I Have a Gripe

November 24, 2016

Make Thanksgiving a “Shop-Free” Zone

Filed under: Economy,General Annoyances,Values — alvb1227 @ 4:40 pm
Tags: , , ,

I always thought one of the best parts of Thanksgiving is that it had nothing to do with shopping. Other than food shopping and picking up a bouquet of mums for Mom, it was about family and friends, sharing a meal, watching football, and taking a nap. Many volunteer at shelters, serving meals to those who are not as fortunate or may be alone. It is a day to be thankful for what you have.

thanksgivingThen a few years ago, some executive genius decided that stores should be open on Thanksgiving. It wasn’t bad enough that the day after you were thankful for what you have in your life, people would do battle with thousands of others for a good deal on a television at the crack of dawn.

My guess is that they thought this would help boost sales when the economy wasn’t great (not that it is awesome now). I remember going to Kohl’s a week or so before Thanksgiving and asked an employee about opening on the holiday. She told me that they had to be in two hours prior to the store opening, so it completely killed her day. I felt really bad for her and the rest of the employees. I haven’t stepped in a Kohl’s since.

Now you have stores like Kmart that don’t even wait until the afternoon. They are open all day. Shameful.

I do not shop on Thanksgiving or black Friday. I encourage my readership to skip shopping on Thanksgiving. Instead, I encourage you to support stores that stay closed today so their employees can enjoy a holiday with their families.

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving!

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January 27, 2014

The NEW JERSEY Super Bowl

I love football. And even though my team isn’t in it this year (they were robbed by bad calls in Seattle), I was looking forward to watching the game taking place in my home state. Note the use of the word “was.” My gripe? The fact is everyone from advertisers, to the news media to the NFL seems to have forgotten that the game is actually in New Jersey – not New York.

From the moment I saw the logo with “NY” listed first, I knew we were in for an uphill battle. The Verizon commercial deciding if Terry Bradshaw or the little girl will go to New York sent my blood pressure to the stratosphere. And as much as I love Bradshaw, I turned off the post-game activity the moment he asked about how Seattle feels about going to New York.

Um, you realize if they go to New York they will miss the game, right?

The teams are landing in NEW JERSEY.

The teams are staying in NEW JERSEY.

The game is being played in NEW JERSEY.

New York is shutting down Broadway for a huge NFL/Superbowl event. Meanwhile, the parties in New Jersey were denied use of the logo by NFL.

Seriously?

As expected, New York will gain the majority of the financial windfall that comes with hosting a Super Bowl, meanwhile, New Jersey will get stuck paying the bill for security and logistics. It reminds me of co-hosting a party where one person does all the work and the other person, just because he or she is an extrovert, gets all the credit. Meanwhile, you’re out a ton of money and are stuck cleaning vomit out of the carpet.

Just like Rodney Dangerfield often said, “no respect.”

November 15, 2013

The True Sleeping Dragon – The Band Geek

“I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”
~Isoroku Yamamoto

While this quote from Yamamoto is referring to the United States after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, today it is referring to the collective community that is the “band geek.”

Yesterday I posted about a shameful event that took place at the final football game of the season at Annandale, Virginia, where a football coach threw a temper tantrum that included shaking the podium of an assistant drum major and yelling at the director to “get the band off the field.” An editorial appeared on the school’s news site about the event and in one resounding voice, proud marching band members, former band members, music educators, and the like have said ENOUGH.

For a long time, those involved in the music department have been disrespected while those who play sports are seen as the school heroes. This terrible event has rallied those of us who have valued their time involved in their music departments to take a stand. I have read comments on this event all over the Internet from Texas to Minnesota to Jersey (including me) aligning themselves with the marching Atoms to show support. I hope the musicians of Annandale know they have the support of music students (and former students) from all over the country.

Additionally, the story has been picked up by The Washington Post, NBC, The Huffington Post, Patch, CBS, and other local Virginia websites.

I say good. Enough is enough!

Today, the principal issued a letter to the parents and an apology to the band for the actions of the football coach and according to reports, an apology from the coach himself to the band and the director is forthcoming.

The principal and the coach owe much more than that.

This was the last game of the season. Senior Night. A special moment in high school to celebrate all they have accomplished. Now, that memory is forever tarnished. They didn’t get to finish their final performance properly.

Now I will say I did read a few comments actually “sort of” defending the situation. My personal favorite comment mentioned how band members should “learn their place” because the band exists “for the entertainment during the foot ball game.”

Um, what?

The music department does not exist simply to be a court jester for school athletes. Playing an instrument AND marching takes skill, practice, and discipline.

Now, let’s look at the other side of this coin. This coach shook the podium of the assistant drum major. Now, I know nothing of law in Virginia, but I would think in New Jersey he could potentially be charged with assault and endangering the welfare of a child. And if that student fell, I’m sure a lawsuit would follow and rightfully so.

An apology? Well, that’s a good place to start, but the band and the director are owed much more.

Oh, and don’t think marching band members (and former members) will forget about this until we hear of a final resolution.

#bandgeekforlife!

November 14, 2013

NEVER Mess With the Marching Band!

‘Cause the players tried to take the field, The marching band refused to yield.
~Don McLean

Multiple times on this blog I have defended the importance of music education in public schools. All too often music departments do not receive the respect or the funding they need and deserve.

music education

The magnet on the back of my car.

I often say my years in marching band in high school were some of the best times of my life. I was in just about every music-related activity offered in my high school. I took private lessons for piano and bass. I helped teach pit at my high school after graduation. And the ultimate – I married a band director. I grew into the adult I am in large part because of my experiences in music. I learned about responsibility, teamwork, leadership, the value of hard work, and built confidence, to name just a few key life skills.

I knew I didn’t have what it took to be a professional musician, but it was still great. Many of the individuals I met through the music department became professional musicians and music teachers. My husband and I were absolutely beaming when we learned that not one, but two of my husband’s kids were my niece’s band directors.

Fast forward to today…

Like everyone I know on Facebook, links to articles get passed around regularly. Today I saw one that had my blood absolutely boiling. All too often, high school football teams, their parents, and game attendees think the marching band is there simply to entertain at halftime and give the players a break. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Well, a football coach in Annandale, Virginia  displayed the ultimate in bad behavior when he flipped out trying to get the band off the field during halftime so his team could warm up. He went so far as to yell at the kids and the band director as well as shake the podium of the assistant drum major.

To say I was furious when I read about this event is putting it mildly.

I fired off the following letter to the coach, the school principal, and the director of student services.

To All,
I just read an article online about how disrespectfully your high school’s marching band was treated at a recent football game. I am absolutely incensed by the rude behavior of the football parents, coaches and administration. You should all be ashamed.

From what I have read online Mr. Scott, your poor behavior has been a constant during the entire football season by bringing your team on the field before you should. And you are very lucky indeed that the Assistant Drum Major did not fall off the podium when you began to shake it.

Believe it or not Mr. Scott, the marching band is not there simply to entertain at halftime. Marching band is quite competitive and requires absolute marching precision while simultaneously playing an instrument. Something that is not easy.

How do I know this? I am a PROUD former marching band member from Belleville, New Jersey and a former Drum Major. I am also married to a Band Director. I also went to a high school where the football team (which most of the time had a losing record) was treated with far more respect than the marching band – as well as the music department as a whole. Trust me when I tell you, the band usually had a better record than the football team. It sounds like you have a similar poor record. Meanwhile, your school’s marching band has won both the Virginia State Champions and a National award for “III-Open” class.

Have you ever been to a marching band practice or a competition Mr. Scott? I doubt it. You should. Maybe you would understand what is really involved and how hard these kids work.

I have also read that it was “suggested” that the band do their show after the football game to avoid any issues. That is completely unacceptable in my book. In my many years experience (four years as a student and 25 years of following my husband as he traveled with his band), opposing teams and coaches are always understanding of special events, such as senior night, thus any potential penalties are waived. Do you really think it would’ve been acceptable to do their show as people exited the stadium? I think not.

My Band Directors, as well as my husband, always taught their kids to conduct themselves in the most professional manner. Over my high school years and my adult life, I have always been proud of both my fellow band mates and my husband’s kids and have conducted themselves, even in the face of stupidity. It doesn’t sound like you have set the same example Mr. Scott. You could probably learn something from the band members.

You should all be made to publicly apologize to Mr. Hilkert and the entire marching band, as it sounds like the administration just sat idly by and let this man’s rant continue. I also think Mr. Scott should be reprimanded by your Board of Eduction.

Shame on all of you,
Andrea Lyn Van Benschoten
Belleville High School Marching Band 1984-1988
Drum Major 1986-1988
Belleville, New Jersey

The band director, Adam Hilkert, is an incredibly accomplished musician, and he has decided to spend his life educating children through the vehicle of music. In addition to his position as band director at Annandale High School, he serves as Doctoral Conducting Associate at George Mason University, where he studies instrumental conducting. He is the Music Director of the Vienna Community Band and Graduate Conductor of the Mason Wind Symphony and Assistant Principal Double Bass with the American Festival Pops Orchestra.

The manner in which this “coach” (and I use that term very loosely) treated Mr. Hilkert and his marching band is simply deplorable.

I am encouraging all my readers to email or call the Annandale High school and let them know that he should be, at minimum, reprimanded and forced to apologize. Personally, I would rather see him fired. He doesn’t deserve the important position of fostering the youth of this community.

November 10, 2013

Just Say No to Shopping on Thanksgiving

Filed under: Economy,General Annoyances — alvb1227 @ 4:08 pm
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I am not ashamed to say I love a good deal. I clip coupons. I comparison shop. Most importantly, I hate paying full price for anything. However, I do draw a line – Thanksgiving weekend shopping.

I absolutely hate the idea of “Black Friday.” People waking up before the crack of dawn and fight the crowds in an attempt to get a good deal. Now, retail has taken it one step further and many have decided to open on Thanksgiving itself. It is often the ultimate display of bad behavior.

Many stores opened at midnight last year. Well, now many more are opening on Thanksgiving. I was at Kohl’s this week and while chatting with an employee I was told they are opening at 8:00 p.m. and managers need to be on site two hours earlier. I find this completely offensive. When do these employees get to spend time with their families?

Thanksgiving is a completely American holiday that has been all about family time for generations. Watching football, playing board games, and of course, a wonderful meal. People donate to food pantries and think about those who are less fortunate. This push for more and more retail activity during this time of year says two things to me.

First, it says we are moving for and more to a gift-based society instead of remembering what this season is all about. Christmas and Hanukkah are supposed to be celebrations of faith and family. Now it is about beating someone else out for the hot toy.

Second, it tells me that the economy is still very weak. I started seeing commercials, store displays, and “pre-Black Friday” sales at the end of August. Pretty soon we are going to start to see promotions year round!

It is just ridiculous.

I call on everyone to let these retailers know that this is not acceptable and stay home on Thanksgiving and enjoy your family.

March 12, 2011

Letter from Roger Goodell – Shameful

Filed under: Economy,General Annoyances — alvb1227 @ 4:54 pm
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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has appealed directly to the fans by emailing out a letter to everyone on their mailing list. I received this email and I was outraged.

I sent Mr. Goodell the following response:

Dear Mr. Goodell,
I received your email to the fans of the NFL and wanted to express my outrage for everyone involved.

In today’s economy people are out of work, barely hanging on to their homes and truly struggling. And what is happening here? Both sides are fighting over how to split up the billions made by the NFL. I think it is important to remember it is the fans who pay the outrageous ticket prices and purchase over-priced jerseys. In my opinion, all involved are incredibly selfish and insensitive.

The players make millions doing exactly what they want to do. Add to that the endless opportunities for product endorsements and the potential for television analyst jobs after their playing career has ended.

The owners spend more and more on mega-stadiums and expect the fans to pay, often in the minimum triple-digits, for tickets. Add to that the cost of parking, some food and a souvenir of some type, and you can could be looking at a thousand-dollar day for a family to see a game.

Meanwhile, the NFL, and you specifically Mr. Goodell, sent out a letter to the fans of the NFL saying “First and foremost it is your passion for the game that drives us all, and we will not lose sight of this as we continue to work for a deal that works for everyone.” Well, I would have to say sir, the fans are last on the list of all those involved.

I would like to remind you all of the ramifications of the last lock-out. It took a long time to win back the fans of the NFL. If it happens again in the midst of so many struggling to make ends meet, the NFL will suffer more now than the last time. It will appear just as it seems to me – millionaires fighting over billions.

Shame on all of you,

Do I think he will see or read this? I highly doubt it. However, the NFL, the players union and the owners need to understand exactly what is at stake if the season goes to a lock-out and doesn’t happen. As usual, many who make millions, even if they are self-made, have forgotten what “normal” day-to-day life is all about. Honestly, I doubt they really care.

February 7, 2011

NFL Players Union vs. Owners: The Ultimate Nonsensical Showdown

While the football season is over by less than one day, reports on the news about collective bargaining have already begun. Some are already even talking about a lockout for the next season. I’m sorry, but if you ask me, both sides need their heads smacked together like Moe.

So most of these team owners are billionaires and most of the players are millionaires, plus the  millions they make in endorsements. The NFL wants to extend the season by two games, the players want more money (big shock) and the owners don’t want to share (again, big shock).

So, let’s make the assumption that everyone doesn’t play nice and they go to the lockout. Who is this really going to hurt? The guys who sell the hot dogs, the people who take the tickets and all the other people with jobs related to the games, but don’t play in them. I seriously doubt that any of these individuals are millionaires.

So what is this really all about in my opinion? One word: Greed! The median salary for an “average” player is roughly $700,000. The median salary for the “average Joe” is $46,000.

Also, let’s think about the prices of tickets for a game. In 2010, Giants tickets increased 26 percent to $111 for an average ticket and Jets increased 31.8 percent to $114 on average according to an article on the New York Post website. So, when a father wants to take their child to a game, when you count up two tickets, parking, a couple of hot dogs and sodas and maybe some kind of souvenir, we are up around $500 for the day. Seriously, who can really afford that?

So while all the boys posture for position, I suggest they remember who their fans are and what it costs for them to attend a game. Ultimately, if they go to lockout, it will hurt the NFL big time. In today’s society of high unemployment and making tough family budget decisions, I think the fans will retaliate and just like the last lockout,  it will take a long time to win back the fans.

Trust me, the NFL, the owners, the players; they will gain sympathy from no one. They all need a dose of reality.

December 28, 2010

Philly’s Wussy-Bowl

Filed under: General Annoyances — alvb1227 @ 9:17 pm
Tags: , ,

I have to agree with Pennsylvania’s Governor Ed Rendell, we are a nation of wussies.

For the first time since the 1940’s, a football game will be played on Tuesday night. This is due to the blizzard that occurred up and down the eastern seaboard over the weekend.

Now, I hate the cold. I would NEVER go to a game in this type of weather, however, this is what football is all about. We all remember watching the old NFL films of “the frozen tundra.” This is classic football. What about now you ask? Now we are a feel-good, everybody wins/nobody loses kind of society. This is about more than a football game. This speaks to our society as a whole.

You may think I am over-reacting, but I think not. As I seem to be saying it a lot lately, we need to “man-up” as a country. We can start with the simple things. Like having guys who make a boat load of money actually play football in the snow. Vince Lombardi must be spinning in his grave.

October 16, 2010

Football, Loyalty and Perfection

OK, I’ll admit, many may see this as a post discussing something somewhat, well, silly, compared to the major issues of today. However, trust me when I tell you, read to the end and you will see there is a message here.

I love professional football. I grew up watching football in a household with Giants fans, Pittsburgh fans, Houston (Oilers, that is) fans, Redskins fans and San Francisco fans (me). Sunday was an awesome day in my house. Grandma’s macaroni and fried meatballs, my cousins over, playing gin with my Uncle Tony, and of course, football. It was a great day.

Those were the days of Staubach, Bradshaw, Montana, Swann, Payton and Rice. Whenever I play the “Pick Six” in New Jersey, I actually have a set of numbers that are all the jersey numbers of my favorite players. I remember watching “The Steel Curtain” and loving every minute of it.

Now, why am I telling you all this, you are probably wondering at this point? It is simple, these players, and those teams, represented two things to me; the constant pursuit of perfection and loyalty. They worked as a team and not as an individual just trying to increase their numbers so they could negotiate a better contract. There was no such thing as collective bargaining and there was respect for your coach. You started your NFL career with a team and you ended your career with that team. I mean, seriously, can you imaging Bradshaw playing in Minnesota? Payton in Buffalo? Never. Period.

When Montana left San Francisco to go to Kansas City, I was not just mad at San Francisco management for treating a player that defined the meaning of excellence, but I was mad at him. He was a 49er. How could he ever be part of any other team? It killed me. Over time, I got over it, but it still killed me. This is my favorite player of all time. He was single-handedly the reason why I was, and always will be, a San Francisco fan. Just like back then with the players, fans stick with their team through good times and bad.

Players today could learn by taking a page from these classic players. They believed in teamwork and loyalty. They played for the love of the game. They were aware that their actions off the field were a reflection on not just them, but their team. Everyone is entitled to make a good living, but the showboating and bragging that goes on today and the attention they require is shameful. Look at that nonsense with Darrelle Revis this year. Shameful.

These players taught important life lessons, not just lessons on the field.

See? I told you there was a point. I hope I made it.

 

September 19, 2010

The NFL and Loyalty…What Happened?

Filed under: Celebrity,General Annoyances — alvb1227 @ 4:38 pm
Tags: , , ,

Let’s make one thing clear…I love the NFL. My first memory of watching football is from third grade watching the Steelers playing the Cowboys in the Superbowl. I sat on the floor in my living room glued to the television.

Just like the years when our dads would go to work for one company and stay there until they retired, the same held true with the NFL. Those were the years when a player went to a team and stayed there. Period. Can you imagine Terry Bradshaw playing for anyone but the Steelers? I remember my stomach turning when my beloved Joe Montana went to…Kansas City? I felt betrayed.

Now it is about salary caps, contract negotiations and collective bargaining. I personally felt Darrelle Revis’ ongoing drama with the Jets was shameful. These guys make millions, not counting their endorsements. Now the players are potentially threatening a strike for next year if they extend the season to 18 games and aren’t “fairly compensated.” With all the recent opinions about public unions, like the NEA and the UAW, what about the players union? Where is the public outrage for these mega-millionaires instead of the “average Joe?”

Maybe I am naive, but when did pro football go from team loyalty to a business? I don’t see fans jumping from team to team. Why do players?

Don’t get me wrong. The owners in my opinion are just as much to blame. They want mega-stadiums and expect the local tax payers to pick up the majority of the tab through bond issues, while most of those tax payers can’t afford the new ticket prices. Life-long Jets season-ticket holders with tears in their eyes were forced to give up their tickets for their seat due to a ridiculously high “seat license fee.” And what is a seat license anyway? I NEVER heard of that one. Probably just another way to get money from attendees. And are they serious with the cost of sodas, beer and food at these games?

Like I said, call me a sucker, naive or whatever, but loyalty has always been a major issue with me. If I call you friend, you are my friend. If you light that fuse, which is long mind you, and I am done with you, then I am done. You wrong my family or my friend, you now have an enemy. I have stuck by my beloved Niners through the great years and the lean years. They are still my team. My husband has been a Giants fan for all his life. Period. People spend hundreds for special packages to see their teams if they are not local to them.

The point is, our teams make us crazy, but we stick with them. We believe in loyalty. If you ask me, the players could take a lesson from their fans.

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