Do You Have A Burning Desire For A Free Lunch?

Now almost age 92, I get frequent offers from people eagerly interested in my business. They include nursing home owners, sex enhancer makers, denture suppliers, hernia relievers, constipation pill peddlers and others wanting to cash in on this almost-dead oldster.

One of the most often repeated TV commercials is for a cremation organization. I won’t name names, because this essay is a not-ready-for-the-oven, fired-up rant. I’m ridiculing the half-baked idea of what the cremation promoters call pre-planning.

However, as much as the spooky idea of cremation freaks me out, I must admire the sales pitch. By responding to TV and newspaper ads, potential customers are invited to free lunches at local restaurants to learn about a future trip to the oven.

I spent 50 years in the ad racket, so it’s no surprise to me that the intent is to pump free-lunch seniors full of hard-sell pitches. Attendees are urged to pre-pay for cremation rather than wait for traditional, more expensive burial plans after they shuffle off this mortal coil.

There’s nothing new about the cremation hard-sell promotions. Other businesses, such as time-share vacation peddlers, use the same pressure-cooked tactics with free meals and other creative pitches.

I assume cremation organizations are legitimate business enterprises with required permits and licenses to provide a necessary service. I’ve never attended any of the free lunch promotions, but if I ever did, here are some questions this nonagenarian cynic would ask:

Is it OK if I smoke during the cremation sales pitch?

Is that background music we hear “Light My Fire?”

If my free flame-broiled lunch is served undercooked, may I send it back to the oven? No, no, I didn’t mean THAT oven!

If one of your late customers has a wooden leg, does he burn brighter than the others?

For your next TV commercial, star the kardASHians, hire a FLAMEnco dancer or quote a Robert BURNs poem to promote your cremation service?

May I choose that my ashes be scattered over a busy Las Vegas street corner where smoking hot hookers work their fiery trade?

How much money will you urn by stuffing me into your earn? Well, you know what I mean.

Many Historic Leaders Look Like Clowns

With the closing of Barnum & Bailey, we mourn the end of many centuries of colorful circus clowns. However, the equally long history of weird-looking world leaders continues, unfortunately with no indication it will ever stop.

Back in olden times, there were clownish guys, including Rome’s Nero and Attila the Hun. Later, along came Henry the 8th and Napoleon Bonaparte. During World War II, the prime bad clowns were Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Emperor Hirohito and Joe Stalin.

Now, the clown line-up continues with the rag-headed, whiskered ayatollahs, including the late and unlamented Osama bin Laden. Today’s most murderous clown, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, would need no make-up to star in the circus. And, unfortunately, performing daily right in the middle ring is our own fearless, orange-wigged, twittering leader of the free world.

North Korean Murderers Still Evil Gooks

The deliberate and fatal abuse of the young American student held captive for 18 months brings back memories of the 1950s. Otto Warmbier made the mistake of stealing a Communist propaganda poster and it cost him his freedom and eventually his life.

My experience with Korea goes back more than 65 years. After Navy service in World War 2, I continued in the active reserve to help pay my way through college. At graduation time, I was notified that my Reserve Naval Carrier Air Group had been called up. I served two more years of active duty during the Korean War.

Without warning, North Korean forces invaded South Korea in 1950. They immediately began systematic murder of civilians and captured ememy soldiers as they swept south. This prompted President Harry Truman to intervene with US military. The North Korean cruelty continued, and their atrocities included torturing and murdering Americans captured in battle.

Finally, after more than three years of bitter war, a cease fire was signed, and surviving American POWs were eventually released. All had been severely abused and subjected to the cruel Communist methods of torture and brainwashing. Many were forced to sign ridiculously false confessions denouncing the US.

Some of us who served in that now-almost-forgotten war called the North Koreans gooks. It was a label that reflected their brutish methods and disregard for human life. The latest example of torturing and sending home the dying young man only reenforces the true meaning of today’s North Korean gook mentality.

Actors Who Played Action Heroes Beyond Age 65

With the many current awards shows honoring young actors and actresses, this old guy tends to ignore them. I like actors who’ve been around for awhile.

When most working people hit age 65, they’re ready for Social Security years. However, some actors who make it to that advanced age and beyond would rather continue to show the world they can still leap, fight and love as well as they did in younger years. Here are five examples of those who succeeded:

Sylvester Stallone: Though his younger Rocky days of running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art are long gone, Sly can still do the action parts. In the 2013 film, Bullet to the Head, he was a New Orleans killer for hire, kidnapper and all-around bad guy. His dyed black hair, craggy face and still-fit physique made him look at least a decade sprightlier than his 66 years.

Clint Eastwood starred in and directed the action film in 2000, Space Cowboys. Age 69 at the time, Clint portrayed a former Air Force test pilot recalled by NASA to go into space to repair a damaged satellite. The action doesn’t involve gunfights, but the physical requirements and courage Eastwood’s steely character displays in high-flying adventures make the story believable.

Three years before his own death from cancer at age 72 in 1979, John Wayne starred as an Old West gunfighter dying of cancer. The Shootist was set in 1910, and in the very first scene, Wayne’s hero outshoots a bad guy.

The final scenes required him to engage in a dramatic saloon gunfight that resulted in his killing of three bad guys. His character then dies after a bartender shoots him in the back, but not before he impresses a young teenager portrayed by Ron Howard of his shooting skills.

In 2011 at age 68, Harrison Ford starred in an improbable science-fiction, Cowboys & Aliens. With six-shooter blazing, Ford rode and fought just as hard as the younger characters. Their job was to save Absolution, their New Mexico desert town in 1875, from destruction by evil creatures from outer space.

Kirk Douglas, now 100, at 82 suffered a severe stroke that permanently slurred his speech. He starred as a feisty old former boxing champ in the 1999 film, Diamonds. Despite obvious vocal handicap, he portrayed the role with the usual Douglas bravado and acting skills. A father and grandfather on a road trip, he’s determined to find a hidden stash of stolen diamonds.

Positive Job Seeking Strategy In Negative Times

In the news just about every day, we see major companies cutting back drastically on their working staffs. The search for a meaningful job in a poor economy can be exhausting and depressing. However, as it applies to everything else in life, the more difficult situation calls for the most persistent motivation.

President Teddy Roosevelt wrote about facing adversity in his famous “Man in the Arena” speech. It applies to anyone who may feel disappointed in the difficult search of finding a job:

Who at the best knows the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

Every job seeker experiences frustrating periods of rejection and failure, but there are ways to fight them and go on to eventual success. How can you ace the job interview and get on that payroll?

1. Don’t allow rejection to discourage you. If you’ve done your very best to get that job, but failed, closely examine what happened. Was it negative attitude during the interview? Did you present the best of yourself? Were you dressed properly? Did you talk too much or not enough? Then, when you get home, based on what happened, make improvements. The effort will be stronger when you hit the next interview.

2. Be positive throughout interviews, but don’t be angry and discouraged when they result in rejection. Treat each interview as a training session. The old adage applies: If at first you don’t succeed …

3. Another vintage saying may work for you: Practice makes perfect. Before a job interview, do some homework about the company and the specific job you’re seeking. Then practice your pitch with a friend or family member. Rehearse for questions you may get about qualifications, the company and how you’ll fit into the prospective job. Then, at the real interview, you’ll ace it.

4. Approach each job interview with a positive attitude and enthusiasm. It’s opening night on Broadway. The spotlight will be on, and you should be well-rehearsed and determined to be the star of the show.

Rejection happens to everyone. When 100 applicants show up for a job interview, 99 will go home feeling that all-too-familiar pain in the ego. The more highly motivated will treat the rejection as a learning experience, and find ways to make that next interview a winning one.

Fathers’ Day Memories: Losing My Young Dad

This annual observance has very special meanings for me. Instead of the usual declaration about why my father was the greatest, or how-to guides on buying Dad the best ties or tools, I’ll tell my story.

Earliest memories are of my young dad, Ben, coming home from work each evening and sitting with me in our backyard family garden. I was almost four that June in 1929, and we had planted a small radish patch.

The memories are brief and with deep loss, as he died several months later. The eternal questions: Could he have been more careful with his health and avoided fatal illness? Did he fail by leaving his widow and three young kids destitute during America’s Great Depression?

Through the decades, instead of anger, I feel only a sad, lingering wish of what could have been. Even today, I still recall Ben’s tall figure, friendly face, neat mustache and wavy brown hair. He’d greet me with a hug and settle into a garden chair with me on his knee. Then it was time for tales of how he grew up on a ranch in the Wild West.

He described cattle drives, battles with bandits, Indians, cowboys and starlit campfires. I learned later they were fibs, but when I heard them then, I happily believed every word. Actually, Ben came to America from Germany as a child with his refugee family in the late 1890s.

Radishes are the simplest vegetables to grow, a task just right for an almost-four-year-old. Under my dad’s watchful eye, I sowed the seeds in late April and carefully watered them daily.

During his daily visit, he’d admire my skills and comment on the rich green leaves as they emerged. My requests for Wild West stories were always granted, and our joyful time together was full of imagination and wonder.

A month later when the red root vegetables were ripening, my dad suddenly stopped visiting me in the back yard. I tearfully asked my mom why he didn’t want to be with me. She said he was sick and would be in bed for a couple of days. She assured me he’d be with me in my radish patch again just as soon as he recovered.

He never saw my garden again. Later, I was allowed to visit briefly daily in his bedroom. At first he’d ask about my radish patch and promise to be with me again soon, but as the days passed he became silent, as if asleep. After several months, Ben died of a kidney disease at age 34, long before antibiotics could have cured him.

When my own kids were growing up, we planted radishes and other vegetables in our backyard garden. Even today, whenever I see a bunch of bright red radishes, I’m reminded of my dad. I still cherish those too brief, wonderful moments we spent together in my radish patch.