Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I think I've just seen the world's DUMBEST TV commercial...

Here's the scenario: A bunch of guys in their '30s or '40s are sitting in the front room of what looks like an old, dilapidated sub-Appalachian log cabin. Sorta reminiscent of the one in the old movie "Deliverance". And, they're-a-makin' good ol' footstompin' music. One guy is even playing a standup bass. Just thing you always see in a dilapidated old log cabin which is so decrepid that termites choose not to nibble on the place...a standup bass. The other guys are playing acoustic guitars, and they're all singin' up a storm. Sorry, there's no one playing washboard, but you can't have everything. And, hey, that tune sounds kinda familiar, y'know? I could swear the words are a bit different, but I've heared that tune before....searching the distant cobwebs of my musical mind, it sounded like a lil' something Elvis Presley once sang. And poor ol' Elvis is prob'ly a-spinnin' in his grave faster than the national debt is increasin'...only, these guys, and I am serious, I am telling the truth, I am NOT MAKING THIS UP... they're all singin', VIVA, VIAGRA!!! VIVA...VIAGRA!!! (to the tune of "Viva Las Vegas").

Its' probably fortunate that they don't roll credits at the end of commercials, or we'd know who the VILLAGE IDIOT who wrote this commercial's script is. And then we could find his mailing address on any number of too-expensive-web-detective-type-sites, and mail him a letter and tell this bozo how HOPELESSLY DUMB this VIAGRA commercial is. But, and once again, I am NOT kidding...I have something to compare this to. Back in the late '80s, there was another commercial that was so STUPID, so WRETCHED, so UNFORGIVABLY AWFUL, that I cannot forget it to this day. 'Twas a commercial for "DOXIDAN", which is a laxative. A LAXATIVE, people! And most of the commercials featured some new-fangled-pseudo-cowboy-resembling-wanna-be-country-star with a gee-tar who was singin' the following lyrics..."'Doxidan, Doxidan...when NATURE needs...a HELPING HAND." Davy Jones of the Monkees, had a comment back in the drug-laden 60s, when he was asked by the press if any of the Monkees take drugs...he said, and this is a quote..."I take EX-LAX...it keeps me going all the time!"

I mean, can things get any DUMBER than that? Well, YES. Because, one of the Doxidan commercials featured a bunch of country guitar players and their women-folk in the tour bus as it rolls down the highway, and they're ALL singin' the Doxidan jingle. MEN AND WOMEN, having a carousing good time, singing about a product that makes you crap all over the place! And, BY JOVE, I think I've got it! THE SAME STUPID AD GUY must have written BOTH commercials! After them "Doxidan" commercial fiascoes, he probably had to go into hiding for 20-odd years, hoping no one would remember the commercials...or him...and then he crept out from under his ROCK to write the ultra-stupid and stupefyingly-moronic "VIVA VIAGRA!!!" commercials that adorn the cable networks nowadays. I'd check to see if the 3 main networks air them, but there's so much crap on those networks (reportedly not generated by Doxidan) that I never tune in. I haven't watched a complete show on NBC, CBS or ABC for YEARS.

At this point, I'm just hoping I don't see an underarm (and elsewhere) deodorant that puts new words to an '80s song by Chicago..."you're the roll-on in my life; you fight perspiration." But it could happen. And, I kinda wonder why it hasn't yet...

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Who says there's no Second Childhood?
...oh, wait, maybe I haven't left my first one yet...

Warning: if you have the attention span of a Mayfly (they only live one day, so they can't afford to think too much), this post is not for you. Why? 'Cos it'll take a DAY to read it!

Remember some of the stuff you had when you were a kid? Christmas presents, birthday presents, maybe something you got for graduation, or maybe one of your parents spotted something they'd think you'd like and bought it. And if you get a chance to re-acquire some of that same stuff, it's really special because whatever the item is, it takes you back, way waaaaay back. I think that's especially true of things like radios, record players or books, because those are the type of things that come back to life with a flick of the switch or the turning of a page.

Whilst browsing the vast endless files of Ebay, I had thought about transistor radios I had when I was a kid. Obviously, things are a lot more hi-tech these days, but back in the dark ages of the '60s, I thought transistor radios were endlessly fascinating. They somehow pulled music out of thin air, for me to hear. The only drawback being, if your radio was a battery-only model, and you sneaked your radio into bed to listen quietly while your parents thot you were asleep, perhaps YOU fell asleep, leaving the radio on all night and running down your precious 9-volt battery. And that happened to me, several times. So, all that said, I present my first little "hi-tech for the times" item...and little, indeed it is...the "REALTONE" six-transistor radio, model TR-1645...

This little radio is TINY...my hand, from wrist to fingertips, is longer than what you see here. I must confess, the radio when I was a kid had a BLUE 'front grill' and a BLACK leather carrying case...but I feel fortunate to have found it. I bought it, stuck a battery inside it, and it leapt to life; a case of "radio resuscitation". When I began the search for this item, I had no idea what the model number was. Yeah, it was one of those five-hour Ebay searches; I'd been scrolling down the vast Ebay database for something like 5 hours when I found this little guy. And, it's the same model as the tiny transistor radio I got for Christmas 1963...

Here's a rear-view of the same radio. See the sticker? I know what "transistors" are, more or less, but I'd never before heard of a "thermistor", and I STILL don't know what that is. And, talk about "hi-tech"! It has an EARPHONE JACK! How wildly innovative, huh? And, the way you got inside the radio to change the battery? Well, you stuck a coin inside a slot at the bottom of the radio, and the back panel separated from the front; you could see the 'guts' of the radio, and at the bottom, a little space for the battery. And once the new battery was in, "CLIP!", you were all set and ready to go. Yep, another all-new battery that lived in fear of prematurely expiring due to the radio being left on all night. Oh, one more thing...back then, FM radio transmitted mainly classical music and spoken-word programs. No popular music at all, on FM back then. And this little artifact only received AM signals.

Next up is an radio that I found while searching for the radio I described above. I had totally forgotten it when I stumbled upon an Ebay page; presto, there it was! I don't know, and can't remember, whatever happened to my little REALTONE radio, but long about 1968, I got a bigger, better, and much more "hi-tech" radio. Well, "hi-tech" for the 60s, anyway. I mean, we're talking about almost 40 years ago...this one could actually receive FM in addition to AM. Although, FM was still in the stone age; no frequency-modulated rock music on that back then. I remember that all I could get on FM back then was country music, religious music, and spoken-word programs, so I didn't listen to that band very much. And I was moving UP in the world...I went from a little budget-priced "Realtone" radio, to one made by GENERAL ELECTRIC...even though, it was a laterally-upward move (if there can be such a thing), since both radios were largely, if not entirely, made in Japan...and, I found a radio virtually (if not totally) identical to the second little radio I had as a kid...

And, like the "Realtone" radio described above, this G.E. model, that I got for Christmas 1967, got a workout. Every night, after school, there I was, listening to all the top hits, and I must say that these two little radios I've written about formed the basis of my musical tastes (and record collecting) from waaaaay back in the times when "Star Trek" was still a cheesy-looking TV show with amateur sets; 'twas also during the time when two of the popular staples on TV were "The Monkees" and "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In", and you can bet your sweet BIPPY (whatever a 'bippy' is) on that! Verrrrry Interrrrresting. After a few years, this radio, too, fell by the wayside. I have no idea whatever happened to it. But I've got it again...if not the same "it", the same model of "it". Or, "will" have it, as soon as it arrives from my Ebay seller.

Back in the late '60s, my best friend got a TAPE RECORDER! And I thot, how cool...you could record YOUR OWN SOUND in it...And I just HAD to have one! You know how it is when you're a kid, you just WAAANT something SOOOOO BAD! And the tape-recorder bug bit me, right where it hurts; what can I say? Ironically, one of the top TV shows at the time was "Mission Impossible", and it turns out the tape recorder I eventually got was the SAME model as the one used in the original "Mission: Impossible" TV series...

At the beginning of each "Mission: Impossible" episode, the "CRAIG" model 212 Reel-To-Reel Tape Recorder (pictured above) was activated by Peter Graves, the actor who played Jim Phelps. The tape would start out by saying, "Good morning, Mr. Phelps; your mission, should you decide to accept it...", then instructions for the mission were relayed, and then the tape would "self-destruct in 5 seconds", as the last few inches of tape slipped past the playing heads and wound its way around the takeup reel. With this recorder, I recorded, you guessed it, the top-40 programs I recorded from my GE radio. I used the little "Craig" microphone. I had no idea how to patch-in directly, although it might have been possible back in those prehistoric times.

Sadly, the little recorder died; dirt got into the "T" control (you can see the record-play-forward control; it forms a "T" pattern), and the "automatic level control" screwed up, and either the machine would record at virtually silent levels, or play back at immense, bone-crushing volume. A case of "recorder dysentery" and it was gently put to sleep forever and ever. Actually, it disappeared, in the same way the two radios I described; under murky and mysterious circumstances that I can't for the life of me remember. So where does all this old stuff go? I can imagine there are countless attics all over this great nation, that are full of all this old, cool stuff. Although, with Ebay hovering overhead, perhaps those attics aren't quite as full anymore. Truly, one man's junk is another man's acquisition-from-the-not-too-distant-past.

You might remember, at the top of this post, that I mentioned BOOKS. My Dad and I had difficulties, but he was a very smart, well-read individual who could do anything, build anything and fix anything. And I guess he wanted me to be well-read, too. And today, I love non-fiction; I read newspapers as much as I can; and there's no magazine in a doctor's waiting room that's too dull for me (although I stay away from "Sunset" magazine, and I wouldn't wanna be caught dead reading a "Ladies' Home Journal")...heck, I'm sad that the "WEEKLY WORLD NEWS" is about to fold; I never read an issue, but when I saw a copy at a supermarket checkstand, the headlines always provided me with a good laugh...oops, I'm straying here...

Perhaps my penchant for nonfiction literature has a lot to do with a set of books I got when I was a 9-year-old kid. There were 16 volumes in this set...and it was one of those deals where, when you shopped at Safeway, you could pick up one volume per week at a special price...so I received the first three volumes, which I found fascinating, and after that...nothing. And then, all of a sudden, Dad brought home the other 13 volumes and I had a TON of stuff to read! Dear readers, may I present "The Golden Treasury of Knowledge":

There were literally dozens of different topics covered in these volumes; they weren't alphabetically-oriented like encyclopedias; in one volume, for example, you might read about Marco Polo, and after that, might come an article on the then-fledgling space program, then perhaps you'd read about the formation of the continents, followed by a short biography of Socrates. I have always loved reference books; heck, I used to read the PHONE BOOK at breakfast, something my always-logical-Dad thought was just totally and abjectedly crazy. That's me, I guess. Anyway, I found volumes 1-14 of these "knowledge books" from an Ebay seller who sold 'em CHEAP, and the other two volumes came from two other sellers who priced 'em at around five bucks each. The books are copyright 1961...and my, how things have changed since them. But, it's cool to have 'em anyway.

Speaking of 'copyright'...Beatles' songs might just become part of the "Public Domain" soon. England's copyright law allows for a 50-year period after a song's creation...50 years ago was 1957...and "I Saw Her Standing There" and "Ask Me Why", two of the fabs' earliest originals, were written in 1962. And in 5 more years, Beatles' songs will be in the same league as the songs in the old average dusty Church hymnal. And I think I got a couple more gray hairs after I realized that.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Strange Saga of Oscar the Cat...
...or, this WAS a sort-of "feel-good"-type story...

You've probably heard by now of Oscar the Cat, of Providence, Rhode Island. He patrols the halls and rooms of a nursing home in that city. He looks in on the patients. And perhaps for a second or two, he'll visit the rooms of patients who are in good, or relatively good, condition. But he has an uncanny knack; he seems to instinctively know when death is near. He basically snuggles next to a person who is in the final hours of life, and stays there until the person passes away. A sort of psychic animal "final companion" to those residents who are in the process of completing their voyage here on Planet Earth.

Who knows exactly what animals know? Who knows what they think? And perhaps we can learn from them. After all, animals give unconditional love, which in my opinion, is something that people can never really give. Unquestioning love and total devotion. I know I've given up expecting that from anyone. And my heart was warmed by this story as I read it in the local paper today. Ah, but the news media has to include the final doubt-incurring twist; in the news article, it was reported that so-called "experts" said the cat could be doing this out of some SELF-SERVING desire, such as wanting to curl up in a dying person's warm blankets. Can you say "disillusionment"? I knew ya could...

Why couldn't the news article have ended before it got to that last part? Because, here's a story that is GOOD. A story that, perhaps, makes us believe in SOMETHING. All fricking SHOT TO HELL by some journalist who was doing his utmost to fill up column inches in the newspaper. You know, sometimes I absolutely HATE the press. And this was one of those times. Self-serving desire...well, if that's true, well, hey, it's only a CAT, and no one was done any favors by hearing how self-absorbed and greedy a feline care provider might be. Me, I'd rather hang on to the good stuff.

I just watched an NBC News clip of that story...and even a moneygrubbing TV Network had the decency to stop before the "self-serving" bit, leaving viewers with a good impression. This newspaper article wrecked it for me. I guess we must be living in the age of negativity. Make that TOTAL negativity. I'm not so sure 'both' sides of every issue always need to be presented. Sometimes, these aggressive, confrontational news items...and the people who slap the words together in news articles...are just too much for me to take.

meow meow meow meow, meow meow meow meow, meowmeowmeowmeow........

Ladies and gentlemen, here we have Oscar the Cat. Feline mortality clairvoyant or selfish, greedy warm-blanket-hogger? Me, I'd rather believe that this cool little cat provided a comfort to both the dying, as well as their survivors. That he's one of God's little animals, who gives unconditional love. Maybe I just won't read newspapers anymore. In a climate such as this, no wonder everyone is disillusioned and no one cares about much of anything anymore.

But...maybe my faith is restored just a little bit? Northwest Cable News, which is on as I write this, has reported that there's another cat (in a Western Washington Rest Home) who is doing the same thing. He was given to the care center by a patient who couldn't care for him anymore. Hey, newspaper writers and so-called "experts"...let's just leave this one alone, okay?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Professional Quarterback...
...who might have "thrown" it all away!!!

Yeah, one of the big stories in the world of sports is all about Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick. Ultra-talented, commanding a huge salary, and up until recently, having the respect of everyone in football. No, wait a minute, he could possibly not be commanding that huge salary after all. For, you see, the news has come out recently that he's (allegedly) been heavily involved in DOGFIGHTING activities. And we're not talking about the Taco Bell chihuahua vs. "Eddie", the punky little dog on the old "Frasier" TV Show. Nope, the dogs involved in these brouhahas are salivating, man-eating beasts that are capable of ripping the flesh off each other and any spectators within biting distance. Not the kind of dogs I'd want my neighbor to have, although one of his dogs comes close. ARF!!!

Why, oh why, Michael? You're a feared presence on the football field. You're rich. You can have anything you want, and probably DO. You're the envy of pro athletes across this nation of ours. NIKE was in the process of putting out a SHOE with your NAME on it! And I've heard on Sports Radio that you might go to PRISON for this? Where the only football field you'd play on is esconced deep within a correctional facility, whose exercise yard is surrounded by 20-foot-high cement walls that also extend 12 feet deep into the ground? (You can tell I'm a regular viewer of MSNBC's "Lockup" programs...) And instead, of a multi-gazillion-dollar yearly salary, you might end up making 12 and a half cents an hour stamping out LICENSE PLATES??? THIS IS DUMB, MICHAEL!!!


He's innocent until proven guilty, of course. If found guilty, well, there is a bright spot...on a prison exercise yard, you don't hafta worry about ASTROTURF. And finally, what do you call a fight between two Taco Bell dogs? A "chihuahua brouhaha". Say that 20 times, fast.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Tidbits from the cobwebs of my mind...
...stuff I had rolling around inside my spacious cranial cavity...

Tammy Faye: She passed away, cancer was the cause, a short time after she'd appeared on Larry King's CNN show. Whatever her reason for wanting to be televised one last time, I guess you have to admit the woman was full of life. I know there's a lot of people out there who think she was full of something else, too...I don't know...that whole PTL thing years ago was just pretty doggone strange, wasn't it? Her appearance on the King show last week was hard to watch, and I only saw a clip from that show, and not the entire clip, either. I couldn't look at it. It took me back to the year 2001. Mom, I remember you. Fondly. Cancer be not proud.

I hope I'm wrong about this: The Seattle Mariners, who have cultivated a love-hate relationship with baseball fans here in the northwest forever-and-a-day, haven't scored at all in their last 21 innings. Ichiro, the marquee player, has 3, yes, 3, "ribbies" in the month of July...not something you want to have happen to ya after you've inked a new multi-zillion-dollar contract. Former "phenom" Felix Rodriguez melted down on the mound as the M's lost 8-0 to whoever they played. Hey, it was an early game (10am start time PST) and I missed it. Looks like this was the game to miss, if I was gonna miss a game. Although, in some twisted way, the after-game call-in show is more fun to listen to if the M's lose, 'cos everyone is griping. Maybe it's more fun to be mad, after all?

Baaaaybeeeee, it's humid outside: Down here on the O-coast, it has been really "sticky" lately. Right now, I can't stand myself. I'm working up a sweat just typing this post. So this is a weather condition that's pretty new to me. Constant humidity. Hopefully, some coastal winds will breeze thru and blow all this humidity inland, wreaking havoc-rendering thunderstorms everywhere else, but at least I'll be able to stand myself. (Wow, that sounds self-centered!) It's been true "pit" weather around here lately. Not really hot, but humid. I guess no matter where folks live, there's a gripe...maybe, collectively, the human race is just never 'really' happy. The price we pay for being human, it would seem.

All of a sudden, a craving for Orange Soda: I don't know if it's the humidity doing this to me, but all of a sudden, every time I go into a quick-mini-instant-semi-convenient thrifty-mart somewhere, whenever I pass the pop cooler, ORANGE SODA looks mighty good. Why now? So I take my bottle of Orange pop up to the check stand, and each time I do, I end up behind someone buying LOTTERY TICKETS...they scratch 'em off right there at the cash register; if they have a 'winner', the clerk then has to look up the amount to be paid on a screen, then reimburses the lottery player who then asks for MORE TICKETS!!! All I can say is, it's a good thing pop comes in PLASTIC BOTTLES these days, or I'd probably grit my teeth and increase my grip level on the bottle until it broke in my hands. I suppose much loss of blood such as this has been prevented by Plastic Pop Bottles.

Big startling controversial news tidbit: I did NOT buy the new Harry Potter book when I went to K-mart today. I looked at the big Potter display in front of the store, thot "naaaaah" and proceeded to the "pet" department to buy stuff for my birds. I suppose I could buy one of those books, tear out the pages and line my bird cages with it, but newsprint is a whole lot cheaper than one of Ms. Rowling's tomes.

My personal message to Barry Bonds: Will you PLEASE hurry up and HIT THE 3 DAMN HOME RUNS YOU NEED TO SET THE NEW HOME RUN RECORD??? I am up to HERE with alla the HYPE, f'cryin' out loud!!! Is there a corruption-prone pitcher out there I can PAY to toss Barry a couple of 40-mile-an-hour lobs? ANYTHING so we can just get back to baseball! Barry, I wish you all the best, but it's times like these I just wish you'd go AWAY.

It's still a train wreck: Being early Monday Morning, 3am PST, Joe Scarborough's newsie-folksy-smarmy-fairly-idiotic early morning show is on AGAIN...I guess he's the permanent occupant of the former Don Imus slot? I suppose Scarborough and I have some deep-seeded sort of personality conflict, but his relatively coarse style of endlessly jabbering ceaselessly, just grates on me. He's talking about flash-in-the-pan soccer-wannabee David Beckham's appearance, and this is a quote from ol' Joe: "I'm a soccer dork". I guess Joe's obviously a P.H.D...NOT! I miss Don Imus. Greatly. As far as soccer is concerned, I think its BORING. I'd rather watch C-Span. Or Paint Peeling. Who the heck is David Beckham? Hot stuff in the soccer world, I guess. The promo line for soccer is, "you're a fan; you just don't know it yet." I am? I'm shocked.

A sport I care even less about: Pro Basketball. And I know I'm not a fan. But I read in today's paper that an NBA referee is in potentially really hot (and humid) water for being involved in some of point-shaving scheme. And some of those games that he shaved on points, he actually REFEREED. That's about as dumb as a county prosecutor and his hottie co-worker exchanging flirtatious e-mails on county courthouse computers. Don't laugh; this has actually happened. Back to pro basketball: It used to be a thing of grace and beauty; strategy...long, arching shots from the corner...now its evolved into gang-style street-ball with plenty of trash-talking as 7-foot athletes with 4-foot long arms slam a basketball thru a rim 10-feet high. I think I'd actually rather watch SOCCER. Oh my gosh...I need to have my head examined.

Bumper Stickerz: This one kinda caught my eye: "Money talks...mine says goodbye". Another one said, "Drive defensively...I'm sixteen". Gosh...if that's the case...I guess I'd better wear a helmet when I drive my car. Meantime, gas on the O-Coast, at least at the station I siphon my money away at, is locked in at $2.92 for the second straight week. Hey, if that's "price fixing", I'd like to "fix" gas prices at, say, $1.98 a gallon. Vote for meeeeeeee!!!!!!!

And finally: I know a lot of photos have been put on the web which basically castigate and severely demean our Prezzident. So who am I to be any different?

I was trying to explain my photo-program to my sister in an e-mail, and I typed, "this program, if I wanted to, would allow me to put George Bush's head on a CHICKEN". So this is a conceptual masterpiece. From dreams to reality. And that reality? The nightmare of Bush's Prezzidency.

Meanwhile, I couldn't take it anymore; I had to take my TV remote and "Mute" the Scarborough program; enough was ENOUGH! Time now for my post-blogging shower...

Don't you know about the BIRD...

Warning: this is one of those posts that not a lot of people will be interested in. I don't want to be one of those bloggers who thinks everything within a typical post of mine is all-important. So, if you don't want to deal with personal, mundane, everyday stuff, that's okay. I just thot I'd warn ya.

Well, I can't move fast enough to keep up with a canine, so I don't have a dog. But that logic won't work here. After all, I can't fly, and yet I have birds. It all began with a visit to the pet store to get some stuff for my finch. As usual, I went to the back to look at the birds, and in one cage were three of them. "Hand-fed baby parrots", the pet-store lady told me. I thot, how great. A chance to have a cool little bird that doesn't freak out when you walk in the room. My finch do that, though. They're neurotic. Especially the male, who yammers solid for 15 or 20 minutes at a time until he's either exhausted or comes to the realization that no one's listening to him.

So I showed the parrots my car keys, letting them dangle thru the cage bars. And these three little birds crowded around the shiny pieces of metal like it was the biggest thing in the world. Truly an "awwwwww...." moment. I went on home afterwards, but it was hard to forget these bird-siblings...they seemed like little people with wings, y'know? So I went back and saw 'em again about a week later. They all perked up when I entered the bird room, and that doesn't happen to me a lot, whether it be birds OR people. And I did the key-thing again, and again, they crowded around, so they could see the shiny metal and analyze it with their beaks. I guess that's how they 'touch' things, since their arms are wings. And I made up my mind I was gonna get one, and made arrangements with the pet-store lady.

So, "bird-day" came around. I had previously made up my mind which one I wanted, but when I came back the following week, I noticed that one bird was a little more laid-back than the others. The pet-store lady and I began selecting various toys for a parrot, because, after all an entertained bird is a happy bird (that excludes finch, of course), and I looked back at the parrot cage...two of them, including the one I'd chosen before, were on the cage floor, eating seeds, but the one little laid-back bird was actually hanging onto the side of the cage, and I could swear he was watching me. Of course, maybe I'm delusional as well. But, I chose him (I think it's a 'him) and took him home. The bird in the photo below looks almost exactly like the one I have:

This little fella is a SUN CONURE. (CON-yer) They can allegedly live for 25 years, so this bird might just outlive me. That's a weird thot, huh? And what a contrast when compared to the finch I have. The finch are just 'nervous' all the time, while the parrot just kinda plays very s-l-o-w-l-y with his toys, and takes his time when eating; patiently picking apart seed shells (it's fascinating to watch that), and of course, he has lots of shiny toys in his cage. And, I've got a new place to put my keys...on top of his cage with a couple keys sticking through. I can stick my hand in his cage, and he'll get on top of my wrist and peck at my wristwatch. Shiny, shiny! During the day, he's very positive and strong; I can handle him a bit but he doesn't like to be fussed over a lot. He plays and eats and drinks, endlessly repeating the process for hours...but, as we all do, he gets tired...

Towards evening, his attitude changes; he gets very still and occasionally will emit a low grunt-type sound...and that's when I can take him into my hands and cover him up, and tonite, he slept that way for over an hour. Another "awwwwww....." moment. A little life right there in my hands. And when he's in my hands, he'll make little whispering "peep" type sounds; he's such a strong fella in the day, but at night he becomes vulnerable; his personality change when evening draws near is quite remarkable. And you know what I'm finding? (perhaps I'm not being startlingly original here...) Hands-on-type pets make you live in the "present", something I have a problem doing more often than not. And I'm glad he's here. He's a cool little guy.

The reason I think its a male is because a website I went to said the males have a broader and somewhat flatter head than the females. Whatever the gender...this little parrot is a neat little bird.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Trying in Vain to STAY CURRENT...
...but remaining RELEVANT ain't all that easy...

Okay, I've got a couple of things that I've been thinking about, because at this point in time, both are big news. The Talk of the Town. Discussed by Enquiring Minds everywhere. And yeah, I notice things that are happening, but since my mind has all the retaining power of a mirror, I usually just flush all that stuff right outta my head. But I'm not a total "relic", if you will. And I'm not old-fashioned, although I might over the hill. (Apologies to Bob Seger there,) So here's my perception of a couple of timely things which admittedly are waaaay out there as far as my direct or indirect involvement with them is concerned...

The World of Baseball: Everyone's clamoring over San Francisco Giant (and I do mean 'giant', whether naturally or artificially, well, who knows) BARRY BONDS as he chases Hank Aaron's home-run record (I think it stands at 756?) and Bonds is within a walk to the druggist of reaching that record. Everyone's making a big deal out of this. Even the Commissioner of Baseball, Bud Selig, while not vocally a Bonds supporter, has been seen at recent Giants games. Bonds treats his adoring public with disdain, and his non-adoring public with pure hatred, so where do I come in on all of this? I know next to nothing about him, I hear the news reports about Bonds and then I dismiss 'em...and who knows, I might be Barry Bonds' favorite type of fan. I think Bonds' attitude parallels that of the late Greta Garbo, who said, "I just vant to be LEFT ALONE". Below are side-by-side, 'before and after' pictures of the slugger:

...the only thing I'm absolutely sure about is, he's bigger than he used to be!

Of course, it's the steroid scandal that put Bonds on the map long before all the breathless, salivating anticipation of him actually breaking Mr. Aaron's record. So as far as Bonds and steroids, well, did he or didn't he? I DON'T KNOW. I know that I'm bigger than I used to be, and I've never even SEEN a steroid. Maybe Mr. Bonds eats a lot of Wheaties or Cheerios, or both. Or maybe he goes thru steroids like your average moviegoer plows thru a large tub of "bottomless popcorn" and an oversized box of "Raisinets" (both of which, combined, cost an average of $35.00 at your favorite multi-quasi-maniacal-megalomanic Cineplex which features 500 giant screens; all movies, all of the time. Or, if that stuff doesn't cost that much now, it soon will!) Anyway, back to sports...

Sometimes I think SportsRadio is so phony; on one hand, they discuss in excruciating detail Bonds' alleged steroid usage; then from the other side of the announcers' mouth comes all sorts of blathering about the home run record, and how important it is to baseball. Ack and Sheesh! Basically, I just want him to break the damn record so we can get back to the serious business of baseball. One of those Bud-Lite commercials, a new one, salutes Mr. Sports-announcer-guy who talks incessantly about everything that pertains to sports 24 hours a day, and the reason he's employed in this position is because HE CAN'T PLAY AT ALL. And I've only heard that commercial once, and that was mid-week last week. Hmm...did that "spot" cut just a little bit too close for comfort...the ANNOUNCERS' comfort? Well, in that case, I'm innocent. I can't announce, and I can't hit, EITHER. And actually, I like old-fashioned cornflakes. I eat 'em while watching my birds. And then I get out of the house when their yammering starts to drive me nuts.

Something else I know absolutely nothing about: Well, it's official. Two hours ago at Midnight, the newest (and hopefully, last) "HARRY POTTER" book went on sale. Yeah, I suppose it's great that the American Reading Public is once again flexing its muscles, and because of this, publishers don't have to worry about books becoming obsolete...not for a while, anyway. I guess there are all kinds of elements such as witchery, mysticism, sorcery and whatever else incites a ravenous public to gobble up Harry Potter books like a bowl of cornflakes (or Wheaties and/or Cheerios). I have no idea. I mean, my idea of a superhero was, say, FLASH GORDON. Or SUPERMAN. Or, STEVE McGARRETT of Hawaii 5-0. But, "Harry Potter"? What kind of mundane name is that for everyone to be so hung up over?

Also out there, playing at a theater near you, is the latest "Harry Potter" MOVIE. I daresay "Waterworld" would look like a work of genius next to a Potter flick, and certainly no more implausible than any caper ol' Harry's involved in. (see my previous "Waterworld" post; it's only 2 or 3 down from this one. I thot it was pretty good, but that's just me.) So I don't care about Harry Potter. I've never seen a Harry Potter BOOK in person, let alone the movies about this character. And judging from the antics of much of the Hollywood Actors Bunch, and how shallow and STUPID most of them are, I wouldn't be surprised if the following is actually true...

Meantime, Atlanta Quarterback Michael Vick is in a heap o'trouble, because this multi-millionaire football player who could do anything he wanted, involved himself in the illicit (and illegal) world of DOG-FIGHTING. And, a Pierce Brosnan public service announcement has just come on, and he wants me to save the whales. Pierce, you've got millions...YOU same 'em! Does that mean that pro athletes are more shallow and/or irrelevant than Hollywood Actors? Who knows...I mean, you see 'em both in the tabloids. There. I'm done being 'current'. Now, I'll go and crawl back under my rock. Blah blah blahhhhhhh......

Friday, July 20, 2007

Can't Buy Me LUVS...
Uh-oh...a new commercial featuring BEATLES' music is on the horizon!

For those of you who may not remember, back in the 1990's, NIKE was airing running shoe commercials that featured the Beatles song, "Revolution" as the soundtrack. Beatle fans all over the world were up in arms. How dare you desecrate a Beatles song in this manner? George Harrison said at the time that something needed to be done, lest Beatles songs be used in commercials for ladies' underwear or sausages. He actually said that. And obviously nothing has been done. For, advertising has now sunk to a new all-time low. The following is an article that I mailed to this blog. It is the REAL HONEST truth. I have to say that, because it "reads" like something I made up. Nope, folks, this is the real thing. Would I lie?

"The year is merely half over, yet we may have our 2007 winner for cheesiest use of a rock song in a commercial: Procter & Gamble will be employing the Beatles' 1967 No. 1 hit 'All You Need Is Love' to spread awareness of its Luvs Bear Hug Stretch disposable diaper. And yes, the Fab Four's one-world anthem will be cleverly amended to reflect the new baby-poop-centric lyric "All you need is Luvs." Now, don't be alarmed: That sound you hear is just Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr climbing in John Lennon's and George Harrison's graves for the purpose of a group spin. And for those of you who figured the first Beatles song to be employed in a diaper ad would be 'When I'm 64,' for Depends, no dice."

The foto at left depicts our heroes in 1967...the "summer of LUVS"?

And there ya have it, folks...Beatles music being used to advertise something babies CRAP in! So, I guess, the sky's the limit. We've sunk about as low as we're gonna get. So, I've jumped on the Beatle Bandwagon; here's some suggestions I have for other commercials using BEATLES music:

*DAY TRIPPER: Use Hertz Rent-a-car for a day or two.
*TICKET TO RIDE: Print your own airline "ticket" from your home computer.
*STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER: Smucker's Jam commercial, of course.
*YELLOW SUBMARINE: Newest ride at Disneyworld.
*HELP!: Would work great for H&R Block tax-preparation commercials.
*I FEEL FINE: Laxative makers should LEAP at this one.
*A HARD DAY'S NIGHT: Hotel commercials that appeal to busy, overworked executives on road trips.
*LOVE ME DO: Well, we can't leave out commercials for Viagra...
*PLEASE PLEASE ME: This one's for the makers of Levitra...
*PAPERBACK WRITER: Late-nite infomercial. You, too, can be an author!
*HELLO GOODBYE: Cell-phones! "I don't know why you say goodbye, I say hello". Well, switch to our network then! We have the fewest dropped calls!

Ironically, two songs John Lennon wrote were inspired by commercials:
*GOOD MORNING, GOOD MORNING: from Sgt. Pepper (Lennon heard a commercial for cornflakes!) and
*CRY BABY CRY (from the White album)...its lyrics include 'Cry, Baby, Cry, make your mother sigh'; the commercial Lennon saw, said, 'make your mother BUY'...(according to Beatles' biographer Hunter Davies).

Well, I've reached the end of the Long and Winding Road. So now it's time to Let It Be. Such is A Day In The Life.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I'm no movie critic, but I think Kevin Costner got...
Over His Head in "WATERWORLD"...

What can I say; there are some people who just can't look away from a train wreck; I'm different; I actually go out and buy train wrecks and take 'em home. Such is the case with "Waterworld"; I bought the DVD on sale and took it home. I'd heard the movie was given a huge thumbs down by the movie-reviewing community. So, out of simple curiosity, I just had to see how baaaaaaad it was. And, really, if you throw total implausibility out the window, the movie can be enjoyed on a certain level. But still...what a 'stretch of the imagination' a lot of things in the movie are.

The movie takes place way in the future after the Polar Ice caps have melted and the entire planet is covered with water. (although I've read in Science books that if the entire icecap melted, water levels would only rise, say, several dozen feet around the world.) So evidently, according to the movie, the setting is many, many years after water covered the planet because no one in the movie has ever seen the mythical "dryland" although they have faith it is out there somewhere. Kevin Costner is a sort of "water survivor" who is actually a MUTANT; he can stay underwater for a long time, because with the process of evolution, he has GILLS. If all the Biology courses I took in college are to be believed, mutations like that would take eons to develop.

Costner paddles thru the water on an old rusted double-pontooned craft, and one wonders, "if there is no 'dryland', how could he have found all that scrap metal and pounded it into shape?" And that's when you have to reason that, "oh, he has gills", so he probably could've actually gone to the ocean bottom to find the scrap metal remnants of a long-ago dry-land civilization and could have stayed down there long enough to pound the metal into shape" Or, if he'd found a complete craft down at the ocean bottom, maybe he pushed it upwards several thousand feet, back to the ocean's surface, if one doesn't assume his rusted watercraft had never sunk, but had floated for eons. A little far-fetched, eh?

Kevin Costner's chief enemies, are a group called the "smokers" (the head cheese of which is portrayed by Dennis Hopper, who is outrageously sub-par with some terrible script dialogue). The "smokers" are a bunch of sea pirates who ride around the ocean in the hulk of a rusting tanker, and they make it a point to do damage to unsuspecting small craft with an army of old dilapidated jet-ski's and they even have an old all-metal seaplane! Which begs the question, if earth is covered by water, where'd they get the gas? (Because, the engines "smoke", after all.) And again, how could they go and get Jet-ski's or Seaplanes from the ocean bottom? The "Smokers" don't have gills, after all.

A seaplane on earth's surface would be about as deep in "Waterworld" as the Titanic is for us today...and no one's been able to raise that ship, either. Reasoning dictates that if those jet-ski's and seaplanes were not procured from the ocean's bottom, they would have had to have been floating on the water for many centuries, which is improbable, because, remember, Kevin Costner is a mutant who has gills, which took eons to evolve. And maybe the fuel needed for those craft could've been horded for millennia, though I rather doubt it. If the planet is totally covered with water, as the voice in the movie's intro states, that would mean the water is close to 30,000 feet deep over the continents, and much deeper than that over the ocean bottom as it exists today. Which would make it difficult to harvest ANYTHING from the ocean bottom, especially when you factor in water pressure, which this movie doesn't address at ALL...

So anyway, huge sea battles ensue, there are explosions, special visual effects, lots and lots of water everywhere, with the "bad guys", the "smokers", getting killed off. And, as the "Smoker's" rusting hulk slowly sinks into the sea, the camera switches to an aerial version of its stern just before sinking into the ocean...on which you can see the name of the ship...The 'EXXON VALDEZ', you know, the tanker that ran aground in Alaska and spilt all that oil...(Huh? WHAT?) I guess, the movie had become so 'hopeless' by this point that the movie's producers thot, "well, we'd better include something RELEVANT!" With that, Costner, the lady who's his love interest, and her little girl finally end up reaching "dryland".

This is where I'm flabbergasted...if the earth is totally covered with water, wouldn't MT. EVEREST be the last possible piece of "dryland"?; after all, it is the highest point on earth. But our merry adventurers reach what is actually an island coast with ultra-high cliffs above it, which just finally renders this movie totally unbelievable. If it's an ocean island coast, well, there's 29,000 feet of terra firma above it. Tell me, Kevin, how could the earth have been covered with water with so much high land above the coast that you HAD JUST REACHED? And, in the end, Costner can't stay on the island, coast, whatever, with his woman, because after all, he has gills and the sea beckons him. It's at that point the movie (mercifully) ends...

So if you can put yourself into a mental "parallel universe" and just accept what's happening in the movie (although you can't help but think the premise of the movie is just totally ridiculous), it's not that bad. The special effects are well-done, and I suppose in many years, the way the Earth is depicted in "Waterworld" will actually result. Truly "water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink." Which reminds me...ugh...the opening scene of the movie shows Costner actually urinating into a bottle. Then he pours the bottle's contents into some kind of converter, which turns his "deposit" back into water, and then he DRINKS it in front of the camera for all to see. The movie STARTS OUT that way, and ACK...kinda sets the tone for "Waterworld's" overall ridiculousness. All of a sudden, I have a bright idea: Maybe the fuel that the "smokers" used for their airplanes and jet-ski's came from the same source as Costner's drinking water? Wait...this movie stretches things enough without any help from me...

Costner and company evidently had set out to create a major-level blockbuster classic but in the end, "WATERWORLD" just kinda rolls over and dies; with each development along the way, the movie just kills itself; this time, I'm afraid the critics were right. This movie just "loses it" on all levels. Now all I have to do is go out and get a video of "Heavens' Gate"...I saw it once, didn't comprehend it at all, and since it, too, is so bad, it deserves another reviewing. I'll just hafta remember to fortify my senses before putting the DVD in. I've done the same thing with Music, too; I've gone out of my way to find records/CD's that have been mercilessly castigated by the Reviewing segment of our population, and sometimes, I didn't think the music was all that bad; other times I couldn't wait for the record to end so I could remove it from my turntable! One such negative music review was spot-on: One critic's view of Bing Crosby's version of "Hey Jude" was that it was totally ridiculous. Sadly, for 'der Bingle', the reviewers won that round. Bing's musical version of "Waterworld", sounds like.

I've stolen a phrase from one of Hermans' Hermits hits from the '60s..."Waterworld" is probably "A Must To Avoid"...a lot of money was obviously spent on it, but it just kinda leans over and hits the floor with a dull thud, and then you realize that the two-plus hours you've spent watching are two-hours of your life you'll never have back again. Oh well; give 'em a good grade for 'effort', I guess. Thud...

I realize a good movie reviewer will never reveal the ending of the film, but it came out 12 years ago, and the conclusion of the movie is as ridiculous, if not more, than all of the footage leading up to it. Of course, the "Waterworld" DVD does have a dual purpose. If you plan on never viewing it again, you can always use it for a rather cool coffee-cup coaster!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I'm sure you've heard that old, old saying...
You gotta MAKE HAY while the SUN SHINES!

Well, obviously you ain't gonna be able to make much hay in the dead of winter, not even when the sun shines in winter. Cos, at night, after the sun shines, it's oftentimes even colder 'cos there ain't no cloud cover above to hold in what precious little warm temperature degrees exist that time of year, especially in Northern Idaho, where I come from. Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, is definitely a four-season place if there ever was one. In summer, the temperature will go from above 100 degrees (not all that long ago, in fact), to 10, 20, and sometimes more BELOW ZERO in the winter. Brrrrrrr. I can hear the sounds of fenderbenders and pipes bursting all over the place now...

So, up there, (as is everywhere else in the northern hemisphere, logically enough), right now, temperatures are a-warmin', tourists are a-flockin', and Coeur d'Alene, as well as a gazillion other tourist towns, are puttin' on the Ritz, doin' everything possible in order to rake in them tourist bucks, 'cos come November, well, there ain't gonna be much of them to go around. Yeah, there'll be Christmas dollars that time of year, but it's hard to count on that one season to consistently put yer average business over the top when Christmas receipts have been shaky in these last few years, with many businesses having to mark down things BEFORE Christmas. It's a nationwide trend; the 'talking heads' of business news have a field day reporting such financial disasters.

So, really, a business needs a good tourist season to help tide things over. And there's one business in CDA that's a really big business. And it houses other businesses. It's a big hotel with shops in the lower level, and "attached" shops that can be reached from a skywalk from "aforementioned hotel" if indeed you don't wanna take your life in your hands by crossing the street. Gits crazy down thar sometimes. And if those businesses can make money in the summer, they can pay their exorbitant monthly rents to the owner of said hotel/business complex, and manage to survive a while before they have to try and figure out how they're gonna make money in the ever-desolate months of January and February, when the whole town sorta goes into hibernation. So, I wish the best for my hometown, and hope merchants there are able to rake in a lot of these during this current tourist season:

...the abovementioned hotel and its humble proprietor, always looking out for the corporation...

There are a few other businesses in the downtown area of Coeur d'Alene, who don't pay rent to this guy, but at the same time, are hoping for spinoff traffic, hoping to glean what little of these bills (pictured above) are left over after outta-towners spend their bucks at the hotel-associated businesses, which of course, are right smack in the middle of the downtown core. I remember Coeur d'Alene fondly, but at the same time, I can remember that the only downtown business I ever frequented was a coffee shop. I don't have much use for overpriced trinkets, and never have...even when I've been a tourist.

Basically, this post is a poor excuse to justify the inclusion of the above sabotaged dollar bill, but you probably already came to that conclusion before you read it all. Oh well, 'twas fun.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Shadowy images...real or imagined?
or, everything is real to at least some of the people sometimes...

You've heard about these kinds of things...where someone sees the Virgin Mary among the chips, cracks and holes on the side of a brick tenement slum...or maybe someone was making flapjacks and one of the pancakes was miraculously like the face of Pee Wee Herman. And that, dear reader, brings us to perhaps the most frequently imaginated-oriented person of all: Lately, just lately, someone has seen something in a stone...something of a rock and roll fantasy...so tell me, does the picture inside the black oval look like ELVIS?

...it's just a hunka-hunka piece o' rock...

Well,obviously, someone thinks it does. This is an actual unretouched photo, by the way. Even tho I am prone to, I did NOT mess with this picture. Back to the rock: I suppose the Elvis Presley Estate will sue for possession of it. Once they get it, they'll take it on tour all over the country. A big rock, sitting in the middle of the stage, with "Hound Dog" and "Don't Be Cruel" playing loudly thru surround-sound speakers for all to hear. And the loyal Elvis fans in attendance can go home, back to their meager lives, after having seen an obvious (to them, anyway) by-product of divine intervention. Elvis is the king, even if he is now a ROCK.

Well, just as the above image is the by-product of someone's not totally inaccurate imagination, this next foto also lends itself to interpretation. I've never seen anything like it. It's very original, and were someone prone to sell this over Ebay, perhaps the sheer shock value alone would guarantee that it would sell for an amount larger than the combined gross national products of all the countries in the Western Hemisphere. So you think an Elvis Rock is noteworthy, truly something to behold because a force greater than us all created it? Folks, you ain't seen NOTHIN' yet. Step rrrright up......

Photos stolen from www.spokesmanreview.com/blogs/hbo;, where they tiptoe thru the tulips on their own time...

God Bless Tiny Tim...for he's somewhere out there, watching over us all...

An alternative form of Television...
Something DIFFERENT, for a change...

I haven't followed any of the three major networks for years, and I have no idea what's in any of their prime-time programming. I've just lost interest. It got to the point where all the new sitcoms had plots I'd seen time and time again, only this time around, with different actors. I suppose that's what aging does to a person; it makes ya think you've seen it all before. So, I began tuning in to Court-TV, A&E, and occasionally, MSNBC; much of the programming on those 3 channels consists of real-life murder mysteries and whodunits. But, a steady diet of that is not healthy, although it took me 5 years to determine that, and lately, I haven't watched as much of that stuff as I used to. I was kinda revulsed the other nite when one of those channels aired a program about a serial killer who was also a vampire, and he drank his victims' blood. NOPE, NOT FOR ME!!! I couldn't finish that program. That's what remotes are made for. Change channel, NOW!!! So I did.

Down here on the Oregon coast, there is a little community channel that I stumbled upon, accidentally, one night while I was channel-surfing. Now, folks, this is small-town TV, for sure. No commercials. No actors. Just stuff. For instance, right now I'm watching a program in which the sole plot consists of Hummingbirds as they congregate at a feeder. They suck in that sweet stuff with their needle-beaks and then fly off, only to come back again, and again, and again. The program before that featured a lady, playing a harp (not a harmonica, but an honest-to-goodness HARP); she was playing songs such as "Tennessee Waltz", and she is great at what she does. One program shows her playing the harp in the City Park, and while the camera films her the majority of the time, it also pans back to show a beautiful man-made pond full of ducks and geese (and yeah, seagulls too...they're everywhere!); it's a beautiful sunny day, and people walk thru the park, or sit on a bench and listen to her play. Harp therapy, indeed.

In the program before that, an old guy who's a native of the area presented home movies of what this area looked like 50 years ago. Another program features a recent 4th of July parade, while yet another shows Halibut fishing (with a camera mounted on the mast of a boat way out at sea), while the fine art of tree-falling is dealt with in another program, in which a logger felled a huge tree, and 50 gallons of sap bled out of that poor ol' tree. And another program features a heavy-set guy with one of those huge baritone voices singing, while a lady sits at the piano in front of him, and that goes on for about an hour. There's other exciting programming on this little community channel; for example, if you tune in at just the right time, you can see a program on bee-keeping...or you can see the implosion of the big stack that used to tower above the lumber yard, which went out of business long, long ago. Community-access TV; there's nothing like it.

Finally, for those of you who waded thru 'all of the above', here's a little visual treat for you. It has to do with Britain's Monarchy, which, for all practical purposes, is about as necessary as your appendix or your little toe. In short, if you got rid of 'em, there'd be no serious damage, and they wouldn't be missed at all. I do suppose, though, that if the monarchy went out of business, all of the photogs and beat writers for English Tabloids would be out of work. So I have a feeling we won't see the demise of the British royalty system anytime soon. But, it is definitely behind the times in a lot of ways...

I'll bet that www.spokesmanreview.com/blogs/hbo would like to court-martial me for always defacing their photos...

When things become a bit too tumultuous, the harp playing I referred to above is just the thing. Mental medication. Of course, there's another side to this...Once upon a time, a guy told his buddy, "My wife is an angel...she's always harping at me."

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The 100-CD Changer Blues...
...or, is this any way to spend a Saturday Night?

I found a used 100-CD changer a few months ago at the local Goodwill store. And, it sure was fun to set it on random play; I never knew what was coming up next. Sorta like a jukebox. You might notice that I've used the past tense here...lemme 'splain: Tonight, my changer stopped and wouldn't start again. I guess some of the discs, after playing, got caught in the machinery. I don't know how else to explain it. The changer has (well, "had") 4 racks with 25 CD's each. And, some of the discs in changer compartment #4 got "stuck" somehow; I couldn't get that compartment to open. The "Jaws of Life", commonly used in car wrecks, wouldn't have helped here.

So, I tried tipping the changer forward and lightly banging it on the back, hoping the discs would slide into their correct positions. No such luck. So I tipped it on its back, and all of the discs from the 3 other compartments fell into the cavernous back of the machine. So, basically, I had 100 discs trapped inside the machine. A case of not being able to take a sad song and make it better. So I had to take a screwdriver to the machine, take off the top of the changer, and reach waaaay in there to extract my CD's. And then, I had to put all (well almost all) of the CD's back in plastic CD cases which I had laying around. That stuff takes a lotta time! Which is why I'm up so late posting this. I felt the whole world had to know. Or, as Eric Burdon once said in a song, "Yes...I am...experienced."

These were all homemade CD's; it took the better part of a year to put them all together. I made 'em from old 45's that I gave away long ago. So I didn't wanna lose 'em. And, I'm gonna throw the machine away. Charlie Brown had the kite-eating tree. I had the disc-eating player. Bah humbug. I managed to save 99 out of 100 discs. One of them got caught in some "teeth" in the gearage of the machine; I'm afraid that disc is done for. CHOMP! That's the SECOND time in my experience that a CD player has EATEN a CD! I thot that only happened with cassette tapes! So that's my Saturday night. What's the lesson to be learned from this? The more parts a piece o'machinery has, the more liable it is to screw up. And, that as far as CD's are concerned, the old standby single-disc player is probably the safest way to play yer discs. I've never yet had a CD trapped inside a single-disc player. Emphasis on "yet".

Of course, people with I-pods and MP3's don't have to worry about all that. No moving parts, right? Everything's "virtual". It's just that those doggone things are so small. I would imagine that at any given moment, several million people across this great nation are trying to remember where they left their tiny little "virtual music machine", whether it be I-pod or MP3. Here's a great idea: Put your miniature music device on your key ring. That way you can lose your car keys and music player all at the same time! If things keep becoming more and more miniaturized, soon, postage stamps will be bigger than what you listen to music on. Have you seen HEADPHONES as of late? A couple pieces of STRING with an earpiece at each end. HUH? WHAT?

By the way, I still do have a Panasonic 5-CD changer, which hasn't screwed up yet (so far), and it actually has an MP3 jack, the function of which I have absolutely no idea. None. Zip. Nada. Modern technology...don't ya just love it? And, probably, the philosophy behind 2/3's of the household items you can by at any megalomania-mart...sooner or later, it's gonna break, and when it does, just buy another one 'cos the one yer havin' problems with is unfixable. And the best I can hope for here is that I didn't 'jinx' my Panasonic player with what I've just written. Evil spirits might be lurking inside of it, waiting to consume my CD's even as I type this. But it looks so innocent, sitting over there in the corner.

In an earlier post, I referred to Seattle Mariner Ichiro Suzuki's 20-million-dollar contract over the next five years, and I included all kinds of statistical breakdowns, such as, money earned per inning played, money earned with each at-bat, etc. A post well worth seeking out; if it's not on this page, it's in the July '07 archives (somewhere in there). Except I was wrong...Ichiro is only gonna make 19-million-dollars. Still, that amount will buy a whole lotta sushi. (If Don Imus had made that "sushi" remark on MSNBC, would he have been fired for that? Gosh...I'm more insensitive than I realized!)

Friday, July 13, 2007

And now, it's time for a...

You've seen 'em on TV, and you've heard 'em on radio. I believe the Federal Communications Commission still requires the broadcast media to air a certain amount of Public Service Announcements...you know, those ultra-dull and oftentimes moronic messages generated by selfless altruistic (or so they'd have U think) Government and State agencies. They're referred to in the broadcast bizz as "PSA's". And they're a necessary evil of Broadcasting. Program directors hate 'em. (Even tho they'll never tell you that on the record.) They're usually extremely redundant and humorless and oftentimes not very intelligently written either. Sometimes, like what appears here.

You've heard 'em, mindless mini-diatribes from The Consumer Fraud Protection Agency or the Government Publishing Clearinghouse in Pueblo, Colorado, or perhaps the American Red Cross or the United States Forest Service or the Federal Commission For The Suppression Of Overbundant Flatulence*** (I think that last agency deals with the Antarctic Hole in the Ozone layer)...well, there are all kinds of 'causes' out there which need to have attention focused upon. And, I've found another such cause. Yep, I've scooped everybody on this one.

Basically, during the course of writing this blog, I have not been an especially charitable individual. After all, I've shamelessly defaced photos, satirized the news, and told outright LIES all in a self-serving campaign to prove to my fellow human beings that I am more than just a big blob of multicellular matter. (So far, in vain.) And, I think that it's now time for me to be selfless. Hence, this blogsite's FIRST Public Service Announcement...

This announcement has been brought to you by the Federal Commission For The Prevention Of Hockey Puck Damage. Send your dollars (or mouth-guards) to your nearest NHL public liasion representative. Only you...can save a tooth. Or several. And...only you...can keep the ice from getting really, really, ugly.

Oh, by the way, the Government agency marked "***" (see above) ain't fer real. Although, the way the feds work, some yuppie mid-level pencil-pushing bureaucrat might have actually (and unknowingly) approved said agency's existence. I suppose we'll never know. One more thing...that photo kinda scares me.

Every town has one...if not more...
And they make such attractive targets...

You've probably seen 'em...the really rich people who aren't ashamed to flaunt their wealth in everyones' faces. They have enough money that they don't really care if they're liked or not. I'm still getting to know my way around here in my little Oregon town, so I really don't know "who's who" down here, but I remember such an individual in the place I used to live. He owns the town newspaper. He has a phone-book company in that same town. In the past, he's owned the town radio station, and a construction company, both of which he dispensed with at a whim.

He has a huge golf course on the lake adjacent to the town. He's built a huge condominium complex adjacent to that golf course. He has a huge estate on the other side of the lake. He has a huge luxury hotel (with prices to match and then some) on the lake. He has a big residence in an exclusive area in town, which is walled off from the public and is lit so well at night that from a distance, it looks like an oversized pinball machine. And now, he's got one of the largest sailboats in existence. The lake rises two feet when he puts it in the water. (Okay, that last part's a little fib.)

He's in his '70s by now. When does the accumulation become too much? When does the enterprenurial spirit finally reach its end? When does the process of acquisition run its course? When is enough "enough"? Or is it ever? I suppose, just as my little finch birds are hard-wired for building nests and propagating the species, some folks are hard-wired to such a degree that they can never stop...

I'll end with some lyrics from a 1968 song by Ray Stevens: "You better...take care of business, Mr. Businessman, what's your plan, make a stand...before it's too late...and you throw your life away..."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The TWENTY-million-dollar man...
...and you could say this guy has 'stepped up to the plate'...

...and the winner is...ICHIRO SUZUKI, at least as far as I know (things such as this can fall apart, y'know); from listening to sports-radio. He's in the "contract extension" process, which means if he stays in Seattle, they're evidently gonna pay him 100 million dollars over the next 5 years. The Seatte Mariners wanna sew this guy up baaaaad. Just a warning, Ichiro: If you DO this, sure, the money's great, but you're probably gonna wind up on the list of great players who never went to a World Series. Will Ichiro become surrounded with peachfuzzed, freshfaced young kids just brought up from the minor leagues as well as old decaying veterans whose batting averages and fielding percentages are dying merciless, slow, agonizing deaths? In short, will the Mariners "tank" themselves with this deal, by not being able to afford anyone else who's halfway good? I mean, we're talking about 100 MILLION dollars here. If that staggering amount is too much for you to fathom, let's just say Ichiro is the TWENTY-MILLION-DOLLAR Man, for each of the next 5 seasons. Wow.

Let's break down Ichiro's contract: that would be 162 games a season multiplied by 5 seasons, for a total of 810 games. Assuming Ichiro plays all 9 innings of every single game (meaning he never gets injured and the coach doesn't take him out to rest him), that's 7,290 innings played over 5 years. Now, let's divide those total innings into the 100 million dollars he'll get over that 5 years, and we come up with an amount of $13,717.42. That's how much Ichiro will get for each INNING he plays. Close to a cool $14 grand. That's not saying how many hits he'll get, how many times he pops out or sends weak grounders to an opposing infielder. Now, Ichiro is a GREAT player. But is anyone worth what Ichiro's getting, let alone what A-Rod's getting? ($252 million over the next few years). Is Ichiro worth what Ichiro's getting? I don't know. My mind is already severely boggled from tossing around those lofty monetary amounts. (Obviously, I didn't allow for extra-inning games here, but hey...)

Now, I am not greedy. All I want is one at-bat's worth of Ichiro's salary. I'd swing and miss three times, and then, I'd go sit down. For arguments' sake, let's say each at-bat is a 'sixth' of an inning; three outs for your team, another three for the opponent. So, per 9-inning game, there are an average of, say, 40 "sixths" in a game, allowing for home runs, scoring rallies, etc. That would come out to 810 games multiplied by 40 "sixths" or 'at-bats' for 32,000 total at-bats over a 5 year period, or, $3,125.00 for EVERY time Ichiro comes to the plate. And that's how much I'd get for swinging and missing on Ichiro's dime. The number of at-bats, of course, varies from inning to inning, but still, he's getting a whole chunka change everytime he 'sights in' the opposing pitcher with his arm outstretched, holding the bat. Heyyyy, Ichiro, ol' pal, ol' buddy....

What, you say, this has been a dull post loaded with facts and figures? I apologize for turning this posting into a balance sheet that made your eyes glaze over. So, for your visual enjoyment, I have a little picture for you here. It has to do with this current Prezzidential administration that everyone just is, well, so negatively indifferent about. However, there are a few die-hards out there who've read about the very-vocal political exhortations against the Oval Office back in the '60s, and have decided to try that same tactic here in the 00's...I guess, all I can say is, good luck...

I'm sure ww.spokesmanreview.com/blogs/hbo protests the fact that I keep on pathologically defacing their photos...

And now, I'll try to go get some sleep now. I won't have visions of sugarplums dancing in my head, nor will I dream of sheep jumping over a fence. I'll be envisioning dollars, endless amounts of dollars....ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz.....I'm getting sleeeeeeeepy, very, very sleeeeeeeepy.....

Monday, July 09, 2007

I remember the good ol' CHEAP days...
...a journey through the past to the land of low, low prices...

I remember when I could fill up my gas tank for five bucks and get change back. And that was before the days of self-service. And I'm talking about a tank for a CAR, not a lawn mower.

I remember when my high school buddies and I all used to go out cruisin' on weekend nights, after which we all went to the pizza place. You could get a 16" pizza for $5.99.

I remember when a cup of coffee cost a quarter, and this was back before the days of "breve", "tall", "grande", or other such terms which now signify the Starbuckization of America.

I remember when record albums, new, cost $4.98 for a stereo LP, or $3.98 for mono. Now, your average new really short-on-music compact disc will set you back $15 or $20. Or more.

I remember the days when I lived in a fairly new, clean and roomy 1-bed apartment in the middle of town for $135 a month. It's hard to a similar apartment these days for under $500 a month.

I remember my mom sending me to the grocery store for a loaf of bread; the big red and white sticker on the end of the loaf said 27 cents. I hardly ever see a loaf under a dollar these days.

I remember when Hostess fruit pies were priced at 17 cents. That was back in the 70s, when I'd eat one on my break when I worked at the grocery store. Now they're priced at $1.30 or thereabouts.

So, everything's going up, everywhere ya look. Utility bills, tires, furniture, breakfast at yer favorite restaurant, whatever. So I fully expect to see this soon...

I stole this foto from www.spokesmanreview.com/blogs/hbo, where employees pay a quarter in order to activate the water cooler.

Obviously, this little girl's business enterprise has not been "Starbuckized" yet...

Could this be a sign of GLOBAL WARMING???
Our topsy-turvy world is getting more and more topsy-turvy all the time!

An old High School buddy of mine is flyin' high these days; in fact, as I write this, he is over SEVEN THOUSAND FEET above me. He now lives in Colorado, and he's turning into a dedicated mountain man REAL fast. We both graduated from high school in 1972, the same year that John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High" hit the charts. Little did I know that he would end up taking that song so doggone seriously. He and his lady are leading the high life these days ('high' as in 'atmospherically'), and most any weekend will find them scamperin' over them mountain ranges like a coupla billy-goats, and nothin' can stop them.

But as you know, we as a planet are experiencing global warming, and as such, animal life here on Earth will be going through massive upheaval if they aren't already...'the times, they are a-changin'', a wandering minstrel once sang, and in this day and age, well, things are different out there. This is no longer the world of our forefathers. Or foremothers. And, to borrow a phrase once effectively utilized by the Firesign Theater comedy troupe, "everything you know is wrong"...so, hikers beware, and for heavens' sake, be PREPARED for...

Here's a new species that I'm sure is sitting on (or swimming in) the endangered list, right up there with the spotted owl.

...I think I hear the theme from "Jaws" playing somewhere in the distance...

Sunday, July 08, 2007

...this is almost too painful to look at...

Bill Cosby, on one of his old comedy records, talks about the time his old college football team, Hofstra, was playing in a televised game. And about how, if he was hit in a certain place, he couldn't shield himself, 'cos the TV audience was watching. And, that's where he got hit, hence the immortal line, "I've been hit in the...YOU'D BETTER NOT TOUCH!" (Sorry, "Shield" was the least offensive verb I could think of...this is a G-Rated blog, after all (if just barely).

I was gonna end this post right here, but as I was finishing up, I, all of a sudden, experienced some severe CULTURE SHOCK!!! Here's what happened:

THE 60's REVISITED: Another CD collection of 60's oldies (the "Flower Power" era) is being shown on an infomercial as I type this...and, an OLD Peter Fonda is one of the hosts of the infomercial. There he is, with gray sideburns, thinning hair, and a LEATHER MOTORCYCLE JACKET on. I'd daresay he looks RIDICULOUS, but I won't, lest I offend other old bikers out there! I feel kinda sad for old Peter, if that's the only acting gig he can get these days.

Okay, I'm done. It's not gonna get any worse than this. I promise. At least for now.

Well, it's all right...

We're going to the End Of The Line...

I should be disgusted at marketing tactics which induce me, Joe Consumer (my alter-ego), to shell out more bucks for something that's been in my music collection for YEARS. After all, to get the consumer excited, there are 4 bonus tracks and a DVD; this is the 'golden carrot' that's being dangled yet again to lovers of old music who've already GOT that old music. But this time around, it's WORTH it. After all, the group represented here is the TRAVELING WILBURYS, which consist of Jeff Lynne of ELO, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Roy Orbison. The group made two albums, "Traveling Wilburys" and "Volume 3". (There was no volume 2; the 'Vol. 3' title was a George Harrison joke.)

This newly-packaged old music by the Wilburys comes to us in the form of two CD's and a DVD. Each CD contains two bonus tracks, and it's nice to have 'em. The DVD is the real surprise. It's only just over 40 minutes long, but it's great anyway. When you zap it into your player, you'll see a 20-minute "True History of the Traveling Wilburys", along with MTV-type videos made to promote their various singles. Now, I've always firmly believed that Music Videos are Unnecessary; if a song is good, it doesn't need a video to get across. At the same time, a video can dress up and render marketable a totally awful song. These Wilburys videos, though, have some historical significance. After all, this group consisted of five REALLY BIG NAMES in music. Something that doesn't happen every day.

...as always, with CD's, "Handle With Care"...

The Wilburys' first music video ("Handle With Care", 1988) featured all five members of the group. Tragically, though, Roy Orbison passed away before their second video ("End Of The Line") was made. The song was a single, and they must have mulled over how to make a tasteful video of it. I'd never seen this 1989 video before, and when I saw it last night, it absolutely BLEW ME AWAY...

The "End Of The Line" video features footage of the band members inside a railroad passenger car as they sing their various parts of the song, and when it comes time for Orbison's verse, the camera pulls back to reveal the entire group playing their guitars and singing. In Orbison's place is a rocking chair, in which sits an old guitar similar to the one he'd played; the chair is ROCKING BY ITSELF, as if Orbison, from the great beyond, was among his bandmates as they sang. Eerie, yet unabashedly sentimental. Before Orbison's vocal part ends, the camera briefly reveals a shelf in a corner of the room, on which sits a small framed picture of Orbison. So, he wasn't there, yet he WAS. I was absolutely stunned. Wow. How poignant!


Also on that DVD is footage of Roy Orbison laying down vocals for his featured track on the first Wilburys' album, "Not Alone Anymore". Near the end of his life, his voice was STILL amazing. As was the music he and his cohorts made on the Traveling Wilburys' two albums. And with that, I'll close...this post has the End Of The Line.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

When it comes to TESTING AUTHORITY,

I don't have a criminal record, and I don't plan on getting one anytime soon. But some people are just looking for trouble, and they can't be stopped until they are forcibly stopped. In an average town on an average interstate highway, the Fourth of July is always going to be ultra-stressful for law enforcement people. If they don't seem friendly, amiable or reasonable, well, they might have an excuse on that day, when they're expected to control throngs of people who could veer out of control at any time.

So if you're looking to test authority, don't do it on July 4th. Because if you do, you are not going to get a very positive reaction from law enforcement people. And, as people get louder, ruder and more 'in-yer-face', skirmishes get harsher and more intense all the time. I think the Fourth of July is a day on which everyone needs to be a lot more careful about everything. Tempers as well as temperatures are hot, and especially with all the crack-heads and meth-heads out there, who knows who is tweaking, and who isn't? Hard to tell the difference sometimes.

So especially if you're young, idealistic, wanting to set the world on fire with all of your education and newly-acquired freedom from parents, just kinda be careful, and just be kinda cool. Or, you'll end up like the young people in the photo below. It happened yesterday, July 4th, in a town 30 miles from where I used to live. And it could happen in your town, too...

It's probably a wonder that the www.spokesmanreview.com/blogs/hbo photographer didn't get arrested for taking this picture!

As is always the case with such incidents, the kids have their version, and the cops have their version. But I'm just kinda thinking, overall, that the Fourth of July just ain't a very good day to confront the local cops with allegations of police brutality. I would think swimming in a South American lake full of piranhas would be less brutal. And as far as the above foto, the guy's expression scares me a little bit. What a hothead.

The times they are-a-changin, aren't they? Or maybe they're not. It's this same kind of hostile crowd mentality that created the riots at the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968. Don't people ever learn?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

On this July 4th, I can say proudly...
This is truly a GREAT COUNTRY...

Because, I have the right to post stuff like this: I basically have lost all respect for that person in Washington, D.C. who pretends to be Prezzident of this great country, a country that is still great IN SPITE of him. Obviously I am no member of the George W. Bush fan club, but today's newspaper finally sent me over the edge, to where I'm all of a sudden sounding like some extremist nut, usually the kind of people that I'll cross the street to avoid. "Everything in moderation", I've always been told. Well, in most things, I agree. But this time around I am totally disgusted; much more disgusted than I am underwhelmed at this poor excuse of a Presidential administration.

Okay, now to the particulars of my raving rant: On opposite sides of the little town newspaper today, there were two articles pertaining to the Bush Administration. The headline on the left read, "BUSH NOT RULING OUT A PARDON FOR LIBBY". Our Prezzident has already commuted Scooter Libby's sentence so he doesn't have to serve jail time, in spite of the fact that, according to our legal system, he (Libby) did a whole bunch of stuff wrong. People in the know, as well as people who aren't, were and are disgusted by this commutation. Now, on top of this, Bush evidently is gonna wipe any and all of Libby's offense(s) from the criminal record. THIS IS THE SAME GEORGE W. BUSH WHO STOOD BY AS GOVERNOR OF TEXAS WHILE DEATH ROW INMATES WERE KILLED LEFT AND RIGHT, AND THE SAME GEORGE W. BUSH WHO GOT US INTO THIS USELESS IRAQ WAR THAT HAS KILLED MANY OF OUR FINEST YOUNG PEOPLE, and I am HOPPING MAD ABOUT THIS, AND I THINK EVERYONE SHOULD BE! He can stand by while people DIE, but his former administration flunkie is given a little teensy-weensy slap on the wrist, and is told, "Libby, go and sin no more". I get heartburn just thinking about this...

Gosh, if I get much more extreme than that, I'm gonna hafta start crossing the street to avoid MYSELF. Now, look: I am NOT an anti-death penalty person. I feel that in certain cases, this penalty is NEEDED. Some say that "it's not a deterrent", but it IS: The executed person will never kill again. At the same time, if I were a juror in a death-penalty case, I would have a hard time with having to sentence someone to death. The crime would have to be patently horrifying, so bad that I'd have nightmares thinking about it. Of course, I'd probably also have nightmares if I had to sentence someone to death. Nobody wins, really. The best deterrent to the death penalty is, "DON'T COMMIT A DEATH-PENALTY CRIME", f'cryin' out loud! Back to Bush: I used to say the Pledge of Allegiance in School. I can still recite it. I was taught to respect the Presidency and what our nation stands for. I just don't know if I do anymore. Even NIXON looks angelic compared to Mr. Bush. At least NIXON had some CHARACTER! I feel just awful about the fact that for me, it has come to this. George W. Bush has finally totally, absolutely, disillusioned me beyond belief and repair. So I dedicate this brand-new postage stamp to our Prezzident; I think he's earned it...!

And, as far as that second headline in today's paper, IT read thusly: "POLL RATINGS DROP AGAIN FOR BUSH, CONGRESS", well, all I can say is "DUHHHHH!"; decisions like what have been made in this administration will ALWAYS lead to low performance ratings. Look, I am not a heavily political person. 24-hour news coverage just plain-old burns me OUT. But finally, Finally, FINALLY, looking at the headline juxtaposition in today's paper...I am ASHAMED of this President. Disgusted and ASHAMED. As for the rest of congress...maybe I should be paying more attention to them ALL? And if I did, would I write more posts like this one?

The 4th of July on the Coast: Nope, I didn't go to the parade. If I were to get up early enough for that, well, I couldn't stay up late typing stuff like this. Sacrifices have to be made, after all. But I did go and see the fireworks. I have never SHIVERED on the 4th of July before; temps at fireworks time were maybe 60 degrees, with a brisk wind. And, this little town really did itself proud, firework-wise. BOOM!!! Nothing delicate or prissy about these fireworks; they were right IN MY FACE! BOOM!!! A firework ain't a firework unless the volume can be physically FELT! Once again: BOOM!!! Oh, by the way, I thot I'd at long last gotten away from them, but this town has 'em too: BICYCLE COPS. Making sure we're all safe on the 4th. Rah rah.

You've heard of 'the gift that keeps on giving'...well, welcome to "The Fish That Keeps On Biting"...a guy in North Carolina caught a fish today; I suppose as he was reeling it in, he was thinking, "dinnerrrrr....." but he put the brakes on that decision right away: he opened the fish's mouth with his knife, and the fish bit BACK and dented the blade. He'd caught a 20 ounce PIRANHA! (There's no truth to the rumor that he thot about putting it in his mother-in-law's bathtub, ha ha...) Authorities think that someone who kept the toothy fish as a pet didn't want it anymore and dumped it in the river where it was snagged. That's a no-no. And at last count, the fisherman, who had fished in that spot all his life, will probably think twice from now about wading in there with a fishing pole. Let's just be glad that no one's crossed piranhas with seagulls, or we'd all be dive-bombed by man-eating birds. Ack.

Because this post began ultra-ponderously, I felt that I needed to put a humorous little thing in here to close things out, with the understanding that "humor is in the eye of the beholder"...

With the advent of this defaced foto, I can only hope the folks at www.spokesmanreview.com/blogs/hbo don't thrash me too hard.