Friday, December 31, 2010

Oh Baby!

Boy oh boy! (or girl oh girl!) we seem to be running out of things to argue out, so let's close 2010 with the raging dispute about how horrible it is that a hospital in Western Maryland is not allowing fathers, brothers, aunts, Steven Spielberg, or anyone else to bring a camera and their artistic eye in the delivery room for the first five minutes of a baby's life.

Imagine that!  Check the news story about a woman who has had the tradition of snapping the lens for all seven of her previous young'uns, and now bemoans the fate of #8, who will not be photographed as he or she plummets into the great new world that she or he just became a part of, a world in which every breath, every movement, every moment of even the tiniest significance is digitally recorded, enhanced, and shared with the world via YouTube, MySpace, Facebook and Judge Judy.

I can understand wanting to have pictures of Sonny Jim shortly after the blessed event takes place.  In our day, the fathers were required to pass the time in a lineoleum-tiled waiting room, smoking Old Golds and pacing.  They durst not go near the delivery room for fear of being asked to boil water.  Now it's much better, and the father, having attended most of the LaMaze classes, and having studied on the current standings of the LaLeche League, is in touch with his inner self and is ready to be of assistance as needed.  But, having been to medical school, the doctor is pretty much ready to handle the birth, leaving dear old dad to set up lights, tripods and those umbrella things for the flash, the better to record the very moment of Stewie's arrival.

Those who are yelping about the policy of the Meritus Hospital, which tells PhotoDad to just cool it with the camera for five minutes, are claiming that the first time they make eye contact with little Junior is a valuable moment that cannot be forgotten.  Therefore, they have to have a picture of it.

Over the years, I have been shown still photographs of the wife of a co-worker, nekkid except for a coating of Betadine all up and down her strike zone, as she lay awaiting the birth of her child.  I am absolutely not making this up.  Much like a flip book, the stack of 125 following photographs could be riffled through to make like a little movie...first you saw the woman and then you saw her giving birth, or you would have, if you hadn't handed the stack back to the dude and run screaming for the door.

Then we were at a friend's once and she asked if we would like to see the baby's video.  Act 1, Scene 1, was our friend's private parts in extreme close-up.  I ran for the door and watched Live With Regis and Kelly to bathe and soothe my eyes. 

So can we agree that birth photos and videos might be a nice thing for the parents to have, and certainly a fine souvenir of the day little Whoosit came to be, but the rest of us are not interested in, or comfortable with, seeing splayed pudenda and legs akimbo of someone we actually KNOW?

And as for the parents' private collection of birth pix, I should point out that this policy was put in place because a doctor at this hospital, attempting to help a woman give birth, had to shove aside forcibly her camera-bug husband so as to get himself in position to save her life and bring to life the baby.

I mean, come on, Doc, let's not get in the way of a good photo-op with all this medicine and whatnot! 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Meet the Little FOXers

On Election Day, 2008, I was conversing with a high-school dropout of my acquaintance.  He was surprised to find that I had a) voted and b) voted for Barack Obama for president.

"He's a (sic) Arab terrorist ," claimed the young man who remains to this day a stranger to knowledge.

And then I heard the voice of Daniel Stern, who narrated "The Wonder Years," and that voice was saying, "That was when I realized that Barack Obama could find a cure for cancer and disenchantment, heal the divisions that pain us all, and find a suitable comeback vehicle for Joe Piscopo, and there will still be those who heap disdain and scorn upon him."

When we saw the news over the past weekend  that the president had contacted the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles football team, congratulating Jeffrey Lurie for giving Michael Vick a second chance at employment, I knew what was coming next.

We've talked about this Vick thing before.  No one - not even Michael Vick - is claiming that his prosecution and 21-month jail term were wrong, and that's quite the rarity in criminal circles.  But no matter where you stand on dogfighting and the abuse involved therein, you have to accept our justice system. Vick did the crime, and then he did the time, and according to everything we hold dear, he is now entitled to go back and try to pick up his life from where he left it.

And let's face it; Vick's job skills were in greater demand than those of the average felon just out of the Walled-Off Astoria, although the Eagles were really the only team that made him any kind of substantial offer.  And as life would have it, Vick is now a better passer, teammate and leader than he ever was before he went up the river.  No one would have predicted this, and therefore the Eagles are to be commended for giving him his second chance.

Right?  Right.

And speaking of the right, FOXNEWS has come out against the president making a phone call.  And to hear what their anchor, Megyn Kelly, has to say about it (clip is here), you would think that the president called the Eagles to congratulate Vick for being so brutal.

Saved By The Bell - The College Years
It reminds me when Lewis "Scooter" Libby, late of the staff of Dick "Scooter" Cheney, committed a crime and outed a member of our country's national security staff, exposing that person to danger and ruining her career.  Libby's sentence was commuted by one-time President George "Scooter" Bush, who said that Libby had paid enough of a price, what with his legal bills and all.

Libby never set foot in a prison, thanks to Bush, the darling of FOXNEWS.   But that was ok by them.  Just don't give anyone else a second chance without sniping behind their back about it.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

...and I LIKED it!

I am personally acquainted with Jamie Costello, the great anchor/reporter here at Baltimore's WMAR ABC-2 News.  I am proud to call him a friend, and I watch him do the news whenever I'm available to do so.

The other night, he got me to thinking, as he is wont to do.  (He does the news in a much more personal, and therefore enjoyable, style than the Ted Baxter style I see so much of around town.)  He passed along the stunning news that once again, that ol' love bug had hit Hef hard.

Get 'em to the church on time
Yes, folks, octogenarian play"boy" Hugh Hefner and twentygenarian Crystal Harris are planning to be married, and you have to figure her parents are oh so proud.  No word from his.

But Jamie made the point that their iPods might not be so compatible, pointing out that "his has Perry Como on it, and hers has Katy Perry!"

Mine has both!

She just married that Russell Brand guy
I really like Como's way, the way he sang ballads, novelty numbers and Christmas tunes.  And, yes, just ahead of Ke$ha in my hot hits slot in the 'Pod is where you will find Ms Perry doing "Hot N' Cold," "California Gurls" and "I Kissed a Girl."
And just when you wonder why an old-timer such as I can groove to tunes made by and for people a third of my age, I can switch right over to Perry's versions of "Papa Loves Mambo","Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive","'A' — You're Adorable","Hot Diggity (Dog Ziggity Boom)","Zing Zing —Zoom Zoom" and "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo (The Magic Song)."

Later on, as the mood mellows, I can switch to some of his novelty tunes.

If there's anyone else running around with this sort of eclectic taste, please get in touch. Maybe we could do a song called "Hot N' Cold Diggity Dog"!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Razing Arizona

Today's news included this from the Washington POST:
She does not vote. 
After news that Bristol Palin had paid $172,000 in cash for a five-bedroom, brown stucco house in a Phoenix suburb this month emerged from the Arizona Republic on Friday, no one seemed to know why. And a complete mystery was born. 

"I'm not sure why she wanted to buy that home, but we are real happy for her," Michael Smith, the seller, told the Republic., citing unnamed "friends," came through with at least a plausible theory. The site reported that Palin, 20, plans to move to Arizona to attend college. So that's where things stand for now. No comment from the university. 

According to public records and Web sites, Palin is the sole buyer of the 3,900-square-foot house with a tile roof, 21/2 baths, a three-car garage and access to a community pool in the Cobblestone Farms development in Maricopa, Ariz. Built in 2006 and originally sold for $329,560, the house went to foreclosure in January. Smith and his wife, Cynthia, from North Dakota, bought the place as an investment in May for $137,200. 

Here is my question: You can buy a 3,900-square-foot house with a tile roof, 2 1/2 baths, a three-car garage and access to a community pool for 172 thousand semolians?

Where do I go to audition for that dancing show?

And, according to another report, the Whirling Dervish from Wasilla is moving to AZ because she
Sic transit gloria mundi.
plans to enroll in Arizona State University's famed Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication for broadcasting.

Gee, you think she might find work at foxnews? 


Monday, December 27, 2010

Happens Every Sunday

It's almost trite to write about it (as if that would stop me anyway) but is there some sort of law, some written regulation, that requires both of the following to occur at least twice during any televised football game?

He did this a lot yesterday
Scenario 1:  Quarterback throws interception, heads for sideline shaking head. Opposing team, given ball deep in opponent's territory, scores in about two or three plays.  Result: quick camera cut to errant quarterback, who will be wearing the requisite twin looks of disconsolation and affirmation.

Scenario 2: Wide receiver makes thrilling sideline catch, gets run out of bounds, and knocks down photographer or random official or semi-official sideline guy.  Cool thing is for the receiver to help the guy up.  Rarely happens.

Topic 2 for today: my newfangled clock radio that plays my iPod or the radio or a buzzzzzzzzzz to wake me up.  After my 17 false attempts at setting the alarm, Peggy came in and read the NOTE in the foldout instruction manual - a NOTE which I had not bothered to read.  It says, paraphrasing here, that the alarm will come on at zero volume and then increase, to awaken one gently from the arms of Morpheus.  I prefer to be awakened abruptly, like when the guy behind me at a red light honks his horn when that light goes green.  There doesn't seem to be an adjustment for either of them anywhere.

Gently yours,


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Another year over, and a new one just begun (almost)

Well. I was talking to a friend the other night, and she pointed out that many, many people have said that 2010 was a horrible, suck-o year and could not wait for it to be over.  I'm not going to be able to disagree with that assessment of the year we are about to close.  I had something go wrong with my back last New Year's Eve which led to a lot of doctorin' and physical therapy and a wonderful surgical solution in September, and I'm getting back to normal now.

Slight pause for those who wish to raise the question of my normality.

Peggy had a horrible bout with the dad-blasted shingles in the summer, and to see such an angel in pain was tough.

And then there was all that running around and doing this and that and we vow that 2011 will have a slower pace, or we'll just have to pull over to more of the rest stops along life's highway.

But when I add it all up, it's simple math: would I rather be here with an aching back or not be here at all?

And that's so easy, even I can answer it.  The sign out front of a church near us says it well: God never promised smooth sailing, just easy landings.  Things will turn out all right, and even when they're not going so well, the people you meet that will help you get things better are outstanding.

The other night, we were with Mom in the emergency department of one of our leading hospitals. I won't mention the hospital by name, but its initials are GBMC. It was the night before Christmas Eve, and all through the health house, plenty of creatures were stirring.  All of them were kind, friendly, professional, and caring,  There were 20 patients in there at the time, and we were all made to feel as if the entire hospital was there to serve just us.  Once Mom was admitted for observation, we were able to leave, feeling that she was in good hands.

Good people all around, and to those of you who have made my life the interesting journey that it's been, my thanks, and my wish for a happy and healthy holiday season.  For those who will be there in the future, I can't wait to tell you some stories!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Tennessee Titan

I received a message from a resident of Soddy Daisy, Tennessee, and of course I was fascinated to learn more about a town with such a fascinating name.  Turns out the town, a suburb of Chattanooga, was formed in 1969 when the towns of Soddy and Daisy merged to form a larger town (2000 population: 11,350).  You just wonder, though: certainly native Soddimians are proud of their town, and consider it superior to the storied land of the Daisyites.  And then those with Daisy roots probably rue the day that new Soddy was brought into the garden. If it's anything like my fair Baltimore, where neighborhoods are ranked, not to mention rankled, by the tiniest demographic shift, there are those who still wish the merger had not taken place. 

Wikipedia lists the notable residents of Soddy Daisy as just one person: the virtually-edentulous Basil Marceaux, who has run for office  - almost every office - on an interesting platform that requires all citizens to be armed, forbids police from making traffic stops "except for moving violations when the cars are stopped" (?), and would force all high school students to read the minutes of the Congressional Record.  And, addressing one of the key issues facing Tennessee voters, Basil has come out foursquare in support of banning all US flags with gold fringe.

Marceaux made a video that Jimmy Kimmel played on his show, but since it was not The Man Show, I did not see it.  Millions did, however, and it made ol' Basil an internet sensation, notwithstanding the fact that Basil says it's hard to understand what he says, since he has but three teeth.

"If I knew it was that easy, I would have made one a long time ago," he said of the campaign video. "I've been fighting for a long time to become somebody important, like a mayor or a governor.

"I run for anything where I can be in charge." 

We can all look forward to the day when the Basil Marceauxes of the nation are leading us toward our manifest destiny.  With them in charge, let us proceed onward to a new day in America, when everyone will be toting a pistol (at least), children will be conversant with the tear-filled words of John Boehner, and no flag shall offend our eyes with fringe.
Basil Marceaux Notable Quote:
Basil finished fifth in a five-person Republican gubernatorial primary in August, garnering a whopping 0.5% of the vote.  His chances were probably diminished when the local paper reported that in 2005, he had been found not guilty by reason of insanity in seven various traffic charges.

Touch up Nathan Lane's hair with a little grey, and he can play the lead in the story of this man's life!  Or Rip Taylor, whatever.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The importance of train-ing

See, this is what we get for assuming. 

As children in the Baltimore area, we all figured that everyone everywhere had train gardens of some sort around the house at Christmastime, and that most firehouses did too, all around the nation.

Wrong again, Santapants.

The tradition of having a Christmas garden - a miniature diorama with wee villages and model trains, often with hovering helicopters, ascending aircraft and plummeting parachuters (I just renewed my membership in the American Alliteration Association) displayed above - may take places in lots of houses around the nation, but somehow it became a Baltimore tradition to have them in fire houses, and there is where we find amazing work in action: in plenty of local fire stations.

It wouldn't be the holiday season if Peggy and I didn't make our annual trip to the wonderful display at Baltimore City Engine 45 house at Cross Country Bl and Glen Av (21215).  The firefighters there have nowhere to store the huge plaster mountain and other features that make up the base of their garden, so they have to tear it down at the end of the holiday season every year, put the thousands of miniature houses, buildings, cars, trucks and people in storage along with the train sets, and rebuild it again every year, beginning in August. 

And what great work they do!  The trains go around, skiers jump, skaters skate, and you really have to pay attention to the teeny little details.  A few years ago, my childish heart was made even more gleeful by the sight of the Coca-Cola polar bear...walking away from a patch of yellow snow.  This year, in one of the scenes of a burning house, they managed to make ordinary cotton and some well-placed lights look just like smoke wafting from a burning hotel.  And they made a rock formation on one side of the mountain look just like ET the Extra Terrestrial...with "phone home" graffiti right nearby.

There is something for everyone to enjoy.  Peggy loves seeing the trains go around, and I like the little villages.  The lights come up and go down, and I think you should go down and see this great train garden. Here's a link to further info, and some pictures.  See you in Plasticville!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tales of Hoffman, and DeNiro

I watched Letterman the other night because Robert DeNiro and Dustin Hoffman were coming on.  I subject myself to these ego baths now and again, and I don't really know why.

The two beloved actors were promoting their new movie, "Little Fockers," which is the 27th time that some studio has watered down, reheated, and re-served this same pot of soup.  But here's the key: if you watch late night talk shows, you know they are a natural place for actors to show up, talk about their new movie, tell a self-deprecating story or two, show a clip from the flick, and move along.

DeNiro and Hoffman are not familiar with the word "self-deprecating," nor could they bring themselves to ask the audience to put down some money and go to see their movie.  To do so would sink them into the morass of commerce, and it's clear that they think of themselves as artists, above the common rabble of box-office concerns.

As I sat and watched these titanic thespians behave on Letterman's couch like a couple of ninth-graders in the principal's office for throwing spitballs in class, I thought of these tips for any other actor who might find him-or-herself in the awful position of actually having to beat the drum for the latest turgid semi-comedy that they are starring in for the purpose of earning a few quick million bucks:
  • When you are introduced to wild and unbridled applause, just shamble onto the set as if looking for sox at Sears, acknowledge your cheering fans with a barely-perceptible nod of your noble chin, and slump into the sofa, as bored as you can be.
  • While seated, stare at either the ceiling (Hoffman) or 180° away (DeNiro) from the host who is speaking to you so reverently.  For a few minutes, I thought old Dustin was having a physiological problem that caused his chin to be perpendicular to his chest.
  • Continue slumping, and feign being mute (DeNiro) so that Hoffman can claim to be your "whisperer" as you sit, gazing into the middle distance.
  • Do not wear a tie.  Do that new thing where you wear a suit and have your neck wide open, Goober-style.
  • When the host mentions the movie in any context, stare stone-facedly as if he had mentioned Brazilian copper exports or something similarly unremarkable.
  • Refer to movies as "films" and to being an actor as "your craft" or "work."  
  • If you deign to speak at all, do so in monosyllabic answers, nuanced grunts, or meaningless giggles.
  • Above all, make it very very plain that you regard appearing on television as a fate worse than death. Act as if you were Julia Child caught scarfing a Big Mac, or Stephen Hawking reading a Hardy Boys thriller.
  • When the host attempts to introduce the clip from the movie you are there to promote, claim to know nothing about the clip, what scene it shows, or even why anyone should watch it.
  • Mention one of your old movies, and then when the crowd cheers for it, glare at them and say, "I wasn't BEGGING!"  (Hoffman)
  • Act like you are doing an impersonation of Robert DeNiro or Dustin Hoffman.
Now this is an actor!
 I thought of all these things while wondering why these two self-important bozos have cupboards full of Oscar® awards, and Ed O'Neill has none. But I hope Dave will have him on soon.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sneezy and Throaty, the two sad dwarves

There's an old proverb, and it must be true, for I heard it from Sally Rogers:  "When two people tell ya you look sick, go lie down."

Medical history has proven that the common cold strikes the common man more than a thousand times worse than a woman, a gender filled with people all of whom are uncommon and splendid in my view.  But give a man a cold, and watch what he can do with it.

I first noticed the onset of this cold at 3:49 AM on December 7. We were fast asleep on our vacation week when the smoke detector in Peggy's Zen room decided to malfunction. (There is an unwritten law among smoke detectors that requires all malfunctions to occur during sleepytime.  This stems from the sad fact that the smoke detectors never get to sleep, and this is the only way they have to point that out.)  So anyway, as I ricocheted around the house trying to find the source of the ruckus, clad in my rakish nightclothes, I noticed that certain signs of an incipient cold were present, and once the errant detector was yanked from the ceiling,  I went to the kitchen for a cup of cough-y.

As the days went by and the coughing and snorfling continued, I took time to put my personal affairs in order, awaiting the inevitable.  Peggy came down with a cold as well. We even cancelled our annual trip to the fabulous Christiana Mall in Christiana, Delaware, "Where Marylanders Pay $12 in Tolls To Save $3 in Taxes.''  It's true, so true: there is no sales tax in The First State, and we were hoping to see Christine O'Donnell working at Hickory Farms or something, but we just confined our shopping to the closest 117 stores to our home.

I went back to work as scheduled on Monday, but by Tuesday, my supervisor had joined Peggy in telling me to go see my doctor, bringing the above slogan to mind.  Dr Deloskey, King of All Family Medical Providers, sized me up in a quick hurry, and told me I had either a sinus infection or an upper respiratory one, and prescribed a Z-pack, Mucinex, vapor-y nose spray, Claritin, Acetaminophen, and egg nog. Just kidding about the nog, which was self-prescribed, but all of those items are much better with a little rotgut whisky added.

A couple of days home finished up most of the coughing, and now here I am, all ready to enjoy the holidays.  I hope yours are sweet and happy, and cold-free. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Stop Alla Dis Ruckus Up 'Ere!

If you just got here to Baltimore from Hong Kong, Baluchistan or Nome - the lyrics are from "Where's Charley?", the hilarious stage musical based on the infidelities of Charles Kuralt - you might pick up the local paper and see the heated debate raging in our streets and editorial sections.

Ms Whiting en regalia
No, no one is arguing about the crime rate, the underperforming schools, the crumbling infrastructure or the high price of gasoline.  The present debate concerns the copyrighting of the term "Hon" by Denise Whiting, a local woman who owns a local cafe called The Cafe Hon.

"Hon" is a term of endearment, locally favored by diner waitresses, deli clerks and hospital admissions staffers, all of whom you will meet during a stay of any length in our fair city.  Some people just in from the distant points mentioned above are often taken aback by the familiarity of it all, but don't be that way, hon.  It's how we address each other here, and not a put-down.

Dere's the Cafe Hon, hon!
Denise Whiting was one of the first to invest her time and money and effort into building a rather gritty section of the city known as "Hampden" (pronounced "HAM-den," to the surprise of many new news reporters, hon) into an arty part of the city.  Today, where once the streets were filled with empty stores and shuttered businesses like entertainer Sarah Palin's books are filled with half-truths, idealistic platitudes and misremembered memoirs, there exists a bubbling community with antique shops, what-not stores, New Age emporia, and the cornerstone of it all, the Cafe Hon itself, Ms Whiting's diner/bakery/bar.   You can purchase all manner of "hon"-branded merchandise, and celebrate the entire mystique of that segment of the population that loves all sandwiches on white bread, all pie served a-la-mode, and all things glitzy and glamorous.  Peg Bundy from "Married with Children" would be a Hon, no matter that she didn't live here.  So would most of the Golden Girls, the casts of all John Waters movies, and Bill Clinton.  But not his wife.  Media personality Palin has Hon-like qualities, but would need to come down off her high horse and ride a pink flamingo instead to qualify.

Oh yes, the debate.  Ms Whiting was advised to copyright the term "Hon" and 1/2 the town is all up in arms about it.   People are acting as if, if they call the person across the deli counter to whom they just slid a wrapped half-pound of ham "Hon," they will have to pay some sort of royalty to Whiting.

It's not that way at all.  For the same reason that you can't decide to open a hamburger drive-in and call it "McDonald's" or "MacDonald's" or " 'Mac' Donald's" or any other such variation, and you sure can't start a computer store and call it "MicroSoft" or "My Crow Soft", Ms Whiting is only seeking to protect her brand, and not own the word, hon.  Hon.

I just used the word and no lawyers are knocking on my door!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

2 Soon 2 B Forgotten?

One of the many things that make America The Beautiful so beautiful is our forgiving nature.  Depressing Roaring '20s author F. Scott Fitzgerald claimed that there were no second acts in American lives, but he also said "Forgotten is forgiven," so we can't forget that, can we?

No, F. Scott.  We don't forget, but we do forgive.  A classic case is Vanessa Williams, who was crowned Miss America 1984, only to be dethroned ten months later when some saucy pictures of her turned up in Penthouse Magazine.  It was the old, old story: she had posed when she was younger and needed the work, and was hardly the first person to be bitten by karma in such a way.  I personally have needed years to live down the infamy of being photographed with Pamela Anderson.  In my case, however, I was identified by the stage name I employed at the time: "Tommy Lee."  But still.

So all these years later, we can turn on the tv set every Sunday and see Vanessa strutting about on "Desperate Housewives," and you betcha there aren't a lot of people saying, "Turn off the tv, Henry; it's that horrible woman with the nudie pitchers!"  She moved on.  We all did. Truth to tell, you could probably see pictures like that of most of your friends on Facebook, and the world wouldn't stop revolving.

Another once-notorious and now-celebrated person who appears on television on Sundays is Michael Vick.  You all know the story about him, and the coals of his infamy are still glowing a lot more brightly than Vanessa's.  Raised in a culture that included dogfighting, Vick spent a lot of the money he made as an NFL quarterback on that sick sport, got caught, went to jail, lost two years of time in his career, and has come out of jail ostensibly rehabilitated and penitent, and does a lot of public speaking against that which derailed his career.  He speaks to young people about doing the right things, he works for the Humane Society to fight the scourge of dogfighting, and he has had as his guide on the road to spiritual renewal the highly-regarded former coach of the Professional Football Team which Plays In Indianapolis but Still Belongs to Baltimore, Mr Tony Dungy.  (Some things, we just DO NOT forgive or forget!)  Vick's public image is being restored, and his career is in high gear again. 

Vick began the year as a backup quarterback on the Philadelphia Eagles, but injuries to the starter put him back on the field, and he has excelled.  Meanwhile, the stands are full of people cheering for his ability to throw, or run with, a football, and many of those fans are people who swore that they would never attend a game, watch a game, or root for a team with that horrible man Vick on it. 

And yet, they cheer.  So we do forgive, and we realize that we are none of us perfect.  This week, Vick startled people again by saying that he wants a dog in his home.  He said his daughters really miss having a pooch on the premises, and, even though the terms of his probation dictate no dog ownership until mid-2012, he wants one, and says, "I really mean what I say. I don't have a problem. I'm not a psychopath. I'm not crazy. I'm a human being. What happened in my past and what I did in the culture I grew up in doesn't shape and mold me as the person I am now.

Predictably, there is mixed opinion on this. PETA says Vick should be banned from owning dogs for life, while Humane Society president Wayne Pacelle, who has been working with Vick, feels that it would be OK after Vick's probation is up. I don't know about the lifelong ban, but gee whiz, I don't know about him ever owning a dog. 

What say you?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A rerun from March

From the Associated Press, via Salon:

Superintendent accidentally fires gun during class

Montana school official says he "can't explain" why gun was loaded

The superintendent of a rural Montana school district says he was showing students his black powder muzzleloader when he accidentally fired the weapon into a classroom wall during a history lesson.
Dwain Haggard, who used to be a Civil War re-enactor, was showing the gun to five students in Reed Point High School's American history class Friday when it fired.
No one was injured, and Haggard says he can't explain how the weapon was loaded.
He says he usually fires a cap during the demonstration, but this time there was a loud bang and the room filled with smoke.
The ball shot through the "o" in the word "North" on a wall map.
Haggard says none of the students' parents was upset with him. He described the incident as "bitter irony" because he has tried to increase safety in the school district west of Billings.

Speaking of smoky things, you really get a lot to like with this story, just like the old Marlboro jingle. First of all, let's hear it for Dwain Haggard, former Civil War re-enactor and current superintendent of a rural school district in Montana. I'll bet that in your American History class, the teacher was never so cool as to bring in a black powder muzzleloader and SHOOT IT AT YOU!

Before you grab your keyboard and commence to writing back to me, let me say that I fully understand that this is Baltimore, gun-ridden though it be, and that is Montana, rural, Big Sky country. Surely Dwain is aware that Montana wasn't a state until 1889, nor was it even a territory until 1864. It did serve as a hideout for lots of Confederate deserters and drifters during the war, and still does.

Even here in Maryland, where the blood of Union and Confederate soldiers was spilled in the Civil War, there are people who enjoy dressing up in authentic garb and pretending to be Johnny Reb or Amos Burnside or whomever else. I don't know why.

I do know that when young Mr Haggard was born, his parents, desiring to name him as they did, had a choice between the two standard forms of his name: Dwayne, and Duane. So, they went with Dwain. All I know about that is, for all of his life he has had to tell people, "No, it's D - W - A - I - N...with no E. Uh huh, that's right. D W A I N." Of course, he could always fire off a memo to those who spell it wrong.

I also like the sentence that says he can't explain how the weapon was loaded. This is the sort of utterance we hear from people who have had their judgment impaired by drink, drugs or some combination thereof just before hoisting a firearm and blasting a big ole' hole in sumthin'. Would you like to think that your high school students are in better hands in the classroom than to be fired upon by a man who can't remember to check and make sure that his muzzleloader is not loaded?

The irony of the muzzle ball piercing the "o" in "North" on the classroom map was, no doubt, lost on Dwain, as it accurately reflects the amount of intelligence he brought to the classroom that day. And then he tells us that he has tried to increase safety in his school district! Imagine if he were not so safety conscious. He might even wear a tie to work!

Friday, December 17, 2010

It's only a game

By any reckoning, the title of Horse's-Patootie-Of-The-Week must go to this fellow Sal Alosi, who is the strength and conditioning coach of the New York Jets.  In the Jets game last Sunday with the Miami Dolphins, Miami's rookie Nolan Carroll - a proud alumnus of the University of Maryland - was running back a punt when he suddenly dropped to the ground faster than Sarah Palin's book sale receipts.

He dropped to the ground because Alosi stuck out his leg along the sideline and tripped him.

We often ask ourselves the moral theoretical question of what we would do if we were sure that no one could see us do it.  Mr Alosi must never have heard of YouTube, because he's all over it big time these days.  Click on the link, and after you finish checking out the Nicole Richie wedding videos, you can see Alosi's dastardly deed.

"I made a mistake that showed a total lapse in judgment," Alosi said after the game. "My conduct was inexcusable and unsportsmanlike and does not reflect what this organization stands for."

Put that down in your list of favorite "excuse-me"s of all time.  At least he did apologize, instead of doing that "if I offended anyone by this, then I am sorry" qualifier that so many of our miscreants go with. 

The famous "12th Man" play
But the thing that bothers me most about this is that Alosi tried to be sneaky and subtle, even knowing that dozens of cameras were following the play into which he inserted himself.  For sheer blatancy of sideline misbehavior, you really have to hand it to Alabama's Dickey Moegle, who, in the 1953 Cotton Bowl tackled Rice running back Tommy Lewis to prevent a long touchdown run from being completed.  Only problem was that Moegle was also a running back and was supposed to be on the bench with the other offensive Crimson Tide players at the time, but he got up off the bench and made that tackle because, as he explained it, "I got too much Alabama in me!"

One wonders if it is indeed possible to have "too much Alabama" in one.

Temper, Woody, Temper.
Then there was Ohio State coach Woody Hayes in the 1978 Gator Bowl, who registered his dislike for Clemson linebacker Charlie Bauman's interception of a Buckeye pass by punching Bauman in the chops as the play came to an end.  You've probably seen this before.  The list of people that Coach Hayes hit in the head over the years is very, very long, and one can only suppose, after reading about his various fracases, set-tos, melees, dust-ups, skirmishes and tussles, that Hayes was a wee bit unbalanced.  Cameramen, reporters, his own players, opposing players: they all took it on the melon from this apparently troubled individual.  You can read more here

It seems so important at the time, who wins or loses a game.  But it's not so much a game when grown men go around tripping, tackling or punching their opponents in the name of winning.  People ask me all the time why I enjoy watching or listening to Orioles baseball, when they haven't had a winning season since 1997 and don't seem likely to buck that trend any time soon.  It's the pleasure of the game itself for me that counts...the mental jotto between managers, the determination of the players, the hustle, the effort, the chance to see something you never saw before.  Seeing Buck Showalter run onto the field to trip Derek Jeter as he rounds third and heads for home would chase that joy away from me.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Death and Taxes

By now everyone on the planet has seen the video of the crazy man shooting up a meeting of a Florida school board.

Since everyone has seen it, is there ANYONE who can explain to me why this man, this Clay Duke, who had a criminal record and a long history of mental instability, was not incarcerated or hospitalized as a clear danger to society? 

And why was he allowed to own a gun, let alone walk around with one in his pocket? 

His second wife, Rebecca, said he was a "gentle giant" and must not have been shooting to hit the school board members, because he was an excellent shot.
But things just got to be too much for him, she said.  Taxes and everything else.

There are only two things you're never going to get away from, and they are death and taxes.  The latter led this man to the former.

And if anyone thinks he is alone...that there are not more people like him walking around with guns in malls, school board meetings, rec centers, grocery stores, hospitals...well, better think again.

When the Wild Wild West was really wild in this country, they used to call the Colt .45 revolver the "great equalizer" because it made every man who owned one capable of murder with one squeeze of the trigger. 

What if this gentle, deranged giant had not been so charitable as to shoot to miss those people in Panama City, Florida? 

How many more shootings is it going to take before we do something?  My family, your family, we don't want to live in fear that some guy will snap and harm us over something not even our fault.

People are hollering about the TSA.  I'm starting to think we need checkpoints at every public gathering place. 

It's scary.  I love living too much to want to die.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How Can We Go On?

Another stunning blow to our civic pride landed squarely on the chin this week, with the news that our beloved fellow citizen Jenna Bush Hager and her husband Henry have moved out of their corner rowhouse down in Federal Hill.  Graceful and elegant, Jenna left a great impression on her fellow Baltimoreans during their all-too-brief stay in Charm City.

The Hagers - Jenna and Henry

The Hagers - Jim and Jon
The Washington Post says they have moved to New York City, which will make it a tough commute for Henry, who will continue to work for Constellation Energy, a leisure service of Baltimore Gas & Electric.  Reasons for the move include: they miss her twin sister Barbara, who works there, and of course there are Jenna's thorough, concise, news-breaking reports on the Today Show, right in there along with more ways of grilling salmon, and birthday salutes to centenarians. So she quit her teaching job in Baltimore to move to the bright lights of the big city.  But we'll always have our memories of the Hagers.

Highlights of the couple's two-year residency in South Baltimore included the time the van in which their Secret Service protection detail was towed away by city police for unpaid tickets, and the time someone broke into their garage and ripped off their mountain bikes.
Now she can get back to her roots

I dunno; I guess I always figured that if they moved away, they would have gone to Hagerstown.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

There must have been some magic in that old oil barrel they found

He's got a barrel for a hat and a traffic cone for a nose and still he's cute as a big ol' bug!

Say hi to Milocinek - a 31-foot snowman made by some holiday-spirited folks in Trzebnica, Poland. 

They were bored, according to the online story, so they started making a snowman, and the thing just got bigger and bigger.  You might say it just sort of snowballed out of control.

Well, maybe you wouldn't commit atrocious puns as you lumber along, but I sure wood.


Monday, December 13, 2010

A Million to One

I'm willing to bet you don't recognize the young woman in this picture.  And even if I said, oh, that is Jessica Morales, I can still see the shrugs all around. 

And that's only to be expected.  Once the most famous person in America for an entire weekend, she has gone on to live her life quietly, living, working and marrying in America, all without being featured in the gossip columns and Star magazines or enduring an Oprah interview.

Jessica and mom
She was born Jessica McClure in oil-rich Midland, Texas and had reached the age of 18 months in October, 1987. On the 14th of that month, she fell into a well, and for the next 58 hours the nation was transfixed over the rescue effort.  Everyone was either talking about "baby Jessica" or watching the live coverage, leading former actor Ronald W. Reagan, who had somehow been elected president of the United States, to quip "everybody in America became godfathers and godmothers of Jessica while this was going on."  He was always saying things like that.

As we saw it on CNN
CNN was not that much older than Jessica, having been launched in 1980, but this was one of the events that helped to make the 24-hour news channel such a vital part of life today.  It seems hard to imagine, but back in the day, when there was only ABC, CBS, NBC and some local independent station that showed a lot of cartoons and reruns, the news was maybe an hour at dinnertime, and we would learn what we were to learn about well rescues and the like from the morning paper, once we found it on the roof or under the DeSoto.

One of the shows we used to watch when there were only three networks was called "The Millionaire," which depicted the fictional rich guy John Beresford Tipton, whose hobby was to send his majordomo Michael Anthony to randomly-selected individuals and give them a check for a million bucks, with the only proviso being that they couldn't tell anyone how they got so doggone rich all of a sudden.  Then Tipton would sit back and see how being rich messed up their lives, and we would sit back, sip our ginger ale, and be reminded again that being rich isn't all that great (but we'd sure like to find out for ourselves!)

On March 11, 2011, Jessica, who is married to a man named Daniel Morales and is the mother of their child Simon, will receive $1,000,000 on her 25th birthday, the proceeds of a trust fund set up for her to set aside the cash donations that were sent to her in 1987.  Expect a thirty-second story about it on the news, but I'd love to see how becoming a millionaire changes her life.  I hope it's all good for her!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Not that far from Lake Wobegone

As I'm writing this, through the magic of time retrieval, it's yesterday, Saturday, and I'm listening online to KYMN radio in Northfield, Minnesota.  You can follow this link to listen to them too.  They play an eclectic mix of music, more old than new, and then the news guy comes along and talks about the news up there...and the weather.

He just said that by Sunday morning, they will have another 7 - 11 inches of snow on the ground to go along with the 4" they got last night.  And he casually mentioned that there was some question as to which of the next few nights would be the coldest - Sunday night or Monday night.  It was supposed to be around 10 - 15° below zero, both nights.

And then he went on to talk about Brett Favre, and the Vikings, and some other local goings-on.

I know it's a point that's been beaten into the ground, but I urge you and the people you love to listen to this station for a little bit, and then check out local Baltimore media when it snows two inches and the "boop-boop" alarm sounds and the crawl runs across the bottom of the screen and sheer undiluted panic is on the faces of everyone and in the voices of everyone and there's not a loaf of bread, jug of milk or roll of toilet paper to be found at the Bi-So-Lo. 

I bet they don't close schools in Minnesota for all this snow and 45-50 mph winds, and I wonder if their hardy citizenry listens online to our radio and is stunned to find that we close schools when it rains or gets real hot or it MIGHT snow later.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Lightin' Up McGraw

Giving up cigarettes is a tough thing to do.  As the old Bob Seger song said, "I used to smoke five packs of cigarettes a day.  It was the hardest thing to put them away..."

Well, I didn't smoke five packs a day, but I was good for a pack, more or less.  And I enjoyed it, to tell you the truth, even knowing that it was bad for me.  It was that knowledge that eventually wore me down.

Today's young smoker might be fascinated, or envious, to learn of a time in America when more or less everyone smoked, more or less everywhere.  Restaurants, offices, grocery stores, funeral parlors, buses: you name a place, and the chances are that one could light up with impunity at any time.  And demand "an ashtray, if it's not too much trouble..."

In the late 1980's, things started to change, and smoking was banned in more places every day.  Bars and restaurants were the last public places to change.  You might recall the plaintive cries of Baltimore's bar and restaurant owners, who all claimed long and loud that without the right to puff a Camel, their customers would not come in, and their business would be gone in a puff of smoke.

This, of course, did not happen, nor did the increase of sales tax on the smokes themselves stop the dedicated smokers from smoking in their own areas.  I leave it to you to decide if that tax increase was fair, but I think that it's fair that smoking be done either in the Great Outdoors or someone else's Great Indoors. You want to smoke, or commit acts of self-defenestration, or listen to vile radio programs, go for it, but please don't force it on me.

Take a puff - it's springtime!
So all this comes to mind upon reading that President Barack Obama has been nine months without a smoke break, and I salute him for that.  In my case, after three months, the temptation to bum one and light it up was all gone, and there was nothing left to go but go around apologizing for my crabby behavior during those three months.

Those three long, long months.

Friday, December 10, 2010

I Don't Believe Luke Scott

Daniel P. Moynihan
Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan

I would truly doubt that Orioles left fielder, designated hitter, first baseman and good ol' country boy Luke
Scott has ever heard of the late Mr Moynihan, who rose from poverty to become, in 76 years, a four-term US Senator from New York, ambassador to the United Nations and to India, assistant Secretary of Labor, and a presidential advisor to Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford.
Luke Scott is 32, and, as Casey Stengel would have said, in ten years he's got a chance to be 42.
A well-regulated militiaman
Scott is paid well to hit a baseball and, occasionally, catch one hit by others (not his strong suit.)  And he already had the eyebrows of others raised last winter when he said, after being told he could not bring his gun to work with him, “I don’t think that everyone else should pay for the mistakes of a few. There is a good reason behind the rule, I can’t deny that. The reason is you cannot trust 25 guys in a locker room to have the same respect and training as I do with a weapon. That I do understand. I’ve carried a gun for 10 years. I’ve carried them in the locker room, and nobody really knows about it. I know how to handle myself, and I stow it away where nobody really knows about it.” 
Son, you work in Baltimore City, where there is already a major problem with armed people.  Surely you can understand the reluctance of your employers to allow you to pack your, uh, substitute when you come to work.  They fear you might start shooting the towel guy or something.  

But we all survived the 2010 baseball season unarmed, didn't we, Luke?  So now this winter, you just had to show up at the baseball winter meetings and start firing off your mouth on the subject of the president of the United States.  Herewith a sampling of the wisdom that stands in left field at Camden Yards:
"Obama does not represent America, nor does he represent anything that our forefathers stood for."

The reporter from a Yahoo! baseball blog then
asked Scott, "You don't think that Obama wasn't born in the United States, do you?"

"He was not born here," Scott said. "That's my belief. I was born here. If someone accuses me of not being born here, I can go -- within 10 minutes -- to my filing cabinet and I can pick up my real birth certificate and I can go, 'See? Look! Here it is. Here it is.'"

OK.  First of all, most everyone else - even the most rabid on the right  - has moved on past this issue of the president's birth.  We are certain that it occurred, what with the way we see him walkin' and talkin' and runnin' the country, you betcha.   And we know that it occurred in 1961 in Hawaii, which was at that time one of the states of the Union.

What we don't know is how Luke Brandon Scott, from out of DeLeon Springs, FL, can sleep at night when the president's birthplace so roils his fevered soul.  Perhaps growing at home there, bathing in the fountain of youth allegedly discovered by Juan Ponce de León, young Luke decided to avoid growing old by not growing up.

He is entitled to his beliefs, but not to his false facts.

Luke Scott heads for his filing cabinet, seeking vital records
I believe that every young man is entitled to strike out on his own, that's what I believe. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

OK Buddy, You're Bus-ted

Please read this carefully.  If you can spot the problem with it, you are ahead of all the lawyers, judges and police in Virginia for the last 40 years, until one John G. Mendez came along and everyone else said "Whaaaaaaaaa?"

Here is what the law concerning stopping for school buses said, since 1970:

"A person is guilty of reckless driving who fails to stop, when approaching from any direction, any school bus which is stopped on any highway, private road or school driveway for the purpose of taking on or discharging children." 

At first glance, it seems to say that we have to stop for a school bus which has stopped to pick up or drop off kids...but it doesn't say that at all.  It says that we have a stop a school bus which is stopped for that purpose.  Somebody left out the word "at" following "stop."

Mendez, facing the charge of failure to stop for the stopped school bus, hired the greatest legal mind in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the noted attorney Eric E. Clingan, who read the statute under which his client was charged, noticed the omission, and ran like John Goodman at a buffet to get to court and see  Mendez beat the charge.

"He can only be guilty if he failed to stop any school bus," Judge Marcus D. Williams said at the end of the brief trial of John G. Mendez, 45, of Woodbridge VA. "And there's no evidence he did." 

According to the Washington POST, that newspaper contacted state delegate, Del. David B. Albo (R-Fairfax), who represents that area, and Albo said: "That's not good. That's a very serious charge. That needs to be fixed."

But the state Virginia legislature will not reconvene until January, and even if they write a new, correct version of the law right away, most new laws won't take effect until July. We can only hope that drivers, down in the state where Maryland shops for firecrackers and hams, will follow the spirit, and not the letter, of the law until then.

Judge Williams said he hopes this is addressed so "we don't have to keep dealing with it."
John Mendez (Washington POST)

As for Mr Mendez, he had been having a run of bad luck that day earlier this year when he blew past a stopped school bus and was given a ticket for it.  He had recently lost his job, and had all of his tools ripped off when someone broke into his car.  For all we know, that's legal in Virginia too!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I Married a Teenager

A couple of Saturday nights ago, we were at a steak house with a friend, and I, for whatever dumb reason, ordered something I had never had before, and I don't think anyone else has either...or should.  The taste of the turkeyburger was quite like how I perceive tree bark, or soggy ceiling tiles, to taste. 

I didn't know what to do.  I hate to cause a scene, and I've heard enough urban myths about how food sent back to a restaurant kitchen returns to the table covered with "special sauce" and "secret spices."  But it was OK, because Peggy knew what to do.  "Just let the waitress know you don't like it, and she'll get you something else," counseled my wonderful wife.  And it all worked out fine, as always.

Today is the 37th anniversary of the sweet December day when I, lean, lanky and longhaired, donned a rented tuxedo and took as my wife the lovely 19-year-old Peggy.  You know how on TV shows and in cartoons, they always call the wife "The Better Half"?  Well, it couldn't be more true in this case. I always figured that God in heaven looked down and saw a life of confusion and perplexed wanderlust ahead for me, and sent down an angel to guide me.

Peggy's the one who keeps the family finances, and the checkbook, and knows enough not to send me to the Credit Union without a sticky note for the teller, telling her what bills to pay, checks to cash, savings to add.

Peggy's the one who deals with my mother's finances, groceries, and in tandem with my sister, her medications and day-to-day needs.  And if you think that's not a handful, well.....think twice.

Peggy's the one around here to listen to me, support me, prop up my tender feelings when someone sticks out their figurative tongue at me, and encourage me when I need it. 

When I need a peanut-butter-and-jelly sammy, there's no one who can fix one for me better than Peggy.  When something breaks around here and I need someone to steady the step ladder while I teeter in midair, there's no one I count on like Peggy. Decorating the house with Christmas joy or decorating my heart with love, it's Peggy every time.

Of course, I'm a little biased here, but it would be hard to think of how anyone wouldn't love Peggy as soon as they met.  She is unfailingly kind to others, always looks for the best in everything and everyone, and people tend to confide in her, always a sign of affectionate trust.  She's been a trusted and dependable employee of the same firm for more than 38 years, and she is without doubt the best person in the whole wide world.

Which leaves only one question, namely, why would she put up with me for 37 years?   But did I mention already that she's an angel?

Thanks, Peggy.  I love you forever and always. Thanks for always knowing what to do!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


OK. I'm starting to worry now.

Not about the Ravens or whether it might snow this weekend or how cold it's been or whether Peggy will like the diamond necklace flannel pajamas I got her.

It's this psychic thing I seem to have going on.  It's getting worse. We talked about it before, when I reported on my weird predilection for thinking about people just before they cash in their chips.  It's to where Peggy will call upstairs, while reading the morning paper, "Honey, have you been thinking about Leslie Neilsen lately?  Because, he passed away."

And let the record state that I had not been thinking of the deadpan Airplane! star just before he entered his final approach.

But yesterday morning, while doing my morning chores, a song came into my mind, and there it stayed for most of the morning.  You may see it here on YouTube. It's from 1971.  A former country swing band leader named Tex Williams, who also was famous for his recording of "Smoke, Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette," lets loose on a song by Dick Feller, who also wrote lots of country hits such as "Lord, Mr Ford," "Eastbound and Down," and "Some Days are Diamonds (Some Days are Stones)."

The name of this song is "The Night Miss Nancy Ann's Hotel for Single Girls Burned Down."  It's catchy, witty, well-performed by Tex in his drawling bass. It's about a house of ill repute that catches fire, and how funny it was to see the "so-called elite caught out in the street with their pompous purity down."    I thought nothing of it when, after several hours of the words flying in my mind, it was replaced by "Ragg Mopp," about which we'll talk another day. 

A great line in the "Nancy Ann's" song is 

The grand parade of girls in gowns and half-clad gentlemen
Through the thick gray smoke that sweetly smelled like french perfume and gin...

and so imagine how my eyebrows shot skyward when they interrupted "Oprah" to talk about a huge fire in downtown Baltimore.  All the tv crews were there, but too late to see the Baltimore version of the grand parade.   You see, the fire downtown started in the Gayety Show World, and spread to the swanky Blue Mirrors saloon.  Gayety Show World is kind of a swanky-sounding name for a place where they sell girlie magazines and nekkid pictures and they have real friendly women working who just want to get to know you and the contents of your wallet a little better.  According to what an observer told one news crew, right before the flames blew out the front window and the smoke billowed out into the street, nekkid strippers were running out into the street trying to a) get dressed and b) escape the blaze.

The flames were hot and the smoke was thick
This all took place on Baltimore's famous Block, where generation after generation of Baltimore's young men, and the sailors who visit our port, have traditionally ventured in search of love and watered-down booze.  The damage to the city's adult entertainment industry is unknown at this time, but one thing is for certain: the sight of undressed bargirls running down Baltimore Street getting dressed might very well serve as a benchmark of coolness for a certain segment of our population. On that same street in 1814 was printed a copy of The Star-Spangled Banner that recently sold at auction for $550,000, and now look what goes on down there. 

So I wonder why I was thinking about "Ragg Mopp" and how that will all turn out.  Hmm.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The same old tired argument

 From NPR News, December 2, 2010:
McCain Calls Pentagon's 'Don't Ask' Study Flawed

Sen. John McCain rejected a Pentagon study on "don't ask, don't tell" as flawed and said it would be dangerous to allow gays to serve openly in the military during a time of war.

"I am not saying this law should never change. I am simply saying that it may be premature to make such a change at this time and in this manner," the Arizona Republican told Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen at a Senate hearing Thursday.

McCain, a decorated war veteran who has helped block debate on the issue on the Senate floor, said he was concerned that the majority of troops surveyed in Marine Corps and Army combat units thought repealing the 17-year-old law would adversely affect unit cohesion.

McCain, to the right of Sen Carl
"Combover" Levin
Here we go again, down into the tired old valley of whether or not to allow gay people to be people.  I thought that the service trained people to be reliable and responsible, following orders and commands at the behest of any and all superior officers and non-coms.  So why the fear?  And if you've ever been a supervisor, you know how polls like that go...ask any group of semi-gruntled (not everyone can be fully disgruntled) persons if they'd like to "change everything around here" and you'll get a lot of "yes!"es!
If you're telling me that you are shamelessly trotting out the old clichés about gays, get ready to trot out the ones about straights, too.  "Oh no, we can't serve with gays because they might..." does not cut it.  You probably should give up thinking that every member of your same sex wants you horizontal right now, same as the members of the opposite sex.  And by the same token, does a gay person have to live in fear that some straights are going after him or her to make them change the way they roll? 
We always hear from everyone in service life that they are just too busy to worry about messing around with anyone.  So let's toss that argument aside, and top it off with this one: I say, if you want to question courage, it takes more courage to be gay than to be straight. 
Again, leave people alone.  This McCain, I have respect for his forbearance as a prisoner of war, but not so much for the way he came home and dumped his wife, who had waited for him so patiently while he was held captive, as soon as he put down his suitcase.  He just had to run off and marry a beer baron's daughter, and then run for DC, where he made some awfully dumb statements indicating that he thought Spain was a Latin American nation and some awfully nasty ones about Chelsea Clinton's parentage. And now the "old maverick" says we can't consider the issue now because the economy is down and I think you should click on the link above and read the article.  It contains a quote from the chief of naval operations, whose name is Adm. Gary Roughhead, and you know I could not be making that up.

I think it's also worth considering that the armed forces of a nation ought to be reflective of the nation. If a certain segment of the population is not allowed free entry, how fair is that?

To me, none of these objections mean that gays can't serve in the military.  I think it's up to them.  And I think if you're so worried about them, maybe you could look into what your issues are.