Friday, October 30, 2009
First, boil a pot of water.
While that's boiling, run and get a box of whole-wheat linguine, some cherry tomatoes, chicken (or pork or shrimp or no meat at all) chunks and a zucchini.
Fire up the wok, or a deep frying pan, and Julienne the zucchini (or cut it into long thin strips) and saute it in a pan in plenty of olive oil, garlic, onion, Italian seasoning and grated Parmesan cheese, and then toss in the cherry tomatoes (quartered) and meat chunks.
I like using the term "meat chunks," although I can see where it lacks a certain gentility. So do I, frankly.
Water boils, toss in noodles. Cook for recommended length of time. When that time is up, drain in colander and then turn the recently colanderized noodles into the frying pan, removed from the heat, and toss the pasta and the saute together with some olive oil and grated cheese.
Call it what you like, and I hope you'll try it, and like it.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Back in the days when all boys waited for snowfall, and their parents did not freak out over the very thought of white hell descending from the heavens and clogging the streets with a half an inch of powder, why, we actually bent down and picked up enough snow in our non-down-mittened mitts and packed a snowball and let 'er fly.
Today's boy, once he tears himself from "Felony Auto Theft 2" on X-Box, or whatever other screen he's staring at for hours on end, will now go outside and, instead of packing his own snowballs, will have a $14.50 plastic snow mini-catapult, which he will probably use as a weapon itself, tossing it at some sibling who just came out to ask his password so he can log onto Pyromaniac.com.
I just can't stand it.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you." - Lewis B. Smedes
It might be interesting to find out who Lewis B. Smedes was, I figured, so I googled him and found that he was a theologian who, along the way, wrote 15 books, one of which was entitled "Forgive and Forget." He died in 2002, falling off a ladder at the age of 81. And that last was a sentence that you don't see too often...most people in their 80s are not up on ladders. He must have been a remarkable man!
One of the tenets he puts forth is that, on a practical level, you're not doing any harm or any good by holding onto a grudge. Let's put aside the really big deals such as murdering one of your loved ones, conspiring to have you lose your job on falsified accusations, or moving your football team to Indianapolis...these kind of things might take a lot of forgiveness...and let's look at life's petty problems. Someone cuts you off in traffic, takes a cell phone call during a movie, or cuts you off in traffic while you're making a cell phone call on the way to the movies...you don't do that person one iota of harm to rail and inveigh against them. Trust me, they could not care less that you're steamed. So why waste time on it? Move along, put it in perspective, and resolve to shine your light a little more brightly when you get a chance.
It was that great American philosopher, Mr. Buddy Hackett, who taught us, "While you're holding grudges, they're out dancing!"
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Here's why I realized that people who write, produce, direct and perform in dramas and comedies are people from another world. For one thing, could you interact with your family or coworkers by standing THISCLOSE to them as you discuss matters of great import? Victor Newman and Nikki Newman Not Newman Newman stand within six centimeters of each other as they decide whether or not to get married for the 27th time...although that seems increasingly unlikely, since Victor's recent heart transplant from a female donor would make him a good candidate to become faithful for once.
And also, if two "regular" people stopped talking and gave each other meaningful looks every ten seconds, one or both might start hollering, "Huh? Whadja say? I cain't HEAR ya!" But in acting, you say something pithy ("Frankly, Rebecca, you're going to have to choose between your Certified Public Accountant and me....but don't count on me to do your taxes!") or slightly amusing ("The only thing standing between me and happiness is that door behind you...and the $50,000 I owe your father!") and then you STOP TALKING!
That doesn't happen in real life. Real people never stop talking.
But it must take a lot of talent to be an actor...the kind of talent that allows Broderick Crawford to get on the radio of his "Highway Patrol" car and bark out an all-points bulletin for a man "dressed as a seaman" without busting out laughing. 10-4 10-4 10-4!
Monday, October 26, 2009
"I am serious...and don't call me Shirley!"
Well, here's another story where I came in halfway through the movie.
Is the term "lost situational awareness" in use in your workplace...your home...your car? Let's hope not. But when you google that term, you get googled back with 1,540,000 responses. And good old try-to-be-aware me, I had never heard of that phrase before. By comparison, if you google "lost as a ball in high weeds," there are only 120,000 responses.
If the waitperson at Happy Hooligan's Diner forgets to bring your roll, perhaps they momentarily lost situational awareness. If the tire-changing guy at Sears forgets to put the wheel covers back on your wheels when he takes the Biscayne down off the lift, it's quite likely a case of LSA.
But when the pilot and co-pilot of an airbus either A) fell asleep or B) got into such a big argument over company policy that they C) forget to land the plane and shoot past their destination by several hours, you've got D) a problem.
I'm quite certain that the airline has a policy forbidding forgetting to land when the place arrives. Sticklers for that, they are; always have been.
Here's the official report from people who usually don't involved with planes until they crash:
From the NTSB:
On Wednesday, October 21, 2009, at 5:56 pm mountain daylight time, an Airbus A320, N03274, operating as Northwest Airlines (NWA) flight 188, became a NORDO (no radio communications) flight at 37,000 feet.
The flight was operating as a Part 121 flight from San Diego International Airport, San Diego, California (SAN) to MSP with 147 passengers and unknown number of crew.
At 7:58 pm central daylight time (CDT), the aircraft flew over the destination airport and continued northeast for approximately 150 miles. The MSP center controller reestablished communications with the crew at 8:14 pm and reportedly stated that the crew had become distracted and had overflown MSP, and requested to return to MSP.
According to the Federal Administration (FAA) the crew was interviewed by the FBI and airport police. The crew stated they were in a heated discussion over airline policy and they lost situational awareness. The Safety Board is scheduling an interview with the crew.
The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and flight data recorder (FDR) have been secured and are being sent to the NTSB laboratory in Washington, DC.Wouldn't that just just be a great way to wrap up the trip? Now watch the airline try to charge the passengers for the additional trip they got at no extra charge.
I think we need to pay a bit more attention.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
But last night, housebound by whatever ailment of mine that has me as lethargic as molasses in January, we watched Gran Torino on pay-per-view and I thought it worth the $4.99. I won't tell any details, but I will recommend it highly. Like me, you might come away with questions about the nature of life and death.
Such as, who the heck really knows? Does being older necessarily give one more wisdom in terms of the meaning of life and death? Does having taken a life make one more astute as to its value? Would, say, a doctor, nurse or EMT who either brought a new life onto this earth, or prevented one from falling through the rye, gain insight that others lack?
I know in my heart that there is an afterlife, and in my mind, it will consist of a reunion of souls, some of whom I have wanted to see again, and others that I'll just say "hey " to and move to another part of the cloud. But you might feel totally another way. The point is, we don't know for sure, and then, when life ends, that's when we'll know all about it.
Which means that life has a lot in common with a pay-per-view movie. Now that we're into Comcast for a penny short of a finsky for this movie, I could go back and watch it again and know what was going to happen, but it wouldn't be as much fun. That's why one thing I Know For Sure (,Oprah,) is that you have to live every day to find out the best parts of life, and enjoy them while you can. Unlike Comcast, we don't have a rewind button.
Or, in some cases, a volume control, but that's another story.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Many years out of high school, I ran into a former teacher. It became one of those things where I saw her at the mall and at a restaurant and a gas station and so we started chatting. Many of my memorable high-school escapades had taken place in her classroom (The Baloney Sandwich Toss among them) so we had a lot of laughs to catch up on. She was all alone in the world except for her father. She had been married but I don't know what happened there. She lived near us, and Peggy said I ought to help her out, so I would go over and haul old junk to the dump, fix this, move that, sort of thing. She would call when she needed my help and I would show up and help. The house was one of those houses where only one person lives and the entire place took on an eerie aura...odd pictures on the walls, one mug on the mug tree, and so forth.
Right before Halloween '95 she asked if I could haul some furniture that she had been keeping for her father over to the retirement home he was about to occupy. I said sure, I'm off Tuesday and Wednesday; what is best for you? She said Tuesday would be best, and I said OK, call me Monday evening and let me know what time you want me to come by. I even pointed out that we would not be home Monday evening, but would look for a message on the phone when we got home. That Monday being the night before Halloween, we went out to dinner and had to load up on candy in a major way. (Our old neighborhood had veritable brigades of kids dropped off by minivan moms and dads to round up candy.) We stockpiled Smarties, added up Almond Joys and rounded up Reese's Cup (inexplicably, then as now, called "Reesie's" Cups. I don't know why.)
When we got home, the phone was blinking as furiously as a Derby winner coming down the homestretch while dislodging flies. There were no fewer than six messages. The first was bland ("Hi Mark, it's ______, just wanted to talk to you about tomorrow......") and by the sixth, it sounded like a Kathy Bates movie or something ("Mark, I know you're there and now you just don't want to pick up the phone. Well, I never thought that you would turn out to be so unreliable! I depended upon you to get my father's bureau and desk over to (senior residence) tomorrow and now I guess I'm just going to have to call a mover! I'm sorry that you thought it was OK to just let me down..." And on and on and rant and rave.
Total time elapsed between the first and sixth call was about two hours, like 6 - 8 PM. It was just after 9 when I picked up the phone, and called, and told her answering machine that I didn't know what the misunderstanding was, but I was to be off work the next two days and if she needed me still, to call.
And I never heard from her again.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
There is no Frigate like a
To take us Lands away
but then again, old Emily was dealing with 19th-Century Technology, and didn't know a webcam from an Amherst hoodie.
If Emily were still with us (she'd be 179) she'd have other ways to be taken to distant lands. The webcam is a great one. Anyone with a pc can click on cameras that show things from the current traffic in Times Square to the water cooler in some office somewhere.
Down on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Ocean City, the Atlantic beach resort, is really a long thin sandbar between the ocean and the Assawoman Bay. (This estuary is never mentioned in any public school geography lesson around here for reasons that are quite obvious.) There's a bridge over route 90, taking vacationers, harried waitresses and motel desk staff from the mainland to the upper end of the town, and recently the span was found to be structurally deficient. Uh oh. But - yesterday, the drawbridge down at the other end of town was opened, and large barges proceeded up to the site of the troubled bridge over water, and the repairs will be underway.
And YOU can watch the work live by going to this webcam site!
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Friends, it could be a problem, because we are now living in a world where TV's entire Heene Family are well-known celebrities, where Jim Belushi, year after year, gets away with writing "actor" on his 1040 form as his "occupation," and some recording magnate once said,"Hey, Stevie Nicks has a really great voice, on key and everything...why don't we make a record of her singing songs and put it out?"
And, sad to say, I'm not nearly as talented as Jimbo or Stevie, although Falcon Heene does hold me in high regard. He heard that my family wanted to send me away in a balloon too.
But I worry about it when I see this video of Rihanna coming out of a recording studio in New York, I'm guessing it was. Click and check. First, you realize there are people who have nothing else going on, so they are hanging around the studio door to catch a glimpse of Rihanna. Then she comes out, and you get a little taste of what it's like to be famous. Ask yourself this: if you're like me, you don't even like it when people stop you in the mall to ask if you'd take part in one of their surveys. Imagine having have to have someone run interference for you so you can get into your ride after work, imagine 25 strangers pushing you around asking you to write your name on a picture, and imagine all those flash bulbs popping off in your face!
And remember, this is a young woman who was beaten severely just a few months ago. Perhaps she's a bit skittish around sudden flashes of light and people hollering at her from the dark.
I don't know. It must be a weird feeling to work so hard at being attractive and talented and well-known, and then how many stars can you name who say "forget this" and walk away from it all? I can think of country music performer Cyndi Thomson, who had a splash hit debut album ("My World") in 2000 with a hit single called "What I Really Meant to Say," and then she decided that what she really meant to say was, she was giving up show biz because it's an "overwhelming life changing experience" and that she "cannot commit to [the] obligations" of making a new album.
Sometimes, what you work for and what you wind up with are two very different things. I think it's best to make sure they line up, and count on what really matters. Coming home to hugs and laughter sure has to beat camera flashes and hollering.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
How about a little consideration on weekend mornings for the smartest person alive...the genius who gave us precooked nukeable bacon? Just a few seconds in the Radarange® and breakfast is ready, soon's I whomp up some grits and fry an egg.
Three breakfasts a day sounds like a winner to me!
Saturday, October 17, 2009
But this weather reminds me of fishing, because if you like to fish, just hang around the sidewalk and you'll see plenty of bait worming around following a big rain. If you like to see driving at its worst, just get off the sidewalk and out onto the street and you'll see them. It's long been a pet theory of mine that there exists a secret battalion of poor drivers whose cars are locked away in garages and sheds until a day like this, and then they receive action messages from AAA - Awful Automotive Asses. They zoom onto the Beltway without so much as a look to see if anyone is in "their" lane, they pull out of side streets when you're 15 feet away, and they make lane changes that Dale Earnhardt would consider foolish.
But - and there's always a big one of those - yesterday I saw something that tops 'em all. Just flat-out beats everthang I ever saw. Right over by our neighborhood Wendy's, a young woman pulled up next to me at the stop light. As I glanced over, I thought, how odd, to have a sock sitting on the dashboard! But this wasn't just any sock, no sirree Bob. This sock had a foot in it, and the foot was attached to the ankle of the Phi Beta Kappa candidate, one of whose hands was lightly attached to the steering wheel.
So, you get the picture? Seat leaned back as if she were at Cinema 37 enjoying a matinee of The Jonas Brothers Movie, cell phone up to left ear, left foot tucked up on left corner of dash board, right foot (I presume) working the accelerator and the brake, right arm steering. This is certainly the posture and state of alert awareness we hope to see in those with whom we share the roads.
When the light changed, she roared and skidded off, to destinations unknown. No problem that she wasn't worried about this in the least; I was worried enough for the both of us.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Country legend Hank Williams died on New Year's Day 1953. I was even alive at that time. There is one clip of him performing on a tv show, and that's all. Plenty of still photos, no video. There's not a whole lot of film of Buddy Holly at work, either.
From, literally, the moment of birth on, there will be plenty of video available to those chronicling the lives of the generation currently being born. Take my darling Goddaughter Finley, whose crawl is now linked to my Facebook page so you can see her motorvating around the living room. Some day she will be famous and there will be no shortage of all these digital videos. It will have to be about a 6-hour True Hollywood Story!
And I'll sit there for every second. Glued to the screen!
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Limbaugh said on his radio show earlier Wednesday that he had been inundated with e-mails from listeners who supported him in the bid.
"This is not about the NFL, it's not about the St. Louis Rams, it's not about me," Limbaugh said. "This is about the ongoing effort by the left in this country, wherever you find them, in the media, the Democrat Party, or wherever, to destroy conservatism, to prevent the mainstreaming of anyone who is prominent as a conservative.
"Therefore, this is about the future of the United States of America and what kind of country we're going to have."
Limbaugh's bid ran into opposition from within the image-conscious NFL on Tuesday when Colts owner Jim Irsay said he would vote against the radio personality. Commissioner Roger Goodell said the commentator's "divisive" comments would not be tolerated from any NFL insider.
Before getting dropped, Limbaugh said he had no intention of backing out.
"I'm not even thinking of caving," he said. "I am not a caver. Pioneers take the arrows. We are pioneers. It's a sad thing that our country, over 200 years old now, needs pioneers all over again, but we do."Now, then: First of all, how sad it must be to have "conservative radio talk show host" as the prefix to your name. Sort of like "troubled rocker" Tommy Lee or "Watergate burglar" G. Gordon Liddy. Such a front porch on the main house of your name requires a lot of maintenance.
How is it that Rush Hudson Limbaugh III claims to be one of the people when he has made a sweet fortune peddling his poisonous palaver among the people?
How is it that he denies being a racist, since he's the guy who once told a caller to "take the bone of your mouth and call me back"? And then went on television and claimed that the NFL was propping up Donovan McNabb because they wanted to have a black quarterback do well. And also said,"Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?"
Nah, clearly no racism there.
But this puts me in the odd position of, for the second time in my short but happy life, being on the side of Jim Irsay, the lummox who inherited the Indianapolis Football Team from his father, Robert Irsay, also known as lummox². 'Twas Jimbo who bought and put on public display the sacred scroll upon which Jack Kerouac typed "On The Road", and I had to applaud him for that. Now he's come out against the blithering bloviater from Cape Girardeau, MO., thus moving himself a little closer to sainthood. In my eyes.
And one last thing about the Rush Week festivities. He said, "I'm not a caver. Pioneers take the arrows." Seems to me that for a long time, what he was taking was narcotics.
I'm just sayin'.
And while I'm all up in the NFL's grille, I have to say this about that defensive coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, Mike Zimmer, who suffered an unthinkable loss last Thursday night when he came home from the practice field and found that his wife had died, quite unexpectedly. This is Vikki Zimmer we're talking about here, his wife of 27 years. And yet he came to Baltimore with the team this past Sunday for a football game. I'm not judging, not stating an opinion, just saying what happened. We all know people who would do that, put their job and their profession above themselves, their family, their grief.
I know that they do it; I just don't know how.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
You could have famous people come from your town, as we do.
Your home town could be world-renowned for cuisine, culture, technological advances, and respected bastions of higher education.
You could go to the deepest jungles along the Amazon, or among the Bedouin shepherds along the Syrian border, or to a coffee shop near Red Square, and ask what is the greatest American hospital and medical school and you'd get the answer, "Johns Hopkins in Baltimore."
But as great as it is to be from the city Frank Zappa called home, not to mention Babe Ruth, Parker Posey and Spiro T. Agnew (especially, don't mention him!), the one greatest thing about our town - the thing that makes me kvell with civic pride - is that when our beloved Baltimore Colts were ripped off from us by a thief in the night, the Baltimore Colts Marching Band simply shrugged and kept on playing everything in their repertoire, with the sole exception of "Back Home Again In Indiana."
They played at mall openings, patriotic parades, meaningless exhibition games played here, meaningful regular season games not played here, and any event where they could continue to play the Colts fight song and "drum" up support for us to have a team again. In 1984, the Colts left for the barren, arid, harsh city of Indianapolis, and not until the valiant Art Modell moved his unappreciated Cleveland Browns here after the 1995 season did we have another team to root for. That's 11 years of trooping around, all documented in a film by Barry Levinson, another local guy made good. The film, entitled "The Band That Wouldn't Die" will run again this Thursday, October 15, at 9 pm on ESPN 2. I recommend it to everyone, not just football fans, but also to fans of the indomitable human spirit.
And if you can't see fit to carve time out in your schedule to see it, that's OK. We can wait up to 11 years for you. That's Baltimore, hon.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
This one came along entitled Can You Fill This Out Without Lying? Well, I am not a crook, so here we go!
1. What was the last thing you put in your mouth?
The iced tea that I am still guzzling
2. Where was your profile picture taken?
Friendly Farms this past Saturday
3. Can you play Guitar Hero?
The only person in my age bracket who wouldn't look silly doing that is Joe Perry.
4. Name someone who made you laugh today.
Peggy - but that's every day - so also Cindy.
5. How late did you stay up last night and why?
11:45 - holiday today so I stayed up 15 minutes extra. I know, I know, I'm a wild man.
6. If you could move somewhere else, where would it be ?
Cape May, New Jersey, or Kentwood, Louisiana
7. Ever been kissed under fireworks?
Do M-80s count? Still no, either way.
8. Which of your FB friends lives closest to you?
Peggy lives in the same house! Sam is next door!
9. Do you believe ex's can be friends?
Those restraining orders always get in the way
10. How do you feel about Dr Pepper?
I don't drink soda. But I did like it as a kid, and I have a great Dr Pepper joke for you...
11. When was the last time you cried really hard?
I do not cry so maybe this was when I was born, although I heard I didn't cry then but, rather, tried to file a suit for unlawful imprisonment
12. Who took your profile picture?
13. Who was the last person you took a picture of?
14. Was today better than yesterday?
Every day is beautiful in its own way. Today I cleaned out the garage and wound up making a little guy smile!
15. Can you live a day without TV?
Inconceivable. I get all out of whack when Keith Olbermann takes a day off.
16. Are you upset about anything?
Why, what have you heard?
17. Do you think relationships are ever really worth it?
All of them are, from the one true abiding love to casual friendships. People bring us joy
18. Are you a bad influence?
Bad? Because I might teach someone how to impersonate Jerry Lewis or do the old "pull my finger" gag? I'm just flamboyant!
19. Night out or night in?
I like to be home. My home.
20. What items could you not go without during the day?
This is not a good question to ask me. Work bag, lunch bag, pocket tools (3), Moleskine pocket planner (for those who hate unplanned pockets), 2 cell phones, keys, bandanna, hand sanitizer. That's the top of the list.
21. Who was the last person you visited in the hospital?
22. What does the last text message in your inbox say?
"Hunting trip still on? - hit me on the cell - D. Cheney"
23. How do you feel about your life right now?
happy and blessed, couldn't ask for a thing.
24. Do you hate anyone?
Don't have time for that. But I have a certain enmity for the first person who told students that, "It's OK to write 'your' in place of 'you're'..."
25. If we were to look in your facebook inbox, what would we find?
private convos with friends
26. Say you were given a drug test right now, would you pass?
Unless it were a caffeine screening!
27. Has anyone ever called you perfect before?
Yes and then they ruined it all by adding "Horse's patootie" right after "perfect"
28. What song is stuck in your head?
"I've Got a Pocketful of Dreams", Bing Crosby
29 . Someone knocks on your window at 2:00 a.m., who do you want it to be?
What an odd question...Publisher's Clearing House?
30. Wanna have grandkids by the time you're 50?
That ship already sailed
31. Name something you are doing tomorrow?
Remember what I said about cleaning out the garage? Well tomorrow, it's time to run to the dump.
32. Do you think too much or too little?
Hmmmmmmmmm too much
33. Do you smile a lot?
Let a smile be your umbrella!
Monday, October 12, 2009
One such person wrote to me concerned about intemperate comments made by some of her friends on her wall. I was sad that it made her sad that to realize she knows people who have racist or chauvinistic tendencies. We've all seen it a lot around here lately, this anti-Obama nonsense nicely dressed as righteous polemics when it really comes down to disliking the man for his racial background.
I guess I need look no further than the iPod that usually rests in the front pocket of my t-shirt to see that it takes a lot of people's music to make me happy. I'm not bragging here, but daggone it, from the first song on the 'Pod ("Above and Beyond" - Buck Owens) to the last by song title ("Zip-a-Dee Doo Dah" by Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans), from the first artist alphabetically (AC/DC) to the last (Yes), from the first album ("Abbey Road", Beatles) to the last ("Yesterday Once More", Carpenters), from the top of the most-played list ("Don't She Look Good", Ernest Tubb and the Texas Troubadours) to the how-in-hell did this get on here list ("Rock & Soul Music", Country Joe and the Fish), there's everything in here from opera themes ("Carmen") to Bernard Green, who did the Baltimore Colts marching song, from Bing Crosby to Bowling For Soup, from Sammy Davis, Jr, to you- get-the-point. I think it would be a really nice idea if we stopped the labeling, the excluding, the suspicion.
Notice I don't say run around and hug everyone you meet and dance around a tree with them. I only want people to give others a chance, free and clear of what they were taught by others, which might not be true. Before we say that all members of a certain nationality rolled over for the Nazis, it might be good to remember that that same nation sent help to us when he needed it most. Just Google "Lafayette, we are here" and see what I mean.
I can dispel myths about lack of courage faster than you can say "Jackie Robinson."
And look at Hobson, the stiff-upper-lip butler in "Arthur"! He despised tea!
I guess the thing I hate the most about stereotyping and generalizing is that EVERYONE does it.
So let's not, and not say we did.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
We once had a boss at my old, old job who saw that the collection of busts, posters, photos and other mementos relating to the King was good for morale, enabling employees to talk to each other, even if only to label one of the priceless artifacts as gauche. Shrewdly sizing up the situation, he ordered that it all be removed one day in a peevish fit. Smooth. He really had the team behind him then! First tip I offer to someone who wants to supervise - if there is something the employees have that hurts no one, offends no one, and contributes to morale, leave it the heck alone! Of course, this was a man who once told a certain team leader not to leave her post - and then went around to a side entrance and called her on the intercom, telling to come to that door, so he could holler at her for leaving her post! Capt Queeg, Jr!
Saturday, October 10, 2009
When it's time for this fair, we know it's getting to be fall for real...soon the leaves will change and the winds will shift to the north and we'll need jackets. And it's also like that if we go outside!
See you at the fair!
Friday, October 9, 2009
Barack Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize
The U.S. president Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples," the Nobel Foundation said in Sweden on Friday.
An honor well deserved. Insiders point out the likelihood that having his mother-in-law live in the same house as he and his family is what put the president out in front of the pack.
For reasons that forever remained quite murky to me, my father and his brother were distant, only seeing each other at weddings and funerals, for the most part. We had three cousins, Jimmy, Jeff and Ann. Jimmy passed away a few years ago, Jeff lives in Dallas, and Ann is in Florida. We stay in touch as people do nowadays: emails, forwarded jokes and funny pictures, and now and again a phone call. We're nowhere near as close as I wish we were.
But last night I wrote to one of Ann's four kids that I had intended to write about what a great guy her father was. Ann married Bob when I was about to turn from awkward pre-teenager to awkward teenager. When she first brought him around to meet us, I had never met anyone like him. I still haven't.
I have for years endeavored to come up with an analogy as apt as what local humorist Ralph Reppert once coined when he described someone as being a "William Bendix sort of guy in a Ronald Colman sort of college." I tell people all the time that I am a Howard Stern sort of guy from a Martha Stewart sort of family, and that doesn't even sum it up adequately. The tone around our house at all times was quiet. Not a whole lot of self-expression going on. No one standing around in an undershirt hollering "Stellaaaaaaaaaaaaa!" No one named Stella, for that matter.
And then Ann brought Bob around. I figure if I was 13, he was 26, double my age but a thousand times more self-assured and outgoing than I had ever seen anyone be. Not that he was brash - never that. My parents loved him because he was so respectful and devoted to his family, and ours as well. It's just that he had done so many cool things! He walked from where he lived on the west side, to Memorial Stadium (northeast Balamer), and back home again one summer day just to sweat off enough weight to qualify for football. He had worked in a drugstore as a kid and demonstrated for us his ability to produce hollow scoops of ice cream at the behest of the store's tightwad owner. We all went over to Bob and Ann's first apartment in the middle of the winter and Bob was doing a ham on the grill. You see, he broke the norms! We had never conceived of firing up the grill with snow on the ground, but why not? And then he brought the ham into the kitchen, carved it up, and sat the great serving plate at his own place at the table, saying, "I've got mine; what are you all having?" You can just imagine how hilarious this was to a 13-year old. Hey, there's a 57-year old laughing about it now somewhere.
Bob worked at the General Motors plant in BallTEEmore, but not as an automaker. He was trained as an electrician, and maintained the assembly line itself. We took a trip to the GM plant to see them building cars, and there was Bob in his element - darting around with a toolbox, fixing this, repairing that, and interacting amiably with everyone. I promise you this: if you were the president of the United States or the Queen of England or the person scrubbing the toilet and wiping up oil spills at GM, Bob would treat you the same. No one was better than anyone else in Bob's world. He joked with everyone, loved his family, worked hard to do well, and influenced more people than he could ever have known. He was so devoted to the kids! He even coached Little League, but of course he had fun with the kids, never turning it into the Most Important Thing In The World, as do some folks. Hey - his methods worked. One of the boys he coached grew to be a big leaguer - Jeff Nelson.
There are people in the world who constantly say, "You know, you ought to.." or "If you really want to lose weight, here's what you have to do" or "As soon as you get home, call Steve and tell him you will drive everyone to the picnic on Sunday."
Then there was Bob, who lived his life fully to live his life to the fullest. A great deal of the self-confidence I developed as a teenager came directly from Bob's example of working hard, playing hard, and letting people take you as they find you. He'd punch me on the shoulder if he could only be here to hear me say this, but to know him was to love him, and you were lucky if you did. He was big league all the way.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
But I like the show because it brings back to our living rooms a true immortal, an actor of the highest ranking, the man against whom all other sitcom dads will forever be measured, the man who raised the fine art of jamming one's hand down one's pants to near-Olympic status in this and many other nations. I speak, of course, of the great Ed O'Neill. Jay Pritchett to this generation, Al Bundy to the previous, Ed brings humor and lots of it to any part he plays.
If the networks showed families like the Cleavers, the Stones no! the OTHER Stones! or the Nelsons today, they'd be laughed out of the business. Showing me Modern Family means that ABC will be laughed right into more business.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Just as we came off the entrance ramp onto the superslab, roaring up from behind us on the same ramp came a red Mustang. I was just merging into the right-hand lane when Mr Mustang swerved into the center lane, saw no chance to race off there, so he cut in front of my car to zoom away. He missed hitting us by about 1/16th of an inch. The last I saw of him and his stupid red jacked-up car with the big wide 60's-style racing stripes, he was eastbound and down.
Today, on the way home from work, after I dropped off my wonderful rider, I was in the left turn pocket to hang a Looie onto eastbound Putty Hill Avenue off Loch Raven Bl. (If anyone reads this in Montana or points west, and wonders what in tarnation a "Putty Hill" is, well, so do we.) Anyhow, I am sitting there listening to the tape of this week's "Prairie Home Companion", enjoying the amazing autumn air and the gentle breeze which stirs the soul of many when BLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOIE the light turns green and the woman behind me lays on the horn. There might have been an elapsed time of 1/16th of a second between the time the light changed and the time she tooted me.
Mr Mustang, I don't think there's a chance in Hades that you read this, or any other blog that does not feature nekkid women and salacious gags. I do not understand your culture at all, such as it is. The senseless speeding, the desire to win from society the attention that you so sorely missed out somewhere along the line, the total lack of regard for anyone else on the planet: all spell a rather negative outcome for you and anyone else in your axis. I pity you, but I also wish you were not driving anywhere. I wish you had to walk to get anywhere.
Ms Toot 'em, are you and your minivan in such an all-fired hurry to get home to do whatever that you have to start honking the instant the light changes? I mean, I know you have places to be...picking up the kids, home to cook dinner, committee meeting, whatever it is you are up to. I wish you could take a second to let life unfold gently around you.
Everyone's in such a damn hurry. And for what? Heaven knows whatever saloon that hot dog was careening to was going to be open for hours, and Ms Minivan...give me the time needed for my eye to see that light turn green and send a message through my brain to my foot to step on the gas and drive to someplace where people can just be peaceful and unselfish.
If that's what I want, I guess I'll just have to limit my driving to my own driveway for a while!
Monday, October 5, 2009
My problem - and please feel free to write this down in case you are in charge of this sort of thing, is that the weather casters - with that one exception - will fill their allotted time with minutiae about the low pressure system developing over Sheboygan, and the dew point this morning in Brattleboro, and then when they start in on clothing advice ("better plan to wear a jacket or a parka on Tuesday of next week; it's supposed to be like 9° that afternoon") I just crazy go nuts. And start figuring out which jacket I ought to wear, and where it is, and did I get my gloves out of the truck after last winter yet, and ... The best weather caster comes on and patiently tells me that the same rain they've been having in Chicago and Pittsburgh will be here later today, that it will be sunny until then, and then by the time I leave work this afternoon, it should be pouring down. Simple. I don't know from frontal boundaries and wind shear system, and Trailing Ridge sounds like a development up in Cecil County to me.
So the result, all too often, is that after the weather is over, I turn to Peggy and ask what the weather is going to be. Or I strut outside, spectacularly unprepared for the weather that everyone else in town but I knew about.
So here are my choices: either I move to the Midwest, you know, like Kansas, or get real rich and hire my own meteorologist to call me every morning with a clear, concise, even-a-dummy-can-understand-it forecast.
Neither seems likely. Say, do you think I'll need a jacket today?
Sunday, October 4, 2009
The words of that wise old cop come back to me all the time. He was teaching me the tools many years ago and he offered up some of the unique views on people that he had garnered over the course of a career that had seen him deal with his share of them. Lately I think about old Sgt Freeland when I see how they - and by "they" I mean the AM radio flamethowers - are treating the president.
Parenthetically, as an old radio man, I have to say one thing about the Limbaughs and the Hannitys of the world and their sycophants plying their trade on local stations across the country. I know Limbo used to be a blowhard top 40 DJ by the name of Jeff Christie, but he has an annoying way of speaking; it almost sounds like he is belching out every other word. And Hannity has one of those pinched-nose nasal adenoidal things going on. I bring this up to say that even if I agreed with a single thing that either of them have to say, and so far I have not, I would still have a hard time listening to them because they are hard to listen to.
And oh my, how they've been piling on Mr Obama for the high treason of slipping over to Copenhagen for a few hours to put in a pitch to have the Olympics in Chi. Well. You'd think he had gone over there to endorse Rio de Janeiro or something! I don't see where there's anything wrong with the president of the United States going to bat for one of the major cities of the United States. I really don't. I dunno; maybe it's me. I'm still trying to figure out why people are opposed to speed cameras. The only logical conclusion is that people would oppose speed cameras because they don't want to be caught speeding...therefore, they support speeding!?
But to get back to the president, who apparently in 8 months is supposed to have straightened out everything that went wrong from 2001 to January '09 - he was away from DC for less than a day. Last year, George W. Bush spent four days sitting in China watching the Olympics!
But that's OK. At least he was back in time for his National Guard duty.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
I have an idea that will make all of us happy. All we need to do is pull together a pile o' moolah, big steaming wheelbarrows full of 20-dollar bills, and then offer to split it with a man who, overnight, went from being a Top 40 DJ to being The Man Who Knows Everything Even Before It Happens. So, we give Beck half of the money we raise, and for that sum, he tells us who will win the Super Bowl, the World Series, the Stanley Cup, Whatever They Give Out for Winning the NBA championship, all the big NASCAR races, and the Triple Crown hoss races. We can bet on these events with confidence, because Glenn Beck knows all and tells all!
After all, he's able to tell how the city of Vancouver will make out financially from hosting the upcoming Olympics - the 2010 Olympics - BEFORE 2010 even gets here!
VANCOUVER'S OLYMPICS WILL NOT TAKE PLACE UNTIL 2010. Vancouver will host the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games from February 12 – 28, 2010 and March 12-21, 2010, respectively.
He can stir the masses with his fiery rhetoric and weepy demeanor. Do yourselves a favor one night - skip him and watch an old Andy Griffith movie called "A Face in the Crowd."
I 'ppreciate it!
Friday, October 2, 2009
Huh! I did not know this. I have to wonder, is it a real gangster, one of those guys with the blue pinstripe suit and a fedora, looking and talking like Edward G. Robinson? Does he attend summit meetings with other foreign dignitaries (pause for laughter) and slap them around, mumbling threats, saying "yeaahhhhhhh see?"
My mind a blur of activity, I thought it best to wikipedia the whole thing and here's what we found about the president of Brazil. First of all, he seems like a doggone nice guy by the name of Luiz Inàcio da Silva. He seems to have one of those cheery smiles, and that sash sets off everything nicely. Really, reading the entry about the man online, nothing seems to suggest that he's anything other than just another politician who climbed to the top.
Fact is, most people don't know much about Brazil. We're proud to be able to say that we know they speak Portugese there, not Spanish, as is the case in the rest of Latin America. Other than knowing full well that their economy depends almost wholly on regular exports of Brazil nuts, we don't know too much about them, all 169,872,855 of them (2000 Census.)
But I did read that voting is compulsory there, and that sort of gives you that "uh-oh" feeling like it's a place where everyone's always telling you what to do. Which brings me back to the sign in the window. I don't know whose sign it is, but whoever he or she is, I bet that they have lived in a country of oppression and a ban on free speech. And I bet they appreciate being able to hang that sign on their window without worrying about someone knocking on the door in the middle of the night and hauling them off to parts unknown.
I know I do!
Thursday, October 1, 2009
But here are the lyrics:
Popsicles, icicles, baseball and fancy clothes
These are a few of the things he loves
He loves Levis and brown eyes
And wind blowin' through his hair
These are a part of the boy I love
If you put them all together
Much to your surprise (oh tell me what)
You'll find a bit of heaven
Right before your eyes
Bright stars and guitars and
Drive-ins on Friday night
These are a few of the things we love
(May be) silly but still he is
Just what I dream about
Yes, he's the boy that I love
If you put them all together
Much to your surprise (oh tell me what)
You'll find a bit of heaven
Right before your eyes
Bright stars and guitars and
Drive-ins on Friday night
These are a few of the things we love
(May be) silly but still he is
Just what I dreamed about
Yes, he's the boy that I love
Popsicles, icicles, hmmm
And how did I score? Well, let's check the old National Beer Scoreboard! Popsicles -haven't had one for decades, so fearful of brain freeze again am I, but I guess I liked 'em in my day. Icicles were cool (get it?) when you were a kid and could run around the yard faking like they were daggers. Not so cool when you're Mr Homeowner, and you have to worry about one falling off the rain spout and impaling the guy who's walking up the steps to deliver a package or a pizza or a subpoena. So unless your name is Vlad, and mine isn't, I have to give a big no to icicles. Baseball? You betcha I like that, and fancy clothes...this new suit of mine is not all that fancy. I mean it doesn't have any ruffles on it, and no silk paisley lining. So no, I don't go for fancy clothes.
I love Levi's as a generic term for blue jeans: nothing is more comfortable for goofing around, but I save by buying LL Bean jeans. But, since I still wear jeans, that's a yes. Brown eyes? Oh you'd better believe I love my Peggy's brown eyes - the same color as Root Beer Barrel candies! Now, as far as wind blowing through my hair is concerned, I have to say no. Even when I had long hair (it was required by law in the 70's) I hated having it messed up by wind. Also by earth and fire. I solved all this by going to the buzzcut that I currently sport.
Bright stars? Remember what Will Rogers used to say? (Remember Will Rogers?) He said everybody's stupid, just in different subjects. My understanding of the planets, the solar system, the sun, the moon, the heavenly bodies is just below that of the average 3rd-grader. For this reason, I tend not to look up, for fear of spotting a meteorite or asteroid or stalactite and not being able to identify it. I suppose the stars are still up there, but I have to say it's my academically deficient area.
Guitars, couldn't be a bigger yes. Love 'em. Hendrix. Rick Neilsen. Duane Allman. Making pretty music, and still being openhearted. Yes on guitars.
Drive-ins on Friday night? This could refer to drive-in movies, where young couples of the past would "make out" to the accompaniment of movies starring "Frankie Avalon" in someone's father's "Buick" until someone was "late"...either "late" getting home, or the other, way more serious kind of "late." Or - it could mean one of those burger joints where you pulled up in your car and a young woman on roller skates rolled up to your rolled-down window to take your order, and then brought back food that you sat and ate in your car, on trays that hung off the windows. If you're having trouble picturing either of these concepts, just make sure you don't mix them up in your mind and expect something more than a burger, fries and coke from the woman on skates. I know I did.
I count myself as liking 6 out of 10 things, for a score of 60%. Which is passing, right? Hey - there's something else I like!