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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Monday, April 16, 2012

What I did on my spring vacation (or 'City Editor's Days Off')

On this, the 11th and final day of my "spring break," allow me to share a few thoughts that have accumulated in my head during my time off.

* Does it really matter that Democratic operative Hilary Rosen said Ann Romney, wife of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, has never worked a day in her life? Yes, it was insulting — to Mrs. Romney and to all women who have stayed home to raise kids — but how is it relevant to the upcoming presidential election? I mean, seriously, are people going to base their vote this November on an ill-advised remark that a non-candidate made in April? I think not. So please, Fox News, shut up already about this irrelevant flap. It stopped being interesting about 15 minutes after it happened. It's time to move on.

* Along the same lines, did you see the cover of this morning's New York Post? The headline is "SWILLARY," and the accompanying photo shows Secretary of State Hillary Clinton taking a swig from a bottle of beer in Cartagena, Columbia, where she is attending the Summit of the Americas. The implication being what — that an adult drinking an alcoholic beverage is some kind of heinous crime? And worse yet, the secondary headline is "Hill knocks back brew as scandal rocks summit" — a reference to U.S. Secret Service agents assigned to the summit allegedly cavorting with prostitutes. The suggestion is that Mrs. Clinton, who was not involved in the scandal and has no role in investigating it, is somehow shirking her responsibilities by enjoying a legal cold beverage while people who are connected to her only marginally are being investigated. Good Lord!

* I'm puzzled by the recent suspension of Miami Marlins Manager Ozzie Guillen for making pro-Fidel Castro comments. Yes, Castro is a loathsome dictator. And yes, Guillen's comments were both shocking and insulting to southern Florida's myriad Cubans, many of whom fled their homeland because of Castro's oppressive ways. But since when is it a punishable offense in the United States to voice one's views? And isn't it hypocritical for the people who own the Marlins to simultaneously criticize Castro for restricting freedoms and then punish Guillen for exercising his?

* Like most people who watched TV this past weekend, I was inundated with broadcasts regarding the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, and three things stood out: 1) The 1958 film "A Night to Remember," which was on TCM late Saturday, is far, far superior to the 1997 James Cameron epic, "Titanic." The former is powered by a strong script and wonderful acting; the latter relies largely on high-tech gimmickry, over-the-top cinematography and, worst of all, a made-up love story that becomes central to the disaster. And that Celine Dion song may just be the worst piece of music ever recorded. (As an aside, kudos to the TCM people for timing Saturday night's broadcast in such a way that the boat hit the 'berg at exactly 10:40 p.m. EDT — 100 years to the minute after the actual event). 2.) Of all the documentary TV specials about the sinking that aired over the weekend, none was more maddening than the one on NatGeo hosted by Cameron. The premise of the show was looking more closely at the facts of the disaster than ever before in an effort to determine exactly what happened on April 14 and 15, 1912. Instead, every time Cameron voiced a theory, a scene from his movie that jibed with that theory was shown on the screen — as if a clip from a work of historical fiction is proof of what really took place. The NatGeo special was nothing more than an advertisement for Cameron's film, which has been back in theaters since April 4. And 3.) A commercial that aired over the weekend for a piece of cheap jewelry that looks like the priceless diamond worn by the character Rose in "Titanic" was nothing short of sickening. It's bad enough to suggest that something replicating a fictional item is connected to an actual event, but it's downright despicable to try to make money off a tragedy in which 1,500 people perished.

* I had my first exposure to the boy band One Direction on the April 7 episode of "Saturday Night Live." One Dimension would be a better name for these guys,who are indistinguishable from their boy band predecessors of the late 1980s and early 1990s, namely New Kids on the Block, the Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync and 98 Degrees. And like all of those acts, and many others, One Direction will outgrow its cuteness in a couple of years; fans, the record companies and the teen magazines will lose interest; and that will be the end of that. Right now, the group's one direction is up. But we all know what that leads to.

* My son Marc, after much internal debate, has decided to attend the Rochester Institute of Technology this fall. He'll learn computer science. My wife and I will learn how to write checks for large amounts of money every few months.

* Being Jewish, I can't express how happy I am that Passover has passed over.



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