Sunday, September 29, 2013

How to Sing the Blues

I came across an email I got years ago and it still makes me laugh.  I saved it for future use one day, when I was scratching the bottom of my Well of Ideas, without having the necessary drive to keep scratching.

My only regret is not being able to determine who originally wrote it.  My exhaustive Google search, over four whole pages, could not find any source information, although I learned I would not be the first blogger to repost it.

That said; please enjoy this tutorial on How to Sing the Blues!

1. Most Blues begin with: "Woke up this morning..."

2. "I got a good woman" is a bad way to begin the Blues unless you stick something nasty in the next line like "I got a good woman with the meanest face in town."

3. The Blues is simple. After you get the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that rhymes, sort of: "Got a good woman with the meanest face in town. Yes, I got a good woman with the meanest face in town. Got teeth like Margaret Thatcher, and she weigh 500 pound."

4. The Blues is not about choice. If you stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a ditch. There ain't no way out.

5. Blues cars: Chevys, Fords, Cadillacs and broken-down trucks. Blues don't travel in Volvos, BMWs, or SUVs. Most Blues transportation is a Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Jet aircraft and state-sponsored motor pools ain't even in the running. Walkin' plays a major part in the blues lifestyle. So does fixin' to die.

6. Teenagers can't sing the Blues. They ain't fixin' to die yet. Adults sing the Blues. In Blues, "adulthood" means being old enough to get the electric chair if you shoot a man in Memphis.

7. Blues can take place in New York City but not in Hawaii or anyplace in Canada. Hard times in Minneapolis or Seattle is probably just clinical depression. Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City are still great places to have the Blues. You cannot have the blues anyplace that don't get rain.

8. A man with male pattern baldness ain't the Blues. A woman with male pattern baldness is. Breaking your leg 'cause you were skiing is not the blues. Breaking your leg 'cause a alligator be chomping on it is.

9. You can't have no Blues in a office or a shopping mall. The lighting is wrong. Go out to the parking lot or sit by the dumpster.


10. Good places for the Blues:
a. highway
b. jailhouse
c. empty bed
d. bottom of a whiskey glass

Bad places for the Blues:
a. Nordstrom's
b. gallery openings
c. Ivy League colleges
d. golf courses

11. No one will believe it's the Blues if you wear a suit, 'less you happen to be an old ethnic person, and you slept in it.

12. Do you have the right to sing the Blues?

Yes, if:
a. you older than dirt
b. you blind
c. you shot a man in Memphis
d. you can't be satisfied

No, if:
a. you have all your teeth
b. you were once blind but now can see
c. the man in Memphis lived
d. you have a 401K or trust fund

13. Blues is not a matter of color. It's a matter of bad luck. Tiger Woods cannot sing the blues. Sonny Liston could. Ugly white people also got a leg up on the Blues.


14. If you ask for water and your darlin' give you gasoline, it's the Blues. Other acceptable Blues beverages are:
a. cheap wine
b. whiskey or bourbon
c. muddy water
d. nasty black coffee

The following are NOT Blues beverages:
a. Perrier
b. Chardonnay
c. Snapple
d. Slim Fast

15. If death occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it's a Blues death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is another Blues way to die. So are the electric chair, substance abuse and dying lonely on a broken-down cot. You can't have a Blues death if you die during a tennis match or while getting liposuction.


16. Some Blues names for women:
a. Sadie
b. Big Mama
c. Bessie
d. Fat River Dumpling

17. Some Blues names for men:
a. Joe
b. Willie
c. Little Willie
d. Big Willie

18. Persons with names like Amber, Jennifer, Tiffany, Debbie, and Heather can't sing the Blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.

19. Make your own Blues name Starter Kit:
a. name of physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Lame, etc.)
b. first name (see above) plus name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, etc..)
c. last name of President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.)
Examples: Blind Lime Jefferson, Jackleg Cranberry Coolidge

20. No matter how tragic your life, if you own a computer, you can’t sing the Blues.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Child Prodigy in the Making

Sorry for the late post… I went to the Orioles game tonight, Sitcom Kelly.  It was my 13th and last one for the season, in which I set a personal record for Most Orioles Games Attended.  (I also went to 4 other non-Oriole games, in Pensacola, Toledo, Detroit and Pittsburgh, so it was a pretty full summer of sports for me.)

Anyway, before we went, we were exchanging emails during the day.  As you may recall, Sitcom Kelly provided foster care for a little girl about 2 years ago.  The girl is 5 now and is back with relatives, but Sitcom Kelly still gets regular visits, which pleases all involved.  I usually refer to the child as LLCJ, which stands for LL-Cute-J.  I've said it before, but when this little one looks at me with her almond eyes and sly smile, it makes me want to buy her a college education.


Since I haven’t published one of my goofy email threads in a while, and because I’m out of “good” ideas to write about at the moment, I figured I’d show this to you today.  We started off talking about the premier of Modern Family.

Sitcom Kelly: The part that cracked me up was when the baby threw up every time they mentioned gay marriage.

Bluzdude: (quoting a line from last night where the little girl, “Lily,” was answering the phone at Mitch’s office.) “Hello, Daddy’s office.  No, YOU sound like a little girl.” [Slam]

Which reminds me, LLCJ should totally be on TV.

SK: You're not kidding.  I've been looking at some of the local theatre's websites to see if they have 1-day Intro to Acting classes for kids her age.  When she was here this past weekend, we were playing "auditions".   She would come in and show "us" her dance moves - like she was trying out for a dance troupe or something. 

She sat on the steps and I would call her to invite her for the audition.  She would come and I would ask her name and what her talents were. 

"Besides dancing, do you sing or play any instruments?"  

I would pretend take notes.  When she was done I'd say "We'll call you when we make a decision".  She'd sit on the steps and wait for my call.  And I'd call and offer her the job.  She said "OK, I'll be there at 6:00."

Next time we'll have to play "rejection".   Got to get her prepared for some of that, although I can't imagine anyone would ever reject her... 

BD: OMG, that is hilarious.  You should try to teach her a short scene and see if she can “act.”  (Besides just being her adorable self.)

SK: And she has really good dance moves.  She’ll see something on TV and mimic everything the dancers do.  And she’ll remember it.

After her turn to be the dancer, it was my turn to audition.  I had to close the blinds before I started auditioning.  Didn't want anyone to see my dance moves.  I “made it” but later she told my mom I wasn't a very good dancer.

BD: Aww.  She didn't want to hurt your feelings, so you passed.  You should ask her to teach you.

SK: OMG!!  She’d be like one of those mean Russian dance instructors walking past me and poking me with a stick.

BD: You’re right.  Best not to upset the balance of power any more than it already is.

Good thing you shut the blinds before dancing.  The neighbors might have thought you had an itch you couldn't reach.

SK: Having seen my recycling every week, I’m sure they’d understand.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Hoping for Manny Happy Returns

There was bad news in the Baltimore sports world yesterday as Orioles 3rd base phenom Manny Machado suffered a serious knee injury during an afternoon game.  Manny was running out a ground ball when he stepped on the edge of first base, twisted his knee and fell to the ground in a heap, clutching his knee.

I didn't know anything about it until I got an email from Sitcom Kelly last night, asking me if I’d seen it.  It didn't take me long to find something online, and I kinda wish I hadn't.  The article was preliminary, because they won’t know anything concrete until they can get an MRI, but I've seen enough torn ACLs and MCLs to know that this is a bad one.  The link above contains a video, if you’d like to see for yourself.  It’s not that it’s gruesome… I've seen worse, like years ago when Pirates catcher Jason Kendall broke his ankle on a similar play at first base.  But Manny’s knee got a pretty good twist.

I feel so bad for the kid… and he IS still a kid.  He just turned 21 this summer, in the midst of turning major league baseball on its ear.
Manny Machado  (Source)
I don’t think I've ever seen a player make so many head-turning plays in the field as Manny has.  I read that he’s had more plays on ESPN’s Web Gems highlights than anyone else, by far.  And this is Baltimore, home of Brooks Robinson, who may have been the best fielding 3rd baseman of all time.  People here know from talent at the hot corner, and this guy is king right now.  (Just check YouTube for Machado highlights.)

Manny’s joining the team late last year was the single biggest component of turning the club into a winning team.  The Orioles now hold the best fielding percentage in the league and are on pace to crush the record for least amount of team errors.

It’s such a shame, not just because of on-field issues, but he’s a genuinely good kid!  His teammates love him, he studies hard, reveres his elders, keeps his mouth shut and does his job with grace and humility.

Obviously he’s done for this season.  I just hope he can come back before the end of next season. 

So between Manny’s injury and the horrific season my Steelers are having so far, (they’ll be lucky to go 4-12), it hasn't been a very rewarding Fall thus far.  But leave it to the Ratbirds to put a smile back on my face.

Did you hear about Raven’s wide receiver, Super Bowl star, and Dancing with the Stars 3rd place winner Jacoby Jones?  Last night, he was with teammates on a “stripper bus” in Washington DC, celebrating lineman Bryant McKinnie’s birthday, a stripper named “Sweet Pea” clonked him on the head with a giant champagne bottle and ignited a brawl.

He was apparently bloodied up pretty well, but was none the worse for wear, and refused medical treatment.  When the police asked him how he got hurt, he said, “I don’t know.”

Hah!  As if you could possibly forget when a stripper hits you with a bottle of bubbly.

See the size of that bottle?  It looks like a prop from a liquor store window.  And that’s with a 6’8”, 350-pound guy holding it!

You can find more pictures of the people involved by clicking here, as well as some more salacious coverage.

But what I want to know is what did Jacoby do to earn Sweet Pea’s wrath?  Is there some kind of protocol for stripper buses?  Did he bogart the giant champagne bottle?  Not wipe off the top after he was done?  Backwash?  Or maybe he said she danced like a white girl.

Ray Lewis chipped in on ESPN, saying he thinks the incident is due to a void in leadership on the team.

Great, Ray.  Way to bring yourself into the story.  You leave the team and now there’s a leadership crisis.  I guess “leadership” is what Ray learned after his Super Bowl party guests killed a couple of guys.  That’s what you find in jail; either leadership or the Lord.

Late Update: Sweet Pea tweeted that she’s not a stripper; she’s a waitress.  They were all waitresses on that bus.  My take: Sweet Pea’s mom just found out what she does for a living.

Even Later Update: Manny is going to be OK.  The MRI revealed that he tore a small ligament behind his kneecap, and not the much more crucial ACL or MCL.  In all probability, he won't need surgery and will be ready for spring training next year.  My take: All that angst and hand-wringing for nothing.  But I'm thankful for the happy ending.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Perhaps a Critical Thinking Class Might be More Apt

I see a lot of stuff on Facebook that irritates me and I almost always let it go.  I have no intention of starting fights with friends or family.  There’s really no up side to it.  But sometimes something just sticks with me.

That happened again last week, and as usual, I didn't comment.  I didn't want to make the poster look bad, but there was just so much wrong with it, I couldn't let it go.  So here we are.  As usual, it was one of those picture memes, with some pseudo-wisdom printed over it.  This was the post.


The poster's comment: “I’m not really religious, but I agree.  I think we should have had a morals class or something that teaches common sense cuz my generation is lacking big time.”

My disagreement doesn't have anything to do with religion, but with misapplied logic and incorrect facts.

“Bibles aren't allowed in school anymore…”

It is untrue that Bibles are not allowed in schools.  Any kid can bring a Bible to school and read it on his own time.  It’s the school that’s not allowed to require it, nor sanction Bible study groups.  Public schools are not in the business of promoting any one religion, period.  That’s what church and private schools are for.  So right off the bat, the whole premise is off base. 

“…but are encouraged in prison.”

Are prisoners encouraged to read Bibles?  I don’t know.  I've never been in prison.  But what would you have them read, "Fifty Shades of Grey?"  What’s the problem?

There is none, but it forms a bridge to the next fallacy.

“If kids were allowed to read it at school, they may not end up in prison.”

May not.”  Also, if kids are allowed to read “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Jaws,” or “The Kama Sutra,” they “may not” end up in prison.  “May not” is an ambiguous term and completely useless in this instance.  It infers a causal relationship without providing or even claiming any factual basis.

Also, it’s complete horse pucky.  The biggest Bible-thumpers in Congress are trying to cut Food Stamps, pour billions into more missile systems and fighter jets, and further enrich the richest people in the country.  Where is it in the Bible that Jesus said, “Let there be a strong national defense, and persecute the poor?”

Reading the Bible is just like reading any other “how-to” book.  People take it under advisement and then go out and do whatever they feel will benefit them.  I’m not saying there’s not any wisdom to be found within, I’m saying it certainly isn't some kind of inoculation that will keep a person out of jail.  If it were, it would be a national reading requirement.

I’m not sure how it would work on Jews, Hindu, Buddhists, Muslims, Sikhs, Wiccans or Atheists though.

As for what the poster wrote, I think “Morals class” would best be conducted at home.  There is no one set of “morals.”  Believe me, there are a lot of people who would not want ME deciding what morals to teach children.  So how exactly would any school board or teacher decide what to present as “moral” to our children, without setting off neighborhood riots?

They couldn't do it.  That’s why moral training and guidance belongs in the home and not school.  Sure, the little kids can learn to share and not bully and not speak out of turn, but that’s about it.  (Not that it lasts very long, judging from our schoolyards.)  But there are no easy bromides that will fix our broken culture, no matter how simple it looks on Facebook…

I think requiring classes in applying logic and critical thinking would certainly help.

Facebook isn't all bad though.  To end on a high note, I also saw this…

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Odd Bits - The 'What's Under the Bed' Edition

I just got back from an employee event at Fogo de Chao, so excuse me if none of this makes sense.  I blame it on the meat coma.


Capital Crimes
The hockey season is almost upon us, and I can’t wait, especially because the Steelers’ season is beginning so ominously.  But pre-season hockey games have started; in fact, they actually had one here in Baltimore.

The Washington Capitals played the Boston Bruins downtown at the aging Baltimore Arena, before a half-full house of 7634.

Granted, it was only pre-season, and the Arena is badly antiquated, but it goes to show the limited appeal of the Capitals.  They play a mere thirty-something miles away, but could barely draw breath here in Baltimore. 

I’m pretty sure that the Penguins could play a pickup game in Youngstown, and pack the house. 

Good News for Those of us with More Chins than a Chinese Phone Book
A company called Kythera Biopharmaceuticals saw their stock surge this week after reporting they have an effective cure for double chins.

They've devised a drug that when injected into the neck six times over four weeks, destroys fat cells while leaving other tissue unaffected.  I believe this will be received like the best news from the pharmaceutical industry since boner pills.

As far as I’m concerned, I’m all in.  My meat and beer-laden diet is slowly removing any semblance of a jaw line.  When I look in the mirror, all I see is this…


Of course, with a mug like this, the chin is the least of my worries.

Not Exactly the Kind of Crocs you want to See Under the Bed
Holy shit!!!!  I knew it!!!  All these years I've been keeping my feet inside the bed and under the covers have been validated.  There really ARE alligators under the bed.

A guy staying in a hotel in Zimbabwe woke up to find a real live crocodile hanging out under his bed.  I shit you not.


I've always said that the real sub-bed perils for children are not boogiemen, monsters or even killer clown dolls.  Alligators are totally built to fit in the small confines under a bed. 

Granted, I’m highly unlikely to spend any time in the hotels of Zimbabwe, but I think I’ll be checking under my hotel beds in the future.  I mean, how hard could it be for an alligator to climb out of a sewer, sneak past the concierge, creep onto the elevator and scoot under my bed on the 18th floor at the Hilton?  I’m not taking any chance.

And here I always thought the worst thing I’d step on in the morning would be a used Kleenex.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bang Bang Ho Hum

Oh look, another “active shooter” incident.  Go figure.

Yesterday, 12 people were killed when yet another gunman went into a building and randomly shot a bunch of innocent people. 

We Americans have already expressed the opinion that we don’t care.  I mean; we've been expressing it for the last 20 years, and even more loudly in the last several.  Sure, a few people try to do something to change the gun-lust nature of our culture, but they are quickly and loudly beaten back into the margins.

We the People have spoken loud and clear: “Keep your Commie hands off our guns.  We don’t care how many people are slaughtered on a daily, monthly or yearly basis.  We don’t care if they’re military men, high school students, moviegoers or first graders.  If you want to prevent more killing, give us more guns.”

And so it goes.

You’d think they’d have some of their own guns, in a place called the Navy Yard.  No wait… they did!  In fact, the gunman shot a guy who had a gun, and took it from him.  If only that guy had more guns, maybe he could have defended himself better.

This shooter was a black guy, so at least people of color are breaking through that barrier.  To find the last African-American mass-murderer, you have to go back to the DC Sniper killings of the early 2000s.  So mass killing is no longer the providence of disgruntled white kids or squinty-eyed militants.  Who knew that guns would be a catalyst for equal opportunity?

So spare us the weepy eulogies.  Spare us the press pool footage from the gravesites.  Spare us the interviews from neighbors who say the shooter was a good boy.  Our unfettered right to play with guns far outweighs the loss of life and limb, because no one tells US what to do. 

So no background checks, no waiting lists, no restrictions on ammo clips or armor-piercing bullets.  We wanna buy a Bushmaster AR 15 on credit at WalMart and start shooting stuff before we make the first payment.  We want it all because it’s cool and it says we can have them in the 2nd Amendment.  That’s the only Amendment that counts, right?

Fuck you, we’re Americans.  We just don’t care. 

Because if we did, we’d do something about it.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

VisionQuest

It occurred to me that our vision is the foremost tool we have to assess the state of our aging bodies.  At least it is with me… my vision has been on the express train to geezen-hood ever since junior high school.

I mentioned it in passing once before, in a post about playing little league baseball, but I never even knew my eyesight was bad, until they tested me in 8th grade.  I knew something was amiss, because I used to be a pretty good ballplayer, but then suddenly, during the summer after 7th grade, I couldn't hit any more.  In fact, I sucked.  I didn't know what happened to me.

And in classes, I couldn't see the assignments written on the blackboard.  Not being one to call attention to myself, I certainly didn't want to move up closer to the front, nor did I want to let on to the teacher.  So when class was over, I’d walk slowly by the board and try to get a good look at the assignment.  If I was distracted, or it was unclear, well, I just didn't do it.  But I figured everyone else was in the same boat too.

So I finally got tested along with the rest of my class, during the school year.  And that summer, I was fitted for my first pair of glasses. 

Holy shit!  I was amazed!  I had no idea the other kids, or ANYONE could see that clearly.  I really didn't know what I was missing.

Of course, problems arose as well.  Now I had to be careful when playing sports or roughhousing.  My glasses would get pretty banged up over the course of a year.  I always had teardrop-shaped wire rims, (what can I say, it was the 70s), so it wasn't like the frames would snap.  But I bent the shit out of them all right.  I also became versed in popping the lens back into place after it fell out.

For organized sports and gym class, I got one of those straps to go around the back of my head, to keep them on.  Better for them to get bent on my face than fall off and get trampled.
My first pair of glasses is on the left. (Yes, really.)  My latest pair is on the right.
Yes, way in the back of my wardrobe, I found my first set of specs.  You can see the bend in the frames.  The other set is from the mid 90s.  I never wear them because they are about a half-dozen prescriptions behind.

My brother got contact lenses first, during the onset of “soft-lenses.”  I guess he was as tired as I was of getting his glasses busted up.  I watched him go through the daily routine for about a year, before I decided to give them a try.  I had just finished my freshman year in college and was trying to upgrade my “look.”  I found that having crooked, beat up glasses on my face was not doing me any favors with the ladies.  (College or otherwise.)

If you remember contacts from the early 80s, you remember what a treat it was to take care of them.  Man, the “state of the art” of contact lenses has really changed in 30 years.  You had to be pretty dedicated back then, to keep a pair of lenses for any length of time.

Back then, you got one set and they were expected to last about a year.  But to do so, you had to be a maniac about maintenance.  First of all, do you remember the “cookers?”  Every night, you’d have to clean your lenses with cleaning drops, rinse them with saline, put them in the case, and put the case in a heating unit for disinfection.

Then once a week, you had to dissolve 2 “enzymatic tablets” into the saline, put your lenses in the vials and leave them overnight.  That was to prevent protein deposits from forming on your lenses.  Once you got a deposit on your lens, it wasn't coming off.  It felt like you had a permanent grain of sand in your eye.

But even with all that, the payoff was worth it.  Contact lenses gave me complete peripheral vision, and eliminated worry about getting jostled about the head while playing sports.  Plus, I finally got to wear sunglasses.  It didn't matter if you had that automatic tinting feature, they never looked as cool as a pair of shades.

From college on through the 90s, I wore contacts most of the time, with a pair of glasses as backup.  I’d wear the glasses on weekends, or right after I got up, until it was time to get dressed.  But by the end of the 90s, I pretty much let the glasses go.  I’d put in my contacts as soon as I got up, and take them out immediately before bed.

Obviously, the nature of contact lenses has changed over the years.  Now, you can sleep in them, or put in a new set every day.  Me?  I get the kind that you can wear for about a month, and then try to keep them for two months.  I change them when they start to feel heavier or less clear.

I never fret about the daily cleaning.  It’s just part of my morning ritual now.  There’s no more cooker, no cleaning drops and no more enzymatic tablets.  The saline is “all-in-one,” which is good because it sucked when you didn't get all the cleaner off the lens.  It felt like getting grapefruit juice squirted in your eye.
A sampling of contact lens cases I have in my cabinet right now.  The one I use is on the far left.
It’s a wonder I’m not blind, though, because I tend to use a maintenance routine of my own devising, rather than following the directions.  I know you’re supposed to change contact cases all the time, because they provide one with every bottle of saline.  But I still like having that one “go-to” case.  The one I use, that one on the left?  That’s what my earliest cases looked like, so deep down, that’s what I think they should all look like, so it’s the only one I use.  I keep the others for emergencies, or to keep spare contacts. 

I usually keep the pair that I last replaced, unless they were really bad.  Then I can wear it again if I damage a lens, at least until it’s time to replace the other one.  No sense in creating an odd set.

Every so often, both eyes become equally bad.  That makes it really easy, because there is never a risk of putting a lens in the wrong eye.  But most of the time, each eye has a different prescription.  Especially now…

At my last visit to the eye doc, he told me there wasn't much he could do for me, to keep both eyes on an equal basis.  He could shoot for somewhere in the middle, where I could see “adequately” at a mid range, but I would sacrifice both distance and close-up.  If I were wearing glasses, I’d be a prime candidate for bifocals.  But to translate that to contact lenses, they do something completely different.

So now, the lens in my right eye is geared for distance and the one in my left is made for close up.  I don’t know how that even works for anything in between, but somehow, it does.  It’s not perfect though.  Everything to the left tends to be a bit fuzzier than to the right.  But if I have to scope for a street sign, I can feel myself bearing down on the right eye.  It makes me feel like the old “Bionic Man.”  “Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo…”

Same with reading something close up. I find myself tilting my head to the right to dig in with that left eye.  So far, the only down side I foresee is going to 3-D movies.  I need to ask about that, but I don’t see how it can work effectively.  Luckily, I still have my last set of equalizing lenses from my prior prescription.  I can always break them out for a 3-D movie, if I need to.

Sometimes when I talk “contacts” with a non-contact wearer, they express apprehension about sticking things in their eye.  All I can say is that you get used to it.  But also, there are ways to getting around it.  The key is not to look at your finger approaching your eyeball. 

The last time I was at the eye doctor, he mentioned that he wanted to see me put my lenses in, because he likes to see how everyone does it.  I guess we’re all like snowflakes.

Once I have the lens cleaned, I take it off my right index finger with my left hand, then maneuver it onto my right middle finger, for placement.  (I change fingers because the lens comes off a dry finger easier than a wet one, which the index finger still is.)  Then, looking into the mirror, I pull my lower lid down with my right ring finger and place the lens on the white part beneath the iris.  The white part tends to be less sensitive than the iris and pupil.  Then, I grasp the upper eyelash to pull the eyelid down over the lens.  Rolling the eye around smooths out any bubbles.

While I prefer to use a mirror, I can also go without, and just stare forward.  Either way, you don’t look directly at the finger. 

So… corrective lenses… what’s your deal?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

If I Could Create New Car Names...

I saw an article today about the way new cars acquire their names.  Apparently there’s quite a process.  At Ford, the Marketing , Design and Communications departments formulate a large list of names, contenders are checked for negative connotations (both here and abroad), they’re vetted for trademark infringement, and finally the winner is chosen by the CEO.

Time was that car companies used animal names for their top models.  Mustang?  Impala?  Those were classics.  I’m not sure how many animal names are left though.  Hyundai is mining foreign languages for names, like their “Tiburon,” which is Spanish for ‘shark.’  I’d like to see them come out with the Hyundai “Iguana,” or maybe the Chevy “Lizard.”  

The current trend seems to be to find words that invoke positive images and feelings, and then changing them just a little.  For example, you have the “Integra,” the “Infiniti,” the “Lexus,” and “Supra.”

Because I can’t just wait around for someone else to come up with the “Scrota,” I decided I’m going to form my own car company, just so I can produce a more interesting roster of names.  In addition to having names that describe the product, I believe they should describe the driver as well. 

With that in mind, have a look at the inaugural ad for the newly formed Bluz Motors:

To compete with top-of-the-line models from Lexus and BMW, Bluz Motors presents the D’Bagga.”  Feature of note: LED readout on the back of the car, that shows the amount of gasoline being wasted as a result of me-first driving habits.

Our answer to the resurgent Camaro brand is a fiery new model called the “Flamero.  This low-slung hot-rod features actual flames emanating from the tailpipe.

Bluz Motors’ entry into the gargantuan SUV market will be represented by the hulking Compensata XL.” 
Driving one of these babies will leave no doubt as to size of your drive shaft.

For the redneck wannabe who wants a rugged pickup truck, even though he never actually hauls anything more than groceries from Whole Foods, Bluz Motors proudly unveils the “Shitkika.”  To eliminate the worry of shifting payload, the cargo bed features a series of hooks placed around the bed walls, on which you can hook your plastic or canvas shopping bags.

To our older clientele who usually drives tanker-sized Caddys and Lincolns, we offer the Bluz “Geeza.”  These land-barges feature built-in GPS and computer-controlled steering, and are programmed to seek out buffet-style restaurants at the stroke of 4:00.

To compete with the VW Touran, Sharan and Routan, we offer a car with a colorful, elongated grill, called the “Toucan,” because “two can” play at that game.

Ladies, don’t think we've forgotten about you.  To help you cope with transporting your little angels from school to practice to music lessons and back, we present the new “Estrogess QT.”  You’ll love our patented sound suppression system that completely eliminates all noise from the rear seats, including whining, fighting, complaining, movies, video games, rap music and boy bands.  All that’s left for you to do is to revel in the only silence you’re likely to get all day. 
You’re welcome!

Lest you think Bluz Motors isn't interested in fuel economy, we also offer a 100% electric car.  To those that don’t mind going zero to sixty in roughly the time it takes to boot up a 2004-era computer, we think you will have a soft spot for the new “Impota.”

However, if you find that after driving the “Impota,” you feel you need a little “spring in your step,” we offer the companion car, the Bluz “Viagris.”  Steering your Viagris through rolling hills and tight curves will definitely get your pistons humming.

While we toyed around with our own animal-named car, our prototype of the new Bluz “Possem” always died in the road, so it was never brought to market.

So, come on down to Bluz Motors, for the best deals on wheels.

Bluz Motors… because nothing beats a good BM. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Odd Bits - The Just for the Halibut Edition

Couple of things to talk about today…

Syria Killer
To bomb, or not to bomb, that is the question.  Or, take the Russian option.  A lot has happened on the Syrian front in the last day or so.

There’s been a whole lot of talk about the Syrian mess over the last month.  Up until now, I've tried to stay out of it, mostly because I’m of two minds.

On one hand, I’m as sick of war as the next guy (who’s not a defense contractor).  Neither side of this conflict is worth supporting.  On one hand, you have a ruthless dictator bent on maintaining a hold on power, and isn't above using chemical warfare on his own people to do it. 

On the other side, you have the (mostly) Muslim rebels trying to overthrow him.  Trouble is, if they acquire power, we’ll have one more country that hates us.  Al Qaeda is already arming these rebels and will find an instant foothold if an overthrow is accomplished.

So it’s been a quandary.  But here’s where I come down…

After witnessing the horrific results of using chemical weapons, almost every country around the globe signed a treaty banning such.  Syria’s Assad broke that treaty, to devastating effect on its citizens.  There has to be consequences to that action, or it becomes a green light for every other despot who’s desperately clinging to power, to gas his opponents as well.  You think Iran’s not watching this scenario intently?

While it would be all well and good for the UN to step in here, Russia’s and China’s Security Council vetoes guarantee that it will not.  And our past misdirection regarding the need for the Iraq War has ruined credibility with most of the rest of the nations that might have otherwise helped us.  We’re the only ones left.

We’re the ones in the role of Global Policeman and this activity is happening on our watch.  We have to do something.  As much as we might wish it, we can’t pull our heads into our collective shells and pretend that foreign affairs are of no concern to us.  The global theater doesn't work that way.

I think sending a few missiles at Syrian military targets is the least we can do.  With this action, I’m assuming the President keeps his word that there will be no American forces on the ground.  That would change my thinking considerably.

I actually like that President Obama went to Congress for approval.  At minimum, it’s a savvy political move.  The Republicans are usually the war hawks, loving nothing better than using a war effort to funnel taxpayer money into the coffers of their Halliburton-style puppet masters.  However this would require them to publicly agree to something Obama wants, and that’s something to which they have become almost genetically opposed to doing.

If Obama gets approval, the GOP can’t complain about bombing Syria.  (OK, they will, but they’ll look like dipshits.)  If they don’t approve, they have to explain why Syria is different than Iraq, or Libya, or any other country we've bombed in the last 20 years.  So far, they seem to be trying to find a way to promote intervention, without actually approving the resolution.

However, all of this may become moot.  Due to a new variable where based on an off-hand remark by Secretary of State Kerry, the Russians offered to “encourage” Syria to surrender their remaining chemical weapons into a UN-monitored stockpile.  Syria has stated that they would agree to this, even though to this point they have denied owning any.

Personally, I could live with that, providing, as John McCain pointed out, we have UN oversight and a firm time table.  That means no obfuscation or playing for time.  If they don’t give up the goods, ALL the goods, the bombs are in the air.  I would also add that if we find so much as a fever blister on another Syrian, the next missile lands on the presidential palace.

If it works, the Russian Plan solves everyone’s problems.  No war, plus no more chemical attacks in Syria.  The Republicans still get to accuse Obama of letting Putin play the hero, but it’s not like they wouldn't find something to criticize in any scenario.  And of course Assad is free to kill the rest of his opponents with conventional weapons.

I’d just hate to be one of the President’s speechwriters today.  They probably had a finished draft of tonight’s address to the nation, right up until the John Kerry and the Russians flipped the table.  Oh well… Sam Seaborne and Will Bailey always got it done on “The West Wing.”

Subway Hate Revisited
I thought of another person I hate on the subway.  Here’s his letter.

To: Lazy Dude in the Aisle Seat Who Won’t Stand Up and Let me Out From the Window Seat
From: The Guy Who Has to Squeeze By Your Big Ass Just to Get Into the Aisle

Look, I've had a hard day too.  If I wanted to climb over things, I’d be out on a jungle gym somewhere.  So when you see that I need to get out, don’t just swivel your knees around, stand the fuck up, move into the aisle and take a step back.  It’s not hard… in fact I do it every single time, when I’m in your position.  The only conclusion I can draw is that you like having my ass in your face as I try to maneuver myself past your shoulders, elbows and backpack.  Enjoy my back pocket, Assface.  Better hope I didn't have the burrito special for lunch.

I’ll Have the Fish…
Get a load of the Pacific Halibut this guy caught, off the coast of Alaska.  As I looked at it, I could only think of one thing:
"BLASPHEMY!"     (Source)
The fisherman turned down the offer of a voucher for another day’s charter, in order to keep his 231-pound catch.  I think he’s “gonna need a bigger bun”.  (Sorry about mixing movie references there.)

I wonder if there were any consequences from the environmentalists…


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Dubble Header

Yes, this is another baseball post, but as you’ll see, it has practically nothing to do with baseball.

Remember earlier this spring, when due to unforeseen circumstances, I found myself roped into going to two Orioles games back to back?  Well, the same thing just happened to me again.  I saw the “Birds” play the White Sox, both Thursday and Friday nights.

Early last month, Pinky’s brother acquired 4 tickets for Friday’s game, and asked us to go.  (Like I’d turn down a night at The Yard?)  So we’d been planning on that for a while.  Then on Wednesday, Sitcom Kelly told me she scored her mom’s company seats, 10 rows behind home plate, for Thursday’s game.  (Like I’d turn down free primo 10th row seats?)  So there I was again, booked into consecutive nights of baseball.

I know, it’s not like I’m suffering here.  I’m just saying I prefer to space my ballgames out a bit more evenly.  Oh well…

Now, there was a good reason why Sitcom Mom’s seats were available.  Thursday was the Baltimore Ravens opening game.  As Super Bowl champions, Ratbird-mania was at a fever pitch.  Because they couldn't open their season at home, (owing to a scheduling conflict with the Orioles), they played the game in Denver, but still had festivities here in Baltimore.  Keith Urban played a free, pre-game concert from a floating barge in the Inner Harbor, which was followed by fireworks.

So the demand for baseball tickets wasn't very high.  However, it was perfect for Ratbird-hating, Orioles-loving fans like Sitcom Kelly and I.  In fact, as I waited for Sitcom Kelly at The Bullpen, our customary pre-game watering hole, I realized I basically had the entire top floor to myself.
Once a year, my VIP card entitles me to complete control of the upper bar.
Not even the Free O’s Baseball Cap Giveaway was enough of a draw to fill the seats.  I have to take a small issue, though.  (Yes, I’m going to complain about getting free stuff.  Bear with me.)

This was the hat they gave away:


Does that look like a “man’s” hat to you?  If they were going to go plaid, I think they should have made it bolder, like orange lines on a black hat.  The orange kind of fades into the gray.  It’s pretty weak.  Personally, I think the only time one looks manly while wearing plaid is in a case like this:
“Don’t ye cross me, laddie boy, or I’ll stuff this caber up yer arse!”  (Source)
Anyway, they gave the hats to the first 10,000 people, and lo and behold, we were two of them, even though we rolled in 15 minutes before the first pitch.

When I wrote about the last time we sat in these seats, I pointed out how we were sitting right beside a group of major league scouts.  The scouts were there again this time.  One of them even brought his own radar gun.  I guess he doesn't trust the home team radar readings.
Notice how not even a baseball scout looks manly in a pale, plaid hat.
The attendance was as anemic as I anticipated.  They announced it as 17,383, but that’s paid attendance.  I’d be surprised if they drew more than 12,000 butts in the seats.


Like me, Sitcom Kelly also brought her camera to this game, but was soon irritated by the same thing I was, in that even though we had great proximity to the ballplayers, the protective netting prevented any quality photographs.
It looks like Chris Davis is in some kind of zoo exhibit for brawny men.  (Notice how he’s not wearing anything plaid.)
So, given that we had legitimate access to the hoity-toity seats, and the loads of room all over the ballpark, somewhere around the 7th inning we decided to swing over a bit and sit in some open seats behind the Oriole dugout.  We stared out in the same row we were in before, but within an inning, we moved up to the second row.  Now THIS was much better.


Well, better as long as no one smokes a foul ball in our direction.

From our new vantage point, we could zoom in unobstructed.
21-year old third base phenom, Manny Machado, up to bat.
Major League leading home run hitter, Chris Davis, having just stuck out.  (No worries, he clubbed his 48th of the year the next night.)
I was quite happy with a 2-shot sequence I took in the top of the 9th, with the O’s leading 3-1.  The closer was in and the White Sox slugger Adam Dunn was up to bat.
Dunn waits for the pitch…
… and swings through strike three.  (Note that catcher Matt Wieters is in the process of throwing down to third.)
After the game, we hung around a bit, to watch the players come into the dugout.  We both got some more quality shots, but I’m sure Sitcom Kelly will be pleased with this one I got of her newest athlete heart-throb, relief pitcher Darren O’Day.
Little does he know that his future holds a lot of clawing at sheer dirt walls, in Sitcom Kelly’s basement pit.
At one point, someone from the dugout tossed up a couple of handfuls of gum, from the giant tub of it they keep in there.  By this time, there weren't any kids around, and no one was really hunting for it, so I scooped up a bunch of it.  So if you ever wanted to know what major leaguers chew, (besides tobacco), here you go…
Sugar-free Dubble Bubble… “America’s Original.”
I tried a piece on the way home, hoping that Official Baseball Gum had some kind of superior quality to it, to which we mere mortals were not privy.  The conclusion: Meh…  It’s just gum.  But as a major league ballplayer, when your first piece loses flavor after 20 minutes, you can just grab another piece.

It was a real short game, finishing up in 2:45, and coupled with the lightning storm that delayed the Ratbirds game, I got home in time to watch the start of the 3rd quarter, as Peyton Manning and the Broncos used and abused the Ratbird defense, winning 49-24.  (Mwa haa haaa.)  I hear that Ray Lewis thinks the lightning was a conspiracy against the Ravens between the NFL and Jim Cantori.

The Friday night game wasn't as eventful.  We sat in the 7th row in left field on a beautiful night, and watched the Orioles win, 4-0.
The view from section 84.
Like I mentioned, we got to see Chris Davis hit his 48th homer of the season, which was followed back to back by with another Matt Wieters.  None landed anywhere near us, however.

The Orioles are kind of a long shot to make the playoffs now, but that’s OK.  They've been competitive all year, so it’s been entertaining.  They couldn't say that in many years past.

But now, look what time it is… It’s… it’s… FOOTBALL SEASON!!  The Steelers’ first game will be on tomorrow, and today I get to see the Buckeyes, so I’m all set to burrow deep into the man-cave and watch me some football.

There aren't many plaid hats in football, I’ll tell you that right now.