Saturday, March 29, 2008

Superdelegate? Well, Yeah, Sort Of.......


There’s been a lot of murmuring lately from the political forest about the possibility of Al Gore getting into the whole Democratic nominee fracas.

Given that, at the moment, neither Barack nor Hillary are willing to unclench their jaws and let go of the party pant leg and the Democratic powers that be are growing increasingly concerned that there might be a need for a “broker” or even “compromise candidate” when the time comes, the guy who introduces himself as “the man who used to be the next President of the United States, has been mentioned frequently as the guy who the party might want to turn to in a pinch.

I actually know less about politics than I know about women.

So, I know less than nothing.

But, I don’t see Al getting into it.

To be sure, he’s got the qualifications.
After all, he is a former congressman, Senator, Vice President of the United States, Oscar winning producer and Nobel Prize winner.
But all of that pales to what I think is the coolest thing about stodgy old “you can call me” Al.

He’s got something in common with Superman’s father.

No, not Jonathan Kent.

That was Superman’s adoptive father here on Earth.

I’m talking about Jor-El, his biological father on the planet Krypton.

Hold that thought.

Did you read the story about the ginormous slab of ice that broke off in Antarctica?
160 square miles of ice, my friends, a hunka hunka frozen water the size of Manhattan.

Uh-oh.

And those who, like Al Gore, believe that global warming is a clear and present danger to the well being of the inhabitants of this planet are saying that this is the latest clear and present example of that danger.

Only to have the naysayers say nay and insist that global warming is a myth.

I bet if Jor-El was around today, he’d be saying the same thing that Al is saying.

Because he was the guy who told the Kryptonian Council that there was a clear and present danger that Krypton was going to blow up in a kazillion pieces only to hear the naysayers say nay and insist that the idea of an imminent explosion was a myth.

The story they stuck to right up to the very moment that Krypton blew up in a kazillion pieces.

Luckily, for his son and for those of us who grew up later wearing bath towels safety pinned around hour necks, Jor-El put his baby son Kal-El into a rocket and launched him to a flight that would bring the baby boy to Earth.

And a pretty lucrative career as Superman.

Shakespeare wrote there is nothing new under the sun.

This includes people who don’t see the future right in front of their faces.

I looked up a few for your edification.


"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons."
-Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."
-- Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."
-- Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us."
-- Western Union internal memo, 1876.

"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?"
-- David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.

"I'm just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling on his face not Gary Cooper."
-- Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in "Gone With The Wind."

"A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make."
-- Response to Debbi Fields' idea of starting Mrs. Fields'Cookies.

"We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out."
-- Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.

"Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy."
-- Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.

"Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value."
-- Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.

"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?"
-- H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.


Of course, to this list, we have to add all the “experts” who are saying that global warming and its potentially devastating effects on the planet are a myth.

I really do doubt that Al Gore is going to run for president again.

He’s way too busy trying to convince the Kryptonian Council that the planet is about to blow up in a kazillion pieces.

Starting, apparently, in Anarctica.

It Might Look Like The Morning After....But It Will Really Be High Noon...


I don’t think I’ve ever professed to be a political expert.

Personally, I think the term itself is oxymoronic.
But, I digress.

I have no official credentials or diplomas or certifications that would empower me to assert that my opinions about what goes on in politics have any more weight than the guy or gal down the street.

Or you.

I’ll tell you what, though.

I feel pretty confident that we’re about to find out whether Hillary deserves the rap that she has gotten for years that she is nothing more than an opportunistic, untrustworthy, self aggrandizing, narcissistic glory hog who would stoop as low as necessary or climb over anyone necessary to get what she wants when she wants it regardless of the consequences to God and country.

Wow. Come to think of it, she and Bill really are a match made in heaven, aren’t they?
But, I digress again.

Hillary is about to show us whether she is patriot or princess.

Public servant or public enemy.

A righteous citizen.
Or a self righteous charlatan.

And we find out the day after the Indiana primary.

More and more of her own party’s power players are telling her to quit.
And they want her to quit now, before the voting even takes place in Pennsylvania, let alone Indiana, and the other states that have primaries remaining.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t get the impression that any of these people have any particular axe to grind with either or both of the Clintons, nor do I think that they have any particular personal agenda they are pushing by calling for Hillary to step out.

Looks more like a simple matter of “do the math”.

Everyone who knows or pretends to know anything about the way these things work is saying that, at this point, there really is no way that Hillary is going to be able to get to the convention with a sufficient number of delegates to overcome Obama’s lead and that the sniping, bickering, pinching, biting and pulling hair that’s going on right now and in the months ahead is going to have two inevitable effects.

First, whichever candidate that comes out of the Democratic convention as the nominee is going to be so chewed up by the other that it’s going to take some Penn and Teller-like presto chango to convince voters that the candidate who wasn’t fit to be the nominee is now the nominee fit to be president.

And/or the voters will already be so turned off by the process that resulted in a nominee being chosen that they will likely have already decided to just pull the lever for John McCain.

It’s as if David Cook and David Archuleta suddenly started calling each other names before their performances.

Wouldn’t Ramiele just eat that up?

And make no mistake.
Hillary Clinton can do the political math as well, or better, than anybody in the room.

So it seems logical to assume that she knows that she is going to have to make a very important decision very soon.

She either sticks to her guns, justifying staying in by spouting tired platitudes like “in it to win” and “going all the way for the people” and pretty much handing John McCain the keys to 1600 for no better reason that she simply isn’t hard wired to really put the “people” ahead of her own interests.

Or she puts the pencil to it one last, thorough time, doing the math and realizing that the best way to insure that John McCain doesn’t get the chance to continue the Bush Administration for another four years is to stand up, step up, rally her troops behind Obama and prove to all the Hillaryhaters in the world that she really does have the interests of this country at heart. And that she is dedicated to putting a Democrat back in the White House.

Even if that Democrat isn’t named Clinton.

Not to mention the fact that by showing herself willing and able to put party and country ahead of self interest, she takes a lot of tarnish off the crown she wants to wear and positions herself as a presumptive front runner in 2012 should McCain beat Obama.

Again, I’m not a political expert.
And math has never been my strong suit.

But it doesn’t take a Mensa member to see that once it becomes obvious that there will be no Hail Mary pass that will put her ahead of Obama before the convention, that making that very important choice can be put off no longer.

And the way I read it…that happens the day after Indiana.

The day that after years and years of water cooler discussion about how arrogant, untrustworthy, self interested and/or self important this husband and wife team from Arkansas may or may not be, we get to find out what it is that Hillary Clinton really cares more about.

America.

Or Hillary Clinton.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Okay, So They Snickered....But, Did They Give Her Piercing Looks ?


I have to admit that I’ve had a lot of interesting jobs.

Interesting, of course, being a relative word. But, given that many people live out their entire professional lives at “normal” occupations like accountant or doctor or salesperson, I think I’m not exaggerating to say that my work choices have been “interesting.”

I have written songs that have appeared on Grammy nominated albums.

I have performed live on stage with famous people like Dobie Gray, the “Drift Away” hitmaker.

I once drove from Nashville to the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchberg, Tennessee, nailing little blue arrows to trees so that Honda dealers who were having a convention in Music City would be able to find their way down to the home of sour mash and back again on a little Honda sponsored tour/road trip.

I did a recording session once that featured Joe English, of Paul McCartney and Wings as our drummer.

I have written freelance articles for numerous music biz publications.

And, although it doesn’t really qualify as a job (translation: I don’t get paid), I have, for the past several months been offering my collected thoughts and ramblings right here in this venue.

All pretty interesting occupations by conventional standards.

But, I gotta tell ya, I just realized today that I missed a pretty sweet opportunity for adding to the eclectic list of past lives that is my resume’ by not having gone after a certain writing job in Washington DC.

More about that in a minute.
First, let’s talk about nipples.

Here’s the story from CNN.com

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- The Transportation Security Administration said Friday its officers at a Texas airport appear to have properly followed procedures when they allegedly forced a woman to remove her nipple rings -- one with pliers -- but acknowledged the procedures should be changed.
The woman involved -- Mandi Hamlin -- told reporters earlier Friday she was humiliated by last month's incident, in which she was forced to painfully remove the piercings behind a curtain as she heard snickers from male TSA officers nearby. The incident occurred at the Lubbock, Texas, airport.
The officers "rightly insisted that the alarm that was raised be resolved," the TSA said in a statement posted on its Web site Friday afternoon. "TSA supports the thoroughness of the officers involved as they were acting to protect the passengers and crews of the flights departing Lubbock that day."
However, "TSA has reviewed the procedures themselves and agrees that they need to be changed," the statement said. "In the future, TSA will inform passengers that they have the option to resolve the alarm through a visual inspection of the article in lieu of removing the item in question."
Hamlin and her lawyer, celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, said they want a public apology from the agency, as well as a guarantee that future passengers with piercings will be treated with dignity and respect.
Allred pointed out that TSA's Web site says passengers with piercings can undergo a pat-down inspection if they do not want to take their piercings out -- an option she said Hamlin was never offered.
"The conduct of TSA was cruel and unnecessary," Allred told reporters at a news conference. "Last time that I checked, a nipple was not a dangerous weapon."

Okey dokey.

Like I said, I’ve done some pretty diverse and interesting things with my writing through the years, but how much fun must it be to have a government job that charges you with the responsibility of writing policy that dictates the proper procedure for the safe transportation of nipple rings?

Can you imagine the brainstorming meetings?

And how about the committee discussions?

Not to mention the benefit package and 401K that government employees have access to.
I’m not sure that anything I have ever done even compares with the kick that gig must be.

You know, tit for tat.

I might have to look into Federal job opportunities in my twilight working years.

Oh…and regarding what Gloria Allred said about a nipple not being a dangerous weapon?

Obviously she’s never been within five feet of Pamela Anderson on a chilly, breezy day.

The Terror Within....


It’s been only six years or so since we were attacked on September 11.

Seems longer doesn’t it?

And more than once, I’ve heard people wonder out loud why such a long time has passed without any further serious assaults on our country.

Because for months after 9/11, all we heard was that we needed to be prepared for the next attack and the next. Because these evil people meant business.

Yet, over six years later, nothing.

And if time hasn’t healed, it has, at least, dimmed the memories.

If you lost friends or loved ones, it most likely feels like yesterday and understandably so.
But for the rest of us, the idea of terrorists destroying our way of life and filling us with uncertainty, insecurity and even despair, has faded back into the shadows of our daily lives. And the terrible images of that day are no longer front page news or even front and center in our thoughts as we go about our business.

We have other things on our mind.

For instance…

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A week ago, Joshua Hager was despondent. Laid off by a mortgage company, he has looked for jobs ranging from bank teller to risk analyst. He was sending out as many as 10 resumes a day but was getting barely a nibble from employers or recruiters.
"It's always flowed for me," said Hager, 29, who discovered his love of math and finance in high school in Proctorville, Ohio, about three hours southeast of Columbus. "I've always had a job and every time I changed jobs, it was for advancement. Now, it's like 'What do I do with myself because I can't wait for that next step.' "
Hager has joined nearly 125,000 others on Wall Street and at mortgage firms and other financial companies who received pink slips since the start of 2007. It seems that nearly every week another financial firm lets go of thousands of workers at all levels. With the market flooded, it's hard for the unemployed to land a job, experts said.

Or…

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- With little college education and a sporadic work history, Jessica McGreevy was thrilled to join the red-hot real estate industry in late 2005, landing a receptionist job at a mortgage bank in a Long Island suburb about 45 miles east of New York City.
Eager to learn new skills, the single mother of two worked her way up to a position as a loan opener. She was making $32,000 and had her eye on a better-paying loan processor job. By last October, she was able to move her family out of a rented house they shared with her parents into a place across the street.
"I was making more money than I had ever made," said McGreevy, 31. "I was good at what I did. There was a lot of opportunity for advancement."
The week after she moved, she was laid off and became another victim of the great mortgage meltdown.
Though she's now willing to take a job in any field, McGreevy says she can't find one that pays more than her $325 weekly unemployment check when she factors in the cost of day care. She's spent the last six months scouring online help wanted ads, attending job fairs and sending out well over 100 resumes. She received barely any responses until last week, when she went on three interviews.
The problems in America's economy, which surfaced last year in the housing market, are spreading. The labor market is tightening across the board and it's increasingly difficult for the jobless to find any work, much less a position with a comparable paycheck.


It’s been six plus years since the terrorists blatantly attacked us and began what looked to be the first wave of destroying our way of life and filling us with uncertainty, insecurity and even despair.

It occurs to me that some people may have stopped wondering why it’s been so long without another assault.

And some people may be thinking that the terrorists don’t have to do a thing to fill our lives with uncertainty, insecurity and even despair.

Because it seems like lately our own government is doing a pretty good job of it themselves.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Kristy Lee Knew Exactly What She Was Doing....But She Has No Idea What She's Done....


Billie Jean may have been the magic everyone was talking about.

But Kristy Lee pulled off the neatest trick.

If you’re an American Idol watcher, you know that on this week’s competition episode, David Cook sang a powerful version of the Michael Jackson classic. And although the entire firm of Jackson, Abdul and Cowell raved about his “brave and amazing performance of a totally original arrangement”, it managed to slip past all three of them that Cook, while pretty durn magnetic, was actually performing the arrangement that rocker Chris Cornell originated.

Even though Ryan mentioned it in the intro.

Okay, so we’re not watching American Idol for its accuracy or veracity anyway are we?

So, the betting line, at this moment, is that the whole shooting match is now Cook’s to lose.

And I’m pretty much personally convinced that this kid has the most star potential of the remaining troupe.

But, if they gave points for strategy in addition to chops, little Kristy Lee would have blown into first place like Picabo Street at the downhill slalom.

Because admittedly, Cook’s version of Cornell’s version of Jackson’s classic was stunning.

That’s Michael, not Randy, by the way.

But he didn’t really show us anything new as much as he showed a way above average presentation of what he usually does.

And don’t get me wrong.
The kid’s got game.

But Kristy knows how to play the game.

Because after finally getting to the point where her aw shucks, top contender in the Nashville Holiday Inn talent night style presentation was starting to wear thin enough to make a lot of us think that it was her turn to step up and be shown the door, she showed up on the stage and all but guaranteed from the first note out of her mouth that she wasn’t gonna be voted off nothin this here week.

Ya’ll.

She sang “God Bless The USA”.

The performance was as good as any you might see at Dollywood.
But the strategy…was a masterstroke.

Even Simon recognized it when it came time for his “critique”.

Oh, he avoided calling it what it was, saying that it was “the smartest song choice he had heard all evening” or something to that effect.

Come to think of it, considering it was Simon, he was uncharacteristically diplomatic.

Because not once did he use the “p” word.
Pandering.

Think about it. At a time when we are still wobbly from September 11, becoming more and more divided each day over the merits of sending our sons and daughters to fight and die in a war that looks to have no real direction, in the middle of a presidential election year that features a decorated war hero and the first woman and the first black man to get within moving van distance of 1600 Pennsylvania, who, I ask you, on God’s green earth is going to even consider for a second, let alone begin texting, any thing but a resounding “yes!” vote for a cute but not adorable, talented but not gifted, blonde but not stunning down home country girl who gets on television live in front of millions of Americans and sings the song that has made it possible for Lee Greenwood to never have to even consider working for a living again for the rest of his life?

God Bless The USA?

We hope and pray He does.

Gosh durn that Kristy Lee?

Ya’ll better believe it.

Cause nobody is gonna vote against somebody who sings that song in this day and time.

Of course, you know what that means.

Hillary.

Singing God Bless The USA from here on out.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

There's A Knob on the TV Marked "Brightness"...But It Doesn't Really Work, Does It?....


I’m pretty sure that I have turned into my father.

Because when I was younger, I noticed that he spent a lot of time looking over his shoulder at whatever antics people of my generation were engaged in and, with an expression that can only be described as disdain bordering on contempt, offered up his very articulate assessment of whatever it was he was observing.

“Hmmph..”

And the sound was usually his considered opinion about some music I was listening to or some movie that I was raving about or TV show that I was watching.

The spelling of the sound was open to debate.
But I think it a safe bet that it only had four letters.

Lately, the noise has enjoyed a revival of sorts.

I’ve been making it.

And that can’t be good.

First of all, I’m not, by nature, as uptight about culture and its spillage as my father was in the day. After all, he was a professional man who did a nine to five with benefits and pension.

And I’ve been hanging around the frayed edges of entertainment and media, et al all of my working life.

I have a pretty high tolerance for crap.

But any envelope that is pushed will eventually reach its nadir.

And when the bottom of the barrel is found, the sound it makes isn’t the scraping noise you might expect.

Actually, it’s more like…
Hmmph.

Which brings me to “Moment Of Truth”.

This is the Fox show that precedes American Idol on Wednesday nights and if you haven’t seen it…you have my admiration and respect.

It’s a “game/reality” show where a contestant is brought on stage in front of family and/or friends and asked questions that they have previously been asked at an earlier time backstage while strapped to a lie detector. When they answer the questions on the “on air” portion of the show, if their answers “match” their previous answers, they start building up bucks on the way to a potentially big payoff.

Okay.
Seems innocuous enough.

But, even if you haven’t seen the show, you already know where this is going, don’t you? The questions go something like this…

“Have you ever had sex with one of your neighbors?”

“Would you sleep with your boss to get a raise?”

“Have you ever lied to your husband/wife about your sexual satisfaction?”
Sensing a theme here?

And, of course, the family and/or friends who will be most dramatically, even traumatically, affected by the “true” answers to these questions are sitting right there on the stage with the person in the hot seat.

So, picture the moment when the loving husband is asked if he has ever taken his secretary to a motel, answers yes, because he has to be truthful to win the money and the camera cuts to the face of the loving wife who is just finding out for the first time that her husband is a cheating weasel.

Admittedly, a cheating weasel who still has a chance to win a big buck payoff.

Which will very likely end up paying for the attorney he’ll need when she sues his sorry ass for divorce.

I’m reminded of a funny bit that the characters Larry, Daryl and Daryl used to do on the old Newhart Show.

They did a thing called “Anything for A Dollar”
And they literally were willing to do anything.
For a dollar.

It was so absurd and slapstick in the eighties that it was funny.

Now, we’ve “evolved” to the point where it’s happening for real in prime time.

And it’s not even close to funny.

I have never seen a complete episode of this show. I watched enough of one segment to get the drift and then I surfed on, feeling the oddest urge to take a shower.

I am a writer and humorist and satirist and I don’t have a stick up my butt and I’m not a prude and I think that envelopes need to be pushed and boundaries need to be stretched in order for us to grow as artists and as human beings.

And poking fun, making fun, even borderline ridicule of people can, in the right hands, be a sharp, entertaining, even ground breaking cultural event.

But humiliating people, even destroying marriages and/or families in front of a live audience?

It’s nothing more than the HDTV equivalent of those sideshow losers who bit the heads off of chickens.

Hey kids! That’s entertainment!

Hmmph.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"Bada Bing...She's Done....Capice?..."


I’m not sure how the rest of you are going to take this.

But I suspect G is going to be delighted.

Because I imagine that she never imagined that I would ever get around to making this sound out loud (or, well, you know, the written equivalent of out loud).

Hillary needs to give it up.

And I’m pretty sorry about that.

Oh, not so much because I was or am or ever really could be a die hard Clinton supporter.
I think being a die-hard anybody supporter in this world is a mistake.

It’s like trusting that your rifle is always going to shoot dead straight.

You really need to allow for the wind, you know.

And in politics, the wind can blow candidates around quicker and more dynamically than corn stalks get shoved around on the Kansas plain.

So. “time for a change” should be retired as the standard cliché’ slogan of any given political campaign and, in it’s place, the more logical and realistic…

“…caveat emptor”.

And just for the record, I feel a little like Frankie Pentangali when Michael Corleone told him, in Godfather II, that Hyman Roth was okay because his, Michael’s dad Don Vito, had worked with him.
“Your father knew Hyman Roth”, Frankie replies, “…your father worked with Hyman Roth…but your father never trusted Hyman Roth.”

So let it be known far and wide…

I knew of Hillary Clinton, I worked to believe Hillary Clinton.
But I never trusted Hillary Clinton.

And I figured that, sooner or later, my dilemma over whether to get past that and still consider her seriously would work itself out as the result of something she said or did.

Sure enough.

Today, the media is drunk with glee that they not only have her embellishing her experiences, but they have video to prove that she embellishes.

She has been saying that she showed up in Bosnia in 1996 and braved sniper fire going from plane to building on her arrival.

The news footage very clearly shows her and Chelsea smilingly walking calm and cool, waving and saying hi as they disembark.

So video clearly shows that what she said happened didn’t happen.

Well, la de frickin dah.

I’m not flipping off my Hillary switch because her account conflicts with the footage.

I’m done with her because of her response today when asked about it (and asked and asked and asked)

“So, I made a mistake…I misspoke…I say lot of things every day, millions of words…it just proves that I’m human.”

No, Hillary, what it proves is that when confronted with undeniable evidence that you made something up, rather than show contrition and/or ask for forgiveness, you get pissed and write it off to human failing.

And it’s not even the “made a mistake, proves I’m human” part that tears it for me.

It’s that pesky “I say lots of things every day, millions of words.”

I’m really not a rabid anti Clinton-ite, but you don’t have to hate Billary to know how the critics are going to spin that one.

“I say lots of things, millions of words and it’s your problem to figure out how many of those millions of those words are sincere and how many are bullshit.”

Bill Richardson endorsed Obama this past weekend and said that one of the things that turned him in that direction was his disdain for what he called the Clinton “feeling of entitlement” to be president.

Does seem like he may have been on to something.

Because only somebody who thinks they are entitled would have the mindset that, because only a few of the millions of words they speak everyday are bullshit, the job is still rightly hers.

It’s one thing to feel like we can’t trust anybody in government.

Because most of the time, they show us after we elect them, that we can’t.
It’s another thing to know for sure going in that we can’t… and still pull the lever.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Could Have Been Worse...How About "Grandma Got Run Over By Peter Cottontail"..?


Heard any good Israel Isidore Baline songs lately?
No?

Actually, the chances are pretty good that you have.

Especially in the last few days.

Mr. Baline was a pretty prolific songwriter.
And, I feel safe in adding, pretty darn successful, too.

In fact, he wrote the song that is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the best selling single of all time.

A song that he wrote while relaxing by the pool at the Biltmore Resort and Spa in Phoenix, Arizona.
Lot of irony, there.

More about that in a minute.

First, though, I wanted to share with you that I’ve noticed that certain holidays get a fairer shake than others when it comes to songs that are written about them.

Christmas is obviously the champ.

And even though the only really well known song that pays tribute to New Year’s is “Auld Lang Syne”, it’s the kind of song that, heard once or twice, you’d swear you’ve heard it ten million times, so that counts as a multiple.

Other holidays get the short end of the metronome, though.

Thanksgiving, for example?
Where is the perennial, pop music favorite extolling the virtues of turkey and dressing?
Well, there is “ We Gather Together To Ask The Lord’s Blessing.”

Hardly number one with a bullet.

And Valentine’s Day?

Seems like a day soaked in romance would be second only to Christmas in terms of the tunes dedicated to it and dragged out every year and played ad nauseum for three to five weeks prior on every radio station in town.

But, no.

In fact, I can’t even think of a song that has the word Valentine in it, with the exception of “My Funny Valentine” and that’s not what I would call a barn burner, either. In fact, if you listen to Chet Baker’s version, you’re going to be tempted to stick your head in the gas oven even IF you have somebody in your life on Chocolate and Hallmark Card Day.

Halloween?
Not really, no.

Labor Day?
Well, I could try and stretch the point and nominate Huey Lewis” “Working for A Livin” or Lee Dorsey’s “Working In A Coal Mine”, but it would be a pretty lame stretch.

Then again, how about Paul Anka’s “Havin My Baby” for a Labor Day song?

I’ll give you a second to think about it.
Okay.

Yeah. I know. Pretty lame, too.

Well, I think the presidential candidates should have their feet held to the fire about the issue. After all, if they’re not going to give us any substantive answers to questions about the economy or the war or the price of gas, the least they can do is offer up what plan they have to make Martin Luther King Day a more musical event.

In the meantime, back to Mr. Israel Isadore Baline.

Who was not only a hit songwriter, but quite the patriot, too.

For he donated all of the royalties to one of his fairly successful dittys to the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Campfire Girls

The very successful songwriter who wrote the all time best selling single while sitting by the pool in Phoenix, Arizona.

And the songwriter who wrote the song that I told you earlier had very likely been heard by your or yours in the past few days.

For Mr. Israel Isadore Baline wrote songs under a much better known pseudonym (are you digging the Paul Harvey “Rest of the Story” thing I have going here?)

Irving Berlin.

And the song that benefited the Scouts and Campfire Girls?

“God Bless America”

The song written by the Arizona pool that is the best selling single of all time?

“White Christmas”

And the song that trumps Valentine’s Day and Halloween and Labor Day by giving this holiday it’s own musical identity?
“Easter Parade”

Good thing Mr. Berlin came along when he did.

Or we might wake up every Easter morning to the sounds of The Four Seasons singing “Candy Girl” until we want to want to go hop hop hoppin down the trail to the looney bin.

Thanks, Israel.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

"..Here Comes The Sun.....and There Aint Nothin New Under It....."


Eliot Spitzer owes George W. Bush some serious props.

If it wasn’t for the war in Iraq, the collapse of Bear Sterns, the foreclosure crisis, the shaky state of Wall Street and all the other highlights of what, at best, can satirically be called the Bush “Administration”, the story of Mr. Client 9 and his high priced play pal would have had, what they ironically call in the trades…legs.

As it is, New York State has a new governor, the first black to hold the office, as well as the first legally blind person to hold the office.

And, of course, his “extra marital” issues have already been outed, sliced, diced and offered up on the salacious smorgasbord that is the “news”.

Yawn.

I don’t want to give the impression I condone or endorse any activity that goes against the basic code of right and wrong in the world.
Whatever the hell that is anymore.

Fact is, it’s not for me to say anyway, one way or the other.

And I suppose that reporting on the human flaws and weaknesses of those we select to lead us is inevitable in a world of flawed and weak humans.
So be it.

Is it just me, though, or do you find yourself less concerned with the “affairs” of those who conduct affairs of state than you are with whether or not it’s going to be Archuleta or Cook who becomes this year’s winner on American Idol?

Yeah. I thought so.

And again, it’s not so much because we approve of misbehavior, as it is we’ve become sort of resigned to it being the norm.

Judge not, lest ye be judged.
No moral of the morals story here.

Something to be said, though, for the fact that those things that were once surprising, even shocking are not so shocking, let alone surprising, anymore.

The case can certainly be made that the world is spiraling downward toward the unavoidable spiritual and moral Armageddon.

Which, of course, brings us to the question that has been asked since time immemorial.

What else is new?

I’m honestly not sure whether our moral decay is any more prevalent or rapid these days or whether technology has made the world so much smaller that we hear about every little crack in the mortar whenever and wherever it appears.

In the 1860’s, some people in California didn’t find out for weeks after the fact that Lincoln had been assassinated.

Today, the Jockey shorts are hardly pulled back up before Inside Edition has the latest details of the latest fall from grace.

Temptation and sin date back to the garden, if I remember my history correctly.

Eden. Not Olive.

See what I mean about what’s important to us?

And people of power and prestige, etc have been falling off their pedestals ever since.
Remember Aimee Semple McPherson?

No, she’s not the latest hottie reading the teleprompter on Fox News.

She was, eighty years or so ago, the hottest thing in evangelism.

By the mid-1920s, evangelist McPherson was packing them in at her Angelus Temple in Los Angeles, preaching hope and warning against the sinful life. But in 1926, she disappeared while swimming at a local beach. She turned up a month later with a fantastic story about being kidnapped and taken to Mexico. Unfortunately, the evidence said otherwise: It appeared Aimee had been shacked up with a married man. The evangelist was charged with perjury, but she stuck to her story and was eventually acquitted. Her popularity waned after the scandal, but you gotta hand it to her for chutzpah: instead of apologizing to her confused flock, McPherson bobbed her hair, bought some short skirts, and began dancing and drinking in public.

Or so they say…

Looking at her picture, though, I’m thinking of floating a rumor that she found her final fame playing Ma on The Sopranos.

Regardless, there is something to be said for somebody who not only admits their failings but changes careers to utilize them, don’t you think?

Maybe Spitzer will take a page from McPherson’s book.

And we’ll see him next season as the host of “Moment Of Truth.”

He Is Risen......he, on the other hand........


This day needs a name.


Yes, I know it’s Saturday.


Everybody’s a comedian.


I’m talking about a name to identify the day as an annual event.


Not that there’s anything in particular going on today, it’s just that the Saturday after Good Friday and before Easter Sunday has the misfortune of being a little bit like the shell of a lobster.


It serves a purpose, but most people simply treat it as something that has to be gotten through to get to the good stuff.


Just an in-between the days day.


And, despite what you might be already suspecting, I don’t really have a suggestion.
It was just a thought.


So, while you begin the process of pondering with friends and family what it is that the Saturday after Good Friday and before Easter Sunday should be called, I’ll just wander over here and get to work on the three or four projects that have piled up on my desk.


Let me know what you come up with.


Oh…and as a way of saying thanks for stopping by today and keeping the visit from being a total waste of time for you, I noticed something kind of fun on Mental Floss dot com this morning I thought would be interesting to share.


Five famous TV stars who didn’t really want to become famous in the manner they did.
Just a little useless trivia so as not to keep you too long from your plans, chores and activities preparing for tomorrow.


So, happy In Between Days Day, everybody.


Nah. Doesn’t work for me, either.


FIVE FAMOUS PEOPLE WHO DIDN’T WANT TO BECOME FAMOUS IN THE MANNER THEY DID…

Brady Bunch dad Robert Reed had been was a thorn in producer Sherwood Schwartz’s side since Day One. He always maintained that he’d only signed his Brady Bunch contract because the pilot was lame and it wouldn’t get picked up as a series. The show had also been described to him as a serious look at blended families. Instead, the serious dramatic actor who’d trained at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts found himself “trapped on Gilligan’s Island with kids.”

Gary Burghoff appeared as Corporal Walter “Radar” O’Reilly in every episode of the first three seasons of M*A*S*H. By season four, he was disenchanted with the direction his character was taking. He’d started out as crafty and sneaky, and not adverse to helping himself to Colonel Blake’s brandy. But the writers eventually turned him into a naïve farm boy who never sipped anything stronger than a Grape Nehi. Burghoff only appeared in about half the episodes over the next three seasons, and the CBS brass convinced him to stay long enough to play the focus of a two-part send-off during sweeps week in season eight. M*A*S*H writer Ken Levine notes that Burghoff partially expressed his disenchantment during his last appearance by refusing to wear his “Radar hat” during those final episodes, making him look less like the twenty-something company clerk he was playing and more like the balding, middle-aged man he was.

Marcia Strassman landed a plum role as Mrs. Kotter on the hit sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter, but she wasn’t happy about it. “Every day I pray for cancellation,” she moaned in several interviews at the time. While some of us would shrug and think “a paycheck is a paycheck,” Strassman made it clear that smiling indulgently while Gabe Kaplan droned on about his great-uncle Schlomo and saying “Then what happened?” didn’t satisfy her artistic needs. Ironically, series star and co-creator Kaplan left after the third season, making Strassman the de facto star of the show. Such was her drawing power that Kotter was canceled promptly after season four.

When Good Times premiered in 1974 (as a spin-off of Maude), it was the first sitcom to attempt to portray a realistic nuclear African-American family. Despite struggling financially, James and Florida Evans remained wise, loving parents who brought their children up with strong family values. John Amos portrayed the patriarch, a proud man who refused handouts and worked hard to support his family. But shortly after the series premiered, the producers noticed that Jimmie “J.J.” Walker received the biggest audience reaction and the most fan mail. The writers quickly took the focus off the elder Evans and made J.J. the star of the show, and the plots became more outrageous and unbelievable. Amos was unhappy with the new direction of the show, and described Walker’s pop-eyed, grinning character in the press as a “minstrel show.” Not surprisingly, Amos’ contract was not renewed, and his character was killed in an off-camera automobile accident

When Tina Louise signed on to play Ginger Grant on Gilligan’s Island, she was under the impression that the series was going to be about the trials and tribulations of an actress stranded on a desert island, and that the show would revolve around her character. (I suppose we could pick a nit and wonder if the show’s title didn’t somehow clue her in, but why split hairs?) Louise was known for being difficult on the set, and dismissive of her co-stars. After all, her name and scantily-clad bod had been a staple of society page gossip columns and magazine pictorials for the past 10 years. She was a star, dammit, not an ensemble player. Of all the castaways, Louise has remained the sole holdout in most reunion projects and promotional gigs related to the show
.



Now you can dazzle your family and friends at your Easter gatherings with the kind of information you can only find here.


Well, here and Mental Floss dot com.
But I looked it up for you.


By the way, as a “holiday bonus”, I’m adding one more famous person to the list. Somebody who from all appearances also apparently didn’t want to become famous in the manner he did.


And no, it’s not Jesus, thank you.


The Bible does mention some last minute discussion with God about why He was chosen to become famous in the manner chosen, but that’s not who I’m talking about.


No, this guy is a little more contemporary, and my guess is that, at the beginning, he anticipated great acclaim, congratulations and praise for the work he was chosen to do.


And, as the show draws to a close, he isn’t close to receiving any of that.


I’m no expert. But I suspect we would have been a lot more willing to pay tribute were we not paying five dollars a gallon for gasoline, watching people lose their homes in record numbers, seeing financial institutions gobble each other up, being vilified in increasingly vicious terms by more and more countries around the world and, oh yes, watching our sons and daughters and husbands and wives and sisters and brothers being shipped, and more and more often reshipped, off to the other side of the world to fight a “war” that seems to be employing the Christopher Columbus method of seeking a resolution.


Just sailing around until he finds it.


Come January, we’ll see somebody new stepping into this role. And every poll on the planet indicates that nobody is going to be sorry to see a new Darren (or Samantha, as the case may be) take over for this Darren.


He sure did get famous, though, didn’t he?


Not what he had in mind, though, I’m thinking.

Now maybe he knows how we feel.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

NOW, When They Say "The Race Is On'...They Ain't Kiddin..."


In 1960, John F. Kennedy had to give a speech that, hopefully, would put to rest the fears some people had about electing a Catholic to the presidency.

Because no Catholic had ever been elected President at that time.

Yesterday, Barack Obama had to give a speech that, hopefully, will put to rest the fears that some people have about electing a black man to the presidency.

Because no black has ever been elected President.

I suspect that, at the time, Kennedy and his team thought that reassuring the doubters was going to be a tough row to hoe.

All things considered, I’d offer you that JFK had it easier.

After all, there was no video of the Pope screaming anti-Protestant dogma at the Sunday crowd in St Peter’s Square.
And Kennedy wasn’t faced with public pressure to “disown” that nice guy in the tall white pointed hat.

He just basically did his best to assure people that he was his own man and he clearly understood the definition of the term “separation of church and state.”

We know how that election turned out.

And I wont wander off the point for long but, I think it’s kind of cool that the conventional wisdom is that Kennedy’s paper thin victory over Nixon was the result of voting irregularities masterminded by Richard Daley, then the mayor of Chicago.

And where is Obama’s home church, the headquarters of the pastor who seems to have more passion than political correctness?

Chicago.
That toddlin’ town.

Then again, I’ve been bombarded lately with a more frequent than usual awareness of all things Chicago.

Life is still being cruel to me.

But, I promised not to wander off the point for long.
Yeah, as if.

The pundits and politicos are, obviously, all over the issue of whether Obama’s denunciation of the things his pastor said while stopping short of denouncing his pastor will be sufficient to satisfy those who were/are offended by what the pastor had to say.

We probably wont know until Election Night.

Because voters who are well read and/or thoughtful and/or reflective and/or tuned in to the process will probably make up their mind pretty quickly and answer the poll questions accordingly.

And those who are not so well read and/or thoughtful and/or reflective and/or tuned in to the process will probably adopt a wait and see attitude and that, too, will be reflected in the polls over the next few days or weeks.

That leaves the idiots.

And you never know what the idiots are going to do until they do it.

And that pretty much means Election Day.

After being alive long enough to have actually “witnessed” twelve presidential campaigns (I actually don’t start counting until 1960 when I was nine cause before that I was more aware of Popeye than politics), my take is that, for now, it wont really sway people drastically in either direction.

People who back Barack will continue to back Barack
People who hail Hillary will continue to hail Hillary.

And the idiots wont be coming out of the woodwork until November.

The discussion, though, will be about race.

It just wont be so much about race as it applies to whether or not a black man can be elected president this time around.

It will be about race as it applies to the “shocking” discovery, made this week by a big old chunk of white middle class America, that black people, in a large numbers, are still pretty pissed off about the way they’ve been treated for the past three hundred plus years in this country and see nothing unusual about sitting in their local pew on Sunday morning, nodding their heads in agreement as the spiritual leader of their church spouts political and, undeniably, inflammatory rhetoric at his parishioners.

Praise the Lord!
And damn whitey!

I have a feeling that the Obama campaign is glad, in a practical way, that the cork is out of the bottle and the dialogue/debate can begin in earnest.

What’s remarkable, though, is that the dialogue/debate has suddenly shifted away from what was once the predictable slant.

The question of whether this country is ready to elect a black man President of the United States.

Turns out that this little twist of the plot has provided an unexpected, double whammy when it comes to what part race still plays, not just in this campaign, but in our everyday lives.

Obviously, Obama’s support and success has shown us how far we’ve come.

And Obama’s pastor has shown us far we still have to go.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"...A Rose...By Any Other Number...."


I am continually amazed at the things that media believes are newsworthy.

Admittedly, as I have opined before, a media that requires feeding twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty five days a year is going to, inevitably, do some barrel scraping when it comes to items of interest.

After all, there’s only much plague, pestilence and economic collapse going on at any one time (boy, don’t you know the media is really going to miss Dubya’s incompetence)

But even allowing for the supply and demand nature of “news” today, I still think that Miley Cyrus changing her name to Miley Cyrus isn’t exactly the kind of 20 point banner headline stuff that merited being on the home page of CNN.com today.


LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Hannah Montana is leaving destiny behind.

Miley Cyrus, whose given name is Destiny Hope Cyrus, has filed papers in Los Angeles Superior Court to change her full legal name to Miley Ray Cyrus.

The 15-year-old singer and TV star is the daughter of country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, who filed the papers last Friday with wife Leticia. Her father writes in the filing that the request was "to make her commonly used name the same as her legal name."

Miley Cyrus has said her father gave her the nickname "Smiley Miley" as a baby because of her sunny disposition. On the Disney Channel tween hit "Hannah Montana," she plays a teen who hides her singing stardom.

So, if I have this straight, Miley, who pretends to be Hannah, but whose real name is Destiny, has changed her name legally to Miley, who will continue to pretend to be Hannah, but whose real name will no longer be Destiny.

I know I’ll sleep better tonight.
How about you?

Acutally, my whole point in bringing all of this up isnt really the shallow and superficial nature of what is so often labeled as “news” these days.

My point is that I think we should no longer name children when they are born.

I think that we should let them decide, at some point in their lives, what it is they want to be called.

And then name themselves.

At birth, simply give the kid a number.

“John and Mary Parent proudly announce the arrival of their beautiful baby daughter, 3”

Well, you say cynically, wont we run out of numbers pretty quickly?
Uh..yeah.

What difference does that make?

Use whatever number you like as many times as you like.
How many Britneys do you know of in your neighborhood alone?

Geez, do I have to think of everything?

The reasoning behind my suggestion here isnt just whimsy or mischief.

I think kids would appreciate not being tagged from moment one.

Because although there is no scientific evidence to back me up here, I believe the case could be made that many kids grow up to be what they grow up to be in no small measure because of their name.

Don’t believe me?
How many nerdy, computer geek research scientists named Justin do you know?
On the other hand, how many cute, Backstreet Boy types named Lester have you heard of?

See?

How many breathtaking, supermodel type beauties named Marge have you seen?
And how many pinch faced, wide thighed geometry teachers named Samantha?
Weird, huh?

So, what seems to happen more often than we notice, let alone, admit is that when we name a child at birth, when all kids look exactly the same for the first twenty four to forty eight hours (come one, every single one of those “birth photos”looks like the same well fed Vietnamese baby..) we are not only subjecting to whatever future ridicule their school mates will inflict (“Matty Fatty”, “Snotty Scotty”, “Betty Wetty”, et al), but we are inadvertantly determining what they will turn out to be as adults.

Name a kid Spalding and you’re talking playwright, stockbroker or PBS host.

Aint a chance in hell that kid will grow up to play in the NFL.

By giving the kid a number, we will have done our duty in terms of giving them the basic ID they need to go through life, we will have minimized the ridicule they must endure from peers (come on, kids are resourceful, they’re not gonna let a thing like numbers in lieu of names stop them from branding their playmates “Dirty 30” or “Shifty 50” or even, simply and eloquently “Number Two”) and we will free them to pursue their destiny in life and, once achieved, label it accordingly.

6 grows up to be a manicurist and names herself Arlene.
54 grows up to be a quarterback and names himself Dan.
2 grow up to be a politician and…..

…well, maybe the most appropriate thing to do then is simply stick with…

Number Two.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

" Coming Up.....McGuire in the Morning....."


I like Jerry McGuire.

Not the movie, necessarily.

The whole premise is pretty formulaic and the “you had me at hello” stuff is the kind of thing that comes back to haunt every guy who ever forgets an anniversary and/or doesn’t have the training to know that when you ask “what’s wrong” and she says “oh, nothing”, that you never, ever leave it at that.

So I can take or leave the movie, pre se’.

But I do like the character itself.

At least that quality in the character that gets him thrown out of his cush job as a sports agent and sends the plot flying on down the road toward the Hallmark card stuff at the end.

If you’ve never seen the movie, the quick summary of the set up is that, in a moment of humanness one night, he writes a memo that spells out, in no uncertain terms, that being an agent should be about taking care of people and looking out for their interests and not, as it is so much of the time, about self interest and doing whatever it takes to up the commissions and/or save one’s own job.

It’s a stunning piece of writing that every single person who reads it finds insightful, even brilliant.

And, naturally, he gets fired for it.

I always thought a catchier name for the movie would be “The Truth Really WILL Set You Free.”
But nobody asked me.

In the movie, Jerry is, as we know, a sports agent.
But he could just as easily be an accountant, a politician…

Or a radio personality.

Because the underlying moral of the story is interchangeable with any number of professions and is, I think, the real poignancy of the story.

That telling the truth may be the right thing to do.
But it’s most usually not the smart thing to do.

A good friend and colleague of mine in the broadcasting industry got fired from his gig a few weeks ago. And in a fell swoop, joined me and thousands of our peers who are currently “on the beach” in the industry, looking for the next place to ply our trade and entertain our audiences.

He’s a very talented fellow with years of chops and an engaging on air style that entertains without pandering and informs without boring.

Much like me.

Hey, that’s why they call it shameless SELF-promotion.

But he and I, among others, share another quality in common.
We have a tendency to say bullshit when we see bullshit.

And neither one of us have been able to get it through our thick heads what Jerry McGuire teaches us with every HBO replay.

Telling the truth is the right thing to do.
But not the smart thing.

And the truth I'm talking about isn’t petty stuff like why are there no lounge chairs in the jock lounge or why is there a big sign on the water cooler that says “Don’t Use This For Coffee” (I personally never could wrap my head around the idea that it’s okay to drink the water, you just aren’t allowed to run it through a filter and some grounds first)

The truth I’m talking about is the same truth that is, and has been for some time, being discussed industry wide.

Conventional radio is in a state of transition, primarily because it is not a growth industry anymore.

People are tuning out in large measure because they are turned off.

And with the advent of podcasts, Iphone, satellite radio, Internet radio, et al, conventional radio no longer has the luxury of simply shoveling out the same old same old every day and expecting any kind of return on their investment.

Because listeners have too many other places to go to be entertained without being pandered to and informed without being bored.

With apologies for mixing the movie metaphors…in large measure, they’re mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore.

Well, if you’ve ever worked in broadcasting, you already know what I’m talking about without my having to waste your day by preaching to you as you stand in the choir.

And if you haven’t worked in broadcasting, you certainly understand the premise without me having to waste your day by making and remaking the point.

Suffice to say that I think that what’s required to stop the exodus of conventional radio listeners is the time honored “return to fundamentals”, engaging and entertaining programs offered up by live, not prerecorded, personalities who love what they do, work hard to earn their listener’s trust and loyalty and who, more importantly, don’t insult their listeners intelligence by dumbing the shows down to attract the lowest common denominator.

There’s less and less of that happening in conventional radio these days.

And if you, like me, grew up listening to and loving what was on the air, you’ve got to miss it.
Or even be a little sad.

Or maybe, if it means that much to you, a little pissed off.

This just in from the AP……


PORTLAND, Ore. -- An angry listener may be responsible for a car that crashed into Portland radio station studios Friday afternoon.
The driver backed the car into the studios of Newsradio 750 KXL and Jammin 95.5 on Bancroft Street at about 1 p.m. and then drove away.
Employees said the car came within feet of the receptionist. Workers at the radio station managed to get a license plate number and police were able to track the driver to Vancouver.
Officers took the man into custody at his home and towed his car away was evidence.
Neighbors said the man responsible has a vendetta against the radio station Jammin 95.5.
Police said the driver is receiving a mental evaluation. He was not charged with a crime Friday.


I think Jerry McGuire would offer us that the guy isn’t crazy at all.

He probably just heard one too many boob jokes on the morning show.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Forget The Force, George....Trust ME.....


Taking a little break from my writing for pay endeavors this afternoon, I realized that, Atlanta getting bitchslapped around by Mother Nature notwithstanding, it’s a pretty slow news Saturday.

Here’s the headline proof from CNN.com


LAS VEGAS, Nevada (AP) -- Fans never seem to get their fill of "Star Wars," and George Lucas is happy to oblige.
Lucas offered a glimpse into the latest creation in his sci-fi universe at the theater-owners convention ShoWest on Thursday, showing a sequence from "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," a computer-animated movie due in theaters August 15. It will be followed by a TV series of the same name, to air on the Cartoon Network and TNT this fall.
The movie came about as an afterthought while Lucas was developing an animated TV show of the same name. That show debuts this fall, but Lucas figured it was ripe for big-screen treatment, too.
Set in the years between episodes II and III -- "Attack of the Clones" and "Revenge of the Sith" -- of the big-screen "Star Wars" chronicle, the movie and series present fresh adventures of Jedi warrior Anakin Skywalker, his mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and other colleagues.
The movie introduces a female Jedi, Ahsoki, who is Anakin's young apprentice.
"It's like 'Band of Brothers' in space, with Jedi," Lucas, 63, said. "You can tell lots of stories. They come up all the time."
Lucas said he plans to produce at least 100 hours worth of TV episodes of "Clone Wars."
He also is moving forward with a live-action "Star Wars" TV show focusing largely on new characters removed from the Skywalker family. That show will be set in the decades between "Revenge of the Sith" and the period when the original film, 1977's "Star Wars," takes place.
So can fans ever get enough of "Star Wars"?
"I don't know," Lucas said. "I'm thankful every year that it keeps going."


Well, George, we’re thankful for you, buddy.

Thirty years later and still going strong.

That’s almost longer than Joan Rivers’ first facelift has lasted.

But, here’s the thing, Tatooine boy.
I’m at a point in my life where I, too, need to start being thankful for the fame and fortune that I have achieved with my creativity.

All I need now is some fame and fortune to be thankful for.

And that’s where you come in.

Cause I’ve got a sure fire, out of the box killer idea for a “spin off” of your little cash cow there that will not only make me wealthy and you wealthier, but will rope in all those folks born in the thirties and forties who just never could quite get into the whole “galaxy far, far away” thing.

So, here you go. And I’m putting it here in plain sight for you to read, fully trusting that my fellow man will not take advantage of seeing the idea in this public forum and rip me off.

Who says I don’t know anything about science fiction.

The idea, like all great ideas, is exquisite in its simplicity.

In the proud tradition of giving the viewing audience more and more of what they are always willing to put out big bucks for, a “hybrid”, if you will of one of the most popular television series of the sixties and your very popular Star Wars movies.

The characters…(I leave the casting to you, just make sure you spell my name correctly on the checks)

Jethro-pio

Elly Wan Kenobi

Gran Solo

Jane Hathawookie

And those adorable little furries, the Ewoks?
In this universe, they’re adorable little canines.

Weee Doggies.

And the main character?

Well, the character whose name is right there in big old marquee lights in every multiplex from here to there and back again.

Right there in the title of this stroke of cinematic genius.

“The Return Of The Jedi Clampett.”

Give it some serious thought, George and then when you’re ready to talk options and percentages…

I’ll be right here.

Ya’ll come back now.
Y’hear?

"...Pay No Attention to That Spouse Behind The Curtain...."


Had some thoughts about the whole “Hillary Clinton’s ‘experience’ in foreign policy” broohaha that is being batted back and forth.

First, though, I admit that I haven’t really researched this thoroughly.

Which puts me somewhere on the scale between unenlightened demagogue and network news reporter.

Which, some would suggest, is redundant.

What I do know is that Hillary and her Van Goghs of spin are doing their best to paint Barack as unqualified to be commander in chief, owing to his lack of experience in foreign policy and herself as ready to “lead on day one” owing to her wealth of experience.

My first thought is…huh?

Right off the bat, I’m a little tired of hearing “lead on day one”.

And not so much because it’s not a nice thought as much as it sounds to me like the bastard stepchild of the Ford slogan.

Quality is job one.

I totally understand that politicians totally understand, or think anyway, that the only way to reach people these days is to boil things down to sound bytes and bumper stickers and I wont speak for you, but when I hear those catch phrases, I always feel my shields going up as I instruct Mr. Sulu to take me to the intellectual equivalent of Def Con 4.

Catchy phrases are meant to get your attention, to be sure.
But they’re also designed to divert your attention, too.

Like “New and Improved”
Sound inviting?

Fair enough. But doesn’t it also make you want to say, “so, if the product is new and improved doesn’t that mean the previous version was old and crappy?”

And, frankly, I’m tempted to want to ask Hillary, “well, tell me there, Hill, what exactly IS day one?”
January 20?

You mean you’re going to swear a fast oath, skip the parade and the inaugural balls and zip right down to the Oval so you can start leading?

Oh, you mean after that?

So, you’re actually saying that you will be ready to lead on day one, but you wont actually start leading until day two? Yes, I’m aware that I’m splitting hairs to the point of annoyance.

Hmm. Maybe I should run for office.

I really haven’t made up my own mind when it comes to the choice between Clinton and Obama.
I’ve pretty much ruled out McCain because he is looking and sounding more and more every day like the sequel to Dubya.

And we’ve already seen the plot of the sequel to Dubya.
It was called “The Second Term.”
No thanks.

But as I ponder, weak and weary, over many a volume of catch phrases and sound bytes and try to weed through the bickering and bantering to get to the heart of what these two have to offer, I realize that I’m a little confused about this whole “foreign policy experience” meal that Hillary is trying to feed us.

Because if memory serves, she’s only been elected to one office so far.
Senator.

And while I’m sure she’s had some lovely chats with players from other countries, I don’t recall seeing her signing any peace treaties or announcing any quarantines of ships to and from Cuba (there’s an oldie but a goodie, huh?)

So, if I’m reading this correctly, she is essentially trying to equate eight years of being married to a president to having the experience of eight years of being president, at least from a foreign policy perspective.

Well, here’s a catch phrase that might come in handy at this moment.
“We shot a bear…Pa pulled the trigger.”

Of course, there is always the possibility that during the eight years of the Clinton presidency, Hillary was actually the one getting shit done.

We have some pretty solid evidence that Bill had a tendency to get distracted by happy meals and horny interns.

Well, I don’t know what kind of chops Hillary really has here. And it’s pointless, at this point, to do a line item check in the quest to root out the truth no matter how validating it is or how much deception it exposes.

Fox News will take care of that.

What occurs to me is how little credit we’ve given to the other wives who have lived on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Because if Hillary gets to claim sufficient resume to run this country’s foreign policy on the basis of eight years of “being in the room (or bedroom as the case may be), then…

Belated thanks to Jackie for her part in making Khrushchev take those nasty missiles out of Cuba in 62.

And thanks to Lady Bird for giving blacks so many opportunities as a result of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 64.

A big shout out to Nancy Reagan for getting the hostages released from Iran.
And on day one, too. The real day one.

Mamie Eisenhower gets props for her assistance in turning the tide for the Allies with the planning and execution of D-Day. Okay, so that was before they were in the White House, but this is politics. Who cares about veracity?

Then again, Ike did give us Nixon. So Mamie’s contribution is probably a wash.

And fair being fair, Lou Hoover has to take the fall for the Depression.

And Laura will just have to learn to live with the responsibility for having gotten us into Iraq without a clue about how to get us back out again.

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to hear more and more about who’s on the short list of consideration for the respective vice presidential nominations.

You can’t help but wonder if that whole discussion is becoming more and more academic.

Because the vice president is only going to have a say in the way this country operates if the president dies or resigns.

But that face across the breakfast table?

Well, apparently, they’re going to be part of the process from day one.

Friday, March 14, 2008

"...So, THAT'S Why the S.S. Minnow Got Lost...."


Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip…
Well, not a trip exactly.

That would require heavier drugs.

Think of this more as an herbal journey.

Dawn Wells, the actress who played “Mary Ann” on “Gilligan’s Island” was busted for pot possession earlier this week.

First of all, let me put your minds at ease.

I am not about to share with you the tired, boring over argued pros and cons of legalizing marijuana.

Because I look at it the way my friend Carla looks at things sometimes.
“In the first place…who cares?”
“And in the second place…
…who cares?”

Which actually segues around very nicely to what it is I do want to share with you.
Caring.

And what we or do not care about.

By the way, before wandering too far away from the leafy plants, I just want to say thanks to Dawn Wells for the very cool story she told the cops. She was pulled over after weaving down the road and when the cops smelled pot, she told them that she had picked up a couple of hitchhikers who were “smoking something”.

She had, of course, dropped the hitchhikers off by the time the police pulled her over.
Wink.

And yet, the aromatic intensity of the cannabis was still alive and well in the Mary Ann mobile.
Wink wink.

I’ll tell you, kids, that’s the problem with this current culture of not only having addictions but feeling like its some kind of badge of honor to walk around bragging about it while leading the paparazzi on a excruciatingly documented journey to rehab.

Nobody ever takes the time anymore to come up with a really good bullshit story about why the car smells like pot.

Way to go, Dawn.

Meanwhile, what was I talking about?
Oh, yeah.
I don’t care.

And I have a large to XL feeling that you don’t really care much either.

I’m trusting you, of course, that we need not bother with the tired, boring over argued pros and cons of legalizing marijuana and that while we don’t condone intoxication to the point of harm or injury, we’re all wise enough to know that being stoned is no more an anomaly in our daily lives than being stressed.

What I’m wondering isn’t why people need to get stoned.
Duhh.

What I’m wondering is why we still care so much about things that don’t really matter.
While we don’t care nearly enough about things that do.

Admittedly, that last sentence was lacking any semblance of objectivity.

It’s my blog. You want to take it upon yourself to speak for millions of other people without their permission, get your own.

Go with me here for a minute.

Why is that we care that Britney Spears’ little sister got knocked up?

But we don’t care about teaching our kids about STD’s sufficiently to prevent the one in four teenage girls who already have one from getting one?

Why is that we care what Michelle Williams has to say about her sadness at the death of her boyfriend Heath Ledger?

But we don’t care about what Cindy Sheehan and thousands of other mothers had to say about the sadness at the death of their sons as a result of a failed foreign policy?
Why is that we care that Bret Favre is “hanging it up” because he is “tired” after many successful seasons as an NFL quarterback…and millions of dollars safely in the bank?

But we don’t care about making candidates for office guarantee us that we wont go under, living paycheck to paycheck each week, working two, even three jobs, even though we’re “tired”, too?

And why do we care if a TV star from forty years ago was caught with reefer?

But we don’t care about demanding a society that should do a better job of preventing young, bright student body presidents from getting shot to death on city streets?

Probably for the same reasons that we spend billions of dollars on sports stadiums while our schools and churches are falling apart.

Life is just too much, man. We need get away from it all.

Pass the pot.

And don’t bogart that joint, Mary Ann.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

To Boldly Go Where No *****Word Has Gone Before...


You want to know why people have loved Star Trek for over forty years?

Because in the 24th Century that Gene Roddenberry created, people have evolved past seeing each other as a color..

Oh, they still fight each other over who gets a bigger piece of the Federation pie and good and evil are both as evident then as today.

But when the Cardassians and the Borg and the Romulans and the Vulcans, et al, mix it up, you get the larceny without the labeling.
Put simply…

In the world of Star Trek, there is no such thing as racism.

People aren’t judged by their ethnic origin.
They might be greedy or loving or cruel or benevolent, kind or self serving.

But when a Klingon pisses somebody off, nobody has to be reminded not to use the “K” word.

Cause there is no “K” word.

Brave new world.
Something to look forward to.

Geraldine Ferraro, the 1984 Democratic candidate for VP is catching hell because she said, in an interview, that the only reason Barack Obama has gotten as far he has gotten is that he’s black.

“If he were a white man,” Ferraro said,” he would not be in the position he’s in today.”

The sound of her voice hadn’t completely disappeared before the word “racist” came flying out of every nook and cranny.

Imagine my surprise.

Beyond the obvious and inevitable debate about the wisdom of Ms. Ferraro’s public pronouncement of a private point of view (hey, who you callin alliterate?”), and, by the way, I couldn’t care less about participating in any such debate, I was just wondering…

Why is it racist to say that Barack Obama has gotten this far because of his color, but it’s not racist to observe that he won the Mississippi primary with only half of the white vote, but over 90% of the black vote?

For that matter, why is it racist to say that Barack Obama has gotten this far because of his color?

More to the point, why do we automatically assume that a comment like that is derogatory?
The world cheered when Jackie Robinson broke in the major leagues.
The world cheered when Shirley Chisholm was elected to Congress.
The world cheered when James Meredith walked into his first college class.
And why the cheering?

Breaking into the majors, being elected to Congress and walking into a college class were, by no means, extraordinary activities.

Oh, wait. That’s right.

The cheering was because these people were black.

And does pointing out that fact make me a racist?
Of course not.

And anyone who, for one second, believes that being black has not been a factor in the success that Barack Obama has seen in this presidential race, is likely of the opinion that the ratings for Deal Or No Deal would be just as high if Howie asked the cases to be opened by the cast of The Biggest Loser.

Just as it is with so many things, there is a fine line that, once crossed, truly makes one a racist.
But saying that someone has benefited from his or her color is no more racist than saying someone has benefited from their height or weight or beautiful eyes…you know, like the Deal Or No Deal girls (shu—yeahhh…right).

In my humble O, racism is prejudice of a negative and/or hateful nature.
And I’ll go you one better.

Racism has no color.

Because hate comes in all colors.

And so does success.

I don’t think pointing out the latter makes anybody a racist.

It would be nice if we didn’t have to wait until the 24th Century to finally get that through our collective heads.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What I Think About The Governor...And It's Not What You Think I Think....


Let me get right to the point.

I don’t think Eliot Spitzer should resign as governor of New York.

Oh, I imagine he’ll be toast by the end of the month, if not the end of the week.

And, of course, the knee jerk reaction that everyone has is that the guy should be pilloried for his transgression.

Here’s a thought.
So what?

And please don’t disappoint me jumping to the conclusion that by saying he shouldn’t resign that I endorse what he did.

It’s just that I think there’s a broader point that needs to be made.

And while it’s perfectly natural for people to get their knickers in a twist because it turns out that ol’ Mr. Crime Buster got caught with his knickers around his ankles, I think we would be missing a remarkable opportunity to prove something to people, especially young people, by simply lighting the torches and lynch mobbing our way to the Governor’s mansion.

Because here’s the deal.

He obviously broke the law by consorting with a prostitute. (For those of you who spend more time in front of HBO than CNN, that means he shagged a hooker, mate).

He obviously proved that he’s not the do gooder that he presented himself to be while he was trying to “clean up” New York during his tenure as State Attorney General.

He obviously broke his marriage vows by consorting with a prostitute. (see earlier definition).

And he most certainly proved that, in addition to ears a little too big for his head and a comb over in the proud tradition of the old style Guiliani, he has two very prominent feet of clay.
But, here’s the thing.

He told the truth.

When he got caught he didn’t lie, deceive, obfuscate, fib, disguise, sham, scam, tell tales or falsehoods.

He stood up in front of the world, with his very brave wife by his side, and admitted what he did, took full responsibility for what he did and apologized to his family, his constituents and the rest of the watching world.

And he did all of that right out of the box.

Not, as often happens in these situations, after several days of spin control and “temperature gauging” designed to see if something, anything else could be done to deal with the problem.
Anything besides the truth.

Okay, so the guy doesn’t deserve any medals.

But, I think his stepping up and saying “my bad” from the first moment is a remarkable event and the best, most effective example any parent on the planet has had for years to use in teaching their children how to do the right thing.

Especially right after they’ve done the wrong thing.

Like I said at the top, the guy has the proverbial slim and none chances of getting to the other side of the political firestorm with his parking place not reassigned.

And his reputation as a crusader for a more moral culture probably needs to come off the resume’.

But while he proved himself to be weak, hypocritical, flawed, even stupid, he also proved that he was something else.

Human.

But more, and most, importantly, he proved that the best of our humanity can still surface when we make mistakes and doesn’t have to automatically take us to that most common of conditions these days.

Damage control.

Those who don’t ever see the big picture are going to clamor for the guy to go until the guy goes.
But, as usual, they’ll conveniently forget some a pretty famous riff.

“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

Seems to me it’s a waste of time to even pick up the rock.

When the potential target has already hit himself in the head with one.
Not to mention the hell to pay at home.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Why We Couldn't Be Wild About Harry..or George or Abe, For That Matter...


I predicted it almost a year ago.

You’ll just have to take my word for it.

I said, at the time, that the Democratic ticket would be Hillary Clinton for president and Barack Obama for vice president.

It seemed like a no brainer, even back then.

And now, neck and neck horse race that the campaign for the nomination has become, the same prediction has gone from back room whispers to front and center predictions by various and sundry media commentators.

Even Hillary has dropped the hint about the “possibility” once or twice.
And it’s only March.

No one, obviously, can tell at this point what’s going to happen. The experts say that no matter what happens from here to the convention, neither candidate is going to be able to show up in Denver with a sufficient number of delegates to claim the nomination. The Pennsylvania primary is still over a month away and the conventional wisdom is that if Hillary wins it, she still wont have a majority of delegates, but she will be able to truthfully say that she won all the “big states” during the primary season, the states that will be critical to the success of the ticket in the fall.

But, given the amount of support that Obama has, even the most jaded politicos are offering that there is simply no way that a “combination” ticket cannot be, at least, considered.

Seems logical.
Here’s a thing, though.

Both candidates have, for at least the last few weeks, been spending the majority of their waking hours telling us what a big mistake it would be to vote for “him” or “her”.

Hillary says Barack doesn’t have the experience to be president.
Barack says Hillary doesn’t have the vision to lead the country in a much-needed new direction.

And the beat, as well as the sniping, goes on.
Drums keep pounding a rhythm to the brain.

And since the goal of each candidate is to make sure that we are saturated with awareness of the weaknesses and failings of the other, it’s a sure bet that each one of us is, sooner or later, going to look at one or the other and say “no way”.

Can you see where we’re going here?

We’re headed full bore toward that zany moment when the two people who have been doing their best to throw each other under the bus suddenly hang a serious u-ee, clasp hands together and raise their arms to accept the adulation of the convention crowd and offer themselves as the “team” that will, together, use experience and vision to lead the country in a much needed new direction.

In other words, the cheap shots and innuendo phase wraps up and the five star, world class lying phase begins.

Lies, you say?
Uh..yeah.

Because if everything they have said about each other all through the primary season is true, then what they say about each other after the convention has to be, by default, untrue.

Lies.

And even if what they said during the primary season was untrue and what they say NOW is true, there has still been a “whole lotta lyin goin on.”

It’s a lot like the T-shirt that George Carlin used to wear on stage.

On the front of the shirt, it said, “the statement on the back of this shirt is true.”
And on the back of the shirt, it said, “ the statement on the front of this shirt is false”.

The whole thing would be hilarious if we weren’t choosing the people who we’re basically trusting with our lives for the next four years.

The moral of the story, kids, is that even the most naïve’, unaware “average American voter” knows the difference between the truth and a lie, when the two are so obviously in our faces.

And if we can’t trust the people who are asking for our votes to tell us the truth when they need our trust to get to the office, how are we supposed to trust a thing they say after they’ve gotten what they want?

I heard somebody say the other day that what this country needs is a return to the honest, old-fashioned values on which the republic was founded and we needed a new George Washington or Abe Lincoln.

Or even Harry Truman.

Well, I’ll tell ya…the thing is that none of the three would stand a chance in politics today.

George?
Not so much.

Cause he could not tell a lie.

Honest Abe would have to be less honest and more practical.

And Harry?

Wouldn’t have a prayer.
Because the buck never stops anywhere anymore.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Spring Forward? Fall Back?...How's About We Meet In the Middle?


The old saying is “the only things that are certain…death and taxes”.

And in both cases, something gets taken away from us.

There’s a third thing that belongs on that list, though.

One hour. Every year at this time (pun inadvertent).
Spring forward. Fall back.

By the way, is it just me or do you also find a little frightening the number of people who cant seem to remember which way the clocks go on the respective days?
These are, I fear, the same people who are also authorized to drive their cars at 80 miles an hour right along side you and me.

The masses inability to grasp one of only two choices aside, I annually find myself not happy about the time change.

I’ve debated the issue with people through the years.

A lot of folks come down on the side of enjoying having “longer” days.
Look. I’m as much about sunshine as the next Vitamin D deficient earthling, but I like my yins and yangs to balance out.

In other words, I enjoy a fine nighttime just as much a fine daytime.

And I just can’t get overly enthusiastic about the sun radiating its bountiful light across the cornfields and through my bedroom window at 9:30PM.

Which is exactly what happens if you live on the East Coast.

Do we really rinse off the mower and fire up the grill two and a half hours before midnight?

The only real practical advantage to the longer day is the same as its been for decades.
It gives farmers more daylight to work the fields.

Fair point. Except I live in a rural area, I have yet to see a single horse and farmer steered plow and I’ve noticed that the tractors, combines, etc that wander around the fields in this neck of the woods all seem to be equipped with these new fangled things they call…uh…what is it?

Oh. Yeah.
Headlights.

And the “argument” that more daylight hours cut down on the consumption of energy has been pretty much proven to be crap.

This is America, dammit. We don’t believe in cutting down on the consumption of energy.
Why do you think they keep calling us the American consumer?

And I wont even waste my time (pun intended that time) getting into the whole thing about the various counties and/or states in the Union who don’t even bother to pay attention to the time change.
The sign says “Welcome To Arizona…Don’t Touch That Hour Hand”.

So, for my money, Daylight Savings Time belongs with the Electoral College on the list of things that serve no useful purpose, tend to screw things up and simply haven’t gotten around to being changed.

In lieu of that, though, and in full recognition of the fact that DST will be with us for a long time to come, I have a “sub-peeve” about the whole thing.

Why can’t we, at least, be rewarded, rather than penalized?
What do I mean, you ask?
Thanks for asking.

I mean that no matter which side of the pro/con debate you land on, I feel pretty sure I could convince you that the methodology employed, in a word, sucks.

Because what happens is that we are being robbed of 1/48th of our weekend.

And we don’t gain squat when we “fall back “(that means move the clocks back one hour for those of you racing down the highway at 80 miles an hour).
We simply get “back” the hour they took away from us in the spring. (when we move the clocks…oh, forget about it, you either get it or you’re never on time…)

Here’s what I think would be, at least, fair and, at best, pretty cool.

And would go a long way toward shutting up the naysayers.
Like me.

Take away the hour during the week.

Say, the first Friday in March, we spring forward by setting our clocks ahead one hour at 4:00PM.
Bang. Zoom. Just like that we get to home from work an hour early.
Cool.

And, of course, then we’re also getting to start our weekend an hour early.
Way cool.

Then, come November, we fall back by setting the clocks back one hour at the old traditional time of 2AM Sunday.
Zoom. Bang. Just like that we get an extra hour of weekend.
Cool.

And, of course, then we’re also getting to delay the start of the workweek by an hour.
Way cool.

In the same year, we get one hour lopped off our workweek and we get an hour added to our weekend.

Makes it almost seem like we’re getting two hours for the price of one, doesn’t it? What’s not to love about that?

Even I would stop bitching about Daylight Savings Time.

Well, after I left the office at 4PM on that March Friday and headed to Wal-Mart for the black out curtains so I could go to sleep before ten o’clock at night.

Come to think of it, that’s a waste of money.
Wouldn’t be able to sleep anyway.

Damn tractors with their headlights on roaring around the fields at all hours of the night.