Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Perhaps a retraction, or a clarification

In my last post, I alluded that Senator-select Roland Burris may not be an honest politician anymore. I probably meant that yesterday, but after hearing him run the gauntlet of news shows today, I have a more informed opinion.

Roland Burris is probably the best candidate to be selected (but not elected) as the next junior senator from Illinois.

The problem I have with him is that his goody-two-shoes explanation for wanting to be senator reminded all of us why he couldn't get elected as governor or senator in the past.

I'm all for unbridled optimism, however, at this juncture, a little bit of realism from whoever the next senator is would be appreciated. We're tired of being spoken to as if we all are idiots.

Sure, I know Blowdryavich was elected twice.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

All Hail Our New Senator-select

Governor Blowdryavich, still living in his own special world of denial, named elder statesman Illinois politician Roland Burris as his 'senator-select'.

Roland Burris quickly leapt to Blowdryavich's defense, claiming the charges pending against the governor were 'false, untrue, and very unfriendly'.

No word yet if in fact Burris read the arrest warrant that pretty much tells you what you need to know about Blowdryavich.

Burris may have been a honest politician up to today, but the real reason he was selected was because he is one of the few politicians who are shorter in stature than the governor.

photo stolen from the Chicago Tribune website.
(I think I can take credit for 'Blowdryavich', it's less mean-spirited than "Blowdryabitch')

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Post Christmas outlook

We had a nice, white Christmas here in northern Illinois, and now comes a warm front which has melted the 8 inches of snow in just 24 hours. Flash floods and fog for the next week or so. Hopefully they can keep the ice cold at Wrigley Field, where the Blackhawks will take on the much hated Redwings on New Years Day.

I drove up to see my Dad and drop off his Christmas present and go over his new budget. He finally got his Section 8 approval, which should solve the month to month finances, and help set up a nest-egg for the inevitable doctor bills and car repairs. Despite my day to day management of his finances, I've only seen him three times in 2008, last January, in October for his mother's funeral, and today.

Yes, I know I should visit more often. And yes, he should visit us more, too.

I went over the budget with him, encouraging him to try to follow it while trying to live comfortably as well. If we can build up the reserve fund in the next year, then he can then have more to spend and enjoy. I don't want him to live monastically, just responsibly. As always, we'll see how that goes.

My father doesn't seem to want a lot of interaction with me or my family, and I've sort of grown tired trying to push the relationship. I'm 46, I have a nice family. We care about my dad, but his interest doesn't extend much past the basic pleasentries. Perhaps he feels that I caused all the turmoil in his life by yanking him from squalor in Indiana 2 years ago and compelling him to face the music about his health and debts. It had to be done, and I guess I was the best suited to do so. No one else in my family, God love them, is as much of a hard-ass as me, a skill I learned from the old man himself. Go figure.

Sure makes me miss my mother.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow starts the day

Lots of snow last night and today. I don't know how many inches, I just know that my back is killing me from all the shoveling.

Just 10 minutes ago, however, I finally got my snowthrower to run. Thanks to neighbor Steve, who talked me through several diagnoses and after a lot of mental mechanics, I was able to clear the foot of my driveway in minutes.

Long story short: my fuel problem was caused by a cracked primer bulb.

My Toro is about 15 years old, and when running, can handle just about any depth of snow.

I'll be lugging it over to Steve's driveway every chance I get this winter. I owe him that.

(When you are 46 years old, things like having an operational snowthrower is almost better than sex. Almost.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Same old legislature

The Illinois legislature is taking their sweet time to impeach Blagojevich. They listened to the governor's mob attorney today demand to listen to the tapes. At least they had the guts to remind the attorney that the impeachment hearings were not a criminal court proceeding, and they would appreciate it if his client would show up in Springfield to offer testimony.

Fat chance of that since the sonovabitch won't go to Springfield to govern.

Come and get me Rod! I'll kick your ass and shave your head!


Thursday, December 11, 2008


Yes, I'm surprised that it's taken me 2 days to opine on our asshole governor's arrest and indictment.

I knew this guy was a crook. After reading all 78 pages of the indictment, I do have to say that he exceeded my wildest dreams as a crook, however. It is hubris on steroids. It is beyond the pale. It is simply amazing. There is no way he is going to beat these charges.

And now, it all makes sense. The commitment to the bad hair. His refusal to live in Springfield. His MO of trying to pick fights, and then when losing, pretend they didn't happen. Is there enough jail time to change his attitude?

I would always give his wife a pass because I know that as a real estate agent, you need to rely on relationships in order to do business. However, I now know she is simply Dick Mell's daughter. And that isn't a slight on Dick Mell, he is a career politician, a Chicago alderman, and he conducts business as it is done in Chicago. However, I guess I let my oogling of Patty Blagojevich cloud my judgement.

Oh well, it will be interesting to see what happens next. Blago is too deluded to resign right away. He may still try to appoint a senator.

The drama continues.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

After 31 years...

I've always been a big Jackson Browne fan, starting when I was 14 and Running on Empty was released. It was one of the first albums I bought when I started buying albums with my own money.

For all you youngsters out there, it was recorded live in venues from concert halls to hotel rooms to the tour bus. At a time when live albums featured re-hashed greatest hits with mistakes overdubbed in the studio, Running on Empty was unique in that all the songs were new and recorded 'as-is'. The one thing about Jackson Browne live is that the musicianship is top-rate...sometimes too perfect, inasmuch as no one seems to make a mistake onstage. Not a bad thing, really, just outside the norm.

Anyway, this tour would have been at the time The Pretender was out, and for Jackson Browne, this would have been a challenging time in his life. Go to Wikipedia to learn why, I'm not a very good biographer.

The opening track, of course, is Running on Empty, and the first 30 seconds or so consists of various shouts from the audience, which, when I was a teenager, meant nothing to me, it was just a bunch of rowdy fans making noise.

At my advanced age, listening now, I realize the shouts were requests for songs such as Ready or Not, Late for the Sky, and Redneck Friend. You can hear an eight count leading up to the song that was in fact performed.

Also at my advanced age, I think about those people at the concert, yelling for their favorite song, and then POW! Running on Empty, the version you hear on the radio, with the great David Lindley lap steel solo and the Danny Kortchmar guitar fills and the beautiful soaring harmony of Rosemary Butler (I had a serious Rosemary Butler obsession in 1980) and of course the message of the song, the ever searching, longing, to find what it is we needed to find ourselves. If the audience only knew. Were they disappointed? Don't know.

Looking around for the friends I used to turn to to pull me through, looking into their eyes, I see them running, too.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Remorse, optional

When asked if there were anything George Ryan would change, Lura Lynn Ryan said neither she nor her husband has any regrets. "His conscience is as clear as his mind," she said. "If he had it to do over -- and I've heard him say this -- he would govern the same way as he did before.... Sun-Times story today

There were stories in both Chicago papers today regarding the possibility that President Bush may commute the sentence of former Illinois Governor George Ryan, who is in jail on a racketeering conviction.

A thumbnail: While Secretary of State (among other things, in charge of granting drivers licenses) Ryan either implemented or ignored the program to sell commercial driver's licenses. One such beneficiary ended up instigating that burned six children to death in a highway accident.

Ryan, obviously, to this day believes he did nothing wrong because he never 'took the money', channeling it to cronies, who in turn, would do really nice things for Ryan and his family.

He is a really old man, his wife is not in the best health, he has lost his government pension, and has ruined his name. Maybe serving one year of his six-year sentence is justice enough.

But if he can't feel any remorse, then perhaps he needs to rot a little more.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

After a one week cooling off period...

Well, congratulations to President-Elect Obama. History has been made, and we will be watching it unfold for the next 4-8 years.

Now that the election is over, our nation needs to keep on keeping on. The sky has not fallen, despite what my republican brethren say, and I don't think we're headed for the socialist revolution.

I don't know the last time Warren Buffett was wrong about something, and if he isn't afraid, then why should I be afraid?

The McCain campaign hacks who persuaded him to pick Palin are now trying to throw mud at her. What you see is what you get, folks. She was not the best choice, and I've spoken to a lot of conservatives that saw through her act and were very afraid of the prospect of another dolt leading our nation.

My pain is with the neo-cons (Rush Limbaugh included) who will not rest until Obama is killed. Hate is hate.

I'm against hate.

If President Obama turns out to be a stinker, we have the 2010 and 2012 elections to rectify the problem. Martyring a president is a sure why to ensure his programs (especially the offensive ones) get passed.

This is America, we should give President Obama a chance. We gave President Bush a chance, and how bad was that?

I retract the question.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day 2008

Wow, here we are at last.

What ever happened to my fellow well-informed Republican voters?

I guess there were no issues that interested mainstream Republican voters this year. Instead of arguing the merits of McCain's position on the economy, security, energy, etc, all I seem to hear from my fellow Republicans is how Barack Husein Obama is going to have abortions performed on every pregnant woman in the country, take money away from (white) poverty-stricken pensioners and give it to (black) welfare mothers, and mandate the teaching of Arabic in our schools.

Keep in mind, I'm a Reagan Republican, and this rhetoric offends me.

I've always thought that fear-mongering was for the losers, and I guess I'm right about that this year.

McCain-Palin will go down in flames, and our country will have new challenges to face and overcome.

It is time to re-think how we elect our leaders. Money outstrips the message. Fear outweighs fact. The loudest voices are heard over the smartest voices.

I'll miss Tina Fey. We'll I can always watch her on 30 Rock, I guess, but she has never been more brilliantly funny than as Sarah Palin.

And four years from now, if Sarah Palin is more than trivia, I'll vomit.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

After 8 Years

Remember this?

You ever wonder what happened to those guys?

Monday, October 27, 2008

....until someone loses an eye

Boy, 8, fatally shoots self in head while trying out Uzi submachine gun at Mass. gun club show
By Associated Press
1:55 PM CDT, October 27, 2008
WESTFIELD, Mass. (AP) _ An 8-year-old boy died after accidentally shooting himself in the head while firing an Uzi submachine gun under adult supervision at a gun fair.

The boy lost control of the weapon while firing it Sunday at the Machine Gun Shoot and Firearms Expo at the Westfield Sportsman's Club, police Lt. Lawrence Vallierpratte said.

Police said the boy, Christopher Bizilj (Bah-SEAL) of Ashford, Conn., was with a certified instructor and called the death a "self-inflicted accidental shooting."

As the boy fired the Uzi, "the front end of the weapon went up with the backfire and he ended up receiving a round in his head," police Lt. Hipolito Nunez said. The boy died at a hospital.

The boy's father and older brother were also there at the time, a gun club member and school official said. Francis Mitchell, a longtime member and trustee of the club, said he was told the boy's father was supporting his son from behind when the shooting happened.

Although the death appeared to be an accident, officials were investigating.

It is legal in Massachusetts for children to fire a weapon if they have permission from a parent or legal guardian and are supervised by a properly certified and licensed instructor, Lt. Hipolito Nunez said. The name of the instructor helping the boy was not released.

The event ran in conjunction with C.O.P Firearms and Training

"It's all legal & fun — No permits or licenses required!!!!" reads the ad, posted on the club's Web site.

Messages left on answering machines for the club and the C.O.P. group were not returned Monday.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

T minus 12 days

With a dozen days until the election, as a card carrying red stater and election student, I'm here to tell you that John McCain is not going to win the election.


He failed to lock in and focus on the most pressing issue of the moment.

He allowed others to define him.

He ignored the one inarguable negative about himself (his age), and chose a political lightweight as his running mate.

When confronted with the MOST IMPORTANT CURRENT ISSUE IN THIS ELECTION, he 'suspended' his campaign and pulled his oars out of the water.

He failed to appear presidential over and over again.

I guess I could type all sorts of negatives about Obama, but there is no point. This was McCain's election to lose, and lose it he will.

If I have to eat crow on November 5, so be it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Last one out of Nebraska

My last grandparent, my father's mother, passed away on Sunday.

One more, and possibly last trip to Nebraska.

I left late Tuesday morning, arriving in Johnny Carson's hometown of Norfolk (pronounced 'Norfork' by the locals) around 6:40 that evening. I checked into my hotel (I would have stayed closer in Wayne had there been a non-smoking room available at the Super 8) and drove up to Carroll, the Hansen Family hometown (population 225) in the rainy darkness.

It doesn't take long to drive all the streets in a 225 person town, but I did, remembering my summer vacations over 30 years ago. My grandmother operated a 2 1/2 aisle grocery store, and was quite the business woman. When the regular beauty salon owner retired, she remodeled a back storage area into a beauty shop, where my aunt Karen and later other women practiced the fine arts of hair coloring and cutting.

My grandfather passed away in 1980, and grandma retired from business shortly after. The store stayed mostly empty, and gram busied herself with the church ladies, running the various socials and funeral luncheons. When she had the store, she would load groceries into the back of her Chevy Blazer and delivered food to less fortunate farmers during the winter. She was always busy busy busy.

Her memory and her health started to go bad about 10 years ago, and about 5 years ago she went to a nursing home. Her house and most of her possessions were sold, all the money going to pay the nursing home bills. She was practically penniless when she died.

As I drove down mainstreet, I found that her store had been demolished, now a parking lot for a small trucking company. The old tavern was still there, but I didn't feel like going in for fear that all my childhood memories would be shattered. I drove back to Norfolk, stopping at Applebees for a decadent rack of ribs, two large bills, and after the waitress twisted my arm, dessert.

The weather had improved overnight, and I got dressed and drove back to Carroll for the funeral service. I did a quick jog over to Pierce, my mother's hometown, so I could drive past her childhood home. The large cottonwoods were gone, but the 'new' owners (they've lived there at least 20 years now) had made lots of improvements and I found myself happy that the old place looked so good. I made it to Carroll at 9 am and made my way into the church.

My older sister and dad were there, along with his brother, Uncle Den, and over the next hour, various relatives trickled in. My grandmother outlived many of her friends, except for Phyllis, who worked for grandma at Hansen's Grocery. She gave me a hug and told me how much she loved and respected my grandmother. I told her that gram really loved her, too, and we all appreciated their friendship. How my grandmother made enough money to have a full-time employee I'll never know.

All my Nebraskan cousins came to the funeral. I hadn't seen many of them in almost 20 years. I realized that we had all grown up now, and was proud that they all had stable family lives, and were successful in their own ways.

The service was nice, and as usual, the younger minister did not know grandma (her nursing home was about 40 miles from Carroll), he did make an effort to learn about her in the days prior to the funeral and was able to talk about her community service, but her love of gardening and flowers.

I busted the chops of my fellow pallbearers, making sure that no one slipped down the two flights of stairs from the chapel to the hearse. Two cousins, one cousin in-law, and two friends of the family carried my grandmother's silver casket to her final resting place next to grandad, and one row and four plots from my Uncle Doug.

We went back to church for the luncheon, and I thanked the ladies who prepared it. Knowing I had and eight hour drive back home, I left at 12:30, slipping out. I'm not one for goodbyes. I arrived home exactly eight hours later, glad to be home.

The drivers in Iowa need some serious lessons about how to drive on the interstate.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Adios to Austin

I flew down to Austin for business last Friday, staying for the weekend.

Austin is one of my favorite places. Not necessarily for the food, the live music, the attractive UT coeds, or the scenic landscape.

Austin Texas is where I spent too much of my first 3 years of college. Because I went to school in College Station, going to Austin was a convenient diversion from what I was supposed to be doing, namely, getting an education.

I learned a lot about myself from this experience. I learned that I was too immature to fall in love, I learned that no matter what shithole I put myself into, only I have the capablility to extract myself from said shithole, and that I really enjoyed new experiences, and should not be afraid to jump into the deep end of the pool.

When I first left Austin for the last time, it was 1983, and as I drove north on IH-35 toward Illinois, I thought it would take some doing to get me back there.

In the early 1990's, however, I was back, at the time scouting for a place to live, as my friend Artist James and his wife, Kathy, were going to move to Austin, and my wife was going to transfer to Austin with Motorola. My hopes were dashed when we could not make the move. The Austin of the early 90's was similar to the Austin of the mid '80's. I found that I still loved the city, the Capital, the food, the nightlife, etc. It could do no wrong.

After James and Kathy settled in Austin, my wife and would make annual trips to see them, just a 2 1/2 hour plane ride and I could be back in Utopia. We'd always go in the Spring during Bluebonnet time. We still made regular trips after our daughter was born. I felt it was important to return as often as possible so I could retain my Texas 'citizenship'.

Sadly, after our son was born, we only made one more trip down. I guess our family decided to make future vacations more destination driven, and Austin sort of fell off our screen. I'd make the suggestion to go, but it was shot down. My wife seemed to think that my love of Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes was a bit provincial, saying that they really weren't any different from the yellow dandelions and other 'weeds' that grew along Illinois roadsides. I continue to love my wife even though she doesn't understand.

By some great collision of fortune and ability, James and Kathy (and Emma and Murray) are leaving Austin soon to spend a year in New York City. After that year, they have no idea where they will go. Probably not back to Austin. And now, suddenly, any excuse I have to visit Austin is gone.

That thought occured to me Sunday morning as I left my hotel and drove down Guadalope one last time, remembering the dragworms, the BK Lounge, all the sights, sounds and smells of a magical time long ago. A wave of great emotion overtook me, and I found myself wanting to call the old girlfriend who lured me to Austin over 25 years ago. I didn't call her, of course, I really wasn't sure what to say or how to say it. I just thought that in some ways, my greatest joy was experienced in those blocks between 15th street and 30th street. Despite the turmoil my hopelessly romantic heart experienced back then, I know that in some ways I was never happier.

Austin in 2008 has changed a lot since 1983. More high-rise buildings compete with the view of the Capital, Sixth Street parties a little too hearty, although the UT Coeds going to the football game in their short denim skirts and cowgirl boots remind me of my youth, poorly spent.

An older, perhaps wiser, 45 year-old man left Austin yesterday, eagerly returning to the family that he loves in Illinois. I really don't know if I'll ever find myself in Austin again, but until then, adios, dear friend.

Plakovic's "The Live Music Capital of the World" adorns this post. Visit to purchase.

Friday, September 12, 2008

September 12

Now that my son is 8, he is very interested in history and science.

I had the History Channel on last night, with it's various September 11 programs. My son was very interested in them, as he was just 1 and a half back in 2001. So we watched a show about the evacuation of the World Trade Centers, and the heroic sacrifice of one of the security chiefs who had been anticipated a terrorist attack since the bombing in 1993.

At some point, watching the planes crash and the buildings fall became too much for me. As I watch the famous footage of the second jet collide with the tower, the fact that 300 lives ended at that moment hits me very hard. To know that as the buildings fall (in the span it takes to write this sentence), thousands of regular, innocent people will die overcomes me.

While I was fortunate enough not to have known anyone personally who died that day, I do have a friend who was across the river watching it happen, fearful of what was coming next. The husband of a good friend of mine was working in the pentagon that day. Just regular people, doing regular jobs.

Along with the sense of loss, it was the fear of not knowing when the planes would stop crashing that I still carry with me. I live 30 miles due east of a nuclear power plant, and yes, our family has an 'escape plan' if it is ever attacked.

September 11, 2008.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Intellectual Property

Those darn Republicans!

First the use Jackson Browne's Running on Empty "without permission", then they use a Bon Jovi or Mellencamp song "without permission", and, by golly, they've used Heart's Barracuda for VP candidate Sarah Palin, again, without asking the recording artists permission to do so.

If it were only so easy.

Do you think that a radio station has to ask permission to play a record?

As long as the music publisher and composer's rights organization are paid, anyone can usually use a recorded work for whatever reason. That's why music publishers and organizations such as ASCAP and BMI exist.

The most an artist can do is complain, and if they still own the rights to the song, collect the royalty check. If the offending organization, in this instance the Republicans, are using the song without paying (pirating), then the artist can be outraged.

Certainly, Browne does not want one of his greatest hits (and one of my favorite songs) associated with the McCain Campaign. But a lawsuit? Sort of a waste of money, if you ask me.

A recent AP story states "Despite the Wilson sisters' objections, one of the song's co-writers said he was "thrilled" that the song was used.

In an e-mail to Reuters, the band's former guitarist, Roger Fisher, said it was a win-win situation. Heart gets publicity and royalties, while the Republicans benefit from "the ingenious placement of a kick-ass song," Fisher said.

But in a subsequent email, Fisher said he strongly endorsed the Democratic ticket, and would donate a portion of royalties he receives from the Republicans' airing of "Barracuda" to the campaign of Sen. Barack Obama.

I think this is the best way to handle the situation.

By the way, any song in the Hansen/Plakovic catalog is available to either presidential nominee. For a fee, of course.

We're all about airplay.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sarah big and tall

Yes, I had heard of Sarah Palin before last Friday. As anyone who knows me understands: I'm all about attractive women over 40.

However, as a "Dennis Miller Republican", I have to confess that I am not on board with her selection as running mate. Sure, I can see VP hopeful Joe Biden get terrorist brains on his Ivy League suit (Godfather reference), but I can't get past Sarah needing to hand the baby over to the au pair just to reach in her purse to pull out her Glock.

I have reached the age where important leaders are older than me. But I just don't know about Sarah yet.

She gave a swell speech last night, but I don't think the disenfranchised Hillary supporters are buying it.

I'm not sure I can watch McCain give his speech (speechifying is not his strong suit) tonight, but I sure hope it is full of IDEAS and SOLUTIONS and not the same old crap.

We'll see.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Michelle, my bell(e)

I enjoyed Michelle Obama's speech last night. I think she accomplished what she set out to do, which was to show that she is not a 'bitch with attitude', and that intelligent African-American women are not a threat to whitebread America.

We were watching on CBS (I root for the underdog), and they spent a lot of time showing reaction shots from the audience.

While I was moved by the speech, I was not moved to tears, like several of the audience members were. I think perhaps they were a little over-invested in the moment.

Anyway, tonight Hillary will outline her diabolical plan to subvert the convention and wrest the nomination away from Obama. Well, if I were writing the screenplay, that is what she would do.

I was reading a story off the Huffington Post about Bill Clinton not being happy with his role in the convention. An interesting read, to be sure, but what was more informing were the comments posted by the Hillary supporters taking Obama to task for stealing the nomination.

Stealing the nomination? When did that happen?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Obama picks Biden

So much for change.

"Meet the new boss, just the same as the old boss."

Monday, August 18, 2008

McCain and the Cone of Silence

I see that much is being made today of John McCain's ability to give short, concise answers during the 'Saddleback' debate.

For goodness sakes, McCain's been active in politics since before Obama could vote.

Do you really think that any of the questions poses to either candidate was new, unique, thought-provoking, or otherwise ground-breaking.

Obama like to go for the deep, long-winded answer. I don't think he should get points off for that, but when McCain can spit out his well-practiced campaign-approved policy sound bite off the top of his head, I don't think that means there is a conspiracy to cheat.

For gosh sakes, focus on something IMPORTANT!!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The next Bobby Knight

I began my soccer coaching career this morning.

Despite my behavior with my own kids, I do have a lot a patience, and my coaching philosophy is modeled on Bill Murray's character, Tripper Harrison, in the movie Meatballs.

My wife would say my romantic technique is from the same movie. "Is that a bra you're wearing, or are you expecting an assassination?"

Elvis fans ignore rain for graveside vigil

Yet, after 31 years, the King remains dead.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Worst MLB Manager

Ned Yost of the Milwaukee Brewers is the worst manager in the Major Leagues.

I was watching the Brewer/Cub game last night, and Ben Sheets was getting rocked in the 6th inning (maybe the 5th). Anyway, if one of your aces is getting shelled (7 hits before the first out), you need to get off your ass and go settle him down.

Ben Sheets is a gamer, a tough kid, but really, a mound visit is almost mandatory after the 3rd hit over the left fielder's head (and you may want your left fielder to play a little deeper). If anything, it would disrupt the Cubs' hitting parade a little bit.

Yost finally pulled Sheets after I was called at home to grab a bat and drive to Milwaukee for an at-bat.

I like the Brewers. I'm glad that they are becoming a good team. Now that they've pulled the trigger to sign or trade for some great players, it's time now to get a Major League manager. A real one, not a retread.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Compassion, Forgiveness, Vengeance, and Justice

Susan Atkins is a sixty year-old woman who has 3 months to live. She is dying form brain cancer. She suffers from paralysis, and has had a leg amputated. Her husband and other relatives wish she could spend her remaining days near them.

In 1971, Susan Atkins was convicted for her participation in the murders of Abigail Folger, Voytek Frykowski, Jay Sebring, Steven Parent, Leno La Bianca, and Rosemary La Bianca. Yes, and actress Sharon Tate and her unborn son.

Susan Atkins was sentenced to death for these crimes, specifically the murder of Sharon Tate, who she admittedly stabbed over and over and over again. She admitted to tasting Sharon Tate’s blood, and using it to write graffiti on the walls of Sharon Tate’s home.

In 1972, the California Supreme Court determined that the death penalty was not constitutional, so Susan Atkins sentence was commuted to life imprisonment with parole. Susan Atkins had been denied parole on 12 separate occasions.

For many years, Susan Atkins did not show remorse for these crimes. She did express remorse at some point, as had the other female participants, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten. Susan Atkins did have a religeous conversion and awakening, and even has been married while enduring her sentence.

Susan Atkins is no longer a threat to anyone. In fact Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecutor in the murder case, has stated that Susan should be released under California’s “Compassionate Release” policy. His quote "just because Susan Atkins showed no mercy to her victims, we therefore are duty-bound to follow her inhumanity and show no mercy to her" shows a great deal of compassion

At first blush, I agreed with Bugliosi. Wouldn’t the release of Susan Atkins show real compassion? Isn’t compassion and forgiveness a hallmark of our pervasive Christian faith? Her release would not inspire other would-be killers, and after 37 years in prison, can’t she be let out so she can pass away with loving family around her?

What is compassion if Susan Atkins can’t be released?

However, perhaps Susan Atkins has been shown enough compassion.

The California Supreme Court showed compassion when it stopped capitol punishment.

The State of California showed compassion when it commuted Susan Atkins’ sentence to life with the chance of parole.

The Prison System showed compassion by allowing Susan Atkins twelve opportunities to be paroled.

The State of California has showed compassion by spending over $1.4 million dollars to care for Susan Atkins over the last few months.

Life in prison is life in prison.

Justice tells us that Susan Atkins must die in prison. It is sad. No more sad, however, than a pregnant woman being stabbed to death as she pleads for the life of her unborn child, as Sharon Tate did the night Susan Atkins murdered her. “Woman, I have no mercy for you" is what Susan Atkins admits she told Sharon Tate. Perhaps those words could be played back now for Susan Atkins.

Justice is for the survivors. Justice is for the families of the victim.

Perhaps Sharon Tate’s mother and father, now long dead, wanted Susan Atkins to die in the gas chamber. I don’t know if that is justice or vengeance. I do know that because they attended every parole hearing of each of the convicted killers, they saw justice being served by parole not being granted.

Justice is for the survivors. Justice is for the families of the victim.

Part of me wishes that Susan Atkins family could have their wish. But part of me also wants Sharon Tate’s family to have theirs.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Weird Dreams

We just got our investment account(s) statement the other day, and after seeing that we lost over $8,000, I told my wife to stop whining, this black hole our retirement money is going down is all imaginary.

Phil Graham says so.

Let the Aggie jokes begin, I guess.

McCain needs to get some NEW BLOOD in his campaign, or he will become the next Bob Dole.

Yes, the fundamental base of our economy is good. But the impending recession is not in our minds. Old Republicans like to tell us to just buck up, put your head down, and things will get better on the other side.

The problem is that I don't think the 'getting better' part is going to happen until our government starts to lead. We need a comprehensive energy policy, a comprehensive medical care policy, and a comprenhisive defense/foreign policy. Putting my head down and waiting for a sunny day isn't going to get it done.

Now if only Obama would reveal just how he's going to save the country (other than just change things)....

Monday, June 23, 2008

In Memoriam : George Carlin

This one hurts a bit.

When I was 14, our family moved from Ft Wayne Indiana to Houston Texas. To say I was a social outcast during my first year in Houston would be understating the point. I had no friends. I had no prospect for friends. It was a tough time to be 14.

I did have a paper route, however, so I had (what I considered to be) a lot of disposal nickles, dimes and quarters. I would ride my bicycle up to the nearest record store (antiquated reference #1) and buy albums (antiquated refernce #2). I have no idea why, but I purchased Carlin's Class Clown, which contained the classic bit "Seven Words You Can't Say on Television*" (antiquated reference #3).

Carlin's humor appealed to me for several reasons: 1) He himself was an outcast due to his "imaginitive use of language"; 2) His "imaginative use of language" showed me that rules really didn't exist. Understanding the rules and the manipulation of rules to one's amusement is one of the greatest joys one could have; 3) His outside the box perspective on rules and life made me a smarter person.

To make a short story even longer, I ended up buying lots of George Carlin albums. I probably owned everything he did up to 1980. Like Rock n Roll albums, his records would have liner notes, including the 'lyrics' to each bit. I confess to peppering a lot of my day to day comedy act with Carlinisms.

In those days, I used humor as my shield and armor from the shithole of my early adolesence. Since I couldn't out-fight the bullies, I made sure that I humiliated them as I received my beatings. By the end of my high school career, I had lots of friends, great friends to this day, probably because of my sense of humor.

No, I don't owe it all to George Carlin. But as I mourn his passing today, I need to tip my hat to him, for showing me the power of words, the power of faith, and the power of intellect.

Well, played, George.

* Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits.

In Memoriam : Tim Russert

I'm a week late on this.

More than just a talking head, Tim Russert had the intellectual muscle to get the facts and the intellectual accessibility to relate the facts.

His everyday appearance and demeanor helped guys like us get down to the nuts and bolts of any story, empowering not only denizens of Flyover, but all parts of the country.

He was staunch in his faith, yet was not afraid to bring an atheistic and Episcipal bishop on his show to duke it out (respectibly, of course).

We won't see another like him for a long time.

Fifty-eight is too young to die. His wife, Maureen, and son Luke; know this all too well.

Well played, Mr. Russert.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

City of Big Shoulders

I had to make a jobsite visit today in downtown Chicago. 200 W Jackson, to be exact. Instead of fighting traffic and wasting gas, I took the L from Cumberland, and after 16 stops, emerged from the underground (because the Blue Line L becomes a subway inside the loop) to a perfect Chicago Summer day:

I love downtowns, especially big city downtowns. I haven't been to NYC or Boston yet, mind you, but I have it on good authority that Chicago's downtown is the best. Yes, I'm biased, and I'll probably like Boston and Philly as much anyway. But there is something wonderful about walking down the sidewalks in a big city, thinking you've got the world by the ass.

I don't have the world by the ass, but I thought I did for about 15 minutes today.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Despite what others may think...


As a 1930s husband, I am
Very Superior

Take the test!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Hot Political Commentary...and Religion, too!

It is a shame that Obama has felt the need to 'resign' from his church. With the media hounding the neighborhood and church-goers, I guess he had no other choice.

The latest 'scandal', when Obama was a million miles away from the church, involved activist priest Michael "I'm much better than the other priests" Pfleger, who does a terrible Hillary Clinton impersonation.

Pfleger, a white priest, is much beloved at his mostly African-American St Sabina parish, where he has championed causes like anti-racism, anti-violence, and pro-getting his mug on television.

While he seems to be a Catholic Priest, Father Pfleger enjoys having the spotlight shining brightly upon him. He has been at St Sabina for years, mainly because he has had the last two Cardinals buffaloed into not re-assigning him elsewhere.

It's time that Cardinal Francis George stood up to this blowhard and send him on an extended assignment where he may re-learn priestly humility. Activist Priests do not resonate with me. I think that a priest can be most effective when activating church members to action. Sermonizing at a Methodist Church and engaging in a racist bashing of Hillary Clinton is not a good way to lead.

And Obama doesn't need this kind of 'help' right now. He is busy trying to figure out how the Clintons are going to steal the nomination out from under him.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Senator Clinton is done.

Now that she says that she is staying in the race just in case someone murders Obama before the convention, I'm no longer interested in anything she has to say.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

John Edwards who?

John Edwards emerged from hiding this week to endorse Obama for president. The endorsement would have meant something, say, 2 months ago, but with 18 committed delegates, it means less than nothing now.

Curiously absent was Elizabeth Edwards. Pundits speculated that she doesn't support Obama. I suspect that she has more important things on her mind these days.

She has more character and brains that the candidates themselves.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Nothing of substance

Stopping home for a quick bite to eat and a podcast update. Today is a very windy Spring-like day here in the Midwest. And since it is 'garbage day', there are lots of empty soda cans and newspapers blowing around the neighborhood. We're tyring to get lids for the recycling bins, but nothing is free.

Whatever allergy I suffer from in the Spring makes me feel like I've been crying all day. My eyes feel puffy, and I'm very tired.

Well, I feel tired all the time, but more so this week.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Back in Obama War Room

Obama has been friendly enough, but it's time that he pulls Hilary aside and tells her to drop out now, or he's going to unleash the hounds.

This pussy-footing around does not make him look like a decisive leader. Sometimes, a President and to drop the gloves and kick some ass.

It worked for Al Secord.

Good ol' Number 20

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Your NPR fix for the day

Be sure to catch Weekend America (schedule varies) on your local NPR affiliate this weekend.

Artist James Plakovic discusses his work "World Beat Music", and map of the world rendered as a symphonic score.

As I've mentioned here before, I've known James since 1984, back when we all called him Jim. Well, not all of us called him Jim. His mom called him Jamie.

Note to James: for $100, I will delete that last sentence.

Heres a link to the online story by Weekend America:

And in case you haven't already visited, go to RIGHT NOW!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Lyle Lovett speaks to me

This may or may not explain my frame of mind on odd-numbered days.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


In the Bunker

There are days when I wish I was the Comm Director for Obama's campaign.

Today I would be telling him to acknowledge that he said those things about working class voters, admit that he did not think the statement through very well, and try to briefly explain what he really meant.

Then he should say the following: "I know that I gave a bad answer. I was trying to be too cute by half when I said it. I know that this will not be the last mistake I make. One thing is for certain, I have not lied to you, unlike Mrs Sniperfire and her husband, Mr I-never-had-sex-with-that-woman."

The one thing that is appealing about Obama's inexperience is that he hasn't learned to be a complete and utter liar yet.

And I'm not even an Obama guy.

By the way, Mrs Clinton, I know it's easy for you to say that someone is an elitist. You know so much about being an elitist yourself.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Kathie Lee back in the saddle

Here in flyover, we prefer Kelly to Kathie Lee. That doesn't mean we dislike Kathie Lee.

She's Back! All I can say is that 1) she's had some work done (don't know that she needed it, she's always been attractive), and 2) she's had SOME WORK done (if you look a little lower on your TV Screen).

I realize that it is not right to objectify her like that, but this is flyover, and we've been trained by both coasts to check out the rack.

Still great legs, too.

Otherwise, her new gig hosting the needless 4th hour of Today met with mixed reviews. I didn't watch, I have a 8-5 job, and my gender is not the target audience. This is strange, because with the exception of Tom Shales of the Washington Post, all men dig Kathie Lee. Women find her polarizing, but men think she's cool. We all secretly wish our wives will look that good at age 55.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Beat(les) goes on

I took my kids to the University Library at Northwestern today, where they had a small exhibit of Lennon/McCartney manuscripts on display. Among the items were the original jottings of "Eleanor Rigby", "Yellow Submarine", and "Good Day, Sunshine".

I imagine that I got a bigger thrill than my kids. But I told them that someday they could tell their friends that they saw these wonderful artifacts of creativity. As we looked at each one, I tried my best to sing them snippets of each song. I even sang the cello parts in "Rigby" My god, George Martin could arrange some strings!

Just as Freud believed that everyone goes through phases (oral, phallic, anal, etc), I believe everyone goes through a Beatles phase. Some pass through without any mark, others get stuck in it. I recall a kid in high school who always wore a John Lennon "Mao" hat all the time. A Lennon/Mao hat? You gotta love it.

Anyway, I went through the Beatles phase while in college in the early 80's. I was always a John Lennon guy (as opposed to a Paul person, or a George person, or that other one person). Although at age 45, I've grown more fond of George. Shy yet brilliant.

It's not that I dislike Paul. He's just too schlocky for my tastes. Always the wink and the nod, having one over on you and all that.

(Interruption: Raise your hand if you knew 5 years ago that Heather Mills was a gold-digger? I see lots of armpits out there, Sir Paul)

Paul is sort of having the last laugh being the last Beatle. No, I'm not picking on Ringo. Ringo tours because he likes to get paid. Paul has nothing to prove, and doesn't need to prove it.

This is my daughter, standing over "Eleanor Rigby". Someday, her heart will ache when she realizes what that song really means.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Miss Spoke

When I call my daughter by our dog's name (they both start with 'L') that is mis-speaking.

Hillary's recollection of sniper fire in Bosnia is something else entirely.

To say she misspoke is to not understand the difference.

Please notice that unlike Matt Drudge, I post a flattering photo of Hillary, just because despite my dislike of her politics, I still admire something about her.

Friday, March 21, 2008

March Madness

Sure, I have lots to say about Obama's inconsistancy about his pastor's anti-white, anti-semitic hate speech versus his desire to have Don Imus fired over a really terrible attempt at humor that was racially insensitive and very stupid; but I just have to complain about the 4 inches of snow that was just shat upon us on March 21. That would be the second day of Spring to most of you. For me, it's just a cruel exclamation point on a terrible Winter.

And it made me miss our Good Friday service at church.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Blogs of Note

Congrats to Heather Armstrong of for winning four major blogging awards at SXSW.

James and Kathy, if you don't already visit several days a week, start doing it NOW!!

That goes to the rest of you, too!

(Note to Heather's husband: at least I fixed her red-eye before posting her photo!)

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Antoher Guilty Pleasure

I never wanted to watch Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel because I'm not what you call dirty fingernail kind of guy.

Host Mike Rowe, however, is a much better looking, deeper-voiced version of me. His constant stream of smart-ass remarks and skepticism is very much me. As I watch, the wisecracks that I think of seem to eminate from his mouth.

Very cool, very funny.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Rare book review

Although I'm a voracious reader, I am not much of a book reviewer.

I just finished Playing for Pizza by John Grisham. This is his third or fourth non-legal suspence thriller, and I really enjoyed it.

Long story short without giving away anything: A journeyman NFL QB finds himself in an Italian semi-pro football league. Great descriptions of the sites, and even better descriptions of the food.

I want to learn Italian and buy 10 pounds of parmasean reggiano.

Read the book!

Friday, February 15, 2008

NIU Heartbreak

We live about 14 miles from NIU, and my wife got her degree there in 1989. I attended graduate school there for a year. There are a lot of competing emotions about what happened there yesterday...frustration, sadness, confusion, anger.

The frustration is with the media, who, in their usual attempt to explain exactly what is happening within moments of it happening, get much of the story wrong. This is a sad and bewildering time for everyone, especially those directly affected. It is not the time to finger point and infer institutional blame.

I think we'll find out that the university did everything it could, and that the hospital did everything it could, etc.

How can we live in our country if every door is locked, every doorway has a metal detector, every person in need of medication is locked up? It wouldn't be American then, would it?

I don't have any answers. Let's think good thoughts for the survivors, and think even greater thoughts for the victims.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

This just in....

It's 9:27 CST and I'm projecting that Hillary Clinton is toast.

We'll miss her.

Friday, February 08, 2008

E Lection coverage

We were hit with a lot of snow Tuesday/Wednesday, so I couldn't be johnny on the spot with my Super Tuesday Erection coverage. Sorry, I meant 'election'.

Fox News had lots of problems with their graphics. The vote totals for a candidate would carry over from state to state. John McCain's 12 votes in the West Virginia convention would carry over to Alabama, where in reality the race came down to the wire. Other issues too numerous to mention. Don't producers pay attention to these little details? Brit Hume seemed to be unable to complete a sentence without mumbling at the end. I know there's a lot of voices in his head (I'm referring to line producers), but you still need to reach the finish your thought before moving on.

MSNBC's Chris Matthews continues to annoy. Does the man have no brain? Early in the coverage, he was grilling a Republican 'expert' about why any Republican candidate would bother to campaign in a dark blue state such as New Jersey. Chris, they campaign there because there's lots of delegates, and the goal is to WIN THE NOMINATION. They won't waste a lot of time and money there for the general erection. I mean election. How about more Keith Olbermann? I may be the only person on earth to write that. I can't help it, I enjoy witting and urbane, even from a liberal. Hell, only liberals can be witty and urbane.

CNN has a huge bright set. That was more than enough to keep me away.

With Romney only winning a few states that night, I was the only pundit to say that he was toast. And I was right. You can't finish 2nd or 3rd 80% of the time and expect me to support your candidacy. Just ask John "I'm good for the bronze" Edwards.

While I'm typing about it, John Edwards was using matching funds (none of his own sizable wad of cash), so half of every dollar he spent after New Hampshire was a wasted taxpayer dollar. This is why I stopped checking the $3 box on my tax return.

I will say this, I think nothing but good thoughts about Elizabeth Edwards, and you all should do the same. She has four times the moxie her husband has. I hope she gets to spend some quality time with her family before the going gets tough for her.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Groundhog Day Eve

Our area was hit with about 7 inches of snow last night. There was no school today, and so my workday was truncated. Yet, I think I'm more productive NOT being in the office.

The first big snowfall of the winter is always a magical time. The third big snowfall of the winter is an inconvenient annoyance. Thankfully, it was warm enough for the roads to get plowed decently, although the usual blowing and drifting created some problems out in the country.

As of 3:45pm, the kids are playing in the snow, and I'm cathcing up on emails and voice mails. Not terribly busy at work today.

Pitchers and catchers report in about 2 weeks, and the Super Bowl is this weekend. January flew by.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Suzanne Pleshette

We here in flyover are saddened by the passing of Suzanne Pleshette, who pioneered the role of "hot wife of homely stand-up comic" in the Bob Newhart Show during the 1970's.

For young boys of my age (I as 10 years old when the show began and 16 when it ended), Suzanne fulfilled some sort of Mrs. Robinson role as she was the same age as our moms, but much hotter and cooler. Watching her on the Tonight Show (with Johnny Carson, of course), we discovered that she was really cool and capable of keeping up with Johnny wise-crack for wise-crack.

She was also popular in those James Garner-type comedies, playing the wise brunette pal of the ditsy blond. Another reason to prefer MaryAnn, I guess...but you just knew that Suzanne's characters did it, and enjoyed it.

Monday, January 07, 2008


I was listening to NPR tonight and heard a report from New Hampshire, where the last-minute undecideds are now deciding. One woman, who claimed to have made a spreadsheet comparing all the candidates, said that while she was leaning toward Obama, she has decided to support Clinton because we need a candidate with more experience.....

I heard Mrs. Clinton say yesterday that she has 35 years of experience in changing government. Let's recall her elective office experience: 2000, elected Senator from New York. 2006 Re-elected Senator of New York.

Where's the beef?

Where is all this experience she's talking about? I've been wanting change in government for 35 years, also.

Not to be a Hillary-basher here, but being married to the guy who occupies the offices DOES NOT COUNT toward political experience.

It's one thing to stand in the wings and soak up the applause, ma'am, and it's another to jump into the bathtub and pull the hair from the drain.

And, by the way, I voted for YOUR HUSBAND in 1992.

Hillary, I really want to like you, but you must stop with this 'experience' thing. Joe Biden has it. You don't. I'm not saying Obama has it, but what he has is comparable to yours.

By the way, liked the tears today. You don't want the guys bashing because you are a woman, and then you get all emotional on us.

Here's the message you need to send: I'M SMARTER THAN THE OTHER GUYS!!!

And you are. You are so intelligent that may heart pounds when I think of you.