Thursday, July 31, 2008

Summer Days are MUCH too long...'s so much easier to postpone things when the sun's out!

My blogging activity has fallen off considerably, I know. That might have something to do with the fact that I LOVE to watch the Sun set over the ocean horizon. And, the sun sets LATE this time of year, which cuts into my blogging time. Call me 'compulsive-obsessive' if you must, but I feel a strange compulsion to Be At The Ocean When The Sun Sets. Now, I know that's silly, because the sun is gonna set no matter where I'm at. I suppose that my 'newbie-ness' down here on the Southern Oregon Coast might have something to do with that. I 'spose that those who've lived down here a long time have probably seen so many ocean sunsets, that to them, 'a sunset's a sunset'...but at the oceanside park I usually go to, all of the tourists come out and make a big deal of seeing an Ocean Sunset. Out come the cameras, binoculars, and lawn chairs, and the benches near the side of the cliff fill up with visitors (along with their miniature weasel-dogs) awaiting the sunset like it was some sort of Hollywood Premier. Then again, a scene like the one below pretty much blows away anything Hollywood can churn out...

Yep, I've used this picture before. I have sunk so low that I am now Stealing From Myself. But I'm noticing something else: The Days are Getting Shorter. Last night, the sun set at 8:42pm, over the ocean, which means that since June 21st, the Day is already over 20 minutes shorter now than it was then. So why am I not watching the sunset tonite? I'm BLOGGING. I've gotta stay home once in a while, right?

Pepto-Bismol Can't Cure This Gas Attack: Face it, the economy reeks. It's pretty bad these days. Companies are going out of business, or are laying off, or are bribing long-term employees with buyouts, and you know things are bad when EXXON Corporation begins to suffer. I really think we all need to dig deep and Donate To Exxon. Exxon corporation didn't make quite as much PROFIT during the last reported quarter as it thot it would, according to an article I read yesterday. That, in spite of the article's saying that Exxon's last reported profit was the largest of Any Company In Recorded History. So, we've got to donate to Exxon. Otherwise, they'll Raise Gas Prices again. We wouldn't want that to happen; prices at the pump have actually FALLEN lately. I'm now paying only $4.13 a gallon. That means that over 10 gallons, I'm actually saving $2.00. How cool. Now I'll have more bucks with which to spend on other items that have increased in price lately.

Yes, I know the above graphic is hopelessly was rendered two years ago. 'Regular' was only $2.59 back then? See, this is how things are done. Right now I'm thankful to be paying only $4.13 a gallon. So in spite of lower 'current' gas prices, I'm spending waay more for gas than I was two years ago, or even three months ago...I think Pavlov's dog went through some sort of similar conditioning, which taught that "Abnormal" is really "Normal" after all...we're being lulled into believing that if gas goes back down to $4 bucks a gallon, that we're saving lotsa money. By next year, prob'ly, we'll long and yearn for the days of four-dollar-gas.

No Joy In Mudville: I suppose that, after viewing this emphatic little Baseball version of "Mr. Yuk", that you're not surprised this section is all about the Seattle Mariners. Today was the trading deadline, and rumors had it that Seattle was going to try to trade a whole lot of players; trouble is, that basically, NO ONE wanted to trade for any Seattle Players. It had been speculated that Raul Ibanez, Adrian Beltre, Jared Washburn; yea verily, even Ichiro would all get traded if The Price Was Right. Well, obviously no other teams wanted to look behind doors number 1, 2, or 3. That might've had something to do with the fact that the M's basically have played this year with a startling lack of chemistry, personality, empathy, or collective ability. Seattle is so far behind, that the only way they could reach the post-season now, would be for all the teams in the A.L. West to forfeit the entire remainder of their schedules...even then, Seattle probably wouldn't catch up in the win department, the way this season has gone. Actually, Seattle Reliever Arthur Rhodes DID get traded, but he's a quality lefty, and everyone knows that Presidents of Baseball Organizations would chop off their own limbs to get a good lefty. Wanna know how badly baseball teams want left-handed relievers? Arthur Rhodes got THROWN OUT of the game last night, before being traded today. Seattle is now about one-thousand games out of first place in their division. Well, that's the way it feels. Meantime, I read in a Mariners' blogsite last nite that the M's are on pace to lose 106 games this year. THAT'S scary.

A Bite Of The Apple: When the Beatles founded Apple Records, back in 1968, the idea was that they'd release their own records on 'Apple', plus everyone in the group, as well as close associates, could Bring Talent To Apple and get that talent recorded, too. For instance, The Beatles' longtime road manager brought in a group called The Iveys, who were later renamed "Badfinger" and had a few hits on Apple. Paul McCartney brought in Mary Hopkin, who sang "Those Were The Days"; George Harrison brought in singers Doris Troy and Jackie Lomax...George even brought in a group of spiritual singers from the Radha Krishna Temple of London, who recorded two singles and an album. I imagine that album sold probably 25 copies. John Lennon brought in Yoko, who was pretty much a handful. Anyway, another band made 2 singles on Apple; the name of the band was "TRASH". I've never seen a picture of that band, and have no idea who the members were, but at long-last, here's what the members of "TRASH" looked like...

This European-issued EP ('Extended Play', a 7" record with 4 songs) brought together both of Trash's singles; I've got both singles, and believe me, they are HARD TO FIND. I don't really understand why Trash recorded "Golden Slumbers"/"Carry That Weight"; the Beatles did it WAAAY better on the "Abbey Road" album, and Trash would've probably been better off recording their own songs. Kinda pointless, really, to try and have a hit single with Beatles' songs. There's just no way. The Beatles were so good. Many other artists have tried to have hits with their versions of Beatles material, but surprisingly, few 'Beatles Covers' have ever charted down thru the years. "Fool On The Hill" by Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66 (from 1968) was about the biggest non-Beatle-Beatle number that I can think of.

See what I can do when I give myself an extra hour in which to blog? I got to use a bunch of photo files that I'd had laying around in my computer, and I've proven to the rest of the world that I Am Still Alive. It's only about 8:05pm as I'm finishing up here. OOOOH, I've got about 40 minutes to catch the sun set! Naaaah...I'll just stay here in my La-Z-Boy tonite and be a "chair potato".

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Grin and 'PARROT'...
The Ups and Downs of a Pi-Eyed Relationship...

I thot Pionus Parrots were supposed to be quiet and compared to what? See, that's why I chose to get a Pionus. In theory, they're known for their placid nature. They're not noisy as a rule, and from what I read on the Internet, they were supposed to be fairly mild-mannered. Okay, fine. Tell THAT to MY parrot! His name is "Ringo", and he's somethin'. We've had our ups and downs, and yeah, I've made mistakes with him. I wanted a bird I could interact with, but this bird would screech and squawk if I tried to handle him or pick him up if he wasn't ready for that. He would throw temper tantrums if I didn't respond to him, so I'd respond, and he'd Go The Other Way. AAAACK!!!!! Finally, I found a Pionus Parrot website that pretty much said that "Pi's" aren't known for being especially cuddly birds; they can be aloof; it's just a trait of theirs, take it or leave it. That was when my outlook began changing a bit. "Oh, they're SUPPOSED to be that way", I thought.

In the meantime, I'd ordered a book on Pionus Parrots, titled, "The Practical Pionus", and I must admit, I received that book Just In Time...because this little bird was EXASPERATING me. Honestly, I was about ready to give him up. I couldn't seem to make the bird LIKE me. I couldn't seem to make him COMFORTABLE with me. I couldn't get him to BEHAVE. When he bit me, I thot, "what an UNGRATEFUL bird, after all I've done for him." He was sitting on my shoulder once, and began stabbing his beak into my face, and I was fast thinking I had some kind of bad-seed, pathologically mean-spirited bird. Most of all, I was getting really DEPRESSED, because I'd been trying so hard to Make Things Work. And Things Weren't Working. Hence, the only recourse I had was to read this Pionus book. Truly a case of 'what do I have to lose'.

Pionus Parrots, this book told me, are hard-wired to Their Flock. They have certain instinctive behaviors which can't be changed. And it's up to Me, the Human Being, to educate myself, to know why this bird does what it does, and work with it. The other half of the equation, according to this book, is that Human Beings erroneously attach human interpretations to whatever behavior the Bird is exhibiting. For example, when the Pionus Parrot senses that a member of the Flock is in danger, he will peck at that flock member in order to chase his bird-buddy away from Danger. Thinking back to when my face got "beaked", I thought that perhaps the bird had seen something through the window he perceived as a threat and poked me to WARN me. After all, I am in his "flock". See? That casts a totally different light on that aspect of Pionus behavior. He was trying to 'protect' me. Hmmm...guess it's up to us humans to know what animals' behavior means, from the standpoint of the animal.

There were other times, when I honestly didn't know what to do with this bird, other than to Feed It and then Just Go Away. So I began ignoring the bird; indeed, I'd begun to HATE it, all the while getting extremely depressed, which led to me ignoring him more. And the more I ignored him, the worse it got. I stopped speaking to him when he squawked, and he responded by throwing Endless Temper Tantrums, ripping up the paper in his cage, and throwing stuff from his cage-top play area onto the floor. This relationship was heading nowhere fast. I'd kept him prisoner in his cage for three days 'cos I just couldn't deal with him; finally, I had a change of heart and left the cage door open. I left the room to do something and heard the flapping of bird wings...and there he was on the floor, walking around, looking for me. One day, when I let him out, he slid down the bars of the cage, and onto the floor. I still wasn't speaking to him. Still depressed. He walked over to where I was sitting. I still didn't respond to him. And he began Madly Flapping His Wings while standing on the floor in front of me. His way of saying, "NOTICE ME, DAMMIT!!!" I know that, 'cos I read that "Pi's" do that when they want attention.

This is little Ringo. But don't let that sweet face fool you. He's very much His Own Bird...
Whilst reading the Pionus book, I was informed that Birds call out to other members of their flock, and they expect a reply. Silence implies Danger to these little guys. In my family, Silence meant Disapproval. So I'd reacted to the bird the only way I knew how (short of STRANGLING it), and he in turn, reacted to my non-reaction in the only way he knew. The longer I was silent, the more he'd scream and squawk. I was holding a grudge. Well, birds don't hold grudges. They don't think bad thoughts. They don't plan and scheme. Everything they do is based on "Now". They don't complicate things the way us Humans do. Sometimes I wish I was a bird. And, I feel bad that I'd upset him by not responding, but I honestly didn't know what else to do. But maybe I didn't "upset" him; I just violated his conditioned behavior. And so he reacted instinctively. Silence is Danger, after all. And you know, (and it may be just my human imagination) as I try to understand his ways a bit more, he 'seems' to be getting more comfortable with me. There I go being 'human' again...

So, does an animal, any animal, actually ever LOVE its owner? Perhaps not, but maybe there is some sort of 'middle ground' humans establish with their animals, in terms of a dependability or security standpoint. So I now understand Ringo better than I did, and this outlook is definitely helping me deal with him in a better way. Maybe if human beings were no smarter than the animals we care for, this world would be a better place. I'd rather be around Ringo than most of the people I've met in this life. I now see "Ringo", as a little guy who's doing his best...and it's up to me to care for him; he depends on me. It's a 'trust' thing. And maybe if he 'trusts' me, he 'likes' me? Not sure about that, but if I'm going to apply erroneous human terminology to a bird, at least "like" is a positive. I think I understand him a lot better than I originally did. I know I'm a better bird person now, than I've been. And...I can't imagine not having him around.

I've been lousy at relationships my whole life. I read too much into everything; I try too hard, I exhaust myself, and I make things harder than they should be. Maybe we should all follow the animals' example and simplify things. Maybe us human 'beans' assume more pressure than we were ever meant to handle. But that's a subject for another time, another the meantime, Ringo and I are doing better all the time. Which is good.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It's Impossible to 'Label' a 'DIVA'...
(Or, is it Really Over when the Fat Lady Sings?)

I'm not exactly sure what the requirements are for a female becoming a 'DIVA'. All I know is, some ladies I've read about or heard "are", and most "aren't". For example, Barbra Striesand, the nervy lady with the loud voice, and Donna Summer, the former disco queen, are (or have been) both considered to be Divas. Different as night and day, those two. Hasn't even the pop chameleon, Madonna, been referred to as a Diva? Whenever I hear the word 'Diva', my mind immediately calls up the old phrase, "it ain't over 'till the fat lady sings", as in opera, where some of the ladies who excruciatingly warble in best overblown, overdone vibrato-tinged exhalations have, well, an abundance of statuesquesque-ness about them. (THEY'RE BIG AND FAT!!! There...I said it...can we move on now?) And I always thot only rotund Opera Sopranos were Divas. Shows you how much I know...

I think Cher has had the title of 'Diva' bestowed upon her, and she's definitely NOT fat. Well, she was no opera singer, and she sure hasn't got a Barbra Striesand-type-voice...I suppose Cher would have more in common with Madonna than with Ms. Striesand, so yeah, I 'spose Cher could be a 'Diva' of sorts. Does the title 'Diva' imply that one has talent? Or a certain Style? Does it imply that for some unknown reason, the lady has somehow cultivated endless fascination from the masses? Is a 'Diva' a lady who is truly different, with no one before or after quite like her? Maybe, then, Janis Joplin could be a Diva. Or Miss Lee Morse, or Jane Green, two vintage songbirds from the 1920's-1930's. Maybe they were Divas in their day. The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin has been referred to as a 'Diva', and so has pop stylist Dionne Warwick. Is 'Diva-dom' forever? Well, if Bessie Smith was a diva, perhaps so. Bessie could shure sing those blues. Former Supremes' lead singer Diana Ross is also regarded as a Diva. Of course, anyone who's read anything of Miss Ross' life story knows that she always gets whatever she wants. Maybe THAT'S the definition of a 'Diva'? I don't know...

Okay, so I've belabored that point more deeply in the ground than could a 400-pound guy wielding an antique posthole digger. So what was the thing, the mechanism, the point of reference that resulted in my wondering about just what constitutes a "Diva"? Well, I was on Ebay the other day, looking at old 78rpm records, when I saw THIS one that goes way, waaaaaay you can see, some long-forgotten artist from back in the old daze had quite an imagination...or maybe he thought of the "fat lady singing"...this record, featuring Annette Hanshaw (another vintage songbird) is on the "Diva" label, and shows the (fat) lady with her mouth wide open; open so wide that the artist went and stuck the logo in there! This label was issued by Columbia Records back in the 1920's, and was manufactured for the W.T. Grant department store chain. (I actually went to a Grant dept. store when I was a kid...they had a cool toy section.) Getting back to this record, I always liked it when a big company could implement something silly to grab the public's attention. And, humor was abundant in the Roaring Twenties, when this record came out.

This is why, for instance, I continue to insure my car with GEICO Insurance. I've been with them over ten years now, and although now on TV, there are companies that say they're cheaper than GEICO, I stay with 'em because of that confounded GECKO they use in their ads. As the Gecko might say, "I's jus' a lil' spot o' humor, mate." So when I spotted the 'Diva' record label, I thought, "waaaay cooool". Many of the other record labels back then were kinda stodgy in appearance, all formal and plain, and cut n' dried in their presentation. I enjoy things that are unique, such as this label design. There was, much later on, a division of the Motown label, called "Gordy" (after Berry Gordy, who founded Motown), and on the vivid Purple Gordy Records label, you could read the words, "It's What's In The Grooves That Count". I thought that was pretty cool, too. If yer doin' something, why not try to have fun with it?

While we're on the subject of cool record labels, you might remember an old saying from the 1950's..."it's the End, man, it's totally Endsville" short, whatever you were referring to was the best, the utmost, the closest thing to perfection you could find. An old record label from those times took that term and injected a little bit of humor into it...

Here it is, ladies and gentlemen, the "END" records label, in which a little doggie watches itself wiggle its own tail...and again, this is an example of humor in marketing that I thought was really cool. And, to reinforce the point, the factory record sleeves these discs came in showed a larger version of the same dog-following-end depiction. And you know, that's what this world needs. A little more good-natured informality. More humor and whimsy.

Way back in this post, I mentioned the Diva label was manufactured by Columbia records. The Diva label may be long gone, but ol' Columbia is still chuggin' away (although it's owned by Sony Corporation of Japan now). Barbra Striesand STILL records for Columbia, and both Bessie Smith and Lee Morse recorded for Columbia way back when. "End" Records met its, well, 'end', back in the mid '60s. I have a copy of 'Shimmy Shimmy Ko-Ko-Bop' (Little Anthony & The Imperials) on the End label. I treasure it. Whoa, gotta go now...I hear operatic rumblings in the distance...

Monday, July 21, 2008

Scenes I never thot I'd See...
Nothing 'Magical' or 'Mysterious' about this tour...

I don't know why I feel so ambivalent about Paul McCartney these days. Are old musicians supposed to fade off into the sunset, or are they to be congratulated because they "keep on keepin' on"? I love the old Beatles records, and I like a lot of Paul McCartney's "Wings" stuff as well. Heck, he's still putting out his share of good tunes. But then Paul goes and orders a Limousine from Japan that's supposed to be "Green" in terms of its energy consumption. The car was FLOWN over to England, creating a much larger "carbon footprint" than if it had been shipped, you know, on a ship, as McCartney originally wanted. Yep, Sir Paul got Royally Ticked Off about that. So then, he has the interior completely ripped out 'cos it was made from Leather, which was replaced by fabric. Paul's a veggie-tarian, you see. So he had concerns. Although, I wonder if it was man-made fabric, 'cos if it was cotton, well, Paul, Plants Had To Die for Your Seat Covers. Must be nice to be rich and famous so you can publicly fret about stuff like that and create news for yourself at the same time.

Before I continue, time for an old joke...when I mentioned Leather, above, all of a sudden, this old sub-humorous re-run invaded my brain. So here 'tis...
Little boy: "Mister, what are those shoes made out of?"
Shoemaker: "Hide".
Little Boy: "What?"
Shoemaker: "HIDE, HIDE, A COW'S OUTSIDE!!!"
Little Boy: "Who the heck's afraid of a COW?"

But anyway, Paul has announced that he's embarking on a big two-year tour of the world, and he's gettin' out there in front of the public once again. And, he's all prepped; after all, he's been doing the same songs over and over and over for so many years, that the lyrics are burned into his long-term memory. He couldn't forget them if he tried! He appeared in Quebec, Canada, recently; something about Quebec's 400th anniversary or whatever. Before that, though, Paul, ever scheming to be in the Public Eye, ol' "Macca" jetted down to New York City and made a surprise onstage appearance at Billy Joel's "Last Play At Shea" concert. That's right, Paul McCartney and Billy Joel onstage. That's kinda like putting Mick Jagger and Mickey Mouse side-by-side. I'm not really a Billy Joel fan (even if his song, "Uptown Girl" is one of my guilty pleasures). And I never EVER thought I'd see someone of Paul McCartney's caliber KISSING UP to Billy Joel...

SMACK-O!!! I guess there's no such thing as an 'intimate backstage moment' anymore...

I can't really put my finger on it, but I've seen so many pictures and have read so much of Paul all over the the place, appearing here, appearing there, huckstering himself around the world, that even though I know he's a time-honoured musician and is one of my idols, something about his act just, to me, isn't that 'genuine' anymore. In short, even though I'll always hold McCartney in high regard for writing many of the songs that influenced my life, I just don't really like him a lot these days. I would've never thought that I'd have Beatle-burnout four decades AFTER the group broke up. In my mind, Paul tries to be so cool, 'hep', 'with it', that he falls flat on his face in terms of dignity and respect. That's it!!! I love Paul's music, but I don't respect HIM so much these days. Mind you, the guy kissing Billy Joel is now 66 years old. 66!!! I would have never done that at 16, 26, 36 or 46. And I won't do anything like that at 56 or 66, or hopefully beyond that. To me, Paul just looks plain old FOOLISH. And I have one more question concerning the above picture: When did Billy Joel go BALD? He slips off the charts for a few years and suddenly he's got NO HAIR. Ack!

Speaking of Scenes I never thot I'd see, other performers appeared at Billy Joel's "Last Play at Shea" concert...named as such because ol' Shea Stadium, where the Beatles performed, all those years ago, is gonna be ripped down in the near future. And certainly, there's enough variety in Billy Joel's music, since he's written hard rockers and shameless sugary pop songs, that most any other musician could (almost) find a Billy Joel song that he/she could comfortably perform. (I remember the Billy Joel/Ray Charles duet from the '80s, a charming little tune titled "Baby Grand"). And evidently the two musicians pictured below appeared at Billy's concert. And, this is a scene I REALLY never thot I'd see...I mean, these two guys in the same foto...who'da thot?

Ladies and Gents, here's Tony Bennett and Steven Tyler. Bennett's the one who doesn't look like Mick Jagger.

Another comment about a Billy Joel song: Years ago, radio stations were playing his "She's Got A Way" to death...and there's a line, toward the end of the song, "Oh...she takes care of herself..." which made me think that song would be PERFECT as the soundtrack for a Geritol (TM) commercial...

This is a historic post, for in the course of this short writing, I've alienated fans of Paul McCartney, Billy Joel, Steven Tyler, Tony Bennett, Mick Jagger and Mickey Mouse. Quite an accomplishment; altogether, I've probably alienated 85% of the world's population. And with the bad joke I threw in, well, Everybody Hates Me, Nobody Likes Me...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

No WONDER WIDGET this year...
Nope, the ol' economic stimulus check won't cover it...

I got a little surprise from the U.S. Government in the mail today. Ulp. Most of the time, surprises from the U.S. Government aren't a good thing, right? Before I opened the envelope, I thot back..."well, yeah, I filed an extension on my Income tax in time to extend it, and yeah, I mailed my taxes in a couple of weeks ago..." so hopefully they don't want any MORE money from me. And as far as I knew, I still had a clean "record", and wasn't wanted for anything; not a single Post Office in the land has my picture on a poster in the front lobby. So I figured I was safe. I opened the envelope, and the piece of paper inside told me to expect $300 coming my way soon, as part of that "economic stimulus" package that is supposed to do me and my fellow countrymen a whole lotta good, seeing as how the economy just kinda "blows" lately; it's basically tanked; things ain't good, but as soon as all this extra Government Money gits back into the system, why, all our troubles will be solved and it'll be Ozzie-and-Harriet time once again, here in the good ol' USA.

I don't just wanna be rich...I wanna be FILTHY rich. Must be nice, huh?

Three Hundred Dollars. Free money, raining down from Heaven! And it's my duty as a taxpayer to go out and SPEND all that money on anything I can think of, 'cos I'll be doing a good deed for my country by injecting the economy with my Three Hundred Dollars. However, isn't this kind-of a 'back to square one' development for our nation? The rising gas prices and correspondingly rising prices in every other sector of our economy will eat up yer Three Hundred Dollars (or how much the Gov't has decided to bless you with) before you get a chance to go to your favorite Mega-Mart and get that Wonder Widget you've had your eyes on for such a long time.

In short, all this extra money we're getting is gonna be used to buy Not Quite As Much As We Could Buy in years past WITHOUT an Economic Injection Check. So yeah, GEORGE W. BUSH, this is nothing more than a band-aid solution, but it's not even's no solution. We're paying close to TWICE as much for gasoline as we used to a coupla years ago. And after a few fill-ups (if indeed anyone can afford to fill-up anymore), that Free Money from the Governmental Money Depot will be nothing more than residual particulate matter in the atmosphere when it's all said and done. In short, the Government is giving us faithful taxpayers a Little Bit Of Money so that we can not-quite-afford price increases in Everything We Have To Buy in order to not go broke quite as soon.

Putting my three-hundred dollars in Perspective: Today I mailed out about $250 dollars worth of Bill Payments in Utilities Alone. The $50 I have left over could be used, perhaps, to (almost) fill up my gas tank. What a coincidence. $300 gone right there and I haven't even been to the grocery store yet. But I think I'll only fill the gas tank halfway, cos I've gotta buy food, after all, and food costs are rising. Or, I'll need new shoes. Or, perhaps, stationery. Or Bird Food. Or, cleaning supplies. Or, whatever else I need, and, of course we already know that all the stuff we all buy is trucked in from somewhere, and fuel prices for those trucks are also rising, and of course, the costs are passed along to the consumer. Yeah, I think my $300 is gonna git absorbed pretty doggone fast. This must be one of those "slippery slopes" that politicians and pseudo-intellectual Talking Heads on News Channels keep referring to. How does the Government come to believe that these economic stimulus checks are indeed a wonder for us all to behold? Simple. They think we're IDIOTS.

By the way, just in case YOU think I'm an idiot, well, I'm not. There is such a thing as a Wonder least in theory...

This little doo-dad is a base cone for a Wonder Widget. I have no idea what its purpose is or how it enhances the Wonder Widget's function, whatever that is...hmmm...come to think of it, I might be an idiot, after all...

Monday, July 14, 2008

No, this isn't a SPORTS BLOG...
...but with this post, well, you might think so...

I'm watching the Home Run Derby tonite, which is being held at Yankee Stadium in New York. I have a theory about baseball, which may or may not be "off base"...and that is, a Home Run can turn even the most worldly cynic into a little kid again. You want proof? Just listen to old grizzled Seattle Sportscaster Dave Niehaus call a home run...a Mariners' homer, that is...well, that might be a poor example, considering the ineffectiveness of this years' squad, but still...he sounds like an Old Little Kid when the ball sails into the stands. And that's one of the fascinating things about baseball. Watching that little sphereoid escape the confines of the ballfield. It's fun, even if the hitters tonite are smacking meatballs thrown by their own selected batting-practice pitchers...Josh Hamilton's just smacked 28 home runs in the first round. That's absolutely superhuman. (Hamilton didn't win the Derby, however.) I understand this is the last season for Yankee Stadium; it's being unceremoniously ripped down after this season. I wish they'd leave it standing. It's a shrine. The House that Ruth built, after all. Oh well...that's progress, I guess...we make progress by tearing down our history. Sad.

The Seattle Times newspaper has a blog where baseball fans can sound off about the Mariners' games...and while reading (and commenting) there, I became aware of the Recent Meltdown of ESPN's Chris Berman, who's been a mainstay of that network since it began however many decades ago. Berman comes across on TV as an affable, good-natured program host, the kind of guy you can imagine having beers with during Monday Nite Football in yer favorite sports bar. Well, recently, he had a between-commercial meltdown in which he royally cusses out just about everyone in his TV crew...and instantly, in my estimation, he became an insane, ego-driven, histrionic, prima-donna BLOWHARD. That incident, now available on the YouTube site, reminded me that when you see the various Talking Heads on TV, whether it be on news or sports programs, or anywhere else, all YOU are seeing is what they WANT you to see. Political Commentator Bill O'Reilly had a similar meltdown. I think that one's on YouTube, too...

There's a football story brewing on the horizon...Green Bay Packers Quarterback Brett Favre told us all earlier this year his drive to play the game was gone, insinuating that he was, once again, leaning towards retirement. Now it's come to my attention that, no, he changed his mind again, and that he wants to play again. But he appeared on TV today saying that the Packers Organization didn't make him feel welcome this time around. Green Bay still owns him, and has to sign off on his release, should they not want him back. What, Green Bay not wanting Favre back? Well, the Packers haven't really said that, yet. Could it be that Green Bay knows what it's getting with Favre, who's played really good, but also has had his share of really, really bad games, too. As goes the QB, so goes the team, after all. Will Green Bay sign off on Favre? Green Bay wanted Favre to provide a list of other teams he'd consider signing with. Could be the Packers don't want Favre competing against them. Favre won't make a list.

This is a tough call. He's done this before; saying he wanted to retire and then changing his mind. Maybe it's hard to work with a Bona-Fide Superstar; how do you Boss a Brett Favre around? After all, Favre might feel that he "owns" the Packers; they've been his team, and the entire team has revolved around him for so long. One ESPN radio Talking Head (who spoke in-between between-commercial meltdowns) said that Favre SHOULDN'T retire, but that he should go and play for Someone Else, some other team. What if Favre, after all of this, QB's again for Green Bay and has a bad season? He'd REALLY look bad then. Pity the Packers' Quarterback understudy; waiting in the wings, wanting to play, but can't, because after all, Favre Is The Packers' Quarterback. I like Favre, and I like the way he plays. But this situation with Green Bay might just end up tarnishing his career. All of a sudden, Favre, in this situation, just Doesn't Look Very Good. I'm not sure why this leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but it does. It Just Does...

Finally, the baseball season is halfway over. The All-Star game is tomorrow night. And for the Seattle Mariners, there's another toenail-pulling, excruciating, sorry excuse of a half-season awaiting them. How 'bout the M's just forfeit the rest of their games, because they're tied for Worst Record in Baseball right now, and there's no reason to keep playing this season. None whatsoever, other than for players to (attempt to) prove their importance to the team, so that they'll still be in the lineup next year. Perhaps kids from the Mariners' farm club in Tacoma will be brought up, but I've heard that there really isn't a heckuva lot of bankable talent there, either. The Baseball Trade Deadline approacheth, however, and it'll be interesting to see how many players the M's Get Rid Of, and Who Those Players Are. I've long said there'll come a day when we'll see Ichiro in Pinstripes (as in Yankee Pinstripes); this could be the year!

There's a Bud Light commercial in which the announcer talks about an All-Sports-Radio Announcer who knows everything but sports, but How To Play Them! No Coordination! And I think I resemble that. I'll have some gravy along with those Couch Potatoes...

Friday, July 11, 2008

There it is, it's going, going, gone...
...Ma Nature puts on a 'rilly big shoe' when the Sun goes down...

It's like the period at the end of the sentence, or the last chapter of a good book. When I watch the Ocean Sunset at the end of a great day on the beach, I feel like I have basically taken my "day" as far as it can go. I feel an uncontrollable compulsion to 'be there', to watch the sun sink under the horizon. When you have mountains around you, your day is cut short by a little ways, but on the ocean, when the sun sets, it REALLY sets. That may sound crazy, but that's how I've come to feel over time, and there's a certain satisfaction in formally putting the day to 'bed' that I relish. Why?, I wonder. It's odd, I know. Could be that each day is a day forever gone, and I want to see it through until it ends, and yeah, that's part of it.
Another part of it, I suppose, is that I used to be a real night-owl, but that seems to be changing as time goes on. The night-time hours sometimes become quite foreboding, in terms of loneliness or desolation, and it seems over time, that somehow nights have become "darker" than they used to be. Again, I know that sounds crazy, but I also rarely go out at night anymore, so that might have something to do with it. It could be an "age" thing as well; maybe as one grows older, their eyes don't adapt to the darkness as well as they once did. So, I'm out until that last little bit of sunshine is gone, and then I scurry back home to seek shelter, in the half-hour or so of relative light before the darkly mysterious shroud of night envelops me once again. (Excuse me while I pat myself on the back for that last metaphorical thing there...)
But getting back to Ocean Sunsets (that's what this post is allegedly about, after all), each sunset has its own personality. I know that there are nice sunsets everywhere, regardless of if there's an ocean nearby or not. But for me, nothing equals the ocean sunset, as the commercial fishing boats scurry to the safety of the harbor before the sun goes down; as the mist begins rolling in from afar, adding an element of mystery to the end of the day as it seeks to blur the dividing line between darkening sky and the ocean horizon; as onlookers gather to watch the sun grow larger and redder and begins moving faster and faster towards the horizon, and all of a sudden, only 2/3's of it is visible, then half, then a quarter, and then the last little piece of the sun still visible "blips" out, leaving a shimmering sky in its wake, which grows darker as the sun retreats further, towards the Other Side Of The World.
It would appear that this post is drowning in a vast ocean of endless descriptives and metaphor, and rather than let that happen, I'll share a few pictures of Ocean Sunsets with you. The photos below are approximations of Sunsets I've Seen Lately...someday I'll get a digital camera and do it right; until then, these pictures will have to suffice. Leading up to Thursday night's sunset, a big cloud bank had rolled in that afternoon...and I didn't think I'd be able to see the sun set, so I was planning to go home early...but it became obvious that the clouds didn't reach all the way to the horizon; there was a thin band of clear sky separating the Ocean from the Clouds, and the sunset looked something like this...
At other times, the clouds are more scattered, with less of a dividing line between them and the Ocean, giving the sunset a totally different appearance; this next photo is more like the ones you'll see on postcards; views like this give the sunset a totally different appearance and it's like one of the sunsets I saw earlier this week...

This next photo is that of a sunset not unlike the one I saw Wednesday night. It's amazing, the many different shadings Ma Nature can provide in an otherwise identical event. Honestly, it almost looks like the following photo was taken on the surface of Mars. But while it's been proven that there once was water on the Red Planet, there was probably never this much. Here, the sun sinks in the sky, with just a little band of clouds obscuring its midsection...
Finally, this next photo is almost identical to the one I saw tonite...a spotless blue sky all of a sudden, taking on myriad shades of pink, orange and violet, and when the sun sinks this low, yes, it can be viewed with the naked eye. Either that, or I'll go blind in a few years. It has something to do with the Earth's atmosphere acting like a lens, and at the furthermost point, the atmosphere gives a concave effect that not only magnifies the Sun's size, but serves to concentrate the appearance of natural (or man-made) particulate matter in the sky, thus removing some of the Sun's 'shine'. Here, the sun is already beginning to sink below the horizon...
Of course, there are other days where a band of clouds hanging over the horizon totally obscures the Sun, and as anyone who lives on the Coast knows, sometimes the clouds and fog are so thick that the sun can't be seen. Often, I've been on the beach, less than ten feet from the ocean and I could barely see the waves thru the fog, but you know, those days have an appeal of their own, with the sound of the tide rushing in, in spite of the fact that Mother Nature is hiding the ocean away in murky obscurity, as if there's something going on that She doesn't want you to know about. Most weeks I try to ration my sunset-watching activities, what with the price of gas where it's at, but I threw caution to the wind this week; on days such as what we've had lately, I just have to go and see what the Setting Sun is doing. So far, Mother Nature has never disappointed me.
Due to my inability to find much subject matter to post about, all I could do was write about what's been happening in front of me. And after I posted this post, I thot, "haven't I written about sunsets recently?" Ohmygosh, yes, I did, on June 17th. I just went into more (excruciating) detail here.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Obtuse Observations...
...a case where the 'ruminations' aren't all that 'atmospheric'...

Here's a bunch of obtuse observations which have been bouncing around in my vast cranial cavity for some time now. Like that funny Coors Light commercial says, "LET'S VENT!!!" Posts like this are easy to write...although reading this stuff can be a real chore...

THE SAGA OF "D-ROD": A New York City newspaper is publishing all kinds of stuff about Alex Rodriguez (The $252-million--and quite possibly more--baseball player) and his wife getting Divorced. The papers referred to him as "D-Rod". Paul McCartney, take note: Alex had a pre-nup written into the ol' marriage contract. Still, Paul McCartney has more money than Alex can ever hope to have. But it seems like Alex has a little more sense? Then again, I don't have any Alex Rodriguez records in my collection. So what can I derive from this? I have Two Words for them both: STAY SINGLE.

HE SHOULD TAKE A ONE-WAY TRIP OVER THERE: Prezzident Georgie W. Bushed is trying to arrange some sort of summit with Chinese Leaders, which probably has something to do with promoting such things as personal freedom, human rights, and compassion for the people, things of which China has None Whatsoever. A radio show which Spews all kinds of Political stuff, which I happened to hear, said the Chinese Leaders are thinking, "why would we want to have a summit with a Prezzident who has less than 200 Days Left In Office?" (See countdown clock, off to your left.) Georgie W. Bushed...Lamest of the Lame. Quack, quack.

WELL, I THINK IT'S FUNNY EVEN IF YOU DON'T: A quite-radical radio show I was listening to today had ideas for bumper stickers you would put on Someone Else's car...among them, "I HATE COPS"...the perfect sticker to have when an officer pulls ya over...or how about..."I HAVE A REALLY GREAT's in the TRUNK." Whoa...that one's kinda severe. Finally, this Third Bumper Sticker is one I've seen around town recently: "My DOG is smarter than your Honor Student." Ain't that a great one? Credit where credit's due; I heard those first-two Bumper Sticker Things on something called "The Donkey Show"; I think it originates on a radio station in Eugene, Oregon, but I'm not sure...I'm becoming a fan of that show, in spite of the fact that it's anchored by a couple of snot-nosed post-Generation-X punks.

THE SEATTLE SOAP OPERA: The Seattle Mariners Did Find yet another way to Lose tonite: Everyone's been griping about how Richie Sexson has been unproductive in the hits/runs department. Well, tonite, he hit a 3-run homer. Congrats, Richie! Trouble was, those were the only 3 Mariner Runs of the Game and they all came in the first inning. And Seattle lost the game, 4-3. So really, the Mariners were Shut Down and Shut Out for the last 7 innings. So, how bad has this season been? Last night, the Mariners ran out of pitchers in a 15-inning game, so a backup CATCHER had to pitch! I almost forgot...the M's DID have one pitcher they didn't use in that game, Arthur Lee Rhodes. Why couldn't he pitch? He said he'd SLEPT on his ARM, and his Poor Widd-O Little Arm Didn't Feel Good. I'll go look for his address so I can send a sympathy card. No, wait, I'll send myself one. After all, I ain't makin' the money he is. HEY! I JUST HAD A GREAT IDEA! A soap-opera starring THE SEATTLE MARINERS: "The Young and the Hitless".
SQUAWK! QUACK, QUACK, QUAAAAACK! What is the difference between a toddler in his 'terrible twos' and a year-old parrot? Basically, none, other than you can leave the Parrot in the cage, 'home alone' and walk away. My little Parrot-boy throws tantrums, stomps around the top of the cage (in his play area), throws stuff on the floor, and even though Pionus Parrots (of which he is one) are supposed to be quiet, he'll bray like a Donkey if he wants something; half the time I don't know what that would be. I think I need a "Parrot Whisperer." This could take a while to figure out; after all, parrots don't ever really Grow Up, but then again, some people never do either. I think I'd rather try to figure out parrots at this point. I don't know. It's a toss-up.

IT'S NOT EXACTLY EDUCATIONAL TV: I'm watching a TV show which features clips of Dumb Criminals. One such person stole a car, drove away...his car left the freeway shoulder; he proceeded to exit the car and make a run for it, so he leapt out of the car, and the car ran over his THIGH bone, resulting in the Most Painful Bone-break known to man. Even the disastrous, humiliated, conspiratory former figure-skater Tonya Harding, one of the program hosts, was smart enough to ask, "why didn't he STOP the car first?" And co-host Danny Bonaduce, something of a Train Wreck himself, agreed with Tonya. Hmmm...a TV show with Danny Bonaduce and Tonya Harding agreeing with each other? I think TV has sunk as low as it can go.

NOTHING, INCLUDING THIS, MAKES SENSE: A question about my Yahoo E-Mailbox: When I've read all my in-box e-mails, I click the square that deletes 'em all, and, POOF, they're gone. Then I go over to my Yahoo Junk Mail folder and do the same thing. Only, when I delete my JUNK mail, a little gray square pops up, saying, "Are you sure you want to do that?" Dammit, OF COURSE I do. It's JUNK mail. But...why doesn't this happen when I delete LEGIT mail, which has Personal Value To Me (until I decide to delete it, anyway)? Wouldn't it make more sense for that "Are You Sure" thing to pop up when deleting PERSONAL mail? Hello? Is anyone out there in cyberspace?

I'M TOO ALLERGIC TO COOK METH: I wrote recently about My Bad Hayfever Attack. Here in Oregon, "Sudafed", a strong 'fever med, is only available by prescription. Thanks a lot, all you Meth Cookers out there, for adding More Inconvenience To My Life. I had to double-up on using Less Effective Stuff, which more or less worked. My appointment with my Regular Doctor is TOMORROW. I should ask him if he'll prescribe me some Sudafed. What's the use, tho...the hayfever attack is NOW OVER, due to winds whipping around the coast today. Still, I guess I'll ask him. My appointment will cost the same, whether or not he issues the prescription. Gotta get my money's worth, after all. Make that Doctor Work a little bit. Don't worry; if I don't use the Sudafed for my allergy, I'll keep it for the next attack. After all, I have no underground bunkers full of hayfever meds on my property. Let's see, tho...hmmm...if I go out and get some Clorox bleach, and a few wooden matches, maybe some D-Con and Sulfuric acid...mix 'em all together....KA-BOOOOOM!!! And you thot FIREWORKS were loud...

Another brand-new post lurks immediately below. How did I find time for two posts in one day? My parrot's sleeping out in the other room, which means the room my computer's kept in is free! I think this works out okay. After all, it's not good when a computer-obsessive like me takes the machine into the bedroom, where a lot of my 4:00 a.m. posts have been written. It's hard to think clearly at 4 a.m. Although I'm not sure I'm doing that now...

Another indicator that time is zooming past...
RINGO STARR is 68 years old today...
On his 1973 album, "Ringo" (which is still far and away the best record he's ever made), he sings, "yes, my name is Billy know it has been for so many I'm only 32, and all I wanna boogaloo"...and you know, that's pretty much what he's done his entire life. His drumming talent is natural and very individualistic and he's got an "okay" voice which sounds good, but which wears thin over an entire album of him singing. And really, his musical output has never changed. His albums are largely innocuous collections of pop-oriented songs which aren't especially noteworthy, and while enough of his records are bought by Beatles' fanatics, such as me, none of them really stand out; if you put on a Ringo album, it'll just kinda harmlessly cruise by, it'll be over before ya know it, and you probably won't play it again for another 5 years, cos it's basically "nice but inessential music". That's how I've come to think of Ringo's music over the years.
Ringo's solo music won't provide any inspiring musical 'highs', but it's not crappy, either; his records occupy a place "somewhere in the middle", where no one is offended or elated or disgusted, and basically there isn't a whole lot of emotion going on in the grooves. In short, his output is average, no better or no worse than any other singer whose main objective is to sell records, but since his music occupies that "middle ground", after a while, the music is just "blah"; it's got melodies, words, tempos, but unexceptional music just gets kinda downright boring after a while. And Ringo's heavy voice grates on my ears over an Entire Record. He sounds good enough in small doses, and while none of his albums are baaad, I just don't feel the need to play 'em that often.
Ringo's found a quite-novel way to Cruise Through The Ages, however...over the past couple of decades, he's gone on-tour with his All-Starr Band, which features ever-changing lineups of Ringo's contemporaries who've had their own hits...for instance, Todd Rundgren ("Hello, It's Me") has toured with him; this year Gary Wright ("The Dreamweaver") is helping out. Ringo's All-Starr bands will usually feature 8 or 10 people that You've Heard Of Somewhere in the Past, and interspersed with their songs, Ringo comes out and sings a few of his biggest hits, then goes back to play drums, or perhaps heads to the dressing room for some Perrier and caviar. It's gotta be a fun way to make a living, though. So Ringo's surviving, and doing so fairly gracefully. Although, his endless "Peace And Love" thing just kinda grates on me, sorta like hearing his voice over an entire record. And I wish he'd quit flashing those PEACE SIGNS around! Stop it, Ringo!
Ringo's latest album is titled "Liverpool 8", and it's no better or worse than anything else he's recorded over the last 15-20 years. The song, 'Liverpool 8' is about his beloved hometown that he has so many endlessly fawning memories of. The same town, he later revealed in an aside on a talk show, that He Really Doesn't Miss Very Much At All. OOPS! Well, he is 68, after all. Must've been a "senior moment" there. Ahhh, Ringo...we love ya anyway.


For a time in the early 70s, after the Beatles broke up and embarked on solo careers, Ringo's records were actually charting higher than any that his former bandmates made. And on the '73 "Ringo" album, John Lennon and George Harrison played on the leadoff track, "I'm The Greatest" (quoted above), and that's the closest the Beatles ever came to reuniting.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Their "Long Lost Album" has FINALLY been (legitimately) released...

Everything Old Is New Again, I've heard it said. Well, this is a case of 15-year old music becoming something TOTALLY NEW. The group "CHICAGO" has long been one of my favorite bands. I saw them twice in concert, back in 1972 and 1973. Great songwriting, musical breeziness, three main lead vocalists, and absolutely great guitar by the late Terry Kath...this was one of those Big Rock Bands that could really ROLL...their sound was huge. However, for me, I began sensing danger signals for the band in 1976...they released a wimpy ballad, "If You Leave Me Now", which became a number one hit...a year later, Guitarist Kath was dead, killed by 'accidental suicide'...he was playing around with a gun he thot was unloaded...well, you know the rest...

In the late '70s, Chicago entered a dormant period, after their last two albums for Columbia went Absolutely Nowhere. The group's long-term label, Columbia, dropped 'em, even though Chicago had made many Columbia Records Executives Very Rich. The group found another label, Warner Bros., but were forced to tone down their sound and record wimpy ballads by OUTSIDE SONGWRITERS...and while "Hard To Say I'm Sorry" and "Look Away" (and several other '80s songs) were big hits, the group felt it was 'selling out'. In 1993, Chicago wanted to Do Its Own Thing; you know, get back to hard-driving, creative music, so they found another producer, didn't let any record executives into their recording sessions, and recorded an album called "Stone Of Sisyphus", the best, most-inspired album they'd done in YEARS. And, Warner Bros. REJECTED THE ALBUM. A case of corporate closed-mindedness. So with that, Chicago Left Warner Bros. and took the album with them. Later on, Rhino records, the re-issue label, began issuing all of the old Chicago albums (the group had bought the rights from Columbia), and rumors circulated for years that the "Stone Of Sisyphus" album was gonna be released by Rhino.
And, Rhino Records has FINALLY released "Stone Of Sisyphus", some 15 YEARS after it was recorded. Why did Rhino wait so long? After all, Rhino had released 3 "Sisyphus" songs on a big Chicago Box-Set a few years ago, so it's not like the company couldn't have released the album earlier. So, that's one question I'd like Rhino to answer. The SECOND, more IMPORTANT question I would pose to Rhino's execs is, "Why was one of the best songs on the album, 'GET ON THIS', left OFF the album?" Especially since Rhino's "Sisyphus" CD features 4 bonus tracks, 3 of those DEMO or OUT-TAKE versions of finished songs already on the album! Why not remove one of those bonus tracks and substitute "Get On This"? It's one of the most powerful rockers that Chicago has ever recorded, and its inclusion would only have made the Rhino-issued "Sisyphus" BETTER. I guess Rhino shaved the song off, so they could include it on another Chicago collection and sell lots more CD's. As I've said before, it's always about the money!

Here it is, Rhino Records' 2008 version of Chicago's 1993 "Stone Of Sisyphus" album. With "Get On This" left OFF. Okay, okay, I've griped about that long enough. We as a society are conditioned, after all, to view everything negatively, so I Stand Accused. But there are plenty of High Spots on this disc...The title track, "Stone of Sisyphus", features some aggressive horn charts, in addition to a driving rhythm section. "All The Years", sums up all that's happened since Chicago recorded its first album in 1968. (The song features a brief snippet of Crowds at the 1968 Democratic Convention chanting, "The Whole World's Watching" which they'd used in the song "Someday" on their very first album) as well as impassioned vocals and a booming, doomsday-ish backbeat. The group even pulls off a RAP song, "Sleeping In The Middle Of The Bed", complete with group-rap, blaring horns and funkiness. Remember, this was recorded in 1993...right in the hey-day of early rap. It's different, but it's also intriguing.

There are a couple of nice ballads on 'Sisyphus', just in case Chicago's propensity to rock out on this disc confuses those who never heard the group before 1982..."Let's Take A Lifetime" is a sweet sentimental tune, and "Bigger Than Elvis", also a ballad, is very poignant. The song was written and sung by Jason Scheff, who joined Chicago after lead singer/bassist Peter Cetera left in the early '80s (Cetera has recorded nothing but CRAP since). Jason Scheff's dad was Jerry Scheff, who played bass in ELVIS PRESLEY'S band. Jason saw a tape of one of Elvis' shows, and saw his Dad, and wrote the song for him. I always thot Jason was kind-of a nerd, but he's got talent, although I find his vocals sometimes unnecessarily breathy in nature.

The rest of the songs on "Sisyphus", tunes such as "Mah Jongg", "The Show Must Go On", "The Pull" or "Cry For The Lost" are all played with an energy and conviction that was missing from Chicago's output during the '80s, '90s, and into the '00's. When I first heard this album, IMMEDIATELY, I thought, "gosh, this is pretty doggone good". Horns! Driving Tempos! Energy! Fun! Creativity! Wow...and I guarantee that whatever your musical tastes, you're gonna like this album, should you decide to buy a copy. I've had a bootleg copy in my collection for a couple of years now (pictured below), so I'm really familiar with this album. But, I, ever the collector, I had to buy the 'legitimate' copy, in SPITE of the fact that "Get On This", one of the BEST tunes on this album was left OFF.

This is the bootlegged copy I have of the 'Sisyphus' album. It's been circulating 'round the Net for a good many years. It proudly features "Get On This" in all its driving, rocking, blaring glory. I absolutely LOVED Chicago's music, almost ALL of it, that came out in the years 1968 thru, say, 1977 or thereabouts. They recorded some good songs after that, but it wasn't until I had first heard this 1993 album, a couple of years ago, that I got excited about Chicago's music again. And most of the music on this bootleg disc is available on the 'legit' disc. I don't know if the band will ever create such good music this 'boot' CD and the 'legit' CD, they did release a big-band album, a couple of Christmas albums (One of their Christmas albums was "Chicago 25", so I thot that was cool), and another pop-type studio album...but NONE of those matches the energy of 'Sisyphus'. I honestly can't say enough good things about it, although I've tried.

Sisyphus, of course, was that poor Greek guy who was given the job of rolling a huge stone up the hill; he'd get near the top, lose his grip, the stone would roll back down to the bottom, so he'd dutifully try rolling the stone up the hill again. Legend has it he's doing that still.

P.S. In case there's anyone out there who reads this blog regularly, another new post lurks immediately below this one. I guess I'm a "volume dealer", huh?

"Allergy season" is...
Nothing to Sneeze At...

It all started for me at about the age of 10. Our family had moved into a fairly nice place in a (then) underdeveloped part of town. The house sat on a fairly large corner lot, and 26, count 'em, 26 big pine trees were growing on the property. The house was great, and our yard had lots of shade, which came in really handy on hot summer days. Our family moved there in August of 1964, and things were pretty peaceful until long about June 1965. And all of a sudden, I began sneezing my head eyes were constantly irritated, my sinus glands sprung into ceaseless hyper-activity, and my folks didn't know what to do, other than take me to the doctor.

It turned out I had allergies...and still do...rhinusitis, I think "Web M.D." calls it. Pure, unadulterated, living hell. Evidently those afflicted have an abundance of antibodies in their system which attack pollen as it drifts thru the air and lands inside your respiratory passageways. And, every single year, since 1965, beginning about Mid-May, and lasting until about Mid-July, I have had hayfever attacks that literally Made Me Ill. I've tried every hayfever medication in the book... Grocery and Drug Stores keep their strongest over-the-counter Hayfever pills locked up, cos I guess they're afraid I'll go home and use 'em to make truckloads of meth. So, at times, I've found myself begging store clerks for Hayfever meds...the conversation usually goes something like this:

"Sir, I'm having a killer hayfever attack and I need to buy some strong meds right now".
"Well, we keep those behind the counter; I'll have to go and unlock the Hayfever Pill Case."
"Great...I'm dyin' here; I need something right away".
"Sir, we have quite a few different brands of pills here; which do you prefer?"
"I don't care...just get me something that's plenty strong, something that'll make me DROWSY".

Basically, the inside of my head gets so inflamed during a really bad hayfever attack, that the only way I can recover is to Almost Knock Myself Out. That's when I go looking for something which will drug me, and put out the fire in my sinus membranes long enough for my body to begin healing itself. And I'll take 2 or 3 of those strong pills (waaaay more than the recommended dosage) when I'm having a "level ten" hayfever attack. "Level 10" is my term, which means, "my sinuses are inflamed to the point that sticking my head inside a Microwave Oven and Turning It On wouldn't feel any worse." I'm NOT exaggerating. Not much, anyhow.

During my worst allergy attacks (one of which happened to me a couple of weeks ago down here in's been a real "pollen" year), I've had to get a towel or washcloth, douse it in cold water, and take it with me into the bedroom, when, after turning out all lights, I've had to lay down and place the wet cloth over my mouth and nose and BREATHE thru it...I've found that technique strains the air well enough so that hayfever particles can't continue to get in and wreak havoc with what's left of my Overall Sanity. During one awful hayfever attack some years ago, I sneezed without stopping for 15 minutes. During a typical attack, there'll be enough fluid in my eyes and running out of my nose to fill up your average hydroelectric dam reservoir. That's what it SEEMS like, anyhow.

During an allergy attack, the inside of my nose, the portion closest to the eyes, and the very rear portion of my sinus cavity, where it meets the throat, feel like they're ON FIRE. It starts out with a queasy, sickening little 'tickling' sensation inside my head, as the first few pollen particles enter, and then, as more of them get into my system, they get in there and begin BURNING me. I actually begin running a FEVER for the duration of the attack, another problem which is helped by the cold damp washcloth I mentioned above. And, if unabated, the hayfever attack makes me frantic, it makes me very light-sensitive, and literally Takes Everything Out Of Me.

I remember, in the midst of an attack, late at night, driving to a store, stumbling in, barely able to see or reason properly; I was in full panic mode, and in dire need of Hayfever Meds. That's when I don't care what I take, as long as it's something that Puts Me Out, or almost. It's either that or bonk myself on the head with a sledgehammer. Once, during springtime, I was sitting by a lake, and actually saw a Yellow Pollen Particle land on my forearm. And it began burning my SKIN! I guess since it couldn't get into my nose, it had to be satisfied with diving into one of my pores.

Today, as I was walking on the Ocean Beach, with the wind at my back, I came down with a hayfever attack...right there on the Coast! And the eye-watering and nose-spouting began happening again, and I began getting frantic...I spotted a log on the beach about 100 yards ahead of me, and I got to it, and sat on it, FACING the wind....and, ahhhhhh...that Ocean Breeze was better than any old Hayfever medication. Ahhhhhhhh. The breeze cooled my overheated forehead, and wafted inside my sinuses, and after about 20 minutes, while I didn't feel like a Brand New Man, I at least felt that I was once again on par with the Rest of the Human Race. I am not kidding; during a severe hayfever attack, I am literally in CRISIS MODE.

Once, at a footrace which took place one summer, in a small town, located in the middle of the Wheat Fields of Eastern Washington State, I came down with a post-race Grand Mal hayfever attack. I began sneezing and sneezing and dripping and anguishing and suffering from the attacks of hayfever...I noticed a little boy was staring at me as if I were some weird kind of freak-a-zoid until his mom told him, "oh, he's having a hayfever attack". I can see how I'd look unusual; after all, a lot of folks don't get hayfever as bad as I do, if ever. I'm no martyr or anything, but hayfever has been pure hell for me all my life. As a kid, I was told that I would "grow out of it"...well, I'm 54...and the way things are going, as I get more feeble with age, I'll probably fracture my neck or break a rib from sneezing. So, if you're out and about enjoying the Spring and Early Summer, and you see someone who is totally incapacitated by Hayfever, as I've been, at least now you have a hazy idea of what that person is going through.

Looking at the above picture, some may see a Quite Heavenly View of Nature. I see PURE HELL. Whether it be a grove of Pine Trees or a Grassy Field (I've had allergy attacks in both places as well as in numerous localities), Hayfever, to me, IS a sort-of fever, which isn't exactly made any better by Hot Summertime Temperatures. Which is one saving grace of living on the Oregon Coast...the temperature hardly ever rises above 75. So I've got that working for me. And that's something. If I was still where I used to live (North Idaho), I'd probably be a basket case right about now. Undergoing today's relatively mild hayfever attack took me back to all of the total allergic misery I've experienced in years past. I wouldn't wish such a thing against my Worst Enemy. No, wait, I think I would.

The Kinks (the world-famous British Rock and Roll group who've been around forever) issued a 1979 album titled "Low Budget"...on that record is a song called "Hay Fever" in which Ray Davies sings, "I must've used every tissue in town". Yeah, I think he's probably had hayfever. God Save The Kinks. And Ray Davies.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Just for the RECORD...
Guess I have a one-track mind (or two-track, if it's stereo)...
I was having a good day. And actually, the day was good all day long. It's a good thing, though, that I don't have any hangups about my advancing age (although I do wish I was younger, but while I'm at it, I might as well wish for world peace). So, I'm in the "wayback machine", only it's headed in reverse. I just get older and older. My body tells me that every single day. I'll be thinking about doing all kinds of wild things and fantasizing about being a graceful human being and zooming here and rushing there and getting tons of stuff, I make a move to get out of my La-Z-Boy, and as I push off, my knees rage out in aching protest, and if I put my hands on my kneecaps, I can feel the many bones of the knee joint grind together...crunch crunch...creak...kinda like if someone put sandpaper underneath your kneecaps (now, that's a scary thought).
What am I leading up to here? Well, I had to visit the Prescription Place so I wouldn't run out of my daily Gout Medication that I will be taking For The Rest Of My Life, and the young, cute, pert little blonde pharmacy tech (she can't be much over, say, 20), greeted me with her best serving-the-public smile; I told her I should have one prescription ready, and she went back to get she rang me up, she said, "your total is $33.45"...aha, I thought...'33-45, how about that'. So I tried to make a little joke with her, something along the lines of, wow, that's cool...all we need now is '78'. And she stood behind the cash register with a blank expression on her face. I told her, "you know, 33-45-78." And she still just stood there, sorta like a deer caught in the headlights...
So I told her, "you know, as in (phonograph) records." And she STILL stood there, not knowing what I was talking about. By this time I was feeling like Methuslah. I explained, "phonograph records came in three speeds, 33rpm, 45rpm, or 78rpm." "Oh," she said. Well, at least my explanation removed the blank look from her face. And then I thought, 'it must be true; some people will never own, or even SEE, a phonograph record.' You know, RECORDS, as in the flat plastic sound re-producing objects that have been A Very Important Part Of My Life. But the perky little girl and I do have something in common; we both have CD's. You know, CD's, as in Compact Discs, which our local K-Mart Isn't Even Selling Anymore (a fairly recent post below details that below).
And so, I dedicate (remember song dedications on the radio?) (you don't?) the following record to members of Generation X or XI or XIII or whatever this present generation is...a song that very accurately describes how I feel about this entire situation...

"What's the joke?", you might find yourself asking...well, back in 1967, a group called The Youngbloods recorded the song "Get Together" (as in "come on now people, smile on your brother, everybody Get Together, try to love one another right now"). Yep, any song that says THAT kind of stuff has Just Got To Be Old.

Finally, a little bit of levity to end this post...although the Ladies who read it will probably hate me: Two guys were talking about Women, and the first guy says, "she's built like a record player". The second guy says, "how's that?" To which the first guy replied, "you know, 33-45-78"! And, if I have to explain THAT, I'm givin' up!