Thursday, May 31, 2007

Another one for the birds...
(or, "Chickensh*t news", part two...)

It's kinda crazy the way things work sometimes. A few posts under this one, I wrote about how Chicken Farmers are running out of birdsh*t..."Chicken residue" is in demand these days because fertilizer prices are skyrocketing, due to rising fuel costs and whatever else. So chicken farmers are being put under increasing pressure to feed their flocks more and more so they can sh*t more...well, besides being cheaper than other fertilizers, another reason for chickensh*t's appeal is that it's easy to work with, not wet and sloppy. Ugh. Well, I read in the noozepaper today that there's an energy plant back in the midwest that will soon be converting TURKEY SH*T into, well, energy. All of this news about birdsh*t lately; well, it's either that or politics. Even tho some of THAT can also be chickensh*t at times. So, I suppose we're all helping the national energy crisis by chowing down on assorted bird parts, whether they be chicken or turkey. Yeah, I'll do my part...I'll have a drumstick and a thigh...and I must admit I have a weakness for chicken nuggets. But, back to Tom Turkey...I've already learned that Turkeys are basically bred into deformity for the Thanksgiving Season, with the most effective breeding techniques resulting in the poor birds' inability to walk, due to chests that are so big and heavy that they can barely get from the water trough to the food trough. That would be known as the "Dolly Parton" effect as related to Turkey breeding.

And then, to complicate the situation, there are those out there, I'm sure, that would say very smartly, "well, you would do well to just forego food that comes from animals and go vegetarian". Well, true, that way no animals would have to die so that I can eat hearty. But maybe I'm calloused to all that; most of the time when I snarf down a burger, I don't have visions of big sad cow eyes staring at me. I suppose that makes me hardhearted and cruel. That's another reason the vegans out there will say you shouldn't eat meat; "we don't want animals to suffer", they say. And I suppose that's a good point. Although, once, I saw a "Twilight Zone" episode in which a little girl was picking flowers, and everytime she picked one, the little plant stalk cried out in pain. So, how much pain does one cause to a tree when they pick an apple? Or, when you wrench a cob of corn from the stalk? And who knows how much plant pain Euell Gibbons used to cause every time he wanted some Wild Hickory Nuts? (Aw, come on, you remember those old Post Cereal commercials, don'tcha?) Well, I've got to consume something; oxygen by itself just won't do the trick.

Speaking of oxygen, my doctor thinks I might not get enough when I'm sleeping. So I have to do this sleep-test thing. Friday night, I have to go to a sleep clinic, where they'll attach all kinds of wires, gizmos, bells and whistles to me, and then once I have several miles of cables attached to me, then they'll say, "now, SLEEP FOR US." Ack. They say they provide sleep meds. Great. I'll have half a bottle, please. I have a hard enough time getting to sleep as it is, me being just short of a raving insomniac, and now they're gonna try to get me to do just that, in a foreign environment, with all kinds of equipment strapped around me. Hmmm...maybe I should have some TURKEY before I do this sleep thing. They're always talking about the tryptophan in turkey being some kind of relaxation aid. That way, I can sleep and help the nation's energy crisis all at the same time. And, so far, this post has gone in a complete 360-degree circle, hasn't it? Meantime, I'm sure I've put at least a few readers to sleep here. ZZZZZzzzzzzz......

Talkin' baseball...Encouraging signs for the Seattle Mariners; they're hitting and scoring runs these days. In the process, they've proven the old saying, "you can't lose 'em all". And the pitching hasn't been too awfully bad, although Felix Hernandez has been a bit shaky in his last two starts after returning from a slight arm injury. Jeff Weaver, their megabucks pitcher who can't pitch, has turned down an offer to make a couple of minor-league starts...I guess that's his option. And frankly, the M's management doesn't know what to do with him. They paid megabucks for him, after all. If Weaver pitches and the M's lose, it's money wasted. If they don't use him at all, it's money wasted. If they send Weaver down to the minor leagues and make him stay there, it's money wasted. If the M's had wanted to use Weaver, they could've done so by now. He's been 'out' due to shoulder tightness. Anyway, he pitched a 'simulated game' recently, and he'll probably pitch another one and return to the M's in a couple of weeks. Weaver's record this season is already 0-5, with an ERA of 15,327,488.

Good Riddance...The Desiderata says, "avoid loud and aggressive people, for they are vexations to the spirit", and that DEFINITELY describes Rosie O'Donnell, who left ABC's "The View" after using that show as her own bully pulpit for who knows how long. Actually, I am probably unqualified to write about this, since I don't watch Daytime TV tripe, but over the last coupla months, the news shows have been sprinkling their programs with Rosie O'Donnell 'highlights' (low-lites?), in which she puts her foot down, stamps thru the floor, and yells at the rest of the gals in a voice that could make paint peel. In addition to being extremely strongly opinionated, her voice is just LOUD. Maybe she just oughta forget about TV appearances and go make a living as an Air Raid Siren; I think she's loud enough for that.

The MSNBC watch, volume 862...Joe Scarborough and his cronies are doing their thing in the 3-hour slot formerly occupied by "The I-man" again this week. On Monday, it was hard to watch, because ALL of the people on the program, were ALL talking at once; and it reminded me of times I've spent in coffee shops where there were half a dozen yuppies all sitting around a table, drinking their mochas and prattling on and on (and on) about nothing in particular. This was AWFUL to watch! Meanwhile, I read an article on the internet that says Imus' alleged 'racism' ain't what got him in trouble, it was the fact that SPONSORS were pulling their ads. That's what got Imus in trouble. Follow the money. Meantime, Imus has been hosting another group of 'kids with cancer' (of ALL races) at his Imus Ranch in New Mexico. Yup, he's a big, bad, mean and nasty racist, ain't he? Personally, I find Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson more offensive.

Well, I can't wait to get this sleep thing done. After I do that, I'll go home and try to get some rest. That shows you how my life has changed. I used to party on Friday nights. Now I'm doing sleep studies. I'm just too exciting for my own good, ain't I?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I don't smoke, but...
Should I pass out cigars or something?

Both pairs of my two-inch finch have eggs in the nest. Now, it doesn't take any intelligence to breed finch; they're more prolific than rabbits. The last time I'd checked one of the nests, it had 7 eggs in it. The other day I looked, and I only saw 6 eggs. Huh? What? Now, the finch oftentimes leave feathers in the nest, and among the 6 eggs was a little tuft of gray feather...but the feather MOVED...and I saw a tiny beak with its mouth open, and a couple of little gangly legs, and yep, I'm a bird-grandpa! And today, pop, pop, pop, three more finch; oh my gosh. There's four eggs left in the nest, along with three eggs in the other finches' nest. The tiny little newborn finch aren't even half an inch long.

The lady at the pet shop told me, when I first got the finch, "they'll lay eggs, so just throw 'em away", but I couldn't bring myself to do it. Isn't that what finches do, eat, sleep and procreate? So, while I advocate "pro-choice" because I don't want government interfering with peoples' lives, I suppose if I were in the situation, I wouldn't, and probably couldn't choose abortion. How about that...dumb little finch-birds teaching me things about myself. For, I couldn't abort a finch. Well, early on, I tossed one egg away. But the next day the Daddy finch looked at me when I was cleaning the cage, and he seemed to be think-saying to me, "you aren't gonna take any more of my eggs, are ya?"

SUMMER'S ARRIVED WITH A VENGEANCE in some places anyway. In North Idaho, where I used to live, temps are in the 80's and 90's all week long; clear skies and plenty of sunshine. And that is too hot for me. Just like it's too cold up there in the winter for me. And I'll admit it was nice not to slip and slide around in the snow this winter. Now, I'm going to find out about summertime here on the Oregon Coast. I was on the beach yesterday, it was sunny, and there were some strong winds out of the north, and breathing that clean, clear, fresh and cool air was just so nice. Watching the waves crash ashore is also kinda cool. I am hoping that the air circulation around these parts keeps me from having allergy attacks. I've only had one so far this year, and that was after the kid next door mowed my lawn a coupla days ago, stirring up all of the little pollen-gremlins that float thru the air and put my sinuses into interstellar overdrive. But it's been windy the last couple of days. And no heavy sneezing on my part. AAAAAAH.

I watch Northwest Cable News on cable TV, and that's a great program for finding out what's happening in Idaho, Washington and Oregon, plus they update national and international news as well. And, that's where I find out what the weather's like where I used to live. But, in the early morning, when I watch, a lady weathercaster is on duty, (I won't drop names), and I'm sorry, I can't listen to her. She attempts to turn every weathercast into a pragmatic lesson-type of thing. She'll venture forth a few sentences, then pause awkwardly. A few more sentences, and another pause. She probably pauses to let the info sink in, but when she gets going again, I'm trying to figure out the connection with what she said before the pause, to what she's saying after the pause. I can't listen to her, and I've tried. I am sure she's a really nice lady, and I'm not against women forecasters, but this particular lady is just kinda "scattered" somehow. She's blonde, but I don't think that has anything to do with it. Does it?

SMOKE, SMOKE, SMOKE THAT CIGARETTE part two...I posted recently that I was just about overcome by cigarette smoke while I was playing guitar at a jam session in a local bar; I just started feeling a little ill on stage; breaking sweats and feeling a huge lump of 'something' in my throat. That didn't happen tonight when I jammed; not as many people were smoking, from what I could tell. I wonder sometimes how much my lungs are damaged from second-hand smoke; when I was growing up, my folks smoked all the time; I've played drums in bands and that's a pretty physical thing, and I suppose I deep-inhaled more than my share of cigarette smoke doing that as well. Add to that, being around numerous smokers all my life, in break rooms, on job sites, when I used to go out drinking (no, no, no, I don't drink it no more), and in various other situations. For about the last 15 years, I have led a very clean (too clean?) life; largely away from cigarette smoke, and I don't "recreate" in bars anymore.

The only time I go out now is if I'm going to play music somewhere. So I suppose all of that time away from smoke may have rendered me more sensitive to the presence of nicotine and all other kinds of dubious airborne elements? All I know is, after I'd left the bar and gotten back home, within 2 hours I felt better, tho I did a lot of hacking and coughing from all of the blue haze I'd inhaled all night. I know smoking in bars is banned in Idaho and Washington, but not down here in Oregon. Not yet, anyway. It turns out the musicians' union is advocating the banning of smoking in all Oregon bars/taverns. One of the head chiefs of the union, a former musician, said that smoking cut his musical career short; he'd said that after 5 nights a week of singing in a smoky bar, he had virtually no voice left. I'm not much for political correctness, but I am a big fan of the PC movement to ban smoking in public places. We all know smoking is dangerous. So, too, is inhaling the residue from someone else's cigarette.

TAKE ME OUT TO THE OLD BALL GAME...wait, I'll pass on that...I heard that Barry Bonds, the San Francisco Giants' chemically-enhanced home-run machine, has been stockpiling a lot of souvenirs from the game, probably to start his own shrine to himself, perhaps? Well, there was a great quote the other day that Bonds spouted forth; another reason for athletes to keep their yaps shut. Someone asked Bonds if he was gonna donate any of that stuff to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and he said he didn't care about that, after which he actually said, "I take care of ME." I wonder if his shrine to himself will include any steroid bottles? Hmmm. "I take care of me." Truly a statement that reflects our times. Meanwhile, the Seattle Mariners, the team I root for, the team I suffer with, are, I think, one game over .500. So far, my long-standing prediction is correct; the M's will be a .500 team for the rest of the year. Why? Because in addition to the teams they can beat, there are a bunch of teams they can't beat. At best, this is a building year for the M's. And, a .500 record will mean the M's have made progress. Whether that's enough for various coaches and higher-ups in the Mariners' Organization to keep their jobs, well, who knows?

It couldn't happen to a nicer team...The New York Yankees are 14 games out of first place. They are in LAST place in their division. They got beat by TORONTO this week! Toronto beating the Yankees is like Pee Wee Herman defeating Andre the Giant in a wrestling match. And no matter how much money owner George Steinbrenner throws at the situation, it just doesn't get any better. In last night's game, a baserunner STOLE HOME, catching pitcher Andy Pettite daydreaming. Mercenary pitcher Roger Clemens is slated to pitch on Monday, and he'll probably win a few games for the Bronx Blunderers, but it's gonna take more than just one pitcher, who's past his prime, to turn things around. On sports-radio this evening, one of the talking heads said "the Yankees are probably toast in their division, but don't count 'em out of the WILD CARD RACE..." Well, maybe Mr. Steinbrenner will dig really deep in his pockets and buy a few more superstar players, facilitating a history-making onslaught. And maybe the Yankees have a chance. If the Yankees can win 20 or 30 games in a row, while the other four teams ABOVE the Yankees in their division EACH lose 40 or 50 games IN A ROW, yeah, maybe we'll see the Yanks in the World Series this year.

And, on the former-Don Imus-early-morning-timeslot-watch-on-MSNBC, (yes, it's now relegated to 'footnote status' on this blog), Joe Scarborough is once again hosting the program. I think Joe's about the best 'guest-host' MSNBC has coughed up so far. I hear MSNBC's ratings are waaay down. I'm thinking, a crucified and muzzled Don Imus would bring in better ratings than all these other guys are bringing in. And, ratings mean MONEY for the corporation. Less ratings, less advertising revenue. And ho-hum, less viewers. Yawn.......

Monday, May 28, 2007

On the search for Old Music...
...and the weird thing is, it's not rock and roll!

I grew up in the '60s, and the first two 45's I bought were "Turn, Turn, Turn" by the Byrds and "She's Just My Style" by Gary Lewis and the Playboys. And of course, I bought records by everyone else; Creedence, The Beatles, Steppenwolf, and on and on. I feel like I'm a walking encyclopedia of music that came out between 1964 and 1980. I've tried to stay current 'after 1980', and to a degree, I have, but I prefer the richness and variety of music which came out in my younger years. And, whenever I hear a record from '64 thru '80 that I've never heard before, I like it just as much as the stuff I've been familiar with for a long time. Case in point: There was a 60s group called the "Liverpool Five", who recorded for RCA. They didn't have any big hits, but I'd remembered hearing about them, and the group name stuck in my mind. I ordered their first album on Ebay, never having heard a note of it until last week. And it's great! It really is. I don't know, there was an exciting freshness to the music back then that a lot of current music (or post-80s music) just doesn't seem to have.

When I was a kid, Mom used to take me shopping at a St. Vincent DePaul store. Then we'd go to a Salvation Army, and those places were where I had my first exposure to buying 2nd hand records. At the age of 10, I was buying all the cheap 2nd hand records that struck my fancy. And, I bought not only 45's and LP's, but I would actually buy old 78's, from the '20s, '30s '40s and '50s. I like most any music if it's got a snappy tempo and a catchy melody. So at that tender age, I not only had Beatles (and other groups') records, I had 78's by Glenn Miller, Paul Whiteman, Swing and Sway with Sammy Kaye, Woody Herman, among many others. This was when I was young. Listening to music way before my time. So why did I like those old 78's? It might have had something to do with listening to records that Mom would play on the stereo, such things as "Oklahoma!", "Porgy and Bess", Big-Band Swing records, and spirituals, hymns and the like. So I guess I had all of that bouncing around in my brain before I'd ever started buying records. And I still prefer big, booming music with plenty of diversity and creativity.

How else can I explain that I like "MacArthur Park" (a symphony of sorts) as much (but for different reasons) as "I Am The Walrus" (the strangest song ever), and then perhaps I'll hear some old tearjerking love song, and it comes close to bringing me to tears. Music pulls at me, tugs at me, and it always has. Or that my record collection includes Perry Como and Frank Sinatra, alongside Blood, Sweat and Tears, Chicago, Captain Beyond, Barclay James Harvest and the Moody Blues (among many, many more). And, I was very pleasantly surprised by how the group "U-2" has grown through the years; when their first album came out at the turn of the 80s, I thot it was good, but that it sounded like a whole lot of other bands at the time. Then, several years later, I got "The Joshua Tree", their big album that really put them on the map, and I was literally astonished by how great it was, and by how much the group had gone. If I was going to try and find a "new Beatles of the 80s", I imagine "U2" would come close in terms of intensity, believability and musicality. Like I said, I've made efforts to stay current. Meager, perhaps, but efforts nonetheless.

But, I'm drifting here. After all, this post is about the search for old, pre-rock and roll music, because after all, I can listen to that stuff too. One of the '78s I bought when I was a kid was by Xavier Cugat and his orchestra. He evidently specialized in Latin-type tunes, and I found a record of his called "La Ola Marina". It's a peppy little song...several singers, in harmony, bark out, "AY! La Ola Marina"...and of course I don't speak Spanish, so I don't know what the rest of the lyrics are. The last time I'd heard that record was in the late '60s. Trouble is, ever since, at various times over the yearsw, that song would come to mind, and I actually heard it as it played in my head! So I decided to do something about it. If a song gets stuck in my head, I actually have to obtain a recording of it and play it. Then the song assumes a more logical place in my musical memory. So, I went into Ebay's "Want It Now" section, and posted that I was looking for Xavier Cugat's "La Ola Marina". And, someone out there had it, and sold it to me just recently. And, when I played it last week, I had not heard the song in almost 40 years! And it's just like I remember it. "Ay-ay-ay a-boom-boom-boom, La Ola Marina!" I'd say that record came out in the late 40's to early '50s era.

And, now, just lately, there's another one o'them old "78 songs" that have been invading what's left of my brain, and to me, the song is just immortal. Some songs have lyrics that just "take you there"; they're written so well and their lyrical imagery is so vivid, that you just can't forget a song like that. And, in this case, it's by a singer who I don't even care for that much, because most of the time, his voice just GRATES on my eardrums. The singer is Jerry Vale, who got his start in the big-band era and then established himself as a solo artist right around the turn of the '50s, and recorded well into the '70s. But there is ONE SONG that he does, that I picked up on one of those old '78s, back when I was a kid, and the title of the song is "Two Purple Shadows". When I bought that record, I had actually heard of Jerry Vale, so there was a little bit of recognition there, but it was the title that grabbed me, and I thot, "I've gotta hear this"! So, I bought it, took it home, played it, and it became a musical "worm" that buried itself in my brain, and tho I got rid of the record long ago, the song has a way of staying. It is a beautiful song, and Jerry Vale's voice is just right for it, and I tell ya, I have "felt" these lyrics deeply at various times over the years. Let me share the lyrics with you:

Two purple shadows on the snow; shone from her window to the street below
And I was so surprised; I stood there hypnotized, I never realized I loved her so...

Two purple shadows on the snow; so close together they were kissing, I know
That date she had with me, she broke so easily, that it was plain to see I'd better go

What would you do in my place...what would you do?
What would you do in my case ... if it happened to you?

The wind blew the fire from my heart ... somehow I found the courage to depart...
And as I tore up two tickets for a show ... They turned to two purple shadows on the snow.

Those lyrics! While I don't gravitate to them out of a sense of love lost (usually I FEEL BETTER after a breakup), many times in my life I've felt like I was "on the outside", rejected, with no hope, all by myself. Upon hearing the song, it's easy to imagine a cold night, a covering of snow on the ground, mingled with a sense of bitter disappointment and letdown...I feel like I am there...shivering...totally at wit's end...feeling lonelier than the Maytag Repairman. And when I think about that song, I can picture myself standing up to my knees in snow, looking up at the window, as my heart implodes into several thousand miniscule tidbits before disintegrating altogether. That's a hallmark of a good song; it takes you there, it makes you feel things. "Two Purple Shadows" may not be a blues song, but it's just as powerful. If I had to sum up in one word how that song makes me feel, I would have to say that one-word would be DESOLATION.

And, I found "Two Purple Shadows" on the internet. Turns out that old 78 was also released on 45, and I found it at a website called, which works a lot like Ebay, only it deals strictly with records. (Back in the 50s, records were released in numerous forms until the industry settled on 7-inch 45 and 12-inch LP, and 78s bit the dust.)

Friday, May 25, 2007

So, if we can't call it
What CAN we call it???
A long time ago, some scientist in a laboratory somewhere invented a thin, clear plastic film which turned out to be really, really great for keeping food fresh; it also comes in handy for sophmoric college-dorm pranks involving commodes (ahem)...and the company that the scientist worked for, called the product "cellophane". The federal government, in its infinite wisdom (or lack thereof), ruled that the word "cellophane" is inherently descriptive of the product, and approved the name for general use. In short, the word "cellophane", the government decided, could not be trademarked. (I heard about this years ago, but I can't remember the source. You'll have to believe me. Would I lie?)
Well, okay, I saw another news report where the Hormel Company, makers of the 'mystery meat' known as "SPAM", is all up in arms about the cyberspace usage of the term "Spam". Hormel wants do away with internet software names that feature the word "spam", as in "spaminator" or "spam blocker", and indeed, if this whole thing gets ultimately politically correct, all of the e-mail sites will have to re-name their "spam" folders. I have both Yahoo and Hotmail, and both use, liberally, the word "spam". Okay, so, then, here's the question: If you can't call cyber-garbage "spam", what can you call it? I suppose if this were a less politically-correct age, we could see, perhaps, "Crap filters"; indeed, there is a product out there called "Ccleaner", which the software manufacturer labels as, "formerly known as Crap Cleaner". Well, that's what it does. It cleans out the crap! But it has now been given a politically-correct name.
Well, a "spam blocker" cleans out the spam. Hmmm...I'm treading on dangerous ground here. For, it seems "spam" could end up being synonymous with "crap" if indeed "crap" took the place of the word "spam". As far as I know, there are no licensed products out there who've registered the word "crap", not even fertilizer companies. If you turn back to the food world for a moment, there are dieticians and doctors everywhere who firmly believe that spam IS crap. Salty, and who knows what's in there? Gizzards? Hooves? Pork Lips? What's in that stuff? It's theoretically "Pork Shoulder", although in my experience, "Shoulder" really doesn't have a lot of chewable parts. So the meat's gotta come from somewhere! I used to actually slice up Spam and toss it into the frying pan along with the scrambled eggs I was cooking. There was so much grease in Spam, I didn't have to melt butter into the pan to keep the eggs from sticking. The eggs slid around liberally in Spam grease. Kinda the same way the spam slides downward to your stomach, where it can sit for DAYS. I speak from experience here.
Anyway, back to the computer world...right now, the "Crap" that the "Ccleaner" cleans out has more to do with broken cookies, damaged files, ravaged registries, and the like. You know, all of the little "gremlins" that can make your computer run slower than coagulated meat parts which are hard-pressed together to make Spam. Meanwhile, "Spam" in the computer sense, is all of the garbage you get in your e-mails. I suppose pop-ups would also be a form of "Spam"; basically, "Spam" usually has no socially redeeming value whatsoever; it's stuff that "phishes" for your attention, trying to get you to buy a lifetime supply of genuine plastic fish-hooks, or to perhaps trick you into sending your bank account number to some guy in Lower Slobbovia who can't get his own money out of his dead distant-relatives' trust account because they were killed in an accident between a rickshaw and a water buffalo or whatever.
"Spam" doesn't refer to the garbage already in your computer ("Crap"), although, you could perhaps refer to "Spam" as "constantly updated in zillions-of-new-forms Crap." Anyway, I hear you thinking to yourself (because you're thinking loudly) "Well, what's the point? Hurry Up! I haven't got all day here!" My point is, the word "Spam" describes, in a definitive sense, all of the garbage that ends up in our in-boxes (and in this blog, probably). There's no term that describes it better! Anyone who has ever eaten food pretty-much knows that Spam is on the lower end of the food chain; it's not a gourmet item by any means. There's not a whole lot of intrinsic value in Spam; most people I talk to pretty much sidestep the stuff. Well, society doesn't thrive on junk e-mails, either, so in a cyber sense, this junk clogs up our in-boxes, in much the same way that Spam can clog your arteries. There. Point, set, match. "Spam" refers, in an omnibus sense, to stuff you don't need that you wanna get rid of. Like George W. Bush, for instance. The Spam Prezzident.
I think also, that the terms "Spam" and "Junk" are used interchangeably in the cyber world. And there's lotsa folks who think "Spam" is "Junk Food", not even good enough to feed their frothing-at-the-mouth Pit Bulls and Rottweilers with. Arf! While I haven't eaten Spam in over 20 years, I'd sure miss the term in a computer sense. The politically-correct characterless yawners have already chased Don Imus from his job; and it's time here to issue an S.O.S. That would be, "Save Our Spam".

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Well, well, this life, jobs are lost. Every day there are massive layoffs at various big corporations all over the country. All you have to do is open whatever daily noozpaper you read to the business section. So, Mr./Mrs./Ms. Bluecollar, don't feel bad if you've been laid-off, for it happens to everyone, sooner or later. Even the high and mighty among us aren't secure. May I introduce two people, one of whom will be waitin' in the welfare line, and one who already is...

The guy on the left is JOHN SEIGENTHALER, erstwhile multi-purpose person at MSNBC; he does (or rather, did) news on the weekends for NBC, and on MSNBC you could see him as he provided the intros and extros for various crime-oriented programs such as "Dark Heart/Iron Hand", a program about crime, or "Lockup", a show about life behind bars; I think everyone who's thinking about being a criminal should watch "Lockup" and make an informed decision about whether they want to screw up their lives or not. I see John as one of the faithful, relatively unsung personalities at MSNBC, a sort of "everyman" who did everything that was asked of him, all the while never achieving any kind of network stardom. He was laid off recently. That's what he gets for being a dutiful employee who never once said "nappy headed ho". To me, Seigenthaler had sort of a "regular guy" image; not flashy, not glitzy; rather, he was a guy who was doing his job to the best of his ability. Like any of the zillions of others out there in the workforce.

The guy on the right is STONE PHILLIPS, whom y'all might know a little bit better; he's been one of the constant presences on "Dateline NBC", as well as also doing similar things on MSNBC; introducing/extroducing programs (extroducing?) as well as actually hosting programs on both NBC and MSNBC. Stone was quite high-profile, actually, and he's one of the relatively few people who had smoothness, looks, smarts, and style to pull off the high-profile things he was asked to do. And it's all for naught, because he's going to be laid off soon. (I got this info from the website of 'Northwest Cable News', by the way.) Evidently MSNBC wants more 'flexible' employees who can be utilized in a number of areas. Hey, I HAVE AN IDEA!!! Why not have them host the 3-hour slot in the early mornings formerly occupied by Don Imus? Oh, wait...NBC/MSNBC has tons of people they can heap extra duties on, at a cheaper rate than Mr. Seigenthaler and Mr. Phillips would command. That's gotta be it. It's always about the money. I always thot Phillips had a certain star quality, and I think he'd make a terrific network news anchor. Maybe, Stone, you oughta apply for KATIE COURIC'S job at CBS!

Meantime, Jim Cramer, the wacky guy from CNBC's "MAD MONEY" investment program, is hosting the former Imus slot. Cramer won't sit down, he's so hyper. And lately, he's been bringing his board of sound effects to early-mornings; honks, beeps, explosions, screams and more...quite funny, actually. Maybe I'm gonna hafta start watching "Mad Money" after all. Earlier, I said Cramer wasn't 'early morning' material, but I like him the more I see him. Maybe he appeals to the "wacko" in me. He'll go down in the broadcasting annals as the first totally bald guy to anchor an early-morning-news program. I suppose the people in makeup had to make sure Cramer's head didn't shine too much; the reflection would've burned out the TV cameras.

No, I don't really think Mr.'s Phillips and Seigenthaler will be waitin' in the welfare line anytime soon. Gosh, if nothing else they could be game show hosts, since Bob Barker is retiring this year! One more thing; MSNBC re-runs the same old shows over and over and over, so you can still catch John Seigenthaler there, and I'm sure MSNBC won't be deleting any of the many NBC programs featuring Stone Phillips anytime soon, either. Old programs don't cost as much as live programming, you see. Follow the money!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

...just don't smoke it around me...puh-leeze....

Actually, now that I think about it, it's all my fault. I'm the one who exposed myself to cigarette smoke. See, there's a lot of places where people can't smoke in bars anymore. Oregon isn't one of those places. This evening, after a week's break to collect my wits (they're pretty scattered), I went back to the bar where jam sessions happen. I bought a new cheap guitar, so I wanted to test out my new toy. It sounded great. So did the other guitar I brought. Now, if I could only find a way to play both of them at the same time, I'd really be on to something. Anyway, I started feeling weird in my throat while onstage playing the felt like, well, dinner had come back up on me...a hot, disgusting, awful feeling in my throat that made me was like my throat had become one big phlegm factory (that would be a great name for a punk band, "Phlegm Factory"; I can see it on the marquee now!), and I started feeling clammy, sweaty and just strange.

I went out in the parking lot, to cool off and cough some more, and that's when I realized I had inhaled too much cigarette smoke, and I was paying the price. I actually had a physical reaction to the smoke in the bar. I did feel queasy for a while. And I flashed back to other nights where I'd come home from the bar, and couldn't get to sleep because I was hacking and coughing too much. I realize this post is rather gross, and I'm sorry if I've turned your gills green, but I just can't believe how awful I'd felt, how suddenly it happened, and how much better I feel NOW, as I'm typing this. Well, down here on the Oregon Coast, the air is ultra-clean, and the constant coastal winds blow all the pollen away, and I'm not having allergy attacks this year. Although, all the clean living I'm doing these days may have left me more susceptible to cigarette smoke. Seriously, this is a case where I could come down with lung cancer from guitar playing. Ack.

So, if you happen to go into an Oregon bar and see some people playing music, and one of the guitar players onstage is wearing a cheesy little paper mask, that would be me. Hmmm...that would be quite the outfit for a punk band! (Remember, DEVO put flower pots on their heads, so the "mask idea" might not be all that farfetched.) And I've already got a good punk-sounding name for a band...

OODLES OF NOODLES: One of the regional Oregon newspapers I read with some regularity featured an article about a supposedly really good Noodle Chef in Eugene, and how his ramen is the best for miles and miles around. First of all, why would I want to go to a custom noodle restaurant and order an expensive pile of noodle ramen when I can go and buy those little dried Ramen chunks in the local grocery store at 5 for $1.00 or whatever they're going for these days? Back when I was doing the minimum-wage thing, and then later the sub-minimum wage thing (that would be my cab-driving job), I fixed Top Ramen every way I could think of. I'd put butter in it. Hmmm...cholesterol on top of noodles? That probably wasn't the best food combination. I then thot, "well, since Ramen is Chinese Noodles, I bet Soy Sauce would taste good on it!" Wrong again; the only positive thing soy sauce did was enable the noodles to slide down my throat a little bit faster. (There's a running theme here; and it must be "throats", huh?)

I put canned peas in my ramen once, and actually, that wasn't too bad. But, I ate SO MUCH RAMEN, prepared in myriad ways thru the years, that I just got sick at the sight and thought of it. I can't even LOOK at a package of Ramen in the grocery store. One question I must ask, though: Why is the "Chicken Flavor" Cup O'Noodles so GOOD? Isn't that Ramen?" I guess all the preservatives in the chicken flavoring, combined with those yummy freeze-dried, artificial-looking three peas, two carrot bits and some unidentified stuff, render the Ramen more positively than what I personally could do to augment the taste. So, yes, that Ramen guy might be the cat's pajamas, but when I go out to eat...I'm thinking Ramen is about the LAST thing I'll be ordering. I do have one rule when I go out to eat: "Never order anything you can make at home". Take Eggs Over Easy or Sunny Side Up, for instance. I have tried to cook eggs that way at home, but they all come out scrambled. And since I cooked so much ramen at home...well, thanks, but no thanks.

TIME OUT FOR THIS COMMERCIAL: I just saw a new commercial for Verizon wireless's another of those spots, the subject of which is "connectile dysfunction". In the commercial, there's a coffee-shop full of smiling laptop computer users...but the guy with the inferior network is experiencing "connectile dysfunction"; his network won't let him go anywhere in cyberspace. So, he's "faking it", trying to make all the other computer users think he's reading a web page or doing e-mails, when all he's looking at is a blank screen. A woman approaches him with a Verizon computer insertion device, and she lovingly coos at the guy suffering "connectile dysfunction": "You're not the first guy it's happened to." And I just about fell out of the old La-Z-Boy when I heard that. So perhaps a Verizon internet card could be advertised as "Viagra for computers?" I'll stop now. This segment of my post is fast becoming out of control.

NO PERIOD AT THE END OF THIS SENTENCE...Everyone seems to be so frank about things that people used to be not so frank about, that I guess I'll just leap on the bandwagon. Ulp. Anyway, there's a news story going around that there's a birth-control pill that may be able to enable women to not have"monthly visitor". (How am i doing so far?) This development may have political ramifications...quite possibly, after all, we could have a female of the species running for the Prezzidency. Now, I understand that physical things can go wacko when the "visitor" visits. However, with this new birth control pill, perhaps a lady Prezzident would be at the top of her game, all the time. Otherwise, one week a month, perhaps she'd be more irritable and throw her advisors out the nearest White House window if they do stupid stuff which reflects badly on her administration. Perhaps, if the lady Prezzident uses this pill, it will become safer for her to have access to the big red button that activates all kinds of nuclear devices around the country. Peace through medication. A unique platform, for sure.

YOU COULD PROBABLY DO WITHOUT THIS:Another story in that regional paper I referred to above, is that there's a SHORTAGE OF CHICKEN SH*T!!! I bet you thought you'd never see the day, huh? A chickensh*t farmer (I'm describing the item, not him!) was quoted as saying that demand for his commodity has risen "because oil prices have gone up, and that's a product used in commercial fertilizer." Commercial fertilizer prices have increased 40% in the last few years. And, organic fertilizers (cluck cluck) are cheaper. So will people quit buying fertilizer and start buying chickens? And, because of this situation, demand has risen for chicken sh*t, leading another farmer to say (and I quote), "The birds are already pooped out." Now, there are other suppliers of 'organic fertilizer' who specialize in cow manure, but according to the article, it's "wetter and messier" (while) chicken sh*t is really stable, has really good nitrogen content, and it's easy to handle and spread", according to yet another farmer. Maybe, just maybe, restaurant and grocery store items involving chicken will rise, because more people will buy live chickens for "chickensh*t", which means there'll be less of those dumb birds to EAT. Restaurants all over this great nation will have to revise their menus. Beef nuggets, anyone?

The "chickensh*t" article referred to above was printed in the Register-Guard newspaper out of Eugene, Oregon. So, blame them, not me. And, as far as this "chickensh*t posting, pull up the pant legs, 'cos it's too late to save the shoes!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Who's more irrelevant here?
...or, spoken by one who should know, to one who may or may not be...

Gosh oh mighty, gee whiz, golly, is all I can say. There's a definite skirmish happening here. Evidently Former Prezzident Jimmy Carter roundly blasted George W. Bush's poor excuse of an administration as being totally ROTTEN regarding foreign policy. And the Bush administration lobbied back a charge of its own, saying that Carter is becoming 'increasingly irrelevant in today's politics'. Now, it's true that oil began its meteoric rise during the Carter Prezzidency, and of course, there's that Iran Hostage Crisis thing that will always taint ol' Jimmy's legacy. And Prezzident Bush, hoping to preserve what little legacy he has, is trying to make himself look good at another's expense. A case of political "nee-ner, nee-ner, neeeee-nerrrrrr". Well, who has the highest rating RIGHT NOW: Former Prezzident Carter, or Current Prezzident Bush? I rest my case. Dubya's approval rating is just above the comparative worth of a quarter to a dollar. Carter's NEVER sunk that low. So who's more irrelevant here?

Gas rising to above a dollar a gallon in the '70s is probably relatively equal to it being above the three-dollar mark today. Perhaps, proportionately speaking, taking inflation into account, today's gas is probably as expensive as '70s gas. Heaven forbid. Sounds like I'm defending Bush here. Ack. But who is more irrelevant? Nancy Pelosi has accused Prezzident Bush of having a "tin ear" when it comes to intelligently approaching the whole Iraq war issue. And who's paying for the gas it takes to run them war machines? Plus, whichever Bush administration cronies aren't being taken to task by Congress are leaving of their own volition. Me, I'm just kinda wondering how big the tires are, of the wheels that are coming off his administration. That countdown clock on the left of this blog page never looked so good. Bush made it plain long ago that some Prezzident after him would inherit the Iraq war mess. So ol' George, he's markin' time. Pure and simple. Get that Prezzidential pension.

Another edition of the much-vaunted MSNBC NIGHT WATCH: I've been following the late-nite (early morning, actually) antics of MSNBC as they seek someone, ANYONE, to fill the three-hour, five days a week program slot formerly occupied by Don Imus. And, I'd posted last week that MSNBC is dipping into its own ranks to find a warm body to fill the anchor chair. Last week's contestants, Joe Scarborough (who hosts 'Scarbourough Country' on MSNBC) and David Gregory (an NBC news correspondent who's the LAST guy you'd expect to host a show) actually both acquitted themselves pretty well. But, on Friday, Gregory said that it was his last day as an early-morning anchor. He's a news correspondent, you see. So, this morning, I was thinking, "well, who will it be today? Some news guy? Or some official-sounding wannabee from a bustling local market with national network host dreams?" It could've been ANYONE. So who's hosting the show today?

Jim Cramer, the manic-depressive, extroverted, all-over-the-wall host of CNBC's "Mad Money" investment program, is hosting as I type this. And I tell ya, THAT ONE came from left field! Actually, Cramer seems to be doing pretty well, but I must ask, who's next? I can imagine anyone employed at MSNBC, whether it be receptionists, dietary aides, bookkeepers or janitorial personnel, has a shot at this thing now. It's a wonder the same climate didn't exist at CBS when Dan Rather left in disgrace. Oh, wait it does. Katie Couric, of all people, is hosting the CBS Evening News now. She has all the news talent of your average poodle groomer. Ack. Back to the program I'm currently watching, here's a Cramer quote: "We'll be right back, and when we do, we'll ask: 'Hillary or Obama, who's gonna end up on top?" (That actually might be a better line for a Freudian Therapist...) Anyway, this whole MSNBC merry-go-round thing is interesting. Since I'm an insomniac, it's easy for me to keep y'all posted.

Fuel for thought: I was looking through some of my old posts last night, and you know, there are times when I bore myself, so I know how you all feel, trying to wade through the hip-deep residue of pretentious mental activity I exude here. I was writing about gas prices last year, and how the price was down around the two-dollar mark, having risen from $1.79 a gallon, and how the then-two-dollar price would be financially constricting and financially disgusting. Fast-forward to now. It ain't even TOURIST SEASON yet, and in some places around the country, it's over $3.50 a gallon.

It used to be, that it took a while to realize the effects of inflation...several years, anyway...well, welcome to the era of Instant Inflation...because gas prices are skyrocketing, everything else will be going up too. Fast-food restaurants everywhere will cut costs by serving meatless hamburgers for a buck. Wait, McDonald's has been doing that for years! I actually saw a soybean sticking out of a McDonald's hamburger patty once. So, I just closed my eyes and ate the thing. Gulp. And now I've gotta figure out how I got from Gas to Burgers...well, either way, it's a GAS ATTACK, huh? Ha ha ha ha HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!! (not bad, if I do say so myself)

If it can happen there, it can happen anywhere: An out-of-control gunman in Moscow, Idaho, killed a couple of people (one of them a cop) before turning the gun on himself this past weekend. And it's made the national news. Just another incident in America's shameful legacy of making it easy for people who shouldn't have guns to get them. Back off, NRA types! I used to shoot target archery and I wouldn't have wanted anyone to take my bow and arrows away from me. See, I didn't use them to KILL PEOPLE. I went to the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho. It's a town that loses half its population when all of the students either graduate or go home for the summer. During the school year, it's a curious cross of cowboys, farmers and students, sometimes side-by-side in the local pubs, which I frequented quite a bit during the two years I went to school there. And the town was in the process of recovering from another killing (of a student) which happened a month and a half ago. And it can happen anywhere. Mental illness and psychological irregularities run rampant, our society gets ever more cold and impersonal, and things like this happen. I wish I knew what the answer was, but I don't. Still, perhaps if we made guns a little harder to get (I did not say 'outlaw' guns), that might be a positive step. How 'bout it?

I just heard MSNBC's Cramer say he was gonna be on all week long. Ack...I don't think I can take that much of him. He's a nice guy, but definitely not a talk-show host. He's trying to contain himself, but he just looks like he's on the edge of a panic attack all the time. Ack.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The return of WORD MATCH, and other lil' changes...

Popular demand? Well, ONE reader was wondering about this blog. Actually, a lot of people probably wonder, "Is the author OUT OF HIS MIND?" But this reader, "Steve" (I'm pretty sure I know which Steve), wrote me a 'comment' at the bottom of the previous that comment, he said he missed "Word Match", and that he actually got most of the matches correct. Okay, well, since he is 1 of my 3 faithful readers, he represents 33.39999% of my readership, and after all, if yer a good blogger, you try and keep 'em happy. So, WORD MATCH is's on the left side of the page, near the bottom of the sidebar. I also made most of the items in the 'sidebar' GREEN so as to apply a little bit of contrast to the situation. (The 'on this day in history' feature didn't have color options.)

Something else that's new...that goofy little cow-thing (?) you see off to your immediate left actually counts the seconds of your life as they whiz by, and the hours and minutes are marked off by the position of the cow's eyeballs. Strange! And if you have a hard time figuring that out, my little cartoon-clock with the "boar" (bore?) gives you a hand-drawn digital reading. Hand-drawn digital? I didn't know that was possible. And of course, as always, you can see how long you've got until you can celebrate by dancing in the streets when George W. Bush's term is OVER. Done. Finito. Et Cetera. You can download all kinds of clocks, including "countdown" clocks, at It's easy. It's gotta be. I did it, after all. Finally, there's a little 'dictionary box' down below, where you can type in a word, select which reference you'd like to use, and 'presto', you'll find the meaning of the word. So, with all these little brain-teasers, if you come away bored (from the posts themselves) it's likely you'll be informed (from all the little gizmos and dealies I've tossed in here).

In addition, I narrowed down the entertainment features, which are located below the 'archives'. Steve had said that the stuff on the left side of the page was actually running into my postings, making 'em hard(er) to read, and after all, since my postings are HIGHLY IMPORTANT STUFF, I sure wouldn't want to complicate things by rendering them unreadable. (They're probably close to unreadable anyway.) Now, on my computer, nothing was "running" into anything else, but different computers see things differently. If the side copy runs into the posts themselves, you can go into "active desktop" and re-set all of your pixels so that doesn't happen, but I went ahead and narrowed down those features anyway, just in case the reader is more unfamiliar with computer stuff than I am (which is an extremely remote possibility!) So, I've tried to "take a sad song and make it better" here. You're always welcome to leave a comment and tell me what you think. Try not to swear at me when you do so.

You know how most people talk about things they've heard or seen around the water cooler? When it comes to my blog, people stand around the water cooler and try to forget what they read here. Actually, I feel like I'm getting to be an old hand at this blog-template-adjustment stuff. The blog template has a whole bunch of computer tekkie stuff in it, all kinds of things like "<:*insanity=the total effect of^..:{reading this blog}>", for instance. So you scroll down thru all that stuff until you get to "begin sidebar", where all the stuff at the left of this page is located. Then, you have to use your imagination, and plenty of trial and error, and paste the link you've just copied into the proper place in the template. Personally, I'd rather have "sausage" links. As part of a big breakfast.

This is one of those "Seinfeld" know, a post about NOTHING. But I really wanna make this blog a fun little place to stop by. And I do appreciate criticism, although I hope you take Paul Simon's philosophy: "Show a little tenderness with your honesty". (The song is 'Tenderness' on the "There Goes Rhymin' Simon" album from 1973...)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Where were you when it happened?
...if you lived in the Pacific Northwest, it was a day to remember!

Some occasions are remembered forever...I'll bet just about everyone who was alive back then can tell you where they were and what they were doing when President Kennedy was assassinated, or when Neil Armstrong took one giant step for mankind on the Moon, or when the Beatles first performed on the Ed Sullivan show...and, sadly, when John Lennon was assassinated...some things we just never forget. And, if you lived in the Pacific Northwest, back in 1980, you remember the date of May 18th, 1980 really, really well...

It was on that date that Mt. St. Helens, in southwestern Washington State, blew her top, and discharged her contents all over the Pacific Northwest. I was in North Idaho, selling advertising at the time, and I remember how much having ash all over the streets wrecked the sales promotions I was working on. People were instead cleaning up the mess. And what a mess it was; folks tried washing the stuff off the sidewalks, but when mixed with water, the ash turned into a substance resembling concrete! And this was at a point over 500 miles away from the volcano. The ash resembled snow that wouldn't melt; it just wouldn't go away!

I've been to Crater Lake in Oregon; that lake was created much the same way; basically, a volcano going "KA-BOOOM!!!" and all of a sudden, the top of the mountain was no more, and standing on the rim of Crater Lake gave me an idea of the force with which Mt. St. Helens erupted. Because a lot of THAT GONE.

Every tire soon meets the end of its road...and a big name in tires here in the Pacific Northwest has met the end of his road...Mr. Les Schwab, a name that everyone in the Northwest is immediately familiar with, passed away this week at the age of 89. I knew something was up as far as a couple of years back, when I noticed Mr. Schwab hadn't been appearing in TV commercials for his tire business for a while. And the way every Les Schwab store operates is a testament to a businessman with high ideals. Free tire checks, free rotation of tires bought at Les Schwab, prompt service, with the customer coming first, and a great tire guarantee; I can only think of good things to say about Les Schwab Tires, and I've done business at several of its locations in Washington, Oregon and Idaho over the years. If all the businesses all over the world operated like Les Schwab tires, this world would be a far better place. A job well done, Mr. Schwab.

So how fitting, that I found this graphic of the familiar Les Schwab sign against a backdrop of cumulus clouds...and ol' Les is up there now, still supervising the operations of his many, many stores back here on Planet Earth. I know that Les Schwab Tires got me back on the road after flat tires, and especially after one scary case where the "cap" had come off a "recap" tire one dreary November when I was driving home from the University of Idaho for the Thanksgiving Holiday. I thot I'd thrown a rod! The cap beating against the inside of my fender just about made me panic. Anyway, according to a news report I've just heard, Les Schwab started his business in 1952, with the home office in Prineville Oregon, where the tire chain's headquarters is still at to this day. I was always amazed at the stamina of Les Schwab employees...working at breakneck speed, running full-steam from one customer to another...I'd pass out if I had to work like they do!

And, after writring this post, totally on impulse, I'm realizing that it's 3:40 in the morning, and I'd better get to bed. Why? Because I'm..."tired".

Friday, May 18, 2007

A bunch of totally unrelated stuff...
...I'm just throwing things out there hoping something will stick!

When economics combines with the weather...Here on the Oregon Coast, sunshine can be a fleeting for a day, half a day...sometimes two or three days, but the weather changes down here so fast. Yesterday, it was shirtsleeve weather on the coast. Which I took full advantage of...a folding chair, my guitar, a bottle of Pepsi and the ocean beach. Ooh yeah. Today, however, a different story; shades of gray in the atmosphere. Well, I've told myself that since gas prices are so outrageous, I've gotta "go nowhere" a couple days a week. And with the gray skies overhead, today was the day I stayed planted right here on the ol' homestead.

So far, my prognostication is correct, right down the line...and that is, that the Seattle Mariners will end up with a record at or very near .500. They're better than they were last year, but not all that much better. And, with last night's loss, the M's fell back to 18-18. Richie Sexson, the tall first baseman who can hit 'em a country mile, can't hit this year. My theory? He's tall (over 6'4" anyway), which means his strike zone is bigger than yer average player. Hey, I've had so much practice making excuses for myself that I'm now making 'em for others.

The world's best musician that you'll probably never hear...His name is BRIAN AUGER. He's a veteran keyboard player from England, who's been around since the '60s. He's one of those artists who was popular everywhere but in the U.S., tho he has a following here. If you like to listen to jazz-rock, with vocals, punctuated by some of the best Hammond organ playing that's ever existed, you gotta hear him. First there was Brian Auger and the Trinity, then Brian Auger's Oblivion Express, and he's still making new music. His entire catalog is being reissued. He has not recorded a single bad song. is where to go. No, I'm not on his payroll. I just like to turn people on to music they may have missed.

My two-inch finch are alive and well...You might remember I posted about my finch, and how one female attacked another and how I had to get another cage for the victimized little bird. Well, turns out one of her eyes was poked out, and she still has bald spots where her head and shoulder feathers used to be. But, she's alive and well, and can hop from perch to perch in spite of her having only one good eye. I put a male bird in with her, and he takes good care of her. Those finch are tough little birds. They've gotta be. I saw finch all the time up in North Idaho, in the coldest of winter weather. And there's lots of wild finch here in Oregon as well.

If you're ever sending money abroad...A lot of people use Western Union, and I have a few times as well. But, for about half the cost, you can go to the nearest MoneyGram office and send money anywhere in the world. I know, because I sent some cash abroad, and I was informed that the money I sent had indeed reached its destination. I'm buying some Beatles records from a guy in Australia. My bank uses MoneyGram; I don't know if they're only in banks, or if there are some in 'their own' locations, but if you gotta send cash abroad, you might as well save yerself a little bread.

Yep, they do it down here, too...I'm talking about traffic stings. Now, you'd think that would be some kind of big-city phenomenon, but as George Gershwin once wrote, "it ain't necessarily so". (from the musical 'Porgy and Bess' I do have a little culture!). Anyway, down here on the remote South Coast of Oregon, city cops conducted one of those ever-so-famous crosswalk stings, where a decoy takes one step into the street, and a motorist, 50 feet away from him on the other side of the street is expected to stop. Bah. I've already written the local paper down here saying that "traffic stings are glorified revenue drives". And the cops are also conducting "seatbelt stings", since Oregon is a mandatory-seatbelt non-wearing primary offense state. But, I now wear my seatbelt all the time. Makes me feel like an Oregonian. Although I'm not recycling much yet.

While typing the above paragraph, I thot of something else...and this is something that really, really "dates" me. Remember those annoying anti-litter commercials back in the 60's, featuring a little girl named "Susan Spotless"? She would sing, "please, please, don't be a litterbug, 'cos every litter bit hurts." That's back when the world was friendly. Nowadays, people are encouraged to report others who are littering, and offenders get fined an amount that's roughly equal to half a year's house payments. Ouch!

Well, that's it. Time now to focus my attention on tonite's game. Miguel Battista, one of the M's new pitchers, has given up the lead and now the bases are loaded. How much are these guys making again? Certainly more than enough to pay a littering fine!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Since I'm up, I might as well POST...
...or, the early-morning MSNBC watch, continued...

Ever since Don Imus was unceremoniously removed from MSNBC (due to some unceremonious comments he made), MSNBC has gone through a veritable plethora of substitute talkers to try and fill a probably-hard-to-fill early morning slot. Can you imagine hosting a 3 hour show, 5 days a week, and trying to remain fresh and original while doing so? Especially when the show involves spontaneous give-and-take; you've gotta be at your best just about every second to pull it off. If you go through some of my previous postings, you'll see other people I've written about, who've hosted the former Imus slot with varying degrees of effeciveness. I was really surprised on how well Joe Scarborough and his associates handled that program slot for the few days that he appeared on that early morning slot. Could be, that MSNBC is now looking within its own employee roster for someone who can handle the demands of early-morning TV?

So, again this morning, I was expecting Joe Scarborough to be back. I really felt he did the best job out of all the host-wannabees that had preceded him in the old Imus slot. So I was surprised when White House Correspondent for NBC news, David Gregory was in the Imus chair, and he's knowledgable enough to go toe-to-toe with any of the politically-oriented guests that usually are featured on the morning program. David Gregory himself appeared regularly on the old Imus show, and he'd try to be serious about all of the heavy news that was going on, and Imus would throw a curveball at him, commenting him on his tie, or the fact that he was dancing onstage with Karl Rove (it's a long, long story; I'm sure you can find the footage on YouTube), and Gregory had to be fast on his feet to keep up with Imus; it took a thick skin to be a regular Imus guest. I miss the confrontational humor that Imus brought to the program; no one did that better than him.

David Gregory is a cool guy, and from being on the Imus program so many times, he's adopted some of Imus' mannerisms; when it came time to say, "more after this", he would give a visual cue, an arm gesture, which means, "hit the commercial break now", a gesture widely used by radio people, a gesture which Imus used. And after the commercial break, he came back and said, "I'm David Gregory, on radio around the country and televised on MSNBC", just like Imus used to say, so some of these parallels I found quite startling. And, get feels like "old home week", because Imus' newsman, Charles McCord, as well as sportscaster Chris Carlin, are on the program with David Gregory! Poor Chris, he is, well, "rather rotund", and Imus would call him a "fat weasel" and always make jokes about his weight. This is where Imus offended ME, because I'M fat! So anyway, it's nice to touch base with these TV characters that I felt like I'd come to know over the last couple of years, when I'd videotape the Imus show and play it back at a more convenient time.

So anyway, it's interesting seeing the paces that MSNBC is going through, trying to find someone, anyone, to host the old Imus slot. MSNBC may have trouble finding a permanent host, though. In my previous post, I mentioned a comment by radio host Glenn Beck which basically said that things are getting so politically-correct that soon, people will be afraid to say anything, resulting in overall radio blandness. It will be interesting to see how this MSNBC situation resolves itself. I like this kind of TV so much more than the stupid prime-time fare spewed out by the networks that weakly passes itself off as quote-unquote "entertainment". For me a well-done news-oriented talk show is TV that LIVES. It's vital. Even if it's occasionally wrongheaded or one-sided.

And now, I'm going to bed, and you can't stop me. ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz.....

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

...out of all the gas station signs I've seen, this one sums it up best...

We all know gas prices are high. Everyone has a theory on why this is. Well, I heard a good one on talk radio the other day. Allegedly, the refineries here in the good ol' USA are fallin' apart, which has decreased domestic production, and the refineries don't wanna go to the expense of fixing their plants, 'cos if they did, that might drive gas prices up even more. A catch-22? If the refineries spend money to fix up their plants, gas prices will rise to cover the repairs? Another view of all of this, the talking heads say, is that demand for fuel has increased. We're all demanding more. Using more. I can only speak for myself; when I got my car in 2001, it had 36,000 miles on it. It now has close to 71,000 miles. That's 35,000 miles over 6 years, or roughly 6,000 miles a year. So I'm not demanding more; I'm not using more. And I imagine all the other folks out there, including me, are gonna end up using LESS, due to increased fuel costs. So, if we use less gas, that'll be that much less gas the oil companies are selling. So I'm thinking they'll have to charge more for gas because their revenue has slowed, due to less gas being used.

I don't see any way out of this. If indeed the Iraq War is based on oil, well, the our presence over there might make the Iraqi's and other nearby countries mad at us and they'll punish us by restricting their oil exports, while we're spending countless monies on fuel for all the war machinery we're using over there. Ya can't win. So we have to adopt a grin-and-bear-it mentality; well, it's hard to grin, but we're sure bearing it, aren't we? Our collective views of the fuel situation manifest themself in some surprising ways...

...and this sign pretty much sums it all up. Except, that the sign seems to convey a sort of "surprise" at how expensive gas is getting. Well, we're fast getting to the place where we're not surprised at anything, anymore. When gas prices rise, everything rises, because it's all hooked to gas. And, I guess, all we can do is endure. Oh, and not go anywhere, either. Pretty soon we'll all have underused vehicles dotting the American landscape. Grandfathers will tell kids, "well, we actually used to ride in cars, back when we could afford fuel." So maybe we're going backwards in terms of transportation. If gas prices keep rising, look for the re-advent of the ol' horse and buggy. That makes sense; we've gotten things as good as we can, and now we're going backwards. Instead of "topping off the tank", we've "topped out" altogether.


I HAVE FINALLY FIGURED OUT WHAT THE POST OFFICE IS DOING! Postage went up to 41 cents for a first-class envelope this week. Two stamps on every envelope now, until 41-cent stamps are available. I had recently opened a pack of envelopes, and bought a bunch of 37-cent stamps so I could have stamped envelopes in my glove compartment at the ready when I went out to pay bills. And, this week, I had to stick 4-cent stamps on those same envelopes to make them current again. And, the extra paper and ink it takes to print up those 4-cent stamps might negate the extra revenues that are supposedly being brought in by the increased postage rates. So maybe we're treading water here. But the Post Office has a plan. They're now selling "forever" stamps. Those 41-cent stamps you buy will be worth 41-cents forever and ever. Isn't that nice? And, when rates rise again, say, to 43 cents, you can put a two-cent stamp, alongside your "forever" stamp, and you'll be able to mail off your bill to whatever greedy, monolithic utility wants your hard-earned bucks. And perhaps there'll come a day when the extra stamps you have to buy to meet the postage rate increase cost MORE than the 41-cent forever stamp that was on your envelope to begin with. That would happen when postage rates go up to 83-cents or more. Hmmm...I can see that on the horizon now...

In a related note, Pacific Power and Light sent me a bill in a postage-paid envelope recently. I had to put a stamp on the envelope they include for me to mail back in. But inside PP&L's envelope are all sorts of special offers in a full-color brochure, and the included envelope for THOSE is postage paid! I think it would make more sense for the utility to let its customers use prepaid envelopes to mail bills, and just leave out all the special offers for merchandise that I'd never need in a hundred years. Does something here just not make sense, or is it me?


Maybe Glenn Beck knows what he's talking about after all: I don't know where these guys come from, but every news channel has a bunch of know-it-all talking heads who I've never heard of before. Glenn Beck is a yuppie sort-of dweeby talking head, and his TV show is on Fox, I think. Well, he also has a radio show that I inadvertently dialed into the other day. And he had an interesting take on the Imus debacle; you might recall that Al Sharpton nipping at the heels of Imus basically cost Imus his job. Glenn Beck warned everyone in talk radio and talk TV to watch it, because everyone's gonna be out to get everyone else in this politically-correct society, and sooner or later, the media will become so bland that no one will be listening to the hundreds of TV and Radio stations out there, because everyone will be afraid to say anything. And instead, we'll get our entertainment and information from Satellite Radio and Computers, which aren't regulated by the FCC. Now, this sounds kinda wacko-extreme, a worst-case scenario. But CBS radio has laid off two more shock-jocks and others have had to apologize for on-air transgressions, so maybe this is all happening, only we haven't felt the full effects of it yet. Well, "1984" has arrived 23 years late, but it's here, I guess. What a crazy world.


No, I'm not a hypochondriac; at least, I don't think so. I'm lucky to have a doctor here in Southern Oregon. It takes about 2 or 3 months to get a doctors' appointment, and the doctor I have, a new guy, is at the place where he can't take any more patients for 5 months, according to what the answering machine said. He's a good doctor, I guess. I told him how I'd been feeling; how I'm a touchy sleeper and I'm tired all of the time. So he sent me home with a little oxygen-measuring device I attached to my finger; at the other end was a flashing monitor. And, looking at it just before I went to sleep, my blood pressure went down to 95/80, when I was lying down. So anyway, I guess the doctor analyzed the machine's findings and it turns out that I don't get enough oxygen when I sleep. So now, I'm gonna have to spend money to go to a sleep clinic, where I probably won't sleep all that well, and have diodes, capacitors, resistors, desistors, beads, bangles and baubles attached to me which will more accurately measure my sleeping activities. There's a possibility I might up sleeping with an oxygen tank! Gosh. I have no heart disease, I don't smoke, but my respiration is evidently slow. My Mother had a slow heartbeat, and I've inherited that from her. So anyway, this oughta all be interesting. I have always felt just short of ILL when I get up in the mornings, all my life. Do most people feel that way when they get up? Could it be I've had oxygen-deprived brain cells alla these years? No wonder I did so bad in Math class, which was ALWAYS first thing in the morning. So I need oxygen therapy. Which means I'll be more of an air-head than I am now.


I suppose the best I can hope for is that someday, postage rates won't be higher than medical bills or we'll ALL be in trouble. Let's see, it'll cost tons to MAIL the bills, and it'll cost tons to buy enough gas to pay the bills in person...carrier pigeons, anyone?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

...which proves that DESPERATION is the mother of NECESSITY!

That may sound like convoluted logic, but in the wee early hours of this morning, I was trying to add some new elements to my blog which involved pasting 'html' code into various places in my blog. Well, in doing so, I wiped out EVERYTHING! Basically, I messed up the code that governs the "template", or the overall appearance of what you're reading right now. I was freakin'! So, after wrestling with the problem for a couple of hours to no avail, I went back into the "blogger" website and downloaded the same template over again. And, all of the correct 'html' specs were put back into the template, and voila, I'm back in business again. Whew! So then, with my confidence restored, I went back into and, and got all the goofy things you see on the left side of this blog. In addition, I'm only featuring 5 posts on this here front page, so for rest of my written insanity, you'll have to delve into the archives. And finally, that cartoon-thing is actually a clock, and below that, the 'Bush countdown clock' you see is aiming for the date of January 20th, 2009, which is Bush's last day of office. We are all waiting for that day, aren't we?

AN UPDATE FROM THE "WILD KINGDOM": I wrote in a previous post that I got rid of my parakeets and got FINCH instead. And I marveled at how well they were all getting along but it appears I spoke too soon. Yes, there were some disagreements between the two females, who were both nesting, but I didn't think anything 'severe' would happen, since their nests were on opposite sides of the cage. Well, WRONG WAS I. When I woke up and went to feed the birds this morning, one of the females was laying on the bottom of the cage, and half of her head feathers had been pulled out, and some were missing on her back, too. Where her feathers had been was naked bloody bird flesh instead. Evidently during the wee-small hours, there was quite a female-on-female bird squabble. Poor little, before breakfast, I pulled her out of the cage, placed her in a covered box, then raced off to the pet store to get another cage. So now, she's safely housed, all alone for a while 'till her feathers grow back. And she's doing pretty well; by late afternoon she was hopping around the cage, eating and drinking water. When she's better, I'll put the male bird she was nesting with-- in with her. Why can't we all just get along, huh? This whole incident has been a microcosm of the merciless, unsympathetic world we live in. What a deal. I was actually shocked at the brutality this poor little bird suffered.

ANOTHER PITCHING MELTDOWN: In tonite's game against the New York Yankees, it was once again batting practice for another Mariners' opponent. After the previous game's sterling 9-inning effort by Jarrod Washburn, Miguel Batista came off looking almost as bad as Jeff Weaver, if that's possible...the Yankees leaped out to a 7-0 lead early in the game, which again found the M's in the unenviable position of playing come-from-behind baseball. Needless to say, Batista made an early exit, and the "long-relief" pitcher (can't remember his name right now), came in and pitched really well. Hey, it's hard remembering the names of M's pitchers, since they've been dipping into their farm-team quite a lot lately to bolster their pitching staff. Felix Hernandez is gonna be returning soon. Then maybe Jeff Weaver can get sent to a farm team. No, not a baseball team; he should be out driving tractor right now the way he's been pitching. And to think that Weaver looked so good in last year's World Series. What happened? I imagine sometimes Manager Mike Hargrove feels like the little dutch boy, except that he (Hargrove) doesn't have enough fingers to plug all the holes in the dike. Especially when he's standing in QUICKSAND. Oh yeah, the M's are doing better now than at this point last season, and I'll keep listening and rooting for 'em. But a lotta heads may be rollin' fairly soon if the M's can't get consistent. Consistently GOOD, that is.

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT'S DUE: And, then in today's game, the M's beat the Yankees in a PITCHERS' DUEL, of all things, by a margin of 2-1. So the M's are now above .500. And I understand the M's have signed another relief pitcher from maybe things are happening. And, Felix Hernandez is due back very, very soon. So we'll see wot happens!

I'm always glad when the Yankees get beat; it doesn't matter who beats 'em. It's just a matter of principle. The big Yankee machine. The only thing that makes it sweeter is when Seattle beats 'em. STEEEE-RIKE!!!!!!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

It's pretty much a "24-7" world, ain 't it?
Whatever you want, it's 'all-this' or 'all-that', all of the time!

I don't mean to sound like I'm getting old, but I'm getting old. I remember a time when grocery stores closed at 9PM; there were no all-night convenience stores, so if you didn't pick up that quart of milk before then, you were pretty much out of luck. I remember when radio stations signed off at 11pm, and all the news you saw on TV was on the evening news hich came on around dinnertime (5pm or thereabouts) and the late-night news which came on at 11pm. So I could say I came from a time when 11pm was known as "late". I remember a time when a "computer" filled up an entire ROOM. And you had to program it with punch-cards. Yep, the antiquated "Fortran" program. So I'd been thinking about various things that take up space in our lives. The other day, while driving, I had been listening to the oldies station, which pumps out classic rock and roll 24-7. I then tuned in to the sports station, because I knew a Mariners' game was supposed to be on relatively soon. The sports station, of course, pumps out nothing but sports 24-7. Elsewhere on the dial, you can get heavy metal 24-7, country/western 24-7, business reports 24-7, light rock 24-7, or if you want a little variety, you can change radio stations 24-7. That's because most all radio stations are 'one thing' 24-7; they're 'all this' or 'all that' as they pump out their particular formats 24-7. I remember when radio stations played Englebert Humperdinck in the same program they'd play Jimi Hendrix; you sure won't see that today!

Used to be, the only TV news you got in any sort of depth, other than nightly general newscasts, was on Sunday mornings; "Meet The Press" and similar shows have been on forever. I remember when "60 Minutes" was the first "in-depth" nightly news show; it was probably the first of its kind, and was always a winner in its time slot. Television back then was ABC, NBC and CBS, and that was IT unless you were able to dial in a public TV station. Three channels plus a little more. Several years ago, Bruce Springsteen sang, "57 Channels and Nothin' On"; presently, I can get close to 80 channels! And most of 'em don't have anything on. I couldn't care less about Home and Garden TV, the Game Show network, Great American Country TV, the Soap Opera channel, various Shopping channels, the Food channel and other specialized channels; out of the 80-odd channels I get, I probably only watch 4 or 5 of them with any regularity. The TV Cable people have us where they want us, however, because I've been told that if consumers could one day pay only for the channels they use, that costs would rise, because everyone would have different channels blocked off, depending on what they did or didn't watch.

We all are inundated 24-7 by TV's and Radios blasting out all kinds of stuff for mass public consumption. It used to be, TV and Radio regulated itself, by ending the broadcast day and giving us all a breather until the next day's programming began yet again to saturate the airwaves. So, it's up to each of us to limit our exposure to all of this stuff spewing out of the nearest watching or listening device. But, 'easier said than done'... and, I'm as bad as you might be, maybe worse. Sometimes silence makes me uncomfortable. Maybe there's an underlying psychological thing involved in the need to be "connected" all of the time. We've all seen people taking cellphones wherever they go because they want to make sure they can respond to everything that comes their way, right NOW; others are attached by an umbilical sort of wire to a little tiny thing called an Ipod which holds thousands upon thousands of songs, more than the average person can listen to in a YEAR. Still others cultivate a ball-and-chain relationship with their laptop computers, looking for the nearest wi-fi oasis where they can plug in and be 'connected' yet again.

Now, there are things out there like "Go To My PC", which hooks you up to your office computer from home sweet home. So, if your boss wants all kinds of three-dimensional specifications on the innovative new widget that you were put in charge of, you can drop everything you were doing on a sleepy Sunday afternoon, so you can get all the information together to send it off to your boss. And by the time that's done, you try to resume your Sunday afternoon nap and find that you can't get back to sleep, and, to swipe a phrase from The Beatles, your work week becomes "Eight Days A Week." Computers everywhere, even inside of your phone; endless text-messaging, wi-fi computer locations all around you, cellphones everywhere as well as those weird-looking little clips that fasten the cellphone to your ear so you, if you're a doctor, you can consult about someone's spinal cord problems (or compare golf scores) while performing brain surgery on someone else. It's "all stuff", "all of the time!" One of the fast-food chains that are OPEN ALL NIGHT, say in their ads that their food is just the thing to consume between dinner and the next day's breakfast! In other words, three square meals a day ain't we're up to four!

So, maybe I can throw down the gauntlet (whatever a 'gauntlet' is), and issue a challenge: This week, go somewhere without an Ipod. Or a laptop computer. Or a cellphone. Go out and listen to the world around you. Listen to the wind, listen to the air, listen to the birds singing, listen to the waves on a nearby body of water...and for heavens' sake, don't have a fourth meal between dinner and the next day's've gotta sleep SOMETIME, after all. Sometimes I think this world is getting too brazen, too fast, too neurotic, too manufactured and too HARSH. Every now and then, I hit a saturation level where I just have to shut everything OFF. I know I need to do that more often. Because I don't do it enough.

I've edited this post several times after proofreading it; I don't know if I've repeated parts of other posts in this one, and I'm not even sure if this post is all that good, but I can't begin to enumerate the many times all-night TV or my little laptop computer has become impossible for me to tear myself away from them. And I know I need to get better at that.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Am I in the finch-raising business?
...and you thought that RABBITS were prolific!!!

I got rid of my 2 parakeets; the noise they constantly made, along with the female parakeet's penchant for destroying everything I set in the bird cage, left me no choice. So I went back to the pet store and exchanged the 'keets and for 4 "zebra" finch, and you know, they're interesting little guys. They do have occasional squabbles with each other, but for the most part, they just go about their business in methodical fashion. And since they're smaller, they actually fly in the cage sometimes. Strange-looking little birds, though. Their beaks are abnormally sized in comparison to their small bodies. But, they don't make near the noise the 2 parakeets made. However, was I surprised when I got up the other day and went out to the bird cage to replenish their food. There was an EGG in the little plastic tray where the bird gravel goes. The lady at the pet store said they'd lay eggs, and that I could just throw them away. Nature is a cruel thing, I guess. So I threw away the egg and proceeded to put more gravel in the tray and put more food elsewhere in the cage.

Today, when I went out to check on the birds, there was ANOTHER egg in the gravel tray. And, ANOTHER egg in the plastic tray I put bird seed in. Hmmm...let's see...four parakeets, two pair, and A WHOLE LOTTA WHOOPEE GOING ON, evidently. Finch Whoopee. Not exactly the most exciting spectacle to watch unless you're some sort of avairian peeping Tom. So I stuck my hand inside the cage to replace their food, and when I did, as always, there were four finch flying all over the place, scared out of their minds...well, I 'spose if yer a two-inch-finch, you look something like Paul Bunyan to the poor little birds. And, as I drew my hand near the bird-gravel cup, one of the little finch perched right next to my hand, and looked up at me as if to say, "You're not going to take my egg AGAIN, are you?" (I don't think finch are that smart, but who knows?) And I left the egg in the gravel tray, and left the other egg in the seed cup. And I'm kinda thinkin' two-inch finch must be the "rabbits" of the bird world. They work fast! An egg yesterday, another egg today...maybe they're trying to "egg me on". (Sorry, couldn't resist that)

Well, finch aren't tropical birds; I've seen 'em up in Idaho and here in Oregon. So, I decided to experiment: I went outside, got some grass clippings, chopped them up relatively small, and scattered them on the bottom of the cage. And, the little birds jumped off their perches, onto the floor, began picking up grass, hopping up to their "nests" and began making grass cushions to hatch eggs in. Interesting. Primal behavior. I was glad to be able to provide an environment where they could "do their thing"; I guess all birds care about is eating, sleeping and breeding; this is why birds don't have ulcers. Or panic attacks. Or anxiety disorders. Anyway, nowadays, I come upon the sight of pairs of little two-inch-finch, sitting inside a seed tray, egg underneath, on a bed of grass. And that is touching somehow. Little guys. Awwwwwww. So I'm going to see what happens here. Are there baby finch in the forecast? Who knows? One pair of finch spends a lot of time egg-sitting; the other pair sits on their egg only once in a while. Maybe that other pair is a "new-age" finch parenting duo. Minimal involvement with child, and if the baby finch acts up, they'll force him to take a "time out". Me, I got whacked on the fanny if I misbehaved.

Little defenseless teeny-tiny two-inch finch...awwwwww...ugly in an endearing way...

I do know one thing...finch eggs are tiny (not quite an inch long); as such, it would take a whole lotta finch eggs for an OMELET! Not that I could eat such a thing...with each bite, I would probably end up remembering the poor defenseless little two-inch-finch housed inside their seed tray, waiting for the eggs to hatch. Nope; couldn't do it.
RAVINGS OF AN INSOMNIAC...THE MSNBC WATCH CONTINUES...I have been watching MSNBC early mornings, to see what they're gonna do with the three-hour block of time that Don Imus used to fill. And those are pretty big shoes to fill; MSNBC is trying their darndest to see what works best. So far, there have been a couple of new hosts each week, and most of them, to me, are washouts. Especially the first 'guest host', a bald shiny-headed guy who tried to sound snappy and all newsworthy, and a black guy who spent gobs and gobs of time trying to tell everyone what he was all about; unfunny and pretentious. Truly a brother with no "soul". (oops, racist comment there; I can see a blog ban coming now!) But I have been pleasantly surprised the last coupla days...MSNBC personality Joe Scarborough, who has his own show, "Scarborough Country" has been doing the former-Imus guest-hosting thing, and he's pretty good.
He's informal, he's not afraid to laugh or say something slightly crazy, and he's even said the word "nappy" (although not in conjunction with "ho", which would be career suicide). And, Joe effectively interviews all of the guests who used to appear in the Imus time slot, so there's a sense of continuity here. Last night, Joe and the several people gathered around him on the program even talked about Don Imus for a while, in sort of a "who can say 'this', who can say 'that' " type of debate. I always valued the Imus show, because political people, columnists, gadflies, and other such types as retired generals, sports figures and whoever else would appear on the show, giving me a "capsule" idea of what was going on. I thought Scarborough would be a listless yuppie blowhard on the MSNBC early-morning slot, but I am surprised to report that he's totally at ease, and in command, and is as "real" as "real" gets these days.
So, you ask, how did I manage to start out with two-inch-finch and end up commenting about a politically-oriented early-morning TV show? Could it be that politics truly is "for the birds?" Chirp, chirrrrrp...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

So there are now two "N" words...
I'm glad I know that, because I need to know what I can't say...

The first big "N" word (rhymes with 'bigger') came out during the O.J. Simpson trial; obviously that word had been around ages before that but it was during O.J.'s trial that the media seized upon it, since the word (and phrase) was thrust upon the national stage, and that word has become taboo, and rightfully so. Yet, years before that, Richard Pryor, a black comedian, released an album titled, "That (N-word)'s Crazy!" So I guess the word can be said, but it can't be said by just anyone. And among those who can't say it are white guys who host television programs, as we found out about five weeks ago. And, I suppose now, in these ever-sensitive times, people are going to be hesitant to express themselves in a colorful way, because they're afraid they'll offend somebody, somewhere, and the 'ax' will fall.

I will go on record here, by saying that I miss the Imus program, for he was one of the few people on the planet who didn't bull "S-word" (rhymes with 'fit') his audience. He told it like it was. I've heard a lot of people in my own life speak forthrightly like he did. Alas, he went too far, and Al Sharpton was listening. And now Imus is gone. I guess the "I-word" can still be used, though. As in, "George W. Bush is an "idiot". Only not in quotes. Okay...George W. Bush is an IDIOT. (I almost forgot to include the "W." I gotta be careful which George Bush I'm referring to, after all.) And now, the argument being bandied about is, that the reason Imus fell from his lofty perch was because he repeatedly called the Vice President a "war criminal", and often referred to Hillary Clinton as "Satan", and so political pressure was levied upon CBS to fire Imus' "A-word" (rhymes with 'gas'). You can tell I'm being extra careful in this post. I wouldn't want anyone to think I'm a "rotten B-word" (rhymes with 'mastered').

Since I could write an entire book on sleeplessness (I would title it, "Adventures Of An Insomniac"), I am oftentimes up fairly late. Too much fun stuff to do at night. Like blogging, for instance. (Well, my blog might not be fun to read, but I enjoy writing it.) So I regularly tune in the first hour or so of the MSNBC network around 3am, the time Imus used to be on. MSNBC is 'trying out' different substitutes in an effort to try and fill a three-hour time slot as cheaply as possible. The first two days of this week, a black talk-show host by the name of Larry Elder has hosted a quote-unquote "serious" news-oriented interview-type show. He may be black, but he sounds a lot whiter than most WHITE people. (Is that racist? I don't know.) I am going to take a firm stand, and apply the "B-word" to Mr. Elder. (No, not the "B-word" I used above. I was thinking "BLAND". Because he IS.) Imus tossed in humor and irreverence to spice up his show. And Mr. Elder, as learned as he may be (and he sounds like he is), seems to be incapable of doing that. And so, I'll apply the "D-word" to his show: DULL.

If the 3-hour early morning time slot beginning at 3am on MSNBC is any indication, society as we all know it is just dying off. Nope, no more locker room jokes. No more ribald observations. And if you smack yourself in the thumb with a hammer, you'd better think fast before you swear! "OH, SH------UCKS!!!" Everyone is so 'offended' by 'so much more' these days, it seems. People are offended when they see the ten commandments installed on the lawn in front of a courthouse. They're offended when the "G-word" is included in the Pledge of Allegiance. (That would be "God".) They're offended when they see a Nativity Scene display during the Yuletide season. In fact, it got so bad a couple of years back that big-box stores ordered their clerks not to wish customers a merry CHRISTmas. Oh, "S-word"!!! ("Sheeeeeeesh"!)

I'm afraid that we're going to become a "Malt-O-Meal" society, totally devoid of color or flavor. Blecccccch. There was a big controversy a few years back when the Atlanta Braves were in the World Series. The Atlanta fans would do what they called the "Tomahawk Chop"...and Indians' Rights Activists all over the place said that what the fans were doing, making a tomahawk-chopping motion with their arms, was rude and offensive. Other advocates said that the caps of the Cleveland Indians' baseball team, which included a rendition of a grinning Indian, were rude and offensive. Whoa, Nellie. Hang on there a minute. No one's trying to offend anyone here. They're ROOTING FOR THEIR TEAMS, f'cryin' out loud! Perhaps those in the Indian population should be proud that they're getting attention! I don't know. Indians are a part of the history of this country, and like everyone else, there were bad indians and GOOD Indians. And now, so-called "ethnically-oriented" team names are being removed left and right because of their "offensive" nature. Gosh.

Anyway, the other "N" word is the one that rhymes with "happy". And you certainly don't wanna go around using that particular "N"-word, especially in conjunction with the "H"-word (rhymes with "toe"). So I'm still watching the black guy doing his earnest best to sound intellectual (hey, a lot of whites try in vain to sound that way, too, so I'm not being "selective" here). And the question I'm dying to ask, is his hair "N"-word-rhymes-with-happy"? Oh my gosh, I think I am treading on shaky ground now, huh? I had short, curly hair in high school. And, when I worked at a grocery store back then, a few of my politically-incorrect co-workers asked if my family had a "N-word" (rhymes with 'jigger') in the woodpile, and they asked me if I liked Watermelon! I didn't even know what that meant at the time! Of course, NOW I have an idea of what they meant. I suppose I could have gotten all hurt and offended by the ignorance of my co-workers, and indeed I didn't feel too great about their insults, but life goes on. Things are gonna be said. And it's up to us to just deal with it.

I am sure the young ladies on the Rutgers' womens' basketball team were shocked by what Imus said, but I'm sorry, people who speak like that are out there. That doesn't make it right, I know. But we all make mistakes. Hopefully we learn from our mistakes, and life goes on. I think we all expect that life is supposed to be fair, and I'm sorry, it isn't. Certainly we shouldn't go out of our way to hurt each other, but we're all imperfect beings, and I'm sorry, "S-word" (rhymes with 'sit') happens! I suppose I don't see how a team name can hurt a segment of the population; how long have the Cleveland Indians had that team name? Close to a century? Have people been offended by that team name for all that time? I don't think so. But ya never know.

Sometimes it seems like the human condition is like a blister that won't heal. We don't dare
enjoy life; instead, we all look so hard for something to become offended by, then we take pleasure in tearing down that 'something', and in doing so, perhaps we all increase the space between us. "H"-word (rhymes with 'leaven') help us all.