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
~ 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.
~ Saturday, December 13, 2003
Too Much to Do.
Between doing Christmas stuff and Life 101 stuff today, I am beat. It doesn't look like I'll be doing much blogging tonight. A comfortable chair and a nice cigar beckon.

~ Friday, December 12, 2003
The Weblog Awards – A Nice Side Effect.
Of course, it is nice to have been nominated for the 2003 Weblog Awards in this category, and it’s even nicer to see people actually voting for this site. In addition, one of the good things about the process is that it has introduced me to some excellent blogs that I probably would not have otherwise found.

One such site is Unbillable Hours. Its proprietor is a Jersey guy, who also happens to be an attorney (he knows the secret handshake), and who is a wonderful photographer and first-class writer.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit there, and I think you will too.
Return to BlogSpot.
Roger, of Curmudgeonly and Skeptical, reports that his MT Site cratered, and so he returned to BlogSpot. That's right. BlogSpot!!!

Welcome back to the hood, Herr Schultz.

His newly relocated site is here. Adjust your blogrolls accordingly, so you don't miss anything.
~ Thursday, December 11, 2003
Necco Wafers.
I don’t eat a lot of candy. I’m just not a big candy fan. However, I do like Necco Wafers and often keep them nearby when I am watching television.

Necco Wafers are those quarter-sized, hard, sugary wafers that are packaged much like a roll of quarters. They come in 8 flavors and colors: lemon (yellow); orange (orange); lime (green); clove (purple); cinnamon (white); wintergreen (pink); licorice (black); and chocolate (brown). The number of each flavor and color in each roll is determined randomly. So, when buying Necco Wafers, the number of each flavor you get in the package is essentially a crapshoot.

The only flavor that can be purchased separately (i.e. all one color) is chocolate**. The good news there is that chocolate is my favorite flavor. The bad news is that it is often difficult to find the “only-chocolate” packages.

Necco Wafers have been around since the beginning of the twentieth century, when they were first manufactured by the New England Confectionary Company, which accounts for the name Necco (N.E.C.Co. Clever, no?). Now, more than 4 billion Necco Wafers are manufactured each year, which is enough to completely encircle the world twice if placed edge to edge. Link

What’s good about Necco Wafers is that, with the right technique, they are very satisfying and take a long time to eat. In fact, with the right technique, even a mini-roll (10 wafers) can last for the better part of a TV program.

Here’s how to eat Necco Wafers:

The first rule is that one eats only one Necco Wafer at a time. Putting more than one Necco Wafer at one time in one’s mouth causes flavor collision, which is a bad thing. For example, orange and cinnamon tend to beat the shit out of each other. Putting two or more Necco Wafers at a time in one’s mouth might be acceptable, but only if they are all the same flavor. Nevertheless, this practice is not recommended, as it will result in the roll not lasting as it should

Second, it is always acceptable to throw away black Necco Wafers, because they taste like licorice, and licorice tastes like crap. With luck, there will not be too many black Necco Wafers in your roll.

Finally, one doesn’t chew a Necco Wafer, at least not when one first puts it into one’s mouth . They are too hard for that, and prematurely chewing them is too noisy inside one’s head, requiring an upward adjustment of the TV volume. Rather, one lets the Necco Wafer sit on one’s tongue for a few minutes until it softens up and is ready for a slow, constant-pressure chew, rather than a chomp-type chew.

Necco Wafers have an interesting history. Admiral Byrd took 2 1/2 tons of Necco Wafers to the South Pole in the 1930’s to give to his men as well as the locals he ran into along the way. In addition, Necco Wafers travel well because they do not melt and, as candy goes, they are relatively indestructible. For that reason, during World War II, the government purchased a major portion of the company’s production of Necco Wafers to ship overseas to the troops.

Be a good American. Eat Necco Wafers.

** It is true that the only flavor Necco Wafer that can be purchased separately is chocolate. However, I recall from my boyhood Rod Redwing saying that the Necco Wafer manufacturer used to provide him with special packages that contained only white Necco Wafers. I know you are asking yourself, who is this Rod Redwing guy, and why was he given special treatment by the Necco folks?

Rod Redwing was an Indian (oops…Native American) man who, in the 1950’s was a movie actor and a “gun coach” in Hollywood. As such, he taught western movie stars how to twirl six-shooters, execute a quick draw, and to shoot straight. One of the things he used to do to dazzle audiences was to have someone toss a small white disc into the air, and he would execute a quick draw and shoot the little disc (methinks he used scatter shot). I saw him do this on several television shows.

By now, unless you have ca-ca brains, you should have figured out what those little white discs were.

Yep. They were Necco Wafers.
~ Wednesday, December 10, 2003
The Bear Hunt Continues.
The New Jersey Departmental Protection has revised its number of bears that were killed on Monday, the first day of the bear hunt, from 61 to 116, which included 76 females and 40 males. Some of the bears that were killed had been previously tagged and were identified as having been a nuisance to local residents. On Tuesday, an additional 35 bears were killed, bringing the total, by the end of the day, to 152.

Creating a bit of a public relations disaster in an already emotionally charged atmosphere, on Tuesday morning, a cub, having been wounded by a hunter, staggered out of the woods to the roadside and took twenty minutes to die, in full view of the morning’s commuters, who were stuck in rush hour traffic.. Eventually, the hunter (properly licensed), who claimed the bear to be his kill and who tracked the wounded bear for several hours, showed up and took the bear away.

The number of kills should increase because the area available for bear hunting expanded to its intended size, when a federal judge rescinded a temporary order that had prohibited bear hunting in New Jersay’s Delaware Water Gap National recreation area.

The judge, in his opinion, observed, “... contrary to plaintiff's alarmist predictions, the black bear population at (the Delaware Water Gap) is not going to be decimated, or even significantly impacted, by this bear hunt." Further, in response to the plaintiff’s argument that the state lacked the authority to permit hunting in a national recreation area, the court stated that "the public interest favors permitting the state of New Jersey to conduct its limited hunt in order to manage its wildlife resources and hopefully promote a healthy and safe habitat for the residents who live in the vicinity of the Recreation Area."

It is now virtually certain that the hunt will continue until approximately 500 bears are killed, or the six-day bear hunting season expires, whichever comes first.

Read the whole story here.

Stay tuned.
~ Tuesday, December 09, 2003
The Jersey Bear Hunt – Day One.
The first bear hunt in New Jersey in 33 years began yesterday. Those who applied for and obtained the special licenses for the six-day hunt faced a few problems. First, the snowstorm over the weekend discouraged some hunters from venturing into the woods and encouraged the bears to stay in their dens. Second, the amount of land available for the hunt was reduced when, on Friday, in connection with a lawsuit filed by environmentalists, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting hunting on the 67,000 acre Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Finally, protestors opposed to the hunt (at least one of whom wore a bear mask) appeared in various places to urge that the hunt be stopped.

Nevertheless, despite these obstacles, by the end of the day the hunters killed 61 bears, the largest one weighing in at 498 pounds.

As I have said before, bear hunting is not my cup of tea, but there seems to be no practical alternative to the growing bear population and the increasing number of bear-human encounters.

The state’s goal is to reduce the bear population by approximately 500.

Cousin Jack’s Wallet.
Tomorrow, December 10th, we all have a great opportunity to lighten Cousin Jack’s wallet a bit, perhaps by as much as a G-note. For every hit his site receives on that day, Jack and his family will donate a buck (up to $1,000) to charities that fight hunger in Oregon.

So, tomorrow, be sure to go forth and visit his site to keep his hit counter spinning.
Pushing the Proverbial Envelope.
I think that it's fair to say that this space, with few exceptions, has been "G" to "PG" rated. So, for a change, I thought I would post something a bit different.

Check out "Nudes on a Bench".

Thanks to my friend Brian, the Air Force Vet.
~ Monday, December 08, 2003
No blogging tonight, as I am off to this place to see Simon and Garfunkle in concert. I had seen them once before in concert in the 1980's, and it was terrific. Truthfully, I am just as stoked, if not more so, to see these guys, who are the opening act.

It promises to be a great night of wonderful harmony from the big stage (vocally, anyway).

Update: The concert was absolutely fabulous. Simon and Garfunkle sang as well as they did thirty years ago, and they sang every song you would want to hear. Some tunes were done with just the two of them and Paul Simon’s guitar (which he plays beautifully), while others made full use of an ass-kicking band. At one point (I believe it was during "El Condor Pasa"), I heard a unique sound, and holy crap!! It was a theremin!

I was surprised to see that the Everly Brothers were not the opening act. There was no opening act. Rather, Simon and Garfunkle brought the Everly Brothers out about one third of the way through the performance. They were great. They completely captivated the audience when they sang “Let it be Me.” In fact, they were so good, and the crowd loved them so much, I cannot help but wonder if their appearance was intentionally limited to four tunes, lest they steal the show. They ended up singing "Bye Bye Love" with Simon and Garfunkle, and it worked very well.

If the tour will be anywhere near you, knock yourself out to get a ticket. You won’t be sorry.

~ Sunday, December 07, 2003
2003 Weblog Awards.
Kevin at Wizbang has done a tremendous amount of work setting up the 2003 Weblog Awards. I was most flattered to see that a really nice person nominated this site in the category of Marauding Marsupials and even more flattered to see that some people actually voted for the site. For you non-bloggers (e.g. friends of mine, who still call it a “blob), Marauding Marsupials is one of several classes of bloggers in the “blogosphere,” a system brilliantly concocted and maintained by N.Z. Bear, and which appears here.

So, make sure you visit Wizbang to cast your vote for your favorite blogs (there are lots of categories), and it would be really nice [shuffling feet, looking at the ground, with hands in pockets] if you would stop by the Marauding Marsupial category and vote for meeeeeeeeee!

Oh, and if you don’t feel like voting for me (you rat bastard), then vote the LeeAnn’s “The Cheese Stands Alone.” That’s whom I’d vote for, if I hadn’t already voted for meeeeeeeeeee.
~ Saturday, December 06, 2003
Just finished snow blowing from last night's storm, and now today's storm is here in full force. There is no denying that it is beautiful, but there is also no denying that snow blowing, shoveling, and trying to drive in the stuff is the pits.

I saw on the news that we might get as much as 18 inches of the stuff. I suppose for you Buffalo and Minnesota folks, this is child's play, but when we get that much in the most densely populated state in the country, it makes getting around a major pain in the ass. Good thing it's Saturday. I've done more than my fair shares rush hours in this kind of weather, and it certainly can be exhausting.

Update: I was just out with Ken, one of the Usual Suspects, (he loves to drive in this shit) to do a couple errands, and now you would never know that my driveway and sidewalk had been cleared a couple hours ago. Screw it. I'm gonna have a cocktail and chill out.

Update: Well, it appears that the snow has just about stopped, except for some flurries. Now, the blizzard-condition winds can just blow the stuff all over the place into mondo drifts. Tomorrow morning should be a real treat.
~ Friday, December 05, 2003
Friday Tidying Up.
As you probably have seen on the news, we are in the middle of an early snowstorm –two of them, actually, back to back. My normal 35-40 minute ride home from work turned into two nerve-jangling hours. No point in dealing with the snow tonight, as I will just have to do it again tomorrow. I’m way too tired anyway.

So, with that, I figure that this is a good time to do a little tidying up.

I have removed the “on hiatus” note next to Peppermint Patty on the blogroll, because she is back. She obviously has had a full plate over the past couple months, and Life 101 often has to take precedence over blogging. I’m glad to see her back.

Lori and Maripat, the two lovely ladies at Right We Are, have closed up shop. That’s a shame, as they ran a first-class operation. I will leave Right We Are on the blogroll for a while, just in case they change their minds. You can still find Lori over at Downtown Chick Chat. It’s a nice site. Check it out.

David, of Sketches of Strain, also has decided to pursue activities other than blogging. He made a brief re-appearance on November 29, so I’ll keep his site on the blogroll for a while to see if he sticks with his decision not to blog anymore.

Rachel Lucas, who announced a while back that she is packing it in, made a Thanksgiving appearance. She hasn’t blogged regularly for some time now, and she still gets more than 1,200 hits per day, and I am sure that each visitor checks in hoping that Rachel has decided to jump back into the blogosphere. I know that I do.

Finally, I have added Wizbang to the blogroll, something that is seriously long overdue. As it happens, I see that Kevin, the proprietor of the site, was just laid off. Losing a job is always traumatic, and losing a job in the midst of the holiday season makes it all the worse. If you have a job and have a couple bucks to spare, perhaps you would consider hitting Kevin’s tip jar.
Ketchup – Americans have a love affair with the stuff. In fact, you can find ketchup in 97% of the kitchens in America, and the average person consumes about three bottles per year. It is usually thought of as THE condiment of choice for burgers (although I’ve seen California folks put mustard on burgers, which is just wrong). And, except for the few people who prefer vinegar on fries, most people would not think of eating fries without ketchup.

However, its use is hardly limited to burgers and fries. Richard Nixon ate ketchup on cottage cheese, and the Japanese eat it on rice. It’s eaten with steak, eggs, and on or in meatloaf. I had a friend who poured ketchup on pancakes, and if my friend Bill’s grandson had his way, he would eat ketchup on hot dog rolls for breakfast, lunch and dinner. One company even allegedly experimented with ketchup-flavored ice cream, and another sells ketchup-flavored potato chips.

A word about ketchup on hot dogs. Putting ketchup on hot dogs is OK for children, who might find the taste of mustard to be too sharp, or who may think that mustard looks unappealing (no further comment necessary). However, adults should know better.

While we are familiar with the most common brands of ketchup (e.g. Heinz, Del Monte), there are hundreds of brands and varieties of ketchup that are less well known. Ketchup World has a large selection of international ketchups, “hot n’ spicy” ketchups and ketchups that are described as “rich and luscious.” One that caught my attention was “Ass Kickin’ Ketchup," which contains habanero peppers, which would surely add zip to a burger. Even Heinz (which sells 50% of the Ketchup in the United States) is not insensitive to innovation and, as such, it offers several varieties, including green ketchup for kids, and “organic ketchup,” (which is probably just ketchup made with dirty tomatoes and which, I’ll bet, tastes lousy).

Today’s ketchup lover would not recognize the stuff that started it all back in the 1600’s, when Dutch and British sailors, brought back from China a salty pickled fish sauce called “ketsiap.” Over time, others toyed with the recipe, including the British, who added mushrooms, anchovies, oysters and walnuts.

The first printed recipe for ketchup appeared in 1727 in a publication called “The Compleat Housewife.” The ingredients included anchovies, shallots, vinegar, white wine, sweet spices, pepper and lemon peel. Later, Americans began including tomatoes in their ketchup recipes.

Jonas Yerkes was the first person to sell ketchup nationwide in the U.S. He used what was left over from the tomato canning process (i.e. skins, cores and tomatoes too green to can) and turned it into ketchup, which he sold in quart and pint bottles. Ketchup hit the big time in 1872 when HJ Heinz included ketchup in his line of pickled products, using a formula that has not changed since.

I know that some of you are thinking, “Yo, Jimbo, this is all very interesting, but I still need to know where I can buy a ketchup costume, and why is that ketchup is sometimes called “catsup?” These are both good questions.

First, you can indeed buy yourself a ketchup costume here, although I do not recommend that you wear it to work, unless, of course, you work in a burger joint, or in certain parts of California or New York City, where it would go unnoticed. Second, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, the name of the condiment was first recorded in English in 1690 as “catchup.” Later, in 1711, it became “ketchup,” and later still, in 1730, the word “catsup” appeared.

“Ketchup” and “catsup” both survived into the twentieth century until 1981 when the Reagan administration drove many people nuts by classifying “ketchup” as a vegetable for purposes of federal food programs (presumably because 4 tablespoons of ketchup have the nutritional value of an entire ripe, medium tomato). Del Monte, fearing that it would not cash in on federal food dollars because its product was called “catsup,” changed the name to “ketchup.” However, by the time Del Monte changed the name, the Reagan administration had changed its policy. The result is that it is not often that one finds “catsup” in the supermarket.

So, the next time that you pour, spoon, shake, or squeeze the King of Condiments onto you burgers, fries, steak, cottage cheese, rice, eggs, or whatever, remember that it started out as a salty, smelly, fish sauce and that you learned all about it here.

Pass the ketchup, please.
~ Wednesday, December 03, 2003

A Santafest of Sorts.

Every day between now and Christmas, Jeff at Side Salad will be posting a picture of a “Disturbing Santa.” I am four days late in linking to this, but this link (for the fourth day) contains the links for days 1 through 3 as well. Great stuff. Go look.
Dubious Distinctions.
It’s not a good year for Detroit. It turns out that the City of Detroit has topped the Morgan Quinto annual list of the 25 most dangerous cities in the United States for the second time. This is based on the city’s crime rate for murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and motor vehicle theft. To be considered, a city must have a population in excess of 75,000, which, of course, means that there may be smaller crime-ridden burgs out there that were not considered.

It looks like I'll again be postponing my planned summer vacation in downtown Detroit.

Lest I even consider gloating, I should point out that two – count ‘em – two New Jersey Cities are in the top 25 of the most dangerous. Camden, New Jersey is number four (behind Detroit, St. Louis, and Atlanta), while Trenton, the capital of the Garden State, checks in at number 15. Isn’t that special?

I recall being in Camden several years ago for a hearing in the federal court. I had to fax a copy of the judge’s order back to the office, so I asked one of the employees in the Clerk’s office if I could use the fax machine. I explained that I was willing to pay for the use of the machine. She told me that lawyers were not permitted to use the fax machines. I then asked the employee whether she could direct me to a local candy store or drug store where I might be able to send a fax. She burst out laughing and said, “Obviously, you are not from here. This is Camden. There is nothing around here." Sadly, she was right. There are parts of Camden that look like Dresden after World War II.

However, the news is not all bad for New Jersey, as three Jersey cities are among the top twenty-five of the safest cities in the U.S. Brick Township was number 2 (behind Amherst, New York, which has been the safest city for four years running),with Hamilton Township and Edison Township being numbers 22 and 24 respectively. (Note to Craig at mtpolitics: Billings is number 23).

For a small state, we seem to have it all, from horse farms to tank farms; from pine forests to sandy beaches, from backwoods roads to choked highways, and from the safest to the most dangerous cities.

We cover all the bases in Jersey.
~ Tuesday, December 02, 2003
Life in the Garden State.
Here is a small sample of the joys of living in the Garden State.

Former State Trooper Alleges Conspiracy to Obtain Confidential State Police Records for Political Advantage.
Vincent Bellaran, a former lieutenant in the New Jersey State Police, who in 1997 was the first black state trooper to win a lawsuit against the State Police for discrimination, alleged that in February 1999, he had been recruited by another State Trooper, “Tommy” DeFeo to take part in a scheme to obtain and use official state police records to discredit then Governor Christie Whitman and to advance the gubernatorial aspirations of then candidate Jim McGreevey. Bellaran further charged that the person orchestrating the effort was former State Senator John Lynch, a mentor of then candidate, now Governor, Jim McGreevey.

The records (which numbered in the thousands and which were obtained from locked State Police offices in the evenings and copied) were used in connection with two politically charged legislative hearings concerning allegations of racial profiling by the State Police. DeFeo has conceded that he entered State Police offices at night and copied thousands of documents, which would then turn over to Bellaran, who, in turn would funnel information and documents to State Senator Lynch for use at the hearings.

Bellaran said that, with time, it became clear to him, that the real purpose of the activity was not to end the alleged practice of racial profiling, but rather was to help win the election for Jim McGreevey and a promotion for DeFeo.

According to Bellaran, the documents were also used outside the hearings. In one instance, they were used to discredit the son of a former advisor to Governor Whitman, and in another instance, they were used to discredit Governor Whitman’s preferred candidate for the job of superintendent of the State Police.

Lynch and DeFeo deny any wrongdoing and insist that their only motive in obtaining the documents was to remedy what they saw as racial profiling by the State Police.

It is interesting to note that, prior to Governor McGreevey’s taking office on January 15, 2002, DeFeo was a lieutenant. In two years, he was promoted to the rank of major, then to lieutenant colonel, and recently has been made “deputy superintendent.”

Governor McGreevey, through his spokesperson, denies having anything to do with any of this.

Former Governor Whitman is hopping mad about it all and has called for a Federal Investigation into the matter.

In my view, this has a very bad smell. In 1999, Governor Whitman’s Republican administration was taking a lot of heat over allegations of racial profiling on the part of the State Police (I’ll save the issue of “racial profiling” for a future post), and candidate McGreevey could only benefit from the heat being turned up. I am certain that both legislative investigative bodies had subpoena power and could have directed the production of State Police personnel records.

As such, DeFeo’s entering into locked State Police offices in the night to copy files and then deliver them to the home of Bellaran (who was out of work on “stress leave” during this time, after having won a half million dollar judgment for discrimination) for ultimate delivery to a state senator (McGreevey’s mentor) to be used for questionable purposes seems highly irregular, if not downright illegal. One can also not help but notice how DeFeo’s career has skyrocketed following Jim McGreevey’s election.

Bellaran has been contacted to the State Attorney General concerning his story.

Stay tuned.

Another Jersey Mayor Jailed.
Former mayor of the Town of Irvington, Sara Bost, reported to a West Virginia federal prison camp, after having lost her request for bail pending the appeal of her conviction for witness tampering in a corruption investigation.

Corruption? New Jersey? No way!!

A New Problem for the New Jersey Bear Hunt.
New Jersey’s black bear hunt, the first in more than three decades, which was set to begin on December 8, has run into another roadblock. Animal rights groups, which have vigorously opposed the hunt since its approval in July, have filed an action in U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. to prevent the hunt from taking place on the 67,000 acres of land in the state that make up the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

The environmentalists argue that hunting would violate federal environmental laws because no environmental impact study of the hunt has been done. If the suit is successful, it will remove approximately twenty percent of the area in which the hunt was anticipated to take place.

In my view, this has little to do with a concern for environmental impact and everything to do with blocking the bear hunt by any means necessary. The hunt has been studied to death by State Fish and Game Counsel and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. I am not a hunter, and I wish there was a better way to reduce the bear population, but there really isn’t.

I think there is a fair chance that the hunt will not happen, and, even if it does, I expect that the anti-hunt groups will be out in force next Monday trying to thwart the hunt. If they decide to run around in the woods among the pissed off hunters to scare the bears away (or herd them into the Delaware Water Gap), I hope they wear very bright colors.

New Jersey...Only the strong survive.
~ Monday, December 01, 2003
Carnivale –Loose Ends, or “What the hell???”
Blogging notwithstanding, I have managed to watch all eleven episodes of the HBO Series “Carnivale,” the freakishly disturbing and yet oddly addictive show about a pathetic group of “Carnies” traveling around the Dust Bowl and the Southwestern U.S. in 1934. I have even watched several of the episodes at least twice, which is often necessary, given the darkness of the show and the quick paced and often strange dialog.

Unfortunately, at the end of each episode, I remain relatively unsure about what I had just seen and completely confused about what some of it means. We are treated to parallel stories, with mysterious and other-worldly connections between certain characters in the parallel stories (i.e. the minister and Ben), along with bizarre twists and turns within each of the parallel stories, which are all set in the dusty, dirty, and downright pathetic world of a traveling carnival in the throws of the depression.

Sunday night marked the final episode of the season, and I had hoped that some of the more puzzling aspects of the story would be brought to closure. It did not happen. The final episode of the season closed amidst of collection of loose ends.

Here are just a few of the many loose ends that come to mind at the moment. (Pictures of the characters can be found here.)

He is the main character, who we thought was fortuitously discovered by a passing carnival just at the moment that he was trying to bury his recently deceased mother in the dusty soil surrounding the shack in the middle of nowhere that he and his mother had called home. As it turns out, we learned that his meeting with the Carney was not exactly accidental, although we’re not sure why he was plucked from his dusty surrounds by this band of misfits.

What is the deal with his dream sequences? Are they past lives? If so, Ben appears to have been in the crusades, the Civil War and World War I.

Why is it that Lodz (see below) seems to be in some of the dreams?

Why do he and the minister seem to share the same dream, and yet neither knows of the other?

What, for Chrissake, is the deal with Ben’s father, “Scudder?” He apparently was a Carney (a geek) in the past, who may or may not have killed a man or many men in a town called Babylon.

What is/was the relationship between Scudder and Samson? Between Scudder and Lodz? Between Scudder and “Management?”

Why does Scudder continue to torment Ben? What does he want Ben to do?

What was the relationship between Ben’s mother and the Carnivale?

What is the murder he supposedly committed that resulted in his being chased around by a sheriff?

What does this vertically challenged troop pusher of the Carnivale know about Ben, Scudder, Ben’s mother, Lodz, and “Management” that he has not told Ben?

What does he know about Ben? What does he know about Scudder? What is his relationship to “Management?” To Samson?

What is that stuff he drinks that looks something like an Alka-Seltzer and which puts him in some sort of trance?

What is his relationship, past and present, with Apollonia, the seriously weird catatonic woman, who is the mother of Sophie and who appears to be the brains behind Sophie’s Fortune telling gig?

Was Lodz killed in the final episode? It sure as hell looks like it, but one never knows?

What the hell does he “see” (he was blind until the final moments of the final episode) in that dreadful bearded lady? What the hell does she see in him, particularly since he appears to be abusive to her?

What is the deal between her and Apollonia, her catatonic mother?

What was her past relationship with Jonsey?

Will she survive the fire in the trailer that ended the final episode?

Apollonia (Sophie’s mother)

What caused the mother to be catatonic?

Is the mother catatonic because of what appears to have been a rape in her past?

Who was the rapist? Might it have been Lodz?

Why did the mother become ambulatory only to walk up to Ben and utter something I cannot now remember?

What message did she transmit to Lodz in the final episode, when he placed his hand on her head and exclaimed, “How long have you known?”

Why did she start the fire in the trailer that ended the final episode?

Will she survive the fire?

How did he screw up his leg? A baseball injury?

Is it really over between him and Rita Sue, the Cootch dancer and hooker?

Will he come out of the burning trailer at the beginning of the new season?

Rita Sue
Have she and Stumpy reconciled for good?

Will Sophie get even with her for hopping in the sack with Jonsey and pretending to be her friend?

What the hell?

Is “Management” a real person or some evil spirit?

If he/she/it is real, why doeshe/she/it remain behind a curtain?

Will she, as it appeared in the final episode, be brought back from the dead by Ben?

Before she decided to do the nasty with Ben, why the hell didn’t she demand that he take a farookin’ shower?

Justin, The Ministe
What’s the deal with him coming here from Russia?

When he came here from Russia, why was someone trying to kill him?

Is he really a demon?

Is he now or has he ever been in an incestuous relationship with his sister? (One doesn’t put a lip lock like that on one’s sister, and one doesn’t peek at his sister in the shower.)

Iris (The Minister’s Sister).
Is she also a demon?

Will she end up in the rack with the radio guy?

General Questions
Can any of the characters possibly be more skuzzy?

Is there a bath in Ben’s future?

Why did the writer decide to put the “e” at the end of the word “Carnival?”

I’m sure there are a zillion more questions, but those are the ones that come to mind. I am amazed to think that someone sat in front of a keyboard, started out with a blank screen and ultimately dreamed up “Carnivale.” How does that happen?

Oy!! When does the next season start?

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