Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Saturday Picture Show, December 31, 2016

Today, another look back at some of the favorite pictures we enjoyed this year here at Saturday Picture Show Headquarters. 

We're all in that dash mode today.  Filling in the spaces between the day we are born and the day we shuffle off to Buffalo is a matter of high importance. Fill in the dash with what means a lot to you!
A lot of people mentioned that it's one thing to have your big toe nibbled by a crab while swimming in the ocean...
When the real estate agent shows you a house that "just needs a little work and TLC" and all you see is a giant Jenga game...
After the big storm Matthew passed, these lovely shells were left on Fernandina Beach.
When two seasons meet and marry, they can take the name Autumn Winters.
I love the volunteer tree that sort of grew up between the bricks here.
Maybe it's the eyebrows, but this guy looks mad.
And now, as the holiday season comes to an end for another year, how about one more round of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" with me?  Anyone? 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Every year

Elementary school kids love to tease each other with tricky questions such as, "What weighs more, a ton of feathers or a ton of lead?" and, "What's longer: an hour in the dentist's chair or an hour spent eating ice cream?"

Of course, we know the answer to the second one. An hour spent watching Julia Roberts acting in a movie actually takes 23 hours to get through.

I think of these non-question questions every year at this time, because (fill in the year) "_ _ _ _ has been the worst year EVER for celebrity passings!"  Every single year, people bemoan the loss of beloved actors, singers, athletes and the occasional dotty old senator who stopped making sense during the Eisenhower era, and every year, a similar toll takes place.  It would take a lot of purely objective statistical analysis to verify my hunch, but I'd bet that every year, the same amount of celebrities shuffle off this mortal coil, and while sad, it shouldn't surprise us.

And, admit it: you thought Zsa Zsa Gabor had passed away long ago, just as I did.

Another popular thought that we all share:  Someone will report that they are ill, and go into tremendous detail about what ails them. And with today's social media allowing us to trade everything, they really go into detail about what is going into and coming out of them, their temperature, their fever and chills, and how they plan to battle back with diets of applesauce and Gatorade.

And someone will pop up with, "There's something going around!"

Image result for 31 flavors
Was I the last to notice
the pink "31" in their logo?
And someone else will tip in with, "My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with the girl who saw Ferris pass out at 31 Flavors last night. I guess it's pretty serious."

Friends, you don't have to work for the Centers for Disease Control to be able to say this, but there is ALWAYS "something going around"!  Always. 

And there are always days when we feel marvelous and everyone treats us well and that cute cashier person gives us a little smile and we feel great about everything and we're not coughing or sniffling and people we care about have new babies in the family. Let's celebrate those days!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Knowing Nothing or Hearing Everything

Two things kept crossing my mind yesterday while watching the morning news.

First was how the sad passing of Carrie Fisher once again made me feel sorry for her friends and family and fans, and how it makes me feel like I'm in a Lithuanian restaurant and everyone is speaking Lithuanian and the menu is printed in Lithuanian with no pictures and I have no idea what anyone is saying, and all I want is a hamburger and some fries and they can't understand me and I don't understand them.

That's how it feels to know NOTHING about Star Wars. I mean, I have not spent one second of this long life watching any of the 47 Star Wars movies, and that means not knowing what anyone's talking about when they intone, "Luke, I am your father," and what the Millennium Stalker is, or whatever that thing is, and what the point of it all was.   

The only way I can relate is to think of the people who say they know nothing about football or baseball and how it must feel to them when people start talking about football or baseball. 

Image result for carrie fisher eddie fisher
Eddie, Carrie, Debbie
Carrie Fisher. When I think of her, I realize I know a lot more about her mother, Debbie Reynolds, and her father, Eddie Fisher, a very good singer from the 1950s whose womanizing overshadowed his great talent for singing a song. Debbie is still with us, fine comic actress that she was, and now Carrie is with her father.

There was another death being talked about on the news. A man died in someone's house, and now the police are trying to get "testimony" from his IoT (Internet of Things) device - that Amazon thing that sits in the house, and you say, "OK Ezra (or whatever the thing's name is) play "Box of Rain," or "What's the weather going to be like today?" and "Turn on the lamp in the study for Colonel Mustard."  All those commands to an electronic silent butler, and you don't think there are others listening in?

Maybe I'm suspicious, but when the cable company offers a system that puts cameras in the house so you can see what's going on there while you're at work or on the beach sipping a Mai Tai, I have to figure that someone somewhere is also enjoying unfettered video access to Mark - a - Lago, my luxurious mansion, and they're watching me scratch the twig and berries or something.  

And if the government forced us to install little black eavesdropping devices in our homes, we would not like it.  But make it something that we voluntarily PAY for, and we're lining up to buy them.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Shake hands with the devil

The Baltimore Colts football team had, as their pep song, a bouncy march called "Let's Go You Baltimore Colts!"

They didn't mean for them to go to Indianapolis, for crying out loud.

Mayflowers brought Indy
a load of stolen memories
But that's what we did, that night in 1984 when our NFL team slunk out of town in the middle of the night.  We wept bitter tears, and the man who caused all that was the mayor of Indianapolis, William Hudnut III. Desperate to turn a midwestern hellhole into a decent city, he built a football stadium and set about seducing whichever NFL team he could lure to Indiagodamnapolis with tax money. The unfaithful owner of our team, a devil on earth (his own mother said so) named Robert Irsay, took the bait and absconded.

Hudnut died the other day at age 84.  And What We Didn't Know was that, after serving 16 years in Indy, he actually wound up in Chevy Chase, Maryland (not the actor but the ritzy Washington suburb) and served that town as mayor. He had been a preacher in his early days, but went into politics with an (apparently sincere) belief that it was the best way to improve the lot of all citizens.

And he wound up in a long-term care facility in Chevy Chase and passed away here in Maryland.

People say that Baltimore was no better than Indianapolis; after 12 years without a team, we wooed the Cleveland Browns away from their home and made Ravens of them.  But the difference was, we were like spouses who had been cheated on and dumped, and we went out on the prowl looking for someone else to hook up with. The league disrespected us; their saturnine commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who always reminded me of a doctor who really doesn't mind giving news of imminent mortality to a trembling family and then hustling along for his golf match,  said we should take the money we set aside to house a new franchise and "build a museum."  And the league about broke their necks to award Cleveland a whole new franchise, currently the proud winners of one game this year.

Image result for kerouac scroll
The scroll
We really couldn't blame Mayor Hudnut for grabbing our team; he was just doing what he could for his town. Irsay, as foul a man as ever darkened a doorway, went for the quick buck and died, leaving the team to his son Jimmy.  Jimbo is no prize, what with a wake of a DWI arrest, a rumored drug problem,  and the suspicious death of a woman identified as his mistress in a house purchased with Colt money.  But he also purchased, and made available for display, the scrolled papers on which Jack Kerouac typed "On The Road."  

There really is good and bad in every soul!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Playing the library card

There is a town in Texas, a state that seems to pride itself, with the exception of the good citizens of Austin, on becoming a barren land of howling lunatics, called White Settlement.

In 2010, the White Settlement Public Library, in need of cheap rodent control, hired a kitten right out of the local animal shelter. They named him "Browser," this docile grey tabby, and put him to work at once.

He must have been doing a fine job de-mouseulating the joint, and he was happy as a cat in a library until July, when some city hall worker got all worked up because he was told he could no longer bring his puppy to work.

Kwik Kwiz: What did the aggravated city employee do about being told he couldn't bring Poochie Dog to work?

a) he stopped bringing the dog to work and went back to work with renewed vigor and enthusiasm

b) he whined that the people at the library were allowed to have a cat
Elzie (you can see where his cowboy
hat mashed his hair down)

Of course he a) didn't and b) did. And this unnamed local drone got the matter before the White Settlement City Council, and during a meeting which surely rivaled the Philadelphia Congress sessions of 1776, the matter of Browser's continued residency at the libes was taken to a vote.

Only one councilperson, one Elzie Clement, 

 was catty enough to vote for giving Browser the gate. The others weren't feline like sending him back to the shelter, which is paid for by the city kitty.

Now, Mayor Ron White (not the comedian) (I guess) says Browser’s job title is now "Library Cat for Life."

"Browser is still employed and will be as long as he wishes to continue his duties as mascot and reading helper for the children at the library," White said.

(Not to mention his Mickey-hunting duties.)

Hizzoner the Mayor says he's getting litterboxes full of mail and messages for all over with support and offers to adopt Browser.

So it's a happy story all around, and, master storyweaver that I am, I saved the best for last:

Elzie Clements is a councilman no more, having been defeated in a landslide.


Monday, December 26, 2016

Polly want an indictment

I know this sounds like the plot of an old Twilight Zone episode or something.  I was going to say Alfred Hitchcock, but he had a lot more than one bird in his pictures.

The picture you see below is of Martin Duram, now deceased, and his wife Glenna, of Sand Lake, Michigan.  We know that Martin died in his home last year of a bullet wound, and his wife was also found shot but still alive, which she still is.

As it always does, it took the police about 14 minutes to figure Glenna got him in a murder-suicide that didn't quite get finished 100%, but they haven't charged her, owing to a paucity of evidence.
Image result for duram parrot

Martin's parents, however, feel otherwise, and are howling for Glenna to be tried.  As evidence, they cite three suicide notes found in her handwriting, as presented on WOOD-TV.  

 “i’m sorry but i love you and soo sorry i’ve been a disappointment to you these last 12 yrs or so Please forgive me your one of the best things I ever did — Love mom,"  she wrote.

For her part, Glenna says she does not remember writing these notes and denies that she killed her husband. 

Oh, and there's one more piece of evidence.  

You know how, in whodunits, the police always show up later with an eyewitness that the killer did not know was there? Martin's parents said there was a witness to the murder and that he was even able to say that Martin's last words were "don't f-----g shoot!" 

The only hitch is, this witness who now proudly crows about Martin Duram's swan song is a parrot.  An African grey parrot, to be exact, housemate of the Durams. "That bird picks up everything and anything, and it's got the filthiest mouth around," Martin's mother Lillian Duram told the TV news.

"I personally think he was there and he remembers it and he was saying it," his father Charles Duram added. 

Related image
And this bird can sing!
The Durams, who refer to their daughter-in-law as a witch, or something that sounds like that, are sure she is responsible. And the courts in Michigan are left to determine whether to hold her over for trial on the words of a stool pigeon.

Stay tuned! 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Saturday Picture Show, December 24, 2016

For this week's picture show, I went back to find some of the pictures that we enjoyed the most this year.  This one involved setting up a camera to take a picture of the same place in all four seasons.  I love the far left. 
I can't even paint stuff and like this, and this is not a painting! It's a pile of salt, rearranged to look like a wolf on this dark background.
I think I must have always wanted bunk beds in my childhood room. I'm crazy about the concept of lofts over beds and staircases to the ceilings.
I have shared this with many young people who want to give up after one or two rejections.  Follow Meryl's advice and stick to your dreams!
Because any fifth-grader knows more about the world and the planets that fly around it than I do. this is a good picture to help picture how many earths would fit into the sun.
He's a pretty little fellow stuck with an uncomplimentary name by the bird experts who insist on calling him the "Common Jay." Hey, he can fly!  Can you?
The town clock in the town of Gap, PA, pleased me a lot because it showed the time quite accurately!
This is a wonderful, beautiful world.  Let's make it even better in 2017! Merry Christmas to all who celebrate!

Friday, December 23, 2016

On the road again

It's getting close to Christmas, so we think of what's happening on the roads because we're trying to get to the family gatherings and so forth.  At least there's no forecast for snow in the Baltimore area this year at the holidays.  

(Which makes me wonder how, in all those Hallmark Christmas movies, there is always snow on the ground and on the roads, and yet, people get in their cars and go places. It's clear that they don't film them in Baltimore, where the very suggestion of snow three days hence sends people into a panic. They flock to the groceries for bread, milk and toilet paper, and then stay home "for the duration."  Can't drive on a road with snow on it, after all.)

But this news stopped me cold: (from
Driverless cars could be coming to Interstate 95 if Maryland transportation officials have their way. The Maryland Department of Transportation announced Wednesday that it has asked the federal Transportation Department to use the I-95 corridor to test autonomous vehicles. Federal officials are looking for several “proving grounds” around the country for self-driving cars. Maryland officials have suggested using I-95 between the University of Maryland to the south and Aberdeen Proving Ground to the north. The first group of testing areas for driverless cars will be announced in early 2017. If Maryland is chosen, the earliest I-95 would see driverless cars would be 2018.

I colored that text red because it's certainly a red-letter day for people around I-95 who own body and fender repair shops, orthopedic medical practices, and law firms centering on auto accidents, to think of this business bonanza coming their way. 

If you've had the previous misfortune of driving I-95, the superslab that takes people from New England to Florida (even if they don't want to go), at least in the Baltimore area, I can testify that you have been in vehicle hell.  18-wheelers taking turns on 9 wheels! Crotchrocket motorcycles racing around like demons! Tailgaters galore! Ill-advised lane changes! Speeders going 85, and - almost worse - pokers doing 35! And drivers from other states driving like nuts!

And that's just on the entrance ramp.  Lord knows what the highway itself is like, I'll tell you that right now.

I see no way that life will be better when the science fair veterans behind the idea of autonomous (sounds better than "driverless") vehicles are causing mayhem from Florida to New England.  

I can't even think about it.  But I can tell you this, as we head into Christmas weekend. This was not on the news or anything, but it just so happened that on December 14 there was a traffic accident in the Riderwood section of our fair county, and the older couple whose SUV was smashed up expressed concern that the Christmas tree they had on their roof and were taking home at the time would not make it home, with the car being towed away. Soooo...the crew of Truck 1 from Towson Fire Station, D Shift, who had responded to the scene, took the Christmas tree, put it on their rig, and dropped it off at the peoples' house.

They could have shrugged and said, "Yeah, too bad," but they didn't, and I hope that little nugget sends you off happy today! 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Sad times in a family

I've probably talked about my love for the late country singer Jean Shepard more than a dozen times here, and since she passed away in September, I believed she would be at her eternal rest, but no.
Jean and Icie Mae

Here's what happened last Friday night at the home she shared with her widower, Benny Birchfield, in Hendersonville, Tenn.

Her granddaughter, Icie Mae Hawkins (Jean's first husband was the great Hawkshaw Hawkins and Icie's father is Jean and Hawkshaw's older son Donnie) had moved into the Birchfield home to help care for her grandmother, and had been living there until her estranged boyfriend, Travis Sanders, showed up with a large knife. All this was going on around 3 AM as Benny arrived home, and he called downstairs to see what the commotion he was hearing was about.  

He went down to investigate and wound up being stabbed in his head, neck and arm by Sanders, who had already mortally wounded Icie with his knife.  Birchfield shot him dead, and will not face charges, according to the local district attorney.

Hawkshaw and Jean
Death and sadness at this most holy time of the year. Jean Shepard knew great loss here on earth when Hawkshaw died in a plane crash along with Patsy Cline and Cowboy Copas in 1963.  She was pregnant with Hawkshaw, Jr, at the time, and now from heaven on high looks down to see her granddaughter killed and her widower stabbed repeatedly by a guy the granddaughter was trying to break up with.
Benny and Jean

Benny Birchfield "has recovered a lot. I talked to him and he’s looking a lot better," Det. Sgt. Jim Vaughn of the Hendersonville PD said.

Jean Shepard recorded dozens of country hits over a career ranging from the early 50s to just recently, as her health failed.  Listen to her speak and testify here and join me in wishing her the peace she and her family so deserve.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

It's the Bunk

It was a staple of cop shows and movies and pulp novels, a special group of hard-bitten detectives known as the "bunco squad."

They handled grifters who swindled people with their fast-talking double talk.  The old switcheroo where someone walked up to you outside a bank, said they just found a wad of money, and would be glad to split it with you if you would just put up a few thousand bucks to show you were earnest about it, is a classic example.

You know how it worked out, every time. The pile of greenery they showed you was real on top and bottom and cut-up newspaper in between, and the con men walked away with a real stack of your real money for one reason: it's well-known that people's greed usually exceeds their common sense by a country mile.  You can take that to the bank.  And they do!

Also on the "bunk" beat was the statement by a one-term governor of Maryland that "multiculturalism is bunk."  This remark, in a state with a multiplicity of ethnicities abounding, was foolish then (1994) and still is.

So where do we get this term, "bunk" or "bunco"?  From North Carolina!

Buncombe County is a county in western North Carolina.  Their US Congressman, in 1820, was a man named Felix Walker, who delivered a dull, inane speech" for Buncombe".

There's a historical marker down in the Tarheel State to show his old homestead. Asheville is in his old district.

It was largely felt in Congress that Walker spoke a lot of words and very few of them made sense, so the association of his insincere words and his home area stuck with him, and lives on, as "bunk."

H. L. Mencken, the Evening SUNpaper writer called the "Sage of Baltimore," and an American lexicographer (he took the Greek word "ekdusis" {"shedding"} and coined "ecdysiast" as a word for strip tease performers - and turned "boob" {nickname for a fool} into a collective term for an entire group of fools - "booboisie") published a collection of his essays under the title "A Carnival of Buncombe." 

That's all for today.  Tomorrow, let's talk about why Wheat Thins are not only a tasty cracker but also an excellent filler for holes and chips in your woodwork!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

I don't see a Buick!

If you're lucky enough to have a Trader Joe's in your town, you're lucky!  

There is really nothing like this grocery store, and people are avid about getting there when they can.  

Now, you will notice that ours (which is supposed to move a couple miles away after the first of the year) is currently in a jam-packed location, with a parking lot attached to the B.A. Towsontown Centre mall. Cars sometimes have to drive around the parking area two or three times, looking for a slot to stash the Beemer.

What you can't see in this picture is the parking garage that's all part of this megamall. You have to drive through that mess to get to the mess you see in the picture. 

To tell you the truth, TJ's prices are so low and the quality so high, I would park five blocks away in a blizzard to get their unsweetened cranberry juice, unsalted pumpkin seeds, Heritage Flakes cereal and Nova lox bits.  I'm quite the gourmet, you see.

So it was that I found myself playing bumper cars the other day, trying to get out of the parking lot there, when what to my wondering eyes should appear but a white Buick, parked in a spot marked "no parking."  And for good reason does it say so: parking there meant that the entrance lane into the parking area was Blocked By A Buick, forcing people trying to get IN to alternate with people trying to get OUT.  

It's the place with red awnings
As people cheerfully fumed, honked, backed up and hollered, I found myself looking at the Buickician (technical term for a Buick owner/operator) herself as she blithely strolled back to her car. I saw the opportunity to call out a greeting to her, so I said, "Hey! Nice parking job! All right!"

And she looked me dead on and said, "I couldn't help it."

As I jockeyed my car out of the maelstrom and got back on the road home, I thought of what "I couldn't help it" meant in this case. 

  • Insurgents from Paraguay forced her, at gunpoint, to park there.
  • Russian hackers took remote control of her LeSabre and drove it into le parking spot.
  • She ran out of gas at the exact moment she drove past the no-parking parking spot.
  • She had been parked there since before they even planned to have a mall there and they built the mall around her.
  • She had been parked in a good spot and a sudden ice storm, local only to Towson, made the car slip and slide out of that spot into the one designed for the trash cart.
And then the best choice hit me: she just didn't gave a hoot and a holler about anyone else.  How sad, especially at this time of year. I hope a little angel will appear to her and help her figure things out.

Monday, December 19, 2016

"Hey boss..."

Cash with the Tennessee Three
Johnny Cash used to call his backup band The Tennessee Three, but with inflation, we now are proud to introduce you to The Tennessee Twenty!

You hear about this sort of thing all the time, but it really happened for this group of co-workers. They work for an auto parts manufacturing company in Portland, Tennessee, and for eight years, they've all been chipping in to buy Powerball lottery tickets so they could stop working for an auto parts manufacturing company in Portland, Tennessee.

And it finally paid off - bigly! Or bigleague, whatever he says. 

They handle sales and quality control at the auto parts North American Stamping Group manufacturing plant. And the twenty winners will all pocket just a little under $13 million each.

Even the woman who owns the cigarette store where the winning ticket was purchased gets $25,000 as a reward.

Amy O'Neal is the leader of the group, and she says, "We're supporting education, and we're supporting Tennessee." She says that among the 20, they figure that a circle of 500 people will wind up benefitting.  And, they are all planning to help the people affected by the horrible wildfires in Eastern Tenn.

She said the group is so tight, they have often travelled and vacationed together. They've been known to work 24 hours straight on projects...

Speaking of which...they aren't all breaking their necks to punch that time clock one last time, either, as I sure as heck would have been. 

More cash for the Tennessee Twenty
The majority of the 20 say they will stay on the job - for now - and at least stick around long enough to help hire and train replacements.

"We love that company," O'neal said. "I'm not planning on quitting ... [but] I might change my mind."

I've always thought that, for the price of your Powerball ticket, getting to dream about winning is part of the payoff. I used to fantasize about winning a ton of money and then going back to work without telling a soul, waiting until someone asked me to do something I didn't care to do, and then holding out my winning ticket and saying "Naah naah na naaaaaah nah!

Let's see...keep working or stay home and sleep on piles of dollar bills...what a choice!