Sunday, July 24, 2011

...she was different, and she could have been great...maybe she was...

I'll admit that I'm not qualified to write this, because she's not of my generation, I know next to nothing about her, and I'd never heard her until I visited YouTube the day after she died (yesterday, July 24th). I'd been aware she'd had all kinds of trouble, I'd seen her name in the headlines and in various stories on the internet, most of them indicating she had drug problems. I'm 57; she died at 27. My knowledge of music tails off after the late '80s/early '90s. But I had to find out what she was all about, and while I'll never know that much about her, I did dial up some of her music on YouTube. I don't even know enough to memorize her song titles, but she made an impression on me, and like most all things of a pop-culture nature, it might not make sense, but I'll give it a go...

AMY WINEHOUSE reminds me of a lot of self-absorbed musicians of My Day. Now when I say 'self-absorbed', I don't mean 'narcisstic'; it's just that she took music and did it her own way, and if her stage performances are any indication, she was totally in her own world, and shared that with her fans. It's sort of a Jim Morrison (The Doors) thing, where she'd stare into space, all the while looking deeply within to a secret place, and as a result, she was an oddly fascinating singer. She reminds me a little of Van Morrison, who also crawled deep within himself in order to bring out what was within him and anyone who sees Van Morrison knows he's different, on a level that requires hard listening. Ms. Winehouse had that intangible something; I don't know how to label it, but it's easy to see in her performances.

Artists like this are compelling; they draw you in, and at the same time, make you visit deep places within your own soul. Amy's music reminds me of Janis Joplin's "Kozmic Blues Band" period, in which she got funky with a horn section backing her, and as we all know, Janis was certainly compelling in her day. I wish it weren't so, but certain artists are just self-destructive. Janis was, Amy was, and no matter how those people get to the place where their lives end, we all lose something when people like this pass away. Had I been younger, reaching maturity in This Generation, Amy is someone I definitively would have placed among my favorites. It's a shame she had to die before I heard any of her music, and although I've only heard a few of her songs, I could tell that she was For Real. I'm sure fans in Great Britain, along with Americans that paid attention to her, have suffered a great, great loss in the music world.

We've been thru this before, and I wish we could learn from the past, but I don't have any idea as to what makes certain artists the way they are, to end up being suicides, conscious or otherwise. The age of 27 has claimed more than its share of performers. Jimi Hendrix. Janis Joplin. Kurt Cobain. And now Amy Winehouse. Jim Morrison basically drank himself to death, although it's rumored there was heroin in his system when he was found in the bathtub. Janis was also drunk, buzzed and stoned a lot of the time. She accidentally overdosed; she didn't know the heroin she was sold almost Pure, not 'cut' heroin. But it's nice to know Van Morrison is still alive and singing his heart out, just in case you wondered. So that's a positive thing. He's an artist I still don't understand and believe me, I've tried.

I wish we could go back in time and somehow make things better for these tortured artists who give so much of themselves to us. There are so many who've died by their own hand, and each time it happens, it's a tragedy. And although I'd never heard Amy Winehouse until now, her death is a tragedy. It just is. I hope she's at peace now.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Turned-Off-TV-Blues...
...among other things that don't quite make sense...

I've been noticing something weird when I turn on the TV these days. I watch mostly the cable networks, and it seems every time I dial in a channel, it features some sort of program where people are yelling each other. There's the pawnshop shows in which everyone's trying to make a buck and meanwhile all the employees hate each other and they're constantly screaming and fighting; there's the Bad Girls Club where hot chicks are encouraged to fight and scream and make all sorts of bodily contact; there's the Storage Unit program which features an auctioneer, spitting out the prices while there's all kinds of animosity going on between the folks in the crowd as they try to do better than their competitors, and if you want diversion, on another network you can go on an alligator-hunting trip with a crazy guy who encounters all kinds of adversity; possums, raccoons, crocodiles, and (ack!) hives of sting-happy Bees! And ya know, all of this activity burns me out. Just give me drama. "Special Victims Unit", "NYPD BLUE", "Criminal Minds", "CSI: Miami" or any other show that has characters on it that aren't so young that it makes me feel as if I'm obsolete. Some of the new in-house dramas on the "USA" network make me feel Hopelessly Old, what with all their young, dashing and annoying youthful energy. Bruce Springsteen once sang, "57 Channels and Nothin' On". How true.

Okay, let's toss in a photo for variety's sake here; this is where some of the Coastal Fishing Boats hide inside Charleston Harbor. That body of water in front is the South Slough, which actually extends for a few miles inland. That's why the water here looks so peaceful, because it's far removed from the tides crashing on the Ocean Beaches. The little town of Charleston is where I shot this picture, about 4 miles south from where I live.

On the cloudier days, I head for some of the thrift stores in the area to see what affordable treasures I can find. It's a habit I got into many years ago when Mom would take me shopping with her. And since I'm too lazy to hit all the garage sales, thrift shops are a good thing. I tried to buy this record separately from several others it was included with, but I had to get the whole set to get this one ($2.99 Price tag). If you look closely at the label, you'll see this disc contains "Earth Angel" by the Penguins, on the DooTone label. A friend of mine once told me that it's difficult to find DooTone records in any condition; it was a small L.A. label back in the '40s and '50s. And based on some internet research, a copy like this can be worth somewhere between $40 and $100. I guess that's how Ebay Merchants get started; they go out and buy all the used stuff they think they can sell, and then they get back to the shop and wildly inflate the price, using Collectors' Guide Books. I don't plan on selling this, but it is kinda fun when you discover a treasure amongst the rubble.

I got this old Exercise Bike from a Craigslist posting. The speedometer and odometer don't work, but the tension does work, and I can peddle my little self for hours and hours, and best of all, I got it FREE; the couple I got it from now have a newer, more functional bike and this one had to go. This Schwinn "exerciser" it's a fairly old model, made many years ago. I've had the suspicion for many years, that I was just Spinning My Wheels. It's true!

And, finally, Sunset a couple nights ago, taken from Bastendorff beach. The sun is actually setting behind a cloud bank on the far horizon, which means I got cheated out of 5 minutes of sunshine, but when the colors turn out like this, it makes me glad I re-charged my camera batteries. This is the time of day when fishing boats come back to the harbor. As a teenager, I went on a Charter boat, and I was seasick all that day. Dad just looked at me, shook his head, and continued fishing. The Old Man and The Sea personified.

I'm trying to find new ways to keep this blog going. The previous posting was a one-subject post, about which I could write enough so as to achieve an average-length post. Here, I just threw a bunch of stuff together. So posts like this are sort of a diary of stuff happening to me. Perhaps I'll use this technique so I can post more often. The hardest part is working with the photos. Positioning them within the blog is sheer guesswork, sometimes accompanied by sheer Frustration.

...who deserves a place alongside Clapton, Page, Hendrix, and all the rest...

Jimi Hendrix went on tour with this man's group. He told one of the band members, "hey, your guitarist is better than me". Better than Hendrix? Of course musical styles, being a subjective topic, are always open to interpretation; just because someone says someone else is great doesn't mean he'll sound great to you, but within the general parameters of Guitar Proficiency, this cat was a monster.

So may I introduce Terry Kath of the group Chicago, the big horn band that topped the charts in the '70s and '80s. Unfortunately, Terry wasn't around for the '80s decade. He was a gun buff, and one night, while playing around with a gun, accidentally shot himself, back in early 1978. I saw the Original Lineup of Chicago twice in concert, and he was in motion all of the time. A big group like Chicago didn't allow for as much "solo space" for guitar because, well, there were all those other instruments as well...trombone, trumpet, saxophone plus keyboards in addition to drums and bass. So mostly, Terry added texture to the band's sound with lots of heavy rhythm guitar playing, which won't make one stand out as a guitar-god, but nonetheless he contributed heavily to Chicago's output between 1968 and 1977.

To hear a great example of Terry's solo stylings, all you need to do is hear Chicago's big hit, "25 or 6 to 4", which is played all over Oldies radio stations. Encased within the four minutes of the Album Version, Terry was the best guitarist in the Universe. He puts it all on display here; low notes, high notes, heavy rhythm chops, delicate single-note playing and crushing guitar rhythms. Other great songs he played on were "I'm A Man", "Make Me Smile", "Old Days", and "I Don't Want Your Money" (from "Chicago III"; not a hit); if you like raw electric guitar, seek out that song. That's as raunchy as Lead Guitar Gets, and as we all know, Raunch is an important commodity when bashing out chords and scorching the ears with those high, eardrum-shattering "leads".

He not only could rock,he could play jazzy, he played delicate patterns on acoustic guitar, and in addition, he wrote a number of Chicago's tunes and was one of the band's lead singers. It's his voice you hear, for example, on "Colour My World", "Make Me Smile" and the two-part song, "Dialogue" in which he alternates lyric lines with then-bassist Peter Cetera. Kath had a soulful voice, and some have compared his vocal stylings to Ray Charles. Unfortunately, as the '70s progressed, loud guitar rock was giving way to pop balladeering, and Terry's presence on Chicago's Big Hit songs diminished, although he continued to back his band up any way he could. You can hear his rhythms on "Just You And Me", for instance. But in that song, he's way in the background, but you can hear what he's doing if you Really Listen.

It must be stated, though, that on each Chicago album recorded during his lifetime, he was still writing songs, and playing Extremely Forceful guitar on his own songs, which, on those latter albums, provided the necessary roughness to balance out wimpy ballads such as "If You Leave Me Now" or "Baby What A Big Surprise", a song I absolutely DESPISE. There's a really spiffy track on "Chicago VIII", a song titled "Hideaway" in which Peter Cetera actually Rocks Out, if you can believe that, and Terry's hammering away on his guitar in sort of an "All Right Now" (a song by "Free") manner. It should be pointed out, though, that he contributed a gentle acoustic ballad, "Till We Meet Again" to that same album. Even rough-and-tumble Terry had a gentle side.

I just absolutely loved Chicago's sound. It was a band that really ROLLED; there was so much going on, so much music by so many top-notch musicians in the Original Lineup, and although Terry couldn't read music, he was an Absolute Natural. You can see that if you go to Youtube and call up one of Chicago's songs. He was, for a long time, the Driving Force of Chicago; some have called him the "heart" of the group. He could sing a lounge ballad or rough things up, a true Group Player. It's sad that he died waay before his time. A personal story: I was working in a radio station in Spokane, Washington in early 1978; I was on the overnight shift. All of a sudden, DING-DING-DING went the teletype, announcing some kind of emergency, and it was then I learned about Terry's death. And there I was, banging my fists on the tabletop, screaming, "No, No, NOOOOO!!!"

Most all of Chicago's albums were titled with Roman Numerals; Terry played on "Chicago Transit Authority" (the group had to shorten the name; the City of Chicago's own Transit Authority threatened to sue), up through "Chicago XI". There's a great Chicago concert posted on YouTube; they played at 'Tanglewood' in 1970, and it's a really great performance.

Friday, July 08, 2011

...and people are gonna have to learn to deal with it...

Casey Anthony is going to be free in a few days, and there's lots of Angry Folks around the nation who are royally P.O.'ed. She'll be walking among us again soon. She'll probably never have any real peace of mind. People aren't prepared to feel that Casey didn't kill her child. No matter where she goes, she'll be the object of speculation; she'll probably always have to look over her shoulder, and perhaps she'll never really feel like she's free, unless she's so narcisstic that she doesn't care about anyone's feelings and in that case, she won't feel as if she's wrong in the first place. The (very remote) possibility exists that someone or something else caused the death of her child. Is She Guilty? I think she did Something wrong, but what, exactly, I don't know..

She can never be tried again for her daughter's death. It's called "double jeopardy" which the Constitution has outlawed. It is the system that our lives are regulated by; it's the system that sends the guilty to jail while protecting the innocent, although none of us are so naive to think that every case is black-and-white and automatically resolve themselves in the name of the Common Good. It's the system, it's the way it is! People who are angry about this don't have a life, and they need to Get One. I'm not so much outraged as I am incredulous. O.J. all over again. She beat the rap. She Skated. She'll be cut loose soon. And if you're mad about that, Get Over It!

Look...there's a (very small) possibility that she didn't do it. Nothing can connect, in a physical sense, "Totmom" with her daughter's death. There was all kinds of evidence that inferred all kinds of things, but no one piece of evidence that could directly connect her with her daughter's death. I'm no lawyer, but even I could see that. And as I posted a couple of posts ago, I was afraid she might "skate". But there's nothing anyone can do about it now. Yes, the shock of it all was felt around the country. Personally, I was shocked by the O.J. trial of 1994, and how he managed to "skate" (bad knees and all). And I feel the same with the whole Casey Anthony thing.

I want to point out one thing that I haven't heard anyone address so far. Of course, it's been mentioned that in the Mark Peterson case, lots of evidence was presented, but like the Anthony case, nothing could directly connect Peterson to the murders of his wife and unborn child. And right now he sits in squalor in San Quentin Prison, with a death sentence hanging over his head. A male ends up facing execution while a female, with no direct evidence against her, is going free soon. Why is that? Do people feel better about sending a male to death row? That might be an interesting point to ponder. We all have biases contained within, even though we might not be aware of all those biases. And it's generally known that a female is less likely to be given the death penalty.

As far as Casey Anthony, she has a right to be able to live like a human being. She has been found not guilty, but in this case, 'not guilty' might not mean Innocent. Or it might. We'll probably never know. So if you're wanting to spew hate her way, if you want to do away with her yourself, if you want to stalk her or scream profane accusations at her if you see her in a shopping mall somewhere, DON'T. Let it pass. Just Let It Go. I haven't been around for 57 years myself without finding out that Life Does Not Automatically Go Your Way. It's all just Something That Happened, and that's where to leave it. Done. Finito. That's it; I'll get off my soapbox now.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

...along with hayfever and high humidity...

It's been nice to be able to go out and see some sunshine, which can be a tricky task here on the Southern Oregon Coast. From what I've found, the months with the most sunshine here are September and October. Right now, there seems to be a couple of cloudy/rainy days in-between each day of sunshine. I posted recently about my hayfever and I might have found something, an Over-The-Counter medication which is labeled as "Ceterizine HCI" that appears to be working. The sneezes still happen, though not much, and the eyes aren't watering up as badly. Here in Oregon, the Sudafed-type-stuff can only be obtained by prescription. Boo!

Next to hayfever, the "High Humidity" part has been the roughest thing I've had to cope with; I've always perspired slowly (too much info, probably), and on humid days it's difficult to MOVE sometimes. Off comes the hat, the thin jacket is jettisoned, and relief is finally found when it cools off at night. But enough of's said pictures are worth a thousand words, so I hope the snapshots I took (see below) manage to "total" somewhere close to that amount. Photography is something I've found that I really enjoy; it provides incentive to seek out new things, or finding new ways to portray the same old things, which is mostly what I do since I don't travel an awful lot. So sit back, take off yer shoes and gaze...

I'd just pulled into the boat launch area parking lot when I saw Mr. Seagull
checking me out to see if I had any food...

A big ship, guided by a tugboat brigade, is assisted through the
intricate nooks and crannies of the Coos Bay Harbor.

Most of the time, small boats cannot near the ocean because the waters are so turbulent.
This little boat is in the 'bar' with the North Jetty in the background.

Area residents are shown gathering together, around campfires on the beach far below me.
That's when the "night shift" begins; I always leave just after sunset.

Here's the Pelican Death Brigade; they're looking for fish and when they see easy prey,
they go into free-fall, smacking into the water, and then, "GULP!"

This boat is the dredge ship, "Yaquina", which scoops out the bottom of the bay.
Here, it's headed to an offshore dump site, before coming back in again...

So there ya have it, some photos taken during "those lazy-hazy-crazy days of summer". So far this year, the temperature has not been above 75 degrees, which is good because I get even lazier during hot temperatures! (if that's possible...)

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

MURDER BY NUMBERS, 1-2-3...'s as easy as learning your A-B-C's...

As the Casey Anthony trial in Orlando, Florida ran its course, I had a little nagging premonition that she just might skate. After all, it happened with O.J. Simpson way back a long time ago. Mostly, though, I thought she might get convicted of either a 2nd-degree murder charge, or perhaps manslaughter. This is because although the prosecution presented hundreds of evidence, they couldn't place the proverbial Dagger In Her Hand. The prosecution, at best, only was able to assemble a circumstantial case. After all, no one saw Casey Anthony put the child in her car trunk and gas her with chloroform. No one saw Casey Anthony throw her daughter's trash-bag-enclosed body into the woods only 2 minutes away from her house. And since there was nothing left of Casey Anthony's little daughter Caylee but Bones only, there were no abuse marks anywhere, since all the tissue had decomposed.

What a strange expression for a child.
Could it be she was on to her mom?
Caylee Anthony had been missing for 31 days. In that time, Casey, far from acting anything like a concerned, grieving parent, partied her little tush off, and in general, behaved like a Very Bad Girl. During that period, Casey would call Mom and tell her that she, Casey, was in Tallahassee, or in Timbuktoo, anywhere except the town they were living in, Orlando. Casey said that her little daughter was with "Zannie the nanny" or at a myriad of other places. Casey lied, lied, and lied some more. Prosecutors hammered away at Casey, saying that her daughter interfered with the "party girl" role that starred Casey ("Totmom" to that pitbull-in-a-skirt, Nancy Grace) in the lead role. Finally the jig was up. Casey's mom, Cindy, learned, after 31 days, that her grandchild was missing. Casey said that she had been searching for her child for 31 days. Lie. Casey said that Zanny The Nanny took little Casey because she, Zanny, told her, Casey, that she, Casey was a bad mother. Lie. And, through her lawyers, Casey said her father, George, molested her. Also, said Casey through her lawyers, George had found little Caylee floating in the backyard swimming pool, and that he took Caylee's body and threw it in the woods. Lie Again.

During the trial, Casey's mom, Cindy, said that she, Cindy, did all those searches for Chloroform and Neck-Breaking on the family computer, not Casey. It was proven through computerized time sheets that Cindy was lying, that she was at work when the home computer searches were made. Ironically, Cindy might face a 15-year sentence for Perjury. What really happened was that Casey, who was basically free all day, snuck home while her parents were gone and did the searches HERSELF. So in this case, there was Motive: Casey didn't want her little daughter anymore, because she wanted to live the party lifestyle. There were Means: Trash bags with maggots, duct tape near Caylee's skull, and DNA in the skeleton that proved it was indeed Little Caylee Anthony, whose body had been in the trunk of Casey's car for quite a while before being tossed in woods that were so congested that vines and plants were actually growing through what was left of little Caylee. And there was opportunity: Casey had plenty of time on her hands to toss Caylee's body into the woods like just another sack of garbage. The jury must have felt that little Caylee jumped into the woods all by herself, then she put the trash bags over herself and drifted off to sleep, suffocating in the process. It's said "you never know what a Jury's gonna do", and this case certainly hammers that home! Could it be the Jury pleasantly IGNORED the prosecution in this case? It looks like it!

To me, the jurors should have been able to make the connection. They didn't. Or maybe they did, but felt there wasn't enough evidence. (Over 300 pieces of evidence were presented by the prosecution). Maybe the jury took things Too Literally. Or perhaps the problem was that they were permitted to think for themselves. Or perhaps the jury had a love affair with defense attorney Jose Baez, who is without doubt, the most disgusting human being I've ever seen. If nothing else, I thought Casey Anthony would be convicted of Manslaughter, which doesn't involve premeditation or wanton, unresponsible disregard for human life. I thot she was guilty of Something. After all, the final question to the jury, submitted at Closing Arguments by prosecutor Linda Drane-Burdick was, "who would benefit the most from Caylee not being around?" Grandfather George? No, for he loved his little grand-daughter. Grandmother Cindy? No, for it was she who had called 911 saying Casey's car smelled like there'd been a decomposing body in the trunk. She also said her daughter "needed to be arrested". Casey herself? She was reputed to have put Caylee in the trunk either before or after "chloroforming" her, and covering her mouth with Duct Tape so she couldn't cry out. That way, Casey could party hearty and spend the night with who knows who.

I'm thinking that the Sequestered Jury placed only Cursory Value on the prosecution's evidence, and although there were 300-plus items of evidence, the jury only spent 6 hours yesterday and perhaps a small portion of today determining that Casey Anthony Wasn't The Devil after all. I'm convinced that they barely looked at the evidence. If they had, they would've been in deliberation AT LEAST 2 or 3 days. During the trial, George Anthony testified that the last person he saw with Caylee was Casey, and that he just "put 1 and 1 together". The Jury NULLIFIED that comment. So where does Casey go now? She's said her father's a molester. She lied to he and Cindy over and over. And over again. If I were Casey, I'd go get some dramatic plastic surgery done, then snag herself a rich guy who'll take her out of the country. For Casey, the entire United States is one great big fishbowl. At any rate, this just-concluded trial is Something we can learn from. If you want to kill your child, this is how you do it:

1. Take your little child, and disappear  for an extended period of time. Do't forget to  tell family members that you're somewhere else instead of where you actually are.
2. Make all kinds of new friends and acquaintances that don't know, or care, about your personal life. Make sure they like to party hearty and stay drunk most of the time.
3. Make sure the garbage dump you've selected is out-of-the-way and under water at least part of the time before throwing your dead child in with the rest of the trash.

Murder by numbers, 1-2-3, it's as easy as learning your ABC's.

"Murder By Numbers" is a song that the Police recorded; it was issued in 1983 as the B-side to the single, "Every Breath You Take", and was not featured on any album for a long time. I think it's one of the better songs they did. The song was issued on the Cassette of the "Synchronicity" album, but not the vinyl LP. Finally, to those who may be offended by this posting: I turned up my Sarcasm Meter Waay Up for this post. Although it may be closer to the truth than you or I know.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

...a case where anything can happen...

I've been watching the Casey Anthony Trial over the last month, hearing all the reports and watching as much "raw video" of the trial as I could. Last night, finally, I reached a point where I couldn't watch anymore. What is it with this trial that's gripped America and perhaps the World, that people can't tear themselves away from it? This trial hits us all where we live, for everyone comes from a family, and it's something that shapes you for the rest of your life. My best friend came from a really mellow family, and I wondered why my own family couldn't be more like that. And you know, "it is what it is". There's no control; you can only play the cards you're dealt.

Tension reigned supreme in my family. Like the Anthonys, we were a small family. The Anthony Parents are both obviously high-strung and hyper-emotional, and so were my parents. Like the Anthonys, there was me and my younger sister. I remember shouting matches between Mom and Dad; I remember how much tension there always seemed to be in the family, which overshadowed everything, and at any moment, Dad or Mom could blow up if my sister or I said the wrong thing, or did the wrong thing. Have you ever had a temperamental boss who could really lower the boom and you had to make sure and tread carefully so as not to incure his wrath? That was my Dad in a nutshell. Mom could yell as well, although when Dad went out on the road, things seemed to be calmer, for a while anyway.

Sometimes it's so difficult to rise above it all...

Being five years older than my sister, I went away to College and had no idea (and didn't think about it at the time) what she was going through, alone, with my parents. From what I've heard, she and Mom had major issues, knockdown-dragout fights, and she evidently had a very difficult experience living with them while she was growing up. I managed to get away from the family; if things got testy, I'd just leave. My sister did everything she could to please Mom and Dad, and I think she just wore herself out. Later on, she got married to a Really Nice Guy, and they have a son. Evidently there were some conflicts between Mom and my sister regarding parenting and everything that goes along with it. As a result, my sister had a complete emotional breakdown, and it's taken years and years for her to recover. She's doing better now.

Looking back at all of the mistakes we made with each other, our little family had a lot of ups and downs. But I always thought compassion was supposed to be a part of the family, and as near as I can tell, our family didn't have that. I feel to this day that Mom and Dad didn't understand me. Maybe I was a rotten son, though, and I feel badly about that too. My sister, her husband and her son have evidently made it through life pretty well, and I'm glad; now, hopefully, with many things long past, I hope they all are at a good place in life. But I'll probably never know for sure, since my sister and I haven't communicated for the last 5 years, and we haven't seen each other for the last 8 years. Tensions between Brother and Sister. "It is what it is".

I spend lots of time alone these days. There is no one in my life. I can't live with anyone. Here in this new place where I've lived for the last six years, I still don't know anyone's last name. No one's ever visited me, and I have no one to visit. I socialize, talking to store clerks, waitresses, people walking their dogs on the beach, and enjoy taking pictures, playing guitar a bit, and finally slowing down my life enough so I can take care of myself. I love being at the seashore; for the several hours a week I go there, my anxieties and depressions seem to lift as I cast my eyes upon the vast endless ocean. It has been a true comfort. Realizations of all the stupid things I've done, awful things I've said, lies I've told, many bad memories and all other assorted woes leave me when I hear the mighty ocean's roar. And I tell myself, "that's why I came here".

Walk through your neighborhood; every house that contains a family unit can potentially turn into an explosive situation, full of fear and deceit. Look at the Anthonys...daughter Casey, who's stands accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter Caylee has, with her lawyers, basically sold her Father down the river, accusing him of molesting her (Casey), and saying He was the one who tried to cover up Caylee's death. Her Father, George, evidently had a relationship with another woman around the time his deceased grand-daughter was found in the woods. Cindy, George's wife and Caylee's grandmother, has lied under oath to try and protect her daughter, committing Perjury and possibly facing charges of her own. And Casey lied to everyone. And look what happened. There are tensions between them all, and it's been heartbreaking to see this happen; relationships torn apart for the whole world to see. And now Casey faces the possibility of the Florida Death Penalty, and Florida Indeed Does Use Its Death Penalty. How awful life must be for all of the Anthonys; it's horrifying seeing what they're going through.

The Anthony Trial has made me look back into my own past, back when our family was forging its way through the years, and I can't help but think that we had similar tensions, although thankfully the outcome was far, far different. I was busy living my life. My sister had her own family. And Mom and Dad would head for Arizona or Utah most winters. And that's the way it was until Mom and Dad passed away ten years ago. My sister, living near my parents, cared for both of them, and though she was having problems before, that's when she began developing severe mental illneses. She's doing better these days and I hope her and her family have many good years to come. Me, I've blocked out a lot of the grief. I already had lived alone a number of years before my parents passed away, and that's what I kept doing after they were gone. There's a lot that I don't let myself think about these days. I read ceaselessly, watch a lot of TV, always trying to outrace my mind, for if I don't, I'll lapse into severe anxiety episodes, and I just can't afford for that to happen anymore. For I want some good years too. Is that too much to ask. I'm now three years away from 60. Does it ever end?

Within every house, within every family unit, someone's getting their feelings stomped on, someone's taking advantage of someone else, someone's lying, someone's crying and someone's being punished. And it just continues. My sister has done as much as she can to "break the chain" and her son has turned out to be a fine young, college-bound man. So it can be done. I may not ever be able to do that, but I'm hopeful. And that's what keeps us all going...hope. Without that, what's left? In Casey Anthony's case, the prospect of sitting alone in a cell for the rest of her life, possibly having to cope with a Death Sentence. I was initially curious about the Anthony Trial, interested in the mechanics of the Legal System. It's fascinating. But now that it's almost over, I feel gloom and doom. It's horrifying. A family being ripped apart in front of the Whole World. How sad.

Just  trying to find that peaceful place within...

Perhaps the saga of the Anthony family will cause a lot of parents to take a good look inside themselves and perhaps change the way they do things, for if something's wrong and goes unnoticed, drastic things can happen. Even Casey Anthony was a sweet little child once upon a time...

...I can still remember my dad telling me that...

My Dad was a strong, logical character who worked hard all his life. I don't feel much of an emotional connection to him, but he was rugged, he was good-looking, and he was a man's man. He looked good, too, in a Clark Gable sort of rugged way. He was smarter than me, better looking than me, and he could do everything better than me. I didn't turn out the way he envisioned,and I know that always disappointed him, but I remember some of the little things he told me. For instance, when you put your wallet in your back pocket, put it in with the "wide" sides facing up and down; that makes it harder for pickpockets out there. And another thing he always told me was, "A Man Needs A Belt". And he always made sure I wore one. I wore a leather belt he gave me for close to twenty years; it finally tore itself apart last year, but I clipped off a segment of that belt and I'm keeping in my little "odds and ends" box.

What's left of
Dad's old belt
So I had to go out and get a new belt. Why? "A Man Needs A Belt", that's why. At a JC Penney's store, I finally found one long enough to go around my ever-expanding waistline. The Belt I bought was reversible; the clip on the belt was attached to another piece of metal, which meant the belt could be worn on the Brown side or the Black side; all I had to do was rotate the buckle. The entire buckle mechanism was clamped around a miniature steel cable going from end of belt to belt buckle. This morning I pulled it on, and the #$#$!!! buckle pulled loose from the belt and wouldn't snap back in! I had no choice but to get a new belt. I had to go beltless, hands in pockets, trying not to let my drawers drop down! Thankfully, the first place I went had belts in stock, including the same Reversible Belt that I was seeking to replace."Nope, ain't gonna get THAT ONE!" I thot, afraid that I might have to. After a while, I found a "Wrangler" (TM) belt that was long enough to fit, didn't have any reversible gizmos, just a good, old-fashioned belt made of Thick no-nonsense leather. No frills. Made in the USA. It set me back almost $20 bucks, but I've got a belt which I hope will last me the rest of my life. "A Man Needs A Belt", after all. All my life, every time I've buckled my belt, I can hear Dad saying that.

Another thing Dad used to tell me was to take care of my car. He would yell and yell at me about my car, and I guess when I'm yelled at, I'm less likely to do what the person doing the yelling wants me to do. Perhaps I need to have reverse-reverse psychological tactics used on me? Back in the days when he used to travel a lot, he could easily put 200,000 miles on a car in a couple of years' time, and he always kept the oil changed and the interior clean, showing some pride in his car. He bought me a really nice AMC Concord a couple of decades ago, and did I listen to his advice? No. And after 5 years, I'd run that car into the ground. It wouldn't run. It literally died. After that, I drove various little egg-beater-type import cars, each for a couple of years until all of them, too, died. Finally, years later, I was at the place where I could buy a nice car. I check the oil periodically, I treat the car gently, never gunning the engine, and maintain full-coverage with The Gecko.

This hasn't been an easy year. I've had to put in a new Water Heater in my house and I got a New Pair of Glasses, both of which managed to set me back $1500, which in turn made me have to cut waay back on other expenses until I'd financially recovered, so that I could spend money on something else besides food and bills. I finally "turned the corner" this month and found myself with Extra Money! Except there's no such thing as Extra Money, is there? So, yesterday I went down to the Car Wash to get the green algae-type substance that accumulates on my car every spring scrubbed off, and I decided to Fill Up the Tank, All The Way (something I haven't done for ages). Then I remembered that I needed an Oil Change. I was only 5,000 miles LATE! So I went and got that done. I spent close to $200 on my car yesterday, and I thought perhaps Dad would be proud of me for getting all that done.  

I bought my1999 Dodge Intrepid back in 2002. When I bought it, there were only 36,000 miles on it. It doesn't even have 90,000 miles yet. Way back when I bought it, I was thinking to myself, "this is probably the last car I'll ever have". I once heard an automotive show being broadcast, ironically, over the car radio, in which an expert said the most economical way to run a car is to drive it until it drops. It looks good, and it runs good, and you know, I'm proud of that. Dad knew what he was talking about, didn't he? And as the years pass, I feel like I understand him a little bit better. And I hope, wherever he may be, that he realizes that perhaps I'm not as bad as he might have thought.

I realize that I sound like a severe case of Arrested Development, especially since I'm only three years away from 60. I still feel like a little kid trapped inside an old body. Just as gullible, just as dumb as ever. I can still hear the yelling. I still feel all the put-downs. As fresh in mind now, as they were five decades ago. But hopefully I'm making progress. Hopefully there's hope...