Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Adam Lambert Sings "Play that Funky Music" on American Idol

American Idol contestant, Adam Lambert, performed “Play That Funky Music” on March 31, 2009. I say he performed and I mean it. The performance was intriguing, unique, and a bit funky. With this Adam Lambert has sealed his position as American Idol’s funky white boy.

After a night of overall bad song choices and crappy performances, Adam took the stage and sang something worth listening to. He chose “Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherries. Adam said he tried to take the song, turn it around, and make it fresh. He pictured it being a song you would find on a current pop record. He was right.

The crowd was up and dancing. Paula was up and dancing, we all know that doesn’t take much. This song showcased once again Adam Lambert is a performer. He is not just a singer in this competition. He is a performer.

Once again, he came out, without all the makeup and with his hair back out of his face. He looked relatively normal, whatever that means. He did have the black nail polish. I’d hate to see him totally conform but do like the new look.

Paula, brilliantly stated “True genius does not fulfill expectations. True genius shatters it.” She then compared him to Mick Jagger and Steven Tyler. The end of his performance was very mouthy, like you would see from either of those artists. But to compare him to such great rock legends is a huge compliment.
Simon thought it was very brave and was happy to see an original performance. Although it wasn’t as good as last week’s performance, Simon doesn’t think it actually matters anymore. Randy was skeptical at first, but was impressed with the performance. He claims Adam was in “the star zone.” Kara said the performance was like Studio 57 and can’t wait to see what he does every week.

During the judges praises, Adam Lambert gives props to Ricky Minor and the band. “They hooked me up with a great arrangement.” This humble side of Adam and cleaner look is possibly an attempt to make more of America love him.

When this competition started, I really disliked Adam Lambert. His appearance was slimy and undesirable. He slaughtered a Johnny Cash song. I did not want to see him crowned the next American Idol. Whoever is working with him on his appearance and attire has their fingertip on the pulse on America. They are doing everything right to turn his hard edges into some pliable corners.

Adam Lambert has nothing to worry about in this competition. He will sail through to the finals and may possibly be the next American Idol. As long as he keeps playing his cards right and working his funky self out, I may not even cringe when the announcement is made.

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A Terrible Trade: Chad Hardy's Excommunication from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

The end has come for Chad Hardy, the man behind the now infamous “Men on a Mission” calendar.

With the help of a flurry of national and international media attention his little money-making project has gotten a serious boost. What he has lost in this process however seems incredibly more valuable than some passing media attention or increased calendar sales. While I do not presume to speak on behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, as a lifelong member of the Church I have a really good idea of what Chad has lost here.

Excommunication is the most severe disciplinary action that can be passed on any member of the Church. It results in withdrawal of membership (with all of its attendant opportunities & blessings, including partaking of the Sacrament (a sacred privilege to the devout), the payment of tithes and offerings, Temple blessings and rites, and the loss of Priesthood authority.

According to sources Chad once served as a full-time Missionary himself, this being the group he has cast in an unfavorable light. One should not assume (that’s always dangerous for sure) that because he served, that he did so with honor and distinction fulfilling the role and assuming the mantle given him. Every “returned” Missionary (myself included) can tell a story or two about missionaries who were not out for the right reasons and who consistently failed to adhere to Missionary standards of conduct and behavior. This unfortunate occurrence, though rare, affects the lives of the wayward Missionary and those whom he serves with and serves. In this case the entire Missionary program of the Church has been denigrated and therefore the damage is much more widespread.

The Church goes to great lengths to protect its branding and intellectual property and does so with considerable success. Individuals like Chad who blatantly affront the Church or its programs and institutions are responded to on a case-by-case basis. Somehow in the years following his mission experience Chad has lost touch with what it means to represent Jesus Christ as an ambassador of His restored Gospel.

According to “Preach My Gospel” (A Guide to Missionary Service):

Missionaries are to go “in the power of the ordination wherewith [they have] been ordained, proclaiming glad tidings of great joy, even the everlasting gospel” (D&C 79:1). You have authority to preach the gospel. If you hold the priesthood, you have the authority to administer the ordinances thereof. As you prayerfully and worthily exercise that authority, you will receive spiritual power, which is evidence of the reality of your call.

Do not be afraid or shy about fulfilling this commission. Just as the sons of Mosiah, you are to teach with the power and authority of God (see Alma 17:2-3). When you were set apart by priesthood authority, you received the right and privilege to represent the Lord. You received a ministerial certificate that verifies that authority to the world. President Spencer W. Kimball said: “The setting apart may be taken literally; it is a setting apart from sin, apart from the carnal; apart from everything which is crude, low, vicious, cheap, or vulgar; set apart from the world to a higher plane of thought and activity. The blessing is conditional upon faithful performance” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [1982], 478). (Preach My Gospel, “The Power and Authority of Your Calling”, pg 4)

With this in mind it becomes strikingly obvious why Chad Hardy’s move to photograph “Missionaries” for his calendar is an affront to the Church and resulted in disciplinary action by his local leaders. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to me for the Church to insist on the ability to portray the most accurate and correct picture (no pun intended) of what it means to serve as a full-time Missionary of the Church.

That Chad Hardy was willing to exchange his Church membership for his ill-conceived calendar project points to a deeper rebelliousness that may have nothing to do with “beefcake” at all.

There is tragedy-a-plenty here:

For the participants in the calendar project who through their actions cast a seamy light on the Missionary program of the Church and surely embarrassed their families and congregations.

For the Church itself which is so cast (just the latest undeserved barrage against an organization which has been a target since before its inception)

For the media who in telling and retelling this incident amplify and draw undeserved recognition & even acceptance of this misrepresentation of Missionary life.

For Chad Hardy who it seems in his desire to gain notoriety (& sell calendars) has exchanged his avarice for money and fame for his membership and standing in the Church. To me that’s a staggeringly poor trade! At length maybe Chad will recognize the error in his thinking and turn back to the Lord and His Church.

Postscript: It should be noted that those who are excommunicated are welcomed back into the Church with open arms once they have satisfied the conditions or repentance/reformation prescribed by their leaders in their initial disciplinary council. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints whole heartedly believe in and rely on the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ which covers all sins except denial of the Holy Ghost and the shedding of innocent blood.

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An Auto-Ethnography: Binge-Drinking

Introduction: The Research Site

Our baseball team just won another weekend series against a rival conference opponent. As guys scattered their laundry across the locker room floor I could hear the excitement in the room come close to duplicating the intense atmosphere from the game. The dull roar of “where were we getting plastered tonight,” had already begun circulating. The celebration would be one of many parties going on that particular night. The thought momentarily crossed my mind that I was relatively tired and not opposed to merely renting a movie and watching it with my girlfriend. I knew, not unlike many of the other guys, that I had plenty of homework I had to catch up on; however, I did know that if I stated I was doing anything other than partying I would be subjected to endless amounts of ridicule and scorn and that eventually I would submit to the debauchery.

It has occurred to me that I have physically witnessed virtually every student I am acquainted with at my university drink alcohol, at least socially. Of those acquaintances I would confidently claim that close to half participate in binge drinking. “Heavy binge drinking is defined by Wechsler (1996) as five or more drinks in sequence by men, four or more by women; however, in some studies it is simply defined as five or more drinks at one sitting” (Sullivan 115). A table in a study entitled “The Role of Sex-specific Normative Beliefs in Undergraduate Alcohol Use” shows 44% of all college students binge drink nationwide (Thombs 344). Because I believe this data to be in conjunction with my own assertions regarding alcohol abuse at my own private institution in south central Texas, I approached my research by delving into the student body of the institution to determine why they binge drink in spite of the adverse affects it has in a collegiate atmosphere and how it affected/effected communication with friends, girlfriends, teammates, etc. The institution in question features a wide array of students from various backgrounds and ethnicities. The student body features band members, athletes, fraternity/sorority members, and a number of other students all with their own interests and beliefs.

Though my aim to negotiate various issues regarding binge drinking centered around the student body and the university itself, the specific research site was predominantly residential households where you would typically find a party being held on a Friday or Saturday night. These residential households were the primary point of reference, as they were where most parties were held due to the nature of the university’s on-campus alcohol policy. All residence halls with the exception of apartments, in which all residents are over the age of twenty-one, must be alcohol free. For the apartments that can have alcohol, the limit for the number of people at a party is twenty. Due to these guidelines, students typically migrate off campus to participate in binge drinking. The research was not limited only to these aforementioned residential households; however, but also to other places where I casually observed binge drinking taking place, such as a bar or restaurant.

My desire to research and ultimately unpack binge drinking within the university atmosphere came from my own assertion that it is not just “bad” students participating in the excess drinking, nor is it one particular gender or ethnicity. Despite large numbers of reported binge drinkers in the collegiate setting in many of the studies I have perused, I am not certain that the university in my study does not have an even more prevalent drinking problem than other private, Christian-based institutions. I started coming to this conclusion after seeing that nearly every single person I knew participated in binge drinking, including many people who got to the point that they were physically sick (threw up or passed out), or could not remember what they had done during their binge drinking escapades. I know that alcoholism is a significant problem with regards to functioning in life, but it was interesting to see how binge drinking effected/affected people. Once my assertion that it negatively effects any number of things within a collegiate setting including but not limited to social constructions and relationships amongst peers was confirmed, then I became intensely interested in why students continue to partake in the activity. It should be noted that my own experiences and research is a direct result of the things that I encountered and I witnessed in the field and is by no means a universal truth regarding communication and binge drinking. My research and my interpretations are merely an example of some of the issues/dynamics that I encountered with binge drinking and should be taken as such. Determining, or at least better understanding, these issues could help further research in why students binge drink and prevention techniques regarding the issue.Theoretical Frame, Research Method, Study Limitations and Research QuestionsTheoretical Frame

My primary theoretical focus utilized the social norms model. “The model proposes that many students hold exaggerated perceptions of peers’ drinking practices. These misperceived norms collectively generate a social press that encourages students to increase their drinking to conform to the widely held, but inaccurate, appraisals of peers’ drinking practices” (Thombs 342). Specifically, I explored pluralistic ignorance which, “refers to the false assumption of nondrinkers and moderate drinkers that the majority of students at their campus drink more than students actually do” (Thombs 342). I used the social norms model to further explore whether or not the amount of binge drinking was significantly misperceived (my own notions included) or, if relative, did indeed entail high percentages of students participating in binge drinking. And if not partially because of the social norms model then why do students binge drink at such high rates and continue to partake in the activity?

Research Method

Author H.L. Goodall states in his book Writing the New Ethnography that, “you will begin to see there is a gap-something missing or something no being told or something that is completely wrongheaded-that you want to address” (Goodall 58). From literature I have read thus far I have yet to find justified reasons, with the exception of the social norms model, that verify why college students binge drink knowing the adverse affects it has on them, especially in the collegiate setting. There is significant amounts of research in the fields of student affairs and psychology discussing students’ binge drinking habits; however, as a communication major, I have found little research existing specifically associated with communication literature and this is where the gap in question comes from in which my research is focused.

Being a college student it was very easy for me to gain access to all of the places that the binge drinking was occurring. Once I was in these places, I made sure that the people were comfortable with me (I knew most of them anyway), and I observed their actions and how they communicated with one another while they were binge drinking, and how it affected their social relationships. The observation itself was not very hard; however, it was relatively tough to record all the things I wanted to while attempting to participate in some of the activities so as not to totally alienate myself from the binge drinking group I was studying. I have attempted to maintain the mindset that my efforts to capture everything are impossible and that the fieldnotes I choose to record is a direct result of my own selective process in determining what information is most conducive in helping me determine themes and patterns associated with the binge drinking phenomenon. While observation was not very hard, processing and interpreting the fieldnotes did pose more of a challenge. “Because fieldnotes are less about what you initially “see” and “experience” than they are about connecting those fieldwork details to larger and more self-reflexive issues. Which is to say that what fieldnotes represent is one part recorded observations and experiences and two parts interpretation, or how you learn to hear in and through all of that” (Goodall 86). I am not an expert in any field pertaining to binge-drinking, but merely a scholar with the desire to better understand the phenomenon and my interpretations should be taken as such. I have gathered extensive fieldnotes that I analyzed, similar to the way in which Goodall advises by sharing with his readers his approach. “I begin transcribing and working with the patterns that emerge from my fieldnotes. During that process of keying in what has been sloppily written down and noticing how this relates to that, I add in personal reflections and references to the professional literature where they seem appropriate” (Goodall 120). I carefully sifted though my fieldnotes to find both patterns and anomalies and then determined the significance to both and how the various patterns and discrepancies correlated with one another. After completion of this process my research began to come together for me in a way that ultimately helped me negotiate and answer or perhaps not answer (to the best of my abilities) my research questions.

In addition to social observation, I, on more than one account, was a participant in the study. Because of this, I was able to gauge my own reactions and make my own assertions on how binge drinking affects/effects me and my the relationships I have with my peers, and in turn helped me to better understand why I participate in an activity that likely effects me adversely, at least physically.Study Limitations

Like all studies, there were some boundaries and limitations to the one I conducted. First of all my primary focus is on one small, private university in south central Texas. While binge drinking may be an epidemic all across the nation (and information has been drawn from texts concerning nation-wide evidence), my study only actively witnesses and speculates based on the student body at the particular university where the study is being conducted. Also, the fact that anonymity was virtually impossible in this setting might have hindered the data I gather with regards to the social observation method. The majority of the student body knows me due to the small, community-like feel to the campus and their behavior patterns might have changed knowing that I was observing them. Because binge drinking is so frowned upon (not to mention illegal if you are underage) students were reluctant to answer hard, probing questions that in their minds may have incriminated them to the university’s authority figures despite the casual setting in which the questions were asked. This seemed to hold more true with the athletes, who I concluded binge drink more than other students, for fear that they would get in trouble with a coach or teammates and the consequences that would follow if they should be ‘caught’ drinking.Research Questions

My research questions are, “Why does binge drinking continue to occur in spite of the adverse effects it has in a collegiate atmosphere?” and “How does binge drinking affect communication with friends, girlfriends, teammates, etc., in a social setting?”

I specifically designed these questions because often times human nature baffles me, and in exploring these questions I hope to obtain a better understanding of why we do what we do, specifically why we binge drink. Exploring these questions will enable me to witness how binge drinking affects/effects people’s lives. I have ascertained that by the time people get to college they are smart enough to know what activities are conducive to their well-being. Most college students are aware of the complications that come with binge drinking, yet they (me included) still participate in the activity. Both questions are very broad, but hopefully as I approach answers to these questions in the following sections, I will also stumble on other answers and reasoning that helps to negotiate binge drinking in general, and that will bring further clarification to my research and to the nation-wide (and campus wide) problem of binge drinking.

Research Question One: Themes and Patterns

The time frame for this study is not one of infinite time or even a few years, but rather a couple of months and thus it should be noted that I am unable to take into account all the different variables associated with college students and binge drinking. That being said, I have attempted to explore why binge drinking occurs despite its’ negative affects within the collegiate atmosphere using a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors contributing to the phenomenon.

I have made the conscious decision to spend very little time on family history and parents’ behavior in regards to drinking because I am under the impression that few people would admit to me if their parents were alcoholics. This was apparent after I asked two people while in the field about a history of alcohol abuse in their family and both dismissed the question quickly and were moderately exasperated that I would even ask (Fieldnotes). “There has been great interest in the role of genetics and family history in the etiology of alcohol-related problems. However, relatively little research on the genetics of alcoholism has focused specifically on college students as a clinical population. Perhaps this is due to the fact that college students, on average, do not show signs of severe alcohol dependence even though a subset of students sometimes drink great quantities of alcohol” (Baer 2). Most of the research I read in regards to families with alcohol related problems and those that were not, in conjunction with college binge drinking, reported that the drinking rates were indistinguishable.

With family history rather inconclusive I next examined the different types of personalities that chose to partake in binge drinking. Due to the nature of my study, I had the fortunate advantage of knowing most of the people I was observing-knowing them to the point that I knew at least basic principles regarding their personalities. I know that it would be wrong for me to make certain assumptions about each respective person when it comes to binge drinking, but I hoped to find patterns between certain personality types. While in the field I attempted to make a distinction and separate those people who were socially drinking and those who were actually binge drinking; however, in doing so (on both fieldwork occasions) I determined that the vast majority of the party population was binge drinking, or at least acting as though they were/had been binge drinking (Fieldnotes). I have been around drunken people on many different accounts and feel that I am a reliable resource in determining whether or not someone is drunk or merely acting drunk for show, which I also saw in the field and definitely attribute to the aforementioned social norms model which I will address momentarily. First, back to the notions of varying personalities as related to binge drinking. I myself am an extrovert who is very social and I also accumulate a lot of stress throughout the week as I edge closer to graduation and worrying increasingly about grades so as to get in the law school of my choice. In thinking about my own personality and why I binge drink, I immediately reacted by watching other people with similar personalities to my own. I noted in that while more than half of the binge drinking participants at the parties I attended were people I would label extraverted and highly social there were still quite a large number of people (both male and female) that were likely introverts and still partaking in binge drinking. The notion that people drink because they are extroverted and highly social seems to correlate directly with the social norms model. Michael Ichiyama’s article, “The Social Contexts of Binge Drinking Among Private University Freshman,” states that, “Binge drinkers were more motivated to drink in order to gain acceptance from their peers. This finding suggests that freshman (his study his freshman specific, but findings likely apply across the field) binge drinking is purposeful and socially motivated behavior (i.e., to gain peer approval) that may be influenced by positive expectancies towards alcohol use and beliefs that heavy drinking among college students is normative” (Ichimyama 26).

If people put a lot of emphasis on partying and being social and being known and ‘popular’ and they have reason to believe that other people are binge drinking in order to meet these expectations, as the social norms model would dictate, then it would be a fair assumption to assume that is why these highly social people binge drink; however, what about the introverts and the typically quiet (usually girlfriends) that toss their shy veil aside and party as hard as the rest of the drinkers? Why do they continue to binge drink if not for popularity and a desire to be social?

In my efforts to draw a conclusion on why the less social, seemingly introverted, students binge drink I went back and examined my field notes. The thing that immediately garnered my attention was the idea of pregaming. Joann Brady’s article “Binge Drinking Entrenched in College Culture,” reveals insight into the notion of pregaming, a common drinking ritual. “One common ritual he saw while reporting for the book was “pregaming,” where underage students sat in their dorm rooms or apartments and drank massive amounts of alcohol, usually hard liquor, in order to catch a buzz before going out for the evening” (Brady 2). Our own pregaming usually features playing card games that require drinking lots of alcohol very quickly, playing games such as ‘Beer Pong’ or ‘Flip Cup,’ or taking a few shots in a short amount of time. When I thought about what I observed, the people typically playing these games, not necessarily at the parties, but specifically before the big party of the night (during the pregaming rituals), I concluded that it was mostly the introverted people, especially the females, (Fieldnotes). I asked one of the girls why she was drinking so much and her response was, “It’s been a long week and I just need to let loose” (Fieldnotes).

This notion of ‘letting loose’ seemed like a rather viable reason to me, as I myself have been guilty of binge drinking after a long week, and thus I became intrigued by the concept. College is typically a tumultuous time for students and can be especially overwhelming for college freshman trying to fit in with their peers, especially within certain social circles such as sports teams or fraternities. The idea of ‘letting loose’ really caught my attention when I noticed that the people with the high grade point averages seemed to be binge drinking just as much as those that focused their attention on other things and usually neglected their grades (Fieldnotes). So much energy is often invested during the week to maintaining grades, working on papers, assignments and projects, team practices, team meetings, extra workouts, community service for a fraternity/sorority, stressing over law school, medical school and grad school applications, etc. Perhaps these ‘good’ students binge drink in order to ‘let loose’ and alleviate the stress that encompasses their lives during the week. But does ‘letting loose’ only apply to ‘good’ students or as I hinted at earlier does it also come into play with the more introverted individuals? Perhaps binge drinking affords the usually quiet, collective individuals the opportunity to act out and to say and do the things they are usually too restrained to engage in. One girl who was spouting out some crazy things that I never envisioned her saying told me that, “A drunk girls’ words are a sober girls’ thoughts” (Fieldnotes). As I progress through this study I must be careful to adhere to my original question which was, “Why do college students continue binge drinking despite the adverse affects within the collegiate setting?” I have been fairly thorough (time constraints permitting) to provide a variety of reasons why different people participate in binge drinking and many of these reasons assume that either the social expectations are either too intense or that the desire for emotional escape and relief from weekly pressures and anxiety are viable reasons to continue binge drinking. Again, having the distinct advantage of knowing many of the individuals I observed binge drinking and my own participation in the activity, I am able to assert for myself certain things about their habit. For one, the students that binge drink during the week and miss class the following day are typically the same students who would miss the class anyhow; whereas, the students that binge drink and drag themselves to class hung-over are typically dedicated students who attempt to attend class regardless of the days’ variables (i.e. being hung-over, bad weather, exhausted, etc).

Research Question Two: Themes and Patterns

It was my initial assumption that my second research question, “How does binge drinking affect communication with friends, girlfriends, teammates, etc., in a social setting?” would in some ways intertwine and overlap with some of the information pertaining to the other research question; however, I did do my best to focus primarily on how the drinking affects the communication patterns. Having read through much of the literature regarding binge drinking I have found countless amounts of information and statistics regarding why people drink, though not necessarily why they continue drinking; however, how they communicate with others is truly where I believe there to be a gap in the literature. Because of this scenario, this section may at times feel as though I’m either stating the obvious or perhaps even stretching the limitations of my research as I negotiate the communication trends virtually completely from my own conclusions based on the evidence I have acquired.

It is my belief that the reason a particular individual is binge drinking has a direct affect on the way he communicates with his peers once he has engaged in the activity. Also, it should be noted that according to my field notes there was a reoccurring pattern among participants drinking whiskey and being mean/ill-tempered binge drinkers, especially if they were already normally aggressive individuals (Fieldnotes). While this is a case specific example involving the intake of whiskey, my other conclusions were not so easy to sift through.

Because there were many couples at both parties I attended in which I recorded fieldnotes, I paid particular attention to the communication dynamic among couples and was able to determine two very frequent patterns. Either the couples would become very affectionate with one another with little regard to who was in their presence or the couple would begin to argue and fight at even the tiniest transgressions. The only exception to these patterns were older couples that were both older in terms of their ages (23+) and in time spent together (at least a year). The reader should recall that I knew all of the people that I was observing within the field. These couples seemed rather comfortable with one another, and also with leaving one another to engage in conversations with others (Fieldnotes).

First, allow me to draw conclusions on why couples become increasingly affectionate with one another. From what I can tell, the notion can be traced back to the reasons people binge drink. It is no secret that people drink to lower their own inhibitions so that in the case of a couple, both partners could be drinking to lower their inhibitions in order to lead to the act of sex, or other sexual activities. This idea can be directly related to the notion of ‘letting loose’ as examined in the previous section of this study. A few guys jokingly stated that they were drinking to make the girls at the party look better (Fieldnotes). This comment violates countless gender roles; nonetheless, it does present these males’ logic for binge drinking-the aim of ‘hooking up’ or having sex with a co-ed after the party as a result of their own (and likely their future mates, if only for that particular night’s) binge drinking habit. If a couple has endured any number of problems with each other throughout the week or if both have just been stressed regarding school and have not had the opportunity to see each other very often, then ‘letting loose’ to them constitutes binge drinking to the point of increasing the probability of sex. The literature reinforces this logic as Ichiyama’s article mentions social context variables and states that, “Frequent binge drinkers showed stronger tendencies to…drink for the purposes of seeking sex” (Ichiyama 24). While this conclusion certainly overlaps reasons for binge drinking, I associate it predominantly with the communication aspect because it is the sexual innuendo and the racy verbal conversation and non-verbal cues that leads to the sexual acts themselves. Regardless of which section I put it under, it is imperative to understand that you can not have one (the reason) without the other (the communication), which ultimately leads to the final scenario of sex-seeking.

The other scenario I mentioned was couples getting easily angered with one another. From my own experiences I know that I have less patience when binge drinking. Things that my girlfriend may say or do that bother me, but that I would usually dismiss with a shrug, really get on my nerves when I am intoxicated and thus I am more likely to say something derogatory to her in response to her actions/words or just leave her stranded as I avoid her and talk to other groups of people at the party while staying away from her vicinity. This stems from the fact that when binge drinking emotions are intensified, hence the reason people get angry with one another easier and also viable reason for the significant amounts of affection. I saw plenty of examples of both males and females getting angry at one another over virtually nothing (i.e the male saying suggestive things in front of others, the female letting another guy dance too close, etc). It is important for the reader to understand that when I say virtually nothing, I am referring to things that would not normally anger the other person in the relationship. Both “virtually nothing” and the instances in question are not universal truths for all people, but based on the fact that I know these couples I am observing, and am able to qualify occurrences that lead to anger that normally would not between the social/dating relationships in question. “Virtually nothing” is qualified due to the patterns and representations I have seen from couples, friends, etc in the social atmosphere in which I interact frequently, and the environment in which I completed my social observation. One example between teammates stands out among the rest and probably would not have occurred without the binge drinking. During a game of ‘beer pong’ one teammate, only a year older than the other, decided he would provoke his freshman teammate merely to get a laugh from some of the older guys. The instigator, also physically larger than the other player, kept on saying things that really were not over the line, but to the extent of, “You’re going to lose,” etc. kept on until the freshman said, “Do you want to do something about it?” and picked up a baseball bat. When this incident happened the older teammate pushed both the recipient of his verbal abuse and another player to the garage floor and teammates had to restrain both parties (Fieldnotes). Because both guys are teammates of mine, I can attest to the fact that they had never had any problem with each other before, but the fact that they are both competitive guys in a setting in which they had consumed extensive amounts of alcohol, the near-fight almost got ugly and could have had negative ramifications such as injury to one or both parties or a crucial disruption in team unity.

One issue that is usually prevalent in communication field is that of gender. Gender roles and dynamics were definitely evident when observing binge drinking in the field. As I watched these couples communicate with one another after binge drinking there were a number of gender roles that I observed, some of which I will attempt to unpack in this study. In association with sex seeking, I observed that the male was the primary initiator. While I did hear one girl state, “I’m going home with someone tonight,” (Fieldnotes) I never witnessed her actually approaching guys, rather being very receptive to their come-ons. There were numerous occasions in which various guys approached various different girls throughout the night. This shows that in spite of the alcohol (or maybe because of alcohol?) gender roles/dynamics maintain their prevalence.

The female drinkers tended to stay closer to their male companions, whereas, the males would often wonder off and associate themselves with many of the other guys (Fieldnotes). It should be noted that this could be the case because the guys were mostly all teammates of one another and seemingly very comfortable with each other, while the girls were mostly the guys’ girlfriends, and also the majority of the girls were introverts. Despite this observation, there is evidence that perhaps the girls’ stayed closer to their male counterparts, often under the arm of their boyfriends (Fieldnotes), as if he was protecting them. This is certainly a gender dynamic that arises, especially with binge drinking, because the girls that are taken see the drunken guys approaching them as predators and allow their male companions to protect them.

Finally, another gender dynamic that use always see with binge drinking is that the male’s are almost always consuming either beer or some type of dark whiskey, whereas, the females are drinking some sort of fruity beverage or a lighter alcohol such as Rum or Vodka. While it is not important what they are drinking, the fact that males would get jeered for drinking Mike’s Hard Lemonade, is significant. Drinking a “girls'” drink automatically makes the male a “pussy’ or a “faggot.” The fact that the type of alcohol you drink has implications is evidence that gender roles are prevalent in all aspects of life. Gender roles are played out everywhere in our society and it is no different during the act of binge drinking.

Thus far my argument has ascertained that binge drinking affects communication between two parties that are both binge drinking, either by making the people participating in the activity either brutally honest, increasingly affectionate or even uncharacteristically angry, but I have yet to mention the secondhand affects of the binge drinking in terms of communication. “The 2001 study found that high proportions of non-binge drinkers and abstainers who lived in on-campus housing or in a fraternity or sorority house experienced negative effects from their peers’ drinking, which was similar to our findings in previous studies. The secondhand effects experienced most frequently were having study/sleep interrupted (60%), having to take care of a drunken student (48%), and being insulted or humiliated (29%)” (Wechsler 210). If only one of the members has been binge drinking in any given situation, then it is safe to assume that it would be easy to get communication lines crossed. This was evidenced by one male who was binge drinking this particular night, but says he usually does not despite his roommate binge drinking approximately four to five times a week. “He always comes home drunk and wakes me up and I just ask him to shut up, but he thinks he is funny and will never stop even once I am really irritated” (Fieldnotes).

Summary, Conclusion, and Possibilities for Future Research

In conclusion, the goal of this study was to take an angle that had not yet been taken in recent literature with regards to binge drinking, especially the notion of how the act of binge drinking affects communication among couples and peers in a social setting. The evidence I explored in regards to why binge drinking occurs may not be entirely unique; however, I would like to think I took an extensive approach at various reasons why college students, specifically students at one private university in south central Texas, continue participating in binge drinking despite its’ adverse effects within the collegiate setting. After determining that the biological factors were rather inconclusive amongst my own peers and in the literature, I explored psychological and social factors and how they directly correlated to binge drinking. I took an in-depth approach into people’s varying personalities and how highly social and extroverted people tended to drink to be social and due to the social norms model and the belief that they needed to drink because their peers were drinking and it was necessary to be cool and popular. Because this did not seem to make as much sense for more introverted individuals I concluded that they typically binge drank in order to ‘let loose’ as an emotional escape for the anxiety that builds up during a tumultuous week of class and extracurricular activities and work. The notion of sex-seeking and ‘hooking up’ applied across the board to all personalities, and could also fall under the notion of ‘letting loose’ though under different circumstances.

After familiarizing myself with many of the reasons why people continue to binge drink based both on specific personalities, social factors, etc, I was ready to tackle how binge drinking affected communication. While some of the communication aspects were a direct result of the type of personality the specific person was, as well as, their reasons for drinking, other reasons were not as succinct. Communication was also affected by the dynamic of the people conversing and the relationship between people prior to binge drinking. Frequent binge drinkers tended to react by becoming excessively honest, overly affectionate (primarily with their mates or people they were interested in) or abrasive to both other binge drinkers and those abstaining from binge drinking.

Possibilities for future research could include delving more in-depth into how the different personality types and relationship dynamics between both mates and peers affect why people continue drinking and especially the various communication scenarios that occur most frequently. Also, it would be interesting to see what how accountable the age factor is on why people binge drink and how they communicate whilst binge drinking. I mention this because I noticed that the older couples were not acting particularly out of the ordinary despite binge drinking. Though their disposition had changed, it was not nearly as evident as the younger college students. Future research efforts could also focus on how pertinent each individual personality is to the continuation of binge drinking. I mention this notion, because if binge drinking does not seem to adversely affect a student in terms of their athletic performance or even their classroom standing due to their intense dedication then perhaps binge drinking is only an emotional escape they eliminate after college. Finally, I think it would be interesting to determine the ratio of students that continue binge drinking despite both adverse affects and introduction to prevention efforts such as the harm reduction model (Ward 27) though this notion and line of exploration was beyond the scope of research for my current project.

Bibliography

Arciniega, Tomas, et al. Facts About Alcohol at College Drinking. 23 Sept. 2003.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.16 March 2006.

Baer, John. “Student Factors: Understanding Individual Variation in College Drinking.”

J. Stud. Alcohol. Supplement 14 (2002): 1-18.

Brady, Jonann. “Binge Drinking Entrenched in College Culture.” ABC News. 7 Sept.

2005: 1-3.

De Santis, Grace. “Interviewing as Social Interaction.”

Goodall, H.L. Writing the New Ethnography. New York: Rowan & Littlefield Publishers,

2000.

Gorden, Raymond. Interviewing: strategy, techniques, and tactics. Homewood, Illinois:

The Dorsey Press, 1969.

Ichiyama, Michael. “The Social Contexts of Binge Drinking Among Private University

Freshman.” Journal of Alcohol and Drug Eduation. Volume 44, Issue 1

(Fall 1998): 18-33.

Lewis, Melissa & Clayton Neighbors. “Social Norms Approaches Using Descriptive

Drinking Norms Education: A Review of the Research on Personalized

Normative Feedback.” Journal of American College Health. Volume 54,

Number 4 (2006): 213-218.

Marlatt, Alan. “Reducing College Student Binge Drinking: A Harm-Reduction

Approach.” Health Psychology Through the Life Span: Practice and Research

Opportunities. Robert Resnick and Ronald Rozensky. Washington DC: American

Psychological Association, 1996. 377-393.

Paterno, Susan. “The Question Man.” American Journalism Review. Volume 22, Issue 8

(October 2000): 50-58.

Palen, John. “Teacher as writer highlights writing, interviewing skills.” Educator.

(Spring 1978).

Sullivan, Michael & Ed Risler. “Understanding College Alcohol Abuse and Academic

Performance: Selecting Appropriate Intervention Strategies.” Journal of College

Counseling. Volume 5 (Fall 2002): 114-122.

Thombs, Dennis, et al. “The Role of Sex-specific Normative Beliefs in Undergraduate

Alcohol Use.” American Journal of Health Behavior. Volume 29, Number 4

(2005): 342-351.

Ward, Tony, et al. Sexual Deviance: Issues and Controversies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

Publications, 2003.

Wechsler, Henry & Bernice Wuethrich. Dying to Drink: Confronting Binge Drinking on

College Campuses. Pennsylvania: Rodale Inc., 2002.

Wechsler, Henry, et al. “Trends in College Binge Drinking During a Period of Increased

Prevention Efforts.” Journal of American College Health. Volume 50, Number 5

(March 2002): 203-217.

Tags:An Auto-Ethnography: Binge-Drinking

Acting in Sketches is More Difficult Than it Looks

As the present cast of Saturday Night Live demonstrate weekly, playing a part in a comedy variety show sketch isn’t as easy as it looks. In a sketch, the actors have a very short time to sell the story they’re telling; there’s little room for development and nuance. But the best sketch players, most of them singers, manage to pull it off and get laughs.

While Hope sketches were broad, farcical and in the opinion of some, too silly, he had definite ideas about how he wanted them played. Most of the guests followed his directions to the letter, but once in awhile he’d run into a problem case – one like former model Susan Anton.

On one of our football specials, Susan was cast as a scientist hired by the NFL to test the safety of the equipment. Hope answers her want ad for a guinea pig and is put through a series of punishing tests.

Susan was going with British actor Dudley Moore at the time, and he was never far away during rehearsal. During the read-through, Hope had warned Susan not to laugh at her own lines while putting him through the wringer – literally. In one sequence, he’s in a stretching “machine” we had designed like a magician’s trick. Following our diagram, the NBC prop department built a box with hidden shelves and dummy pants, legs and shoes that would appear to belong to Hope.

But despite his advice, Susan insisted on injecting a series of giggles before, during and after every one of her lines. Distracting enough during rehearsal, but later in front of an audience, her giggling if anything, increased.

Repeatedly, Hope stopped the taping, called her off to the side and whispered instructions. Then she’d go over to Dudley who’d give her more tips – apparently to keep up the good work.

Finally, Hope surrendered and finished the sketch, hoping that Susan’s delivery could be fixed in post. But no amount of editing could save her performance, and we lost a perfectly serviceable eight-minute sketch – not to mention an opportunity to introduce the world to a human stretching machine that would have made Dick Cheney proud.

Hope went out of his way to treat his guests well and did anything he could to help improve their performance. They, of course, usually welcomed his guidance and suggestions. On the other hand, he could be as protective as a mother bear with cubs if he felt the quality of the show was being threatened.

We were in Fort Lauderdale, Florida taping a special on which Tony Randall was a guest. Tony was by nature genial and gregarious and easily connected with people on a personal level. As we taped each segment over a period of several days, Tony had developed the habit of wandering onto the set in advance to make contact with the audience prior to his performance.

Unfortunately, Tony went beyond the usual behind-the-scenes jokes and “Where are you from?” chatter and began quoting lines from the sketch about to be taped – “Now when I say such and such, you laugh.”
An audio line to Hope’s dressing room was left open, and he overheard Tony’s repartee. As soon as he came offstage, Hope was all over him like a baseball manager berates a catcher who’s telegraphing the signals.

He was as angry as I’d ever seen him. “Tony, what in the hell are you doing out there? You know better than that! How do you expect us to get laughs if they already know the lines?” Tony, a true gentlemen who had
meant no harm, was devastated, his humiliation evident. He apologized and assured Hope that it would never happen again. But the message was clear. Hope wouldn’t hesitate to vent his anger even at a well-known star if he believed the show was being sabotaged, regardless of how innocently.

Before taping a segment, Hope would often emerge to chat with the audience but was careful never to audition the material in the script. When rehearsing the monologue in front of an audience, he’d recite his
lines in gibberish. There were no joke previews.

So sensitive was he to the possibility of dulling the spontaneous reaction at hearing lines for the first time, he refused to allow them the traditional “audience warm-up,” common on all sitcoms taped in front of people. This despite the boredom that sets in when people are asked to remain in their seats for long delays between takes.

Later, I suggested that he play segments already taped so the waiting audience would have something to watch other than technicians making adjustments. He agreed, and that was done for our last five or six seasons.

Perry Como hosted The Kraft Music Hall from 1959 to 1967 and had posted some high chart stats with hits like “Catch a Falling Star,” “Papa Loves Mambo,” “Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes” and “It’s Impossible.”
Perry was a laid-back former barber, who like Dean Martin, spent most of his time on the golf course.
Also like Dean, he loved singing but didn’t care to get overly involved with other elements of his show- like rehearsing. (Dean actually preferred to study a tape of Greg Garrison, his producer, rehearsing in his place!)

Perry’s musical director, Ray Charles (who was nicknamed “the Sighted One”) told me that Perry was loath to rehearse the comedy bits on his show and would wing it, just reading his lines so he could get back on the tenth tee. But, said Charles, it never seemed to matter. Perry would read his lines straight and became adept in sketches since that’s just the delivery they require.

I learned what Ray meant while working with Perry one Christmas on a Star Wars sketch. During dress rehearsal, he drifted over to me, impressive in his Luke Sleepwalker costume and holding his light saber which he was about to use to try to decapitate “Barf” Vader.

He whispered as though a little embarrassed, “Bob, can I ask you a question?” I said “Sure, Perry,” thinking he was having a problem with a line – although he had seemed confident reading Barney’s cards. Sheepishly, he said, “I’ve been out on the course a lot lately and may have missed something. Is this sketch based on a movie?”

If Hope wasn’t satisfied with a particular performance, you’d know about it – fast. Charlotte Rae, star of a seventies sitcom called The Facts of Life, was in a parody of Dallas, cast as Miss Ellie. Since Hope watched
little television (save for football and golf ), he had no idea who the animated Broadway-trained actress was. Delayed at the airport, he had missed the read through, so the dress rehearsal was his first opportunity
to appraise his fellow performers. During a break, he came rushing back to his dressing room.

“Who is that playing Miss Ellie?” he asked the producer. “That’s Charlotte Rae. She’s a well-known sitcom star.” “Well, tell her to knock off the mugging. She looks like Mickey Rooney.” High praise, indeed, as the Mick is one of Hollywood’s legendary scene thieves.

However, sometimes a less-than-stellar performance by the usual standards would provide unexpected comedic dividends. There was an actress on Dallas named Charlene Tilton whom we had on as a guest. About five feet tall, she was bubbly and appeared to get a great deal of enjoyment out of life.

We cast Charlene in a parody of the sitcom “Happy Days” opposite Hope as the “Fonz.” Like Susan Anton, she consistently telegraphed the laughs, but did so in such a charming and disarming way. Hope realized she brought an additional element of entertainment to the sketch (which, if I recall correctly, it needed).

Moreover, when Charlene flubbed a line, she’d break up and go into hysterics, sometimes literally kneeling on the floor. Whenever Hope sensed he was getting interesting outtakes, he’d tell the director to keep the tape rolling. This was one of those times – in spades.

Over the years, he ended up with some priceless flubs and bloopers which were used in NBC’s promos for the show and on Hope’s obligatory “Tonight Show” appearance. “Save that one for Carson,” he’d say. We got some irreplaceable classics from Miss Tilton.

Because of the challenges sketches pose, casting amateurs was always risky and Hope avoided using them. But one year, we saluted the N.F.L. and among the guests were legendary coaches Hank Stramm, Weeb Ewbank and George Allen. .

During rehearsals, it was clear that they showed a sense of timing and projection that belied their lack of experience treading the boards. Each showed up knowing his lines, and when changes were made in the script, they were quick studies. They had as much poise in front of the camera as many of our more experienced guests lacked.

I was so impressed by them during rehearsal, I mentioned it to Hope. He said, “They’re not amateurs. They’re on television more than I am.”

Excerpted from THE LAUGH MAKERS: A Behind-the-Scenes Tribute to Bob Hope’s Incredible Gag Writers © 2009 by Robert L. Mills and published by Bear Manor Media: . The book was chosen by Leonard Maltin as a “Top 20 Year-End Pick” for 2009. FREE sample chapters can be read at: : http://ift.tt/1SupPpX
Order online at:
http://ift.tt/1TilWkP

Also available in an unabridged audio version read by the author: http://ift.tt/1SupS5h

FREE excerpts at: http://ift.tt/1TilWkR

Tags:Acting in Sketches is More Difficult Than it Looks

'America's Got Talent' Spectacular Finish in Semi-Finals Where Variety Acts Ruled

Next week will be the finals, so this was the last of the Top 12 semi-finalists on ‘America’s Got Talent’ Tuesday night. It was so packed with talent there wasn’t a bad performance unlike last week’s hideous semi-finals. Thankfully no one was buzzed off and Piers actually remained relatively quiet on his buzzer. Believe it or not for the first time this season Howie actually buzzed a spectacular performance midway. Yes, it was intentional and not accidentally like before from the germaphobic judge. The most surprising part in these last semi-finals was the variety acts. Oftentimes they cannot live up to the judge’s scrutiny this far into the competition. Instead, they truly delivered some mesmerizing performances.

The Under Whelming Acts

Haspop – Quite honestly I never thought I would categorize his performance as under whelming and mediocre, but it truly was. He’s been one of my favorite acts all along, but his strange performance art with the big video behind him would be fine on Ovation TV (an eclectic arts & entertainment cable channel), but not on a mainstream television network. Piers actually buzzed him, which he’d never done before. Haspop could not live up to his magnificent quarterfinal performance.

Debra Romer – She has gotten better and better with each performance. However, her emotion and vulnerability were as strong as ever, it was the song choice that the judges felt was her weakest link.

Nathaniel Kenyon – No doubt his nerves are still getting the best of him. He has certainly improved, but Nathaniel has a long way to go with his stage presence. The other singers from last week are far superior. Nathaniel has his work cut out for him even if he miraculously makes it into the finals. By the way, he is a really good-looking kid.

Murray Sawchuck – How many times have we seen disappearing acts on ‘America’s Got Talent’? Too many and earlier in the show Tuesday night there was another magician who did a spectacular one already. Murray presentation was rushed and wrought with nervous energy throughout. In his pre-performance video he said the finals did not have room for two magicians. Yes, you are right and it won’t be you, along with your arrogance.

The Very Good Acts

Alice Tan Ridley – It was great hearing from her after all this time. She took on the powerhouse vocalist Whitney Houston’s song “I Have Nothing.” Her emotional delivery was superb. Alice was the first act to open the show and she managed that very well.

Maestro Alexander Bui – Here is the act Howie Mandel actually buzzed in the middle of his performance. It was completely unnecessary to do that. I agree with Piers calling Howie a “cultural ignoramus”, because he is. The Maestro performed two extremely difficult and challenging pieces. It was the classical music from “Flight of the Bumblebee” and the boogie woogie sounds of early rock and roll played simultaneously.

Studio One Young Beast Society – These are brilliant dancers who are energetic, fun, exciting and contemporary, but they are not that outstanding or unique. The judges were all over them with constant praise left and right. I certainly wasn’t buying it.

The Heart-Stopping Acts

Michael Lipari and Ashleigh Dejon – Thankfully they did not scare us with another death-defying stunt like last week. This time they performed a beautiful and romantic aerial routine like they were up in the clouds. The fog used gave it the cloud effect along with the blue background for the sky. Afterwards, Howie said he sees many aerial acts in Veags, but they usually wear a safety harness. Neither of them had one on, which made their act even more dangerous, yet exciting.

Michael Grasso – All I could say was “Oh My God” at the end of this stunning magical act. Talk about switching places and you didn’t see that coming. Be sure to check out Michael Grasso’s semi-final performance on YouTube or watch a re-broadcast of AGT when it comes this weekend or next week. That’s all I have to say about it.

Jeremy VanSchoonhoven – Talk about overcoming insurmountable odds. In the pre-performance video Jeremy took a very bad fall on his waterfall-like prop onto the floor during a crucial rehearsal. He ended up with many cuts and bruises and was sent to the hospital. I was truly nervous for him during his act Tuesday night. There was a part when his mountain bike slipped in between some park benches that he fell out of, but thankfully was not hurt.

For the grand finale he led his bike up top this waterfall, cliff-like prop where he had to endure several steep drops. When it came to the last one everyone was holding their breath, because that is where he had his severe accident. Jeremy VanSchoonhoven nailed his performance all the way. The audience went wild and the judges gave him a standing ovation. I remember praying for him to make it through, especially the last part.

Jackie Evancho – Throughout the night she was the only singing act who got the judges and audience on their feet. Just like she wowed the country with her debut performance on the YouTube quarterfinals Jackie did it once again. It’s a lot of pressure for anyone at this point in the competition. However, ten-year old Jackie Evancho acts like this is another recital. She is so cool, calm and collected compared to some other novice singers who performed before her.

Fighting Gravity – They performed last and were the perfect act to close the show. Each and every time I am amazed and dazzled by their theatrics. I remembered Howie said in the first episode of the season he wanted to see a unique act win ‘America’s Got Talent.’ Fighting Gravity is well on their way. Here they had to follow-up to the enormous talents of Jackie Evancho who is loved by millions. Their semi-final routine was the best so far from them. I’m amazed how they are able to do this. It’s like they are human puppets or something. What is refreshing about Fighting Gravity is how they are a home-grown act versus the other ones who are so polished and have enormous professional experience.

Four of the acts seem to be shoo-ins, so it’ll be interesting to find out who the fifth act is in the finals and on the upcoming tour in October. Nick announced some of the cities who are holding auditions in October for ‘America’s Got Talent.’ Jason Derulo and Le Reve, an aquatic spectacle from the Wynn in Las Vegas, will be the performing guest stars on the upcoming results show.

SOURCES:

America’s Got Talent, NBC

Jennifer Still, “‘America’s Got Talent Semi-Final 2 Recap”, Digital Spy

Christine Nyholm, “Jason Derulo and Le Reve perform on America’s Got Talent” Examiner

Tags:‘America’s Got Talent’ Spectacular Finish in Semi-Finals Where Variety Acts Ruled

Alexandria Tobias Shook Her Baby to Death While Playing Farmville on Facebook in January

Alexandria Tobias was playing Farmville on Facebook in January when her three month old son bothered her. He could have cried or made some kind of baby sounds that interrupted her. Alexandria Tobias told the police her three month son was crying when she was trying to play Farmville on Facebook. Ms. Tobias took her baby in her hands and began to shake her baby. Dylan kept on crying because that is what babies are supposed to do when they want the comfort of their mother.

Alexandria Tobias sat her baby down and had a cigarette to calm her down. Dylan continued to cry because he wanted his mother. Alexandria finished her cigarette and picked her baby back up into her arms. Instead of comforting Dylan, Alexandria Tobias shook her baby to death. Tobias admits that Dylan’s head may have hit something hard as she was shaking the life out of him. Dylan died because of the constant shaking and the blow he suffered to his head. Dylan is up in Heaven where his mother cannot hurt him anymore. Besides the trauma to his brain, Dylan also suffered a broken leg from his mother.

Alexandria Tobias pleaded guilty to second degree murder and will be sentenced in December. She can get 25-50 years for murdering her own baby. Her life is ruined over a stupid farm game called Farmville on Facebook. She will never see her baby again on this earth because what she did to him. Hopefully for her, Alexandria Tobias will see her own child one day in Heaven.

When you sit down and decide to play Farmville on Facebook, think about this story for a minute. A mother killed her baby for crying when she was playing Farmville on Facebook. Most of us realize our children are more important than a stupid game. Most of us realize Farmville is not real. It’s just a game. Alexandria Tobias didn’t realize this that day in January she murdered her own child over this stupid game. She shook her baby to death because at the moment the Farmville game was more important to her than her own child.

Alexandria Tobias will most likely spend the rest of her life in prison for shaking her baby to death. She will have plenty of time to relive every moment of that horrible day. She will have to relive the reality that playing Farmville on Facebook was more important to her than her own baby. What a shame.

Sources
TBT Times
Yahoo News
TheWeeklyVice.com

Tags:Alexandria Tobias Shook Her Baby to Death While Playing Farmville on Facebook in January

Advice for President Elect Obama on Rick Warren

Advice for President Elect Obama on Rick Warren

Max’s advice for January 1, 2009

Dear President Elect Obama,

Max grew up as the son of a man who knew ‘ALL’ the answers to the problems of the world. Max’s father said so! Many times, his father let everyone know that anyone who didn’t know that he had the answers was a turkey or a knucklehead.

The famous Ma Bell thought so much of Max’s father’s opinions, that the made him ‘Supervisor of Troubles’. This is true!

If Ma Bell was impressed, you can imagine how Max was impressed that the second most powerful force in the world (next to God of course) believed that his dad knew all the answers.

Now for the advice Max promised you, Mr. President Elect.

Max, like many Americans, would like you to show that you know how to be steady in your choices. You have chosen Pastor Warren for some reason, therefore you should stick to your choice. America needs a sense that you are willing to stand up for your decisions for better or worse.

That is the advice part. Stick to the script that you are writing.

Max understands that the crowd is now howling at the gate for you to uninvite Pastor Rick Warren from your circle. Though Pastor Warren is very different than Pastor Wright, you have won the election so you don’t have to throw this pastor under the bus too!

It is clear that Pastor Warren’s comments on the Larry King show on CNN in 2005, where he said essentially that he believes that homosexuality disproves evolution, cmbined with his views against gay marriage, has rankled your core supporters.

Max also understands that the Pastor has come under attack from so-called right side of the evangelical community for using a lot of different bible translations to define his views of what Jesus meant. They claim he doesn’t believe in much of anything. He has even been accused of associating with Catholics and Muslims, if you can believe it.

Max just thinks he was trying to sell more books.

Pastor Rick just can’t please either side of the political spectrum. He is a perfect selection for the job.

In this attempt to be inclusive, you have included nearly everyone from both sides of the Christian community in showing a deep interest in your selection. It shows that you have a fine eye for creating controversy, especially in religion.

By the time of your inauguration, twenty days from now, it is possible that everyone, Protestan, Jew, Atheist, Mormon, Catholic, Hindu, Muslim, Democrat, Republican and Green will have an opinion on the place of prayer in swearing in a president.

As an American citizen Max wishes you well in your choice.

Max wishes your family a Merry New Year.

Tags:Advice for President Elect Obama on Rick Warren

8 Tips for Planning a Weekly Dinner Menu

Some of the many benefits of planning a weekly menu include saving time and money, as well as eating healthier meals. Planning your weekly meals in advance also saves on stress because you don’t have to worry about what to fix for dinner each night – you will already know and have all of the ingredients on hand. Here are some ideas to help you get into the “groove” of menu planning:

1. Start by making a list of your family’s favorite meals. Then browse through cookbooks and online recipe sites (such as http://ift.tt/2fAarbp) to find ideas for a variety of meals your family might enjoy based on their tastes and dietary restrictions. The longer your list of dinner ideas, the better variety your family can enjoy.

2. Consider a daily theme: Mondays are pasta; Tuesdays are chicken; Wednesdays are something easy in the crockpot; Thursdays are a new recipe; etc.

3. Get the family involved by assigning each member a day to pick a meal. Even if your five-year-old chooses spaghetti each and every Monday, who cares? He’ll have a vested interested in the meal planning, as will the others.

4. Take an inventory of the pantry, fridge, and freezer to see what foods you already have on hand and plan meals around what is available or needs to be used up first. For example, if you have some bacon and/or eggs that will expire soon, plan on making a simple Quiche Lorraine or having breakfast for dinner.

5. Pull out the newspaper’s weekly store flyers and coupons so that you can plan budget-friendly menus around current sales. This strategy is great for make-ahead meals. If the ground beef is on sale, buy it in bulk and freeze some of it in one-pound portions or hamburger patties. Cook the remaining ground beef to be frozen and used later in tacos or spaghetti recipes.

6. Jot down the meal plans on a calendar so that you can see what days coincide with different activities. If Susie has soccer practice on Tuesday or you attend church on Wednesdays, this may affect what you plan on serving for dinner that night. My husband also appreciates this because then he knows what not to eat for lunch on a particular day. For example, if I’m having grilled salmon for dinner, he knows not to order a fish sandwich for lunch.

7. Keep track of your weekly menus so that you can simply repeat them when necessary. Once you have a couple of month’s worth of menus, you can rotate them without your family getting tired of the meals.

8. Create a shopping list based on your weekly menu plan and stick to it!

For more great tips and articles for today’s busy women, visit the Busy Moms Tips blog at: www.busymomstips.com.

Tags:8 Tips for Planning a Weekly Dinner Menu

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