Monday, March 31, 2014

Spring hope's eternal

I've been a fan of the Baltimore Orioles since a long long LONG time ago, and I am really looking forward to the new season, which begins this afternoon at our home stadium downtown.  It's been up and down for years with this baseball team.  They won the World Series in 1966, 1970 and 1983, and if you notice, it's been a while since 1983.  For a few years in the '90s, they got into the playoffs, but not the World Series, and then, from 1997 through 2011, nada. Bupkis. Katy bar the door, 186 pages Dear John.

Led by manager Buck Showalter and some better players, the team got to the playoffs again in 2012, and the fans got excited again, turning up in numbers at the ballpark not seen since the ballpark was new.  Last year, some of the magic that had sparkled our way the year before didn't come through, and they finished out of the playoff race.

But they went out this winter as their 60th season in Baltimore approached, and they signed a slugger, Nelson Cruz.  Cruz comes with a little baggage in the form of a 50-game suspension last year for the use of performance-enhancing drugs while a member of the Texas Rangers.  They went out and signed a relief pitcher, an Australian chap named Grant Balfour, and Balfour failed the team physical exam, so he was told to hop away to another team and the Orioles are gambling on Tommy Hunter as their closer. They also signed starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez for the bargain price of $50 million for four years.

Second baseman Brian Roberts, whose tenure with the team dates back to the really bad days, was not in the team's plans and found work with the New York Yankees.  There was a time that a star leaving for the Bronx would have caused weeping and wailing around here.  Now it's more like "Good luck, BRob, see you around" and bring on 2014.

I have a feeling it's going to be a great year!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday Rerun: All The Kingsmen

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Saturday Picture Show, March 29, 2014

I'll bet you anything this guy is retired.  Only a man with unlimited time and a good pair of gloves on his hands will stack his firewood to look like a felled tree.  Next, he probably will buy a side of beef from a wholesale butcher and then reassemble the steer in his freezer.
They missed the chance to say "SIGN IS YELLOW WITH BLACK LETTERS" but this is pretty good for the Captain Obvious contest.
Nice photograph, is it not?  Only thing is, this is a photograph of an oil painting of a snowy mountaintop.  Nicely done!
There is a big market for the originals of the fruit crate labels that used to come on the wooden crates that apples, oranges, pears and the like used to be shipped in.  The artwork was just great, and the people in the pictures always really seemed to be having a great time eating fruit.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Good for the goose

Like all health-conscious adults of a certain age (and I am certain of it!), I have had to stop and look at my dietary choices.  Gone are the days when a whole cheeseburger sub, an order of fries and a quart of beer made for a proper supper.

Of course, when I ate like that, I was 19 and weighed about 150 lbs, so go figure.

The good people at Comcast have a Lifestyle blog written by Audrey Morrison, and the other day the blog listed 14 "superfoods" that are supposed to stretch your budget and boost your health.  I scanned the list, and what do you know? It does not list Doritos, Ding-Dongs or Diet Sprite.  

But here's what's odd.  I actually LIKE a lot of the foods on the list!  To wit:

Beans - this musical fruit encompasses a large family of low-fat protein sources. I like kidney beans in a salad, and even though I love baked beans such as Bush's and even Campbell's, they load them up with enough sugary stuff as to make them not so good for me, so I just take the canned kidney beans, throw a little mustard and horseradish in there, and heat them up!  The website says beans have a lot of potassium, magnesium and iron.  It's a wonder I don't have magnets stuck to me.
Blueberries - During my Opie-like childhood, I used to pick berries of all sorts and gobble them right down. I'm confused about blueberries.  For one thing, they taste great, but they're still good for you because they have "antioxidants."  I thought oxygen was a good thing.  
Broccoli is described in the blog as "nature's perfect food," and it is, as long as it is covered in nature's perfect topping - cheddar cheese (not on the list, oddly.)
Green or black tea - I love tea more than coffee, but here's the deal if you prefer tea with your breakfast in a restaurant.  Coffee drinkers, sure, they wheel out a big 2-gal Tub O'Mocha Java for you, but if you want tea, they give you 1 (one) tea bag and a cup of hot tap water, and if you want another cup of tea, you get the MER* and a mighty sigh.  I'm thinking of coming out with a brand of orange tea called "Mighty Sigh," endorsed by John Boehner.
Oats contain B vitamins, fiber, protein, zinc, copper and potassium, the website says.  The great thing is that oatmeal is easy to nuke, and when you're finished with the box, you have a little drum with a picture of a Quaker on it.
Oranges confuse me too, because everyone know they have Vitamin C, but they are also loaded with "flavinoids."  "Oids" sounds funny, especially the ones from the "Hemorrh" family.
Pumpkin is full of good things but, frankly, are you going to buy a can of pumpkin in May, or order a pumpkin spice lattadoodle from Sbux in August? Pumpkin works from October through New Year's Eve and takes off the first nine months of the year.  Pretty sweet deal!
Soy, not so much. Love the sauce, though.
Spinach makes the list and that's good, but I wonder if the other greens, such as turnip greens, collard greens, mustard greens and kale are just as good, because they are much tastier and fresher tasting to me, and I'm the one who has to eat them.  You can have my spinach.
Tomatoes, long thought of as part of the lettuce-tomato-mayonnaise trio that serve as dressing on cold cut sandwiches, have a life of their own, and proudly walk around all full of "lycopene, a carotenoid and phytonutrient that’s also found in other red fruits like strawberries, watermelons and cherries," according to the blog, and lycopene may be helpful in lowering the risk of lung, stomach and prostate cancer.  All this, and you couldn't have marinara sauce or pizza without them.  Well done!
Turkey is good for more than just one dinner and 27 lunches in November. I prefer ground turkey or chicken (and they are all ground animals: they cannot fly) in burgers or tacos, and the fact that turkey is full of iron, vitamin B and zinc is beside the point.
Walnuts are good nuts to put in salads and other foods or just to munch on. And of course they bring to mind that certain "Dick Van Dyke" episode.
Wild salmon is loaded with vitamins and good nutrition, and when you have one on your plate, you're having dinner with a fish who was strong enough and amorous enough to fight his way upstream to spawn.  And now look.
Yogurt contains probiotics, live bacteria that aid in digestion.  If you're serious about your nutrition, avoid amateur biotics and stick with the pros.

So it turns out that I love most of these foods that are good for me.  I am officially the healthiest person in the room where I am writing this right now.**

*Maximum Eye Roll
** I'm all alone

Thursday, March 27, 2014

You're breaking me up here

There are dozens of reasons why I am such a happy man.

One of them is that I never got into the habit of adopting a heavy foreign accent when I use words such as "mozzarella," "hors d'oeuvres," and "Rafael Palmeiro." And for those who do, those who talk about pizza cheese by calling it "mooootcerell', " I wonder why you don't apply an English accent to the words "Winston Churchill" or a regional American Southern twang to "Jerry Lee Lewis."

Here's another reason.  You could go broke if I had to pay you a nickel for every Gwyneth Paltrow movie I have ever seen.  If she's your cup of tea, fine by me, but she seems a bit on the...haughty....side to me.  

She could have done this!
Now comes word that she and her husband, Chris Martin of the band Coldplay (don't look for any nickels from me on that account either!) have broken up.  Well, when people who live on Earth decide to stop being married to each other, that's what we Earthlings say: They "broke up."  They "went to Splitsville."  Someone "got dumped," "got the ax," "got a can tied to him."

Up in the clouds where the Paltrows among us dwell, here's what they say: 

We are parents first and foremost, to two incredibly wonderful children (Note: they named their children Apple and Moses) and we ask for their and our space and privacy to be respected at this difficult time. We have always conducted our relationship privately, and we hope that as we consciously uncouple and coparent, we will be able to continue in the same manner.

"Consciously uncouple."  I have to tell you a story from many years ago, when I worked at 911 and one of my tasks was preparing tapes of phone calls to 911 and radio transmissions of emergency responders for use in trials and other hearings.  An attorney called to get a copy of the call his client made to 911 from his house. The man had hit another car, but went home to call the police, rather than remaining at the scene of the crash.  Accordingly, he was charged with leaving the scene of an accident.  His mouthpiece figured that anyone who heard the distress in the man's voice as he called 911 would realize how upset he was, and understand why he went on home.  I asked the plea peddler why the man didn't just stay at the scene, and the answer will ring forever in the annals of American jurisprudence:

"My client had to go home because he suffered an act of involuntary defecation."

And really, who hasn't?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


I was a young radio DJ, doing a remote broadcast from the grand opening of a new record store in an old mall, and a guy about my age ankled up to me and started talking about "the outside world."  I had no idea where the boundary line was drawn to designate the inside world versus the outside, but as he spoke, I found that he sliced it this way: the mall was his world and whatever happened beyond the parking lot was part of the great "outside."  

I asked the denim-clad guy just what it was that he did and he said, "I hang around the mall."  I said I could see that, but what did he do for, you know, a job?  And the answer was the same.  He told me that he went home to his parents' to sleep and shower, and then reported to the mall when it opened and stayed until it closed.  When he got hungry, the guy at "Eats-a Pizza" would give him a slice in exchange for hauling out the trash or something, and that was pretty much his existence.

I haven't thought of that fellow for many years, not until I saw the report on the news the other day that said malls are a dying way to do business. There has not been a new enclosed mall built in the United States for six years now, and do you remember the days when it seemed like a new one opened every six days?

Reasons for the decline of the mall as we know it vary from fear of crime and terrorist activity (as witness the recent fatal shootings of two employees at a Zumiez store in the Columbia MD mall), the added popularity of smaller stores as opposed to mega-department stores,  and the easier availability that shopping online offers.  I have to say, you can't beat Amazon for having everything, including the ability to get everything to you in a day or two, even before they start sending you pants by drone. 

Malls used to say they were the new American town centers, where the entire family could spend a day shopping for shoes, clothes, and drill bits, grab some supper at the Food Court and then take in a movie at the Cinemania 27.

Experts say that local strip malls, or "neighborhood and community shopping centers," as they like to be called, will continue to thrive, what with the easy access they offer to nail salons, tuxedo rental shops, bank branches and overpriced coffee desserts.  And good news for lovers of fine films...local theaters, the kind with just one or two screens and popcorn and Jujubes at the concession stand, will always do well, because they show the films that people really want to see. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign

In the enlightened county in which I live, it is against the law to post those 16" x 24" signs on the roadway...the ones that advertise houses for sale, new developments springing up like a rosy rash around the ankles of society, political or civic opinions and suggestions, big blowout sales at CrabLand, car detailing, brand new queen size mattresses never can't do it, and code inspectors will remove them and store them for you at the County Office Building.  There are citizens who will remove them from the public right-of-way and trash them, thus filling the landfills with signs.

The signs are not pretty and they detract from the scenery in many a lovely neighborhood.  Sure, developers and real estate people want to sell houses, but the problem with these signs, and with those "LAWNS MOWED TREES TRIMMED SHRUBS PLANTED CALL LENNY THE GARDENER 555-0976" signs that someone climbs a utility pole to post, is that they are free your expense.  If you own a newspaper or a radio station or other advertising medium, Fligh-By-Knight Construction could not walk their muddy boots into your office with their latest commercial message and tell you when and how to run their ad for free, but they have no problem sending people around with signs on stakes to hoist upon public roadways.

Believe me, this is not the greatest extant threat to our society, but it struck me the other day when I was driving my auto through the lovely Long Green Valley and saw a telephone pole near the volunteer fire house, a utility pole where one gardener after another has posted signs asking for business.  Since some of these signs are 12 feet in the air, one realizes that either the world's tallest gardener is prowling around with a stack of signs and a fully-loaded Arrow Tack-Master staple gun, or someone is climbing a ladder to post the signs, and that can only lead to trouble and lawsuits.  And view-blocking congestion!  It's like the time I went golfing with my buddy Leon DeForest.  Every time I got off a bad drive, he picked up the little white stands off of which we drove the balls to begin playing a hole, and he began to pile them up.  Why, that pile got so big 
that after the 9th hole, I couldn't see DeForest for the tees!

The best way for these small business types to advertise is the medium that dentists have chosen for centuries.  Word of mouth.  Absolutely right!

Monday, March 24, 2014

It's not my fault

I don't live in Southern California, have never been there, and it doesn't look like I'll be invited to join Connie Chung as cohost of TV's "Big Brother" any time soon, so I have very little personal experience with earthquakes   I'm sorry for my friends who live out there on the fault lines.

We did have that miniquake here a couple of Augusts ago, but I simply attributed that to the earth being mad because of the consarned heat around here in the eighth month.  Local car dealers would have had a big "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" sale to get rid of all those leftover Dodges, had they been given forewarning of the big shaker.  

Now, maybe this happens a lot out there, and so people are used to the whole getting the jumpin' jive at any time, but I would like to think that if I were working with someone and we were live on the air at the time an earthquake hit, I would make sure that others were safe before I did a Lord Jim and headed for safety under the Action Central EyeWitness Live Local LegBreaking desk.

Watch the video of the KTLA early morning newscast and watch the male anchor head for lower ground as soon as he realizes he's on shaky ground. And to me, this is not a male-should-always-protect-the-female thing.  People ought to take care of each other first, I figure.  If you always do that, someone will be there to take care of you, I promise.

I don't mean to be too hard on this anchorman.  When people have half a mo to think about what they'll do next time, they usually do better next time.  I remember my first days at a new position with the County.  The water was cut off suddenly and people were running around the halls in a sheer panic.  I couldn't comprehend their apprehension, until someone pointed out that I was used to real emergencies.  It's simply a matter of practice.

"Take care of each other," as Robert Louis Stevenson once said.  

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday rerun: NASA's gone funky

Stop me if you've heard this story before.  It's true, and it says a lot about predictions.

Gaylord Perry was a major league baseball pitcher from 1962 - 1983.  When I say "major league," I mean it, because he pitched for just about every team in the major leagues.

His strong points as a pitcher were two: throwing spitballs, and making batters believe he was throwing spitters.  You know that putting a foreign substance on the ball - saliva, Vaseline, WD40, mayonnaise, tofu - is totally against the rules of baseball.  Wetting the ball makes the pitcher able to throw an elusive dipping pitch.  Making the batter think that an elusive pitch is coming his way is effective too - and drier!

Gaylord Perry
Gaylord won 314 games in the big leagues and was voted #97 in the Sporting News list of the 100 greatest baseball players.  This was not for his batting prowess.  In fact, his manager for the San Francisco Giants, Alvin Dark, said in 1964 that the US would put a man on the moon before Gaylord Perry hit a home run.

In 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon one warm Sunday afternoon.  An hour after Apollo 11 got to the moon and found a parking spot, Gaylord Perry hit the first of his six career home runs. While Neil and Buzz flipped packages of Tang to see who would hop out first, Perry ran around the bases on earth while the astronauts were on the moon.

And I read about it in the SUN!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Saturday Picture Show, March 22, 2014

 I don't exactly where this was taken, but it seems like a lot of people suddenly slam on their brakes the second they get a look at the majestic mountains ahead.  This is a pretty part of the USA.
 I saw this the other day and it reminded me of the old expression that maturity comes when we learn to appreciate the things that are in our lives and learn to let go of the things that are not.
 If you've been trying to find the perfect wallpaper for your screen, one that will remind you of the beach, here 'tis.  This is sand under heavy magnification.  Who knew that some grains of sand look like tiny ears of corn or peppermint candies?
CBS used to call themselves The Tiffany Network because they felt they only presented high-class programming.  Then two things happened:  they presented the nation with "Two Broke Girls," and they went into the billboard business.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Do You Like Good Music?

I'm talking about a man who dropped out of high school (and later was graduated at age 21), a man who became a songwriter, performer, arranger, singer, actor, voiceover actor and radio host, and then left far too soon.

I'm talking about Isaac Lee Hayes, Jr.  As a songwriter, he and his partner David Porter came up with great stuff for Sam and Dave, such as "Hold On, I'm Comin'", "When Something is Wrong with My Baby", "Soul Man" and  "I Thank You". He first came to the attention of pop fans with the theme song from the movie "Shaft" in 1971. But back up a couple of years to 1969, when his album "Hot Buttered Soul" came out, with a long version of "Walk On By," the Burt Bacharach / Hal David song on which Dionne Warwick had the first hit.  I can't hear this without remembering WWIN playing it on their overnight show as I labored at the A&P, stocking shelves with peanut butter, macaroni and floor wax.   And if you liked Dionne's version of "I Just Don't Know What To Do (With Myself)," check out his take on it and see if it doesn't move you a little bit more!

And I don't know what you had planned for the next 18 minutes and 40 seconds, but you could do a lot worse than to spend it listening to Isaac make you forget that Glen Campbell also recorded "By The Time I Get To Phoenix." Then you can also compare his "Close To You" to the Carpenters'.

Isaac's Baltimore connection was that he was one of the owners of the Memphis Sounds basketball team which was moved to Baltimore in 1975, but folded before their season even began.  He did better with other things.

Other things such as...acting.  He was the newspaper photographer Angel Dupree in "It Could Happen To You," the 1994 movie with Nicolas Cage and Bridget Fonda.  He played an Isaac Hayes impersonator in an episode of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" and was Chef for many years on "South Park."

And, he was a DJ/radio host on WRKS in New York in the late 90's.

If you ever find yourself in Tennessee, where Isaac was born in 1942, look for a section of Interstate 40 known as the "Isaac Hayes Memorial Highway".   His songs have generated more than 12 million plays on the radio, and when you watch "The Blues Brothers" or listen to any disco, hip hop or rap music, you hear Isaac Hayes all over the place.  He passed away in 2008, the victim of recurrent strokes, but while he was on the earth, he made the most of his talents, and that's about as much as we can all hope to do.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Grimm's Fairy Jail

Every development built since some alert legislator noticed that all sorts of junk was flowing right into the Chesapeake Bay has one of those drainage ponds...down on the corner, surrounded by a rotting wooden fence, full of weeds and Capri Sun containers, and a lot of water, after a storm. They fulfill a good purpose, although it's not exactly like living next door to a field of lavender waving in the spring breeze if your view includes the local sediment dump.

Mr Grimm
The reason I bring this all Paul David Grimm, of Severna Park. (Longtime readers, Severna Park is in Anne Arundel County, always the funniest of Maryland's 23 counties.)  Mr Grimm, whose mugshot shows that he always tries to live up to his name, has been upset lately over the construction of a drainage pond in his neighborhood. He was railing at the contractor doing the work on behalf of the county, and the contractor notified the county councilperson for that area, whose name is Dick Ladd.  Ladd showed up at the job site last week for a reasonable discussion of the issue, but that did not occur.  According to news reports, Ladd was talking to Grimm's daughter and Grimm used his pointer finger to alert Councilman Ladd and mentioned “taking him out.” He implied a weapon.  Feeling that he wasn't in enough trouble yet,  Mr. Grimm then spoke of Maryland Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Mike Busch and said that he would “take them out” too. As he rambled on, Grimm said “it would be a fantasy of his to see Mike Miller and Mike Busch” knock on his door because “they would come out in body bags."

Well now.  The news story went on to say that the police verified this information by interviewing people present at the scene as well as examining other evidence obtained. So,  Homeland Security and Anne Arundel County PD detectives obtained an arrest warrant for Grimm, and arrested him without at his residence, charging him with 3 counts of Threats to State Official. That's against the law here.  I mean, who does he think he is, Chris Christie?

“We take criminal threats against our elected officials very seriously,” said Anne Arundel County Police Chief Kevin Davis. “We will act expeditiously when someone detracts from the capacity of the people’s representatives to safely represent our communities.”

The other Grimm
In his 58 years of treading this earth, Mr Grimm has not learned yet that he can't get his way by playing the big bully.  I think it's for the best that schools are finally cracking down on overly aggressive kids.  Perhaps by the time that little wiseacre currently tormenting the other third graders gets to be that old, he will learn to deal with his frustrations and leave the petty threats of violence against others where they belong, like the United Nations.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I once heard agoraphobia called "Al Gore phobia"

We had a few errands to run on Saturday and I had no idea what sort of fun we would run into when we left the house.
First stop was at Dick's Sporting Goods, and just to set the bar high for the day, nothing went wrong there at all.  Peggy had something to buy, she ran in and bought it, and off we went to

Barnes and Noble, the bookstore.  Nothing wrong with them and Peggy was kind enough to let me use one of her seemingly innumerable gift cards to purchase the Treasures of AC/DC souvenir compilation because all men my age like to duckwalk out to the mailbox every afternoon singing "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap."  And then do "For Those About to Rock" on the way back in.

But while we waited in line to buy that priceless heirloom which I hereby bequeath to (name withheld), some guy was giving the old rigamarole to a cashier at the bookstore.  He had ordered some expensive books about architecture, gone to the store, and slunk behind the cashwrap area to get the special orders off the shelf.  He had removed the plastic wrap from one of them and was about to open the other when the lady approached him, told him (gently) that he was not supposed to go behind the registers and take merchandise off the shelves, and then when she asked if he intended to buy the books he had ordered and presumably come to retrieve, he said he didn't have enough money.  So why would he order books and then come to the store to get them, without enough money?  Who here thinks he was fixin' to rip them off?  

So we leave there and are headed to pick up dinner to go at Carrabba's. First, I call Carrabba's to order the pick-up dinner.  The phone rings 147 times before someone answers with: "ThankyouforcallingCarrabba'sinFullertonMarylandwhereyourdinnerisAlways HandPreparedandAlwaysMadeFromScratchpleaseholdon."

I told him I wanted to put in an order for pickup but I was talking to muzak because he had put me on hold without even telling me.  After a very brief five minute wait, a female picked up the phone and began a series of questions, each of which made me ask her to slow down and repeat what she said (what make and model and color of car are you driving, what is your phone number, what is your name) to the point where I had to ask her to let me talk to someone else because I could not understand one word she was saying.  And this is nothing to do with ethnicity or accent or poor diction or anything other than that adolescent habit of combining insanely rushed speech cadence with UPTALK at the end of a sentence and the vocal sizzle that drags out the end of a wordddddddddd.  Another young lady got on the phone and took the order with alacrity.  We left the shopping district to pick up dinner.

 I get behind a car down by the police station,  a car festooned with bumper stickers like buttons on a TGIF server.  The buttons have the following theme:  protect my "traditional" marriage by not letting people of the same gender have a marriage, I love America and all it stands for (and I will be the one to decide what it stands for) and don't listen to the liberal media.  The guy is in such a hurry to get to his destination and be a good American that he runs a light that turned red as  he reached it.  I thought he would have been happy to sit and bathe in that red glow, but no.

We got to Carrabba's and of course the order was screwed up. The chicken parm is supposed to come with a side of pasta, as chicken parm traditionally does.  The girl who brought the bag out to the car said, when I asked about the noodles, said, "Someone else was asking about that."  She said she would be back with the answer.  Instead, a male came out and said we should have had pasta and he would be right back with it.  Apparently, they had to send someone over to the Buy'N'Save for pasta, because as darkness fell over Baltimore and the rest of our dinner cooled, we waited for a bowl of noodles that took nine minutes to be brought out of the kitchen and into my waiting hands and I realized that some days, it's better just to stay home.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The name for the game

I found it interesting the other day that right below a headline saying "Native American Groups Renew Push To Change Redskins Name" the comments poured in from hoi polloi, many of them stating that "Native Americans have no problem with the Redskins name."  Dude, it just said that Native American groups are pushing to change it? And you say none of them have a problem with the name?

Remember the scene from "Fast Times At Ridgemont High" when the philosophical choice was proffered between two unpleasant outcomes?  It's got to be one or the other in this life, my friend.  Either the Native Americans have no objection, or they do.  

And I don't pretend to speak for them, but I do remember this from many training sessions at work.  It's NOT "well we've always done it this way!" that matters.  I found an interesting blog called Wry Wing Politics, which made this point last summer: 

If you are an American woman, racial minority, religious minority, or gay person, your rights are much more secure now than they were in colonial times.   Quaint little colonial customs like slavery, hanging for sodomy and Native American genocide are, thank goodness, things of the past.  For the most part, state and federal laws no longer treat American women like legal incompetents, akin to children and criminals.  States like Massachusetts no longer ban non-Christians from holding office...

You do want to avoid the trap of saying "We always did it like this."  One respondent wrote "Where were they in 1933 when the Redskins first got their name?" as if something wrong in 1933 must be allowed to remain wrong for all time. 

I am not Native American, nor a fan of the Washington NFL team, so I guess I don't have a nickel in this argument, but as someone who looks out for the rights of all, I think that we need to take a more reasonable look at the argument over the team's name.   

And one more question, since I'm so full of them:  knowing that people are hurt by something, how can you support its continuance?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Pat him down

Remember the time you said, "Who would want to live in that part of town?" only to be told by the person you were speaking with that THEY live in that part of town and happen to like it very much?

Or the time you said, "No one in their right mind drives a Prius" and then someone you know and like drove by in their brand new Prius?  Or when you said, "Oh, this is the worst-looking hat I ever saw. What, when you buy a hat like this I bet you get a free bowl of soup, huh?"

"Oh, it looks good on you though."

Slips of the tongue, words we wish we could have back, all that.  But it's one thing to say something foolish in idle chatter, and another to have a really dumb, racist, mean-spirited and thoroughly inappropriate thought dart across your brainpan and then say,"Hey!  Where's my phone?  I need to put this stupidity on Twitter so the entire population of the world has access to the cobwebs that clutter my thoughts!"

It would seem that this is what happened to Congressman Pat Garofalo (R, MN) who grabbed his mePhone the other day to share this thought with all of us:

On the off chance that this was a one-in-a-million brain cramp, I looked through some of the other tweets that have spewed forth from the mighty mind of Pat Garofalo, and as they say, a walk through the ocean of his soul will hardly get your feet wet.  Here are some of his earlier posts from March: (spelling and grammar are his)

 I would rather drink hot paint laced with cyanide as opposed to watching the Oscar's.  Oscar's what?

My fraternity Lambda Chi Alpha, did this along time ago.  Good for SAE.  Hazing is not a part of brotherhood.  A long time ago, people knew the difference between a long and along.

My joy in seeing Dale Jr lose the lead running out of gas is tempered by the fact that ├╝ber-snob Keselowski ends up winning. Bum toke dude.  Apparently, who wins and who loses a car race affects him a lot.

But, of course, as with all politicians who find themselves using Vaseline to try to remove their big ol' foot from their mouths, here comes the non-apologetic apology:
To those NBA players and others who are unfairly categorized by my comments, please accept my apologies.

So, this man that some residents of Minnesota sent to DC along with Michelle Bachmann to represent them in Congress states his theory that professional basketball players, whose average salary the last time I looked was $5.15 million per year, would be out there jacking cars and mugging strangers if it were not for their team still being in existence.  He told the local paper out in Minneapolis, as he backpedaled all over town, that he was “talking about the NBA’s high arrest rate and that they are the only major pro league that testing positive for marijuana is not a substance abuse violation.”
Furrowed brow indicates depth of thought
He really has trouble stringing together coherent thoughts, does he not?
But let's see.  A lot of his tweets have to do with his support for medical marijuana.  He introduces toking in a conversation about a NASCAR race.  And now the NBA's drug testing policy is intertwined with his bigoted "they're a bunch of criminals" theory.

Anyone seeing a trend here?  I guess he writes what he thinks.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sunday rerun: Spike The Punch

What I wouldn't pay to have a suit like this!
First of all, please remember that this song was recorded back in another era, so its gratuitous reference to random violence and stereotypical mother-in-law jokes must be regarded as coming from an era when people would take a baseball bat to the movies.  It's Spike Jones and His City Slickers, with their song "Happy New Year" and here is where you can see it on the YouTube, and below are the words!

This is my New Year's resolution:
When my mother-in-law begins to yell and shout
Through the window I would like to throw her out.
But I resolve not to do it, here is why:
I'm afraid of hitting someone passing by.
This is my New Year's resolution.

When I'm at the movies watching a love seen
And a lady's hat is blocking half the screen
I resolve not to shout, "Take off that hat!"
I'll remove it gently with a baseball bat.
This is my New Year's Resolution.

When I take a lovely lady out to eat 

And she orders caviar instead of meat
I resolve to let the lady have her fill.
And of course I'll also let her pay the bill.
This is my New Year's Resolution.

When I'm sitting with my wifey on a bus
And a dear old lady stands in front of us
I resolve to be a gentleman discreet.
I'll politely offer her my wifey's seat.
This is my New Year's Resolution.

When my mother says, "Come in, it's time to eat."
And I keep on playing games out in the street
I resolve to rush right home now when I'm called
Cause my pop just got a hairbrush and he's bald.
This is my New Year's Resolution.

On the radio this year I hope to score
With some funny jokes you've never heard before.
I resolve not to tell a corny joke.
Hello, what's that? The church burned down? Holy smoke!
This is my New Year's Resolution.

In this coming year I'm going to be discreet.
Have the Slickers playing music soft and sweet.
I resolve to treat Tchaikovsky tenderly
And set his second movement with TNT.
This is my New Year's Resolution.

And for those who read all the way through the lyrics, here is Today's Celebrity Surprise!  Spike Jones was the uncle of the actress named Judy Strangis, whom you will remember as Helen Loomis in "Room 222," Dyna Girl in "Electra Woman and Dyna Girl" and also as Mean Mary Jean in the Plymouth commercials.  
I just found this out and could not wait to share it.  Don't feel too bad; Peggy couldn't remember her either and wonders why I do.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Saturday Picture Show, March 15, 2014

 This is either sunset or sunrise, I don't know which, but I know it's a pretty picture of St Petersburg, Russia.
 It's probably not so good for the old diet, but while I was scooting through Russian picture sites (I go to all ends of the earth, scouring the web for pictures!) I found this Russian sausage site, and I say Russian salami must rule.
 Edith Macefield was a woman in her 80s when some bigshot developer in Seattle bought up all the land around her house to build a five-story office complex, which probably has a Starbucks on every floor.  She told the developer to take his money and invest it deeply within himself, and she continued to live in her house for two more years until she passed away at 86. She willed the house to the construction superintendent on the office building project because he had been kind and respectful to her throughout. Since her passing, the supe sold the house for $310,000; the house has been raised (not razed!) and a park sits beneath it, and was the site of the first annual Macefield Music Festival last fall.  Hold on to things that are important to you.
If you'll permit a personal note about things that are important to me...I've always been fascinated by letters in bottles, corked and tossed into the drink to await being found who knows when and where.  I found this picture of German fishermen who came up with a bottle that was sent adrift in 1913, which was the year my late father was born.  Funny how often that year bobs to the surface in my reading.  And on the first day Peggy went back to work after Dad's funeral, a truck passed her as she walked to her office from the bus.  The truck had "Established 1913" painted on the back panel.  Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Muenster Mash

Cheese in a packet - so handy!
Now look at what the Europeans are hollering about!  The European Union wants us to stop using European cheese names like parmesan, feta and gruyere for cheese made here in the United States.

I did not know, until I read this article, that they call it Parmesan cheese because they first made it in Parma, Italy.  Well, there's a Parma in Ohio!  And I bring that up, knowing that it means nothing in this argument, but it was a pretty cool song for Drew Carey in the day.  Also, it said that Feta cheese should only be from Greece, although there is no such a town as Feta, Greece.  There is an Alexandria in Greece and also one in Virginia, so let's call Feta cheese Alexandria cheese and make everyone happy.
Mr B

The Europeans are saying that our cheese is not as good as their cheese and maybe that's so, but then again, how good do you want your cheese to be?  A cup of fine imported Parmigiana that rode to the pizza shop on a boat from Italy still won't taste as good as three cups of gooey white Wisconsin pizza cheese. 

Also, the Europeans are getting mighty protective of words such as these for non-cheese items: bologna, Greek yogurt, Valencia oranges and prosciutto, among other foods.  So Joseph Bologna will now change his name to Joe Lunchmeat.  We'll call it "Greek-style" yogurt and we'll skip prosciutto and just use Virginia ham.
Va. Ham

Didn't they date for years in high school and beyond - Skip Prosciutto and Virginia Ham?  They always had something salty going on.

I'm being snarky about this, but only because the Europeans won't play fairly.  You can't just take back the name of a cheese after all these years.  What if we said, OK, you can't say "Computer" anymore?  And what if we did so by email? How would they know?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Leave it to Bieber

"Everybody complains about the weather, " complained Mark Twain, "but no one does anything about it."  

Same with Justin Bieber.  This kid is really starting to annoy me.  You might have seen this tape from his recent deposition.  His bodyguard smacked a photographer, and there is a price to be paid for this sort of thing.

Bieber's body language and the way he screws up his face and spits out answers like he had just eaten something foul tell all you need to know about a young man who should have been punished for being such a horse's patootie a long time ago.

He came to the Maryland State Fair to perform two or three years back, and there was an incident in which he was spraying water on Maryland State Police troopers from a Super Soaker.  Nothing was done, no one stopped him, no one busted him over the head with a squirt gun because he is to be regarded as foreign royalty or something.  

I urge everyone who has anything to do with aiding the progress of a young person to pay attention to young JB; he is the perfect example of a spoiled child and brother, you don't want one of them around.  No one ever told him no, no one corrected him when he acted out as a child, no one told him to knock off the smartyboy attitude.  I feel sorry for anyone who has to deal with him on any level.

And think of his attorney; sure, he's clocking hundreds of bucks per hour for holding the young man's hand, as it were, through the questioning.  But when the lawyer was a young man, he saw a course for his life that included college and law school.  I'm sure he never dreamed that his career would involve babysitting King Snot, and doing an oral Wite-Out when his client said that he (Bieber) was "detrimental" to his own career.  

Yes, just not enough, yet.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

If you don't like the facts, make up your own!

I don't know how you stand on the gun control issue, and that's not the issue here. Talking about mass murders in America, Peter Lanza, the father of Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza, tells The New Yorker magazine, "With hindsight, I know Adam would have killed me in a heartbeat, if he had the chance." He also said he knew Adam had killed the children at Sandy Hook before police announced the name of the shooter. That's bone-chilling, when you think about hearing breaking news like that and knowing right off that your offspring is behind the enormity.  

Again, there is no question about the who, the what, or the when and how. Lots of questions will linger eternally about the "why."  I can't wait to get my New Yorker in the mail this week and read Mr Lanza's thoughts.  I read online that he said not an hour of any day goes by that he doesn't think about that awful day in December, 2012.

There are other people who can say the same thing, but I have to wonder "why" about them, too.  They are the people who claim that the massacre at Sandy Hook School did not take place, that it was a hoax perpetrated by the government for reasons that are only clear within the murky depths of their own minds.  A teacher at some college called Florida Atlantic University, who probably was nowhere near Connecticut on the day in question, nonetheless questions what went on there that day.  The man who offered shelter to six children who fled the school in terror as the shooter carried out his hellish mission is harassed by "truthers" who claim he is a paid actor playing a part in a government coverup, covering up who knows what.  Even the parents of kids killed in the school receive mail and phone calls from nutbags who say they are part of a gigantic mass deception.  And the mother of Victoria Soto, a teacher who died in her classroom trying to protect the children, has a Facebook page dedicated to the memory of her daughter.   Don't go to the page if you are easily made nauseated.  A woman recently sent a Paypal donation of 1 cent to the site toward a memorial for Vicki Soto, and blasted the martyred teacher's mom in the most vile terms possible for her part in the "hoax."  

And of course, some denier has produced a video that purports to show all the inconsistencies and fake facts behind the scam.  You can buy a copy of the video for just $25.  Making money off the sorrow and pain of others is such a nice way to feather one's nest.

Speaking of feathers, there was another myth floating around in the Greek mythology days, a tale in which Icarus, the son of master craftsman Daedalus, attempts to escape from Crete by means of wings that his father constructed from feathers and wax. He ignored instructions not to fly too close to the sun, and the melting wax caused him to fall into the sea where he drowned.   This is how they told each other that pride and too much self-confidence, not to mention failure to follow directions, lead to a fall from grace.

Greeks made up myths to help themselves understand the incomprehensible. Apparently, so do some Americans.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Hold the partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, please

Andy Rooney did a bit one Sunday night in which he rounded up all the ingredients in some store-bought chocolate chip cookies and tried to make them at home.  Of course the cookies turned out awful; you have to have a degree in chemical engineering to be a commercial baker any more, and Mom's homemade Toll House delights would never last long enough to be baked, shipped and shelved down at the Bag-Ur-Self.  

Rooney found it tough accumulating enough Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate {Vitamin B1}, Riboflavin {Vitamin B2}, Folic Acid), Semisweet Chocolate Chips (Sugar, Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Dextrose, Soy Lecithin), Sugar, Soybean Oil, Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, High Fructose Corn Syrup, leavening (Baking Soda and/or Ammonium Phosphate), Salt, Whey (from Milk), Natural and Artificial Flavor and Caramel Color anyway.  These items come in 50-gallon tubs, anyway.  

Here is all you need to make the best chocolate chip cookies right in your own lovely home.  You probably have 1/2 of this stuff anyway in the pantry. Better make two batches; you never know when hungry people will drop by. Hint.

But - do you remember the big kerfuffle a few weeks back when it was revealed that Subway sub rolls contained  zodicarbonamide - and that substance is also found in yoga mats?  Oh the horrors!  

Well, put down your sub for a second and give the yoga a rest long enough to listen to this story on NPR.  It turns out that unless you eat about 27,000 subs per day, you don't really need to fret about the levels of zodicarbonamide you ingest.  Scientists who spend their entire workdays wearing white lab coats and peering into microscopes say they don't fret too much about tiny concentrations in bread being "toxicologically significant" and so now neither do !

However, if you really want to worry about something, ponder the fact that sodium caseinate is found in two substances found in most homes:  non-dairy creamer...and Elmer's glue.  Hmmmmm.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Needs looked into

Colin Hay
Last week on "A Prairie Home Companion," the radio show, Colin Hay was a guest performer.  The onetime leader of Men At Work, now working as a solo performer, told the story of playing to a "packed house of 200" at a theater in his Scottish home town.  He was on the stage between songs when the stage door opened, and from outside came two women, who said that a car was blocking theirs in next door in the alley.  Colin said he told them he was doing a show just then, and they allowed as how they could see that, but that "the car needs shifted right now."

Needs shifted.  I've been hearing that sort of construction lately, sentences in which the infinitive "to be" gets tossed to the ground like that yellow paper that McDonald's wraps around a cheeseburger.  I hear "that wall needs painted," "the price of gas needs lowered," and "the pipeline needs built right away because there is absolutely no reason not to" all the time.  

I hear it when we drive up over the line into Pennsylvania, where the wonderful folks called the Pennsylvania Dutch have a lot of interesting sayings, such as "get the garage red up" (clean up the garage) and "let's put dinner away" (let's wash the dishes and pots and pans.)  But I never have heard it from an English-speaking non-American context, and as they say up in Amish Country, it wonders me!

And for those wondering, yes, this is how I spend my time nowadays, perusing the etymology of words and phrases.  F'rinstance, the appendix of a book...that you might have removed...or your own, which a surgeon may Latin, "appendix" means "the part that hangs." A human appendix hangs off the end of the large intestine; appendices hang around the tail end of books. 

I just learned that, in the appendix of a book.  

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sunday rerun: "The road to hell is paved with adverbs" - Stephen King

Writing in Salon online, Mary Elizabeth Williams drops the bad news that the Associated Press stylebook is now accepting the improper use of the word "hopefully."

Well, you know how those of us who like correct grammar, spelling and pronunciation are reacting to that bomb.  We're the ones who stand there and mutter "and ME"  when someone says, "That DVD belongs to Connie and I."  Our eyebrows shoot skyward when someone sputters, "Who can I talk to about all this?"  We moan over misplaced modifiers, we mourn silently when someone says, "It's a mute point" and we grind our choppers upon hearing, "Splitting infinitives is something that is best to never do."  But the ne plus ultra of things that drive us to distraction is hearing someone let go with, "Hopefully, the pizzas will be here before the kids get home."

(You know what's fun?  Using hopefully correctly!  As in, "Hopefully, I went to the race track yesterday."  People will look at me, and say, "Well did you go, or didn't you?"  And I say, "I did. Hopefully!"  They walk away shaking their heads.)

Hopefully is an adverb, so it should only be used to describe the verb.  Pizzas do not arrive full of hope.  Full of cheese and pepperoni, sure.  You can say, "I hope the pizzas will be here before the kids get home."

Or, now, you can say it incorrectly, and still work for the Associated Press.  Hopefully.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Saturday Picture Show, March 8, 2014

 You know...we just asked for one sign...that's all you had to do...but NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
How cool it must be to fly around in Holland when the tulips are abloom!

 Look carefully.  Looks like a morning in rained a while ago but now the sun is out and it's a pretty day.  And remember those cars!  They don't make them like that anymore, do they?  Well, as a matter of fact...
The man behind all this is the amazing Paul Michael Smith, who made these phenomenal car and truck models, and then made model houses and sets to take these pictures.  It's stunning.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Courting problems

I don't know Rachel Canning or her parents, Sean and Elizabeth, three people from Lincoln Park, New Jersey, whose family squabble has boiled over from their own kitchen into a courtroom and the national news.

Rachel is an honors student at a private high school; she wants to be a biomedical engineer, but last October, she left the family home.  She says her parents threw her out; they say she left voluntarily because she found it onerous to follow house rules:  be respectful, keep a curfew, return “borrowed” items to her two sisters, manage a few chores, and reconsider her relationship with a boyfriend the parents believe is a bad influence.

The parents, cruel as they are, bought her a car, which is now parked at THEIR house. 

Rachel found refuge in the home of a female friend from her class.  That girl's father is an attorney, and he seems to be the one who suggested that Rachel take the matter to court, where Tuesday she lost the first round of her case. The judge ruled that her parents are NOT responsible for her tuition to the high school or to whichever college she plans to attend in the fall, but only because the high school is willing to forgive the $5300 remaining on her tab for this year.

Mr Canning is a retired local police chief who now works as a township administrator, and he laid down the rules of his house thusly:  "Private school, new car, college education; that all comes with living under our roof."

His lawyer, Laurie Rush-Masuret, read from a statement before the start of the hearing, saying the Cannings "are distraught that their oldest daughter feels that litigation is a better option than living together as a family."

Judge Peter Bogaard said that he "wish(ed) more energy would be spent on reuniting the family than keeping it apart."

The family meets in Family Court
“My parents have rationalized their actions by blaming me for not following their rules,” Rachel said in her court papers.  So, according to Ms Rush-Masuret,  Rachel emancipated herself and removed herself from her parent’s “sphere of influence” by voluntarily moving out of their house “as she did not want to abide by her parents’ rules....”

So this is how it is today?  A child refuses to follow her parents' rules because does not wish to do so, and the parents are to blame for blaming her for not following their rules?

 + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + 
I, the somewhat Honorable Judge Clark, hereby cite two important precedents:
Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act,  Penal Code § 11164 et seq. 

(¶) The 12-year-old son of a guy I know called The Law Offices of Ronald M. Sharrow, seeking to file suit against his father, who had refused to permit the youth to watch Wrestlemania 47 on pay-per-view.  The law firm called the parents to ask that they have their child stop bothering them.

Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1963, Pub. L. 93-247, 88 Stat. 4, codified as amended at 42 U.S.C. §§5101–5106. 

(¶) My requests to smoke cigarettes, chew Mail Pouch tobacco, drink beer and be given my own Corvette automobile and Triumph motorcycle were turned down in a landmark decision by my parents, who cited my age (12) and the fact that I was about to be grounded until I was married.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Cool it

At 6 AM this past Tuesday, the temperature at our airport dropped to 4 degrees above zero, or in television weather parlance, "the mercury plummeted" to 4 above.  

This was the time that the weatherman threw down his
clipboard live on CNN rather than explain the weather
Immediately, the town fell into a frenzy, and TV stations dispatched reporters to do live shots clad in Russian cossack gear, holding thermometers and reminding moms to make sure the kids are wearing coats before they head out to the bus stop.

Listen, if we could just stop for a second and think about it's MARCH!  It's still winter.  

The meteorologists claim that March 1 is the "first day of meteorological spring" now, and everyone thinks that on March 1, we're going to be tiptoeing through the tulips and  we're gonna be "...just like a couple of tots, Running across the meadow, Picking up lots of forget-me-nots...

The weather and the calendar are not friends, and they don't synch up.  Baseball is the summer game, but I've worn a parka and down mittens to Opening Day, while football season starts off in the dog days of Labor Day weekend while people are schweaty and shtinky from the heat.

Another thing that tickles me about people is how we complain about the cold in the wintertime, and then as soon as it warms up, we crank up the A/C to get the room cold again.  I thought we wanted it warm!

We never have what we want, we never want what we have.  How about just enjoying what life brings us?  Yeah it's cold this week, and within a month it'll be hot.  Hold on.