Wednesday, May 28, 2008

And now I'm pi-eyed...
...and I think this one's a keeper...

If you've read this blog over the last year, you know that I've had my ups and downs with birds. One of those was the most affectionate little parrot, but he was a screamer. I got rid of him, but in retrospect, I shouldn't have, but then again, demanding relationships have always taken their toll on me. The little bird was a Sun Conure, and, they're known for being quite Boisterous...when I woke up and went out into the kitchen, or when I came home for the evening, he'd go "SCREEEEEECH!!! SCREAMMMMM!!!"; after a while, it was either Me or The Bird; I'd had enough, and I took him back to the pet store. I should've realized the bird was just glad to see me, and he didn't mean to irritate me. And after I got rid of him, I felt as if I'd lost a family member. I felt lower than dirt, 'cos really, he was a good boy. I wish I'd kept him. But I can't un-do what's been done. I checked with the pet store later on, and he was evidently really happy with his new people. So I guess that's good...

In-between, I've had parakeets (whose ceaseless squawking just absolutely drove me nuts) and finch, which are so hard-wired to reproduce that before you know it, eggs are laid, birds have hatched, the babies are ready to fly and competing with their parents for food after 2 or 3 weeks, and then Mom and Dad are ready to breed all over again. With finch, either you remove the eggs they lay and toss 'em out (I felt really, really guilty for doing that), or you give away the newly hatched birds 'cos more are on the way; either you do that, or by year's end, you'll have a dozen cages all full of Finch birds that you don't know what to do with. It was pure anarchy last summer. I gave away one set of Finch parents AND their babies, and the other set of Finch parents had two litters of Little Ones before I finally cried "UNCLE"!!!

I was totally being overrun by the incessant peep-peep-peep sounds the finch made as they rapidly flew back and forth and all over the place, and if I didn't put grass in the cage so the Male could Build Another Nest, he'd peep-peep-peep twice as loud until he got his grass so he could build a nest, and he'd proudly pick up a grass blade, fly to the top where the nest was, install the grass blade, and then he'd "repeat process" over and Over and OVER...enough to drive ya crazy! I thot, "don't these birds do anything for fun?" Finch are weird little birds. Very primal. You don't buy finch for their character, because there appears to be none. I'd originally bought finch because the Parakeets were driving me nuts. In comparison, the Finch seemed quieter. But finch have a way of multiplying and that can make things really crazy. It's a good thing human beings don't reproduce as fast as finch do. By End of Summer, I Had No Birds. Ack!

So, after my disastrous bout with the Flu last fall (I could barely care for myself, let alone birds), I began researching birds on the internet. I ran across a type of Parrot I'd never heard of, the Pionus parrot. (Pie-OH-nuss) The various Parrot websites all uniformly extolled the Pionus as being just about the most mellow breed of Parrot; they're known for doing things quietly, and they're not frantic and really don't skedaddle helter-skelter like the 'keets and finch I had. On the downside, I read that "Pi's" don't have the most melodic voice ever, and they're not really good as far as talking ability, either. I suppose that a relationship with a Bird is a lot like a relationship with a Human...some people just have a way of driving some other people NUTS...I try not to do too many personal relationships anymore...and, a person's character also has to be taken into account when choosing a bird, as I've found out. 'Cos I've been driven nuts by birds, too.

And I kinda thot, "well, the way I do things, and the person I've become', I sure don't want a 'screecher bird'...and because my nerves are, well, pretty well SHOT, I don't need a frantic bird, either. And because it's pretty easy for me to run out of 'emotional gas', I don't need a 'needy' bird, either. It's like the three has to be juuuuust right, I guess, when it comes to birds. And when I read about the Pionus Parrot, I was immediately intrigued. My Pionus parrot came from a bird breeder in Indiana. When I told her I wanted a Pionus, her first question was "what kind of cage do you have?" And I asked her, "what do you suggest"? I put together a great big cage, stocked up on bird food; she couldn't ship him to me until the weather got warmer, he arrived at the Portland, Oregon Airport two weeks ago; a week after that, he developed a bird-cold, so he had to go to the Vets', and he's been back here for a week now. So "Pi and I" are just beginning to get used to each other. And for the most part, he just kinda 'grunts and whispers' contentedly...he definitely is a fairly quiet little boy.

I've been taking things slowly with him...I want to interact with a parrot, but in order to do that, you've gotta take time to build up the bird's trust. So I have. It's been largely hands-off, and for the first few days, he was okay. Then he began stomping around the cage and having hissy-fits all over the place, and of course, I didn't know why; honestly, you've gotta be an armchair shrink if you're gonna put up with a parrot. So today, I tried something different...I got him to perch on my finger...he crawled up on my arm, sat on my shoulder...and I just let him be a "shoulder bird" for the next 2 and a half HOURS, would you believe. I took him on a guided tour of my house...then I sat down in front of my stereo, put on a jazz record, and as the saxes and trumpets played, Little Pi began screeching and singing to the music. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. And his "bleats and brays" sound sorta like a saxophone! So far, he likes progressive jazz-fusion music, the Tijuana Brass, and he likes The Beatles, too.

So it was getting late in the day; I took him back to his cage, sat him down, and he seemed to be mellower. Then he went and got a little bit of food, and then he just came back to the front of the cage and stood there looking at me. Oh yeah? When I offered my finger, he stepped up. He wasn't ready to be alone yet, I was thinking. And he was so calm. No hissy-fits...and I took him back to the rocker-recliner, and just sat there, him perched in my finger, me scratching his head...he just sat there really peacefully. Finally, after a while, he began looking towards his cage again. And that's where he is now. He just wasn't ready to go to bed for a while. I know he got lots of attention from the lady who raised him, and is it too much to think that he Needed some attention from me? ME? Admittedly I've been a bit afraid of handling him too much; he's new, after all, and has been kinda skittish...which makes me kinda skittish. I 'spose relationships are like that...they ebb and flow...and you just muddle along 'till you find something that works? And maybe this little creature can teach me about relationships? Because I don't know a Damned Thing About 'Em. I've never had a good relationship with Very Much of Anything.

And why, all of a sudden, I need 'something around' instead of living Totally Alone like I've done for so long, I don't know. Why now? But I seem to be in better control of my moods whenever there's a bird in my house. Maybe this is why people have pets. Animals force you to live in the present; honestly, it's difficult to worry about past things when there's a little creature nearby that you're taking care of. I got this little bird because I Needed To. That's all I know. And I'm glad he's here. Ladies and "RINGO", the Pionus Parrot...and for the first time, he actually looked at me today, just like this...

I must ask, "how could you turn down a little face like this?"

Little Ringo is about 7 inches long now; he'll grow another inch or two, and as he gets older (he's just under a year now), his blue feathers will become very, Very blue. Technically, he's a bronze-winged Pionus parrot, named after the color of his outer wing feathers.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

I've been "two-timing" this blog!
Yep, I admit it, I've been an absolute heel...

What the heck have I been doing? Oh my garsh, my posting frequency's down again, so here I am having to scramble on the weekend so I can keep this thing fresh and exciting. Well, fresh, least a couple of nights this past week, I've been griping away on the Seattle Mariners' website...they've been blown out of the water by both the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees during this last road trip. Only today, the M's were AHEAD of the Yankees late into the game. And talk about finding new ways to lose...this time, ICHIRO, the gold-glove fielder, got turned around trying to catch a fly ball, and "thud" the ball unceremoniously hit the ground, and well, you know the rest...J.J. Putz, former ultra-feared closer, got TAKEN OUT 'cos he was ineffective. The upshot was that the Yankees came from behind to post a 6 to 5 victory over the know, the Mariners...the baseball team that 99 and forty-four one-hundredths percent of faithful baseball fans are now proceeding to disown. So why did the M's blow it late in the game? Well, because Jared Washburn actually pitched a pretty great game. So I guess the M's didn't wanna tarnish their image by ACTUALLY WINNING A GAME! The Yankees and Tigers, who've had a tuff season so far, looked like CHAMPS against the M's. And the M's? Chumps.

Typing in Morse Code: From time to time, I try to mention the other 'main thing' I do with this here computer, that of maintaining my "Miss Lee Morse" group can find a little Yahoo-group clicker-button off to your left...I've posted a whole lot of stuff in there; souvenir pictures which illustrate her career; pictures of sheet music, with her picture on them (even on some songs she never sang!) as well as detailing the life and times of some of the other vintage songbirds who were popular around that time. I admire Miss Morse, in part, because she wrote a lot of her own songs, including this pretty little number, "Love Me"...which, in this YouTube video, is accompanied by a photo montage of her throughout her career...recorded c.1930...

Absolutely stunning is the variety of musical styles she took on. Though not really a blues singer, she could sing the blues with the best of 'em. Though not really a torch singer, "Love Me" showcases her three-octave voice gently caressing a ballad, and then off she'd go yodeling or scat-singing in some silly novelty song of the day. It really made my day this week when a copy of her 1920's hit, "Animal Crackers" arrived at my door. We all need silliness once in a while.

So, is it a scandal, or ain't it? "Scandal." That word shoulda tipped you off that this section was gonna be about politics. Hillary Clinton, remarking upon her turbulent battle with Obama over votes, said something about, "well in June, you know, there was the Bobby Kennedy Assassination", remarking that he hadn't won the Democratic Party's nomination until June '68, implying that Her Time Is Yet To Come. That is, she'd win the nomination then, not get blown away. And boyohboy, did the MSNBC talking heads get after her for saying that. Especially Keith Olberman, who I think is kinda cool. But then yesterday on the radio, a newscaster said that scandal is blowing over and that Obama himself was quoted as saying he "took Hillary at her word" for not meaning any harm to anyone. As Olberman pointed out, however, "assassination" is not a word one tosses around lightly in the midst of a campaign. Well, think about it...John F. Kennedy...Bobby Kennedy...Martin Luther King, Jr...and, yes, George Wallace. Also think if you will, about Kent State, which was assassination coming from the Other Side. Ugly times indeed.

And now you tell me a LAPTOP's too big? Remember back when desktop PC's finally became affordable, and wow, were people turned on by that. Almost everyone could get a desktop and connect to the World Wide Web. Later on, in coffeeshops and elsewhere, I began seeing people bring funny little laptops (like the one I'm using right now) along with them, and I thot, "I'll never get one of those", all the while amazed by the great screen resolution as I looked (surreptitiously) over laptop owners' shoulders. When my desktop Gave Up The Ghost last year, I got this here laptop. AND NOW I'M LIBERATED! I can take this little subversive box of cyber-transmission, find a wi-fi area somewhere, and off I can go! So I was shocked to see a recent TV commercial in which a young woman in a Wi-Fi cafe with laptop tries to get up and take her laptop somewhere else, and a cage drops down, imprisoning her and her laptop. Turns out the commercial says she's a PRISONER OF WI-FI. The solution? Buy some kind of little microgadget that does everything a laptop does, only it gets misplaced easier and is more prone to theft or getting flushed down a toilet. It's the Miniturization of America, folks. Thousands of songs on an Ipod the size of a business card. There's no use trying to get "hip", folks. What you buy today is outta style tomorrow. I've just seen a Circuit City ad that says the big-box store is marking down their LAPTOP prices by $180.00. Definition of "Sale": Dumping unsellable, outmoded items on the market. Except in Grocery Stores, where some things are put on sale, and prices are raised on some other items to make up the difference.

Will the "Sunday Drive" become a distant memory? It is a beautiful day out there today. I'm sure that over the ocean, not a cloud is in the sky, which can be a rare thing sometimes. So what am I doing INSIDE, typing this exercise in monotony on a Sunday Afternoon? Well, I went to the beach YESTERDAY, you see. Does this also have something to do with GAS RISING TO ABOVE FOUR-DOLLARS A GALLON? You bet your sweet BIPPY (or anything else) it does! So, I am RATIONING my driving. Thinking twice before going somewhere on a whim. Usually the term "Gas Giant" refers to big planets such as Jupiter or Saturn, which are nothing more than big balls of gas that grow denser the further in you go, where there's (reported to be) a "core" of Liquid Nitrogen. Not a great place for land developers. Well, "Gas Giant", in this case...refers to the Monolithic Oil Companies who are making not just 'profits', but 'RECORD' profits. That would, in turn, make the CEO's of fuel companies giant GASBAGS.

Perhaps Fred Flintstone was ahead of his time. Yabba-dabba-doo!!!

The only kind of pressure we can exert on the Gas Giants (and Gasbags) is Not To Use As Much. Of course, that'll probably mean more fuel for the war machine. Ya can't win.I've seen gas go above one dollar, then two, then three and have pretty much taken it in stride...but when I drove by Ye Olde Gas Place the other day and saw $4.05 (!!!) I couldn't shake the feeling of trepidation brewing in my gut (and gas tank). I remember filling up my TANK for that amount, long, long ago.

There's no truth to the rumor that they're shoveling out Fort Knox, replacing them solid gold bars with gasoline. At least, not yet.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Nowhere NEAR a Gas Pump...
...and I STILL came out on the 'short end'...

BLOG UPDATE...Down here on the southern Oregon coast, gas is now $4.05 a gallon. Why do I have this sudden feeling of DOOM? There...that should set the stage for this regularly scheduled blogpost, already in progress...

Today, whilst driving home, I forgot to look at today's gas price when I passed the gas station I usually halfway-fill-up my tank at. Call it a moment of convenient forgetfulness, call it being air-headed, call it ignorant, call it what you want; maybe in the greater sense of things cosmic, the 'forces' were protecting me from yet another psychic assault from the ever-rising per-gallon prices posted on the gas station's readerboard. Yeah, that's gotta be it. Especially since I heard today that Oil was approaching a Record $130 a barrel. As if us consumers weren't 'over a barrel' already...

I was at the Post Office today, when one old guy came into the lobby and he spotted a friend of his, and they began talking about fuel prices; one told the other a joke, which had something to do with cars running on alternate sources of energy. (Can't remember the joke...) I made the mistake of interjecting myself into the conversation, saying that Prezzident Bush wants us all to grind up CORN and fuel our cars with that...and one of the old guys said, "You must be one of those guys who thinks Bush is directly benefitting from rising gas prices", and I said, "well, yeah"...and he said, "name me one case where Bush has profited", and I said, "his whole Family has had interests in Big Oil for Years!"

And you know how he replied to that? He said, "you're just mad because you don't have any OIL STOCKS". I said, "well, those who have oil stocks must be doing really well right now", and he said, "well, yes they are; I know, because I Have Oil Stocks", and laughing, he headed out the door, got into his Unnecessarily Humonguous super-big gas-guzzling monolith of a pickup truck and headed down the road. Kinda ironic, ain't it? Old guys like him, who bought their oil stocks before Water Was Invented, can now Laugh All The Way To the bank. Personally, I kinda thot he was an old Smart-Ass. No wonder I can't stand people sometimes.

I'm seriously contemplating Not Driving 3 or 4 days a week. If we all could do that, who knows, we might then have surplus oil on hand which might lower gas prices. Either that, or all the Surplus would be directed into our country's Current Futile War Effort, with gas prices staying the same (or perhaps still rising) for us motorists. While it's true I've never been held up by someone with a GUN...I've had my wallet cleaned out a few times by folks who wielded the device pictured below...and it's just about as dangerous as a snub-nose .38...

So, how should I end this post? I shall offer the following lyric (with humble apologies to the Memory of George Harrison and The Beatles' song "Taxman"...)
Let me tell you how it will be...gas will rise to $4.03...
'Cos I'm the Gas-man...yeahhh, I'm the...Gas-maaaaan....
Should prices rise to $ glad it doesn't increase more...
'Cos I'm the Gas-man...yeahhh, I'm the...Gas-maaaaan...
If you drive a car, prepare to pay...
If you want cheap gas, please go away
If you get too poor, at home you'll sit
'Cos there's no way you can...budget....Gas-maaaaaan!!!!
Don't ask what the increase is for...(Taxman, Mr. Cheney...)
Or you will wind up paying more...(Taxman, Mr. Bush...)
'Cos I'm the Gas-Man...yeaaaaah, I'm the...Gas-maaaan..... ____________________

This post is humbly dedicated to the CEO and chief stockholders at Exxon...I wouldn't want them to have do do without their filet mignon and caviar, after all...

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Keeping the ol' jalopy up to date...
...I may have to actually begin doing that relatively soon...

Every now and then I go into an auto-parts store to pick up a quart of oil, or new wiper blades or whatever. I oftentimes stop and browse thru all the little customizing doo-dads you can get, like tachometers, tree-shaped air-fresheners, stick-on mirrors which allow you to see traffic through a rearview-mirror "fishbowl"...but I usually don't go for any of that kind of stuff since it's largely inessential, although from a 'gizmo' standpoint, they're fun to have. However, I have thought about updating my gas gauge, to reflect present times...

I've thought about getting a new gas gauge, one which measures the amount of expense outgo, compared to the amount of gas you're actually getting. This first gauge design takes a rather basic approach, but this might be the best way to go, since it seems to revolve around the directives of inverse proportions as related to gasoline purchases...if you wanna keep track of, in an approximate sort of way, your financial situation before and after buying gas, this gauge is for you...

However, if you're a real stickler-type of person who absolutely has to keep track of every penny, this next gauge is for you. Be forewarned, tho; it's going to require constant numerical updating, although it might be a deal if you could easily pop the gauge cover and replace existing numbers with new numbers, which in turn would just have to be updated yet again. Hopefully, whoever markets this gauge will include a few sheets of accessory paste-on numbers, much like the little stickers you get for labeling VHS movies. In that case, this gauge might give you a more accurate idea of just how much yer spending...

Of course, when things get really really bad, us drivers will have to resort to more extreme measures. From what I can tell, prices are going to, overall, keep rising, in spite of the fact that prices fell by a nickel today at my favorite gas station. That's how they lull us...they jack the prices waaay up high, then reduce things a little so we think we're saving money, then they jack up the price a whole lot more, then reduce it by a little bit again. Confusion runs rampant. So anyway, I can foresee a time when we hitch a ride to the gas station with a friend, and then have the attendant put, say, $20 dollars worth into a container like this:


I'm not one for breaking the law, since after all, doing so is illegal...but if there was a way of building some sort of "gas still" in my backyard, well, I'd be tempted. Didn't our Prezzident say that "corn" is the fuel of the future? You could go out, buy a few dozen ears of corn, put 'em into your drill press and squeeze out gas. Hah. Then we'd get charged more for corn. Sheesh.

Another way of looking at it...
They say a picture's worth a thousand words, after all...
- it would follow that a good song is worth a thousand pictures? Perhaps. So I've got a song for you all to hear, by Phil Ochs (prounounced "oaks"). Phil Who?, you ask? For those of you who may not know, he was one of the most, if not the most, politically-oriented singer/songwriters of the '60s. He never achieved mass popularity, and according to his biography, he never lived like a star. Yet he recorded for such huge labels as Elektra and A&M records back in the day. He was on the protest lines, the disastrous 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago; he sang for West Virginia coal miners; he was part of the folk-environment that generated in New York City in the '60s, and was a contemporary of Bob Dylan, Peter-Paul & Mary, Tom Paxton, and others.
He was about as patriotic as anyone's ever been; some might say that being so politically-oriented fenced him in; as Bob Dylan's music grew ever more advanced and obliquely lyrical in nature, Phil remained politically focused, although his later albums, recorded in the late '60s and early '70s show his lyrics focusing more on his own personal outlook, emotions and feelings. Phil wrestled with the throes of schizophrenia, adopting an alter-ego by the name of "John Train"; whereas Phil was intellectual, committed and concerned, when he became John Train, he was abusive, arrogant and self-destructive. From what I've read, once the ghost of Train had passed, Phil felt that he'd pushed everyone too far and basically lost himself. He committed suicide in 1976...ironic, since that was our nation's Bicentennial year; you'd've thought Phil would have wanted to be around for the July 4th holiday that year.
The song I'm about to share with you is from his mid-60's album, "Phil Ochs In Concert", which features some of the most scathing ever between-song commentary. One song immediately captured my attention, although I wondered exactly what it was about. It's called "Love Me, I'm A Liberal", and of course, it's sarcastic. I wondered why, though...wasn't being a "Liberal" supposed to be a good thing, as opposed to the oppressive ways of conservatism and surreptitious political dealings in closed smoky rooms behind locked doors? It's been written that one of Phil's strong points was pointing out contradictions among his own contemporaries in order to make them see themselves anew and perhaps become truer to the cause. That's the impression I gathered, anyway. And so I believe this song is about Liberals who say they're True To The Cause, but when all is said and done, they're just like everybody else, really. So here it is...Phil Ochs, "Love Me, I'm A Liberal".

After seeing this YouTube video, I thought, "well, maybe I'm getting the point after all...THIS is what he meant so long ago." All of a sudden the lyrical point achieves clarity for us when applied to Images of This Current Time. Republicans or Democrats? Who is who? And how much do they resemble each other? And who's telling us the truth? Who's lying? And who's trying to manipulate us the most? Too bad Phil's not around...he'd have a field day, feeding on the bumbling fools who make up the Bush administration. EITHER Bush administration...take your pick. It just all goes to show that "intelligence" and "common sense" are two entirely different entities.

Philip David Ochs, 1940-1976.

If you'd like to find out more about Phil Ochs, may I suggest his biography, "Death Of A Rebel", written by his good friend Marc Eliot. Although Phil made his mark in the '60s, I didn't find out about him 'til the 1980's, when I read it. That led me to seek out his music. Intelligent and committed, and rewarding. And we sure need him nowadays, don't we?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I'm really, really worried about myself...

A while back, I began noticing a commercial for the NutriSystem (TM) diet plan, which is still causing the Eyes to pop out of my SKULL every time I see it. The ad introduced her as "Marie", and there she was on the screen, in a hot red dress with great looking hair and just the right amount of cosmetic substances applied to her face. "Marie", I thought..."well, that's a nice name, and she expresses herself so clearly that she oughta go into acting or something." Well, how was I supposed to know? The commercial only referred to her as "MARIE", after all. I had no idea 'til a coupla days ago that "Marie' is actually Marie OSMOND! I mean, every time I see that commercial, I just kinda sit there salivating. Marie OSMOND?!?!??? I oughta have my HEAD examined! Now that I know she's an Osmond, well, I don't drool any longer, but she's still a mighty fine lookin' woman.

Towards the end of the commercial, she says, "I'll bet you're not that different than WILL get results." Maan...all I can say is, if every woman got results like THAT, I'd probably acquire whiplash from lookin' at all the females and my skull would detach itself from my body, since the Human Head isn't designed for repeatedly spinning 'round and 'round like an out-take from the "Exorcist" movie. Of course, I'm trying to view this from a practical standpoint, which I must try to do, since this is Marie OSMOND, after all...the girl-next-door who sang cute songs with her not-so-cute-any-more brother, Donny. My sister was such a big Donnie Osmond fan...I remember she just about wore out her copy of Donny's irritating little song "Sweet and Innocent". I'm positive that Marie is a Very Nice Lady, but as to how she looks in this commercial, well, 'Sweet & Innocent' just doesn't fit...but I can think of two other words which would apply to her Nutri-system ad image: Absolutely HOT.

Oh, and get this, the commercial, Marie says she's a mother of EIGHT. As Billy "Crash" Craddock sang back in the '70s, "Rub It In, Rub It In". All I know is..."wowie zowie." But, she's an OSMOND. I can't be attracted to an OSMOND! Their toothy, squeaky-clean '70s image still provides fodder to be damned with by Rock Critics to this very day. Back then, the perky little Marie had a fairly big hit with the old country song, "Paper Roses", a song I played drums to in a country band, and a song that virtually made me Wretch In The Drum Chair. Gagggggg....... However, in the spirit of fairness, I must also concede that Donny and Marie did a pretty good job on their late '70s version of "Morning Side Of The Mountain", originally done by the duo, Dale and Grace, back in the early 1960's. And, in 1972, I believe, "The Osmonds" (without Marie) actually came out with a fairly decent album, "Crazy Horses", which features some pretty high-energy stuff...two songs were hits from that album, the title track, as well as "Yo-Yo", which was written by Joe South of "Games People Play" fame. So, I must give credit where credit's due.

Now we all know that All Of The Osmonds can afford to Live Well. They have money. They all can afford makeovers, great clothes, top stylists, whatever. Which, I'm sure, contributed quite a bit to the image conveyed in Marie's 'Nutri-System' ad. But, I never expected HER to ever, ever look that GOOD. I guess I still have the image of The Osmonds and the Religion they're affiliated with, and all of them are devout believers, and say what you will, they've stuck to their guns over the years. Which is why I'm doubly surprised that Marie looks so, well, 'worldly' here. After all, That Whole Family has a squeaky-clean image to uphold. Honestly, I feel serious conflicts brewing within me regarding this. There's nothing detrimental about what she's doing in this commercial, but, WOW. And when was the last time a squeaky-clean person "wowed" me? Answer? NEVER. I am not kidding. In this commercial, she is absolutely STUNNING. And I need to seriously have my head examined. Stunned by an Osmond. Either that or I'll record her commercial on a tape loop and play it over and over and over and over 'till the whiplash effect breaks my neck.

Move over, Jimmy Carter, for this wayward sinner also has Lust In His Heart. Potrezebie!!!

I'm positive I'll go Straight To Hell for writing about Marie, the eternal-girl-next-door, in this way. Either that, or I'll be sentenced to an eternity of listening to "Sweet And Innocent", which, come to think of it, would be an equally severe form of damnation.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Roll Up for the Tragical Misery Tour...
Paul McCartney has been voted Most Irritating Music Star...

Usually my posts don't involve a whole lot of research, but in this case, here are the True Facts for you all to see, as featured in an article written by Anne Lu, who is some sort of Celebrity News Service Writer:

London, England (CNS) - Beatles star Sir Paul McCartney is the most irritating music star of all time, according to an online poll by a U.K. music website.'s viewers find the 65-year-old music icon to be the most annoying pop celebrity. He beats James Blunt and Lily Allen in the top. The website's spokesperson Craig Dawson explains, "It's easy for musicians to get very irritating very quickly. Macca has driven people up the wall with his 'holier than thou' approach to his divorce, two-fingered peace gesture and penchant for wearing trainers (tennis shoes) with suits." (End of article)

Look, I like Paul McCartney...but for me, that pretty-much stops at his music. And I find his more recent music is rather difficult to listen to. It's almost as if he's patting himself on the back with songs like "That Was Me" (as if he's telling people today that he was a big star way back when). His recent songs are produced in a sort-of gloomy, deeply-serious sort of manner. (Macca gone 'industrial'?) His music has really changed since he lost his first wife, Linda. Rumor has it Paul's been seeking out young record producers in an effort to make his records sound more trendy, and while that may or may not be working, there is a certain ebullience that just seems to be missing from his music.
In a lot of his newer music, he seems to hint at a certain despair and disillusionment...sure, I don't blame him for feeling that way; look at the whole Heather fiasco he's undergone the last few years. Yeah, maybe it's just me, not wanting things to change; I realize that. But if you compare any of his last few albums ("Driving Rain", "Chaos and Creation" or "Memory Almost Full" with 1995's "Flaming Pie" (the last album he made before Linda's passing), it's almost as if Paul is a Completely Different Person these days. A certain tenderness and melodic flair just seems to be missing from his music, as if the death of Linda has affected him ever since, no matter how hard he tries to shake it off and keep going.

Something that exasperates me is the ceaseless manner in which McCartney markets himself, as if he's a struggling musician just starting out with All The Forces In The World Against Him. Being a Beatles collector from way back when, of course I'm going to buy anything new he creates. I'm a big fan, after all. That includes finding 7" singles from England and Europe that have B-sides not featured anywhere else. That includes, for instance, the live 4-track album he recorded at a record store in Los Angeles which does feature a 'live' version of "That Was Me", without the dry production of the studio version, and as such, the 'live' version is MUCH better. Fresher. You know, exciting. Like the Beatles used to be.

Along with Paul's constant self-promotion, he continues to issue So Much Product that I can barely keep up with it. Case in Point: When I bought my copy of his latest, "Memory Almost Full"...his first album issued on the label operated by Starbucks'... I waited until I could buy the non-Starbucks version that featured three extra tracks, thinking that I was a True Fan 'cos I waited for 3 songs that maybe that many people haven't heard. The 2nd disc in the package I bought featured 3 extra songs, plus Paul Himself talking about the making of "Memory Almost Full". Cool, huh? After I bought that, then he issued a deluxe-DELUXE version of that album...which brought the three extra tracks back over to disc 1 following all the other songs in that album, plus a DVD of Paul in Live Performance. Out of Principle, I Will NOT buy that. I've ALREADY bought my copy of the album, you see.

Plus, he's now got a big new CD retrospective out, "The McCartney Years"...which I'm not gonna get 'cos I've already had all of those songs for years, and every time he's toured, a DVD of the tour comes out, and I don't bother with those, either. I have a 1990 VHS of him in concert, and most of it consisted of tired-sounding re-hashings of Beatles and Wings stuff. (I got it second-hand for a dollar, and was fairly disappointed with it.) If you want an idea of things that motivate McCartney, I think there's a fair amount of ego involved...for example, remember when he drew the wrath of critics and listeners when he tried to change the writers' credits on some of the Beatles' songs he did in concert from "Lennon-McCartney" to "McCartney-Lennon"? And maybe that's what keeps Paul Ego that Cannot Be Abated.

But here's the thing that Really Weirds Me Out...I read recently, that NOW that everyone on the planet has bought one version or the other of "Memory Almost Full", HE'S NOW GIVING THE ALBUM AWAY with an upcoming issue of an British Newspaper, "The Mail". And I'm beginning to think one of two things. 1. Paul McCartney is losing his MIND, or, 2. He is doing everything he can to stay waaaay up there in the public's eye. For sure, he wouldn't have done that BEFORE the album's general release...he had to make sufficient funds so he wouldn't have to dip into his multi-million dollar bank account too deeply to finance his divorce from Heather, which will be finalized next week. I think Heather got $47 million...not sure if "Memory Almost Full" sold that much. Maybe, maybe not...

Why I become exasperated with McCartney is because he doesn't have to try that hard anymore. We All Know Who He Is. I firmly believe he is scared to slow down, like some demon waay back there in his subconscious Just Won't Let Him Stop. I almost feel sorry for him; I can't help but think sometimes that Music Stars such as McCartney are not fully appreciated in this modern-day age of selective downloading, where if you don't like a song on an album, you can leave it off...which is sad, 'cos back in the day, if you didn't like a certain song at first, after a few plays, maybe you came to like that song after all. That happens to me all the time. Sometimes I wonder if anyone is really listening anymore, and I just don't know. And perhaps stars such as McCartney aren't really taken all that seriously anymore, no matter how hard they try to promote themselves.

I think one has to look at the issue this way: Paul's Beatles fame began over 45 YEARS ago. He managed to put Wings together in the '70s and had a fantastic run with that band. Even in the 80s, he had some fame (No matter how much I hear "Ebony and Ivory", I never get tired of it), but in the mid-80s, all of a sudden he seemed to disappear from the map. Later on, I found out he'd issued albums such as "Press To Play" (not a very good album) and "Flowers In The Dirt" (not a bad record) and "Off The Ground" (which is also a decent disc). And I went out and bought those. Finally, his "Flaming Pie" album, from 1995, just flat out blew me away...that is one good record! And then Linda died, and you know the rest...I can't help but think to myself that Time Is Finally Passing Paul McCartney by. Sure, he still has talent; sure, he can still sing and compose, but changing times are at long last leaving him in the dust, as it does all of us, and there's nothing he can do about it...and it's kinda painful watching him try to turn back the clock.

And now Paul's gonna be going out on an exhausting World Tour soon. I wonder what goes thru his mind as he sings "I Saw Her Standing There" for the 87 millionth time...personally, I think he just wants to be Out There Doing It...and sure, he's doing what he loves (either that or it's that 'ego thing' that drives him, ; but he doesn't have to try so hard, and watching him trying to stay current really raises a lot of mixed emotions within me. Were I in Paul's position, I'd just kinda gracefully cut back; appear at the odd benefit here and there, sort of be a gracious musical benefactor to up and coming talent (if they wanted to have anything to do with me at current faceless English rock artiste actually turned DOWN an offer to work with McCartney)...but more than anything, I'd just slow down and enjoy life as much as I can, something that Paul just has never seemed to do all that much.

As much as I hate to say it, I can't help but think it...Paul, you're largely Yesterday's News. And as part of the generation that grew up with the Beatles, I am yesterday's news, too, as are all of us baby-boomers, who are Younger Than You. And Paul, every time you put out new music, I'll buy it. No problem there. You're a great musician and still a good singer, but Paul...You Are A Senior Citizen Now. I admire you for being young at heart and Still Wanting To Play. I'm a musician, and musicians Always Want To Play. But've gotta realize that it's just not the same world anymore. And you're beginning to look kinda desperate as you Continually Try To Market Yourself. Get back to producing your own records, Paul...and be yourself, not some image to be manipulated by current tastes (as the following photo demonstrates)...

A recent publicity photo...Paul, you don't really have to keep on doing this to yourself any more...this isn't you...

I'm glad the Beatles came along, and they still sound great. And after the Beatles, Paul's recorded a lots of great stuff. But the ceaseless marching of time rends us all irrevelant after a while, and it's getting to the point where the Magical Mystery Tour is approaching its last few scheduled runs. Too bad Strawberry Fields aren't Forever...

Thursday, May 08, 2008

My semi-excellent adventure...
Or, "me on the interstate? RUN FOR COVER!"

It's a classic tale of our times...from the Information Superhiway to the Interstate Hiway. I've just done over 400 miles over the last two days...driving from Oregon's South Coast, up to Portland, and back, all in the name of picking up a little Pionus parrot at the Portland Airport. I planned out the journey by going to, and was able to get street maps as well as terrain maps; I mean, I had names of places memorized that I'd never been to before. 'Twas my first time on an Interstate Highway in over a year; I was afraid I'd "lost my touch" (I am a very good driver if I do say so myself), but it's just like swimmin'; ya never forget how, and I found myself merging into traffic and lane-changing with the best of 'em.

My little feathered friend arrived at the airport's cargo building about 10 minutes after all the passengers disembarked (unembarked?), in one of those dark little shipping crates...he'd started from Fort Wayne, Indiana yesterday, flying southeast to Atlanta, and then criss-crossing over to Portland. I'm glad I don't have to zig-zag that much when I drive or fuel costs would REALLY get expensive. On the way back, I stopped outside Eugene to add $30 dollars MORE in gas to the $54 dollars worth I purchased before starting my "semi-excellent adventure"...I talked to the guy at the gas pump, and he told me that since gas rose above $3.50 a gallon, he's doing HALF the business he'd done previously, like perhaps $3.50 was some sort of 'cutoff' point. I predict that things are gonna get waaay tough for many folks pretty soon...rising fuel costs make everything ELSE go up, and if you think prices have already risen, you ain't seen nuthin' yet.

It's about 90 miles (or about $40 worth of gas) from this point to my humble abode...good ol' I-5.

So anyway, as far as my 'new arrival' is concerned, "it's a boy", although I'm not going to be passing out cigars anytime soon. I'm sure the bird (how could I Not name it "Ringo"?) was fatigued and scared, and the minute I let him out of the crate in the motel room, he raised a ruckus. He flew to the floor, trying to get away from me...and he would crouch down low and run along the rug in hopes I wouldn't detect him. Must be some sort of in-born evasive process...but what I wanted to do, you see, was put him in a cage I'd brought with me...and while the cage was small, it let in much more light than that old shipping crate, and that's how he rode with me today, from Portland back down to the South Coast. He was a good little passenger. He's home now, sitting in his new cage, it's the middle of the day, and he's catching up on much-needed bird ZZZZzzz's. And we're both in the process of getting used to each other. Both a little wary...and both just a wee bit fatigued. (You can see a picture of little Ringo in a couple of my more recent posts.)


The Malaise of the M's: One of the Seattle P-I's columnists, who blogs about the Seattle Mariners, has said that the group is in a death spiral. That is, until the M's won the first game of this most recent series against the Texas Rangers. And everyone was excited that the M's had FINALLY WON A GAME. But put it in perspective! This is TEXAS, after all. Seattle is SUPPOSED to beat them. Except, Seattle lost the last two games of the series. The Mariners have scored an approximate total of 7 runs in the last 3 million games (well, it FEELS like 3-million games); the M's are just not hitting. But what can ya do? Even if Bat does strike Ball, the collision of two oppositely-rounded surfaces is gonna result in quite a few "dinks and doinks" anyway...I mean, what can you do or say to a hitter to MAKE HIM HIT? I don't know, and I don't think M's manager John McLaren knows either. And I'm not sure anyone knows. All I know is, some teams are hitting better than other teams. And just about every team is hitting better than the M's.

The M's ain't hitting. They lost last night, 2-0. They've lost all 14 games in which they didn't score at least four runs. Actually, the starting pitching's doing okay. Well, some of the starters are doing okay. But gosh, soon the average Mariners' player's hitting percentage will be worse than mine when I was a kid...I had two, count 'em, TWO, hits over 3 ENTIRE SEASONS. I have absolutely no sense of depth perception. I could just not SEE the ball. And I think Mariners' hitters are having the same problem. Watch for Moose defections in the near future. Maybe the M's next mascot should be a LAMB. Baaa. Maybe I should use Mariners' games for sleep therapy; a tape-delayed game broadcast is aired nightly at 11pm...that way I don't have to waste daylight listening to the M's blow it. That might just work! Just because I don't comment on the M's in each post don't mean I'm not watching or listening to their games. Although I'm beginning to wonder why I do.


So I spent upwards of $80 in gas this last week. I'm so content to know I've done my part. Someone's gotta keep them Oil Company CEO's in the style to which they are accustomed. However, I'm glad I'm not traveling all the way up I-5 to watch the Mariners in person. Paying for over-inflated gas is bad enough without also paying to see a losing team. I'm not that masochistic...

Monday, May 05, 2008

Taking The LONG SHORT-CUT...
Sometimes trying to get stuff done is just PURE TORTURE...

Last Saturday, I went to the beach. There's one main road that goes there, and anyone who goes to that beach has to drive up and over a drawbridge, which lets commercial fishing vessels pass through. About 7pm I headed home, and as I approached the drawbridge, a ship was passing thru, so the bridge was basically sticking straight up in the air. Then, the bridge was lowered, and I was ready to go home. Except, bells kept going off, sounding an "alarm" for one reason or another, and even though pedestrians and bicyclists were going over the now-closed bridge, cars were not being allowed to pass. I learned later that the bridge had malfunctioned and hadn't 'locked' in place.

I looked at my watch, and it was 7:11pm. And I thot, "well, if I'm patient, this thing will resolve itself." Except, it never did. After waiting 45 minutes, I had to turn around, on the bridge, and head back into the little seaport town that's right next to the drawbridge. It was about 8pm at that point. I found a location in town where I could watch the bridge, and sat there until 8:30pm. And no one was going up and over the bridge. And I was marooned; I couldn't cross the bridge to drive the 3-mile distance, north, to my home. I should've been home at least an hour earlier. But the bridge got in my way.

I thot, "well, I gotta do something", so I went to the little gas station in the seaport, bought gas (at over $3.80 a gallon there), and then I headed the OTHER way. I found a connecting road that took me east, over to hiway 101, (an 11-mile distance), then drove north on 101, back into town (another 10 miles), then west, THROUGH town, back over to the bay (another 5 miles...this little town's really spread-out)...and then SOUTH, another 4 miles to my home. Yep, I took the Long Short Cut. By the time I got home, I had driven close to 30 miles...26 miles further than I normally drive to get home from the beach. On $3.80-a-gallon gasoline. It's costing the average motorist 50 cents a mile, and since I was forced to drive 30 extra miles, who do I send the bill to? Someone, somewhere, owes me $15 bucks for Unnecessary Driving Expenses. At least in my mind, I'm owed...


I am getting a PARROT this week. A bronze-winged Pionus Parrot. I'll have him in a couple of days. Now, in most cases, getting a bird is pretty easy. (All I have to do is cut someone off in traffic and one gets flipped my way.) Now, most people go to pet stores, right? But, hardly anyone has Pionus Parrots In Stock. Which means you have to Order them from Parrot Breeders. One such Parrot-lady in Indiana is shipping (not flipping) me 'the bird'. First of all, the bird will get loaded onto Delta Air in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The bird then gets to Atlanta, where it's put onto another flight that takes it up to PORTLAND, Oregon. But that's where the trail ends. You'd think, since the Bird has already had to fly hundreds of miles in the wrong direction to begin with, that it could be shipped a little closer to where I live, right? The answer? NOOOO. Which means, I have to drive over 200 miles north to Portland, and then 200 miles back with him. On $3.70-per-gallon gas.

There is a fairly large airport in Eugene, Oregon, which is a LOT closer to me. Unfortunately, the connecting flights between Portland and Eugene do not take CARGO, which is what my little bird evidently is to the Big Impersonal Airline. Most likely, though, they're probably afraid someone will come down with Bird Flu. But just much fun would it be to have a parrot in the airplane with all the passengers 'oohing' and 'ahhing' over it...unfortunately, I'm not in the position to be able to bribe anyone into carrying my bird on an airplane to Eugene. So off I go to Portland very, very soon. According to my warped sense of logic, since Delta Air is making me drive all the way up to Portland, can I bill them for at least a portion of the gas I'm gonna have to buy to get up there? Gosh, money sure seems to disappear a lot faster than it used to...heck, I'd be happy if they sprung for half my gas.

Since I've been down here on the Southern Oregon Coast, I've visited a whole lot of doctors. I am also in the process of trying to find a good chiropractor down here. So I went to my Doctor's Office, just to ask, "do you guys know of any chiropractors down here?" (I probably risked my life, asking THAT in a Doctors' office!) I was sent down to the Physical Therapy center, and the receptionist there said they'd call me with a recommendation. So, upon arriving home, I found a message on my answering machine, suggesting a Chiropractor who is supposed to be pretty good. I called the office, and speaking to the receptionist THERE, she said that their office cannot take Medicare-patients. So I asked her, "well, what if you didn't notify Medicare that you were treating me?" She said, "well, we have to tell them if we know someone's on Medicare." Let me get this straight. If I hadn't told her I was on Medicare, I could have obtained treatment? "No", she said, "because they would use your Social Security number and find you have Medicare."

SAY WHAT? Now that I'm on Medicare, and I can actually pay my medical bills for a change, I CAN'T get service? Something to do with, I guess, that the Chiropractor's Office can't make enough money if it takes in Medicare Patients. In short, dear reader, this GOVERNMENT POLICY basically forces doctors' offices to DISCRIMINATE against patients if they have Medicare, which IS A GOVERNMENT PROGRAM TO BEGIN WITH!!!!!!! Dear reader, this is just another case of Your Tax Dollars At Work. It's as if we are paying a whole bunch of people in Washington, D.C. to tell us "NO" when we try to obtain medical services once we become eligible for Medicare, a Government program. If this weren't a 'family blog', I'd spout forth here with a whole lotta "expletives" which I'd then have to delete, so I guess I'll just say, "Gosh. Golly. Ackthptf." (That last expletive would be the sound of me coughing up a hairball. Ugh.)


I do have a dire prediction...this gas situation isn't gonna get better anytime soon. $4.00 per gallon is quite possible by summer. We won't have to wait long for corresponding price increases happen to Everything Else We Need. You think prices are on the rise? You ain't seen NOTHIN' yet.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

...until you pull up to your local gas station, that is...

Gas prices are getting to the place where a whole lot of people's lives are gonna begin changing really fast, if that hasn't happened to them already. In years past, I'm always seeing "survey" articles in the noozpaper, in which some research firm somewhere has said that "even though gas prices are rising, people haven't curtailed their driving habits", or something similar. Well, I kinda think that's-a-gonna change. I read somewhere this week that an automaker was laying off the entirety of one shift (throwing a lotta folks outta work) and cutting back on their production of SUV's and Obnoxious Big Pickup Trucks. The DODGE RAM comes immediately to mind here. Less Dodge Ram Pickups on the road would highly serve the "common good". Somehow I think Dodge Ram drivers would behave differently if they were driving Geo Metro's or dilapidated Volkswagen Beetles around. Dodge Ram drivers, EVERY SINGLE LAST ONE OF THEM, are the most obnoxious drivers on the road, even beating out Long-Haul Truckers! (Hmmm...wonder how many people I've offended with that last remark? Gosh, sometimes Blogging Is Fun...)

Anyway, today I pulled into a convenience store in a little harbor town south of me here on the Oregon Coast, and I saw someone putting gas in a car...I wondered how high gas was gonna be, at a little podunk gas pump in a small town, several miles away from Any Other filling station. When I asked the guy how much gas was, he said, "$3.85 a gallon". SAY WHAT????? So anyway, I was glad I didn't have to buy gas THERE. I'm already paying upwards of $3.60 a gallon at my REGULAR gas station...

Judging from the prices on the sign, I'd surmise that this cartoon is just a wee bit outdated...

So, anyway, I went into the little store for some chocolate milk and an egg-salad sandwich...and while I was standing at the counter waiting to buy my stuff, two guys in line ahead of me were talking to each other, and one said, "oh yeah, one gas station in Bandon (a town 30-odd miles south of me) marked their gas clear down to $3.42 a gallon!", which caused me to think, "has it come to this? Did we ever think we'd see the day when we were happy to pay ONLY $3.42 a gallon?" Which is probably what the fuel industry's objective is anyway. I imagine Exxon's CEO and his major stockholders are thinking, "oh yeah, let's continue to profit madly from the gas we're selling by keeping prices WAY UP, and then we'll lower them to an amount which is still significantly more than we were charging last year, and the buying public will be SO HAPPY TO THINK THEY'RE SAVING MONEY." They've just gotta be thinking that, right? If not, why, then, do I keep hearing about record profits in the fuel industry? All I know is, someone's just gotta be making money, SOMEWHERE.


You gotta hand it to 'em for being innovative: The SEATTLE MARINERS keep amazing me by finding new, novel, and original ways to LOSE BASEBALL GAMES! They were playing the Cleveland Indians this evening; for most of the game, the M's were behind 1 to 0...and then Ichiro got aboard, and STOLE THIRD BASE, and then the Cleveland catcher threw it away and Ichiro scampered home. Which is why you want Ichiro on base as much as possible. In the next inning, Richie Sexson hit his 300th home run...way to go, Richie! He's been criticized a lot for not hitting well, but he landed into a fastball and, in the immortal words of Dave Niehaus, broadcaster, "FLY AWAY!!!!" The score at that point was 2 to 1.

Ah, but the game wasn't over...Cleveland came to bat in the bottom of the ninth, and not content with being ahead, Seattle did all it could to LOSE the game. Closer J.J. Putz proceeded to WALK IN THE TYING RUN. This is the M's CLOSER. He's SUPPOSED to WIN GAMES. You know, "seal the deal". HAH! Finally, the side was retired with the game tied 2-2, and the game went into Extra Innings. In the 11th inning, another M's pitcher was pitching, and "doink", a strategically placed line drive with runners aboard insured that Cleveland would prevail. Once again, the Seattle Mariners snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Ain't it amazing how the M's keep finding New Ways To Lose? Ah, baseball.

I'm kinda thinking that if I was Ichiro, I'd feel like someone short-sheeted my bed. Ichiro keeps a lot inside, but I'm sure he's gotta be thinking, "I get all of these hits, I make all these great catches, I keep stealing bases, but WHAT FOR if my team's gonna keep LOSING?" Something of an existential crisis brewing within him, perhaps. Mark my words...someday we'll see Ichiro in pinstripes. I'm pretty sure he's sick of playing on a losing team. Meanwhile, the New York Yankees are lickin' their chops...the first game of the Mariners-Yankees series begins tomorrow. Will Ichiro Defect to the Yankees? Since he's under contract, probably "NO", but I'll bet it's crossed his mind. It's next to impossible for the Mariners to win at Yankee Stadium in a GOOD season. Rumor has it that the M's Mariner Moose Mascot will replaced by a LAMB for this upcoming series. Baaaaa.......


Ah, but today wasn't a total washout...after realizing (again) that Gas Prices weren't coming down anytime soon, and after experiencing the M's implode once more, at least the day wasn't a total loss. That Egg Salad Sandwich I bought turned out to be a wrongly-labeled, pricier TUNA sandwich. A true victory for the little guy. Yaaay! The money I saved in that deal means, more money to buy (less) gas with. Fill 'er up Halfway!