Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday rerun: Don't let this happen to you!

Zookeepers and others involved in the care and feeding of brass monkeys all across the Eastern United States are reporting that there are hardly any new ones being born!

Brass monkeys are traditional adornments for the well-to-do and the well-done, for the hale and hearty, the lean, the lank, the content, the querulous, in their swanky mansions and spare huts.  They are said to bring good luck to those who display them, and good fortune to all those who gaze upon them in the course of their daily meanderings.

And they just look so nice out on the porch, gazing beneficently on all who pass by!

But scientists and fanciers of metal animal replicas are all concerned by the recent, huge, decline in the birth rate of the primates in the phylum Chordata, subphylumVertebrata, class Mammalia orichalcum - the common brass monkey, so beloved of American decorators and the locals of the United Brass Workers International.

Renowned expert Adel Vice, reached at his office high on a hill, pointed out that it's believed that the tendency of many Americans to leave their brass monkeys outside on nights like last night is to blame.

"People know good and well what happens when a brass monkey is left out in sub-freezing temperatures," he said in a phone interview that I just made up.  "It doesn't have to happen this way.  When you hear two 'thuds' on the porch in the middle of the night, it's already too late."

Don't let this happen to you!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Saturday Picture Show, January 30, 2016

52 years ago this past week, America got a gift to help the 1960s finally begin.

Abe Vigoda passed away this week.  His performance as Sal Tessio in "The Godfather" was excellent.  Imagine being led away to a turncoat's death and still being able to say, "Tell Mike it was only business. I always liked him."  Then, when he asks consiglieri Tom Hagen to "get him off the hook, for old times' sake, Tom says, "Can't do it, Sally."  This reminds me of the Beatles' song "Long Tall Sally," and the fact that Sal Tessio is the tallest "Sally" I ever knew.

It certainly is a "privledge" to see how well Mr Brady can spell "alot" of the words he uses.  
Mugs for grammar lovers.  What a "grate" idea!

It must be fun to check into a hotel and find that your outfit perfectly matches your surroundings.  It's like being a chameleon!
The burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia) is a small, long-legged owl found throughout open landscapes of North and South America. Notice the genus "athene." Athene was the Greek goddess of wisdom. And that's why we call owls "wise." And they don't give a hoot!

I remain obsessed with the musical talent of Phil Spector, who gave us such great music back in the day.  But his personal demons took him away from all that and led him to the prison hospital ward where he is living out his life. This picture was taken at the top of his fame and success.  How sad that his music wasn't enough for him to be happy.  I listen to it all the time; I just have to separate the music from the man.

In Baltimore, we got enough snow last weekend to allow for all sorts of creativity.  Notice the attention to detail in this Snoopy tribute...the artist took a quick "paws" as he/she finished up...

Friday, January 29, 2016

A little dab'll do ya

They call it "dabbing," what Cam Newton, the quarterback of the Carolina Panthers, does when his team scores.  To "dab," one leans one's head into their elbow, as if they were about to sneeze. Learn to dab by watching this video, as did I. 

I'm no big fan of Newton, because his Auburn team beat my Alabama back in the day, but he has become a star quarterback, and it's interesting that the upcoming Super Bowl will pit him, the young gun, against the wily old sheriff, Peyton Manning.

Meanwhile - and I say this with a lot of love, because I have friends in and from Seattle, and I mean them no disrespect, but how about the fans out there climbing down off it a little bit, please?  Seattle's Seahawks blew into Carolina for the divisional playoff game and had their hats handed to them.  So, when at the end of that game, one of their fans handed Newton a "12" flag (Seahawk fans fancy themselves the "12th man" on the team, you see), Newton wadded up the cloth and, with the same arm that he will use to earn about 50 zillion dollars in his career, hurled it earthward.

Well. Out in the coffee roasting plants and aircraft factories and Microsoft offices of Seattle, this was regarded as being an enormity on the scale of using the Mona Lisa as a dropcloth or melting down the Liberty Bell to make beer cans.  And now, a Seattle fan, long on emotion but short on grammar, wants to pass a law forbidding Cam Newton to play football in Seattle, should the schedule call for it in the future.  Here is the preamble to the page this fellow started on

Cam Newton is one of the most unprofessional, unsportsmanlike individual on the face of the planet. So I say for the 2016-2017 when the Panthers come to play in Seattle he should be banned from entering the stadium.

Again, I have friends who are Seahawks fans, and while you have to admire their team and its play, I hope this petition is not representative of most people out there, people who realize that every game has a winner and every game has a loser and that taking your football home and pouting is the way of a five-year-old.

And to those who remember when the Seahawks won a conference championship two years ago, I have two words: Richard Sherman. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Doctor! Doctor!

Ah, what a difference a few days can make.  Especially when those days have been filled with good solid advice from people whose life's work it is to take a bag of chicken waste and turn it into chicken salad.

We're speaking about Dr Anjali Ramkissoon, resident in neurology at a Miami hospital, who flipped out on an Uber driver a while back because he had been called by someone else and refused to transport her.  So she kneed him in the proverbials, smacked him, and got into the car anyway, tossing dozens of papers out of the car into the street.

You saw all this on the morning news shows, because one fact of modern life that Dr Ramkissoon has not learned yet is that virtually everything we do nowadays is recorded on video on someone's phone or surveillance camera.  

So she breaks bad on the poor guy trying to make a buck at night hauling drunken Miamians around, and gets suspended from her job.  Until the website tracked her down in a $2,000/month 41st floor apartment, no one had heard more from her.  Oh, she had heard plenty from the citizenry, and said people had been calling her cell and threatening her family: “Everybody’s been harassing my mother and my old neighbors but they won’t talk to them. I’m trying to stay under the radar with a few friends. I didn’t realize this was going to be such a big deal."

And then..she said this: "I don’t even know when I’m going to get back to work. I’m getting a lawyer and a public relations firm but I don’t know if it’s going to do any good.

“I’m not sure I deserve what’s happening."

Well, the doctor must have met with her lawyer and her brand-new public relations firm, because yesterday, she went on Good Morning America, and like any other virtuoso, she knew it was time to sing a different tune.

Penitence poured from her like syrup on a waffle as she almost-tearfully told George Stephanopoulos that all this came at the end of a difficult day.

She said her father was put in the hospital earlier that day, so naturally, as a doctor, she realized that her duty and personal responsibility was to go barhopping with her boyfriend.

And then she broke up with her boyfriend.

Dr Ramkissoon in action
So the 30-year-old doctor went out and misbehaved on the street.

And now she says, "There’s absolutely no excuse for my actions,” Dr. Anjali Ramkissoon. I’m ashamed. I’m so sorry. I’ve hurt so many people."

If you ever happen to be compiling a list called "Things I Don't Want To Hear From The Physician Who Treats My Central Nervous System," place this one at the top:

"In the moment I was just so angry, I wasn’t really thinking. If I could take it back I would."

It would appear that the pr people have coached Dr Ramkissoon in how to appear all sorry and stuff because her career is in limbo. And it is true, she has invested a great deal of time and money in her medical training.

I suggest that she take that medical training and ask for a year's unpaid leave from the hospital, and go to a neighborhood in need of medical services, spending her days and nights treating and healing the ill.

And herself.  

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Teach Your Children Well

As the Civil War was beginning, Massachusetts troops were marching through Baltimore, on their way south to join the fray. (Just think - if no one ever went and joined a fray, there would be no more wars.)  Anyway, several Baltimoreans died on Pratt Street downtown when they chose to riot in the street as part of their demonstration of Southern loyalty.

A man by the name of James Ryder Randall, then living in Louisiana but a former Marylander, wrote a nine-stanza poem about all this 1861 unpleasantness.  His goal was to urge Maryland to secede from the Union and join the ill-fated Confederacy.

That didn't work out, good to hear, but along the line, the wise solons of the Maryland legislature made that song our state song, putting the poem to the tune of "O Tannenbaum." (aka "Oh Christmas Tree.")

The words to the song are offensive to many and arcane to others.  You have to know your history to know that the despot, the tyrant mentioned in the words was Abraham Lincoln.  And elsewhere, they mention the Union as "Northern scum."

This has to be the only state song that calls for the overthrow of the US Government, unless Oregon recently changed their state tune to something by Ted Nugent.

State Sen. Ron Young, D-Frederick, has filed a bill for the legislature to consider, which would eliminate some of the offensive lyrics and add a verse written by a man from Middletown in 1894.

"This is not a song that should really be our state song," Sen Young said. 

Of course, there is opposition to the opposition to having our state song be so nasty.  Jay Barringer, division commander of the Maryland Sons of Confederate Veterans, said that "Maryland's unique and vibrant history is embodied in James Randall's 'Maryland, My Maryland.'"

People are quick to rise up against changing things on the grounds that they dislike being "politically correct," which is another way of saying they don't mind hurting people's feelings. Mr Barringer says the song is "a history lesson" about which too many Marylanders are unaware.

I can tell the story of some awful people in history - the Hitlers, the Pol Pots, the Agnews - without calling them "scum."  As my dad always said, people who have to call others names and say revulsive things about them do so because they don't know the right words to use.

Teach the children what happened when some people started a riot. But don't make it a glorified part of our history, because it wasn't.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Give him a good dressing down

Out in Topeka, Kansas, where the Kansas State Legislature meets, Sen. Mitch Holmes, Republican chairman of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, has put forth an 11-point code of conduct for citizens who wish to testify before his august committee.

He said Rule No. 2 is intended to make certain each participant shows up "dressed in a respectful manner." What he says is that each conferee must wear "professional attire."

So if you are jetting out to Kansas to make known your feelings about the ethics of the Sunflower State, forget about wearing "skimpy blouses or plunging necklines."

You're right if you figure that this stricture only applies to the ladies. Sen. Holmes, who apparently fell asleep in 1963 and has not noticed the subsequent changes in our society, says he has observed "provocatively clad" females at the Capitol. And, showing too much while testifying is a distraction, he said, seemingly believing that looking at a comely woman stops male legislators from concentrating on their briefs.

Asked why there are no guidelines to stop male from testifying in Zubaz pants, a tank top and a porkpie hat, Holmes said “It’s one of those things that’s hard to define. Put it out there and let people know we’re really looking for you to be addressing the issue rather than trying to distract or bring eyes to yourself.”

Yes, ladies, every time you put on that one special dress - you know which one! - you only do it because it so bewitches men who, as we all know, have no self-restraint in public, nor should they have any, to Holmes's way of thinking.

Four women senators — two Republicans and two Democrats — said there should be unilateral demands on citizens who wish to testify about public policy in a public hearing dressed as they see fit to appear in public.
“Oh, for crying out loud, what century is this?” - Sen. Laura Kelly, a Topeka Democrat.
It was a Republican, Sen. Carolyn McGinn, who pointed out that this might undermine the committee's ability to hear the truth that would come from members of the public who are not able to dress up to the standards of, say, the panelists on "The View."

“I am more interested in what they have to say about the direction our state should go than what they’re wearing that day,” McGinn said.

Senator Holmes, whose Facebook page shows him wearing one of those K-Mart ties that reaches halfway down to his belly like the way Oliver Hardy used to dress, is clearly out of his league when it comes to delivering sartorial advice.  Just sayin'.
Hardy (left)

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Big One(s)

It's just after 3:30 on Friday afternoon, and what sounds like the Blizzard of A Lifetime is headed for my fair town of Baltimore, so of course, my thoughts run to blizzards and heavy snowfalls from the past.

The first big deal I remember was in February, 1958:  15.5 inches, and the thing I remember was being marooned without electricity for two or three days.  We lived out in the country at the time (my bucolic childhood!) and the power lines went down and stayed down.  Local historians say that this is the storm that led to Baltimoreans freaking out over any snowfall, running to the BuySoLo for bread, milk and toilet paper.  This practice continues apace even today. 

That was first grade, when missing school hardly meant anything. Ninth grade saw us miss almost a whole week from a 12.1 inch storm in January, 1966.  The storm hit Sunday, schools were closed until Thursday, and no one showed up so they closed school again on Friday. I remember being so bored of snow that I actually showed up at dear old Towsontown Junior High and helped the librarian shelve books.  

Two storms that always come to mind were January, 1987's 12.3 inches (we were moving to a new house three days later and the first thing I had to do after settlement was shovel my own brand new driveway for the moving men to back in), and the 14.9 incher in January, 2000, three days before I was moving into a new knee. It was tough for Peggy to bring me home a week later with my crutches and the piles of snow that hung around until August.

Valentine weekend of 2003 brought a 28.2 snowfall that started on Sunday and closed my office for three days, after which I came back to work and found my office window wide open.  Did I leave it open or did the wind blow it open?  Hmmmm.

Of course, the one(s) everyone still talks about here were the Snowmaggedon Twins, Deep and Drifty, from February, 2010. On Saturday the 6th we got a 24" blast, and it was like being in the ocean and getting knocked down by a wave, only to have another wave hit you when you're still catching your breath, when we got 19 more inches of snow three days later.  I remember opening the garage door that Tuesday, the snow drifting up over the front porch, and wondering where in hell I was supposed to put all that snow!

So I found a place there, and it melted very quickly.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sunday Rerun: "Aw, Gee Whiz!"

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.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Saturday Picture Show, January 23, 2016

One of my favorite snacks has always been pumpkin fact, I like them like this: plain, unsalted.  Mixed up with sesame stix and peanuts, that's a protein-packed power boost for that afternoon slump.
To mark the passing of David Bowie, someone took time to map out the flow chart for his song  "Modern Love." 

I love red socks, but can't find red WOOL socks, and in the wintertime, I like wool to keep my dogs warm.  But here's a classy move by NFL Network guy Michael Irvin...his face on his socks.
A regular feature of old gangster movies was when some hood carried a violin case that contained a machine gun.  Well, here's a weapon to charm instead of harm - a dog in a guitar case!
Mother Nature seems to outdo herself to make vegetables all pretty, and yet we cook them anyway!
And the cats said, hey, what about a cool way to tote us around, huh?
Yes, there was a time in America when the worst problem that could befall a person was to have stankbody, or "B.O." Fortunately, every stinker always seemed to have a friend to tell him or her just what to do about it.
Ahoy!  It's the Queen Mary, aye aye.  And tell me you weren't thinking of Titanic and wondering if there were enough lifeboats...or Lifebuoys!

Friday, January 22, 2016

A comic says funny things, a comedian says things funny

Once upon a time, in the Paleolithic days, a caveman named Ogg came home from work and told his family this joke:
"What's blue and smells like red paint?"  "Blue paint!"
Ogg's son, Oggson, found this to be hilarious, so much so that he went to school the next day and told the joke to his chuckleheaded, oafish friends Ugg, Thoran, and Track.  The next day, having heard the joke repeated by Ugg, Jr. over a Kentucky Fried Pterodactyl dinner the night before, Ugg, Sr. went to work and told it to his boss and the other guys who were mobbing around the office watercooler, and that was the first instance of a joke theft in our society.

Image result for amy schumerOur modern society sees Amy Schumer getting big yucks on stage and on TV by saying, "I’m very old-school, I think the guy should always pay on the first date – for sex."

Good line, and as with anything else in comedy, it's all in the pacing and rhythm of how she tells it.  (The title above, about how a comic says funny things and a comedian says things funny, is true. If you've ever heard someone try to repeat a joke without the ability to tell a joke, you know true pain. And the line itself was stolen years ago from Ed Wynn, a radio comedian from the old days.)

But, wait a minute.  Wendy Liebman is a comedian, too, and there is tape of her from twenty years ago, saying, "Maybe I’m old-fashioned but I like it when a guy pays – for sex."

Schumer tweeted, “I have never and would never steal a joke”, after allegations surfaced accusing her of stealing material from other standup comedians.  She even offered to take a polygraph test, and since she is under 30, she said she would "literally" take a polygraph test, so there you go.

There is another gag about a great diet secret - hiring someone to knock the food out of your hand before you can stuff it into your mouth - that Amy tells, and is very similar to one the late Patrice O'Neal used to use.

Schumer said she will prove that "I have never seen Patrice do that bit."

Even forgetting how difficult it would be to prove that you have never seen something, something I rarely see is a comedian who doesn't steal jokes.  They used to call Milton Berle "The Thief of Badgags" with very good reason.   Show me a comic who never ripped off "Take my wife, please!" from Henny Youngman, and I'll show you a comic who isn't very funny.

My advice for Amy would be to say, "Yeah, it must be a pretty good joke if I stole it!" and go on from there.

Meanwhile, do you know the difference between dancing, and pea-green paint?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Draw one for me

I know this weekend's plans call for heavy snow, followed by small children on sleds. But what are you doing on Saturday, July 23?

Eagle-eyed reader Dennis Schroeder, of lovely Prince Frederick, Maryland, recommends that we all hop on the Greyhound bus and trek to Milwaukee, to attend the 2016 version of Milwaukee Firkin Fest that day.

I know the word firkin doesn't spark a lot of interest, but perhaps it will when you learn, as I did, that a firkin is a small cask or barrel for storing ale.  A firkin holds about 9 gallons of beer, which is roughly a quarter of a full barrel.

It's like Woodstock, with fewer people
and more beer
If you go to the website, you'll see they really do go on about beer barrels in Milwaukee.  Since there are only three ways I can stand to drink beer, I don't really get into the barrel it comes in, but whatever they want is fine with me.

Greyhound will take you there and bring you back home for $84, according to their website.  You'll be coming back with an ear full of zydeco music by the band Zydeco Voodoo, a belly full of beer, sausage, pretzels, and deep-fried cheese curds, and a hand that holds a commemorative pint glass, your souvenir of your big Weekend in Milwaukee.

There are regular tickets, VIP tickets ("free food from 3 - 4:30") and designated driver tickets available.

The only trick the promoters missed out on is - there's no honeymoon package available! July is a big month for weddings, and what bride and groom wouldn't want to start off their married life with another snootful of Schlitz?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Call the Racquet Squad

The BBC over in Great Britain is reporting today that they have found secret files that they claim contain evidence of "widespread suspected match-fixing at the top level of world tennis, including at Wimbledon."

There is an outfit called the Tennis Integrity Unit, which has looked into reports that 16 top players have thrown matches over the past ten years.

The TIU says it has a zero-tolerance policy where corruption is concerned, but on the other hand, none of these people who were investigated has been held out of any competition, so you have to wonder how valid the reports are in the first place.

Chris Kermode is with the Association of Tennis Professionals, and he says it's not like the evidence of match-fixing had "been suppressed for any reason or isn't being thoroughly investigated".

He went on to say that the BBC reports deal with events from 10 years ago, but his group will check out any new information that comes in.

More to the point, there was an investigation following a game involving Nikolay Davydenko and Martin Vassallo Arguello.  

I'm sure we all recall that match!  Oh, how exciting! Davydenko hits the ball to Arguello, and then Arguello hit it back to Davydenko, and then yada yada yada it went back and forth a hundred times and I fell asleep.

Both players were cleared of violating any rules, and also, any hints that they were involved in anything interesting were rejected out of hand. 

Since then, the investigators are casting a wider net, looking into a web of gamblers that are involved with tennis match betting.

My conclusion is that I have now lived long enough to see the development of a tiny computer that you can carry in your pocket and use to make and receive phone calls and take pictures of your lunch, and long enough to see people purchasing hoverboards that add to their daily lives the extra excitement of setting the house on fire, and people waiting in line for hours for the chance to spend their money on a lottery ticket that will make them richer than Zuckerberg or Oprah.  

And now I have learned that there are people living among us who are willing to wager on the outcome of a tennis match.  I'll bet that I can't even stay awake long enough to see the outcome of a tennis match.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


The life and career of Ted Marchibroda, a fine football man who passed away on Saturday at age 84 at his home in Virginia, intertwined several times and several ways with Baltimore football.

He became the coach of the old Baltimore Colts in 1975, turning around a team that had really hit bottom with a 2-12 record the year before.  The '75 Colts lost four of their first five games, but wound up the season 10-4, making the playoffs but losing to an obscure team from western Pennsylvania called the "Steelers" (sp?)

The Colts followed that with several more successful seasons, but when star quarterback Bert Jones was injured before the 1978 season, they fell back into mediocrity, and Marchibroda was fired in 1979.

As some might recall, the Colts moved to somewhere in Indiana in 1984 because their owner, Robt. Irsay, was, in his mother's words, a scoundrel.  Irsay is dead now, but he lived long enough to read that his mother, at age 84, said of him, "He's a devil on Earth, that one. He stole all our money and said goodbye."

You don't want to show up at the pearly gates with that on your record.

But the Colts hired Marchibroda again as head coach from 1992 - 1995, and when the Baltimore Ravens came to town in 1996, they had the brilliant idea of hiring him to be the coach to turn the team in the right direction.  Ted coached the Ravens for their first three seasons and is generally credited with building the foundation for the championships that have followed.
One thing I didn't hear from the tv sports people as they reported his death was the most interesting Marchibroda-Baltimore connection.  Ted was a quarterback in his playing days, highly rated after his college days at St Bonaventure and the U of Detroit.  In 1955, Marchibroda, fresh off a year serving in the US Army, was the third of three quarterbacks that Pittsburgh coach Walt Kiesling chose to keep on his roster.  The fourth quarterback in that training camp, the one who was released to make room for Ted, was a fellow who wound up playing sandlot football for $6 a game, which is about what Tom Brady earns today for each breath he gulps into his snoot. 

That fellow wound up hitchhiking home from the Steelers' training camp and was invited to try out for the Baltimore Colts the next year.  He did pretty well here. Everyone loved, and still does love, the late Johnny Unitas!

As Paul Harvey used to say...

Monday, January 18, 2016

“With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.” - Dr Martin Luther King, Jr

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. addresses crowd in Washington, DCDr Martin Luther King, Jr. was a preacher in from Atlanta, serving as minister of a Baptist church in Montgomery, Ala. It's hard to believe, but this occurred in America some sixty years ago: Black citizens were required to ride in the back of the municipal buses (they did pay the same fare as all others), and were not allowed to shop in certain stores, dine at some restaurants, or even use public toilets or water fountains. Or Vote. 

Inspired by the resistance of a hard-working seamstress named Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her bus seat to a white man and move to the back of the bus, Dr King led a boycott of those buses.  It took almost two years, but in the end, the buses in Montgomery were desegregated, open to all.  

Today, we pause from the day-to-day to honor a man who had the courage to lead the nation away from the awful practices of legal racial prejudice and discrimination.

He went on to lead the fight to allow all citizens to vote.  Again, I am writing this for the benefit of the young, who might find it hard to believe there was a time and place in this country when a man or woman of legal voting age could be denied the right to vote because of the color of their skin.

Of course, even the young can see that a political platform that damns an entire race or religious group or seeks to keep them from coming to the Land Of The Free is based on "hair-brained" foolishness.

There was an interesting article in the Washington POST the other day about the Dr King Memorial in Washington.  National Park Service guide John W. McCaskill, stationed there, encounters all sorts of visitors to the monument.  Some are just learning about the fight for civil rights in the US, and some are people who were there on the front lines of the fight - literally.

One day, he met Rev. C.T. Vivian.  In 1965, Rev. Vivian was on the steps of the Birmingham municipal building, trying to register new voters. And a violent sheriff, one Jim Clark, stood in their way and said they could not register.  

Vivian stood firm for the right to vote. Clark hit Vivian so hard that he broke his hand. As blood poured from his nose and mouth, Rev Vivian had the courage to say this to the news cameras recording this horror:  
   "We are willing to be beaten for democracy."

And that courage flowed from the heart of the man whom we honor today. 

Please remember that, the next time that voting seems an inconvenience, or kindness to persons of a different faith or background seems to be too much trouble.  

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sunday Rerun: "They'll Never Miss This!"

I talk to people in all lines of work.  There was a great book by Studs Terkel, "Working," that had people talk all about their jobs. I mean, I'm interested in your job, no matter what it is you do. Pizza maker, bridge/tunnel toll taker, bread baker, football sideline pom-pom shaker...I love to hear about the ins and outs of jobs.  And most people will talk about their work, if they take any sort of pride in it. 

Like, you ask someone behind the counter at the sub shop about what the worst order to prepare in a hurry is, and who are the hardest customers to deal with, and they'll tell you!   Servers, hotel maids, grocery cashiers...they've got stories!  Just ask.

A lot of the stories, it's sad to say, concern the America habit of theft, wrapped in a blanket of entitlement.  Such as those people who will go to a restaurant and, as they leave, take 127 packets of sugar, and fake sugar, and the mustard and the ketchup.  And the salt and the pepper and the little jar of grated cheese.  And people will all tell you about their sweet Aunt Mildred whose kitchen contains cutlery and condiments from every diner in town, and old Millie always says some variation of, "Well, I paid for this when I paid my bill."

You paid for your Salisbury steak, mash and peas, but it's your kitchen, stock it any way you want, and IKEA charges for their kitchen implements, so into the purse it all goes.

Hotels and motels probably lose enough towels, blankets, sheets, coffee makers and clock radios to outfit the Army of Slovenia, what with people traveling home with souvenir towels, blankets, sheets, coffee makers and clock radios to mark their trip to East Awful.   

And of course, you do realize that this racket just makes them raise the price for everything to cover the loss.  

I don't figure it, to be honest with you. (And I wish everyone was!) 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Saturday Picture Show, January 16, 2016

Everybody is talking about this sort of picture, and I just thought I would try it out and show you my first shelfie.
The things people do to each other! Food pranking is a very dangerous business.
Great idea for a piece of leftover bread that was only going to go stale anyway...hang it outside the window, feed a birdie, and get a great picture.
Sometimes I think about what I would order for lunch if there were a WaWa right across the street from me.  The Italian Hoagie comes to mind, and stays there.
For those who like a funny rebus...say it aloud!
Today's modern drug smuggler is resourceful, stuffing fake carrots with real weed, but man, those are the fakiest-looking fake carrots I ever saw!
The really great thing about having a high-tech camera with a high-speed lens is, you are ready to go when someone says, "What I need is a picture of a drop of milk hitting a cup of coffee."
An Omaha police, on patrol near the scene of a pub fire's aftermath, found much better traction on four hooves than on four radial tires.

Friday, January 15, 2016

It's like when your antacid tablet gives you indigestion

We - and by that, I mean all of us - often spend money unnecessarily and frivolously. For instance, you don't really need a car that can reach speeds over 130 mph to take Sis and Bud to their church youth group meeting, and no one can tell the difference between the high-priced beer, wine and whisky, and the cheap stuff that I serve guests prefer.

So it's not only wasteful, but also sometimes harmful, to spend more than you need on something.  Here's a case in point: something called EOS lip balm - which is endorsed by worldwide lip experts Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears - is being sued by some former users. made some peoples' lips break out in a painful rash (so they say...)

According to the story, this lip balm comes in little tiny packages with tasty fragrance added - such delightful aromas as vanilla mint, strawberry sorbet and summer fruit.

The little packages will cost you $3.29 each.

Meanwhile, if you watched the Today show on Sunday, before the playoff football game that was played in temperatures below 0°F, you saw meteorologist Dylan Dreyer share the tip - to protect your exposed flesh in that sort of weather, smear Vaseline all over your mug.  And sure enough, later that day, Seattle coach Pete Carroll, deprived of the chance to show his magnificent head of hair because he had to wear a hat, clearly had his face protected by a thick layer of petroleum jelly.

In the early days of American oil exploration, people found quite by accident that the gooey residuey that formed on the shaft of an oil pump healed cuts and kept workers' hands smooth and tender. Robert Augustus Chesebrough, a British chemist, saw this and saw his fortune right in the palm of his hands, as it were. He marketed the stuff as Vaseline, and today, people who find their lips inflamed, allegedly by this lip balm, will need to buy some to put on their mugs.

It would be better for those who spend $3.29 for little pods of EOS lip balm to go to Dollarville and get a hefty tub of off-brand PJ for a buck and daub that on their kissers.  

Having part of your body injured by something that is supposed to help it would be like cutting yourself while opening a BandAid, or getting a headache from trying to open an aspirin bottle.  Or having your fire extinguisher go up in flame.

Or needing lip balm because your lip balm bothered your lips. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Sir Mixup a lot

My first name is Mark, which plays into this story because when my wonderful Peggy and I moved into the first version of what I call the Lazy 'C' Ranch, the good people at Verizon gave us a new phone that had just previously been the number of a man named "Mark."

And in those pre-Caller ID days, I answered the phone every time it rang, and the conversation often went like this:

Me: "Hello?"
Caller: "Mark?"
Me: "Yes..."
Caller: "Why won't you let Charlene use the car to take the kids to the doctor?"

or: "You cheating bastarrrrrrrrrrrrd...did you really think you could fool everyone?"

Well. I don't try to fool anyone, and I am sorry, but I was not that Mark.  I have often wondered how that family drama all played out, but not for long.

Baby got the wrong #
But that memory helped me relate to Jonathan Nichols, a Seattle lawyer who went to the Verizon kiosk in a mall out there and got himself a new cell phone when he was going to law school.  They gave him the number that used to belong to Verizon customer and Seattle native Anthony Ray, who is best known to music fans, and anyone who has attended a wedding reception in the last 15 years, as Sir Mix-a-Lot, who gave us the unforgettable love ballad "Baby Got Back."

For instance.
Well, it didn't take too long before Nichols got a lot of calls from people he didn't know...calls from luxury car salespeople, sexts from women with callypigian buttockular regions who wished to have others see their rear view mirrors, offers for backstage went on and on.

He started replying to the calls and tests, telling people he was sure they wanted someone else, but it wasn't until August 12, which as we all know is Sir Mix-a-Lot's birthday, that he figured it all out.  

Dozens of texts and calls wishing Mix a happy birthday gave it away.

None of the articles I read on this mentioned what the phone number is; Nichols apparently still uses it. It's not 900-MIXALOT, though (I checked!)

Now kick them nasty thoughts.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

It all adds up

Here I go again, climbing up on my high horse. It's not just because I keep seeing people write about the "guide" wire that held up a telephone "poll" that later fell into the "medium" strip along the highway, bringing "hoards" of spectators to the "seen." No one seems to care very much about grammar and spelling any more, so why I worry about it makes very little "cents."

But when people can't do simple arithmetic, then we have a problem. The cashier at the U-Bought-It has to pull out a pocket calculator to subtract 19 cents from $5.48. (And still comes up with $382.56). You tell a produce guy that you want half a dozen packs of 6 onion sets, and he wonders how many that will be. And who can forget the deli clerk at PriceRite who, when I ordered "three quarters of a pound of roast beef," handed me three 1/4-lb packages of roast beef.

Powerball Math: $1.3 Billion Divided By 300 Million Is Actually $4.33If there is one thing that brings America together, it's how we invest a few dollars and a lot of hopes and dreams in the powerball lottery, dreaming and scheming of how we will spend our fortune when we win it.  Or there is always the kind-hearted person who figures out how the lottery money could best serve the public at large.  Let's divvy it up among EVERYONE in the country!  

Hmmm...let's see...$1.3 billion divided by 300 million = $4.33 million for each person? Uh. I don't think so. It's $4.33 per person, which is not even enough to buy a five-dollar footlong sub which is not a foot long.

I don't know who Philipe Andolini is, and I don't even know if he is responsible for this mixup.  I do know that for your lottery money, you get to dream of being Oprah-rich and buying 127 Rolls-Royce cars to put one in front of your 127 mansions, and that seems to be enough.  

Image result for ethan couchHaving everyone in this country suddenly be a millionaire would mean a nation full of people like Ethan Couch.

But wouldn't it be great if his middle name were "Allen"?

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Please be more Pacific

There are two terms of Spanish origin that fill our conversation today.

One of them, of course, is "El Chapo," the Mexican drug kingpin who is back in custody now because the law down south of the border (just below the Trump Wall) tracked him to an American movie star.  This brings up the question...if El Chapo is in the calaboose, is there an election held to crown someone else as King Pin, or does the position go to one of his relatives, maybe? Suppose he has a shifty brother-in-law who has been hanging around the fringes of the family business for years, hoping for a chance to take over?  

I hope they make a movie about all this and that Wilmer Valderrama will play the brother-in-law.  

And, of course, the other term is "El Niño," for the weather phenomena that result from periodic fluctuations in temperature between the ocean waters and the atmosphere around the Equator near the Pacific Ocean. 

El Niño, as a weather phase, has been talked about since the 1600s.  And to date, no one has done anything about it!  The very term means "little boy" or "the Christ child" in Spanish, and was first used by fishermen off South America because it seemed to begin around the end of December...just like Christmas!

The warm Pacific water interacts with the air, and the next thing you know, there is a lot of rain across the nation as the air moves west to east, and this is good. It might put a dent in that California drought, and in the fender of that Hyundai that a Toyota skidded into on an icy midwest highway.

I bring this up because, as I write, the meteorologists are calling for a wintry mix, possibly involving a light dusting of snow, for later today.  In Baltimore, this will be preceded by thousands of people running to the BuySumMor, stocking up on bread, milk and toilet paper, as if they will not see the outside world again for months on end.

Blame it on either El Chapo or El Niño! 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Jeff Spicoli, Crime Buster

Now that we have Antenna TV on our cable and I can watch "Father Knows Best" (<---- ) and "McHale's Navy" and "The Jack Benny Program" all day, I really have decided what I need in my life is more enjoyment and less news.  As enjoyable as it is to hear Ted Cruz and that Trump fellow nattering on like two guys at a Rotary Convention, I would rather see Robert Young, Jane Wyatt, Elinor Donahue, Billy Gray and Lauren Chapin recreate 1950s family problems.

And so it is that I am consciously cutting down on TV news.  This leads to the sinking feeling you get when you walk into a movie halfway through it, or, worse, when you walk into a Chemistry exam knowing little more about chemistry than that one should not mix bleach and ammonia, when I see stories that began a day or two before.

I did hear that Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, aka "El Chapo" ("The Short One") escaped from Mexican prison last year. Lucky Guzmán, taking an afternoon stroll around his palatial cell, found a giant manhole in the floor, just big enough for one man to shimmy down to a tunnel, where a motorcycle had been left behind by the tunnelmakers.  Using the carelessly-discarded Honda to get away from the mysterious tunnel, Guzmán escaped Mexico.

Only to be captured alive late last week... in Mexico.  

And then yesterday I read that the Mexican authorities nabbed him because he was finalizing last-minute details about a biographical movie, and being interviewed about it by Jeff Spicoli ( ----> ).

The next thing you know, people will believe that Supergirl can really fly and carry airplanes around, and George Clooney is really a physician. 

Enough of real life! Back to Hollywood versions of it for me.  Just call me "El Cheapo."

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Sunday Rerun: Bring me the files on Sonny Bono!

I wondered what the purpose of the FBI is, so, with J Edgar Hoover being unavailable to ask, I Googled "Why do we have a Federal Bureau of Investigation?" 

Here's what I was told...

The mission of the FBI is to protect and defend the United States against terrorist and foreign intelligence threats, to uphold and enforce the criminal laws of the United States, and to provide leadership and criminal justice services to federal, state, municipal, and international agencies and partners.
And then, when you go to the FBI website, you find this link to the online FBI files  - at least, the ones that they want you to see. (A photo of J Edgar in a slinky kimono is not online.)  They call this "the reading room," and that's supposed to make you feel as if you're in a nice leather easy chair with nice soft lighting overhead, sipping a cup of Mocha Java and idly glancing through the documents that document our documented fight against international terrorist threats, and those who would dare to break the criminal laws of the United States, and so forth, on and on.

You won't see much about the government's efforts to curb narcotics addiction in these files.  The FBI was too busy running surveillance on Dr Martin Luther King to fret about drug kingpins importing tons of heroin destined for the street of urban America. And here is another way they spent their time.

In 1964, responding to hand-wringing complaints from some mom or dad in New York's suburbs, the full attention of the USFBI was turned to finding out whether the lyrics to the rock standard "Louie Louie" were obscene. 

This is a real picture of
the real J. Edgar Hoover
This is what Hoover and his pals were doing while you thought they were fighting real crime.  So, while you got clocked and mugged for your wallet so that a junkie could score enough to settle his jones, at least you knew, while you sat in the ER waiting for stitches, that you wouldn't hear any dirty lyrics in a song on the radio...a song that was as innocuous as a nursery rhyme.  Read the lyrics as they were reported to the FBI (page 14 of the documents) by a student at Sarasota Junior High School, hear the record here, andread the real lyrics here. 

Take some time to read some of the other files.  From Biggie Smalls to Eleanor Roosevelt, whoever you are, the FBI has a file on you, you terrorist, you.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Saturday Picture Show, January 9, 2016

There must be some reason why the guy who maintains the warning light bulbs way up on top of the Harry W Nice Bridge (better known as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge) feels safe climbing up there with his shoelaces untied.  Tell you what, why don't you run on up there and ask him about it?  I'll just wait right here.
You have to hand it to Cara here for her effort at extending the Christmas "brake" for an extra week. I see a big career for her someday in the field of labor relations.
On the left, coach John Wooden is showing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, then known as Lew Alcindor, the way.  Fifty years later, Kareem returns the favor.
The slogan was "Red sky in morning, sailor take warning.  Red sky at night, sailor's delight."  Do these guys care if it's morning or night?
You should feel very guilty if your hamster is running around without a tiny sweater on.
Even when I still guzzled soda, I liked Coke over Pepsi, but I would drink a gallon of Pepsi if I could have a red plaid sports jacket like this guy is sporting!
The big tourist attraction in Margate NJ for all these years - say hi to Lucy the Elephant. Having been there once, I can honestly say I love Lucy.
I will keep posting winter snow scenes until we are blessed with our own.  Have a great weekend!