Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dateline: The American Future

"What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish?
Son of man, you cannot say, or guess
for you know only 
a heap of broken images
where the sun beats."   T S Eliot  from "The Waste Land"

 If you saw NBC's Dateline a couple of Sundays ago, I'm sure your heart was touched by the story of the young man named Vanya, born in Moscow to an unfit mother and given over to the state because he was challenged. He has cerebral palsy, but he was placed in the Russian version of mental institutions as a child.  His life there was horrible, a Dickensian nightmare, and through a remarkable series of coincidences and lucky breaks, he was adopted by a woman in Bethlehem, PA, and now lives here, loved and loving.

I found it more than a bit ironic that this program aired on the same weekend that Congress narrowly averted shutting down the government by agreeing to a 2011 federal budget that contains billions of dollars worth of cuts to early childhood development programs, job training for unemployed workers, energy assistance for needy families, and family planning programs.  This was all pushed through by the Republican majority in the House, and it doesn't even begin to satisfy the hollering coming from tea partiers who want funding for all sorts of good things cut way, way back. At the same time, the GOP defends spending 295 billion dollars this year on Bush era tax cuts for wealthy people and big corporations they own.

So, when today's young rightwingers have children, let's hope and pray that none of them have special needs or disabilities.  Or at least, we'd better hope that the parents of children so challenged also happen to own oil companies or Wall Street banks, because we are dashing headlong down the road to taking away everything that makes America so great. 
Now is the time for your tears

And meanwhile, just so there is always a circus to take the peoples' minds off the lack of bread, the Republicans offer the lurid spectacle of a Donald Trump presidential candidacy.  

That's Donald Trump, who once said, "I'm a bit of a P. T. Barnum. I make stars out of everyone."

That's P.T. Barnum, who once said, "There's a sucker born every minute."

Friday, April 29, 2011

Letters! We get letters!

I didn't think this kind of email was still going around, but I got it recently, right in the old inbox, and it tickles me that this person who never even met me was able to know me so well.  Here's what she wrote:

Hello my dear,
Complements of the season to you. I wish to express my sincere gratitude to you. My name is Miss Rejoice Xxxxxx.
I am a young beautiful girl with full of love and caring and also romantic. well I come in contact with your profile  and I loved it so i decided to write you this mail. I hope we can click together as one body and soul.

Please I will appreciate if you can use my mail address to contact me directly to my mailbox and at the same time I will show you my picture and you also know more about me. Moreover, I want you to know that distance ,race or religion is never a barrier in the course of love.

Thanks for your love, understanding and co-operation. Please I hope favorably to get your reply, contact me with this email address above.
Yours sincerely,

Normally,when I receive an email of this sort, I react with interest.  That's because usually, the letter contains the news that the writer's late husband, Mr Lovedaddy, had served as a consular official deep in the nation of Baki-Baki, and had recently passed away following a lengthy illness.  Imagine how surprised she was, as she went through his personal effects, to find a sum of $4.3 US squirreled away in a secret offshore bank account.  In case you just got email yesterday and have never seen one of these before, the hook is, she can't figure out how to smuggle the loot out of Baki-Baki and into the First National Bank in Sandy Shorts, Ohio.  And here's how you come in:  just send her your social security number, credit card number with PIN, and any and all other personal data, to prove that you're honest, along with $43,000 earnest money, and she will arrange to put those 4.3 million smackers right into your account!  And also, you'll wake up with Mila Kunis!

So, I have to wonder what "Rejoice" (maybe her mother's name was "Joyce" and she's a Junior) is up to here, and of course I will never know.  She's only fooling herself if she saw anything about my profile anywhere that would lead anyone to find me anyhow romantic. And while I agree that distance, race or religion would never be barriers to the true course of love, her lousy spelling ("complements" of the season), awkward syntax ("Please I hope favorably to get your reply") and use of a comma to separate two independent clauses has spelled a sad end to our love, before it even went aborning.

Pity, when you think of what might have been, eh?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I hope they have fun

Aye Aye Aye do!
So, tomorrow, who's going to get up at 4 in the yawning to watch these two crazy kids get hitched?  Show of

I remain amazed by the devotion of some Americans to the Royal Family.  I understand the devotion of English people to their activities, but until we see people wearing the Union Jack t-shirts to a Kennedy wedding, it does not seem to be reciprocated, and that upsets our balance of foreign trade.

True, his mother was an incandescent beauty and seemed to be a good soul.  People loved her around the world because she tried to do good things for people everywhere.  And when she met her end, it was not tough to understand the sorrow and the grief.

But, had I met Lady Di somewhere - at a baseball game, shopping at the outlet malls, or at a crab feast down at someone's shore house - I would not have felt compelled to bow and call her "Your Majesty," or "Lady Diana" or "Princess of Wales."  She was younger than I, and I, in all my grace, would have been perfectly at ease saying, "Hello, Diana; I'm Mark.  How are you?"  or a breezy, "Yo Di! 'Sup?"

Prince William here, or "Wills," same thing.  "Billy! Mr Willsworth!  Gettin' married! Flyin' a helicopter!  Whirlybird Willie!" I would chant, until a guy with a stiff upper lip and a tweed vest walked up to me and said, "Now see 'ere!  Hrrrrmph!"

I also read that Willie is not planning to wear a wedding ring.  Well, sir, mine has been on my left meathook since 1973 and will not be coming off.  That little band of gold means that a wonderful woman was willing to commit her love to me, and joined us for all time in the circle of love in which we dwell.  And I hope that his thinking isn't, well, "I can still do the 'in 'n' out scream 'n' shout' and no one will know I'm married."  This sort of poor thinking has led to trouble for people such as Gary Hart and Tiger Woods, and he ought to avoid angering his grandmother, "Queen" Elizabeth, who seems to have even less of a sense of humor than John Boehner.
Gary "Glitter" Goldsmith

I also read that Kate, or Kate, as she likes to be called, has a drunk uncle named Gary Goldsmith, who sold his computer business for $275 million, canoodles with hookers, does cocaine on video and has now, according to reports, been told by Palace bigshots to knock it off.  I bet you anything, a guy with a stiff upper lip and a tweed suit and a mustache and a monocle showed up and said, "Now see 'ere, Mr Goldsmith..."

Mom's a drama queen, uncle-in-law's a party guy, brother dresses in Nazi regalia.  I just figured out why Americans love these people so much.  They're just like us after all!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Final Salute to Cpl Buckles

Not far from where we live in the northeast Baltimore suburbs is the little community of Pikesville, home to the headquarters for the Maryland State Police.  Their administration building is in a complex of buildings old and new.  One of them was built as a United States Arsenal in 1819 and was a military post and weapons storage site until 1879, when it was turned over the state of Maryland.  The State, needing to find a home for 130 Confederate Civil War veterans, turned it into the Confederate Soldiers Home in 1888. On the site, the old rebels grew their own food and put on their dress grays every June 10 to celebrate something called Confederate Decoration Day.  (I never heard of it, either.)  But when the Depression was at its worst in 1932 and there were only two Johnny Rebs left, they were moved to private homes, where, for who knows how long, they kept hollering "Forget, hell!"  And the old building became State Police Headquarters.

So, the reason I was thinking about old soldiers is that Frank W. Buckles, the last American World War I veteran, passed away not long ago on his farm in West Virginia.  The last known survivor! Close to 5 million Americans served in World War I, our involvement being from 1917 - 1918, and Mr Buckles outlived them all!

 "I knew there'd be only one someday," he said a few years back. "I didn't think it would be me."

"We have lost a living link to an important era in our nation's history," Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said of Mr. Buckles. "But we have also lost a man of quiet dignity who dedicated his final years to ensuring the sacrifices of his fellow doughboys are appropriately commemorated."

You can read history in books, magazines, encyclopedias, and online.  But, just as one picture is worth a thousand words, one original source who saw the original picture is bound to be better than a lot of words written by people who didn't.  I wish I could have talked to Mr Buckles, or to those two age-old Confederate soldiers. 

Nothing like hearing about how things were from someone who was there!

Cpl. Buckles 1917
The obituary in the Washington POST made an excellent point - how many other people, born during the William McKinley administration, lived long enough to have a Facebook page?  When he was born, 110 years ago, had you told his parents that someday, their son would be living in an age when we had a pocket-sized device that was a phone, a portable information source, and a camera all in one, what would they have said? 

Or what if you had told them that Americans would have been to the moon, flown through the sky, sent moving pictures through the air and elected an African-American president? 

Those of you having babies this year - I hope they all live to be 110 and will see the same phenomenal growth in our nation.  I would love to be around in 2121 to hear about it, but go ahead and start without me!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Gettin' the juice

You know, if you can't get a decent apple juice at a place called APPLEbee's, where can you get a decent apple juice?

News item: The Applebee's restaurant chain says it's changing the way it serves juice after a toddler was mistakenly given a small amount of alcohol at a Detroit-area location.
The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News report that Applebee's will pour juice for children from single-serve containers at the table starting this week. Applebee's also plans to retrain workers.
Madison Heights police say the drink mislabeled as apple juice was actually a leftover mixed drink combination.
Fifteen-month-old Dominic Dill-Reese's mother ordered her son a kid's meal and asked for apple juice as the beverage Friday afternoon. Dominic was checked out by doctors, and the family was told the child's blood alcohol level was .10 percent. That's over the legal limit for an adult driver.
Dominic is expected to be OK.

So, what does this mean?  Some gozzlehead in Madison Heights MI poured an AJ for a 15-month-old and couldn't tell the difference between applejack and apple juice.  Now, in order to reassure anxious Moms in Detroit and across the nation, the waitron will show up at your table with a clearly marked single-serve portion and decant it before your very eyes.  And every single person who works for the Applebee chain will have to attend a mandatory "This is Apple Juice  -and this is NOT Apple Juice" training class. 

Just as long as it isn't Beech-Nut Apple Juice.  Moms with long memories will remember when that firm was caught selling artificially-flavored sugar water as apple juice.  A guy from the firm, ironically named the Beech-Nut Nutrition Corporation, went to the Ironbar Hilton for a year and a day, and another bigwig did six months of community service.  I hope he had to hand out Kool Aid in a day care center.  And the Beech-Nuts paid a $2.2 million fine, too. 

I have an idea!  Why not stay home and have breakfast there?  Go to a farm stand, get some cider that you know is pure, and live it up.  And then your kid won't want one of those t-shirts that say, "I went to Applebee's for breakfast and all I got was a buzz!"

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Olde Restaurant Reviewer

Just to be clear, I don't frequent too many trendy restaurants, and to those who like their food served in teeny portions with squiggles of sauce like yin/yang doodles all over the plate: enjoy it!  I'm a diner kind of guy from a gourmet sort of family, so look me for in a booth somewhere.

Not long ago, Peggy and I happened to be out near her office when dinnertime rolled around, so we went to a "nice" restaurant out that way.  No names, please.  It's not the individual eatery that I am taking to task here, but, rather, the entire way we have of calling places "nice."  

This place was "nice," if by "nice" you mean it seems unlikely that a brawl will break out and a guy with a sleeveless denim jacket will fashion an improvised weapon out of a broken beer bottle.  That seemed a remote chance, although it's a safe bet that the bottle guy's lawyer will be here dining on most nights, so you could get a message to him if you needed to.  

But, if the purpose of dining in a nice place is to sit and enjoy a quiet meal and have a pleasant chat, why does this place have a giant bar right in the middle of the house?  (Question is rhetorical; answer is "huge profit in draft beer and mixed drinks.")  Oh, the humanity, mobbing that bar!  And it seems impossible for the men to stand with elbows cocked without hollering the names of each new arrival.  Out loud!  And they all seem to know each other, but they still have to holler their names! And there was one woman whose voice rose above the other clatter with a giggle so piercing that wine glasses shattered.  Every thirty seconds, something amused her so much that she let one go.  And the bar felt it necessary to play a DVD of a Bruce Springsteen concert, so hey - there really WAS a guy in a sleeveless denim jacket after all!

It was so loud that Peggy and I could not hear each other speak; that's a break for her, but I might have missed out on something worth hearing.  Just way too loud for the high-class sort of chow they dish out.  

And did I tell you about the couple at the next table, a few feet away?  It was a guy in his late 50s - had to be, and he looked just like "Bulldog" from "Frasier" - and a woman, maybe 35.  Well now, the love bug just bit those two real hard, about five minutes before they showed up for dinner, from the way they were making out.  I said, making out.  You know, like a couple of eighth-graders on the bus on the field trip to Washington.  But the next time this guy goes to Washington, it will be to drop off his Social Security application.  I almost hollered, "Get a room!" but I'm too classy.  Or not.  But man oh man, they were really putting it down.  Again, time and place, people!  Maybe this man had just returned from eighteen months of being held as a political prisoner in Paraguay, or, maybe he had just found out that he had a rare tropical disease, the only cure for which is to suck on a female's tongue for fifteen minutes every day while other people are trying to eat.

This semi-porno sideshow ended when the rest of the party showed up, and the smoochers were forced to break off their facial vacuums.  And then, guess what else showed up!  Our dinner! Served by the guy who was also filling everyone's water glass!

I had ordered scallops, which were to be served with "a Medley of Rices" (I expected Condoleezza, Ray, and Jerry Rice to sing some songs) and the vegetable of the day (turned out to be the dreaded asparagus, which, I will forever insist, resembles something cut down by a Weed-Wacker).  I offered my asparagus to Peggy, who seems to like it, and got down to work.  The rice was cold.  The scallops, mostly cold and uncooked.  So I looked around for the waiter, who had not brought the food, and he was nowhere to be found.  I guess maybe he was enjoying the Springsteen DVD, or something.  So when the water guy sauntered past, I asked him to stop by.  He asked if I wanted any water, but all I wanted was hot, cooked, food.  Moments later, our waiter skidded to a halt by our table.  Examining my plate as if it were evidence in an autopsy, he summed up the problem:

"The rice, well they cook a whole tub of that, and then it sits on a steam table, and they spoon it off the top, where it's not heated."  I took this to mean that this restaurant had found a way to cook food hot, keep it hot, and yet serve it cold! Genius!

"And the scallops, well, we don't cook them all the way.  Do you like it cooked all the way through?" he wondered, as if I looked like a sushi consumer.

He took the plate away, presumably nuked it, and brought it back.  My cursory examination showed no obvious signs of befoulment.  We finished eating.  Peggy's steak was ok.  

So, to Pete Stomatoes down at the Diner: I am sorry I strayed; I won't do it again.  You take a scallop served at the diner; that's a scallop that's been cooked and knows it!

And lest anyone else suffer as I did that night, here's my advice: You see the words "in a balsamic reduction" or "confit" anywhere on the menu, run for your life!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunday Rerun: The Ant's Pants

If you're on Facebook, you might have encountered what I guess might be known as the Disappearing Friend Syndrome, or DFS. This occurs when you suddenly realize, whilst reading everyone else's status updates or news feeds, that you haven't seen anything online from good old Ursula lately.

What to do? Do you check your friends list to see if she's not on there anymore? If you do, that only tells you that she's off your list. You then have to enter Ursula Whatchamacallit to see if she's even ON Facebook any longer. If she is, and she's not on your list, and you did not remove her from your list, well, welcome to Dumpville: Population, YOU. As Homer Simpson once said.

If you check and Ursula is NOT on Facebook anymore, then you can at least say, "Maybe she just quit Facebook, and not just me." This brief moment of relief is then tempered by apprehension. What if Ursula was run over by a trolley? Forced to move into reduced circumstances following a scandalous unsanctified congress with a traveling dry-goods salesman from Pittsburgh? Captured by left-wing insurgents from Paraguay? (thanks, Police Squad!) Died of intellectual thirst at a Tea Party?

It's really better not to have these thoughts. Make new friends, and keep the old. One is silver and the other, gold. I think Edgar A. Guest came up with that one.

And while we're scratching around looking for things, what the heck happened to all those "My Top 5 Times Tom Cruise Jumped Up On Something" polls that were all the rage in the summertime? How about those crazy gifts - virtual Berger's Cookies, handcuffs, I <3 NJ t-shirts and hands-free back massages?  They were the ant's pants there for a while, and now you don't see them any more.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A warning in time

Man, you talk about things that you thought had been rightly relegated to the dustbin, things like polio outbreaks, pay phones and film cameras...and along comes this news item from the local PATCH:

Baltimore County police are searching for a man who exposed himself to two Carney Elementary School students Tuesday morning.
According to Cathy Batton, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore County Police Department, the students were walking to school in the 3400 block of Upton Road when a man stopped his vehicle and offered them a ride to school.
The students, both 9, accepted the ride and got into the back seat; the man drove them to the dead end of Upton Road where a path leads to the school, but before they exited the vehicle, the man unzipped his pants and exposed himself to the students.
Police continue to search for the suspect, whom they identify as a light-skinned black man in his 40s with dental braces. The vehicle is faded red, possibly an SUV or a minivan.
The students safely made it to school, but did not report the incident until a few hours later.
"We're urging parents to talk to their kids—tell them not to talk to strangers, not to get into vehicles. I know I talked to mine last night," Batton said. "We're also asking parents to remind their children to report incidents like this immediately so that officers have a chance to respond while the suspect may still be in the area."

This is serious business, but I thought there was not a child in town who had not been told not to speak to strangers, let alone get in a car with one.  You never see people hitch-hiking any more, and that was a preferred mode of travel when I was a teen.  I'd stand with a winsome look, thumb extended on a busy corner, and wait for someone to pull his/her dinosaur (or later, covered wagon) over and let me have a ride to some important destination or bowling alley.  But those were simpler times, and people felt safer. 

Carney School
I guess maybe that's it - young parents today grew up in that post-hitching world, and maybe they don't even think about how necessary it is to give their kids a good talking-to on this topic.  In that case, we got lucky, and these kids made it out of the situation safely.  This is the elementary school closest to our house, and so I feel this story more deeply. This is a chance for all parents to talk to the kids - even if they're sure the kids know not to do this - and tell them again not to do this.

It's better to say it one time too many than one time too few.

Friday, April 22, 2011

"Ground Control to Major ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ..."

...Your eyes are getting heavy...
In what can only be seen as a 30-year-anniversary tribute to Ronald Reagan's firing of those union members in the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Association who had struck over job conditions (less than a year after that union had backed the onetime movie actor's presidential candidacy), air traffic controllers all over the place are falling asleep on the job.  Washington DC, Seattle, and now Reno  - just in this year - have had jets overhead with uh pilots uh trying to uh reach ground control and uh getting no answer.

Flying scares the dickens out of me.  First, you have to worry about getting to the airport something like three days in advance for your flight to Cleveland, and then you are felt up by some cheese-breath security guy named Chad, who also goes through your luggage and goofs on your underwear.  Then you have to worry about a skyjacker. Then you have to worry that the pilot is drunk on his aspirin, and also you have to worry about your meal.  And the landing, and getting your luggage back, and finding a cab in Cleveland, all the while knowing that your underwear is being used as a headdress in some sort of ancient Druid rites, performed by Chad and his tree-worshipping friends.

Now. the poor guy who was in charge of these sleeping beauties is out on his tarmac.  Item:

(Reuters) - The official overseeing air traffic operations resigned over a controversy involving disclosures about sleeping air traffic controllers.
Hank Krakowski, who is director of the FAA's Air Traffic Organization, stepped down amid the revelations, the agency said in a statement.
Krakowski's resignation was accepted by FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt, who said he was conducting a full review of air traffic operations.
"Over the last few weeks, we have seen examples of unprofessional conduct on the part of a few individuals that have rightly caused the traveling public to question our ability to ensure their safety," Babbitt said in a statement. "This conduct must stop immediately."
U.S. aviation regulators suspended two air traffic controllers this week for falling asleep on the job, including one who was out of radio contact while a medical flight was trying land.
The latest incident early on Wednesday in Nevada and one on Monday at Boeing Field in Seattle added to concerns about safety prompted by two other controllers found to have slept at work in recent months in Washington, D.C., and Tennessee.

I just have to say, is it really all that important to fly?  We drove to Pensacola in 2004 and had a wonderful time, the whole way down and back.  We saw planes flying overhead but we were on the ground, driving I-95, I-85 and I-65, right through the heart of pancake-and-grit country.  Unlike people a mile up in the air, we got to meet real authentic Americans, many of whom were awake.  I say, get some gas for the family truckster and go go go!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ay Caramba!

Attention, patriotic Americans!  Now you, too, can join the hue and cry to cut down on wasteful Washington spending.  With noted humanitarians such as Paul Ryan and John Boehner down there cutting expenses to the boehn, it's up to every one of us to search out and report unneeded, unnecessary and unwanted repetitions and reduncancies, and things that do the same thing that something else is doing, and things that say the same thing over and over again, and things that say the same thing over and over again.

So sorry if you were planning to avail yourself of wasteful, unwanted programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, Planned Parenthood and NPR.  The money previously doled out to them is now going to be directed to more appropriate purposes, namely, purchasing diamond-studded shoelaces for all military staff above the rank of Chief Cook and Bottle Washer, and  hiring pixies to place a mint on Newt Gingrich's pillow each night around twilight time.  NPR? All they did was inform and educate! We don't need to know nothing!  And who needs to plan when they're going to be parents?  With no NPR to listen to, just listen to your children!  They will teach you a lot about a lot of things!

Meanwhile, cast a gander here with your web pointer and see how the FBI has spent your tax money over the years.  They have now opened their files so that avid students of popular culture can see that John Denver might have had drug problems, that Paul Harvey was a good, self-made man, and that Lucille Ball supported a Communist in 1936.  This website is awe-inspiring, to think that that many people spent that much money and that much time to gather that much needless information.  And all they had to do was ask Desi Arnaz, who was not only Lucy's TV husband Ricky Ricardo but also her husband in real life.  He said, when all this "who's a Commie?" nonsense was going on in the 1950s, "The only thing 'red' about Lucy is her hair, and that's not even real!"

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Only a bird in a guilty Cage

Well I lost my job ain't got a dime
I need a shaver I need a shine
I'm all hungover, got a mouth full of cotton
Guess I've arrived: this must be the bottom   (Del Reeves)

For those who remember Nicolas Cage as a bigtime movie star, winning an Academy Award for "Leaving Las Vegas," and my eternal respect for "Raising Arizona," it's quite a comedown to see that he has skidded to the bottom of the showbiz rungs in a huge hurry.

I know the five stages of an actor's career (Who's Nicolas Cage? Get me Nicolas Cage! Get Me a Nicolas Cage type! Get me a young Nicolas Cage! Who's Nicolas Cage?) and who knows which stage he is currently inhabiting? He first came to attention in "Valley Girl," which was one of those movies that Showtime and HBO ran a million times a month back when we all first got cable, so we became used to his sputtery slackjawedness and went back to see him in many movies.
But all of a sudden you read that he's in debt up to his arrears and making movies with titles such as "I Really Drive Way Too Fast 2" and we sadly realize that ol' Nic is really driving way too fast on his way to Palookaville.  

So now this, from Newser online: 

In a case of reality not imitating "art," Dog the notorious bounty hunter bailed actor Nicolas Cage out of jail. Reality star Duane "Dog" Chapman posted Cage's $11,000 bond after he was charged with domestic abuse and disturbing the peace over the weekend in New Orleans. "I am a truly dedicated fan," Dog, 58, said by way of explanation. "There are two sides of my job: I release my clients after they have been arrested; and pick them up if they don't show up in court. I do not believe the latter will be the case for Mr. Cage." Cage, 47, was busted after arguing loudly with his 27-year-old wife and dragging her down the street, said police. The actor, who appeared to be "heavily intoxicated" then began hitting cars, according to cops. He's due in court next month, reports People. Click for more details on Cage's French Quarter bust.

According to what the network news said over the weekend, New Orleans cops found Cage in this pixillated condition and said something like "Go home and sleep it off, Mac."  At least, that's what they always said in the old movies.  But no, Cage demanded to be arrested.  And then publicity-mad Duane Chapman, who prefers to be called "Dog" and presents a canine appearance to match, saw the opportunity to grab some headline sunshine of attention and showed up at the police station, waving the bail money.

They say that you really deserve a nice vacation if you look like your passport photo.  I guess we can also say, you need to take a few steps back if your mug shot looks like this    and someone who looks like this      comes to bail you out.   Come on back, Nicolas.  Give up the booze, get things in order and give us some more of that earnest-like-Jimmy Stewart yet edgy-like-Bogart acting, and let's forget this weekend, all right?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Farewell Donald Schaefer

It had to happen someday, and that day came yesterday.  William Donald Schaefer, the amazing city councilman, mayor, governor and state comptroller, died at age 89. 

This man was pure Baltimore, a fussbudget who was married to the city he loved, and a man whose motto was "Do it now!"  He would ride around the city and fire off "action memos" to his staff when he saw something he didn't like fouling his city: trash, leaky hydrant, roving bands of thugs.  And the next day the Public Works, Fire and Police Departments would be out there taking care of business.  When he said to do it now, he meant not when it was convenient, and not the second Tuesday of next week.  He meant, when you have something that needs doing, Just Do It!  And the city got a lot better.  He led the city back from its abyss, the 1968 riots.  Great portions of the city were either abandoned or burned out, and then he came up with the idea of selling these abandoned townhouses for a dollar each, contingent upon the buyer fixing them up.  Those houses today are worth three-quarters of a million of those dollars.

There's not a man or woman in this area who doesn't have a Don Schaefer story.  My first one was back in the mid-70s; I was working as a DJ in town and our station was doing a remote broadcast from the City Fair, which was, as the name suggests, a downtown version of a state fair, except there was not a lot of livestock on display beyond the occasional fox or squirrel.  Now, DJs like doing remotes about as much as John Boehner likes missing a tanning booth appointment.  Your average DJ is happier hanging around the radio station in sloppy clothes, guzzling coffee and scratching himself as needed.  Going to a remote adds all sorts of pressure: shaving, wearing presentable's a nightmare.  But I was there early that day and as the engineer rigged up all the equipment I thought I'd take a little snooze, so I tilted the folding chair back and sunned myself on an  early September noon.  Suddenly my reverie was disturbed by Hizzoner Himself, squawking at me as if I had been caught spraying graffiti on the Walters Art Museum. 

"Hey look alive over there; this is the Baltimore City Fair and we're opening in a few minutes!" he barked. And I jumped right to it, yes I did.

My next story takes place during the sad interregnum in Schaefer's life.  He served two terms as governor of Maryland, and then was unable to run again, so he sat it out for a couple of years before running for comptroller.  One day during that time, I delivered my mom and three of her friends to the Peppermill Restaurant.  No matter where you live, you have a restaurant like this in your town, the place where if you go there and you're 54 years of age, you are the youngest person by at least 20 years. Anyway, here's Mom and three other widows, and then along comes Schaefer, whose ride dropped him off by the front door.  He looked sad and lonely, not being in the spotlight any longer. But! I darted over and said, "Governor? I have a whole carload of Democratic ladies right here and it would just make their day to shake your hand," and it was like I turned on a switch.  He went over to the car, and one by one they piled out and shook the great man's hand.  My Dad and Schaefer's longtime companion Hilda Mae Snoops are buried in the same cemetery up the road a piece, a fact that Mom and the Guv bemoaned weepily. He worked that crowd like the master he was...and he wasn't even running for anything!  If you ever asked for a snapshot of a man truly in his element, that would be the one I'd think of.  His whole school of politics was summed up in three words: "People, people, people."  He loved them and he loved talking to them and hearing from them.

And then there was the time, while Schaefer was comptroller, that our local high school down the street was getting an addition built on, courtesy of some sort of educational grant overseen by WDS himself.  But the sign in front of the school said "Maryland's Tomorrow...William Donald Schaffer, Comptroller."  

Aghast at such a spelling error and the thought of impressionable youths streaming past it daily, thereby mislearning the name of the greatest politician this state will ever produce beside Martin O'Malley, I called the principal of the school, who gave me the standard pedantic runaround.  At first he said I was wrong.  Then I convinced him that he was wrong to think I was wrong about spelling the name of Schaefer. Then he said he didn't think it was worth the trouble to have someone change the sign.  Then I said if he thought it was too much trouble, maybe I could share my thoughts with the comptroller's office and see with whom they agreed. At the very thought of receiving an excoriating phone call from WDS himself, the principal finally promised me to change the sign "tomorrow."

I couldn't help but pay tribute to the man. I said, "Do it now!"

Rest in peace, great one.

Monday, April 18, 2011

All The Kingsmen

Pretty Boy?
You really have to hand it to the FBI.  Anyone who looks at the history of America (which rules out most people in most schools) knows that they rounded up John Dillinger, Babyface Nelson, Ma Barker and Pretty Boy Floyd during the 1930s, and although there was later an argument concerning Mr Floyd's relative beauty, FBI big man J. Edgar Hoover, dressed in a stunning evening gown of the finest silk brocade, finally ruled in favor of the notorious Midwestern bank robber.  As part of the legal settlement of the matter, Babyface Nelson won the right never to be referred to by his real name, which, as any schoolkid knows, was Lester J. Gillis.

Your FBI in action
Lest he see his agency become irrelevant, J. Edgar Hoover had his "G-Men" investigate whether or not entertainers were communists, protected the Civil Rights of minorities by wiretapping Dr Martin Luther King, and allowed four men to be wrongfully convicted of murder while protecting one of their ten million informants (March, 1965.)  The term "G-Man," incidentally, came about during the arrest of Lester J. Gillis, who, brought by proud agents into Hoover's office, reportedly quipped, "Gee, man, are you wearing a dress?"

Ah, but surely the FBI's finest moment had to be when they spent two years at taxpayer expense investigating the lyrics to "Louie Louie."  "Louie Louie" was a song written as sort of a calypso-Cha-Cha-Jamaican number by a guy named Richard Berry in the late 50's.  His version of the song never quite took off, but The Kingsmen, out of Portland, Oregon, cut it in 1964.  They were a local band performing in a teen night club owned by a local disc jockey, and trust me, you could get a better recording today by using a Radio Shack portable cassette machine.  You can hear the original version right here! And you can see the real lyrics vis-a-vis the "dirty" version that was passed among the students of every public high school and junior high school here on Snopes.  Every kid knew, all you had to do was play the 45 of "Louie Louie" at 33 1/3 rpm to hear the true lyrics, a rumor which no doubt was started by the record company selling all those 45s.  But in the end, Hoover's crack laboratory was not able to decipher the lyrics, even after they interrogated Jack Ely, the lead singer of The Kingsmen.  

I've often wondered how that interrogation went.  Did they sit him down in a small room with just one naked 100-watt bulb aimed right at him, and did they say, "All right, we know you're dirty, see?  You're singing dirty, kid, and we wanna know what you're singing, see?  So don't get cute, kid, just talk.  Or sing. I don't care.  See?"

Myself, I was never much of a Kingsmen fan.  Out of intense family loyalty, I was more devoted to my distant cousin Doug Clark and The Hot Nuts, the real-life version of Otis Day and the Knights.  Here's another song that old J. Edgar should have checked into. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Advice from a guy who lived for 114 years

Walter Breuning, the world's oldest man, has died. He was 114 years old. Breuning died Thursday of natural causes in Montana.

114!  That means when he was 57, he was only 1/2 way through his time on earth!

So, we can learn from a guy with that much experience.  Wanna live to be 114?  Here are the oldest man's secrets to a long life:

• Embrace change, even when the change slaps you in the face. ("Every change is good.")

• Eat two meals a day ("That's all you need.")

• Work as long as you can ("That money's going to come in handy.")

• Help others ("The more you do for others, the better shape you're in.")

•Accept death. "We're going to die. Some people are scared of dying. Never be afraid to die. Because you're born to die."

I don't care for the second one, if you don't mind, but other than that, we salute you, Walter.  Ave Atque Vale! Hail and Farewell!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Saturday Rerun: Another good one: "Have your pet spade or neutered"

Ladies and gentlemen, the point of today's sermonette is to remind all of us to be careful in writing and speaking. Just to set the mood, I'll tell one on myself: some years ago I sent an email (work-related) to someone higher in rank from whom I needed a favor. I knew she had a lot on her plate, as they say at work and at buffets. So I cleverly started it out, "I know you are very busty, but I was wondering if..."

I don't recall her response, but I'll bet she did more than just spell-check it.

Anyway - how about this for an actual web address - it must have made a fine corporate name, but the name that looked just fine on a letterhead suffered a lot from being squeezed together as a

Who Represents?, a company where you can check out actors and others who are represented by agents and the like:
And when Liberty Records pressed several hundred thousand copies of Canned Heat's 45 of "Let's Work Together," some poorly laid-out typography made the title of the song on the flip side, something called "I'M HER MAN," appear to be something called "I'M HERMAN." It should have been a munster hit, but that was not to be.

Verbal slips include Sally Field, the actress once most famous for playing Gidget and then most famous for shrieking, "You like me! You really like me!" upon winning an award, doing the spot for "once-monthly Boniva." Except: listen to the way she says it: "One Smonthly Boniva."

All this came to mind on vacation when we heard what we thought was a commercial for a pizza and sub shop called "Uncle Loogie's." At least, that's the way the announcer kept saying it. Outside of calling your business something even more gross than "Loogie's," I couldn't think of a worse name for a sub shop. So I checked it out. It's Uncle Oogie's. Sounds better that way, does it not?

If you're not too busty, how about some lunch?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Bridge Club

I like to keep abreast of the latest developments involving our beloved celebrities, so I always scan the fronts of the gossip rags at the Try 'N' Save.  Why, just the other day, I learned that Mariah Carey does not care to know what time it is, and will not wear a watch.  She's probably not alone, judging from the American propensity for showing up late, if at all.  

I guess when you're Mariah Carey, you can show up whenever you want to.  It's sort of like being the bride, to be a big shot like that.  The bride can be as late as she wants to her own wedding, and who's going to start the marryin' without her being up at the altar?  Same with the star of the show.  No Mariah Carey concert can begin without Ms Carey ready to sing.  The guy who plays the saxophone: he'd better be there on time or else!

But it was sort of interesting to have digested this information about Mariah's disinterest in what time of day it is and then go watch the show on Maryland Public TV about the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  For those who read this and have never been to Maryland, if you will please check the map to the left, you'll notice a jagged tear that almost separates us into two states. That's the Chesapeake Bay, and until 1952, the only ways to get from one side of it to the other were either to poke along on a ferry or drive through Delaware, the state that invented radar traps.  So, they built a bridge in 1952.  Approximately fifteen minutes after the bridge was open, a car bearing a load of revelers, a cooler full of National Bohemian beer and three fried chickens broke down at the toll plaza, causing a traffic backup which has lasted to this very day!  Amazing, but true!  

And I could also talk about how, in 1967, the voters of Maryland realized that there needed to be another bridge, the better to get truckloads of corn moving east to west and carloads of teenagers moving west to east to their destinations more rapidly.  The voters voted and mandated that another bridge be built, but not parallel to the existing bridge.  The voters voted to have the other bridge be further north, to allow residents of North East Maryland easier access to the fabled bingo parlors of Upper Delaware.  One look at the picture to the right will show how that mandate was carried out to the very letter. 

The takeaway from the show about building the bridge was that the steel sections were built in other places and brought to the site of the bridge on giant barges, and were then riveted into place.  All of this assembly had to be built to within 1/2 of an inch so that it would all fit together correctly.  They did not have the luxury of saying, "Ah, that's close enough."  And unlike most home repair projects, you can't just hammer a 60' bridge section into a 59' 9" opening.

And the riveters: three men made up a crew.  One guy heated the rivets over an open flame, and then, when the rivets were glowing hot like cherries, he would grab them one at a time with tongs and toss them to a guy who caught them in what looked like a leather bag the size of a lunch sack.  That guy would tong the rivet over to the dude working the riveter, the giant air gun that hammered the rivets in place.  A wild job - and remember, this all took place a couple of hundred feet in the air.  

Which is a place where you have to be sort of exact.  But the world needs all types of people: technically-inclined folks to build the bridges, Mariah Carey-types to sing the National Anthem at the ribbon cutting ceremonies, and you and me to drive over the new bridge and shell out the toll money.  All types.  Hop in!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

More about Geo. Huguely

This is stomach-turning stuff,  to  read of the preliminary trial down in Virginia for this brutish thug, this George Huguely, the thuggish brute who ALLEGEDLY beat Yeardley Love to death in a drunken jealous rage.  He even told the police when he was arrested last May that he "entered Love’s room and 'shook' Love, allowing her head “to repeatedly hit the wall,” according to a police affidavit. 

The lowest of the low
Now, of course, the lawyers are falling all over themselves to say that George didn't mean what he said when he said he caused her head to hit the wall.  And in the article, you see where the lawyers subpoenaed the wall to come to court and show itself.  I guess their charge to the jury will say, "You see, there are no dents in the wall. Therefore, our client could not have committed this crime, because it is not possible to shove someone's head into a section of drywall and not dent the drywall. So let's wrap this trial up and send George back to his life of debauchery."

Young George has a criminal record for this sort of thing.  As a rich young man from a prominent family, he has had plenty of opportunity to have been corrected, but no one in his family seems to have take the time to tell George Wesley Huguely V that his behavior was inappropriate.  In 2007, Huguely was charged with underage possession of alcohol in Florida, where his family owns a vacation home. In 2008, Huguely was arrested for public drunkenness and resisting arrest outside a fraternity house at Washington and Lee University; police had to tase him to subdue him.  For that, Justice really came down hard.  He walked away with a suspended sentence of 60 days and 6 months of probation, was fined, and was ordered to perform community service and take a drug treatment program.  In 2010, he got so enraged over Yeardley Love that he went to her apartment and may or may not have killed her, depending on how willing you are to believe the high-powered attorneys his family has sent to defend his indefensible actions.

From Wikipedia:

Huguely and Love dated briefly, but had broken up. At the Charlottesville police station, Huguely waived his Miranda rights and narrated graphic details of his assaulting Love, stating that he kicked open Love's locked bedroom door and "shook Love, and her head repeatedly hit the wall." Evidence that police seized from Huguely's apartment included two laptop computers, a spiral notebook, two white socks, bathroom and entryway rugs, and a Virginia lacrosse shirt with a red stain. Investigators are reportedly also following leads that could point to domestic violence between Huguely and Love, including: threatening e-mail and text messages that Huguely allegedly sent to Love post-breakup; a violent encounter between the couple that was broken up by several visiting lacrosse players from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and an incident in which Huguely attacked Love while drunk but did not recall having hit her. An unnamed student told the New York Daily News that Huguely and Love broke up after the drunken Huguely assaulted Love.

There seems little doubt that Huguely V is responsible for the death of this young lady, although his lawyers (and, I presume, his family) feel that since he didn't mean to kill her, why, isn't that just as good as actually not killing her? This is another case of a rich kid scoffing at all that is good and decent in the world, careening around drunk and pugnacious, and we can only hope that twelve Virginians see fit to lock him away from the rest of us forever and ever.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Don't Blame ME!!!!

So now we wake up and find ourselves living in a world in which a performer named Chris Brown, who, most appropriately, got in so much trouble for smacking his former girlfriend  Rihanna a couple of years ago, goes on Good Morning America to promote his new album.  Robin Roberts asks him a question about his past temper tantrums and violent outbursts and he, to his credit, kept it together on the air but then off the air, back in his dressing room, to his discredit, he had a temper tantrum and another violent outburst.  He broke a window out by throwing a chair, causing a rain of broken glass to shower down on people on the sidewalks of New York.  

And Rosie O'Donnell asks if the woman doing the interview, Ms Roberts, might want to see if she's not to blame for this incident.   “I felt mildly angry at Robin Roberts,” Rosie said on her Sirius/XM radio show last week, in a conversation with her executive producer, Janette Barber, according to  The Hollywood Reporter’s Web site. “I felt like writing her and going: ‘Can you take a look at this again and see if maybe you find – in any way – your responsibility in this?’ ”

Rosie is onto something here, but in that right-church-wrong-pew way.  Robin Roberts, by asking this young man a question, is not to blame for him losing his top and throwing a chair.  Rosie misplaced the blame, but she allows me bring up a point.  

You see, NO ONE is responsible for ANYTHING anymore.  If you rob a bank, it's because you don't have enough of your own money, so you need to take someone else's.  If you kill someone, it's because you ate too many Twinkies.  Yeah, the sign at the Festival says "No dogs, please" but you bring Tuffy along because "Everybody just loves Tuffy, the bulldog with a heart of gold."  Parents tell their children that it's all right that they throw things at other kids because they need to do this to feel self-actualized. People tell their bosses that they're working from home and they don't.  You go to some award ceremony where they are handing out a lot of certificates, and the emcee asks that you hold your applause until all the awards are given out, but, as soon as someone's Uncle Pete gets called up to receive his plaque for giving a gallon of blood, the entire family shrieks for five minutes.  

Or, you're a crackpot preacher, name of Terry Jones, down in Florida and you burn a Qu'ran, an action that leads to 11 people being killed at a violent protest at a United Nations compound in Afghanistan. Do you feel responsible, O Man of God?

“We wanted to raise awareness of this dangerous religion and dangerous element,” Jones said, apparently without a trace of irony. “I think [the attack] proves that there is a radical element of Islam.”

As for the 11 dead, which included seven U.N. staffers and guards, Jones told “Nightline” anchor Bill Weir, “We do not feel responsible, no.”

The deaths followed a protest march in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif against the Qu'ran burning. Jones supervised while another pastor, Wayne Sapp, soaked the Qu'ran in kerosene and burned it.

So. No one is responsible for anything, all our actions take place in vacuums, and the next time you're vexed or miffed about anything, just grab a chair and toss it out a window.  If you find fault with someone's religion, feel free to desecrate its holiest religious text.  Welcome to the new Golden Age of Selfishness!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What About Bob

Bob was the first person I met when I reported for my new job assignment in October of 2001.  I got there early in the morning for a little lookaround before everyone else got to work, and Bob saw me heading down the hall, but he didn't know that I was there as the new head man, the way he asked if he could help me find something.  I found out later he treated everyone in the same kind, respectful way, whether they were in charge or about to be charged with something.

You don't meet a lot of people like Bob anymore.  He so revered his wife that he worked one full time job and one part time job - a total of 12 hours per day, 5 days per week, for who knows how many years.  Mrs Bob kept their house, and Bob was the happiest guy you ever saw when they had a few extra bucks to go to dinner at a diner.  And the one New Year's Eve - I still think about how happy he was; he came into my office and told me about the package deal he found for them to go to a party at a Holiday Inn, and then spend the night and have a breakfast buffet in the morning before going home.  He could not have been happier if he had just booked a private jet to Monte Carlo for the two of them for the holidays!  Every day, he would have something to say about his wife and son, and express his gratitude for the joys that life had brought him. 

Bob transferred out before I did, but I still would run into him now and again.  I had not seen him, though, for a few years until last Saturday, when I saw him at the supermarket.  He had retired, but, in the manner of a guy who has worked hard for decades, he still wanted to keep active, so he is the cart guy at another grocery store for a few hours every day.  We caught up on this one and that one, and who was where, and so forth...

And then he looked at me with a sadness that I would hate to see mar anyone's joyous countenance.  "You know, Mark, my wife died a couple of years ago.  Two years.  I am so lonely. I miss her every day."

It just tore me up that Bob, a man who had given so much to life and asked for little more than an occasional dinner at a diner with salad and dessert, had to bear such sadness.  We talked about how much in love they had been, and Bob looked at me, almost in tears, and said, " You know, Mark, I am so lonesome; I would love to find someone just to talk to, to have a lady to keep me company."  He didn't say he wanted to get married or anything, and he didn't seem to want to find any deep romantic relationship.  He went on to say that his family had given him the Sunday Plan of season tickets for the Orioles, and he was looking to attending 13 ballgames with his grown son.  I told him that maybe there was a lady whose husband had gone too soon, and maybe he would meet her at the ballpark.  He said he hoped so.

Thirty-six years they were married, and for every minute of those years, they were hopelessly devoted to each other.  Now Bob's new reality is that he is alone, and when he leaves the empty house for his shift at work, he knows he is coming back to a house just as bleak. 

It shook me then, and still does, to think of being in those same shoes.   I would not handle it with the dignity that Bob brings.  I had only encouragement and hope to offer, no solid ideas about how to find a friendly companion.

It tears me all to heck, to think that we live in a world with so much love, and yet, sometimes, there's still not enough to go around. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

We'll Be Right Beck

Just when you think that life in these United States was bleak and getting bleaker, along comes some good news.  Oh sure, you still have this Congressman Ryan trotting out his roadmap for America's future, but when you finally unfold the map, it turns out that America's future runs right through 1929, so no one will want to be on that road for long.  Mr Ryan will soon enough learn that people don't really want to cut back on all the benefits of being an American - they only want to cut back on what Charlie down the street is getting.  Here in Maryland, there used to be an annual political folly known as "trying to pass a law requiring people over a certain age to be re-tested if they want to keep their driver's license."  It makes sense to see if a man whose reflexes and reactions were sharp at age 16 still can stomp on the brakes at 106, but this was voted down after spirited debate year after year.  They don't even bring it up any more, which is why you can still see all sorts of Buicks being driven in all sorts of manners on all sorts of Maryland roads.  So, don't even think about cutting back on other things.  Nice try, though, Mr Ryan.  Maybe you can be on FOX News more often.

But you'll have to hurry to get on the Glenn Beck show.  Former wacky morning DJ Beck, who once graced Baltimore's airwaves with his drug-crazed prattle, got a show on FOX News in January 2009, and has spent the last 27 months becoming more and more like Father Coughlin from the 1930's.  Father Charles Coughlin was a priest from Michigan who somehow got a radio show during the Depression and soon turned it into an unending anti-Semitic soundbox.  It got so bad toward the end that he actually broadcast words of sympathy for Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, because of their enmity towards Jewish people.  

Beck has gone off on a similar tangent lately, blaming "the bankers" and the reform rabbis for the sorry state of our world.  Beck claims that a worldwide conspiracy of bankers set up the Federal Reserve System, which was set up in 1907 to protect us from bank failures and unethical practices.  He has also been touting the views of conspiracy theorist G. Edward Griffin, who claims that the anti-Semitic tract “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” “accurately describes much of what his happening in our world today” and that  “present-day political Zionists are promoting the New World Order.”

Whenever I hear people speaking bad about the Jewish people, I always want to offer to meet them at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall or one of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Cancer Institute buildings or one of the dozens of other eleemosynary functions set up around here by people of the Jewish faith to benefit members of all faiths, so we can discuss their issues.  Stereotyping, race and faith baiting: so dumb.

And I keep hearing about this New World Order, and I can't even get my New Dinner Order delivered properly, so I'm not fretting about it.  

But FOX is letting go of the Glenn Beck show. Oh sure, both the FOX bosses and GB himself are claiming he wants to be rid of the daily grind in order to focus on occasional specials for the "news" network, but can you imagine the disgrace inherent in being fired by FOX for being too nutsy?  Does this remind anyone else of when Steven Adler was fired by Guns 'N' Roses for taking too many drugs?

Well, Izzy or isn't he?
Which gives me a chance to recall that Guns 'N' Roses has a guitarist named Jeffrey Dean Isbell, who performs under the nom de guitar Izzy Stradlin.  It makes me wonder about Beck: is he straddlin' the thin line between lunacy and paranoia?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Here Come the Judds

All right, here you go: These are the words of actress Ashley Judd, in an interview on WBAL radio the other morning:

"I'm abstinent from all press and media about myself."

Lover of irony will note that these remarks were made on a 50,000 watt AM radio station, the largest in Maryland.  And these remarks were made as part of huge press campaign to beat the drum, looking for people to break a leg running to the bookstore to buy a copy of Ms Judd's autobiography, "I'm a Self-Inflating Attention-Seeking Bowl of Conflicts with a Heaping Side Order of Family Issues: The Ashley Judd Story."

Funny thing is, I don't recall seeing too many of her movies, and I am not a huge fan of her mother and sister, the singing Judds.  But just as the tuneful twosome are set to launch their TV show on the Oprah Channel, detailing their fractious past, here comes Ms Ashley with her book - released the same week! - and the book is all about how Ashley was abused as a child, and then the tv show will discuss how mother Naomi was abused as a child and chose not to tell anyone until about a dozen television cameras were on her as she told her other daughter Wynonna about it.  Then Wynonna gets all peeved because she wanted to talk about how SHE was abused, and Ashley's thinking, well why didn't you write a book about how you were abused, like I did?

Not for one second do I countenance any form of abuse of anyone.  But if a person is a victim of any form of abuse, there are proper means of dealing with it.  My thought is that the worst way to deal with it is to try to turn it into a promotional vehicle to sell books or TV reality shows.  

And I don't doubt that these women have issues that need to be sorted out, along with their talents as an actor and two singers.  It's my thought that they should sort them out in another, more private and appropriate, forum, as encouragement to the millions of others out here in the real world who are victims but lack the beauty, talent and publicity agents that the Judds have at their disposal.

"Heard about the Jolly Green Giant?"
To seek help and then quietly advise, assist and encourage others in doing the same - what a noble idea that would be.  To take one's personal trauma and turn it into a publicity stunt - and then to deny, on a huge media outlet, that one is involved in the media whatsoever, is sort of like hearing the Jolly Green Giant deny that he's ever been in a peapatch.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Saturday think piece

To think about on a Saturday... come with us to Pedro's Nutte House. I don't know where this place is, but to me, the important question is, why does Pedro need to wear a gun in the performance of his official Nutte House duties?

Still, you gotta love the sombrero.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Come on Daddy; Come on Mom, I'm Your Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Charlie Bomb!

And so our Mr Charles Sheen has gone to Detroit with his Violent Torpedo of Truth and bombed.  But any good show biz kinda guy knows that you don't stick with a losing hand, so after being booed off the stage in Motown, Charlie headed for Chi with a new format to his show.  He cut back on the amount of video clips from his sordid life and stood on stage telling stories, weaving the tale of his fall from grace, and taking questions from the audience.

I should think that the main question on the mind of anyone in the crowd would have been, "What in tarnation am I doing here?"

It is a free country, so you're free to spend your hard-earned cash on anything you wish to.  But criminetti, all I ever hear is how tough things are, how people can hardly afford to put a roof over their head, clothes on their back and food on the table, and all along people in Detroit have enough loot to pay big bucks for a Charlie Sheen egofest?

Of course, the shows in Detroit, Chi and the planned ones for this week in Ohio somewhere are just the road company warmups for his big Radio City Sheenapalooza coming up. On, the average ticket to Sheen’s New York date went for between $125-$150 last week on their website. Yesterday, that average sale price sank to $80, and today, it’s closer to $50. An Orchestra seat at Radio City can now be had for $24, far, far below its face value.

Tiger blood! Get it?
I don't know what they paid in Detroit.  I paid $3.50 to see The Beatles, but there were no videos in that show.

And when the Detroit crowd started hitting the Boos, Sheen yelled, “I already got your money, dude,” and later added, “You paid your hard-earned money without knowing what this show was about.”

This show is about people who are willing to pay a lot of money to say they were in the same concert hall as Charlie Sheen.  And you know the crowd consisted of men men men men manly men men men!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Take Your Choice

It's a big, wide wonderful world out there, filled with many delights for all, young and old.  And the great thing is, it's like a cafeteria: you can oftentimes pick and choose what you like, and follow that choice.

Take modern dance.  Please!  Or modern art, or modern furniture.  "Modern Family," now that's OK.  

But many visitors to Florida are enchanted by this Sea World place where one gets to see giant oceanic mammals jumping around.  Last year, as you'll recall, this whale "Tilikum" killed a trainer when he grabbed her pony tail and dragged her below. All this happened in front of a crowd of what could only be described as horrified onlookers.  And then this week, "Tillie" was back out there, performing.  

news-national-20110330-US.SeaWorld.DeathAnd the people who run the place said it was the 12,000-pound whale's "choice" to perform in the "Believe" show.  They went on, appearing to be quite serious, to say that none of the park's whales are coerced to participate.  In a statement, SeaWorld executives defended Tilikum's getting back into the show business, saying it "is an important component of his physical, social and mental enrichment." 

"Arrived Venice, streets flooded, please advise"
Can we stop for a minute here?   People have their choices in all this.  If you want, you can save all your money and plan for a fabulous family getaway to Twitty City, the erstwhile home of country music's Conway Twitty.  The park is now Trinity City and is part of the Trinity Broadcasting Network, which I think is the channel with that woman with the gigantic head of hair.  Or you can all pile into the Family Truckster and go see Hoover Dam or the Longaberger building that looks like a basket, or maybe you'd rather go to Venice and have one of the strombolis take you on a trip through the city, floating in one of those colorful ricottas.  

The point is,  we are humans and we have choices.  In my humble opinion, I think that whales, birds, foxes and snakes might have opinions, but they really have no way of communicating them.  I don't know if this anthropomorphism elevates whales or relegates mankind, but until I see a talking whale, with union representation and paid-up dues, I'm not sure that we can say, "it was his choice."

And I say this, knowing that PETA is in town along with the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey, Stills and Nash Circus.  People get a thrill seeing the elephants get off their railroad cars and then stomping through the downtown section on the way to the Civic Arena, where the performances are held.  Suburban gardeners drive downtown to scoop up elephant dung, the best type of manure for roses.  (Think of that the next time someone hands you a dozen long-stemmed American Beauties!)  And PETA says the elephants are mistreated and forced to perform in the circus. 

And the elephants say there are worse ways to make a living.  And they get better accommodations than the clowns who all pile out of a small car, and they make more money than the guy selling cotton candy. 

It all comes down to choices.