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  • May 1, 2017

    May Day, May Day, May Day

    MAY DAY        Photo by Alexander Podshivalov, 123rf.com

    Here it is May Day already and according to who you are, May Day means different things. No surprise – I have my own idea on what May Day means to me.

    My favorite May Day is the traditional holiday, the pagan practice of women dancing around the May Pole to celebrate Spring and the springing forth of life. There are many watered down versions of what it all means – in order to fit whatever religious orthodoxy prevails, but I prefer the old pagan idea.

    In this version the May Pole is a giant phallus, the source of all new life, and dancing around it is a celebration of manhood. I can just imagine how it got started. Somebody in the village said it’s spring time – the flowers are in bloom, the grass is sprouting up out of the mud – we should celebrate. And the men all said, we should celebrate new life, and what’s the source of all new life? We are.

    So everybody in the village, erected a giant pole and tied colorful ribbons to it, and celebrated men and manhood. Yes, I know that after the manly work is done, women have to finish up the chore over the next nine months, but hey, it’s the men that made it all possible.

    My second favorite May Day is what pilots or ship captains say when their plane or ship is getting ready to go down. “May Day, May Day, May Day,” they say into the radio. Always three times, so there’s no mistake, even if there is a lot of static. It comes from the French word “m’aider.” It’s a trimmed-down version of the French phrase, “venez m’aider,” which means come over and help me, according to my friends at Wikipedia.

    The reason it’s my second favorite May Day, is that when somebody says it into the radio, it means the movie is about to start getting exciting. People are in trouble and now we’re going to see how they get out of it.

    My least favorite May Day is the one often ends up involving marches and protests. What can I say? I’m sick of marches and protests. It was started by a bunch of communists, socialists, and anarchists and is also known as International Workers Day. It’s not that I am anti-labor; I definitely am not. I respect work, whether it’s done in an office, a factory, or on a construction site.

    Work is something to be celebrated. Marching through the streets complaining about how the world is not fair just seems tiresome. It’s true. The world is not fair. But marching around complaining about it doesn’t do much to change that.

    Especially when the alternative is pretty girls dancing around a May pole.

    Do you have a dissenting opinion or any opinion at all on the subject? Contact me at george@georgeleecunningham.com and let me know. Meanwhile, you can always subscribe and get an email reminder of blog postings. Your name will not be shared and you may cancel at any time.

  • Lyrics, Poetry and Prose XI

    A place to share some words of beauty, inspiration, and fun. We’re getting ready to head off to the Sunshine State for a few days, so this week we are featuring some Florida songs. Click on the name of the piece to get a video or more information. You have some favorite lyrics? Please share…

    Well, she comes from Tallahassee
    She got a hi-fi chassis
    Maybe looks a little sassy
    But to me, she’s real classy
    Yeah, my Tallahassee Lassie
    Down in F-L-A

    Tallahassee Lassie  Singer: Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon; Writer: Ellas Mcdaniel

    He was born and raised around Jacksonville
    A nice young man, not the kind to kill
    But a jealous fight and a flashing blade
    Sent him on the run to the Everglades
    Runnin’ like a dog through the Everglades

    Everglades Artists:Kingston Trio, Writer: Harlan Howard

    We had it all
    Just like Bogie and Bacall
    Starring in our old late, late show
    Sailing away to Key Largo

    Key Largo Singer: Bernie Higgins, Writer: Bernie Higgins, Sonny Limbo

  • April 25, 2017


    PAPER, GLUE, AND INK FOREVER                                                                — Photo by Carmela Cunningham

    I try not to dwell in the past – even though I sometimes find it very tempting to do so. One of the hardest things about life, especially in the 21st Century, is to accept change and to accept that the world in which I grew up is forever gone and has morphed into something quite different and often more hostile. I try to adjust, to keep up with the times, to stay true to what is important to me, to let go of the old and accept the world as it is today.

    But there is one change with which I have a big problem. Books. More specifically – giving up books. Books written on paper with words printed in ink. Books that smell of the library, books with my fingerprints on the pages, books with corners turned down to mark my place. Stand-alone books that I can hold in my hand and carry around. Books, each dedicated to one subject, whether it’s a crime novel, a history, a political treatise, or a collection of chili recipes.

    They clutter my book shelves, and when the shelves are full, they lay atop other books, spilling onto the floor and crowd together stacked on desks and file cabinets. They surround me like old friends – many with completely different views of the world – but each making its contribution to who I am and who I will become.

    My wife has taken the easier way out. She has a Kindle, an electronic reading machine, she can carry with her. It has almost 150 books on it, most of them read, some standing by to be read. When she wants a new book, she goes to Kindle’s electronic store, orders it, and within a few seconds it is downloaded to her device and her credit card is billed. She can be stranded in Hicksville, West Virginia, and with a few strokes of the keys have the literature of the world at her fingertips.

    But Carmela’s Kindle doesn’t smell like a book. It doesn’t feel like a book. It’s just an electronic anthology of all books. It’s an impersonal, almost hostile device composed of plastic and silicon and absolutely devoid of any personality.

    I tried the electronic books when they first came out and I was tempted. You could look up definitions of words that you were not sure about, and if you came across a character from earlier in the book that you no longer remembered, you could search his name and find the first reference to him. And most of all, it was cheap.

    But now e-books are almost as expensive as regular books, and given the choice, I choose traditional paper, ink, and glue. A book is real. It has weight to it. If you drop it on your toe, it hurts. When you first get it, it’s new and fresh and crisp. After a while, it becomes softer, friendlier and faded. Each one is unique. The typeface is as different as the subject matter.

    I’m keeping my books. I know that when they pry them from my cold dead hands, they will simply throw them in the trash, to be carted away and buried in some landfill. That’s OK with me.

    I won’t need them anymore.

    – George Lee Cunningham

    Do you have a dissenting opinion or any opinion at all on the subject? Contact me at george@georgeleecunningham.com and let me know. Meanwhile, you can always subscribe and get an email reminder of blog postings. Your name will not be shared and you may cancel at any time.

  • April 24, 2017

    Lyrics, Poetry and Prose X

    A place to share some words of beauty, inspiration, and fun. This week we feature some songs featuring strong women. The artists are John Prine, Iris Dement, Peggy Lee, and Gloria Gayner. Click on the name of the piece to get a video or more information. You have some favorite lyrics? Please share…

    He’s got more balls than a big brass monkey
    He’s a wacked out weirdo and a love bug junkie
    Sly as a fox and crazy as a loon
    Payday comes and he’s howlin’ at the moon
    He’s my baby
    I don’t mean maybe
    Never gonna let him go

     – In Spite of Ourselves Singers John Prine and Iris Dement, Writer John Prine

    I can rub and scrub til this old house is shinin’ like a dime
    Feed the baby, grease the car, and powder my face at the same time
    Get all dressed up, go out and swing ’til four A.M. and then
    Lay down at five, jump up at six, and start all over again
    ‘Cause I’m a woman! W-O-M-A-N, I’ll say it again

    I’m a Woman Singer Peggy Lee, Writers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller

    Go on now, go. Walk out the door.
    Just turn around now ’cause you’re not welcome anymore.
    Weren’t you the one who tried to break me with goodbye?
    Did you think I’d crumble? Did you think I’d lay down and die?
    Oh, no, not I! I will survive.
    Oh, as long as I know how to love I know I’ll stay alive.
    I’ve got all my life to live. I’ve got all my love to give.
    And I’ll survive, I will survive.

    I Will Survive Singer Gloria Gayner, Writers Dino Fekaris and Frederick J. Perren

  • April 19, 2017



    I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I watch enough of it to make some critical judgements about what the masters of the medium are trying to sell me. When it comes to the commercials, we’re all seeing the same things, and you may have your own ideas.

    Here’s a small sample of some of commercials I like and some that I hate.

    Untuckit.com, Grade: F

    Here we have a manly character walking down the street, playing it straight, talking about why you should buy his shirts.

    “My problem, like a lot of other men, I couldn’t find a shirt that looked good untucked. So this became my passion. To design a shirt that captures the perfect balance between light and fit…”

    I’m glad he is doing well in the untucked shirt business, but his passion is to design a shirt that looks good when you don’t tuck it in. Really? He gets the award for aiming low. And his shirt? It looks like a shirt. I don’t know how long it took him to design a shirt that looks like a shirt, but I think his pitch falls short.

    Untuck it.com gets an F.

    Mybetriq, Grade: A-

    On the other hand, I find myself charmed by the little blue-eyed pink bladder that goes around with his mom, holding her hand, and giving her a tug whenever it’s time to go to the bathroom. If some genetic genius could clone little bladders like that to sell as household pets, I would buy one.

    The point of the ad is to sell Mybetriq, a prescription medicine to treat overactive bladder. The symptoms of OAB are urgency, frequency, and leakage. Side effects are increased blood pressure, urinary tract infection, common cold symptoms, and headaches.

    What I like best about the commercial is that after the woman goes to the doctor and starts using Mybetriq, she still hangs out with her cute little bladder. The bladder is a winner. I give it an A-minus – a minus only because of the nasty possible side effects.

    Virbezi, Grade: F

    Speaking of characters who represent bathroom diseases, one of my least favorites is Ilana Becker – a talented actress, who unfortunately plays an irritable bowel. She is very good at being an irritating bowel, which is what she was hired to do. But by the second time you see the commercial, you want to go the bathroom yourself, at least until it is over.

    Fortunately, the poor Irritable Bowel Syndrome victim learns about Viberzi, a prescription medicine that will cure her problem.

    Unfortunately, even after she has been treated and cured, she still has to hang out with the Irritable Bowel Syndrome character. Other side effects include new or worsening abominable pain with or without nausea and vomiting.

    The Virbezi commercial also gets an F.

    Mucinex, Grade: C-

    An even more disgusting character is the short, fat, and annoying green glob of mucus that hangs around whenever somebody has sinus congestion. He’s a friendly enough little guy, but obviously not attractive. No matter how well he dresses or how friendly he tries to be, it’s hard for a ball of mucus to have friends. Nobody wants to be around him.

    What happens in the commercial is that his sinus-suffering friend takes some Mucinex, and her symptoms are relieved and he is cast aside once again. Honestly, I feel for the little guy. All he wants to do is hang around and be friends.

    He may be a disgusting little creature, but unlike the irritating bowel lady I do feel some empathy for him. Poor little booger. The Mucinex commercial gets a C-minus. He may not deserve a passing grade, but I would hate to hold him back for another year.

    2017 Honda Hydrogen Fuel Cell, Grade F-

    The creepiest ad of the year has to be the decapitated heads of children singing “Don’t Stop Thinking about Tomorrow,” while a narrator touts the glories of the new Honda hydrogen-powered automobile. The children’s heads are supposed to symbolize hydrogen molecules, but every time I see it, it reminds me of an old movie – the 1962 black-and-white horror film, “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die.”

    In this movie, a mad scientist and his beautiful fiancé are in a car crash in which her head is severed from her body. The grief-stricken scientist rushes her to his lab, where he keeps her head alive in a jar while he stalks strip clubs looking for a new sexy body to attach to her head. Yuck!

    The Honda ad is even worse, because the severed heads belong to innocent little children. And nobody seems to be particularly troubled by it. All they want to do is sell their stupid car.

    I give this ad an F-minus, if there is such a grade. Each time I see it, it just gets creepier and creepier.

    Of course, there are many more commercials on TV. I’ve barely scratched the surface.

    But it’s getting late and I’m tired. And frankly, it’s time to turn on the tube.

    — George Lee Cunningham

    Do you have a dissenting opinion or any opinion at all on the subject? Contact me at george@georgeleecunningham.com and let me know. Meanwhile, you can always subscribe and get an email reminder of blog postings. Your name will not be shared and you may cancel at any time.