Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Buy and Buy

As the recipient of the 2013 Bloggie, the international award for excellence in blog posting, I have been inundated with endorsement requests.  Inundated I tell ya, inundated!

My beautiful wife asked me to weigh in about an outfit she wanted to wear and my daughter wondered what I thought of a song she was writing.

The requests don't end.

So here are some endorsements that I wish to make in light of my new found, and possibly fleeting, celebrity.

I wish to endorse candy.  Candy of all shapes and sizes but more specifically chocolate.  And in particular the toffee candy that is covered with chocolate and then sprinkled with nuts.  I wholeheartedly endorse that candy.

I stand up for the beach!  I was at the beach the other day and was reminded of how healing a place it can be.  There is something about the effect of negative ions or something but I don't know anything about that.  I just love the beach, regardless of the season...obviously the warmer weather is better but any time is a great time at the beach.  And palm trees are not a pre-requisite.  The small scruffy trees that are windblown onto land are very cool too.

Let's hear it for a cozy fire.  Imagine a cold snow or a chilly rain and a crossword and a cup of Earl Grey and a fireplace full of burning logs with more at the ready. It's heaven. (is it "Earl", like the late, great Earl Scruggs or "Earl", like Duke or Prince...not John Wayne or the guy from Minneapolis...but like the Prince Charles type of "Earl"...?)

Finally I would like to endorse perspective.  Perspective is a critical part of everyday life.  Just when you think your life has reached its' nadir you read about some poor guy who has lost his job or his house or his child.

Life is wonderful if you see the wonderful stuff.  It may be snowing today in some parts of the country, and that's too bad for those affected, but they can look forward to the fact that, in very short order, a few weeks maybe, the flowers will be out, the skies will be blue and the weather will be warm again.

It's all about how you see it.  If your glass is half empty then you will always be thirsty.  If your day is partly cloudy you will never see the sun.

But if you have a partly sunny, half full point of view then everything is possible and nothing is as bad as it seems.

Now just add a plate of chocolate covered, nut sprinkled toffee and you've got it made.

Until next fall when winter's just around the corner and you begin shoveling again.

And bringing in kindling and logs for the fire and searching for 14 down...a five letter word, starting with an "H" and ending with a "Y", meaning "gay."

Keep thinking.  You'll get it.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Lyin' Sack O' Taters

Lying has become the national pastime.  Forget about baseball or football or even the March Madness marketing campaign.

Lying is what we love to do.  Almost all of us. 

Maury, Springer, Dr. Phil.  The pop culture is full of outlets for lying and its' reward of 15 minutes of fame or more.

"Do I look fat in this dress?" "Do you really love me?" "Want more pasta?"

The answers to these ,and a multitude of other daily questions often end up as lies.  We justify the lies by telling ourselves that we don't want to "hurt the other guy's feelings."

If we told the truth we'd say "yes, my dear, you look like a house sheathed cotton" or "No" or "No..."

But we love the person who asked the question or, at least, we like them...a little.

Another reason it seems we lie is because we don't want to get into trouble.  The answer to, "did you eat the last cookie?" has got to be "no" because "yes" would land you in "your room" and render you cookieless for the rest of your childhood and that would be untenable.

So what should we do with this third, emerging, category of prevarication?  This business, most recently exemplified by the (dis)Honorable Ms. Michele Bachmann of Minneeesohta, of asserting falsehood as fact?

President Obama didn't spend 100 billion dollars on toilet paper, as Ms. Bachmann alleges (that is, in and of itself, a bold-faced lie perpetrated by me...here...in this post.  Let's see if it has legs...)

Yet the Congresswoman from The Gopher State persists in spreading these lies in a transparent attempt to denigrate and marginalize this president whom she seems to hate so much...because he's, a) smarter than she is, b) more popular than she is, c) black, d) all of the above.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan did the same thing during their, thankfully, failed bid to take over The White House and The Naval Observatory, respectively.  (Fitting how the Vice President's residence is an observatory...a place for stargazing, which is what he ends up doing for the better part of 4 to 8 years...)

It seems that these sort of lies are meant only to damage reputations and gain political advantage.

Gone are the days of the fair fight and campaigns waged on the issues with worthy opponents engaged in intellectual "parry and thrust."

Gone are the days of intelligent arguments defended and debated in honest terms by men and women of high moral acumen.

Gone are the days of thoughtful and passionate persuasion.

Those days have been replaced by endless partisan hectoring and shallow reasoning.

Remember William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal?  Remember John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon?  Remember Lincoln-Douglas?  Well maybe not the last one unless you're at least 165 years old.  In that case you should stop reading and nap.  We want to see 166 now don't we...?

Differing opinions discussed with civility and mutual respect. 

"Sir, I wish to disagree in the humblest of ways. My good friend, I believe your logic to be flawed and I will, presently, demonstrate why...with your permission."

"By all means, my good man.  By all means, do continue..."

Can you imagine Bachmann, Hannity, Jones, Rove et al, engaged in that sort of repartee...?

Not these accusations and baseless charges upon which, incidentally, our lives depend.

Our lives...!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Small Print

First let me say the following before I launch off into my "Tirade du Jour."  Incidentally a tirade is an event in which someone pilfers neckwear from your closet in a black ops kind of way.

Ok...I recently saw a report on TV about energy drinks and how one company is changing the way in which it classifies its' product so as to avoid having to report dangerous side effects.

The report included an interview with a paid spokesman...a doctor...who was trying to make the case for the change.  He was prattling on about this and that justification when it just seemed like he was dodging the question.  Fair enough.  The company is paying him.  What else is he going to say?  "You might die from using our product so, drink up!"  Yeah, right.

So...tirade time.  Strap in and prepare yourself. This is going to be a doozie...a real humdinger!
But it's a two-parter so here's Part I.

Tirade Part I

Almost every pharmaceutical ad on television has a voiceover stating that if you use the drug you may open yourself up to a host of problems.

"If you use XYZ you may have intestinal bleeding, loss of hearing, palpitations, hives, loss of appetite, loss of sexual urge, dental pain and/or memory loss, kidney stones, boils and longer toenails. Consult your doctor and funeral home before using XYZ."

Hmmmm...think I'll run right out and git me some!  And the drug in question is for sleep loss...which will be rendered totally ineffective by virtue of the fact that the disclaimer will keep you awake with all of the worry about its' use!

Beauty shots of people swimming or reading or picking flowers or hugging and all of the above as voiceover?  That's a marriage made in heaven.

I understand it.  The government makes the companies put all of that stuff in, but Jeez...what a downer.  I just want to look at the pretty pictures.  I'm so depressed now that I am losing sleep...which I wasn't before...and I have no where to turn other than the bottle.  That's no good either because I don't want the hangover...for which I am sure there is a drug with side effects that will make me sicker than the after effects of the drinking.  No win here as far as I can tell...

Tirade Part II

I have decided to buy an electron microscope.  I looked on Craigslist and found one in Atlanta, offered by the CDC, for $1,000,000.00   It's being sold in order to raise some cash because of budget cuts due to the "Sequester."  The CDC uses it to examine strains of viruses that cause disease.  It is also used to look at pharmaceuticals that make us sick when properly used.  Like the ones for sleeplessness.  See a theme emerging here...?

The reason I'm getting it, and I will be getting a 50% loan from Mitt Romney, is so I can read the INCREDIBLY SMALL PRINT that accompanies many television ads.

You know...the paragraph that appears on the screen during the final few seconds of an ad that explains all of the legal details of using the product.

The print is, a) unreadable, b) on the screen for only a millisecond and, c) is unreadable.

Again, I know that it is there because the government mandates it so as to protect the consumer from fraud.

The fraud is that it is,  a) unreadable, b) on the screen for only a millisecond and, c) is unreadable.

(I plagiarized that last line from a file at the Department of Redundancy Department.)

If it's going to be there it should be readable and on the screen for the entirety of the ad.  Just like the
voiceover in the pharmaceutical ad.

But that would make too much sense.

Why would legislation enacted to protect the consumer actually do that?

Ask your Congressman.  He'll know.  Just call him on his cell. 

You'll find him poolside, in Bimini, enjoying an energy drink, on the junket paid for by the lobby that forced the "Truth in Advertising" bills into containing none whatsoever.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I Ain't Goin'

I just learned that The Rascals, aka The Young Rascals are performing on Broadway.

I'm not going and I'll tell you why if you're interested.

Oh...you are?  Good.  Here goes...

I'm a musician and the first instrument I played was the drums (were the drums...?)

I loved Gene Krupa.  One of my teachers, in the 8th grade, saw Krupa play, live, and brought me an autographed picture.  It hung in my room for ever.

I got my first snare drum when I was about 12 and made a cymbal out of an old hub cap (they were metal then) with nails in it to give it that all important "sizzle."

I played in the school rock band and eventually had a full set...bass, mounted and floor toms, hi hat and ride.  I was cookin' in straight 2/4 time.

Then Dino Danelli showed up and my drumming life changed.  He could play syncopated!  Oh My God was he ever cool.

For the uneducated among you Dino Danelli was, and is, the drummer for The Young Rascals who later shortened their name to just The Rascals.  They were a powerhouse rock band in the mid to late sixties and early seventies.

One of their first hits, and my favorite rock song, even today, was  "Good Lovin'"

"One, Two, Three...Good Lovin'!!"

Felix Cavaliere, Eddie Brigati, Gene Cornish, Dino Danelli.  They were the greatest and had many wonderful hits.

"Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore"..."Groovin'"..."People Gotta Be Free"..."A Beautiful Morning."

They were terrific but what made them so for me was Dino Danelli.  He had a style that was explosive and precise.  He twirled his sticks and played complicated rhythms and used ALL of his drums not just the snare, hat and ride like so many other "drummers" of the sixties.  He was unbelievable.  I wanted to be just like him and except for the fact that he was older, Italian and REALLY good, I was.  In my head at least and, truth be told, I could play a few of his licks.

So my, over 40 year, love affair with The Rascals isn't over yet so I can't, in good conscience, go to their Broadway show.

They have reunited for this thing and it's produced by Steven Van Zandt.  I'm sure it will be great.

The theatre will be filled with all of their hits and with my contemporaries "Groovin'" to the songs that made up our young adulthoods.

A lot of memories and a lot of firsts go hand in hand with Rascals tunes.  I don't ever want those memories to fade or be tarnished by the hands of time.  I want the Rascals to always look the way they looked on The Ed Sullivan Show, not how they must look now.  Like me...older, fatter, shorter and slower.

No, for me, the Rascals will remain forever Young and I will always be moved by "Good Lovin'"

Thanks but, no thanks.  I'm good...

One More Thing...

Let me say one more thing about the recent round of philosophical "changes" taking place in our political class these days.

I am a very strong advocate of changing one's mind.  I think it is the sign of a healthy intellect to have a point of view and then, upon the introduction of new information, have a willingness to change that point of view.

In the late 15th century most learned men, and one persuadable Queen, were of the opinion that the world was flat.  Tom Friedman thinks so, even today, but for entirely different reasons.

Then, after a series of voyages by a variety of explorers, the conventional wisdom was altered to accept the fact that the Earth was not as flat as the learned had thought but somewhat roundish after all.

No one had fallen off the edge into the abyss but, instead, had come back with tales of new and wonderful lands to plunder and exciting and interesting people to subjugate and rape.

Yay!  "The Empire expands and we all get richer", thought the upper classes of the day.  "More gold, more silver, more slaves.  A win-lose for us all!"

But the point here is that people of absolute conviction were forced to change their minds by virtue of unassailable facts not in evidence when they originally formed their opinions.

That sort of change of mind is laudable.  It represents actual thought and a meaningful analysis of facts.  It is progress, plain and simple.

But, to paraphrase the late Sen. Barry Goldwater, "Change, for the sake of political expediency, is no change at all."

The late day conversions of our "leaders" don't signal a real change of opinion or of heart.  They simply herald a tardy sense of the prevailing wind.

These cowards are just investing in their political futures by adopting popular stands on the issues of the day.

They are far from leading but simply keeping their ears to the groundswell of grassroots emotion and transformation.

If marriage equality or gay rights or immigration or drug law reform miraculously go the other way tomorrow then you can count on our wonderful representatives to change their minds and yet again.

If the issue of Gay marriage went from one of increasing acceptance to absolute rejection then we would be treated to Hillary Clinton, in a beautifully produced TV ad, standing up for traditional marriage as defined by the union of one man and one woman.

Well, if anyone should know about the virtues of traditional marriage it should be Mrs. Clinton.

Hers is one and look at that example.

"Dearly Beloved..."

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Baloney and American Cheese

It is sickening to see the way that our lovely politicians pander.

The latest version comes in the form of the Ophelia of the operation (subtle allusion to Mario Cuomo's sobriquet, "Hamlet on the Hudson...")

Hillary Clinton now comes out for gay marriage.  She says that all Americans deserve to have the same rights.

Brava Mme. Secretary/Senator/First Lady/Failed Presidential Candidate...! 

(Can you tell that I am rethinking my avid support of her potential 2016 bid...?)

But the question has been posed by many as to whether it is now safe to "come out" for gay rights.
It wasn't that long ago when it was a political death sentence to espouse a liberal philosophy toward the homosexual issue. Many politicians lost their chance if there was even a hint that they, or a member of their family, was gay.

Now we have openly gay members of Congress and even leading Republicans are expressing approval of gay rights and marriage equality.

I think that all of these folks are full of baloney when it comes to these hot potato social issues.
One day they are adamantly against such and such and the next day (after the polls reveal a shift in public opinion...) they are for it.

Against the War in Iraq...for the War in Iraq.  Against Immigration Reform...for Immigration  Reform.  Against Legalizing Marijuana...for Legalizing Marijuana.  Dude!

Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Rob Portman are just interested in being on the right side of the issue, whatever it is.  They are chameleons that change their positions solely dependent upon the way a majority of American voters may feel at any given moment.

And I find it interesting that many of the "converts" modified their tune as a result of personal circumstances.

Nancy Reagan supports stem cell research only after President Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

Vice President Cheney supports gay rights only after revealing that his daughter is a Lesbian.  Same with Senator Portman.

Where were these people when they had the chance to stand up, with the courage of conviction, and declare their enthusiastic support for all human rights, regardless of the right in question?  Hiding behind their pollsters, I imagine.

Reince Priebus (Can we just pause for minute and, once again, revel in the beauty of the man's name? What a gift...) announces that the GOP will spend millions over the next few years on outreach for the Republican Party.  They took such a pounding in November that they are casting about for some way to re-enfranchise the voters who took them at their action, not their word, in the first place.

Impressions are hard to change.  The Republicans have spent years marginalizing Latinos and Blacks and Gays and Women and now they want them back.

They say they are different and that they have changed or, at a minimum, their core message has been corrupted by the Left leaning "Lamestream" media conglomerate.

The media has just been reporting what they stand for.  For sure, MSNBC has a bias (as does FOX) but the fact that the Republican Party has been somewhat less inclusive, to put it generously, is a matter of record.  Michael Steele was appointed as the head of the Party in response to Obama's candidacy not because he, Steele, was the true representation of the GOP.

Quite the opposite.  The Party has come to the conclusion, however late, that the rest of the country sees them as the party of "Old, White men..."

Duh...ya think...?

So when politicians come out and pontificate about how they are in favor of thus and so, check their record.  Then check the latest poll on the topic.

If they have always been Pro-X then they should get your vote, if you agree.

If their record doesn't match their new "position" then beware.

They didn't have a mind changing epiphany.

They just read the morning paper.

Enjoy your coffee...

Monday, March 18, 2013

You Stink!

Perception is everything.  What we think is really all that matters.  No other opinion should have any weight in our daily lives.

That said, it is amazing how many things are subject to evaluation.  Virtually everything, from cars to food to people are vulnerable to the feelings of others.  But what do we think of how we look and what we do?  How do we come to personal conclusions?  What makes us acceptable to ourselves?

I was driving past McDonalds the other day and thinking about what they serve.  Their food may taste great but it has a reputation for not being particularly healthy.

Burgers and fries and sugary drinks are the staples and the world's leading fast food chain.  The celebrated Morgan Sprulock documentary "Super Size Me" exposed the weaknesses of dining at McDonalds.

McDonalds claims to serve nutritionally sound food including salad and chicken and juice.  But many suspect that the quality of their ingredients represent a minimum in every category.  I'm sure that if I ate what they suggest in the food groups that they now offer, I would be better off but I know very few people who go to McDonalds for salad.

We all go for the Quarter Pounders or the Big Macs or the new Angus burger.  We all love the fries. We all go for the Dollar Menu because we know that we can get our fix without taking out second mortgage.

But do the execs that run the company know how they are perceived in the marketplace?  Do they realize that they are seen as being at the low end in the categories of restaurants and employment.

Kids grow up hearing their parents say, "If you don't graduate you'll end up at McDonalds."

Walmart is approaching that same folk status but McDonalds holds the first prize for both burger sales and the job not to end up having.  "You want fries with that?" is a catch phrase when suggesting that someone's choices may be less than perfect.

But all of that begs the larger, sociological question.  Do any of us really know how we are perceived?  Do we look at ourselves in the mirror and say,  "Yeah, Man!  I have got it going on!"

Sure we do.  We don't see ourselves from the rear.  We don't see what others see.  We think our hair is perfect, the pants fit, the necktie is fashionable and the makeup makes us look 18.

Others see sagging bellies, drooping busts, bald spots, wrinkles and the old trying to look young.

We can only be truly happy if we accept ourselves for what we really are.  If we are fat so be it.  If we are old then that's what happened.  If we are not as attractive as the fashion magazines and Hollywood tell us we should be then that's the truth.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie may be attractive to many, and each other, but as the adage goes, "One man's treasure is another man's junk."

The folks that run McDonalds may know that the world makes fun of them but they are the ones who are laughing, proverbially, all the way to the bank.

As is Woody Allen, John Goodman, Bette Midler and Larry Bird.

Think about that the next time you get down on yourself for not living up to someone else's impossible standard.

And then go enjoy a Double Cheeseburger, large fries and a Coke.

MMMMMMMMM....they taste so good.

Don't they...

Friday, March 15, 2013

Blog of the Year!

"And the winner is...!"

We here at "Kevin Weyl" are humbled to announce that we are the recipient of the 2013 Bloggie, the international award for excellence in blog posting.

The award will be formally given at a white tie gala on April 1 at a resort in Connecticut.

We got wind of the announcement from one of our operatives very close to the balloting.  It came as a coded message during the weather report last night when the meteorologist said, and we quote,

"Tonight we expect lows of 20 degrees in some areas, especially along the Connecticut Shoreline."

20 votes are what is needed to win the award and since we are headquartered on the Connecticut Shoreline, we knew we had won!

It is an unbelievable honor to have been chosen from such impressive company, worldwide.

After all, we have a stunningly small amount of followers.  We have 31, when most successful blogs have readership in the hundreds of thousands.

"How can you win with such a paltry following", you might ask?

It is because, in post after post, we discuss the hot, and sometimes cold, topics of the day, with alacrity, aplomb, affectation and allure, not to mention alliteration and asymmentry.

Everything from politics to nostalgia is presented in a cogent and, occasionally apostrophized manner using metaphor and often, simple simile, to denote humour (sic) and poignansee (sic)

The Bloggie is awarded by a grand jury of, what are known as "Posting Peers", which is often confused with "Posting Piers", the unorthodox manner in which the CNN host rides.

The "Posting Peers" meet and talk about, at great length, the best posts of the year and vote, sometimes as many as one time, which was the case this year, for the most well written and grammatically correct post.

The 2013 Bloggie went to "Kevin Weyl" for the post "Spring Cleaning", written March 12, 2013.

We are honored and at a loss for descriptors.  We have enthusiasm but are loathe to exhibit the joy with which we greet this news for fear that we will be seen as arrogant and not noteworthily worthy.

So let us simply say "thank you" and let that be the end of it.

One ballot.  One winner.

One "Kevin Weyl."

Go forth and Prospero...

In nomini Patri, et fili et Bloggie sancti.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Leave it to Beaver

Remember Eddie Haskell?

If you're over 55 then of course you do.  For anyone who doesn't, he was one of Wally's sidekicks.  Wally was Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver's older brother on "Leave it to Beaver."

"Leave it to Beaver" was one of the great shows of the late fifties and early sixties.  Any self respecting little boy of that time wanted to be "The Beav."  He got into benign trouble but always got out of it with not too much effort.  His brother loved him but was aloof enough to leave him alone while being uber cool at the same time.  His father knew everything and his mother, while not being Jayne Mansfield (full disclosure...I have a crush on Mariska Hargitay of "Law and Order, SVU"), was pretty enough not to be embarrassing.

Beaver had nice friends like Larry and Whitey and his teacher, Miss (not Ms. thank you...) Landers was a fox.  At least to a ten year old...

And Wally's friends were ok too. Like Lumpy Rutherford, even though his father was a bit tedious.

But then there was Eddie Haskell.  He was the guy who came over, always unannounced at dinner time, to see Wally, shined Mrs. Cleaver on, shook Mr. Cleaver's hand, patted "Young Theodore" on then head and bounded up the stairs to visit Wally leaving the impression that he would win Eagle Scout, The Congressional Medal of Honor and the presidency all before dinner was over.

But cut to Wally's room and Mr. Hyde appeared.  A trash talking  (even though that wasn't a phrase back then...unless you were talking about the garbage in the can in the alley out back...) wiseacre with nothing nice to say about anybody, especially "Young Theodore..."

He always had some scam that he was running and inevitably conned Goodie Two Shoes Wally into coming along on the caper only to get caught and then to deny all culpability as Wally took the fall and, honorably, never implicated Eddie The Schmoozer.

Eddie was the guy you hated.  But you hated him for all the right reasons. 

He was a BS artist and a two faced phony.  He was a know-it-all who knew very little and he was the worst possible influence on the teenagers and pre-teens in his life.  He was the kid your folks warned you about and didn't want you to play with.

In short, he was an asshole of epic proportions. So much so that, today, among people of that generation, to be likened to Eddie Haskell is one step away from being likened to Ted Bundy except without the Volkswagen.

Interestingly, Ken Osmond, the actor who played Eddie, turned out, in real life, to be a decorated and well respected member of the much maligned L.A.P.D with a long career in law enforcement.  Go figure...

When I see and hear Congressman Paul Ryan pontificate about the budget and domestic budgetary policy I am reminded of Eddie Haskell.

Paulie just has that Eddie Haskell essence, smiling in your face while stabbing you in the back.

If he represents the future of the Republican Party then God help the G.O.P.

Funny (not really...) how the family name in "Leave it to Beaver" is Cleaver.


The same word that Ryan uses when talking about his solution to our budget problems.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Politicus XIII

It just occurred to me that this whole Conclave business is a front for politics as usual in the Red State Vatican.

I say Red State because all of the cardinals are dressed in red with red yarmulkes...a fact that I
find just a little bit strange given the Catholic Church's centuries long weirdness with the Jews.
Or they're all Communists...

But the fact that the world's cardinals are in the process of voting for a successor to Benedict seems a bit odd considering the magnitude of the job.

Isn't the spiritual leader of one of the world's great religions supposed to be, sort of, one step away from God? 

Isn't the Dalai Lama some special case that appears to the multitudes as a human manifestation of the essence of the Buddha?

Isn't the head Rabbi the one who is the descendant of Moses?

President Obama is the leader of his party and, at the moment, The United States.  No one suggests that he has a direct line to the Lord.  Neither did Eisenhower or TR or Monroe.

They were mortals who won elections because more people voted for them than for the other guy.

The Pope is seen, the world over, as the channel to God.  He makes declarations and millions follow without question.  The faithful wait for hours and sometimes days to catch a glimpse or hear a word.
To have an audience and to kiss the ring is considered and honor available to only a select few.

I was always under the impression that the Pope is some divinely inspired individual chosen by God to represent Him on Earth.  I never saw His Holiness as just another politician in women's clothes, having illicit sexual affairs in secret, engaging in cover ups while all the time schmoozing for votes. 

But here we come to find out that the Pope becomes the Pope by virtue of back room deals and glad handing politicking reminiscent of the cigar smoke filled corridors of Chicago's wards and New York City's Tammany Hall. WWJD?

Boss Tweed.  Lyndon Johnson.  Joao of Brazil. 

An ambassadorship?  Vote for Joao and get a sainthood instead!  To hell with chicken!  Joao will put a miracle in every pot...!

Whoever gets the white smoke will probably be the one with the best ground game and the most effective organization.

"E nomini Patri, et Fili e PAC sancti..."

Karzai Need For To Drive Home With

Screw you Hamid!

I could, and should, stop the post right there...but...in true Pontificate fashion, I won't, or rather, I should say that I can't.

Which reminds me, they started the Conclave today to pick a new Pontiff.  I, for one, am amazed at the amount of coverage that the networks are giving this thing.  I understand that there are more than a few Catholics around the world but, Holy Cow, aren't there other things happening as well?  Like the War in Mali and North Korean lunacy and Global Warming and Paul Ryan's selfish budget.

You're pickin' a Pope.  Good for you.  Get on with it and let us know how it's workin' out fellas.  Light the fire, send the smoke, then we'll send the anchors and the crews to Rome and cover the announcement.  Until then..."Breaking News...!", etc.  Okay...?

But back to this post...  I could have stopped before I got going but, you could say that I'm addicted.

Just like the Afghan leader has been addicted to American military power, lo these eleven years, to hold onto his job and probably the millions he has, no doubt, reaped from our presence in his country.

Every once in a while you pick up the paper and read about something that President Karzai has said.  This time, during Chuck Hagel's first visit to the country since becoming Secretary of Defense, Karzai suggested that we are colluding with the Taliban to perpetuate instability in Afghanistan.

We have been fighting and dying in Afghanistan for over a decade now, first to root out Al Qaeda and their Taliban allies after 9-11.  And then the mission changed to one in which we were there to help Karzai stabilize his government and help in the training of his military so they could defend themselves and no longer use us as their protectors.

For Hamid Karzai to periodically slam us for a perceived wrong or to challenge our motives is to impugn our integrity and marginalize our contribution.

I will admit that I have no idea what the truth is about our involvement in Afghanistan any more than what the truth was about our involvement in Iraq.  Washington doesn't call me for advice.  Obama doesn't seek out my opinion when making policy.  Neither did Bush nor President Clinton.

We could have been conducting the War in Afghanistan for reasons that have nothing to do with the stated policy put forth by the Pentagon or The White House.

But the impression one gets is that we do the heavy lifting and Karzai complains that we haven't lifted enough.

It's like a friend asks to borrow your lawn mower and then whines about the fact that the blade isn't as sharp as he would like.

To that, I would say, again...screw you!  Get your own damned lawnmower and cut your own damned grass you ungrateful asshole!

And while you're at it harvest your own damned poppies and kill your own damned Taliban and defend yourself against your own damned Pakistani neighbors and protect your own damned self from whatever warlord-du-jour has you in his sights.

As they say in the 'Hood..."We out.  PEACE!"

Spring Cleaning

Spring is just around the corner and not a minute too soon.

I, for one, am tired of winter as I usually am long about the first of January.  Why I don't move to Florida is beyond me...

I was going through some things in my garage the other day trying to sort through the mess that has accumulated.

A collection of odds and ends.  Old magazines, gas cans, pieces of wood, bicycles, lawn chairs, tools.

All sorts of stuff and a lot of things I use all of the time.  But there are also a lot of things I never use at all that I just can't seem to part with.

Most of the latter items pertain to my father, things of his that I still have. My garage and attic and basement are full of the vestiges of his life.

Old files, jars of screws, garden tools (even though he was a reluctant gardener content to mow the lawn and plant a random tree here or there at my mother's behest, she who was also an even more reluctant gardener than my father...which makes it even funnier that I love gardening...) pieces of lumber.

Every so often I will use one of my father's things and it always gives me pleasure and a bit of sorrow at the same time.  I really miss him, even now, 34 years since his death.  He was a wonderful man and I loved him very much.

But when I use something that he used I think of the fact that whatever it might be, it is, and never will be, a replacement for the man himself.

I will find a scrap of wood and go to throw it out and find that I can't.  I inevitably put it back in its' place and justify my action by telling myself that I might need it some day.  I am rather handy so the notion that a scrap of wood could be used to make or fix something is not so far fetched.

But the truth is that I am incapable of throwing the thing out because it has a connection to my father.  I can't do it with my mother's things either.  I can't even toss things that belonged to my elder sister who died, tragically at 6, two years before I was born.

"Maybe I'll need this", I tell myself.  "I might want to use this thing one day or give it to my daughter."

No, I don't and no, I won't and my daughter, bless her heart, couldn't care less.  She never knew her grandfather or her aunt and only knew her grandmother for a short while before my mother took ill and died.

But there's hope.  There's a bit of light at the end of the Nostalgia Tunnel.

I am slowly, torturously, beginning to throw stuff out.  Little by ever so little I am weaning myself of the piles and piles of crap that litters my world.

Partly it's out of sheer necessity and part of it is out of a recent epiphanous experience.  I realized, however belatedly, that the stuff of my past, of my family, is only a material representation of the experience to which it's related or the person to whom it belonged.

That scrap of wood is not my father any more than the bookmark is my mother or the doll house is my sister.

Those people are in my heart and imagination.  I am of them and because of them and they are, and always will be, a part of me.

And my daughter and our collective family history.

Someday soon I hope to be relieved of almost all of the junk that is strewn from one end of my house to the other.

I'll keep the important things.  My father's wristwatch and my mother's bracelets.  I'll keep my sister's dollhouse too even though no one around here plays with dolls anymore.

I'll even keep the sled I had when I was a little boy.  Maybe my daughter will have a child who will want to use it.

Too bad I may not be around to show him how to use it.  It's the kind made of wood with the steel runners and the handle that you grab with both hands to direct the runners as you lie down and hurtle along the snow covered hill...on the way to the kitchen and a cup of hot chocolate and a cookie and a fireplace burning bright and warm to sit in front of to dry your socks and feel all cozy.

In your dreams my friend.  Only in your dreams...

Monday, March 11, 2013

Do as I Say, Not as I Do.

Wait just a goll durned minute! 

Hold yer hawses!


Now ear buds?

What the hell is going on?   At what point does the government stop interfering in our lives?

I understand the need for laws and regulations.  Laws and regulations make sense in as diverse a society as ours.  We need them to keep order and to protect ourselves.

And I also understand the link between certain laws and the common interest.  If I don't wear a helmet when I'm riding my motorcycle, provided I had one which I don't, and I hit a guard rail with my head at 60 mph and I go to the hospital and need thousands of dollars of care that you have to pay for because I might not have insurance...then you have a beef with me about not wearing a helmet.

It's money out of your pocket not to mention the EMTs and the cops and the clean up crew.

But can't we find a different solution?  What about releases or waivers or opting in or out?  What about the vanishing concept of personal responsibility?

Many in this country make a lot of noise about the U.S. being a nation with a frontier mentality of self reliance and personal choice.  Some of that noise resonates here.

Some choices affect the general public and some don't.  Secondhand smoke affects those who choose not to smoke.  Drinking a gallon of soda with every meal affects no one but the drinker...and his dentist who can put kids through college with the reconstructive fees.

And please spare me the rhetoric about too much sugary soda leading to obesity.  Too many cheeseburgers, beer, candy and potato chips do too and we're not looking to limit those products any time soon.  "You want fry with that...?"

If I choose to use heroin or listen to music at 1000db or have a relationship with a member of my own sex why should you care?

If my actions have consequences on society, as a whole, then fine, but if not, then there could, and should be other remedies. 

If we legalized drugs (other than aspirin, Tylenol, Viagra, etc. which already are and represent a gabillion dollar industry, I might add...), taxed them and levied punishments on people who broke the law in the pursuit of these drugs, we could balance the budget, remove the deficit and pay off the national debt in, say, about twenty minutes, give or take.

I think very few people of my age don't smoke pot, for example.  Let the convenience store sell it and tax it like cigarettes or alcohol.  Use the tax to fund better schools, fix the infrastructure and pay for anti-abuse programs.

Use that same methodology on almost all of the other socially questionable issues of the day.

Too much sugar in our soda pop...tax it!  Too many accidents on the highway...raise the use taxes!  Too much hearing loss from our iPods?  Make them cost $1,000 a pair and see how many people buy boom boxes...

Uh, oh!  Maybe my ear bud example is a bridge too far.  Can't bring back boom boxes now can we.  Remember the character in "Do the Right Thing" with his refrigerator sized boom box?  That would be too much!  Ear buds/headphones are definitely an improvement I think we can all agree upon

But you get my point here.  Legislate when a law creates a safeguard that affects us all in meaningful and helpful ways.  Don't when it doesn't.

Leave me alone to make my own decisions please.

My choices only affect you if you let them.

So now, let's scream down the PCH at 100 on my Motoguzzi, helmetless, burning a doobie chased with a Big Gulp (and the CHP, no doubt...) listening to The Allman Brothers at Fillmore East at 120db with my flesh colored, lavender scented ear buddies!

The Allman Brothers at Fillmore East.  The absolutely, positively, totally best album ever recorded for road trips.

Or any trips for that matter...

No question...!

Thursday, March 7, 2013


After 9-11 the government, under the auspice of the TSA, instituted a rule that said you can't carry a knife on board an aircraft.

Any knife, any aircraft.

Seemed like a good idea at the time seeing as how one of the hijackers used a box cutter as a weapon.

But now comes news that the TSA has modified the rule so passengers can carry a small pocket knife with a short blade on board.

Full disclosure:  I always carry a small Swiss Army knife in my pocket.  The one with a knife blade, a screwdriver/nail file, a pair of scissors, a toothpick and tweezers.

The idea that a small knife, of any kind, could not be used as a weapon is ludicrous.  Any blade can be used as such if the person using it means business and I would assume that anyone who would decide to use force to commandeer an airplane would, by definition, mean business.

Hell, they could use almost anything if they really wanted to, even a plastic spork, for crying out loud.

I think we need to have security on all of our means of transportation.  I don't mind standing in line, taking off my shoes and belt, emptying my pockets and being asked a lot of questions if, by doing so, I contribute to making my flight safer.

By the way, why doesn't the TSA screen at railroad stations and bus terminals?  A plane is a shiny metal tube with wings. A bus is one with rubber tires and a train is one with metal wheels. They all carry, more or less, the same amount of passengers near large urban centers. Is air travel the only vulnerable area within our transportation system...?   

The initial rule about knives made sense, not just because it was a knee jerk reaction to 9-11.  It made sense because, well, because it made sense, damn it!

One of the reasons given for the rule change was that the TSA doesn't think that small pocket knives are as much of a threat as they first thought.

If that's the case, then what about belts and shoes?  Everyday they find loaded guns but when was the last time you heard of a loaded belt or loaded shoes?  Maybe never, right?

Keep the rule about knives.  I can wait to unpack my stowed luggage to file my nails. It's the right
thing to do.

So, TSA...cut it out...sharpen up.  Get the point?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Dennis The Menace

Who in Holy Hell gives a damn whether or not Dennis Rodman likes Kim Jong Un?

Or if he thinks North Korea is a wonderful place to buy a summer home?

Dennis Rodman was, and continues to seem like, an idiot.   He may be able to dribble (in more ways than one...) but aside from that, he contributes nothing.

He was a championship basketball player, he dyed his hair, he slept with Carmen Electra (okay...I'll confess to being jealous about that one...) but what has he really done?

Has he worked on the myriad diseases plaguing the planet?  Has he invented anything that makes our lives better. Has he worked for world peace? 

Well, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt about that last one. 

We can all agree that North Korea represents a threat to the world and that the way in which the dictatorship there treats its' people is reprehensible, but it's hard to believe that Dennis Rodman went there because he thought he could contribute to the international diplomatic dialogue. 

Maybe he did but it seems like a stretch, if you ask me...which you didn't but, hey, this is my blog and I'm opining if you don't mind, which, if you do, you can just hit delete, which I hope you don't because I need all of the readers/followers that I have, and more, to be honest with you...

Trash talking is one thing but meaningful and tactful conversations between world leaders is another.

Sending Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to shoot hoops with a friendly country in the hopes of cementing our cultural and commercial relationships is understandable.  Lew Alcindor was a kind and gentle man who was always a reticent participant in the spotlight of Lakers' basketball.  Ask your grandfather who Lew Alcindor was...he'll know.

Dennis Rodman was grandstanding showoff who craved the attention so much that nothing was beyond his self-aggrandizing self-promotion.  From wedding dresses to endless tattoos to more piercings than an archery target, he treated us to one spectacle after another during his career and afterwards.

Magic didn't do that nor did Larry nor, Michael nor any of the hundreds of other stars enshrined in Springfield (...Massachusetts...the home of The Basketball Hall of Fame...not the home of the Anderson Family of "Father Knows Best"...although it was that too... and the capital of Illinois as well...and a town in New Jersey, near Morristown, Madison, Chatham and Jockey Hollow...)

Rodman, alone among the greats, sought to make himself into a carnival attraction.  And this is the man who North Korea gets as an example of Western culture and American prowess in particular?

It's fine for a leader to have a crush on a celebrity.  Senator Patrick Leahy is a Deadhead and Governor Chris Christie has a man crush on Bruce.  Good for them.

Kim may have fantasies about American basketball heroes.

But why does it have to be Dennis Rodman?  Why not Grant Hill or David Robinson or Patrick Ewing. Even Reggie Miller would be better.  At least his courtside antics with Spike Lee were born of a passion for the game and for winning, not just for creating an image designed to garner more and better endorsements.

Who's next?  Charles Manson?  Bernie Madoff?  OJ...?

Oh...they're in prison?

Pardon me...

That Sinking Feeling

What is it with network television news that it feels the need to inundate us with endless reporting on about certain stories while ignoring others completely?

This past few days we have seen the story of a sinkhole in Central Florida and the tragic death of a man who was asleep when his bedroom collapsed under him sending him 30 feet into the Earth.

We then saw a machine demolishing the house and saw interviews with the distraught family and horrified neighbors, some of whom had been evacuated from their endangered homes.

There is no question that this story is sad.  A man has died in a sudden and terrible way and his family has not only lost him but their ancestral home and possessions at the same time.

But the question is why this story, among the hundreds of other tragedies occurring throughout the nation and the world, deserves so much airtime and so much coverage.  What happened to The Sudan and Afghanistan and AIDS and the Cartel beheadings? 

We seem to lurch from horror to horror...school shooting massacres, rape trials, internet scams, cannibal cops,...each one more stunning than the next.  News gathering has become entertainment and, because of that, the content of our "news" stations has become similar to that of our multiplexes.  We get almost nothing but violence and human suffering, occasionally sprinkled with a bit of real news (Fiscal Cliff, Norovirus, Sequestration, etc...) which is often packaged in the most sensational of ways.

One reason for this, and not a new idea by any measure, is that we, as a population, are so entrenched in our own pain and suffering that we seek refuge in the misery of others.

Misery may love company but the pain of someone else tends to divert our thinking, if only for a moment, and give us a respite from the daily pressure and frustration of our own lives.

Someone losing their house to foreclosure provides us with the solace in knowing that we still have ours while, at the same time, giving us some small comfort because we see that we are not the only ones.

Someone dying in a sudden way gives us pause to realize that life is precarious, short and precious but lets us avoid our own fears of death by focusing on someone else's fragile existence.

And the unfortunate reality of television news packaging is that, a) we are distracted by all of the carnage of daily life so we don't hold those responsible for most of it accountable and, b) even more insidiously, the carnage brings more "eyeballs" and, hence, better ratings and, thus, more ad revenue for the multi-nationals that control the mass media.

Sex and violence are effective marketing tools and so we see them constantly in order to sell more cars and beer and aging cream.  Some of the biggest box office successes of recent decades have involved either war or murder or both.  Some of the biggest ratings successes on the "news" of the recent past have involved either war or murder or both.  See the parallel?

The only difference seems to be in the merchandising that accompanies the promotion.

There may be Star Wars and Transformers mugs and tee shirts but the minute we see Sandy Hook collectible glasses and Sinkhole candy bars then we'll know how much the news has merged with Hollywood and what we can look forward to.

"Get 'em while they last folks...Massacre Miniatures.  As seen on...TV!"