in 2013 I resolve to…

1)     Get the body I’ve always wanted.  According to Men’s Health, if I perform their newest version of the Spartacus Workout, I will build the body I’ve always wanted in 4-weeks.  Thus, I expect by February 1st, I will look like Hugh Jackman in the promo pictures for his upcoming summer blockbuster, The Wolverine.  If not, the editors at Men’s Health will receive a scathing letter accusing them of fraud.

2)     Participate in the chanting of Ohm more often than not in yoga practice.  I’ve been told yoga teachers open and close practice with an Ohm to help build a sense of community between the students and the teacher.  I’ve also read that chanting Ohm is like psyching yourself up before the big game.  So am I building unity or just helping myself?  I think I’ll just not half-ass Pigeon Pose this year – that will help avoid any existential questions I may have about chanting Ohm.

3)     Help my wife around the house on a more consistent basis.  Considering I help her cook and clean and do the laundry and sign the checks for all the home improvement projects, I think I’m in pretty good shape.  I could just aim to do one nice thing a day for her – perhaps I’ll start with not poking fun of the Green Bay Packers and everything associated with the team from Titletown, USA.

4)     Change my attitude about work.  Since I’m not independently wealthy, I need to contribute to paying the bills.  However, after 12-years in the workplace I’ve learned that the difference between exceptional performance and utter incompetence is roughly 0.25% for the merit increase (and that’s during good economic times).  With businesses rewarding top employees so handsomely, I can’t imagine why my Sundays are often interrupted by a case of “The Mondays”.

5)     Read more.  My wife likes to ask, “Eric you can read, can’t you?”  At which I’ll look over at her with a blank stare as I peruse the USA TODAY App on my iPad.  Her question isn’t whether I can read, but why don’t I read more novels.  Since my wife reads 2 to 3 novels a week, she thinks everybody does.  I do like the political thrillers from Vince Flynn, but other than that I actually prefer to write and daydream.  Speaking of which, I’m going to try to rebrand my blog on humorous anecdotes and author more regular posts.  Lately, I seem to be daydreaming more than writing, so we’ll see how that turns out.

6)     Eat better.  Of the little reading I actually do, the articles about dieting tell me to focus on lean proteins, healthy fats, brightly colored produce, and fiber-rich grains.  Meaning turkey, avocados, raspberries, and whole-grain bread instead of baked goods, white bread, and sugary drinks.  If you are what you eat, then foods without saturated or trans fats and zero calorie drinks sounds pretty bland.  Maybe I’ll stick with the Costco Daily Multi-Pack vitamins and use portion control for my M&M’s.

There it is, six belated and not so inspiring New Year’s Resolutions.  I give myself about a 50% chance of completing 50% of the six resolutions.  And there is at least a 100% chance I won’t stop making fun of the Green Bay Packers and all things Titletown, USA or look like Hugh Jackman in The Wolverine come February 1st.

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Made In Philadelphia: Do You Believe In Santa Claus?

Do you believe in Santa Claus?  At this time next year, my wife and I will be enjoying Christmas with our first child.  Just shy of a year old, our son probably won’t understand why there is a brightly lit and gaily decorated Christmas tree or festive stockings hung above the fireplace.  He likely won’t understand why neatly wrapped gifts in different shapes and sizes are under the Christmas tree or why a few more appeared on Christmas morning.  He most certainly won’t know who Santa Claus is next year, but someday soon he’ll want to know.  Someday I will have to tell him about Santa Claus, but what should I say?

For some, the legend of Santa Claus can be traced back to a man name Nicholas, who was born in the village of Patara (although a part of Greece at his birth, it would now be located on the southern coast of Turkey).  His wealthy parents, who raised him as a devout Christian, died in an epidemic when he was young.  After his parent’s death, Nicholas used his wealth to help others.  He dedicated his life to serving those in need (was appointed Bishop of Myra) and became known for his generosity, love of children, and concern for sailors and ships.  After his death, stories of his life and generous deeds were told, emphasizing he expected nothing in return.  Today, St. Nicholas continues to be celebrated by the Christian faithful on December 6th and is recognized as a model for compassionate life.

For others, Santa Claus has less to do with religious teachings.  According to the 1970 television special, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, the legend of Santa Claus begins with a baby boy destined for an orphanage, who is suddenly and magically swept away to the mountains and adopted by an Elfin family. The Elves (the Kringle Family) raised him as one of their own and taught Kris the virtues of compassion and selflessness.  Kris Kringle dedicated his life to the children of Sombertown doing whatever necessary to deliver gifts of toys to them.  Kris eventually became Santa Claus and is rumored to travel the world by a reindeer driven sleigh to deliver gifts to the homes of good children and coal to the naughty ones (given today’s energy problems it may be better to actually receive coal than a toy train or doll).  

Do you believe in Santa Claus?  I do.  Do I believe that Santa Claus will come to the house, stick his rotund butt down the chimney, fill the stockings with candy, and leave presents under the Christmas tree?  Do I believe Santa Claus will give my wife a fashionable pair of Uggs or me a Lego Millennium Falcon (Lego Kit 7965) to assemble with my son?  No, but I do believe in the spirit of Santa Claus.  I believe the magic of Santa Claus lies within each and every one of us. Whether we choose to help the needy or help ensure everyone gets a gift on Christmas, we embody the values and teachings of both St. Nicholas and Santa Claus.

So what do I tell my son about Santa Claus?  Do I participate in the dirtiest secret of Christmas?  My parents never told me they doubled as Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, and for good reason.  Coming from a family in which 10 years separates the oldest sibling from the youngest, Santa Claus came to our house every year and he still does even though my parents spend their winters in Southwestern Florida.  I can remember waking up early on Christmas for years to look out my bedroom window for something, anything, resembling Santa Claus.  Then staring at the brightly lit stars one Christmas morning (and lights from the planes making their final descant into O’Hare International Airport), I finally realized Santa Claus wasn’t a person but a living symbol of the spirit of Christmas.

That morning my Mom confirmed my early thoughts; however she did tell me she still believes in Santa Claus.  She went on to tell me we should never stop believing in Santa Claus because once you do, you won’t recognize the spirit of Christmas.  Assuming some kid at school doesn’t blow Santa’s cover, that’s what I plan to do – teach my son that Santa Claus is in each and everyone one of us.

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What Irritates Me About Christmas

There are twelve days of Christmas, eight days of Hanukkah, three Magi, and one Santa Claus to go with the many other traditions associated with the Holiday Season.  Whether you keep the “Christ” in Christmas, celebrate the Festival of Lights, or recognize a festive period between late November and early January (typically referred to as Christmas) there is probably at least one thing that irritates you about the Holiday Season.  It could be your neighbor’s gaudy holiday décor, that awkward holiday work party, or the third Christmas celebration you really have no interest in attending.  For myself, there are a couple of things and it’s not just the Old Navy commercials that feature a subset of the Griswold family from the popular National Lampoon’s Vacation films.

It is widely recognized that the Holiday Season typically begins the day after Thanksgiving, which brings about the first irritant – Black Friday.  According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), roughly 139.4 million adults visited stores and websites over the four day weekend with total spending reaching $59.1 billion; a 13% increase from 2011.  Furthermore, about 10% of the 139.4 million shoppers were at stores by 8 pm on Thursday night and 28% was there by midnight.  Meaning by the time that last helping of turkey and pumpkin pie was stuffed down your gullet, almost 14 million adults were welcomed by retailers such as Toys R Us, Wal-Mart, Sears, and Target for “doorbuster” deals.  Compared to 2011, 8 pm is the earliest stores have opened to accommodate Black Friday shoppers.  So instead of enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends (and forgoing the 8:20 pm kickoff for the Thursday Night Football match-up) a substantial number of adults chose to rush out the door in search of the hottest deals.  Even if you don’t like your family or in-laws, can’t the savings wait until Friday morning?  Think about it, if you’re showing up at 8 pm (or earlier to wait in lines like buffoons) what time do you think retail employees are required to report?  At this rate, stores will be opening at 4 pm in 2014 and football fans who are subjected to Black Friday activities will only get to watch yet another Thanksgiving loss for the Detroit Lions.

Do you decorate a Christmas tree?  Do you hang a Christmas wreath on your front door?  What about Christmas stockings, do you place them on the fireplace?  If you do at least one or all these things, why is it that I receive more and more Christmas cards each year that do NOT include the phrase “Merry Christmas”?  In fact, I receive a statistically significant number of Christmas cards each year that do not wish me a “Merry Christmas”.  Meaning the substitution of this with “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” or “Wishing You Peace and Joy” is unlikely to have occurred by chance.  I have yet to meet a person (an atheist, agonistic, or believer) who can tell me with a straight face they just finished decorating the Holiday tree, hung the Holiday wreath, and fastened the Holiday stockings to the fireplace.  Until that time, sending Christmas cards that wish another a “Merry Christmas” should not be considered offensive.  I don’t send my Jewish brethren Christmas cards, but the idea that political correctness trumps the spirit of the Holiday Season is irritating.  As America moves away from a traditional society – which isn’t bad as everyone regardless of gender, race, and sexual orientation should be afforded the same rights and opportunities as the next – some things should remain grounded to the past.  I’m not advocating there is a “War on Christmas”, but I won’t be deterred from sending Christmas cards this Holiday Season or the next that say “Merry Christmas”.

When one needs an escape from the Holiday Season, he or she can look no further than to Hollywood.  Just think of all the classic Holiday movies – Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, and Gremlins – and their unique perspective on Christmas.  Maybe not as much as Love Actually, but what film does?  Over the years it appears Hollywood has started the latest irritating trend for the Holiday Season with more and more “Limited Release” movies.  You know, those highly anticipated and critically acclaimed films vying for an Academy Award nomination. What this means, is that movie you would probably like to see over Christmas, is only showing in Los Angeles or New York.  While most of these movies have nothing to do with Christmas, it is yet another indication that the major studios fail to recognize that the majority of America lies between the East and West coast.  While I’m on the movie studios, where do these people get off on charging $11.50 for a single ticket in Philadelphia, PA?  And that’s not for a Real 3D, Digital 3D, or IMAX screening.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the movies but I’ve just recently realized that a movie ticket, a medium pop, and medium popcorn for myself comes in at just under $25.  Which ironically, is the entrance fee for the typical White Elephant gift exchange.  So every time I ante up for this holiday game, I do whatever it takes to get back that movie gift card.  Because for $25, like Ezra told Randolph and Mortimer Duke in Trading Places upon receiving his $5 Christmas Bonus, maybe I’ll go to the movies by myself.

Well there it is, a few things about the Holiday Season that irritate me.  In case you think I’m Ebenezer Scrooge from the Charles Dickens’s classic, The Christmas Carol, I’m not.  I look forward to this time of the year, particularly the time to be spent with family and friends that is accompanied by good food, good drink, and mild conversation.  If only Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki) from The Big Bang Theory recognized this, maybe I wouldn’t be irritated by those Old Navy commercials featuring the Griswolds.