A bold new mission?

When I was in sixth grade at Harris Middle School in Shelbyville, Tenn., the entire school gathered in the gym for a presentation about  . . . nutrition, I think. It may have been about fire safety. The details are hazy. From what I recall, however, the group of earnest teens putting on the presentation were doing a series of skits designed to make us laugh as we thought about  . . . um . . . water conservation?

Anyhoo, about the only thing I remember is that they did a Star Wars skit in which Luke Skywalker defeated Darth Vader by waving a school cafeteria lunch in his face.

I know.

Hilarious.

It was to me because I was such a Star Wars nerd that any mention of it kept me enraptured. So, even today, all those years later, I remember the Star Wars theme music playing and Luke thrusting a covered object at Vader in time to the music until Vader collapses and Luke whips off the cloth to reveal a cafeteria tray covered with disgusting food.

But I still can’t remember what lesson I was supposed to take away from it. It may have been traffic safety. I know it wasn’t energy conservation because that presentation had a guy informing a crowd of middle school students that we could save energy by shaving with an electric razor, rather than hot water and a blade.

I thought about this today because I read this.

CBS CONSUMER PRODUCTS AND MAD SCIENCE TO CREATE NEW LIVE STAGE SHOW BASED ON STAR TREK

Interactive show slated to debut in 2010

NEW YORK October 23, 2009 – CBS Consumer Products, a unit of CBS Entertainment, and Mad Science®, have united to launch an interactive stage show — STAR TREK LIVE.

Targeted for a run in theme parks and performing arts centers across the country, the show takes audiences of all ages on an exhilarating journey with Captain James T. Kirk and Vulcan science officer Spock. The show combines cutting-edge special effects, unmatched audience interaction and an exploration of real space-age technology.

“The STAR TREK brand continues to offer entertainment and education through this multifaceted live stage show,” says Liz Kalodner, Executive Vice President and General Manager of CBS Consumer Products. “STAR TREK LIVE allows fans to experience Starfleet Academy firsthand and follow in the footsteps of STAR TREK’s iconic heroes.”

I feel sorry for Star Trek fans who are so desperate to experience a little of the juice from the series that they will seek out this show. I know them. Were I independently wealthy, I would probably be one of them. Of course this isn’t the most ridiculous thing to come out of the franchise lately.

Happy Halloween, everyone.

Look, I get it. It’s raining . . .

I’ve complained before about the crossing guards in front of my kids’ school – how they are occasionally irritable, not entirely focused on the job at hand and sometimes would rather speak with their friends than, you know, make sure we don’t get killed trying to drop our kids off at school.

This morning was typical. The guards are supposed to be there from 7 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. – the half hour alloted for getting your children to school. It is pouring down rain this morning when I arrive at 7:03. There are no crossing guards. They are there, but they’re sitting in their cars on the side of the road.

Well, maybe my clock is a little off and they’re not getting out in the rain until absolutely necessary. While not an ideal situation, I can relate. From my direction it is a left-hand turn across two lanes of on-coming traffic to get to the school. Fortunately, a car stopped and let me and two other drivers through.

Because some of the parents still haven’t gotten the procedure down, I have to wait behind a minivan as the mother parks in the middle of the drop off lane and walks her precious snowflake to the door. So, when I get to the school’s exit, it is 7:14 a.m. Still pouring down rain. Still no crossing guard. She’s sitting in the middle turn lane in her truck watching as parents struggle to pull into traffic.

Pathetic. Really. You have to be there for half an hour in the morning. Children and parents depend on you for safety. You have raincoats and hats. Use them.

The worst part is that it is during the bad weather and visibility is down that you’re needed most. You’ve skipped half your work morning by sitting in your care instead of doing your job.

Unbelievable.

Congratulations to President Obama on winning the Nobel Peace Prize. As Americans we should all be proud when such a prestigious award is given to one of our own. I’m not certain as to the reasons the committee made this decision, but it is not unprecedented for them to use the Peace Prize as a way of prompting further efforts down a path of which they approve.[*cough* Menachem Begin *cough* Anwar Sudat *cough*]

In the grand scheme of things, the Nobel Prize doesn’t mean all that much. President Obama’s acceptance speech was gracious and humble (you know, like how President Bush promised America’s foreign policy would be). I don’t understand these right wingers who would despise him so much that they wouldn’t feel a little pride in the fact that an American has won the prize.

It was the same for the Olympics. The U.S. Olympic Committee is in a feud with the International Olympic Committee. Seriously, it’s bad. It is unlikely that we will get another Olympic games for a generation. So Chicago’s bid was doomed. Even the presence of Obama and Oprah couldn’t save it. But when Chicago didn’t get the 2016 games, the right wing went berserk. They were dancing in the streets. You would have thought it was VE day all over again.

They are so hateful of this president that they celebrate when America loses out on playing host to a world event because it will embarrass him for a day or two.

Unbelievable.

So I’ve throttled back on my Comcast internet usage. I’m hoping it will be enough to get me out of the doghouse with them. I compare it to having an apartment in which the water is included in the rent. That doesn’t give me license to turn on the tap and leave it running day and night, which is essentially what I was doing.

I get it. Let’s hope it is enough to keep me from being suspended.

I’m having trouble with my TV antenna. A few days ago, the local CBS affiliate stopped coming in. No amount of futzing with the antenna will make a difference. It’s odd because it was coming in clearly and several days and then nothing – not a reduced signal, not a fuzzy picture – just nothing.

Love this digital future.

Took the family to an Appalachian Farm Arts Festival in East Tennessee last weekend. The kids got to pet the alpacas and llamas. We bought a pan of cinnamon rolls from a Mennonite family that probably weighed eight pounds (the pan, not the family. They appeared healthy).

Dollie pointed out one of the most entertaining sites was the young Mennonite girls standing in line for a hay ride. “Really? A hayride?” she said. “Don’t you think they get enough of that back home?”

One of the staples of any kind of “fun for the whole family” kind of carnival is the booth where you give the kid a make-shift fishing pole and let them “fish” for a prize by throwing the line over a wall where someone in the back can attach a prize. I’ve seen dozens of these and there was one here, too.

Max spent most of his tickets here for some reason. The prizes were lame: a pencil or pen from a local check cashing business, a  “Shrek “Happy Meal Toy (Finonna only), or a piece of candy.

About the eight time Max threw his line in, he pulled a pencil. He threw it back (much to our embarrassment). He complained loudly about how he already had a bunch of pencils. So he pulled back a pen. He threw it back and said he gave the fish a perfectly good ticket and didn’t need a pen. He pulled his line back and on the clip was his ticket back.

I laughed, made Max apologize to the fish and banned him from playing that game again.

I read that Captain Lou Albano died yesterday. Captain Lou was a big deal in the ’80s – part of the original Rock and Wrestling connection. He and Cindy Lauper and Hulk Hogan had quite a little side show going for a while.

I haven’t heard much from Captain Lou in a long time. But I was reminded of him during DragoCon because as I was in line to see Felicia Day, I passed by a table with an old man sitting by himself wearing traditional Arabian head garb.

It was the Iron Sheik! Man oh man, how many afternoons did I waste cheering for someone, anyone to beat that man to death. His finishing move was the Camel Clutch – devastating. I was in the middle of a good-old-fashioned day dream when I saw a handler come by and wheel him away. He was a feeble old man, now. His knees, shoulders and hips are probably gone. He no longer demonstrated his amazing strength with the Persian Club challenge.

Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff were my favorite tag team because they were such heels in the ring and they were managed by “Classy” Freddie Blassie, who was the most obnoxious spokesman at the time.

They used to begin each match by playing the Russian national anthem. This simply wasn’t done in Reagan’s America. It was great showmanship. Iron Sheik lost the heavyweight title to newcomer Hulk Hogan and wrestling sort of went mainstream.

Max recently expressed a passing interest in wrestling and we’ve watched a few shows. But it isn’t the same anymore. It was never real, but these days it doesn’t seem like they’re even trying.

In the old days, if a match was going south for one of the stars, another star might charge the ring and help him out with a folding chair or something. Now, no one enters the arena without a theme song, some fireworks and a big-screen image of them posing behind their official logo.

There isn’t even an illusion that any of this wasn’t planned in advance. There are too many distractions from the wrestling now. One show we watched stopped the matches so that some dude could stage a half-hour talk show in the middle of everything.

Unbelievable. I know. I’m an old coot who complaints too much about how the world should be. Maybe the rain is affecting my bum shoulder.

Get off my lawn.

Max lost a tooth yesterday. He said “Should I put it under my pillow wink wink?” Tooth fairy doesn’t visit little boys who say “wink wink.”

Bandwidth cap? What bandwidth cap?

So I got a call from Comcast Security. It seems I exceeded the monthly bandwidth cap. As I’ve only been a Comcast customer for a little over a month, I hadn’t paid any attention to the numerous stories about their policy going into effect back in October of last year.

“Mr. Reed, we’re calling you to say that your account has been flagged in an audit because you have exceeded the monthly bandwidth for September.”

“I see.”

“The cap is 250 GB and you used nearly 700.”

“Wow.”

“If you go over again, we’ll suspend your service for a year.”

Now this sucks for two reasons. One: Comcast doesn’t give customers a way to monitor how much bandwidth they’ve used. Two: In my neighborhood, Comcast is the only game in town. My only options are DSL (which is too slow) and dial up (which is much slower).

A third option would be to sign up for a business account. But that’s $90 a month and still has a bandwidth cap.

Of course I could always just ease up on the downloading, but if Comcast is going to open the pipes and increase speeds for downloading, then that just makes it easier to reach the cap that much faster. They should provide me a way to monitor my usage or a warning that I am approaching the limit.