Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankful for Simple Pleasures on Thanksgiving

[The editors of asked me to write a Thanksgiving-themed column. What appears below is the result. You can access it on from my author page here.]

I have so many important things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

I could write about how thankful I am that my country decided to send a smart, forward-thinking Democrat to the White House just four short years after re-electing a historically awful president who had demonstrated his incompetence in myriad ways, including ensnaring the nation in a needless, poorly managed and draining war in Iraq. And I could express my thanks that my country, with a difficult history of race under its belt, looked to an African American candidate to lead us at such a difficult time, no matter if a voter opted for Barack Obama despite his race, because of it (for what it would mean symbolically to the world), or if race had no bearing on the decision at all.

I could write about how thankful I am that Arianna and her stellar editorial staff have allowed me to express my opinions in such an important forum like, and that so many people seem to read my work and chime in with their own comments.

And I could write about how thankful I am to have a supportive and loving wife, a great family, and a fun and inspiring group of friends.

But I won't be writing about any of these important things, mainly because I just don't think it would be especially interesting to anyone not named Mitchell Bard. No, instead, I'm going to express my thanks for some of the simple pleasures in my life. Because no matter how silly nearly everything on my list is, every item brings me joy on a regular basis.

I am thankful for the Mount Rushmore of current network situation comedies: How I Met Your Mother, Scrubs, 30 Rock and The Office. I am old enough to remember a time when comedies dominated the networks' schedules (as well as the ratings), when a serial drama meant a nighttime soap and a reality program was the news. So with fewer and fewer sitcoms on the air, I savor the 30-minute bursts of smart, original laughs these four programs provide to me, week after funny week. And with the news the way it's been the last few months (years, really), we all need to laugh.

While I listen to all kinds of rock music, I am thankful that I have recently rediscovered my guilty-pleasure love of rock anthems, which make me smile and allow me to indulge in a bit of nostalgia. My five favorite classic rock anthems, which I define as dramatic, emotional, over-the-top songs in which the singer seems to be pleading for us to do something and which contain at least one passage that induces audiences to pump their fists, are, in order: "Baba O'Riley" by the Who, "More than a Feeling" by Boston, "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey, "Sunday Bloody Sunday" by U2, and "Alive" by Pearl Jam (with honorable mention to "Highway to Hell" by AC/DC, "I Love Rock N' Roll" by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, "Juke Box Hero" by Foreigner, "Livin' on a Prayer" by Bon Jovi, and "Find Your Way Back" by Jefferson Starship).

And speaking of music, I am thankful that my midlife crisis this year didn't involve a sports car or a fling with a younger woman, but instead led me to purchase tickets to seven concerts this past summer, all by artists who got their starts in the 1960s, 1970s or 1980s (The Eagles, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Billy Joel, Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band, a triple bill of Cheap Trick/Heart/Journey, Pearl Jam, and the Regeneration Tour, which featured Naked Eyes, Flock of Seagulls, ABC, Belinda Carlisle and the Human League).

I am thankful that even as I make my way into my early 40s, I can still appreciate a stellar teen movie like Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, which features two talented, relatable and likable leads; genuinely smart and funny writing; and a dead-on eye for downtown Manhattan (not to mention a great soundtrack).

I am thankful that after more than 200 trips to Yankee Stadium in my lifetime, I still got a thrill all 10 times I entered the Cathedral of Baseball this past season, and was genuinely emotional during my last trip to the stadium for the third-to-last home game ever in the old building. And I am thankful that despite the Yankees pricing box seats in the new stadium at an amount roughly equal to the gross domestic product of several Central American countries, I will still be able to retain my $25 nosebleed seats for my Friday night season ticket plan next season.

And while we're discussing ridiculously overpriced sports tickets, I am thankful that this year I got to attend my first Arsenal match at the wondrous Emirates Stadium in North London and not only enjoy 90 minutes of outstanding atmosphere, including non-stop chanting and singing, but also witness a 2-0 victory for the Gunners.

And finally, I am thankful for my pet rabbit Oscar, who can be found roaming free in our kitchen and living room. Despite being convinced at every moment of his life that predators are out to get him, he manages to remain a ridiculously cute, well-behaved and entertaining presence in our home. Maybe there is a lesson in there for all of us. Or maybe it's just fun to watch a rabbit submerge his head in a pile of hay looking for the perfect strand to munch on. I'll leave that for you to decide.

I wish everyone a happy and peaceful Thanksgiving.