Monday, December 31, 2012

The Year in Bluz - 2012

Well, it’s December 31st, which makes it the last possible day to do my annual Year in Review.  There’s nothing like that deadline pressure to pry me loose from the couch.  Oh, and I’m not really reviewing what went on in the world this year, as much as what I wrote about.  You can find the year’s news highlights anywhere.  What’s really important is what I think about they year’s news highlights. [snork!]

Now let’s see where we’ve been…

January: After meandering a bit with some multi-subject posts, I hit a sweet spot, after consulting with my friend Judie the Rogue Artist, to produce “Why Heathens Make Good Friends.”  That post also contained my first ever prize giveaway. (A “Heathen” t-shirt, size Boys Large.)  Delurker Day (and some later prodding) managed to shake loose a few non-commenting but regular readers, so I could further identify who is stalking me.  Next, I defended the rights of my favorite show, Modern Family, to have the 2-year old seemingly drop the F-bomb, just as we have the right to turn the channel if we are so easily offended.  I also reported one of my favorite family stories, how my Grandfather once creatively smuggled a stash of booze to his brother, who was stationed in the South Pacific during WWII.  I unveiled my long list of favorite fake names here, and then in one of my more whimsical posts, I imagined what it might have been like if I had known how to play a guitar on the day I was given one, plugged in up on stage, with an attentive captive audience.  To finish out this rather high-quality month, I told a story about the time I absolutely slayed the room with a speech I’d been ordered to cut short.

February: After the 2012 Super Bowl was hijacked by a 2nd-rate rapper’s middle finger, I wrote my best-received post of the year, where a bunch of celebrities and I give the finger to the Parents’ Television Council.  Than, all cocky from that post, I stepped in it real good when in a multi-subject newsy post, I proclaimed support for ObamaCare to force Catholic institutions to provide insurance that includes birth control.  My Catholic friends really stepped up the “dialogue” for that one!  To get the taste of controversy out of my mouth, I told a couple of favorite stories. Well, one was a series of stories about my Grandpa and his crazy family, and how one of his brothers thought he found the other one passed out drunk one night.  Then it was my own best drunk story about how I ended up zonked on “Hairy Buffalo” and did front handsprings down the front steps of the Bowling Green Armory.  Continuing with The Funny, I explained the endless appeal of “dick” jokes, and excerpted “101 Big Dick Jokes” from a Drew Carey book.  I closed the month with a review of the best lunch I ever had… a real Meat-O-Rama.

March: We started the month on a high note, after the Maryland state government passed a Same Sex Marriage bill.  This would be discussed later, as it ended up having to pass a referendum to stand on the books.  When the Pittsburgh Penguins unveiled a new statue of owner/legend Mario Lemieux, I took the opportunity to discuss his gloried career.  A brush with fame came when the HBO movie “Game Change” was shot in town, near my office.  OK, this month I REALLY stepped in it.  Because I posted about the off-the-wall ways I’ve observed females argue throughout my years of relationships, my blog sisters totally gave me the old what-for in comments.  The funny part is that I was called “sexist,” even though most commenters copped to using some of the sketchy methods I listed.  Shortly after that, I wrote the post that appears on the top of my Most Visited Blog Post list, where I debunked the list of lottery winning “tips” that were being publicized on the news.  (I don’t think there were really that many visitors… I think it was one person who somehow repeatedly clicked a couple hundred times.)  And after a couple years of blogging, I finally wrote my long-planned ode to the vinyl record album.
Vinyl graphics > CD graphics.

April: We opened by wrapping up the Mega Millions saga, starting with hiring the VP of Hell No and the Chairman of Fuck Off, and suggesting an alternate take on what I’d do if I ever won a major lottery.  Baseball started and I took an early tour of the improvements at Camden Yards, and provided a tutorial on not getting clonked on the head during batting practice.  I wrote another of my famous “whimsical” posts, wherein I built a story around the melodious sound of a co-worker’s name.  That one still cracks me up.  Next, I tried my hand at sad Goth Girl poetry, to describe my ex-wife’s fixation with Spots on the Mirror.  I closed the month by telling you about my trip to an Assisted Living facility, where at Pinky’s behest, I told the residents some stories about my aforementioned Grandpa and his crazy family.  It was probably my most rewarding experience of the year.

May: The beginning of the month was taken up by our trip to Florida to see my folks.  Then, I started a series or reasons why I (and everyone should) vote Democratic.  I also covered my first experience donating blood, in probably 30 years.  In this post, I told about how I came to learn that my blog has been banned in Bahrain (hence the masthead notation ever since.)  And just to act all “wise” again, I wrote some helpful advice to a young friend who is on the verge of moving far away from home.

June: I started June by seeking input on how everyone (who is married) runs their financial lives.  After attending a high school graduation, I did a compare & contrast vs my own.  My best story of the year came after leading a bunch of young Pittsburghers down to Camden Yards and then getting into trouble finding the club section rest room.  After that, the shit got crazy for a couple weeks.  I had my annual Toledo trip, which featured our fated walleye fishing trip, and the best pizza in the world.
Myles Pizza, Bowling Green OH.

July: From Toledo, I rolled straight into Pittsburgh for Sisterfish2, (aka Darwinfish Fry 3), which featured meeting of my Pittsburgh blogging friends and a special guest appearance by Jessica of Leelafish.  The next day featured a trip to PNC Park and my Aunt’s house for dinner.  And somewhere in there, I had to live without power for a day or so, due to the infamous “derecho.”  After getting together with bloggers from Pittsburgh so often, I decided to meet one here in town, which led to lunch with Misty of Misty’s Laws.  The friendship “took;” we’ve met up 2 more times since then.  I closed the month with an account of my tortured attempts to set up a home wireless network to accommodate my new iPad.  Geek Squad, where were you?

August: With the Olympics going on, I visited my top memories from a lifetime of Olympiads.  Next, a story about my dad’s mono-fruited fig tree led to a post about bronchitis and my first encounter with a new medical center.  With the election dawning, I explored the 4 State Referendum questions that would greatly affect the rights of Marylanders for years to come.  To lighten up after that, I reviewed the new Jaws Blu-Ray and talked about the effect the movie had on me over the years.  Back to politics, I went off on the musicians who were using their cap-gun brains to shoot off their shotgun mouths.  I also came out in support of Bill Nye “the Science Guy”, who was criticizing the evolution deniers. 

September: I started the month by going ridiculous, talking about how we used to have farting contests as kids, to emulate a very taboo “adults only” cassette tape we’d heard.  Then Sitcom Kelly and I pitched a sure-fire T-shirt idea for a local Orioles bar, and then defended Camden Yards against the annual horde of Yankees fans.  Then, I started a long series about a subject that’s haunted my dreams for years… my long career as a record store manager.  There were posts covering: taking my first store, setting up a new store in Nebraska, moving across town to take an urban, free-standing store, describing the thankless nature of being a store manager, the tricks and pitfalls of trying to maintain a decent staff, then ending the month on surviving Christmas and then blowing town to live near the home office.

October: I continued with a post on making the jump into my company’s home office, before taking a break to cover the Orioles making it into the playoffs, and going to my first baseball playoff game with my brother, and my second with Sitcom Kelly.  I went political again by covering the presidential debates, among other things, before diving back to finish up my retail saga.  I covered working in the home office, getting laid off and taking a new store, then getting laid off again a year later, taking a job in a freakin’ craft store, making a jump to managing a video rental store, and culminated in putting all my experience together to turn that video store completely around within 2 months… and then quitting.  Somewhere in there, I wrote about my experience of waiting for 2 hours to cast an “early vote.”

November: With the election looming, I dove right in with my comprehensive, last best case to vote Democratic.  I know for sure that I changed at least a couple of minds.  Not bad for a two-bit blogger!  Still, I had plenty of election night jitters, but they proved unfounded, as I was able to bask in the afterglow that very night, before moving into post-election analysis.  I still had a few random stories I wanted to tell from my retail career, so I dropped them here, and here, and here and finished it up for good (I promise) here.  I ended November with a post about the OSU/Michigan rivalry, and the time I had to pee REALLY bad in the back of a pickup truck.  Then it was on to the hardship of trying to find an electric carving knife and a big fork.  (You don’t want to know what I did with the old fork.) 

December: I know this stuff is right below, so I’ll be brief.  My dear friend had her wedding shower and then got married.  I went off on the All Guns All the Time crowd in the wake of the Newtown tragedy.  I complained about having to move office cubicles (I’m over it now) and in a fit of self-deprecation, showed you pictures of me violating every modern fashion law known to mankind.  Oh, and by the way, maybe it’s not such a bad thing if some of these trends come back.  I mean after all, it seems our current fashion is altering our basic body structure.  Look what we have now…

Happy New Year, my friend.  Thank you for sharing 2012 with me and I look forward to entertaining you, educating you, or just pissing you off again in 2013. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

That One Part

Do you ever find yourself flipping through the channels, stumbling across a movie you own or know quite well, and then even if it’s late, you tell yourself you’ll just stay with it long enough to see that one part you like?  I do that all the time.  If I had any sense, I’d just pull out my DVD, but I rarely do.  Instead, I hang with the movie, commercials and all, until the part I’m waiting for comes on.

I tell myself I’ll go to bed right after, but that doesn’t always happen.  And sometimes, that one part is near the end, so I’m going to be up late either way.

Anyway, as I was watching the original Karate Kid for the millionth time last night, it occurred to me that I could fluff this idea into a post.  Sure it’s just a list of movies I like, but what the hey… I’m on vacation.  You can’t expect me to do any heavy thinking, can you?

I’m sure you’ll note that these movies aren’t the “freshest” ones around.  But if you think about the premise, they have to be old enough to have made the rounds on TV a number of times.  That rules out anything recent.  Plus, I’m not exactly the “freshest” either.

So, here’s what keeps me up at night…

Animal House: I tell myself I’ll just wait for the scene where Otis Day and the Knights perform “Shout” at the toga party; the perfect blending of music and anarchy.  And if I’ve already missed it, I’ll hang until the guys show up at the Dexter Lake Club, just to see that big dude ask, “You mind if we dance wif yo’ dates?

Aliens:Get away from her, you BITCH!”  Sigourney Weaver has never been so awesome.

Blazing Saddles: The Waco Kid shoots the guns out of the hands of 6 bad guys, in the blink of an eye.  OR, the “The Sheriff is Near” bit.  OR, Lili von Schtupp seducing the sheriff.  OR who am I kidding?  It’s a lock I’m staying up to watch the whole thing.  Unless, of course, it’s on the Family Channel, or some other network that cuts out offensive stuff, or in other words, all the funny parts.

American Werewolf in London: No contest… the “werewolf transformation” scene.  It’s a groundbreaking piece of practical effects work.

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure: When they let all the historical figures run loose in the mall.  Love how Beethoven jams on the music shop’s organs, while Socrates and Billy the Kid try to mack on the little chicklets. (While Freud is holding a corn dog.)

Die Hard: I’m in till the end on this one, because I have to wait for the scene where Bruce Willis takes down Hans freakin’ Gruber with a gun taped to his back.

Dave: Kevin Kline, impersonating the President, gathers the cabinet together to find money for a pet project but cutting a bunch of stupid expenditures from the federal budget, using nothing but a pencil and 3rd-grade math.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High: Spicoli’s line about “this Jefferson dude” needing to “find some cool rules, pronto.”  And you thought I was going to say the Phoebe Cates diving board scene…

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: The parade “Twist and Shout” scene.

First Blood: When Rambo, using his guerilla warfare and camouflage training, successfully hunts the sheriff’s posse who is supposedly trying to hunt him.

A Fish Called Wanda: John Cleese’s strip tease while he speaks in Russian and Jamie Lee Curtis humps a rope railing upstairs.  I’ll stay up to watch Jamie Lee hump anything, including Activia yogurt.

48 Hours: The scene when Eddie Murphy tears up the redneck bar, impersonating an officer.

Eddie: Where’d you get this money?
Redneck: Tax return.
Eddie: Nah, you’re too stupid to have a job.

The Godfather: Brando’s speech where he warns the heads of the Five Families that if his son Michael should “hang himself in his jail cell, or get shot by a cop, or get hit by a bolt of lightning,” he will blame the people in this room.  I think it was one of the most elegant cinematic threats ever.

Independence Day: The President’s speech, before hopping into a fighter jet to take on the big ugly aliens.

Jaws: Quint’s USS Indianapolis speech, which is as chilling as anything we actually see the shark do.

Jurassic Park: When the T-Rex breaks out of its paddock and attacks the jeeps.  I always imagine myself under the same circumstances and I don’t see how I get through it with my pants unsoiled.

The Karate Kid: The scene where Daniel-san (and we) realize that wax on/wax off, paint the fence, sand the floor and side to side, were more than just grunt work chores.

Monty Python’s Life of Brian: The Stoning Scene, which unfortunately comes so early in the movie, so I usually miss it.  So then I hang on for the scene where Michael Palin’s speech impedimented Pilate dares his guards to laugh when he mentions his friend’s name, “Biggus Dickus.”

Naked Gun Pt 2: The love scene montage, where they use clips with increasing explicit symbolism, from a flower opening, to a foot-long hot dog, to a monument being erected, to a train rushing out of a tunnel, an oil derrick pounding and finally striking a gusher.  I am always on the floor by the time it’s over.  Every time.

Naked Gun Pt 3: The sperm bank donation scene, where after each of the 3 donations, Inspector Drebin appears more and more disheveled, following increasing levels of commotion behind the closed door.

I’m not including the original Naked Gun here because I will always watch that one all the way through.

Pirates of the Caribbean 3: The scene when Keith Richards appears as Capt. Jack Sparrow’s father.  It’s just too perfect… Jack Sparrow source material in more ways than one.

Rocky: I will always wait for the original fight between Rocky and Apollo Creed.  It was the perfect marriage between action and music.  My buddies and I used to act parts of it out, with the Rocky soundtrack on the turntable.

Spiderman 2: When Mary Jane finally learns that Peter Parker is Spiderman.  If they had put that scene in the first movie, Spiderman 1 would have been perfect.

The Terminator: Reece’s speech to Sarah Connor, about how that terminator is out there and will never, ever stop until she is dead.  It was a chilling reality check for the young, fragile waitress, who later turns into quite the badass.

Terminator 2: Sarah Connor breaking out of the asylum, only to run into the very terminator that was responsible for the horror she’s lived over the last decade, not knowing that this Terminator was now working with her son.  It’s a nightmare within a nightmare and it gives me chills every time.  The scene also shows the asylum staff that Sarah wasn’t crazy after all.

The Thing (John Carpenter version): The crab-head bit, the freakiest, most over-the-top-weird bit of SFX that once seen, can never be un-seen.

The Usual Suspects: I’m always up late for this one because I have to see that ending scene were we all find out who Keyser Sose is.  It plays out brilliantly.

Forrest Gump: I put this one out of order and last because it is responsible for more late nights for me than any other.  Every scene I decide to wait for inevitably leads to another one I need to see.  Next thing you know, it’s 1:00 AM and I’m a weepy mess.  Thanks a lot, Hanks.

So what about you?  What movie scenes keep you up past your bedtime?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

My Humble Holiday Wishes

The shopping’s done, the food is in the fridge, the wine is chilling and even the presents are opened now.

I guess there’s nothing left to do but scratch out this simple holiday wish for you, my friend, who is checking in with me today and a lot of other days.

I never liked that “Have yourself a merry little Christmas song.”  It sounds condescending to me. 

So I say, “Have yourself a big, noisy, wild and wonderful Christmas!”  Throw wrapping paper all over the place!  Play with the kids!  Try wearing the Christmas stockings… on your head, if necessary.  Eat too much, drink too much, and stay too freakin’ long!  For all the build-up, the day passes entirely too quickly, so make it memorable.  .

And before you go, may I once again present my all-time favorite Christmas carol, courtesy of South Park.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Life of Whacked

This week I had the chance to have lunch with my friend Misty, who writes the blog, Misty’s Laws.  She’s best known for her running feature, Weekly Whacked, wherein she secretly takes pictures of the walking fashion atrocities she encounters on the streets of downtown Baltimore.  It’s kind of like a free-range “People of WalMart.”

Anyway, as we were shooting the breeze, I happened to mention how there was a time when I totally would been a candidate for Weekly Whacked.  This led me to realize it would make for a brainless  simple  easy  entertaining post to show you some of my fashion mistakes over the years.  As Rodney Dangerfield might have said, “I’m OK now but I used to be in rough shape.”

I started out as a pretty dapper kid.  It was the mid 60s and grownups still dressed their kids up when they took them out.

When I was in kindergarten, this was my basic traveling outfit… topcoat and fedora.  I miss the times when everyone wore hats… ones that don’t come with a bill.

On occasion, when a snappier look was needed, I had this in my arsenal.

I totally looked like I should have been coaching the 1965 Montreal Canadiens.  Scotty Bowman stole my look.

Next thing you know, it was the hippy-dippy 70s and we dressed the part… ALL the parts.  First we were peaceniks.

Too bad my red blazer didn't fit any more, because it would have went with my red pants.  I’d have looked like a giant lipstick.

The mid-70s brought the loud plaid pants, like the kind Herb Brooks wore in ‘Miracle.”  This is me with my Uncle Ange, on my confirmation day.

I’m not sure whose idea it was to put me in a striped tie to go with my plaid pants, but I think that counts as a venal sin.

Luckily, it wasn’t just me that got tagged with the plaid pants.  They got my brother too, otherwise I’d have to conclude that my parents were out to get me.  (As if withholding Pop Tarts and sugared cereal wasn’t enough.)

Plus, we had a Pinto.  My brother had to be very careful not to back up into it.

Ever since my first 4 years of Catholic school, I always rebelled against wearing ties.  So for my National Honor Society induction, I tried to find some kind of suit where I wouldn't need a tie.  Unfortunately I came home with this.

That was one of my 70s Disco Fever silk shirts under a crinkle-cloth safari jacket and matching slacks.  I’m surprised they even let me into the NHS dressed like that.  At least I had good hair that day.  And how cute does my mom look?  That has to count for something.

I mentioned my first "real" suit in a prior post (wherein I got smashed at my buddy’s wedding reception and rolled down the cement stairs while trying to help carry out a keg).  That had only been the 3rd time I’d worn the suit.  The first was my senior prom.  You can see me in it here, as I inadvertently photo-bomb my buddy’s moment.

I appear to be dancing… the White Boy Shuffle, I think.  Cat Deeley would have loved me.  And vice-versa.

Remember the shorts in the 70s and 80s?  I miss those.  I've railed on this before, but I hate the current “shorts down to your Achilles” look for shorts.  As I always say, when you legs look as good as mine, it’s a shame to cover them up.  See?

No, I wasn't doing the Funky Chicken, I was bouncing on a diving board.  This was down in Georgia, (hence the cowboy hat) visiting my buddy Billy; spring break of our (college) freshman year.  Damn, I was skinny.

While I was in Georgia, I picked up what became known as The Legendary Valdosta Shorts. 

I wore those for ages… or at least until I could no longer wedge my big ass into them any more.  This shot was from 1981 and I was holding my cousin Greg.  He is now 6’5” and the father of 2, which makes me very, very… old.

Another thing I brought back from Georgia was a taste for western wear.  It was the days of Urban Cowboy and I bought into that just like I’d bought into the disco shirts.  This was me at a college party.

Rawhide vest over a paisley-yoked cowboy shirt, with a saucer-sized “Skoal” belt buckle and a bad perm.  I consider it child abuse that my mom let me out of the house looking like that.

Oh, and that hand gesture?  No, it’s not a “smell my finger” move.  That was the move we did to signify going incognito.  It was something we did when we were up to no good.
 The finger was supposed to infer a mustache disguise.  You can see my buddy behind me doing it as well.  Just dudes being stupid… so what else is new?

Don’t think I neglected footwear when committing fashion atrocities.  When my brother found a pair of bright red high-top sneakers, I wanted a pair too.  But the store was out, so I came home with these:

When I put these in my room at night, I didn't need a nightlight. 

In the late-80s, my dad obtained company tracksuits for all of us. 

Here, I’m wearing the bottoms of my Soprano Guido tracksuit.  It came with a matching jacket.  Now imagine a whole family gathered together, wearing these things out shopping.  We looked like a cult.  At least I never wore the gold high-tops with mine.

I know I have other pictures of me in the act of committing additional fashion crimes, but I’d have to look for them photo albums and scan them.  (Meaning it would take some effort.)  These were shots I already happened to have on my PC.  But I think you get the idea.

I think I deserve some kind of Weekly Whacked Lifetime Achievement Award.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

On the Move

My department at work had to relocate today.  We went from a modernized upper floor, down to a not-so-modernized lower floor.  The whole building is being “re-stacked,” so a move was unavoidable.  But will I sound like a little bitch if I feel like I just went from the penthouse to the dungeon?

As I was bringing some of my stuff down this morning, a friend from another department saw me and asked when we were moving.  I said, “Right now.  Didn't you notice the claw marks on the door frames?

I just left a cube that was perfectly suited to me.  It might not have been the largest cube I've been in, but it was the best.  I was in a corner with no outlet.  That meant that no one ever walked by my cube unless they were looking specifically for me.  Thus, I had a supreme amount of privacy.  The layout looked like this…
Please excuse the primitive art.  I don’t claim to be a competent draftsman.

As you can see, I had 2 empty cubes beside me, so local traffic was non-existent.  I could literally change my clothes in my cube… in fact, I often did.  Last year when I was going to PT for my shoulder, I changed clothes at work rather than in the car or at the facility.  I’d be able to see anyone coming long before they could get all the way around to my door.  But I bet anyone scoping out the building with a telescope got a surprise.

Best part was I got to say things like: “Hey “neighbor,” guess what?  I’m not wearing any pants right now!  Woo hoo!  Woo hooo!

I also had room for a short file cabinet (marked “C” on the map.)  This was cool, not because I needed the file space, but that I could set up more stuff on top of it.  I had lots of room for my shit.

I still have a window, but the view is not exactly comparable.  This is what I left:

It was even nicer at night.

This is what I have now:

I especially like the HVAC units right outside my window. #ConstantDrone

Anyway, I hate to whine about such things when I’m actually thrilled just to have a job right now, especially one I enjoy.

I still have some extra room, compared to my office-mates, but even that comes with a price.  My “door” is right on the aisle, so everyone walking into our area can look right into my cube.  No more changing room for me.

This is the view, from my cube, outward.  Even people passing in the outer hallway can look in.
Those stalls to the left are for computer staging.  No one stays there.

At least they can’t really see me, because I’m scooted in behind a wall panel.  But what they will see leaves no doubt whose cube it is.

I did trade up in bathroom facilities, however.  The lower floors have larger restrooms.

Before, we had 3 stalls, with 2 urinals on the opposite wall.  I used to hate it when I’d be nesting in the end stall and someone would come in and use the adjoining stall.  Total party foul.  I also hated it when I just needed to come in and take a quick leak, and someone would be in there bombing the place, like 4 feet behind me.

Now we have 6 stalls, with 4 urinals around the corner from them.  That’s much more like it.  In case of mass pooping, we can handle 3 at once and still leave a buffer between each pooper.  So I find the small victories where I can.

Plus, I can always look at it this way… by the end of the day tomorrow; none of this will matter anyway.

See you in the afterlife… I’ll be hosting the eternal barbecue.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Odd Bits - The Yesterday's News Edition

First of all, I’d like to thank everyone who commented on my last post about the tragedy in Newtown CT.   Your sober, reasoned responses were exactly the kind of thing I wanted to see when I first started this blog.  You did not disappoint.  Now onto my regularly scheduled bullshit.

Well, maybe not so regularly scheduled… these are some items that were in the news a week or two ago, but due to other pressing matters, I never got to write about.  So lets delve into yesterday’s news…

Something Fishy
The New York Times had an article about how often fresh fish is mislabeled in stores and restaurants.  Chances are the fancy-schmancy tuna you specified with your sushi order was a considerably less schmancy variety.

On the bright side, now I know why the Country Buffett can afford to put a giant pile of crab meat on their salad bar, but only charge 9.99.

OK, I’m kidding, now.  But there was a time, back when I was fresh out of college, when I first encountered what they called “simi crab.”  I knew how much crab legs cost, so I couldn't get over how my local store could sell that stuff for 3.99 a pound.  Good thing someone wised me up before I threw a big surf-n-turf party.

Jett Lag
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced the Class of 2013, and my “Queen” Joan Jett wasn't in it.  I am outraged.  Makes me wonder if (Rolling Stone publisher and founder of the Rock & Roll HOF) Jann Wenner tried to hit on her back in the 80s, struck out, and has held it against her ever since.

Joan Jett has been cranking out the power chords since the mid 70s, and is an icon for every little girl who ever preferred a guitar to a tambourine.  She needs to be in the Hall, period.

The new inductees are Rush, Heart, Donna Summer, Randy Newman, Public Enemy and Albert King.  Rush is a long-standing oversight corrected… Kiss and Cheap Trick fans will have to continue bitching about it online until the next class.  I like Donna Summer and all, but I can’t fathom how she gets in and Joan doesn't.  Sure they put in Heart… I saw one commentary that said they must have “flipped a coin between Heart and Joan Jett,” wanting only one rocker-chick band inducted at a time.  And Joan may not have the world's biggest sales numbers, but I bet she’s sold more albums than freakin’ Randy Newman.

It ain’t right… that’s all I can say.  Joan Jett IS rock and roll.  RnRHOF voters, get it done.

I Bet People Stay Back From the Edge Now
As a daily Metro commuter, I was highly interested into the tragedy on the New York City subway, where some head case threw some poor schmuck onto the subway tracks, where he was hit and killed by a train.  It was a completely senseless murder, and I’ll tell you one thing… It had made me much more aware of who’s around me when I’m waiting for the train; especially when I’m wearing my Steelers gear here in Baltimore.

I’ve also scoped out the depth of the track “well,” and I’m reasonably sure that the ones in Baltimore aren’t as deep as the one in NYC.  Either that or the poor guy was really short.  I’m confident that if I ever would up down there, I could get back out in short order.  The top of the ledge looks like it would come up to mid-chest on me.  Even in my “less than optimum” physical condition, I could hoist myself out of there.  Shit, if a train was coming, I could probably do a standing broad jump and get clear.

Have you seen that picture that shows the guy down on the tracks?  I won’t run it here because it’s just too sad.  But it pissed me off.  Not the picture itself, but all the shit that the photographer took for snapping it.

You've probably heard the story… he says he was trying to pop the flash in order to alert the train driver.  Right off the bat, the Internet blew up with people condemning him for not doing anything to help.  They also criticized him for trying to make money off the picture, never mind that the police took the camera at the scene.  Whoever leaked the photo to the press, it wasn't the photographer.

See, I believe the guy.  You can see how far away he is from the victim, and I know how fast those trains come rolling into the station.  There’s no way he could have gotten there in time to do anything.

Did you see anyone else in the shot?  No, you didn't  because the people that WERE close by backed the hell away from him.  What kind of shit is that?  All it would have taken was one strong guy or two average people to grab his arms and yank him out of there.  If it weren't for Newtown, this would have been my Senseless Tragedy of the Year.

In the meantime, I’m backing the hell up when the train comes in.

Uncivil Unions
I was disappointed but not surprised about the GOP governor and legislature in Michigan passing the “Freedom to Work” bill that basically cut the balls off of labor unions.  For better or worse, labor unions are a major money-generating source for the Democrats (although they can’t come near billionaires like the Koch Brothers), so the GOP has been looking for ways to limit their influence.

Unions are the only things standing between a living wage and companies eventually using a WalMart model of employee salary structure.  Big business has not exactly been known for their concern over worker’s standard of living, when it comes to padding the bottom line.  Left to their own devices, they will pay as little as humanly possible.  Businesses that pay a premium to avoid having unionized workers will no longer have incentive to continue.

Just goes to show, state government matters.  If you elect Big Business Republicans, you can’t act surprised when they legislate to favor business and let the working stiff get screwed.

Now, I don’t agree with everything unions do… I have my own stories from personal observations when we were setting up new stores as they were being built around us.  But you can’t deny that unions are responsible for the generally safe workplaces, holidays off, weekends and decent pay that many of us enjoy.  Without them, our nation’s businesses would have turned America into a paler version of Bangladesh.

Hello Kitty
Poor Anne Hathaway, got caught coming out of a limo with a short skirt and no undies.  I don’t see what the big deal is; you could hardly see anything.  Most sources had it pixilated but I accidentally got a look (after 7 or 8 searches).  I’m sure there’s a Cat Woman joke in there somewhere. 

Physcyl Clyff
Here we are, still teetering on the fiscal cliff, with nary an agreement in sight.  Proposals have been sent back and forth, but I’m pretty sure I know what the GOP is afraid of.  It’s the same reason guys drive big trucks and muscle cars:

Dick fear.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Target Practice **Updated**

I've talked about a lot of subjects here over the years, but I've never really addressed the inevitable topic for this weekend: the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, where 20 children and 6 adults were killed by yet another deranged gunman.

We have to do something about guns.  After events like this, the first thing we hear is “now is not the time.”

If “now” isn't the time, when is the time?  We've already had mass shootings in a college, a movie theater, a couple of high schools, and right out on the street corner where a US Congresswoman got shot in the face.  What has to happen before we have a rational talk about guns in this country?  Twenty little kids just got murdered by another psychopath.  Must we wait until some brooding nut-case shoots up a nursery?

These were little kids!  Kindergarteners and first graders!  What the fuck?

The problem is every politician in America is scared shitless of the NRA.  They know that supporting any legislation that has even a whiff of gun control is tantamount to political suicide.  And if there’s one thing politicians hold more dearly than children’s lives, it’s their own political careers.

We have a very serious gun problem in this country, where it is no longer just about defending ourselves; it’s a whole fetish.  This gun culture has been lifted to an almost sacred level, despite the tens of thousands of lives lost via bullets.

Yes, I know the knee-jerk argument: “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” and many other glib bumper sticker sayings that mean the same thing.  But why do we have to make it so goddamned easy to kill so many?  Of course a person can kill another by any number of means, no question.  But how often do you hear of a mass killing with a knife?  Or a baseball bat?  Or a car or any other lethal means?

I don’t buy the frequent counter that we’d then have to ban knives or box cutters or letter openers.  A killer using any of those things can be stopped long before 5 or 10 or 20 people are killed.  That is the difference.  Only a gun allows a lone psycho to murder so many so quickly and easily.

I know, what about bombs?  Bombs can do the same thing quickly and easily. 

That’s true, but there’s also a trail.  In the post 9-11 world, it raises questions when someone buys a truckload of ammonium nitrate, or frequents bomb-making websites and chatrooms.  There are opportunities to intervene before anything blows up.

There is no intervention with these lone gunmen.  I saw someone on Facebook asking how it’s possible for a guy to get these weapons into a school.  I didn't respond, but I was thinking, “Are you fucking kidding me?  It’s a cakewalk.” 

Most schools don’t have metal detectors or pat-downs, or security of any kind.  And even if someone tried to stop an intruder at the gates, he would merely become the first casualty.

Another argument is that there should be more guns, not less, which to me is like saying the answer traffic gridlock is to produce more cars.  Too many people believe the Hollywood hype that you can have a shootout in a public place and just take out the bad guy.  The general gun-carrying public is not trained for crowded shootouts.  Sure there are some well-trained exceptions, I’m thinking ex-military, but they are few and far between.  There’s a big difference between hitting a target on a range versus hitting a single, armed target amid a swirl of chaos, noise and rushing bodies. 

There has to be some kind of middle ground between all guns and all ammo allowed to everyone all the time, and no guns for anyone ever. 

The problem is that we’re boxed in right now.  The gun lobby is right about one thing.  If guns were made illegal, the only people turning them in would be upstanding, law-abiding citizens.  Next thing you know, we’re living in a Batman movie. 

I say we have to start with re-enacting the ban on assault weapons and ammo and make it stick… no expiration date.  No one needs that kind of firepower for home protection.  No one.  Nor do hunters.  No one needs those giant ammo clips either.  The only thing these guns are good for is killing a large number of people at once.

Just because this restriction won’t solve ALL the problems doesn't mean it won’t fix SOME.  And some is better than none, when it comes to innocent lives being taken.

Further, we have to do more to regulate who guns go to, at minimum doing more than what we do to hand out a driver’s license.  I’m thinking proficiency, IQ and psychological tests.  There needs to be a criminal records check as well.  It’s appalling that we do more to check into a person who wants to operate a common device with a positive use, but is potentially dangerous, than we do with a person that wants a device whose singular purpose is to kill living things.

I don’t think there’s a chance in hell of the NRA ever letting that happen.  In this day and age, they will fight anything that comes between them and their “right” to obtain any gun for any reason right fucking now.  To them, the Constitution is made up of the 2nd Amendment, and then everything else.

It’s funny how conservatives are always saying we need more “Constructionist” judges, (as in interpreting the Constitution exactly the way is was written).  Obviously, this doesn't apply to the 2nd Amendment, or else everyone would have the right to a single-shot musket and powder horn.  But where’s the fun in that, right?

Maybe one day we’ll see some politicians grow a pair and take on the gun lobby to try to enact some kind of common sense limitations.  And granted, any attempts to rein in automatic weapons and large clips will take time to produce the desired effect.  And in this age of immediate gratification, any delay in results will be portrayed as failure, in order to justify a return to the way things were.

In the mean time, our little kids are getting slaughtered at school.  There’s some more of that “American Exceptionalism” for you.  Yee haw.

Late Update: My dear friend Cassie sent me a link to an article that makes many of the same points I made, only better and more clearly.  Granted, that bar is not set very high, but I'm glad to know that I'm not off base here.  Check it out by clicking here.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Living Dangerously

It occurred to me this morning, as I was putting in my contacts, that I should probably be dead already, by my own hand.

I don’t mean ‘intentionally’ or anything; it’s just that I violate things like “conventional wisdom” and “safety precautions” as a matter of routine.  Take my contact lenses, for instance.

The warnings say I should put in a new pair every month or I may risk an eye infection.  I’m also supposed to empty and dry my lens case after every use.

Bah!  I keep my contacts for at least 2 months, or until I notice they don’t feel so fresh any more.  That takes my 6-month supply and turns it into a 1-year supply.  As for my contact case, I replace the saline every other day and rarely dry them out.  And do you know what?  I’ve been wearing contacts since 1980 and have had zero eye infections or any other eye problems.  Well, besides my vision deteriorating, but that’s just the onward march of time.

Food safety is another thing.  Pinky is all about food safety, having worked for the county as a kitchen inspector for assisted living places, and I regularly ignore and refute just about everything she tries to put into place at home.  Like leftovers…

She packs all the leftovers up into Tupperware containers and has them in the refrigerator within minutes of the end of dinner.  And if I don’t eat them within a day or two, she threatens to throw them out.

I say “threatens” because that would start WWIII.  The Dude does not tolerate wasting food under any circumstances.  Well, if it does indeed spoil, then that’s the exception.  But the thing is, during my bachelor years, I’d keep stuff in the fridge for ages and still eat it.  And I didn’t even HAVE Tupperware… it was more like a bowl with foil on it.

Same goes for leaving food out.  I can remember when I was growing up, Mom used to make the traditional Friday night Mrs. Paul's and Mac n’ Cheese.  After dinner, the macs stayed in the crock pot on the counter, and any leftover fish sticks were put on a small plate, where they stayed overnight.  Most times, I’d eat the fish sticks for breakfast the next morning.  (Leftovers don’t usually last long in a house containing a teenage boy.)

But the thing is… I didn't die, I didn't get sick, and I didn't get the runs… nothing.  It was the same with other simple foods that don’t necessarily require refrigeration, like cakes, breads, cookies, peanut butter, and whatnot.  We never kept that stuff in the fridge and none of us were any worse for wear.

Pinky and I used to go round and round about meat preparation too, especially with pork.  She was still laboring under the misconception that you have to cook the shit out of it or else you’ll get worms or something.  I insist that you can cook pork so that it remains juicy and not tasting like shoe leather, without facing mortal peril.

All I can say is that I've cooked juicy pork chops for 20 years, and have never become ill from it.  In this day and age, The Pork Menace is a myth, left over from when transporting meat in unrefrigerated trucks and rail cars was common.  That’s no longer the case.  Luckily, over the years I've been able to bring her on board the juicy pork wagon. 

"Juicy Pork Chop Wagon" would make a great band name.  So would "The Pork Menace."

I know Pinky’s just trying to look out for me and I appreciate that.  But the fact is no one can convince me that “Action A” is harmful when I've been engaging in “Action A” for years without any measurable consequence.  I call that “hard-won experience.”

I am a firm believer in the 5-Second Rule.  Also, the 10 or 15-Second Rule, depending on how much I like what fell on the floor.  See that earlier rule about not wasting food…

I also tempt fate, apparently, because I am not addicted to hand sanitizer.  Sure, I have some on my desk at work, but I've had the same little 2-oz bottle for a several years and it’s only half gone.  I wash my hands a couple times a day, and I get an annual flu shot and take some standard cold germs precautions.  I didn't used to do any of that.  And you know what?  I still get a cold about once a year, regardless.  Perhaps there’s something to be said for a childhood spent playing in piles of dirt.  I bet my immune system could fight off the Cloverfield monster.

“Did you see the size of those T-cells?  I’m outta here…”

Earlier this week, I had to pluck out an eyelash that was growing out of the corner of my eye and Pinky gave me a 5-minute dissertation on how to sterilize the tweezers before and after plucking.  I ignored all of it and just yanked it out.  I figure, the tweezers only touch the eyelash, which is then discarded, what’s the problem?  If I stick the tweezers into my eye, I’m going to have bigger problems to worry about.

It takes an act of Congress to get me to go to the doctor.  Pinky is always on me to go get something checked… blood pressure, blood vessels, cholesterol, bone density, colon integrity, you name it. 

I’m one of those “If it ain't broke, don’t fix it,” kind of guys.  And when something does seem broken, my first response is always to see if it will go away on its own, before seeking medical attention.  I’ll wait it out for months.  You’d be amazed how often it works out just that way.

I do take vitamins and fish oil, but I don’t think they do any good.  I feel like I’m perpetuating a fraud started by GNC.  Every study I read says that vitamins don’t have any perceptible impact when they’re taken as supplements, as opposed to via daily meals.  But given my vegetable-deficient diet, I’d better hedge my bets.

I got rid of my bicycle last month.  It wasn't because it was an old racing 10-speed that was 25 years old, or because the tires wouldn't hold air any more.  It was because Maryland has a law that says even grownups have to wear helmets when riding a bike.  That was the last straw.

When I was a kid, bicycle helmets caused injuries, because any kid seen wearing one would get the living shit kicked out of them, just for looking like such a Nancy-boy.  Even now, I won’t wear anything more protective on a bike than a fortified baseball cap.

You know what the biggest peril I face is?  Sleeping.  Seriously, every time I wake up, I have to take a full inventory on what hurts.  Is it my neck? My back?  Shoulders or knees?  It’s always something.  Next thing you know, I’m going to have to wear some kind of special helmet to bed.

My next most dangerous activity is stretching.  If I stretch too vigorously, I’m liable to produce a stabbing pain in my vertebrae, causing me to limp around for the next week.

Luckily, Pinky is a certified massage therapist.  She puts me on her table and straightens me right out.

That’s one time I’m happy to put my health in her hands.