Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Too young to have sacks?

Hello!  Back to school time already! Time to run to the Try 'n' Buy for school supplies.  Don't forget 3-ring binders, paper, pencils, calculators and brown bags for lunches.

Not so fast on the lunches.  After decades - centuries!- of schoolkids toting lunches to school, along comes this article on WebMD, which I found by reading the great Lenore Skenazy's Free Range Kids site.  Something else to worry about, lunch-fixers.

For all twelve years of my public education, I carried a brown bag containing a home-made sammy, either PB & J or roast beef or ham and cheese. (I abhor loaf lunchmeat.)  Also in the sack was a Tastykake pie or cupcakes, and a cut-up apple. At the luxurious cafeteria, I would get a 1/2 pint of milk, and that made for a nice lunch.  The lunch sat in my locker from the minute I sauntered into the the school building until the blessed lunch bell rang, and not once did I come down with any dreaded diseases for lack of an Ice-EE-Pak or Likwid Ice in the bag.

In fact, the only time my lunch ever involved anything harmful was in the high school days, when I would take my milk outside and chow down on the sammy, apple and Tastykake and smoke a cigarette or two in the fashionable outdoor smoking area at dear old Towson High, proud alma mater to Divine, Michael Phelps and dozens of other notables.

I don't smoke anymore and neither should you, is my advice.  But please!  Mom and Dad! Pack a sack and quit fretting about it!  If you need something to worry about as concerns Sis or Junior's education, worry that some misguided educator will try to tell them that the "new" way of spelling  - where close enough is good enough - is ok.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Don't Talk Back

You like to sing in the car, don't you?  Come on!  I see you at stop lights and making sharp turns, belting out a medley of Broadway show tunes, country classics and rock 'n' rollers.  I do too.  It's amazing how great I sound in the truck, and I always think some sharpie ought to hook up a recorder in here and really make some fine records.  Of me singing along with someone else's records.

To someone else's songs.  Just think of how great it would be if we could compose a lilting melody and smart lyrics of our own!  Just think, if we had a happy day and were in the Biscayne heading home and could just write a happy-day song about it all!  How great would that be!

Also great: being Jerry Leiber, who, along with partner Mike Stoller, wrote a few songs you might have heard over the years.  A few!  Such as, for starters:
  • "There Goes My Baby" 
  • "Hound Dog"
  • "Kansas City"
  • "Smokey Joe's Cafe"
  • "Yakety Yak"
  • "Poison Ivy"
  • "Charlie Brown"
  • "Ruby Baby"
  • "Stand By Me" 
  • "Jailhouse Rock"
  • "Love Potion No. 9"
  • "Searchin'"
  • "Young Blood" 
  • "Is That All There Is?"
  • "I'm a Woman" 
  • "On Broadway" 
 Baltimore claims Jerry Leiber as a native son, although he didn't hang around here for long.  In fact, he was in Los Angeles, finishing high school in 1950, when he met Stoller and began their collaboration with the tender love ballad "Real Ugly Woman."  (They got better after that.)

Leiber and Stoller wrote "Hound Dog" for the King (left) and also gave him "Love Me," "Loving You," "Don't," "Jailhouse Rock" and "King Creole."

Leiber, who passed away last week at 78,  and Stoller were among the crowd that made what's called "Brill Building" music.  The Brill Building is an office building on Broadway in fashionable New York City, where songwriters sat around all day in the 60's - people such as Carole King and Gerry Goffin, Neil Sedaka, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Neil Diamond, and Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry - and wrote songs that got lots of dimes dropped into lots of jukeboxes in lots of malt shops.  You've done songs like "Be My Baby," "Save the Last Dance for Me," "Stand by Me," "Up on the Roof" and "On Broadway" while you were nowhere near Broadway!  But I bet you were somebody's baby, up on the roof dancing with him or her one summer night, and those songs remind you of the then that is always part of the now.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Twist and Shout

 My Review of Books I Bought For A Dollar at the Dollar Tree

First in a series:  "A Twist Of Lemmon" by Chris Lemmon

Q - What could be worse than being the son of a famous man, especially one who dumped your mother when you were still a tot and then married a woman who did not especially care for you?  

A - Being the son of Jack Lemmon, which brought his son Chris all of the painful moments above, along with being the son of an egomaniacal actor to boot. 

Chris does make a good point in this book: If your father is in show business, and you try to do the same, everyone hollers "Nepotism!"   But, if your father is a butcher, baker or attorney, and you go into his line of work, everyone says, "Hey! That's great! A chip off the old block!"  

Well, no one was about to chip anything off of Jack Lemmon, whom I always considered to be not nearly as funny as he seemed to think he was.  Whatever.  His many awards and hit movies would tend to show that my opinion was not in line with the vast majority, who, to this day, roar with laughter over his acting in "Some Like It Hot" and countless other snoozefests. 
But Chris went into acting, and if you read the book, you'd think he was up there along with his father in fame and fortune.  He mentions all the movies he was in, but fails to add that they were mainly bit parts  - a cop, a guy in an office - that he was given because of his last name.  

And that's fine, really.  If you can find enough roles where you play the cop who's parked in the driveway in a Goldie Hawn movie, you can have a nice career, make a decent dollar and get to play golf with Clint Eastwood.  I feel a little sorry for Chris. He mentions how he hardly had any relationship with his father, and recounts being pushed aside by autograph hounds who spotted his father.  Of course, Jack being Jack, as soon as that happened, he turned on the charm and played to the crowd with that bum-bum-bumbling Everyman goofiness of his, leaving his son adrift in a sea of knees and elbows.  Chris then realized that being a good family man meant more than being a famous man, and he lives in Connecticut with his wife and three kids, happy to be home with them.  Almost every page in this book contains an anecdote that paints Jack as a foul-mouthed drunkard who was rarely home. 

My takeaway from the book is that Chris, although not nearly as famous as his pop, is a much better man.  It really seems that great fame and fortune make it very tough to be a good family man, because making that fortune and fame means not being home in the first place.  

But I'd rather be famous in my own home, and I'm fortunate that way.  Reading "A Twist Of Lemmon" reminded me of that.  

I rate this book $$$$$. Three dollar signs out of five. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday rerun: Hornet of Plenty

Out on the deck, where stand the grills where I grill all year long, I built a little table with a stainless-steel top, and shelving to hold Rubbermaid tubs. In the Rubbermaid tubs, I have charcoal for those times when I just feel like grillin' it old skool (there's a gas grill for when time is a factor) and all the implements of meat preparation: tongs, spatulas, squirt bottles, basting brushes, aprons, and I don't know what-all else.

For some time, Peggy has been kindly and diplomatically pointing out that the Rubbermaid tubs were looking sort of, well, all beat to hell. After a few gentle prods (148) I finally got some new tubs and brought them home. Today, I went out to make the switch.

I should have known that something was up when, as soon as I started moving the tubs around, some hornets showed up, with unhappy looks on their tiny faces. They were beating their wings in a most unfriendly fashion, zooming in to remind me of their presence and then holding mid-air conferences over by the cupola atop the shed.

They look like this
(shown here one-billionth actual size) and they fly in packs of a thousand or more. Their sting can be lethal unless the victim has recently consumed a can of beer.

Nature boy Mark cleverly deduced that it was time to make a tactical withdrawal and assess the situation. Had I been writing this blog 50 years ago, there would be an entry detailing how I was climbing a tree in a neighbor's yard and stuck my hand in a hornet's nest as I ascended. My descent was rapid, and there was an abrupt end to it when I slammed into the earth, disturbing Mrs Gallup, who was baking a pie or something. She ran out and tended to me, and I have never forgotten the lesson that hornets do not care to have their space invaded by

I came back from the garage with a can of Raid Garden Mist, and laid down enough haze from that aerosol dispenser to cover me while I reentered the battle zone. I found a hornet's nest under construction in one of the old rotten tubs. Peggy was right! Old cracked beat-up tubs are just an invitation for ne'er-do-wells to set up shop where they ought not.

Everything old is out for the trash; everything new is in place and ready to grill again. But the lesson is learned: do what Peggy tells me the first time! She is always right!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The more things change

From the Associated Press:

 In-N-Out Burger suing Aberdeen, Md., burger joint

BALTIMORE - The popular West Coast burger chain In-N-Out is suing a Maryland restaurant claiming its name, logo and menu is too close to its own.
The Irvine, Calif.-based chain filed an infringement lawsuit this week in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. The chain claims customers could be led to believe that the Aberdeen, Md., burger joint Grab-N-Go is related to In-N-Out, and is seeking a permanent injunction and unspecified damages.
The suit alleges that Grab-N-Go's name and color schemes mirror In-N-Out's signature style. In-N-Out also says that the "Wild Style Burger," with two beef patties, lettuce, tomato, pickle, grilled onions and "wild" sauce is too close to its proprietary "Animal Style" burger.

 So, here you see the logos of the two burger joints. I understand that the people at In-N-Out Burger, which sounds for all the money in the world like some sort of pornoburger place, need to protect their logo.  And the colors: red and yellow!  No one else should be able to use them, right?


Friday, August 26, 2011

Orange and Black and Blue

If what they're saying, that Mike Flanagan, former Oriole pitcher pitcher, coach, color broadcaster and team vice-president committed suicide, that is just a dang shame.

And if the rumor that he was so heartbroken about the poor play of the team since 1997 and blamed himself for it is true, that's even worse, if that's possible.

We'll never know.  

Flanagan, or "Flanny" as everyone called him, was a link to the Oriole glory days of the 60s and 70s, when almost everyone on the team came up through the minor league system and got schooled by hard-nosed baseball guys such as Cal Ripken, Sr.  That meant that for those who made it to the big league team, they all knew how to hit the cutoff man and which base to throw to and how to bunt the ball  - skills sadly lacking among the current motley crew in orange and black, typified by the recently-released Felix "The Cat" Pie, whose defensive ineptitude, staggering out there in left field like the marble in a pinball machine, rivalled his kamikaze-style baserunning and hitting.  

There are nights lately when I truly believe that the Mötley Crüe that features Nikki Sixx, Vince Neil, Mick Mars and Tommy Lee would play as well, if not better, than our local nine.  And, to my shame, there are nights when I just...turn off the game...when we're losing by double digits in the sixth inning.  I have never done this in over 50 years of rooting for Orioles, but yes, even I have my limits.  

I'll remember Flanagan coming up in 1975, and being the Cy Young Award winner on that magical summer team of 1979.  The fact that they weren't a magical autumn team takes nothing away from the Oriole Magic of DeCinces, Eddie Murray, Ken Singleton and the rest.  

And we still remember his sense of humor ("I could never play in New York. The first time I ever came into a game there, I got in the bullpen car and they told me to lock the doors") and the fact that even though the O's traded him to the Blue Jays when they needed a pitcher for the '87 pennant race (and we wound up with the legendary Ozzie Peraza and Jose Mesa in return), he came back and wound up his glorious career as a relief pitcher for the O's.  He was the final Oriole pitcher to pitch at Memorial Stadium, an honor in an event none of us will forget.  And his oldest daughter was the fourth test tube baby born in the United States!

And Flanny became a club executive and TV broadcaster.  So, if people were down on him for the current woeful state of the club, that was wrong.  And I wish he hadn't taken it that way.

We all have demons, awful things lurking within.  By the Grace of God, I have Peggy to talk things over with, and even though I will never achieve the fame, the glory or the riches of Mike Flanagan, he was a guy my age, and as I march on, I look back and wish he could have found a way to keep marching with us.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Big One

I presaged the whole earthquake thing without even realizing it!  But the other day, Peggy and I were on the way with my sister, who is a great deal older than I, over to Mom's to help move her to another room at the Senior Living Paradise, and I was playing a home-burned CD in my truck.  One of the many songs I was hoping to get Peggy to enjoy was "This Old House," sort of a rockabilly-gospel tune originally done by Stuart Hamblen but updated by one Shakin' Stevens.   


So as the afternoon wore on, we were moving, working, hanging pictures, jawjacking with the friends and neighbors, and then just before two o'clock, the floor started to shake.


Then so did the bed, and the newly-hung pictures, and even I, usually as staunch as an old oak tree, felt myself becoming quavery.  Everyone was looking around, saying, "Was that an earthquake?"

You see, we here in Maryland are used to a lot of things, but earthquakes ain't one of 'em!  The funniest quip of the day went to my Facebook friend Roxie, who statused, "I just checked the weather forecast this morning and they didn't say anything about earthquakes today!"   

We are used to blizzards, thunderstorms, heat, humidity, more heat, more humidity, and all sorts of weather extremes.  We're no strangers to hurricanes, although a real Baltimorean calls them "HAIR-uh-kins."  In fact, we're expecting the remnants of one this weekend ( a hurricane, not a real Baltimorean.)

So our friends from out West had to step up and clue us in on earthquake etiquette.  It is proper form to ask if everyone is OK, and then to look around, roll the eyebrows, and say what you THOUGHT it was at first (truck going by, a crane dropping something on the roof, a gust of wind, Moammar Qaddafi...)

It's not too bright to do what the people in the office building across from Mom's palace did.  They dutifully evacuated and then stood in the shade of the building, three feet from the building.  Which means that if the building had crumbled and tumbled, they would be picking bits of glass out of their hair and clothing until late next week, thereby missing the hurricane.

When we got home and turned on the news, we found that thousands of people had run into the streets, panicked, and drove home the same way.  The evening rush hour was over in time for everyone to get home and watch Dr Phil, and then they wished they had stayed at work.

Also on the news, I saw a reporter tell us that everyone who had to evacuate the Sons of Italy Hall in Fells Point was "shooken up" when a portion of their building collapsed.  

And everyone got on their cell phones and home phones and desk phones and tried to call everyone else's cell phone, home phone and desk phone.  And everyone found out that if everyone is trying to make a phone call all at the same time, no one's call is getting through.  Better to wait a while, in case someone really needs to call 911 or something. And the news said later, people were flooding the 911 lines, calling to see, "Was that an earthquake we just had, or what?"  

This is not the reason why there is a 911, and remember, next time you're tempted to call them and ask such a question, someone else might be having a real emergency, but can't get through because you are asking 911 what's going on.  Tune to FOX News!  No, wait.

And that was when I really started to shake!  I was Shakin'!  No, shooken.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Major Burns

This woman's name is Susan Burns, and she feels compelled to destroy artwork!
Bizarre: Susan Burns attempted to tear the painting down from the wall and thrashed the painting with her fists

She went to the National Gallery of Art in DC to attack a painting by Paul Gauguin.  The painting, of which most Americans have a lithograph in their beach houses, is called "Two Tahitian Women."  Gauguin painted it in 1899.  One of the women has both of her breasts exposed; the other, modestly, has covered 1/2 of her bosom.  They are walking around with fruits and flowers.  

Rage: A woman attacked Gauguin¿s 'Two Tahitian Women'Ms Burns, who is 53,said that the painting is 'very homosexual. I was trying to remove it. I think it should be burned ... I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.'


So she ankles up to the picture and pounds it with her fists, apparently complying with the wishes of the CIA as relayed to the radio in her head.  

 The assault on the work of art  was thwarted when Burns was reportedly tackled by another gallery-goer, a social worker from the Bronx.  "Being tackled by a social worker" is almost as embarrassing as "being told that Kathy Griffin is funnier than you."

But the people at the museum had wisely covered the painting anyway, with that same clear plastic that wise homeowners use to protect their sofas and recliners from spilled drinks, cheese dips and throw-up.  The art world needs to be vigilant because time after time we see people seeking to deface great pictures.

Here's my idea:  take a picture of the picture and hang that on the wall!  In fact, print a couple dozen of them and staple them together in a huge pad.  Then when one disgruntled patron rips one down, the next copy will be there for someone to throw Yoo-Hoo on, and then the process can be repeated time and again.


And then, all we have to do is go to the Art Department at any high school and get some kids wearing Skinny Jeans with 127 chains and zippers, long woolen overcoats, knit stocking caps and Converse All-Stars and pay them to guard our most beloved art treasures.  And here they are:

 Here is the classic "Wide-Eyed Kid with Stickful of Onions." This one always reminds me of Linda Ronstadt coming home from the grocery store.  The artist's use of slightly gray overtones in this child's hair lends an ironic aging process, for what typifies American youth any better than the image of a kid carrying home a stickful of onions?
We can only assume that the dogs we see at right are having their standard Friday night game.  Looks like the one at front left is sliding down on his seat a little bit.  Is he intoxicated?  Does he have a hole card hidden down below the felt tabletop?  

This picture clearly represents the inherent qualities of goodness in the world,  as the contestants play on into the night, buoyed by their canine companionship and their dogged bonhomie.  Also, that dogs are capable of shuffling cards.

This is the sort of art that is made to go well with cork.  It really has to, because these cornball newspaper daily features were scissored out of newspapers all across the country during the 70s more often than fondue recipes and pictures of John Travolta strutting through Brooklyn, a gallon of Kem-Tone in one hand and a slice of pizza in the other.  Everyone saw their lover in this strip at least once a week and cut it out to show the people at work or the refrigerator repairman at home.   

As the old expression goes, I don't know anything about what I like; I just know about art.





Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Hitch for Hikers

From the New York Daily News

The American hikers in Iran plan to appeal the verdict and the eight-year prison sentence, their lawyer said on Sunday.
Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal were sentenced on Saturday, more than two years after they were arrested with a third hiker on the Iran-Iraq border. They were sentenced to five years on charges of espionage and three years on charges of illegal entry. The third hiker, Sarah Shourd, was released last year for health reasons.
Their lawyer said he will continue to fight to have the men released.
"We have 20 days to appeal and I will try my best to use all legal means to annul the sentence," lawyer Masoud Shafiee told Reuters.

Now, if I might ask: what in blazes are people doing, hiking around the Iran-Iraq border?  I know, I'm a liberal let-'em-do-their-own-thing sort of guy, but is there anything about the border between Iran and Iraq that sounds or feels or even seems hospitable to Americans?  I look at this map and I feel no invitation.

I doubt that these three young people were functioning as spies.  That's an easy charge to level at them, since it would be easy to get a jury anywhere in the world to believe that they were backpacking because they had to, rather than doing it as a hobby.

They used to call Maryland "America in Miniature," because we have just about every type of terrain except that of a desert.  You want to climb mountains?  Western Maryland has mountains, and while they may lack the grandeur of Mt McKinley, Alaska, they are also much closer to the rest of the marvels of Maryland, which include an ocean of some size, vast acres of wetlands, farms from here til Tuesday and the splendid Chesapeake Bay.  

One can hike Maryland with little fear of being caught up in the sectarian violence that has plagued the Iran-Iraq border since the Apostles wore sandals.  Just don't try to muscle in on the drug trade in the cities and you'll be fine.  The hardy farmers of Western Maryland, the exurbanite suburbanites of the counties that ring Baltimore City like pineapples around a ham, and the salty watermen and women of the Eastern shore welcome you.  

And don't worry about it, should you find yourself and your backpack staying overnight in the hoosegow.  As any Baltimorean over the age of three weeks knows, if you have a phone, you have a lawyer!

Monday, August 22, 2011

The polite death threat

What you'll see below is an actual email that I actually received.  I
thought it
was interesting that the people who make such a nice living sending 
bogus email schemes have stepped it up a notch: 

I am very sorry for you, is a pity that this is how your life is going to
end as soon as you don't comply. As you can see we are the members
of the Deadly Networks in the world, which is responsible 
for the bombing of 
twin tower’s in America on Sept. 11th and the 
bombing of London transport
services on July 7th (AL-QAEDA NETWORKS WORLDWIDE),
I don't have any
business with you, my duty as I am mailing you now is just 
to KILL you and
I have to do it as I have already been paid for that.

Someone whom you called your friend wants you dead by 
all means, and this
person have spent a lot of money in this venture, This person 
came to us and 
told me that he wanted you dead and he provided us with
your name, picture
and other necessary information's we needed about you.

So I sent my boys to track you down this including bugging of
your phones 
with satellite tracking devices and they have carried out the
investigation we needed for the operation on you, and if you 
doubt this
information am going to give you all the necessary 
information about you
back to you in your next reply so that you can believe me, and 
my boys are 
really on you but I told them not to kill you that I will
like to contact you and
see if your life is important to you and the one of your family. 
I called my 
client back and ask him of your email address which I didn't
tell him what I
wanted to do with it and he gave it to me and I am using it
to contact you
now. As I am writing you this mail my men are monitoring
you and they 
are telling me everything about you.

Now do you want to LIVE OR DIE? Since all program has be
made and draw 
to kill you. Get back to me now if you are ready to pay some fees to
spare your Life, $15,000 is all you need to spend in this process you
will first of all Pay $8,000 and then I will send a tape to 
you which I recorded in every discussion I had with the person 
who wanted 
you dead and as soon as you get the Tape,You will pay the remaining 
balance of $7,000. If you are not ready for my help, then I will carry 
on with my job straight-up.


Ayman Alzawahiri,

The information contained in this e-mail, including any accompanying
documents or attachments, is from Terrorist-Network, is intended only 
for the use of the individual or entity named above, and is privileged 
and confidential. If you are not the intended recipient, be aware that any 
disclosure, dissemination, distribution, copying or use of the contents of 
this message is strictly prohibited. Thank you for your cooperation.

 This is a big step up, as I say.  These folks used to send me 
emails detailing 
how they love me and hate to bother me like they hate sudden 
attacks, but they did want me to know that with his last
gasp of earthly air,
their late husband, Mr Roboto, managed to say that he wanted
to bequeath
to me his entire fortune, conservatively estimated at $3.2 USD. 
(I have
come to believe that they always say "USD" to stand for
"Ur So Dumb.") 
The problem always was that the rebel forces that were
gaining on the 
capital also had the writer's bank account tied up, so if I
just could see my
clear to sending the writer $200,000 USD, she could bribe the 
corrupt military
strongman and electronically forward the money directly to my bank 
account, since I was going to give her that number and my
Social Security
number and the combination to my toolbox.

Maybe that approach to separating me from my few USDs got 
a little old, so
let's hear it for the new angle!  Gotta love the honesty of "my
duty as I am
mailing you now is just to KILL you and I have to do it as
I have already been
paid for that!"  Oh, how many times do we hire someone
to kill someone and
find out later that they didn't kill that someone, but took
the money and spent
it on someone else!  Here's a man honest enough to say,
look, dude,
I got to kill you, since I've been paid to do so!  There's a 
professional pride

And just as I started looking for a copy
of my 
will and arranging my personal effects, 
I get to 
the end and find that there IS a way 
out of this
predicament!  For just $8,000 USD,
he will give
me a cassette tape!  Side A will be 
conversations with the person(s) who 
me dead, and side B will be REO Speedwagon's  
Hi Infidelity.  What's not to like about Kevin 
Cronin's reedy tenor and the immortal anthem  
Keep On Loving You?

And for $7,000 USD more, the terrorist will stop
terrorizing me.  But wait,there's more! If you call before tomorrow
REO Speedwagon will also come to your house and sing all their hits.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Promise Us Anything

One thing I love about Michele Bachmann, that cheerful little earful from Minn-a-SOOOOOOOOOOOOOda, is her incessant stupidity, delivered in a grating adenoidal whine.

Here's the latest, all meant to fool the rubes:

Bachmann promises $2/gal gas as president

Republicans discuss debt ceiling in Washington
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-MN, speaks during a news conference regarding the debt ceiling on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on July13, 2011. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg 
GREENVILLE, S.C., Aug. 17 (UPI) -- Republican U.S. presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann promises voters gas prices would fall to $2 per gallon if she makes it to the White House in 2013.
Speaking Tuesday at a town hall meeting in South Carolina, the Tea Party favorite said her energy policies would send gas prices plummeting, The Hill reported.
"Under President Bachmann, you will see gasoline come down below $2 per gallon again. That will happen," the Minnesota congresswoman said, arguing expanded drilling off both U.S. coasts and in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would cause America to be awash with oil and gas.
A gallon of regular gasoline goes for an average $3.60, and prices have trended downward of late, the Energy Information Administration said Monday. Gas hasn't been below $2 a gallon since 2009 after plummeting after the economy had collapsed into deep recession.

Yes , "President Bachmann," two words that go together like corn flakes and pizza.  She said it.  And why not?  Why not make inane promises to those residents of Greenville SC with nothing better to do on a Thursday afternoon than to listen to hear speak.  Certainly, if there is one thing her Republican't party has always stood for, it's lower prices for consumers, because of their tradition of noble self-sacrificing corporations, which are people, by the way.  Just ask the Mitt!

And, of course, our good friends over in Saudi Arabia wouldn't dream of cutting back on production after we drill, baby, drill and squeeze every last drop out of the shale.  Those Bedouins in burnooses would never take advantage of the American motorist by reducing the supply of oil, so it looks like there are no impediments to the Bachmann Turn Her Overdrive!

I sincerely want to help the nasal Bachmann, who for all the world reminds me of someone's loony aunt that you get stuck with at the beach house for a weekend, so I am suggesting the following other goofy promises she could offer for the easily enchanted:

  •    50¢ Big Macs
  •    your choice of either H. or R. Block will come to your house in early April and prepare your taxes at no charge
  •    you will be entitled to a free x-ray of any body part every other Friday at participating WalMart walk-in clinics
  •    every American home will be outfitted with a new Whirlpool chest freezer, because no one should be without a frozen chest
  •    also, every home will be given a new Tappan® range and oven. (Tappan, the leader in kitchen appliances since 1888.)
  •    a foolproof plan and an airtight alibi
  •    leather jackets, real cowhide, for a low, low $49.95
  •    All restaurants will be required to have, right with the salt, pepper,  sugar, and Skinny 'n' Sweet, a shaker can of Old Bay Seasoning
  •   Betty White will win an Oscar, a Tony, an Emmy and a Grammy for her one-woman show saluting Ed Asner, "Lou!"
  •  serpents will no longer be allowed to bargain for the right to squirm
  •  the price of catsup will be tied to the price of gasoline, so we'll be paying less than two bucks for a bottle of Hunt's finest.
If people are willing to buy her empty gas-price promises, who's to say they wouldn't go for the rest of these?  I offer them in all sincerity. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Michele, One 'L',' these are words that go together well...

Bachmann without corndog

Random thoughts while congratulating myself for not posting that picture of Michele Bachmann enjoying a corndog at the Iowa State Fair...The other morning, on the way to work, I figured out where Buick got the idea to call their sedan a "Century."  Apparently, it's because if you find yourself stuck behind one of the superannuated driving one of these cars, it will be almost a century before you get anywhere!...Seen at the Iowa State Fair:  Michele Bachmann, eating a corndog...Her husband was also seen at the fair, praying that he wouldn't want a corndog... Speaking of car names, and this is absolutely true, Chevrolet wondered why the sales of their popular Nova model were so poor in Mexico when they were selling thousands of them during the sixties here.  Someone finally had to tell the GM bigwigs what "No va" means in Spanish.  Anyone?  Correct! It means "Won't Go"!...I read that Dionne Warwick, early in her days of recording songs with lyrics by Hal David and music by Bert Bacharach, got into a squabble with the tuneful twosome and stormed out of their Brill Building office, muttering, "Don't try to make me over!"  In a week, she was back in the studio with them, recording her next hit, "Walk On By."  No. Just kidding.  She was there to record a song they wrote after she stalked out, the haunting "Don't Make Me Over."...While we're talking music, I'm still chafed about the time Peggy and I went to see the Town Band down at the Meyerhoff Hall, and the Town Band performed "Twist And Shout," which was written by Phil Medley and Bert Russell, who also wrote "If I Didn't Have A Dime" for Gene Pitney. "Twist And Shout" was originally done by the Isley Brothers (Ronald, Rudolph and O'Kelly) and of course The Beatles and Ferris Bueller
did their versions later.  But with all this glorious history, the Baltimore Symphony (The Town Band) credited only Christopher Rouse, who "arranged" the song for their symphonic rendition...Similarly, the Louvre has removed the name of da Vinci from the Mona Lisa, in order to give all the credit to Dites-Moi Pourquoi, the curator's assistant who hammered a nail in the wall on which to hang the picture...And yes, The Beatles also recorded "Tell Me Why."

Friday, August 19, 2011

Jermaine to the issue

Ravens football fans, and there are millions of us, remember the heroics of Jermaine Lewis.  A Maryland native and University of Maryland alumnus, Lewis was drafted by the Ravens out of college in 1996 and played here through 2001. He was a little bit small to play much at the wide receiver position, but he also was a fine kick returner.  In fact, his greatest moment in purple and black came in Super Bowl XXXV, which the Ravens won in 2001.  You can see the highlights of the game here.  The Ravens had built a lead when the Giants scored a touchdown.  Jermaine Lewis took the ensuing kickoff all the way for a touchdown to deflate any last gasp of Giant hopes.  

In happier days
As you watch him head for the goal line, you'll see him raise a hand to heaven, a salute to his son Geronimo, who had arrived stillborn about a month earlier.  It was touching, to think that Jermaine was sending love to his son above by his heroic run.  

Ten years later, things have not gone so well, and Jermaine was arrested the other night by Baltimore County Police.  I don't know what he does for a living now.  The police were called because a car registered to him was driving erratically through his neighborhood, almost having head-on collisions, and running over a sign at the Boring Volunteer Fire Company. 

Yes, we have the town of Boring, MD, in our county.  Save your jokes; they've heard them all before!

Booking photo
So, you read the police report and you have to wonder how alcohol can do this to a man who once was atop the world. And the police had a hard time getting him into custody, and had to tase him, and the whole thing is just so sad.  

For those who say it's his life, leave him alone, I say yes.  If he wants to stay in his house and drink all day, that's fine.  But he should not be driving a car in that condition.  (His revoked license means he should not be driving a car in any condition, as a matter of fact.)  That sign that he smashed down at the fire house might just as easily have been a child or other pedestrian.  

What I'm saying his, an entire community once loved this guy for what he could do with a football in his hands.  Now, we need to help him get the care he needs and get his life back on track.   His behavior is showing us that he is hollering out for help.  Someone - family, Ravens official, teammate - is going to have to realize that he's put the situation in their hands now.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hello, Clarice!

Once again the discussion goes on here at the Lazy 'C' Ranch.  This happens all the time, any time that Encore channel runs "The Cable Guy," the hypnotically funny Jim Carrey laughfest from 1996.

I say it's the best thing old Jimbo ever did!  You've got to love this scene where he ad libs an Anthony Hopkins bit at the Medieval Times restaurant! It was not in the script!  Look at Matthew Broderick trying not to bust a stitch!  Or, look at how brilliantly Jim parodies Grace Slick doing "Somebody To Love"!  And then there's the scene in which costar Broderick asks Carrey what the heck his name is, and Carrey goes, "It's Chip...Chip Douglas, but my friends call me 'Ernie'." And all the while, his face is becoming that of Ernie Douglas, so memorably portrayed by Barry Livingston, one of My Three Sons.

 It turns out that Peggy does not care for Jim Carrey. I always suspected as much, because she would flatly refuse to go see his movies, leaving me in the after-work matinee world of theaters full of salesmen who were supposed to be out selling things and others enjoying the magic That Is Jim Carrey.

Peggy's complaint with Jim is that he is always "on," although she does not level that same charge at Oprah Winfrey, who recently bought herself a TV channel so she could be "on" it 24 -7.

And Peggy lumps Carrey in with Robin Williams! No no no!  Robin Williams's whole thing is to dart around hollering, "Nanoo! Nanoo!" and then crack jokes about how much dope he used to inhale.  We never thought that Jim Carrey needed drugs to be funny. Nor did he use drugs. He just is funny.

Like when he said this:
"Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes."

He should show up at our house, and see a great woman standing in front of him, rolling HER eyes!


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Check it out

Well, here's PARADE magazine saying that it's OK to wear checked shirts!  As they say, "The look, once associated with Hee Haw, is suddenly the height of friendly fashion."

Glenn Plaid
   I know I feel better about it all.  I have always worn and liked checked shirts.  If I was ever mistaken for George "Goober" Lindsey, so much the better! Plaid, tattersall, Glenn Plaid: I have shirts like that and always have.

What I don't have, and likely never will, is any understanding of why people, and I know this happens, will think that it's OK now to go get a checked shirt, or a plaid shirt, or any other doggone thing, and wear it in public, given the imprimatur that comes with America's favorite Sunday supplement magazine.

I dunno.  I guess it goes with my red socks and the winter hats I wear and things like that.  If I like wearing something, I wear it, and I don't care if a magazine likes it or not.

Now then, before you start saying, "Oh, he's getting cranky now that he's getting up in years..." I will point out this is nothing new.  I wish someone could explain why a) magazines print articles that would seem to grant us permission to wear certain items of clothing and b) some people are governed by the sartorial choices of people sitting in magazine offices far away.

And I'd also like to know why restaurant commercials insist on showing food bouncing off plates, dropping from the sky, and otherwise in motion.  I don't want to eat shrimp that came from above.  Shrimp comes from the sea.  And I don't need to see my food bounce.  

For fifteen minutes in the early 90's, a woman calling herself Faith Popcorn earned a dollar or two by setting herself up as a trend consultant.  Popcorn, born Faith Plotkin, hired herself out as a "futurist," and companies would shell out money for Popcorn's  salty, buttered-up reports about what was going to be popular, so that companies could plan to sell stuff that was going to be popular.  Ms Popcorn, pictured at left, stumbled across something that only had a kernel of truth (let me know when I overdo it with the popcorn allusions, please!) but her fame was short-lived.  Why?

Because, if you want to know about Americans and what we like, you don't need Faith Popcorn to tell you.  We like baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and Chevy Chase!  We like beer and riding to the beach and watching TV and Facebook and reality shows about those women from one family that are always objecting to things.  You know who I mean, the women with the huge "But!"s. The Kardashians, we like them, and we like shows where people who cannot sing and dance sing and dance and we like shopping at WalMart and we like food on our plates, not ricocheting off the dish. 

And we like checked shirts.    Just ask George "Goober" Clooney.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

1/8/35 - 8/16/77 (my annual tribute)

From the New Yorker, December 6, 1999


Twenty years after the death, St. Paul
was sending the first of his epistles,
and bits of myth or faithful memory - 
multitudes fed on scraps, the dead small girl
told "Talitha, cumi" - were self-assembling
as proto-Gospels.  Twenty years since pills
and chiliburgers did another in,
they gather at Graceland, the simple believers,
the turnpike pilgrims from the sere Midwest,
mother and daughter bleached to look alike,
Marys and Lazaruses, you and me,
brains riddled with song, with hand-tinted visions
of a lovely young man, reckless and cool
as a lily.  He lives. We live. He lives.

                                           John Updike   (1932 - 2009)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Three Jeffs and One Random Dude

Back from a great Cape May va-cay!

And it was great.  Weather, accommodations, chow, people we met: all superb!  Creatures of habit, we always hit the same restaurants: Ocean View Family Restaurant, Lobster House and Marabella's up in Stone Harbor, former summer home of such luminaries as Ed McMahon and Princess Grace.  Of course, one visit to Uncle Bill's Pancake House is mandatory, and the Cape May police are known to operate roadblocks to check all drivers, making sure that everyone has syrup-sticky hands while heading back to the room for a starch-fueled nap.

Speaking of grace, we saw a dude at the sunset flag-lowering ceremony at the end of Beach Drive, and he looked just like our former across-the-street neighbor, Jeff.  Trust me, he looks just like Jeff, so much so that I sent the evidence to Jeff via email. 

Baseball academician that he is, Jeff also knew what I was talking about when I said that this guy looked like him like Jeffrey Leonard looked like Sonny Liston.
Jeffrey Leonard, born in Philadelphia, played for many big-league baseball teams from 1977 - 1990, none of them located in Philadelphia.  But he had two really cool nicknames: "Hac-Man," a tribute to his penchant for swinging his bat at most any pitch that didn't bounce twice on the way to the plate, and "Penitentiary Face," a salute to his penchant for not smiling, ever.  Jeff Leonard was also known for doing this "one flap down" thing: running around the bases after hitting a homer with one arm hanging motionless at his side. 

Pure hotdoggery of the sort rarely seen anymore.  But while we're in the wide world of Jeffs, let's give a nod to another former outfielder with more travel stickers on his suitcase than Willy Loman: Jeff Stone. Jeff was the guy who turned down an offer of a shrimp cocktail ("I don't drink") and found himself playing winter ball in South America, asking a teammate if the moon that hung over their ballpark in Caracas was the same moon that illuminated his boyhood home in Kennett, MO.  And, as that offseason came to a close, he packed his gear, but decided it would be best to leave the television behind because, "It only gets shows in Spanish."

I love baseball because its participants are interesting men like those above.  And let's face it: if you were going to meet your brain surgeon and his name was Dr. Octavio Victor Rojas Rivas, you'd be suitably impressed.

But that's no name for a ballplayer and future manager!  Octavio Victor Rojas Rivas was never a brain surgeon, but he was a heckuva ballplayer under the nickname "Cookie."

Which is a great nickname for a second baseman, but not really for a brain surgeon.  Can't have it both ways!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday Rerun: Marc my words

My friend Liz from work commented the other day when I put up a quote ("Life's a gas - I hope it's gonna last!") from Marc Bolan as my Facebook status. Bolan was a guy, born Marc Feld in England in 1947, who became known as the leader of the rock band T Rex, who gave us memorable records such as "Bang A Gong (Get It On)," "Jeepster," "Mambo Sun," and my favorite, "Raw Ramp." I mean, who could not love music with an insistent boogie-woogie backbeat, conga drum percussion and albums with titles such as "My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair... But Now They're Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows." And how was I to know, way back then, that the phrase "Baby, I've got metal knees!" would take on added significance in my life, what with having knee replacement surgery and all.

In the intro to Raw Ramp, we hear this verse, which has ricocheted across my tender brainpan countless times since 1972:

"There was a time everything was fine,
we got drunk on the day like it was wine,
and all the children, they put flowers in their hair
and all the grownups, they put daggers there instead."

Which totally explains Dick Cheney's baldness.

But Bolan, who was not only a marvelous lyricist and great singer, was also a fantastic guitarist, good enough to play on sessions for the likes of Ike and Tina Turner, and David Bowie.

           Ike        and Tina Turner

He was only two weeks away from turning 30 when he died, one month after the passing of Elvis and one month before the death of Bing Crosby. It was a car crash that claimed his life; he was riding in his own car that was being driven by his girlfriend. The car hit a sycamore tree and Marc, who never learned to drive because he feared that he would die in a car crash, died in a car crash.

So. Am I the only person who thinks of him when people talk about riding the commuter line known as the MARC train? There must be someone else who would sooner ride the Maryland Area Regional Commuter Train than drive a car. Get it on, or get on it, whichever. Let's go Bolan.