Attu Sees All
Res Ipsa Loquitur
Rachel Lucas (on hiatus)
a small victory
Curmudgeonly & Skeptical
The Laughing Wolf
Not Quite Tea and Crumpets
On The Third Hand
Right We Are (Closed)
The Country Store
Single Southern Guy
The Spoons Experience
Jay Solo's Verbosity
Sketches of Strain (Closed)
In Sheeps Clothing
The Accidental Jedi (on hiatus)
Straignt White Guy
The Cheese Stands Alone
Trying to Grok
~ Sunday, November 30, 2003
Libations, Libations, a Lighthouse, a Concrete Ship, and More Libations.
It was quite a road trip. It was a blur of Apple Knockers, vodka (lots of vodka), beer, wine, champagne, and too much to eat. We took a few drinking breaks to visit a craft fair and the “quaint” shopping area in Cape May, the kinds of places where one spends lots of money on doo-dads that always seem like a good idea at the time.
Because this was the first trip to Cape May for a couple of the Usual Suspects, we took a ride out to the Cape May Lighthouse to make sure it is still there. Of course, it was still there, as it has been since its construction in 1859. No one was up to climbing the 218 steps to get to the top of the 157-foot tall structure. Of course, this had nothing to do with all the cocktails we had consumed. I figure it must must have been bad ice.
We also went to Sunset Beach to take a look at the remains of the S.S. Atlantus, one of the 12 experimental concrete ships build during World War I, due to a steel shortage. After a few trans-Atlantic voyages, the Atlantus was taken out of service, and it foundered while it was being brought to New Jersey to serve as part of a dock for a ferryboat between Delaware and New Jersey. Oddly enough, during World War II, the government built another 24 concrete ships, again because of a steel shortage. Concrete ships. Go figure.
We took a walk on the beach by the Lighthouse. However, it was a very short walk, because on Saturday, Cape May was hit with some seriously high winds, which churned up the ocean into a boiling mass, and sandblasted everyone who ventured near the beach. After a couple minutes of sandblasting, it was clear that a warm spot and more cocktails was a much better idea.
I am now in the process of detoxifying and trying to remain perpendicular to the center of the earth.
I think I’ll have another glass of seltzer and head for the recliner.
~ Friday, November 28, 2003
A Bit of R&R.
We are taking a
See you Sunday night.
~ Thursday, November 27, 2003
By the way, If you are not overly stuffed, and you are looking for some good after dinner reading today, check out the Carnival of the Vanities, which is up and running over at Setting the World to Rights.
~ Wednesday, November 26, 2003
As of midnight tonight, I will have been at this for one year. In my first post, I tentatively thanked Cousin Jack for suggesting that I give blogging a try. I now happily un-tentatively thank him again for his inspiration, his willingness to help with things technical and otherwise, and for being a great relative and friend.
When I began this almost-daily exercise, I thought that, in addition to Jack (who graciously promised to be reader), I would have maybe a handful of others who would read my scribblings , including daughter TJ, who is hardly unbiased. As of this moment, this site has been visited just short of 37,000 times. Never, in my wildest imagination, did I expect that such a thing would happen. I would like to thank each and every person who has found this site to be worth a couple minutes of his or her valuable time. I am truly grateful and humbled – big time.
I would also like to thank all those who maintain a blog, particularly those who appear on the left side of this page. You have made me laugh. You have moved me. You have made me think. You have entertained me for countless hours, and you have always impressed me (and often made me green with envy) with your breadth of knowledge, your razor sharp sense of humor and your wonderful ability to turn a phrase. Thank you all.
A very, very special thanks to those of you with whom I have communicated one on one. You know who you are. I’ve actually made some friends around here, and what could be better than that?
It has been quite an experience.
I look forward to year number two.
High Tech Peeping Toms.
It’s not bad enough that we have to deal with cell phone vulgarians, who have some sick compulsion to blab on the cell phone in public places and pollute the atmosphere with their half of an obviously inane conversation. Now, with the commercialization of camera-cell phones (some 25 million were shipped worldwide in the first half of this year), we have a brand new problem
It seems that there are some truly sick sorry asses out there who are bound to use their camera cell phones to take surreptitious photos of people while they are undressed in places such as locker rooms and bathrooms. What’s even more alarming is that images of the unsuspecting victims can easily be transferred to the internet for all the world to see.
Recently in New Jersey it became painfully apparent that the state’s current Peeping Tom law does not effectively prohibit such conduct. Last July, a New Jersey appeals court overturned the conviction of a man who had hidden a video camera in a floral arrangement in his bathroom in order to photograph his female houseguests, without their knowledge, while they undressed and showered (obviously a swell guy).
The court ruled that, under the existing law, a defendant can only be convicted if he "peers into a window or other opening." Because the camera-in-the-bathroom-guy had not that, his conviction was overturned.
Because of this ruling and because it is difficult to know whether a person using a cell phone might actually be taking a photograph, many health clubs have banned the use of cell phones in locker rooms.
The state judiciary committee is working on legislation to replace the existing Peeping Tom law. The revised law would prohibit the surreptitious viewing or videotaping “someone in a bathroom, bedroom, dressing room, or other private place where people undress or engage in intimate activity.”
Furthermore, because camera cell phones have the potential to be used to commit industrial espionage, one firm is working on a high tech solution to the problem. The company is developing a transmitter that would block the camera function of camera cell phones until the user is off the premises.
So, one of these days, if you find yourself in a bathroom or locker room with a cell phone vulgarian who is fouling the air with his high-decibel personal prattle, that may not be all he is doing. He may be also be taking your picture with an eye towards making you “famous” on unsuspectingnekkidpeopleinlockerrooms.com. Because such conduct is not a crime (at least for now), self-help might be the best way to go. Therefore, if, while in your birthday suit, you catch someone shooting your picture with what looks like a cell phone, I suggest that you see to it that the last photo the camera takes is a glorious color picture of the inside of the asshole’s asshole.
~ Monday, November 24, 2003
Yeah, It’s One of those Nights.
OK, here is the deal. I am suffering from a huge case of occupationally induced brain-fry. Accordingly, I am absolutely incapable of writing anything worth reading. I’m even too beat to read other people’s stuff, a sure sign of mental fartdom.
With that said, I would not want to completely disappoint those who were kind enough to visit here. So, I urge you to spend a few minutes moving Liquid Man all over your screen. It actually works well to relieve some of the discomfort of occupational brain-fry.
Again, thanks to my friend Brian, the Air Force vet, on whom I can rely to bail me out when I cannot write anything worth a shit.
I Wish I Had Written This.
"Understanding Ghandi will have zero effect on the current war on terror. I can't remember where I read or heard this, but someone once said that if Ghandi had been Jewish, we would have never heard of him. Ghandi's passive resistance was a testament to British morality, not to peace as a weapon because Hitler never would have stopped to listen."
Sarah from Trying to Grok wrote it and more in an excellent post. Go read.
~ Sunday, November 23, 2003
Annoying People Department.
This shrieking moonbat “journalist” makes my hair stand on end. The Clintons have never told a lie that she didn’t buy.
This punk is about as funny as a car accident and is about dumb as a box of rocks.
This unkempt, unwashed, walking unmade bed is, of course, the KING of annoying.
Thank you. I feel better now.
~ Saturday, November 22, 2003
I Heard it on the Radio.
We were stoked. It was a beautiful, clear autumn day, and we had both brought notes into school the day before asking that we be excused by 11:00 a.m. on Friday. I was seventeen, and the ink on my brand-new driver’s license was still wet. My friend Greg [not his real name] and I would shortly be on our way to Atlantic City, courtesy of his dad and step-mom, who had arrived there the day before for some sort of convention. I had the family ’61 Bel-Air (I assume now that my dad must have taken Friday off) for the entire weekend, and the 125-mile drive to Atlantic City would be my first “long” driving trip.
Greg and I were to have our own room. His parents had other things to do, so we would be essentially on our own. We were young; we had “wheels” and big plans. We would walk the boardwalk, maybe even take a ride to nearby Wildwood, hang out, and, if we were lucky, we might even meet some girls. We had the world by the ass.
As we drove south on the Garden State Parkway, we talked the talk of teenagers. We had been friends for many years, and we even previously had girlfriends who were neighbors on the other side of town. We had the radio in the Bel-Air cranked up as we cruised down the Parkway. The world was perfect.
About 40 or 50 miles into the trip came the bulletin. A newsman broke into the middle of a song to say, “We have this word from Dallas Texas. The President’s motorcade has been fired upon. At this time, we do not know whether the President has been hit.”
As I recall, at the conclusion of the bulletin, the station actually resumed regular broadcasting. I believe that my reaction at that time was no more sophisticated than “Holy shit. Imagine that? Some jerk took a shot at the motorcade.”
Neither of us entertained the possibility that the President could have been shot. We convinced ourselves that the President escaped injury and that the cops would soon catch the jerk who fired the shot.
However, a moment or two later, there was another bulletin. “We can now confirm that the President has been shot and is being taken to a nearby hospital.”
From that point on, regular programming was suspended, and the radio reporters breathlessly repeated the same information, and asked each other the questions we were asking ourselves. “Was Mrs. Kennedy shot? What is the President’s condition?”
I continued to drive south, but now neither of us spoke. We just listened, worried, and clung to the hope that the President was just wounded. After all, that’s always the way in was in the movies. When the good guy got shot, he was always only wounded.
The action had now moved to Parkland hospital, and the on-the-scene radio reporters were interviewing people who identified themselves as eyewitnesses and others who were there simply there to express concern. Most everyone was crying.
We continued to listen in silence until we were fairly close to Atlantic City, at which time the word finally came.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we can now confirm that the President died at (the exact time was given). President Kennedy is dead.”
As I recall, my reaction was one of absolutely stunned disbelief. Greg’s was the same. We probably shared a couple, “Jesus Christs,” but not much more than that.
When we arrived at the hotel, the lobby was packed with guests and people from the street watching a single black and white television (there were no in-room televisions then) to follow the horrible story.
We found Greg’s parents. His dad was stoic, but his step-mom was crying. Lots of people were crying.
We checked into our room, and decided to take a walk. It was the first and only time in my life that I saw newsboys selling papers and shouting the headlines, much like one sees in the movies. “EXTRA, EXTRA, President Kennedy killed in Dallas.” I have since learned that newspapers all over the country had published “Extra” editions in an effort to keep up with the real-time news that was on the television and radio.
Believe it or not, one newsboy, apparently with a warped sense of humor, was shouting, “Extra, Extra, Kennedy dead. Jackie marries Lyndon.” Greg and I both hollered at the guy, calling him a “fucking asshole.” Others did the same.
The following day is lost to me now. I know that the “wheels” remained parked, and we stayed close to the hotel, keeping an eye on the news, including the stories about the Dallas Police having apprehended the alleged shooter – some rodent-like, little guy with three names. Our big plans seemed silly to us then, and, besides, Atlantic City was not “open” for fun that Saturday. The city was pretty much "closed." Everyone was home watching television.
Sunday morning, it was time to go home. We loaded our stuff into the Bel-Air and headed north on the Garden State Parkway. We didn’t talk much, other than to speculate that there would be no school on the following day. We just listened to the radio.
About twenty miles from home, we were again stunned: The newsman said, “We have just learned that Lee Harvey Oswald has been shot, and that he is being taken to Parkland Hospital. I repeat. Lee Harvey Oswald has been shot.” This was followed by the recording of the actual shooting and the chaos that followed.
At this point, I just wanted to be home.
My first “long” driving trip had turned out to be the most memorable one I am likely ever to have, for on Friday, as we headed south on the Parkway, the President was killed, and on Sunday, as the northbound Parkway miles slid by, the man who was accused of killing the President was himself gunned down.
And I heard it all on the radio.
~ Friday, November 21, 2003
Holy Crap! Super G’s Hotel was One of those Rocketed.
Super G at Babel On! reports on the rockets that hit the Sheraton in Baghdad, the place where he has been hanging his hat these days. He’s also posted some interesting photos, including one of a donkey cart rocket-launching platform, obviously a weapon of ass destruction. (I couldn’t resist).
Start here with the donkey cart post and scroll down through the November 21 posts for others dealing with the attack and its aftermath and for a few laughs along the way.
~ Thursday, November 20, 2003
Attention, Aspiring Musicians.
It’s cool to be a musician. Musicians get to play in bands, hang out with other musicians, drink copious amounts of booze, and meet groupies. Musicians get invited to lots of parties, and they are always the center of attention.
You probably have always wanted to a musician. Admit it.
The problem is that some people just don’t seem to pack the gear to play musical instruments. When it comes to playing string instruments, they are all thumbs, and trying to play wind instruments produces sounds that attract various forms of wildlife in heat.
Are you completely out of luck?
Hell no. Buy a theremin.
The theremin (a representative picture appears above), possibly the first electronic instrument, was invented in 1919 by a Russian physicist named Lev Termen, who later changed his name to Leon Theremin.
Besides looking like no other instrument, the theremin is unique in that it is played without being touched. Two antennas protrude from the theremin - one controlling pitch, and the other controlling volume. As a hand approaches the vertical antenna, the pitch gets higher. Approaching the horizontal antenna makes the volume softer. Because there is no physical contact with the instrument, playing the theremin requires precise skill and perfect pitch. LinkDon’t let that “precise skill” and “perfect pitch” stuff dissuade you. All you have to do is wave your arms around the theremin and you’re a damned musician. Within five minutes, you’ll be playing spooky music – the wooooo wooooo wooooo stuff that you heard in the outer space movies from the 1950’s. Let see some guy with a Fender Strat match that!
Theremins come in all shapes and sizes, as can be seen in the theremin photo gallery, and you’ll look way cool playing it, as you can see in this video clip of a theremin guy gettin’ down and getting’ funky.
Still not convinced? Take a listen to Clara Rockmore, universally considered to be the best theremin player of all time, make that baby sing. You can also hear more here.
How can you learn more about theremins? No problemo. There is a wealth of information about theremins here, here and here.
So, if you’re sick of always being in the audience and not on the stage, get yourself a theremin, and join the Theremin Enthusiasts Club International. Be sure to bring your “axe” to the next house party you attend, and drop a few subtle hints like, “”Hi, Tom. I didn’t realize that my theremin was in the car. I’m afraid someone might steal it. Would it be OK if I brought it inside, just for safekeeping?” Or, “Yeah, that global warming thing is really a bitch. Hey, speaking of the earth, did you ever see that movie, ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still?’ As it happens my theremin is in the next room!”
Rock on, Dude.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…
~ Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Blogger Needs Help.
Better Living Through Blogging needs help from someone who knows MT. It looks like he needs much more than duct tape, so I can't help him. Hopefully, someone can come to his aid.
New Jersey Gasoline Tax Hike.
New Jersey’s lame duck legislature is talking about raising New Jersey’s gasoline tax an additional fifteen cents per gallon. DynamoBuzz has the story. This comes on the heels of our having recently been treated to an increase in cigarette taxes and
New Jersey and Spendocrats – perfect together.
This one is dedicated to Sgt. Hook, who once did a stint as an Army recruiter.
While talking to a potential recruit, the military recruiter said, "Exactly what kind of job are you looking for in the military?"Thanks to my friend Brian, the Air Force Vet.
~ Tuesday, November 18, 2003
High School “Wisdom.”
Back when I was in high school, I always found myself in the “accelerated” English classes. Seeing as how I was surrounded with all the “smart” kids, I have to assume that the school employed some rational basis to select students for these classes. In my case, it had to be my standardized test scores that landed me in this academically high-powered group, for I was the ultimate underachiever in high school. I was way too busy playing in a band, being a fraternity president (we had them in high school), hanging out, and thinking of goofy stuff to be bothered with things like homework.
I recall one occasion when the teacher, apparently seeking to tap into the well of creativity that she believed the class to have, gave us an assignment to write a poem and to be prepared to read it to the class the following day. I treated this much like I treated the assignments from my other classes. I simply did not do it, figuring that luck, or divine inspiration would carry me through the next day.
When the next day rolled around, I showed up for class wondering how I would finesse not having done my homework. The teacher (a wonderful woman, I might add) began to call names of students to read their poems. And, read them they did.
It was apparent that all the other students had spent a considerable amount of time on the assignment. Most wrote poems about love, relationships and nature. Some wrote poems that rhymed, while others wrote meandering free verse, the meaning of which eluded me then, and often eludes me now.
The teacher was working her way through the seating chart, and there were only two or three more poems to be read before I would be called on. What to do?
Not being able to dream up a credible excuse for not having done the asignment (I pretty much had used them all up), I took pen in hand and composed a poem, then and there. I finished it at the very second that the teacher called my name. I seem to recall that the student who recited just before me had read a long poem about a springtime walk through the woods, which the teacher loved. Damn!
I took a deep breath and strode to the front of the classroom. I put my sheet of three-hole-punched loose leaf paper on the lectern, and recited the following:
There once was a girl named SueThe teacher was not amused.
I like to think that she lacked a keen eye for literary genius.
~ Monday, November 17, 2003
Remember back in 2001 when Bill Clinton made a big news splash by deciding to locate his offices on 125th Street in Harlem? Sure you do. The media gushed. Charles Rangel gushed when he introduced his pal Bill at the Harlem welcoming ceremonies as "the last president we ever had that was elected.” Bill gushed too: “Now I feel like I’m home,” he told the cheering audience. He went on to
Clinton’s choice of Harlem for his offices moved columnist DeWayne Wickham to say that Clinton’s presence will be “a boon to Harlem.” He went even further:
It will bring to this long-ignored corner of New York City a flood of powerful white politicians who will have a vested interest in improving the lives of the people in Bill Clinton's adopted neighborhood — and ignite a second Harlem Renaissance.Mr. Wickham, you’ve been had.
If there is to be a “second Harlem Renaissance,” it sure as hell won’t be due to Bill’s presence in the neighborhood, because as Country Store points out, he is hardly ever there. This is not the first time his absence has been noted, but then, as now, there are plenty of people who are more than willing to give him a pass.
As you may recall, he chose Harlem as the location for his offices when a firestorm erupted over his first choice for office space in pricey midtown Manhattan that would have cost the taxpayers $800,000 per year. His Harlem digs will cost the taxpayers a mere $354,000 per year over the course of a ten-year lease.
We’ve all been had … again.
~ Sunday, November 16, 2003
NAACP or NAASCP, or is it NAAVLCP?
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has aggressively opposed the appointment of Janice Rogers Brown, Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court, to a judgeship on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
There is no dispute that Justice Brown is a “colored person.” There is also no dispute that moving from the California State Courts to the D.C. Circuit constitutes an “advancement.” So how can an organization that, by its own name, purports to stand for the advancement of colored people be so vehemently opposed to Justice Brown’s judicial appointment? [/rhetorical question]
Perhaps, in the interest of candor, the organization should change its name to the “National Association for the Advancement of Some Colored People” (NAASCP). Or, given the statements of the likes of Julian Bond or Kweisi Mfume, the organization should consider calling itself the “National Organization for the Advancement of Very Liberal Colored People” (NAAVLCP).
The opposition to Justice Brown is ugly.
The Black Commentator has referred to her as “Clarence Thomas in a Fright Wig,” and has depicted her in this manner (along with equally odious depictions of Clarence Thomas, Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice).
I guess that sort of thing gets a pass, if it appears in the Black Commentator.
One wonders how long it will take for the NAACP and the Black Commentator to get around to calling Justice Brown a “Neanderthal.”
~ Saturday, November 15, 2003
My plan for today is to add a few links to Mr. Blogroll, then spend a bit of time reading – a book. I’ll probably lurk around a bit later.
With that, I give you the following excellent blogs:
Dax Montana. This is another southern guy who resonates very well with this born and bred Jersey Yankee. I gotta figure out how to get a slug of that Georgia brandy. Just Damn! Today he has written a hard rending post about his long friendship with his three-legged dog. Dog owners will get it.
Tasty Manatees. My first exposure to this site was this excellent post, and I have been a regular ever since. Blogging from the nation’s capital, Ryan scores regular political bullseyes.
Trying to Grok. The author, Sarah, is a military spouse, living in Germany. She writes passionately about the military, politics and things in general. She has done a wonderful job telling the individual stories of many of our military personnel who have been wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am now one of her regulars.
Go forth and read.
~ Friday, November 14, 2003
Well, that may not be news to you, but check this out.
OK, so I dragged my sorry ass out of bed this morning, put on my raggedy walking duds and headed out the door for my walk. It was brisk and very windy – a nice day to be out strutting around. As usual, during the walk I thought about all sorts of things, including the rest of the work week and how I would prioritize the things in the seemingly ever-present pile of stuff to do.
After about an hour of walking, I turned the corner into my neighborhood. I noticed the people in the house on the corner had put their recyclables by the curb. I thought, “Recyclables? Today? Ha! These people must be new to the neighborhood.” Feeling a bit smug about my recyclable knowledge, I strode on, only to see that a half dozen other people had their recyclables out by the curb, and a few more were putting them out at that moment.
I thought, “Why the hell is everyone putting their stuff out so early? Surely they must know that if you put stuff out before 5PM on the evening before pickup, the garbage police will do really bad things to you. They all can’t be new to the neighborhood. I’m sure I would have noticed. And yet, here it is 8 AM, and these knuckleheads are putting recyclables out on Thursday morning, when they know damned well that recyclables get picked up on Friday.”
I had one of those Twilight Zone, loss-of-sense-of time-and-place moments. I stopped walking. “Could TODAY be Friday? Nah. No way. Can’t be. Yesterday was Wednesday, and that makes today Thursday. Did I miss an announcement in the paper about a change in the recyclable pick-up day? …….. Oh shit. Could TODAY really be Friday?”
I looked at the little calendar on my watch. It clearly displayed the number “14.” Knowing that 11th (Veterans Day) was Tuesday, I did the arithmetic. In fact, I did it three times, even counting fingers, and confirmed that today is, in fact Friday.
I somehow lost a day this week. It felt momentarily great knowing that I only had to work one more day. However, my euphoria soon passed, and it was replaced by the realization that losing a day is something that I had always thought happened only to drunks and old farts.
~ Thursday, November 13, 2003
Max Factor, Call Your Office, STAT!!
Makeup and a good photographer can make miracles.
Check out this famous singer, with makeup.
Here she is without makeup.
Want more proof?
Here’s a picture of me, without makeup.
Here’s a picture of me, with makeup.
I’m available for weddings, banquets, and rowdy parties. Whiskey and songs a specialty.
Hat tip to Res Ipsa Loquitur
~ Wednesday, November 12, 2003
Jersey’s “Tiger Lady” Finally Loses her Cats.
As some of you may recall, I previously wrote (May 8, 2003) about Joan Byron- Marasek, also known as the “Tiger Lady,” and her court battle to permit her to continue to keep 24 Bengal tigers on her twelve acres of property in Ocean County, New Jersey. As I noted then, she had come to the attention of the state when a 431 pound tiger was found to be wandering around a residential neighborhood near her home (She denied that the tiger belonged to her). At that time, a state court ordered that the big cats were to be taken away from the Tiger Lady and sent to an animal sanctuary in Texas.
Finally, yesterday, fully six months later, after a federal judge denied the Tiger Lady’s last-ditch effort to stay to stat court’s order to remove the animals, New Jersey animal welfare officials, including biologists and veterinarians, showed up to remove the tigers.
Martin McHugh, director of the state Fish and Wildlife Division, was highly critical of conditions at the facility. The tigers were wallowing knee-deep in a mix of water, mud and feces covering the floor of their compound and some appeared malnourished, he said.The animals were loaded onto a special truck for transport to the Wild Animal Orphanage in San Antonio, Texas.
However, It may well be that the Tiger Lady has something up her sleeve, because a state inspection of her property this summer revealed that two of the tigers had given birth, and the cubs were not located yesterday. This led Carol Asvestas, executive director of the Wild Animal Orphanage, to speculate that the Tiger Lady may have hidden them. “"We don't know where the cubs are, and it worries me," she said. "I'm afraid that in five years we'll be back here or wherever she goes."
Well, this year in New Jersey we gassed a couple thousand geese, got rid of a couple dozen tigers, and next month we will unleash several thousand hunters to reduce the black bear population in the state. Who would have ever thought of New Jersey, the most densely populated of the fifty states, to be a regular Wild Farookin’ Kingdom?
Jersey…..Ya gotta love it.
The outcome on this one didn't surprise me very much.
Congratulations!! You're a smart sophisticated and
What Drink Are You?
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Link via Bad Money
~ Tuesday, November 11, 2003
Damn! Art Carney Rolls Sixes.
Art Carney died yesterday at 85 years old. Although he never took an acting lesson, in my book, he was a genius. Despite a long, illustrious acting career, which included an Oscar for the film “Harry and Tonto,” he was best known for playing Ed Norton, Ralph and Alice’s upstairs neighbor in The Honeymooners.
He and Jackie Gleason made comedic magic, and I always shall have wonderful memories of to joy that their performances brought to my dad and me when we both needed a laugh.
I still laugh out loud just thinking about it.
May he rest in peace.
~ Monday, November 10, 2003
Tomorrow is Veterans Day. Unlike Memorial Day, which is dedicated to those who lost their lives in the service of our country, Veterans Day is the day set aside to honor all veterans, living or dead.
I’m a veteran and, even though while in service, I did my fair share of bitching about being in the military, today I realize that I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to serve, and I am a better person because of it. By cutting off your hair, putting you in a uniform, and treating you as just one of many who has to make do under difficult and aggravating circumstances, the military teaches you in short order that the world does not revolve around you. The Army also provided me with the grit to tolerate and overcome things that were difficult and which I hated at the time. These are lessons that have served me well in civilian life.
In addition, there is something about having served in the military that creates an instant kinship with others who have served. It transcends race, creed, educational level and socioeconomic class, and it lasts a lifetime. Overwhelmingly, my friends today are men who served in the military during the Vietnam War. Today, some are firemen and police officers, truck drivers and mechanics, while others work at various jobs in industry or for the government. None of that matters, for we all share something more basic, and that is that, at one point in our lives, we all were soldiers, sailors, marines or airmen, and that cuts us from the herd. And, to a man, we’re proud of what we did and have great affection and respect for one another. Quite simply, we’re friends in the truest sense of the word.
So on this Veterans Day, I salute them and all of the other men and women who have worn the uniform in service of the country.
A Trip to Costco or a Root Canal?
I’m not sure which is worse.
This weekend, I went to Costco to pick up some things for the bar at the American Legion. Here are some impressions:
1. English? Does anyone speak it any more?
2. Family gatherings? What is with the people who make a trip to Costco an outing for the extended family? In some cases a half dozen people (with one cart) meander down the aisle, effectively blocking the way for anyone else. They often stop, of course in the center of the aisle, to hold some sort of family meeting. It is difficult to pass, as I don’t know how to say, “excuse me” in Hottentot or whatever language all the aunties and uncles were speaking. I assume that only one family member pays for a membership card, which accounts for these people shopping in packs.
3. Free-Range Children. Children are often left unattended to run up and down the aisles to do whatever tickles their fancy. Feel like bouncing a ball up and down the aisles? No problem. Help yourself to a new basketball from its box and have at it. These feral children are a special treat at the electronic keyboard display.
4. Free Food! Some people spend the morning going from free-sample station to free-sample station bulking up on whatever Costco is trying to get rid of. Don’t worry about what to do with that little paper rice pudding cup and plastic spoon if you’ve finished the pudding on the way to the next free sample station. Just leave your trash on one of the shelves. No one will notice.
6. Garment Plundering. Sure lady, pick up a sweatshirt, unfold it, hold it up to your blimp-like body with boobs like ‘55 Buick bumperettes, and when it doesn’t appear to fit (surprise, surprise), don’t bother re-folding it. Just toss it on a pile and unfold another. Repeat this process until you satisfy yourself that Costco does not stock circus tent sized sweatshirts.
7. Book Plundering. This lady must have studied under the sweatshirt lady. Pick up a book from one of the stacks, take a quick look, and if you don’t like it (maybe it didn’t contain enough pictures), don’t replace it. Just toss it.
8. Parking Lot Blockades. During your family outing to Costco (see above), be sure to spread out in the parking lot when strolling to and from the store at a snail’s pace, thereby ensuring that cars cannot pass your pack, herd, pride, pod, or whatever the hell you call it. It’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors. We’ll all just wait until you get to your destination.
I had a swell time.
~ Sunday, November 09, 2003
Sgt. Hook and the Spammer.
Sgt. Hook has posted a priceless exchange of correspondence with a Spammer, one of the scores of Nigerians (unless they are all the same guy) who needs someone in the U.S. to help hm claim a truckload or two of money.
Nice going, Sarge.
~ Saturday, November 08, 2003
Are you lonely? Are you interested in corresponding with people and making new friends? Are you interested in possibly establishing a relationship? Maybe even a long-term relationship? Are you patient?
If you’ve answered “yes” to these questions, then Jail Babe may be for you. The site contains pictures and bios of women currently in prison, who are interested in corresponding with you. Many are open to having a long term relationship, and possibly even marriage, after their release.
Consider, for example, Vikki. Her turn-ons are “kissing cuddling and candles.” Her turn-offs are “lying, cheating and abusive.” If you are interested in corresponding with Vikki, I suggest that you pay close attention to her turn-offs, as Vikki is presently incarcerated for first-degree murder. You’ll have more than ample time to develop a relationship before Vikki’s scheduled release date in 2010.
via The Ultimate Insult
I confess. I have never used an ATM, even though it seems as if everyone I know can’t seem to get along without them. During the recent power outage in the Northeast, one of the big problems was that people were walking around without money, because the ATMs were not functioning. Often, people show up late for events, explaining their lack of punctuality on having to stop at an ATM to get money.
If I were to decide tomorrow that I want to join the ATM crowd, someone would have to show me how to operate the damned things. The fact is, however, that I have no desire to have anything to do with them. That is because things that seem to always work properly for other people never seem to work for me.
I can see myself pressing the buttons to get $100 out of the machine, and getting nothing but a receipt saying, in essence, “Here is your $100.” “What hundred dollars? All I got was a slip of paper telling me that I got a hundred dollars.” What then? Argue with the machine? I’d look like a nut. Call the manager? There is no manager. Smack the shit out of the machine? That would get me arrested. In the end, it would be my word against the machine’s.
Here is a picture of what can happen to a person who must have been on her way to a bathroom but stopped at an ATM to get money, only to have the ATM not work or take too long to deliver the money. Sorry ass.
No thanks. I would rather get a couple weeks’ worth of cash from the bank, stick it in a drawer and take it as I need it. It’s much simpler. In addition, I’ll be on time for appointments, I’ll be able to get money if the power fails, and I wont have to make any stops on the way to a bathroom.
Thanks to Brian, the Air Force Vet, for the photo.
~ Thursday, November 06, 2003
Boxcars for Bobby Hatfield.
Bobby Hatfield, the blond, tenor-singing half of the Righteous Brothers died yesterday at age 63. He was found dead in his hotel room in Kalamazoo, Michigan shortly before he and Bill Medley, the other Righteous Brother, were to appear on stage.
They had been performing together for more than forty years (except for a breakup between 1968 and 1974), and few people sang better together. In 1964, they took the rock and roll world by storm with “You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling.” Probably their next most memorable tune was a re-make of the 1955 Al Hibbler hit, “Unchained Melody,” which figured prominently in the film “Ghost.”
I recently saw the Righteous Brothers perform on one of those oldies concerts on public television, and they both could still sing their asses off, and they appeared to love doing it.
They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year.
As they sang in their 1974 hit, “Rock and Roll Heaven,”
If you believe in forever,
Well, now they’ve also got a hell of a singer.
~ Wednesday, November 05, 2003
The Jersey Election.
Well, Jersey voters did it again, only this time they did it in spades. Not only did just about all the incumbent democrats get re-elected, but the democrats also picked up seats in the assembly and the senate. This gives the democrats control of the senate and the assembly.
Democrat senate. Democrat assembly. Democrat Governor. Democrat U.S. Senators. My congressman, pathetic joke that he is, is also is a democrat.
When it comes to politics in the Garden State, I feel somewhat akin to a Cubs fan.
Carnival of the Vanities.
It is up and running at Wizbang. Go read.
Last night I followed a link from Trying to Grok to a string of posts in the Democratic Underground that began with one entitled “I hope the bloodshed continues in Iraq.” The original post and those that followed it gnawed at me all day.
The post also caught Andrew Sullivan’s attention, and it was even read on the air by Mark Levin on WABC radio. The link to the original Democratic Underground post is HERE. As you will note, the Democratic Underground has since taken down the page. However, Andrew Sullivan obtained a copy of the original post and put it up on his site.
One likes to think that the woman who wrote the piece in the Democratic Underground and the miscreants who applauded her are not representative of the democrat mainstream. Then again, perhaps the only difference between the woman who wrote the post and mainstream democrats is that she openly stated her desire for more American deaths a providing “the only way to get rid of this slime bag WASP-Mafia, oil barron [sic] ridden cartel of a government….”
TacJammer in, “Death and Partisan Politics,” urges that democrat politicians silently hold similar views, and take full political advantage of mounting combat deaths while paying lip-service to “supporting the troops.”
While Ryan at Tasty Manatees does not attribute evil motives to democrats, he points out that the effect of the positions they have taken and statements they have made virtually assure more deaths. Sadly, I believe that he is exactly right.
Update: Russ, of TacJammer, and the author of the ““Death and Partisan Politics,” post referred to above, questioned my word choice (specifically, my use of the word “urges”) in describing his post. He is concerned that readers might think that he supports politicians’ taking political advantage of mounting casualties in Iraq. I certainly did not mean to create that impression. In fact, his excellent post makes it abundantly clear that he is sickened by such conduct on the part of politicians. I should have chosen my words more carefully, and I apologize for any confusion I may have caused.
~ Tuesday, November 04, 2003
As is my custom, I went to the polls to vote in the morning, prior to going to work. I have found it to be a good time to vote, because, even on presidential election days, there is never a wait.
On the way to the polls, I wondered if the “poll blockers” would be there. These are the
In past years, I have looked forward to explaining to the “poll blockers” (irrespective of party affiliation) that the law requires them to remain 100 feet from the polling place, and that they had to stand behind the yellow lines that are drawn on the pavement for exactly that purpose. Each year, they follow my instructions, at least until they see me exit the polls and drive away, at which time I have no doubt that they
Today I was pleasantly surprised to see that the
Upon entering the polling place (the gymnasium), I located the table (one of about six) that was set up for my local voting district. On the front of the table, and on the left as one looked at the table, was a hand-lettered sign that read “M-Z.” To the right of that, another sign read “A-L.” It seemed to me that the signs should have been reversed, but what the hell.
Behind each sign sat two little old ladies, each with her free coffee and bun. There was no one else there to vote, so I stepped right up to the “A-L” sign and said my name. One of the “A-L” ladies announced that she was “taking her break.” I thought, A break? The polls have been open for only about an hour. The remaining “A-L” lady had to look around in a box behind the table for the sign-in book. Christ, am I the first voter in the damned district? Meanwhile, the “M-Z” ladies were comparing notes about arthritis medicine.
The lone “A-L” lady was having trouble finding my name, even though the voters in the sign-in book are listed alphabetically. At one point, I had considered asking if I could find my own name, but I was in no particular rush, and I was getting a kick out of watching the little old ladies do their thing. They looked and cooed like the Monty Python old ladies, except that these little old ladies sounded like Edith Bunker.
Finally, the “A-L” lady found my name, and I signed in. I had to sign one more slip of paper, one half of which was torn from a pad and handed to me. At that point, one of the “M-Z” ladies stood and manned the voting machine and took my little slip of paper. I entered the high-tech, electronic voting booth and cast my ballot by pushing the screen next to the desired candidate, thereby displaying an electronic “X” next to the name.
Voting is something that always makes me feel good, even though I usually come out on the losing side in this democrat stronghold. I expect that this year the outcome will be no different. I think the democrats could run Darth Vader and win in my district, town, county and state.
As I was leaving, I got to wondering whether there is an agency somewhere that provides such an ample supply of sweet, but generally confused, little old ladies on election day.
“Poll blockers,” high tech voting machines, and low tech little old ladies. That’s America, and I love it.
Pay attention, class. This is important stuff. And, there will be a quiz.
1. Verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
5. Avoid clichés like the plague. (They're old hat)
6. Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
7. Be more or less specific.
8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.
9. Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
10. No sentence fragments.
11. Contractions aren't necessary and shouldn't be used.
12. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
13. Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.
14. One should NEVER generalize.
15. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
16. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
17. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
18. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
19. The passive voice is to be ignored.
20. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words however should be enclosed in commas.
21. Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
22. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
23. Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth-shaking ideas.
24. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
25. If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times: Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly.
26. Puns are for children, not groan readers.
27. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
28. Even IF a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
29. Who needs rhetorical questions?
30. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
And the last one...
31. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.
Thanks to my friend Brian, the Air Force Vet.
~ Sunday, November 02, 2003
Close, but No Cigar, Gary.
Gary Turner, a/k/a Gary “Stretch” Turner, showed up at the launch of the 2004 Guinness Book of Records seeking to make history. Who is Gary Turner you ask? Shame on you. Mr. Turner happens to hold the world’s record for the having the most clothespins clipped to his face (153 clothespins). He came to beat his own record. Unfortunately, Gary came up short this year, as his face could only hold 150 clothespins. Check out the story and picture here.
Better luck next year, Gary. In the meantime, stay out of the sun.
via Attu Sees All
~ Saturday, November 01, 2003
A Penny’s Worth of Thoughts.
Most mornings I take a walk for an hour or so shortly after I get out of bed. Today was no different. Like most folks, I engage in this ritual in order to help keep my aging carcass in proper working order. I also reserve this time to let my mind air out and go wherever it pleases. Then again, sometimes I will use the morning hour to focus on a particular thing – sometimes work related, sometimes not. Some of my blogs are born or take shape during my morning walk. In that regard, each walk is different from any other.
However, one thing is strangely consistent about my walks, and that is that I almost always happen on one or more pennies lying in the street or on the sidewalk. Considering that I don’t look for pennies, I have to assume that there are many more on the street than the ones I notice. Most often, I see them near a local convenience store, suggesting that patrons either lost the pennies (which seems unlikely, as they also would probably have lost other coinage as well), or they received them in change and just tossed them. I also see pennies on residential streets, where the most compelling explanation for their presence is that someone tossed them from a moving car, as if they were trash.
I always stop to pick them up, not that having an additional penny or two will change my life. Rather, I suppose I pick them up because I seem to recall a relative, possibly my Granny, telling me that finding a penny meant good luck. However, I also rescue them from trash status out of some difficult-to-describe sense of respect for the currency itself and for the work that people do (most people, anyway) to earn a penny. Tossing it, as if it were garbage, just doesn’t seem right.
Well, all that got me to thinking about pennies today. A couple mouse clicks later, I found myself reading all sorts of things about pennies. Here is a sampling of what I found.
Many argue that pennies have become essentially worthless. I am certain that these are the same people who toss pennies away. They urge that the penny be should done away with and that the smallest unit of U.S. currency should be the nickel. However, there are others, who argue that the penny, which in 1787 became the first authorized form of U.S. currency, should remain part of our currency.
Included among the reasons given for the retention of the penny as part of our currency is that people still “count their pennies,” which is to say that when the economy slows people count their pennies and cash them in. In fact, there is a demonstrated inverse correlation between the demand on the U.S. Mint for coinage and the state of the economy. When the economy is good, people tend to save their coins (probably not wanting to carry them around), resulting in a need for more coins in the economy. By contrast, in bad times, people break open their piggy banks and flood the economy with coins. Who knew?
If you’re still with me here, you may be interested in reading some interesting Penny Facts. Included among them are the following:
A penny is 19 millimeters in diameter and weighs 2.5 grams.Now, for the penny savers, here is some interesting information (with visuals), gleaned from The MegaPenny Project. For example, did you know that a billion pennies, if neatly stacked, would occupy the volume of five school buses?
And if that is not enough to dazzle you, consider this. If the cubic footage of the Empire State Building were matched by an equal cubic footage of pennies, you would be talking about one trillion, eight hundred eighteen billion, six hundred twenty-four million pennies, which would amount to $18,186,240,000.00. If the same were true of the Sears Tower, you’re talking about two trillion, six hundred twenty-three billion, six hundred eighty-four million, six hundred and eight thousand pennies, with a value of $26,236,846,080.00. Sounds like an interesting construction project for Bill Gates, no?
And finally, behind Door Number 1 is a million dollars in cash. Behind Door Number Two is an opportunity to receive one penny the first day, double that penny the next day, then double the previous day's pennies and so on for a month. Which would you choose? The correct answer is Door Number Two, because by the end of the month you would have received $10,737,418.23.
All that came from one walk. As Dax Montana would say, “Just Damn!”