Lou Pickney's Online Commentary
April 1, 2007
I had a nice plan drawn up to send out an April Fool's e-mail to friends claiming that Namco was suing Adam "Pac-Man" Jones for trademark infringement by using the Pac-Man name... but, for whatever reason, I decided against it. Maybe I just wasn't in a prankish mood. Though I did go far enough to discover (via the link above) that the original name of the game was Puck-Man, which was changed because of fear of vandals changing the P to an F.
Seeing the screen shots from the old home video game ports of Pac-Man was a reminder of days gone by; I remember playing the cheap-ass port of Pac-Man on the old Atari 2600.
I spent several hours tonight doing website work (via my backup computer, no less), and I happened to have the TV on CBS for The Amazing Race (which I haven't watched regularly in awhile) and then Cold Case. I don't particularly like those prosecutor themed shows, though tonight's episode was based on a (fictional) cheerleader murder in Birmingham.
The acting was fine, the period-piece (circa 1997) music was outstanding... but it annoyed me that no one on that show talked like anyone in Birmingham actually talks. There is a pronounced southern accent that you find most everywhere in Alabama, particularly among people who've lived here most (or all) of their lives. Yet on the show, everyone talked like they were in Los Angeles or St. Louis or somewhere in-between.
I understand that the show may not have the budget (or the inclination among the producers) to get a voice coach, but it makes the whole thing come across as entirely hollow. If you're going to pick Birmingham, make it authentic; otherwise, choose another locale.
Oh, and they kept referring to GHB as "Liquid X" in one of those anti-drug sub-plots that the government coerced broadcast networks into picking up a few years ago. Think I'm kidding? Here's the story from salon.com from March 2000. No April Fool's, no bullshit.
60 Minutes tonight had an excellent piece about how much of a racket the prescription drug companies have going in lobbying Congress. You can look that up for yourself, but make no mistake, lobbyists run the show. You know how Taco Bell has that stupid "Fourth Meal" ad campaign? Well, lobbyists are like the fourth branch of government, something that many people don't think about, something that's not taught in U.S. History classes, a covert cloak-and-dagger quid pro quo system that works in ways as a checks-and-balances to protect large industries.
Don't get me wrong; lobbying is actually vital to the protection of many freedoms that likely would have long ago been eroded. I'm very thankful for the beer and liquor industry for fighting oppressive, authoritarian laws that seek to force a neo-prohibition upon a public too distracted with its own daily personal worries and concerns to notice too closely.
If you doubt the powers of the pharmaceutical industry, look no further than the reclassification of Marinol by the U.S. federal government, particularly compared with the treatment of its naturally-grown counterpart. As always, when in doubt, follow the money.
The visitation and funeral for my Uncle Wayne this past week was something that I was glad that I was able to attend, despite the tragic circumstances that surrounded it. When I talked with my Aunt Judy at the visitation, she had the shell-shocked look of a widow that I've seen too many times before. She reminisced about the early days of her marriage with Wayne, who was a skilled bluegrass musician. "We hadn't been married long, and Wayne had an offer to go on the road, but I said no, you're not going to leave me here alone," Aunt Judy recalled. "And so he didn't go on the tour, and he stayed."
Wayne suffered from pain in his legs for the past 18 years, but it was his final battle with cancer last year and this that brought a tremendous amount of physical pain to him, as well as emotional pain to his loved ones who hated to see him suffer. Cancer ravaged his esophagus, to the point where anything he ate had to be blended to a puree for him to be able to consume.
Invariably in these situations, I can't help but think of how something like this applies to my own life. For me, losing Granddaddy Blaylock, Grandma Pickney, and Uncle Wayne in the course of seven months has been an all-too strong reminder of the frailty of human life. But more than that, it further revealed to me the importance of doing what you love while you can, in following your dreams, in not being afraid. Taking any other direction is an act of foolishness.
What hit me the hardest, though, was seeing the gravestone of my cousin Michael, who died at the age of 16 in the summer of 1998. Judy and Wayne were his parents, and his funeral plot is located very near where Wayne was laid to rest. I was as close with him as I was any of my cousins -- Michael was one of the good people in life. Seeing his gravestone hit me with an emotional punch to the stomach.
It looks like the weekend of April 21-22 is when I'll be making my move to Nashville. To say that I'm going to be downsizing would be an extreme understatement. Everything must go! Well, not everything, but some old furniture will soon be out of my possession. The less I have to keep in storage in Nashville, the better.