Let’s Not Make A Deal

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You’ve no doubt been at a multigenerational family dinner when one of the young ones says he’s off to some place like Egypt or Turkey. The elders always chime in with, “When you’re shopping at the bazaar, be sure to bargain. It’s expected.”

Haggling over price may be culturally ingrained in other parts of the world, but it hasn’t been part of the American character. Now, though, perhaps because of the influence of Internet auctions, and a perpetually flooded inbox with big-name retailers promising an extra 30% off plus free shipping, our growing obsession with getting a bargain may actually be turning us into insufferable cheapskates. Call it the bargain backfire.

Recently I decided to redo my apartment and so put an assortment of unwanted rugs, lamps, tables and chairs on Craigslist. I’ve used the popular bulletin-board site since it was founded in San Francisco in the 1990s. But it had been a while since my last foray. I didn’t realize that Craigslist has become a hotbed of pushy tightwads trying to get something for nothing. Read more

Men Are The True Romantics

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On the surface, Valentine’s Day may seem mushy and sentimental, a day created for women and their emotional natures. But in fact it harkens back to chivalrous notions that go back for centuries. For on Valentine’s Day, while the woman may be receptive to the romantic occasion, it is the man who is supposed to deliver the romance. It is he who brings the flowers, makes the dinner reservation, hires the helicopter.

This is all perfectly in keeping with tradition and the man as lover and woman as beloved. Recently the story broke about an elderly Mississippi widower who created a museum dedicated to his late wife of 60 years. He calls it The Museum Of Love. Now there’s a true romantic.

Pictured above is another: Cary Grant in the 1958 film “Indiscreet,” one of my favorite movies. At the climax, there’s a clever exchange in which Grant proudly calls men “the true romanticists.” The entire film is available on YouTube, though be careful you don’t get your heart broken on Valentine’s Day. You may find yourself crying over the fact that they don’t make movies like that any more.

Daddy’s Little Girl

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In the era of outrage, it was inevitable that at least one Super Bowl ad incur the wrath of feminists. This year it was the Hyundai ad featuring Kevin Hart as an overprotective father.

According to The Telegraph, the ad has come under fire from some feminists, who’ve complained that the ad plays upon outmoded sexist tropes in which a young woman’s romantic agency is controlled by her patriarchal parent.

It’s certainly true that in 2016 protecting a young woman from predatory males is no longer a fatherly duty. That’s a job for college administrators.

Whoever Said Golf Was Supposed To Be Fun?

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Representatives from the golf and business industries last week unveiled HackGolf.org, an initiative designed to address the calamity of the sport’s rapidly diminishing number of participants. The sport has lost five million players in the U.S. over the past decade, according to the National Golf Foundation, including a 30% drop in golfers age 18-34. Since conventional ideas—such as encouraging faster play through a television ad campaign and youth programs such as The First Tee—have done little to halt the decline of golf in America, Hack Golf aims to crowdsource random and radical ideas as a way of thinking outside the tee box. GPS nanotechnology on golf balls, for example, would certainly make finding them easier.

In the keynote presentation at the 2014 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Hack Golf founders Mark King, CEO of TaylorMade Golf, and associates Joe Beditz, CEO of the National Golf Foundation and business strategist Gary Hamel, asked what the industry can do to make golf more fun. They’re asking the wrong question, because whoever said golf was supposed to be fun? Read more

There Goes The Neighborhood?

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My neighborhood used to be so quiet you could hear a brick drop. It used to be free from unwholesome influences. Children could play in the street. All that was before something strange happened to the quaint little house next door, and now everyone is up in arms over the sudden change in life on Willowtree Lane.

It started with just a single Harley-Davidson: his. Then came a second: hers. These iron horses neighed loudly every morning at 6, awakening anyone within three blocks still in dreamland. This daily clamor was bothersome yet tolerable. But then the real transformation came.

Mr. and Mrs. Wilson, the epitome of bourgeois respectability and chief organizers of Willowtree’s Fourth of July barbecues, began to dress differently. Leather jackets, fringed leather jackets, appeared on these faithful attendees of PTA meetings.

Fingers began scratching heads. Read more

The Gentleman’s Journey

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The notion that it takes three generations to make a gentleman is clearly an American one. Only a culture bred from democracy and capitalism would suggest that this lofty moniker does not require a hereditary title and a fox hunting outfit. The difference between the English and American gentleman is one of being vs. becoming. However, even in America, a country built by the self-made man, it is understood that one doesn’t become a gentleman, to borrow from another adage, through one good guess on the stock market.

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