Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Surely He'll Be Missed

From the Naked Gun days
I was so sorry to hear of the passing of Leslie Nielsen over the past weekend, and I hope that many people get the message from his life...which was, to me, not to take things so doggone seriously.

A classically handsome leading-man type with a voice of authority, Leslie William Neilsen grew up way up in the Yukon, where his father was the local Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman.  After serving in the Canadian Air Force in World War II, Leslie answered the calling of the world's second-oldest, and certainly most noble, profession, and became a disc jockey.

Leslie with Anne Francis in "Forbidden Planet"
However, unlike most disc jockeys, the public actually wanted to see his face, so off he went to become an actor.  And he did very well in those leading-guy roles, in movies such as "Forbidden Planet" and all those movies with exclamation points in the titles!  Such as "Ransom!" and "Rosie!" and "Viva Knievel!" and "...And Millions Die!"  He continued making movies all through the 1970s, and his propensity for deadpan comedy was never on public display in those days; he played all those roles for straight drama.

When the producers of "Airplane!" called him, planning a spoof on airway disaster movies such as "Airport!" he turned down the role of Dr Rumack initially, feeling that he was still in a good groove in the leading man business.  But that very night, the way he told the story, he saw himself in a made-for-TV movie, and he felt he looked a little silly, a white-haired man in his 50's schmoozing a woman three decades younger.  So he changed his mind, and went on to do "Airplane!" and the six brilliant episodes of "Police Squad!" on TV, which led to the movies "The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!" along with "The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear" and "The Naked Gun: The Final Insult," which was also the final film in the acting career of O.J. Simpson.  There were other roles in other comedies, but the part of Sgt. Frank Drebin, "Detective-Lieutenant" of Police Squad, basically Dr Rumack with a gun, defined his career in a way that means a lot to those who like that sort of laughs.

From the UK Guardian, here's a list of his ten greatest lines.  Surely you will remember them:

Dr Rumack (played by Nielsen): Can you fly this plane, and land it?
Ted Striker: Surely you can't be serious.
Dr Rumack: I am serious ... and don't call me Shirley.
[Jane Spencer climbs a ladder]
Lt Frank Drebin (played by Nielsen: Nice beaver!
Jane: [producing a stuffed beaver] Thank you. I just had it stuffed.
(The Naked Gun: From the files of Police Squad)
Dr Rumack: You'd better tell the Captain we've got to land as soon as we can. This woman has to be gotten to a hospital.
Elaine Dickinson: A hospital? What is it?
Dr Rumack: It's a big building with patients, but that's not important right now.
Dutch Gunderson: Who are you and how did you get in here?
Frank Drebin: I'm a locksmith. And, I'm a locksmith.
(Police Squad)
Frank Drebin: It's the same old story. Boy finds girl, boy loses girl, girl finds boy, boy forgets girl, boy remembers girl, girl dies in a tragic blimp accident over the Orange Bowl on New Year's Day.
Jane: Goodyear?
Frank Drebin: No, the worst.
(The Naked Gun: From the files of Police Squad)
Frank Drebin: Now, Jane, what can you tell us about the man you saw last night?
Jane: He's Caucasian.
Ed: Caucasian?
Jane: Yeah, you know, a white guy. A moustache. About six-foot-three.
Frank Drebin: Awfully big moustache.
(The Naked Gun 2 ½: The Smell of Fear)
Frank Drebin: That's the red-light district. I wonder why Savage is hanging around down there.
Ed: Sex, Frank?
Frank Drebin: Uh, no, not right now, Ed.
(The Naked Gun 2 ½: The Smell of Fear)
Jane: I've heard police work is dangerous.
Frank Drebin: It is. That's why I carry a big gun.
Jane: Aren't you afraid it might go off accidentally?
Frank Drebin: I used to have that problem.
Jane: What did you do about it?
Frank Drebin: I just think about baseball.
(The Naked Gun: From the files of Police Squad)
Frank Drebin: This is Frank Drebin, Police Squad. Throw down your guns, and come on out with your hands up. Or come on out, then throw down your guns, whichever way you want to do it. Just remember the two key elements here: one, guns to be thrown down; two, come on out!
(The Naked Gun 2 ½: The Smell of Fear)
Dr Rumack: What was it we had for dinner tonight?
Elaine Dickinson: Well, we had a choice: steak or fish.
Dr Rumack: Yes, yes, I remember, I had lasagna.
I think we'd all do well to have that conversation with ourselves that Leslie Nielsen had and start seeing the lighter side of life.  It's to laugh.  Have some lasagna.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Let's have sox

It's no surprise to me that if one Googles "wool sox," one gets 644,000 responses, or one for every call I have had from a mortgage lender or credit card service that is NOT out to sell me anything. 

For the months of December, January and February - the "fearsome threesome" of Baltimore weather - you can't beat a nice pair of wool sox for keeping the old dogs warm.  And they're great on your feet, too.

You can't beat them, but often, you can't find them.  Go to Target, WalMart, KMart, Macy's, Costington's...they don't have wool sox.

They have all sorts of heavy, burly "winter sox" or "boot sox" or "outdoor sox," but these are sox innocent of any connection with a sheep, except that their makers ought to feel sheepish for suggesting that any polyster/acrylic/rayon blend, which for all I know means the fabric is spun from recycled Diet Sprite bottles and old grocery bags, could be as warm as a sock made of 80% wool with a little sumpin' else to keep the shape together.

Ladies and gentlemen, you can try all the Moc-a-Sox and "fleece"-lined slippers and manmade substitutes you wish, but I wish you'd take it from me: there is nothing like a warm wool sock when it gets chilly. 

It's a shame that you need to go to OutDoor Ernie's or Mr Camper or Tents, Tents and More Tents to find wool sox, but it's worth the trip!  Just tell 'em a snug happy gentleman sent you...and so did I!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Flash Mob, What a Feeling

I hope your Thanksgiving was full of fun and thanks, and that all is well in your world!  Most people are going to be headed out for some shopping in the next few days, and the nation is clearly well divided on how we all feel about the touchy topic of the flash mob.

No, it's not a bunch of hoodlums and thugs, pulling down their trousers and waving their doodles.  No.  As seen on tv's Modern Family and in this video from upstate New York, a flash mob is a well-rehearsed singin'-and-swingin' and gettin' Merry like Christmas production number, spontaneously performed by dozens or hundreds of people who have rehearsed it for months and have been called to perform by email or text or whatever.

You notice in the mall scenes, all malls look alike?  Peggy and I like to go Christiana Mall up in Delaware, but it's not as if there is a certain Delawarity to that mall. Although I understand that Christine O'Donnell has taken a part-time job at Hickory Farms for the holidays, so we'll see.  Point is, from Maine to California, all mall food courts have the same chain eateries.  One Potato Two and Mr Pizza and Wok With Me and Popcorn Shack and Yogurt Hut and Cookie Cookie Cookie are businesses that each gross over a billion dollars a year per outlet, doling out carbs and calories as fast as seventeen-year-old hands can!  And we love them all.

Have you ever:  seen a flash mob in action? Participated in a flash mob?  Known anyone who has seen or participated in a flash mob?  Had Christine O'Donnell accost you in an atrium, handing out gouda wedges on toothpicks?

I sort of hope I get to see one one time.  We did go to Golden Ring Mall one time and there in the center court was tv's Jeff Conaway - Kenickie from Grease! Bobby from Taxi! - acting as emcee for a local cheerleading competition.   I was impressed by his kindness to the kids and his ability to relate to an audience, most of whom were carrying plastic shopping bags and puzzled expressions because a guy who looked just like Kenickie was down there talkin' to the girls from Kenwood High School!

But I'm fairly certain that someone paid Conaway to be there, and that it was not a spontaneous mob.  I'm hoping to see the real thing this Christmas, and I hope I know the song they're singing.  I might just join in!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

And you're SURE Alaska is a state?

It seems more like a gigantic movie set or backdrop for a painting of an Inuit riding a dog sled, but Alaska just keeps getting in the news more often than when it was named an honorary state, and they didn't get the joke, and started sending people to Congress and Dancing With The Stars.

Well, most anyone can get elected to Congress.  Gopher from the Love Boat, Enos from Dukes of Hazzard, Sonny Bono from Sonny and Cher, and Sonny Bono's widow: all are, or have been, members of that august body.  But Dancing With The Stars!  Oh, you must be one of the brightest luminaries in the night sky to get to trip on your light fantastic on that show, hosted by Tom Bergeron, who might just as well get his home video camera rolling and get some segments for the other show he hosts on ABC: World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer.

Which brings me to the present hubbub concerning the win this week in that dance show by Jennifer Grey.  Jennifer Grey, who stole America's hearts in Dirty Dancing and Ferris Bueller disappeared for reasons we're just learning, showed up and won the competition even though she was dancing on a ruptured disc.  Her story of coming back from spinal injuries suffered in a car wreck and from cancer is truly inspiring, and we wish her well as she continues her comeback climb.

You know the difference between dancing and pea green paint?
ALMOST anyone can learn to dance.
 One of her opponents was teen mom Bristol Palin, daughter of comedian Sarah Palin. Showing the class, taste and sophistication that her rebarbative mother brings to everything from running for office to huntin'-and-a-fishin', Bristol said, after the final dance-off this past Monday, "We went out there. I did my best. I had fun, regardless of our low scores. It's whatever, it's up to the voters now."

Keep it classy, teen mom!

She then said "Going out there and winning this would mean a lot. It would be like a big middle finger to all the people out there who hate my mom and hate me."

So these are the people, this family, that so many people want to see in the White House? Waving their middle fingers at the world, brazenly flaunting their gaucheness?

Of course, I caught nine kinds of hell for saying something about Bristol's kid sister Willow when this happened:

When a boy named Tre said something negative about new TLC reality show "Sarah Palin's Alaska" on Facebook, Willow Palin, Sarah Palin's 16-year-old daughter, got a little riled up -- and dropped some homophobic slurs.

TMZ reports that Palin posted on Tre's wall, "Haha your so gay. I have no idea who you are, But what I've seen pictures of, your disgusting ... My sister had a kid and is still hot." and "Tre stfu. Your such a f*****."

Some people are trying to tell young people, especially those being bullied and traumatized, that it gets better.  And it does, but kids, not at the hands of people who talk like this:

Big sis Bristol Palin got into the act too, writing to another user named Jon, "You'll be as successful as my baby daddy, And actually I do work my a** off. I've been a single mom for the last two years."

And Willow finished up with, "Sorry that you guys are all jealous of my families success and you guys aren't goin to go anywhere with your lives."

A source close to the family tells TMZ that Willow doesn't normally use that kind of language but she felt attacked and was just the baby bear defending mama grizzly.

Sarah, Bristol, Willow?  Will you stop with the bad grammar?  "Your" driving me crazy, and your "families" success is just a tribute to the same aspects of America that make reckless driving popular. Your homophobia is disgusting, your constant zoomorphic references to yourselves as ursine females is a little overdone now, your grammar is appalling, and from reading the snippets of the book that someone just wrote for Sarah, your grasp of history is tenuous. But it's whatever, as Bristol so elegantly puts it.

I do have to add one note.  Do not pick on the Palin Pixies for the term "stfu."  It is a completely inoffensive acronym, one that has it origins in my Baltimore boyhood, when we would wait to see our great quarterback as he finished shopping at the Acme Market on York Rd.  We would ask the people at the store where we could wait, and they said, "STFU!"

And that meant, Stand There For Unitas!

It's true, I tell you. Don't try to refudiate me.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Hey Leo, Man!

Well sir, with all this hooting' and hollerin' about airport patdowns and body scans, I don't care to get in the air and I don't plan to get on a plane.  Although, I did hear someone say the other night, two wrongs don't make a right, but two Wrights make a plane.  F. & A. Wright!

But I'll tell you who WAS on a plane last Saturday night; it was the King of hard-luck travel, Mr Leonardo DiCaprio, whose previous adventures convinced many a person to avoid cruise ships.  Apparently heeding his own advice, Leo was jetting out of New York on Saturday night when the plane he was on had some sort of engine trouble, and the plane returned to Kennedy Airport, to be met by a hundred firefighters, ready to handle the situation. 

According to the story I saw, Leo was flying to Moscow to travel eventually to St Petersburg for a Tiger Summit. 

No, not that Tiger.  This is about saving the four-legged variety.  I had no idea there was a problem, but I guess we can be glad that Leonardo and Vladimir Putin can hold this international seminar to help out.  It just must be pretty cool to be able to say, "I have to go to Russia now and help save tigers from extinction." 

Hey, later on I have to stop at Big Lots and see about Christmas gifts!  I know Peggy has been wanting one of those electronic nutcrackers and the gallon-size tub of bath salts.  I notice that for all these salts, lotions, gels and goos, one scent is never enough.  You can't just have something that smells like "apple" or "coconut."  There must be at least two fragrances, which is why we have "Coconut Lime Verbena" and "Honeydew Vanilla."  Someday, some smart guy or woman will realize that what we really want is a candle that smells like a Cheesesteak sub or a tray of nachos.  We can only hope.

But I don't know if I'd like to be on a plane and hear the intercom come on:

"Ahhhhhhhhhh this is your Captain, Glenn Quagmire, ahhhhhhhhhh we are uh having a little bit of engine trouble ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh we're just gonna turn this bird around and put 'er down at Kennedy ahhhhhhhhhhhhh be just a few minutes.  I'm ahhhhhhhhhh going to ask the flight attendants to uh go over the instructions as we prepare to go down. Giggity."

Then to look and see the guy in the next aisle is that guy from Titanic!  We're staying home.  Auburn plays Alabama on today!

Roll Tide!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Calendar makers save the prettiest pictures for this time of year

You know it's Thanksgiving time when you're running to Mars late at night for more pie crusts, Granny Smith® apples and egg nog.

You know it's Baltimore when you say you're "going to Mars" late at night and everyone knows you're going to the grocery store, and not some distant planet.

You also know it's Baltimore when you find a parking spot at Mars and a nice lady gets out of her minivan and walks to the store with you and, as you step back to allow her to enter first, she calls you "Hon."  And she has a bumper sticker on the back of that minivan saying "Angels Are Watching Over Me."

"Thanks, Hon" is as Baltimore as the sauerkraut on our turkey dinners, the curiously adenoidal backwater 'O' sound that true natives bestow on words (to hear sportcaster Keith Mills call out baseball's Magglio Ordóñez is to hear a symphony of vowel sounds in the key of F-flat major) or the acceptance of the glee of civic leaders that it took until Thanksgiving week for the city to reach 200 homicides this year.

It's the same thing every year, and it's beyond the point of being a tired cliché to say that we are rushing around early and late, dashing to Mars or Big Lots! or the indescribable Ollie's Bargain Outlet, a chain of stores that vies annually for the shopping dollar of cheapskates such as I with the legendary Good Stuff Cheap stores, and making ready to make merry through the holidays. 

The good folks at Lifetime Movie Network and Turner Classic Movies will show you lots of celluloid examples of Rich Famous Good-Looking Actors portraying Everyday People Doing Wonderful Things, but we can't always be watching TV.

I know.  Try as I might, sometimes I have to put the remote down.

And I'm glad I do, because then I go to Mars and have a nice lady call me "hon" just because I stepped aside and allowed a lady to pass, as my father taught me to do when I was knee-high to a grasshopper, and then I read about people who give up their day off to prepare and feed a multitude of hungry, sad strangers, and then I come to work and talk to a friend who, for every holiday, rounds up this widower guy she works with and brings him home for dinner with her family.  These are the angels who are walking among us, my father included, and showing us a better way than Lifetime could ever depict.

I am fortunate and glad to have you in my life.  I know and love a lot of people, and although I wasn't blessed with a lot of talent in a lot of areas, I surely was given all the love one heart can hold. Thank you for putting with my old jokes, arcane references, bluntly-stated political opinions and did I mention, old jokes? I can't remember.  I am the luckiest man in the world, to have friends such as you, the most wonderful wife - my Peggy! - and all the joy of the holidays to share with you.

Ready?  Let's go!

Meanwhile, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, and thank you for meaning so much to me all year.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Keep the quizzes coming

These were the instructions:

Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen fictional characters (television, films, plays, video games, books) who've influenced you and that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes.

This is my list.  I am a lot like many of these people, and nothing like some of them.  Interesting!

I'll be delighted to see your list!

  1. Holden Caulfield, The Catcher in the Rye
  2. Carson Wyler, Garrison Keillor's alter ego on A Prairie Home Companion
  3. Bluto Blutarsky, Animal House
  4. John Winger, Stripes
  5. Melvin Udall, As Good As It Gets
  6. Ensign Willie Keith,  The Caine Mutiny
  7. Andy Taylor, The Andy Griffith Show
  8. Calvin, Calvin and Hobbes
  9. Spenser in the Robert B. Parker mystery series
  10. Kojak
  11. Sal Paradise, On The Road
  12. Alibi Ike, in the Ring Lardner baseball series
  13. Harry Callahan, Dirty Harry
  14. The Lone Ranger
  15. Dennis the Menace

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

People I'd Rather Not Be

Everyone doing their own thing, that's what we like to see.  But there are people that I see doing their own things, and while I give them as wide a berth as they need to do so, I can't be like:

  • those guys who take their wives to the Try 'n' Shop and then stand in the parking lot doing their auto maintenance.  Gladys goes in the store, up goes the hood, and they do everything short of overhauling their transmissions right on the lot.  I also see this at work, when men who bring their wives in for meetings or counseling or whatever are out there.  Betcha if someone left a hose out there, a lot of the cars would get washed, too.
  • that mom behind me in line at the grocery store. She was with her high-school age daughter.  She told the cashier, loudly, "I'm going to the rest room and leaving my daughter here with the groceries!  I can't wait! I have to go now!"  This told the world that a) she must feel that her daughter needs help purchasing groceries and b) she feels that we all need to know about her frequency of bathroom use. Ma'am, you embarrassed your daughter in public. Please don't do that any more.
  • those married couples who can sit and eat an entire meal in a restaurant without so much as a word to each other.  Come on now; you must have something to say to her, mister! Even if it's only about how firm your grits are.  And madam, I know it's an unappealing view you are being offered, the top of his head as she shovels peas into his maw, but you could say something! Right?
  • those Bluetooth-equipped people who can't go anywhere in public without making a phone call, topic: nothing.  We don't need to know that your brother-in-law didn't come home until 5 in the morning, or that your couldn't get your meringue to rise for the pie.  
  • those people who say they don't like the holidays and then try to wreck yours with their reasons!  
  • people who are proud of not knowing things, of not reading, of being willfully uninformed.
  • people who turn 60 and decide they are over the hill and might as well just get measured for the final blue suit and the casket this week
  • people who turn 60 and decide this is the time to dress like they're 20 and act like they're 30.  
Not that I know anyone who does any of this, you understand!!! I'm just observing...

Monday, November 22, 2010


So I was thrilled the other night on the way home from work...the odometer in the truck hit the nice round lucky number 77,777 miles.  Which is not a round number at all, I guess, but you have to admire the symmetry.

Maryland has laws against texting and using a handheld phone while driving, and so I'm fairly certain that using a cell camera to take a picture of the dashboard would be frowned upon.  I pulled over into an alley to get a shot of the famous digits.

So with all that luck riding on my side, how does it come that the VERY NEXT MORNING, on my way to work, after giving many thanks to above that we were spared the wreckage wrought by the tornado, and praying for those not so lucky to get through this all right, the CHECK ENGINE light came on?

$478.69, but as my friend Jamie down at the Credit Union said, at least it wasn't $77,777!  See! It's all in the perspective!

This could be I.
And a young lady who works at the fabulous Jones Toyota, the people who gave me the free use of a Rav4 to get home and back to work while the truck was on the lift, wants to buy the truck.  And paint it black.  And lift it another 5 inches so that it takes on Brobdingnagian proportions, like you see above.

And she said she's gonna take me off-roading!  In my former truck!  

"Hello, GEICO?"

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I Answer the Jeff Adams Challenge

1. Turn on your MP3 player or music player on your computer.
2. Shuffle the songs on your All Songs playlist (or press play in shuffle mode)
3. List the first 25 songs that come up (song title and artist). NO editing/cheating, please. Even if you might skip the song when you it comes up or be embarrassed for people to know that it's in your collection, you still must list it.
4. Choose people to be tagged. It is generally considered to be in good taste to tag the person who tagged you.  If I tagged you, it's because I'm betting that your musical selection is entertaining.

I am almost scared at what's here, but let's go find out who pops up. There are 1185 songs on the old 'Pod...thanks, Jeff Adams!
  1. We're An American Band - Grand Funk
  2. Stand! - Sly and the Family Stone
  3. She Even Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye - Jerry Lee Lewis
  4. Just Between You and Me - Charley Pride
  5. Boo Hoo - Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians
  6. Walkin' the Floor Over You - Ernest Tubb
  7. I Want You Back - Jackson 5ive
  8. New Lips - Roy Drusky
  9. I Know - Fiona Apple
  10. Maybe the People Would Be the Times or Between Clark and Hillsdale - LOVE
  11. Let Me Serenade You - Three Dog Night
  12. Bodhisattva (Live) - Steely Dan
  13. Swearin' to God - The Four Seasons
  14. Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast - Wayne Newton
  15. China Girl - David Bowie
  16. Living A Lie - Al Martino
  17. Out Behind the Barn - "Little" Jimmy Dickens
  18. True Love Never Runs Smooth - Gene Pitney
  19. Jazz: Delicious Hot, Disgusting Cold - Bonzo Dog Band
  20. Rock-a-Bye Your Baby - Sammy Davis, Jr.
  21. Not Too Young To Get Married - Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans
  22. Remembering - Johnny Russell
  23. LOnesome 7 - 7203 - Hawkshaw Hawkins
  24. Britney Spears Pepsi Spot - Britney Spears
  25. I Want You, I Need You, I Love You - Elvis Presley

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The REALLY Social Network

I'm on Facebook and so is my wife and so are hundreds of people we know well, and some we know only as FB friends.  And we like it, and it's fun, so no problem.

I have 600 and some-odd friends.
Except for Rev Cedric Miller, who tells his New Jersey flock that they can't be married and be on Facebook because being on FB makes people want to "know" their friends on that biblical level.

I like the quote from Ms Dawson of that church: "It can be a useful tool, but it also can cause great problems in a relationship. If your spouse won't give you his or her password, you've got a problem."

Here we go with the snooping and the computer checking and the steaming-open-of-letters and the listening in on phone calls and so on and so forth.  If you are married or otherwise committed, you should trust the person you are with.  If you can't trust them, why are you there? 

Peggy does not need to give me her password.  We use the same password all over the place ("O U C I 8 3 BLTs", a tribute to my favorite sandwich) so there is nothing to hide.  Peggy has been keeping a journal since the early days of our marriage, and none of that will stand up in court  I have no need to snoop into any of the 47 volumes she has written about her life and ours because we have nothing to hide.

It's like this:  People always drag out the old tales about how, if you just don't talk to teenagers about sex, they won't be interested in it.  And you saw how well that works, didn't you, Sarah?  Teens are interested in each other and they will find ways to get together.  The job of their parents, guardians, teachers and mall security guards is to arm them with wisdom and encourage proper choices.

Facebook is a microcosm of society and, as such, there are opportunities to shine and opportunities to sin.  If you are really interested in getting horizontal with someone who sat next to you in 7th grade US History, you can locate that person and recreate the Battle of Big Ol' Horndog if you care to.  If you enjoy sharing stories and pictures, thoughts and inspirations, with friends old and new, it's a delightful place to do so.

And if you feel that you are a bit short on self-restraint and maybe you might be too tempted if you see one more picture of your old flame at a cookout, then you also might be tempted to tell everyone else that they shouldn't look at cookout photos either, lest they be so tempted.

But that would be overlaying your values and issues over an entire group of people, wouldn't it? 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fly me to the moon

Neil Page, Del Griffith
"Trains, Planes and Automobiles" must be on one of the movie channels next week; it's a federal law.

All this talk about travel, right before next Wednesday, which is, as we all know, The Busiest Travel Day Of The Year.

Then comes Thanksgiving, and that's followed by The Busiest Shopping Day Of The Year.

I'll tell you who might not be shopping, and that would be the people who travel by air.  Everyone's all worked up about the Federal Air Transport Armed Security Service and their new policy: either you submit to an x-ray, which you know will be passed from agent to agent and goofed on at countless holiday parties, or you step up and let them have at you with The Pat-Down Supreme. With cheese.

Members of your same sex will be touching your junk.

And so once again I choose not to travel by air.

"What do you mean, 'Tuesday' ?"
But I'm having a hard time understanding people.  We do want the airplanes to be full of people that we are totally 100% sure are not carrying guns, bombs, flamethrowers, incendiary devices, knives, anything sharp, anything flammable, or anything bearing scary images of a Kardashian sister that might be used to stun a pilot and divert his attention.  We want safety in the sky and we want everyone checked thoroughly.  That guy over there, for instance.  He looks rather sketchy.

But we don't want to have any inconvenience or delay while traveling!  So unless you know a way to have it two ways, the best way to get to grandmother's house is to pile the kids in the Biscayne and hit the interstate.  Exits with diners, gas and lodging are clearly marked, as are the signs that say that the NorthSide Chowder and Marching Society has adopted this stretch of the road.  And you'll skip those nasty waiting lines in stanky airports, where masses of humanity snake about in serpentine lines, waiting for flight 1492 to Plymouth Rock.  While they're in line or graciously being interviewed by CBS for a report on tonight's Evening News, you're sailing down I-95 without a care in the world.

Uh, better frisk the older kids before starting off; you can't be too safe these days.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Watch your English

One of the many reasons why we as citizens of the United States of America could give two shillings and a tuppence about the impending marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton is...

And then there's.......

Of course, no such list would be complete without remembering...

Ah, forget it. I got nothing.  The only possible explanation must be that as Americans, descendants of people who got on a rickety boat to sail away from royalty and all that it entails, we somehow miss royalty and all that it entails. The interest and devotion that English people lavish upon the royal family is a wonder to me. They who often have very little comfort and luxury still happily do without, so that Lady Frothinghamshireland can have fresh strawberries flown in for a party in the middle of winter, and Lord Wellingtonwilberforce can have diamonds attached to the tips of his shoelaces. 

The English people, who so valiantly fought the Nazis in World War II - a war that came to their country with the bombings of London - are remarkable and honorable and wonderful and worthy of praise and respect.  Their nation is rich in culture and history and is home to some of the greatest people who ever walked this earth.  So, if they want to devote attention and funds to the maintenance of the class structure that keeps most of them down and very few of them far above the madding crowd, far be it from us to harsh that. 

But this is America, land of those who couldn't swing with their system, home of the free and the brave.  We don't have royalty, for good reasons. 

Try telling that to Entertainment Tonight and the other TV shows that record the exploits of showbiz luminaries.  How the Royal Family came to be regarded as entertainment figures does not add up with me, althought it is said that Prince Charles plays a pretty mean guitar and Camilla can dance like nobody's business.

I wish these two crazy kids all the best of love and luck, and I guess we'll send them a fondue set if we are invited to the nuptials, but beyond that, I'm not too interested.  I'm open to hearing from those who would convince me that I should pay more attention to Lord and Lady Fingers, but you have a lot of convincin' to do!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


You know the year is coming to a close when you're seeing Top 10 lists without Letterman around.  Every magazine puts out a list of the Top 10 records, newsmakers, events, and ham sandwiches of the year.
In fact, someone will likely put out a Top 10 list of the Top 10 Top 10 lists. 

And then, where will we be?

So how about this one?  The Global Language Monitor presents its list of the Top 10 words of the year "based on its annual global survey of the English language." (I only hope they didn't ask a lot of the people I hear fracturing the language on a daily basis, writing me emails about how "your going to want to here this!" and speaking in sentences that end in both prepositions and complete lapses of sense.)

There are currently more than 1.58 billion English-speaking people in the world, according to the good people at the GLM. Man, you'd think that two of them would know the difference between "infer" and "imply," but anyway.

Of course, you realize that if just one person alive right now would suddenly decide to stop speaking English in favor of some other tongue, there would only be 1.5799999999 billion of us English-speakers.  So thanks for sticking around.

Here’s the top 10 list:
1.  Spillcam - that sad nightly-news reminder of all the oil pumping into the Gulf of Mexico because imperfect people made some bad mistakes

2.  Vuvuzela - that annoying plastic horn that made the World Cup sound as if the cicadas had returned

3.  The Narrative - the term was used in the autobiography of Frederick Douglass and is now a word used instead of saying "here's the plan for our group"

4.  Refudiate - The Thrilla from Wasilla thought this was a word, and then she thought we'd be foolish enough to think she was real cute and coined a clever neologism.  Nuh-uh

5.   Guido and Guidette -  denizens of the Jersey Shore who are mainly interested in GTL (groceries, Twitter, and lunch)

6.   Deficit - U. O. Me.  We O. Everyone

7.  Snowmaggeddon (and ‘Snowpocalypse’) - we had a couple of blizzards in February-  did you hear?  If not, you can go down by the maternity ward and hear more babies than most Novembers.  Just sayin'

8.  3-D  - The magnificence of Johnny Knoxville becomes all the more magnificent when stuff comes flying right at you from a 3-D Jackass screen

9.  Shellacking - what the president said his party received in the election.  Shellac wears off every two years.

10.  Simplexity - what a perfect demonstration of overly complicated language.  Complex: complexity :: simple: simplexity. 

I had my money on "synecdoche," which is a term meaning that part of something is spoken of to mean the whole, making the list.  I would have won a set of wheels had that happened, but I guess I'll just have to keep pounding the bricks.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ill-gotten Gains

To those who have only recently moved to Maryland, the news that the county executive in Prince George's County, which is down near DC, was arrested along with his wife and charged with various corrupt activities must have been quite a shock.  People were shocked - shocked! - to hear of frantic phone conversations with the man and his wife as he told her to flush a check down the toilet and put cash in her bra, as feds were pounding on the front door.

Not for nothing did National Lampoon magazine label Maryland as the "Cradle Of Graft" back in the good old days.  And a man named Spiro Agnew took our area to the top of the junk heap of crooks.

Agnew, as a local politician, began shaking down contractors and builders.  You want to do business here, you give me 5% of what you take, was the plan, and so contractors and builders started showing up with envelopes and canvas bags full of money.

Nixon (r) picked Agnew. Agnew (l) picked pockets.
Running on a platform of unbridled ("You've seen one slum, you've seen them all") racism, Agnew became governor of Maryland and after two nonglorious years in that office, was chosen to be vice-president of the United States, for crying out loud, by Richard Nixon.  This was 1968, six years after Nixon lost the California governor's race to Jerry Brown's father, and Nixon promised at that time that he would not run for office ever again anywhere.

So much for that.  He took Agnew along for the ride and won election as president in '68, and thereafter let Agnew be his mouthpiece for spewing out hateful, albeit alliterative, rhetoric.  Agnew referred to those who opposed any Nixonian policy as "pusillanimous pussyfooters", "nattering nabobs of negativism" and "hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history".  This man, who went around taking cash kickbacks as a government official, had the nerve to call opponents "an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals."

Guys like that always hate people with intellect, and intellectual honesty.

It was funny;  you never saw Nixon and Agnew doing anything together.  Even Nixon must have found his company undesirable, I don't know.  And when Nixon's Watergate chickens came home to roost, Agnew would have been next in line to be president, presumably the first president to be receiving foreign dignitaries and heads of state AND men bearing canvas sacks stuffed with loot in the Oval Office on the same day.  Yes, he could have moved into the White House!

Except that back home here, federal prosecutors were going over the books of some of the guys who had bought Agnew off, and they were more than willing to sing like canaries to avoid having to move to the Big House.  They talked, Agnew walked, and lived out his days in infamy as a disgrace to our area.

But whenever crooks gather and talk about the greats of the past, that's when they bring up his name, and his canvas sacks, and his ignominious deeds.  His wife never had to hide cash in her bra!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dot Com BOOM!

You can read and see the story here, but perhaps you saw it on the news or on FOX.  Out in Ohio, someone finally decided to get rid of a smokestack that had not been used since 1981, so they hired an outfit called Advanced Explosives Demolition to bring it down.  It was like watching one of those "Gorgo" movies from the 60's to see the behemoth pile of brick fall as it did, sending power lines earthward as schoolkids ran for safety.

Can you just imagine the post-boom meeting at the AED headquarters?  I might be wrong, but I can see how something like that would turn into a mass finger-pointing exercise...

"Hey! You were supposed to check for cracks like that!"
"Well if you had BOTHERED to look at the pictures we took..."
"I'm not here to place the blame, but, Ed, you let us all down this time."
"I swear to you, I checked for that!"

Oh well. It's all "water under the dam," as one of my favorite metaphor mixers used to say (the same guy used to say, "It's six of one and half a dollar of the other.")  I do notice that if you go to that company's website, you will not see this particular boom-boom listed on their greatest hits.

Mistakes will happen.  That's why we can put a fresh point on a pencil and start over again.  The ironic  thing here was that when those power lines came down, 4,000 people living near the site lost electricity, and one can only hope they had it back on in time to see the evening news.  Otherwise, they could not have seen why they could not see the news.  If you follow me.

There is a firm right here in Baltimore who does this sort of work and has done so for many years.  Controlled Demolition Inc. was a trend-setter in the field of knocking down big buildings with hundreds of small explosions, and to the best of my knowledge they have not had such an unfavorable outcome as this Ohio firm did. 

CDI has done lots of work around here, Baltimore being the aging sort of Rust Belt town that needs to get rid of some building that people thought would be around forever.  We are used to seeing the sights and sounds on the evening news; one time, when a series of old rowhouses in the city was coming down, one of the TV stations put a camera that they were going to get rid of in a room and let us see the last few images that the camera would ever send as it disappeared under dusty rubble.

But I have always wanted to do this.  I would like to get one of those really great indestructible armor suits and wait inside the building, and then, just as the dust begins to settle and the last bricks are landing on the street with that curiously hollow "thwock!" sound and the crowd is finished "ooh"ing but not quite through "aaah"ing...I would emerge from the rubble and shout,

"OH!  Was that TODAY???????"

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Rerun: I am too Lazy to write something new

Ladies and Gentlemen: it's almost midnight on Saturday, I am tired, but Alabama, Navy and Maryland all won today and instead of writing a whole new entry, I'm just going with a Rerun - and this was Peggy's idea:

Mr Fred Berry: 1951 - 2003

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Big Lake they call Gitchigoomie

If you know me, you would agree that not many people look, talk, walk, think, drive or choose things the way I do.

Which is fine!  It's variety that makes life so interesting.  Takes every kind of people to make the world go 'round.

The Carnival "Splendor" (sic)
I say all this for one reason. If someone who looks like me, talks like me, walks like me, thinks like me, etc etc, ankles up to you one day and says, "Peggy and I are going on a cruise to the Gilligan Islands!" I want you to call the police right away.  That person is an impostor, out to claim my vast six-figure fortune (if you count the numbers to the right of the decimal point in our bank statement) and parade around as me, for whatever horrible reason he might have.

Appealing as the prospect of floating around the seas off Mexico on a broken-down boat with no electricity or running water or air conditioning or TV, but plenty of stench, Spam and discontent among our fellow sail-ers might be, I just can't imagine it.

Those who enjoy cruises are welcome to my share of the high seas, and I'll just stay here, watching "Titanic" and listening to Gordon Lightfoot sing about his friend Ed.



Friday, November 12, 2010

You Bet We Had Fun

Yesterday was a good, good day. We started off by going for my final checkup with Dr Neal Naff, King Of All Neurosurgery, who pronounced the state of my back and nerve repairs to be "splendid."

I'll take "splendid" any day over "hmmmmm..."

So then we had the rest of the day to ourselves and we got on good old Highway 95, the superslab that runs from Florida to Maine.  We only wanted to get to North East, MD.  That's the name of the town AND its whereabouts.
Where North East is

But on the way I talked Peggy into trying lunch at the Hollywood Casino, a kind of 2010 version of the community bingo hall.  Instead of a couple of dozen people playing bingo for 25 bucks, this vast gamblin' barn holds 1,500 slot machines, into none of whose slots I dropped as much as a dime.  Mainly because I didn't know where or how.  It seemed complicated.  And it would have been like the time we were playing bingo and I won and didn't know it. 

I'm not always the slickest slice of cheese in the stack.

And this is Maryland, not Las Vegas or Las Atlantic City, so there are slot machines ONLY.  No card games or Keno or dice games or people wearing vests as they shuffle six or seven decks of Bicycles. Anyone leaving Monte Carlo and winding up in Perryville would notice several differences easily.
OK, so games - from Clue to slot machines - are not my métier, but that's ok.  Buffets are!  I know my way around a carving table, shrimp pit, sauce tub and salad bar just fine, so we walked past the mob of slots players and went to the buffet, which was reasonably priced and not bad at all. Shrimp, tenderloin, salads, fried chicken, mac & cheese, a couple of slabs of pie with coffee and we were in tall cotton, food wise.

We wanted to get up to North East to hit the antique stores and other little shops, but I stood around in the vast gambletorium and noticed something about the atmosphere.  Yes, it was loud, and the music was loud and so was the sound of electronic machines being played.  Since there are no arms on these one-armed bandits, you didn't hear that yank-and-spin sound, and since these new machines pay off in bar-coded vouchers that winners have to take to a little booth over by the restrooms to cash in, there's no cascade of coins plummeting from within the machine of a happy winner.  In fact, I saw people shoving bill after bill into the machines and it was hard to tell if they were winning or not.  Their expressions gave up nothing.  Not from one person was I able to discern joy or disappointment, or even if they were having a good time.

But I think I know why, and I figured it out.  The music was loud, but you know how it is when some joker pulls up next to you on the street or when the kid next door brings home the new Lil' Wayne CD:  the music you hear down to your fillings changes pitch and frequency.  You hear BOOM bah bah BOOM bah hah hada BOOM. 

Not so at the casino.  They pump in music, but it's like a CD that is feeding back on the SAME NOTE for hours on end.  It's like the background music they play as a suspense-builder on Who Wants To Open The Next Briefcase...all those shows with Regis and Howie and Co. The music builds to a crescendo and stays on that same note for a while. But on those shows, either someone wins or someone loses, and then there is applause or groaning and then we see a soup commercial.  At the casino, with 1,500 machines being played, they want you to think that someone is just about to win, and it might as well be YOU, and the music just plays that same note continuously forever.  And it probably always will.

We put down 30 bucks and won two fine lunches.  Then we went off to North East and bought some Christmas presents, having a lovely day in a nice little town.  You bet we had a nice day!  Hope you did too.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dupree plus ça change

Dupree on the Oklahoma football team
I watched a film on ESPN the other night; it was part of their "30 on 30" series of sports documentaries and this one featured the past of  Marcus Dupree, the high school running back with the can't-miss future. 

Like so many of the best-laid plans, his went awry!  The show is called "The Best That Never Was," and I commend it to your attention.  Even if you're not the big sports fan, it will speak to you about how things can change...sometimes for the good, and sometimes not.

Dupree, out of Philadelphia, Mississippi, had an amazing ability to take a football and run with it.  In high school, it didn't seem to matter how many guys on the other team tried to tackle him.  Old game footage in the documentary lets you see Dupree shaking off would-be tacklers the same way that Sarah Palin ignores rules of grammar and diction - with a gleeful alacrity that defied "refudiation."

And for what happened to him in college and beyond, I'm going to let you watch the show, because I hate to spoil the ending.  But there is an interesting sidestory to all this.

You who remember or have read of the civil rights struggle in this nation will recall Philadelphia, MS, as the place in which the based-on-fact movie "Mississippi Burning" was set.  Three civil rights workers, on their way to help African-Americans register to vote in that state (yes, this was 1964, not 1864) were waylaid on "speeding" charges as they traveled down Highway 19, held for several hours, and then set free.  From all appearances, it seemed that the sheriff held them long enough for local Klansmen to marshal their forces, and once the hooded hoodlums were ready, the three were let go, only to be beaten and killed by local horrors. 

The Law of Neshoba County on trial.  Cecil Price, left.
 The nation sat stunned, watching as a three-month long search finally resulted in the young men being found dead.  The local cops - Sheriff Lawrence Rainey and his deputy, Cecil Price, went up on murder charges and finally went to jail on severely compromised verdicts.  (The presiding judge having referred to the dead men by the 'n' word, you know the trial wasn't exactly on the up and up.)

But after serving four years of a seven (!) year sentence, Cecil Price came out of prison a changed man, accepting finally the changes that had come to the nation.  His son Cecil, Jr., and Dupree went to school together, entering local schools in 1970 that were desegregated for the first time that year.  "Little Cecil" and Dupree played high school football together in the 80's, hung out together, and visited in each other's homes.

At the end of his career, Marcus Dupree called Cecil Price, the man who had gone to jail for killing black and Jewish civil rights volunteers, and asked for, and received, a huge favor.

Watch the show, please.  ESPN will be repeating it.  If you're a young person, remember: my generation lived through this when we were in our teens.  It's hard to imagine that sort of hatred could exist in America, isn't it?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Queen's Greatest Hits

Especially when I wear my eyeglasses, I tend to look more like Dick Cheney (above) than Johnny Rotten (right), late of The Sex Pistols.  And that's what makes it all the more enjoyable when things happen as they did on Monday. 

I was in Towson, the county seat (so named because that's where everyone sits down, I suppose) and was heading back to the office when a lady with a knitted brow, pursed lips and a perplexed shrug asked me for directions to the courthouse.  I pulled the truck over to the curb, but hit the "down" button on the window before I hit the "off" button on the audio system.  This meant that the lady was treated to an audio shower of Mr Rotten singing the chorus to "God Save the Queen."  I believe the verse she got to enjoy was "God save the Queen/She ain't no human being/There is no future/In England's dreamland."

Not that I look all that dignified, but she seemed surprised at my choice of music.  Can't help it.  My mix CDs will take you from Conway Twitty to Barry Manilow to Zappa to Abba to Cledus Maggard (real name: Jay Huguely) to Fiona Apple (real name: Fiona Maggart.)  The God Save the Queen song was written, what, 35 years ago, and on the grounds that there will always be an England, England has survived the economic depressions of the 70s that led to the street revolts and punk movement.  They survived Hitler's Blitzkrieg and the brief popularity of Hugh Grant, and they can survive most anything, I reckon.

And now it has come to this. Queen Elizabeth II ("Betty Q2" to her loyal subjects) has joined Facebook, although it is a fan-type page, so you can neither friend nor poke her.  Indeed.  The stories say that The Big E is not even going to get on the page herself, citing a maladroit internet sense, but I can't help but wish that someone with time on his hands - Mr Rotten!?- would teach the old lady how to enter status updates, so we could see entries such as:

QUEEN ELIZABETH II OMG Are My Grandsons the biggest buttheads in the world - especially the one who looks like Opie and struts around in Nazi gear!?

QUEEN ELIZABETH II is sooooo looking forward to St Swithin's Day! Par-tay!

QUEEN ELIZABETH II likes You Know Who Else Is A Royal Pain and 35 other pages

QUEEN ELIZABETH II is looking for a new purse - hit me up with shopping ideas girlfriends!

QUEEN ELIZABETH II has a bustle in her hedgerow; don't be alarmed! It's just a sprinkling for the May queen!

QUEEN ELIZABETH II is making a sandwich for Victoria Beckham

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Suspended in Mid-Air

Recently reinstated
I'm of two minds about this Keith Olbermann thing.  Olbermann, the popular news commentator on the MSNBC network, was suspended late Friday after it turned out that he had given campaign contributions to Democratic candidates in several elections. 

But now, he will be back on the channel tonight.  The man who threw the penalty flag on him was holding Keith to standards of the news division, failing to recognize that MSNBC is more of a partisan undertaking, seeking to bring information from the liberal viewpoint to a medium in which such is sadly lacking. In other words, no, you don't want Brian Williams writing checks to support his candidates.  I don't even know how Brian Williams's politics shake out; he could be very liberal or very conservative.  Although he does seem very smart. He should report the news and not be partisan either way.

Back to Olbermann, it would be nice to think that he should be non-partisan, but that's not the kind of show he does.  It's called "Countdown with Keith Olberman," and the first thing he says every night is, "Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?"  He doesn't say, "Now, here's the news" or something fatuous such as "We report, you decide."  There's no attempt at billing his show as being a review of the top news stories of the day.  It only takes a few minutes with him to realize that he is not thoroughly objective.  But I think that a lot of FOX viewers can watch his show and learn a lot.

Recently re-elected
I can find fault with Keith in that he roundly criticized Sean Hannity, who finds time to fill both radio and television with his opinions about everything,  for giving moolah to such worthies as Michelle Bachmann, the congressperson from Minnesota who referred to the Smoot-Hawley Tariffs as the Hoot-Smalley Tariffs.  And just to prove that she hadn't fallen victim to a Spoonerism (the speech slipup in which syllables of words in a phrase are swapped, named after a preacher who once told a church lady, "Madam, you are occupewing the wrong pie") she went on to say that these tariffs were the brainchild of Franklin D. Roosevelt, while they were actually written by GOPers.  And before you start pounding on your keyboard to tell me that Barack Hussein Obama once slipped up and said there were 57 states, please stop and consider that the man has advanced degrees and probably knows there are 50.  And I betcha he knows who was president in 1976.  Don't copy off Bachmann's paper; she put "Carter" for the answer to that question, and wondered if maybe the swine flu that was going around that year was something the Democrats did. 

So Hannity gave his money to a woman who is, at least, challenged by history, and I don't even know who these people are who received money from Keith. I wish he hadn't done it while knocking Hannity for doing it, but I guess that proves he's only human.  There's only been one person to walk this earth and not be wrong about anything, and if you can forgive Keith for this flaw, I guess I can forgive Michelle Bachmann for not knowing what the devil she's "talkin' aboot."

By the way, I'm not very objective, either.  But thanks for reading!  I read all manner of material too and form my own opinions, just as everyone should. 

Monday, November 8, 2010


Th' other day the Comcast website had a list of eight jobs that should be taken off the DIY list.

Do NOT try to do these by yourselves -  oil changes, electrical work, tax preparation, pricing heirlooms, representing yourself in court, tree removal, formal or large printing jobs, and getting rid of bugs - according to this article.

Well, it's been many a year since I crawled 'neath the Valiant to remove the old oil and replace it.  I can see where people who a) like doing this sort of thing and b) know what they are doing (not necessarily mutually inclusive groups) would enjoy saving money this way.  And the savings can be considerable.  Why blow 30 semolians at Lube-A-Rama when you can scoot out to AutoLand and get the oil and a filter for $25?  Your savings: 5 dollars, unless you count your time.  But if you enjoy rolling around on the JeepersCreeper, have fun.  Please don't wipe your hands on the kitchen towel, though.

The only sort of electrical work I will undertake is changing light bulbs.  Too many people I know have gotten the shock of their lives by assuming that that red wire is not "hot."  It is so hot! And when the electrician does come over to the house to repair your repair, get him to share all the other stories he has about guys and gals who thought they knew "watt" they were doing.

I have a real accountant friend do our taxes.  I like to tell people that I am heavily invested in pork belly futures, which, in all accuracy, means to say that we buy bacon every week.  But with my diverse portfolio (United Ointments, Amalgamated Vinegar Inc) and our real estate holdings (rental properties on the Boardwalk and Baltic Av) it is best to seek professional help.  Fact is, I just sign on the X, preferring not to know the precarious state of our finances.

My heirlooms are few and far between. I know that someone somewhere would want to purchase my jeans from 1970 with the Keep On Truckin' patch, or a fairly complete set of the Encyclopedia Brittanica (just volume "K" is missing, probably propping up a coffee table someplace).  Any PC more than 6 weeks old is an antique, and we have one for the discriminating shopper.  It takes those floppy disks, for crying out loud.  Estimated retail price: Google it!

We all have that daydream where we are in court, defending ourselves against a lawsuit brought on by Donald Trump, who wanted to buy up our house to make room for a new gambling casino.  In the fantasy, Trump, his impressive legal team, the judge and all the jurors are reduced to tears of laughter, as time after time, our verbal parries fend off the sharp thrusts of the inquisitor.  In fact, the judge repeatedly bangs his gavel and hollers, "There will be order in this court!" but his heart's not really in it, as he is shaking with mirth and a jolly twinkle in his eye.  In one memorable scene, Trump's attorney asks why I am so sure that a spurious deed to my ranch he is proferring is not for real.  " I can spot fake things a mile away," I say, and then I look directly at The Donald and run my fingers through my hair while raising one eyebrow and pointing to his mane.   Pandemonium reigns, and after the trial, in my daydream, several of the jurors ask, as they file out, if it would be all right with me for them to name their firstborn male child after me.

Tree removal?  If it's like January 17th and you're dragging the red Blue Spruce out the front door, with about 17 needles and half a string of burned-out Christmas lights on it, that's the only kind of tree removal the average person ought to try.  Cutting down a tree is dangerous, and should be given over to Paul Bunyan and Babe, his blue ox. Any casual viewer of "America's Funniest Home Videos" has seen dozens of hapless men with chain saws in their hand and a 30-foot pine tree on their head.  Don't be that man.

Printing jobs are best left to the Department of the Treasury.  Most of us who would try to print our own make simple mistakes, such as putting Josh Hamilton instead of Alexander Hamilton on the ten-dollar bill.  Blame Google Image Search all you like, but these little slip-ups mean long-term problems, or just long terms.

Getting rid of bugs can be something that you might like to undertake personally, depending on your shoe size, but when the cicadas come back in 2021, they are going to be man-eating cicadas that time!  Up until now, the most prominent problem with the 17-year Locust has been their annoying hummmming sound, which for years was thought to be made by their hind legs rubbing together.  Recent entomological research has found that the locusts made that noise by listening to disco music and dancing to it.  When they come back and find no Donna Summer or Village People on the radio, they will be mad, and will eat you alive through the back of your neck.  Unless your iPod is playing "YMCA."  You decide.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

It's Only Make-Believe

I see there is some sort of debate mildly raging among parents.  Somewhere in this great wide large country of ours, a young man chose to go as "Daphne" from the Scooby Doo TV cartoon for Halloween.

Wow.  The world just came to an end.  Imagine, a male dressing as a female.

Milton Berle turned it into an art form and he's not alone. Peggy has always claimed that most men want to parade around in female garb, although it's of no interest to me.  I mean, I'm not all that great-looking in the gender that nature assigned me, and certainly there is no amount of paint and powder and frilly frocks that are going to turn me into another Christie Brinkley.  The best I could hope for would be to look like David Brinkley.

So, anyway, the problem with this kid dressing as Daphne is what, now?  It's going to turn him into a cross-dresser for life?  Kinda doubt it; there is no indication that Milton Berle did not know whether to choose a tuxedo or an evening gown for a big night on the town.  It's a costume, and dressing up as the other gender will not make you the other gender, any more than getting an orange tan will turn you into a congressperson with a pistachio tie.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

What Could Go Wrong?

I keep seeing these popups on the internets and hearing radio commercials for such services...they call themselves FreeCreditCheck.com or some such.

People are breaking their necks to get their credit checked.  AS IF we all don't know if we have good credit.  Take this simple test:  Do you pay your bills?  Then you have good credit!

But if you're really hung up on finding out, by all means, go to these websites, enter your name, home address, social security number, charge acct. numbers, mortgage data and significant debts.  Send all that off to some website of unknown provenance, and count on the people at the other end evaluating you as a credit risk.  For free! Because surely, these people are not interested in making money off this, and they don't have to worry about their own credit ratings.  So, why not send in every iota of personal information to them?

What could go wrong?

It reminds me of the car and truck commercials we hear, touting some Plymouth dealer who buys cars from the factory and then sells them "below factory invoice!"  So we are to believe that these altruistic automotive entrepreneurs buy a Sport Fury from the factory for $20,000, say, and sell it to you for $17,999 because they like you so darn much!  And then when you go to the car lot and talk to the salesperson, asking how they can make any money selling cars for less than they paid for them, the answer comes back, "We make it up in volume!"

So if they lose a couple thousand on every single car, they make it up by losing a couple Gs on a couple dozen cars?

Math majors, help us out here!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Dancing in the dark

After this, which I just have to get off my hope chest, I am going to take a break from talking and writing about politics.  For as long as I can stand not to!

But, let's read this and talk it over: (from the Washington Post)

Too busy dancing, Bristol Palin didn't vote

Bristol Palin apparently isn't swept up in the Tea Party frenzy along with mom Sarah Palin. She didn't vote. But who can blame her? Week after week, she's been her own Tea Party -- the improbable, unqualified, ostensibly unelectable wild card who keeps defying all odds by making the "Dancing with the Stars" cut.
On Wednesday, Palin -- daughter of the one-time GOP vice presidential nominee and erstwhile governor of Alaska -- admitted to Inside Edition, "I did not send in my absentee ballots to Alaska." 

"I'm going to be in trouble," added Palin in an interview set to air Wednesday. "Sorry, mom!"

And mom may indeed be a bit steamed since Tea Partier Joe Miller, whom she endorsed, looks to have been shut out of a Senate race by write-in candidate Sen. Lisa Murkowski. 

Asked if she'd support her mom for a 2012 presidential bid, Palin replied "I know she is great, and she is great for our country."

Well, look.  Why pick on Bristol?  Surely she is doing the best she can.   Which ain't much, but still.

But if you're thinking about voting for the 1/2 governor for president any time soon, bear in mind that Sarah's grasp of civic responsibility is so slight that it didn't even trickle down to her oldest child.  I say, if you don't vote, you don't have a thing to say about how the country is going, and if you don't teach your children the importance of voting, then I just don't know about you.

And for the sweet love of King Salmon, will someone tell this child that you only get one ballot?  "I did not send my absentee ballots..."  Just how many times did she not vote this year?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

We're Doing Fine

If you know me, you already know how I feel about the elections, and I think we can almost always trust the American electorate to do the right thing.  

You might be surprised to read that exit polling showed that only 21% of the people who voted Tuesday self-identify as "tea party" supporters.  Gosh, to hear entertainer Sarah Palin talk (and Lord knows, we've had plenty of chances to do so) you would think that the figure was more like 99.21%, and her huntin' fishin' feudin' fightin' forces were on the trail of the recalcitrant .79%.  But, no.  Fewer than one person in four is in league with the Tea-sters union, and that might explain why, for all the struttin' and braggin' celebrity Sarah Palin has brought to bear in this election, three of the candidates she backed with her mighty power are sitting around forlorn in campaign headquarters today, surrounded by deflated balloons and hopes.

Sharron Angle in Nevada, running against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, managed to turn a sure win into a big loss by being Sharron Angle, a woman who
  • believes in the US withdrawing from the United Nations
  • opposes same-sex marriage
  • feels that there is no mandate separating church and state
  • would privatize Medicare
  • thinks that fluoridation in the water is a bad thing, 
  • wants to get rid of Social Security
  • would not want to force health insurance companies to cover mammograms and colonoscopies
  • supports eliminating the complete Internal Revenue Service code
  • would abolish Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae
  • and, of course, recommends that people start shooting when they don't like how things are going.

Angle, speaking to conservative Nevada talk show host Bill Manders, said:  I feel that the Second Amendment is the right to keep and bear arms for our citizenry. This not for someone who's in the military. This not for law enforcement. This is for us. And in fact when you read that Constitution and the founding fathers, they intended this to stop tyranny. This is for us when our government becomes tyrannical...
Manders: If we needed it at any time in history, it might be right now.
Angle: Well it's to defend ourselves. And you know, I'm hoping that we're not getting to Second Amendment remedies. I hope the vote will be the cure for the Harry Reid problems.

So...Sharron thinks that we ought to all get guns and commence firing when we don't like how things are going...

and Sarah also threw her majestic power behind the campaign of Christine O'Donnell in Delaware, who will forevermore be known as the candidate who was forced to buy television commercials to reassure potential voters that she is not a witch.  O'Donnell, who seems quite hung up on chastity but not so much on reading (or understanding) the Constitution, lost by 17 points to a lackluster county executive in the race for Senate.

And out in Alaska, home of media performer Palin, heavy-bearded Joe Miller appears to have lost his run for Senate, despite heavy endorsement of homegirl Sarah, who supported him despite Miller's having
  • a goon squad to rough up reporters
  • disdain for government programs of which members of his family have availed themselves
  • opposition to federal aid programs such as federal farm subsidies, the federal minimum wage, and unemployment benefits
  • support for the elimination of the U. S. Department of Education 
  • support for a repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which would return the election of U.S. Senators to the state legislatures.
  • a belief that the Berlin Wall was an example of a nation taking effective measures to control illegal immigration.

So, from all indications, these three people, all backed by shrill-voiced Sarah, all lost.  Her star-makin' machinery just ran out of juice.
This is why I love America.  You can't beat how smart we the people are!  We know best.