Thursday, March 13, 2008

 

You can find me occasionally blogging at

HERE

Thursday, August 30, 2007

 

HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER


Damn... How can it be Labor Day already? Seems like the summer just got underway! But the granddaughters have been in school for two weeks, so summer must be about over. The bulk of the nations children will be starting school next Tuesday, and most will be given the assignment of writing an essay on how they spent their summer vacation. Since I am feeling rather young and highschoolish these days, I thought I might post an essay on how I spent MY summer. Yes Miss Brooks, you can share it with the class (sorry, flashback)!

I spent 20 days paddling 15 different rivers. Made a lot of new friends on the river! Thanks to the Internet, our paddling group has more than doubled in size! The highlights of the paddling year were probably the Pigeon River Camp and Canoe, the two trips we made on the Dowagiac, and the Indiana Paddler's Rendezvous. Pics of which can be viewed on my Flickr site. The low point was probably last week, when a high water trip on the Pigeon nearly cost us a paddler, and a kayak. As it is, the paddler suffered black eyes, possible broken nose, and cracked ribs. She is probably only alive because of the skilled river rescue pulled off by one of our senior paddlers, Nick Norris. He also orchestrated a skilled rescue of a pinned kayak. Our other senior paddler, 74 yr old Bob (Curmudgeon) Owens, also was responsible for a skilled rescue. Thank heavens for the geezers!

I learned a lot of lessons paddling this summer, the top 5 of which were:

5. I am a much better paddler than I gave myself credit for.
4. I am not nearly the paddler I want/need to be.
3. I have incredible paddling friends who are much more resilient and forgiving than I deserve!
2. I too often take our elder statesmen paddlers for granted. What they have lost in physical prowess is more than made up for in accumulated skill and knowledge.

And the #1 lesson I learned this summer... NEVER take the river for granted! It will bite you in the ass every time!

Now I am sure that at this point you are thinking, "Wow, what a full exciting summer! Couldn't possibly have crammed much more than that in!" WRONG, camel breath!

I spent several weekends camping, where I was introduced to a wondrous invention called a "Bake Packer." Allows you to cook an entire meal in a food grade plastic bag, freeing you from the hassle of washing pots and pans! NIFTY!

I also baby sat for my granddaughters every Friday. Among our adventures... Every Friday breakfast at Allie's Cafe, where the pancakes shaped like Mickey Mouse were a big hit! Several trips to lake Michigan beaches. Toured four separate museums. The Studebaker Museum, the Northern Indiana Center For History, including a tour of the fabulous Oliver Mansion, where the founder of the Oliver Chilled Plow Works (now White Tractor), and his heirs lived. Also toured HealthWorks Kids Museum, and the Curious Kids Museum in St. Joseph MI. The children's museum visits were bracketed by breakfast at Le Peep (which they found to be very fancy and grown up), and dinner at their favorite restaurant, Cracker Barrel.

Wow, but there is still MORE!

I discovered the best invention of the new century so far... The 5L Heineken refrigerator keg! Hold five liters of draft beer, and will keep it for a month after it's been tapped. Fits perfectly on the bottom shelf of the fridge! Also discovered that if you set the keg on the table next to the computer, you can go through a half dozen pints of beer in an amazingly short span of time. Also discovered that consuming six pints of beer in that short a period of time makes it difficult to type. Or for that matter, to get up from the chair.

I spent many a summer night watching, or listening to, my beloved Detroit Tigers. Amazing how they have hung in the pennant race, in spite of the multitude of injuries they've suffered!

I also am now officially qualified for the senior discount at McDonald's and Allies Cafe! Another milestone passed. Or should that say millstone?

And last, but certainly not least.... I began seeing a lovely young woman 17 years my junior. Who had her own adventurous summer, including three weeks in Europe.

Yes, I am bemused by my sudden abandonment of my 7 year old "never again" vow. And yes, I am bemused and slightly embarrassed to be seeing someone who is still "pre 40." But she doesn't yet seem to have a problem with it, and I am not so embarrassed as to suddenly become rational!

Okay, THAT was my summer in a nutshell!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

 

Sniper and other Love Songs (and a Spurrier does us proud!)



The title of this post comes from an old Harry Chapin album. In view of yesterdays events, it seemed fitting.

It has been a very disturbing week. One that has brought back so many memories of a very painful time. The Texas Clock tower shootings came as such a shock to a still naive fourteen year old. The impact was a lasting one, in a way I am sure won't be the same for this generation. School shootings are common place now. They were unheard of then. And the scale of it was so grand. It was the beginning of my loss of innocence. Since yesterday's massacre at Virginia Tech, this song has been constantly on my mind.

The first time I heard Harry Chapin sing SNIPER was a live appearance on the Tonight Show in 1972. It left Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon so speechless that Doc Severnson had to introduce the commercial break. Do yourselves a favor and drop the 99 cents on iTunes and download this song. Pay close attention. It will haunt you.

SNIPER

It is an early Monday morning.
The sun is becoming bright on the land.
No one is watching as he comes a walking.
Two bulky suitcases hang from his hands.

He heads towards the tower that stands in the campus.
He goes through the door, he starts up the stairs.
The sound of his footsteps, the sound of his breathing,
The sound of the silence when no one was there.

I didn't really know him.
He was kind of strange.
Always sort of sat there.
He never seemed to change.
Oh no, oh no


He reached the catwalk. He put down his burden.
The four sided clock began to chime.
Seven AM, the day is beginning.
So much to do and so little time.

He looks at the city where no one had known him.
He looks at the sky where no one looks down.
He looks at his life and what it has shown him.
He looks for his shadow it cannot be found.

He was such a moody child, very hard to touch.
Even as a baby he never smiled too much. No no.No no.

You bug me, she said.
Your ugly, she said.
Please hug me, I said.
But she just sat there
With the same flat stare
That she saves for me alone
When I'm home.
When I'm home.
Take me home.


He laid out the rifles, he loaded the shotgun,
He stacked up the cartridges along the wall.
He knew he would need them for his conversation.
If it went as it he planned, then he might use them all.

He said Listen you people I've got a question
You won't pay attention but I'll ask anyhow.
I found a way that will get me an answer.
Been waiting to ask you 'till now.
Right now !

Am I ?
I am a lover who's never been kissed.
Am I ?
I am a fighter who's not made a fist.
Am I ?
If I'm alive then there's so much I've missed.
How do I know I exist ?
Are you listening to me ?
Are you listening to me ?
Am I ?

The first words he spoke took the town by surprise.
One got Mrs. Gibbons above her right eye.
It blew her through the window wedged her against the door.
Reality poured from her face, staining the floor.

He was kind of creepy,
Sort of a dunce.
I met him at the corner bar.
I only dated the poor boy once,
That's all. Just once, that was all.


Bill Whedon was questioned as stepped from his car.
Tom Scott ran across the street but he never got that far.
The police were there in minutes, they set up barricades.
He spoke right on over them in a half-mile circle.
In a dumb struck city his pointed questions were sprayed.

He knocked over Danny Tyson as he ran towards the noise.
Just about then the answers started coming. Sweet, sweet joy.
Thudding in the clock face, whining off the walls,
Reaching up to where he sat there, answering calls.

Thirty-seven people got his message so far.
Yes, he was reaching them right were they are.

They set up an assault team. They asked for volunteers.
They had to go and get him, that much was clear.
And the word spread about him on the radios and TV's.
In appropriately sober tone they asked "Who can it be ?"

He was a very dull boy, very taciturn.
Not much of a joiner, he did not want to learn.
No no.No no.


They're coming to get me, they don't want to let me
Stay in the bright light too long.
It's getting on noon now, it's goin' to be soon now.
But oh, what a wonderful sound !

Mama, won't you nurse me ?
Rain me down the sweet milk of your kindness.
Mama, it's getting worse for me.
Won't you please make me warm and mindless ?

Mama, yes you have cursed me.
I never will forgive you for your blindness.
I hate you!

The wires are all humming for me.
And I can hear them coming for me.
Soon they'll be here, but there's nothing to fear.
Not any more though they've blasted the door.

As the copter dropped the gas he shouted " Who cares ?" .
They could hear him laughing as they started up the stairs.
As they stormed out on the catwalk, blinking at the sun,
With their final fusillade his answer had come.

Am I ?
There is no way that you can hide me.
Am I ?
Though you have put your fire inside me.
Am I ?
You've given me my answer can't you see ?
I was !
I am !
and now I Will Be
I WILL BE !!!
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Even before yesterday's news, I was suffering from this sort of hollow, kinda haunted feeling. My daughter heard that this week was the anniversary of Sirhan Sirhan's conviction, and decided to rent BOBBY. Now, I have wanted to see this movie for a long time, but also knew that it would stir up an emotional can of worms. I can still remember the events of that morning like they happened yesterday.

It was still the heyday of 50.000 watt clear channel radio stations, and I had fallen asleep with a transistor radio under my pillow, listening to Pittsburg's KKOW. The Pirates were playing the Dodgers, and Don Drysdale was going for a record sixth striaght shutout. I woke with a start about 4;30 to the sound played before a news bulletin. Richard C. Hottelet came on and announced that Bobby Kennedy had been shot. My dad had just left for work, but I couldn't wait and woke up my mother. My parents were by no means Kennedy fans, but after the MLK assassination, even my folks understood that Bobby had become the glue holding the nation together. My mom and I sat listening to Detroit's all news station WWJ, and staring at the peacock test pattern on the tv, waiting for the local NBC affiliate to come on the air. By the time the Today Show came on, it was clear that Kennedy's life hung in the balance. The nation came close to a standstill, everyone watching the tv waiting for news. I didn't come till about 10 pm eastern time, when it was announced Bobby had passed.

As for the movie itself, it was excellent. A tremendous ensemble cast, with incredibly strong performances from Demi Moore, Sharon Stone, Christian Slater, and Freddy Rodriguez (from HBO's Six Feet Under).

But, in the end, the film left me depressed with the same old questions. How much different would this country be had it not been for one crazed guy with a gun? No Nixon, no Watergate, no neocon hijacking of the Republican party. No Reagan. How different would the world be? Sigh.
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I have never been a big Steve Spurrier fan, even though we share an ancient ancestor. Until now. But my opinion of him changed Saturday when he uttered seven simple words. "That damned flag needs to come down" said the University of South Carolina football coach, pointing at the Confederate flag flying over the Capital building.

That Spurrier would say that in the heart of the Confederacy, knowing he was gonna piss off a lot of wealthy alumni, took balls. But he is right. Not only is that flag the symbol of racism and slavery, it represents the single biggest act of treason in the history of America. It has no place in America, it is a source of shame, not pride.

Whether or not Spurrier said that out of moral conviction, or because he knows it hurts his ability to recruit matters not. It took massive size cajones to say that to the audience he did.

He has my new found admiration. Not to mention a big dose of family pride!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

 

urgent business


Okay, I was gonna blog about my feelings regarding the whole Don Imus fiasco. Or perhaps the logical comparisons between Prosecutorgate and Watergate. But then something of greater urgency came up, and I felt obliged to blog about it.

The other day, a Dallas DJ was quoted on NPR as saying he hated the TV show FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS because "it just reinforces the stereotype that all Texans are interested in is football, and sex on the washing machine." About the same time, the local Tex-Mex restaurant chain here put billboards up all over Michiana that say "Hacienda: Satisfying more desperate housewives than the spin cycle!"

Okay, would somebody please explain to this apparently naive (and more than a little grossed out) Yankee:
a) What is the attraction of exposing ones naked "parts" to cold, hard porcelain?

b) Does one have to wait for the spin cycle for maximum effect?

c) Does this activity require a partner, or can it be pursued "solitaire"?

d) Is this really a "Texas" thing? And if so, don't you people know about beds, sofas, sand dunes, or the grass in the park? You know... SOFT surfaces!

Just curious!
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Okay, about Imus.

His departure, even though deserved, saddens me a bit. I have always liked Imus. I am sure he must feel like somebody changed the rules in the middle of the game. After all, he's been saying equally outrageous
(or more so) things on the air for 35 years. However, I do understand what makes this different.

The reason I have always liked Imus is his willingness to take on the rich and powerful and cut them down a size or three. He said outrageous, sometimes almost vicious, things about, and to people, but never somebody who couldn't defend themselves, and never somebody of whom you couldn't honestly say you didn't see at least a resemblance to Imus' remarks.

But these girls are different. They clearly don't resemble "nappy headed Ho's". They are articulate, attractive young women with no real platform to defend themselves, and they clearly don't resemble Imus' characterization of them.

Imus went a step too far, and is justly paying for it. I have no problem with that.

What I do have a problem with is the number of black people who have publicly defended their use of words like the "N" word and Ho. They argue that there is a difference between white people using those words and blacks using them. The argument, probably expressed most articulately by ESPN's Stuart Scott, is that by using these words, blacks endeavour to take the power out of them. There is only one problem with that argument. It is dead wrong.

What it really does is tell the world that even blacks have bought into the stereotype. That even they believe the connotations to be true. It is just like hearing one black kid tell another that being smart and getting good grades is "acting white." Because the inference there is that to really be black, you must be dumb and uneducated. How do you expect whites not to believe the stereotype if you have bought into it?

As someone who as a young man was a foot soldier in the civil right movement (yeah, I marched and carried signs and hung out at the mall getting petitions signed), I am deeply saddened by the clear deterioration of Black American culture the last thirty years. Back when I was a young man, black culture was very matriarchal, women were deeply respected. I never heard any of my black friends worry about their "Pops" reaction to their behavior. But Momma, now THAT was a different story. These kids both revered and feared their mothers. So how is it now that black culture has become so misogynist?

Listen to what passes for music in black culture today. There is constant reference to women as "Ho's". Constant reference to sexual domination and violence. What does that say to the people who are the biggest consumers of this music, suburban white males? Yes, Stuart Scott et. al.... it reinforces all those negative stereotypes you so want to shed.

Words like nigger, niggah, whore, or ho are and should be extremely offensive no matter who's mouth they come out of.

Okay, off my soap box.
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Want a laugh?

Go to Google
click on "maps"
click on "get directions"
enter from: New York, New York
to: Paris, France
read directions, making careful note of line #23

Somebody at Google has a sense of humor!

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Saturday, March 31, 2007

 

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz..........................


Yes, I realize I have been missing in action. I have just been swamped. Doing some revamping on the canoe blog. Putting together the 2007 paddling schedule. Helping prepare for the annual river clean up. And actually taking advantage of some unseasonably warm weather to get some paddling in.

So check out the canoe blog and view the years initial trip report, and our paddlng schedule. Hopefully, I'll be back and blogging soon!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

 

DEATH OF AMEIRCAN JUSTICE?










clockwise from left: Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales, Whitehouse Counsel and former Supreme Court nominee Harriet Meirs, Director of Assistant Attys. Gen. Michael Battle, terrorism suspect Jose Padilla

It has been a tough few weeks for American Justice. First, there was the continuing fiasco that is the Jose Padilla trial. Seems the prosecution and Justice Dept. have "lost" the tape of Padilla's final interrogation, the one that Padilla's lawyers have contended all along contain images that would explain Padilla's current mental state. Now who really believes that they lost this tape? Only someone who hasn't been around the barnyard a time or two!

And then, of course, is the continuing saga of the political firings of eight asst. US Attys. Gen. Just a couple of days ago, Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales was swearing that these firings were performance related, not political, and that the White House had no involvement.

Of course, It turns out that not only was the White House involved, but according to two years worth of memos from White House Counsel Harriet Meirs to US Atty Executive Office Director Michael Battle, the White House wanted to fire all fifty assistant US Attys., and replace them, without Senate approval, via a little known clause in the US Patriot act that allows the Atty Gen. to fill vacancies without said approval. Micheal Battle has become the fall guy for the Administration, having been fired today. But virtually everyone in the country should be thanking him for talking the Administration down from 50 firings to eight.

It dismays me, this administrations total lack of regard for the rule of law, and the American public's apparent willingness to accept it.

Then their was the totally Orwellian Sunday NY Times op-ed piece about the use of brain scans as evidence in trials. Currently, they are mostly only used in the sentencing phase of death penalty cases, to argue that the defendant couldn't help himself, the make up of his brain caused him to do it.

The whole process begs the question as to whether or not we will soon be locking up people not because they have committed a crime, but to prevent them from doing so. Will the government, in the name of public safety, be allowed access to our most secret thoughts and desires? Holy 1984!!!!!

You can hear a totally disconcerting and rather creepy interview with the author HERE

And finally, there was this recent depressing article in the local paper:

Homeless man spent 17 months in jail for stealing a soda
CROWN POINT, Ind. (AP) -- Officials are at a loss to explain how they allowed a homeless, mentally ill man accused of stealing a soda to languish in jail for 17 months.

Edward Perez's attorney, his court-appointed psychiatrist, the judge in his case and Lake County jail officials all apparently believed he had been released a year ago.

The mistake wasn't discovered until this month, after a new warden ordered a review of all inmates' files, Sheriff Roy Dominguez told the Post-Tribune of Merrillville for a story Friday.

''This is very unfortunate,'' Judge Sheila Moss said. ''This is a guy who apparently needed services, and he should have been somewhere where he could get that, rather than sitting in our county jail, which is already overcrowded.''

The jail released Perez, 22, and transferred him to a mental health clinic Feb. 7, Dominguez said.

Perez had stayed in the jail's medical wing since July 2, 2005, after allegedly stealing a bottle of Pepsi from a Wal-Mart in Schererville, Dominguez said.

A police report that referred to the man as ''Edward Hammer-Perez'' said that before stealing the soda, he said he had just gotten out of jail and wanted to go back. He listed the state psychiatric hospital in Logansport as his address.

In February 2006, the psychiatrist went to the jail to evaluate Perez only to be told he already had been released, Moss said. The judge said that after the psychiatrist informed her, she deferred to defense attorney Fred Flores, who agreed that his client was not behind bars.

Prosecutors said they would dismiss the charges, Moss said, adding, ''I could see no need to send a court order to that effect over to the jail, since the defendant was, by all accounts, already free.''

However, since the jail never received a release order, it kept Perez in custody, said Mike Higgins, a spokesman for Dominguez.

Moss, noting that Perez appeared in some records as ''Edward Hammer-Perez,'' speculated he might have been jailed under a different name than appeared on his court file.

A telephone message left by The Associated Press seeking comment from Flores was not immediately returned Friday. An employee at the clinic where Perez was taken said officials authorized to comment were unavailable until Monday.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

 

WARNING LABEL, AND OTHER RANDOM THOUGHTS AND STORIES.


I think the government should mandate the following warning sign be placed on the homes of all evil bitch dragon ladies:

WARNING: LIVING NEXT TO EVIL BITCH DRAGON LADIES MAY CAUSE RAMPANT ALCOHOLISM AND OTHER SERIOUS HEALTH PROBLEMS.

This is actually not that funny. The amount of alcohol I consume has about quadrupled the last month. The 30 count case of OM that used to last me a couple of weeks is lucky to last me 4 days lately. Last night I went to dinner with a friend at the Oaken Bucket, and in an amazingly short amount of time, I had consumed five 20oz draughts of Smithwicks Irish Ale. Which I followed up with two pints of Boddington's Pub Ale when I got home. Yeah, you know it is getting bad when I am breaking into the weekend beer on Wednesday night!

At least I think our problems with South Bend Animal Control may be over. We got a notice demanding to see his crate because "someone" had reported that he was being kept in a crate that was too small for him. Fortunately, my extremely buxom daughter had the good sense to put on the "boob shirt." The same one she wears when she wants to get seated and served at the local bars. The poor young animal control officer stammered that he could see Kipper was well taken care of and we'd have no more visits unless he bites somebody. You know you've accomplished your goal when speech impediment sets in!
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FILE UNDER THE "WHAT THE FUCK?" category. Please explain to me what these tax guys are thinking, and why Rod Blagoyavich hasn't kicked their butts back into the stone ages?
Alternative Fuel Creates Tax Woes for Couple
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The continuing story of the fired US Attorneys could get VERY ugly very soon. Daniel Shorr is comparing it to Nixon's firing of Archibald Cox, which led to article 2 of Nixon's impeachment: Abuse of Presidential power. Listen to Shorr's excellent commentary on the
The Independence of U.S. Federal Attorneys HERE
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In a related story: After all but admitting to attempting to influence the direction of a Federal corruption probe, shouldn't Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Congresswoman Heather Wilson (R-NM) resign immediately? Is there any greater threat to justice than political interference in judicial cases? Hopefully, at the very least, there will be a severe censure from the Senate and House. Actually, their respective chambers could have them removed from office. More likely to happen to Wilson than Domenici, but who knows?

And the Republican culture of corruption continues to rear it's ugly head!
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If you are a music lover, and get tired of the repetitive shit you hear on what passes for radio these days, NPR is a great resource. I am constantly finding new stuff on their site I didn't know existed. The latest discovery is the SHADOW CLASSICS column by Tom Moon. Lot's of great stories and music. Especially check out Michael Nesmith: Overcoming the Monkees, Last Coherent Statement of a Genius (about Sly Stone), and A Long Career on the Verge of Fame (about Katell Keineg). Each of these articles includes several songs by the articles subject. Great reading and listening. SHADOW CLASSICS
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UPDATE! ATTENTION DR (almost). GYMPUMPKIN! After a 35 year hiatus THE STOOGES have released a new album! And they are going to tour! Yep, original memebers Iggy Pop, Ron and Scott Asheton (Bassist Dave Alexander died in 1975), plus two new guys.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

 

WANTED: CHRISITIAN HITWOMAM AND/OR SEX GODDESS



That is the headline I am considering for a singles ad to be placed in the local personals website. I need a hit woman because I live next door to the Evil Bitch Dragon Lady. I would burn her out, but then she would just go terrorize someone else. Better to have her offed. However, my hit woman has to be principled, I don 't want just any Sue, Jane, or Mary off the street. If she happens to be a sex goddess too, that would be a great bonus. And if she turns out not to be such a great hit woman, well, I guess I could live with the sex goddess part.
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WHAT THE FUCK IS THE MATTER WITH OUR MILITARY LEADERS?

Have any of you been following the Walter Reid Army Hospital scandal? The Washington Post ran a series of articles on the appalling conditions outpatient vets were being subjected to. The top brass expressed out rage, claimed no knowledge, and promised there would be immediate changes. Yesterday, they relieved the two star general in charge of his command.

Now, for some reason, this story sounded vaguely familier to me. It turns out there was good reason for that. I am a Salon.com subscriber. It turns out Salon published a series of articles in 2004 describing the exact same conditions. And here is the kicker. The general fired yesterday for incompetance is being replaced by the general in charge in 2004.

And we may never find out if the lives of these brave men who have sacrificed so much will ever improve or not. The Army has placed a gag order on all military patients. They now are required to have permission to talk to reporters.

The truth appears to be that the Pentagon would rather sacrifice the well being of GI's than to invest money in a facility scheduled to be closed in ten years.
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ALSO... I have added a couple of new recipes at THE CHURCH POTLUCK, Old Fashioned Chicken Pot Pie, Simmered Chicken, and Blackjack Chicken.
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FINALLY..
Some pics of Kipper, the world's largest, cutest, oldest puppy. 85 lbs of sheer exuberance.



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Friday, February 23, 2007

 

MOVIE GEMS

Clockwise from left: Barabara Stanwyck, Kirk Douglas, Van Heflin, Stanwyck, Heflin, Lizabeth Scott, John Payne, Loretta Young, Orson Wells

With the Oscars coming up Sunday, everyone is focused on the movies. I thought this might be a great time to point out some great movies you probably haven't seen. And the best thing is, you can view them dirt cheap.

Next time you visit your local convenience store, thumb through the box of dollar videos sitting on the counter. True, there is a lot of junk there, but there are also some truly great movies available there, often packaged two on one disk. This is especially true for vintage Film Noir, but also great Westerns, War films and Comedies.

A few of my recent finds include:

THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS. A terrific noir with Barbara Stanwyck, a very young Kirk Douglas, Van Heflin, and Lizabeth Scott. From IMDb: "
In 1928, young heiress Martha Ivers fails to run off with friend Sam Masterson, and is involved in fatal events. Years later, Sam returns to find Martha the power behind Iverstown and married to "good boy" Walter O'Neil, now district attorney. At first, Sam is more interested in displaced blonde Toni Marachek than in his boyhood friends; but they draw him into a convoluted web of plotting and cross-purposes."

THE STRANGER. Orson Wells, Edward G. Robinson, Loretta Young. From IMDb: "Wilson of the War Crimes Commission is seeking Franz Kindler, mastermind of the Holocaust, who has effectively erased his identity. Wilson releases Kindler's former comrade Meinike and follows him to Harper, Connecticut, where he is killed before he can identify Kindler. Now Wilson's only clue is Kindler's fascination with antique clocks; but though Kindler seems secure in his new identity, he feels his past closing in."

On the same disk is THE TRIAL. Directed by Wells and starring Anthony Perkins, this movie is based on the novel by Franz Kaska. Haven't watched it yet, but the reviews sound excellent.

From KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL: Another really terrific noir starring John Payne, one of my favorite actors. I really
enjoyed this movie. IMDb: "A down-on-his-luck ex-GI finds himself framed for an armored car robbery. When he's finally released for lack of evidence--after having been beaten up and tortured by the police--he sets out to discover who set him up, and why. The trail leads him into Mexico and a web of hired killers and corrupt cops.

Also on this disk, a Dragnet episode, and a vintage Mighty Mouse cartoon!

A WALK IN THE SUN: Terrific WWII flic starring Dana Andrews. From IMDb: "
In the 1943 invasion of Italy, one American platoon lands, digs in, then makes its way inland to attempt to take a fortified farmhouse, as tension and casualties mount. Unusually realistic picture of war as long quiet stretches of talk, punctuated by sharp, random bursts of violent action whose relevance to the big picture is often unknown to the soldiers."

Also purchased but not yet viewed: THE ROAD TO BALI. Bob Hope , Bing Crosby classic. A western twinbill; NEATH THE ARIZONA SKYS w/John Wayne and SANTA FE TRAIL w/Ronald Regan.

So, for $5, I got eight terrific movies, a couple of TV shows, and several pretty neat cartoons. Now that's a bargain.

UPDATE!

Viewed the Western double feature yesterday. The John Wayne flick wasn't much, but the other film, SANTA FE TRAIL, was terrific. It chronicles the exploits of a group of West Point grads in the years just prior to the Civil War, fast friends who would become famous as enemies just a few years later, and the nations inevitable slide into civil war. Really strong cast. Stars Ronald Reagan (as George Armstrong Custer), Errol Flynn (as J.E.B. Stuart), Raymond Massey (as John Brown), Van Heflin, Olivia De Haviland, and Alan Hale. This movie really gives you the a feeling of the times, and almost a sense of dispair at the inevitable.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

 

TRANSLATION: AMERICANS ARE STUPID!

So.... You're this relatively unknown animation studio in the UK, and you come up with this smash hit movie, SHREK. The distributing studio, Dreamworks, is so impressed they sign you to an exclusive 5 movie deal.

Your first movie, WALLACE AND GROMMIT, is a moderate success. You're second movie, in spite of getting rave reviews, flops at the box office. Whereby, Dreamworks backs out of the remaining deal. Boss Jeffrey Katzenberg's explanation: "Their humor is just too British for American audiences." Translation: Americans are too stupid to get it!

Stupid is right, because FLUSHED AWAY is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. Hands down better than either CARS or HAPPY FEET. It embodies all that is great about British humor. Great physical comedy, smart double entandres, a send up of Tom Jones, and of course, wickedly politically incorrect French bashing! It is a film that would make Peter Sellers, Benny Hill, and the Monty Python gang proud!

One of my favorite parts was the horribly wrong French bashing. Ninja frogs (and remember, in the anglophile world frog is to French as beaner is to Mexican) with pencil thin mustaches and French accents, who upon being ordered to do their thing, throw their hands up in the air and
shout
"we surrender!" Probably banned in Quebec!

And there is the music. My granddaughter spent the day singing "poor old Roddy, flushed down his own potty." This is one several narrative songs sung by by siren, er, slugs. This is actually a really good soundtrack, with songs by Billy Idol, Tom Jones, The Dandy Warhols, Tina Turner, Fat Boy Slim, Jet, Boots Randolph, and of course, The Slugs.

By now, you're probably asking "what the hell is this movie about, anyhow?" Well here's the film overview form worstpreviews.com:

Plot Summary: Roddy is a refined rat, living a life of comfort and luxury in an upscale Kensington flat in London. One day, when a common sewer rat named Syd intrudes on his lifestyle via the bathroom sink, Roddy attempts to eliminate the unwelcome pest by trying to flush him down the toilet. His scheme to lure Syd into the toilet by telling him it’s a lavish whirlpool bath backfires when the clever guest pushes Roddy in instead. As one might expect, Roddy gets flushed down to the underground sewers, a world very much unlike his own. As he explores this universe, also known as Ratropolis, he encounters a female rat named Rita who is a sewer boat captain. She is an entrepreneur – always looking for new ideas that will give her the opportunity to leave the London cesspool behind for the glorious Parisian sewers. One of the inhabitants of the sewage tunnels is the gruesome Toad, who despises all rodents and wants them eliminated. After his two henchmen Spike and Whitey fail their assignment to make Rita and Roddy disappear, Toad has to consider more drastic alternatives. He sends for his cousin, Le Frog, a dreadful and ruthless mercenary.

So you get the plot, and in the end Roddy saves Ratropolis, gets Rita, and a family of his own! But the Devil is in the details, and these details are really funny.

This is a great movie for kids and grown ups alike. And the DVD is really cool because it has a bunch of interactive games, a slug sing along, and a build your own slug program. What could possibly be better than building your own slug?

So GO RENT THIS MOVIE! Help prove that Americans aren't stupid!

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

 

THE MORNING AFTER

Sooo...... how was your Valentines? Was it what you expected? Better? Worse? Any horror stories? Divorces in the making? Love kindled or rekindled? Tell us your stories!

It's funny (peculiar, not ha ha), even though I am really sour on romance, and relationships beyond purely physical, easily my favorite movie genre is Romantic Comedy. I am such a sucker for chick flicks! So in honor of St. Valentines Day, here is my all time favorites list!

1. Benny and Joon (Johnny Depp, Mary Stuart Masterson, Aiden Quinn)
2. Green Card (Andie Mc Dowell, Gerard Depardeau, Bebe Neuwirth)
3. Four Weddings and a Funeral (Hugh Grant, Andie McDowell)
4. Bye Bye Love (Paul Reiser, Mathew Modine, Randy Quaid, Janeane Garafalo, Amy Brenneman, Eliza Dushku, Rob Reiner
5. Fifty First Dates (Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Rob Schneider)
6. Doc Hollywood (Michael J. Fox, Julie Warner, Woody Harrelson, Bridget Fonda)
7. Murphy's Romance ( James Garner, Sally Field)
8. As Good As it Gets (Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, Greg Kinnear)
9. McClintock (John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara) this may be the funniest of the bunch
10. Breakfast At Tiffanys (Audry Hepburn, George Peppard)
11. The Englisman Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down A Mountain (Hugh Grant, Tara Fitsgerald, Colm Meany)
12. It Can Happen To You (Nicolas Cage, Bridget Fonda, Rosie Perez)
13. The Truth About Cats and Dogs (Janeane Garofalo, Uma Thurman, Ben Chaplin)
14. When Harry Met Sally (Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan)
15. She's All That (Freddie Prinz Jr., Racheal Leigh Cook)
16. Singles (Bridget Fonda, Kyra Sedgwick, Sheila Kelly, Matt Dillon, Bill Pullman, James Le Gros)
17. Father Of The Bride (Steve Martin, Diane Keaton)
18. Roman Holiday (Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn)
19. His Girl Friday (Cary Grant, Rosiland Russell)
2o. Roxanne (Steve Martin, Daryl Hannah, Rick Rossovich)

Saturday, February 10, 2007

 

IN THIS EDITION OF TGWB.....















from top left: John Prine, Maura O'Connell, Ben Stein, Condi Rice

What could Ben Stein and Ralph Nader possibly have in common? Also: Those little white lies.. Why Condi is in hot water (again)! But first:

So I return to my trusty little S-10 pickup, after lunch with a friend at Denny's yesterday, to find this message on my cell phone: "I know it's short notice, but I have an extra ticket to see John Prine in Ft. Wayne tonight. First person who calls back can have it!" So I call my friend Sue back, and in a couple of hours I am motoring towards Indiana's far northeast hinterlands at a high rate of fuel consumption. After muttering the phrase "goddam f***ing Amish, get a f***ing car" more times than I can count, I arrive at the rambling farmhouse just outside Howe IN that Sue shares with her Great Dane, Max.

Moments later, we are motoring towards the "summit city". She tells me the story of the extra ticket; the concert was supposed to be a second date with a guy she knows, but he came down with a nasty case of creeping crud, and magnanimously gave her the tickets. She also mentions that "some Irish singer" is opening for Prine, and I will probably know who she is.

We arrive at the magnificent Embassy Theatre about 7, grab a beer, then head for our seats. A quick word about the Embassy: It was renovated at the cost of $5 mil about ten years ago. It is a truly remarkable venue, rivaling Detroit's Fox Theatre in it's ornate beauty. The theatre organ is one of the finest in the world, and draws people from all over the country to the regular organ concerts held by the theatre. But I digress...

So like I said, we arrive at our seats, and the lady next to us informs us that the opening act is the incredible MAURA O'CONNELL! Hell yes I know who she is! Anybody who is a fan of Irish traditional music or folk music knows O'Connell. She is a big, buxom woman with a shock of unruly red curls, and a voice like Kate Smith. She wowwed the crowd with a 45 minute set, earning a standing ovation at the end. And then came John Prine.

Eight years out from his successful battle with throat cancer, it is clear that he is fully recovered. He did a full 2 1/2 hours, including a 5 song encore. He did all the old favorites, including Living In The Future, Sam Stone, Grandpa Was A Carpenter, Hello In There, That's The way the World Goes Around, The Missing Years, The Accident, Illegal Smile, and many others. Plus a number of new songs that will soon be old favorites. O'Connell returned to the stage for a number of songs with Prine, including a terrific version of Make Me An Angel.

Our evening ended nicely with the Big Breakfast (including all you can eat pancakes) at the International House Of Pancakes, and a brief discussion of what Sue might have to do as paybacks for what turned out to be such a magnificent gift.

It's funny. It had been quite a while since my top 10 concert list had changed any. Now it has changed twice in the last three weeks. We're on a roll!
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Ben Stein is perhaps the last great "man for all seasons." Valedictorian at Yale, professor of economics and securities law at Pepperdine, UC Santa Cruz, and the American University. Also trial lawyer for the Federal Trade Commission, author of seven novels, and columnist for a number of conservative magazines.

And of course, there is his Hollywood career as screenwriter, producer, actor (over 20 movies and a number of tv shows to his credit), and host of the game show Win Ben Stein's Money. He is known as "the funniest Republican in Hollywood" and the "world's funniest economist." So what could he possibly have in common with the curmudgeonly, somewhat humorless, liberal crusader Ralph Nader? Well, both are crusading against corporate greed, and Stein is supporting Nader's push to protect the rights and investments of millions of unorganized shareholders.

Here is what Stein had to say about the plethora of management buyouts of stockholders, a practice that commonly occurs when a company's assets are worth more than it's shares. Management buys these stocks low, then resells them when the stock price reflects the company's actual value, screwing the unwitting stockholders of gazillions of dollars, and making a tidy profit for themselves and their investment banker buddies.

Stein says such management buyouts are "illegal on their face," and cites three reasons that this is so:
1. BREACH OF FIDUCIARY DUTY. Citing settled trust law, Stein states; "Managers are bound to put the interest of stockholders ahead of their own, in each and every situation."

2. CONFLICT OF INTEREST: "Mangers are supposed to avoid any conflicts of interest with their trustors, the public shareholders, or even the appearance of it." Yet in these cases, the managers are buying low, while the rightful expectation of shareholders is to sell high, and hiding this fact from the shareholders.

3. INSIDER TRADING: "What is a management buyout other than trading not just some, but all of the shares of a corporation based on inside knowledge of just what the company is worth? How can this be allowed? How long until a wary court notices? Or Congress? Or the S.E.C.?"

He also has a lot to say about the increasing income inequity in this country. According to Stein, "all restraint of dignity and decorum and decency has been cast aside by people in the corporate boardrooms, and some of the people on Wall Street." According to Stein, "Back in the '60's, CEOs were restrained by social mores. But that sense of restraint is gone."

Stein worries about the continuing effect of the income gap on society. He sees the wealthy more and more buying political influence and solidifying their position at the top of society. According to Stein, "if management and the top dogs on Wall Street are just going to be able to continue to get whatever they want, this will become not a democracy any longer, but an oligarchy where a very few, very rich people call all the shots. We are way down the road to that happening already" warns Stein.

All Things Considered had a great series on income disparity this week. Check it out HERE
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Condi Rice appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee this week, and NPR caught her in a big lie. Iran sent a fax to the state department in 2003, seeking direct talks with the US, and putting the possibility of Iranian support for a two state solution to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, and funding of Hamas on the table. Rice denied ever seeing this, telling the HFAC: "I think I would have noticed if the Iranians had said 'we're ready to recognize Israel,' and Congressman, I just don't remember ever seeing such a thing."

Unfortunately for Rice, she acknowledged the existence of the fax, and the fact that she had viewed it, in an interview with NPR last year.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

 

THE MOST INCREDIBLE CONCERT EVER

JONNY LANG
It is hard to decide where to begin when discussing Jonny Lang. The incredible voice; One part Joe South, one part Dave Mason, two parts Stevie Wonder, heavily spiced with Essence of Whiskey and Tobacco.

Or the guitar work; The precision of Clapton, the power of Knoffler, the heart of B. B. King. And at the tender age of 26, already the equal of any of them. And I have seen them all to know.

Saturday night I found myself, at the behest of a friend, traveling
2 1/2 hours to Kalamazoo's historic State theatre to hear Lang's electric blues/rock/soul. I had heard him on the radio a few times, and thought him to be pretty good. Let me tell you, his recordings don't even begin to do him justice. This was the best concert I have ever attended.

Not only is Lang a virtuoso performer, but he has a band every bit worthy of him. Guitarist /singer Reeve Carney is another underage phenom, and also served as Lang's opening act. Keyboardist Charles Jones was fabulous, and played one of the best keyboard solos I have ever heard. Drummer Barry Alexander and Bassist Jim Anton were also phenomenal.

Besides Lang's incredible guitar work, the highlight of the night for me was the cover of Stevie Wonder's JUST ENOUGH FOR THE CITY, which fit Lang's voice and tempo so perfectly you would have sworn Stevie wrote it just for him. There are not enough superlatives to describe Lang's version of this song.

Like everything in life, there was a certain downside. Why is it every time I go to a concert, at some point I come close to getting into a fight? Immediately behind us sat a row of people, obviously over served, who thought it was okay to chat through the opening act. Especially obnoxious was the guy sitting at the end of the row, who seemed to think the whole audience would rather hear him do his comedy routine than listen to the concert. I finally stood up, looked at him, and told him to "shut the fuck up, I paid to listen to a concert, not you." His girlfriend looked at me and said, "you don't have to act like that, we're all adults here." to which I replied "no, obviously you aren't." After a few minute of staring, they turned away and I sat back down. A few minutes later, one of his friends sat down behind them and I heard the guy say, "the big man down there told me to shut the fuck up!" To which his friend replied, "and the operative word is big man."

After that they pretty much shut up and allowed everybody to enjoy the concert. Which is a good thing, because this was a concert worth fighting for!

Friday, January 26, 2007

 

AMERICAN FASCISTS, and KNEE JERK REACTIONARIES

Jimmy Carter Chris Hedges
Any of you who have even occasionally viewed my blog know that I have a certain animous toward the Christian right. You undoubtedly also know that I am an apostate evangelical, having become thoroughly disillusioned with not only evangelicalism, but religion in general. So you can be forgiven for taking my dire warnings with a grain of salt.

But it may be harder to ignore Chris Hedges. Hedges is a Christian, son of a Presbyterian minister, and a seminary graduate. He is also a veteran foreign correspondent who has spent years covering the Balkan wars, and conflicts in Africa and Central America for, among others, the New York Times and National Public Radio.

Hedges new book is titled AMERICAN FASCISTS: THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT AND THE WAR ON AMERICA. It takes dead aim at Dominionism and it's ties to powerful corporations such as Walmart. Hedges arguments are extremely well thought out and documented. After hearing Hedges on TOTN yesterday, I immediately went to Barnes and Noble and purchased his book (along with Jimmy Carter's PEACE NOT APARTHEID) . Even though I was running on 4 hours sleep, I ended up staying up well into the morning hours reading this book. I strongly believe what Hedges has to say is extremely important. If you are not convinced to buy his book, please do me the favor of listening to his interview on Talk Of The Nation. I believe strongly you will be impressed.
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Somebody please explain to me how we came to believe that Israel can do no wrong? Why it is that we have this knee jerk reaction to defend Israel no matter how heinous and immoral it's actions?

Jimmy Carter has been demonized over his new book PALESTINE PEACE NOT APARTHEID. Carter, who
probably has as much experience with the middle east and it's leaders as any westerner alive, is being castigated for daring to say that much of what is wrong in the middle east is Israel's fault. Issues such as forcing Palestinians off all of the most desirable and profitable land. Establishing settlements with the express purpose of making it more difficult for future leaders to negotiate a return of captured lands to the Palestinians.

Carter defended himself in an excellent interview on Morning Edition yesterday morning. You can listen to or read the text of the interview HERE.

So why is it we are willing to believe only good about Israel? I believe it is partly do to our Christian beliefs and the apopcalyptic end times. For the end of times prophecy to be fulfilled, there must be a viable Jewish state. Therefore, Christians (and remember the vast majority of Americans claim to be so) will defend anything that Israel does, and demonize anything or anybody that they deem a threat to the Jewish state.

Doesn't it seem odd to you that very little of the criticism of Carter is coming from the Jewish community in America? If Carter's book was really that biased or inaccurate, wouldn't they be the logical people to be protesting?

Monday, January 22, 2007

 

JUSTA FEW THOUGHTS

Tony Dungy
Lovie Smith

1. This Super Bowl should be special. Not because of the fact that there will be two black coaches running the teams (there has never even been one black head coach in the game before). But because these are two of the nicest, classiest men around. It will be a joy to see how they handle themselves and their teams the next two weeks.

2. Is Manning/Brady the best quarterback rivalry since Johnny Unitas and Bart Starr? I think this is even better than Montana/Marino.

3. Busting the myth: So if Japanese cars are so superior to American cars, how is it that Toyota currently has more cars under recall than they sold world wide last year? And do you know which car company's vehicles are #1 in initial quality (according to J.D. Powers AND Car and Driver ) for the second year in a row? NOT Toyota, NOT Honda, NOT Nissan. Nope... GENERAL MOTORS! So before you plunk down money for that Camry or Tundra, go check out a Chevy HHR or Silverado!


4. Will anybody bother to watch Dubya's SOU speech tomorrow night? I don't ever remember a SOU speech with less buzz than this one.

5. My latest electoral theory. Obama and Clinton will bash each others brains in to the point nobody wants either one of them, and Al (can you say Oscar buzz) Gore will step in as the unity candidate. I realize bash and smash is not Obama's style, but he'll have Move On and Howard Dean to do that for him.

Meanwhile, the Republicans will have just as much trouble settling on a candidate. Brownback too radical, Giuliani to liberal, McCain to old and crazy, Romney too Mormon. Stepping into the breach? Look for Newt to present himself as the compromise candidate.

Okay, rambled enough! Time for bed!



Thursday, January 11, 2007

 

GOD MOVES TO LA plus THE DEVIL'S IN THE DETAILS plus ALPHABET MEME


It's official. God is moving to LA. After all, you still see all those T-shirts in Manchester that declare BECKHAM IS GOD.

Yes, David Beckham just signed a five year / $250mil contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy. Wife Posh Spice just put down payment on a Beverly Hills mansion.

So God now resides in LA. Heaven help us all.

Meanwhile, the Devil is still firmly entrenched in Washington DC.

I am so conflicted. On one hand, I think we have to make one last effort to undo all the horrible harm we have done there. But I also know a lot of kids are gonna die, and in the end, the back up plan will be to turn Iraq into Bosnia, and seperate all the different sectarian groups into their own areas. I guess I think we should just do that now and spare all those kids. But then again, ethnic cleansing is such an ugly thing. It has all the overtones of Nazi Germany.

ALPHABET MEME (from Nic's Place)

A - Available/Single or Taken? Single, not lookikng
B - Best Friend? Carol W. only person I can tell absolutely everything and anything with no repercussions
C - Cake or pie? Pie. Cherry, apple, pecan.
D - Drink Of Choice? Red beers, Iced tea.
E – Essential Item You Use Everyday? Cell Phone
F - Favourite Color? Blue
G - Gummy Bears Or Worms? Neither.
H - Hometown? Pontiac, MI
I - Indulgence? cheeesecake
J - January Or February? february... closer to spring
K - Kids & Their Names? three - Sean, Steven, Shelley
L - Life Is Incomplete Without? grandkids
M - Marriage date? Dude, I am SOOOOOOOOO past that
N - Number Of Siblings? One - Barb
O - Oranges Or Apples? Apples - Jonathans
P - Phobias/Fears? relationships
Q - Favourite Quote? Beam me up Scotty, there's no intelligent life on THIS planet!
R - Reason to Smile? Granddaughters
S - Season? Spring or Fall? Spring - beginning of baseball and canoeing
T - Tag 3 or 4 people? you're it, you're it, you're it
U - Unknown Fact About Me? I hide my introversion behind a wall of extroversion
V - Vegetable you don’t like? Hell, I can't think of one I DO like
W - Worst Habit? Procrastination
X - X-rays You’ve Had? Teeth, sinuses, lungs, feet/ankles (multiple times)
Y - Your Favorite Food? BBQ
Z – Zodiac sign? Leo (July 31)

Friday, January 05, 2007

 

LOOKING BACK....


SOME OF THE BEST OF 2006



News stories:

1. Computer Launches Terrorist Attack On Unwitting Fisherman: While on a fishing trip in Nevada, Thomas Forqueran stashes his Dell laptop in the cab of his truck. Unfortunately, this laptop was equipped with one of the infamous Sony spontaneously combustible batteries. Worse still, also stored in the cab were several boxes of ammunition. Just as he and his pal were returning to the truck, they noticed smoke coming from the cab. At which point bullets started spraying, and the gas tank blew, sending the truck a spectacular 20 yds in the air. Forqueran and his buddy emerged from cover about the time the fire dept. arrived. Fortunately, no one was injured. The same can't be said for Sony's reputation.

2. CNN Anchor Broadcasts From The Loo: Kyra Phillips decides to use the restroom during President Bush's Hurricane Katrina anniversary speech. Unfortunately she forgets to turn off her microphone. The result ... All of America learns that her husband is a "handsome, genuinely loving, passionate, compassionate man with no ego." Also that she has to protect her brother from her sister-in-law, who is "just a control freak". Actually, it was much more interesting than Dubyas's speach. And much more honest!

3. Drunken Man Wins $2000 Bet By cutting Off Penis: On July 17, a drunken man in Riva, Latvia, bet his comrades that he would cut off his penis for two grand. He won the bet! Surgeons at the Latvian Centre for Microsurgery and Plastic Surgery reattached the member successfully. It may even become functional with the help of prosthetics. Gives a whole new meaning to "dick in hand".

4. The Perils of Hot Naked Women: In Moscow, three women in an SUV pull into to the Balashakh Beach parking lot. They walk down to the waters edge, and proceed to strip naked. They cavort and romp and even wash each other in front of the cheering crowd of onlookers. By the time they calmly dress and drive off, fifteen minutes later, their accomplices have stripped ten cars in the parking lot, and stolen the four most valuable. To quote that famous one eyed sailor: "Women, they is nuttin' but troubles!"

MY TOP 10 ALBUMS FOR 2006

10. Belle and Sebastian: The Life Pursuit - Scottish Band drops chamber pop sound for harder edge and results are spectacular. Easily their best album.

9. Soul Asylum: The Silver Lining - Minneapolis blues rockers have great album with particularly strong cuts STAND UP AND BE STRONG, LATELY, and CRAZY, MIXED UP WORLD

8. Tom Waits: Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers, and Bastards - slightly softer edged than most Waits. Really enjoyed it.

7. The Shins: Wincing The Night Away - Good solid Indie pop.

6. The Decemberists: The Crane Wife - Indie pop with great lyrics and slightly hard edge. Really enjoyed this one!

5. Ray Davies: Other People's Lives - Kinks' frontman's first album in 7 years. Great, semi autobiographical songs, and Davies is in fine voice.

4. Little Willies: Little Willies - Nora Jones, Richard Julian et. al. make outstanding country/rock/swing album, especially love the song Baltimore

3. Pink: I'm Not Dead - This album really surprised me. A terrific album with smart lyrics. Collaborates with her father, and the Indigo Girls. Pink has a much greater vocal range than I gave her credit for. This is an outstanding album!

2. Bob Dylan: Modern Times - Bob goes Delta Blues and Texas Swing. A fabulous album.

1. Willie Nelson: You Don't Know Me: The Songs Of Cindy Walker - Cindy Walker wrote hit songs for the likes of Bob Wills, George Jones, Merle Haggard, Ray Charles, Mel Tillis, and many more. Willie's interpretations are just incredible. And he is backed up by a fabulous band featuring the legendary fiddler Johnny Gimble. Just hearing Willie sing YOU DON'T KNOW ME is worth the price of this fabulous album. But ALL the songs are fabulous. This is easily the best album of the year in any genre.
GREAT MOMENTS/EVENTS

Detroit Tigers Win American League Pennant - After threatening to be the worst team in the history of baseball just two years earlier, the Tigers go to the World Series led by a chain smoking, old school grandfather, a 42 year old pitcher with a history of anger management problems, a pitcher who once lost 20 game in a season, and a fireballing rookie composed well beyond his years. The feel good story of the year.

Indiana Paddler's Rendevous - 150 canoeists gather in Lafayette for 3 days of food, beer, camaraderie, and paddling. A great event with lots of new friends made.
Michigan Destroys #2 Notre Dame in South Bend - Nothing better than having braggin' rights in the home town of the enemy! If football is #1 in South Bend, then being a Michigan ex-pat in South Bend makes this just extra sweet.

Dems Sweep Congressional Elections - take control of both houses of Congress. Nuff' said.




Wednesday, January 03, 2007

 

HE'S AT IT AGAIN!

Yeah, once again, God is talking to Pat Robertson. And if history is any guide , we can only conclude that either Pat needs a hearing aid, or God mumbles badly.

God is always talking to Robertson. Someone more cynical than myself might conclude that God doesn't seem to be particularly reliable. But my personal theory is that Robertson is playing Charlie Brown to God's Lucy. God keeps taunting Robertson with that football, and gullible old Pat just can't resist trying to kick it!

here are just a few of the things that God has whispered in Pat's ear previously:

1. Russia to invade Israel in 1982. I don't recall seeing any soldiers wearing rabbit skin hats goose stepping their way through Jerusalem narrow streets. I think I would remember that!

2. World wide economic collapse in 1985. Hmphh. Don't recall that happening either.

3. Jay Rockefeller to be elected president in 1996. 1996 was well after my dazed and confused decade. I am almost positive this didn't come to pass.

4. 2005 to be extraordinary year of prosperity. According to Robertson, "the American stock market is going to surge upward, if I heard from the Lord." The stock market finished down for 2005.

5. George Bush will have spectacularly successful 2005. The Gospel according to Pat: "Well, the Lord has some very encouraging news for George Bush ... What I heard is that Bush is now positioned to have victory after victory and that his second term is going to be one of triumph, which is pretty strong stuff. ... He'll have Social Security reform passed..." LOL, I am pretty sure George will tell you that 2005 wasn't exactly a spectacular success. Social Security reform? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

6. God also told Pat that 2005 would see massive numbers of Muslims converting to Christianity. Seems to have missed that one too!

7. 2006: Tsunami to hit US coast. Ya know, you'd think Pat would quit listening after while.

But Pat IS listening again. And this time God is telling him of a massive attack, possibly nuclear, that will affect millions of Americans and possibly numerous cities. It is to happen sometime after September.

The thing that amazes and saddens me is how many seemingly normal, intelligent people buy into this shit. After all the years of Pat putting his foot in his mouth, his show still remains one of the most popular on daytime TV. And I will guarantee you that thousands of people all over the country are suddenly frantically updating their emergency foodstuffs, fuel, batteries and checking out those gas masks. But haven't we all seen this behavior before, sometimes in folks we love and have always respected?

Back in the mid 80's, a couple we had been close to for many years moved to Florida. We didn't hear much from them for a couple of years, then all at once we started getting frantic letters and phone calls from them begging me (never my wife, hmmm...) to get my life right with the Lord. They knew a NASA scientist, Edgar Whisenuat who had figured out mathematically the exact time of Christ's return. And they would feel so awful if I got left behind. Well, I assured them I was touched by their concern, but was pretty well satisfied with my life, and would take my chances.

So, on Oct. 11, 1988, my friends sat on a damp, rainy Florida beach, along with thousands of other true believers, waiting for a Christ who would never show up. I can't tell you how badly I felt for them. But, amazingly, they came through the experience their faith fully in tact, as if the whole thing never happened. It was like their minds denied that it ever happened.

I am always amazed at the minds ability to deny the perfectly obvious, and believe when all evidence points to the contrary. I guess that's how Bush manages to believe we aren't losing in Iraq.









Saturday, December 30, 2006

 

A TRULY HEART WARMING STORY

Okay, my belated Christmas gift to you is this wonderful tribute to his dad from Rob at BleacherGuy.com. Hope it touches your heart as much as it did mine! DAD'S LAST HUNT

Yes, the cable intenet is finally hooked up! And I am in HEAVEN!

Friday, December 22, 2006

 

CAN'T RESIST

Posting this article from THE NEW REPUBLIC. It may get me in trouble, but since they allow you to email article, I can't see much difference.


CAMBRIDGE DIARIST
Village People
by Martin Peretz
Post date: 12.22.06
Issue date: 01.15.07

She's not sure whether she is running for president. But she is certain that the time is right for a woman to try. Maybe Hillary Clinton thinks that Nancy Pelosi should be the Democratic candidate. OK, Hillary is not a candid person. This time--actually, the day that I write--she was not candid on NPR's "Morning Edition." Yesterday, it was on another platform. Tomorrow, she won't be candid on still another one. So, what else is new? We've accommodated to her trying to figure all the angles. Hillary has been scheming for the presidency since the day her husband entered the White House, which is why she didn't much take to Al Gore. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if she conspired with James Baker--or is that just me?

One of the problems about figuring all the angles is that you can't. And, believe me, Hillary tried. She has had an apparatus in place for just that chore for years. Not long enough ago to include Harold Ickes's father, the other Harold Ickes, who schemed for FDR. But this Harold Ickes (who ran Eugene McCarthy's campaign in New York), and Mandy Grunwald and John Podesta and Mark Penn and Tony Podesta and Susan Thomases, unless any of these have been unceremoniously pushed off the ship, much like Marian Wright Edelman--Hillary's closest sister and ideological soulmate--was pushed, never to be let on board again. In its youth, the team was a band of idealists, self-styled. Now it's made up of hardened cynics, no pretense otherwise. But the same folk.

Hillary and Co. prepared for Mark Warner and John Edwards, Bill Richardson and Joe Biden, Tom Vilsack and the really impossible--no, deluded--dreamer John Kerry. She probably had a strategy against Gore, too. She was confident and contemptuous. And then, suddenly, she found herself running against a latter-day Martin Luther King Jr.

There was no way to see Barack Obama coming. And, damn it, he is a picture of America's future, black and white. African father. Columbia. Harvard Law School, where he was president of the Law Review, no slouch he. Taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago, greater evidence of his brilliance. Supple in mind and bearing, evoking energy and thoughtfulness. Ah, yes, his most important public quality: He is comfortable in his own skin. She is not. Oh, is she not! What could Hillary possibly say against him? In the Democratic Party, it is still difficult to honestly criticize an African American. You can't even say a bad word about Al Sharpton, even though you can't say a truthful good word about him, either. But what, for heaven's sake, is there to criticize about Obama? Nothing.

Hillary is holding séances with Democratic politicians in New York. They can't but be for her. Even though my old student Chuck Schumer is more popular than her and more respected. And certainly deeper. The same is true for Eliot Spitzer. If they actually endorse, their endorsements will be discounted. New Mexico Representative Tom Udall probably supports New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. And that means exactly what? Nothing. On the other hand, maybe Hillary will be able to entice Eleanor Roosevelt into her corner.

I have a question I've been reluctant to ask. Do the Clintons have any friends who aren't really rich? Maybe just a few, for old time's sake. But, as I read the clips about them, they consort largely, and maybe only, with zillionaires and very high-pay Hollywood types. It is not an axiomatic vocational hazard of politicians. Let me take Gore as an instance. He and Tipper have musician friends and professor friends and artist friends and just plain worker friends and farmer friends, for sure. Not that they don't mix with computer magnates, as well. But the Gores are rooted in ordinary life--in real, even quotidian activity. For example, he actually writes his own books. Believe it or not, it's true. The indulgent wealth that surrounds Bill and Hillary is, I am sure, corrupting. And that corruption--of taste, of moderation, of what is essential--cripples the soul and distorts life itself.

No wonder that Bill Clinton flies with frequency to Dubai and other sand eruptions in the Gulf to speak at conference after conference on topics so orotund that no one reports what he says. But isn't it a degradation of the presidency for this former president to shmooze, for money and money alone, with men (yes, only men) who want from him only his presence? But perhaps this sexism is a relief. The robed hosts do allow women to be among their foreign guests. At least they allow Madame Albright, who flatters them, also to address them. And Wesley Clark. But Clinton is the king of the Emirates Airline route. The indisputable king.

Which brings me back to Hillary. Does the American public really want her husband in the White House once again? And with nothing to do? Right now, what with George W. and Laura ensconced in the upstairs rooms, the return of the previous first couple may seem attractive, even alluring. But the hardened woman, who lost her health care proposal not to a GOP Congress but to a Democratic one, does not evoke the capacity to persuade, to compromise, to administer, to govern. Her coterie is too tight. Her mind too rigid. And her husband's is too, well, loose.

Hillary started out in 1993 with "the politics of meaning," that pretentious and portentous phrase that actually means nothing. She had leapt at it out of the mouth of a foolish "rabbi," Michael Lerner, earnest and oleaginous (he the enthusiast of tikkun olam, a theology rooted nowhere so firmly as in a Peter, Paul, and Mary song). But she dropped it quickly when she discovered that the American people were on to her preacher-teacher's banal words. Then she peddled It Takes A Village as book and slogan. It soon appeared too soft for her own entry into politics, and so she also sidetracked this theme. But now she is running for president. Tough-minded she was on Iraq, right up there with that junior senator from Massachusetts. A few days ago, she said that, had she known what she knows now, she wouldn't have voted for the war. Then, today, she said she wished she had voted against the war, whatever. She has fumbled and disenchanted the left, and the left is not easily forgiving. Still, as a gesture to that flank of the party, Hillary has republished It Takes A Village. But what it really takes is a majority of the electoral college. Which I don't see.

Martin Peretz is editor-in-chief of The New Republic.

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