Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday Rerun: That's Lunch!

If you work in an office, and there are more people than just you working in that office, chances are you have some sort of lunchroom, with a shared refrigerator and microwave. Sometimes, you might see a toaster oven in the mix.

It's not a problem where I work, from all that I hear, but there are plenty of offices where people steal food from the lunchroom. Just Google (don't Bing, unless you want to hear Mr Crosby groan a number for you) "office lunchroom stolen food" and you will see 49,500 entries on the topic. Theft prevention tips always mention putting a coating of really hot pepper sauce on the food and leaving it in an inviting position in the Kelvinator. For this, you would want to use a Scotch bonnet pepper sauce. I have a bottle at home of something called "Smokin' Tonsils" hot sauce, and I am here to tell you, one drop on a porkchop will make your eyes water and your mouth sizzle and the top of your head commence to twitchin'. I love it! But that's one way to go. There are other adulterants that can be added to food for fun effect, and then other people suggest microcameras and booby traps to catch the thief.

And then there is the problem, not of people taking stuff out of the 'frig, but of people putting stuff in there and leaving it there until the milk turns to cheese and a peach starts to look like a mongoose. A very hairy mongoose, at that.

And then there is always the guy who takes all the ice out of the ice tray, and then puts the empty ice tray back in the freezer. So along comes someone who needs to ice down his Fresca, and they ain't no ice, as Andy Griffith used to say.

You may be certain that the people who do this sort of stuff at work are the people who will try to make a right turn from the center lane on their way home from work, and try to butt up ahead of you at the deli counter at the Shop 'n' Bag, and blow smoke in your face as you walk past the designated smoking area.

You want to get angry, but I go with pity - they have to live with themselves, and that can't be fun!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Up, Up and Await

We were talking about George Plimpton the other day, and of the sort of things he did, and here's a time when he played a more traditional role in journalism and wrote about someone else doing something, as opposed to the sort of participatory journalism he more or less created.  Plimpton was the man who pitched to major leaguers and quarterbacked an NFL team and rode with firefighters and had all these adventures we would all like to have, and then wrote about them.

But in 1998, George wrote about this fellow Larry Walters, who, in 1982, attached forty two helium-filled weather balloons to one Sears Roebuck folding lawn chair and lifted off into the skies above Southern California.  Before you go to thinking that this idea seemed sort of 1/2-baked, Larry would have wanted you to know that it was, in fact, completely baked.  Or, he was.  Anyway, he planned to regulate his altitude by bursting the balloons one at a time by shooting them with a bb gun. And that would have worked, most clearly, except that a gust of wind tilted the chair and the gun plummeted earthward, leaving Larry aloft with plenty of extra bb's and nothing to shoot them with.

Imagine being the pilot of the TWA plane who saw this fellow and his chair flying over SoCal.  Imagine being the air traffic controller who got the radio message from the TWA jet, "We have a man in a chair attached to balloons in our ten o'clock position, range five miles."  Imagine that happening today; people would immediately suspect terrorism was afoot.  Or afloat.

Larry Walters was a former Army cook who never quite got ahold of the handle. He quit his job after the flight (he landed in some wires above the house of a startled off-duty pilot) and worked for a time as a motivational speaker, apparently speaking to groups who wanted to be motivated to foolhardiness. There was a play about his adventure, called "The Man In The Flying Lawn Chair" but this last burst of fame was posthumous; he committed suicide in the San Gabriel mountains in 1993 and the play was produced nine years after that.

Today, of course, he would have his own reality show and be a featured guest on sixteen different talk shows, and Sean Hannity would holler about how unfair it was that he was investigated and fined for his goofy flight, and his tell-all book "Beyond Earthly Bonds" would sell tons of copies and bump Bill O'Reilly's "Let Me Tell You The Truth Or Else" from the New York Times best seller list.  

Timing is everything.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Laugh of Brian

You know who I think is one of the greatest men we have in our country?  I mean, this guy is right there with Kid Rock, Cal Ripken, Jr, Jimmy Carter and Johnny Knoxville in my pantheon of heroes.  Brian Williams!  The guy from NBC Nightly News! To name just one reason: he wears the kind of shirts and ties that are the only kinds of shirts and ties that men ought to wear: the standard kind, with stripes or club figures on the ties and regular collars on the shirts, not those awful shirts that look like they have batwing collars from old monster movies or ties that look like dropclothes from when a brothel was repainted.

But his clothing is hardly why he is heroic.  In case you haven't noticed, this blog is not exactly GQ.  Brian Williams is a great guy because he is one of us!  He's from a normal state - New Jersey - and his first job, not like those richkid jobs where the sons of the privileged collate memos in a richdaddy office for $10,000 a week, was bussing tables in a Perkins Steak 'n' Pancake restaurant.  And he was a volunteer firefighter in his home town of Middletown, NJ!  

If you can find a town name better than Middletown, let me know.

So naturally, we watch NBC Nightly News with a devotion that would rival the most dedicated viewers of soap operas, reality shows and Keno broadcasts.  BW is conversant on all topics, tells the top stories of the day and even features cultural landmarks such as discussing the early days of the Bruce Springsteen band when saxman Clarence Clemons passed away.

But the other night on Letterman, Brian topped every comedian and raconteur ever! Click ^^on the link to see what I'm talking about.  In his marvelous self-depreciating way, he tells of being honored as Broadcaster of the Year for a group of New York state TV types, and how he and Regis Philbin (!) had to wedge themselves into a private jet to be flown to the ceremonies in Lake George, NY.  I tell you, this man has talent, because there's nothing that says a news anchor can't be perfectly serious about the debt ceiling at 6:30 and side-splitting about sharing a bag of Cheez-Its at 11:30.  

It's all in knowing what to do when, and how!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bayer-ly logical

At least, you can fool a lot of the people a lot of the time.  One excellent way is to repeat something so often that it becomes impressed in many easily-impressible minds.  This is how they sell Bayer aspirin, with that notion that "all aspirin are not alike."  No matter how much they tell you that, any aspirin that you can buy, be it the bottle of 10,000 pills for a buck at the Dollar Tree, or the wee bottle of 24 of the Bayer brand for $3.69 at Drugs "4" U, is all the same.  325 mg of acetylsalicylic acid is 325 mg of acetylsalicylic acid, no matter how you dress it up.

Rupert Griffin
Mr Rupert Murdoch, until recently best known for having Stewie Griffin's teddy bear named after him,  is also a "media mogul" whose minions in England have apparently committed such unspeakable acts as hacking the cell phone of a teenaged kidnapping victim, thus denying her family and the police access to certain information while the girl was missing.  The American FBI is said to be looking into reports that the same thing was done to 9/11 victims on these shores.  So his FOX News people have on a guest who points out that other huge entities have been hacked, so what's all the fuss here?

Subtle point.  It's like saying, if you get caught hitting other people over the head with a 2 x 4, "Well, other people have been hit over the head with 2 x 4s before!"  Here is the video to that interview, showing how FOX can take most any story and shuffle the words around, like riverboat card sharks, fooling those who so dearly cling to a notion of a nation where, as Jonathan Kay wrote in Salon the other day of the rabid addicts of Sarah-tonin:

Palin partisans focus on her constructed identity: a patriotic, God-fearing small-town girl who grew up in a Norman Rockwell Ameritopia of state fairs, basketball tournaments, beauty pageants and wooden churches. To announce one’s support for Palin is to declare one’s belief that this vision of America somehow can be recaptured, that the country’s social contract can magically be turned back to the era of sock hops and drive-in restaurants, if only Americans elect the right people. To put down Palin, on the other hand, means that you hate America.

 I don't happen to hate America.  I love America, but I see an increasing problem with misinformation being gobbled up so readily by people who can see Palin's daughter as the poster child for teenage chastity.

And the other day I was stunned to see Michelle Bachmann say these words:

“Let me be abundantly clear — my ability to function effectively has never been impeded by migraines and will not affect my ability to serve as commander in chief.” 

I pointed out that what she was saying, in her convoluted manner, was that her ability to function will not affect her ability to serve.  Exactly what does that mean?  

The square root of sweet doodly-squat, is what that means. 

But after I posted that statement, I was taken to task as representing "yellow journalism 101."  And still I wonder, how is it yellow journalism to publish someone's words verbatim?  It's as bad as Charles Barkley claiming to have been misquoted in his autobiography.  People in the public eye have to measure their words, or should.  When they are quoted, it's just a quote, not an interpretation.

Ever since last fall's elections, when the R party took over leadership in the house, I have waited patiently for them to cure everything that ails us, as they promised to do during the campaign.  The presidential campaign next year ought to be a doozy, with people like Michelle in the mix.  But don't worry.  My ability to vote will not affect my ability to vote.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

No Peaking!

Here's the deal. The Baltimore Gas and Electric Company, the energy giant in our town, offers a program called "Peak Rewards."  In return for giving customers a break of around 200 bucks in summertime, the electric company (still known to longtimers around here as "The Gas Company") installs a radio-controlled gizmo on said customers' central air conditioners. When the temp hits 106°, as it did the other day, and generators from here to Iowa are generating all the juice they can squeeze, BGE cuts off a certain amount of air conditioners for a certain amount of time.

Certainly you understand this is a gamble that some customers are willing to take, in return for 200 shekels, and certainly you understand that taking the risk also means there are going to be times when your AC is DOA.  A deal's a deal, am I wrong?

Well, the other day when the mercury was about to burst out of the top of the thermometer and the tv news was all over itself showing firefighters and roofers and guys working on asphalt trucks and cookies baking on car dashboards and polar bears bobbing around with giant fish-flavored popsicles, the paper had a top of the front page article about people howling because their air conditioners were cut off when it got so hot.

So, to recap, people sign up for a program where they can expect to have their air conditioners taken away from them on the hottest days of the year, when they need them the most.  But they get some money for it.

And, being people, they're hollering, screaming bloody murder. 

And, like most things in life, it all reminds me of an Albert Brooks movie.  Do you remember "Lost in America," the 1985 picture in which Albert and his wife (played by Julie Hagerty) get rid of their status-y possessions, buy a Winnebago and set out to drive across the country and "touch Indians"?  There's a great scene - SPOILER ALERT! - in which Albert's wife gambles away their entire nest egg in Las Vegas, and Albert tries to talk the casino manager into giving it back, as if it all never happened.

The people who signed up for the Peak Rewards program knew they were gambling a day's comfort in exchange for a couple of hundred semolians, and yet they get to do a complainologue because they lost a day's comfort.  It's not as if they were unaware of how this worked, and it's not as if they didn't get their two thousand dimes from the BGE.

A note of clarification:  My father worked for Baltimore Gas and Electric from 1929 - 1978, taking time out only to go fight in World War II.  He was so loyal to the company that it was said there was no other firm from whom he would purchase electricity!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Burning Bright

I don't really follow golf, because I think it's possible to take a nice long walk without smacking a little white ball around.  I could be wrong.  But the Tiger Woods saga continues to unfold, or collapse.  His entire career, he seemed to do no wrong, and he won a lot of golf tournaments, but then came Thanksgiving 2009, and ever since then, his world has spun around like a hungry kid at an ice cream factory. And now it seems that his world was like that beach ball that they put up over the vacuum cleaner in the appliance dept. at Monkey Wards - the air flows around the surface of the ball, forming what science calls "The Coanda Effect," keeping the ball aloft.

We non-scientists call this the "A Lot of Hot Air" effect.  Sure, Tiger was a great golfer, and won millions of dollars for doing that, and also somehow managed to rake in as much or more as a commercial spokesperson for Buick and Nike and Tag Heuer watches and American Express and Capt. Crunch, the cereal firm.  But all of a sudden, as fate likes to play it, right after he crashed his luxury ride into the luxury gate of his luxury house in Florida, the vacuum stopped putting out the hot air that kept the beach ball of his fame bouyant.  He has hardly played or won at any golf tournaments since, and of course his marriage went away and even though he made one televised apology, he still seems like the cold guy he's always been.

So Tige, as I like to call him, has found out what the problem is.  Just like a man whose car keeps breaking down usually blames it on the hubcaps, Eldrick "Tiger" Woods has fired his caddy. Here's the official word from 

Tiger Woods announced Wednesday that he and caddie Steve Williams will not be working together in the future.
"I want to express my deepest gratitude to Stevie for all his help, but I think it's time for a change," Woods said. "Stevie is an outstanding caddie and a friend and has been instrumental in many of my accomplishments. I wish him great success in the future."
Presently, a replacement has not been named.
Woods continues to rest and rehabilitate his left leg. No decision has been made when he will return to competition on the PGA Tour. 

First, "presently" is not a word that means "currently."  It means "in a short time" or "soon."  As in, "Presently, Tiger will look for another excuse, but here's the one for today!"  Second, El Tigre has a lot of Titleists, wouldn't you say?  What a deft turn of phrase! What better way to say, "I fired a dude" than to say, "He and I won't be working together in the future." You wonder if he called the guy up and said "Start packing!" and the guy said, "Should I pack for someplace warm or someplace cool?" and Tiger says, "I don't care where you go; just start packing!" The caddy is the guy who hands him golf clubs and tells him where the next hole is and which tree provides great cover for a quick tinkle.  Surely, firing the caddy is the answer to Eldrick's problems, and I can only hope that he goes over to the Caddyshack and finds a suitable replacement.  

"This Cinderella story, this unknown..."
Perhaps Carl Spackler is available!

Monday, July 25, 2011

No, no, no

Ironies abound.  We got word of the death of Amy Winehouse during the wake for a dear friend who was taken away by ALS.  Before she departed this vale, though, our friend Lois lived into her sixth decade, a life filled with love, friendship, accomplishment, devotion to family (by birth, by marriage and by choice) and faith in God.  The eulogies were beautiful, the church was packed, and I was just one of hundreds in the congregation of souls hoping that when our time is through, we can have people talk so lovingly of the lives we affected and the love we shared.  I won't even attempt to list all the ways in which our Lois touched the lives of many, but she was a good, good woman, sadly missed here among us and certainly welcomed home in Heaven.

I don't know much about Amy Winehouse, and I don't want to sound like one of those old men who stands on his porch wearing a cardigan, hollering at the kids to get off his lawn.  I'm not so staid as to think that no good music has been made since the days of Sam The Sham and The Pharoahs, but then again, I don't necessarily jump on every new trend.  (My bizarre interest in Ke$ha remains unexplained.)  I take it from knowledgeable music fans that Amy had talent. 

But Amy also had bi-polar disorder and an appetite for substance abuse.  She was around for years, but only released two albums, and of them, people say only the second was really good.  Much has been made of how Winehouse died aged 27, the same age at death as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Brian Jones, Kurt Cobain and Jim Morrison.  Hendrix mixed pills and wine before dying in a hotel in London in 1970.  Joplin died the same year of a heroin overdose. Brian Jones drowned "by misadventure" in 1969.  Cobain, a longtime substance abuser and person in need of mental health treatment, shot himself in 1994, and Morrison died in 1971 of heart failure, with drugs the suspected causal factor.

 Why 27? My best guess would be that these are people whose talents brought them fame and  acclaim by their early twenties, and led them into unhealthy lifestyles which were hard to maintain.  We think of Keith Richards, onetime bandmate of Jones, as being our crazy old Uncle Junkie, but he hasn't done hard drugs for years.  Trust him on that.  He wouldn't be around to say so if he still did.

We all know people like Amy, who hide their lights beneath bushels of drugs and other issues.  We can only hope that they can get the help they need.

We all know people like Lois, and we're all the better for knowing them. 

If there is an Amy in our lives, perhaps we should try to figure how the presence of a Lois could help them, and then do what we can, while we can.  Don't look back, as Satchell Paige always said.  Something might be gaining on us.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday Rerun: I hate to Russia but it's almost Midnight In Moscow

"Russia is about Czars Stalin Poetry Secret Police Communism barefoot in the snow But that's not really Russia it's a concept" - - Allen Ginsberg, "Is About" (1996)

So! The US and Russia are about to have another Spy Swap! Man, you talk about retro! That is old school stuff.

Back in 1960, an American CIA pilot named Francis Gary
Powers was driving a U2 spy plane over Russian territory and was shot down. President Eisenhower, trusting that Powers would do as all spy pilots are supposed to do and kill himself with a curare-tipped needle hidden inside a fake silver dollar, said that the plane was just a weather plane, sent over Europe to observe cloud formations and a developing low-pressure system over Vladivostok. (I like saying 'Vladivostok,' although I have never been there.)

Meanwhile, back in Russia, Powers was singing like Bing Crosby, telling everything about his mission. Embarrassed at being caught telling a fib, Eisenhower had to admit it all and deal with the Russians. We traded some of their superspies that we had in custody for Powers, along with cash considerations and a second-round draft choice. To make matters worse, some guys in Ireland formed an irritating band and called themselves U2, using their musical platform to show off some very odd sunglasses and self-righteously angry records, which sold millions of copies. Everything involved with the U2 mess was extensively horrible.

Powers came home to a life in the shadows, eventually becoming a test pilot for Lockheed, only to lose that job by publishing an autobiography. He then became an airborne news reporter for a TV station in Los Angeles and died in 1977 when his helicopter and out of fuel and crashed.

So now we have captured some Russian spies and they have got some of ours. Fine. But tell me, in this crazy era with all the internets and those little cell phones and digital cameras and reality tv all over the cable, do we need spies? Does Russia? Do they have to send people over here to observe our goings-on, when they could simply watch TMZ every night and see what Lindsey, Tiger, Jenna B. Hager, Jon, Kate, 8, Lindsey Lohan's fingernails, TV's entire Kardashian Family, the man who claims to be LeBron James's long-lost daddy, "Twilight," and Justin Bieber have done to our culture?

"Ya! No wonder they listen to the U2!" is what the report would say.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Saturday rerun: Red Zone

I was driving behind one of those blue Corollas the other morning and when we got to the red light at The Alameda and Walker Av, the guy sort of pulled up, looked around, and drove right through the red light.

Now I know it's ok to turn right on a red light, but not left.  So either this dude is one of those people who don't know their left from their right, or he is one of those people who just plain don't care to follow the law.

I would hate to think it's the latter, but I don't know.  If the statement "Laws are made to be broken" is itself a law of sorts, then you would break that law by following the law.

And then you'd have to walk around like John Travolta, holding your head in both hands, and bellowing, "I'm so CONFUSED!"

I see a large trend of people just doing what pleases them.  To heck with the law, civil, criminal or societal.  It starts out with deliberately using "your" in place of "you're," and it goes on from there.  Next thing you know, you have a mean dog who runs free about the neighborhood, snipping and yipping. ("Everybody LOVES Scrappy!") And then it's just a short leap to stealing cars, mugging pedestrians and news vendors, and...well, I'm kidding, but seriously, I feel we are becoming a nation of convenience.  And if it's not CONVENIENT to stop at a light, well then, by all means, you just scoot on through there, Sunshine.  Hope no one is coming through the other way!

I keep wanting to go back to 1966 but no one wants to join me.

Friday, July 22, 2011

They Let George Do It

One person I wish I could have met during his lifetime (1927 - 2003) was George Plimpton.  For one thing, he didn't talk like anyone else I ever met.  Click on the link to see him do an Intellivision spot and listen to him, please!  That voice was Upper Northeast US Cultured, topped with Old Money Nasal and European Traveler.

Who was he? you may ask.  Well, George Ames Plimpton came from well-to-do parents, and just from the name alone you can tell that,  but they were of the always-been-well-off class, which doesn't always mean they are as rich as they might act.  He was of that group that didn't mind if their shirt collars were a little frayed or their Topsiders >>>were a tad bit run down at the heels.  He always appeared comfortable to me, is all I know.

So, come on, who was he, you keep asking.  Well, after college and Army service, he wound up in Paris in the early 1950's.  At that time, writers and artists from all over wound up in Paris once again, following the end of a World War.  George founded a literary magazine called the Paris Review in 1953 and spent the rest of his life involved with the magazine, whose circulation was maybe 1/10 of 1% of Reader's Digest or TV Guide, but it did contain works of fiction, poetry and art, as well as interviews with intellectual giants of the age, so there was merit in his work there.  Just not a lot of money.

For money, he wrote and participated in lots of events.  He came up with a whole new field of journalism, becoming a "professional amateur."  He performed in many venues and then wrote books and essays on experiences such as:
  • playing quarterback for the Detroit Lions in an NFL exhibition game
  • pitching to the National League All-Stars in their warmup game
  • playing in a pro golf match
  • playing the triangle in a symphony orchestra
  • walking the high wire in a circus
  • doing standup comedy
  • playing tennis against Pancho Gonzales, a top pro of the era
And he became famous that way, so much so that he received the ultimate accolade of being the punch line in several New Yorker cartoons. 

He was also, on a sad note, a footnote in history, by being one of the men who wrested away the gun that Sirhan B. Sirhan had just used to assassinate Robert Kennedy.  Of all the interesting experiences that George had, that was one of which he would not speak or write for many years. 

If people speak of him today at all, it's because of Sidd Finch.  This was a character he created for the April 1, 1985 issue of Sports Illustrated, a guy who came out of nowhere but somewhere, had learned the yogic mastery of mind and body, enabling him to throw a baseball 160 mph.  George hired a guy to be photographed as Sidd and wrote the story up in such a convincing fashion that many people were fooled by it, until they took another look at the date of the magazine.

George had an amazing life and he was that rare patrician gentleman who was able to mix with people from all walks of life and then, once back in his office in New York, write about it so we all could share.  

Thursday, July 21, 2011

All right, Mr Hand!

"...and when we come to town, the people gather 'round
and marvel at our health..."
Cosmic Cowboy, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, 1973.

No crowds gather 'round when I lumber in for my annual physical, but isn't it nice to have that examination?  It's a reassuring assessment of how things stand.  Sort of like a report card, but they don't mark you lower for bad behavior.

Well, they do, but anyhow...

The past few months, I've had a slight problem with my left little finger. (People who cut me off in traffic while driving cars bearing anti-Obama slogans know that the other fingers work quite well.) It turns out that the problem is something called "trigger finger," in which the tendon that makes the finger straighten out (or not) is ensheathed within a sheath that restricts its movements.  Sometimes, if I curl my hand up to grab a bag of groceries or money from a bank heist, I have to straighten out the pinky by using my other hand (all the while, steering the getaway car with my knees.) 

The best way to fix it, according to the great Dr Albert DeLoskey, is to go to a hand specialist and get a cortisone injection.

The worst thing to do, he cautioned, is to squeeze a rubber ball, trying to "fix" it.

I have been squeezing a rubber ball at work and in the SUV since March.

"Hello, Hand Clinic?"

Listen, everyone grumbles about doctors and I don't know why.  Where we go, with but one exception, the docs are kind and thoroughly professional, they never keep you waiting, always work you in somehow in case of an emergency, and they know what they are doing.  Which is good, because I don't know how to fix my hand, but someone does...

I got to thinking about how I would have fared had I been born in 1751 instead of 1951.  For one thing, I would not have liked it; there was no cable tv, baseball, pizza or Facebook then.  Frontiersmen had to go out and shoot and trap and fish for their suppers, and even then, if they wanted, say, a side of cole slaw, they were SOL.  

Over the years, I have had a knee replaced, a broken piece of bone removed from my spine, cavities filled and crowns installed, and countless other medico-dento (made up word) problems solved.  I'm glad I'm here for all this.  In 1811, I would have been limping around in pain, living on soup and oatmeal, and watching tv with a doggone antenna on the roof of my prairie hut. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

We weep what we sow

I try to keep an eye on culture, hoping to acquire a little for myself, and I notice trends sometimes.  Such as, all of a sudden, people are crying all over the place.  Men and women and children and old timers and who-all else are reaching for the Kleenex and mopping up rivulets of tears.

Someone mentioned that the men who get booted off this show "The Bachelorette" turn on the waterworks as soon as they find out they just got the gate.  Why is this happening?  In the first place, who wants to hang around and be involved in a made-up romance?  And second, whatever happened to being a good loser?  So you didn't get chosen to be a finalist on a TV show.  Where's the dignity, son?

Glenn Beck, who momentarily captured the attention of inattentive Americans, used to sob almost every night as he wove his web of prevarication. Brett Favre of the Packers/Jets/Vikings, Mike Schmidt of the Phillies and countless other athletes have wept bitter tears upon discovering that it was time for them to retire and stay home to watch Judge Judy, Judge Joe Brown and Judge and Weesie Jefferson on TV.

If I apologize for that "Judge Jefferson" joke, I'd have to apologize for hundreds of other lousy puns, so I'll just say I'm deeply apoplectic about it all.

Sin for your supper
Of course, the all-time champ is cornball preacher Jimmy Lee Swaggart, who got caught in the front seat of his Lincoln getting hand action from a hooker in 1988.  He went on TV looking like a hurricane was storming across his face, and blubbered, "I have sinned."  He begged for, and received forgiveness. 

In 1991, Swaggart, who is known for two things, soliciting prostitutes and being the cousin of Jerry Lee Lewis, got caught again with a hooker getting busy on little Jimmy Lee.  This time, though, he skipped the tears and said to his flock, what remained of it, "The Lord told me it's flat none of your business."

But that was twenty years ago, and now Tim Tebow cries because of losing a football game.  And John Boehner cries because he looks so tan.  And people cry because they lose televised weight-loss contests. And people cry at weddings and laugh at funerals.

I don't understand, but I'm not about to cry over it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Casey in the Sunshine, banned

I sympathize with all those who are so torn up over the Casey Anthony verdict. Upon her release into the pre-dawn darkness of Sunday morning, old Casey vaulted right over everyone else to take the lead in the Most Hated Person in America poll by the time the sun began to shine. 

Did you see that she left the hoosegow with $538.67 in cash - money sent to her by supporters, admirers, as it were?  It was like in the oldtime movies when a guy got let out of the Ironbar Hilton, and they gave him five bucks and a new double-breasted suit.  And when the guy was played by Victor Mature, the suit fit him immaculately.  It never failed; a suit right off the rack looked to be bespoke. 

Casey at the Tat
Casey paraded out of the big house wearing a baggy sort of fuchsia top, blue jeans, and a very apprehensive look.  We can't blame her for that.  Best advice I can offer her would be to leave the country, dye her hair, gain twenty lbs., and move to somewhere where her tattoo would fit in. Italy comes to mind, since her tat says "Bella Vita."  I think that if she seeks the beautiful life the ink on her back calls for, she won't find it if she is around people who still suspect her of being guilty of killing her own child.  

Just as in the Simpson case and many other high-profile felony trials, the jury has spoken here.  I'm sure that if you took a poll, most Americans figure Casey did it, but most Americans were not on the jury.  Only twelve were, and they were not given enough evidence by the smiling, laughing, prosecution team, who bungled the case six ways from Sunday, as Monday morning quarterbacks are wont to say.

As late as Sunday evening, the news was still showing a mob eddying about the Orange County (FL) Courthouse.  One woman said that she and her family had done the Disney thing all week and now wanted to stop by and see the other tourist attraction, that being the very sidewalk where Casey took her first free steps in three years.  Another woman said she couldn't "concept (sic) of someone doing what she did to her child."  Inconceivable, yet true.  

I know that many are flailing about, trying to make sense of what happened to Caylee Anthony, what happened in the trial, and what to do about it all.  Well, I don't think we are ever going to know what happened to the child.  Knowing that she is gone is sad enough.  What happened in the trial will be talked about in law school, and by whoever is so unlucky as to dine with Nancy Grace, for the next few decades.

I have an idea.  It's simple, as are most of my ideas.  Since there's not a thing we can do about what happened, let's work on what's going to happen. How about if everyone who has energy and drive enough to hang around the courthouse hollering at Casey would drive to an orphanage or homeless shelter or some place similar and volunteer to help out?  How about, if you're an experienced Mom, in honor of Caylee, you help out a young Mom in your neighborhood by sharing some of that experience?  Caylee is gone, and Casey's in the wind, but there are plenty of other little kids around who need help, and hollering outside a courthouse is helpful to no one, even if it does feel like it is.

Monday, July 18, 2011

'Ello! I'm Ron Weasley!

Baltimore only has one remaining big-screen old-fashioned movie theater.  It's called the Senator Theater, and it's not far from the county line, so I've been there a number of times.  I'd estimate that number at 37.  You can read here about the previous owner of the place and his quixotic struggles to keep owning the place.  Whatever it is, the theater is still open, and the other night they had the midnight showing of "Harry Potter and the Deadly Boredom II," or something like that.  

I recall a night in 1972 when I got up off a stool at Souris's Tavern and went to a midnight showing of "The Godfather" along with a couple of my buddies, and it was fun.  I hope that everyone who went to see "Harry Potter and the Half-Ass Prince" enjoyed it nearly that much, although they probably couldn't have, given the absence of scenes like Michael Corleone coming out of the men's room at the pasta restaurant with more than a noodle in his hand, and the absence of characters with names such as Luca Brasi and Khartoum The Wonder Horse, whose role was brief, but heady. 

Outside of mime, modern art, modern dancing and Sarah Palin, there aren't many forms of entertainment that I apprehend less than "Harry Potter: Gobblin' Fire."  It's been interesting to see this phenomenon grow over the years.  People who never liked to read began reading Potter books, and many of them continued to read until they read ALL the Potter books.  Before she started writing these fantasies, J.K. Rowling was on British welfare, which I believe means she would get a ticket good for a pint of beer and a blood-pudding sandwich once a week, along with subway fare to see the Queen ride by in a horse-drawn carriage with Camilla Parker Bowles leading the procession.  Now she is the richest woman - maybe the richest person - in England because of the book money and movie money. 

And we've all enjoyed seeing the cast grow up to be fine young adults.  Emma Watson, who has played the part of "Emma Watson" in all 118 HP movies, is attending college here in the US and hopes to be in more movies.  Daniel Radcliffe has shown acting talents far beyond wearing goofy glasses and is currently appearing on Broadway.  Rupert Grint is currently seeing his worldwide media empire crumble in a sea of lies, tapped phones and prevarication...oh wait, that's Rupert Murdoch.  There is no person named Rupert Grint.

Ten years from now, let's see if Pottermania is still in vogue.  I'd hate to see that they decide to do one of those "reunion" pictures, but if they do, I hope it will be called "Harry Potter and the AARP Membership Commercial."

Sunday, July 17, 2011


I'm always on the lookout for a new verbal trend.  Over the years, I have enjoyed word fads such as:
  • the incorrect use of "hopefully" (We say, "Hopefully, I'll be home in time for supper" when we might not be hopeful at all when we get home, especially if creamed cauliflower is being served. But when we use the word correctly, as in "Hopefully, I mixed all the ingredients together to make a cake," people look at you oddly.)
  • stores telling you they will give you a "free gift."  What other kind of gift is there?
  • People saying that something is "one of the most unique things."  Unique means one of a kind, so there can only be one.
  • the recent trend of "moving forward."  This phrase pops up in sentences all the time.  Moving forward, I think we can do without it. 
  • "It is what it is."  Of course it is.  Similarly, any number multiplied by one equals the same number.  So why say this?
  • "Go ahead and..." or "Take and..." are just sentence-stretchers.  I believe we can go ahead and stop saying, "Go ahead and cancel that order of creamed cauliflower" and "Please take and cut the grass for me."
  • the past tense of "text" is lost somewhere and needs to come home.  We say "I'm going to text Herbert and ask him to pick up some beer" and then later, when there is no beer to be had, we say, "Why didn't Herbert show up with the suds?  I text him four hours ago!"  
OK.  Those are my pet peevelets, but here is one that's coming up fast on the charts.  I call it The Self-Interview.  I believe it had its origins in the 1977 classic movie "Animal House," in the scene where the Delta fraternity is on trial.  Otter is chosen as spokesperson for the Deltas, because he's pre-law.  Or is it pre-med? ("What's the difference?") Addressing the college community, he says, "The question is not whether we took a few liberties with our female party guests.  We did!" as he gives a conspiratorial wink and nod to Dean Vernon Wormer.

That was the genesis of the self-interview.  We see it a lot suddenly when people have a microphone in front of them and a camera trained on them.  They ask themselves questions!
  • "Did we hit, pitch and field well enough to win this ball game? No, we did not!"
  • "Have we seen you dance better than this before? Yes, we have! Do we expect to see you dance better next week? Of course we do!"
  • "Have the American people spoken about the debt ceiling? They have. Have we heard them loud and clear? We have!"

You will also notice a similar trend among people who used to be school teachers, usually in the upper grades, usually in a less-than-scintillating topic. They tend to say things such as, "Woodrow Wilson sought to form an early precursor of the United Nations, a group he called the, what?  League of Nations!"

Have I written enough about language trends for today?  Moving forward, I'm gonna go ahead and say, what? "Yes!"

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Job Core

Tervis Tumbler
We were talking at the office the other day.  This is what they used to call "talking around the water cooler" but the only time anyone is seen at that oasis is when they are filling their 4-gallon water jugs or Mr Coffee carafe or Tervis Tumblers.  Anyway, the topic was, when choosing a professional to hire to take care of a certain task - be it plumbing, electrical, medical, what-have-you, do you
a) choose the most skillful person for the job, no matter how prickly or arrogant their personality


b) choose a lesser craftsperson in favor of having someone around that you can stand to be around

It's a tough call.  I know a car repair shop owner who had to let a guy go once.  The guy was an excellent mechanic, honest, skilled, good at dealing with customers, but he had the fatal habit of chasing women around the shop - in particular, the owner's wife's niece, who was working there.  Bad move.  He lost his job because he just couldn't stop reaching for the nookie jar.  

We've all had people working on things for us who were abysmally dreadful to be around, and yet, when they (finally!) drove away, or you were rolled back to the recovery area, it felt good to have things fixed correctly.

And then there are times when you really enjoy being around the person, but they have not a clue about what they're doing.  This is an absolutely true story: before fate led me to the wonderful Dr Neal Naff, King of All Neurosurgeons, the man who restored my back to its pre-injury glory, I spent some time with another surgeon, who earned points at least for honesty by saying, "I see what your problem is, but I have no idea how to fix it."  

We don't hear that very often.  And perhaps we should.

Take this simple test.  If you want a critical surgery done, or your house rewired or a drain cleaned or your engine tuned up, you wouldn't call Regis Philbin, now would you?  Sure, lots of fun, good to be around, wonderful chap.  But not the man for the job.

And by the same token (we hear about this token all the time, but never get to see one) if you want someone shot in the face, call Dick Cheney!  He's a proven professional in that field.  You wouldn't want to be around him, you'd never think to call him to go to Red Robin and grab a burger, but he's got the skills you seek.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Freud Green Tomatoes

I guess it's hard times for the crew of "The Talk," the afternoon show on CBS featuring Julie Chen, Leah Remini, Holly Robinson Peete, Sara Gilbert and Sharon Osbourne.  I imagine the ratings are not so great, so someone is telling the hosts to be outlandish and wild and crazy and just say any awful thing.

I have long felt that was Sharon Osbourne's calling card in any venue.  She seems to be one of those people who will sit quietly for a while and then, all of a sudden, holler out something bewilderingly inappropriate, and then giggle like a kindergartner who's just been caught making up dirty words to the Pledge of Allegiance to get a cheap laugh.  Sharon Osbourne, whose family fortune is based on her husband's quasi-Satanic drug-dripping addled lifestyle.  Nice pull, CBS! Maybe you could round up that guy who shot Rep. Giffords and feature him in a show sometime soon.

The other women, I have had respect for.  Leah Remini has been a favorite since "King Of Queens," and Holly was great on "21 Jump St" and "Hangin' With Mr Cooper."  I knew who Julie Chen was from being in a lot of shows I never watched, and I did see Sara Gilbert on "Roseanne," although I was never a big fan of that sitcom, which seemed to have as its purpose the glorification of what H.L. Mencken's brilliant portmanteau called the "booboisie."

As I say, of late the show runs like this.  The women enter the stage to tumultuous applause, which Julie, as emcee, finally has to wrestle to a close after about ten minutes.  Then, she introduces a topic, and four of the five women have intelligent things to say on the topic, then Sharon mentions her hoo-hah and what her husband,  one-time rock star ossified Ozzy Osbourne, likes to do there, in his rare sentient moments.

Then Julie buries her face in her hair and the little note card she carries, emerging after a short interval with that look that says, "OMG can you believe what she SAID!"  The look also says, wordlessly, "OMG My husband is the president of the network, so we're safe for now, but oh that Sharon! Isn't she marvelous?!"

Heroine to The Talk
But yesterday's show sent me into a towering rage.  They opened with the story of this woman who cut off her husband's penis with a kitchen knife and threw it down the garbage disposal.  She did this, not because he had dismembered her or did physical harm to him.  They have been separated, the story says, and he filed for divorce, and so she severs his penis.

OK; it's a story in the news, and could have led to a discussion of just what sort of depravity could lead a person to such mayhem.  Lorena Bobbitt, John Wayne Bobbitt, all that history could have come up.  But no.  They all laughed and smiled when some woman in the audience hollered out "That'll teach him!"

With the sole exception of Sara and half of Holly's remarks, it was pretty much a blanket approval of the woman's actions.  Sharon was off to the races right out of the gate, calling the crime "fabulous!" and wondering how the guy's appendage looked like as it swirled around in the disposal.  Leah allowed as how there could be one thing - ONE THING! - that her husband could do to earn such treatment from her, although she failed to elaborate on just what that was. Julie just giggled, guffawed, chortled and snickered.  Holly was winding up to say something about what a horrible thing this was, but said something about her husband first and got sidetracked.

Only Sara Gilbert pointed out that it was sexist and hypocritical, and asked how many people would be reacting with such mirth and glee had a man cut off a woman's breast someplace.

Which is not to say that horrible things don't happen.  That poor little boy in Brooklyn was killed and slaughtered by a madman the other day. Every day, you don't have to read too far into the paper before seeing stories of rape, murder, shootings, stabbings. They are not funny; no matter how mordant one's sense of humor, only a sick mind laughs at such atrocities.

Cutting off someone's penis is a crime, it's mayhem, it's the actions of a sick person.  Laughing about it, making a joke of a crime that involves dismemberment, is especially sickening because of the entire sexual angle that was brought to bear in this case.  If some poor dude on a tree-trimming gang happened to lose an arm in the woodchipper, I don't imagine that "The Talk" would make jokes about it.  Equally disturbing is their willingness to guffaw over the mutilation of a man's sex organ.

I've now lost respect for those women and for the production company who puts such an awful show on the air.  Maybe next week they can go on a telethon and laugh at victims of illness and disease. 

Once you sink into that gutter, there's no way to climb out without having gunk all over you.  Sorry, you ruined what used to be a nice show.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Lone Ranger

I think of the old Yiddish proverb "God gives burdens, also shoulders" quite a bit. The first time I heard it was election night, 1980, when Jimmy Carter lost the election to some movie actor who went on to confuse "Being the president" with "Playing the president in a movie" for eight years, assisted by his co-star actress wife.

Hamilton with mourning ribbon
ANY way, it comes to mind again these days in the case of Josh Hamilton, outfielder for the Texas Rangers.  Hamilton, at the age of 30, is about at the top of his profession, but it's been a long hard climb to get there.  Hamilton fell victim to drug and alcohol abuse early in his career and actually spent the years 2004-2006 out of baseball, mired in intoxication and dissolution, only to get it back together, kick his habits, and become an All-Star big leaguer. 

I'm not always so easy on people who are given great gifts and yet toss them away foolishly, but Hamilton gets credit for turning his life around.  But the twists and turns are not quite through for him.

Last week, he did what you see ballplayers do all the time after an inning ends. Waiting in the on-deck circle for his turn at bat, he picked up a foul ball and tossed it toward the outstretched glove of a fan.

That fan was Shannon Stone, a 39-year-old firefighter from Brownwood, TX, who had brought his 6-year-old son to the game to see his favorite ballplayer - Josh Hamilton.  In the previous inning, Hamilton had tossed a ball to a little girl in the stands, and heard young Cooper Stone asking for a souvenir of his own.  

The next chance he had to make good on that wish, Hamilton complied.  The boy and his dad were up above him by twenty feet, and maybe the toss was a little short, and maybe Mr Stone just missed catching it.  Who knows.  The horror is that, in trying to catch the ball for his son, Mr Stone fell out of the stands and down to the level below, dying of blunt force trauma.  The photo at right shows the scene from last Thursday.

Firefighter Stone was buried on Monday, and you have to count on Heaven sending angels to earth to help his son deal with what he has just seen with his own eyes.  

And then, the next day...

On Friday, Hamilton, already dealing with the events of the night before, hit a screaming foul into the stands in the sixth inning of a game with Oakland.  That fan got conked on the face, and left the stadium bloodied and needing stitches.

The foul ball aftermath
You understand that major league baseball does not allow the use of aluminum bats like they use in softball and college ball, because when a major league hitter hits a ball pitched to him at 90+ mph, the ball is hit so hard that the added power of the lighter bat would make the position of pitcher way too dangerous to play.  Foul balls also fly off their wooden bats and into the stands with ferocious velocity.

But for Josh Hamilton, one can only feel pity and concern.  We can rationalize that, of course, neither of these accidents was intentional on his part, and he was just there doing what he was supposed to be doing when they occurred.  All true, and yet, we'll need to wait and see if they have an effect on his future performance and his peace of mind. 

These are burdens he has to bear alone on earth, and we pray that his shoulders will support him through his faith.  I have a feeling that he will get help from an angel as well.  We always do!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I Witness News

It must be a different thing to say "I witness news" as opposed to the good people at Channel 13 Eyewitness News, where everyone goes by a first name.  If you see crime happening, it is your civic responsibility to tell the police what you saw so that the perpetrators can be brought to court, where the stories of their sad lives can unfold before a sympathetic jury.

For real, you know what you're supposed to do when you see someone stab someone or run out of a bank with a canvas sack full of money and those magnets and measuring cups and rubber discs for opening jars, all those promotional items that banks hand out. You're supposed to stick around and provide information to the law, so that the bad guys can be rounded up for their day in court (if they can clear their bank-robbing schedule.)

The picture given to police
We talked the other day about the violence that broke out in downtown B'more on the 4th of July. Well, the man pictured here is alleged by the police to be the man who broke off a bottle at its neck and stabbed to death 26-year-old Joseph Calo of Opelika, Alabama.  Someone took a picture of the person that is said to be the attacker, and on Saturday morning, 32-year old Marcus Harris of Baltimore walked into Police Headquarters and gave himself up for arrest.  Police are saying that they received a number of calls fingering Harris as the culprit after that picture that someone gave them was publicized all over town.

Here's the thing.  Who hasn't seen one of those courtroom drama movies where, as the just-convicted guy (who always looks like Joseph Campanella) is being dragged off by beige-clad bailiffs, he turns and shouts, " I'll get you, you dirty rat!"?
Joseph Campanella

This was memorably lampooned on The Simpsons when Krusty's sidekick Sideshow Bob went up for trying to kill Bart 27 times, and hollered, "I'll be back!  They can't keep the Democrats out of office forever, you know!" just before he went to share a jail cell with Scooter Libby and Tom DeLay.

Smile, you crook!
That last part about two crooks who have yet to be incarcerated was gratuitous, and I would remove it from this blog, but there is no button on this keyboard that says "erase."  Tom Delay was convicted of money-laundering charges and given three years in the hoosegow, but he is appealing.  Not to me, but to the judge.  Scooter "Scooter" Libby (born Irve Lewis "Scooter" Libby) was convicted of one count of obstruction of justice, two counts of perjury, and one count of making false statements in a federal trial, but irksome President George Bush stopped clearing brush off his ranch in Crawford, Texas, long enough to commute his thirty-month sentence.  Bush figured that the loss of his good name and reputation was enough of a punishment for Scooter.  I for one felt that "being known as chief of staff to Dick 'Scooter' Cheney" was a blot on any man's good name and reputation to begin with.

Did you ever stop to shudder when you realized that for eight years, your Federal government was in the hands of people named "Scooter"?

I have to hand it to people who are willing to come forward, say what they saw, and then testify in court about it.  There is a part of our culture that eschews this truthfulness as being "snitching."

I don't know if this Mr Harris is guilty of anything at all. I sure as heck was not downtown when all hell broke loose down there the other night, so "idk" "wtf" went on.  Let's hope that the truth comes out without anyone having to fear retaliation.  Chances are, Harris doesn't have high-ranking friends like Tommy and Scooter do.

Scooter.  I mean, really.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

You Never Know

My sister had a very close friend who passed away the other day following a long battle with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease.

She was a wonderful woman, friend to hundreds, mother, wife, grandmother, mother-in-law - just about everything she could be to everyone she knew.  She is gone, and the only good part about is that it did not come suddenly, so people had the chance to say goodbye, at the very least.

It worries me that every morning, no one has the guarantee that they will be around to see the evening of the sun.  And a lesson I have learned over the years is to leave nothing unsaid, especially if it's good.

How many times have we all lost someone suddenly, and the first thought we have is that we wish we had taken time to tell them we love them, appreciate them, are grateful for their help and support, or even something as simple as, "Thank you for brightening the day."  

I was watching the Beatles movie "A Hard Day's Night" for the ten-thousandth time the other day. Remember the old guy who played Paul's grandfather and stirred things up all time?  They said, "He's a mixer."  I guess that's the polite way of saying "He's an agitator."  

I like to stir things up, if only to engender the lively discussions that ensue. I might get into rather heated political dialogues online and elsewhere, but please don't think for a second that I allow a political or sociological difference to shade my personal opinion of people.  There might be people with whom I am totally in line, ideologically, and yet I don't find them all that appealing as people - and there are lots of men and women with whom I find no common ground when we talk about the news, and I like them personally and respect them deeply as well. 

I'm saying this just for one reason, and that is, if you like a person, it doesn't matter if they agree about what it takes to make a good president.  And if you like a person, it's best to let them know it.  

Even if you're cheap like me, it doesn't cost a nickel to pay a compliment.  Thanks for reading this, and unless you are both a reader and a heartless murderer, thief or sex abuser, chances are very good that I like you and love you!

Just be careful today and every day.  We all need all the friends we can keep.  

Monday, July 11, 2011

Rolling right along

I walked into the supermarket across the street from work, and on the way, I saw a jerky guy put his bags of food into his car and then let his cart just sit there.  It took about 3 seconds for it to roll away and bang into the bumper of a Buick.  The jerkface drove away without a care in the world.  After all, it wasn't his ox being gored, or his Buick getting bumpulated.  (He drove a Jeep Jerkface.)

So on into the store I went, and when I got to the checkout line, the cashier was willing to treat me to a short treatise on her views of the American Immigration Crisis.  "We went to Orlando and asked for towels at the motel and it took three hours, 'cause the girl at the desk didn't understand English.  What is this country coming to?"

I suggested that next time she finds herself in Disneyville with a drippy child, she simply call the front desk and say, "¡Más toallas, por favor!"  But, hey.

She still didn't walk away with the title of the Jerkiest Person At The Supermarket because that honor goes to the fool who came up with the new cover of Newsweek magazine.  Now, I understand that this magazine, which people actually used to buy and read, has suffered a huge decline in circulation over the past few years.  It's probably nestled in the magazine popularity charts between "Modern Plumber" and "Buffalo Nightlife," but still, this is just awful.  They superimposed a picture of the late beloved Lady Diana of England into a snapshot of her daughter-in-law, the former Kate Middleton.  And they used computer graphics - pretty cheap ones, at that - to age Diana, so she is not the lovely young lady we recall, cool as a rose.  They have her looking like some artist thinks 50-year-old women look like.  This is all ghoulish and creepy, if you ask me.
A lot of people will look at this and think that Diana and Kate met, or think that Diana didn't really die in a Paris car wreck in 1997, or whatever people think.  This is a news magazine with a made-up cover story.  Nice.

I'm going to show you the cover, but I hope it doesn't have the effect of making you want to run out and buy it.  I will be willing to bet that Mr Letshiscartroll is already home reading his. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I wanted to share this with you...

I just had to share this.  I got it from my dear friend Sue Haddox.  I met Sue twenty years ago when she was teaching Head Start kids and I went to speak to her class about public safety, and I loved the kids so much that I went back a few times just to help out.  

This little online essay packs a lot of wisdom into a few words.  I'll only add to it by saying that if you are one of those who is so concerned with what shirt to wear and what the other kids will think if you do this and don't do that, please try to remember that you are only here to please yourself and the one you love.  What other people think of us is none of our business!

I don't know who wrote this, but I sure do like it!  Please share it with the ones you love, as I just did.

As I've aged, I've become kinder to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend...  
 I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.
 Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 AM or sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60 & 70's, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love... I will.
 I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set.
 They, too, will get old.

I know I am sometimes forgetful.  But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember the important things.
 Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody's beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.
I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face.

So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver.

 As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore...
 I've even earned the right to be wrong.
 So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever.
 But while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day (if I feel like it).


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Gun your engine

So, the other night, as we paused mid-year to let our patriotic fervor reach its full flower, 600 Baltimore City police flooded Baltimore's Inner Harbor...not quite enough to prevent one death by stabbing (broken-off booze bottle to the neck of someone), one shooting (people here just love to fire those handguns on holidays and New Year's, and the bullet this time came down in the body of a four-year-old boy), one hit-and-run pedestrian accident, and one mini-riot that someone shot with a cell camera and put on YouTube. Police officials figure that with a crowd estimated at around 100,000 people, they need around 100,000 police, or one for each person, so that people will not stab each other to death with broken-off bottles, shoot their phallic substitutes into the night air, run each other over, or run rampant in the streets.

Yet, people are being urged to continue going downtown and dining, shopping and dodging bullets in these melees.  And the civic minded say it's safe down there, and plenty of people came home unscathed the other night.  Don't be afraid, they urge.  Feel safe!  It's all in the perception.

Guns, guns, guns.
Then, some guy wearing flannel in July decided to point his phallic substitute at a guy working a speed camera car for the State, causing the road from here to DC to be shut down for three hours.  Drug dealers, gun runners and others who depend on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to keep their commerce flowing freely were thoroughly inconvenienced.

I have to wonder about society sometimes.  Actually, a lot. The death of Caylee Anthony and the sloppy investigation of her murder enraged millions, and Facebook groups were started to protest all that, and people were leaving their porch lights on for Caylee.  That's all good, but what about this poor guy from Alabama who came downtown the other night for the fireworks and will go home in a coffin?  Still sad, how about the little boy who will spend the rest of his life wondering if some other fool will shoot him in celebration.  We want verdicts overturned and we burn with anger when courts go against the popular grain, and then we overturn police cars and burn down liquor stores when a basketball team wins a game.

I guess the counselors are right.  If we thought about how many Caylees got tossed into how many shallow graves in any year, it would be horrible to contemplate.  Natalee Holloway goes on vacation and is murdered, but if we knew how many murders like hers took place, it would be staggering to ponder.  We focus on one or two such cases at a time, but they are just microcosms of the world.

If I might humbly suggest this, how about we all take a long hard look at our behaviors and vow to fix the ones that might be harmful to ourselves and others?  That might be a good first step.  I'd like to think that we can still celebrate our nation's declaration of independence by becoming free of the fear of dying in a crowd just because someone else in the crowd cannot behave.  Then, once again, we could feel safe.  It's all in the perception.

Friday, July 8, 2011

I Take A Teenage Quiz

 1. Who introduced you to the person you like?
Sam and Maura on a blind date

2. Where were you at four today?
gently dozing someplace, I'm sure

3. Would you rather sleep at a friend's or have them over?
It all depends.  Most of the time, when a friend sleeps over, it's because they fell asleep watching tv after dinner, and we don't wake them up because we were asleep too

4. Last thing you spent money on?
Some sort of painkiller, I'm certain

5. What is on your wrists right now?
Right arm: wristwatch.  Left arm: I don't know. What do you think that is?

6. What's your favorite season of the year?
My favorite seasoning is always Old Bay

7. Do you hate when people call you when you're sleeping?
Yes so please don't call after 6 pm

8. Do you cry a lot over the opposite sex?
Haven't cried in so long, it would be hard to imagine the cause of it being a female

9. Have your ever wasted your time on someone?

10. Where did you get the pants you are wearing from?
These shorts are from the Clearance rack at WalMart

11. When is your birthday?

12. Are you one of those people who obsess over hollister?
Rafe Hollister was that mountain man moonshiner on The Andy Griffith Show who had a naturally great tenor singing voice.  I enjoyed hearing him sing, but my interest stopped short of being an obsession.

13. What are you wearing on your feet?
Those little quarter sox and slippers

14. Do you think a lot of people think bad things about you?
All the Republicans do, or should

15. Is it easy to annoy you?
much, much harder now

16. Can you commit to one person?
Have since 1973.  Nixon was still president.

17. Have you ever met someone who turned out to be amazing?
See #16

18. Currently liking anyone?
I like almost everyone!

19. How many times have you dyed your hair?
I was born a blond with white teeth, now I have white hair and blond teeth

20. Name of the last person to text you?
it was either Richard E. Normus or Hugh Jass

21. Does someone like you right now?
I certainly hope so

22. What does the 15th message in your inbox say?
"Greetings to you kind friend, I am Barrister Algonquin J. Wilberforce. I represent the estate of a late Nigerian prince who decided to leave 1.2 $ US to you because he chose your name on the World Wide Web..."

23. Have you ever gone up to a car thinking it was yours and almost got in?
Yes and it was a police car

24. When was the last time you were in a car with someone besides family?
See #23

25. What would your name be without the first three letters?

26. Do you want to see somebody right now?
Sure, why not

27. Where was the last place you fell asleep other than your bed?
my recliner, my sofa, my kitchen chair, my dining room chair, the chair in the hallway, the driver's seat in my truck

28. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone?
The young lady who takes reservations at Bonefish

29. The person you have the strongest feelings for dies, do you care?
Uh yes

30. Have your ever slept in the same bed as your friends?
Oh not for years!

31. What are you listening to?
"The Great Gildersleeve" on Old Time Radio

32. Have you kissed the last person you texted?
If I did that, he would not let me buy beer at his liquor store anymore

33. Do you think you can last in a relationship for 3 months?
38 years is a lot of months

34. Do you think someone is thinking about you right now?
Yes and I want Sarah Palin to stop that!

35. Name one person you wish you could fix with, and why haven't you?
Rush Limbaugh. He still owes me for some oxycontin.

36. How have you felt today?

37. Was this summer a good one?

38. Would it be hard seeing someone else kiss the person you like?
Only if I were awake

39. You receive 500 dollars without any reason, what do you spend it on?
What 500 dollars?

40.Would you be someone's girlfriends/boyfriends right now if they asked?
What an enchanting notion.  Must say no.

41. Do you believe your first love can be the only love in your life?
My first love was Sandra Dee.

42. Do you like your school?
It seems like a nice place for the kids in this neighborhood to hang around all day

43. Do you love coffee?
Decaf after dinner

44. After taking a shower, do you change in the bathroom or in your bedroom
I strut around the house in my naked glory until Peggy reminds me we have company

45. How many people could comfortably sleep in the room you're in?
If I'm there, no one else would be comfortable

46. Whats the last thing you searched for on Google?
pictures of chipmunks

47. How would you react if your mom got a lip piercing?
I would be mad at the people who run the senior high-rise where she dwells

48. Do you start the water before you get in the shower or when you get in?
Long before .

49. Are you happy with your life?
yes !

50. You have 1 hour left to live, describe what you are doing.
Leaving for a one-hour drive with Lindsay Lohan

51. What kind of earphones do you have for your iPod?
The ones that came with it.  Is this a trick question?

52. What is your current favorite song?
A tie between "Tik-Tok" (Ke$ha) and "The Clock on the Wall" (Tommy Collins).  No matter the genre, I am time-conscious. 

53. What nationality are you?
WASP but interesting

54. What is your desktop wallpaper on your computer?
It's a picture of Britney Spears.  Do they make other wallpapers?

55. You have to be an animal for a day, which would it be?
A Raven or an Oriole

56. Its 7:30pm on a Sunday evening. What are you doing?
I'm halfway through "60 Minutes"

57. What are your plans for the rest of the week?
I don't make long-range plans at my age.

58. You found a wallet on the side of the street. What do you do?
I return it.

59. Pick a lyric from the song you're listening to.
If you got a Cadillac, boy,
And a forty room shack, boy
A bucket full of money
And a tree full of honey
But if you're gettin' no huggin'
No smoochin' or muggin'
Well, if you ain't lovin'
Then you ain't livin'!  (by Faron Young)

Faron Young

60. Where is the person you like/ love?
Downstairs on the phone

61. For you next birthday, what would you like your parents to get you?
I have all I need!

62. What was the last movie you watched with your mom?
Jackass 3-D.  She did not enjoy it.

63. You're in a food court, what do you feel like eating?
Just something to tide me over til I get to the diner

64. What are you excited for to happen within the next few months?
Seeing Sarah Palin being asked serious questions and giving her usual stupid answers