Back to the Movies

Yes, I went back to the movies. And once again was confronted by someone who was flummoxed by parking lots. You know the doofus, the person who sits behind the wheel of their SUV, blocking everybody, looking for a space right next to the door so they don’t have to exercise their chubby little legs when there’s a plethora of parking just another floor up…right by the elevator to boot! I mean you don’t even have to be sixteen, you don’t even have to have a driver’s license to know that there’s parking further up or further down, but NO, you’ve got to block traffic while the rest of us wait for you to slide your behemoth into a space exited by a Honda Fit which you have to jockey back and forth to get into.

Drives me @#)$(*& nuts.

But not as much as the people texting during the movie.

You left your house and bought a ticket just so you could come to the theatre, a public place, and do exactly what you do at home? And god forbid you tell these people to shut down their screens…you’d think you impinged upon their ability to home school their kids and fire an arsenal of automatic weapons.

And how you could take your eyes off the screen during this flick is beyond me.


Something to put ON my Yogurt – Trailmix

Yogurt…. Not that I really want it….. but i need a delivery system for my trail mix.

I tried everything. Until I settled on Dannon vanilla.

Then I burned out on that, and discovered Valhalla, the exquisite elixir known as Dannon coffee yogurt.

It’s a cult. Like the Moonies. Either you’re a member or you can’t understand. It’s like no yogurt you’ve ever eaten before. There’s no fruit, no stirring, just a concoction that’s akin to ice cream, but is much better for you.

But now there’s only one market where it’s available. And it’s nowhere near my house. And I’m wasting time driving there only to discover the shelves have been picked clean, by other addicts.

And I’m thinking about going cold turkey. But I still need a mixer for my nuts.

Which led me to the fad of the day, GREEK yogurt. Have you tried this stuff? It’s got double the protein, but has the consistency of paste. And the best brands come with a little jelly next door, in a separate compartment, which you must reach in and mix yourself. I tried it, I don’t like it.

So hunting for Dannon coffee yogurt in the one place that I used to get it and hadn’t checked yet, I found they no longer carried it either but they had Dannon Oikos, the company’s Greek model, I decided to try it, I mean I need something.

I opened it up… and there is LIKE nothing there.

It’s like going to Crater Lake and finding a puddle. Like lifting the cover of your swimming pool and discovering it’s only half full. Talk about a buzzkill.

And this doesn’t seem possible. I start scouring the container, looking for an indicator of its contents.

I turn it round and round until I discover there’s 5.3 ounces of yogurt.

5.3?? I remember when it used to be 8! I could handle the reduction to 6, well not really, but what comes next, a container with an eyedropper’s worth?

I mean I get it.

Dannon is putting all this advertising behind Activia. And they’re paying the supermarkets to shelve it. So they decide independently, with no research, to clear out coffee, and then they reduce the contents but not the size of the container figuring you won’t notice.

 

Yogurt……Disappearing

Albums keep getting longer and every time I crack a Dannon yogurt…I find less inside.

How would you feel if you were a heroin addict and Afghanistan switched to producing cocaine? Or if the Yankees still occupied their stadium, but they now played soccer? Pretty disillusioning, wouldn’t you think?

Man, I’m in withdrawal. The food staple of my life, Dannon coffee yogurt, is disappearing from the shelves. It’s like end of times. Going from market to market. With all the clerks telling me it’s gone, and I’m one of the clamoring masses still looking for it.

You see the company’s gone all Jamie Lee Curtis on me. Promoting their Activia brand. Which comes in Lilliputian containers and must be consumed slowly, like brandy, because in just one or two teaspoonfuls, it’s history.


Add DONE…. At the Dealership

But there is this one thing…

It’s worse than Steve Jobs introducing new products, there’s always one more thing. This time it was the battery.

Now wait a minute, I’m thinking. Assuming I need a new battery, I can probably get one at Sears, or Wal-Mart, I read “Consumer Reports,” I know what’s best, never mind these big boxes are always cheaper. But how much time is that gonna take, how much money am I gonna save? And what if my battery craps out on me, even if AAA gives me a tow, it’s a total pain in the ass.

So I said yes.

Well, I thought how the previous battery only lasted four years. And now it’s four years later. Yes, I keep my cars for a long while. I don’t understand leasing. You overpay to impress people? Meanwhile, driving around fearful you’re gonna get dinged when you return it? Ownership is best. Drive long enough, and the driving’s free!

Then again, if every time you go to the dealer you get the upsell… I can turn down the warranty at the big box electronics store, but at the dealership I just can’t say no, not when there’s safety or drivability involved.

It would just take twenty more minutes. And $159.

Sold!

But the bill was indecipherable. And I won’t pay anything without understanding.

So I track down the service writer who says… He screwed up. The final bill was closer to $200. But he’d said $159, so he gave me a discount, he was a man of his word.

So I continue to trust the dealership.

And there were those mornings when the car didn’t start on the first crank…

At the dealership 2

And I could hear, because I turned off the TV. Well, not completely, but the sound.

I’m waiting for the day when the smartphone eclipses television as the default time-waster. You see it already amongst the younger generation and upscale professionals. They’re addicted to their personal screen. But the aged can stare blankly at the most banal of daytime programming not only in the waiting room at the dealership, but in the waiting room at the medical office too. That’s a big thing… The doctors have you waiting so long they believe they must entertain you. And it’s always some talk show and it’s always so loud and…

I wasn’t going to sit upstairs in the dealership with the blaring background noise for ninety minutes, the estimate of my repair, which concerned an oil change and wiper replacement, I wanted to read my book, “The Middlesteins.”

Now that’s addicting. I’m only twenty five percent through, but if you’re Jewish or dating a Jew, read it. Because the characterizations are spot-on. Without the de rigueur humor Jews feel is necessary when writing about their neuroses.

And just when I’m thinking of going downstairs and checking on my machine, the service writer comes up to greet me.

I’m afraid to go to the car dealership.

I believe in maintaining my automobile. After all, it’s a lethal weapon, and I’m haunted by the seventies, when car trouble was still rampant. That used to be a regular excuse…”I can’t come, my car won’t start.” Heard that this century? Not me. It took autos longer than computers, but at this point, they’re close to foolproof. And just like a computer, beyond self-repair for most people.

And the dealer is not thrilled with this improvement in car quality, because it used to be all the profits were in service. And now that everybody shops on the Internet, it’s hard to make money on new cars. All the profit is now in used cars.

As for service…

Many people jump from the dealership as soon as their warranty expires. They believe the dealer is a rip-off. Not me. I believe the dealer knows my car intimately, he sees it every day, he knows what it needs and can troubleshoot problems. I’m a dealer guy. I’ll pay extra for peace of mind. And I never had a problem with the upsell at BMW. Then again, the repair prices there are insane. But at the Subaru dealer… Every time I go they recommend something else. And I’m a sucker because I don’t want to find myself stranded. The aggravation’s not worth it. It’s kind of like buying insurance.

I was put on notice the first time I went there. The head technician, a brilliant mechanic, told me his customers didn’t do everything he recommended. But I chalked this up to Subaru, believing the owners might be financially-challenged.

Getting Old 3

And what’s up with the fascination with politics? It’s like getting your AARP card. You hit fifty and suddenly what’s happening in D.C. is utterly fascinating, whereas when you were young you barely looked at the paper, unless it was to read the sports scores or concert reviews. Now you read the Arts section last. You don’t care about most of the performers and the raw hype rubs you wrong.

That’s one thing that sucks about being old. The inability to turn off the spigot of hype. Buy this! See this! It’s the greatest! But you’ve been burned before. Again and again and again.

And there’s no self-respect. It can be the best football game of the year but the TV network is still hyping some lame sitcom that will fail in weeks, they’ve even got the announcer saying how great it is.

And then there are people like Rupert Murdoch, who don’t realize they’re not going to live forever. That’s the great leveler, death.

So I don’t know what oldster art looks like. Those healthy enough to make it are not angsting in love, they’re more worried about their retirement account. And if you tackle an adult subject, you can’t get financing, the young ‘un at the studio can’t relate and believes there’s no audience. And the potential audience is so wrapped up in its lifestyle, so resistant to hype, that whatever penetrates does so slowly, and media doesn’t care about that which is not immediate.

But, once again, being old is great. Except for the health issues. You know the game, you can suck out the b.s., you waste so much less time.

But you’re an outsider. They don’t want you on the field and they don’t want to give you any ink.

But life is grand.

Getting Old 2

Everything important to me will be thrown out by my heirs

And when you’re young everything is so dear. If it gets broken or stolen your life will end. Get old and you realize you’ll just replace it. You won’t be happy, but it’s a minor hassle.

And then there are the aches and pains. You do read about these. How you wake up and that’s as good as you’re gonna feel all day. But they don’t tell you that everybody is born broken, with a time bomb inside, and some of those you love most, who lived the healthiest of lives, will be kicked to the curb by fate and fade into memory. Then again, those who take their own lives live front and center in our brains for eons. If you decide to leave, we can’t forget you, why is that?

And no one tells you your opinion won’t count. That having lived for decades, through the last century, suddenly you’re dumb and inexperienced. You get happier as you get older, who’d want to be younger? Then again, all the boomers are chasing the fountain of youth, they won’t accept that the best plan is to kick back and enjoy the ride.

And time… When did they stop making less of it? Sunday night, you realize your entire week is shot. You don’t have time to do everything you want and you’re only interested in that which satiates.

Meanwhile, society bombards you with messages of inadequacy. You’re too old, too fat, too poor, irrelevant. But that’s not how you feel. That’s how young people feel. Despite “Jersey Shore” and the glorification of adolescents, being young is fraught with despair. But you rarely read about it, otherwise the world would be topsy-turvy, old people would rule.

And they do. But they won’t accept their fate. They’re just pissed they’re not young.

Getting Old 1

There is no manual

You can sign up for Jenny Craig, you can go to the gym. You can read TMZ.

But you’re still old on the inside.

Then I realized, I’m too old. I’m not lost in my twenties, looking for love, a career and stability. I’ve found who I am. I may or may not like me, but I’ve got to accept me. Whereas when you’re young and dumb the world is your oyster, your dream is to conquer it. And then you get old enough to realize it’s not only beyond your grasp, it’s beyond anybody’s grasp, you’re gonna be here, then be gone and be forgotten, so you might as well enjoy the ride.

The films I want to see are gone from the theatre before I can get it together and the rest… I can wait for VOD, DVD and pay cable. Then again, I don’t watch them there either. I could argue because they don’t define the zeitgeist, but getting older you realize you are the zeitgeist. You’re the star of your own movie.

And new things… As a kid something four years old is an antique. I’ve got a Kindle in a world of Paperwhites and iPads. But it works! That’s enough. I mean if there’s something better, I’m all over it. Then again, I still remember the days when tech didn’t work. When the electric windows in your Cadillac broke before the car itself expired. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that something brand new has all the kinks worked out. And I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that you might as well overpay for the first iteration, because then you’ll get to use it. You can’t have that time back. It’s not worth denying yourself.