Saturday, July 26, 2008

We Pull The Levers...But They Call The Shots....


If, God forbid, there are plans for another major attack by terrorists on American soil, I’m thinking that it probably won’t happen before November 5.

Primarily because I think those wack jobs disguised as religious heroes who call themselves Al-Qaeda would prefer to see Barack Obama elected president.

And November 5 is the days after the election when we will, presumably, know who the next president is.

Unless, of course, Florida chads, Katherine Harris, Jeb Bush and the Supreme Court decide to reprise their little zany comedy routine from 2000.

And it’s not that Obama doesn’t have every intention of battling the bad guys.

But with McCain, the Qaeda boys and girls pretty much know what they’re going to get from the get go.

John Wayne meets George W. Bush.

In other words, more of the same.
And probably a little more than that.

McCain, after all, served some serious time in his military career and isn’t likely to take a lot of crap from those who would harm us.
And so he would be very likely to continue to policies of Bush, who in his own military career…oh..wait….

Never mind.

With Obama, on the other hand, they don’t really know what they’re getting.

And for them, it’s almost the inverse of the old saying.

Better to dance with the devil you don’t know than the devil you do.

And despite the fact that McCain appears to be the underdog in this election, his fortunes would change overnight if this country experienced another 9/11 prior to the election.

Because in the event of a fire, you’re gonna want to immediately hire the white haired guy who totally knows his way around the fire station as opposed to the young, clearly talented but inexperienced, rookie who hasn’t been big blaze tested.

Right now?

Americans aren’t all that fired up about the war over there.

Because too many of them are busy fighting the war over here.

Homes being foreclosed.
Gas prices sucking the life out of household budgets.
An historic record low number of people who support, let alone trust, the leaders they have elected.

And nearly seven years after that horrific day when we were bitchslapped in New York City, Washington DC and that field in Pennsylvania, chances are the only people who still have September 11 at the beginning of their list of daily thoughts are those who lost loved ones that day.

So, at the risk of oversimplifying it a bit, the election at this point boils down to a choice between the guy who represents the best chance to win the war over here and the guy who represents the best chance to win the war over there.

And, as I said, out of sight out of mind being what it is, most people are focused on the war over here.

Al Qaeda is lots of things.

Evil.
Dangerous.
Satanic.

But not stupid.

And they have to know that the one sure way to get John McCain elected President of the United States is to bump thoughts of 9/11 back to the front of every voter’s list of thoughts.

We’d all like to think that we have the outcome of this election in our hands because it’s our votes that will determine that outcome.

And that’s true.

It’s our votes that will determine the outcome.

But it’s their actions or lack of action that will determine our votes.

Like you, I sincerely hope that no more Americans have to die in the cause of freedom on our own soil.

And like you, I’m not na├»ve enough to think that just because the government tells us that we’re safer from outside attack than we were September 11 that we really are safer.

But it’s fair to say we are.
At least until November 5.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

"Shut the Hell Up...and Talk To Me...."


Now that we’ve gotten that pesky fourth of July celebration of our freedom out of the way, we can get busy celebrating something that really matters.

July is National Cell Phone Courtesy Month.

A tradition since 2002, according to my research.

As you can imagine, I have a thought or two to share with you, but first, take just a moment to read the “rules of etiquette” when it comes to cell phone use.


1. Be all there. When you’re in a meeting, performance, courtroom or other busy area, let calls go to voicemail to avoid a disruption. In some instances, turning your phone off may be the best solution.


2. Keep it private. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid discussing private or confidential information in public. You never know who may be in hearing range.


3. Keep your cool. Don’t display anger during a public call. Conversations that are likely to be emotional should be held where they will not embarrass or intrude on others.


4. Learn to vibe. Use your wireless phone’s silent or vibration settings in public places such as business meetings, religious services, schools, restaurants, theaters or sporting events so that you do not disrupt your surroundings.


5. Avoid “cell yell.” Remember to use your regular conversational tone when speaking on your wireless phone. People tend to speak more loudly than normal and often don’t recognize how distracting they can be to others.


6. Follow the rules. Some places, such as hospitals or airplanes, restrict or prohibit the use of mobile phones, so adhere to posted signs and instructions. Some jurisdictions may also restrict mobile phone use in public places.


7. Excuse yourself. If you are expecting a call that can’t be postponed, alert your companions ahead of time and excuse yourself when the call comes in; the people you are with should take precedence over calls you want to make or receive.


8. Send a message. Use Text Messaging to send and receive messages without saying a single word.


9. Watch and listen discreetly. New multimedia applications such as streaming video and music are great ways to stay informed and access the latest entertainment. However, adjust the volume based on your surroundings in much the same way that you would adjust your ringer volume. Earphones are a great way to avoid distracting others in public areas.


10. Alert silently. When using your phone’s walkie-talkie feature, send the person you’re trying to reach a Call Alert before starting to speak. If you’re around other people, turn off your phone’s external speaker and use the vibration setting to minimize any disturbance and to respect your contact’s privacy.


Okay.

First, I’m totally fascinated with the fact that we all apparently have so much to say to each other that we cant go more than a few minutes without having to plaster the thing to our faces, no matter where we are.

All that chatter.

Especially in a world where holding a door open for someone in a public place is most often met with silence.

Then again, maybe I’m being unduly harsh.

I haven’t checked all of my voicemails.

Maybe there’s a thank you in there somewhere.

Second, fan of irony that I am, I cant help but enjoy witnessing people not paying attention to what the person standing in front of them is saying.

Because they’re too busy talking to the person who isn’t standing in front of them.
On the cell.

I think cell phones are, like so many other technological advances, a remarkable creation.

They have eliminated the fear and concern we used to experience when being out on the highway, between exits and realizing that our CHECK ENGINE light has just popped on.

With a cell phone, you’re never stranded.

And you’re never more than a quick speed dial away from fire or police protection.
But I think it would be cool if our social advancement managed to keep pace with our technological advancement.

And we didn’t have to set aside a special month to remind ourselves to be courteous to one another.

As always, I could be wrong.

If you think so, feel free to let me know.

Call me.

If you get the voicemail, leave a message.

I’m probably just actually talking to the kid behind the fast food counter instead of answering my phone and pointing at the menu.


"We Should Have Paid Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain...."


A few days ago, I smacked Karl Rove around pretty good.

And I stand by what I said.

But I realize that while Rove is largely responsible for the strategy that got George Bush elected and re-elected to the White House, he shouldn’t, in all fairness, get the credit for Bush getting there.

That, my friends, was inevitable.

And the man who explained why George W. Bush’s presidency was inevitable did so in a fun to read book.

In 1968.

First, a little of that “rest of the story” stuff that Paul Harvey does so well….


…a Canadian author, educator, psychologist, and management theorist in US.

1919 - Born 16th of September in Vancouver, British Columbia.

1941 - Began his career as a teacher.

1963 - Received the degree of Doctor of Education from Washington State University.

1964 - moved to California, where he became an Associate Professor of Education, Director of the Evelyn Frieden Centre for Prescriptive Teaching and Coordinator of Programs for Emotionally Disturbed Children at the
University of Southern California.

1990 - died 12th of January.

An accomplished, if primarily academic, life,

Quite a gap there, though, between 1964 and 1990.

Actually, not so much.

For it was that little piece of work he did in 1968 that not only foresaw the ascension of George W. to the presidency with a certainty that would have humbled Nostradamus, but is also applicable to thousands, if not millions, of situations in our past, present and, sad to say, future.

For this quiet Canadian educator was Dr. Laurence J. Peter.

And here’s the factoid that goes in the gap.

1968 - Published the The Peter Principle, in which he states: "In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence".

Simply put…in the hierarchal structure, the guy who runs errands most efficiently gets promoted to being the guy who does the best job of running the mail room for which he gets promoted to working in sales where he gets promoted to running the sales department where he gets promoted to running the whole division.

At which he stinks.

Because, in the end, his skills peaked somewhere between errands and the mailroom.

Errands to mailroom to sales to manager to executive.

Frat boy to baseball owner to oil executive to governor to president.

Bada bing.

I still think Karl Rove is a waste of space on the political planet.

But, it’s not really fair to blame him for the last eight years.

We’ve known it was coming since 1968.



Saturday, July 5, 2008

A Brief Open Letter to Some of Hillary's Supporters...


Dear You Know Who You Ares…..

Anyone who reads my work with any regularity knows that I am no big fan of George W. Bush.

And despite his efforts to disassociate himself from the Bush record, John McCain looks a lot like a guy who will, in effect, offer up four more years of the same old.

So, I’m not really all that fired up about the idea of John McCain becoming president.

And, in that light, I think I can safely say that I am not grinding any Republican axe when I suggest what I am about to suggest to a lot of you who supported Hillary.

You’re idiots.

Not because you supported Hillary.

Because, the latest polls indicate, a lot of you are so pissed that Hillary didn’t get the nomination that you’ve decided to just sit out the process and stay home on Election Day.

I could try to whip out a few hundred more witty and wise words about the whole thing, but to tell you truth, I’m really not in the mood.

Because I don’t do my best work when I’m cranky.
And stupidity most always makes me cranky.

If you supported Hillary and feel disappointed because she didn’t win, then, by all means, be disappointed.

Then take a shower, have a drink and get over it.

That’s life in the big leagues.

Sitting out the election like some kind of pouting five-year-old benefits only the Republicans.

It doesn’t “show Obama”.

It doesn’t benefit Hillary.

And it sure as shit doesn’t benefit those of us who really aren’t all that fired up about the idea of John McCain becoming president.

It also validates the fears of those who believed all along that changing the course of this country’s direction was less important to many people than getting Hillary Clinton into the White House.

Wait a second.

Nope. Never mind.

I thought I was going to come up with something witty.

But I’m still cranky.

Hillary is still not going to get the nomination.

And some of you are still idiots.






"Ask Not.. What Your Country Can Say About How Fast You Can Go...."


Yesterday we celebrated the observance of our independence from England.

Although, truth be told, the fourth of July long ago wandered away from that commemoration and is now primarily an excuse to take off work, grill hamburgers and risk body parts by mixing booze and bottle rockets.

God bless America.

And surveys tell us that a lot of folks stayed home this holiday weekend because when it came down to a choice between paying the mortgage this month and filling the car up with the fuel needed to spend the fourth with Aunt Harriet and Uncle Ferd, many Americans opted for the former.

Meanwhile…back at the Capitol.

Sen. John Warner has called for a re-implementation of the 55 MPH national speed limit that was imposed thirty years ago and repealed a ways back.

The savings on fuel consumption would, statistics prove, be considerable.

Not to mention the saving of lives that lowering the speed limit always seems to increase.
So, CNN has an online poll going, asking US of A’ers how they feel about having their maximum allowable driving speed shaved back a bit.

Here are the numbers at this writing.


Should Congress reimpose a national speed limit to save gas?


Yes 37% 45232
No 63% 75862


That right there, among so many other things, is what I love about America.

Self sacrifice?
You bet.

As long as it’s YOURself and not MYself.

And while we are clearly not happy, as a nation, about paying more today for a tank of gas than we paid five years ago for a new CD player for the car, we are also just as clearly not ready to slow down to save.

If you’re one of those folks who does make the effort to drive more efficiently, then the rest of us thank you.

And hope you enjoyed your time at home this fourth of July.

The commemoration of declaring our independence from England.

And who knows?

Maybe when gas hits seven bucks a gallon, we’ll get an additional and unexpected holiday out of the deal.

The commemoration of our declaring our independence from the oil fields of the Middle East.

"Well, You Have To Admit...It IS Very Lifelike...."


The common expression used to be “don’t believe everything you read”.

And that was okay because, for the longest time, we had the comfort of “seeing is believing”.

Not any more.

Photoshop pretty much took care of that.

Now anybody with sixty bucks to spend on software and some time to learn how to play with it can create just about any picture they want.

And sometimes the pictures are so good that they become reality.
Whether they are real or not.

Like the infamous picture of that guy standing on the observation deck of the World Trade Center with the jetliner coming up behind him on September 11.

Or, more recently, the Shanghai tiger.

SHANGHAI, China (AP) -- It all started with a farmer, a photo and a claim -- a sighting of a rare tiger in the local woods, curled up and staring right at the camera.

The tiger story began when Zhou Zenghlong, a 54-year-old farmer and hunter, heard that a person could win more than 1 million yuan (about US$146,000) for finding an
endangered South China tiger in the wild, where it hadn't been seen in more than 20 years, according to state media accounts.

Last October, he emerged from the woods in Shaanxi with his claim of a tiger sighting, plus dozens of digital photos.

Officials in Shaanxi embraced his claim, awarding him 20,000 yuan (about US$2,920) and praise at a press conference little more than a week later.

"After the careful examination, experts confirmed the authenticity of the photos. That means the tiger has been found again after more than 20 years," the China Daily newspaper quoted Shaanxi Forestry Administration Bureau Deputy Director Zhu Julong as saying.

The tiger had been thought to be extinct in the wild. The World Wildlife Fund describes its wild population as "perhaps a few individuals."

The glow didn't last. China's
online community almost immediately suspected a fake. The tiger was too shiny, they said. And no matter where it was snapped among the trees, its position never changed.

When someone came up with an old poster with a photo that looked strikingly like the tiger and posted it online, the public called for an official investigation.
But Shaanxi officials stuck to their story.

With a rare tiger in their area, the officials knew they could bring in a lot of money by boosting tourism and creating a nature reserve, said Yu, the university professor.

Finally, under increasing pressure, the Shaanxi officials confirmed the photos as a hoax this week. Zhou was arrested on charges of fraud, accused of propping up the poster in the woods and shooting it with a borrowed digital camera.

G likes to say that everything is a trade off.

So the price that we pay for the availability of user friendly technology like Photoshop is the need to more carefully scrutinize what we see and not accept, with blind faith, that what we see is automatically what we get.

So keep in mind that, thanks to said technology, you can no longer simply look at a photograph and assume it to be legitimate.

Because Photoshop is affordable for just about any budget.
And it can do some amazing things.

Like that picture at the top of this piece.

Hillary’s people swear that it’s a picture of the nominee of the Democratic Party for President of the United States.

But look closer.

It’s really not.

Man. That Photoshop is something else.

Friday, July 4, 2008

"I Amuse You? I Make You Laugh?...Like A Clown?...I Amuse You?......"


First, George Carlin.

Now, Bozo.

Too many funny men slipping the surly bonds.

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Larry Harmon, who turned the character Bozo the Clown into a show business staple that delighted children for more than a half-century, died Thursday of congestive heart failure. He was 83.

Although not the original Bozo, Harmon portrayed the popular clown in countless appearances and, as an entrepreneur, he licensed the character to others, particularly dozens of television stations around the country. The stations in turn hired actors to be their local Bozos.

"Bozo is a combination of the wonderful wisdom of the adult and the childlike ways in all of us," Harmon said.

Pinto Colvig, who also provided the voice for Walt Disney's Goofy, originated Bozo the Clown when Capitol Records introduced a series of children's records in 1946. Harmon would later meet his alter ego while answering a casting call to make personal appearances as a clown to promote the records.

He got that job and eventually bought the rights to Bozo. Along the way, he embellished Bozo's distinctive look: the orange-tufted hair, the bulbous nose, the outlandish red, white and blue costume.

The business -- combining animation, licensing of the character, and personal appearances -- made millions, as Harmon trained more than 200 Bozos over the years to represent him in local markets.

The Chicago version of Bozo ran on WGN-TV in Chicago for 40 years and was seen in many other cities after cable television transformed WGN into a superstation.
Bozo -- portrayed in Chicago for many years by Bob Bell -- was so popular that the waiting list for tickets to a TV show eventually stretched to a decade, prompting the station to stop taking reservations for 10 years. On the day in 1990 when WGN started taking reservations again, it took just five hours to book the show for five more years. The phone company reported more than 27 million phone call attempts had been made.

By the time the show bowed out in Chicago, in 2001, it was the last locally produced version. Harmon said at the time that he hoped to develop a new cable or network show, as well as a Bozo feature film.

Harmon protected Bozo's reputation with a vengeance, while embracing those who poked good-natured fun at the clown.

As Bozo's influence spread through popular culture, his very name became a synonym for clownish behavior.

A normal character runs its course in three to five years,"Harmon's is a classic character. It's been around 50 years."

On New Year's Day 1996, Harmon dressed up as Bozo for the first time in 10 years, appearing in the Rose Parade in Pasadena.

The crowd reaction, he recalled, "was deafening."

"They kept yelling, `Bozo, Bozo, love you, love you.' I shed more crocodile tears for five miles in four hours than I realized I had," he said. "I still get goose bumps."


Bozo was a comic hero of my childhood.

George Carlin was a comic hero of my adulthood.

Or second childhood.

Potato. Patahto.

And while it’s always sad to see heroes pass (if only because the line ahead of me gets shorter with each passing), there is, at the heart of it, a feeling of joy that these gentle souls were provided to make this life a little more pleasurable.

A little song. A little dance.
A little seltzer down your pants.

And what the hell.

There will always be clowns to entertain and enthrall the child in us all.

As long as there’s a fright wig.

And a bulbous nose.

And a big oversized shoe.

And a Capitol Hill.

"Okay, Barack....Just Promise Us That Janet Jackson Won't Do The Halftime Show....."


Don’t let anybody try to convince you otherwise.

America is a fun country.

George Carlin knew it..

He was, also, pretty well known for his belief that there was nothing to come after this life, so we have no way of knowing whether he is enjoying the latest news to come out of the presidential campaign.

The Obama people are considering moving the acceptance speech from the basketball/hockey arena where the convention will be held (20,000 capacity) to what used to be called Mile High Stadium, where the Broncos play (75,000 capacity).

You have to assume that it’s entirely about image and symbolism.

And I suspect that no one would be faster to appreciate said symbolism than George Carlin.

The guy who wrote the classic piece about the difference between baseball and football:

Baseball is different from any other sport, very different.

For instance, in most sports you score points or goals; in baseball you score runs.
In most sports the ball, or object, is put in play by the offensive team; in baseball the defensive team puts the ball in play, and only the defense is allowed to touch the ball. In fact, in baseball if an offensive player touches the ball intentionally, he's out; sometimes unintentionally, he's out.

Also: in football, basketball, soccer, volleyball, and all sports played with a ball, you score with the ball and in baseball the ball prevents you from scoring.
In most sports the team is run by a coach; in baseball the team is run by a manager.

And only in baseball does the manager or coach wear the same clothing the players do. If you'd ever seen John Madden in his Oakland Raiders uniform, you’d know the reason for this custom.

Now, I've mentioned football. Baseball & football are the two most popular spectator sports in this country. And as such, it seems they ought to be able to tell us something about ourselves and our values.

Baseball is a nineteenth-century pastoral game.Football is a twentieth-century technological struggle.

Baseball is played on a diamond, in a park. The baseball park!

Football is played on a gridiron, in a stadium, sometimes called Soldier Field or War Memorial Stadium.

Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life.Football begins in the fall, when everything's dying.

In football you wear a helmet.In baseball you wear a cap.

Football is concerned with downs - what down is it?Baseball is concerned with ups - who's up?

In football you receive a penalty.In baseball you make an error.

In football the specialist comes in to kick.In baseball the specialist comes in to relieve somebody.

Football has hitting, clipping, spearing, piling on, personal fouls, late hitting and unnecessary roughness.Baseball has the sacrifice.

Football is played in any kind of weather: rain, snow, sleet, hail, fog...In baseball, if it rains, we don't go out to play.

Baseball has the seventh inning stretch.Football has the two minute warning.
Baseball has no time limit: we don't know when it's gonna end - might have extra innings.Football is rigidly timed, and it will end even if we've got to go to sudden death.

In baseball, during the game, in the stands, there's kind of a picnic feeling; emotions may run high or low, but there's not too much unpleasantness.In football, during the game in the stands, you can be sure that at least twenty-seven times you're capable of taking the life of a fellow human being.

And finally, the objectives of the two games are completely different:

In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy's defensive line.

In baseball the object is to go home! And to be safe! - I hope I'll be safe at home!

Like I said, I think no one would appreciate, or have more fun with, the Obama people wanting to start their “campaign” at Mile High Stadium than George Carlin.

And I’m willing to bet you that he would agree with me that it would, in fact, be a spectacular moment in American history.

Provided, of course, that we don’t have to listen to Howie, Terry and Jimmy do the after speech analysis.

God Bless America.

Rest in peace, George.

"My Country Tis of Thee....Words and Music, on the Other Hand...."


Given the time of year, I imagine you’ve already heard this one once or twice in the past few days…

“Does England have a 4th of July?”

Answer:
Of course.

Everyone has a 4th of July.

It’s just not everybody’s Independence Day.

Ar-ar.

Speaking of England, check out this little tidbit from CNN.com:

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A rare and original manuscript of one of America's most patriotic songs has been discovered in a flea market bargain.

A shopper browsing through the market in New York bought a framed picture of a flower for $10 and found handwritten manuscript of "America" (My Country 'tis of Thee) tucked behind the picture, the manuscript's owner said Thursday.

The manuscript of the song whose lyrics were written by Samuel Francis Smith in 1831 could be worth tens of thousands of dollars, said the owner, art collector Keya Morgan. He said he bought it from the flea market shopper, who has asked not to be identified.

The song was intended to be played in schools to inspire and teach children and was first played in public on July 4, 1831, in the First Baptist Church in Newton, Massachusetts, Morgan said. The song is written to the tune of "God Save the Queen," the national anthem of the United Kingdom.

The authenticity of the document was confirmed by Morgan, a handwriting expert who has been authenticating historical documents for nearly a decade, and Diana Yount, an archival specialist at Andover Newton Theological School.

Don’t you just love stories like that?

Unless you’re the kind of guy who doesn’t like to be dragged by the missus to flea markets, in which case, this story will only give her ammo to come at you next time you balk.

But the fantastic flea market find isn’t what caught my eye.

It was the last sentence of the next to last paragraph.

As a songwriter of some accomplishment (Conway Twitty, Frank Sinatra, Nancy Sinatra, Don Ho {yes, THAT Don Ho}), I’m always fascinated with the origin and/or inspiration for great and/or hit songs (not necessarily the same thing as a lot of my peers will testify).

In this case, though, its not so much about the inspiration as it is the apparent lack of motivation.
Admittedly, this is, by anyone’s standards, a poignant, moving, dare I offer, brilliant piece of lyric writing.

I just wondered why it is the guy who wrote them couldn’t come up with an original melody to match it.

So I did a little checking.

Samuel Francis Smith wrote the lyrics to "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" in 1831[1], while a student at the Andover Theological Seminary in Andover, Massachusetts. His friend, Lowell Mason had asked him to translate the lyrics in some German school songbooks or to write new lyrics. One melody in particular caught his attention. The German lyrics were a German patriotic hymn of some sort. Instead of translating it, Smith decided to write an American patriotic hymn, so he sat down and in thirty minutes had written My Country, 'Tis of Thee, to go along with the melody. He had never heard the tune before and had no idea of its derivation or associations with the British national anthem, "God Save the King."

So, if I’m reading this correctly, the song that many of us would like to see replace “The Star Spangled Banner” as our national anthem (we’ve all secretly bitched at one time or another in our lives about how hard it is to sing and how none of us remembers more than some or most of the first verse) is actually the melody of the British national anthem which was the melody of a German patriotic hymn.

I think there’s two way to look at this.

First, it is, to be sure, kind of cool because it symbolizes that underneath all the political and social havoc that we wreak on each other, we are, at the end of the day, all inhabitants of the same planet.

We are the world and all that.

On the other hand, it’s pretty lame that this guy couldn’t either come up with an original melody or, at least, put an ad in the music trades for a composer who could do the lyric justice.

I’m sure that the early 1800’s had its share of Burt Bacharachs and Elton Johns and Andrew Lloyd Webbers wandering around the biz ready and willing to put snappy tunes to the lyrics of the Hal Davids and Bernie Taupins and Tim Rices of the day.

Seems a little like Mr. Smith took the easy way out.

Just like those guys who wrote the Ronnie Milsap song “Smoky Mountain Rain”

Fun lyric.

But next time you hear it, try and convince me that the melody isn’t “Mr. Lonely” by Bobby Vinton.

And let’s not even get started on the whole George Harrison “My Sweet Lord”/ Chiffons “He’s So Fine” fracas.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m as flag wavy, sing the anthem patriotic as the next guy underneath it all.

It’s just that I find singing sweet land of liberty lyrics with visions of Queen E and her brood popping up to be a bit distracting…mate.

My issues aside, allow me to offer you and yours a safe and happy holiday on this most American of holidays.

And thanks for indulging my wish that if he had it to do over again, Mr. Samuel Francis Smith might have given the project just a wee spot more effort.

Like maybe tracking down the great grandfather of those guys who wrote “Smoky Mountain Rain”.