Friday, September 30, 2011

Don't Schwed It

It seems that our friends over at One Million Moms - you know, the 29,000 or so people who have decided that they can decide what's fit for you and your family to hear, read, see, watch or read - have gotten bees in their collective bonnets over an ice cream flavor.

Don't worry, French Vanilla.  You're safe for now, but we have our eyes on you, n'est-ce pas?

No, the OM Moms want to get their hands on our Schweddy Balls.  You might have seen the skit on Saturday Night Live years ago in which Alex Baldwin played Pete Schweddy, who trotted out his Schweddy Balls recipe on a fake NPR show called Delicious Dish.
Ben & Jerry's picked up on the idea to produce this ice cream.  Innocent fun, right?  They say the ice cream features little malted milk balls, so it'll be a while before this flavor can pry me away from my beloved Nutty Coconut.

Meanwhile, back in the land where people sit around and try to figure out more ways to harsh everyone else's buzz  - and do so by dragging religion into the field of frozen dairy treats - have this to say:
"The vulgar new flavor has turned something as innocent as ice cream into something repulsive."
How about being self-righteous busybodies with too much to say about your ice cream and mine?  How's that for repulsive?

Thursday, September 29, 2011


I was thinking about expectations.  Did you ever see that movie "As Good As It Gets" starring Jack Nicholson?  He plays a major-league neurotic, beset by demons, fetishes, phobias, rituals and, mainly, a huge lack of love, and in one scene, he goes to his psychiatrist and asks for an impromptu appointment.  Rebuffed, he asks the doc, "How can you diagnose me as being obsessive-compulsive, and then act like I have any choice in the matter?"

Heeeeeeere's Melvin!
I'm the worst at this, so I'm writing this to remind myself that it might be a good idea not to expect everyone to live up to our own standards.  There could be many reasons why that co-worker seemed brusque in the hallway the other morning.  Perhaps he just found out some sad medical news about a loved one.   And sometimes, we go out of our way to give a special gift to someone, and they seem less than thrilled about it.  It just might be that they are dealing with more problems than a gift, no matter how well-intended, can wipe away.

The old scout says, "Walk a mile in my shoes," but you might not like to try that.  Size 13 Rockports with elegant orthotic insoles might not do it for you. But that's what I wear.  Others can strut around in TopSiders or camp moccasins, but if I did that, my arches would fall faster than Rick Perry's presidential aspirations.  I'm not complaining  at all; I don't mind my lumbering gait, but if anyone expects me to join the track team, I'm going to have to let you down!

I saw one of those internet passarounds once that said don't holler when an older couple drives slowly in front on you; they might be going to the hospital for the last time.  Ask anyone who has lived through depression or famine, and they will tell you that a simple salad with no fancy croutons or anything can seem like the greatest meal you ever had, if you haven't had a meal for a while.  

We never know when the kind word we pass along, even if it seems to make no ostensible difference to the listener, might just be the one bit of encouragement that keeps them going.  And kind words are free for nothing, a big plus in these tight economic times.

And what are the sweetest gifts of all?  I think it's one thing to really really really want a suede jacket for Christmas at age 17, and then get it, but it's even better when someone goes out of their way to get you something special for no reason at all.  That's one of the ten thousand sweet things that Peggy does all the time, for me and for lots of others, and she has a way of surprising you - just when you weren't expecting it!

Expecting, expectations. We never know.  And maybe it's best that we don't.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Every now and then we hear of an auto accident in which someone is injured badly (or worse) and no one knows who the person is.  Or let's say you lose your wallet and a good person turns it to the police, but they can find no way to contact you (except by sending an officer to your house, since all they have is an address.)

You get where I'm coming from here - the law should have a way to get in touch with your emergency contacts, and now they do, if you live in Maryland and you have ten minutes.  That's five minutes less time than the gecko wants with you, after all!

Just grab your driver's license (you'll need the soundex number on there) and go to this site.

On the site, the Maryland MVA offers a secure place for you to put the names, addresses and phone numbers of up to three emergency contacts - just because you never can tell!  It's a secure site and it's another step - like putting in ICE numbers on your cell - that might save time in a crisis.

This will work out great, because if I'm ever unidentifiable somehow, the police can let Peggy and Britney Spears know about it right away.  They'd both want to know.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tony! Tony! Tony!

For the love of Pete, you would think that a guy like Tony Bennett, who’s been singing for a living since Lincoln was in third grade, would know how to promote a new album. 

But nooooooo!  The octogenarian balladeer went on Howard Stern’s show last week and made some goofy remarks about our recent American history:

From the New York Daily News:
In a bizarre interview with shock jock Stern, legendary singer Tony Bennett proclaimed "we caused" the 9/11 attacks and said former President George W. Bush admitted to him the Iraq war was a mistake.
"They flew the plane in, but we caused it," the 85-year-old crooner told Stern on his Sirius Radio show Monday night. "We were bombing them, and they told us to stop."
Bennett's controversial answer came after Stern asked the World War II vet how the U.S. should deal with the terrorists responsible for toppling the twin towers.
"Who are the terrorists?" Bennett said, according to ABC News. "Are we the terrorists, or are they the terrorists? Two wrongs don't make a right."
Bennett went on to describe a night in 2005 when he claims then-President Bush made a frank admission to him about the war in Iraq.
The two were at an event at the Kennedy Center honoring Bennett.
"He told me personally that night that, he said, 'I think I made a mistake,' " said Bennett, who was appearing on the Stern show to promote his new album, "Duets II."
Bennett said he believed that the President made this revelation because "he had a special liking to me."
Bennett said he agreed with that assessment.
"To start a war in Iraq was a tremendous, tremendous mistake internationally," he said.
A Bush spokesman slammed Bennett's account as "flatly wrong."
"President Bush has always felt, and consistently expressed, that America is safer without Saddam Hussein in power," spokesman Freddy Ford said.
"He has never said the decision to liberate Iraq was a mistake to Mr. Bennett or to anyone.”

I hold no particular brief for Gee W B, but even I will give him this: even if he thought he had made a mistake, he would not go around discussing it with Tony Bennett. 

Willie Nelson, sure, but not Tony Bennett.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Always a bridesmaid

Peggy and I really enjoyed the movie "Bridesmaids," which stars Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, and Peter Frampton's daughter.*

At our house, only I enjoyed "Jackass" in any of its versions, and heaven knows I've seen 'em all.  Peggy won't watch "Jackass" because

a) she's not a Jackass
b) "Men only think they're being funny when they act like that"
c) they demonstrate proper uses for appliances, and Peggy doesn't need such demonstrations.
d) all of the above

You know the scene I'm talking about in the original "Jackass," where the guy tries out an appliance in a hardware store?  What could be so wrong about making sure something works before purchasing it? Seems prudent to me.  Oh, but every time I have tried to wheedle Peggy into watching that vignette, she screams and runs from the room the same way she reacts when O The Oprah Magazine is late.

And now we play the waiting game, trying to understand how Peggy, and, presumably, tens of millions of other women had pulled muscles and possible contusions, abrasions and sprains from falling down laughing at the scene in "Bridesmaids" after the characters have eaten at the sketchy steak-on-sword restaurant and are either "flowing like lava" or doing the technicolor yawn.  I was laughing hard, but I was amazed to see Peggy flailing about in paroxysms of laughter, gasping for breath as, onscreen, the fluids were flung.

Someday I will figure out how a man in a movie who cheats on his wife is a "lying, low-down, no-good sun of a beach," but when Meryl Streep did it with Clint Eastwood in the execrable "Bridges of Madison County," it was the most romantic thing since Tom Hanks won the heart of Meg Ryan in "Sleepless in Seattle." 

I expect to solve that riddle some day.  Figuring out  the continued popularity of Yanni is something else altogether!

*Did you figure out who Frampton's daughter was???

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Perry Amazin'

And another great American tradition gets washed away!

We all know from watching movies with Victor Mature that when one is released from prison, one does so wearing a brand-new suit, compliments of the state, and a five-dollar bill to help on the path to brighter, straighter tomorrows.

From George Raft movies, we know that when one is not going to be leaving prison except by being carried out in a one-man bungalow with silver handles, the condemned one gets to eat anything he wants as his last meal.

So it was jarring to see this article in the Huffington Post the other day:  

 HOUSTON - Texas inmates who are set to be executed will no longer get their choice of last meals, a change prison officials made Thursday after a prominent state senator became miffed over an expansive request from a man condemned for a notorious dragging death.

Lawrence Russell Brewer, who was executed Wednesday for the hate crime slaying of James Byrd Jr. more than a decade ago, asked for two chicken fried steaks, a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, fried okra, a pound of barbecue, three fajitas, a meat lover's pizza, a pint of ice cream and a slab of peanut butter fudge with crushed peanuts. Prison officials said Brewer didn't eat any of it.

"It is extremely inappropriate to give a person sentenced to death such a privilege," Sen. John Whitmire, chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, wrote in a letter Thursday to Brad Livingston, the executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Within hours, Livingston said the senator's concerns were valid and the practice of allowing death row offenders to choose their final meal was history.

"Effective immediately, no such accommodations will be made," Livingston said. "They will receive the same meal served to other offenders on the unit."

That had been the suggestion from Whitmire, who called the traditional request "ridiculous."

"It's long overdue," the Houston Democrat told The Associated Press. "This old boy last night, enough is enough. We're fixing to execute the guy and maybe it makes the system feel good about what they're fixing to do. Kind of hypocritical, you reckon?

Uneaten chicken-fried steaks
First of all, do you join me in picturing Sen. Whitmire as wearing a ten-gallon hat and a string tie under a white suit?  And do you also see him saying "I say, I say. Uh-uh-uh, I know what you're gonna say, son. When two halves is gone, there's nothin' left.  Two nothin's is nothin'!"

And so that "old boy" Brewer managed to wreck it forever for all the scummy murderers who follow him to the execution chamber, I reckon.  

Also, the state of Texas has announced that in order to save on alcohol wipes, they will no longer be cleaning off the needle site prior to administering lethal injections.  If the prisoner gets an infection from the shot, he gets an infection.  They're fixing to be tough down there in the Lone Star state.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Twixt Twelve and Twenty is where you'll find his IQ score

Some facts that we know about Pat Boone:

  • He was the #2 record-selling act of the 1950s, trailing only Elvis.
  • He made his fortune selling bland, soul-free versions of rhythm and blues hits.
  • His real name is Charles Eugene Boone.
  • He wrote a book telling teenagers how to behave. The book was called "Twixt Twelve and Twenty." All this happened before his wife threatened to leave him for his alcohol binges and partying.
  • He got in trouble for making false claims in a tv commercial about a zit lotion, and had to fork over 2.5% of any money the Acne-Statin company had to pay out in refunds.
  • His career long since over with, he put on a black leather vest and put out a heavy metal album in 1997. Then when he got kicked off a Christian tv show for doing heavy metal, he claimed that the album was just a parody of himself, so he got back on, just without any dignity or honor.
  • Pat Boone claims that the theory of evolution is an "absurd," "nonsensical" "bankrupt false religion".
  • He later wrote an editorial in the form of a fairy tale where a young Prince Charming was seduced by a dwarf, got AIDS, and then overdosed.
  • He says that liberalism is a cancer and compares liberals to "black filthy cells" he saw at a cancer research center.
  • He claims that the president of the United States is not eligible to serve as president of the United States, that the read the Koran while growing up as a child in Indonesia,is fluent in Arabic, and does not celebrate Christmas in the White House.
  • His daughter Debby inflicted "You Light Up My Life" on America and the world in 1977.
 Now the old crooner is hollering that he was in Kenya in 2010 and "everybody" was telling him that Barack Obama was born there.  Well now.  Obama can't be president because "everybody" in Kenya told the man who sang "I Almost Lost My Mind" that Obama is a Kenyan (according to Pat Boone.)
As you might recall, the president trotted out his longform birth certificate in April, which even shut Donald Trump's mighty yap, but now Chuck E. Boone says he knows the document is a fraud, based on his many years of law enforcement and forensic experience, and also because he sang "Love Letters In The Sand."

Hi Pat! I'm a liberal and I don't respect you at all.  If you've said all that you have to say, please shut the hell up and let people with a little intelligence do the driving.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Dearth Penalty

We woke up Thursday morning with two fewer Americans among us.  On Wednesday evening, Texas executed Lawrence Russell Brewer by lethal injection.  He was one of the white supremacists who dragged James Byrd to his death behind a pickup truck in 1998.

No one doubted that Brewer was guilty of his crime.  He didn't try for any last-minute appeals, never issued protestations of innocence, and went to his death forgiven by the family of his victim, which demonstrated the highest qualities of the Christian lifestyle.

And then, late that same evening, Georgia ended the life of Troy Davis.  Things were not as clear-cut in his case.  For one thing, there was never any physical evidence linking him to the murder of a police officer in 1989.  Witnesses recanted the testimony that had led to his conviction, and jurors expressed their regrets over their decision, given the way things changed after the trial. 

I ask, why the rush to kill the man?  Especially since we cannot be 100% certain that he is a cop killer.  Many people have been convicted of many things, only to have it turn out later that they didn't commit any crime worse than being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Marylanders will recall the case of Kirk Bloodsworth, convicted in 1985 for murder, rape, and sexual assault upon a little girl who suffered those fates in the hands of someone else.  In 1985, DNA evidence-gathering did not exist, and Bloodsworth, found guilty because some people went to his trial right here in my home town and said they saw him with the little girl, went up for eight years, two of them on death row, until DNA evidence exonerated him in 1993. He was the first person ever exonerated after a conviction through the use of DNA evidence.  Although it set him free, the State of Maryland was unable to give him his eight years of life back.

Again, back to Troy Davis.  The State of Georgia cannot claim there was evidence that would lead reasonable people to believe in his guilt beyond the shadow of a doubt.  Too many people are saying a mistake was made.  It's becoming apparent that the execution was carried out in order to give "closure" to the family of the slain police officer.  To be sure, let's not forget that Officer Mark McPhail was killed by someone.  We just don't know by whom.  

Officer McPhail
It used to be that proponents of the death penalty would claim that killing people for killing people led to cost savings and also served as a deterrent to others.  The deterrent factor has been pretty much ruled out; as the murder rate continues to soar in most states, we don't see a huge rush of bad people saying, "I was going to kill you, but I fear the penalty attached thereto."  And if prisons are so interested in cutting down on costs, they might cut back on recreational programs, weight lifting, foreign language instruction and so forth, and just house the prisoners.  The emphasis has shifted to giving closure to the families of the victims, but I am certain that, if evidence comes out that clears Davis posthumously, the McPhails will feel very very sad. 

Maybe it's because I try to follow the Commandment against killing people, but I oppose the death penalty, especially when it seems to be used to make one family feel a sense of closure while taking the chance of diminishing another family.   Neither Officer McPhail nor Troy Davis, likely the only two humans on earth to know what happened that night, are coming back to earth to tell us about it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I gotta have more soup

I used to be much more OCD than I am now.  I mean, there were times when I wouldn't leave the house without making sure that I had exactly six of each coin in my pocket: six quarters, six dimes, six nickels and six pennies. And my goodluck medallion from the Babe Ruth Museum.

But as I became more casual in middle age, I gave up that stuff.  Lately, I notice I don't even care which shoe I put on first - it used to have to be the right one first or go barefoot.

But here is a guy who really leads the league in OCD.  He's a Swiss comedian - I know, right? - and he actually took time to arrange the letters in his alphabet soup.  (Apparently, it's known as "letter soup" in Europe.  To me, that sounds like a broth with mail floating in it...junk mail from some maid company, a note reminding me of an appointment, a letter from an old friend.)

His name is Ursus Wehrli, and I was hoping he had enough letters left over to spell it out, but anyway, here are before and after pictures of lunch with Ursus:

There's a story about all this on the NPR website. I'd just say, be glad you didn't invite Ursus to come on over for breakfast.  He'd probably make a jigsaw puzzle out of Wheat Chex!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Showing a little class

Doing a little figurin' here... our country is deep in debt.  The president is asking that millionaires who have made fortunes in this country step up and chip in a little more when the tax plate is passed around.  

The way Sen. Mitch McConnell (R, KY) acts, you'd think that Mr Obama wanted to take away his blowdryer or something. He's the minority leader in the Senate, the King of all Republican senators, and he said that if the president is feeling guilty about being rich himself, he should "send in a check."  

This idea of taxing the rich came from the richest of the rich, Mr Richie Rich himself, Warren Buffett, who, with his personal wealth in excess of yours, mine and the next 20 people you're going to meet, points out that his secretary pays taxes at a higher rate than he does.

"Class warfare!" hollers Rep. Paul Ryan from Wisconsin, head cheese in the House Budget Committee and a guy who looks like that guy from "Glee."  But there can be no glee in the land when Ryan says, "Class warfare… may make for really good politics but it makes a rotten economics. We don’t need a system that seeks to divide people. We don’t need a system that seeks to prey on people’s fear, envy and anxiety.”

Oddly enough, he said this on FOX News Sunday, which comes to you on a network whose very basis and structure are platforms for sowing the seeds of fear, envy and anxiety.  They have a fair and balanced person named Sarah Palin on that network, a woman who sent out campaign literature marking the district of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords with crosshairs.  

We all know how that turned out.

FOX News is in business to dole out easily-understood news bits, in non-fancy language, to legions of viewers who appreciate having their opinions delivered every day.  It saves them from forming their own!

But the words of a person I have known for many years keep ringing in my ears on the topic of class warfare.  When the president's plan for universal health care was first discussed, this person said, "If people don't have health insurance, that's their problem.  I can't be worried about helping them.  If they have to die, they have to die."

So who fired the first shot in this war?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Money Man

So, I was posting songs by the fellow who called himself Johnny Paycheck the other day, and I thought I'd write a few words about him, his talent, his excesses, and the sad waste that his life - which ran from 1938 - 2003 - became.

He was a country music singer, never a super-bigshot in the field, but always highly regarded by those who like their country served country style.  I'll link you to a few songs here so you can get a sampling, if you'd like.

He was born Donald Lytle in Greenfield, Ohio, and somehow that sounds like the sort of town where country singers are born.  From his early days, he wanted to be an entertainer, and did so under the name "The Ohio Kid" before joining the Navy at 18. While in the Navy, as another writer put it, the only water he was in was hot water.  Young Donny slugged an officer, which is not an acceptable practice in the Navy now, and certainly not then.  He spent two years in a Navy prison and hitchhiked to Nashville as soon as he was released.

What can you say about a guy with talent, and also demons?  The talent usually surfaces, and then the demons do too, and pull him under.  He released a couple of records on the Decca label as "Donny Young." They were good songs but they didn't make hits.  He was working as a bass player for Ray Price and the Cherokee Cowboys, during which time he wrote a hit song called "Touch My Heart" for Price.  Some years later, he recorded it and had one of the finest records of his early career.

For six years, 1960 - '66, Donny played bass and raised hell with George Jones, the great singer of so many classics.  There is some dispute among chroniclers of country music as to who influenced whom the most here, but whereas Jones had been sort of high-pitched in his early recordings, Jones became more of a nuanced growler by the time Donny left his band to go out as a solo act under his newly-coined sobriquet of Paycheck. By the way, this was not a name chosen in honor of Johnny Cash, as some suspect.  Paycheck liked a prize fighter from Chi named Johnny Paychek.  Anyway, in this video, you can see Jones and Paycheck doing a duet on "The Love Bug."

Paycheck and a man named Aubrey Mayhew started Little Darlin' records in 1966 and JP did well in his new venture.  "Jukebox Charlie," from '67, is a typical honky-tonk howler from that era.  The problem was, Little Darlin' was still an independent record label at the dawn of the day when the majors  - Columbia, RCA, Mercury - were taking over the business.  Paycheck's business lost, and a curious thing fact, several curious things.

By 1970, JP was homeless on the streets of Los Angeles, seemingly living out the sad, lonesome lifestyle that so many of his records extolled.  That could have been the end, but one man remembered, and that man, Billy Sherill, was one of the founders of the new Nashville sound of the 70's.  He actually hired a guy to go through the hobo jungles and find Paycheck, sent him to rehab, and together they began a string of hit records on the Epic label that covered the entire decade.  Songs such as "(Don't Take Her) She's All I Got" and "I'm The Hell (My Mama Ever Raised)" are emblematic of that era in country music, with one big difference.  Paycheck, unlike some of his contemporaries, still sang in a mournful honkin' style.  I once read someone's essay on JP that claimed that the difference in him was that he "enunciated on the vowels" which, when you think about it, doesn't mean doodly.  We all do that.  Can you imagine someone drawling on a consonant?  But with Paycheck, the feeling that he put into a song was real.  The listeners could feel that he hurt when he sang a hurting song.  You could listen to David Cassidy or Perry Como or Will I. Am. and never hear them reveal their true emotions.  Oh, they might be more on key, but they don't show the heart and soul like Paycheck did.

But, singing the blues leads to the blues far too often. Paycheck's star dimmed in the 80's as his alcohol and drug problems turned out to be taller than he was. (He stood 5' 5".)  He was dropped by Epic in 1983, and by 1985 he was off to serve 22 months of a seven year prison sentence in Ohio for shooting a guy in the head in a barroom fight.  And even when he was a freed man, he still fought his substances.  He was finished as a performer by 1998, for health reasons, and died in 2003, leaving behind the tarnished legacy over which we puzzle today.

Is it possible to sing about a lifestyle and not lead that same lifestyle?  The parallel that comes to mind is actor George Raft, who played so many cheesy gangsters in so many cheesy movies that he actually became better known for hanging around mobsters than actually portraying them in movies.

But what a shame about Paycheck.  Sometimes, you try to outrun the demons, and you've been chasing after them all along.  His final days were sad ones, marked with hospital stays for emphysema, asthma, and more.  He died broke, and Jones paid to bury him.

Yet, for a minute there, he had it all.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Picture This

Please look at the picture above.  It was in The New Yorker, a magazine I prize above all others for their literature, their criticism, their casuals and their profiles.  And oh yes, the cartoons, with the arcane punch lines that always leave me laughing.
But this picture was among their listings of photography exhibitions.  Ruth Orkin's work was being displayed at the Greenberg Gallery.  I know from Googling her that she was quite the well-known photographer, that she won tons of awards, and is best known for a picture she took and called "American Girl in Italy," showing a girl named Jinx Allen walking down the street and being ogled by a bunch of Italian guys.  I think I've seen the picture before.  I guess the philistine in me failed to recognize that it was an "iconic" photograph.

Listen, I mean no disrespect to Ms Orkin.  I just need someone to explain a couple of things to me.  First of all, the picture of the woman walking down the Roman street was staged, according to Wikepedia, which says the photographer asked her to walk down the street again to make sure she had the shot just right.  So...spontaneous work of art, or staged photo op?  You have to wonder if they told the guy on the Vespa to cock his head cockily to enhance the tension.

And the picture up top..."White Stoops, New York City, 1952."  Help me here.  What I see is, it was snowing, and she stuck her camera out the window, pushed the button and took the film down to the drugstore.  She returned to the drugstore four days later in those pre-digital days, picked up some dusting powder and some pipe cleaners for her husband and then came home, saying, "Look, honey! The pictures came back!"  

I mean, someone else built the buildings, union guys in Detroit made those cars, and Mr Kodak made the film and the camera.  God made it snow.  When the cars and the steps had a little coating of snow, Ms Orkin leaned out and snapped a picture of it all.  Nice. Pretty. A pleasant way to remember a snowfall.  

But how is this art?  I just don't get it.  If she drew the picture with a pencil or charcoal, or painted it, yeah, that's art.  This is a picture of some cars in the snow.  I'm either so oblivious to what constitutes art, or it's an Emperor's New Clothes thing where it's all a big gigantic ruse and we don't all know it.

At any rate,  someone better notify me when and where I should bring my pictures from the blizzards we had last year so they can go on exhibition.  I call this one "White Driveway with Red Truck, Carney MD 2010."

I really miss my truck.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

More stories of 9/11 heroics

I hadn't heard this story before, but it's fascinating to read that on September 11, 2001, as the World Trade Center was crumbling down and the Pentagon was aflame, that last jetliner, Flight 93, was still in the air, destination unknown, but it was known that it had been hijacked and clearly was involved in a similar suicide dive like the other three planes.

We all knew that part, but did you know that the US sent up fighter jets to take down Flight 93?  And did you know that these were unarmed fighter jets, so the only weapon they had to use against the stolen plane in ramming the plane?

Lt. Heather "Lucky" Penney (left) and Col. Marc Sasseville, their nation under attack, followed orders without question, took off in their jets, and were prepared to give their own lives by crashing into the airliner.  It's all here in an article in the Washington POST.  They did not find that plane; we know that United 93 crashed in a field in Shanksville, PA, and even today, more and more stories about American heroism come to the fore from that awful, awful day.

Their planes only carried dummy ordnance, from training missions, but they were ready to go kamikaze to save whatever target the terrorists had in mind.  We've never known what the goal was for them; some say the Capital, or some say maybe the White House. 

But let's hear it for two people - Penney and Sasseville - who were ready to give it all up for for all of us. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Ways to spend $203,150

Here it is Saturday, and your paycheck is still warm in the bank, and maybe you have some spare dollars to spend.  Let's say you have $203,150 to spend.

"You have $203,150 to spend."

Now let's say you can't really buy a great house with that, and that sum is too much to spend on a car, although you could get a nice car and a great RV with that much, and hit the road for a while.

You could give it to any number of deserving charities.

You could really spruce up your wardrobe, or get new furniture for the house, or have a brick pizza oven installed in the living room. 

OR you could have bought the original color portrait, done by Norman Mingo, of Alfred E. Neuman, which appeared on MAD magazine issue #30 in 1956.  The original brought in, at an art auction in November, 2008, that sum: $203,150, from some guy with a REALLY mad wife.

I bet he hung it in his den and his friends come over all the time to see it and his friends' wives hang downstairs with his wife, all going, "WHAT?  He bought WHAT?"

What, him worry?  If you have that much money for that picture, you surely have enough for some other things.  But I'd love to see that picture!


Friday, September 16, 2011

Pat McButtocks

Marion Gordon "Pat" Robertson, the dimwitted former preacher whose goofy image leers out of a few tv screens every morning on the television, took his nickname from his childhood.  His older brother Willis would pat the little baby on his cheeks, saying "pat pat pat" as he did.

Whatchoo talking about, Willis?  I think he must have patted the baby a little too hard, so let's not be real rough on Pat Robertson, who has made a fortune taking money in the name of the Lord, so that he could operate tv networks and shows that feature his nutty views, such as:

  • His belief in Dominionism, which says that conservative Christians have the right to rule and run our government under biblical law.  This would be tough on guys such as I, who often covet our neighbor's ox (Commandment #7).
  • His bragging that it was his prayers in 1985 that made Hurricane Gloria change course, rather than making landfall in Virginia Beach, where Robertson's CBN network was beaming reruns of "The Life of Riley" to its dozens of viewers nationwide.
  • His book "The New World Order" claimed that a conspiracy exists between Masons and some people called the Illuminati, a group of Masons and Jewish bankers.  Perry Mason, Derrick Mason,  Mason Williams and the Mason-Dixon line are all involved.  Pat knows.
  • His statement that the cracks that appeared in the Washington Monument are "a sign" from God that the end times are upon us.  Similarly, the jovial man of God said, right after the Haitian earthquake, that the people of Haiti made a pact with the Devil and are being cursed for it, and also he said that Hurricane Katrina was the result of legal abortion.
  • His joint comment, with the always humorous Jerry Falwell, that the events of 9/11/01 were something we deserved for our tolerance of secularism, gays, abortion, feminists and pagans.

But now the wheels have really come off of old Pat's wagon.  I really don't know how this got out, because frankly I don't know anyone who watches his show, but apparently he, an ordained Southern Baptist sinbuster, gave the go-ahead to some poor man, whose wife is suffering from Alzheimer's Disease, to go ahead and divorce her and "start over again."  A guy called the show and said "his friend" was in this situation (and Pat didn't see through that?) and had begun stepping out on his wife.   

"I know it sounds cruel, but if he's going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again - but make sure she has custodial care and somebody looking after her," Robertson said.

Oh, Marion Gordon "Pat" Robertson!  It's not just that it sounds cruel, but that it IS cruel!  And then the woman whose job it is to sit next to this maniac tried to help him out of the ditch he dug with his oversized mouth.  Terry Meeuwsen asked the old goofball about whether Christian marriage vows - to care for one another "for better or for worse" and "in sickness and in health" - still applied.

"If you respect that vow, you say 'til death do us part,'" Robertson said, adding that Alzheimer's "is a kind of death."  

I'm here right now to tell you, I'll stand by Peggy every second of her life, and wouldn't think of doing anything like this.  And I'm just an ordinary man, with Christian beliefs that I don't try to force on anyone.  You have to hand it to Robertson.  As the only man in America who looks more like Alfred E. Neuman that George W. Bush, "Pat" Robertson leads the league in hypocrisy and foolishness.  

An old sky pilot once told me, "God never told anyone to be stupid."  

Pat?  Did you hear that?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ring Me Up

Chances are, I'm the last to adapt to change.  Eventually, I get around to doing things the new modern way, but I don't see myself ever becoming one who does all his shopping online.  

It's just too doggone confusing!

I like to buy pants  and shirts from L.L. Beano or Ed E. Bauer.  My sox, I can find most anywhere where red sox are available, and boxer shorts are not too tough to find.  But I like cotton shirts and pants - no polyester, wool, nylon or naugahyde needs to adorn me.  

But even when I go online to try to order, everything gets all balled up.  Just the other day, I selected a pair of pants (casual, men's big 'n' tall, in the fashionable "sand" color) and clicked on them to add them to my "shopping cart."  Perhaps the fact that the shopping cart is only a figment of the imagination added to the mix.  

The website gave me this cryptic instruction in red:  PLEASE MAKE ALL SELECTIONS BEFORE ADDING TO SHOPPING CART

As Principal Skinner would say, "What th' ?"  

How does one make all the selections without adding all the selections to the shopping cart?  That would be like going around the Groceries 'R' Us store and making mental notes of everything you want, and then going to the register with an empty cart and telling the cashier, "I need a can of Manning's hominy, grated cheese, diced tomatoes, and a large bag of kibble."  

And of course, just like when you go to Macy's and absolutely nothing costs what it says on the price tag ("Take 66 2/3% off our already low, low marked price"), you don't expect to pay for online merchandise at the rate quoted.  There is often a promo code that, when entered properly, reduces the tab by a certain percentage.  The code they tell you to enter is always something vaguely cryptic, such as "Enter code BUYMOREMOREMORE" or "UDAMNFOOL" to see your low, low price. 

So I give up and call the 800 number, which gives me the chance to talk to a real live human, usually with a southern accent, which allows me to talk about how I love it down there where the magnolias blossom and the pecans grow in the loamy soil.  From there on, we swap pecan pie recipes, I order pants, and everyone is happy.

Show me a website that makes everyone happy!  Can't be done.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Life is a highway

I look at it like this: if everyone I knew who has found him-or-herself on I-526 in scenic South Carolina - the southernmost of all Carolinas - and said "Oh,  I have to get a picture of this road sign for Mark!" had actually taken a picture of the road sign, I would be able to cover several walls with pictures of the sign of the highway named for my namesake, Mark Clark.

Having the same name as a famous dude has always been interesting, and of course, having that rhyming thing in the name was a clear indication that my parents knew I would grow up to be a disc jockey.  As a matter of fact, there were reports that when I arrived that sunny Saturday in June, 1951, Mom and Dad heard an angelic choir singing my name..."Maaaaaaaaark Claaaaaaaaark....plays the mooooooooost musiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiic!" 

That might have been just a story they told me; I don't know.

Anyhow - famous Mark Clarks include the Black Panther leader gunned down in his sleep by Chicago police in 1969, a big-league pitcher for the Indians, Mets, Cubs, Rangers and Cardinals from 1991-2000, a state senator from Arizona, a guy who blew himself up in his van in Essex in 1995, a lawyer down South somewhere whose email addy is one character different from mine (so he refuses to forward to me any erroneously-addressed email) and, most famous,  World War II General Mark Wayne Clark, who chased Rommel across Egypt, invaded Italy in 1943, and later became America's youngest general.

I, in tribute, became America's youngest general nuisance.

Another similarity, and believe me, this is probably the last between me and an Army general, was that Clark was well-known while attending West Point for his ability to smuggle candy into the dormitory, and I became renowned for smuggling beer into baseball stadiums.  (Put it in a bag and cover it with peanuts..lots and lots of peanuts...)

General Clark retired down South and became head of The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina.  That's where the Mark Clark Expressway is, down there between West Ashley and Mt. Pleasant.  Doesn't that sound like a pleasant place to be?  

I guess it was the mid-80's when I first had greetings from friends just back from vacay down there who said, "Dude!  You won't believe it!  There's like this highway named for you down there!"

In all modesty, I have to admit to them that the road was not named for me,  but if I ever get down there and take a drive, the least I can expect is that they won't charge me a toll!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rotten Egg

Friends and neighbors, I like football and baseball and I love to root for my home teams, the Ravens and Orioles.  And I like to root for the University of Alabama football team, for reasons not even I understand.  (But, Roll Tide!)

Now, the Orioles haven't had a winning season since 1997.  My father was still alive the last time they got to the playoffs, and he'll be gone 14 years this December, so losing at baseball games is something we are quite used to, even if we still don't like it very much.

The Ravens! Now that's another story!  They won the Super Bowl following the 2000 season and have been in the playoffs (or at least darn close to getting there!) most years since then.  They have been energized and recharged by their new coach, John Harbaugh, and their quarterback, Joe Flacco and new stars such as running back Ray Rice, and veterans such as Ray Lewis and Ed Reed provide leadership and amazing skills at their advanced ages (36 and 32, respectively!)

And we have enjoyed an intense rivalry with the Pittsburgh Steelers, from up the road in PA.  They say that we often dislike in others what we see in them that reminds us of ourselves.  People who have lived in both places will tell you, Baltimore and Pittsburgh are remarkably similar in many ways.  Old industrial towns with infusions of modern technology, sort of thing.  The Steelers have done very well over the years and have won a lot of Super Bowls.  I will add that they seem to lack a certain degree of humility about that, but let's face it, any team with hot dogs such as Terrell Suggs (pictured) of the Ravens is not too far behind in the braggadocio race.

This past Sunday, the Steelers came to town and opened the season nicely for the Ravens, as our locals went to town on them, handing them a 35-7 beatdown.  It was a tough, well-played game, with only one or two minor skirmishes among the contestants.  Game over, Baltimore feels good, Pittsburgh goes home looking to get better.  

It was with no small amount of displeasure that I read an email from a friend on Monday morning.  She had gone to the game with her son, wearing her Steelers finery (she's from there!) and found herself the target of an egg thrown at her by some woman, apparently a Ravens rooter.    Is there a place for this sort of behavior among grownups?  

We have to assume that this BMore woman went to the grocery store and bought this henfruit for the single purpose of heaving eggs at people attending the game in black and yellow.  There could be no other reason for having eggs with you at the stadium.

I can hear the cascade of justifications now:  Maybe she went to a game in Pittsburgh and someone threw an egg at her.  Maybe something happened to her somewhere along life's trail that caused her to allow the success of a professional football team to be a gauge of her own success.  Somehow I doubt that she is so suffused with civic pride that the very wearing of the opposition's garment would so enrage her as to throw an egg at a fellow citizen.  

Oddly ironic is that this all took place on the day of remembrance for the 9/11 victims and recognition for the survivors and rescuers.  After that dark day in history, Americans came together as never before since Pearl Harbor, united in brotherhood and fellowship, vowing to allow each other to live free in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

So someone is wearing the jersey of another team.  My question is, as it is so often, what's it to you? 

Monday, September 12, 2011

It isn't all it seems at seventeen...

I'm not about to try to explain this.  Someone else can, and I'm sure they will.  That's the only thing I am sure about, here.

I have gone to bat many a time for Lindsay Lohan, because I thought she was a very good actress, and cute as a bug in her day, which, sad to say, has passed.  She was in Mr Keillor's movie "A Prairie Home Companion" and anyone good enough to work with Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin and the estimable Garrison Keillor is good enough to be in any movie, as far as I know.

Lindsay's recent problems with substance abuse, criminal charges, a shredded career and so forth are well documented.  I wish her well and hope she gets it back together.

I was only vaguely aware that Lindsay had a younger sister; her name is Ali and she has been trying to make it as a model-actress-singer.  I guess, seeing how well things have worked out for Lindsay, she thought she'd try the family business.

Anyhow.  Here is how Ali looked until recently:

 Cute, pretty, attractive, right?  So now, here she is <<, as currently refigured.  And here is the word from People magazine:   

After a new photo of Ali Lohan set off an Internet storm about her dramatic look, her rep says Lindsay Lohan's younger sister, who was recently signed to a modeling agency, did not go under the knife.

"Aliana has never had any type of plastic surgery in her life, nor has she ever considered it," her rep Steve Honig tells PEOPLE, insisting that the perceived changes in Lohan's face are purely natural.

"Her success as a model lies with her natural looks and she has no interest in changing that," the statement continues. "During the past two years, she has gone through a normal teenage growth spurt that has made her taller and slimmer."

The younger Lohan, 17, has been the subject of chatter after stepping out with a noticeably thinner frame and a more drawn appearance.

Lohan's growth "has also slightly changed the composure of her face, all of which is typical of what happens to kids in their mid to late teens," explains Honig. "It's what most people refer to as the awkward stage. Ali is growing up; that's all." 

Now, we have all been 17, especially those of us born before September 12, 1994, and we know what happens at 17.  You get a zit now and then, your body is growing, you get growing pains, your metabolism is racing like Rick Perry's thoughts at an execution.  But this gaunt stranger in the bottom photo shows no resemblance to the cute kid above.  If this is someone's idea of career advice, please, Ali, go talk to someone else. 

Why do people take something sweet and pure and foul it all up? 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

"A terrorist attack of proportions we cannot begin to imagine"

Today of all days, can we please go back to the way we acted on 9/12/01?  I'm not talking about the politics of Glenn Beck.  I'm not talking about the finger-pointing, the conspiracy theories, the who should have done whats.  I'm talking about the way we let each pass in traffic, greeted each other politely at the elevator, acted with consideration and kindness and appreciation. 

Please share this video and remember and reflect.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Doin' a heckuva job there, Waffley!

If you've ever been down South, you know there are lots of things you'll see everywhere.  Among them are hurricanes, and Waffle Houses. 

So one bad, one good, the way I figure.

But what do they have in common?  Well, according to the Wall Street Journal, the good folks at FEMA - the Federal Emergency Management Agency - use the statuses of local Waffle Houses as an indicator of how things are in local communities after hurricanes pass by.

Let's say a hurricane, let's call it "Sarah", blows in   lots of hot air and wind, a destructive force of nature. After she's moved on back to Alaska the storm is over,  FEMA checks with the local wafflemeisters.  If everything is cooking fine and there are plenty of supplies and all is well, that's Code Green.  If supplies and menu offerings are limited, and the restaurant is on generator power, it's Code Yellow time.  And Code Red is for when the Waffle House in town is closed.  That's the worst sign of all, except for when they all run out of syrup.  Shown here is the Waffle House Emergency Response Vehicle, used for such exigencies.

I checked the date on the original story and it was not written on April 1.  This is a true story and I share it with you so that you can plan that Southern trip with full knowledge of how things are in the sunny Southland.

Mmmm.  Waffles!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Old Uncle Mark's Book of Recipes

My boyish figure is the envy of dozens; well, maybe the envy of two or three.  But there's no secret, I like to eat and I like to cook and I like to share recipes.  

Recently, I stumbled over two new ways to whip up old favorites.  And I thought, as soon as I get over the resultant contusions and abrasions, I'd write them down so that others might share.  One's for breakfast and one is for dinner.  Lunch, you're on your own, although Peggy will make you a wonderful PB & J if you like.

If you like a nice omelet for breakfast, but you can't stand all the flipping and the flapping, here's a nice way to make a French Country Omelet.  Oh, now, like you, I found the name daunting.  French Country?  What's that, Monsieur Porter Wagoner et Les Wagonmasters, eh?  But it's good and easy.

Let's begin by finding that large cast-iron skillet .  Heaven knows where that is.  Did Edna bring it back after she took it to the pancake breakfast that time?  Once you find it, heat it up on the stovetop and throw in some olive oil, and then bacon, mushrooms, potatoes and onions, as you see fit.  Let it all fry up nice and brown.  While it's frying, turn the oven on to 350° and break four or five eggs into a suitable bowl, whisking them just ever so with just a schkosh of milk.  When everything is fried up to a turn, dump in the eggs right over everything, toss on a little grated cheddar if you wish and definitely shake some chives over it all, put it in the oven for 6 - 7 minutes, and, like the old Esskay commercial used to say, "Put it on the table and stand back out of the way!"

It's gooooooooooooooooooood!

Everyone loves pulled pork barbecue, and yet it's hard to find a good pork puller up in these parts.  Is that what's troubling you, friend?  Are you tired of driving all the way to China Grove, NC, to get a mess of barbecue from Gary's place?  'Cause if that's what's been making you toss and turn in fitful bursts of sleep all night, your problems are over.

Grab yourself a pork shoulder roast over at the Try 'N' Save, a bottle of beer and a bottle of cider vinegar.  Toss the pork into your Crock Pot with some garlic and onions, and then fill the crock up over the pork shoulder's shoulder with some water - about a 1/3 of the way - and fill the rest with vinegar.  Turn on the Crock Pot to LOW and go find something to do for the next 7 hours.  Hint: that's what the beer is for...

Ok, so you put it in the crock at 9 in the yawning.  At 4 that afternoon, get a big bowl down from the cupboard - the big yellow one where you used to soak Navy beans all night until the Air Force started to complain.  With tongs, take the roast out of the crockpot.  The bone will tenderly fall right out.  Take two serving forks and go to town on that roast, shreddin' and pullin'.  Once it's all torn to bits, put it back in the crock, cover it with decent barbecue sauce, stir it all, and let it go on LOW for another hour.

Then at 5, get your cole slaw and your Miller High Life and gather the family around, 'cause you're fixing to love your dinner!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Just Wonderin'...

Why do people DO these things?

There's this dude who gets on Perring Parkway about the same time as I do every morning.  He drives an old police car that he bought somewhere.  Either there is some mechanical trouble with the former cruiser, or it's the nut that holds the wheel that has a screw loose.  He pulls onto the parkway, always in the left lane, and just past the sign that says "SPEED LIMIT 45 MPH."  Then he drives about 10 of those miles per hour, forcing cars stuck behind him to veer over and pass on the right - always a risky venture.  As he fumbles down the road, he stares straight out, a sort of fixed grimness all over his visage.  

Then, by the time we all get down to the next light at Taylor Av, near the brand new Draggin' Dognuts, he's speeding like a maniac, zooming along well over the limit.  Apparently, he likes to set a slow pace for the first couple of miles and then drive like a bat out of a belfry the rest of the way down the road.  He's a younger guy, 30s or 40s, so it's not like we can say he's a "crazy teenager" or a "Crazy Old Man."  He must just like to play this game.  Odd.

There was a dude when I was getting out of the elevator at the parking garage the other day, over at the County Seat.  I was laden with a laptop, brief case, manpurse and lunchsack.  (Quite a debonair picture, eh?)  So, I was parked on the Friendly Floor (H I) and the elevator door opened when I got there and in bursts Mr Rushyguy, neatly blocking me in with his briefcase  and his cellphone and his wide stance.  At length, it dawned on him that I wanted to get out.  This dawning came when I said, "Excuse me..."  I wonder why we jump into elevators before letting the people who are trying to get out, out! 

Why do people ankle-slam me with their grocery carts?  And then, once outside with their carts, let them roll across the parking lot, smashing up someone's prized Pinto? Stand behind TV reporters at live shots doing their "pay attention to me" stunts?  

It could be a lot worse.  I'm lucky that these are the worst things that happen! I'm glad I didn't have to write "Why do people hit me over the head, steal my wallet and kick me in the proverbials?"


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Darn Old Duck

Heaven knows, I don't know the secrets of how to be attractive, but I think most men would agree that there's one sure way to be un-attractive in the female division.

That would be to pose for pictures with that duck face on your kisser.

I see this all the time now, and Facebook is awash in pictures of pretty women making this mallard-face.  Viz:

On the right we see a with-it young fun couple.  He is posing in the modern young man manner, which is to say he has plucked his eyebrows, applied "product" to his hair and lip gloss to his snout, and wants to be mistaken for that The Situation guy from that Jersey Shore.  His girlfriend has a bit of a situation going on too; we can't tell what she is trying to accomplish with those pursed and pushed lips.


To quote the great Phil Dunphy, "WTF: Why The Face?"

And here's ten bucks that says, what if someone had gone up to all these young ladies and said, someone is  going to take your picture for a worldwide social networking site, but instead of smiling when they snap the picture, would you consider wrenching up your lips so that you look like the grille on a '65 Pontiac LeMans?

I don't think so.

Now here's an old picture of a young lady, taken before this quacky-face fad got underway.  She's no longer with us, but the lovely Sandra Dee smiled in the old fashioned way, and she didn't have to change her name to make herself well known.  Good thing she did, though.  It wouldn't have sounded right in "Grease" to have Rizzo sing "Look at Me, I'm Alexandra Zuck."

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Is that a pledge pin on your uniform?

Down by the fire house and police station on my way to work, there's an American Legion post, the type you see in any American town...old green cannon out front, flag flying proudly, beef pit outside, and a sign advertising upcoming events (Bull Roast, Bingo, Elvis in Concert.)

Wait, what?  Oh, not the REAL Elvis, you understand.  Apparently, there is going to be a night of fake stars showering over our glittery city.  Imitation Elvis, non-genuine Linda Ronstadt, fake Frank Sinatra, and here's the surprise - a real, honest-to-goodness ersatz Roy Orbison.  Wink, wink.

You know, the way things are going for her career these days, they probably could have gotten the real Linda Ronstadt for a few dollars more.  But it's going to be fake-it night, so we go with the impostors. 

You know, what the heck.  Elvis impersonators started working fifteen minutes after the ambulance left Graceland that sad August afternoon, so it's a boon to the economy for jumpsuit makers and silk scarf salespeople.  I have heard of Sinatra impersonators, although it must be difficult to find people willing to sing that far off key.  The Orbison thing, now that would be someone I might be willing to pay to see.

This evening of entertainment will be just that.  People will plunk down their cash for a night of fun and music and memories, and it's all good. I'm sure they'll get their money's worth.

On the other side of the ledger we find an entry marked "William G. Hillar."  Hillar (left) is 66, and if he has questions about 67 and 68, they will be answered for him in jail.  He is headed to the Ironbar Hilton for 21 months, because he went around claiming to be a colonel in the Army Special Forces, and that his daughter had been kidnapped into the skin trade by our godless enemies.  And he claimed to have been all over the world as an advisor and freedom fighter and etc and so forth and so on and people lined up to hire him to speak to their groups.

Turns out, he was a radarman in the Coast Guard Reserves, which is an honorable position, but a few notches down from Special Forces colonel.  Turns out, his daughter is still alive, and living about as far away as one can be from her father's home in Millersville MD (home also to the world famous Hub Cap City): she lives in Oregon.  

But you have to love what his public defender said in court.  His mouthpiece was the noted barrister Gary W. Christopher, said:

"They didn't hire him because of his made-up celebrity," the lawyer said. "They hired him because he packed the house. … At the end of the day, his stories had value."

Ladies and gentlemen, Attorney Christopher, speaking in federal court, is telling us that lies have value.  Dude.  You have GOT to be able come up with something better than that!  What is he gonna tell his client's brother Fred?

How about this?  "I'll tell you what. We'll tell Fred you were doing a great job taking care of his honesty, but you parked it out back last night and this morning... it was gone. We report it as stolen to the police. D-Day takes care of the wreck. Your brother's insurance company buys him a new car!"

Will that work? 

Hey, it's gotta work better than the truth!

Thank you, Animal House.  Maybe they'll show that one night for Movie Night in the Big House!


Monday, September 5, 2011

I hope he gets out there and dances his Thessalonians off

Let me tell you something about people: we just can't seem to leave each other alone, yet we cry for individuality.  

We stand at ballparks and sing about being the "land of the free and the home of the brave" and then we want to curtail the freedom of others.

We believe in compassion and fail to display any; we send our young people to fight for the rights of others and then suppress the rights of others while the fighting rages elsewhere.  We yammer endlessly about how our forefathers fought in the Big One to save the world for democracy, but we don't seem so wild about democracy here on our shores.

Here is the latest case in point:  Dancing With The Stars.

Now, in all honesty, I have never watched this show.  If there is nothing better to do at 8 o'clock than to watch Hines Ward or Bristol Palin stomping around, I'm apt to read a book.  That's my choice. 

On the other foot, many Americans like to watch this show.  That's their choice.  And now, a group called One Million Moms has decided that including Chaz Bono as a contestant this year will bring down the level of America's mores to an unacceptable low.  Here's the pitch from their website, right next to the information about how you can send money to these self-righteous harridans:

Some families have already decided against watching Dancing with the Stars because of the skimpy costumes and provocative dance routines, but now they have gone too far! This year, not only are they casting Carson Kressley from Carson-Nation, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and How to Look Good Naked, but also transgender Chaz Bono- child to Sonny and Cher- from the documentary Becoming Chaz will be appearing in the show. Both are LGBT rights advocates and promote this destructive lifestyle. DWTS is helping them create visibility for the LGBT community.
This is completely unacceptable and Christians should not watch the show, no excuses! Kressley will be paired up with a female dancer, and since Chasity (sic), transformed to Chaz after her sex change in 2009, will also be paired with a female dancer.

I defy anyone, be they Christian, Druid, pagan, whatever, to read that last sentence and tell me it makes sense, syntactic or otherwise.  The next to the last sentence, you have to love for its no-holds-barred "Christians should not watch the show, no excuses!"  I love that sort of totalitarianism! That's what Grandpop fought for at Iwo Jima - the ability of a sub-group to tell the rest of the group what they can watch on television.  That's why great-grandpa sailed with Pershing to Belleau Wood and Chateau-Thierry, so one Christian could tell another Christian what's good for all Christians!  And history tells us that the battle cry in the Spanish-American War was not "Remember The Maine!" as some believe, but, rather, "You Can't Watch That!"

This whole issue comes down to two things, maybe three if you consider the possibility that ABC pays these dupes to stir up a tempest in a tea pot and publicize their show.  On a simple level, if these women can just for one damned minute stop thinking about Chaz's (left) right to be whatever the hell he wants to be, can someone predict that his dancing will be worth watching?  I have to figure - and I could be wrong - that his dancing will be much like mine in terms of grace, and the kindest description of my terpsichorean skills is that on the dance floor I look like the south end of a northbound horse.  

But hear me, please, One Million Moms, you bitter haters, you:  if you don't want your kids to watch this show, that's your business, and later you can deal with how you warp your kids.  But who do you think you are to tell me what to do with my eyes?