Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sunday Rerun: You Never Know

I remember the first few weeks after I quit smoking at 9:10 AM on September 17, 1988 (but who's counting?) because most everyone was supportive, and from that day to this, I haven't smoked, not a puff, and have no desire to.

'55 Buick
But, within a week of tossing away the butts, I was walking back to my truck after work, and saw a woman driving one of those gigantic 1955 tu-tone Buicks on Chesapeake Avenue in Towson. She couldn't have been more than 107 years of age, and was gripping the wheel with one hand as she piloted the barge through the pedestrians and other cars. 

The other hand was occupied holding what I guessed was a Pall Mall cigarette that she was hooving on like it was the last cig she would ever enjoy.  Puff, puff, puff.

And it dawned on me that she was going to live and smoke forever. For all I know, she is even today cruising around the traffic circle in Towson, on her way to the Safeway for another carton of Pall Malls.

Happy Birthday, Ms Sullivan!
I thought of that lady when I saw this story from Texas
about a woman named Elizabeth Sullivan, who recently blew out 104 candles on her birthday cake, and attributes her superannuation to drinking three cans of Dr Pepper per day. "Every doctor that sees me says they’ll kill you, but they die and I don’t," Sullivan told CBS as she reached for another chilly 12-ouncer . "So there must be a mistake somewhere.”

In Texas, Dr Pepper flows from many public drinking fountains, it's so popular.  I don't like soda at all anymore but I used to like Coca-Cola and ginger ale. Dr Pepper, however, has a curious cherry taste that reminded me of carbonated cough syrup.

Their slogan used to be "Drink a bite to eat at 10, 2, and 4," which was designed to have consumers drink three Peps a day to ward off the slump between meals by slipping a cup of liquid sugar into their bloodstream. 

Still, I don't see myself living to be 104, since I don't smoke or guzzle Dr Pepper, but if I did, it would mean I lived long enough to see Ms Sullivan dating Keith Richards in the year 2055.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Saturday Picture Show, October 22, 2016

As we get ready to say goodbye to baseball again until next Spring, take a look at a catcher's mask worn by Moe Berg, who caught for a few teams in the 1920s and 30s. Moe is better known for speaking a dozen languages, reading at least ten newspapers per day and making films during a baseball tour of Japan in 1934...films which came in handy in his second career as a United States spy in World War II. Hollywood is making a movie of his life, to be released next year, starring Paul Rudd, who looks like Moe Berg like I look like Haile Selassie, but whaddya gonna do?
You look at this picture and you think, there's a man named Enos Slaughter, and his nickname was "Country," because he hailed from Roxboro, NC, before playing in the majors from 1938 - 1959.  But it was something that happened to him before he got to the big leagues that is the best part of the story to impart to young people of 2016. Ol' Enos was playing in Columbus GA and dogged it on his way back to the dugout one time...he walked in instead of running. His manager said, "Son, if you're tired, we'll get you some help out there."  And Enos Slaughter never operated at a pace less than full-tilt hustle on a baseball field again. 
When Hurricane Matthew was finished his dirty work on and around Fernandina Beach, FL, he left behind a veritable treasure trove of sea shells!
This is the house once belonging to Vera Coking in Atlantic City, NJ. "Penthouse" publishing smutking Bob Guccione wanted to build a huge casino on her property and on either side of it, and began construction, figuring that Mrs Coking would accept the $1,000,000 he offered. She wouldn't budge, but Guccione ran out of money and abandoned the project anyway. Several years later, penthouse building king Donald J. Trump tried to force the aging widow of her house with an eminent domain lawsuit, like the one that we used to chase Native Americans off their property. She won. There is justice.
Speaking of justice...if you want to go to Indonesia, have fun! Send me a postcard.  Just don't steal anything.  This is how foreign thieves are punished there...
We're saluting American poetic genius Bob Dylan, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature this year. His sixth album came out in 1965 and was entitled "Highway 61 Revisited."  These tracks parallel Hwy 61 in Bob's native Minnesota.
Busch Gardens in Pasadena CA closed in 1979. There were lots of birds who lived there in huge aviaries, and the vast majority of them winged it to zoos and other sanctuaries.  But the Busch people did a curious thing.  They set some of the parrots free. And ever since, for one day a year, those parrots and their families pause during migration to return to roost in Echo Park near the site of the old Gardens.  
This is a handy item to keep on the shelf just in case your water stops running.  It also makes a handy dessert if frozen.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Take your choice

We'll be married 43 years this December, the Mrs and I, and I like to say that it's really a blind date that has never ended.  I mean, do you say that the conversation you started the other day is really over, when you keep talking to the person?  Same here.  Our conversation, the one that began when we were introduced by friends, is ongoing, and I can honestly tell you that not once in all the years since have we either sat and stared at each other, wondering what in hell to say next.  There is always SOMEthing.

If you recall the Simpsons episode "Krusty Gets Busted," when the mistaken arrest of Springfield's favorite TV clown (that word!) led to sidekick Bob getting to do the afternoon show, you remember how Bob tried to take a higher tone on things.  

"Well, perhaps we can shed some light on your problem in a new segment exploring pre-adolescent turmoil. I call it, 'Choices'."

Peggy and I will wile away endless hours driving to distant destinations or while waiting to be seen in clinics or raking leaves or trying to avoid deep sleep when a soccer game is on TV by doing something you might call "Choices" if you feel like being corny.  

It goes like this:

  • "Whom would have as a dinner guest: Oprah or Howard Stern?" (or two disparate friends or acquaintances who shan't be named here).  
  • and then the other person, having just answered "Howard, of course!" asks "Would you eat fried liver with a side of kidneys if you got to have all you wanted of any dessert, or would you have your favorite entrĂ©e but you have to eat a snack-size baggie of black licorice and candy corn for dessert?"
  • You can go back and forth on the gross desserts and undesirable dinner guests (sorry, Kanye!) all night, or you can come up with new Choices...
  • Name two people.  With which of them would you rather drive to Los Angeles? And could you sleep in the car while that person drove, without worrying that they'd drive you into a ditch just east of Omaha?
  • Early Beatles or later Beatles?  Early Stones or later? Bing Crosby or Perry Como? Listen to Dave Matthews or jump off Trump Tower?
  • Clean out the garage or watch Jerry Springer?
  • Of course, any question - even "Would you rather watch bowling, tennis or soccer for fifteen hours straight?  - is better than The Worst Question Ever Uttered In A Relationship, which is, as you know....."Do you think we should completely redecorate the entire house, or just move?"

Thursday, October 20, 2016

This isn't what they mean by "Locks Of Love"

It was popular in Paris, so let's try it here, n'est-ce-pas?

Of course, a section of a bridge fence in Paris buckled because of it.

"It" is the odd practice of attaching a padlock to a bridge to proclaim the lasting love between two people. Now, I'm not one to predict whose love will last and whose will come unlocked, but really. Many a relationship ends before a good Master lock will rust and fall off.

As I say, this is popular in Paris and New York, but I haven't heard about it happening here in Baltimore, where we use our locks to keep our bikes, sheds, and grills secure instead.  

Does a young couple take a moonlight stroll down to the bridge, gaze into each other's limpid orbs, and say, "Darling...I feel so desperately in love with you...and I feel that you feel the let's go to Locks Locks Locks, buy a lock, and attach it to the closest bridge!"

Or, maybe it happens a lot in June, when everyone brings home their gym locker lock when school is out.

"(Each lock) costs the city real money in terms of sending our personnel out there to remove them," New York City Dept. of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg told a newspaper there. "It’s a lot of extra work."

Sending someone to the bridge with a pair of bolt cutters does tend to add up, cost-wise.  Last year, it added up to $116,000.

So the city will now be slapping a $100 fine on violators of the new ban forbidding slapping a padlock on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Pay it, or get...locked up.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

It's got to get better!

His defense was that he is a "loud New Yorker," and that's not going too well for other people right now either, is it?  

Image result for sheriff fitzgerald
Out on his asterisk
We're speaking of Howard County (Maryland) Sheriff James F. Fitzgerald, who resigned under pressure last week.  He was said to have used bigoted language and harassed employees with all sorts of slurs, and county officials said that those employees who didn't support his re-election paid the price of his retaliation with revamped work schedules and assignments.   

"I think it's a good thing for the citizens of Howard County," said County Executive Allan Kittleman. "I want to commend everyone in the community for standing up when they learned about the sheriff's actions and his comments. I think it was because of our total community coming together ... that led to this day."

The charges against Fitzgerald came in a 48-page report put out by the county's Office of Human Rights. It said that he called African-Americans the "n" word, and referred to former County Executive Ken Ulman as "little Kenny Jew-boy."

The report alleged the sheriff told one employee: "African-American deputies are not too smart, but they get the job done."

And that he told a black deputy at a banquet that there was no watermelon for him.

So his list of offenses pretty much covers the entire panoply of filthy disgusting awfulness. It was clearly time for him to go, and he leaves after a career as a county cop before being elected sheriff ten years ago. (In Howard, and many other Maryland counties, the sheriff's office is not the county's primary law enforcement agency, but, rather, provides courthouse security, serves warrants, transports prisoners and handles  landlord-tenant disputes.)

Credit for removing this blight (and make no mistake: Fitzgerald is a Democrat and the current county exec is Republican) goes to Howard County Council Chairman Calvin Ball, who persuaded the sheriff that it was best for all concerned that he take his pension and vamoose.  Also, Deputy Charles Gable, who likened Fitzgerald's management to a "reign of terror," and quit his job during the investigation, will be reinstated with $58,350 in back pay.

When I was in ninth grade (1966) at the now-destroyed (not by me) Towsontown Junior High School, we were ushered into the cafeteria one warm spring afternoon to hear a talk by the Baltimore County State's Attorney, one Samuel Green, an alumnus of our citadel of middle education.  He went on for a period, speaking of how hard work and honesty and diligence and Doing The Right Thing propelled him to be the county's top prosecutor. And the teachers all cheered and reminded us that one of us could someday aspire to be as great as Sam Green.

In 1974, as the investigations into corruption in our fair county hit pay dirt, it turned out that Green helped to cover up a bribe from some dude who wanted to clear his arrest record, cheated on his expense account, agreed to fix a case in exchange for sex, threatened to kill a former deputy, hired women strictly for their sexual skills (his personal assistant listed "hat check girl" under "previous training and experience"), cheated a client for whom he served as legal guardian out of $235,000, and forced people at his lurid sex parties into "individual acts of perversion SO profound and disgusting that decorum prohibits listing them here," as Doug Niedermeyer would have said.

But here I am, thinking that nonsense like this ended years ago. Here's to a fresh start in Howard County.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

"I ran so fast, my breath came in short pants"

All I know about human biology is that men ♂ and women ♀ are different. 

And that's more than I know about calculus!

But I saw a gaggle of teenaged guys the other day, traipsing through BuySumMor in that 15-year-old manner, which means picking up every item not fastened down, examining it for 1.2 seconds, and putting it back down with a chuckle.

You see, 15-year-old boys do that because 15-year-old girls look them over for less than 1.2 seconds before putting them down and running off with college guys.

It's been tough being 15 since Adam was 15.  But Adam wore a loincloth or something, not pants.

The worst thing about being a male of 15 was always that your back-to-school pants, which fit so perfectly in August when you stood there in Sears wearing long pants for the first time in two months, are climbing up your legs.  

By Thanksgiving, all those pants that were so perfect on Labor Day are useless unless you have a little brother or something. "Growing pains," kindly old Dr Pratt said, as I looked around the office for a fresh copy of "Highlights."

I learned all the tricks when I was coming up. If I had pants with cuffs, I could always turn them down for an extra inch or so of pantness, but that sort of looked like something The Darling Family would do when they came to Mayberry, so I just wound up hitting the family treasury for some new khakis.

Image result for tiny mens suitsFor a while, I was concerned, because I wasn't seeing so many young guys with calf-pants, but then I came to realize that the fashion world hath decreed that ALL men should dress like Pee-Wee Herman now in ill-fitting itty-bitty suits, so there's another problem solved.

The ill-clad man at left is probably the manager of a hedge fund valued in the billions, and yet, I wouldn't go out front and trim the hedges dressed like that.  

Monday, October 17, 2016

Bad to the Bone

I really thought that the most awful thing we would find out about Ken Bone, days after he soared to worldwide fame and acclaim by asking a question of the candidates at the town hall debate on Sunday last, was that the only reason he was wearing that quarter-zip red sweater was that he was wearing an olive suit, but the pants split when he went to get in the car and drive to the televised brouhaha.

I know that people will write the story this way, that we Americans love to build someone up, someone from clear out of the blue, and then we love to tear them down for no apparent reason.  

But I think it's a bit different with this fellow.  True, last Sunday evening was the first time 99% of us ever saw him, and he seemed like an earnest enough fellow, if a little...uncool, in that cool way of being uncool.

But by Thursday evening, he had shown himself to be a little...weird, in that uncool way of being weird.

He did what they call an "AMA" (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit, using his sobriquet "StanGibson18" (Stan Gibson is a character in the Marvel comics, you see, and this handle indicates that there are at least 17 others assuming that fake identity, in that same sad way you used to get emails from "FlockOfSeagullsFan21204").  And this revealed some disturbing thoughts and notions that run through the Bone brain.  

To wit:

  • He called the shooting death of Trayvon Martin "justified." Ho states that shooter George Zimmerman seems like "a big ole s--t bird." but synopsizes the shooting of an unarmed teenager as "Bad guy legally kills kid in self-defense. Sucks for everybody, including us due to the media f---ery."

  • He went on a site that you don't want your boss or anyone else with a shred of decency to see - "PreggoPorn" - and goes on about how he finds pregnant women to be a prurient thrill.  He calls them "beautiful human submarines." 
  • In what can only called a benefit for the human race, he extols the virtues of having a vasectomy. But it's not about the birth control for him; he doesn't mention depriving the world of future Bones as yet unborn.  In graphic detail, he describes the coital supremacy accruing to men following the procedure: "I had mine done 2 years ago. Sexual satisfaction is way up. My wife loves it too…Can’t recommend it enough."
  • Bone, who recently struck a deal to endorse the Uber car service, says he forged insurance papers to make it appear that he was that he could keep a pizza delivery job. "I forged documents to make it look like I had car insurance so I wouldn’t get fired. Can’t say how I did them, I don’t know how long the statute of limitations is on that."

  • So little was known of the Bone when he stood to ask his question on television.  But within a week, we found out that he supports gunning down teenagers for no reason, he has some bizarre fetishes, he is willing to cruise the streets of his town driving pizzas to people without insuring his car (and is now urging us to hire non-taxis to taxi us around).

    But at least we know his wife is one satisfied customer, so there's that.