Thursday, July 24, 2014

Vested Interest

Mark Ramiro, 30, of Baltimore, will be a guest in the city's hoosegow until sometime in August, awaiting trial on first-degree murder, second degree murder and two gun charges.

Unlike most people charged with murder in The City That Reads, who tend to be murderers who kill rival drug dealers or people who have failed to show them sufficient respect in their day-to-day billingsgate, Ramiro finds himself cooling his heels because he and his late friend Darnell Mitchell came up with the idea, at four in the morning of July 16, to make a "Jackass"-style video.

"Jackass" movies and TV shows are fun to watch because they present talented, idiotically fearless stunt performers snorting wasabi, crawling nekkid through a room full of set mousetraps, and launching themselves skyward on giant human slingshots.  I watch them, I laugh like a ninny, and I have no more interest in recreating those scenes than I do invading France to re-do "The Longest Day."  Most people realize that there is a difference between the PERFORMERS in a show and the AUDIENCE of the show.

Messrs. Ramiro and Mitchell seem not to have understood. When they hauled out the old video camera to capture images of themselves licking a toilet, that was one thing.  But then Mitchell put on a bulletproof vest and announced that he was ready to be shot with a "deuce-deuce" (a .22 revolver, popular with gun lovers who enjoy shooting their friends.) According to city police, Ramiro pulled the trigger as the video rolled, and the bullet he fired missed the vest, but not his friend, whose life ended right there and then.

Apparently, none of the participants watched the warning at the beginning of the real Jackass movies. (left)
Ramiro's attorney, Christopher Flohr, said in court, as bail was denied Ramiro,  "It was a tragic, tragic accident between friends fueled by alcohol and drug abuse," Flohr said. "There's no way to explain people messed up on drugs and alcohol."

Well, there is always the explanation that people messed up on drugs and alcohol operate with impaired judgement...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Inseams to me, pants aren't all that important anyway

Every July, for three of the hottest days since they unhinged the doors to Hell, Baltimore hosts a large outdoor art shindig known as Artscape. There are usually cases of people passing out from the heat, there are free-bottled-water handouts set up 20 yards from the guy selling cold bottled water for a buck a pop, and there are misting stations where you can get even wetter than the sweat has already made you so you can return to looking at the attractions.

Well, this year, the entire mid-Atlantic region was bathed in cooler, drier weather for mid-July, which came in handy to give the local meteorologists something to burble about and something for the wry, seen-it-all news anchor to opine about ("I guess this portends a cool, dry winter, huh, Bob?") while trying to figure out how to pronounce Auchentoroly, as in Auchentoroly Terrace, a street down near the zoo. (It's AWKen-trolley, btw.)

Well, fearing that Baltimore's many art lovers would have nothing but art to discuss at Artscape, a band of people opposed to wearing pants managed to avoid having everything come apart at the seams. You can't hem them in, that's for sure. And as fast as they could, they dropped trou and paraded around in their undies. For a public exhibit which once featured as art a car completely covered in glued-on bottle caps, this was enough to generate some attention.

Justin Bieber?  Mindy Kaling?  You tell me!
The group calls themselves "No Pants No Problem" and you can see their Facebook page right here.  They put together a flash mob, no pun intended, and had a big time at Artscape.

If they were hoping for public acceptance, they got it.  Who really cares if someone is browsing through art while wearing a bikini bottom or a pair of plaid boxers or some tighty-whiteys?  Those who would say it's immoral or improper haven't been to a beach or a high school since The Partridge Family was on.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Jump in, if you know the words

You never know from day to day what's going to happen to you, but you can minimize your chances of falling off a 33-story building by not getting on the roof of a 33-story building and fooling around by the edge.

It's really up to you.

Likewise, if you juggle sharp knives or whirring chainsaws, you stand a much better chance of needing many more Band-Aids than someone who is reading, and needs fear only the occasional paper cut.

Dr. Petty
It's your choice.  Which brings us to Dr John Petty, 63, formerly of Longview, TX.  An educated man, clearly, and a fan of scuba diving and underwater photography.  

I'll bet you a dollar there were lots of pictures of coral reefs and sunken ships and passing angelfish all over the waiting room of his chiropractic office back home in Longview.  Going underwater and taking pictures of what you see - that's a cool hobby.

Last Sunday, Dr Petty added "swimming with sharks" off the Bahamas to the hobby, and after a 64-hour search over 4600 miles, the Coast Guard suspended their search for his remains.  His diving vest and some other gear, shredded by you-know-what, were recovered.

I don't mean to make light of the man's passing, but this was totally preventable.  Some of us seem to get an adrenalin rush from cheating the hangman, running with the bulls in Pamplona, jumping into the lion's den at the zoo, taunting the sharks where they live.

Dude.  It's their ocean.  Jump in, and they might feel threatened, and bite your head off.  It's the underwater version of Stand Your Ground, and that's the only place it makes much sense.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Same pew, different church

Born and bred Methodist, I recognized early that part of the Method was not to be too flamboyant about the practice of religion.  Through childhood into young manhood, I sat through hundreds - thousands - of sermons, ceremonies and Sunday School lessons and never heard a raised voice, never saw a raised hand or heard any instrument besides an organ or the occasional acoustic guitar or lute for "folk services."

And none of those services ran for more than three hours, or, frankly, left me wanting more of the soul-cleansing music and words like I heard at the Baptist homegoing of our dear Deanna the other day at the Mt Sinai Baptist Church in Lansdowne, PA.

At the service, there was music, with many, many voices accompanied by, yes, an organ, but also electric guitar and bass, and drums. And this was the loud, spirit-lifting, animated of the bases of what the kids call "rock and roll," ya know?

Take away the music, and you can say the same for the preaching. This was not the "Verily, I say unto you..." sort of preaching, no sir.  This was the impassioned importuning of men leading their flock to see that their beloved Deanna has served her mission on earth and was called home.  These were the words of men who reminded us that yes, this loss is tough and it will cause pain, but not to worship the pain, to keep an eye on those better tomorrows.  The sort of funeral (that word wasn't even used on Saturday, in favor of the far more appropriate "homegoing") I am used to was all about lugubrious tones of " from dust we come and to dust we go," which is fine for as far as it goes, but it fails to celebrate what we do between those dusty days.

No.  What we attended the other day was a celebration of the life of a woman who, in the words of Pastor Thomas, "didn't have time for bitterness."  In the year or so that we knew her, we never saw Deanna say a bad word for or about any one or any thing. 

She and her goodness are up above now, along with another friend of mine and my Mom.  This triumvirate of loss since April comes to an end now, and no service or private contemplation can change that.  I'm not a man given to grieving, believing that heaven is its own reward for believers, but the service Peggy and I attended on Saturday showed me a new way to regard death. Every church, every person, has their own way of saying farewell, but I have to say, I like this emphatic sort of service.  People were involved, singing along, calling out as they wished, getting on their feet and moving to the spirit.  

In the staid, sobersided services of my childhood, if anyone left their pew, it was assumed that they had fallen asleep and slid off. Again, not a criticism.  There are different ways of doing things. What we saw Saturday was soul-stirring.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday Rerun: How's your Vade Mecum doing?

Not to get too personal, but you do have a vade mecum, and to some people it's vital to have it around.

I had never heard the term before seeing it the other morning in my daily Merriam-Webster Word of the Day feed.  Here's how they define "vade mecum:"

"Vade mecum" is Latin for "go with me" (it derives from the Latin verb "vadere," meaning "to go"). In English, "vade mecum" has been used (since at least 1629) of manuals or guidebooks sufficiently compact to be carried in a deep pocket. But from the beginning, it has also been used for such constant companions as gold, medications, and memorized gems of wisdom.
It's probable that not so many people carry around any sort of pocket manual any more.  Even doctors no longer tote their 85-lb volume of the Physician's Desk Reference, which lists vital information for physicians: medications, their recommended dosages and possible interactions, and tee times at leading golf clubs.  All this information is now an app; just buy it at the App Store and download it on your phone.  Very handy.  Same thing for other handbooks and manuals.  Even the Bible is available to download.

In its other meaning, we all have Vade Mecum in the sense of stuff we Don't Leave Home Without. Wallet, keys, pocket change, pocket knife, bandanna, cell phone: that's mine, everyone has their own, and here's a big shout out to the person who invented pockets! Because we don't have but two hands!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Saturday Picture Show, July 19, 2014

 The ninja warriors here posed for this picture in 1860.  It was colorized all these years later.  In case you thought flip-flops were a modern day invention, check out what they are wearing on their feet.  Why the guy on the left was wearing what looks like half a cinder block, I can't tell you, but it was 1860, you understand.
 Taken with a cell phone, somewhere on vacation in this wild summer of crazy weather.
As the story goes, this fellow was fishing for carp at a large reservoir when he accidentally dropped his billfold into the water.  He saw one fish grab it in his mouth, and then the fish just swam near the shore, seemingly inviting the man to come out and get it.  As soon as the man got close, the fish spit out the billfold and sent it to another fish.  Again, the man went after it, and that fish spat it to a third fish, and so on until the man gave up, realizing that he was the first known victim of carp-to-carp walleting.

 When you see'll see how sometimes we get more out of a situation than we put into it.
It's all fun and games when people dress their cats up as people, sure.  But when they insist that Buttons play the part of a mushroom, you have to wonder how much fun the cat is having.
This is a picture of what they call the "Old Jail" in my hometown, Towson, MD.  Built in 1855, it's a two-story Italianate style stone building, 52 feet wide and 62 feet deep.  It was used as a jail until 2006. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 26, 2009.  Now, it's been turned into offices, which must be a good feeling for workers who feel they are being held against their will.  Back in the day, they would schedule the public hangings on a Saturday at noon, so that people could come and pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the festivities.  Well, I guess all but one guy there enjoyed them.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Daffy Moon

No decent blog, written by a person with any taste of sense of elegance, would devote a day to such an unsavory topic as mooning.
And so, I would like to turn to the topic of mooning.  Our friend April caught this great picture of the supermoon the other morning. As we all know from reading Wikipedia, "a supermoon is the coincidence of a full moon or a new moon with the closest approach the Moon makes to the Earth on its elliptical orbit, resulting in the largest apparent size of the lunar disk as seen from Earth. The technical name is the perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system." 

 Daphne Moon of "Frasier"
Like we didn't all know that. Even as I write, I'm gettin' syzygy wit it, and I welcome you to join me.

Mooning is described as "the recreational act of baring one's ass in public with the intention of it being seen by people who don't want, or expect, to see it."  It was practiced by many young men of my generation, who would wait for the light to turn red at Dulaney Valley Rd & Pot Spring Rd and then stick their buttocular region out of the window of Bob P's English Ford, leaving people driving Buicks aghast, I tell you.

Angus does this at
every show
I can't mention any names; I wasn't there anyway.  I was home studying.

Modern followers of hangin' a moon include Bart Simpson and AC/DC madcap Angus Young, who hedges his bet with self-promoting underwear.  As I mentioned to our April the other day, Peggy and I were married for a few years before she announced that she had never once mooned anyone and certainly had no intention of starting now.

I understand that the habit of pressing ham against a car window began when our parents, using the old-school definition of the term, told us, "You can't sit here mooning over that girl, you know" and so we went elsewhere to do our mooning.  I mean, they went elsewhere.  I stayed home studying my hypotenuse.