By Allen David
The holiday shopping season functions somewhat like a drug for many depressed and/or stressed-out people—stimulating euphoria, but likewise setting up a letdown. So writes Press-Enterprise columnist Mark Muckenfuss, who we’re pretty sure used to be the star and title character of a hallucinogenic Saturday-morning kids’ show by Sid & Marty Kroft. No? Not him? Hmmm. Anyway, Muckenfuss—whose name we first encountered in a college lit class, as a word that served as a mild expletive during Dickensian England (and was part of a favorite phrase of the naughty Artful Dodger) . . . but, again, you say no—cites the research of UC Riverside management professor Ye Li. To test people’s responses to negative emotion, Li and his colleagues showed subjects one of three short film clips meant to elicit either sadness, disgust or no strong emotions of any kind, had them write short essays about their feelings, then looked at how people handled a scenario involving delayed gratification. The subjects were given the choice of receiving a certain amount of cash immediately, or a larger amount at a later date. Li reported that subjects given the sad stimulus were—depending upon the scenario—13 percent to 34 percent more likely to take the short-term payoff than the other test subjects. “We called this the myopic-misery hypothesis,” Li said. Curiously, this is the same hypothesis that is widely used to explain the disappearance of H.R. Puffenstuff from TV schedules, although it went unmentioned in Muckenfuss’ story.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 13
Forgot to mention an important element of Ye Li’s study—participants were required to accept their cash payments in tuppence.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 14
In what’s perhaps a spin on the holiday season tradition of leaving goodies for Santa, a convicted burglar free on probation is arrested in Highland on suspicion of breaking into another business—armed with a small crowbar, wire cutters—and a metal tin containing cookies. Or maybe the suspect, 50-year-old Craig Ramey, just really likes cookies.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 15
No matter how you feel about the medical marijuana issue, you gotta give up a smidgen of appreciation for the gumption of the Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center, which has had a bulls-eye on its back since Day One yet today observed its third anniversary. From the looks of a Press-Enterprise video report of the party . . . well . . . it wasn’t much of one. Turnout for the festivities, which included a Farmer’s Market, a seminar and an open-house for non-members, was quite sparse. On the upside, we’re pretty sure we heard somebody playing Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride” in the background.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 16
It’s the first big weekend for skiing and snowboarding and inner tubing and ooohhing and aaahhing in the local mountains—none of which sounds very appealing if you happen to have a huge abscess on your ass. Do you?
MONDAY, DECEMBER 17
With each passing day it becomes clearer there is a growing problem outside the U.S. Post Office at 241 W. Rialto Avenue. Don’t see it? Look up . . . up a little more . . . see it? “It’s stuck in the middle of the damn tree!” snaps Philip Passmore, a 60-year-old Army veteran. Passmore is talking about a tattered-and-torn American flag. He’s talking about it a lot, has been for years. “There’s no flag etiquette and it’s like nobody cares!” Passmore says. He’s complained to the Post Office, to City Hall and most often to passersby. “The flag is supposed to be the most prominent thing,” Passmore says. “It’s not supposed to be under utility lines or in a tree. For something like this to go unnoticed is ridiculous.” Passmore says when he speaks to the post office, they say it’s a city issue, but when he speaks to the city, they say it’s a federal issue. “There’s no requirement to fly it,” Passmore argues. “If they can’t fly it properly, take it down. But if you’re gonna fly it you’re supposed to show respect for it. Remove the pole or cut down the palm tree!” Passmore is getting . . . uhhh . . . kinda ticked. That could become a problem.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 18
Is it baseball season yet?