Monthly Archives: April 2012

WHEN FATHER KNOWS BEST: A Sitcom, An Update, A Proposed Script

[“Father Knows Best was the classic 1950’s wholesome family situation comedy. It was set in the typical Midwestern community of Springfield, where Jim Anderson was an agent for the General Insurance Company. Every evening he would come home from work, take off his sport jacket, put on his comfortable sweater, and deal with the everyday problems of a growing family… The Andersons were truly an idealized family, the sort that viewers could relate to and wish to emulate. The children went through the normal problems of growing up, included those concerning school, friends, and members of the opposite sex….” TV.Com]

Jim:  (Enters kitchen from back door. Removes his sports jacket) Hi Margaret! I’m home! Boy, am I bushed. What a trip that was. What’s for dinner? Mmmm. Something smells good.

Margaret: (Microwaving pizza bagels)  I thought we’d go out to Hamburger Heaven. I’m too tired to make dinner. While you were in Hawaii enjoying your last conference, I lost the project I’ve been working on for two weeks at the office. A bug was going around that caused everything to crash.

Jim:  A crash? Thank heavens you weren’t hurt.  Say, maybe we can get Bud’s friend Lenny to work on the car. (Puts on his cardigan sweater.)  I missed being home, Margaret. Sure the food was good, the scenery beautiful, but where can I get the best meals? (Goes to give her a hug.)

Margaret:  I don’t remember. I haven’t cooked in twenty years. There’s a Healthy Choice peanut chicken in the freezer if you don’t want to go out.

Jim: Oh, all right.

(Kathy enters. She is African-American.)

Kathy:  Daddy! (Throws her arms around him.) I sure missed you. (Looks at Margaret) Did you tell him yet?

Jim: Tell me what?

Kathy: (Audible gulp) Never mind…..(Races out of the kitchen.)

Jim: What’s going on? Why am I the last to know?

Margaret: Well, you’re never here. Business conferences. Seminars. Mandatory cocktail parties. In the meantime, the kids have been growing up.

Jim: What’s wrong with Kathy?

Margaret: She’s going to a movie with Steve Billings. He finally asked her out.

Jim: A date? Princess is going on a date?

Margaret: Get used to it, Jim. While you’ve been gone, the children have had issues.

Jim: But Kathy is ll years old. And she’s going out?

Margaret: She’s going to The Hunger Games. If she can get her paper finished for English class.  It’s a term paper. Two pages.

Jim: Well, at least she won’t get writer’s cramp.

Margaret: Of course not.  She types. I’m not sure they still teach handwriting at school. She prints well, though.

Jim: What’s this Hunger Games? That’s a movie title?

Margaret: It’s very popular. About a girl who tries to stay alive using a bow and arrow to get food and kill other children.

Jim: What kind of western is THAT? Bow and arrow? Is she an Indian?

(Bud enters, flipping an apple. He is Asian.)

Bud: That’s “Native American,” Dad. And she’s white.

Jim: Well, I’m a Native American. Born right here in the USA and I’m white.

Bud: Never mind. How was your trip?

Jim: Just fine. Glad to see you’re eating apples instead of your usual candy bars.

Bud: (Laughs) Yeah, eating apples.

(Betty enters, heads for the refrigerator. She is Hispanic.)

Betty: More like smoking apples. Check it for holes, Father.

Jim: Huh?

Bud: I’m outta here. (Grins)

Margaret: You’re not out of here until you clean up your room.

Bud: I did clean it.

Betty: Not since you moved back two years ago.

Jim: Bud moved out?

Margaret: Jim, while you’ve been coming and going, the economy tanked. Bud as well as Betty moved back in.

Jim: Betty moved out?

Margaret: Betty, how was school today?

Jim: I thought Betty graduated. Why is she back in school?

Margaret: Betty TEACHES, Jim. But as a substitute teacher—-the only job she could find—-she barely makes any money.  She doesn’t get healthcare, either. So I agreed she could move back in. With Jerry.

Jim: JERRY lives HERE?

Betty: He does his own laundry and cleans up after himself. Makes our bed.

Bud: (Popping his head in) Oh, say, sis. How about loaning me a couple of twenties?

Jim: LOANING? TWENTIES? What about your paper route? And mowing the neighbor’s yard?

Bud: Dad, I was 14 when I was doing that. And I AM making money. It just takes awhile to get paid.

Jim: Paid for what?

Bud: I sell different herbs.

Betty: The kind that’s smoked.

Bud: You seem to like it.

Jim: Wait a minute. You’re selling cigarettes? What about that little talk we had not long ago? The dangers of smoking?

Bud: That was when I was seven, Dad. And I don’t smoke cigarettes.

Jim: Well, that’s a relief.

Betty: Bud, will you leave me a handful of herbs before you go out?

Bud: Sure. I can be generous.

Jim: Finally, I hear my children sharing and being generous.

Kathy: (Racing into the kitchen.) Steve is here!

Margaret: What time will you be back?

Kathy: Probably after 2:00.

Jim: 2:00? But it’s already after 8 pm

Margaret:   At least she tells me when she’ll be home so I don’t worry.

Betty: Well, I’d like to stay and talk but….OMG…..I’m late!  Penny and Doug will be so p.o.ed.

Jim: (Uncertainly.) I’m glad you’re seeing your old school friends. How are they?

Betty: Penny’s pregnant. Doug’s working at Starbuck’s and Target.

Jim: Penny’s pregnant? I didn’t know she was married.

Betty: She’s not.

Jim: WHAT?

Margaret: Betty, can Doug really handle two jobs?

Betty: He’d better. He just quit the third one. Said his boss hates gay people.

Jim: What’s wrong with being cheerful?

(Betty exits)

Kathy: Daddy, I don’t have a lot of time.

Jim: Kitten, if you can get back earlier, like 10:00, maybe we can read together.

Kathy: (Intently fingering her Ipad) Oh, sure, Daddy.

Margaret: Don’t be silly, Jim. Kids don’t read. (To Kathy)  Did you finish your paper?

Kathy: Almost.

Jim: I thought she had to finish it before she went on her date.

Margaret: Well, it’s for her AP P.E class. She can probably finish it in the morning. It’s more important she goes out for some stress relief. She’s been having a problem in one of her classes.

Jim: What problem, Kitten?

Kathy:  Kaylen calls me names.

Jim: Did she call you “colored girl” again?  You remember what I always told you. “Sticks and stones may break—“

Kathy: She calls me a douchebag and a big vagina.

Jim:

Betty: (Kisses him) Don’t worry about us, Father.

Jim: I…I…. What’s that on your arm?

Betty: It’s my tribal tattoo. I’m glad you like it. Bye!

Jim:

Bud: (Very, very relaxed) Mother, what happened to the Snickers bars we had around here?

Margaret:  Betty took a bunch. Ask her. (Impatient) Jim, are you ready to go out?

Jim: I….I’m not sure……

Margaret: (Smiling, taking his arm) But Jim, you always know best.

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HOW TO MANAGE “DESSERTS” SPELLED BACKWARDS

I’m driving around our town and notice more American flags are flying. Since it’s not Memorial Weekend, Fourth of July or Veterans Day, I know it’s National Stress Awareness Month, and that April 16 is National Stress Awareness Day.

With my awareness renewed, I take several deep breaths. I begin the recommended count—-deep breath in slowly while counting to 4; hold for a count of 8; then exhale to a count of 7. I’m concentrating so hard I pass up a street where I was supposed to turn. When I eventually turn, I’m driving the wrong direction down a one-way street. I snap off the radio so I can focus on the count. Then I can’t remember if I’m on a count of 7 or 8, or if I’m supposed to be exhaling or inhaling. I get very, very stressed.

But, really, I’m an authority on stress relief, and I’m here to share with you the current recommendations for reducing stress and how well they’ve worked for me.

Stress Avoidance Diet: This list of “not-to-eats” is easy to remember. No sugar, no salt, no MSG, no fats, no cholesterol, no glutens, no juices, no carbs, no dairy products, no red meat, no fish from oceans, no farm salmon, no ranch salmon, no desert salmon, no non-organic foods (pesticide-laden), no organic foods (exposure to animal feces), no tap water (high chlorine), no bottled water (Bisphonel A/BPA), no chicken (antibiotics), no pork, no hunted animals, no pets (cats may be o.k. if a low-sodium marinade is used), no canned food (BPA), no caffeine, no milk chocolate. Dark chocolate is permitted at all times since doctors like the taste.

Exercise: Physical activity— 30-minutes a day. However, this does not include heavy exertional exercise such as running, jogging, fast-walking, slow- walking, dillydallying, elliptical machines, treadmills, spinning, rope courses, jump-roping, groping, fast swimming, slow swimming, floating, drowning, team sports, solitary sports, exercising with animals (horseback riding, polo, dog races, cattle driving). As an orthopedist recently told me, “The American Heart Association is my best customer because of their exercise recommendations of daily exercises. I can’t quit because I have an unending supply of patients with joint and bone issues from years of exercising.”

The doctor’s personal recommendations for exercise: driving a car. “The legs and arms are in low-impact movement for extended times. Honking the horn will get your heart rate up. Using the turn signal is a good memory exercise that can prevent dementia.” By contrast, “lap swimming or water aerobics can be physically disabling, especially if the water temperature is less than 92 degrees.” In lieu of swimming, the doctor encourages wading.

I’ve found that “exercise driving” a half hour each day relaxes me, unless I’m deep breathing. This may not work for everyone: the AP reported recently a woman in Marblehead, Ohio was driving around for her daily 30-minute exercise when a Lake Erie freshwater fish fell on her windshield, smashing it to bits. She wasn’t hurt. She could have eaten this lake fish which is permitted on the Stress Avoidance Diet (see above). Glass shards, however, may contain micro amounts of sugar and should only eaten on special occasions.

Meditation: Stress specialists recommend meditation along with deep breathing and guided imagery— picturing oneself in a pretty place where you’ve been or someday hope to go, such as Hawaii, Tahiti, New Zealand or Neiman Marcus. Meditation can be done several times during a day. The only limitations are (1) leg numbness, particularly if one sits longer than three minutes in the lotus position, and (2) the energy that meditation releases may heat the surrounding people, causing them to undergo fusion and unable to separate, short of surgery.

If meditating at your desk, be sure to place a small pillow over the keyboard since it’s not uncommon in a state of relaxation to fall forward onto your nose, damaging the keyboard and causing individual keys to malfunction, as shown by this example: “Unfortunately after reviewing your job application materials, we hired the next person who applied. However, we feel we are obligated to tell you that   pl@&taqw]t]wet90etah9]wetyh8]h8gry]ejnmlsetg. Snbcer00ly, Jhnn Jns.”

Practice Creativity: Too often, our special creative skills are overlooked when seeking relief from stress. Writing, drawing, painting, quilting, cooking, cheating and photography are just a few ways to unwind. Puzzles help. In one of the worst places on earth for stress—Israel—one man, Ephraim Harosis, has used his creative idea to lessen anxiety and tension.

Mr. Harosis realized, after many attempts, that no one would buy his defective older car. He lives in Sderot, a city in the news for missing a vowel and because it’s frequently the target of rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza. Mr. Harosis, in a “lightbulb” moment, determined which areas in the city were certain to be hit. He then drove his car ahead of time to a now-deserted street, parked the car and left, waiting for rockets and mortars to hit the car and explode so he could collect insurance for a new one. When rockets fell in different places, he continued to move the car to the next best estimated target, and so on. Although Mr. Harosis’s car has never been hit——rockets and mortar perversely seem to land only on new cars— he continues to practice this uniquely creative approach to stress reduction.

European Stress Management: Finally, it’s helpful to look to other countries to see how they manage stress. In addition to diet, exercise, meditation/relaxation, and creativity, currently several European countries are practicing a time-honored stress-reduction technique that, while not as old as yoga, is certainly older than American meditation. This technique is, of course, antisemitism, which helps people and their leaders physically and emotionally cope with stressful economic, social and political problems. One historical practice that’s currently popular in Hungary is re-creating a special matzo recipe that leaders claim uses the blood of Christian children. However, when this recipe was presented at last year’s World Cooking Contest (Bocuse d’Or, named for Chef Paul d’Or) by chefs from Hungary, Spain and Poland, it was disqualified because of missing ingredients: Christian children were on Winter Break and not able to be included. The recipe, both by European standards and the Stress Avoidance Diet, was also considered to contain too much sodium.

HOW I PLAY GOLF: WITH TYGER’S WOODS

Coach Hank Haney, who was Tiger Woods’ golf swing coach for six years, has recently drawn fire for his new book, The Big Miss, a personal account of those coaching years. Haney’s been criticized by other golf professionals and instructors for betraying a confidential relationship, to which Haney replied, “These are my memories. I wanted to share my observations, my thoughts about his greatness…”

 I too was the subject of a tell-all book by a golf pro, whom I’ll call “Hank Haney” because he may now be 106 years old and playing in the PGA Senior tour.  “These are my memories,” he wrote in the preface of the book about me called The Constant Miss. “I wanted to share my observations, my thoughts about her greatness…”

Although ultimately no publisher would take the book, I was able, by persistence and money, to obtain endorsing blurbs for the book from Arnold Palmer (an accountant from Grand Forks, North Dakota), Phil Mickelson (a pharmaceutical rep from Utah) and Stephen King [“This book had me up all night. It’s on my list of favorite horror fiction for 2012.”]

I was nine years old at the time “Haney” coached me. Other than my sister, I didn’t know any other girls getting golf instruction. Girls my age were into horses: That year I went to a birthday party where the birthday girl (the most popular girl in my grade) commanded the other 10 girls to follow her around her house cantering, while we held invisible reins on her as she whinnied and snorted. She wasn’t pleased when I immediately begged off this exercise, claiming my “horse” had stumbled, broken his leg and had to be shot.

By contrast, golf with “Haney” at the driving range was fun, despite the tedium of remembering and applying the correct grip. No matter how many times I was shown how to space my fingers and thumbs, by the next lesson I’d forget, sometimes even during the lesson. This was irritating to my father, who urged me to learn the sport since he’d won many semi-professional trophies for “badgering.” He took golf very seriously, was impressive with his long irons and excelled at driving except when he switched lanes without signaling.

Once a week my sister and I would accompany him to the lush Eastmoreland Golf Course driving range in Portland. My favorite time during the lesson was noticing “Haney” or my father pour the bucket of balls into a tubular conveyor. After a few seconds I’d hear the hiss of the automatic rubber tee and watch as the tee lifted up from its subterranean home displaying a golf ball. I observed that a person could theoretically knock off the teed-up ball by hand or with the tap of the club—- repeatedly, if one chose to do so—- which would cause the automatic rubber tee to repeatedly hiss and frantically offer up the next ball, barely able to keep up when that ball was immediately bumped off and replaced with another ball.

While persistently testing this theory, I noticed a formidable growing congestion of intentionally displaced balls on the green straw tee-off mat until the balls were picked up and poured down the conveyor belt for the process to repeat, or until observed by my purple-faced father. “Haney” appeared not to notice because he was engrossed in instructing my sister or standing in the smoke cloud from his cigarettes.   

Eventually when I graduated to the course itself, I acquired supreme confidence—- that wherever I hit the ball, it would always fly in the opposite direction. I was also confident that, as I walked along the course or stood on the green, if there was a yellow jacket wasp anywhere within four miles, it would find me like a heat-seeking missile. When I played golf with boys from my neighborhood, I noticed the wasps ignored them while looking for the quickest route to my inaccessible bare skin, such as up the pants legs of my cotton slacks. That was my earliest clue that gender discrimination strongly existed in the sport. That revelation stung me.

Fortunately, wasps’ preference for female golfers is one of the current research projects of the World Scientific Congress of Golf which met last month in Phoenix. This organization is not to be confused with the World Congress on Science and Football, the World Congress on Swimming Medicine, the World Congress of Herpetology (research on herpes in snakes), nor the World Congress of Veterinary Dermatology (research on cats with acne).

The mission of the World Scientific Congress of Golf is to bring together researchers, professionals and interested golfers to learn of the latest scientific research on golf, such as why a golfer can stand less than one foot from the hole, take a perfect stance, line up the ball for a putt, gaze calmly and steadily at the hole, make a gentle but controlled sweeping stroke and watch as the ball ricochets around the hole, bounces into the air, lands in a water hazard 300 feet away and takes out a duck.

Among planned classes at the next World Congress: “Gender Differences in Golf Swing, Putting and Wasp Attraction”; “Peak Performance through Biomechanical Analysis, Emotional Mastery and Jello Pudding”; “Is there a Link Between Better Golf Scores and Washing One’s Balls?”

Unfortunately, discrimination in golf is still with us as the first woman CEO of IBM, Ginni Rometty, may find out. Although all CEOs of IBM are made members of Augusta National, site of the prestigious Masters tournament, the organization’s 80-year-old rule precludes women members, especially if they are female.

I sympathize with Ms. Rometty, but I can offer her advice as one who’s been there, if she’ll only read the unpublished manuscript of my pro golfer’s book about me, order the printing of the book at IBM Press, and send me a $50,000 advance. She will learn she can surmount the golf sexism as I did when I went on to play in the Masters (and earned a green jacket!) and the US Open along with men. That I was playing in the Masters and US Open National ProMini Golf Championship does not diminish my achievements.

As a miniature golf standout, I have yet to hear from Nike or Callaway about endorsing their products. But I’ve been invited to participate in a Guinness Book world record-setting event: beating the Essex, England recent record for the largest number of naked people (30) playing miniature golf in one hour.

This, Ms. Rometty, is how discrimination is bested by naked ambition.