I fear for our country

Posted by: on Feb 26, 2011 | One Comment

Today is Saturday, February 26th and today is the day I realized that our country is screwed. I’m sure you are all asking “Ira, why is this the day you have come to this realization.” Well, I’ll tell you.

My day started out just great as my beloved SU basketball team beat our arch rivals the Georgetown Hoyas. As I write this let me tell you that Georgetown still sucks…but I digress. After the game, I went over to Costco on Route 10 in East Hanover. Now Saturdays at Costco can be a bit crazy but today was beyond anything I’d seen at any shopping center or shopping mall, even during the holiday shopping season. Parking spots were rare and you could barely get down the lanes in the parking lot.

After waiting for some crazy Asian woman to pull out of her spot (dragging her shopping cart on her bumper…no joke), I managed to get a spot, walked towards the store and I could see that there was a huge line extending the full width of the front. Now I’m starting to wonder “what are they giving away?” As I entered the store, I realized that the line was not for people who were shopping but were there for some other purpose. When I walked into Costco, I asked the greeter what was going on.  She told me….are you ready…it was a book signing by that world famous author….here it comes….and TV star….are you sure you’re ready for this….for the book “A Shore Thing” by Nicole Polizzi, a.k.a. Snooki from The Jersey Shore. Holy shit….you have got to be kidding me!  Mass insanity at Costco because Snooki is there signing her book.  Hell, I was shocked to find out she could read let alone write.

But it gets worse and this is actually my major cause for concern.  It was the type of people that decided that Snooki was worth the wait. To say these folks were white trash would be giving white trash a bad name.  I hadn’t seen a crowd like this since Linda and I took the kids to Hershey Park 13 or 14 years ago and that crowd looked like they were attending an Arkansas trailer park convention. I saw one woman who bought 3 of Snooki’s book and my first reaction was “damn woman, get some teeth instead.” Actually that was my second reaction after realizing that the woman was going to read anything at all.  Most of this crowd was downright fugly and scary and I’m thinking “man, we are so screwed.” Not only do people consider Snooki a TV star and not only are people willing to wait hours to have them sign her book and not only do many of these people look like they have just crawled out from under a rock in a trailer park and not only should these folks be spending my their money on personal hygiene or clothes that actually fit…well…I think I’m out of ands but (still got one or two buts left) I will tell you that I’m exaggerating but just a little and that’s the situation (get it?).

IraSez the winner is…

Posted by: on Feb 23, 2011 | No Comments

It’s Academy Award season, so it’s time for the 1st Annual IraSez Oscar predictions. In the old days, Linda and I would actually see every movie nominated and every movie where the actors and actresses were nominated for their performance, including supporting roles. The last time we pulled that feat off was probably 2001 when we made sure to see “Pollock” the weekend before the Oscars as Ed Harris and Marcia Gay Harden were both nominated.  Good thing as Harden won for best supporting actress.

This year, we’ve actually seen 9 of 10 movies nominated (missed 127 Hours)  and many of the performers. In my opinion (which is the only one that counts right now) there were several good movies and performances this year.  My favorite movie of the year was True Grit and that would get my vote (if I had one). Liked the original but loved this one. However, for Best Picture I’m going with The King’s Speech which was an excellent film.

Moving on to Best Actor I don’t think there’s any doubt that Colin Firth is going to win the Best Actor Award, which would be my choice as well. Didn’t see Javier Bardem in Bitiful or James Franco in 127 Hours but Firth was outstanding.

In the Best Actress category, again I saw 3 of the 5, missing Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole and Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine. Really liked Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone but my personal pick and predicted winner is Natalie Portman, if for no other reason than that really hot lesbian scene with Mila Kunis…just kidding. Don’t get me wrong, that scene was oh so hot but Natalie would win even without it (but no guys would have gone to see the movie if they had heard about that scene beforehand).

For Best Supporting Actor I’m 5 for 5, having seen all of the nominated performances.  This is really strong category and I could easily see 4 out of the 5 taking this one (sorry Mark Ruffalo fans) but my pick and prediction is Christian Bale with a slight edge over Geoffrey Rush.  Both were outstanding but Bale’s metamorphosis is just incredible.

In the Best Supporting Actress category, I only missed Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom. Can’t say I’ve ever heard of her or the movie. My major issue with this category is that it includes Hailee (my uncle is Body by Jake) Steinfeld. I thought she was awesome and she should have been nominated for Best Actress. She’s on screen for the whole movie and basically carries the story. There’s nothing supporting about her role and she would be my pick. Now, this category has been known to come up with the occasional surprise (hello Kim Basinger) and the prevailing opinion is that Melissa Leo is going to win this one but I’m thinking young Miss Steinfeld pulls off the upset so I’m sticking with my personal fav and giving her the nod.

As for all the other categories, who cares. Well maybe people do care but when you go to see a nominated film or rent it or watch them on the tube, it’s not like you’re thinking “I really want to see the movie that won the Oscar for best sound effects editing.”  My only hope is that the damn show is over by midnight, that there are no stupid dances routines that look more like performance art and that when Natalie wins, Mila is there to give her a happy ending.

Athletes and Religion

Posted by: on Feb 8, 2011 | 4 Comments

Don’t you just love it when they interview the athlete on the winning team and the first thing he or she does is give thanks to some higher authority? All the credit in the world is given to their god, their lord, their savior and that’s the reason they won because someone from above smiled upon them that day on the field of athletic battle. And what about all this genuflecting after every play or pitch, and the finger pointing and kisses skyward as if God just won the over/under on the game. Jesus…oh sorry…holy….sorry again…oh shit (that works), what’s with all this crap?

So, I have two issues with all these religious athletic types and their praising of the almighty. Let’s tackle (pun intended) the first one – the losing team. No one on the losing team ever seems to thank their god, their lord, their savior for humbling them with a loss or saying that their loss was for the greater good. They apologize to their fans, teammates, coaches, the city they represent but never do they bring their religious beliefs into the conversation. Shouldn’t they apologize to he (or she) for their loss?  For not performing up to their God given skills? Or at least question why their lord and savior did not show favor upon them? Does this make the losing athletes less than the winning athletes in the eyes of God? You don’t ever hear anyone of these folks bring that up. I guess losing makes them pissed off at everyone, maybe even their God.

As for my second issue, it’s always Christian athletes who seem to make their beliefs very public (not that I have anything against Christians). Maybe it’s just because there are so many of them.  Other religions – Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Pagans, Nacromongers (movie reference #1) – have yet to make their mark in the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL,  PGA, etc. However, there is going to come a day when a non-Christian athlete is going to be in that spotlight, the lights will shine on them, the microphone will be shoved in their face and it will be their turn to thank ye that needs to be thanked. It might go something like this:

Annoying Interviewer:  “Muhammed, you have just won the Super Bowl. What are you going to do now?

Muhammed: “Let me thank the almighty Allah for helping me squash the infidels. Now that we have glorified his name for all of Islam, I’m going to Mecca.  Salaam Alaikum.”

Imagine the look on the face of the interviewer and the thousands (make that millions) of stunned, God fearing Americans. The walls of evangelical churches will shake, Bible thumping southerners will stare skyward looking for answers, woman and children will weep, dogs and cats…living together…mass hysteria (movie reference #2). There will just not be enough hours in the day for all the bloggers, tweeters and anyone else who will find amusement in the anarchy that will surely grip our nation, myself included. When this day comes, I will stare at the sky, point at the heavens, get downs on my knees and ask “Would it spoil some vast eternal plan, if he were a Jewish man?” (movie reference #3 or something like that).

Thoughts on Healthcare

Posted by: on Feb 2, 2011 | One Comment

When it comes to hot button political issues, I try to bring a common sense approach to things or just ignore them completely. Quite honestly, I’m not a professional politician, don’t want to be one and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express which their TV ads would make you think might qualify me to be one…but I digress.

Anyway, here’s what I know about health care.  For a policy that has 3 people on it, it costs my business (that’s www.MonComInc.com if you didn’t know) close to $20,000 a year for health insurance. If I stayed with my previous provider that I had been with for 7 or 8 years for 2011, they wanted to raise my premium by close to 25% and that number would have been closer to $30,000. You want to know what’s choking small business growth in America, you don’t have to look much further than health insurance costs to see that this is definitely one of the issues. It’s a constant topic of conversation among my small business colleagues.

So, Congress enacts some bill which causes all kinds of controversy and some judge in Florida says the bill is unconstitutional.  Does that help the situation out? I don’t know.  What I do know is that the elected officials who made the law and the federal judge who shot down the law have really good health insurance. In all probability, the best health insurance our tax dollars can buy them. I don’t hear any of them complaining about their co-pay, deductible, dealing with HMOs, the increase in their premiums and everything else I hear my friends, clients and business colleagues dealing with every day.

So what does my common sense philosophy tell me? It tells me that all Americans should have the right to the same health care our elected and appointed federal employees have, which I seriously doubt they pay one penny for, at the same cost they pay. Or, better yet, these elected officials should be forced to have an HMO plan (not the premiere plan they have now), where they have to get a referral for every little ache and pain, can’t see the doctor they really want to see without paying a huge out of network fee, pay $25 or more for prescriptions (which we underwrite by the way), and lots of other stuff. It’s not a left or right issue, it’s a common sense issue. If our tax dollars go to pay for career politicians and career federal employees to get the best health insurance and a shit load of other perqs, don’t we the taxpayers have the same rights? It’s not like these guys are doing a great job. Sure they say they feel our pain but our pain comes with a co-pay and their pain, well we pay for that.