Friday, November 30, 2012

Book review corner: "The Entertainer"

When people talk about Lyle Talbot these days...well, they really don't talk about Lyle Talbot all that often.

You remember him if a) you've been around a while and b) you like B-movies and 50's sitcoms such as "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet," in which Lyle played that annoying neighbor who always borrow your hedge clippers.

His career ended in many years ago; his life ended in 1996.

And yet, there is renewed interest in ol' Lyle these days because he and his fifth wife Paula gave the world four outstanding children.  Steven Talbot played Beaver's troublemaking buddy Gilbert on "Leave It To Beaver," and is today a well-known director of documentary films.  David, his other son, is an author and the founder of the great website Salon.com.  There were two daughters: Cindy, who is a family physician and medical school professor, and Margaret, who is a writer for the greatest magazine of all time, The New Yorker.


Margaret has written a book, just out, about her father - and as she weaves his tale, she also does a simply splendid job interweaving the history of American entertainment in the 20th Century. Lyle was born Lisle Hollywood Henderson (not to be confused with Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson of the Dallas Cowboys) in 1902.  His middle name came from his grandmother's maiden name, and the Henderson was lost when his mother died shortly after he was born.  His grandmother took the infant in and gave him her married surname, Talbot. 

From an early age, young Lisle (he changed that later too!) was involved with magic shows and traveling tent shows that played the midwestern circuit around his native Nebraska, finally hooking on with a theater troupe as a teenager.  From there, it was a few magic steps to winding up in Hollywood at the beginning of the talking pictures era, being a founder of the Screen Actors Guild and settling down after four failed marriages and a significant alcohol habit.

His Wikipedia page will give you the details about the hundreds of shows - movies, TV, Broadway theater - in which Lyle Talbot was involved.  The book is fascinating, as it carries his story through the development of the movie, TV and theater industry.  Lyle was there for everything, and while he never became a big star, and is certainly not all that well-known as compared to guys like Bogart and Gable and Cagney, his story is every bit as interesting. 

The title of the book, "The Entertainer," says a lot about the man.  Toward the end of his life, long after he retired, he went with his son to a revival showing of one of his 30's pictures, and as the lights came up at the end, the audience recognized him and the old showman in him enjoyed every second of the adulation.  How gratifying that must have been!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Men Men Men Men Manly Men

He's 19, which is not the same as being 9, but you'd think he would have learned a few things, being a TV star since 2003.

He's Angus T. Jones, the formerly pudgy kid who still plays Jake on "Three and a Half Men," the show that people used to watch when Charlie Sheen was in the cast.

Angus makes about 8 million semolians a year, playing the dumb kid on this sitcom.   So now he decides to act like a dumb kid in real life.

He's gotten religion, which by itself is not a bad thing at all.  But someone - possibly someone with an idea of separating young Angus from some of that money - has gotten him to talk about how bad the show is for the national health and welfare.  The show that he still appears on, you understand...

The young man who used to say all those double entendre gags on the show now gags at the idea of the show, calling it "the work of the enemy."  That is certainly a Devil-may-care stance to take, to assume that the Devil might care enough to speak to people through the words of sitcom writers.

In the Daily News article, you'll see that Angus feels compelled to tell people not to watch his show, but not compelled to walk away from his contract and stop appearing on the show.  It's sort of like someone working for a big burger-and-fries chain coming out with medical reports that warn against eating McWhoppers but adding that he will continue to fry those patties for another year or so.

The young man's parents recently broke up, and he did spend a significant amount of time in the company of Charlie Sheen, so we can look the other way while he says dumb stuff like this.

But it's dumb because he's saying it's bad for him to keep on watching the show he's going to keep on making.  He is the 1/2 man in the title, but if he ever wants to be considered a man in full, he will need to get on one side or the other of this matter.


UPDATE: You might have seen that young Mr Jones issued a retraction and apology yesterday, after someone pointed out that he has 8 million reasons for doing so. 







Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Worried

I started this blog years ago as a way to record daily thoughts and, well, feelings.  If you know me at all, you know I try to stay positive and happy.  Why not?  Who would choose to be gloomy and cranky?

Tyler (photos from Patch)
But as I write this morning, my heart is heavy with sadness, and worry.  A young man we have all come to like a whole lot is in very bad condition following an auto accident. His name is Tyler Waldman.  I worked with his mom, who is Chief of our county's Animal Control Division, and she was proud when her son finished college and started this Patch thing in Towson.

Towson.Patch.com is what they call a hyperlocal news source.  There are local versions online in most states on this side of the Mississippi.  Their deal is, they do not carry a single story about Benghazi or whether the grapefruit diet is harmful or who won some "celebrity" "dance" "contest."  But if the local volunteer fire house has a Halloween party for the kids, if some local official is caught in a bad scheme, or a kitchen fire breaks out in a townhouse, they will be there.  Heck, one night on my way home from the x-ray place, I got smashed up in a four-car wreck as I sat waiting for the light to change.  And then as I sat on the wrecked bed of my truck, waiting for the EMS personnel to check me out, there was Tyler, snapping photos of the mess for the Patch.

Accident aftermath
As I understand what happened on Monday morning, Tyler had breakfast at the new Corner Bakery in Eudowood and was heading out on Goucher Boulevard, where, at the intersection of Joppa Rd, his car collided with another, occupied by two women. The stalwart men and women of the Baltimore County Fire and Police Departments did all they could to stabilize him and send him by helicopter to Shock Trauma. It was a very serious accident, Tyler is still in Shock Trauma downtown in critical condition, and is facing more surgeries and deeply in need of our best wishes. 

He has mine, and I ask that you offer yours as well.

You know, it turns out that life is often like that insurance commercial, or an O. Henry story.  You're living your life and suddenly, in your path appears a gigantic roadblock and things get turned around in an instant.

Tomorrow is promised to none of us.  I pray that Tyler will have many more tomorrows, and thank you for letting me share my thoughts.



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Teenage Crime Beat

Law enforcement personnel in Katy, Texas now have a second baffling question facing them.

The first, of course, is whose idea was it to name the town "Katy"?

And once that's solved, someone needs to figure out why the Catt family, lately of Katy, but formerly of Portland, Oregon, has taken to holding up banks as a form of family revenue enhancement.

Now, normally, when people enter a profession such as broadcasting, baseball, or bank robbery, they start in the smaller towns, and as they achieve greater competence and skill, move to the larger markets with the eventual goal of getting to New York or Los Angeles.

But back in Portland, there dwelled a family named Catt:  Ronald "Scott" Catt was the dad, and he had two children: Hayden, 20, and Abby, 18.  Scott's life turned bad - he left his wife after she was convicted of domestic violence, he lost several jobs, his house went into foreclosure - and the police there suspect the family of five bank heists.

This much is fact: Scott and the kids moved to Katy, where Abby Catt (tell me that doesn't sound like a movie name) continued to be an honor student and member of the swim team.  And, instead of working at Golden Corral or the Regal Multiplex 27 like most high school kids do, she ALLEGEDLY worked as wheelwoman for her dad and brother who ALLEGEDLY held up banks.  The Katy PD has video of them purchasing the same kind of vests and masks that were used as disguises in the heists.

Abby's Facebook page did not throw eagle-eyed investigators off the path.  Just claiming to work at Victoria's Secret does not fool anyone.  It's hard to get a job there.  Believe me.  It's impossible!  I know!  I applied there, and they said,"$8.50 an hour" and I said, "I can't pay you $8.50 an hour; I'll just hang around the front entrance like I've been doing."

Monday, November 26, 2012

Gross profits

A man in my position (horizontal when possible) has to guard against chicanery, so I like to offer tips to help my handlers, advisers and top staff personnel tell if an enemy has dragged the real "me" off to an undisclosed location and substituted another individual in my place.

You know, just in case.  It's only happened once so far.  In the late 1960's, a Mexican national named Señor Prom successfully masqueraded in my place for several weeks, only to be unmasked upon showing the ability to dance.  If he shows up again these days, he will probably be known as Señor Discount..just so you know.

If this person claiming to be I says he'd rather eat at some swanky French bistro and sip wine instead of grabbing a plate of fried clams and guzzling iced tea at a diner, this person is not I.  Nor is the guy who disdains a plate of hams-and-eggs so he can belly up to one of those healthy breakfast saloons - the so-called "granola bars."

So, Peggy and I had dinner at the diner the other night and then paraded on down to the WalMart for a bit of shopping, a bit of walking around, and to enjoy the wide array of merchandise that makes our nation so enjoyable.

I wound up talking to a young woman who was working as a front-end supervisor. (There was some sort of mixup on the price of a certain item, and she resolved it in my favor!) I told her I had heard on the radio that, on Thanksgiving evening, WalMarts across the nation collectively were selling five thousand items per second.  She said that sounded about right.

Without a trace of self-pity, she answered my question about how many hours she had been working.  She worked Thanksgiving night from 5 PM until 7 Friday morning, came back in Friday at 3 and worked until 1 Saturday morning and then was back in since 3 on Saturday afternoon and expected to get off at around midnight, so she could get some sleep and be back in at 9 on Sunday morning.

Another way you would know if a clone were trying to take my place would be to read that I sided with a corporate monolith against the working people whose work enables the giant to prosper.  This young woman is working 12 - 14 hours a day to earn money for her life, and by doing so in such a professional and kind way, she is enabling WalMart to have the same customers come back and spend their money again and again.


You'd think they would pay her more.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday Rerun: They let George do it

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Saturday picture show 11/24/12

 Ask me what I like, and the answer will include fall days, not a whole lot of sun, changing leaves and bare trees and a country road.  If this picture had a picture of a diner in it, I'd be all set.
 On an otherwise radio talk show the other night, I heard corn described as "the best-known delivery system for butter and salt."  Around here we toss Old Bay on our corn  - either right out of the can or by smearing it off the newspaper while eating crabs - and that combination will have you in orbit for days.
 I found this online, and I have no idea in what country it was taken in.  For all I know, it was taken somewhere in America...at a WalMart...this weekend. Or 50 years ago in in rural section of Istanbul.  Speaking of delivery systems...this poor donkey is outweighed by the packages.  I don't know why, but this makes me think of that old cartoon where a broken-down tow truck lifts itself up and drives back to the shop.  I feel sorry for this donkey.
In Wenling, Zhejiang province in China, the city planners built a nice new wide road to the railroad station.  The proverbial fly in the ointment was that two families who live in the duplex pictured above chose not to sell their house to the city, and it would seem that, without an eminent domain law as we have here, they just built the road and people will just have to dogleg around the old house.  Zhang Ling, 46, is one of the residents of the newly-formed median strip.  He said, “They didn’t offer us enough compensation to leave so we’re staying. It could be a good opportunity for us. We could open up a drive through shop on the ground floor.”

Before you stop shaking your head over this...just a mile away from us over on Joppa Rd, alongside the shopping center that they shoehorned into a residential neighborhood, fifty yards from the Steak House and not ten feet from the five-lane highway that is Joppa Rd, they are building a new house, which will have bedroom windows that doggone well better be shuttered at all times lest curious motorists get too big an eyeful.  And on Belair Rd, right behind McDonalds sits a townhouse development whose residents, if they are outside or have their windows open, are treated to the aroma of sizzlin' 1/4 Pounders and the sound of drive-thru clerks asking if they may take my order, please.

And then some of us want a cottage small by a waterfall.
 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Call me, Ishmael

Ok. You tell me.  Does this sound right to you?

Always the last to notice things, I finally noticed that we were shelling out a couple of bucks every month to the good people at AT&T (American Tackle & Twine) for long distance service.

But the last time we made a long-distance call on the landline was right before cell phones found their way into our pockets.  My favorite thing about cells is that you can call someone in any state for the same price as when you call the pizza shop around the corner.

My least favorite thing is that Sarah Palin keeps hanging up on me, refusing my calls.

Anyhow, I called AT&T (Associated Taco & Tamale) and said thanks a lot, but I see no reason to keep paying for something we don't use.  Then I called David Petraeus and told him the coast was clear, and no one would be wise to his plan of not sending his hot emails, but leaving them in a dropbox for his little order of chicken on the side to retrieve and comment upon.  I was assured by several ninth-graders that this was foolproof.

Petraeus and AT&T (Alex Trebek & Twiggy) both agreed with my plans. The phone giant said, as a courtesy, just notify your local phone provider that you no longer have long-distance access on your landline.

So I called Verizon and told a very nice lady that we no longer had long distance but would be using their cell phones when we called around the country.  She thought that was a really nice idea and wished me a good day.

Then the other day, along comes the Verizon bill in the mail, and they charged me $5.50 for letting them know that.

$5.50!  I got steamed and called Verizon, full of righteous indignation and Cheerios.  I told the lady in the billing office (where they should only hire people named "Bill" or "Billie"), it isn't the principle of the thing, it's the lousy $5.50.

She fell back on company policy and said that "any change in your status must be accompanied by a routine charge" and I countered by pointing out that all this took was for someone to make a deletion in my file.  It's not like they had to send someone out to the house to unhook a fraddistand or something.

She said she saw my point and was willing to waive the charge.  I said thanks and got off the phone, quick, before she charges me $5.50 for calling to ask about the first $5.50.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Learn from the young


The young lady pictured at left during last summer's Olympic games is McKayla Maroney.  She's a gymnast and she came in second in her vault competition.

Hence the look. 

It turns out that she is not p.o.'d at anyone but herself for coming in second; she admits that she messed up.  "I didn't get my full block; my hands didn't really touch the vault. I still walked out with a silver medal and I'm happy about that. It's really sad that I had to fall on that vault but I'm glad I won a silver medal. I know I can do better vaults but I also know I didn't deserve the gold medal because I fell on my second vault. It happens. It's gymnastics. You can't always be perfect. Sometimes things don't go as planned."

So she was a little mad at herself for not doing as well as she could, but she realizes that sometimes, things don't go your way and you just have to go on, waiting for the next chance you get to do better.

Last week, McKayla got to meet the president at the White House, along with the other members of the US Women's Gymnastic Team - the "Fierce Five" who collectively won the gold medal in London.  She playfully recreated the semi-grimace that made her famous in the summer as the president played along.


Sometimes, we can learn a lot from young people about doing our best and then not making excuses when things don't go our way.  Of course, it's easier to deal with adversity when you're not a spoiled little rich kid crying because you lost.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

This way and that

I'm one step away from being that guy who walks through the mall hollering about how the aliens are listening in to our cell phone calls, and we need to cover up our melons with Reynolds Wrap to shield ourselves from the alpha-beta rays that the Martians are beaming down upon us like confetti. 

What I currently am is the guy who talks back to the television like Kevin Bacon watching the GE College Bowl - just not quite so smart as he.  I also participate while watching The Price Is Right, Good Morning America, and Pee Wee's Playhouse.

But I used to get into hellacious arguments with the lady who does the voice on our GPS in the car.  She had a snide way of talking.  First, she sounded like, "Oh, so you don't know how to get there?" and then amplified that point by instructing me how to leave my own garage and driveway and get to the main street.

I got that covered, Honeybunch.

But oh!  just screw up once and she'd be all over me like Oprah on a baked ham.  If I missed a turn and wound up on another street, she'd barge right in and get this tone like "So you think you know better than the GPS Lady?  And now you're lost, Mr Smarty Pants.  Pay attention and I will guide you once again to your stupid destination, where the people really don't want to see you anyway!"

And then I'd go, "Well, at least I'm going places and you're sitting there in my phone!"

And then people in the other cars would start looking at me askance, as would the people in my car.

But last week we were away and I needed help getting to some Amish smorgasbord, so I GPS'ed and found a new lady on the other end.  This new voice is totally an improvement, she pronounces street names more correctly, and so far she has not run me an attitude at all, so we're happy together. 


The honeymoon period is always the sweetest.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Make love AND war

There's an old song by XTC called "Generals and Majors."  Here are the lyrics and here is a link to the song itself:

Generals and Majors uh huh
They're never too far
From battlefields so glorious
Out in a world of their own
They'll never come down
Till once again victorious

Generals and Majors always
Seem so unhappy 'less they got a war

Generals and Majors uh huh
Like never before are tired of being actionless.

Calling Generals and Majors everywhere
Calling Generals and Majors :
Your World War III is drawing near
Generals and Majors ah ah
They're never too far
Away from men who made the grade
Out in a world of their own
They'll never come down
Until the battle's lost or made

Generals and Majors ah hah
Like never before, are tired of being in the shade.

So what brings this to mind, you ask?  Just the increasingly silly shenanigans of David "Mac Daddy" Petraeus, former general in the US Army, and former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, that's all. He was chief of intelligence for our country until it came to light that he has not the intelligence to keep his uniform pants zipped up.

Napoleon 
This is not a first in military circles, if the stories are to be believed.  Ike "Ike" Eisenhower was rumored to be more than friends with his chauffeur, Kay Summersby, although there are conflicting accounts of just how far they drove in her Jeep, as it were.  And of course the great French General Napoleon was linked for many years to a certain type of pastry.

But those people had the discretion to conduct their invasions in private.  Today, as bombs burst in air over the Gaza Strip, America turns to its military and intelligence community, only to find that this dude Petraeus, married to a lady named Holly, had been doing the hibbidy-dibbidy with one Paula Poundstone
Broadwell, who then became jealous because he was also "talking with" Jill Kelley, a "socialite" from Tampa who enjoyed hanging around with military people and wangled herself a position as honorary consul to South Korea so she could run around with diplomat license tags and demand immunity from the press.  Ask any middle school student if any of this sounds familiar.

Petraeus and Kelley
Petraeus, who really earns enough money to stop getting his hair cut at the Army's version of barber college, insisted on the following measures during his brief time at the top of the CIA:  fresh pineapple (not canned!) every night at bedtime, fresh sliced banana for his cereal every morning, someone to accompany him on his morning jog so that he can avoid having to stop for traffic, and of course, he will not open doors for himself, so wherever he went, someone had to walk a few paces ahead of him to hold the door for him.

Fresh pineapple each night before he goes to bed (not canned)

Read more: http://backchannel.al-monitor.com/index.php/2012/05/254/gen-petraeus-rider/#ixzz2CZgJP5xB
Fresh pineapple each night before he goes to bed (not canned)

Read more: http://backchannel.al-monitor.com/index.php/2012/05/254/gen-petraeus-rider/#ixzz2CZgJP5xB
Bubba
Let me know when this gets stupid enough, all this foolishness.  Not yet?  OK.  Some wacky shock DJ from Florida known as Bubba The Love Sponge threatened to deep-fry a copy of the Qur'an, until Kelley called the mayor of Tampa and told him that Generals Petraeus and Allen had asked her to step in and put an end to the nonsense.

Welcome to the new way of warfare, where, instead of focusing on the tasks at hand, the people in charge have their top brass flying pineapples from Hawaii to Iran while the boss calls some woman in Florida to discuss what some guy on the radio said that morning.   And then everyone has sex, and maybe, if there's time, the wars get fought.

No wonder they never end!  Mac Daddy make you JUMP! JUMP!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday rerun: Here Come The Judds

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

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

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


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


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


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


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




Saturday, November 17, 2012

Saturday picture page, 11/17/12

I enjoy surfing the web, obviously, and many times while getting my feet wet doing so, I see pictures floating out in cyberspace.  So I dried these off and thought I'd share them...
 This one makes me laugh and also makes me wonder about that old expression about having "feet of clay."  I don't know what that means and I can't seem to get a sensible explanation.
 I know Peggy would like to live in this sort of isolation, but I need to know where I could park my SUV.  It would be nice to tell certain people, "Next time you're in the neighborhood, drop in!"
 Cat pictures are all the rage, but I share the question that others have raised...what if cats have their own Facebook, full of pictures of US???

I have no idea why I have never gotten a tattoo, but if I ever do, it will look a lot like this.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A whole 'nother world

We're just back from a couple of days in Amish Country, where we like to go a couple of times a year.  What is it that I say over and over to people we meet up there?  Oh yeah, it's, "I hope you know how lucky you are to live up here!"

It's only 66 miles up the road from here to Lancaster (pronounced LANG-kister) PA, where the Amish people dwell in peace among what they call the "English" population.  I don't know what the breakdown is, as far as how many of each type of citizen there are, and that's the point.  The Amish shun modern conveniences, and so they ride along on foot-powered scooters or horse-drawn carriages.  Hint: for those who love to grow beautiful roses, follow one of those carriages for a couple of miles, and forget about having to buy Vigoro fertilizer ever again!

And the great thing is that people let them live their lives as they see fit!  Down here in the big town, they'd be filing for environmental impact statements for the horse poop, and fretting about how the horse-drawn vehicles slow down the Lexuses (Lexii?) that are trying to race off to somewhere, and generally worrying these peaceful people to distraction.  They do their thing and that's all right with me.  I do my thing and they are not the least bit involved.

And so Peggy and I go up there where the murder rate is about one-one millionth what ours is, and we don't even need an alarm clock because there is a rooster across the street and we can go to a place called Kitchen Kettle Village and pose for pictures like this:

I'm the one in the orange hat, right next to an angel.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Taking time to look around

There is a difference between living in a house and cleaning that house.  This basic fact of life has been made quite clear to me over the past few weeks.  Now that I am retired (applause) and Peggy is still working 4 days a week until next fall, I thought I could take over the housecleaning and laundry type stuff.

The first thing I realized was that I should have been doing more of this all along.

The second thing I realized is that it's much easier to vacuum the steps if one starts at the top and works one's way down.

The third thing happens every time.  When I go around with the duster or the can of paste wax, instead of just walking past objets d'art, decorations, knick knacks, gewgaws and memorabilia, I actually have to pick them up and do something with them...dust them, wipe them down or wax them.    And this gives me the pleasant experience of recalling where we got the thing being dusted, wiped or waxed.  Take our bedroom furniture.  There's the bed and bureaus we got from Hochschild-Kohn right before we got married in 1973, and there's the hand-painted box that my Dad made when I was a kid, and there is this and that that we've gotten from antique stores and antique relatives. (!)

All of this brings back memories.  My collection of Oriole and Ravens memorabilia allows me to remember meeting ballplayers, going to games and events, and that's a canoe ride down Memory Creek every time.  Dusting the bookshelves, I remember reading certain books and think of knowledge I got from this volume or that.

I think it's interesting that, just the other day while vacuuming, I needed to rearrange the wires underneath the computer table at which I sit to pound out these scattered thoughts.  I needed to see what was going on with the wire that connects the PC to the printer and the other dingus.  Sure, I have any number of LED flashlights in every room except the guest room (when we have overnight guests, I don't want them horsing around with flashlights all night long.  It would only make them late for their blueberry pancakes in the morning) but I chose to grab my Dad's World War II Navy flashlight.  Every time I use it, I wonder how he felt, using this very flashlight aboard the USS Delta while men from other navies were doing the same thing on their ships.  That very flashlight has been mine since Dad passed away, but it's only been since I retired that I've had to time to ponder the very real significance of articles around the house.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Playing the Stock market

From the Associated Press:

CLEVELAND — A woman caught on camera driving on a sidewalk to avoid a school bus that was unloading children will have to stand at an intersection wearing a sign warning about idiots.

A Cleveland Municipal Court judge on Monday ordered 32-year-old Shena Hardin to stand at an intersection for two days next week. She will have to wear a sign saying: "Only an idiot drives on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus."

The judge ordered her to wear the sign from 7:45 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. both days.

Hardin's license was suspended for 30 days and she was ordered to pay $250 in court costs.

This kid looks happy
If your sixth-grade class took a trip to Colonial Williamsburg, the you'll recall the stocks** that were used to punish wrongdoers back in the early days of American crime.  They were the wooden devices into which various parts of one's body were inserted for the purpose of punishment, so that your friends and neighbors, on their way home from the apothecary or the King's Arms Tavern could stop by and goof on you, although the goofing was done in that Early American style:

"Verily I say unto you, look at young Jeremiah yonder; loath will he be to violate the peace and quiet of the town square again."

Itchy and scratchy
This form of punishment is similar to the use of the hairshirt.  Ever notice that some words just kind of say what they are?  Like "ham sandwich" is the perfect way to describe a nice slice of pork butt on a roll, while "hamburger" is not an apt description of a fried ground beef sammy.  But a hairshirt is what it claims to be, a shirt with animal hair, to be worn against the skin for "mortification of the flesh," a form of penance once endured by California Governor Jerry Brown during his days in a seminary.  They really make you put this itchy garment on and sit around itchin' and twitchin' like a chicken, and the plan is that you achieve absolution by this form of self-punishment.

So, feel better about the form of punishment the judge gave you, Shena.  At least it won't itch, or give you splinters.


And please?  Stay off the sidewalks!!

A laughing stock.
**They are stocks, although many call them stockades.  The word stockade, properly, refers to a building used to hold prisoners.  We use the term laughing stock to describe objects of extreme ridicule, and that form of "stock" comes from the alternate meaning of the word: "something solid to which things can be affixed."  It's only a coincidence that the laughing stock of many a Colonial town was held in the local stock.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

" 'Cause to lose all my senses... That is just so typically me."

I don't like to spend a lot of time dealing with celebrity issues here.  I mean, this ain't the National Enquirer or anything.  But this recent brouhaha involving Modern Family star Ariel Winter and her mother and her boyfriend and the rest of her family is of note because this is the sort of thing that is not limited to the characters on TV sitcoms.

In happier times
The news came out that Ariel, who plays nerdobrain Alex Dunphy on MF, suddenly left her mother's home and has moved in with her older sister, while filing papers with the court alleging that her mother was cruel and brutal.

The mom comes back, saying that Ariel is only 14 and is dating an 18-year-old and that she caught her daughter and this guy in her guest room doing something that might be a little more adult than a 14-year-old is ready to handle.

I assume the activity she caught them doing was watching the full Ken Burns 168-hour edition of The Civil War (Director's Cut).

Anyhow, the mom says all she did was lay down the law, as it were.  She probably also told the young man to put on his shoes and get walking.

The older sister says she had to leave the family home because of similar treatment at the hands of the mom, although several news sources point out that Sis didn't seem to worry so much about Ariel's welfare until all the child actors on MF got big raises not long ago.

There's also an older brother named Jimmy, who says that the mom is totally justified in making his kid sister and that if he sees that boyfriend hanging around the guest room anymore, he's gonna give him a knuckle sandwich along with a side of whoopass.

So the irony here is that Ariel plays the sweet innocent kid on tv and in real life, maybe she's not that innocent. Whoops.  Who knows?  I do think it's a shame that she has to be involved in all this drama at such a tender age.

I will also point out that the people in your life who seem to be all innocent are, some times, the ones who are living a wild life like you wouldn't believe.

And then again, some of us aren't.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A day to pause and thank the Veterans

Last week, when we were voting, it came to me over and over again how strong the turnout was. Statistically, it was a bit lower than the last presidential election - estimates as of now put the turnout around 60% - but the participants seem much more animated to me, and glad to be there.

Today being Veterans Day, those 4 in 10 who had better things to do on Election Day might just want to think about the men and women who have given their lives in battles around the world to create and then protect the right of all Americans to vote and decide who runs what around here.

I think it's my favorite thing about this country, that the vote cast by Donald Trump does not count for one whit more than that of a penniless struggler.  The Koch Brothers spent $400 million trying to influence this year's election, and for their time and fortune, have gone home with an empty plate.  Every vote counts, and for that, today is a good day to thank those who laid down quite a lot - in some cases, everything - to give us everything we need.

The person you hear on the radio, the guy driving that truck down your street, the woman raking her leaves over on Maple Street...you never know what they went through in the service of their country. My Dad's generation came home from World War II and, for the most part, did not talk about what they said...saw...felt. 

Ask a veteran to share.  If you're a veteran, we share our thanks to you.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday Rerun: WT4WD

Someone at work asked me why I bought an SUV (Sport-utility vehicle) instead of a PUT (Pick 'em Up Truck) and I had to say IDK.  But then I did a little noodlin' and figured it out, so I ROFL.

OK for moving to Peyton's Place
A pickup suited me well in the days when we were buying houses and moving into them.  The next time we move, it should be to the Shady Acres Home for the Elderly, so we'll just let some moving company handle that.  Any firm will do except for Mayflower, and anyone who knows the significance of this picture >>> will understand why.  

And you're SOL (short on luck) if you were hoping that I was going to help you move.  My back surgeon will be glad to send you a note attesting to his dictum that I am to lift nothing heavier than 30 lbs., which leaves your sofa right where it is.  Sorry.  

My days of haulin' a load o' mulch or topsoil back to the Lazy 'C' Ranch are over, but they tell me that these products are now available for sale in handy plastic bags.  Now, if you go to Lowe's or Home Depot, you just about have to tackle the lot guy if you want to give him a tip.  At least at Lowe's, they are forbidden to take tips and have to keep an eye out for supervisors who have the eagle eye out for anyone pocketing a finsky as gratitude for loading 16 tons of #9 mulch into Harry Homeowner's Honda.

Our new ride looks like this; our house does not
I had lots of fun over the years with the three pickups I owned.  My buddy Ray and I went to the county dump one Saturday morning and were given instructions by a woman with a clipboard in one hand and a huge cuppa WaWa joe in the other, and when she started barking out the orders like a Marine DI standing there surrounding by endless vistas of trash, garbage, debris and detritus, I just started laughing so hard I thought I was going to have to call 911 to send breathing apparatus for me.  "You WILL then proceed to the WEIGHING STATION, at which point you WILL be given directions for which landfill area you WILL utilize..."  I got all confused and asked Ray what did she say, and that was it; we were both goners.  I was afraid that she was going to give us a hoe and tell us that we WILL police this area!

And then there was a time I was hauling a broken-down heat pump (ours) to the dump and on the way at a guy at a stop light was looking at the machine in the bed of the truck,and wondering if that was the truck's air conditioning system.

You know why he smiles!
And there were all the times I got to work, or worse, through blizzards, ice, sleet, hail and I don't know what-all else.  You gimme a truck with some 4-wheel drive and I'll be there. And the new ride has more sense than I do, and goes into 4WD automatically! It does require the driver to choose his or her preferred radio station, though.

But as I reach the September 1 of my years, it becomes increasing apparent that  bosomy bikini-clad women splashing around in the back of the truck, filled with water and some huge ice cubes to make an el cheapo swimming pool, will more likely be seen in a Kid Rock video than in my driveway.  And that's fine.  They'd probably want to hang around 'way past 10 PM, for crying out loud, and that's no good for us.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Saturday rerun: Advice from a 90-year-old

Got this online from a buddy, and it contained a lot of wisdom for me...hope you feel the same!

 

  

Written by a 90 Year Old.....

This is something we should all read at least once a week!!

  Make sure you read to the end!!!!!!

Written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of the Plain     Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio ..

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life      taught me. 

It is the most requested column I've ever written.

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.



10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what  their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath It calms the mind..

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words :'In five years, will this matter?'

27. Always choose life..

28. Forgive everyone everything..

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.



31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

42. The best is yet to come...

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

 


Friday, November 9, 2012

The City that never weeps

So, Halloween week, we dealt with Sandy the Superstorm, and while we here in Maryland did not have huge problems, we still had some coastal flooding and wind damage.

Up in New Jersey and New York, they really got it. You've seen it on the news, the damage, the flooding, the millions of people left without electricity. The perfect storm of misery and suffering.  It's one awful mess to be without air conditioning or even a fan after a summer storm, but to be in nighttime temperatures at or below freezin'°  is really a challenge.

And then, this week, here came another storm - a nor'easter, and 60,000 people who just got their power restored one day lost it the next.  And the news showed all this "freshly fallen silent shroud of snow," to quote from Simon and Garfunkel, covering the detritus cast aside by the previous storm.

Novelist and journalist Tom Wolfe wrote years ago about what he called the New York Complex - a state of mind that tells residents of Gotham and points nearby that it should take a lot to knock them off their strides.  Well, this one-two weather punch delivered of late didn't quite knock 'em out. 

New Yorkers are down but not out.  They are dealing, discarding what was ruined but building on the hope, the dreams and the heart that a thousand storms can't take away from Americans.   It's been great to see them pulling together, great to see others sending blankets, food, water, money and their best efforts to their fellow Americans, and sad to note that not one single crepe was sent by France, not a slice of Canadian bacon was sent by Canada, and not one order of fish and chips came over from England.

America is always the first to load up the station wagon and send help to other nations after catastrophes.  Just sayin'.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fifty Years Ago

If you think that these days are hectic in America, consider the fall of 1962, John Kennedy's final full autumn.  Just over before a year before he was assassinated, Kennedy dealt with two huge crises - quite a lot to face.  In late October, as my sixth-grade class practiced how to get down under our desks to protect ourselves from nuclear radiation, the president and his people stood up to Russia and prevented nuclear radiation from raining down on us in the Cuban missile crisis.

Just before that international crisis, the president and his brother Robert had to solve a domestic problem.  And you younger readers are not going to have an easy time believing this, but the deal was that a man named James Meredith, who had been in the Air Force for nine years and had finished two years of schooling at another school, wished to finish his undergraduate studies at the University of Mississippi, known to locals as "Ole Miss."

So what's the problem with a man who had served his country and gotten two years of college behind him wishing to matriculate at a state university?  What possible reason to deny him enrollment, you ask?

The governor of an American state, 1962
James Meredith was an African-American man, and Ross Barnett, governor of Mississippi and a man largely regarded as a bumbling fool, said no way Meredith was coming to his dang college, and that's all there is to say.

Well, the brothers Kennedy had something to say about it, and they wound up having to send federal marshals and the National Guard to quell the riots that Barnett engendered with his stupid racism.  Two people were killed in the riots, but Meredith got his schooling and graduated from Ole Miss in 1964.

There is currently playing on the various ESPN cable channels a documentary about that Mississippi autumn; it's called Ghosts of Ole Miss, and I recommend it for those of you who remember those parlous times, and for those of you who don't.   You might have a hard time believing that people could be so intransigent about racial matters, but that is the way they were.  As the film points out, those were people only three generations removed from the Civil War.

Weatherly
But- you know how I love to learn something from everything, right...?  Well, the Ole Miss Rebels football team had a great season that year with all that hateful violence as a backdrop.  And in the December 1 game against Mississippi State, a play that has come to be known as "the Goof that laid the golden egg" enabled them to win the game and maintain their unbeaten status.  Their backup quarterback, Jim Weatherly, missed making a handoff to his halfback and was forced to run right, keeping the ball himself and taking it all the way for a touchdown on a play that was not supposed to happen that way. 

Gladys Knight
I heard the film mention his name and I got to thinking...Jim Weatherly...the same Jim Weatherly?  The Jim Weatherly who moved to Nashville and wrote songs for Gladys Knight and the Pips, songs like "Midnight Train to Georgia," "(Neither One of Us) Wants to be the First to Say Goodbye" and "You're the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me"?

Yep.  Same guy.  And now we know the Rest of the Story.







Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Driving me mad

Just minutes after the Baltimore Ravens lost a playoff game this January because Lee Evans dropped a touchdown pass and Billy Cundiff shanked an easy field goal attempt, something a billion times worse than losing a football game happened right around the corner from our little corner of the world.

A lady named Beverly Moore had shopped at the Weis supermarket and then crossed Seven Courts Drive on foot on her way home, only to be hit and killed by a hit-and-run driver.

After three months of investigation, county police figured out who did it:  one David Grayson French, who lived right around the corner from the scene of the accident from which he drove away with impunity.  French has a checkered history with the criminal justice system; he was no stranger to local police and prosecutors.  One of his previous arrests was for driving while impaired, and of course, since he ran from the scene of this fatal accident, there is no way to prove whether or not he was drinking that chilly Sunday evening.  He was not man enough to turn himself in to the cops and admit what he did, but an anonymous tip to the law is what did him in.

His trial happened last week, and for the offense of running this woman over with his car and fleeing in the darkness that night provides, he was given a sentence of 18 months in jail, to be followed by four years of probation and a hundred hours of community service.

New inmate French
To recap: he got behind the wheel of a car, struck and killed a woman crossing the street with her groceries, drove off and did not confess, and then, once someone gave him up, lawyered up and got off with just a lousy 18 months, when the prosecutors asked the judge to give him 10 years.

And they wonder why we have no faith in the judicial system.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Clashing of Symbols

Here we are!  It's Election Day.  And you thought it would never get here.

As I have been saying, I have total respect for everyone who votes and none at all for those who don't.  You may feel free to discuss your political preferences and persuasions with me here any time you wish to, or you may stop me on the street or in the produce aisles at the Giant, or you may call me on the phones to say why you feel as you do on topics ranging from who should be president to legalized gambling in Maryland, but only if you vote.  If you vote, to me, that means that you care enough about things to discuss them.  If voting is too much trouble for you, tell your story walking, my friend.

That much said, I have to holler about something that all politicians of both parties seem to do all the time.  I find it irksome.  I'm talking about what you might call "participatory politics," and it takes place when the mayor of a city shows up at a place where residents can get free sand for sandbags to fortify their homes and businesses against impending floods.  I think it's GOOD when the government provides this sort of commodity and I find it a waste of time when the mayor is seen shoveling sand into vinyl bags.

Yesterday on the news, as schools in New York City opened up for the first session since Hurricane Sandy, the president of the city council up there found it necessary to pose for a photo op while spooning mac and cheese onto cafeteria trays for the returning scholars.

Not long ago, Paul Ryan showed up at a homeless shelter after the dinner dishes had all been put away.  But he wanted to be photographed helping the homeless!  So he dragged some clean pots and pans back into the suds so he could roll up his sleeves and be seen working out with the SOS pads.

Democrats do it, Republicans do it, and heaven knows if we ever have a serious candidate from the Socialist Workers Party, he or she will insist on being filmed while handing out cups of borscht to children at a Labor Day rally. 

To my mind, politicians got where they are by going to school and learning to run things.  Sure, we need people to fill the sandbags...the people who came to the dump site were ready to do so.  Some cafeteria lady in NYC had to step back and hand over her ladle to that city council lady, who probably could have been in her office doing the greater good on a much larger scale than symbolically plopping down starch tubes on a plate. 

And if Paul Ryan really wants to scrub pots and pans, I know a good place for him to visit.  But I don't want him to have my home address.

Everyone says "keep it real."  Giving up the habit of putting on a show for the news cameras would be a start.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Aw, Gee Whiz

Hello, friends.  Are you lonesome?  Do you seek new friends in what seems to be a cold, cold world?  Do you wish that total strangers would approach you in malls, at gas-and-go outlets and in library parking lots with a hearty smile and a welcoming greeting?


Well, sir and/or ma'am...wear some Crimson.  Put on a t-shirt or cap that signifies your support of the unbeaten football team from the University of Alabama, and I guarandamntee you that people you have never met in your long life will walk up to you in various places and say, "Roll TIDE!"

We still don't know how I got to be a 'Bama Booster; it must have been some sort of osmosis.  I woke up one day and found myself being a fan. This thing where people walk up to me hooting and hollering about that school down in Tuscaloosa happens to me all the time, and face it, nothing about my everyday appearance says "Alabama" whatsoever.  But when I'm sporting my 'Bama duds, it's almost as if I were Liberace or something, the way my clothing draws attention. 

So, on Saturday, with the big game against Louisiana State (the "Bayou Beatdown") looming that evening, I donned my Tide finery while Peggy and I ran errands at Harford Mall (Pearle Vision, the best place in town to see and be seen!) and then to Lowe's, before dining sumptuously at the Bonefish Grill.  I also had to make a stop at that Hollister store in the mall to get something for someone else.  I took my place in line, while my fillings rattled from the sound of the techno-hip-hop-pop that poured out of speakers and almost took my mind off the aroma of the sweet perfumes they (apparently) sell there.  So thick was the attar of their SoCal cologne, it was making it SoHard to breathe.

And then!  A kid - he couldn't have been more than 13! - spotted me.  He was wearing a Redskins hat, so we have nothing in common anyway, but he ankled right over to me and said, "AlaBAMA!  You like Alabama?  They suck, man!"  He told me that he favored LSU in the game that night.  I saw his mom at the register, giving me that "OK - you deal with him now if you can" look and I said, "Well, son, you won't have to worry about asking if you can stay up to watch the whole game, because it'll be all over by halftime!"

(That turned out to be an inaccurate prediction, not my first.  But the record shows that the Tide pulled out a victory in the final 90 seconds, 21-17.)

The youth and I bantered for a while before his mother finished making her purchase and steeled herself for the journey home.  What I really liked about this kid, his choice of football teams notwithstanding, was that he had no qualms about mixing it up with an old duffer almost 5 times his age.  It was fun; I felt like I was back in junior high or something.

I was hoping that he would ask his mom if he and I could hang around the mall and ogle women and eat pretzels and get chased by the rent-a-cops and let me relive being 13 again, but he said he had to go, and all, and see ya later, Mister.

Then I felt like Holden Caulfield, because that kills me, the way kids always call us old guys "Mister."

Peggy says I need to find better things to do than to argue with adolescents about football.  I'm not so sure that there are any many better things to do than that.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sunday rerun: Those who forget history are doomed to repeat the 11th grade

ON Sunday, The Simpsons was all about Superintendent Chalmers shaming Principal Skinner by getting Bart to develop an interest in learning about Teddy Roosevelt.  And if you know anything about The Simpsons, you know what a feat that was.  

Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt, namesake of the Teddy Bear, giver of football, first to say "Speak softly and carry a big stick," an outdoorsman, naturalist, historian, explorer, first police commissioner of New York City (look for his picture on Tom Selleck's office wall in "Blue Bloods") and a man who was shot in 1914 as he began making a speech in Milwaukee, always a tough town.  Shot in the chest!  And he still kept talking for ninety minutes!

(I hope that the local news anchor who referred to Sen. Edward Kennedy, on the night of that wonderful man's passage into heaven, as "Theodore" Kennedy, was watching The Simpsons the other night. He might have learned something.)

Czolgosz
I was disappointed that the cartoon didn't mention Leon Czolgosz.  Czolgosz, known in every schoolbook as "crazed anarchist Leon Czolgosz," assassinated President William McKinley in Buffalo in 1901, and that is how Spanish-American war hero Teddy became el presidente.  Czolgosz, having shot the president on September 6, was granted a speedy trial and given three 1800-volt jolts on October 29, which ended his days on earth rather suddenly.

Twenty years prior to the McKinley slaying, President James Garfield was shot to death by the assassin known in every schoolbook as "disappointed office seeker Charles J. Guiteau."  Guiteau shot Garfield in the DC train station in July of 1881. Mortally wounded, Garfield nevertheless lived for 80 days, succumbing to his wound eighty days later, and Guiteau was put to death in June of 1882, following a slam-dunk trial that saw him sing to the jury, publish his autobiography - with an appeal for a "nice Christian lady under thirty" - in a newspaper. He even admitted to choosing the murder weapon based on finding a gun that would look best in a museum.   

You can't really believe it when people say history isn't interesting!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Saturday rerun: Orange You Glad You Don't Work There?

Fourteen employees of the Elizabeth R. Wellborn Law Firm in Deerfield Beach FL were recently fired for the grievous sin of wearing orange shirts to work.

They say they wore the shirts so that when they hit the saloons after work for happy hour, they would be part of an identifiable group.

The bosses say that the fired employees were protesting new office policies that forbade, among other things, going to get coffee while on the clock, and talking to each other over cubicle walls.  The bosses also aver that they heard rumblings that the support staff were donning orange as a protest against the strict new office rules, and that they wore orange because that is the color of the jumpsuits worn in Florida prisons.

Another attorney, Donna Ballman, has been hired to represent eight of the fourteen employees in their suit filed with the National Labor Relations Board.  She admits that some of the staffers were upset with the new rules, but adds, "Different people were wearing orange for different reasons that day, but the fact is it doesn't matter."

Now, Ms Wellborn herself is speaking up, saying that at first, the people fired claimed they were getting into these get-ups because they were going to happy hour after work, and now they say the shirts represented a protest.  And she goes on to say that the protest took the form of "efforts to harass, bully and intimidate the new office manager into quitting. Particularly upsetting is that supervisors were among those talking about the office manager using obscene and vulgar language, as well as encouraging others to disregard her instructions. Our office manager felt threatened and subsequently left the state."

I don't imagine that any of these people are old enough to remember The Monkees, who said "I don't wanna fight...I'm a little bit wrong...you're a little bit right."

Could we have Ms Wellborn and her top brass sit down with the Fired Fourteen and talk?  Maybe she'll ease up on some draconian rules, and the FF will start feeling like part of the firm and knock off the harassment?

Or will we just see this case file grow huge day by day as it is dragged from courtroom to courtroom?