Monday, December 26, 2022

Lord of the Bobsled

 Happy Day/Week After Christmas. Ours was awesome; I hope yours was too. We hosted a Christmas breakfast/party for the first time in two years. We invite our families and any stray/single people with nothing else in particular to do. This has been Sweetpea’s tradition since long before I met her, but we had to cancel it the last two years, due to the ‘Rona.

Since I’m not really up to posting anything new today, I figured I’d dig out an old favorite from 2010, a little something funny and lightly blasphemous, to end the year with a bang.


I love it when a post idea bubbles up organically from real life. It’s so much easier to think up goofy crap when you’re bouncing it off of someone. I get a lot of ideas from email exchanges, but this was the first time I just posted one, pretty much in its entirety.

I was exchanging emails today with incendiary blogger Sally-Sal, who writes “You. Me. No Adult Supervision...(which has sadly been dormant since 2017), and we had the following exchange. 

Sal:  In my town, I can always tell when the weather gets bad because they block off the hill on my street.  When it ices over, kids slide down it.  And I have to say, I’m not above that either.

Bluz:  I would totally do it.  My dad grew up in a neighborhood in Pittsburgh that had these steep hills, like you see in San Francisco, and they’d to the same thing… close the roads and let the kids sled.  If it weren’t for a pile of ashes at the bottom, they would end up flying over the railroad tracks and straight into the Ohio River.

When the roads weren’t closed, it was entertaining to watch out the window as the cars tried unsuccessfully to get up the hill and then go sliding back down.

Wait, they have hills in Oklahoma?

Sal:  A hill.  It’s the only one in Oklahoma and we have to share.

On Christmas, we had an ice storm so bad that pretty much everything closed here.

About midnight, I heard a bunch of boys sledding down the hill, so I went to check it out.  There were 3 or 4 of them, and they were in these camo coveralls, just having the time of their life.

So I got talking to them, and they let me sled down with them.  There were 4 of us packed on this one little sled and it was so much fun. 

I let them come into my house to warm up before we all slid down again.  I even broke out the Jackie D for a couple of shots.  Good times…

Bluz:  Sounds like a grand time… A fast moving Sally sandwich on ice!  With a JD kicker even!  The heck with “Silent Night”.

Sal:  It was as moving as Baby Jesus in the manger.

Bluz:  Which makes me wonder how fast Baby Jesus could go if pushed down an icy hill in Bethlehem.  Now picturing the Three Wise Men all pushing, then hopping in like it was a bobsled.

That sounds like it should be the subject of the next Christmas carol.  Beats Rudolph, anyway.

Sal:  Baby Jesus and the Wise Men would be the best bobsledding team ever.  Nobody could beat the Jesus.

Bluz:  And with the halo, they could bobsled at night.  I bet you could have used the Baby Jesus on your sled too.  He could have blessed the JD, but then you’d run the risk of turning it into wine.

You do realize that this is how I come up with blog postings… Random emails generate crazy visuals and next thing you know… it’s a post.

Sal:  He could turn the snow into wine.  Frozen, yes.  But when it thaws… wine.  A snowball that not only hurts, but gives you a nice buzz.  Win.

I think it’s a killer way to come up with posts.

Bluz:  Complete win!  I can see opening a snowball stand of wine snowballs.  (In Baltimore, they call Sno-Cones “Snowballs” and have stands all over town in the summer.)  This would kill at the Italian Festival in August.  Blessed Holy Wine Snowballs.  Just look for the halo over the stand.

Sal:  The specialty of the house would be a triple-decker snowball, aptly named “The Judas”.

Bluz:  All for the low price of 30 pieces of silver.  One bite and you’ll be feeling cross for the rest of the day.

Sal:  Now I want to taste The Judas.

Bluz:  By Ernest and Judas Gallo.

That was the end of the exchange.  But do you ever wonder if there was anyone ever named “Judas” after the famous one?  I bet it would be really hard to go through school with that name.  How hard must it have been to get a date for the prom?

Judas:  Excuse me Missy, but can I ask you something?

Missy:  Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh!  Get away from me, narc!

Judas:  Is it I?

This is totally unrelated to the post, but I want to use it before it becomes any further out of date.

Thursday, December 22, 2022


This is an off-cycle post and far from my usual topic of our culture wars and political nonsense. This one is personal and sports-related. If you’re looking for my usual weekly post, just scroll down to Monday’s publishing.


It was with a heavy heart, that I read of the death of Franco Harris, who reportedly died at home Tuesday night. No cause of death was reported as of this writing.

As you may have inferred from my sidebar and the color motif here, I’m a Pittsburgh sports fan. I was born in The ‘Burgh, to two lifelong Pittsburghers. Even though we moved away when I was about seven, our roots, as well as most of our extended families, are still there.

No matter where we lived, from Chicago to Columbus, to Toledo, we were always a Pittsburgh family. As a little kid, I liked football well enough but didn’t really follow it very closely. I’d watch the occasional game with my dad, just to be doing the same thing he was.

The first year I really started identifying as a Steelers fan was 1972, when we lived in Columbus, OH. I turned 11 during that football season and started following the players I liked and watching their position in the standings. You have to remember that football wasn’t nearly as pervasive as it is now. There were only two games on TV every Sunday, (Three really, but two of them were on at the same time, so you had to choose.) There was no Thursday night or Sunday night football, and Monday Night Football had only just begun. There was no ESPN or NFL channel. So because this wasn’t a local team for us in Ohio, we had to work to keep up to date.

The Steelers had never won a playoff game, not only during my dad’s lifetime but going all the way back to their origination in 1933. But they seemed like a much better team that year and their big rookie running back Franco Harris was making a lot of headlines.

I remember watching that playoff game against Oakland down in our little TV den. It was a tense, low-scoring game. When Raiders quarterback Kenny Stabler ran for a 30-yard touchdown late in the game, it looked like it was set up to be another disappointment in a long line of such disappointments.

Then, on 4th and long, with but a few seconds remaining, the “Immaculate Reception” occurred. You know what it is by now.

As Franco rumbled into the end zone, my dad made the loudest noise in the history of noises, like it was 30 years of beat-downs avenged in one play. At that same time, my friend from next door was coming up our steps to the front door, right outside the den. He was probably on his way to give me shit about my team losing. He later told me it sounded like someone started up a giant vacuum cleaner inside.

That play eliminated any chance that I would ever drop my allegiance and root for another team. I mean, I was an impressionable young boy and this was a miracle, right before my eyes, right there on our little 24” TV screen.

Every time someone runs a national poll on the NFL’s greatest play, the Immaculate Reception always wins, not just because of the sheer unrealism, but because of what it started.

That play was the spark that lit the fuse. The Steelers went on to lose their next playoff game to the eventually perfect Miami Dolphins. But two seasons later, the Steelers won their first Super Bowl and went on to win four championships in six years. It was a tremendous time to be a young Steelers fan. That 1972 playoff game reset the expectations of the entire fan base and that’s something that remains today. It also boosted the spirits of a town that had been run down and gave it the kick it needed to come roaring back to life. It’s not for nothing that there is a statue of Franco in the Pittsburgh airport, eternally snatching that football away from the turf.

Since, as I said, we didn’t live in Pittsburgh during any of this, we never had much of a chance to mix with the players, at store openings, restaurants, or bars. But, as I’ve written before, we used to go to Cleveland every year to see the Steelers/Browns game and stayed at the same hotel the Steelers used. It was always bedlam, as it seemed half of Pittsburgh was there as well. There was a party in every room. That’s where we had this Franco sighting.

Franco, running the gauntlet

Franco with “Mean” Joe Green. Too much Hall of Fame for one hallway.

I also briefly ran into him one more time. I was on a plane home from Baltimore after visiting my parents, and as I shuffled onto the plane, there was Franco sitting in the last row in first class. And when you see a face like his, there's no mistaking him for anyone else. 

Not wanting to make a fuss, I caught his eye and gave him a nod and a half-smile. He nodded back. At first, I was like, “WTF is HE doing here?” But then I remembered that he was a co-owner of a sausage business located in Baltimore, so he was probably doing the same thing I was, going home.

By all accounts, Franco was one of the good guys; always generous with his time and money, a true member of the community, and the bedrock of Steeler Nation.

It’s such a shame that his death came only three days before his number was to be retired at the Steelers/Raiders game this weekend, with 50,000+ yinzers all set brave the elements to honor him. The Steelers will no doubt be using this as fuel to beat the Raiders, for Franco.

And somewhere, I’m sure Raiders owner Mark Davis is thinking, “Dammit, that guy just screwed us again!

Rest in peace, Paisan

Monday, December 19, 2022

Red in the Desert, Blue on the Screen

I’d laugh at poor Kari Lake, in her quest to overturn her disastrous loss in the Arizona governor’s election, if it wasn’t so scary. Now she wants the county election officials, who dared to count all the legal votes, to be arrested and jailed. And tortured, killed, and tortured some more, probably.

I guess it’s a good thing that she doesn’t exactly have the standing to call for anything and have it stick. She’s just one more sore loser, sorely losing.

Yes, I’m sure it’s a massive county-wide plot that switches thousands of votes but leaves no tracks, witnesses, or evidence, that causes Republicans to lose elections. It’s certainly not running right-wing nut jobs, not the general toxicity of the Republican Party, not calls to build a wall around the southern border, cut Social Security and Medicare, force women to give birth against their will, ban same-sex and interracial marriages, ignore the effects of climate change which beat us over the head every single day or dismiss proven medical practices at the cost of over a million lives. It’s gotta be an unfair advantage, right? How else could such a winning position lose?

It would be nice if Republican leadership would do a little soul-searching and maybe come up with some programs or issues that would draw people to their side. But there’s not much you can realistically flog when your primary purpose is to further enrich the richest among us and cater to the religious wingnuts that promise you their votes. Anything that the public might vote for and benefit from would cost money, and that’s not good for Big Business.

I do think that most of Lake’s histrionics are merely for show. She knows that she lost, but it’s good for her brand to be seen fighting the Deep State or whatever she calls honest civil servants who do their job correctly. What she’s really fighting for is a seat at a Fox “News” desk, or maybe a seat on the Trump 2024 ticket.

That’s assuming, of course, that he’s not legally prevented from running on account of being convicted of the charges the January 6th committee just recommended to the Justice Department today. No, I’m not holding my breath on that. Even though the evidence, as presented over the last 6 months, has been clear and compelling, the well-connected always seem to be able to walk away from whatever they’ve done, whereas any one of us would have been breaking rocks by now.

I propose we do with Lake the same as one does with a toddler having a tantrum… Ignore her. Let her wail into the vacuum. She and her idiot supporters can have a big holler-off amongst themselves we’ll just go on about the business of trying to keep the power in the hands of the People and rich thumbs off the scales of justice. She doesn’t matter.

Movie Night

I got out to the movies on Friday for just the second time this year and went to see Avatar-The Way of Water. I loved it.

Now, I’m not what you would call a movie connoisseur. I like big, noisy, action movies, monster movies… stuff with visual spectacle. That’s what gets me to the theater. Talky dramas or comedies, I’m happy to see at home on TV, but some movies really need to be seen on a movie screen, in 3-D.

I never saw the original Avatar in the theater. From the initial trailers, it just seemed too weird. But eventually, I heard enough good things about it that I bought the Blu-Ray when it came out, and then kicked myself repeatedly for having missed the opportunity to see it on the big screen. I was sure not to make the same mistake with the sequel, so I was out there on opening day.

In a nutshell, the movie is about the family of the two main characters we met in the original movie, Jake, the human-turned-Na’vi, and Neytiri, the native who teaches him the ways of their world, as they fall in and out and back into love. Years have gone by and they have a family now, two teenage sons, a small daughter, and an adopted teenage daughter, who is a clone of Sigourney Weaver’s avatar from the first movie. The humans who they defeated in the first movie have returned, with a goal to subdue the natives and use the planet to permanently house the people of Earth. The main antagonist, who had been previously killed by Neytiri, has been made into a Na’vi, along with some of his old soldiers, and he has been given his old memories. He has a personal vendetta against Jake and Neytiri, so his crew seeks to wipe them out, as a way to cow the Na’vi into accepting their presence. To keep from bringing terror and violence to their jungle community, the family travels to take refuge with another tribe of Na’vi who are sea-going people. I guess they thought it was better to reign fire on strangers.

The sea people take in the family and teach them the “Way of Water,” like how to ride various sea creatures (similar to the way they rode the air creatures in the original) and hold their breath for long periods of time. It basically mirrors the onset of the relationship between Jake and Neytiri. Eventually, the bad guys find them and much battling ensues.

If you liked the original, I think you’ll like this one too. It has the same pros and cons: It’s still a jaw-dropping visual masterpiece made with considerable expertise. But there are some clunky plot points and it’s way too long, clocking in at three hours and change.

For example, I found the family dynamic among the main family to be trite and unimaginative. There’s a rebellious younger son who pushes back against his older brother, who is charged with protecting him. They each get in trouble with their parents for things that they did or didn’t do. And oftentimes, it seemed like a Three’s Company episode in that a couple of lines of dialogue could have cleared up a whole lot of strife and misunderstanding.

I think they should have given Neytiri more to do. All they had for her was to wail with sadness, holler in anger, and hunt down bad guys like she was a giant, blue Rambo. She was the most interesting part of the original story. This time, she seemed to be mostly window dressing, which is a shame when you have an actor as deft as Zoe Saldana.

As for the Sigourney clone, I never saw any reason why that was so. The story could have been exactly the same without that twist. Maybe it was just a way to keep Sigourney’s name on the movie poster. Or perhaps it will pay off in the next sequel.

Ah yes, the sequels. I had forgotten that there are expected to be a couple more sequels. But then when they somehow failed to fully dispose of the bad guy at the end of the movie, I remembered, “Oh yeah, they’ll probably need him for Round Three.

Probably the most alarming scene is where the bad guys attack a massive sea beast that is essentially a tricked-out, battle-armored whale, in a scene that in real life, Greenpeace would have tried to stop. The “whales” get revenge though, so wait for it.

But that scene is a powerful reminder of what seems to be writer/director Jim Cameron’s primary philosophy; that mankind destroys everything it encounters, especially if there’s a buck to be made. In other words, we’re the reason we can’t have anything nice.

All in all, I thought the good outweighed the bad. It’s an amazing bit of filmmaking, one you just can’t get over that they’re able to do so convincingly. And it’s great to see in 3-D, with all kinds of things flitting about your face as you watch.

And because this is a 3-hour movie, if you go, be careful with the drinks.  You’ll want to keep the bathroom breaks to a minimum. In retrospect, there are good times to duck away, but on first viewing, you won’t know where they’ll be.


As this is my last post before Christmas, let me take a second to wish you a tremendous holiday season. I hope it brings you peace, joy, and family togetherness. That’s my “reason for the season.”

Monday, December 12, 2022

Good News and Bad News

Several good things happened last week, but naturally, there are dark linings for these silver clouds.

Good News: Hey, we improved our majority in the Senate. Now we only have to worry about Manchin OR Sinema. Surely one or the other can be bought off persuaded to vote for Democrat-sponsored bills.

Bad News: 1.7 million people thought sending Hershel Walker to Washington was a good idea. Thank goodness for the 1.8 million that didn’t. This is a guy I wouldn’t have considered qualified to work in my record store back in the day, yet almost half the Georgia voters thought he would make a good Senator. They should just remake the state motto to read: Georgia, the “Low Bar” State.

The thought of Walker going to Congress left me with one distinct mental image:

Good News: The House passed the Respect for Marriage Act, which is expected to be signed by the President today. The law provides national protection for any valid marriage performed in any state, including same-sex and inter-racial marriages, which appeared targeted in some conservative circles. Forty-seven GOP Representatives voted for the bill.

Bad News: The vote should have been unanimous, but there are still way too many Republicans beholden to the Religious Right.

It also occurred to me that there might be a downside to passing this law. Justice Thomas indicated in his concurring opinion to the Dodd ruling (overturning Roe v Wade) that they may also look at overturning same-sex marriage, contraception, and the right to privacy. One of the things I thought would prevent such a ruling would be the utter disaster created by dissolving existing marriages all over the country. It would be chaos, affecting the lives of untold numbers of families, especially those with children. But now with the threat of such chaos off the table, the Supremes may be more emboldened to overturn Obergefell completely.

I’m not saying the new law is a bad thing, at all. I’m sure it allows affected families to breathe easier, knowing their family will be intact, at least as long as they can stand each other. But it’s unfortunate that people who are currently single may not have the option to marry on the table in their state for very much longer. I wonder if there’s going to be a run on same-sex marriages, trying to get them on the books before SCOTUS torpedoes another basic human right, just to appease a tiny percentage of religious wingnuts.

Good News: The US enacted a prisoner swap with Russia to get Brittney Griner back from a Russian prison, after being convicted of possession of cannabis oil. She was sentenced to seven years in prison, for something that if not legal here, would scarcely earn her a ticket.

Bad News: We were not able to trade for Paul Whelan, an American serviceman held on espionage charges. Naturally, conservatives are enraged that Griner is free and Whelan isn’t, and expressing their displeasure with their customary grace and dignity obnoxious hissy fits.

It looks like all the former experts on virology, tax law, the Constitution, and computer forensics are not experts in international diplomacy.

How the eff do they figure she “hates America?” Was she not a two-time gold medalist for the USA? I knew this shit would blow up for the simple Republican optics: The Black, lesbian, woman went free and the White military man did not. Cue the strains of White Oppression.

Also, consider that there is a vast difference between a civilian in a Russian prison for “drugs” versus US military personnel charged with espionage. Didn’t they ever watch Sesame Street? One of these things is not like the other. The White House says the charges are bogus, but who really knows? They would say that even if the charges were accurate. So Russia refused to deal on Whelan, despite multiple overtures from the US. So they took the deal they could get, rather than leave both in prison. But then, that’s Republican politics… “Unless I get what I want, no one gets anything.”

I think if Whelan’s family understands the deal, everyone else should STFU. As far as I’m concerned, it’s “Anti-American” to be a misogynistic, racist, fuckwit.

Monday, December 5, 2022

On the Right Tracks

Last week’s big story was the resolution of the railroad worker’s contract and possible strike. I’m glad it’s settled but it’s unfortunate that they couldn’t get anything done to include sick leave. People seem to be going ape-shit over that and for some reason, most of the blame is being laid on Biden’s lap. There’s a lot to consider with this issue because there are a lot of angles. I want to dig into some of them to get at what’s really going on.

·         The amendment to provide seven days sick leave was voted down in the Senate 52-43. Maybe rather than dump all the blame on the President, how about taking it up with the 43 Republican Senators who voted “no?” Democrats tried to get the sick time and Republicans prevented it. There is no getting around that fact. When a wall falls, you don’t blame the wall builder, you blame the person who kicked it down. If anyone even cares about railroad workers in two years, (and that’s BIG IF, given our culture’s tiny attention span) we should make them wear that vote as a signal of their true intentions. (Which is, “Screw the working class.”)

·         The reason they don’t have any sick days is (and I didn’t know this until today) that during past negotiating sessions, their union traded away sick days to obtain higher pay. I don’t know all the inside details on that but to me, it’s dirty pool to horse-trade away a benefit and then threaten to go on strike to get it back.

·         Maybe they shouldn’t have asked for seven sick days. Geez, I’ve never had a job in my life that offered that much sick time. I get five days right now and that’s the best I’ve ever had. I wonder if we could have moved a couple of Republican votes if four or five day options were on the table. Five isn’t as good as seven, but it’s a far sight better than zero. It’s certainly something that can (and should) be pursued going forward.

·         In that vein, maybe this offer was as good as it was going to get. Biden said, “What was negotiated was so much better than anything they ever had.” Remember that this was a negotiation and as such, neither side gets everything they want. It’s just the sausage-making that goes into getting anything done in DC. I think they got what they could.

·         It’s been put forth that Biden should enact the sick days via executive order. And I agree with that… to a point. We don’t know anything about what’s going on in the background. Maybe the deal was made on a promise not to use an EO. Maybe he’s waiting to do it at a more advantageous time. Maybe there are other issues that are not public. Maybe they know that any such order is liable to get overturned in the courts, like they’re trying to do with student loan relief. As with many situations opined upon by self-proclaimed experts, we don’t know what we don’t know. So I’m not ready to throw stones at him just yet.

·         One thing we DO know is that if a rail strike came to pass this month, Republicans would fall all over themselves blaming the President and the Democrats. Every empty shelf, every missing part, every missed paycheck, every demonstration that grew out of control, every point lost on The Dow, they’d be on Fox “News” and the like, casting blame. Face it, Republicans are much better at the “blame game” than Democrats, because they have the megaphone, in their own media outlets.

·         I hope that reasonable minds will prevail and they’ll be able to work out some kind of deal to provide sick time and an effective way of administering it. (The requirement to provide 30-days’ notice to claim a sick day defeats the purpose of the whole concept.) As we found out with retail workers, we don’t realize how badly we need them until they’re gone. And it’s not like railroad workers have always gotten the fairest shake.


In other news, I saw this exchange online last week:

Game, set, and match to Middle Age Riot. But me? I’d expand a little, because I think we’ve been on a much better track the last two years than the four before. A lot of things are coming along… we’re learning to live with COVID as a threat. We’re showing Russia that they don’t get to steamroll through other countries anymore. The economy is coming back, hell, even the market is rising again.

I know we lost some dough in our 401ks, but you have to realize that it’s all about cycles. And that can be a benefit because during those times when the Market is down, you’re still investing and you’re doing so at a lower price. Then when the Market rebounds, you reap the gains and can come out ahead.

And what does the GOP have to offer? According to their own talking, they aim to cut Social Security and Medicare, try to reverse same-sex marriage, further regulate or eliminate birth control, and oh yeah, enact a national ban on abortion that would overrule state laws that permit it.

When I think of all these action items, I’d actually prefer they stick to endless, meaningless hearings about Hunter Biden’s laptop and impeaching cabinet members. They’ll do less damage that way.        


Lastly, while searching for merch online, this autofill appeared:

My question is, “Why are the last two words necessary?” I mean, do walruses shop online? I guess they’re just being thorough…