Monday, January 31, 2022

Odd Bits - SCOTUS, Spotify, and Cornhole

Fox “News” is predictably up in arms over President Biden’s advance declaration that he intends to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court. “Reverse Discrimination!” they cry, which is the only discrimination they ever acknowledge. Oh, those poor oppressed White men, who have landed all but seven Supreme Courts seats throughout the country’s history. Such an oppressed segment of the population, no?

Naturally, people like Sean Hannity are complaining that proclaiming a race/gender qualification ahead of time is a big deal, much like everything else Democrats do. The revered St. Ronald of Hollywood stated in advance that he was going to place a woman on the Court, and followed through with Justice Sandra O’Connor. No one said diddly about that, then or now. The Former Guy also spoke of putting another woman on the SCOTUS bench. Again, no one said boo.

I’m starting to think the issue here is the Black part and not so much the Woman part. Just a hunch.

Sen. Susan Collins waded into the mess too, calling out a “clumsy handling” of the nomination process. Gee, thanks for weighing in there, Senator. And tell me, how graceful were the last few nominations? Like nominating a drunken frat boy with a rapist past, or stonewalling one nomination for 10 months while hustling the next one through in two weeks.

Listen, Susie, the next time I want your opinion, I’ll just ask the Federalist Society. The death of Roe vs Wade will be laid at your feet because you could have stopped it.

See Spot Run

I’m enjoying following the ongoing Spotify controversy, wherein Neil Young and Joni Mitchell both asked to have their work removed from Spotify if they continue to host Joe Rogan’s meathead podcast. They take issue with the deadly misinformation that streams forth from said podcast, which has resulted in the continuation of the COVID pandemic.

So far, in a move that is not remotely surprising, Spotify has granted their requests. I’m sure they’re doing the math and as soon as the amount of money lost due to principled artists pulling their music tops the income brought in by Rogan’s podcast, THEN they’ll do something about it. But until then, dream on because money talks!

I’m not sure how much of an impact the music from a couple old hippies will have on Spotify. Maybe if additional artists, more current or popular artists join in, they may have to rethink things.

And of course, the protests from the Right about freedom of speech are as misguided as they are short-sighted. The First Amendment protects speech from government interference and does nothing to require that private companies support or not support any given speech. It’s purely a free market issue and the market ultimately answers to the people. I find that Republicans consider the free market the answer to everything, right up until it infringes on something they like. Then it’s a race to claim victimhood and cry “Oppression!

Hole in One

When looking over the cable TV menu the other day, I came across this surprising viewing option:

Seriously? They have freakin’ cornhole on TV now? What’s next, televised church bingo? The World Yahtzee Championships? Professional Solitaire?

I mean, I have nothing against cornhole. It’s a lot of fun to play. But watching someone else play while I sit on my couch? Please. To me, it’s the same with bowling, billiards, poker, fishing, and golf… fun to do yourself, mind-numbingly dull to watch others play.

I am a bit surprised that they didn’t find a new name for it, given the risqué nature of its original name. If they really want to jazz it up, they should make a few changes… like play with Jarts. At least then you’d have a chance at seeing a serious impaling. Or have a drink requirement, like whichever team loses a round has to drink a shot or chug a beer. Anything to break up the monotony of watching people toss beanbags into holes.

Please, if you ever find me watching people play cornhole on TV, just put me out of my misery right then and there. It would be a mercy killing.

More Dad Stories

At my dad’s memorial gathering, we invited people to share their stories about him. One such person was Dad’s oldest friend Sam. They knew each other since first grade, having lived across the street from each other. Sam was as Irish as Dad was Italian. Both went to the local Catholic school. This was one of Sam’s stories:

“One time Jimmy and I decided we were going to go to one of the dances in (a predominantly Jewish suburb of Pittsburgh), and see if we could pick up some nice Jewish girls. Unfortunately, they seemed completely uninterested in these two Irish and Italian boys. So we decided we’d change our names so they couldn’t tell. The next time we went back, I became “Sammy Greenbaum” and he was “Jimmy Diamond.”

But even with our new names, we still struck out completely.

As we headed home, I asked Jimmy, “Do you think maybe we should have taken off our St. Christopher medals?

Monday, January 24, 2022

DINOs, Food Trucks, and Meat Loaf

I’m becoming alarmed by the extent that the blame for inaction on much-needed legislation is being laid on Biden and the Democrats. Whether it’s TV news or newspapers, all the headlines/top stories involve “Democratic failures.” There’s barely a nod to the 50 Republican Senators who are intransigent as ever. Regardless of what the party hierarchy wants, there are rules, most of which revolve around numbers, which are just not in the Democrats’ favor.

They would be, if not for two DINOs who have been bought and paid for by the 1% of the country who don’t want any grand plans coming to pass that would put a dent in their quarterly earnings.

Manchin, a coal-man from the get-go, has played the game with moving goalposts. Every time they meet one of his demands, he finds a different reason to vote no. This tells me his “no” is predetermined and he’s just trying to make it look good.

Sinema is going with just plain NO, without offering any ideas of what it might take to turn her to YES, or even what her objections are. It’s just NO, which is also a hallmark of a predetermined vote.

When every Senator is required to vote together, any straying from that derails the whole process and there’s nothing Biden or Schumer can do about it.

Rather than blaming Democrats in general and bellyaching about the gridlock, the Sane Middle needs to join with the rest of the Democrats and vote in more Democratic senators, so that these two clowns won’t hold up the works any longer. And make sure any prospective new senators go on the record regarding their intentions toward Build Back Better and Voting Reform, lest we end up with another DINO surprise.

There is no benefit to having Democrats openly grousing about their own party. Things may not be going as expected, but if the Republicans come to power again, we’ll be salivating over the prospects of things going back to the way they are now.

It’s clear that Republicans are only interested in propping up the upper class with tax cuts, stripping government regulations that protect us and the planet, and cementing their own places at the altar of power.

All Republicans have to go on is distorting what Democrats actually want.

There’s no question that the GOP pushes these fake arguments… I’ve written about every point on this list. Since the media has been derelict in pointing out the fallacies, we have to do it ourselves. “Owning the Libs” has been elevated to their primary tenet. Actual governing doesn’t even make a cameo appearance on their list of priorities. (I would say “Party Platform,” but they never bothered to create one for the last election.)

And now, this:

I think this is an excellent idea. If people are too wrapped up in their own selfish versions of freedom to get themselves vaxxed and provide proof, they deserve to eat out in the parking lot with the rest of the rats and leave the decent people to eat in peace.

RIP

It was a very blue weekend at Chateau de Bluz, as I woke up Friday morning to the news that one of my musical idols, Meat Loaf, went on to the great beyond. Initial reports declined to list a cause of death, although TMZ said it was COVID, which was parroted by other outlets later on.

I’m aware that Meat was a Trumper and anti-vaxxer and that had puzzled me. I thought he was entirely too nice a guy to be Republican. It’s probably the byproduct of being Texan and also appearing on Celebrity Apprentice. I remember watching when TFG mentioned that he may run for president and Meat said he’d vote for him.

I was like, “No, Meat, don’t do it! It’s a trap!” I hoped that he was just practicing the toadying that is required to have a long stay on that show. Non-ass-kissers always washed out quickly.

But regardless of all that, I’m devastated. I’ve been a fan of Meat Loaf since early in my college days. And when I say a fan, I don’t mean I like his two albums that got radio play. Check this out:

I have all* of his CDS, plus a bunch on LP as well. OK, his last couple I could do without I’ve always enjoyed his main body of work, including the ones in between the Bats out of Hell. I especially liked his follow-up to Bat Out of Hell, called Dead Ringer. The title track was a rockin’ duet with Cher, of all people. I figured they were trying to recreate the vibe from Paradise by the Dashboard Lights.

*I’m aware that he released an album of duets prior to Bat Out of Hell, called “Stoney and Meat Loaf,” but that’s not worth counting.

Meat Loaf is my nominee for Greatest Rock Singer Ever.  Geez, I must have worn out 2 or 3 copies of the Bat Out of Hell cassette over the years.  When I was driving to and from college and the weather turned bad, I used to think, “If I’m going to kill myself smashing up this car, I at least want to go out to some great music.”  Could there possibly be better car crash music than the song “Bat Out of Hell?”

Anyway, when the snow fell, I’d crank up the Bat and somehow I’d always make it home.  I soon began to consider that tape to be my good luck charm.  When the weather got bad, I knew The Loaf would get me home. I always wanted to tell him that, but the one time I got to meet him, I chickened out.

As a wedding gift (for my first marriage back in 1993, when I worked at the home office of a major music retailer) my co-workers gave me two tickets to see Meat Loaf in Boston, in a warm-up show at the Orpheum Theatre, prior to his three-year world tour for Bat Out of Hell II.  Backstage passes were included.  I was thrilled... I was gonna get to meet The Loaf!

But the crowd of people amassed to see him after the show was considerable and I didn’t want to take up his time with a long-ass story, so I kept it to compliments and pleasantries and settled for a picture with him and a couple of autographed albums. But he seemed genuinely glad to meet every single person.  You never got a sense that he was thinking, “I can’t believe I have to do this.”  He loved meeting his fans. He was a complete professional and a consummate showman. The full story of meeting Meat can be found here.

If I had to pick one album as my all-time favorite, this is it.  “Bat Out of Hell” is practically perfect.  It’s got brain-stinging guitar, flawless harmonies, wicked lyrics and a sly sense of humor, hooks a mile wide, and a complete wall of sound.  The Loaf had a voice that could both blow apart a cinderblock or tickle you under the chin like a feather.  When he brings a song to a climax, you feel the earth move.

I first obtained the LP when I joined Columbia Record Club, back in the late 70s.  I got it primarily for “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad,” and “Paradise By The Dashboard Lights,” or “that one with the baseball rap” as I knew it then.  I didn’t know anything else on the album.

I put the needle down, lay down on the floor with the lyric on the inner sleeve and my head between the speakers, and soaked it all in.  It damn near fried my brain right there.  It had power and fury, desperation and escape, living fast and dying too young.  It was a masterpiece.  And the end… holy shit, on that last “Like a bat out of HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLL,” he hits that note so freakin’ hard, and just holds it longer than any human should be able to do.  That was a life-changing event for me, right there.

To see Meat Loaf in concert is like going to a rock opera.  Everything is over the top, and oftentimes, acted out as a stage play.  When I saw him in Boston doing small warm-up shows before his Bat Out of Hell 2 tour, he did this thing where he got the audience to do this whole call and response bit, without speaking a single word.  He just used gestures and facial expressions to communicate and it worked like a charm.  That was when I realized why he’s been so popular all over the world.  No language barrier.

I saw an interview he did back in the 80s, on a talk show that comedian David Brenner had, and was talking about an album he recorded in Germany.  Brenner asked him, “What did they call you in Germany, ‘Herr Loaf?

He answered, “They mostly called me MEEEEEAT!  Like, ‘You vill sing now MEEEEEAT!’”

I love that Meat was game for anything. Did you ever see that movie “Sausage Party?” (It was an animated movie featuring Seth Rogan, about how the food comes to life after hours in a grocery store. It’s extremely filthy and just as hilarious.) Anyway, one of the food characters was a package of meatloaf, which they gave the face of Meat Loaf, including the use of his own traditional font and frilly tuxedo shirt. No way he didn’t sign off on that, which makes him a good egg in my book.

He also has a hilarious song included on a South Park album, a duet with “Chef” (Isaac Hayes) called “Tonight is Right for Love (with Meredith Baxter-Birney).” The first part is a soul love ballad done by Hayes. Then it abruptly changes into a total Meat Loaf parody song, which Meat performs in a racing stream of images of fire, torture, demons, and death. Meat really had to be a good sport to participate in that one. 

How Meat Loaf isn’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is beyond me. The guy has been a touring dynamo for decades, selling zillions of albums and packing arenas. I think maybe the top brass at Rolling Stone had it in for him or something. As far as I’m concerned, he should have been inducted 25 years from the day that Bat was released.

If there is an afterlife, I hope he can get together with Jim Steinman again. Maybe start up a new band. I’m sure they won’t be lacking available talent.



Monday, January 17, 2022

A Lack of Hospital-ity

After a lull during the holiday season, I’m finding my conservative friends are dipping their toes back into the meme world. It’s a good thing because I was getting bored without a regular supply of dumb shit to debunk.

I’m sorry, this meme seems a little desperate, a little insecure, a little…

I think the problem I have with this meme is that there are two versions of the word “authority” in play here.

A parent having authority over their kid? I’m all for that. And no one else is really trying to deprive that. BUT, “being” an authority? Sorry, no. There’s nothing about being a parent that imparts specialized knowledge or wisdom upon you. Kids get sent to school to learn specific things which have been exhaustively vetted. Students have no need to participate in a daily demonstration of the Dunning-Kruger Effect.


If you want the authority to teach your kids whatever cockamamie ideas you’ve ingested, home school them. You don’t get to insist that others teach the version of reality to which you ascribe.

If you want to use home remedies that no medical experts have approved, well, no one’s stopping you. Peace be with your children’s souls and enjoy the three hots and a cot when you’re in jail after their death. Or in a less serious version of this story, I hope you can afford to pay for their ongoing trauma therapy.

Next case:

Oh, so now you want socialized medicine? (No, I know you don’t really care about eliminating medical debt, you just don’t want anyone getting off the hook for their student loans.)

This is just one more piece of the Republican war on education. As I’ve said many times over, the last thing the Republican establishment wants is an educated populace. They want people pliable, obedient, and willing to eat up whatever version of reality they’re pitching that week.

The last thing they want is a voter base with critical thinking skills that might get in the way of whatever boondoggle they’re trying to sell. They want their emotional appeals to do their jobs without getting messy things like logic or context involved. Hence the endless pleas for more kids to go to trade schools and pushback on anything resembling student loan relief.

Don’t get me wrong, eliminating the medical debt for cancer patients is a wonderful idea. But why stop there? There are a plethora of diseases and maladies that create crushing medical bills. The issue isn’t just cancer, it’s everything. We’re the only developed country with a for-profit medical system and it shows it by also being the most expensive. And the Powers That Be (AMA, Big Pharma, insurance companies) will fight tooth and nail against any of that changing because that would derail their gravy train.

In the last few weeks, I’ve had an up-close view of how things are going in hospitals and it did NOT give me a warm and fuzzy feeling.

My mom took a fall Christmas night that entailed an ambulance ride to the hospital and a 2-week stay. She suffered a deep cut on the head, three cracked ribs, and a kidney laceration. Sweetpea and I followed the ambulance there but when we arrived (about 3 AM), only one of us could go into the lobby. So she had to wait outside on a bench while I tried to find out where they took her. And of course, they couldn’t tell me because she was still being processed through the ER, and didn’t know where she was going to end up. All I could do was call back in the morning and see where she was.

This meant leaving my mom alone there, with no idea where she was or where her kids were. It was not a comforting situation.

I got there the next day, as soon as visiting hours arrived, to find her in an ER observation area awaiting transport to a room. At least I could go with her for that. And thus began a 2-week span of daily hospital visits in which my sister, brother, and I took turns staying with her from noon till 8:00 PM and advocating for her. And believe me, there was a lot of advocating necessary.

I will say without reservation that the nurses were wonderful, pretty much each one I worked with. They all did the best they could do given the stressful circumstances. It was obvious that the place was understaffed. There just weren’t enough bodies on hand to give timely care.

There were two things that needed tending to. The first was pain medication. I’ve heard that busted ribs are excruciating to bear… it hurts to even breathe. And consider that my mom is about 5-foot-nothing and 100 pounds. There’s not a lot of meat on her bones to insulate her from pain-causing jostling. So there were times that regardless of the medicine “schedule,” Mom needed some additional help to relieve the pain.

Sure, they give you the Call Button, and the desk usually answers right away, but that’s where the breakdown comes… getting word to the people who are supposed to come help.

This was especially an issue with the second recurring need, which was getting help to the bathroom. Now, to some degree, I or one of my siblings could help her move around. The problem was that she was tethered to the bed by various wires and IVs. It was a full-on excavation just to get her out of bed.

So, when it was time to “go,” she’d buzz for help, get assured it was coming, and then have to wait for 30-90 goddamned minutes! And when the nurse or tech would arrive, it was always the same story: “Oh, nobody told me.

We talked to the head nurse and anyone else we could get to listen but that never changed. They’d always say, “Just call for help,” and it would never arrive in a reasonable time. And note, they had her on softeners and prune juice to get things moving (because the pain killers can be binding. So these two things were working at cross purposes.

Eventually, we just started moving her ourselves, if not to the full bathroom then to the portable pot that we could put by the bed. They didn’t like that at all, but at that point, I didn’t care.

If you don’t want to clean up the mess, then get your asses in here when she has to go!”

The plan was to move her to a rehab floor for physical therapy, as soon as her vitals stabilized. By the second Friday, she was ready to go. The prior day they contacted her insurance company for approval of PT but no one had heard anything back. That afternoon, a doctor told me, “If we don’t hear from them by 2:00, then we probably won’t until Monday.” That meant they wanted her to stay in the hospital for two more days, not for a medical reason, but because they couldn’t get an answer from Insurance.

I let them know that this wouldn’t be happening. There’s no way we were letting her stay for another weekend in the hospital, suffering personal indignities that go with it, and risking COVID infection with every breath. They could set up PT sessions for home, which was fine with them. We got Mom home that Friday (a week ago).

And one last insult… they lost her driver’s license. Upon request, I handed it to the EMT from the rig that picked her up and no one has seen it since. The hospital says they don’t have it and never got it. The EMT house says they gave it to them in the ER and hospitals lose these things all the time. Just one more clusterfuck, where everyone points the finger at someone else. Good thing Mom’s driving days are over.

I haven’t seen a bill yet but I know it’s going to be a doozy. And to think, they wanted us (or the insurance company) to pay for two more days in a private hospital room, just to wait for a phone call. I bet if she wasn’t insured, they’d have hustled her out post-haste. All I could think was that this is another reason why medical bills are so high. It’s bad enough being forced to pay them to provide pills you have already, or for food that never gets eaten (or often, was never even asked for).

So Mom is recovering at home and making great strides. She had her first PT session this afternoon and a regimen of exercises that should help her regain her strength. She’s fortunate that she had family members that were here for her. There are so many that don’t. I feel bad for those who have to go through a hospital stay alone. It’s already trying just being under hospital care, let alone trying to understand what’s happening and what’s to be expected.

And I feel even worse for the poor souls who languish in hospital corridors or ER areas because unvaccinated COVID patients are occupying all the rooms. To that end, Maryland is in a lot better shape than other parts of the country because over 90% of our state has had at least one vaccination. The hospitals are hoppin’, but they’re not overwhelmed like they were in early 2020, when they were using hotels as hospital overflow.

I’m thankful for the wonderful nurses who did their level best to care for my mom. But they really need to look at their processes and procedures because that shit is just not working.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Old Pictures, Old Ways

 I come from a family of picture-takers. When I was a kid, whenever we visited our relatives, finding and paging through their phono albums was a common activity.

When I was staying with my Mom back in September, after my father passed, I had the chance to go through some old, familiar albums that I hadn’t seen in years. For some of the albums, I just took cell phone shots of the pictures, just because there were so many I wanted and no time to set up for a long scanning session. These albums covered specific periods, from places we lived to ones dedicated to weddings.

Then I got to borrow a couple albums from my sister, which covered our family’s earliest days. One covered the time from my parents' wedding in 1960, through 1964, by which time my brother and I had been born. The other covered 1965-1968, capturing my sister’s birth and the fallout of two boys having a little girl in the house. Those, I had the time to remove from their photo album pockets and scan properly.

Between those earliest albums to the ones Mom had, it was interesting just seeing the development of photographic technology. Some of those earliest shots of my parents’ honeymoon were on old black and white paper, with the edges all wiggly, rather than straight-edged.

Mom and Dad on their honeymoon, looking all cute, like the Champion Poconos Rowing Team.

Others had holes punched across the top like it was torn off a stack of other pictures.

Dad, still on honeymoon, after winning the award for the best-looking guy wearing his new wife’s clothes. (No I’m not posting the pictures of THAT.)

A lot of the color had faded from the 60s shots, and the 70s pix had that bright “70s” look. And I especially appreciated the ones with the white border and the dates stamped on them. That removed the inaccuracy of a fading memory from the equation, (allowing, of course, for the time gap between the activity photographed and when the film was actually taken in for development.) Plus, it was the perfect place for a caption.

And of course, it was fun watching my siblings and me growing up page by page. But I was usually more interested in the background objects…

Remember that swing-set? Look at that old TV! Oh God, the cuckoo clock!

And then there were the anachronisms that stood out so starkly from how we live today, starting with the ever-present cigarettes in people's hands. I can still remember my Grandpa’s retirement parties, (there were several because he kept going back to work, probably just to have more parties), that took place in their basement. There was singing, playing instruments, and general high times, conducted by grownups in dress shirts and ties, or party dresses.

That’s my grandpa on guitar.

The rest of the band. Grandpa and the harmonica guy used to like to secretly turn down the other one’s amp.

I wanted desperately to go down there and enjoy the revelry, but the smoke was so thick, it burned my little eyes. Oh, the misery that was me! Now that I think of it, it was probably a conscious decision to create an effective kid repellent, so the adults could get their party on in peace.

Another thing I noticed is how parents used to really dress their kids up for a day with the extended family. Hats were a big thing and I don't mean ball caps… I was 4 years old and walked around wearing a sport coat and fedora like I was a miniature Frank Sinatra.

I look like I just got done coaching the 1965 Chicago Blackhawks.

The other thing that stood out was the apparent lack of basic safety protocols that would result in calls to Child Protection Services if done today. For example, consider this happy picture of my brother (R) and me (L):

What was the thought process behind this carefully arranged shot? I figure it must have been something like, “Hey, let’s put the boys up on the edge of this 4-foot stone wall, right on the ends of the railings. No way they’ll fall off and break their necks. And let the little one keep holding that stick, which surely won’t get jammed through his eye when he falls. And the big one? He’s got a hat on, which is almost as good as a helmet. Besides, that bush will break his fall. Can’t coddle these kids now, can we? OK, everybody smile!” 

The freakin’ 60s…

Same deal with this picture of me and my cousins a few years earlier, up on the same 4-foot wall.

Maybe they were counting on us cushioning each other’s falls. Or maybe my dad, (far right) thought he could dive in and catch us, like Roberto Clemente going after a short pop fly. I think maybe he wanted to bump me off so he could have my little truck all to himself. And speaking of Dad...

More Dad Stories

When we held the remembrance event for Dad, my Uncle Joe, who lives in California, sent a few words for his son to read on his behalf, which included this brief story:

I’m a lifelong car guy. Jim was not. Jim’s first car was a 1960 Plymouth Valiant. 4-door sedan. The coolest thing about it was that it was a stick, but instead of 3-on-the-tree, it was a floor shift, which I thought was supremely cool.

Now my first car was a 1961 Volkswagen Beetle. The coolest thing about my car, besides that it was a convertible, was that it was not only stick, it was a 4-speed! When I bragged about that to Jim, he was not only unimpressed he said, “Why would anyone want to shift an extra gear?? It makes no sense!”

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Dating Across the Aisle

In early December, an article on AXIOS came out talking about a survey that said that, among other things, 71% of Democratic college students wouldn’t date someone who voted Republican.

That set off a firestorm of commentary that I meant to jump in on but got diverted by something shiny. Luckily I jotted down a reminder.

While the survey was aimed at young people, my old ass also agrees with them. I don’t see how I could be in a relationship with someone I disagreed with down to a molecular level. It wasn’t always that way.

In years past, I certainly would have considered dating a Republican, assuming she had other desirable traits and assets. (Make of that as you will.) I’d have just tried to avoid the subject of politics. That was a lot easier to do when I was a young man in the 80s and somewhat less-young man in the 90s. Maybe that was because I was heavily focused on my job and often had little time for much else. And I probably would have gotten with the Devil herself, if she was nice to me.

Back then, the parties had differences but it wasn’t to the point that it is now, where one party is trying to deal with reality and another is living in an authoritarian fantasyland.

I could not date or marry someone now if we weren’t politically aligned because the differences are so stark. It’s not a matter of views on budget planning or foreign affairs, but basic human values. Someone who supports Republican efforts in suppressing voting among their foes, demonizing anyone who didn’t have the good luck to be born here (and White), cheering on law enforcement abuses on people of color, forcing women to bear children against their will, kowtowing to the richest among us to the detriment of everyone else, and denying basic, proven, scientific principles of inoculation, social distancing, and mask-wearing in the midst of a modern-day Plague, would have such a vastly different set of values that I just couldn’t ignore them. What am I going to do, hold down the fort while she storms the Capitol in search of the Vice President?

I require a mate that is against racism and sexism, for basic human rights to live without persecution, for people being able to love whoever they please, for the choice to reproduce residing with the prospective mother, for a fair and democratic election process. Sure, a lot of Republicans would SAY they agree with some of those things, but they support a party that campaigns and governs in ways that say in the opposite.

Being friends with those of the other party is trickier. In my case, I do have some staunch Republican friends. The thing is, I’ve been friends with them for over 40 years, long before our political view ripened. We’re kind of stuck with each other now, so we usually agree not to talk politics. And when we stray that way, it gets ugly fast. Having some Republican friends does pay off for me, though, when they post their memes on Facebook that I can harvest and disassemble.

But now, if I was at some kind of stereotypical cocktail party full of strangers to me and there were guys or gals around that were identifiably Republican, you’d find me on the other side of the room. I’d keep myself occupied by examining the host’s music collection.

Unless, of course, it was full of rap and techno, in which case I’d have to just ease on out the door.

More Dad Stories

Dad passed away in September so I’ve been telling a few stories at the end of my posts. This is from a post from 2012:

Dad laid another great story on me, from back in his traveling days. He was out in Boston, taking in another baseball game at Fenway with his friend Frank “The Lob.”  They were sitting in the lower bowl, about halfway between first base and the outfield wall.

A big power-hitter named George Cooper was up at bat and smashed a screaming line drive right in Dad’s direction. With beer in hand, he quickly leaned over, in classic “kiss your ass goodbye” position, and the ball just grazed his back and landed under the seats behind him. Out of danger, Dad popped back up, un-spilled beer still firmly in hand, and received a nice round of applause from his section.

You know how you can drop a cat from any angle and it will land on its feet?  My family is like that with drinks. I think we are genetically programmed to do a front handspring and not spill a drop of our drink.

Evolution is a wonderful thing.

A Bit of Reflection

2021 was a really shitty year for my family and I. If you’ve been following along, I lost a cousin in March, my father in September, and my sister’s husband last month. I thought 2020 was bad but 2021 came along and said, “Hold my beer.” And there’s still chaos rolling around the House of Bluz over the last couple of weeks, so it’s not over yet. (This is why I couldn’t get a post out last night. My apologies, if you were looking for it.)

One thing I’ve been glad about is being able to write for you. It feels like I’ve been at it a long time. I’m just finishing up my 13th year with this blog. I know there are others who have been at it longer, but damn… THIRTEEN YEARS. Sometimes I look at my “Archive” in wonderment. It seems like a lifetime ago that I wrote those first posts. It took me at least a year to settle on a consistent format or style. Trial and error, I guess.

And it’s funny because you can see several different stages, just from posting frequency.

2009: First year and hot right out of the block. I started posting in February but never told anyone about it for another month. I wanted to have some material to page through for early adopters. I needn’t have worried. It was a ghost town.

2010-2011: Started to learn what I was doing and then got hooked in with a Pittsburgh blogging community. I went to “Pittsburgh Podcamp” in September of 2010 and posted constantly, with great enthusiasm. We held a couple of blogger meetups over the next few years and I got to meet some wonderful people.

2012-2014: The pace started to get to me, so I slowed down to three posts per week, usually Tuesday, Thursday, and one on the weekend.

2015-present: I really started to feel the stress for subject material. I’d already told all my best stories and felt like everything else in the news had already been done to death. I’d expressed my views on all the major issues several times over and struggled for new angles. Nothing interesting was going on in my personal life to write about. Almost all the bloggers I first fell in with had closed up shop so I was left on my own. I ended up cutting down to one post per week and I‘ve been able to maintain that schedule consistently since then. I’ll tell you, the Trump years were great for subject material. There were so many opportunities to get pissed off!

In 2018, I made contact with Infidel 753’s blog and ended up benefiting greatly from his weekly link round-up. I had been seriously considering shuttering the site but then a new influx of readers helped me keep going. (Thanks, buddy!)

So thank you for hanging around and taking my bullshit into consideration. I hope to see you back throughout the year.