Fame is not a part time job

Some people, especially young girls, dream of becoming movie stars.
The lure of fame is very extremely powerful, but one ought to remember that the path to stardom is fraught with pitfalls.

marilyn-monroe-04Becoming a star often starts with a Faustian deal.
The would-be celebrity strikes a bargain with the Devil, exchanging her/his soul for worldly pleasures.
For a while, everything will work out swimmingly. People will adore you and shower you with praise.

But the fine prints of the Devil’s contract stipulate that once you have signed on the dotted line, you forsake any claims to privacy.

And there is no gentlemen’s agreement between the press and luminaries; in the paper chase everybody and everything is fair game.
Especially for paparazzi.
Your mug, your flaws are their bread and butter and they are hungry.

Often overlooked by eager applicants, the fine lines in the Faustian contract also stipulate that you are bound to remain young and beautiful forever, otherwise the deal becomes null and void.

But beautiful people (like all of us, but to a lesser extent) are cursed with a condition called “aging”.

A song written in 1948 by French poet Raymond Queneau warns young girls about this predicament.

The words go:

Si tu crois petite
Que ton teint de rose, ta taille de guêpe
Tes mignons biceps, tes ongles d´émail
Ta cuisse de nymphe, et ton pied léger
Vont durer toujours
Ce que tu te goures..

 If you imagine little girl
That your rosy complexion, your narrow waist,
Your cute biceps, your polished nails
Your nymph’s thigh, your light foot
Will last forever
You are mistaken

If with time your body loses its tone and luster (and it will), don’t even think of the beach or bikinis anymore. And be wary of public appearances.
Paparazzi using sniper’s telephoto lenses will hit you at the most inopportune moment.
And their shots are not always flattering.

If you are not extremely careful (to the point of paranoia), cellulite, flabby stomach or drooping breasts will soon be plastered all over the Internet.
And the people who once adored you will forsake you for the next starlet sensation.

Personally I am not worried. I am just ruggedly handsome but not worth any paparazzi’s time.

So, before wishing upon a star, watch what you are asking for, for you might just get it!



Anti “High Five”

 “What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself.” Abraham Lincoln

epic-high-five-batmanOne of the qualities that I find most endearing in a man is humility, a modest view of his own importance.
And that’s why I have such a strong dislike of the commonly named “High Five”.
That childish practice in which two people slap each other’s palms in a gesture of self-congratulation.

Everything that is overused becomes a worn out prop for people who lack imagination.
When you cannot come up with an original idea, you start stealing somebody else’s shtick. You start aping those dubious sports figures bulging with steroids, and those individuals are not exactly shining examples of propriety.

In a world swarming with sycophants, a man needs to remain grounded.
When accomplishing something slightly above average, he could acknowledge his satisfaction with a modest hand gesture or a slight bow, but definitely not with a low-class High Five.

The High Five is not even a distant cousin of humility. It basically says: I just did something exceptionally good and I deserve applauds for it!
Bollocks! as our British friends would politely say.

Only spectators are licensed to pass judgment. If they deem your actions meritorious, they will applaud you. If not, it is definitely not up to you to pat yourself on the back.

Nothing is more unpleasant than showing off, and High Fives are tangible signs of hubris.

On the pétanque field or anywhere else, it would behoove you to avoid these childish displays of narcissism and stick to more restrained forms of jubilation.
It would be greatly appreciated.

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When No means Yes

We are all familiar with the “No” word because since early childhood it is one the first human utterances that we heard and learned to obey.
But “No” doesn’t always mean no. Sometimes it means maybe, and sometimes (with some persistence) it can eventually morph into a “yes”.

I use Comcast (the firm that people love to hate) as an Internet provider. I also make use of their services for cable TV and telephone.
Even though most of the people recognize that Comcast does a decent technical job, the company’s high-handed pricing tactics puts many people off.

Over the years my monthly fees have steadily gone up and my last statement showed another unwelcome increase. That was the drop that spilled the cup.

Most customers accept increases resignedly, but some when angry enough will attempt to fight back.
But before getting into a brawl, one needs to gather facts and figures and it is a good idea to start your rebellion by gleaning details on the Internet.
After your facts gathering campaign, you can call Comcast and seek an understanding negotiator.
And the Force has got to be with you.

Very often, after crawling under the barbed wires of their answering system, you will come across a robot-like human being who has been programmed to quash rebellions and repel insurgencies.
These creatures will listen to you (yawn), but they will usually turn you flat down.
Their hands are tied they say; they cannot do anything to improve your lot.
The angrier you get, the more entrenched they become.
And that’s what happened to me when I first called Comcast.
I ended the conversation hanging up on the humanoid.

I placed a second call to ATT.
This outfit is always on the lookout for Comcast defectors, and they always seem very sympathetic to your woes.
They will dangle very enticing offers in front of you and urge you to defect.

But before rushing into the unknown, you should scrutinize their fine prints.
The first question that you should ask is: “How long is this offer good for?”
The second question should be: what happens after this initial offering expires?
Are you going to hit me with rates similar to your competitor?
There could be a small embarrassed silence.

Armed with figures, you call Comcast back.
If you are lucky, you will reach a knowledgeable human being sympathetic to your predicament.
And fortunately, that’s what happened to me.

You would like to stay with Comcast you say, but your rates are too high.
What can you do do to retain a loyal customer?

Unbeknownst to you many companies have billing plans not listed on the Internet.
If you are a good customer who pays his bills in a timely fashion, Comcast can play nice and give you a break.
But they also want to tie you down with a two years contract guaranteeing your ever-loving fidelity.
But that’s OK for life is always a matter of give and take.

To make a long story short, after a prolonged negotiation I ended end paying $30.00 less per month with, as a bonus, free access to HBO, Starz and Encore.
This proved to be a wise move for Comcast for it is better to make a small concession and keep revenues flowing, rather than being hard-nosed and lose a disgruntled customer who would (not doubt about it) strive to tarnish further Comcast’s dour reputation.

Sometimes, with a little persistence, a haughty “no” can bloom into a smiling “yes”.