Monthly Archives: April 2013

New to the “C Suite”

The leaders of corporate America are nothing if not self-aggrandizing.  Once upon a time, the people atop big corporations were presidents and vice presidents, with vice presidents carrying a qualifying “senior,” “executive,” or “assistant” before their title.

But at some point, presidents didn’t seem to think that was good enough, so in addition to being presidents, they made themselves chief executive officers.

And chief executive officers begat chief operating officers, which begat chief financial officers, which begat chief information officers, and which even, in some places, begat chief human resources officers and chief marketing officers.

The Curmudgeon hasn’t seen so much begatting since the Old Testament.

The Curmudgeon isn’t sure if this next one is new or if it’s been around for a while and he just never noticed it, but three times now in the past month he’s read about a new resident of the so-called C-suite.

Chief Experience Officer.

Seriously, Chief Experience Officer.

April News Quiz

  1. Newly anointed Pope Francis has decided, at least temporarily, to live at the Vatican hotel instead of the official papal apartment.  He’s doing this because:  a) he wants to live a simpler life and finds the papal apartment too ostentatious; b) coin-operated vibrating bed; c) points toward free airline tickets; or d) free breakfast buffet features eggs pope benedict?
  2. The Republican National Committee has announced that it will provide no financial support for the congressional campaign of Mark Sanford, the former South Carolina governor who infamously lied about going off to hike in the woods for a few days when he was actually in South America with his mistress.  Republicans pulled their support for Sanford because:  a) he violated their code of conduct – not by cheating on his wife but by getting caught; b) they are offended that he didn’t think American women were good enough to have an affair with; c) they’re suspicious of anyone who considers hiking a vacation-worthy activity; or d) they were sick and tired of Sanford constantly calling his son Lamont a “big dummy”?
  3. Actress Ashley Judd announced that she will not run for the Kentucky Senate seat currently held by Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell.  Judd said she’s not running because:  a) as people have pointed out to her, she doesn’t even live in Kentucky; b) she learned that Senate debates aren’t scripted; c) she recently received a better offer to co-star with Bruce Willis in the movie sequel Die Hard Already, Please; or d) photos recently surfaced of her and her sister Wynona as children swimming nude in the cee-ment pond?
  4. Congress passed a resolution prohibiting the U.S. Postal Service from stopping Saturday mail delivery because:  a) the American people want their Saturday mail delivery; b) American businesses want their Saturday mail delivery; c) Saturday is the only day that most working people can get to the post office to conduct business; or d) that’s the day Playboy and Penthouse usually arrive?
  5. The Bravo cable television network has announced 17 new series for its fall season.  The most promising program is:  a) Princesses:  Long Island, about six young Long Island women who return to their parents’ homes to mooch off their parents and live the good life; b) Heiresses, about young women living the good life on New York City’s upper east side; c) Below Deck, about very good-looking young people living the good life on a yacht; or d) Queer Me, hosted by Carson Kressley, about four Chippendales dancers who try to seduce heterosexual males, with the first to do so winning a prize of $100,000 and a weekend with Andy Cohen, Bravo’s craven programming czar?
  6. Montana recently introduced a law that makes it legal for residents there to take home and eat road kill.  As a result of this new law:  a) Ted Nugent is moving to Montana; b) Paula Deen will have a new Food Network program called Cooking Your Critters; c) the state’s moose population is planning a protest at the state capital; or d) you’d better be very specific when you order your Big Mac in Montana?
  7. Organizers of the Scripps National Spelling Bee have announced that contestants will now need to demonstrate that they know the meaning of the words they spell during the contest’s preliminary rounds.  They’re doing this because:  a) anyone can spell those words; b) they want to foster love of words, not just spelling; c) maybe it’ll stop all those foreign-born kids from winning; or d) demonstrating knowledge of the meaning of words, and not just their spelling, will give other kids another reason to hate the contestants?
  8. The state of Massachusetts is considering a regulation that would require medical marijuana dispensaries in the state to perform laboratory tests of their product to ensure its quality.  The reaction to this proposal was:  a) renewed expressions of outrage that the state is sanctioning the legal sale of marijuana; b) an immediate uptick in the state’s population; c) an avalanche of volunteers to help with the testing; or d) optimism that the new law means Cheech and Chong may work together again?
  9. News Corp., the company that owns Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers, a film studio, Fox News Channel, the Fox broadcast network, the Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones, Harper Collins, and many other media properties, announced that after it spins off its newspaper and book publishing businesses, its new name will be 21st Century Fox because:  a) 20th Century Fox is already taken; b) 22nd Century Fox would make them look stupid; c) shareholders rejected “Rupert;” or d) “Right Wing Reactionary Nut-Jobs” is too long to put on letterhead?
  10. Texas congressman Steve Stockman has unveiled a new bumper sticker that says “If babies had guns, they wouldn’t be aborted.”  Stockman did this because:  a) he really believes it; b) he wants to arm babies; c) he wants to shoot people who perform abortions; or d) now that Allen West lost his seat in the House, he needed to do something drastic to prove he’s now the biggest horse’s ass in Washington?

The Curmudgeon Video of the Week: He’s Still Got It

So maybe Tom Hanks hasn’t been in a hit movie so far in this century, but it’s certainly not because his talent has abandoned him.  He’s still got his comedy acting chops, as this week’s video shows.

Politicizing the Boston Marathon Bombing

Whenever there’s a horrendous gun crime that dominates the news and there’s a hue and cry about how easy it is to get guns, people on the right (usually, Republicans) criticize people on the left (usually, Democrats) “for politicizing this tragedy.”

That’s what the right says it wants:  don’t politicize major national tragedies.  (And we shall overlook, for the sake of discussion (but never in our hearts), how the right politicized the pointless invasion of Iraq.)

So it was more than a little surprising when Senator Charles Grassley – for many years now one of The Curmudgeon’s favorite Republican members of Congress – decided to politicize the bombing at the Boston Marathon.

As reported by the New York Times, Grassley spoke out during a hearing last week on immigration held by the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which he is the senior Republican member, saying

Given the events of this week, it’s important for us to understand the gaps and loopholes in our immigration system.  While we don’t yet know the immigration status of people who have terrorized the communities in Massachusetts, when we find out, it will help shed light on the weaknesses of our system.

You can’t have it both ways, senator.  Either it’s okay to politicize such things or it’s not.  Personally, The Curmudgeon  thinks there’s nothing wrong with politicizing such matters because when major problems arise, the solutions to them will usually be political.  At the same time, however, it’s just not right to criticize people for politicizing such catastrophes and then turn around and do the same thing when the politicization suits your own political agenda.

Movie Theater Chain Screws Employees

The war on working people continues.

Fox News reports that the Regal Entertainment Group, which operates more than 500 movie theaters across the country, is cutting work hours for many of its full-time hourly workers to just thirty hours a week so the company can avoid either offering those employees health insurance or paying a federal penalty for failing to do so – one of the requirements of the health care reform law.

Just so you know, Regal is a three billion dollar company:  that’s three billion dollars.Even full-time theater managers have been affected by this new, backwards company policy.  Many have responded by quitting their jobs.

As evil as this makes the folks at Regal, they’re not alone in such shameful behavior.  Last fall The Curmudgeon wrote about similar tactics employed by Darden Restaurants, the people who own Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants.  As if to prove there is indeed a god, Darden’s business has fallen upon hard times since it went public with its plan to abuse its employees in this manner.  Olive Garden in particular is struggling, and nost just because of, you know, the food they serve there.

Regal Theaters:  before you take your next trip to the movies, think about whether this is the kind of company you want to patronize.

A New Coach?

The Philadelphia 76ers basketball team is in the market for a new coach after its old coach decided he was no longer up to the challenge of leading a talent-starved team.  (And before you non-sports fans stop reading here, please bear with us; this is not really a piece about basketball.)

All of the usual suspects are lining up for the job – mostly, people who were fired from other head coaching jobs and others who have been assistant coaches whom no one has seriously considered putting in the top slot.

But The Curmudgeon has his own idea about who should coach the team.

Might the 76ers be interested in someone who was a star player in college and whose college team went to the NCAA tournament four times in four years, including three “final four” games and one national championship game?

Someone who played in the Olympics three times, won three gold medals, and carried the country’s flag during the games’ opening ceremonies?

Someone who had a highly successful six-year professional career, making the all-star team all six years?

Someone who has been coaching college basketball now for thirteen years, including eight years in Philadelphia, and whose teams have been to the NCAA tournament eight of those thirteen years?

And someone who is from Philadelphia – something that merits attention because a very bad team will have trouble drawing fans?

Well, then, The Curmudgeon has the perfect candidate for head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Dawn Staley.

You see?  The Curmudgeon told you this wasn’t really about basketball.

Separated at Birth?

Separated at birth:  Philadelphia school superintendent William Hite and professional transvestite Ru Paul when he’s dressed like a man?

You be the judge.


The Curmudgeon Video of the Week: Pay the Writer

Harlan Ellison is a prominent writer of science fiction (or what they’re now sometimes calling “speculative fiction”).  He writes stories, novels, and screenplays, and while he’s apparently quite successful and quite good at his work, The Curmudgeon knows he’s never read any of Ellison’s stories and has no idea if he’s ever seen a television program or movie based on Ellison’s work.

But The Curmudgeon knows a highly entertaining guy when he sees one, and you can see it for yourself by watching this brief, colorful rant by the gentleman.


First, Kill All the Lawyers

Do we really need more lawyers?

A lot of people were left scratching their heads back in 2006 when Philadelphia’s Drexel University launched a new law school.  Was there really a need for more lawyers?  Were people really clamoring for Drexel to get into the law school biz?  Or was this about Drexel’s ambition to take a solid but boring engineering school and try to build – or buy ­– a world-class university?

The great bard Shakespeare shared with us his feelings about lawyers when, in Henry VI, the character Dick the Butcher – sort of sounds like a WWE wrestler, doesn’t he? – declared “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”   More than 400 years later, paraphrased versions of this quote live on and resonate with many of us.  The whole “kill the lawyers” thing came to mind for The Curmudgeon recently when he read that Drexel’s still-new law school intends to establish a program in which lawyer-wannabes can earn that coveted law degree in two years instead of the customary three.

That’s right:  they want to teach the people who make some of the biggest contributions to screwing up society how to do that screwing in a third less time.

Drexel officials say this is about helping its law students avoid graduating with a mountain of debt.  After all, why should people who will soon be stepping into some of the highest-paying jobs our society offers have to worry about paying for their education?

Yes, this is about money – but not that money.  As reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer, “The accelerated program is also Drexel’s response to diminishing enrollment numbers.”  So in other words, this isn’t about students’ money at all:  it’s about Drexel’s money and its fear that it won’t attract enough students to keep its law school faculty in pinstriped suits.

Drexel is learning the hard way what the rest of the world already knew:  we don’t need more lawyers (and yes, we all know the old joke about how scientists stopped using laboratory rats in their experiments and started using lawyers instead because it turned out that the scientists would sometimes become attached to their rats).  Now, Drexel is desperate to find a way to differentiate itself from other law schools, so it’s chosen this new gimmick:  awarding this license to make/steal money in two years instead of three.

Couldn’t they just have tried offering a set of steak knives with every application?


The World’s Toughest Town

The Curmudgeon does some stretching and light exercise before work each day with the television playing to save him from eternal boredom, and somewhere between push-up number sixteen and push-up number twenty the other day he saw/heard a commercial for “The world’s toughest sport coming to the world’s toughest town.”

The Eagles at the Linc?  Nope.

MMA at the arena in south Philadelphia?  Uh uh.

Rugby – collegiate rugby, to be precise.

But not in Philadelphia.  At PPL Park, where the soccer team called the Union plays.

In Chester.

They’re right:  Chester is one very tough town.