Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Physically Uneducated

I’m the first to admit the health advantages behind a rousing game of pickleball, but my physical education class in high school taught me jack squat about living a healthy lifestyle after I had graduated and was no longer required to wear the same moldy, malodorous gym shorts five times a week while avoiding body checks in floor hockey from kids about three steps further down the puberty line than me.

While it’s probable that I did learn some tips about eating and exercising properly from health class, all I can remember from that experience is The Slide Show, which consisted of cauliflower-shaped adult genitalia completely ravaged by sexually transmitted diseases. It’s why I don’t eat my eggs over-easy.

But physical education for me was just a different game every single day, with an occasional mile or fitness test sprinkled in. I remember sophomore year when the administration told the P.E. teachers they had to give tests, and we’d get one-page diagrams asking us to label all the marks on the basketball court. How physically educational!

Physical education actually started with the ancient Greeks, who’d have their children do all kinds of physical tasks to prepare them for battle. During the World Wars, the modern version of the class was instated to keep young men in shape in case there was ever need for a draft.

If kids today had to be drafted for some reason, the only fit muscles in their bodies would be in their thumbs—from playing Halo 3 on Xbox 360. I guess they’d at least be prepared for war mentally.

We’re a country of fat people who are giving birth to fat children and feeding them greasy pizzas, Krispy Kremes, and unhealthy hamburger-like substances from fast food restaurants. When we actually are convinced we’re eating something healthy, like a salad for example, we end up dumping six pounds of ranch dressing on it, unaware that ranch is like one step away from dumping frapped bacon grease on our greens. Delicious!

So we should try something new with our physical education classes. Set up contests amongst kids to lose percentages of their body weights, a la “The Biggest Loser.” Find ways to get those chunky kids moving, and ways to keep the skinny ones skinny. I, for example, am the same height I was at age 15. The only difference is that I weigh about forty pounds more ten years later. Games, challenges, competitions… all with real prizes. Wouldn’t this be the best solution for our country’s obesity crisis? Start with America’s P.E. standards and work from there. Teach them a good diet, good exercise habits—and make them excited about it—and we’ll see tangible differences.

People need to take responsibility for their actions. Except me. I’d rather just blame my P.E. education for the forty pounds I’ve put on since 1997. That’s really at the heart of all this. Anybody with me?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ho Ho Ho? Ha Ha Ha!

I read that somewhere in the UK, people are asking faux Santa Clauses to laugh with a rousing “ha ha ha” instead of the more traditional, “ho ho ho.” You can guess the reason why, can’t you? Because “ho” is an unkind term for “prostitute,” and these United Kingdomers don’t want their young ones taking Santa’s trademark chuckle as forceful advice in terms of what they should be choosing for their future occupations.

Forget for a moment that four-year-olds have no idea what a prostitute is, let alone any American derivations of the word. Isn’t it ridiculous to think that a kid could be tainted in any way whatsoever by hearing Santa laugh out “ho” when the word isn’t being used in an inappropriate context? In truth, jolly old Saint Nick’s barking chuckle could hardly be considered words, anyway. It would be like taking offense to someone sneezing because it sounded like they were screaming, “A jew!”

And hearing Santa laugh “ha ha ha” would be like other great icons modifying their own trademarks. Consider:

South Park: “Oh my God, you injured Kenny very badly! He really looks hurt, someone should call an ambulance.”

White Sox broadcaster Hawk Harrelson: “He looks up. You can put it on the booooard… alrighty then!”

Emeril: “Then we can add a little garlic—Kablooey!”

Tony the Tiger: “They’re Grrrrrrrrrain and wheat lightly dusted with sugar. Not too much sugar, though. It was never our intention to rot your kids’ teeth out.”

Bart Simpson: “Eat my shirts, man.”

It’s just not the same, right? Would “The Simpsons” have ever gotten off the ground with this bastardization of Bart’s famous shorts-devouring trademark? If Homer had said “Whoopsie-Daisy!” instead of “D’oh,” or “Yummy…” instead of “Mmmmm…”? Would Hawk still have a job with the Sox? Would Emeril still have his own Food Network Show?

The answer to these questions, is no, no, no (notice that “na na na” doesn’t work here). Part of building a brand and being an icon worth remembering is having that trademark. If it weren’t for Santa’s particular laugh he never would’ve made it in the business. No Santa means we’d have to settle for using Jesus as the icon for Christmas, and everyone knows the true spirit of the season is waiting in line overnight to buy a Nintendo DS for $45 at Best Buy on Black Thursday. Without “ho ho ho” we wouldn’t have any of that.

All sarcasm aside, these people are messing with a good thing for no reason. I understand the values of being politically correct (I’m a teacher and a journalist, for goodness sake), but too far is too far. Did you know the correct PC term for drunk is “spatially perplexed”? Up until now, that was the most ridiculous example of political correctness I’d ever heard of. Altering a childhood icon’s laugh to protect a child’s innocence is even dumber.

The sad thing is, the same people worrying about hearing the word “ho” in Father Christmas’s laugh are probably the same people buying their kids Halo 3 as a stocking stuffer. “Don’t learn and use an offensive term for prostitute that you probably don’t even understand in the first place, but take this controller and pretend like you’re shooting people in the face.”

The hypocrisy of this planet is often comedic, but mostly disheartening. More evidence that we’re all going to die in the next 50 years. Add this to global warming and we’re all doomed.