Friday, June 30, 2006

Pack Rats of the world UNITE!
There comes a time when you just gotta get RID of stuff...

You've heard of the little kid who sees a stray puppy and it follows him home, and invariably he'll look at his parents with big doe-eyes and say, "Can I keep it? Huh? Huh? PUH-LEEZE..."; well, I'm that way with VINYL. As in RECORDS. I give wayward records a good home. And, beginning in the early-90s, I was finding some great vinyl at the local junk shops. Well, people were getting rid of their records and converting over to CD's. I was probably the last person on planet Earth to get a CD player, and now I have 5 or 6 of them around here somewhere. Most of the CD's I buy are by old artists whose music I've been looking for, for years, and the record company finally released their old stuff. I also get new CD's by artists I've always followed, like Neil Young or U2.

But mostly, I buy 2nd-hand vinyl (and second-hand CD's if they're in good shape). My Mom and I used to go to the Coeur d'Alene St. Vincent De Paul when I was a little kid. So, basically, I have shopped at that store for over 40 YEARS. Mom just loved to shop for knick-knacks, antiques and sewing patterns. Me, even then, I'd go back and look at the records. I love the second-hand shops. It's too much trouble to go to all the yard sales, and it's exhausting, too. I tried that one weekend morning, and after my 3rd or 4th yard sale, I was ready to PUNT. TIME OUT! So the 2nd-hand shops are like a big "controlled" yard sale. And it seems all the new people moving into this area brought with them a wide range music on vinyl which they later donated which means, I've found a wide range of music at the second-hand stores; European progressive rock, Hard-rockin' American bands, and even some JAZZ. Many is the time I've gone home with a couple of armloads of albums and singles; after all, they were 50 cents or a dollar a pop, such a good deal! And I crave listening to music. I really do.

As far as '45's, I buy old records that look like they came out in the '50s. I grew up on '60s music and backtracked into the '50s; I'm STILL finding records that KVNI, our hometown automated-from-somewhere-distant radio station plays. "Doo-woppin' Oldies" is KVNI's claim to fame, I guess. It doesn't matter if I've heard these old '45s or not; I was probably 2 or 3 when a lot of them came out. But I take 'em home, play 'em, then I look in my Billboard Chart Book to see how popular the record was. That's the magic of old vinyl. You put it on the turntable and it springs to life, sending the listener to the now-distant past in the form of an audio time capsule. I bought TONS of records over the years; I've bought all the cheap vinyl I could get my hands on. And it's fun; it's intriguing, and it is just about the only thing I'm interested anymore.

But, being a vinyl pack rat, I'm finding my records are beginning to OVERTAKE me AGAIN. Imagine putting a little tiny baby dragon in the corner of your room. Then you close the door and open it again in ten years, and this cute little mini-dragon has turned into a rabid, oversized, slobbering, fire-breathing beast, and that's what my record collection's become. I thinned out the albums drastically a couple of years ago; I gave away 14 BOXES of albums. I saved the "good stuff", though. By the way, those 14 boxes of albums were HALF of my total collection. I still have enough record albums to fill up the average pickup truck box. I just can't bear to get rid of treasured albums I've had since high school, sorry.

I have a 'core' collection of 45's that I've carefully alphabetized and filed away, and I've added to that gradually over the years. But the last 10 or 12 years or so, I've been buying so many 45's so fast, that they overtook me, and I never did file them away properly. I just stashed 'em in boxes, thinking, "I'll get a 'round tuit' someday. Hah! And, as you all know, it is IMPOSSIBLE to collect everything. So, I'm thinning out the 45's. I'm keeping the more well-known, historical 45's, but you've gotta figure that for every 45 that made the charts, there were 10 or 50 or maybe 100 that languished in obscurity, even though many times, that obscure music was just as good, if not better, than what made the charts. Only, this time around, I'm getting rid of my junk 45's, but still keeping the songs, and I'll tell ya how I'm doin' that:

A while back on the Internet, I saw an ad for a CD recorder that makes CD's from RECORDS! So I bought one. I am so techno-shy, that when it arrived, it sat on my couch for over a week because I was afraid to touch it. I'd had the unit for a week and I didn't even know what it looked like 'cos it was still in the BOX. So finally, I unpacked it, read the owners' manual, and it's so simple to operate that someone with the attention span of a frothing-at-the-mouth wingnut can do it. And if I can do it, ANYONE can. I'm burning my junk 45's onto CD's; I can get 30 short songs on a CD. So, I take the side of the 45 that sounds best to me, and I record it, and then toss the 45 into the donation box. It takes patience; when you're dubbing 45's, you've gotta sit there and change the records. I would imagine in the last month I've dubbed at least 500 songs onto CD. And CD's, as you know, take up hardly ANY space.

This is the Teac GF-350, a handy-dandy little unit that comes with a remote. If you record from a clean sound source such as from a tape or a really clean LP, you can set the controls so it inserts track numbers automatically; for noiser sound sources (such as 45's that've been scraped on a brick wall or scratchy LP's), you can switch the unit to "manual" mode; you hit a "pause" control in-between songs, which automatically "ups" the track number by one. This little gizmo cost me just under $300. I remember several years ago, people were telling me "stand-alone burners" (of which this is a variety) cost about $800-$900, so the price of technology is coming down. I'm sure increased fuel prices will drive it back up, however. Of course, all the recordable CD's you can by are made in Taiwan, as are portions of this unit, but oh well. I highly recommend this little unit to anyone who is thinking about converting their vinyl to CD. It's pretty cool. It's absorbing, it gives me something to do (it gets in the way of my blogging, actually), and it keeps me off the streets. And out of the alleys.

Is the above relatively mundane subject matter interesting enough to include in my blog? I'm having a hard time applying myself these days. But when I get a subject I actually know something about, watch out. And vinyl, well, it's the one subject I know something about.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

This post could very well be...
The by-product of a FRIED BRAIN!!!

Yes, I am fully aware that there are hotter places on the planet besides here in North Idaho. I know that. But, when summer gets here, there's no "breaking-in" period; you wake up one morning and all of a sudden it's HOT out there. That's the way it's been the last 3 or 4 days. My little house doesn't even cool off until 4 or 5 in the morning, so it's useless for me to try and go to bed before then. Then, something surprising happened today. It cooled off. And I've been yawning and experiencing pervasive TIREDNESS all day; it's as if the cooler temperatures allow my body to relax. Right now, a wet dishrag has more energy than I do. Yawn.....

Could you kindly smoke in another county dept.: There was yet another article in the paper today about the dangers of second-hand smoke. I don't know how that's affected me; both Mom and Dad smoked all during the time I was growing up; at either end of the dinner table, cigarettes would be puffed on with my sister and me in the middle, breathing it all in. Anyway, last week while I was playing guitar, a couple of guys sat on the sea wall near me to listen, and one of them was puffing away on his cigarette. Well, when I went to bed later that night, I began coughing and coughing, and I had a lot of garbage coming up out of my throat, and the overall feeling was of harshness; I am wondering if the cigarette smoke somehow got inside my body, and I had to cough it was MISERABLE. I do know that, not having been around much cigarette smoke since I quit playing drums in the bars years ago, and not having consumed alcohol for a long time, I find I'm sensitive to both smoke and drink. On New Years' Eve in 2004, I tried to drink a couple of O'Doul's non-alcoholic beers (well, they do have a "smidgen" of alcohol), and when I got halfway through bottle #2, I was getting tipsy, sick to my stomach and I had to go home!

A lotta bang for your buck dept.: It's that time of year again when the community is looking for donations to the annual "Fireworks Fund". I've never paid a cent. Does that mean I can't watch? The annual fireworks display on Coeur d'Alene Lake is always wonderful to see, although the thousands upon thousands who fill up city park, and the downtown area serve to make it less so; normally, I'd stay away from all those people, but the 4th of July is an "occasion" for me, ranking right up there with Christmas. I wonder how much local business, 'magnate' Duane Haggadone donates...I've heard, "NOTHING". Makes sense. After all, he has to save money for his OWN fireworks celebrations, such as the one he had TONIGHT down near the Cd'A Resort Golf course, which of course, he owns. I guess that proves that once in a while, we all need to indulge in some good old-fashioned hypocrisy. After all, this town let him violate all kinds of building-height ordinances so he could build his mega-story rezzort; does he give back anything to the town? Nooooooo. Not unless he derives some benefit somehow.

A new potential non-mobile electorate dept.: I'll bet THAT 'portion title' has got you thinking, "huh? what?" Anyway, evidently there is some kind of movement afloat which is advocating that felons in prison have the right to vote! They are doing us a valuable service, after all. They make sure our prisons are full, thus putting our tax dollars to good use. After all, an empty prison would be a waste of money, rrrright? I say, go ahead and let 'em vote. They couldn't do any worse than the rest of us. Now, before you come to the conclusion that I am a pathological stark-raving loony, let me pose the following many of us have ALREADY elected criminals to public office? Maybe they weren't criminals going IN, but they ended up that way. And, my observation on a woman Prezzident: Sure, why not? A woman Prezzident couldn't screw things up any WORSE!

Back to a league of their own dept.: The Seattle Mariners, like many of their American League counterparts, have been playing "interleague" games with National League teams. And the M's have been winning! Now, before you line up to buy World Series tickets so you can see the M's, take this into consideration: National League pitchers generally toss more fastballs, seeing as how the pitchers can't hit (pitchers have to bat in the NL). That, according to the M's broadcasters, who also said that hitters who bat behind pitchers generally aren't that great, either. They generally strike out on fastballs. Not that I can hit a fastball (I can't), but fastballs are allegedly easier pitches for good hitters to hit than curveballs, sliders, etc. They're also easier to throw. American League pitchers have to be trickier, because they don't pitch to pitchers (who can't hit). They pitch to more "good" hitters per game. This year, the American League teams are dominating the National League teams in interleague play. I must congratulate Seattle; they actually are now one game OVER .500, with a 40-39 record. Well, soon, the M's will again be playing other American League teams. Can the M's continue to win? I hope they do, but I have reservations. I still predict that the M's will be 2nd or 3rd (probably 3rd) in their division, with a record just below .500 when all is said and done. So, come on, Seattle, surprise me and PROVE ME WRONG!

Well, guess I'll end it here, but before I do dept.: I was going to type about a few more things, but what the heck, the few things I've typed here rambled long enough, don'tcha think? Well, anyway, I haven't been getting a lot of great historical photos of the area lately, but there's a site called "Webshots" where people can dump their pictures for all to see. So, tourists with digital cams take photos of Coeur d'Alene, which end up in "Webshots", where I then proceed to pilfer them for my own lascivious (?) use. Such as the example below:

This is Coeur d'Alene Lake, with the photo being taken from Tubbs hill. I'm not sure what direction this photo depicts (my guess is that it looks to the northwest), and there are some nice yellow flowers in the foreground which obviously keep all the honeybees busy. So there's yer compulsory "visual variety" which hopefully makes this blog a bit more tolerable.

I'm posting rather haphazardly these days. Actually I try to be outside as much as possible when the days are long, like they are now, which leaves me less time to blog. On a winters' eve, it's dark by 4:30pm, which gives me a lot of added blogging time. Not so in late June! By the way, it's not too late to think about trying to have a safe 4th of July; it'll be here sooner than U think! Watch out for alla the wacko drivers out there!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Have Guitar, will Travel?
...including an observation of the CDA Ironman Triathalon...

Wouldn't ya know that the day the Ironman Triathalon was held (this past Sunday) was probably the Hottest Day this year we'd had up until then. I know I was surprised when I went out in the afternoon, and it was hhhhhHOT!!!!! Temperature, somewhere in the '90s. On days like that you figure you're not going to begin getting cool until probably 7 or 8pm. Even by the shore of Coeur d'Alene Lake, it was still hot. And those tri-athletes...dedicated, perservering, committed, and probably a bit crazy as well. Hey, I used to run marathons, and I was called "crazy", too. I guess some people just don't understand why someone wants to torture themselves, negotiating a long distance, with blistered feet, hovering on the brink of total dehydration, enduring cramping musciles and possible heatstroke...hmmm, looking back on all that, maybe I WAS crazy...

Anyway, I didn't know the triathalon course would also include the dike road, but it did. And as I got to the dike road, about 5pm or thereabouts (after "threading the needle", trying to get past all of the road barricades), it was just plain old HOT!!! And the triathletes were definitely feelin' the effects of the heat. My particular plan of action was to find a shady spot somewhere near the lake, take the guitar out and just kinda play whatever chord combinations came into my head. As I was walking along the south side of the dike road, a runner lay on the ground, with the medic vehicle beside him; the heat evidently got him "big-time"; I watched as he stood shakily, and was escorted away in the medic vehicle, probably to the race's "medic tent", I would suppose. It was that hot. Heck, all I did was stand there and watch what was going on, and I was breaking a sweat. I remember finishing the 1993 Portland Marathon; when I'd run 25+ miles and had found my way back into the downtown area, it was about 11:30 in the morning and the temperature was already 95 degrees. So I have an "idea" of what these triathletes are going through.

No, I haven't done a triathalon. But I fully well understand how grueling running a long distance in miserable heat can be, when the body shuts down totally and there's still 5 or 6 miles to go. You crawl deep inside yourself, almost oblivious to everything around you, and the only thing you find yourself concentrating on (well, other than the pain) is putting one foot in front of the other, step after step after's a good thing that volunteers run traffic-control for marathoners and triathletes, because at the end of one of those events, many of the late finishers are often almost brain-dead; all they can think is "gotta finish, gotta finish, gotta finish". And if you're not having a good race, it is all you can do to establish any kind of forward momentum, whether you are jogging slower than the average rest-home resident, if not walking, because that's the only thing your body will let you do at that point. I have felt that, and I'll never forget it. And I'd like to think I understand at least a portion of the suffering these triathletes are going through.

So, with guitar in hand, I walked parallel to the dike road, and sat on the lower portion of the sea wall along the race course, and I began playing anything that came into my head. I tried to keep the songs a bit on the mellow side. I remember, when I ran marathons, that when I wasn't feeling too good, that if I saw a band playing or a guitarist, or if someone was playing a CD through a loudspeaker, at least that took my mind off my misery for a while. Now, I'm not the greatest singer in the world, although there are times when, after listening to a tape I'd made, I thot I had sounded pretty good on some songs. And I was surprised by the reaction of the runners; one of them said, "thanks for coming out and doing this"; others gave me a high-five, many smiled and just said "Thank You" with all the energy they had left. You can't afford to do very much when you're on your last legs on a hot day, after all. I sat out there in the heat for a good two and a half hours if not longer. It was so hot that the heat was getting to ME...I was sweltering out there, and it was becoming hard for me to remember the words to songs. I was frying my own brain. ssssSIZZLE!

I'd like to think that maybe I helped some of the runners get thru (at least that small portion of) the race. I tried to play songs everyone knew; Eagles, Moody Blues, America; songs that have been played down thru the ages. And, (and I am especially sensitive to such things), I had 100% positive comments from the athletes. It's nice to be appreciated, and it's nice to think that maybe I did some good. I left after sunset and went back home. By the time I'd packed up, the last of the participants who could conceivably qualify for the title of "Ironman" (each stage of the triathalon has a "time requirement"; if you don't complete the swim, bike or run in an allotted time, YER OUT!) had passed me. One guy I saw walking back to the car told me that his legs had cramped up during the "bike" portion of the event, and as a result, no, he wasn't an 'Ironman'.

I wouldn't be surprised a bit if at least some of the runners were a bit unprepared for the sudden heat last Sunday, and dehydration resulting from heat can make even the most prepared runner cramp up big time. Hint: CALCIUM is a good treatment for cramps. Once, after a marathon, I hobbled back home and over the course of the next hour or two, I drank an entire GALLON of milk, and I didn't have near the cramping I'd had after previous races. But even so, after a Marathon, it would take a week for me to feel "back to normal", let alone what some of these triathletes must be going through. I'll bet there's a lot of sore thighs, knees, calves and feet in this post-triathalon week!

My cheap old Yamaha Guitar looks something like this. I bought it in a pawn shop in 1985. And, it's never been BACK in a pawn shop. I kinda pat myself on the back, after all, musicians are notorious for pawning things. I've played more expensive guitars, and I have a rather pricey guitar in my house that I hardly ever play. You've seen that old beater-guitar that Willie Nelson plays? Well, my old Yamaha is the most comfortable guitar I've ever played. It's beaten-up, scratched, has pockmarks and stickers all over it, but like an old pair of comfortable shoes, my old guitar just kinda feeeeeels good. Neil Young has a fairly recent song that says, "I don't own this old guitar; I'm just taking care of it for a while". And I think I understand what he's saying.

Up above, I said something about having to be "a little crazy" to compete in these kind of events. I don't know if I'd ever be brave enough to complete a triathalon, but if I could, I would DEFINITELY run more marathons. The feeling of accomplishment, when they hang that finishers' medal around your neck at the finish line, is just absolutely wonderful. When I'm out and about, every time I see a runner, I find myself wishing I could still do that. As Paul Simon once sang, I'm "still crazy after all these years".

Tales from the vinyl jungle of Beatles collecting...
Just when I thot I'd seen everything...

Everyone's got to have some kind of a vice, even the best of us. Mine? VINYL. Especially BEATLES vinyl. I took this wayward turn long ago; there is no hope for me. When I'm depressed, or just in a bad "head space", it takes me a while to come out of it. This happened to me last week for 'whatever' reason. Also, for some reason, I began going through my Beatles' collection...and somehow I felt I had "returned to me" and curiously, I felt 'grounded' again. Strange but true. I'm in the process of collecting the different "variations" of Beatles singles. Not only were those singles issued in the '60's, their U.S. Label, Capitol, has re-issued Beatles singles throughout the years. Capitol has also changed its label designs a number of times throughout the years, so the challenge is trying to get every Beatles' U.S. single on every variation of the Capitol label.

For its 45rpm singles, Capitol used an orange label in the mid-70's, a purple label in the late '70's to mid 80's, a black-and-rainbow label in the late '80s, and then a different variation of the purple label right on up until 1988, which is about when singles (45's) were no longer mass-produced. So, you take 15 or 20 different Beatles singles, multiply that by several variations, and you're guaranteed to keep busy trying to complete your Beatles' collection. Capitol also released two "commemorative" re-releases of the "I Want To Hold Your Hand" single. For those reissues, Capitol used the yellow-and-orange "swirl" label which was used on its original '60's singles. In 1984, a "20th anniversary" single of "I Want To Hold Your Hand" was issued, and in 1994, a "30th anniversary" single was released. Both singles came complete with picture sleeves. I've got those two, hee hee. So, naturally, in 2004, I was anticipating a "40th anniversary" issue, but alas, that never happened. Who knows why?

Now, to complicate this further (is that possible?), Capitol also came out with its "Starline" series, which featured 'big hits by top artists' (the record company's slogan there). So in addition to '70's orange labels, '80's black-and-rainbow labels, etc. etc., Capitol issued almost all of the Beatles singles on its light-blue Starline Label in 1981. So, if you are a "completist" as far as Beatles singles are concerned, you'd have to have ALL of the Beatles' singles on ALL of the label variants that Capitol Records used between the 60's and '80's. Yes, you're talking about a lot of song duplication, because after all, to be a completist, you're going to have every Beatles' single in at least four or five different variations; it's like coin collecting, a quarter is a quarter, but a 1952 quarter ain't the same as a 1965 quarter, after all. For instance, I have "I Want To Hold Your Hand" on Capitol '60s "swirl" label, on the 70's "Orange" label, on the '81 "Blue Starline" label, and '88 "Purple label". I really do get extreme pleasure out of collecting these things. That and a thin wallet! Well, it's either that or heavy-duty psychotherapy (which I may need anyway).

Anyway, the Beatles' reissue singles I've described above aren't horribly expensive (yet!), and I've managed in a few instances to get four or five of them at a time in various Ebay shipments for fairly low prices. I'm just wacko over Ebay; I've found obscure stuff there that I've been looking 30 and 40 years for! (Side Note: Capitol also issued six GREEN SWIRL "Starline" singles in the 60's; those are really hard to find and are expensive. I have two of those.) I surf Ebay every week or two and look at ALL of the Beatles' stuff that's on the site (sometimes over 2,000 items at a time) (to search those takes several hours!), and there are, from time to time, very expensive Beatles' items, such as acetates and test pressings (records which are made so the artist can hear how his record is going to sound); those are VERY limited editions and are pricey. Other items I've seen include Beatles albums and singles that have been SIGNED by the Fab Four. Let's just say you'd have to mortgage your mansion to buy something like that.

So, through searching Ebay, as well as having read various price guides and other Beatles books, I thought I'd seen everything there was to be seen. THINK AGAIN! I saw something that absolutely SURPRISED me. Too rich for my blood, though. Although I've THOT about getting something like this...anyway, may I now present, the Beatles on a 78rpm record! Here it is:

This little gem was being advertised in "auction", with the starting price at a cool FOUR HUNDRED dollars. It was made in INDIA, of all places. I later read that India, being even further "behind the times" than North Idaho is, actually pressed "78's" through 1968-69. A collector friend of mine has Elvis Presley '78's (they sound GREAT!), but BEATLES ON 78??? Wow. However, I did buy a really weird Beatles disc, and I got it for $12.99 (closer to MY price range) was a little 7-inch record, with a small playing hole, played at 33rpm (a miniature album); on it were 5 songs from the ABBEY ROAD album, which is fairly unusual in itself. But what makes this little thing really strange is that it was made in RUSSIA. I can't read a word on the label (at least with Spanish, I can "guess" what the titles are), but when I played it today, out came "Here Comes The Sun", "Because", "Golden Slumbers", "Carry That Weight" and "The End". From RUSSIA. How about that! By the way, I have a Spanish Beatles' single titled "No Comprar Mi Amor", which is, as you all know, "Can't Buy Me Love".

I have a Beatles single made in India, I have several that were pressed in NEW ZEALAND, would you believe...I have one that was issued in the Phillippines, a few made in Australia, and Beatles 45's made in Germany, Belgium, Sweden and other foreign countries. The fascinating thing about these foreign singles is that some of them feature songs that were never on singles in either the U.S. or England. EMI (Electrical Music Industries, a worldwide British Corporation which also owned Capitol in the U.S.), let foreign countries issue Beatles songs on singles as they saw fit, which made for some interesting song combinations; for example, the German record label, "Odeon", issued "Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand", backed with "Sie Liebt Dich" on a 45 single. By the way, those two songs are German-Language versions of "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and "She Loves You". After re-recording those two songs in German, the Beatles never again recorded anything in a foreign tongue. I don't blame 'em. I have trouble enough with English.

As you can tell from all of the above, I'm mad, loony, crazy, nuts, wacko, three bread slices short of a loaf, you name it, and that's what I am. Actually, I didn't have much of anything else to post. Heat's gettin' me. The long days are kinda wrecking my sleep habits. I customarily turn in about 4am; it's LIGHT by then, for a while longer, anyway. I also haven't posted in 3 days. I may just let myself take it a bit easier during the summer. Oh, and if you've got Beatles vinyl you don't want, I give such things a good home.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

...A little on the TRASHY side...
...the dark underbelly of junk mail exposes itself...

Over the last few months, the amount of junk mail I've received in my in-box has SKYROCKETED. And all of these people who don't know me are trying to do so many good things for me by showing me tons and tons of special offers that will make my life easier. I am now getting over 200 junk mails each day, trying to sell me everything under the sun. Some e-mails are concerned that "I'm not pleasing my lover fully". Those would be the Viagra e-mails. Well, thanks for thinking of me, but if you knew how inactive my social life is, you wouldn't waste your time.

There are those out there who are concerned that I might need transportation. How nice of them. So they e-mail me and tell me that I have an opportunity to buy a new car, even if my credit is BAAAD. They don't tell you that whoever you get set-up with will probably charge 8,000% interest, compounded hourly. Well, this could go either of two ways: I mean, I lose my car if I don't make the high payments. Would this disappoint the e-mailers because I'd lost my transportation? Maybe, but I don't think so. Most likely, they'd be jumping for joy because maybe I'd need to get another car from them, because after all my credit is WORSE. And then they could charge me MORE! I understand that "credit" is the American way, but I hope they don't think I'm unpatriotic if I delete their e-mails.

I get other e-mails that make me feel oh, so cared about, because they warmly congratulate me on receiving some special offer on some item that I most likely don't need, and when I realize that, I don't feel so warm anymore. Other junk mails care about the fact that I might be lonely, and that all I have to do is enter a website, or call an '800' number that'll hook me up to an adult number that's foreign-based and will charge me $72.57 cents a minute to get cooed to by some lady I'll never meet. And then I realize I'd rather be lonely.

But the junk mails that really INSULT ME are the ones that say, "just for you! Ebay tips for DUMMIES!" Hey wait a minute there, bud...I've bought hundreds of items on Ebay, and I'm doing just fine. The absolute last thing I need is a condescending e-mail, after all. If I'm gonna get JUNK in my in-box, I at least want GOOD junk. Oh, and I guess the credit card companies aren't doing enough business, because they really, Really, REALLY want me to commit to a charge card, one which will charge me a gazillion dollars interest if I'm 30 seconds late with my monthly payment. I'd really like to help them out, so they could make a sale and earn more food for their families, but I just kinda have something against the prospect of wallowing in the murky tarpit of eternal debt. That just doesn't hit me right, somehow.

Still, there is a bright side to all of this junk-mail contact; at least it's not cluttering up the mailbox at my house, and people aren't knock-knock-knockin' at my door all day trying to sell me stuff. So maybe that's the biggest favor junk e-mailers do for people; they take all of the garbage that would normally end up in your trash can can and instead, send it to you online, so you can either look at everything before deleting, or just delete 'em all before you've read anything. So I thank you, you e-mail junk people. You are, in fact, doing us a grrrreat service.

Fishermen get their share of trash, too. I haven't fished for many years, but it's quite disheartening to have a fish hit your line and fight like a bat out of Hades, and you exhaust yourself trying to land the thing, and when you scoop it up into your net, it's a squawfish or sucker fish; after all, that's the last thing you'd eat, because those fish are the pond-scum sucking bottom feeders of the fish community, and besides that, from what I remember, they look kinda gross, too. So you end up cuttin' em loose, like the poor guy in the picture below...

This photo was provided to nature lovers everywhere courtesy of

Finally, before I go, I have to reveal how much of a hypocrite I've been. I've complained all week about not being able to go to City Park because it's all taken up by this weekend's Ironman Triathalon staging area. Back in the '90s, I ran the Portland Marathon three times. And, a big park in the downtown area was reserved for runners only, after they crossed the finish line. Food, beverages and medical aid were offered in the park. So, a race I was in probably "took" someone's park away from them. I know how painful a marathon-only can be, let alone a marathon run in the hottest part of the day AFTER swimming 2 and a half miles and biking over 100 miles. So I wish the participants all the best of luck. And I'll return to the blogrolls Monday. (or sooner, if I get really crazy)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

This post is brought to by the number 14,291...
That's what the 1960 population of our fair city was...

Maybe our city isn't so "fair" anymore? Perhaps if I was "up and coming" at this point in time, I'd probably accept that the way things are now is just normal. Maybe that's why a lot of people seem to just immerse themselves in the pandemonium and disorganized pace of today's ever-frantic society without complaint, and maybe that's why I have an adverse reaction to the way things are today. Maybe I just come from a different time. It's a theory, anyway.

It was great fun trying to negotiate downtown today. Sherman Avenue is blocked off down near where the Tri-athalon finish line will be, somewhere near 1st street. So I tried going down Lakeside Avenue, one block north, and that's blocked off too. I found myself going into a parking lot and going the wrong way down a one-way alley because there was no other way I could've gotten out of that tangle. It was worth it, though. Today was a picture-perfect day, and down along the dike road, the scenery was impeccable. I went out to that grassy "pier"-type piece o'land near where all of the sailboats are parked there on the beach. And I was sitting there with my little transistor radio, listening to the M's game, and enjoying the scenery. I didn't have to be at an outside bar, or some big event, or roaring down the street; I was having a good time just "being".

I can't even bear to try and go to City Park right now. I feel like it's been "taken away". Of course, if I was a Triathlete, I would love the concept almost the entire Park being taken up with bike racks, tents, and whatever else gets put there every year around Triathalon time. To me, it's sort-of like a sports-oriented hostile takeover, but I'll get over it. If nothing else, I've found some other great places to hang out, so not all is lost. I've been a little on the upset side, because of the sudden acceleration of things happening around here with the advent of summer. I just can't keep up. So I found myself going into the new location of Wiggett's Antiques, and that was just what the doctor ordered. I saw so many little trinkets, toy cars, old pictures, clocks, and other things I've seen in past times, that I felt myself just kinda "calming down" a bit. A case of "me" getting back to "me". And I bought a couple of hydroplane buttons and a Hank Williams '78' record.

Here is a fairly recent shot of our fair (or not) city from way up high in the sky. And I'd say there's quite a bit more than "14,291" people here nowadays. (I remember seeing that number on the sign at the northern city limits, way back when I was a kid.) As a matter of fact, an article in today's paper said that Coeur d'Alene has crossed the 40,000 mark in population. That doesn't take into account all of those who reside in prefabricated cookie-cutter houses in fast-appearing fenced rezzidential communities out there on the Prairie above the Aquifer.

One reason I like this time of year...right now it's about 11PM, my front door is open, and the fresh night air feels really good. The temperature is "just right". If I could live where it was 65 degrees all year round, I'd truly be a happy camper. So as you can see, I am really trying to be positive in SPITE of myself...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

It's tiring to be negative all of the time!
I guess it's time to LIGHTEN UP a bit...

No, I'm not a total grouch. Not at all. What could've given you THAT idea? "Well, your last couple of posts were pretty negatory", you say. Oh, that. Well, okay. I suppose, since I'm slowing down mentally and physically, I just feel a lot more susceptible to everything that is happening or could conceivably happen. And even though I'm always saying that people should "pull their HEADS out", well, I've walked around with my head in the clouds, too. (That's how this blog got the 'Thin Air' title, after all.)

So, I got out today and enjoyed those parts of our area which are still accessable to the public for general use, although, those areas will be off-limits what with the advent of this weekend's Ironman Triathalon. Traffic signs say that the 'entire' of CDA Lake Drive will be closed between 7am and 10pm Sunday. But since the Park is already basically off-limits (it's the triathalon's staging area), I went out on the Centennial Trail and (slowly & carefully) walked from the "Lake Steamers" sign to "Tony's" and back. I MADE IT! One tip if yer gonna walk on the trail...if you don't wanna end up as roadkill, stay to the side and don't stray! Athletes on racing bikes were whizzing by, none of them let me know they were behind me AS IS COMMON COURTESY!!!, it was just "zip", "whoosh", "zoom". I suppose I walked a mile total. On the way back, yeah my body was protesting, but I MADE IT! When you consider how I've been feeling lately, well, that was MY "Ironman".

A friend of mine showed up on Ebay dept.: Some of you may remember when Little Nell's Records, located on Monroe Street in Spokane, had to close due to bridge repairs. I had shopped at Little Nell's since the mid 1970's, and she always would shave off a couple of bucks here and there and make me great deals whenever I bought records there. Well, Marlene Moeller, the owner of Little Nell's is BACK! Only, she's now an EBAY seller. Her seller ID is "marlenemoeller", and true to form, she's got good stuff at affordable prices. So I bought something from her, and yelled "howdy" through the computer, and it's nice to know she's still out there and doing as well as possible.

I'd 'Rather' forget this whole thing dept.: CBS and Dan Rather parted ways yesterday. Rather said CBS wasn't giving him enough work to keep him happy. CBS had offered him a contract with no assignments. NO ASSIGNMENTS! Which means he could've hung around in the hallways, mingled with others at the water cooler, and he woulda gotten PAID for that! Now, THAT sounds like my kind of job! Ah, but Mr. Rather is searching for deep meaning and relevance after being put out to pasture after his Bush War-Service fiasco story of last year. So he quit to find other work. If he can FIND any, that is. So don't be surprised if you see him at the drive-in window of a Washington, D.C. Taco Bell. I NEVER thought he was a good anchor. He was too stilted, too formal, something just wasn't right. I never EVER watched a complete Rather Newscast. He was a MUCH better reporter than an anchor.

I have reservations about the fireworks laws dept.:: Ahhh, the 4th of July is just around the corner. Remember "the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air?" Well, them county mounties are gonna make damn well sure that doesn't happen. If they catch you with illegal fireworks, "you in a heap o' trouble, boah!" Cop Cars will be stationed outside Indian Reservation fireworks stands, waiting to bust ya if yer carrying illegal fireworks. So if yer going to buy 'em there, make sure your tail-lights work! According to Idaho law, 'illegal' fireworks can be set off on the "rez". But not just anyone on the "rez" can do that! ONLY tribal members can explode "illegal" fireworks on the reservation. If you're NOT a tribal member, you can't even POSSESS fireworks anywhere, on the "rez" or off. Is this discriminating against non-tribal members? If you are not a member of the tribe, YOU can't go to the "rez" and shoot off fireworks, because it's illegal for non-tribal members to explode fireworks on the "rez"! And, if you're "non-tribal" but LIVE on the "rez", YOU can't shoot 'em off either. Sheeeeesh. I think we need bootleg fireworks we can buy on a street corner from a guy in a trench coat. Illegal fireworks for all! Sounds like a great political campaign motto.

Back to fireworks on the "rez"...say you decide to buy some illicit fireworks and shoot 'em off on the "rez" and you don't belong to the tribe. First of all, have a tribal member with you. Then, when a "fireworks cop" comes up to bust ya...all you have to do is say, "oh, these fireworks are HIS!" Either I am easily confused, or the laws just don't make a whole lotta sense. Over in Washington, at least Spokane County's overbearing, omnipresent, semi-fascist anti-fireworks law makes more sense. NO FIREWORKS, ANYWHERE, EVEN IF THEY'RE SAFE AND SANE. Unless you're in Airway Heights. AIRWAY HEIGHTS??? Yeah, that place is a real holiday hotspot. Sheeeesh. Never mind! Back here in Eye-duh-ho, the Duane can bring out the heavy artillery any day of the year he chooses and shoot 'em off to impress the overpaid money-saturated capitalistic lemmings who stay at the rezzort. Fireworks in the winter...I've seen it happen! A final I proofread this post, I realized I've typed two long paragraphs on this subject, and have accomplished absolutely NOTHING.

I am a total hypocrite dept.: I began this post by saying I had been too negative, and that it was time for me to lighten up. Then I went back and read that whole "fireworks diatribe" I'd written, and if nothing else, I am totally self-contradictory. So the misery continues, doesn't it? Tell ya what...let's hope the Mariners keep winning (they're doing really great lately), and I'll leave y'all with this lil' visual gem...

So when some Idaho fisherman tells you, "I caught a fish THI-I-I-IS BIG!!!", I'd say you'd best believe him. (Of course, if a fish was that big in Coeur d'Alene lake, the Water Cops would make sure there was a "watercraft" license on it somewhere.)

The only conclusion I can come to after proofreading this diatribe is, that I must be the happiest when I have something to gripe, whine, moan and b*tch about. Where's "Dr. Phil" when I need him?

Yep, it's warm, it's hot, it's the first day of Summer! My advice?

I'll just bet that it's been a while since you've thought about your pipes freezing, or wondering how you're going to get out of your driveway after a long night's snowfall. I can imagine you've put away the long undies, and that it's been a while since you've had any hot chocolate. The furthest thing from your mind right now is getting pelted by some kid's icy, dripping, hand-packed slushball. And who can blame ya for having forgotten about that unwelcome guest, namely, "Old Man Winter?" After all, today is the first day of Summer. Yep, it's June 21st, the LONGEST day of the year. And he's gone from our collective memories for at least a while. But, I have it on good authority he's out there, lingering around in the Southern Hemisphere somewhere, wreaking havoc down there. He gets tired of being in the same place, after all, so he packs up for a while and heads elsewhere. But he's out there. And as proof, I have a picture:

All I can say is, "BRRRRRRRRR!" Enjoy the summer while you can. For, the days become continually shorter from here on in.

Nothing to sneeze at dept.: If you have a spare $7,000 that you just don't know what to do with (indeed, people like you stay at the CDA Rezzort!), you might want to go to the State of New York (is it a state of mind?), and buy yourself a genetically-engineered KITTEN. Born and bred not to make you ALLERGIC to them. I don't have the specifics (I usually never read that far down in the article!), but I guess whatever cats "have" that makes you allergic can be engineered out of their collective constitutions. I love cats, but if I touch one, and then touch my face, I break out, get watery eyes and start sneezing. So if I pet a cat or ANY other animal, afterwards, I've gotta find a tap and soak my hands. Now, if scientists could find a way to do that with POLLEN...

That does not compute dept.: I guess Java on Sherman is a "Wi-Fi" place. Makes sense to me. After all, once I was in a stereo shop...It was a "Hi-Fi" place. (groannnn...) Anyway, a lot of folks are takin' their 'puters with them, and over a relaxing cup of coffee, they proceed to un-relax by taking out their computers and flailing away on them. The only question I have is, if I did all my computing over coffee in the daytime, what the heck would I do at NIGHT?

It's still not funny and never will be dept.: Obviously, this is gonna be a gripe about one of the newspaper's comic strips, "Get Fuzzy". In that strip, Bucky, the mean old cat has been staging a sort-of "Jeopardy"-based game-show thing for the past week or so. Bucky's owner complains over and over how stupid the cat is, and the Dog in the comic strip remains Bucky's erstwhile, but bumbling aide-de-camp. And this is ONE OF THE MOST STUPID COMIC STRIPS EVER DRAWN!!! I think the Spokesman-Review oughta replace "Get Fuzzy" with something more entertaining. Like leftover legal notices.

I must be a foreign policy wizard! dept.: While contemplating the deplorable middle-east situation, having become aware that two of our soldiers were tortured and killed in revenge for our nation doing away with Mr. Zarqawi, and having also heard about the imminent launch of nuclear weapons in Korea, I came up with the PRACTICAL solution to all of this. Let's have Korea aim their nuclear warheads at IRAQ and IRAN. We can then withdraw our troops, and enjoy the spectacle of those Middle-East Meanies being sent running for cover. The 24-hour news channels would just go stark-raving NUTS over this. ALL NEWS, ALL OF THE TIME. It ain't just "film at eleven" anymore! They'd make tons of money from all the overpriced 'VIAGRA' and 'DEPENDS' spots they'd sell.

This will probably never again happen in my lifetime dept.: One day, while looking over my mail, I saw one of those suspicious "windowed envelopes" from the hospital that I'd just paid with blood money (literally!)...I thot, "I already took care of the bill" I opened it and, lo and behold, there was a REFUND CHECK for Ten Dollars and Fifty-Five cents! Well, I've been getting treated for all kindsa things, but it's good that I'm not a Coronary Care patient or I would've had a heart attack! A REFUND from the HOSPITAL? I guess they'd charged me too much for something. Let's see, what will $10.55 buy in a hospital? The only thing I can think of is, I had one of their little half-cans of soda in the recovery room, but they charged me for juice, which costs about twice as much. $10.55 for one of those little 6 ounce cans of soda? Yeah, that sounds about right.

Why couldn't he have spilled his coffee in his lap dept.: Society is chock-full of rules. If you commit some sort of transgression, it's a weak excuse if you say, "hey, I didn't know about that". Society has a way of judging you if you screw up, after all. Certainly, those who choose to serve in law enforcement have to be even more aware than the rest of us, of the distinction of "right and wrong"; after all, they're the ones who BUST us when WE screw up. Well, one of society's basic requirements is that "when you get your morning coffee from a Java hut, you shouldn't expose yourself in the process." Now, I don't know if that particular RULE is written down in the lawbooks, but I'm sure there's something in there, that covers that. And, I'm wondering if the Spokane Police Detective who DID that, read that part of the rule book. He (allegedly) put himself on display for the coffee-hut girl who he thot had the hots for him. A Law Enforcement guy. How about that. But after the whole sordid Tom DeBartolo wife-killing situation of a few years ago, I guess nothing surprises me anymore.

Jes' LOOKIT at that thang comin' outta the ground (in 2 parts) dept.: The Ironman Triathalon preparations are underway...which only adds to the toxic amount of confused pandemonium in our tourist-infested downtown. My advice? Don't even GO down there. The city park is basically OFF LIMITS to us local taxpayers, who PAY city employees to maintain a beautiful park for all of us. The crush of humanity downtown impedes any efforts to walk with a normal motion; I was cautiously negotiating the sidewalk on Sherman Avenue today, and a family came RACING out of a storefront, there were 2 adults, and 2 or 3 kids, and they just about RAN ME DOWN! Me with my bad back that doesn't bend! That hurts all the frickin' time! What the HELL is it, am I INVISIBLE, dammit????? Remember, in my previous post, I talked about INCONSIDERATE people? THIS is what I MEAN! I'm actually kinda ticked off about this!

So instead of going to the park, I went over to Sanders Beach. The part that people can still USE, that is. I wouldn't wanna get shot by a rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth homeowner because I don't know where the "line in the sand" signifying the 2,130-foot level is, above which (allegedly) private property is located. And there were only 3 or 4 people at the beach. Peace and QUIET! And I looked toward the east, and past the overpriced Rezzort golf course, the new Haggacondo is being built in the distance. I don't know how tall it's gonna be, but it ALREADY dwarfs everything in sight. So I looked straight ahead at the lake for a couple of hours and went home.

And you wonder why I haven't tried to write a biography? A sheet of blank notebook paper would be more exciting. Now I'll just try to cool out and "take a pill", which will be easy for me, since I now have so many prescriptions, I just go crazy every night a-gulping away.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Roll out those...
Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer...

That 1963 tune by Nat King Cole glorifies all of the things that make summer what it is..."those days of soda...and pretzels...and beer" (well, no beer in Coeur d'Alene City Park, but you get the idea). And it seems each year Summer arrives with a bang, a thud, a boom and a crash. No time to "ease" into summer. The weather gets hot, the throngs multiply, and activities around town instantly assume a frantic, frenetic pace. I have long said that my favorite seasons here are Spring and Fall. I don't like temperatures above 80 degrees, thank you. And for the most part, Summer is something I have to endure.

My favorite time on a summers' day is in the evening after 5pm, when the breeze turns around and blows off the lake; you can smell the lake water as it cools the air, and the feeling is just "aaaaaahhhhhh." But I don't really understand people in the summertime. They trade the confusion and pandemonium of the workplace for the confusion and pandemonium of a filled-to-the-gills summer weekend by going where everyone else is going. They run around in packs, in hoardes, kids screaming and running all over the place, frisbees and volleyballs zipping through the air, clogging up virtually every square inch of the park with nary a vacant picnic table in sight.

Also, around 5pm is when people start GOING HOME, and that's when I reassume my partial summer residency in City Park. The sun begins to set, the air begins to cool off, and activity starts to slow down. You can walk on the City Park sidewalk without fear of being chopped off at the ankles by some out-of-control skateboarder. You can sit at a picnic table with little or no fear of a frisbee flying by, decapitating you in the process. You can sit on a park bench and play guitar without fear of a volleyball striking you, making you drop your guitar on the cement!

The same goes for downtown. Tourists just kinda gawk and lollygag around, in packs, in hoardes, just kinda plugging things up all over the place. Lines at the Java Place; lines at the restaurants, lines at the shops, lines for this, lines for that as out-of-staters spend so much time marvelling at our city's various attractions that they make it virtually unbearable for the rest of us. I'm sorry, I just don't have patience to deal with that kind of stuff. "Buy your stuff, sit down and SHUT UP!!!", is what I want to SCREAM at the top of my lungs, but then I'd probably get arrested by a bicycle cop or a downtown cop for causing a scene.

All of the so-called summertime Chamber-of-Commerce, tourist-brochure "events" in our area drive me NUTS!...the downtown gets plugged up with Car d'Lane. The downtown gets plugged up with the Triathalon. The downtown (and the entire town, for that matter) gets plugged up as tourists invade our city for the yearly fireworks celebration. And, the downtown gets plugged up, as Sherman Avenue is closed up because of Art On The Green's spinoff art-show full of pointless, overpriced art and trinkets and junk you'll never need, sold by retailers who use these occasions to line their wallets and then get back on the road and set up somewhere else, in another town that is also undergoing summer pandemonium.

I remember one hot summers' day, when I didn't go to City Park because I knew it would be filled to the gills with people who don't live here. So instead I went to the Rutledge Trailhead on CDA Lake Drive, where there are a couple of picnic tables and a view of the lake from high above. And when I got there, I saw a pup tent, several families on the little patch of grass there having picnics, and screaming kids running around and making all kinds of noise. So I went back to my hot little house, and sat there, on a hot summers' day, finally going to the park in the evening, when people were starting to clear outta there.

I have always tried to be observant, not obnoxious, not wanting to get in the way, not wanting to be any trouble to anyone. I get the feeling that most people are just kinda unaware, or they don't care, or both. I don't know what's happened to me over the years; I guess something has, because I used to need to be where things were happening; I needed to go to parades and entertainment events; I needed to be one of the crowd, and I just don't give a damn anymore. I just like to go out, envelop myself in nature and not be disturbed. And it seems that in the evening, things just kinda slow down and get a bit more comfortable.

I guess I ask myself, "why do people endure all of these events and galas and episodes, and what do they get out of it?" Other than killing themselves to have a good time? I don't even go to parades anymore. They do NOTHING for me. I don't go to concerts; I've seen every kind of band there is, play every kind of music imaginable; what else is there to see? I've been to sales, exhibitions, performances, gatherings, happenings, you name it...I just don't have the desire to do that stuff anymore. It's POINTLESS. Me, I'll just kinda "dodge" the pandemonium. I just want comfortability.

Whew! I needed to vent. I'm already feeling "hemmed in" by summer events which, to me, are just clogging up the area I usually move about so freely in. So thanks for putting up with me, even if you come away from all of this thinking I am some kind of "hermit-Nazi". So, for your enjoyment, I've included a little photo-satire for y'all. This one was just TOO EASY; it had "obvious" written all over it...

This photo, stolen from, will probably end up putting me on the government's "watch" list. Oh well, I'd be in good company...I heard the FBI once had a dossier on John Lennon!

Sunday, June 18, 2006 act we've known all these years...
Paul McCartney is now 64!

It's a milestone, isn't it? Long ago, "64" was just a number on the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper" album. Allegedly, Paul had written that song before the Beatles even began, and he'd kept it in his memory banks and unleashed it as a bit of comedy relief on "Pepper". Even then, the lyrics had an ironic twist...the song signs off with the verse, "yours sincerely, wasting away", which adds a wry element to an otherwise lighthearted song. So even at a young and tender age, Paul sensed the inevitability of getting old, hoping all the while he wouldn't waste away. And over the weekend, Paul is now what he wrote about, all those years ago; for now, he's 64. It almost seems like musical prophecy, doesn't it?

In the aftermath of John Lennon's assassination and George Harrison's painful death, I am really glad that Paul made it to this milestone in his life. Recently, a program called "Chaos and Creation at Abbey Road", starring Paul, aired on PBS. During the course of that program, he made a multi-track recording in front of an AUDIENCE. Wow. He is so offhandedly talented, he makes everything look so easy. In under an hours' time, he'd assembled a multi-part studio recording with drums, rhythm guitar, bass, lead guitar and harmony vocals. Paul is a musician through and through. All the more amazing, when you consider Paul was 63 when he was doing this. Being over 60 used to mean one was "old". Not any more, I guess!

I collect Beatles' records. I've read everything on The Beatles that I could get my hands on. And to me, their music still sounds so vital, so fresh. But with the advent of the Beatles' "1" album, a collection of number one hits in England and America released in 2000, I was beginning to think, that yeah, the Beatles are sorta slipping into 'ancient history', aren't they? In a hundred years, what will be the legacy of this group, who has meant so much to me and so many others? Will they be totally forgotten? Will their songs be played in 200 years, the same way Beethoven and Strauss' music is played today? But I suppose I can't really afford to look at the Beatles in that fatalistic manner. I do know that their music, and the collecting of their music, gives me the same pleasure now, that it did 20, 30 and 40 years ago. So I'll just hang onto that.

But I am so glad Paul made it to 64. That means that a lot of us who've been aging, right along with him, will also be around for a good long while. And maybe, there's still time for me to learn how to play "Blackbird" on guitar. I've wanted to learn how to play it for ages, but I don't even know where to begin. I honestly feel I won't be any kind of guitarist until I learn how to play it. I've seen old footage where Paul is playing "Blackbird" in the studio. He barely moves his fingering hand...up here, down there, and he just breezes through it the way I breeze thru a 2 or 3-chord song. So that's a goal of mine. Learn "Blackbird". After The Beatles broke up, Paul was still endlessly creative with "Wings", as well as on his solo projects. Song after song he's written leaves me asking, "how DOES he come up with all those melodies?"

I was saddened by the deaths of John Lennon and George Harrison. So it's a comfort to know that Paul is still creative, still going strong, "the act we've known for all these years". Because I find myself still searching, exploring and analyzing music, reading about it and listening intently, and I find myself continually influenced by both old and new music, and that will never stop; I'll always be that way. Obviously, Paul is waaay more skilled than I am (and a lot richer too!), but I know what it's like to just constantly be attracted to music; it's so important; without music I would've lost my mind a long time ago. I don't know how to relate to a lot of things; I don't do much of anything very well, but put a guitar in my hands, or put some music on the loudspeaker, and I immediately feel better.

So, Paul, if ya wanna change the words to "Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 84, go right ahead. And God willing, I'll be around for 20 more years, still listening, still playing, still imagining, still dreaming. And hopefully, by then, I'll have learned "Blackbird". I'll just "take these broken wings and learn to fly."

Here's a fairly recent picture of Paul, with that immortal piece of history, his Hofner violin bass. He liked it because it didn't weigh a TON, like a lot of bass guitars do. Later on in the '70s, he used a Rickenbacker bass on a lot of the "Wings" records, but on his last few tours, he struts his stuff with the Hofner bass in hand. If I ever learned how to play bass, I think I'd want one of those.

One of my latest Ebay acquisitions is an "EP" (a 7-inch small-hole "extended play" record with 4 songs on it), made in RUSSIA, of all places. Last night, I viewed more than 3,000 items on Ebay; I saw Beatles records from all over the world. I even saw a couple of "I Want To Hold Your Hand" 78's made in India. Being slightly (well, quite a ways) behind the times, India made 78's until the late 60's! It's amazing, the worldwide influence of the Beatles. And just when I thot I knew everything about Beatles' record collecting, I find out SOMETHING ELSE! To me, absolutely fascinating.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

What could they both have in common...
Heather McCartney and a Wirehaired Terrier?

Well, for starters, I am sure those with more adventurous sentiments would say that "they are both DOGS"...but I won't tolerate any of that in this here blog. I won't. But, in the days to come, when it comes to soon-to-be-ex Paul, she won't need him, and she sure won't feed him when he's 64...which will be THIS SUNDAY.

And now, kids, it's Storytime! When I was a lad, we had the friendliest-ever Wirehaired Terrier, and his name was "Chester", like the hopalong character on the old Gunsmoke TV show. We got Chester from some kind of shelter. Chester had broken his leg before we got him, and he limped around the shelter, and noticed when he limped, he got petted more. And he would occasionally limp even after his leg was well. He liked the attention. Wirehair Terriers are known as fairly aggressive dogs, but Chester was a kid's true friend. I have a memory of sitting with him on the lawn when we lived up on north 12th here in Coeur d'Alene. I would sit there in silence, and Chester sat beside me, sniffing the breeze. That particular memory comes from about 1966. I'm not even sure why I remember that, but I do, and always will.

Every spring, though, when it was evidently dog-mating-season, Chester would run off, and we always had to go find him. I remember finding him about a mile from our house. I was on my bike, and I rode that distance with one hand on the handlebars and the other clutching a quivering, feverish Chester. It's a wonder I didn't fall and kill both of us. One year, we tied Chester to our clothesline. One of those yellow plastic-coated marine ropes was used. During the night, Chester was going crazy, running around in circles. The marine rope knotted up, and Chester basically hung himself. So sad. Because most of the time, Chester was a cool dog. We were lucky if we heard him bark twice a year. He was really special.

A while after Chester's passing, our family got another wirehaired terrier, named "Laddie". I guess Dad thought, "Chester was such a good dog, I bet Laddie will be just as good." WRONG! Laddie would bark all day long; whenever I was playing Frisbee with someone, Laddie would leap up, grab the frisbee, and run all over the place with the Frisbee clutched in his jaws, and it would take us half an hour (at least) to catch him. Laddie was very aggressive, very high-strung, and just a "bad little kid" of a dog. In terms of temperament, our dearly departed Chester and Laddie were different as night and day, even though they looked pretty much the same.

So I wrote all of the above to get to this part of the post...Paul McCartney married Linda in 1969; say what you will about Linda, but she was obviously a soul-mate for Paul. She supported him, played in his band after Paul patiently taught her keyboards, and they were hardly ever apart. In fact, it's hard for me to listen to the Wings' song "My Love" because it was written about Linda, who passed away in 1998. It is almost "too personal" of a song for me to hear anymore. Paul wrote the Beatles' song, "Two Of Us" (on the "Let It Be" album) about Linda; it seems that whenever Paul and Linda would go for a drive, Paul would get uptight and try to organize everything, and Linda would just say, "let's wing it and just go somewhere and have an adventure". And they did.

Linda passed away, and Paul was sort-of "lost" for a good long while. A couple of years later, though, at some sort of function, Paul ran into Heather Mills. She was blonde, like Linda, and if you read your Beatles' biographies, they'll tell you that Paul always had a thing for blondes. Maybe Paul was lonely; maybe the sight of Heather lit a spark inside him, and so after a while, Paul married Heather, in spite of objections from his family. Well, Heather was outspoken; the English Press does not like her at all, there's all kinds of allegations about her past, she is loud, outspoken and aggressive, and she had been expressing jealousy and disdain over Paul's fame, and she evidently insulted his songwriting, from recent things I've read. She didn't give a tinkers' damn that Paul was once a Beatle. Well, I'm a musician (sort-of) and when people "diss" my music, I get really depressed. So I can imagine Heathers' comments didn't make Paul very happy.

Paul turns 64 on Sunday. Congratulations, Paul; you MADE it! He wrote "Hey Jude", my most favorite song ever written. Paul isn't usually forthcoming with his emotions; he was always the polite, public-image-type of musician, and he was a real family guy; he proved that with Linda. So for things to get so bad that Paul would divorce Heather, she must have been the next best thing to a wicked witch. I have read so many Beatles biographies and have heard so many of their interviews, I feel like I almost know him. I guess all us foaming-at-the-mouth Beatles fans feel that way. And regarding Heather, "Will He Still Need Her, Will She Still Feed Him"? NO.

What's the moral of all this? Just as two lookalike Wirehaired Terriers aren't alike, neither are all beautiful blondes, or all hippie-types alike. Things are never what they appear to be, I guess. When I sold newspaper advertising long ago, a lady ad salesperson came to work for us. She looked like the twin of Cheryl Tiegs. Just absolutely beautiful. But, she was headstrong, backstabbing, and after she'd been there three weeks, she was telling ME what to do. She even stole a couple of my ad accounts! I had a hard time with that; how can someone be so beautiful and behave so UGLY? And I have worked for hippie-ish, longhaired bosses who were some of the rudest, meanest, shallowest people I've ever met. Lesson #2: I'd always thot all longhaired people were cool. WRONG AGAIN!

Okay, well, it's the weekend, and what with the shape my lower back is in, plus some residual mental fatigue, I'm gonna take the weekend off from blogging. I am sure that cyberspace can live without me for a couple of days. But I have a photo below, an aerial shot of Coeur d'Alene taken in 1950. Take a look at it, and you'll see all of the open spaces that sure ain't open today! you can see Tubbs Hill in the foreground, Best Hill at right, and Canfield Mountain on the right, behind Best Hill. No interstate highway, no rezzort, no overpriced golf course, no condos. Of course, there was no Rock and Roll back then, either. So I guess you gotta take the good with the bad!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

"Don't Do ANYTHING For Three Days!"
...and ya know, after getting thru TODAY, yep, I can do that!

It all started with my 9AM appointment in Post Falls; I went there to get the third steroid shot in my lower back. You might remember I was telling you I had to do that for my back pain. You could say I didn't need coffee to wake up today; the doctor's needle pretty much did the trick. So I got to the hospital at 9AM. As always, the medical facilities want their cash up front. I've come to accept "that's the way it is", as Walter Cronkite used to say. So I gave the financial lady my debit card. She went in the back to run the card, and came back and told me my card had been REJECTED. Well, I don't handle rejection well, especially when I know I've got more than enough money to cover it. So she ran it again. And I was rejected again. Mind you, I was trying to pay for the privilege of having a needle inserted 3 or more inches into my lower back. Isn't life fun?

We then called the "800" number on the back of my bank card. The hospital's financial lady talked to the corporate voice at the other end, who had absolutely no idea of what was going on. I then talked to the same corporate voice, saying, "I've got the money; I don't understand why I'm being rejected". And she said, "Sir, my computer here doesn't show anything, except that you have a one-thousand dollar per-day spending limit." I said, "WHAT? Last month I paid $1300 for the same thing and my card didn't get rejected!" The "corporate voice" said, "Sir, we can raise your limit to $2,000." I said, "fine, please stay on the line with me while the hospital's financial lady runs my card again." And she came back, and my card got REJECTED again! I told the "corporate voice" that in spite of the fact my card now had a $2,000 per-day spending limit, it STILL didn't go through. The corporate voice said, "Sir, I don't know what is happening; all I know is, I did increase your daily spending limit."

So I hung up on the "corporate voice", and dialed a local branch of my bank. The hospital's financial lady repeated the entire process with the woman at the local bank branch, and so did I. The hospital's financial lady gave some number combination to the lady at the bank branch. The hospital's financial lady said, "I should be able to run the card now, right?" "Right", said the lady at the bank branch. So the hospital's financial lady handed me the phone, and went into the back to run the card. REJECTED AGAIN! I had the phone, the line was still open, and I told the lady at the bank branch what happened. The lady at the bank branch did some further research, and finally said, "Sir, your $2,000 per-day spending limit won't take place for 24 hours." Meantime, my appointment was TODAY. I told the bank branch lady, "we did this last month and everything went okay, so why are these complications happening NOW?" And she replied, "we've been getting a lot of this lately." Whatever happened to the old saying, "If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It"?????

So what the hospital and I ended up doing, was that I would pay HALF of the amount today, and I'll pay the other half by MONDAY, and hopefully tomorrow (Friday). By this time, it was past 10AM; the hospital's financial lady and I had both been fighting the bank for an hour. Now I was all set to get stabbed in the back by a hypodermic-wielding stranger, and, like a condemned man walking his last 13 steps, I was led to the back of the hospital so I could put on one of those world-famous gowns with the "ties" in the back. Of course I'm a klutz; I can't tie behind my back, so a nurse had to do it. Then I waited for a little while, and then I was led back to the "shooting room". I was instructed to lie on my left side. I thot, "what?" The previous two times I'd gone thru this, I'd sat up, and bent over to widen the gap between my back vertebrae so the doc could find the right place to put the needle. But, the doctor I had today, preferred his patients to lie down while getting the shot. Well, if you're lying down, you won't hit the ceiling if there's more pain than you expected, I guess. Yeah, that makes sense to me.

Actually, when one is getting a steroid shot, they're actually getting TWO shots. The first shot, the one you REALLY FEEL, is the local anesthetic. Kinda like when the dentist gives you novacaine, and all you can do is endure that initial pain. I asked the nurse, "Is there something around here that I can grab?" She asked why, and I told her, I needed to clamp my hand around something so I could brace myself. I call it "distraction therapy". If you squeeze your fingers around something hard enough to hurt your knuckles, the pain from the hypodermic needle in your back won't seem quite as bad. The same thing as if, you have a headache, and someone STOMPS on your foot, you don't feel your headache as much. (A good theory, anyway) So she wheeled out a small cart, and I hung onto that. The doctor put the needle in...and I thot, "yikes...pain....eeeks....aaaagh..." and then he was done doing that. My knuckles were white by this time. And they hurt. But that was the idea. I didn't hit the ceiling when that first needle penetrated my back. Not that I know of, anyway...

Then, in went the SECOND injection. Since the anesthetic's in place, at first, this second "stab" feels more like someone pushing their thumb into the small of your back. It didn't really hurt, but it was a sickening, kinda queasy nerve-type feeling, and I was grabbing that poor little metal cart for all it was worth; it's a wonder I didn't collapse the leg of the cart I was hanging on to. To take my mind off this deep uncomfortable feeling the needle was giving me, I asked the nurse to give me a "play by play", tell me what was going on back there. She said, "this should be over in just a minute", so I hung on to that little tin cart for dear life, and finally, she whispered the words I had been longing to hear from her..."okay, you're done"! Aaaaaaaah. I asked the doctor if I could see the needle he shot me with; he showed it to me; it still had blood from my back on it; he'd pushed that thing in a little over 2 and a half inches, maybe 3 inches. So it turns out I went thru quite an invasive procedure today. Oh yeah, and don't forget, I get to pay for the SECOND half of what this injection cost me tomorrow.

When I found this little cartoon and put in that goofy little caption, I was thinking, "yeah, this really drains the old wallet fast, don't it?" Except that today, I honestly don't know which hurt worse, me or the wallet. All I know is, when the nurse told me, "don't do anything for three days", I told her, "yeah, I can do that!" But it's over for now, and I'm alive, with the promise of a possibility of recovering at least some of my health. I may have to undergo this procedure a few times a year the rest of my life; I don't know. But...I am no longer the virtual invalid I was 6 months ago. But I am an invalid today, and I'm feeling it. So I'll sign off now.

I appreciate all of you blog readers who read this rather obtuse post, which in actuality is nothing more than a glorified pity-party. Still...I was there, I experienced it, and perhaps you have insight, at least a bit more insight, to the workings of the medical world. And now, time for the La-Z-Boy...aaaahhhhh......

A Line in the Sand...
...go ahead! Step across this line! I double-dog-dare ya!!!

You've heard that old cartoonish line used in old movies where one opponent is squaring off against his (most-of-the-time weaker) opponent. It's that old case of "territorial imperative" we have brewing right here in our little town. Seems that someone's gonna be drawing a line in the sand soon at Sanders' Beach. Why? To determine where beachgoers' rights end and the property owners' rights begin. They don't know exactly where the line is gonna be, though. But it's gotta be there somewhere, right? A decision has been made by some judge to uphold the elevation of 2,130 feet above sea level at Sanders' Beach as being the dividing point between public and private property. The people who live in big expensive houses on Lakeshore Drive own property across the street, bordering the beach. And, they're saying they own the beach, too. Not only do they own open spaces of grassy property right on the waterfront, which is divided from the beach by sea walls, they're saying the beach in front of their sea walls is theirs, too. And that's the rub...

Area beachgoers (who will never be able to afford lakefront property) have been using the beach for DECADES. Until fairly recently, that was okay, until finally some rich miserly old homeowner got MILITANT about the whole thing and began kicking swimmers of "his" (or what he thought was "his") beach. Well, the new ruling says swimmers can use the beach up to an elevation of 2,130 feet. Allegedly, the bottom of one of the sea walls is precisely at that elevation. Most of them are "up" a little further. I can just envision an exhausted swimmer, with barely a spark of life left in him, washing up on "somebody's" beach, only to get kicked off and tossed back in the lake. And I wouldn't put it past those Lakeshore Drive property owners, either. So, where will the 2,130 ft. elevation line be drawn? How will they mark it? It's in the SAND, after all. Supposedly, this will all be done and some sort of 'barrier' will be in place at the beach by July 4th. What's next? Guard towers?

If the property owners have their way, (and it looks like they might) their separate stretches of beach will be enjoyed by no one, really (not counting pinkie-extended outdoor champagne brunches held by the property owners whose grassy land, across the street from their homes, borders what they believe to be "their" beach). Well, don't give up, folks. There is always the stretch of Sanders Beach which extends eastward from the Jewett House, to the overpriced CDA Rezzort Golf Course, which has a fence of its own on the the far east end of the beach. My advice to beachgoers would be, "enjoy that stretch of beach while you can, before that, too, gets taken away." Money talks, after all, and there's money in them thar big homes between the Jewett House and the CDA Rezzort golf course. Let me tell you a lil' true story...

One sunny afternoon last fall (I think it was late September), I was sitting on that little 2-foot high brick 'retaining' wall that is in front of the fence at the Jewett House, playing my guitar. No one was on the beach at all. All of a sudden, a guy in a polyester shirt and slacks, with STREET SHOES on, came walking up from the EAST end of the beach, (where'd HE come from?, I wondered) and didn't say a word to me as he passed. I had a feeling he didn't like me being there. There are some pretty ritzy houses on the properties between the Jewett House and the Golf Course, you know. Did he think I was "threatening riff-raff"? Maybe I'm paranoid (which is entirely possible) but I can't help but think he was a disapproving rich corporate yuppie who was wondering where the guitar noise was coming from. All this occurred in broad daylight, in the mid-afternoon. And I suppose that if he and the rest of the homeowners on Lakeshore Drive have their way, this is what will soon be seen down there...

...will this stretch of beach be next? Look, I am all for staying off of private property, but this is a small stretch of beach bordering a public waterway. No homeowner is being threatened if people use the beach which is at least 100 feet away, across the street from his house! Can't we all just get along?

I don't go to Sanders Beach often, but somehow the thought of swimming privileges being taken away from the public hits me wrong, especially since so much of Coeur d'Alene Lake's shoreline is privately owned now!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A Taxing situation indeed...
...truly an image for our times...

In the last set of local elections we had, the issue of property taxes came to the forefront. Taxes in this area have increased faster than bacteria in a restaurant's dumpster. (not a pretty picture) Some longtime residents who built their homes long ago are running the risk of not being able to pay taxes on their homes. They run the risk of losing their homes, and it's not their fault. It all has to do with one word: Speculation. Real estate values are rising because everyone and their dogs (and their litters) wants to live up here.

In the last election, a couple of county commissioners ended up lame ducks, in part, because of rising taxes. Will tax burdens be shifted from residential property owners to other entities, at least in part? It's an idea that's being worked on now, but who knows what is actually gonna happen. Or will this be a forgotten topic, swept under the rug, now that the elections are over? I saw an image today that kinda put the whole tax situation into proper perspective for me. It essentially takes a complicated premise and sorta boils it down to the lowest common denominator...

This photo was wrestled away from the carnivores at

That's one hungry old beast. Let's hope he hibernates soon.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

'Twas a great place to rustle up some GRUB!
...a well-known restaurant that ain't there no more...

If you've ever been to O'Shea's Irish Pub on Coeur d'Alene Lake drive, you might have noticed that it's got quite a big parking lot. A HUGE parking lot, in fact, when you consider the size of that small business. Well, I have no idea what is exactly the "use" for that big flat expanse of land, but we all know it has the following points going for it:

1. The land is FLAT, therefore buildable.
2. The land is within the Coeur d'Alene City Limits.
3. Whoever owns the land is waiting until he can get a zillion dollars for it.
4. Until then, that land will remain unoccupied until someone with a zillion dollars comes forth.
5. And who knows what'll be built there. Here a condo, there a condo, everywhere a condo-condo.
6. And so on, and so forth...

Hmmm. I think I've just written a "Coeur d'Alene Real Estate Primer" there. Anyway, I sure did wander off-topic, didn't I? I was going to get around to telling ya, dear reader, that the BOOTS AND SADDLE CAFE/bar used to occupy that flat space, just south of O'Shea's pub; between O'Sheas and the motel/campground down there. And, I would really like to find a picture of the outside of the business, but so far, all I've found are interior shots. But I found a great postcard from the '50s, with the "Boots and Saddle" name on it...and here 'tis...

FINE PRINT DEPT.: There was no "CDA Lake Drive" back then. This is back when Sherman Avenue was actually Hiway 10 running thru town. Which is why the card says the Boots and Saddle was located..."on Sherman".

What this picture does, more than anything is prove that no, I haven't lost my mind, and that this is NOT a figment of my imagination. The Boots and Saddle actually did exist. It was a pretty big place, as these interior shots show. When I was a knot-headed little kid, my parents took me there once or twice. Nothing stands in that location now. I wonder how many millionaires around here are salivating and frothing at the mouth, wondering how they can get their hands on that property...

So, in best bob-and-weave fashion, I entered the blog-ring, tossed in a few quick jabs, and got out. After all, I have blog burnout. So I gotta take it easy. Hopefully I don't also have blog-reader-burnout.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Welcome to the wide wonderful world of...
Obsessive-compulsive blogging!

I can imagine that "obsessive-compulsive-blogging" will be the newest psychological malady du jour...a cyber-oriented "cause celebre". It's easy to get sucked in, after all. Blogging can be a great release, especially for someone like me, who doesn't really like to 'confront', yet wishes to make his opinions known. During "about" the last week and a half, though, I've been "blog-grinding", my term for typing something, anything, in order to keep my blog fresh. Is this "blog burnout"? Ideas for posting are few and far between these days. I read the newspaper for something to blog about, but I don't have the mental energy to even make notes of what I've read.

I've had over 10,000 hits on this blog since I began it last September. And I've been posting like a madman. And I've enjoyed those posts; I really have. But for some reason, lately I don't have the energy to post like that; sometimes I've had 2 or 3 (or more) posts in a day, and it's quite a pace to maintain, after all. I feel my blogging enthusiasm waning. You might've noticed that I didn't post anything at all over this last weekend. I think my brain needs a break. The last time I felt like this (last summer), I got crazy and deleted everything I've ever written. I'm not about to do that, but I am going to give myself the option of not blogging every day, if I don't want to. It could be I'll have some hot and heavy topic to blog about tomorrow, but if I don't, and I don't wanna post, I won't.

I've tried to be aware of all that's going on, what with all of my multi-part posts, and they are a lot of fun to write. When I feel like writing them, that is. Last Friday, I posted one of those multi-part things, but I felt like I was "grinding it out". I think I try to know everything, I try to write about everything, but day after day after day after week, after get the idea. Right now, it's hard to write THIS post. It's almost like, I'd just like to cover up the computer with a big cloth so I can't see it. So I wanna "cut back" on the sheer number of posts I've posted.

Maybe I'll just let whatever I post revolve around a photo, such as the one of Coeur d'Alene Lake (below)...I can always write about my memories of something, for those are unique; after all, we each have unique memories, don't we? And even though I'm cynical about a lot of things, "constant cynicism", such as what's been an ingredient of 99% of my postings, just isn't me. Or is it? I guess I'll find out. So, what I'm gonna do is give myself the option of taking a couple (or more) days off each week, and I'll just go from there. So I'll leave you with this photo, and I'll go from there...

I wouldn't be surprised if this view of the "point" at Tubbs Hill was taken from one of those ultra-overpriced rooms at the top of the Coeur d'Alene Rezzort. For those prices, the view had BETTER DOGGONE-WELL BE A GOOD VIEW! (An example of my constant cynicism) Me, I think I'd rather stay in a cheap motel and see the lake for free. That's me, though.

Don't worry...I'm giving myself a bit of flexibility so I don't have a major meltdown. Those of you who compulsively blog like I do will understand. Maybe I should form a chapter of "bloggers anonymous"?

Friday, June 09, 2006

...a TOBACCO company offering quit-smoking help?
What the HECK is Philip-Morris up to here?

I keep seeing their commercials on TV. The ads say something like, "are you trying to quit smoking? Are you trying to find the right way to tell your teenager not to smoke? Visit our website; you'll get all the details at Philip-Morris-dot-com." And once again, I have to ask, in best bewildered fashion, "Huh? What?" (My stock-in-trade confusion indicator) Wait a minute here...isn't Philip-Morris a TOBACCO company? Isn't the chief use for tobacco to be stuffed into Cigarettes, which KILL people? And every time I see one of these commercials, I get steamed. Remember the big issue which revolved around McDonald's and how a cup of their hot coffee got spilled, burned a lady in her car as she was at the drive-thru, and how a nasty lawsuit ensued, and the lady was awarded DAMAGES? Well, now, on all paper cups used by every drive-in in the universe, it says, "The beverage you are about to enjoy is hot, so be careful", yadda yadda yadda. That's "politically-correct-ese" for "Hey, idiot! The coffee is hot! Don't say we didn't warn ya!"

And I say, that's what Philip-Morris Tobacco and Carcinogen Distribution Company is doing by putting all kinds of "don't smoke stuff" in their TV ads. In other words, it's their way of saying, "well, if you smoke our cigarettes and DIE, we're not responsible, because after all, we've WARNED the masses that cigarettes are dangerous!" In a vainglorious attempt to cultivate a positive public image, Philip-Morris is attempting to SNOW us all! I actually sent Philip-Morris an e-mail, chastising them for hiding behind this indefensable smokescreen. Funny thing, though, I got no answer back. I guess whoever's responsible for e-mail replies was taking a "smoke break". If someone wants to smoke, then that's their "thing". What I hate is glitzy P.R. stuff trying to portray a company's image into something that it's NOT. Well, yeah, you and no one else should smoke, and if you smoke, you should STOP. But ironically, if these P.R. messages help keep Philip-Morris off the hook, then ironically, their "don't smoke" commercials will enable them to keep making cigarettes, which will continue to KILL people. I said, CIGARETTES KILL PEOPLE! And no, I am not employed by Philip Morris. They wouldn't want me.

This comic-book world is truly going to hell dept.: Biff! Bam! Pow! Zowie! Let's hear it for "D.C. Comics" SUPERHEROES! Holy cow, Batman! Hey, it's the FLASH!!! It's a bird, it's a, it's SUPERMAN! And, BATWOMAN is being resurrected for publication; she will once again reside with all of the other superheroes at D.C. Comics. And, get this! HOLY SEX-CHANGE, Batman...she's a LESBIAN!!!" Hey, I didn't believe my eyes either, but there it was, on the entertainment page in today's paper. (an article, not the comic strip. Whew!) So little 7 year old Ricky, D.C. comic-book in hand, will be asking, "Mommy, what's a lesbian? And why is she kissing another girl?" Of course, in today's fractured families, that may be par for the course. Who knows?

I got a woman, mean as she can be dept.: I hope you all got to see "A Black and White Night", the great Roy Orbison concert recorded the year before he died. (It is showed every now and then on Channel 7, PBS) In that concert, he was backed up by Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, K.D. Lang, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, and the musicians who were in Elvis' band. And Bruce Springsteen was so excited to be there; the expression on his face as he harmonizes with Roy, or trades guitar lines with James Burton, quite possibly the world's best guitarist, is unforgettable. Musicians absolutely loving the fact that they're playing together, and feeding off each other. The excitement shared by everyone on stage literally brings me to tears every time I watch that show. THAT'S what I miss when I play music...supportive people, fun people, people who create and have a good time playing together. Music is the only thing that makes me feel anything anymore. It may not be as fun to play anymore, but I still do it. Because it's important for me to do it. Why, I'm no longer sure...

"There's one for you, 232 for me" dept.: Why? "Cos I'm the TAXMAAAAAAN"...It seems George Harrison's 1966 Beatle Tune is really apropos for what's happening around these parts; I read about one resident who lives on Lake Pend Oreille (near Sandpoint) whose property taxes went up 232% THIS YEAR!!! People are willing to pay through the NOSE for lake property, which means that "plain ol' folks" who have lived on lakefront property FOREVER, run the risk of getting taxed out of their homes. It's happened down here on Coeur d'Alene Lake, too. I know that there's such a thing as "grandfather clauses", and it's a shame that an Idaho Resident who's lived on the lake a long time, can't have "grandfathered-in" taxes, rather than new ultra-high taxes caused by affluent rich folks who are trying to escape their personal hells by coming up here and making it hell for existing residents. No one ever said the world is "fair", but this just ain't right, y'know? Hint to all politicos out there: High Taxes have contributed to various instances of political downfall in this area. Consider yourselves WARNED.

Can it be that the M's are HOT right now? Ichiro is hitting the ball like a man possessed. Raoul Ibanez is tearing the cover off the ball. The pitching's been looking pretty good; J.J. Putz, the new closer, has been putting the pedal to the medal. The starting pitching is looking pretty good right now, too. Yeah, there are still "holes" in the lineup; pitcher Joel Piniero has been wildly inconsistent lately, and Richie Sexson might as well wear a blindfold when he goes up to bat (maybe he'd hit more if he did), but things are 'beginning' to look rather good for the M's. I don't wanna say FOR SURE that they're a better team these days; I don't wanna jinx 'em. But they have definitely been worth watching the last few games.

Playing for small potatoes dept.: Whenever I see a well-known musical act playing Casinos and county fairs, etc., I know that their careers are on the downhill slide. Leann Rimes, that young country songbird who was the hottest thing since scrambled eggs a few years ago, is playing the casino circuit. Hmm...washed up before 25, how about that. And now it comes to my attention that Los Lobos, the band who hit HYOOGE with their version of Richie Valens' "La Bamba", is playing at Northern Quest Casino. And, Wynnona (half of the Judds), is playing at the Casino in Worley. Maybe her Mom quit the music business just in time, huh? I will still never forget the time that I saw an ad that said Black Oak Arkansas was playing in Butte, Montana (the town where old FBI guys are farmed out to, from what I've heard).

Back to things local dept.: A big business in Coeur d'Alene's downtown area, Wiggett's Antiques has been forced to move into a new location practically overnight, because a new moneygrubbing landlord or property owner or developer (they're all the same to me) bought the building and wanted to use it for something else. (Translation: there's more money to be made if the antique store gets kicked out, which is what happened.) But, Wiggett's is moving just down 4th Street a couple of blocks, and I poked my nose in there today, and their store's looking pretty good. I told 'em I was looking for hydroplane pins and buttons, and they said they'd be on the lookout.

Yesteryear on the pier dept.: I found a view of the old Playland Pier taken from the LAKE, which means it's a view that I've never seen before, and I've got that view on display for you here. If you "click it" after you "pick it" (paraphrasing the WSP's seat-belt campaign), the photo will enlarge. May I present...Playland Pier...

Perhaps this view was taken from Tubbs Hill; it looks in a northwesterly direction. You can see the Ferris Wheel, and that "tower" to the left of it is where the swings that went out over the lake were located. Of course, Playland Pier is now Independence Point. And, along the seawall of City Park, you can see shorter trees nearer the lake, with bigger trees in back. Those trees have since disappeared, victims of all kinds of nasty tree infirmities. This old photo was taken by Leo's Studio in Spokane, probably late '40s or early '50s, and I managed to sharpen and brighten it with my photoshop program.

One observation: I posted above about musicians on the downhill slide who are playing casinos and other two-bit dives...still, they're out there doing what they wanna do and they get money for it. How many people in the workforce can say that? I can't say I've enjoyed very many jobs I've had.