Friday, December 28, 2007

Another day off

I'm crossing my fingers that the murder of Bhutto does not lead to WWIII.

Just finished Michael Palin's Diaries 1969-1979, a great book. As a teen, I would spend my late Saturday nights watching Saturday Night Live from 10pm to midnight and then catch Monty Python on PBS from midnight to whenever the showings ended. I loved Python, although I never became one of those annoying kids trying to mimic the accents or re-enact the bits over and over again. Of all the Pythons, I enjoyed the smarminess of Eric Idle and the everyman frustration of Palin the most.

I think Diaries 1969-1979 capture Palin's work ethic, his love of family, and his own amazement at times that he was actually earning a living by putting pen to paper. An entry late in the book, as Life of Brian was printing cash for the group, George Harrison pulls Palin aside to say that now Palin could own a mansion like George's. Palin's inner voice says, "but I like where I am now", a home in a somewhat conventional London suburb. You have to admire someone who is that famous staying so very rooted in the 'real' world.

Now, on to the Warren Zevon biography, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead.

William James, In the Maelstrom of American Modernism, will be attended to shortly. Damn heaving reading, that book.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Peoria's Own

A feeling of sadness and loss accompany the news that Flyover favorite Dan Fogelberg passed away on Sunday.

My multi-part tribute and critique of his albums (starting 2 years ago) never got off the ground. I will say that I was not pleased with a Chicago radio show's description of Dan's career as a "punch line".

Now that I've reached 45, I've come to the conclusion that, as Warhol said, everyone gets 15 minutes. Dan Fogelberg's window was open from 1972 to 1985, and I daresay he made the most of it. While his artistic focus changed from the commercially viable after 1985, it would be wrong to say that he became a joke. Sure, the records didn't sell. But I think he was satisfied with his career and saw no reason to extend it. His money was made and he (I hope) was enjoying his life.

How many artists really have the emotional strength to continue to break new ground all the time? Springsteen, perhaps. Bono, we'll see. As much as the Stones continue to be commercially viable, don't kid yourself -- The Stones stopped breaking new ground in 1980.

Sure, Fogelberg's wistfully romantic songs were fluffy. But we liked them. How many times has "Longer" been played at weddings? A couple of million? Heck, one of my first paying gigs was playing "Longer" at a wedding with two flutists. Twenty bucks was twenty bucks back in 1981. He crossed over from Country-Rock to Rock to Pop to Jazz to Bluegrass to Rhythm & Blues. He could do it all. I guess he could have been HUGE at Branson, but he preferred Colorado and Maine.

Living in the shadows
Of the things that might have been
Torn between the blessing and the curse
You may stop the hunger but you'll never slake the thirst
For the nectar you remember
But you'll never taste again.

The Lion's Share 1981

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"Snow" Day

No school today. Although we were not hit with the massive ice storm overnight as predicted, the roads are slick and there's no sense in having anyone injured in a school bus accident.

I brought a lot of work home, so I'm with the kids.


Monday, December 03, 2007

Punks in any age

I read today that Lori Drew, the Dardenne Prairie, MO woman who drove teenager Megan Meier to suicide by posting terrible lies and rumors on a MySpace page, will not be facing any criminal charges because (simply put) there doesn't seem to be a law that was broken in the case.

I was going to go ahead and post her photo, address, phone number, etc here today as a kind of vigilante justice, but in researching the story, I have learned that it has already been done.

When Lori, her husband, or daughter beg for mercy, please remember the mercy they showed to a 13 year old girl.

Everyone ought to pay for their mistakes, and I think the Drew's have quite a large balance outstanding. They are lucky I don't live in their town. There isn't enough dog shit in the world to throw at them.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Back in my day...

I was working with my son, a new Cub Scout, on his Bobcat badge tonight. He has learned the proper salute, handshake, creed, motto, etc, just like I had to when I was in Cub Scouts over 35 years ago.

One thing we need to do now to earn the badge, that I didn't back then, is go over the rules and policies concerning child abuse. Specifically, about adult and peer sexual abuse. While I'm certainly mature enough to have this conversation, and I believe my son is almost as mature as I am, I felt bad that we had to talk about some of the things that bad people are capable of.

He understands that if he is ever threatened or abused, he needs to tell me about it. I assured him that although I may get upset, I would never blame him or be mad at him if he were taken advantage of. I told him that it is a parent's job to get upset whenever something bad happens to their child, and no matter what happens, I need to be told about it.

I explained that I might want to hurt whoever harms him, but I'm sure that Mom would calm me down, and I would let the police handle it. What he doesn't know is that I've already been told by the local Chief of Police that my chance of arrest would be small if I were to crush the knees of a sexual predator with a baseball bat.

One of the charms of living in a small town, I guess.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Heady times, these

So much to comment on, so little time.

Barry Bonds: can't wait for the trial. Remember, Jason Giambi admitted ingesting a whole host of things during the same grand jury. He didn't lie. This isn't a witch hunt for steroid users, and it's not about race. It's about lying to a grand jury.

Catholic Bishops Conference: Let me get this straight...if I vote for a candidate who doesn't have a strong anti-abortion position, I'm going to hell? You know, this isn't my fight. I've never knocked up a girlfriend and had to consider an abortion. I don't abuse my daughter, and I don't rape. I don't advocate abortion, and I'm hoping that my daughter never has to consider having one. I really think I've got a personal handle on abortion. But, guys, I've got a hundred other concerns right now that I need the next President to work on, and abortion is really low on that list.

To me, the abortion issue is a local one: I can't stop other people from having abortions, I'm 1) not personally putting anyone in a position to have one, and 2) trying to educate my kids so they are not a party to one. There may be an acceptable reason for getting an abortion, and as long as it isn't a frivolous convenience, I'm not sticking my nose in it. If everyone, man and woman, respected themselves and each other, this isn't a big issue.

OJ Simpson: Do I really care?

Drew Peterson: Come on, man, 'fess up already! Why are scumbags like him such chick-magnets?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Green Day

My good friends over at Univeral/NBC are jumping on the Green Bandwagon, which means that for awhile (until folks stop tuning in) they will provide programming on their three-hundred and fifty networks that tell us about how environmentally friendly they are, and how we are complete scum because we watch other channels.

Last night's kick off (no pun intended) was during Sunday Night Football, and the big gimmick was shutting off the studio lighting for the half-time show. Yawn.

Their half-time shown generally consists of scores, highlights, and Keith Olberman's clever essay. I'm not being snarky; I like Keith. He's down the hall politically from me, but I know entertainment when I see it, and he's smart and funny. He's not Owen Wilson, but his hair is better. I'm also a kindred spirit in that no matter how great the job I have, I want it to be better and on my terms.

Anyway, I'm sure turning off the studio lights and asking the nation to join them in conserving electricity will make the suits at NBC happy. Until folks stop tuning in because they are just tired of the message. Yes, we know we need to conserve, but as long as the power flows when I flip the switch, I'm going to suck electricity from the grid.

Anarchy begins 30 seconds after the switch doesn't work anymore.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

In Praise of Owen Wilson

I watched The Wedding Crashers last night. This pretty much explains the timing of my life. I'm 2 1/2 years behind the times. And that's optimistic.

My first memorable exposure to Owen was in Shanghai Noon with Jackie Chan. Since then he's been in tons of movies, and I really liked him as the voice of Lightning McQueen in Cars. Of course Bonnie Hunt was better, but she's the world's most perfect women (sorry, Jill). He's funny, smart and easy on my wife's eyes.

I don't read the tabloids much, it's really not any of my business what celebrities do in their spare time. I guess he's hit a rocky patch, but I'm sure he'll recover and get it together.

As much as I like Owen, I hated his hair in The Wedding Crashers. The mess, the bangs, the poochie thing on the top of his just bugged me. It seemed to have so much product in it, I thought it was a hairpiece. Thankfully, the sloop scene proved it was all his own hair.

I'm not trying to be a hater, I'd would just like to issue a challenge to the great hair and make-up folks in Hollywood: Make his hair look better next time.

Now, don't let me get started on Vince Vaughn. I still annoyed that Jennifer Aniston let him get within five feet of her.

Yes, it's the 21st Century

My family gave me an iPod Shuffle for my birthday, and I spent several hours trying to open the box.

No, really, my daughter opened the box for me...I spent several hours realizing that I don't own many CD's made after the year 2000.

I know that the Shuffle is at the low end of the Apple speed spectrum, but I love this thing. It weighs a couple of ounces, is smaller than a matchbook, and holds more music than I could listen to in a year.

I know, I know, I'm an old fart, and all the kids have been using iPods for years. I've always enjoyed portable music, and with no moving parts or heaving equipment, the Shuffle is simply perfect. I wish I could glue the earbuds on. Now I can walk the treadmill and ride the exercize bikes and lift the weights with my own little soundtrack running through my skull.

Wait, let me go get it and put it on.

You know, when Trisha Yearwood wails at the end of Garth Brooks cover of Billy Joel's Shameless (how's that for confusing references?) it's like an angel screaming at me. I love it.

And when you shuffle, you never know what's going to play next, but you know you are going to like it. Yes, you already know this.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Hard Hog Hockey

Tonight is the home opener for the Rockford IceHogs. It is also Boy Scout night, so my son and I are going with his pack. His pack has been chosen to present the colors before the game, so he will get to walk out onto the ice. He's very excited about it.

The IceHogs won the UHL Colonial Cup last year, and this year they have jumped up to the AHL and are affiliated with the Chicago Blackhawks.

In the 'old days', I was a big fan of the Fort Wayne Komets, back when the IHL was primarily a Midwestern league (I think it has returned as a Midwestern league since it was crushed by over-expansion several years ago). Some of my best memories as a child were of somehow convincing a parent to drop us off at Memorial Coliseum for a Saturday afternoon game (I think the tickets were $2.50-$4.50) and watching the great Terry Pembroke (good ol' number 5) play defense. The Flint Generals, Muskegan Mohawks (now called the Fury), Port Huron Wings, Saginaw Gears, Toledo Hornets, Dayton Gems; all great team names.

Speaking of great names, the Icehogs used to have Robin Bigsnake, who is now with the Texas Brahmas of the CHL. I think Robin spends too much time fighting to make to the NHL, but he's a old school kind of player.

The Icehogs will host the San Antonio Rampage tonight, and we're hoping for a fun-filled, if not peaceful, evening of hockey.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

If Ever I Would Leave You....

Robert Goulet was a familiar presence in my childhood. Whether on Laugh-In, or The Carol Burnett Show, or any of the many variety shows that were televised during the 60's and 70's, you could count on seeing Bobby G with or without his lovely then-wife, Carol Lawerence.

Handsome, talented, suave. He could do comedy or drama.

He was one of my mom's favorite entertainers, which makes it almost fitting that he left us yesterday, on what would have been her 69th birthday. Perhaps he didn't age as graciously as we'd hoped, the hair-coloring revealing a sense of vanity that he surely did not need, but based on his appearance in a Super Bowl commercial recently, I'd say he didn't take himself too seriously.

Look at the size of Carol Lawrence's feet, for gosh sakes.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Soccer Moms

My son play U8 Soccer in our local AYSO League. This year he has made the leap from semi-interested bystander to Pele-like soccer stud. Well, okay, not quite Pele-like. But he has made a great improvement in his interest and activity level, and I'm glad to see he enjoys it more than in the past.

The league provides referees, usually kids 12 or 14 years old. These kids drive me nuts. They don't seem to know or enforce the rules of the game, they don't track the time very well, they'd rather twirl the whistle than blow it.

We bring our portable bag chairs to the games, and sit on the sidelines to cheer the kids on. Inevitably, there are a group of (lard-assed) moms who stand in front of us yakking away instead of watching the game. This morning was the last straw. One of the moms volunteered to be a sideline judge, and instead of following the play up and down the sideline, decided that she could just stand and midfield (in front of me) and wave the little flag from there.

I volunteered to do this in the past, but I find that I get so caught up in making sure I don't screw up the responsibility that I don't watch the game.

I'm thinking about coaching my son's team next year when he moves into U10. I admittedly don't have the patience for U8 and younger, but I think I'd enjoy coaching up a bunch of older kids.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Ides of October

No news is good news, in a way.

Fortunately for my family, work has been going gangbusters. This leaves less time for blogging and generally being annoying.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Normally not a death penalty advocate...


Chester "The Molester" Arthur Stiles

If you see this 'man' walking down a sidewalk, please hit him with your car.

If you see him in a dark alley, hit him in the head with a pipe.

If you see him near a golf course, I'd suggest a 9 iron.

If you see him near a shooting gallery, you know where to aim.

Was he named after former US President Chester Arthur?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

My Gal Sal

It was probably her roles in those Burt Reynolds movies in the late '70's and early '80's that made me fall in love with Sally Field.

On Sunday, Sally won the Emmy for Lead Actress in a Drama for her role in "Brothers and Sisters". My wife TIVO's the show, and I'll occassionaly watch it with her. It's a good show, and I like Sally's role in it.

She is a marvelous actress.

The first part of her acceptance speech was very good, and I think everyone would agree with her sentiment. Then she sort of went off the rails, and after fumbling very uncomfortably, made a statement that if mothers ruled the world, there would be no wars. She used some language to emphasize her point, which was bleeped out by the network broadcasting the show.

I don't think she was 'censored'. Her point was made. FOX did not cut or excise the statement, they just bleeped out some words that may have (or have not) offended some people.

The person doing the bleeping had less than 7 sevens to make a decision. In light of FCC rulings in the aftermath of the Janet Jackson Superbowl debacle, it seems that networks tend to error on the side of caution in these things.

I think Sally Field is a marvelous actress. She is darn pretty, and I like to be entertained by her. I have never looked to her as a source of my faith, news, or opinion; but she is certainly entitled to have her own point of view.

I think that her initial statement was enough. Subtle, poignant, and without need of embellishment or further explication. Her follow-up comments were hurried and not terribly thought-out, although they expressed the same point as her earlier statement.

Friday, August 24, 2007

And now, something topical...

My A-Hat of the week (or month, it seems) is Elvira Arellano. You know, I don't have a large dog in the immigration issue. However, Ms Arellano finally received her due last weekend when she was arrested and deported back to Mexico.

Here's a brief Flyover view of her story:

Arrived illegally. Deported. Returned. Got pregnant and bore a citizen. Used false Social Security information to get job at O'Hare. Get arrested in a postt 9/11 sweep of illegals. Convicted and sentenced to probation.

Side note #1: If you are an illegal alien and get convicted of a crime, why is probation even handed out? Probation just about implies that you need to stick around to meet with your probation officer regularly to show you aren't misbehaving.

Back to the overview:

Told to face immigration hearing. Hides out in storefront church, daring arrest by Immigration Authorities. Cites citizen child as reason for staying. Stays in church for one year. Boldly announces leaving safe haven to speak in Washington. Instead goes to LA and is arrested and deported. It rained a lot last night, and here we are today.

If she had not commited a crime (other than entering illegally) and could somehow show that she would be a productive resident, I don't think I would have had a problem with her sticking around to raise her citizen child. However, her repeated run-ins with authority (prior deportation, arrest, failure to comply, challenging authority, hiding out, etc) leads me to believe that she thought she was above the law. I don't even mind so much that she refused to learn English after 10 years here.

Side note #2: Are you kidding me? She was here 10 years and spoke through an interpreter? Maybe that's urban myth, but we in Flyover like to see an effort made.

The issue of anchor babies and breaking up families is serious. I'm not about to revise the Constitution over this. Parents are responsible to and for their children, and children belong with their parent(s). Citizenship is farther down the hierarchy of needs, if you ask me.

When this citizen child reaches 18, I'll welcome him back. In the meantime, go with mama.

Dog Days

Although work has been absolute hell, I've managed to take 4 1/2 vacation days this month to attempt a battery recharge.

"The Man' at work has cracked down on personal internet use. That's okay by's not like I'm addicted or something. Well, maybe just a little bit. I didn't surf 'not safe for work' sites, but I did find myself reading all sorts of news items. I knew our company was tightening the noose when the Ohio Turnpike website was blocked. Hey, I was just trying to find out what the tolls were going to cost.

I'm writing this from my computer at city hall, where no one cares if I blog or not. And it is 'technically' my lunch hour, although I'm not much of a lunch eater.

Whenever I have a good post, it is usually the result of some sort of research that I conduct on the fly as I'm writing. My 'personal' posts are crap, which I'm sorry that I put you through.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

You might be able to go home again

I last visited Houston in 2001 for my 20th class reunion just a week before 9/11. Prior to that, I last visited in 1984.

I learned to drive in boomtown Houston, lots of traffic, aggressive drivers, shotguns and open beer cans. Today, thanks to the construction of two large toll roads, it seems to be easier to get around. 610 loop is still there, but Beltway 8 has replaced it as the main suburban loop. FM 1960 can be up to 7 lanes wide, and the Velvet Ghetto I came from is more like a real ghetto now.

Suburban flight now goes up to The Woodlands, a mammoth planned development which was still just getting off the ground in 1977, when we first moved to the area. While mocked by the hipsters that live 'in town', I could see myself living in just this type of area. Lots of shopping, lots of things to do, a riverwalk, office buildings, hotels, and even an outdoor venue for concerts.

My friend, David, and I were invited to an informal get together on Saturday. Hosted by Linda (see First Kiss blog 2 1/2 years ago) and her husband, Joe, in attendance was Lori, the one that broke (crushed, removed, stomped, etc) my heart so very long ago. We're all still friends. I think being friends with Lori was pre-destined...escalating the relationship as we did in the early '80's was not meant to be.

Meeting up with Lori, even 25 years after the fact, can be somewhat anxiety producing. Perhaps she symbolizes what can happen when I make dumb mistakes. Perhaps she is the symbol of some ideal that I thought I was entitled to in my romantic youth. I'm not sure.

This time, however, the years have cleared my vision quite a bit. Lori is Lori. Petite, blond, perky. At 44 however, she's becoming her mom: prim, proper, and almost matricarchal. I think for the first time in the 30 years I've known her, I question what my attraction was. Well, I know what my attraction was, I guess now I feel a whole lot better about myself for the way things turned out. She's still petite, blond and perky. But I realize that she isn't some type of 'standard' that I should be measuring myself against.

I'm hopelessly in love with my wife. She is a better match for me than Lori ever could be. I think I spent a lot of time thinking that it was some deficiency on my part that never met Lori's expectations. I will never meet her expectations, but it's not because there is something deficient in me. It was just never meant to be.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie, etc

I'm flying to Houston later this week to see some baseball, visit College Station, and put my toes into the Gulf of Mexico.

Over the last 8 months, my brain has turned into complete mush - to the point where I can't write down a phone number unless it is repeated several times, I can't remember facts and figures that I depend on to do my job, and frankly, it is difficult for me to recall what month and day it is.

Either it's stress, or a tumor.

I'm hoping that a few days out of the rat race will somehow invigorate my desire to wake up in the morning.

While not a doctor, I am prescribing myself plenty of Tex-Mex, BBQ, and Shiner Bock.

If I can't get out of this funk after I get back, I'll go to a real doctor.

Cubs vs Astros, Wed night
Thursday, off day
Brewers vs Astros Fri night
Brewers vs Astros Sat night

With the Astrodome all but gone, I won't get the chance to have the "Coldest Foam in the Dome" as the beer vendors used to shout.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Lady Bird

Claudia Johnson passed away this week. Godspeed, nice lady.

Since the mid 80's, I've read many biographies about her husband. I'm not sure that you can say I'm an admirer of LBJ, but I am quite fascinated by him. He was sort of like Bill Clinton without the great looks. With all I've learned about him, I have grown to admire and respect his wife. I know at some point I always promised myself that when she finally shook the mortal coil, I would make a serious attempt to attend her memorial service, just because I respect her so much.

Of course, real life dictates that I do not attend her services. But I'll be there in spirit.

I heard a radio 'essayist' mention that back in 1966, when LBJ realized the war in Viet Nam was not winable, only 5% off all VN related casualties had been suffered (that is about 3,000). It is chilling to think that 50,000 US Troops died after 1966. (I have not confirmed the reliablility of the quoted casualty stats yet.)

As a war-mongering republican, I had always bristled at the comparisons betwen Viet Nam and Iraq. But now, when I have also come to believe that there is no good success strategy in place, I have to wonder if those comparisons have some merit.

Short of a mammoth surge (and a dedication to killing insurgents), how are we going to get out of this mess? The casualty counts aren't that high yet. But what is the additional investment of lives going to be?

I believe pulling out of Iraq in the near future will result in a apolcalytic slaughter similar to what we saw in Southeast Asia following 1975. But staying in Iraq without a more focused plan will lead to a slaughter of American soldiers.

If we are going to stay, we need to escalate the (killing-related) activity. A troop surge without aggressiveness is like a kiss without a squeeze. Changing hearts and minds, while an admirable idea, is not going to work on these people who hate for the sake of hating.

A quick note to Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota: You are an idiot. It doesn't matter if you are a Christian, Jew or Muslim, or whether you are black, brown or white. You are still an idiot.

Monday, July 09, 2007

No Thanks, Madge

I don't know about you, but I'm no longer interested.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Sure am hot outside

I'm not sure why, but we are going camping this weekend. My parents in-law and my sister in-law own campers, we have a tent. Temps will be in the 90's.

I do my best not to complain about hot weather. I do my best to complain about winter. The main reason I don't complain about hot weather is I don't want to ruin my street cred 20 years from now when I want to retire and move to a hot weather state. The last think I need is for my wife to say "gee, you always hated the hot weather, why would you want to move to Texas to retire?"

Here's a photo that explains why the old adage "Knee high by the fourth of July" is a bit outdated:

photo 'courtesy' (meaning I'm stealing it) of the DeKalb Chronicle.

Thanks to the ethanol boom, every farmer is planting corn this year. Soybean prices will be up this year as a result.

My father escaped to Nebraska for his bi-annual high school class reunion. Two years ago, he missed his 50th due to his gall bladder emergency. I reluctantly gave him the money (it was his money) to go this year, telling him that his traveling days are over. His goal seems to be to spend every last dollar he has. My goal is to have enough to pay the deductible on his insurance when he wrecks the car.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Summer of the Pregnant Murder Victim

I am by no means minimizing the deaths of at least 3 women in the United States who have been murdered and in fact, were pregnant at the time.

Fox News recently did a story on pregnant women murder victims, complete with a graphic stating '20% of Pregnant Women are Murdered" (thanks to Chris over at Dangerous Logic for this info).

That fact makes me worried for all the Catholic Mothers out there with four kids. There going to be killed during the fifth pregnancy.

I'm guessing that Fox wants us to know that 20% of all female murder victims are pregnant at the time of their deaths. What percentage of women are pregnant at any given time? Probably a lot less than those geniuses over at Fox News are on to something.

I don't think we need to convene a congressional hearing to agree that killing anyone, let alone pregnant women, is a heinous thing. Killing a woman who is pregnant with your child is awful. The problem lies with the men, of course.

The Scott Petersens and Billy Cutts of the world are subhuman. How is it that they get laid to start with?

And don't get me started on the AssHats who are able to kill their own children. Maybe it's the summer of Family Killing.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Summer Solstice

The fact that it is the longest day of the year doesn't mean that I have more time in my day to write blogstuff.

The mosquitoes waited until after Genoa Days to make their appearance. Oddly, I forgot all about mosquitoes....senility is creeping up on me.

Our nephew's graduation went well. The Dean of the college gave a nice speech exalting the benefits of a liberal arts education, which made me want to jab my wife in the ribs and say "see, I wasn't wasting my time, after all". The three reasons for the graduation ceremony, according to Dean Linzer, were to 1) recognize the acheivement of the students, 2) recognize the support of the families and 3) continue in the time honored tradition of wearing heavy gowns in un-airconditioned buildings. It was very, very warm in Welsh-Ryan Arena. You'd think for $40,000+ a year they could put some AC in the building!

2007 is flying by. It seems everytime I turn around, I'm changing pages on the calendar. The kids are growing up too fast. And I fear that I'm getting too old for workplace shit. I don't know if a winning lottery ticket is the answer or not. I should sit down with my wife and determine just how little I need to earn to be happy.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Why the world hates us

I was driving to a sales call this morning and saw a big SUV being driven by a women on a cell phone, tossing a cigarette out the window, and her 12 year old son leaning out a back seat window, obviously not buckled.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Almost June

Back in December, I had a legitimate offer on my dad's house. I asked the attorney for Chase Mortgage if they would consider a short sale - taking less than the balance owed - to avoid the forclosure process. No answer. Even when I got the offer up to where Chase wouldn't lose a dime, the attorney wouldn't respond.

The foreclosure went forward, and the Sheriff's sale was scheduled for May 17. My real estate agent got involved, and found out that Chase would have taken the short sale back in December if only their attorney didn't have his head up his ass.

After jumping through several hoops, I'm very happy to report that Chase allowed us to sell the property and stave off foreclosure. Someone at Chase advocated for us, and the small loss they took (actually, if you back out the 'penalties', they made about $1500 more than was owed) was a lot less than if the property had gone to foreclosure.

One less thing off my plate.

I spent 2 1/2 hours cleaning the house after closing. I wonder what my brother was doing for the six months he was living there rent-free? Certainly not cleaning it, that's for damn sure.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Happy 62nd, Pete!

One can't acknowlege the birth of Pete Townshend without citing one of his most famous lyrics: 'Hope I die before I get old'

With that cliche out of the way, Happy Birthday, Pete!

In 1986, Artist James and I found ourselves celebrating Pete's birthday on the campus of Kent State. While having lunch at the Wendy's in the recently-built student union, we asked a coed if she had any appreciation for the Kent State massacre.

"Well, we get that day off of classes", was her reply.

Just in case you forgot about Kent State

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Moral Dilemmas

Jerry Falwell, we hardly knew ye.

I am resisting the urge to take one last cheap shot at him.

Will he be greeting with choirs at the pearly gates, or will he find himself on a parkbench in hell?

If I were the Almighty, I'd be flipping a coin right now.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Into the Wayback Machine, Sherman!

A while back, I signed up to take online surveys for the Chicago Tribune. I acculmulate points for each survey I do, and after awhile, I earn a $30 gift card from To me, it's like free money.

When I have 'free money', spending it is an agonizing process. What to buy, what to buy? My taste in music is stunted. It is hard for me to stomach anything that is 'new' and 'hip' today. I'm a big fan of singer/songwriters, and that genre is not that popular anymore. I decided that with this purchase, I would get something that I had on vinyl, but need on CD.

As a teenager coming of age in Pre-Bust Houston in the late '70's, I discovered Jimmy Buffett. This was LONG BEFORE the "Parrot Head" era that has made him a wealthy man. My first Buffett album was "Son of a Son of a Sailor", which was the follow-up to "Changes in Lattitudes...", which was a big seller. Along about the time I could drive, I also bought "You had to be there" a live double-album that became one of my biggest musical influences.

Back then, I was the first kid on my block to buy a 'portable stereo system' (which later became known as a Boom Box). It was a Sony, and it was pretty nice. Because my 'car at the time' didn't have a working radio, I used the box, wedging it between the console and rear seat on the hump of my '72 Cutlass. We could drive to Galveston and take the box with us on the beach. Looking back, I think my parents would have freaked out if they realized the kind of traffic we drove through to get from the FM1960 area of north Harris County down to Galveston Island. Right through downtown Houston at 85mph....and then at 15mph on the way back home in traffic. Learning to drive on IH-45 and 610 Loop made me a fearless driver.

Anyhow, "You had to be there" was what we listened to. I don't think we understood half of the drug references, but we sure knew that everyone was having a great time at the show, and someday we'd be able to get drunk (or high or whatever) and understand what all the excitement was about. We learned all the Buffett songs, and my friend Dan and I would later go on to great fame as the 'Bohica Brothers Band'. (Our luck with girls was so bad, we'd just say Bend Over, Here It Comes Again).

So from the time I was 16 or 17, it was my life's goal to become a guitar player in the Coral Reefer Band. Remember, this was before all the steel drums and grass skirts and shit like that. Not that there's anything wrong with's just a different world now.

Way back then, we'd drive up to College Station to see Buffett on a Thursday night, then see him at the Summit in Houston on Saturday. Later, in college, we'd see him at CS and then run over to Austin for the next show. I remember the weekend of March 6 1982 with great fondness (6th row seats in Austin) because that's when Lori decided that she liked me.

That copy of "You had to be there" had a life of its own. All my friends borrowed it to listen to and tape. On at least 2 occasions, I was given new albums due to some misfortune the lent-out copy suffered. I had it in college, but lost track of it. Either my roommate ended up with it, or it was stolen when I blew the engine in Marshfield, MO in Dec 1983 and had to leave the car there (all my clothes and stuff was stolen out of the car while it was being fixed).

So I bought "You had to be there" with my Amazon gift card. It arrived last weekend, and I listened to it in the car (as it should be) all week. It took me back to a happy time in my life. A time when all I wanted to do was play guitar, drive to the beach, and wish that some girl liked me.

I get all the marijuana references now.

Jimmy as I remember him

Monday, May 07, 2007

Life gets better

My son celebrated his first communion Saturday, and we had most of the family over afterwards for a cookout.

As I was flipping burgers, Artist James called from Texas to tell me that his brother in-law David (who lives up here in Flyvover country) told him some very important news. The kind of news that that I would leave Christ himself waiting on my front porch to hear.

Shiner Bock is now available in Illinois!

As much as I wanted to hang up the phone immediately and drive to any number of suburban Chicago liquor stores right then and there, I decided that the Corona I bought (it was Cinco de Mayo afterall) would have to do.

The next day after completing a round of golf, I actually ran into David, the brother in-law, and he confirmed where he was able to buy Shiner Bock.

At 1:10 CST today, I bought a 12 pack of Shiner Bock.

I think this is the lord's way of telling me that the worst is over, and my life will start improving.

I'm taking my 12 pack home now so it will be cold around 8:30 tonight. I'll only have one.

Moderation in everything.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Not my idea, but damn fine, anyway

I read this during Gene Weingarten's weekly chat yesterday. I wish I would have thought of it.

Our pal Cho stalked a couple of gals on the Va Tech campus. When caught, he was urged to stop and sent back to his dorm.

If he had plagerized his poems and plays, he would have been expelled.

Isn't it sad when a blind eye is turned to harrassing women, but plagerizing (yes, a serious offense in academia) receives its own form of capital punishment.

It's May, it's May, the lusty month of May...

Here in northern Illinois, we are starting our annual 3 weeks of Spring. T.S. Eliot was correct when he wrote that April is the cruelest month. Afterall, it is supposed to be Spring in April, but we usually get our last snowfall around the 10th, and if we have a day above 60 degrees, we celebrate by removing all of our clothes and running naked in the streets.

Okay, we don't run naked in the streets. But I have a list of neighbor ladies who I wish did.

Three weeks from now, it will be oppressive hot. Not for me, mind you, I spent many years in Texas, but for everyone else it will be too hot, too humid and just too much of everything.

I pride myself on not complaining about the heat. In fact, I think that accepting the heat adds to my street cred. It increases my cred when it comes to complaining about the cold, anyway.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Behold the Power of Flyover!

Naming Rosie O'Donnell "AssHat of the Week" a mere 24 hours before the announcement of her leaving "The View" is no accident.

Well, okay, it was an accident.

I couldn't locate a tasteful photo of Cho (and we are all better for that, I think), and I didn't have time to put a lot of thought into my nomination, so I just went with Rosie.

There was a time when I really liked Rosie O'Donnell. Sadly, those times are over. She reminds me of blog-goddess frog (who I admire) in that she constantly shouts for tolerance when it comes to accepting her lifestyle and politics, but woe be unto those who disagree with her. Tolerance is a 2-way street, and I tend to equate tolerance with respect.

Still, I think that ABC Daytime, as well as the flyover region, had had enough of Ms. O'Donnell's antics.

Think about it. We had embraced her as a lesbian, we accepted her as a parent, and we even accepted her liking Tom Cruise. Still, she wanted more. She wanted us to allow her the final word on all important matters, and we just said 'no'.

As the 'face of lesbian-ity' (along with Ellen DeGeneres), I thought she would help our culture understand, like, and even enjoy homosexuals. "See, Shirley, that Rosie is a good egg. Who cares if she doesn't like the guys?"

The problem started with her militancy. It's not that we don't like Militant Lesbians, we just don't like anything militant. Militant Theocracy, Militant Conservatives, Militant Liberals, Militant Environmentalists, Militant Gun-Toters and Militant Anti-Gun-Toters.

Perhaps 'regular' America is just too busy keeping on keeping on to be militant about anything, and so we are creeped out by anyone who is militant about anything.

I'll always have a place in my heart for you Rosie. It's a shame you can't be more like Ellen. We like her. She's the friendly lesbian from down the street. The one that lives with the other nice lady and doesn't check out my wife's cute ass while she's carrying in the groceries.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Heroes are everywhere, you just need to look

About six or seven years ago, our company hired a high-schooler named Jenna to do some office-services related stuff in our office. Her dad works here as a design engineer and is a really nice guy.

Jenna's family could be described as fundamentalist christian. While not proselytizers, they make it clear which side of the fence they stand on. Be that as it may, Jenna was a fairly typical 17 year old girl: nice but snotty, hipper than the rest of us. In addition to delivering mail and answering the phone, she also helped Laura in our office with the permit drawings for kitchen fire systems, and that is how I came to know her.

After 9/11, she made it clear that she would forego college and join the Army. And she did. Her parents were interviewed in a local newspaper about her choice to join the service, and while they expressed the usual parental fears, they also stated that as christians, they believed that the Lord ultimately chooses the time of everyone's passing, and if their daughter was killed in action, it was the Lord's will, and they would be content with His will.

Now, you might think I chuckle at that sentiment, but after a lot of reflection, that may be the best way to cope with the fear of losing one's child. There is only so much we can control. Whether it be on a college campus in rural Virginia, or the streets of Baghdad, you just never know when it's going to be your turn.

Jenna is stationed out of Ft Drum, 2nd Combat Team, 10th Mountain. She also jumps out of planes. She has a good chance of earning her Sergeant's strips this summer. She's also returning for her third tour in Iraq.

Jenna is home on leave, and she stopped by to visit us on her way to an elementary school, where she was going to speak at a school assembly. There is no doubt that she's a lean, mean, killing machine; but as she was leaving today, she said that she was looking forward to playing with the kids before she spoke today.

I took a picture of her with Laura. I told her to keep her head down and to take care of herself. Afterall, you never know when the Lord calls your number.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Political Correctness 33, Common Sense 0

Looking back on my college 'career' over 20 years ago, I can remember a few of those wacky guys, the loners that refused to interact, ate by themselves in the dining hall, would avert their eyes when you passed them in the hallway, etc. It would have been tempting to bust their doors down and give them swirlies, but we were too drunk and/or stoned to care that much.

We had the good sense to stay away from these guys, but I certainly made a point of knowing where they were, because you just never knew....

Cho Seung-Hui was a certified psycho. He had the proper documentation and everything. Why, after four years at Va Tech, was he in the general population? One reason was because he was 'protected', and I don't mean because he was Korean. I mean because he was identified as 'over-sensitive' and 'troubled'. Let's treat the psycho with kid gloves so he doesn't sue us for discrimination.

Let's be clear here: Psycho wack jobs should be discriminated against. They need to be removed from the general population and proteced from themselves.

After today, I am no longer going to partake in the media banquet of this story. I've seen the video, I read the plays, I've looked at the photos. More than anything, Cho Seung-Hui needed two things, he needed to get his ass kicked once in a while, and he needed to get laid. His so-called 'manifesto' railed against the elite, the rich, the normal. He was completely unable to relate to other humans on any level. His basic approach to women was creepy (text-stalking?--get a set of balls, will you?) Guys who are creepy don't get the girls.

Alienated? Sure, I understand. I've been there. Really. And while it was cool to fantasize about beating my tormentors with a piece of lumber, I never thought it would be a good idea to make these fantasies come true. Sure, I hope Joe Fijak dies a terrible death for bullying me when I was 8 years old (he was 12), and there's any number of guys from my high school who I'm thrilled are 60 pounds overweight and balding. I am human.

Cho was sick. Cho was nuts. I understand that. He should have not been on that campus.

Cho will be the next AssHat of the week. I've never had the time or the patience to try to understand the kids 'who just couldn't fit in'. Sorry you couldn't fit in, Cho. Sorry you were delusional. I'm even more sorry that even though the authorities knew you were nuts, they were afraid to do anything about it.

Let's change the subject now, shall we?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tuesday Morning Quarterbacking

The news coverage of the Virginia Tech tragedy was awful. Short on facts, long on became the worst of sports-talk radio.

I'll be avoiding the coverage today as I see that it has become 'What If?' programming.

The shootings happened in real time. This was not a pre-scripted '24'-ish drama. Second-guessing the decisions made or not made will become a cottage industry, and all the media outlets will have attorneys, so-called experts, and other pundits offering half-baked opinions full of speculation and rehash.

And if I want speculation and rehash, I'll tune into sports-talk, because that is where it is done best.

Someday when I open my diner, I'll have Speculated Eggs and re-hash on the menu.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Hello, I Mus' be Going

Don Imus is our AssHat of the Week. Not because my feelings were hurt by what he said. And not because I don't think he has the right to say what he said.

It was just a stupid thing to say. It wasn't clever. It wasn't enlightening. It wasn't even true.

I do think there has been an OVERreaction on the part of the media, and a smaller overreaction on the part of the offended parties.

The reaction implies that the opinions of Don Imus have some import to our culture. They do not.

Long ago, I tried to watch his show on MSNBC, and did not think it was funny or entertaining. I found Imus and his cast of characters to be self-important boobs, who enjoyed laughing at some inside joke...the inside joke being 'can you believe we're making money doing THIS?"

I don't think of women, basketball players or not, as whores. Yes, there is a rather small yet vocal minority that characterizes women as whores. They are morons. They have a problem. When a 65-year old white man who earns $8-10 million a year characterizes women as whores, he has a problem, too.

It's called unemployment.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

No Good Deed

I'll have some details later, but despite suffering a mechanical crisis in Lebanon, MO, we made it back home on Saturday evening.

Not only am I way behind at work, but I'm still suffering from post travel fatigue.

Not to mention I'm trying to wrap up my dad's housing situation....not getting much sleep because of that.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Son In-Law of the Year

Later today, I'm flying from Chioago to Tucson (at my expense) with my sister in-law to help drive my wife's parent's RV back to Illinois.

When they drove down at the end of December, it was noticed that my father in-law had some issues handling the 33 foot monster. Not wanting to lose my in-laws just yet, I offered to help them drive it home. They took along their car, and my SIL will help drive that. I've never been to New Mexico, and blowing through Albuquerque at 65 miles an hour appeals to me very much. Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois.

I am perfectly content to drive 10 hours a day for three days to make it back by Saturday. In the past, my PILs have preferred to take slower state routes in order to avoid OK City, Tulsa, and St Louis. That route takes includes Kansas and takes four days. I enjoy my PILs, but I would fear for their lives during the last day.

Dwight D Eisenhower commissioned our wonderful Interstate Highway System for a reason: To drive from Tucson AZ to Genoa IL in three days. One thousand, eight hundred and forty-one miles. Sure, the Kansas route is 20 miles shorter, but that 20 miles savings cost 6 hours of drive time and an extra night.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Profiles in Courage?

I don't have a snarky opinion about John Edwards continuing to run for president while his lovely wife, Elizabeth, battles what could be inoperable, fatal cancer.

I've always liked Elizabeth more than John, although they both seem to have a lot of character...I'm giving them a lot of credit because they have lost a child.

If there is a red flag, it is that the Edwards' have decided (now and in the past) to cope with unbelievable stress and grief in unbelievable ways.

They did lose a child, a heartache I would never hope to endure. Elizabeth chose to have another child when she was pretty much past the age when it is prudent to do so, placing herself and the new child at risk. (Before I get hate mail, let me say that it was her choice to do so, and bless her heart that she and the child overcame all the risk factors). Still, during the 2004 campaign, I got the impression that the reason they had the child was to replace the one they lost. Was this selfish? Who's to say.

Now, the poor woman is suffering from a recurrance of cancer, a seemingly metastized form of the breast cancer she beat years ago. My heart goes out to them both, and their children. Even if it is treated and controlled, the fear and anxiety one goes through is heartwrenching. I don't know if John's decision (with Elizabeth's support) is the best one for the family. Again, is it selfish? Who's to say.

Not having the same character, if my wife was diagnosed similarly, I would probably withdraw and turn away from the world. Heck, I wanted to do that during the three week cancer scare we went through 18 months ago. And that story had a happy ending.

I usually don't pray for smarmy personal-injury attorneys, but I will for him. And especially for his wife and their children.

If you came here for some snark, I won't disappoint you. I did not watch "60 Minutes" last night, but the overnight buzz is that Katie Couric "grilled" the Edwards about John's decision to stay in the campaign.

Milwaukee's Jessica McBride (very smart and very hot) sums it up best for me:

Katie Couric grills John and Elizabeth Edwards...what a witch. Look, I am NOT a fan of John Edwards-candidate. I think he's a class warfare demogogue and phony. But I don't question his devotion to his family. I think it's completely a personal decision for John and Elizabeth to decide whether or not to go forward with the campaign. I don't criticize them for that. Why should they allow cancer to control their lives? I can understand why they would not want to give up THEIR dreams (and, yes, the spouse of a politician shares his or her dreams often) because of cancer. What is Elizabeth supposed to do? Curl up on a bed and cry every day with John sitting there holding her hand?

I suppose Katie thinks her questions are "objective."

Didn't Katie Couric return to the Today show pretty darn fast after her husband died of cancer even though she had two little kids at home who needed her?

I really think these questions are mean. Katie Couric is a jerk

Looks like Katie needed some "tough guy cred" and got it.

Friday, March 23, 2007

What a Pal!

Our good friends and neighbors, Tom & Wendy, moved last weekend. Tom had made several trips to eastern Ohio with his 22' trailer, and he had one more load plus a 17' U-Haul left to move. I offered to drive the U-Haul and we left really early last Friday morning for New Waterford OH, which is just outside, Columbiana, which is about 20 miles south of Youngstown. Both Tom and Wendy grew up in the Youngstown area, and despite that, are really nice people who have a firm grip on reality and a plan for the future.

After spending all day Friday on the road, and all day Saturday unloading furniture and possessions at various storage units and homes in the area, Tom drove me up to Mineral Ridge, the town where he grew up. He gave me the 25 cent tour and then we pulled into the Ice House, a bar in Austintown (right next to Mineral Ridge). Tom told me that they had really good chicken wings, and he was buying the Crown Royal.

I'm 44 years old and a child of the seventies. When I stepped into the bar, it was like walking right into Ft Wayne in 1977. I had the shortest haircut in the bar. Until 10:30, there were no attractive women. It was St Patrick's Day, and the bar was hopping...although I was told that it was always this crowded. Lots of regulars, which I like. A 70-80's cover band opened at 10pm, (with Prince's "Let's Go Crazy") and played lots of Journey, 867-5309 Jenny, some Cars, etc, and to be honest, they were quite good. The guitarists had the long hair going, and the bass player was 300 pounds with short hair and a Mike Reno bandana. Tom knew the drummer from back in high school.

Sure, it was lame compared to the Chicago or Austin live music scenes, but I was in heaven. Well, except for the lack of cute girls, anyway. I was amazed at all the long hair on the men. What kind of job lets you have this kind of hair? Granted, I'm VERY conservative hair-wise. I'm fortunate to have more than most 44 year olds, although I have some forehead creep. But all in all, it's a good head of hair.

We drank quite a bit, but I was too tired to feel intoxicated. At one point, Tom asked me what time it was, and was really sad to hear "8:40pm". We were really dragging from moving furniture. Pianos are stinkin' heavy. Our goal was to see the band's opening set, which we did. I had a dozen really hot and really good chicken wings, and had a nice time.

On the way home, Tom asked me how I liked the bar. I told him it was a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there. He agreed. He moved with his family to Florida when he was 17, and has seen a lot of the world in the last 23 years. Much different from the usuals at the Ice House.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Another conspiracy shot to hell

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, or KSM as he likes to be called, has confessed to carryijng out the 9/11 atttacks along with many other terrorist acts, including the bombing of a Bali dance club and the beheading of journalist Daniel Pearl.

I guess the air gets let out of the conspiracy geeks who claim the US was behind the 9/11 plane attacks.

The confession was extracted at Gitmo, along with the revelation that KSM also was behind the 'Bartman' incident at Wrigley Field in 2003 and is also the father of Anna Nicole Smith's daughter.

It's amazing what you can find out after a few months at Guantanamo Bay.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Hey, was it me, or does Patti Smith look like Howard (Sirius) Stern's older sister?

I don't mean it as a cheap shot. Patti was never the iconic rock frontgal. That being said, she gets it done. Singing the Stones "Gimme Shelter" was so damn smart. The stinkin' industry will never appreciate what she's about.

I admire how her talent transcended her looks. Like Townshend before her, she overcame a lack of 'curb appeal' to make a huge mark on rock.

The Van Halen thing was sadly hilarious. Hagar and Michael Anthony.
"Hot for Teacher" is still my favorite VH song and video. In 1978, I met a older kid form Temple Texas who saw them and talked about how Eddie would turn his back to the audience when he played so nobody could rip off his technique.

I played REM when I fancied myself a college DJ in 1984. Take a break, Driver 8.

Sorry, I'm not a Hip Hop guy, but I'm sure Grand Master Flash deserved to get in. The funny thing is that here in Flyover, when local news reported that GMF was the first Hip Hop act to be inducted, they 'apologized' by explaining that an artist's first album had to be released at least 25 years ago in order to qualify for induction.

The penultimate post on Couey

The jury in the Lunsford case in a 10-2 vote, has 'endorsed' the death penalty for John Couey.

During the penalty phase, the defense had witnesses testify to the condition of Couey's brain, his apparent (lack of) intelligence, and his childhood. A 2002 Supreme Court ruling makes it unconstitutional to put a mentally impaired person to death.

I don't know if Couey was congenitally stupid, or if it was the crack that made him that way. This case will be appealed, and will be kicked around for years.

The judge will officially sentence Couey in several weeks.

I'd like to think that I'm as compassionate as the next guy, but I have difficulty in thinking that mental impairment is a suitable defense in this case. It seemed that there were many outside factors that made Couey impaired that night, not natural ones. What if we start seeing brain scans of drunk drivers or chronic drug abusers at every homicide trial. If any of my frequent readers (hahaha) would like to weigh in, please comment. I'm not looking for "He's an idiot and he should rot in hell" comments.

I always appreciate well-crafted humor, however.

Monday, March 12, 2007

New Feature - AssHat of the Week!

One way to keep the ol' blog current is to have a weely feature.

To that end, I'm pleased to announce "AssHat of Week", where (hopefully) a different jerk will be recognized for their terrible behavior.

Stop by each week to see who the lucky winner is. Tell your friends. Feel free to comment and suggest nominees. We're all friends here, right?

Disclaimer: Not all AssHatish behavior is equal. For instance, just because I'm calling NHL cheap-shoter Chris Simon this week means that I equate his actions to two-time winner John Couey, who raped and murdered a nine-year old child.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

With a capital G

Couey found guilty.

Saves me the trip down there.

All Couey, All The Time

Both the prosecution and defense rested yesterday at the Couey trial. The defense called only one witness, a forensic psychologist, who said that based on observation and an intelligence assessment, Couey is 'mildly retarded' with an IQ of 64.

As I predicted, the defense is simply "he's too stupid" to be responsible for this crime. Well, I think the defense realizes that with all the evidence and admissions, Couey would be found guilty. What they are trying to accomplish is keeping Couey off the lethal injection gurney.

If and when Couey is found guilty, there will be a penalty phase. The jury could take Couey's 'idiotness' into account and decide that prison without parole is the compassionate sentence. Even if they determine that death is more appropriate, the judge can also 'reduce' it to life without parole.

Nothing would satisfy my republican blood lust more than seeing this guy get the gurney.

I know, I know, I was glad that Andrea Yates was not given the death penalty (and later re-tried and found not guilty by reason of insanity). Perhaps I have gender punishment issues. Or maybe I believe that Yates was delusional, and Couey is just plain evil.

Friday, March 02, 2007


The jury for the trial of John Couey has been selected and the testimony has begun. I'm following the procedings at and .

The courtroom blooger (and boy, would I like to have that gig) notes that among the evidence in the courtroom today is a mattress that has not only Jessica's blood on it, but also Couey's semen. I have not doubt that the defense will say that the semen is there because Couey jerked off around the clock.

I've mentioned my admiration and sympathy for Jessica's father, Mark Lunsford. How that man can sit in the same room with that mattress and the man who killed his daughter* is beyond me.

*I don't believe the defense is going to deny that Couey killed her. He admitted it, even though the confession was tossed.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

It's a cold, cold ground

In northern Illinois, we are experiencing that special time of year when we get a large amount of rain on top of the existing snowpack and frozen soil, resulting in flood warnings and treacherous road conditions.

In the last two hours, we’ve experienced torrential downpours, flurries, and more downpours.

It is my goal this evening to put on non-working clothes, sit on my duff and stay warm. Because we’re getting the house ready for back-to-back birthday parties for the kids, I’ll only get to accomplish one of my goals.

I got a call last night from one of my father’s largest creditors. They were looking to settle the account for a mere 78 cents on the dollar. After explaining that there was no money available to settle the account, they dropped down to 68 cents on the dollar.

I explained (again) that there was no money available to pay the bill. I then had to suffer through attacks on my father’s character (probably well-deserved), then attacks on my family and then on me. If I really cared for my father, they said. I’d write them a check for the $16,000 right now.

I do care for my father, although I am very angry and frustrated that he put himself into this position. Whether he pays them or not, nothing is going to happen to him. He can’t go to jail, and he can’t lose any more than he’s lost so far. His recent lack of character is NOT a reflection on me.

The collector tried all sorts of other guilt trips on me, but I was immune. All I want is that they leave him be. If he had the money, he’d pay it back, I’d like to think.

He got this credit card in 2000. At that time, he was retired and had only social security income. My mother was not working (she spent most of 2000 in a coma), and yet Citibank managed to give him a $25,000 credit line. Shit, in 2000 I earned $80,000 more than my father did, and I don’t have a $25,000 credit card. I wouldn’t want one.

After the phone call, I was angry, anxious, and nauseous. Not angry with the debt collectors, they were just doing their job. I was angry with my father, who had been my hero and role model for the first 40 years of my life. What has been going through his mind? I’m anxious because I wonder how many more of these calls I’m going to have to deal with before these accounts get written off. And nauseous because deep down, the debt collectors are right….my dad is a bad man.

My father has stolen from them. He has stolen from Citibank, and Discover, and American Express. He’s stolen from Verizon and Macy’s, and truthfully, he's stolen from my sisters and me. And because my sisters and I care about him, he’s safe and warm in a nice apartment, and we’re looking the other way while all the creditors take a huge screwing.

Please, Lord, don’t let this apple fall close to that tree.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Template Update

In the next week or so, I'm going to try to use one of the new Blogger Templates. The updating may cause me to lose my 'Links' section.

If I link to you now, I will link to you again.

Thanks for your patience.

Couey Update

The trial of John Couey, the convicted sex-offender and all-around creep who is accused of killing 9 year old Jessica Lunsford, is now underway. Jury selection has been slow and painful. The judge would like a pool of 75 potential jurors, but only 62 have been selected after 4 days of voir dire.

Once the initial 75 are selected, the serious questioning will begin. No doubt the death penalty (and how potential jurors feel about it) will be the most important topic.

I've read some of the newspaper articles about the case leading up to trial, and it appears that the defense is going to go for the 'this idiot isn't fit for trial' bullshit defense. Although his original confession was thrown out by the judge, Couey has apparently told anyone willing to listen that he kidnapped, raped, and burined Jessica alive.

Because my 'formative' years were spent in Texas, I used to be a 'get a rope' kind of guy. Now that I'm an old man, I sort of think that the death penalty should be reserved for especially heinous crimes.

I think we've learned that capital punishment isn't the deterrent that we hoped it would be. It certainly deters the killer, I'll admit. If capital punishment is abandoned, I'd like to see more 'life without parole' sentences instead of 25 years to life, which just seems to return killers to the streets after 15 years.

As I mentioned, there are certain crimes so disgusting that they shout out for the death penalty. If there ever was a murderer that deserves to die, it is John Couey.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Alcohol gets the blame, again.

From the 'Human Nature' column in Slate Magazine:

San Francisco's mayor, exposed as an adulterer, said he'll seek treatment for alcoholism. The woman in question worked in his administration; so did her husband. This is the same mayor who 1) unilaterally authorized gay marriages and 2) recently "dated a woman who wasn't old enough to drink legally." His statement: "I will be a better person without alcohol in my life. I take full responsibility for my personal mistakes, and my problems with alcohol are not an excuse for my personal lapses in judgment." Supporters' view: Stipulating that booze is no excuse proves he's sincere. Cynical view: Stipulating that booze is no excuse is the first rule of booze-blaming P.R.

You know, I've fought my own alcohol-related battles over the last several years. While I've behaved poorly under the influence, my misbehavior was confined to the loutish behavior of the drunk and stupid. At no time have I conducted an affair with my best friend's wife or dated underage girls.

If I were to conduct an affair with my best friend's wife or date underage girls, it would be because I'm a characterless shitheel, plain and simple.

Let's put the blame where it belongs, and leave my good friend alcohol out of this.

Monday, February 12, 2007

And to show that we're balanced here...

My last post may have seemed like a kiss on the cheek of Obama. Just to show that I'm not over the moon, I'll take a shot at him...

Yesterday, he demanded that the troops leave Iraq by March 31, 2008.

It's easy to give an ultimatum when you have no power whatsoever to effect the demand. I mean, what's he going to do if the troops are still there (which they will be)?

Sort of like me saying, "I demand that Mary-Louise Parker (make passionate love to) me by June 30, 2007". Will I quit watching her in "West Wing" re-runs? I don't think so. I really, really like Mary-Louis Parker.

I'd say the troops getting out in 13 months is a better bet.

By the way, as you'd imagine, all the local Chicago TV news shows are completely erect and near orgasmic over the Obama for President thing. Again, I'm sure he's a fine man, but the coverage is getting a little overblown. Last night the Channel 7 (ABC affiliate) News had a "Day 2" graphic displayed while they were reporting from a campaign rally.

You say Obama, I say Obama

Barack Obama announced his presidential candidacy over the weekend at the old capitol building in Springfield. Keeping to my true nature, it was too cold for me to go.

I've mentioned before that I'm a republican, and even though Obama is from Illinois, he will probably not get my 'favorite son' vote. As much as his non-partisan, live the American Dream message appeals to me, I believe that we are far apart on some other issues.

Be that as it may, I couldn't help but to chuckle at all the capital "R" republicans who did not appreciate the Obama campaign's references to Abraham Lincoln.

"Obama is a Democrat, and Lincoln was a Republican" they are quick to point out (especially Rudy Giuliani).

Here's a quick note to all the Republicans out there whining:

Your 'Republican' Party and Lincoln's Republican Party do not bear any resemblance whatsoever. In fact, if I may be so bold (and this is MY blog, so I will), your 'Republican' Party doesn't look like Ronald Reagan's Republican Party, either.

Ronnie may have been the benchmark conservative, but you guys sold your souls and asses to the extreme-thinkers. At least Reagan was his own man, flawed or not.

I don't know how far Obama will go with his candidacy, but I do know this: There's nobody in the 'Republican' Party who commands attention and is being listened to like Barack Obama.

Bring me THAT guy, the Republican who can stand on his own, not cave to the extreme ends of the party, and actually cares about the central, and I'll get behind him and push.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith...

We hardly knew ye.

I must be getting old, because instead of the obvious cheap shots that could be taken (and I am the King of Cheap Shots); I am somehow saddened by her sudden passing.

From circus sideshow to circus freak to just a three ring circus, her life was too complicated and too filled with sadness.

Yes, she was pretty and had a huge rack. Is that all we'll remember her for? Or will it be the dysfunction and the tragedy?

She waves good-bye.

I'll miss you, for whatever reason.

Go in Peace.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Modern Kitchen

Okay, it's not a modern kitchen, but now we have 6 drawers instead of 2.

Here's the before:

And now:

Most of the changes are on the left side of the photo. The upper, floating, cabinet just looked silly, so we removed that and added a 30" cabinet and a 12" angled cabinet. The lower left cab was replaced with a 4-drawer cabinet and an additional 12" base cabinet and 12" angled cabinet were added. And when you add base cabinets, you have to change the countertop, too.

A closer look at the changes:

We have moved a bunch of items out of the pantry like the kids cups and bowls, towels, kitchen utensils, etc, and put them in the new cabs, which now makes the pantry much more useful for pantry-type things.

New sink, too.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Super Bowl hangover

It would have been a nice surprise had the Bears won the Super Bowl, but I knew in my heart that the Colts game plan would pretty much do what it did. The constant referencing of Payton Manning's 'legacy' and crap was annoying, but, hey, I'm over it.

For the past seven or eight years, we've been going to my in-laws (they have the largest TV) to watch the game. It's sort of a family party and the men enjoy the game and the women enjoy the commercials and general yak-fest. I've prepared ribs for the last two years (yes, my grill lit at 6 below zero yesterday, although that's just no way to live) and I enjoy the company of my in-laws very much.

Because the Bears were in the game this year, I wasn't sure how I would enjoy the game. If I merely have a rooting interest, the game is fun to watch. But when it's the Bears (especially this error-prone team) I wasn't sure if I could relax and enjoy it. I printed out copies of the Bears fight song for all to sing after each score, and the first quarter of the game was as much fun as I've ever had watching a football game. Everyone was cheering and singing and very excited about the great start the Bears had.

Nephew in-law Alan brought his girlfriend to the party, and she was completely exhausted after the first two Bear scores. She said she'd never seen any group get into a game as much as we do. We love football. Even with the grandparents in Arizona and nephew Brian in Evanston, we managed to get everyone called and included in the fun.

Even though the Bears were defeated, everyone agreed that Indy played very well and their coach (and Hall of Fame to be) quarterback were good guys and their victory was not begrudged.

And because I drew 4-6 in the football pool at work, I won two quarter pots and will be taking home $400 today. Yes, $400!!!

Friday, February 02, 2007

After serious thought and consideration...

(CBS/AP) DEER PARK, N.Y. That's going to leave a mark.

Five Deer Park teens have been arrested since October for "fence plowing," the latest rage among certain Long Island youths, according to Suffolk County police. The concept is simple: Pick out a fence, run toward it at high speed, and launch yourself like a missile to plow through the wood.

Another 10 fence plowing incidents are still under investigation in the Deer Park area, police said. The arrests were made after the suspects were caught on a surveillance camera installed by a home owner whose fence was plowed five times, police said.

The identities of the suspects were not made public. Along with bruises, the arrests could leave a mark on the suspects' permanent records: Police said some face felony criminal mischief charges.

Lt. Robert Edwards, commander of the Suffolk First Precinct in West Babylon, said the teens got the idea after seeing videos of other fence-plowing stunts on the Internet. He did not know if the teens in Deer Park posted any videos of the vandalism.

"They heard about it through other people who heard about and saw it on the Internet," Edwards told Newsday. "That's where they got the idea."

Here's all I need to say about this:

Dumb fuckers.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Kitchen Update

The most difficult part of the kitchen project is completed, the cabinets are in and the countertop is on. There is some touch-up painting that needs to happen on Saturday (because the new backsplash is an inch lower) and I have to patch a hole lfet from the old phone jack. I also need to install the toe kick.

The high temperature on Saturday will be 6, so I'm happy to be working inside the house.

Thanks to neighbor Steve, the installation went as smoothly as it could. I was very sore on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday from all the effort. Lots of lifting and bending and crawling into tight spaces. At one point I crammed myself into a corner cabinet - a lazy susan-type contraption - and my shoulders began to ache and I was about to have a claustrophobic-induced panic attack. I was in sorry shape.

Anyway, photos will follow shortly.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Another cold weekend

The only good thing that comes with the frigid weekend weather is my desire to stay in the house and work on inside projects. This weekend is especially conducive to project work because there is no football. And particularly this year because the Beloved Bears are in the Super Bowl, and it will be good to get my mind off the upcoming game by doing things around the house.

Two years ago, I installed new countertops and a sink at the old house. This year, I'm installing kitchen cabinets and new countertops at the new house.

The kitchen at the new house is 'drawer-deficient'. There are only two drawers, a 'regular' 16" wide drawer and a woefully undersized 9" drawer. We knew as soon as we moved in that we would need more cabinets, especially a cabinet with drawers. There are neighbors down the street who added cabinets up and down which greatly improved the funcitonality of the kitchen. They also put in granite counters, but I'm not willing to throw $5000+ on granite. That's just me.

We found some cabinets that just about match the existing ones and ordered a new laminate countertop. We are going with a 'high definition' product, which has a texture. With a rounded over edge, it looks nicer than the standard edge of the existing top. The countertop came in last week, and I picked up the cabinets last night. They are a better cabinet than what we have, and I sure it will be a matter of time before we decide to start saving toward replacing all the cabinets.

This will be the third countertop I've done. It's really pretty easy as home improvement projects go. All you need are extra hands to tote the darn things around. The largest section is almost 12' in length, and I'll be recruiting my new neighbor, Steve (as opposed to good ol' neighbor Tom, who is trying to pack up his house to move away) to give me a hand. He's coming over tonight to help with the upper cabinets, and we'll tackle the lower cabs and countertop tomorrow. Which reminds me that I need to SHOVEL FIVE INCHES OF SNOW off the deck to set up a work area so we don't have to schlep up and down the steps from the garage every time we have to work on the countertop.

Steve lives around the corner, and he and his wife have 2 kids (like us) and girl and boy (like us) a little bit younger than our kids, but they get along just fine. Steve and Lori go to our church, and Steve manages our church softball team, so we know each other and get along pretty well. He appreciates cynicism, evidently. We worked together on a church workday building some shelves in a storage closet, and we speak the same language and work at the same pace when it comes to tools and stuff.

I'll help Steve with his shed this summer. I'll have more fun doing that.

Anyway, I took a 'before' photo of the kitchen, and I hope to have an 'after' photo to post next week.

And no, I'm not about to make a prediction on the Super Bowl. I'm not sure how I'll be able to watch it. The NFC Championship game seemed to be the closest 25 point blowout I've ever seen. Games like this make me anxious.

Monday, January 22, 2007

ESPN owes me

All the so-called Football analysts picked the Saints to beat the Bears in yesterday's NFXC Championship game.

As a Bear fan, I had my doubts as well, but I KNEW that the weather would be a bigger factor than the analysts, and that the Bear defense would be ready to take on the two-headed monster of McAllister and Bush.

If the Bear offense could have scored TD's instead of field goals early in the game, it would have been a bigger blowout than it was.

Mike Ditka, who has pocketed millions of dollars from the Bear Faithful over the years, tried to weasel his out of making a prediction earlier in the week. I don't mind that he picked the Saints, it's just the way he went about it.

He's recent desire to have some sort of credibility is hilarious. He has been the identity of the Bears for over 40 years, but can't pick them for the heck of it?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Return to sender

I haven't decided whether or not it is racist or degrading for Native American symbols to be used as sports mascots (although I may have learned something by typing that sentence). I am more intrigued by the situational ethics employed by the various groups who feel that they have a dog in this fight.

Today's papers brings us news that the Oglala Sioux tribe has asked the University of Illinois to return the Chief Illiniwek costume that was purchased from the tribe 25 years ago. The Chicago Tribune reports that "The university paid $3,500 for the moccasins, blanket, peace pipe pouch, breastplate and war bonnet with 90 eagle feathers, all owned by Sioux Chief Frank Fools Crow, according to the university's archives."

Can someone explain what has happened in the last 25 years to bring about this change of heart by the Oglala Sioux.

I'm serious. As Native American mascots go, Chief Illiniwek is portrayed with as much dignity as a mascot can be portrayed. I'm not saying it's right. I just want to know Why? And Why Now?

The treatment of the Native Americans in pursuit of Manifest Destiny by the US of good ol' A is a sad story. Ethnic cleansing, biological warfare, mass murder, etc. Perhaps the 'mascotting' of Native Americans is the final straw.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Youth is wasted on the Young, part 27

I've come to enjoy YouTube very much. You can find anything there.

I found a couple of Jackson Browne videos, including a live performance of "Running on Empty" one of my favorite songs. Based on the clothing, band line-up and fashion, the video was from the late 70's. Rosemary Butler (a great singer) and David Lindley (a greater musician) are seen here.

YouTube allows you to comment on each video, and just like reading letters to the editor, you can tell alot about the subscribers by reading them.

The first comment for this video was "Good song.. reminds me of Bruce Hornsby's music", posted by KrisShred. As much as I wanted to respond directly to KrisShred's comment, I decided not to. Everyone is entitled to have an opinion.

I'd like to point out to KrisShred, however, that Bruce Hornsby (who is a very accomplished singer songwriter in his own right) was a mere senior at the University of Miami (according to Wikipedia) when "Running on Empty" was recorded. Perhaps Bruce has been influenced by Jackson Browne's music more than you realize.

This is not a knock on Bruce Hornsby. There is a long list of singer songwriters who have been influenced by Browne's introspective style.

When Jackson Browne's songs became more politically aware, he seemed to lose a lot of his 'popular' following. It's a shame, really, because his politcally-themed songs are very good. It's just a cup of tea that many people do not prefer.

From what I can tell, KrisShred is a singer songwriter, also. Good for you. I hope you become more successful and recognized by the masses. Just be more aware of which chicken came first...or articulate it a little better.

And be sure to look for my upcoming release in 2007. Perhaps I'll figure out how to upload one of my videos to YouTube and be a big success. But probably not.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Miracles do happen

I was riveted to CNN on Saturday as the Missouri kidnapping case unfolded. When police rescued Ben Ownby from a suburban St Louis apartment, they discovered Shawn Hornbeck, who disappeared 4 years ago. My heart was filled with joy for Shawn's parents, who in the aftermath of Shawn's disappearance, became advocates for missing children and their parents.

As the talking heads were talking to the various experts that get called on to fill air time, the anchor kept revisiting the question of why Shawn didn't try to escape after all this time. It is a recurring theme in the media coverage I've been seeing over the last 2 days, and it bothers me very much.

First of all, we don't know if Shawn ever attempted to escape or not. Secondly, and more importantly, we don't know what threats or lies Michael Devlin told Shawn after the kidnapping took place that would prevent Shawn from leaving. As if Shawn preferred to stay with his kidnapper. Thankfully, the experts (child psychologists) would be quick to defend Shawn and try to steer the discussion back to the emotional needs of Shawn no that he was rescued.

My daughter will be 11 (Shawn's age when kidnapped) this year. If she were somehow taken from us, I know that she would be susceptible to just about any threat made by a kidnapper. Threats about harming other family members, and even lies about the family not caring anymore would have a devastating effect on her.

Kids going missing is not new. When Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped, I made it a point to tell my daughter that no matter what any stranger told her, I would make it my life's mission to find her if she was ever taken from me. I told her that I would quit my job and get everyone I knew involved to find her. And that even if it took a long time, she should have every bit of faith that I wouldn't stop looking for her, and no matter what happened to her, that I wouldn't stop loving her.

It's a terrible shame that we would need to prepare our children in this manner, but you can't account for the creeps that inhabit our world. I won't speculate about what Michael Devlin did to these boys, and I won't need to guess that there is a special place in hell for him for whatever he did.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

What's another 21,500?

You know, if the President had said, "I'm sending 21,500 additional troops to Baghdad for the express purpose of killing Mugtada al-Sadr." I would be more excited about the escalation.

Nothing personal against al-Sadr. I'm sure he's a nice father and loves dogs. It's just he is the guy who (after being targeted for death by US generals in 2003-2004) promised to disband his militia, which he did, for a brief time. Now he's back and stronger than ever, while US troops are eating IED shrapnel for breakfast.

I'm a devotee of the Michael Corleone School of Diplomacy. Target all the insurgent leaders and kill them. Then move the family from NYC to Vegas and go legit. In other words, identify the loose ends, tie them up, and get the hell out. It might take a couple of years, but at least IT'S DOING SOMETHING!

Yes, it would be nice to 'win'. But the definition of 'winning' is changing too often. Choose one goal, attain it, and move on. Really.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Music to my ears

Santa Claus brought my 6-year old son a student-sized guitar for Christmas. By New Year's Eve, he composed, produced, and directed his own New Year's Revue... five 'original' songs and two poems.

I attempted to show him one chord (a G played with on 4 strings), but he preferred the open Emdim7Maj5 you get by strumming the open strings. His rehearsals were driving me crazy (no, absolutely effing insane), so I grabbed the guitar and tuned it to an open D tuning.

Harmony ensued.

My goal is to give him some space with his guitar. His hands are not big or strong enough to play yet, and I'm letting him get the feel for how it works before I turn him into some sort of prodigee. Afterall, our house could use ONE good guitarist.