Parkway Rest Stop


Jack Bog
Ultimate Insult
Yakety Yak
How Appealing
Ipse Dixit
Attu Sees All
The Presurfer
Res Ipsa Loquitur
Rachel Lucas (on hiatus)
a small victory
Peppermint Patty
Balloon Juice
Da Goddess
Curmudgeonly & Skeptical
Power Line
Electric Venom
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler
Margi Lowry
Sgt. Hook
Gut Rumbles
The Laughing Wolf
Not Quite Tea and Crumpets
On The Third Hand
Right We Are (Closed)
Mudville Gazette
The Country Store
Zogby Blog
Single Southern Guy
Ravenwood's Universe
Resurrection Song
The Spoons Experience
Side Salad
Bloviating Inanities
Serenity's Journal
Babel On!
Jay Solo's Verbosity
Sketches of Strain (Closed)
In Sheeps Clothing
The Accidental Jedi (on hiatus)
Straignt White Guy
The Cheese Stands Alone
Dax Montana
Tasty Manatees
Trying to Grok
Unbillable Hours
~ Friday, January 16, 2004
Parkway Rest Stop has moved to a fancy-schmancy site, which you can find here. The January 16, 2004 post explains how it came to be.

Please adjust your bookmarks and blogrolls accordingly.

Thank you.

P.S. Memo to BlogSnot -- Heaven knows I tried to stick it out. While hoards of others moved out of the neighborhood, I stayed. I suffered the outages, the fragile software, and the lack of a built-in comment feature for more than a year, hoping that the Google folks would fix things. Well, they didn't, so auf wiedersehen, BlogSnot.
~ Thursday, January 15, 2004
Working on Da Move.
Craig at mtpolitics, an exceptionally nice guy, has made an altruistic gesture that he surely will live to regret. He has set up a Movable Type site for me and has offered to be of further assistance, including answering my questions as I stumble around trying to figure out what to do next. I suspect that he will soon learn the consequences of offering to help a computer numbskull like me with computer stuff.

Craig's kindness puts me in mind of the well-meaning lawyer who offers his help, pro bono, to an inmate and who invites him to ask, at any time, all the questions he would like answered. It doesn?t take long for the well-meaning lawyer to realize that an inmate's desire for legal help is insatiable and that he will have more questions than there are stars in the galaxy. After countless telephone calls and meandering letters from a high maintenance inmate, the well-meaning lawyer decides that litigating rear-end hits or repairing furnaces probably would have been a preferable career choice.

I have much to learn, which will require a fair amount of reading, lest I cause Craig to run away and sign up for classes at Augie and Tony's Furnace Fixin' School. Obviously trying to figure out what I'm doing will cut into the time I have to read other people's blogs and write in my own. I'm going to try to figure out how to fit it all in, and we'll see how it goes. I know that right now the bone shattering cold and the hour or so of snow blowing after work has rendered me too tired to even think about reading how to move my BlogSpot posts over to the new site. Tomorrow is another day.

And to Craig, I offer my sincere thanks and my deepest sympathy.
Happy birthday, Cousin Jack.
~ Wednesday, January 14, 2004
Overheard at Nine West.
I just came across a scrap of paper on which I had scribbled a reminder note about something I saw and heard while Christmas shopping.

I was in Nine West to buy a gift certificate. For the uninitiated (and who did not click the Nine West link), Nine West is a trendy shoe store for women's shoes. A customer was trying on these shoes, and had the following conversation with the sales clerk:

Customer: (standing, looking down at shoes, holding her feet at various angles) "I love them. I particularly love the heel and the effect with the chain. Are they wearing open toes in the winter"?

Clerk: "Oh, yes. Open toes are extremely popular now. Everyone is wearing them."

Customer: "They would go great with my black dress."

Clerk: "They would be perfect with a black dress."

Customer: "And, the best thing about them is that they are not terribly uncomfortable."
We're doomed.
No Comments – Update.
Sarah at Trying to Grok and I (and hundreds of other BlogSpeak users) are without comments. It seems that the host for BlogSpeak suspended the BlogSpeak account, for reasons unspecified. We are told that the comments may be back by the weekend, or everything may be transferred over to Haloscan. In the meantime, we were advised to “remove the code,” for the time being, lest we wind up with JavaScript errors.

Yeah, like I would even recognize “the code” in my template, which, to me, resembles a document written in Sanskrit. And, I don’t even know what JavaScript is, so the thought of having errors in something that is unknown to me makes my hair hurt. I think I will wait until the weekend to see if this all fixes itself before trying to figure out how to get Haloscan comments running on this site.

All this has given me the final kick in the arse to begin the process of moving over to a Movable Type site. However, let me say this about that. I recall taking a mandatory calculus course in college and deciding then and there that my brain is simply not wired to do calculus. Unfortunately, most computer stuff is calculus to me, so this could be a daunting experience.

Updates to follow.

Update: I forgot something. See the picture of the graph? Check out the problem and solution that goes with it. Seeing this actually loosened my bowels.
Thanks to Kate for sending many of her readers readers this way. I also want to thank Meryl Yourish for saying things that made my day.

Thank you, ladies. I appreciate it very much.
~ Tuesday, January 13, 2004
Not working again. I'll suffer in silence. It builds character. It also raises the blood pressure.
~ Monday, January 12, 2004
Life in a Small Town.
A while back, Craig at mtpolitics posted a piece called “Life in a Small Town.” It got me to thinking about the cultural differences among us, which, in no small measure, are traceable to the places and circumstances of our upbringing. How each of us ended up being raised in a particular place (or places) is often the result of some sort of cosmic crapshoot that planted our ancestors in a particular place or places during our youth.

It is often said that things like television and the internet have smoothed over many of the cultural differences in the U.S. and have made us a homogenized swill. However, Craig’s questions serve as a stark reminder that there are still big differences in people’s youthful experiences, which, in turn, produce the great cultural mosaic that is the USA, the 7 o’clock news notwithstanding.

I was raised in a town in Northeastern New Jersey (across the “Meadowlands” from New York City). To me, it was a “small town” – at least it was when one compared it to its neighbors, Newark and New York.

So, for the hell of it, I thought I’d respond to the questions in Craig’s post from my perspective of having been raised in a “small town” in Northern Jersey.

Let’s get on with it, shall we.
Here's how to tell if you grew up in a small town:

1. You can name everyone you graduated with.
No way. I graduated with approximately 356 other people, many of whom I didn’t even know where in the senior class until I got my copy of the yearbook.

2. You know what 4-H is
4H? I think I first learned what 4H was from a television program that aired about 4 in the morning called the “Farm Hour” or something like that. I recall being home from school sick as hell and seeing people my age (i.e. high school kids) washing and brushing their prize cows and pigs. Cows? Pigs? It freaked me out.

3. You went to parties at a pasture, barn, gravel pit, or in the middle of a dirt road. On Monday you could always tell who was at the party because of the scratches on their legs from running through the woods when the party was busted, see #6.
My only exposure to a “pasture” was on Sunday drives to the “country” with my parents. I know that for shit sure I never attended a party on one, and I don’t believe that I have ever set foot on one. I think I was in a barn once, when I visited my cousins in South Jersey, and all I remember is that it smelled pretty bad. I cannot imagine having a party in a place that smells like various kinds of shit. I don’t think I know what a gravel pit is, even now. As for dirt roads, where I grew up, the only dirt roads I recall were in the “dumps,” definitely not a place for a shindig. Too many rats, and it smelled bad.

4. You used to "drag" main.
Now you’re cookin’. We used to do that, although there was a better place nearby – a straight, multi lane, not much traveled stretch of highway on Route 21. How I didn’t blow the pistons through the hood of the family car, I’ll never know.

5. You said the "F" word and your parents knew within the hour.
No f*****g way. Parents usually didn’t learn of problems until they got a call from the desk sergeant or the principal.

6. You scheduled parties around the schedule of different police officers, since you know which ones would bust you and which ones wouldn't.
Nope. Our parties were usually in someone’s basement, and the cops would need a warrant to come in.

7. You could never buy cigarettes because all the store clerks knew how old you were (and if you were old enough they'd tell your parents anyhow).
No again. If you had money and you could reach the counter, you could buy smokes in any number of places (“Luckies” were the brand of choice).

8. When you did find somebody old enough and brave enough to buy cigarettes, you still had to go out into the country and drive on back roads to smoke them.
Nope. The playground was where most of the smoking took place. The closest thing to the “country” for smoking purposes would have been a vacant lot.

9. You knew which section of the ditch to find the beer your buyer dropped off.
Ditch? No such thing.

10. It was cool to date somebody from the neighboring town.
Not cool. We always thought people in the neighboring towns were assholes.

11. The whole school went to the same party after graduation
Never would happen. You’d need a house the size of Madison Square Garden. Besides, we thought that many people who graduated with us were assholes.

12. You don't give directions by street name: "Turn by Nelson's house, go 2 blocks east to Anderson's, and it's four houses left of the track field."
Close, but not exactly the same. We gave directions by saloons. “Turn right at McNabb’s. Go two blocks past Kenworthy’s and make a left. The place you are looking for is just across from the “Blue Bar.”

13. The golf course had only 9 holes.
Golf course? No way.

14. You can't help but date a friend's ex-boyfriend/girlfriend.
That happened sometimes, but it often resulted in a fistfight.

15. Your car stays filthy because of the dirt roads and you will never own a dark vehicle for this reason.
There were no dirt roads, and cars were always washed and “Simonized.”

16. The town next to you is considered "trashy" or "snooty", but is actually just like your town.
No, we considered them to be assholes, and they were.

17. You refer anyone with a house newer then 1980 as the "rich people."
We considered anyone whose father wore a suit to work to be one of the “rich people.”

18. The people in the "big city" dress funny then you pick up the trend 2 years later.
We used to call them “Nicky Newarks,” and yes, we often ended up dressing like them. It was similar to the "West Side Story" Jets and Sharks thing.

19. Anyone you want can be found at the local gas station or the town pub.
Nope. There were about a dozen gas stations and more than a couple dozen pubs (although they were not called “pubs”), all of which did a brisk and noisy business.

20. You see at least one friend a week driving a tractor through town or one of your friends drives a grain truck to school occasionally.
Tractor?? No way. If someone were to drive a tractor through town, they definitely would have been arrested. I’ve never driven one. And, to this day I don’t believe I have ever seen a “grain truck.”

21. The gym teacher suggested you haul hay for the summer to get stronger.
“Haul hay?” Does one need a tractor to do that?

22. Directions are given using THE stop light as a reference.
I can’t even begin to relate.

23. You decide to walk somewhere for exercise and 5 people pull over and ask you if you want a ride somewhere.
You could walk until your feet bled and no one (except a friend) would offer you a ride. Girls, however, were asked all the time if they needed a ride, and most of the time, they indicated their preference to continue walking by suggesting that the passing driver and his cronies “fuck off!”

24. Your teachers call you by your older sibling's names.
I have no siblings, but when this happened to friends of mine, the teachers always seemed to ask rhetorically, “How could your sister/brother be so nice and smart and you be such a unruly moron?”

25. Your teachers remember when they taught your parents.
I suppose this could have happened, but not to me, as my parents went to school (through the 10th grade) in Newark. I suspect that, when this did happen, the teachers probably wondered how your parents could have given birth to such a moron.

26. You can charge at the local stores or write checks without any ID.
Nope. Cash on the nail. No credit.

27. The closest McDonalds is 45 miles away (or more).
Hell no. Just about everything worth a damn was within a 15-minute drive, including New York City (with no traffic, of course). The only trip worth a 45-mile drive was a trip “down the shore.”

28. The closest mall is over an hour away.
See number 27. Hell, the state is only a bit more than 200 miles long.

29. It is normal to see an old man riding through town on a riding lawn mower.
That guy definitely would have been arrested. I can hear the cop now: "And just who the hell do you think you are? Mr. Greenjeans?"

30. You've peed in a cornfield.
Cornfield? Did you say “cornfield?”

31. Most people go by a nickname.
Yeah, but they sounded like names from the Sopranos.

So, it would appear that there are small towns, and there are small towns.
~ Sunday, January 11, 2004
Jersey Walking.
As I have mentioned before, I walk a few miles just about every day. It clears out my head and moves the blood around in my otherwise lazy body. The last two days, with their single digit temperatures, have been no exception. In fact, the only weather that will prevent me from walking is heavy, cold rain and ice on the ground that is hidden under snow. Broken bones stink, big time.

For walking in frigid weather, all one needs (in addition to the resolve) is a couple layers of light clothing, a hat, a nylon shell and a pair of gloves. I prefer painter's gloves, as regular gloves are too warm after about ten minutes of walking. In addition, painter's gloves can also serve as a handkerchief for the inevitable runny nose. At the conclusion of the walk, they can be tossed in the laundry with the whites and washed as if they were a handkerchief.

What makes walking here challenging is the drastic swings in temperature that come with the change of seasons. For example, six months ago, I walked the same route as I did today, with only difference being that the temperature then was ninety to ninety-five degrees higher than it was yesterday and today. Frankly, if I had to choose between walking in single digit weather or sweltering heat, with high humidity, I'll take the arctic blast any time. I can always stay warm, but keeping cool in the summer can be a real challenge, which requires carrying water and planning on a route that will permit buying more.

One benefit of walking in the freezing cold (at least around here on the weekend) is that I have the town sidewalks just about to myself. Having anyplace to yourself in Jersey is a treat. In addition, there are few things nicer than coming inside from spending an hour or so walking in the cold weather and hopping into a hot shower, which I just did.

Now, I plan on spending a few hours reading one of the many books that Santa brought me. Later, I'll be heading over to the Post for a couple three vodkas, and I'll see how the Usual Suspects are holding up in this excellent walking weather.

Have a mahvelous day.
~ Saturday, January 10, 2004
A Message to the Folks Back Home.
Remember the group photo of the American POWs in North Vietnam in which, at first blush, they all looked as if they had voluntarily posed for their captors for a nicey-nicey photo? (Sorry, I was unable to find it on the web.) When the photo was published in the USA, the intended American audience could see that virtually every one of prisoners had positioned one of his hands so as to display his middle finger as an act of defiance. Hold that thought.

Remember when Hillary flew off to Iraq to visit the military personnel there and many speculated about the extent to which many of the GI’s were truly happy to see her? Hold that thought.

Now, put those two thoughts together and take a look at this photo that Rodger at Curmudgeonly and Skeptical posted.

I know that the Army cannot give this particular GI a medal for having a strong stomach, but I sure hope he got to go the head of the chow line for a month in return for handling a bad situation so well.
~ Friday, January 09, 2004
Friday Blahs.
It's one of those times. I read a bunch of news. I zipped through the blogroll. I stared at the screen a while, and I now am prepared to concede that I cannot think of an interesting or amusing thing to write that could be done with what little energy I have at the end of a busy week. I?ve decided that what I really want to do is to sit back, fire up a CAO Gold Corona and stare into the tube. Maybe I?ll be inspired later.

So, with that, I leave you with Girls with Hearses. No kidding. Girls with Hearses. I have to believe that the author of the site is a big fan of the Claire Fisher character from HBO's "Six Feet Under."


via Everlasting Blort
~ Thursday, January 08, 2004
At Long Last, a State Fruit!!!
I was reading DynamoBuzz, another Jersey Blog, and I learned that, as of this coming Monday, New Jersey will finally have a state fruit. It is the highbush blueberry. The absence of a state fruit was brought to the attention of the governor by a fourth grade class at Veterans’ Memorial Elementary School.

I had no idea that New Jersey has gone all this time without having a state fruit. That's a damned shame. After all, we have the following other state “stuff”:

State Bird: Eastern Goldfinch

State Mammal: Horse

State Insect: Honey bee (Why this not the mosquito, I have no idea.)

State Shell: Knobbed whelk

State Flower: Purple violet

State Fish: Brook trout

State tree: Northern red oak

State song: “I’m from New Jersey" (clever title, no?)

State dinosaur: Hydrosaurus foulkii

State folk dance: Square dance (huh?)

I would like to make a few proposals for more New Jersey state “stuff”

State monument: The toll booth

State delicacy: Taylor Ham

State deity: Sinatra

State disgrace: Robert Torricelli

State pastime: Sitting in traffic

State motto: “Yo, asshole!”

State fragrance: Exxon

State fictional mobster: Tony Soprano

State real mobster: Impossible to pick just one

Click here and here to learn your state’s stuff. You might be surprised.
~ Wednesday, January 07, 2004
Slivovitz a/k/a plum brandy is most often made in places like Yugoslavia, Poland, Hungary and Israel. I’ve seen it range in colors from crystal clear, to having a slight greenish color, to being almost amber.

While “plum brandy” might sound like something your Great Aunt Tessie might drag out of the closet, dust off, and sip to “break up a chest cold,” I assure that Slivovitz is some serious shit. At 100+proof, the stuff is like rocket fuel. I’ve seen some pretty tough drinkers get flattened by Slivovitz.

In fact, many years ago, I found myself in a toe-to-toe friendly debate with a recently discharged swabbie, who fashioned himself quite the drinker. He said that there was no way that a “military intelligence puke” (that would be me) could keep up with him. Being damned near as young as he was, and being just about as stupid, I accepted his challenge and asked the good brother if he had ever tried Slivovitz, as I just happened to have a new bottle handy.

He responded, “No, but if it’s booze, let’s go.” At that moment, I knew that his fate was sealed.

About 45 minutes (and the better part of the bottle) later, I was bleary-eyed, but Popeye was out in the back yard fertilizing the bushes with the contents of his stomach, just before he passed out on the grass.

The poor bastard had no idea what he was getting into.

Like I said, Slivovitz is some serious shit.
Disco Dipshit.
Dancing Hillary. Funny stuff.

via Cousin Jack

Dead Blogs.
Thanks to Dax Montana, I now know where dead, moribund, resting, and missing blogs can be found. I learn something every day. As Dax would say, “Just Damn!”
~ Tuesday, January 06, 2004
Bill Bradley.
Who cares?
MTpolitics, Down, but Not Out.
MTpolitics, normally found here is having server problems, and the site's proprietor, Craig, will be out of town this week and unable to fix it until his return. Fear not, for, in the interim, he is using a BlogSpot site, which can be found here.
We Should Get Out!
It is time to take a serious look at our involvement there. Every day there are news reports about more deaths. Every night on the TV we see death and destruction. Why are we still there?

The land is too large to secure all of it. The people causing this death, damage, and destruction can roam anywhere, and we can't possibly police the whole place. Why are we still there?

We occupied this land, which we had to take by force, but it causes us nothing but trouble. Why are we still there?

Their government is unstable, and in the process of changing. Why are we still there?

Refugees are fleeing by the thousands, driven from their homes. Why are we still there?

It will cost billions to rebuild, which we can't afford. Why are we still there?

There are more than 1,000 religious sects. We can't secure the borders to protect against waves of insurgents. Why are we still there?

And to repeat: Every day we hear of more Americans killed in this dangerous land.

It is clear. We should get out of California.

Thanks to my friend Brian, an Air Force Vet, and resident of the great state of Kally-foah-nya.
~ Monday, January 05, 2004
The Straight White Guy Meets Tom Waits.
Fortunately for us, .Mrs.. Straight White Guy leaned on Eric (that would be Mr. Straight White Guy) to give Tom Waits a listen, which he dutifully did, and which he shares with us here. Mrs. Straight White Guy knows whereof she speaks, for in order to appreciate Tom Waits (the composer of one of my faves, “Jersey Girl,”) one must listen to him. It is definitely not background music.

Eric points out that the lyrics of the above tune are similar to something that one might expect from LeeAnn, and I don’t disagree. However, the thought of LeeAnn and Tom Waits writing lyrics together boggles the farookin’ mind.

So, go listen, already.
~ Sunday, January 04, 2004
“The Bloods rule the jail.”
This is a quote from one of our stellar citizens who spent a week in the Essex County Jail for auto theft (New Jersey is the auto theft capital of the US). Apparently, even though he cannot keep his hands of other people’s cars, he is quite right about conditions in the Essex County jails. Gang violence is on the rise in Essex County Jails.

Recently, one inmate was beaten almost to death by fellow “Bloods” when he agreed to testify against gang members. Worse yet, another inmate, who had been locked up for petty theft from a convenience store and assaulting the owner (misunderstood fellow, I’m sure), was initially housed in the main jail, but, claiming to be a member of the rival gang, the “Crips,” he expressed fear of the “Bloods” in the main jail. He requested that he be moved to the county’s second jail, which request was granted. Less than an hour after his arrival at the second jail, he was attacked in the shower and killed as a result of what apparently is called an initiation “beatdown.” (He must have been a member of a different “Crips” Chapter/Lodge/Unit/Pack or whatever it is called, and therefore had to be initiated into the jail’s Chapter/Lodge/Unit/Pack.)

There are an estimated 351 gang members (mostly “Bloods”) among the 2,200 inmates in the two Essex County jails. To the extent possible in the county jails, rival gangs are housed separately, although some corrections experts opine that this practice breeds only more gang-related violence. And, the problem is not limited to inter-gang violence. According to a past warden, the frequency of incidents of gang violence perpetrated on non-gang members resulted in inmates coming to him “in droves” frightened of being terrorized by gang members. Some of the inmates actually requested a 23-hour day lockdown to avoid being a victim of gang violence.

County officials claim that the problem of controlling gang violence will be “solved” when the new $416 million hi-tech jail is completed in the next few months. The new jail supposedly will permit increased direct supervision of the inmates by placing one corrections officer in each unit with a second officer observing the unit via a video monitor. Apparently this “greater supervision” can be achieved with fewer guards, as the number of corrections officers (currently 722) will be reduced by 150 once the new jail is opened.

All this makes me sick.

I have serious doubts about whether a new jail, “high-tech” or not, will solve the problem of controlling these wastes of oxygen gang members. If I were King, the prisons would be run exactly like army or marine basic training companies. The prisoners would get three hots and a cot and little else except for 16 hours per day of non-stop, serious, in your face, “attitude adjustment” from real drill sergeants. Can any of you who have gone through military basic training imagine, even for a moment, gang members “controlling” a basic training company?

I have often said that the most comfortable prisoner in the United States should be less comfortable than the most uncomfortable basic trainee (who, after all, did not become a basic trainee by virtue of having done anything wrong).

I wonder what our $416,000,000 will buy us.
~ Saturday, January 03, 2004

Sam Adams Utopias MMII

A Steal at $200.00 per Bottle

Yesterday, I took a ride over to one of my favorite liquor stores, which is a supermarket-sized place that sells nothing but liquor, wine and beer (and also has a fair cigar selection). In short, definitely my kinda place. The vodka selection alone takes up approximately 2/3 of the average sized supermarket aisle! But I digress.

While there, I took a peek at the high-end stuff that is kept refrigerated under lock and key. Predictably the locked cooler contains mostly Champagnes (there is a separate lockup for high-end things that don’t need to be refrigerated, particularly those that apparently are popular with shoplifters). Anyway, I saw the bottle pictured above and marveled at the idea of a bottle of beer costing $200.00.

When I arrived home, I searched for this expensive bottle of suds on the net in order to learn a bit more about it. I found it here, but the price was not $200.00, but rather was $499.00 a bottle!! Holy Budweiser, Batman!! That's almost five hundred bucks for a bottle of beer, albeit very fancy schmancy beer. Here is the seller’s description of what must the nectar of the Beer Gods:

Sam Adams Utopias MMII™ is the only beer (domestic or import) brewed with a fine selection of Noble hops, Hallertau Mittelfrueh, Tettnang Tettnanger, Spalt Spalter and Czech Saaz. The brew is then aged in port, scotch and cognac barrels. The brew uses: 2 Row Harrington, Caramel and Vienna Malts. The aroma offers the distinctive smell of cinnamon and vanilla with subtle hints of floral, citrus and pine. Sam Adams Utopias MMII offers a rich taste that is surprisingly light on the palette, featuring a smooth, lingering finish. Samuel Adams Utopias MMII, the strongest beer in the world to date, has 24 percent alcohol by volume and is 48 proof.

At $200.00 per bottle, I probably should run back to the store and buy a case of the stuff. On second thought, that would be a pretty pricey investment, and an “investment” it would have to be, because, as much as I believe that life is too short to drink cheap whiskey or beer, I think I might choke drinking a case of beer at two hundred (or five hundred!) bucks a bottle (even if it does contain “Hallertau Mittelfrueh, Tettnang Tettnanger, Spalt Spalter and Czech Saaz” hops).

I think what I’ll do is go back to the store, explain to the guy that I am an upscale lush and ask the if I could get a small brown bag with the bottle so that I could drink it in the parking lot.
~ Friday, January 02, 2004
Interesting E-Mails.
I get some interesting e-mails:

Someone named Susan Parra sent me one with the subject being "Re: YTTROGW, and fell alseep."

Then there is the one from a person named Elizabeth Lucero. She wrote me about "Re: off die hilltop me te."

Good ol' Wilbur Pagan must have thought I was dying to read his e-mail about "Re: itself never bodes frk."

On December 23rd, I was really glad to receive the reminder from Rufus Greene that "Christmas is near...ticzbbtxcksutaozrj." Good thing too, because I had thought that Christmas is near..biczbbtxcksutaorzj. Thanks, Rufus.


The Grass is Greener.

Having lived all my life in the most densely populated state in the union (where when you sneeze and guy next door says “God bless you,” or equally as likely, “Keep it down!”), and having spent a fair portion of my life snarled in New Jersey’s world-class traffic jams, I have often thought about how nice it would be to chuck it all and head for the country, preferably near the sea.

I suspect that many people who live in metropolitan areas harbor the same fantasy -- the desire to leave the gut-wrenching rat race and to simplify. However, there are a host of reasons why this remains a fantasy for most of us, not the least of which is the daunting problem of making a living in the boondocks. In my case, for example, if I were to leave New Jersey and wanted to practice law in another state, I would have to sit for that state’s bar examination. Believe me, I would rather lick the men’s room floor in New York City's Port Authority Bus Terminal than take another bar exam. Still, some folks (with more courage than I) take the plunge.

I came across a blog by a fellow in Ireland (they have traffic jams there too) who packed it in and headed, with his family, for the county (by the sea). He’s sharing the experience in “Country Living Journal – My Escape to Country Life.” I suspect that James is blessed with the “Luck o’ the Irish” and will therefore succeed, but as one can never have too much good luck, you might want to drop by to wish him well, American style.
2003 Top Ten Lists.
There are more than a few of them around, but I particularly liked Jeff’s (Mr. Side Salad) lists, one of which he was paid to write.

I hope he was well-paid, because it certainly was well written.
Our Army at War – 2003…The Year in Photos.
A slideshow that Sgt. Hook recommended. As usual, he is on the money with his recommendation. Have a look (It also features sound).
~ Thursday, January 01, 2004
Memo to DJs.
I’ve been banging around the music business just about all my adult life. I’ve played with bands in dives, average joints, upscale joints, countless weddings, anniversaries, graduation parties, block parties, Christmas parties, New Year’s Eve parties, and even a handful of (oy!)bowling banquets. I have loved just about every minute of it (except, of course, lugging the equipment). As such, I would like to offer a bit of advice to the folks who play CDs for a living.

1. You are not Cousin Brucie.
You may call yourself a DJ (Disc Jockey), but you are not on the radio. You are selecting and playing CDs for a room full of people. Therefore, please lose the radio announcer rubber voice when speaking to the audience. Hell, real disc jockeys don’t even talk like that anymore.

2. You are not Elvis.
Just because you play CDs does not – I repeat – does not mean that you can sing. Please spare us.

3. Know your audience.
Take a walk out into the audience, and take a look at the people for whom you will be playing CDs. If just about everyone in the room is older than 45, it is probably a pretty good idea to avoid heavy doses of ACDC. Similarly, if you don’t see a good number of Latino people, you might want to consider not playing back to back salsa tunes when the first one resulted in a dance floor that resembled an unpopulated basketball court.

4. Remember WHERE you are working.
Obviously, this is related to the previous point and, in this case, applies to DJs who work in North Jersey. In North Jersey, it’s a pretty good bet that lots of shit-kicking, country music will not work for most folks. I happen to like country music, but trust me, most people in North Jersey don’t even know who Toby Keith is. They never heard of Dwight Yoakam, and they sure as hell don’t want large helpings of John Denver.

Speaking of country music, please, please, at all costs, avoid playing Achy Breaky Heart, even if the two brofus “line-dancing” dolls in the place beg you to play it. I guarantee you that they will do the same “line dance” all night to virtually every tune you play (possibly even including “Misty”), so you should spare everyone else in the room having to listen to Mr. Cyrus’ seriously stupid song.

In North Jersey, Sinatra (no one ever uses his first name) is King. So, the simple rule is, when in doubt, play Sinatra. Although it pains me to say this (as one of the handful of Jersey natives who thinks that Bruce Springsteen is way, way, way overrated), you probably want to toss in a couple of Mr. Springsteen’s tunes, which will of course spawn the inevitable “BRUUUUCE” from his devotees in the audience.

5. Guard the microphone.
Don’t hand the microphone to anyone who wishes to sing along with the CD. Tell these people to sing in the shower or go to a karaoke bar. This may be difficult if the woman asking to sing a Mariah Carey tune has nice torts, but please remember that there are a couple hundred other people in the room who should not be subjected to such an auditory assault. Instead, consider offering the budding Mariah a special audition after the gig.

…and finally,

6. Shut the f**k up.
Talking over, or, worse yet, shouting over the music does not improve the song. It also does not liven up the party. Instead, it just pisses people off and you might wind up in the proctologist’s office to have a microphone-ectomy.

God, how miss music played by real-live people who actually can play and sing real-live music.
BlogSpot Woes.
Since approximately this time yesterday, I have not been able to access my site. I had assumed that no one else could either. However, the Site Meter shows that people are getting to to the site. I have no problem accessing internet sites in general and non-BlogSpot sites, so I assume that the problem lies with the BlogSpot folks.

Color me puzzled (and pissed).

Happy New Year, BlogSpot. You're off to a great start.

Update: It appears to be OK now. It must have been a cyber-version of one of those "24 hour things" that docs resort to explain how in 24 hours one can go from feeling fine to feeling like death is only around the corner, to feeling fine again. Then again, maybe the folks at BlogSpot are all really hung over.

Update to the Update: I spoke too soon. The problem is back. I'm going to get away from this computer for a bit, lest I put Mr. Fist through the screen.
~ Wednesday, December 31, 2003


I wish you all a very happy, healthy, safe and prosperous new year. See you in 2004.
Kate, of Katespot, has changed her address. Her new address is here. Update your bookmarks and blogrolls accordingly.
~ Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Famous TV/Movie Horses.
Buried in the text of my December 26th post was a question about the name of Hopalong Cassidy’s horse. I got no takers. Now, I’m curious about how well you know your television/movie horses.

How many of the following horses can you name? No Googling. We’ll use the honor system. I’ll post the answers in the comments section.

Roy Rogers’ horse

Dale Evans’ horse

Wild Bill Hickock’s horse

Jingles’ (Wild Bill’s sidekick) horse

The Lone Ranger’s horse

Tonto’s horse

The Cisco Kid’s horse

Zorro’s horse

Gene Autry’s horse

Hopalong Cassidy’s horse
Give Sgt. Hook a Hand.
His Site Meter has 49,000 plus hits, and he'd like to hit 50K before December 31st. So, head on over to Sgt. Hook's site and help put him over the top.
~ Monday, December 29, 2003
Lollipop, Lollipop, Oh Lollie, Lollie, Lollie.

You're a lollipop!! Your known for your coolness,
for you are a trend setter. You're a natural
leader, and are good under pressure. People
often seek you out for advice, for you have
great insight.

Which kind of candy are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Oy! I susppose this could also mean that I'm a sucker.

Thanks to LeeAnn, the Gumball, for the link.
Gut Rumbles.
Gut Rumbles celebrated its two-year Blogiversary on Sunday. Acidman is one helluva writer, who, on a regular basis, inspires, challenges, amuses and sometimes shocks his readers. I've been a daily reader for a year now, and he's gotten this Jersey Yankee to the point where I'm ready to give grits a try. Who knows? Perhaps by this time next year I'll be ready to try fried catfish -- this, from a guy who doesn't even like tuna fish.

Congratulations, Rob.
~ Sunday, December 28, 2003
Wacko Jacko.
Michael Jackson – new religion and a new look.

Thanks to Marolyn.

Going Away Party.
Tonight I attended a going away party at the American Legion Post for a soldier who will be deployed to Iraq shortly after the first of the year. There are probably countless such parties taking place on any given day in the United States. What made this party a bit different is that the soldier who is on his way to Iraq is a friend who was, as they say, “in the shit” 34 years ago in Vietnam.

My friend Lou was a grunt (Airborne) in Vietnam in 1969 and managed to come home in one piece. Lou remained in the Army Reserve (and maintained his jump status) thereafter. He is now a Sergeant First Class (E-7), fifty-five years old, in much better shape than the rest of us, and is off to fight another war and earn a star for his Combat Infantryman’s badge.

The party was attended by almost exclusively by Vietnam-Era vets, many of whom were “in country” and more than a few of whom also spent a year “in the shit.” The music of choice tonight consisted of songs from the sixties and evoked memories of similar parties many years ago when we were young and the war in Vietnam was white hot and seemingly without end.

Lou, who is a soft-spoken, no nonsense guy, characteristically said of his deployment, “It’s my job, and I intend to do it.” The young men who will be deployed with Lou lucked out, as he is a good man, a dedicated soldier, a patient teacher, and a guy who has already “done that."

I wish him Godspeed.
~ Friday, December 26, 2003
The Christmas Party and the Post-Christmas Cleanup, Rest… Cleanup, Rest, etc.
Christmas at the House by the Parkway was indescribably exhausting, but also indescribably great. TJ and husband arrived in the morning (he with some unidentified virus that had buckled his knees a couple days ago and she with a newly acquired cold), and everyone exchanged gifts – lots of gifts. It’s a good country.

They won in the creativity department. TJ sneaked off to Café Press and had some things made that bear the “Parkway Rest Stop” Logo, which I thought was really clever. Of course, wearing the shirt will ensure that I will have to try to explain what a blog is to the uninitiated. (“No, it’s not a ‘blob,’ dammit.”) TJ’s husband had scoured the internet for a Hopalong Cassidy Poster that referred to the “Bar 20,” and found a great one for the movie “The Bar 20 Rides Again.” Its significance is that “The Bar 20” is another name for the “Usual Suspects,” the gang with whom we regularly raise hell. Besides, as a kid, I loved "Hoppy." I even know the name of his horse. Do you? But I digress.

Not long after the wrapping paper was cleaned up and the mountains of food that had been prepared over the prior 48 hours was placed in the warming oven, came the onslaught of friends and family. As in past years, I spent most of the day standing in a corner of the kitchen making drinks (this is a drinking crowd), assisted by good friend, Anal-Retentive Ken.

The preferred drink of the day was apple martinis, served “up,” with a slice of Granny Smith apple and the rim of the glass coated with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. A half hour in, and already damned near half of a half gallon bottle of vodka was gone. Did I mention that this is a drinking crowd? I also made a bunch of cosmopolitans, which were carried out of the kitchen to whom, I’m not quite sure. Because I love to shop in liquor stores, this is the kind of house where you truly can name your poison. Chances are, I'll have it. It’s a good country.

Lest you think that all we do is drink, it was also a day of food, rich, calorie-laden food, too much food. It’s a good country.

First came the appetizers, which consisted of a cheese board and hot appetizers brought over by TJ (asparagus and cheese baked in little rolled dough things) and the Original Bill (pepperoni bread and stuffed mushrooms).

Then came the serious food, a ridiculous amount of food, decidedly international fare, including baked ziti, and sausage with peppers and onions (both, New Jersey staples), kielbasa and sauerkraut and gowumpkees (spelled phonetically) i.e. cabbage rolls, reflecting about half of my ethnicity and all of Mrs. PRS’s. There was also a Christmas ham, fried chicken, piles of cheese, homemade potato salad and macaroni salad with Jewish rye, Russian rye and Italian rolls. Our neighbors (who are Jewish and always spend Christmas day with us) showed up with a huge plate of genuine homemade latkes (potato pancakes), which were to die for. It’s a good country.

The Main Feed was followed by a dazzling array of homemade cookies. As in the past, my niece stole the cookie show with a tray of very fancy cookies that would rival anything one would ever see on the Food Channel. The chocolate mousse cups (chocolate mousse in a homemade chocolate cup) should probably be entered in some kind of national cookie contest. I assume there are such things.

Of course, the drinking continued throughout the food thing, as did the scullery work, ensuring that I (and Loyal Friend, Anal Retentive Ken) stayed on our feet and working (and having the occasional drink) the entire time.

This was the first year that Bill the Ham (as in ham radio) a/k/a "Tall Bill," "New Bill," and "Joe Cigar" made an appearance. Of course, he came bearing and sharing some very excellent cigars. He also served as my “refrigerator guy,” a job I suspect he will keep for future Christmases.

Despite Herculean efforts to “clean as you go” (as the signs "advise" in Army kitchens), when the last person left, the place bore the aftermath of a great party. The cleanup would just have to wait until the next day, because by that time, each of my feet felt as if it had a toothache.

So, today was spent slowly (verrrrry slowly) cleaning up the debris, and taking lots of reading and coffee breaks. No television, no radio and no music. After yesterday, a sustained period of relative quiet was nice. The only part of the cleanup that still remains is the returning of some furniture to its regular place. Once that’s done, the place will look as if the party had never happened.

But happen it did, and it was wonderful. It is indeed a good country.
~ Thursday, December 25, 2003


My wish is that you all have a wonderful Christmas and a happy, healthy, safe and prosperous new year. I hope that my wish and all your wishes come true.
~ Tuesday, December 23, 2003
Recommended Reading.
Make yourself comfortable and check out The Waves and the Night at Unbillable Hours. It is an excellent piece of writing.

This site definitely gets blogrolled.
It Must Be A Jersey Thing.

Thanks to LeeAnn for the Link. I'm gonna make her an offer she can't refuse.
Curmudgeonly & Skeptical Moved Again.
After spending some time on BlogSpot while his regular site was being unscrambled (sort of like the Apollo 13 crew's use of the lunar module), Rodger went back to his original site. Adjust your bookmarks and blogrolls accordingly.
Conspicuously Stupid Purchases Consumption.
Conspicuous consumption – The generally stupid purchase of a particular item, largely because it is expensive and will serve as a demonstration to others of the purchaser’s shallowness and insecurity one’s financial well being. Owning such items is a wonderful way to show the world that you are a flaming asshole with too gott-damned much money person of good taste and refinement.

Here are a few shopping suggestions:

One can dazzle one’s friends with a bottle of Krug Clos du Mesnil Champagne, 1988 at $325 per bottle, or, on a lesser scale, with a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue Label Scotch at $185 per bottle (as if most, if not all of your whiskey’d up buddies would know either of these beverages from cheap bubbly or bar scotch).

If fashion is your thing, the gentlemen should consider a Gucci shirt, which retails for $400 (on sale for $299)and then consider getting their farookin’ heads examined. Hip women might be interested in a Gucci handbag for $1,000 (on sale for $849), or a pair of Gucci boots for $2,900 (on sale for a mere $1,849), or they might consider a brain transplant.

Being a person who occasionally has his head in his ass of most discriminating tastes, I am particularly intrigued with thought of purchasing a couple Partagas 150 Don Ramon Cigars $100.00 each. Then again, I may have had a particularly bad day in the mental capacity department. I can only imagine what a jerk my friends would think I am how truly impressed my friends will be as I dramatically light this 7 inch, 52 ring gauge waste of about $96 beauty and announce that in only cost me a mere hundred bucks. They’ll probably all want to shove the cigar where the sun don’t shine all envy me.

Sounds pretty friggin’ dumb great to me.

I wonder if the Partagas 150 Don Ramons come with a complimentary psychiatric examination matches.
~ Monday, December 22, 2003
Laundry Guy.
For quite a few years now, at the house by the Parkway, I have been the Laundry Guy. Given the assumption that domestic chores should be shared (I sound like a regular Alan Farookin’ Alda here), I chose doing the laundry as my main contribution to the domestic enterprise.

While I don’t think that anyone can truly like doing laundry, I do find a certain peace and satisfaction in the essentially solitary process that begins with a single pile of dirty clothes, sheets and towels and ends with a laundry basket or two filled with clean, folded clothes, sheets and towels. Maybe it’s one of those “Zen” things.

Scoff if you will, but I would remind you that being a Laundry Guy is not something just any damned fool can be. For example, being a Laundry Guy is not at all like being a congressman or a senator, because to be a real Laundry Guy, you have to know what you are doing.

Sorting. This is one of the parts of the process that requires experience and some thought. I usually have five categories into which things are classified and sorted. They are:
Colored things
Wait a minute. That’s six categories. OK, so I do laundry better than I count.

Sorting towels and sheets is a no-brainer, because "towels" and "sheets" are the categories, except when the towels and sheets are white, in which case they could be classified as “whites.” But loading white sheets and white towels into the washing machine with the rest of the “whites” would be too big a load, so it is best to keep towels and sheets in separate categories. See? I told you that this requires some thought.

Next easiest to categorize are “whites.” This category is comprised of things that are (drum roll, please) … white. It consists mainly of underwear (mine) and white socks – lots of white sox.

“Delicates” are almost always girlie things, which mostly consist of some form of underwear. Sorting “delicates” can sometimes be tricky, particularly in the case of some pajamas, which I am often tempted to toss in with the colors. I never do, though, because they just seem to belong with the delicates and not with grungy tee shirts. Being the Laundry Guy, I have broad discretion in making these kinds of decisions.

The toughest category is “other.” Sorting things in this category usually requires reading labels, which invariably advise that a particular garment should be washed alone, or in cold water, or on Tuesdays only. If one were to assiduously follow those instructions, doing laundry would take about 40 hours per week and would consume enough water to fill the Great Lake. Sub-categorization is key here. Sweaters, for example, can be gathered up and all washed at one time (cold water, of course). Drying them can be tricky, however, because the dryer can mean death to some sweaters.

Washing. I usually wash “colors” first (again, in cold water, of course), as this category contains jeans and tee shirts that I want to wear again right away. They are not my nicest tee shirts (in fact, a few are downright crummy looking), but they are hang-around-the-house shirts that are the most comfortable and, therefore, the ones I like the best.

Probably my favorite things to wash are “whites.” That’s because, unlike the things that have to be washed in cold water so the colors won’t fade, or things that must be washed “gently,” whites are washed with a vengeance. I set the machine to deliver lava-hot water to which I add detergent and bleach, creating a steam that smells like some serious laundering is going on, which it is.

Drying. Fortunately, most things can go into the dryer. There are, of course, a few items that have to be hung on the indoor clothesline in the basement, and still a few others (fancy schmancy sweaters) that must be dried flat on one of those flat, mesh things. I use one of those little fabric softener towelette things (e.g. Bounce) in each load, although I’m not sure why. I think they might reduce the propensity for clothes from the dryer to produce what the advertisers dubbed “static cling,” but I’ve never been enough of an adventurer to try drying stuff without using one of those little towellette things.

Folding. This is the part of the process that requires a considerable amount of skill. Some people (most often college kids, I think) take things from the dryer and toss them into a drawer “as is.” This is unacceptable. A good Laundry Guy can and does fold. I have tee shirt and towel folding down to a science, creating uniform piles of each. I also have underwear folding (his and hers) wired.

Before folding can commence, the clothes (or towels, or sheets) should be warmed up in the dryer for a couple minutes. This makes them more foldable, and, besides, there are few things nicer than taking warm towels out of the dryer in a cold basement. It is at this point in the process where one often has to deal with socks making up a portion of the things that just came out of the dryer.

Sock Matching. As I come across socks, I toss them into a nearby empty laundry basket to be dealt with after everything else is folded. Only then can the process of sock matching begin. This can be challenging, particularly when all the socks look alike at a distance, but, when seen up close, they are all quite different. I lay them all out on top of the dryer and begin by pairing up the easy ones. (e.g. the gold toes, the “Champion” white socks, etc.) Once the easy ones are out of the way, the task of matching like socks becomes less difficult.

Occasionally, at the end of the matching process, one still comes up with an extra sock, its brother/sister having been lost in the Sock Phantom Zone. I put these outliers aside, and more often than not, the prodigal socks show up in a future load. This was not the case, however, when daughter lived at home and 75% of her socks went forever unmatched, leaving me to ponder the statistical probability of such a thing happening by chance.

Although I consider myself to be a Laundry Guy extraordinaire, I have encountered a couple of vexing problems:

The Gordian Bra-Knot. The first problem is the tendency of brassieres to find one another in the washing machine and to entangle themselves one another and with everything else in the wash, thereby rendering a dozen separate garments into one large, ugly Gordian Bra-Knot that requires the patience of Job to untangle. For some time, I was convinced that this python-like characteristic of bras was simply the nature of the beast and that the aggravation of undoing bra-knots was my to be my fate. However, I have since learned that hooking those babies before they hit the water just about completely solves the problem. And, I figured that out all by myself. A good Laundry Guy always brings common sense into the laundry room.

The Ultimate Unfoldable. Unfortunately, try as I might, I have been completely (and I mean completely) unable to solve the second problem. In fact, I wonder whether anyone has solved the second problem, and that is the problem of neatly folding queen-sized fitted sheets. I have tried countless techniques, but I invariably end up with an unsightly, largely unfolded jumble. I camouflage my shortcomings in this department by hiding the mess under the flat sheet, which, fortunately, is very foldable. In fact, I challenge any one person, without a parachute packer’s table, to neatly fold one of those babies.

I am a Laundry Guy. A Laundry Guy, I am.

If the law business or the music business craps out, I’ll be OK, because I figure that lots of people can use a good Laundry Guy.
~ Saturday, December 20, 2003
What’s Cookin’.
I don’t know how many of you read the sites to the left. I doubt that anyone (except me) reads them all. So, today seems like a good day to share what has been happening over there with most of them.

TJ finished the requirements for her Master’s Degree and will be starting a new gig in January. Color me happy and very proud.

Jack is kicking back a bit, probably still basking in the glow of his Instalanche.

Dodd at Ipse Dixit shoots foam all over the fire that erupted over Haliburton’s alleged price gouging.

Rita at Res Ipsa Loquitur takes a look the frequency of toothlessness in Kentucky and West Virginia. Open wide.

Craig at mtpolitics is blogging light in order to spend time this weekend with his visiting folks. That’s a good thing he's doing. I envy him, as I miss my parents big time this time of year.

Michele sends a holiday card. I think this is the first time I ever saw references to a Swiss Colony Beef Log in a “holiday” card.

I’m having trouble getting Peppermint Patty’s site to load properly. Some of the text is being covered by the third column. Is anyone else having that problem? It’s a shame because she has a story about Howard Dean and John Kerry calling for Bill Clinton to broker a middle east peace. Maybe they meant a middle east “piece.”

John Cole of Balloon Juice says that the DNC weblog is an exercise in groupthink, because comments (even comments polite in tone) questioning the party line are taken down. John’s post attracted a particularly ugly troll. (Conservative males are “sister and sheep f**king redneck[s],” and conservative females are “goat f**king slut[s].”) I’m glad that John left the troll’s comments up, which is something that apparently never would happen over at the DNC weblog.

Da Goddess is giving marketing advice. As usual, she is quite right.

Roger at Curmudgeonly & Skeptical cracks me up every single day. Click and scroll. It’s all great.

The guys at Power Line are reporting on the situation in Basra as compared to that in Baghdad.

Misha is seriously pissed off (Surprised? I didn’t think so.) at PETA’s announced plans to hand out leaflets to children who attend The Nutcracker with mothers wearing fur. The leaflets depict a drawing of a crazed woman plunging a bloody knife into the belly of a terrified rabbit. Charming.

Margi is searching for her mojo in the "White Album" (Number 9, Number 9, Number 9), and lamenting her lost scotch, but still took the time to point us to some good sites.

Sgt. Hook is spending the weekend camping with a several GI dads and their children, including his young buccaneers. And he thought survival training was tough.

Drumwaster points out that the candidate who truly is leading in the polls is a person called “Don’t Know.” Seems fitting.

Acidman proves that some people who say they will “work for food” are not really interested in working. And, my guess is that they aren’t very interested in food either.

The Laughing Wolf is serving up his regular Saturday good news and food for thought.

Mark at Not Quite Tea and Crumpets is back after a break, and he was a winner at the company Christmas Party. All too often the only thing one wins at such parties is a massive hangover and the gnawing fear that you may have called the wrong person an asshole.

In order to relieve the tension born of wrapping, baking and cleaning, Kate of Katespot has been catapulting Santa for points.

Erin at Gigglechick has found that Saddam actually has some good news.

Kathy from On the Third Hand suggests a possible design for a structure to be built on the former site of the twin towers. I used to be able to see the twin towers from my yard. I could get used to looking at this.

The Mudville Gazette actually has found a news article that is fair and balanced. It must have been something they ate.

The Country Store is taken with the notion of millions of Mexicans in California carrying matriculas consulares, which essentially are “illegal alien cards." Green cards? We don’t need no steeenkin’ green cards.

Zogby reports on corruption in Philadelphia. Corruption in Philly? Can’t be. Say it ain’t so, Mr. Z.

Adam, the Single Southern Guy, will be heading to New Hampshire to do some political work, although he does not say for whom. Hmmmmmm.

Ravenwood is pointing to Jack’s picture of Saddam, which will send Jack’s hit counter spinning yet again. Note to self. Learn that photoshop stuff.

Zombyboy at Resurrection Song reviews Return of the King. I must admit that I am beginning to feel really out of touch. I have never seen the TV show with Paris Hilton and Whathisname’s daughter. I have never seen Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and I don’t know shit about Tolkein. I really have to get my shit together.

Roberto at Dynamobuzz reports that Keith Richards turned 60. My God! There’s a guy whose liver has processed more pharmaceuticals than Eli Lilly, and he’s still rockin’.

Spoons is counting backwards, starting from now and going back to the time when Libya started its negotiations to dismantle its WMD program, in order to fix the moment of “conception.” Interesting.

Jeff at Side Salad is up to Disturbing Santa No. 20. Woof!

Bill at Bloviating Inanities had a rough time with the crowds at the supermarket and even a rougher time at the liquor trying to buy a bottle of vodka. Note to Bill – Problems in Virginia? Chicken shit. You’re forgetting your Jersey roots. Come back to Jersey, where we really have crowds and store employees who, in their spare time, kick puppies.

Tiger fell victim to demon rum. Oh, do I know how that feels. Then again, it’s hard to feel sorry for a guy who eats ketchup on hot dogs. Blecch.

Serenity is really honked off at a person named Helen. I’m glad I’m not Helen. That’s gotta hurt.

SuperG of Babel On is back in the USA and blogging from the Garden State.

Jay Solo is headed for a vacation on the Left Coast. Beware of the wearers of the tinfoil hats.

Russ at Tacjammer examines the notion of a “trial” for Saddam and points out (quite accurately, methinks) that the proceeding should be more in the nature of a sentencing hearing.

Bogie reports on a radio ad that still has me scratching my head.

Buffy at Arrrgh has a serious case of the ass with McDonald’s new radio ad campaign. Yowza! It’s pretty clear that she was not among those who participated in the focus groups that pass on McDonald’s contemplated ad campaigns.

Amy at Aimless got some good news from the doc. I’m happy for her.

Casey at In Sheeps Clothing is taking a break. It seems that she has a pretty full plate at the moment.

Kim at Velociworld, in my view, deserves a medal for making it through a sweet-sixteen party for his daughter held at his home without strangling even one kid.

Eric, the Straight White Guy, takes us on a long, long walk through the hills of Scotland. This one is a must.

LeeAnn at The Cheese … deals with the Friday Five as only she can. Note to self: Try vodka and diet root beer. You’ve tried vodka and damned near everything else.

Dax Montana shares a bit of his art work. Note to Dax: Music, man. Stick to the music.

Ryan of Tasty Manatees posted today’s “five items,” one of which deals with conspiracy theories surrounding Saddam’s capture. One has to wonder how some of these conspiracy people continue to live with nothing but shit between their ears.

Sarah at Trying to Grok posted “100 Things.” I was a fan before I read the 100 things, and I am even a bigger fan now.

Holy crap! I just saw that Kevin of Wizbang (and one of his commenters) also have never read any of the Lord of the Rings books or saw any of the movies. I figure that makes three of us.

Pam at Pamibe is properly disgusted by Madonna’s venturing into the land of political endorsements. I don’t know whether it is sad or comical that she apparently believes her endorsement is valuable. Yo, Madonna. Shut up and sing. On second thought, just shut up.

That's all folks. I may well take Sunday off, as I have a lot to do, and it is my turn to tend bar at the American Legion.

~ Friday, December 19, 2003
Translation Funnies.
Bill, a reader in Florida, sent me an e-mail in which he took the Google Translation Post (see 12/17, below) one step further. What he did was to take two recent posts from this site and have Google translate them into Spanish. He then had the Spanish text translated back into English via BabelFish, which produced something that is both interesting and funny as hell.

Here is the first post as it appears below.

Another One Gone.
Having recently completed law school and started a new job, I Hate Stupid People is also closing up shop.

I wish her well.

Here’s how it came out after two translations.

Other Gone.
Recently finishing the school of lawyers and begun a new work, hatred stupid people also I am closing myself upon store.

Affluent desire the.
Here is the second post as it appears below.

Santa Pfffffft.
Have you seen those large, inflatable Santas people are placing on the lawns, in front of their houses? They are quite popular around here. Once inflated, the Santas look quite nice, with Santa toting a sack full of toys over his shoulder, with his free hand raised to greet passers-by. The problem is that damned near all of them leak and end up flat as pancakes on the lawn, leaving ol’ St. Nick looking like he took a header from the sleigh at about 40,000 feet.

Bad imagery.

Here’s how it looks after two translations.

Santa Pfffffft.
You have seen those Noel Papa great, inflatable who people are placing in the turfs, in front of your houses? They are absolutely popular around here. Once they are inflated, Noel Papa seems absolutely pleasant, with Santa toting a coat completely of toys on their shoulder, with their free hand raised to salute to traseúntes. The problem is that cursed near all it escápese and finishes upon plane like crepes in the turf, leaving ol’ St. Melle to watch as it took a head from sleigh in near 40,000 feet.

Bad images
It is somewhat unsettling, but I think I have actually spoken like that a few times after having tee many martoonis. However, I must admit that I do rather like the phrase “crepes in the turf.” Quite poetic, no?

Thanks to Bill for taking the trouble to provide me (and hopefully you) with a good laugh and a solid demonstration of the subtlety of language, which, to date, has eluded computer programs, but which comes naturally to the human brain.

“Coffee, Black.”

One Fine Jay seems to like black coffee even more than I do. I only today came across this nicely written piece, “In Praise of Coffee.” Here’s a taste:

No other drink, aside from alcohol, can bring people so close together. It is the drink of friendships, of time shared between people who care. It is the drink of those in a hurry, and those who have too much time. It is the drink that fits socially in where alcohol does not.

Pour yourself a nice cup, and go read it all.
~ Thursday, December 18, 2003
Another One Gone.
Having recently completed law school and started a new job, I Hate Stupid People is also closing up shop.

I wish her well.
Santa Pfffffft.
Have you seen those large, inflatable Santas people are placing on the lawns, in front of their houses? They are quite popular around here. Once inflated, the Santas look quite nice, with Santa toting a sack full of toys over his shoulder, with his free hand raised to greet passers-by.

The problem is that damned near all of them leak and end up flat as pancakes on the lawn, leaving ol’ St. Nick looking like he took a header from the sleigh at about 40,000 feet.

Bad imagery.
~ Wednesday, December 17, 2003
Betente Do Descanso de Parkway.
In browsing through my referral logs, I notice that someone used Google to translate my page into Spanish. It is quite a shocker to see a clutch of things that one wrote translated into a different language. I know that sounds dumb, but that was my initial impression. I have read some German translations (I have some facility with German), and the translation is often very literal and therefore often very wrong and sometimes quite funny. Not knowing more than a dozen words in Spanish, I cannot tell how accurate this translation is. All I know is that I think it looks pretty cool.

I particularly liked the names of some of the sites (those for which a translation was possible) on my blogroll. Can you figure out which sites these are?

Bog De Jack

Insulto Final

Iaques De Yakety

Como Apelando

Attu Vê Tudo

uma vitória pequena

eu odeio povos stupid

Patty Do Peppermint

Suco Do Balão

Goddess De Da

Linha De Poder

Venom Elétrico

Sgt. Gancho

O Lobo Rir

Não completamente chá e Crumpets

Na Terceira Mão

Direita Nós Somos (Fechado)

Gazette De Mudville

A Loja Do País

Único Guy Do sul

Universo De Ravenwood

Canção De Resurrection

A Experiência Das Colheres

Salad Lateral

Tigre (an easy one!)

Jornal De Serenity

Jay Verbosity De solo

Esboços da tensão (fechada)

Na Roupa De Sheeps

Guy Do Branco De Straignt

O Queijo Está Sozinho

Tentar a Grok

Check out the whole page.

After all that, I could really go for a burrito and a beer.

Update: I have been advised that the language is Portuguese, not Spanish. I have now removed any doubt about my ignorance of both languages.

Break Time for Deb.
Deb, the Accidental Jedi is taking a break, for how long remains unclear. It is the blogosphere's loss. I, for one, am hoping that her decision is born of the holiday crazies that we all experience in one form or another and to one degree or another, and that she'll be back after the apple drops in Times Square.
~ Tuesday, December 16, 2003
Holy Cow, BogMan!
Cousin Jack posts a funny-as-hell picture of Saddam. The post gets a link from Instapundit and from National Review Online, and the next thing you know Jack gets 20,000 plus hits.

Nice going, Jack.
Lottery Pools.
Does your office have a lottery pool? Santa's elves are no different.

Thanks to Gerry for the laugh.
New Blogger.
One of the people who take the time to read this blog from time to time has taken the plunge and fired up his own blog. It appears that he is off to a good start. Check out “Run That By Me Again.”
New to the Blogroll.
Not too long ago, I came across Pamibe, although I cannot remember how I found my way there. I liked it, and added it to my bookmarks. Since then, I’ve been a regular, so for my ease of reading and your enjoyment, I am happy to add Pam’s site to the Blogroll.

Go forth and read.
Weblog Awards.
OMIGOD!! What a surprise!! I would like to thank members of the Academy, my agent, Murray, and ….. Ooops! Wrong speech.

Alas, Parkway Rest Stop did not win, although it made an impressive showing, given the quality of the competition. I do want to thank the four people who each voted 19 times all those who voted for me.

I would also like to thank Kevin at Wizbang for all his hard work and for providing us with a generous helping of fun.
~ Sunday, December 14, 2003
Great News. Wing Sings Christmas Songs!!!
In June, I recommended, in this post, that you check out Wing, and I told you that you would not be sorry. I trust you weren’t. Well, Wing is now singing Christmas songs. I particularly liked “Jingle Bells.” Go listen.

The CD would make a great stocking stuffer.

Note: Please swallow what you are drinking before going to the site. You’ve been warned.
Hangover Ratings.
I am not terribly proud to say that I have experienced all of the following at one time or another, more than I care to remember.


One Star Hangover (*)
No pain. No real feeling of illness. You're able to function relatively well
However, you are still parched. You can drink 5 sodas and still feel this
way. For some reason, you are craving a steak & fries.

Two Star Hangover (**)
No pain, but something is definitely amiss. You may look okay, but you have
the mental capacity of a staple gun. The coffee you are chugging is only
increasing your rumbling gut, which is still tossing around the fruity
pancake from the 3:00 AM Waffle House excursion. There is some definite
havoc being wreaked upon your bowels.

Three Star Hangover (***)
Slight headache. Stomach feels crappy. You are definitely not productive.
Anytime a girl walks by you gag because her perfume reminds you of the
flavoured schnapps shots your alcoholic friends dared you to drink. Life
would be better right now if you were home in your bed watching Lucy reruns.
You've had 4 cups of coffee, a gallon of water, 3 iced teas and a diet Coke
--- yet you haven't peed once.

Four Star Hangover (****)
Life sucks. Your head is throbbing. You can't speak too quickly or else you
might puke. Your boss has already lambasted you for being late and has given
you a lecture for reeking of booze. You wore nice clothes, but that can't
hide the fact that you only shaved one side of your face. (For the ladies,
it looks like you put your make-up on while riding the bumper cars.) Your
eyes look like one big red vein, and even your hair hurts. Your sphincter is
in perpetual spasm, and the first of about five shits you take during the
day brings water to the eyes of everyone who enters the bathroom.

Five Star Hangover (*****)
You have a second heartbeat in your head, which is actually annoying the
employee who sits in the next cube. Vodka vapour is seeping out of every
pore and making you dizzy. You still have toothpaste crust in the corners of
your mouth from brushing your teeth in an attempt to get the remnants of the
poop fairy out. Your body has lost the ability to generate saliva so your
tongue is suffocating you. You don't have the foggiest idea who the hell the
stranger was passed out in your bed this morning. Any attempt to defecate
results in a fire hose like discharge of alcohol-scented fluid with a rare
floater' thrown in. The sole purpose of this 'floater' seems to be to splash
the toilet water all over your ass. Death sounds pretty good about right

Thanks to my friend Russ, a Navy vet (of course).


The world is a better place today.

Image lifted from Ipse Dixit.

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