Tag Archives: Pawn Stars

Kill Your Television?

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Do people still talk about killing televisions?

Back in the late 90s and early 00s, when I ran around in activist circles, every 4th of July, there would be talk of killing, smashing, destroying televisions. It was an appropriate day for getting rid of televisions because it was U.S. Independence Day, and activists were promoting independence from the TV.

I don’t hang out with many activists these days, so I dont know if getting rid of televisons (by smashing, destroying, or any other means) is still promoted on July 4th. I did a few quick Google searches; “July Fourth smash your television day,” “kill your television day” and “smash your television” didn’t bring up much. The best thing I found was a blog post by The Happy Philospher (http://thehappyphilosopher.com/kill-your-television/) with a lot of information about why getting rid of one’s television might be a good idea. I also found links to the Kill Your Television Theatre (https://www.facebook.com/killyourtelevisiontheatre/) and references to the songs “Kill Your Television” by Ned’s Atomic Dustbin ( https://www.discogs.com/Neds-Atomic-Dustbin-Kill-Your-Television/release/782296) and “Smash Your TV” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuMofeS7b7Q), “Track 8 (of 54) from the forthcoming [as of December 2014] album Et Mourir de Plaisir.”

A life without television seems like a good life to me, but who am I to tell other people what to do?

I haven ‘t owned a telvision since I moved to a new state in 1998. I’ve livined in houses with other people who’ve owned them, I’ve been in cheap motels with them, and I’ve house sat in homes with them. I’d be lying if I said I never watch TV, but I don’t do it every day or even every week.

The commercials are the worst. Often I’m confused, and many seconds go by before I figure out what the advertiser is trying to sell me. Sure, I know I’m supposed to think I’m being sold happiness or sex (or sex leading to happiness), but I often wonder, What’s the real product? I know it’s strategic when the product isn’t shown until the last moment.

Most network programs are terrible. I’ve sat through bad acting and stupid plots (I’m looking at you, NCIS: New Orleans) while visiting friends and relatives. I’ve honestly seen better acting at a small-town fundamentalist Christian church Easter program than I’ve seee on primtime TV.

But yes, I will admit, there are times when I like to have a television on. It’s good company when I’m cooking, mending, crafting, or cleaning. When my brain is simply too tired to read, a decent television program is a nice distraction.

I mostly watch television when I’m house sitting. My favorite shoes are Chopped, Cupcake Wars, and Beat Bobby Flay. (I once spent a three-week house sitting gig flipping between Food Network and Cooking Channel.) I like the Travel Channel food shows too: Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, Man v. Food, and Man Finds Food. For a time I was really into History Channel’s Pawn Stars and got really excited whenever I stumbled upon an all-day marathons of the program. However, after vistiting Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas, NV and seeing the $2 price tag on a postcard, the thrill was gone. (Read about my visit to the Gold & Siler Pawn Shop here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/11/23/tourist-day-in-las-vegas/.)

In any case, who am I to say people should kill their televisons? I think people should make their own informed decisions.

I do know people who watch the tube for several hours a day would have more time for other activities if they smashed the television or just clicked the off button. If you can’t imagine what you’d do if you watched less TV, here’s a list of 50 activities you’ll have time for if you’re not distracted by your television.

Read a book

Read aloud to kids or adults

Teach someone to read

Garden–food or flowers, it don’t matter

Ride a bike

Feed hungry people

Run through the sprinkler on a hot summer day

Visit new places

Write a sonnet

Write a letter

Write the great American novel

Play ball

Make music

Wash the windows

Wash the car

Wash the dishes

Meet your neighbors

Soak in a hot bath with candles around the tub

Walk the dog

Walk without the dog

Learn a new language

Call a friend

Meditate

Mediate

Watch the sun set

Dance in the moonlight

Talk to an elder

Talk to a child

Raft down a river

Build a treehouse

Build a bookshelf

Build community

Make love–to yourself or your partner(s)

Play board games

Create art

Take deep breaths

Think deep thoughts

Throw a costume party

Swim

Wage peace

Bake bread (or muffins or cookies or cake)

Paint a portrait

Paint the walls

Cuddle

Make jewelry

Look at the stars

Run a marathon

Fix what’s broken

Mend what’s torn

Dream

I took this photos of the (popular?) sticker.

What would you add to your life if you subtracted your televison? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments.

 

The Dentist

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Long time readers of my blog may remember my tooth problems of the past. (You can read about my tooth problems here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/02/12/my-teeth/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/03/04/princess-tooth-revisited/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/03/06/another-day-in-the-saga-of-my-mouth/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/03/25/murphys-law-of-the-mouth/, and here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/03/31/good-bye-my-sweet-princess-tooth/.) In summary, in the last five years, I’ve had two lower molars extracted, and I’d prefer not to lose any more teeth.

In my home state, I go to a free dental clinic where students training to be dental hygienists practice on patients. The students are only weeks away from graduation and closely supervised at all times.

However, I haven’t found a similar clinic near where I work in California. Last year, I went to a dental care chain and had a terrible experience. (Read about my terrible experience here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/09/03/scam-artist-western-dental/.) Then I found a dentist I really liked.

The new patient fee at the new dentist’s office was only $59 for an exam, x-rays, and a cleaning. The dentist was a woman, as were all the workers in the office. Everyone was super nice. Between the x-rays and the cleaning, the dentist consulted with me in a little office  The dentist found a cavity and was able to fill it that day, which saved me the time and expense of driving down the mountain again. I also paid to join the discount program of the network this dental office belongs to. I was pleased with the entire experience.

(Well, ok, I wasn’t pleased with having a cavity or getting it filled. But the office was super fancy, and I was able to watch Pawn Stars while the professionals were working in my mouth.)

From the time I arrived in California this May, making a dental appointment was in the back of my mind. In August, I finally called and found out I was covered by the discount plan until early September. So I made an appointment. The woman who made the appointment for me was at a call center and didn’t know how much the visit would cost, so I called my dentist’s office later that day and spoke with the office manager. Since neither woman told me anything different, I expected I’d see the dentist I met last year.

I arrived at the office at the appointed time on the appointed day. No one was at the desk to greet me. I checked in with a computer. Then I sat down to wait. At some point the nice office manager returned to the desk and called me up to check in with her. I sat down to wait again. I waited for twenty minutes past the time of my appointment. No one apologized. No one offered any explanations.

Finally, a young woman brought me to a room and took x-rays. The process took about ten minutes. Then she brought me to an exam room at the end of a long hallway. The other exam rooms along the corridor were empty. The woman gave me the TV’s remote control, but the satellite signal wasn’t working properly. I’d get 40 seconds of Chopped Junior and two minutes of nothing. I sat alone in that room for another twenty minutes until a young man in blue scrubs walked in.

Oh good! I exclaimed. You haven’t forgotten about me!

I know I was being a sarcastic asshole, but I felt like a sarcastic asshole by that point. I was hungry. I’d been waiting for forty minutes without apology or explanation. And the one thing that may have distracted me was experiencing technical difficulties.

The young man in blue scrubs tried to turn my frustration into a big joke. His joking did not make me feel better.

Then the young man in the blue scrubs said, Hello! I’m Dr. Whoever. And you are?

Wait!! What?! This was the dentist? What had happened to the young woman dentist with the cute bow in her hair whom I’d seen last year? (I have a slow brain, or I would have asked the young man in the blue scrubs that very question.) Also, it was obvious to me that this guy didn’t even know my name when he walked through the door. Really? Shouldn’t a medical professional look at the patient’s chart and know her name before he walks through the door?

It became obvious he hadn’t looked at my chart either. Images of my mouth popped up on the screen where I’d earlier been trying to watch Chopped Junior, and he dentist started talking to me about my teeth.

The first thing he told me was that I had an “infection” on one of my wisdom teeth that’s still below the gum.

I said, I was told it was a cyst.

Probably ten years ago, the dentist at the poor people’s clinic I was visiting for checkups and cleanings every six months noticed what this dentist was referring to. The dentist at the clinic specifically referred to what she saw as a “cyst.” She sent my x-rays to a consulting oral surgeon who said it was no big deal, unless it started giving me trouble.

So the dentist in the blue scrubs said “infection,” I countered with “cyst,” and he said, Same thing.

Ummmm, no they’re not the same thing.

According to http://www.cuh.org.uk/addenbrookes-hospital/services/oral-and-maxillofacial-surgery-and-orthodontics/dental-cysts,

A cyst is a sac of tissue that has either fluid or soft material inside it.

Cysts can form in a wide range of tissues including in the face and mouth (including the jaws). Some can form next to or around teeth, which are called dental cysts…

They can be sterile or become infected…

Abscesses are localised acute infections, which require immediate attention from your dentist. It is rare not to know you have an abscess – they are usually associated with acute pain (they hurt a lot!), swelling (eg of your gum or even face and cheek) and sometimes an unpleasant smell or taste in the mouth. Abscesses can form inside or near dental cysts, which is where the confusion can occur.

Dental cysts aren’t necessarily infected and can grow slowly for many months or even years without any or many symptoms.

Also, it occurred to me later, if I had an infection, why hadn’t the dentist given me a prescription for antibiotics?

So the dentist said he wanted me to speak to the surgeon about having the tooth extracted. I told him I’d speak to a surgeon in my home state about whether or not the tooth needs to be extracted. He looked at me blankly, and I had to explain yet again that I’m only in California five months of the year for work.

The dentist worked across the screen to the other side of my mouth and pointed out a tooth around which I have some bone loss.

What happened here? he asked. There’s bone loss.

My jaw was fractured, I told him.

What happened? Did you get in a fight? he asked as if my fractured jaw and bone loss were some big joke.

Yeah. You could say that, I answered flatly.

Well what happened? he demanded. Tell me the story.

I don’t want to talk about it, I told him.

Perhaps it’s the man’s professional responsibility to check on the welfare of people who show up in his office with bone loss due to jaw fracture. But I didn’t feel as if he were concerned about my welfare. I felt like he just wanted me to air my dirty laundry.

If the dentist were concerned about my welfare, these are some things he could have said to assess the amount of danger I was in or to offer assistance:

Are you still seeing the person who did this to you?

Here’s the number to the local/national/regional domestic violence hotline. (If anyone reading this needs it, the number to the National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1−800−799−7233.)

Would you like me to refer you to a counselor/social worker/therapist?

But not, he offered me no help or support.

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This is NOT my mouth being lasered. Image from http://akshaylaserdentalcare.com/dental-laser

When he realized I wasn’t going to tell [him] the story, he moved on to listing the special treatment he wanted me to have. He wanted the hygienist to do a special deep cleaning around the tooth, then shoot a laser around kill bacteria.

He didn’t explain things very well, but I think the bone loss has caused a pocket to form between the tooth and gum. I think it’s difficult to clean out the pocket, so bacteria grows there. Somehow a regular cleaning isn’t enough.

Before the hygienist  came into the exam room, the office manager showed up to have me sign off on the price of the procedures. The x-rays, exam, and cleaning were supposed to cost $80, and I planned to spend an extra $25 on a fluoride treatment. With the deep cleaning and the laser treatment, the bill shot up to $300. I didn’t really know what to do.

You can pay half today and half next month, the office manager offered me, but the issue wasn’t that I didn’t have the  money in my bank account. The issue was that I didn’t know if I actually needed the procedures the dentist was recommending.

I approved the deep cleaning and the laser treatment, but decided to skip the fluoride.

The hygienist was the same women who’d cleaned my teeth last year. I asked her if the condition of the tooth with the surrounding bone loss was worse than it had been the year before. She said she didn’t know. She said in order to know, she’s have to pull up my x-rays from last year and compare. I realized no one–not the dentist, not the hygienist–had even compared this year’s x-rays to last year’s x-rays. I wish I’d asked the dentist if the condition of the tooth had gotten worse in order to see how he justified the special, more expensive treatment.

By that time I was discouraged and just wanted to be done and get out, so I didn’t insist the hygienist pull out the old x-rays and compare.

I’d already decided I’d never go back to that office, but as I wrote about what happened there, I realized the dentist never actually looked into my mouth. He looked at images of my teeth, but never looked at my actual teeth. This is the first time in my whole life where “going to the dentist” did not involve a dentist physically examining my mouth.

Tourist Day in Las Vegas

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When The Poet and I were in communication about the things I wanted to see and do in Las Vegas, I sheepishly admitted I wanted to visit the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop where The History Channel program Pawn Stars is filmed.

I can’t remember when I first watched Pawn Stars. It was probably in some crappy motel room when my then-boyfriend and I were trying to distract ourselves (and each other) from our ridiculous, relentless fighting and our steadily deteriorating relationship. Then, a couple of years ago during a house sitting gig, I watched a Pawn Stars marathon, half-hour episode after half-hour episode all day and into the night. The marathon sealed the deal: I was a Pawn Stars fan.

I enjoy the show’s focus on items of historical significance. Unlike Hardcore Pawn (http://www.trutv.com/shows/hardcore-pawn/index.html), which I remember focusing on the antics of the wacked-out customers (and not-quite customers), Pawn Stars really does attempt to teach some history. Sure, some of the sellers featured on Pawn Stars are a little zany, but colorful characters do make for good entertainment. And while familial bickering is a subplot of every Pawn Stars episode, it always takes a backseat to trying to educate viewers via the items brought into the store.

When I realized I’d be in Vegas and the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop is in Vegas, I decided I wanted to see it. I was a bit embarrassed to admit this desire to The Poet. First, it seemed like such a stereotypically tourist thing to do. What next? I imagined The Poet wondering. An Elvis impersonator extravaganza, topless showgirls, and all night at the blackjack tables? Also, I didn’t know which side of the TV wars The Poet was on. Some of my friends think all television is soul sucking and mind mushing, while others think a person who doesn’t watch TV is weird. What if The Poet judged me harshly?

I told her in the letter I sent outlining my Las Vegas interests that of course I didn’t expect her and The Activist (her husband) to accompany me on my visit to Gold and Silver. I told her I’d go alone, at some time when they needed a break from being hosts and tour guides. So I was a bit surprised when The Poet told me The Activist wanted to accompany me on the pawn shop visit, unless I needed special alone time there. I assured her I didn’t need to go alone, that I wasn’t on some kind of a pilgrimage. (I’m not that kind of fan.) I told her I’d be happy to have  The Activist along.

The day we went to the pawn shop started with a peace vigil.

Every week, members of the Las Vegas  peace community hold a vigil in front the Lloyd George Federal Courthouse at 333 Las Vegas Blvd. Here’s what http://www.occupylv.org/events/weekly-las-vegas-peace-vigil-1 has to say about the vigils:

Every week, a group of people stand with signs about peace, about the cost of war, asking people to honk in a sign of solidarity if they’re in a vehicle. This particular vigil has been taking place for over ten years. It is very friendly and encouraging.

In warm months, we stand on So. LV Blvd. near Clark. In colder months we stand on So. LV Blvd. near Bridger.

It was a pretty low-key affair the day I attended. About seven of us held signs with various peace slogans on them. The youngest women in the group held the sign that read “Honk for Peace.” She got a lot of honks.

After an hour, the peace group split up and The Activist and I walked The Poet to a coffee shop called The Beat (http://www.thebeatlv.com/) on the corner of  6th and Fremont. In the back of the coffee shop is a large area with art displays and The Las Vegas Zine Library (LVZL). (To learn more about the LVZL, go here: http://www.thebeatlv.com/zine-library.html.) We poked around back there for about half an hour, then The Poet settled in to write while The Activist and I went on our excursion.

We walked down Fremont Street to get to Las Vegas Blvd. Fremont wasn’t very busy since it was a Wednesday morning. I did the tourist thing and took some photos.

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And since I was playing tourist, I took some photos of the wedding chapels we passed on the way.

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I mean, if getting married in a ceremony with the “KING” is good enough for Rock Star Jon Bon Jovi, it must be good enough for me. (The question is, is Mr. Bon Jovi still married to the lady he wed in the Graceland Chapel?)

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While we walked, The Activist told me he was glad to have a reason to go to Gold and Silver. He said he’d wanted to check it out since he’d moved to Vegas, but none of their other house guests had expressed any interest in visiting the place.

We approached Gold and Silver from the parking lot side. There weren’t many cars parked there, but there were several guys in orange vests monitoring the lot and the people in it. I wondered if they only allow people with items to sell or pawn to park in the lot.

During my preliminary research at https://www.vegas.com/attractions/off-the-strip/pawn-stars/, I’d read there’s sometimes a line to get into the shop. I was glad to see that on this day there was no line outside and we wouldn’t have to wait to get in.

I’d also read online complaints from people who’d expected to see the actual stars of Pawn Stars–Rick, The Old Man, Corey, and Chumlee–and were disappointed when the guys weren’t in the shop. Give me a break! I’d never expect the stars of a big History Channel program to be standing around to chitchat with the riffraff. Maybe in the earliest days of the show, a visitor might run into one of those guys in the shop, but now? Forget it! Those guys are big shot famous people. They probably only come around for filming and probably stay in the office until the cameras are ready for them. I would have been astounded to see one of the show’s stars hanging around in public.

When The Activist and I approached the entrance, there were three other tourists (a family, perhaps, and by their accents European) blocking the sidewalk while taking photos of each other. Ugh! I don’t like to be the kind of tourist who gets in the way of other people, so I decided I was not going to be taking a lot of photos.

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This is my one tourist photo from Gold and Silver Pawn Shop, the outdoor sign in front of the store.

The Activist and I went inside, and I was shocked by how small and…shabby the store looked. On TV, the shop seems spacious and glamorous, but in real life it looked something like a warehouse lit with fluorescent lights, the merchandise on display crammed too closely together.

The first thing The Activist noticed and pointed out to me was a display case full of the same model of Rolex watches. Why were they all the same?

As we made our way through the store, we saw a lot of collectible coins and currency, jewelry, art, items I guess would be referred to as “collectibles.” I didn’t see anything that even mildly piqued my interest, but I’m weird that way.

At the back of the store was a life size cardboard cutout of Rick folks could stand next to for a photo-op. No one was doing that.

One area of the store was filled with Pawn Stars souvenirs. One could buy the book Rick wrote. (Until the moment I saw the book in the store, I had no idea it existed.) One could buy dashboard bobble heads representing the guys on the show. One could buy Pawn Stars magnets and keychains and ink pens. (They almost got me with an ink pen, but I told myself sternly that I did not need one.) There were several Pawn Stars t-shirts to choose from displayed on the wall next to the cash register and its bored-looking cashier. There were even wristbands with the words “Chumlee Is My Homeboy” stamped on them. And then there were postcards.

I love postcards. I probably came to love them when I was in middle school. Whenever my family went on one of our infrequent trips, the first thing I wanted to do was buy postcards. Then I’d spend as much time as possible ignoring my family and writing out postcards to send to my friends back home. Now I look at thrift stores for postcards from places I’ve never been. I send them to friends when I don’t have enough to say for a whole letter.

I wanted to send postcards from Vegas, but I hadn’t seen them for sale anywhere I’d been. I thought if there were Pawn Stars postcards, maybe I’d buy some and give my friends a good laugh about what a tourist I’d been.

When I was a kid, I was thrilled when I’d sometimes find 10 for $1 postcard deals, but those days are long gone. Now 4 for $1 is a good deal for postcards, and 2 for $1 is about normal. (I did buy postcards with local historic scenes on them for $1.50 each when I was in Trinidad, CO, but that was partly because they were the only postcards in town and partly because the guy selling them was my friend’s friend on whom I had a tiny crush.) I know I probably wouldn’t get four Pawn Stars postcards for $1, but I figured 50 cents each would be ok.

I turned the rotating rack until I found the few remaining postcards. They were kind of boring, but they would do. Then I saw the price tag: $2 each!

Are you fucking kidding me?!?

Where do they get off charging two bucks for their postcards? Even when I bought postcards of my own photos from Vistaprint (http://www.vistaprint.com/) 100 at a time, I only paid 20 cents each. Certainly Pawn Stars gets a better deal than that.

At that point I was over the whole Gold and Silver experience. I’ll continue to watch the show (and try to figure out how the cameras make the store look so big and upscale), but I won’t be giving them any of my money…Greedy bastards…

On the way to lunch, we were stopped in traffic right in front of the driveway to the Bonanza Gift and Souvenir Shops.

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Hey! I called from the backseat. Can we stop here so I can get postcards? I’ll be real quick.

 My friends indulged me, and we pulled into the parking lot. I jumped out of the car and went in one of the many doors. Right inside was a rack of postcards. The price? 3 for 99 cents. The price was right for me.

(I took all the photos in this post.)