Sunday, May 31, 2009

"...Hey, Mate...We Have Plenty Of Time...What's The Rush?..."

Time for a little history.

About time.

(Oh, and just so you know that I know…I don’t really have a clue who the guy is in the video that I included here…it was the only clean take of Roger Miller’s classic song I could find…and the guy came with it….and, no, I don’t think he’s Mark Wahlberg after too long a night in one too many pubs, but, like I said, I don’t know for sure…)

(CNN) -- Big Ben, arguably the world's most famous clock, celebrates on Sunday 150 years of keeping London on time. The British landmark has lived through war, bad weather and disasters.

Big Ben is the 14-ton bell inside the world's largest four-faced chiming clock, although most people use the name to describe the tower that houses it.

The clock is perched on a 96-meter (310-foot) elegant tower at the Westminster Bridge end of the Palace of Westminster.

The Victorian masterpiece, which provides distinctive chimes known as bongs, was voted Britain's favorite monument in 2008. It has been featured in films such as "101 Dalmatians" and "Harry Potter and the Order of The Phoenix."

Big Ben has been disrupted a few times over the years for various reasons, including weather and breakages. Its bongs went silent for about two months in August 2007 to allow a crew to repair its mechanism system.

During that time, the rest of the clock was running on an electric system. It was fully restarted again October 1.

The clock pays tribute to Britain's royal history: It has a Latin inscription of the phrase: "O Lord, save our Queen Victoria the First."

The ornate masterpiece has some quirky features.

The hour hand, which weighs 300 kilograms (661 pounds), is made of gun metal while the minute hands are made of copper sheet.

The minute hands would not work when they were first made of cast iron because they were too heavy. The clock started working on May 31, 1859, after the lighter copper hands were installed.

The origins of the landmark's name are obscure. Some say it was named after the 1850s heavyweight boxer Ben Caunt while others suggest it was named after Sir Benjamin Hall, a former member of parliament. Hall, the commissioner of works in 1859, was responsible for ordering the bell.

Alan Hughes, the director of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry , the company that also made America's Liberty Bell and a number of others for cathedrals and churches around the world, prefers the latter.

"I suppose I like it chiefly because it was a nickname of a man who was big and loud and pompous, and never used one word if 27 would do."

I don’t know about you but, the second I read that, I realized that if America ever decides to build a time keeping tower and name it accordingly, there should be no doubt at all as to what to call it.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

"How Can We Miss You...When You Won't Go Away..."

Right off the bat, I’m conceding that I never cared much for Jay Leno.

I’m a Letterman type, much to the total lack of surprise on the part of people who know me.

Having said that, I totally get why Jay has succeeded in late night lo these past 17 years.

I’m not sure what the television industry term for it is but I have my own expression.

Yin yang.

Jay is the sugar to Dave’s spice.

Sweet versus sour.

The guy next door everybody smiles and waves at versus the guy next door who you believe is most likely up to no good behind closed doors.

Safe versus scary.

Just to wring one more simile out of the scenario.

Okay, one more.

In 1965, Jay would have been Paul McCartney.

Dave would have been Mick Jagger.

Good boy. Bad boy.

Okay, I’m done now.

And it’s not that I can’t appreciate the virtues of the good guy.

I always thought Wally Cleaver was a lot cooler than Eddie Haskell.

All that said, I simply never felt simpatico with La Leno.

First, I naturally gravitate away from the affable, naturally polite types and towards the courteous, but smart-ass types.

Wally and Eddie notwithstanding.

Second, my personal taste in stand up comedy leans a little more toward the edgy and a little less toward the “all things to all people” approach.

Third, Jay had (has) one habit that has chapped my cheeks since day one.

He almost always two times the punch line.

“In the news today, Vice President Biden announced he will be hospitalized overnight for the removal of his foot from his mouth… (AUDIENCE LAUGHS)….the removal of his foot from his mouth…”

I couldn’t prove in court that that constitutes a va-dum-bump.

But I could prove it comes pretty damn close.

And rimshots may be considered tres chic at the local PTA Talent Night.

But I expect just a little more from the guy who got the torch passed to him from Steve Allen, Jack Paar and Johnny Carson.

So, I think we can safely summarize all of this by saying what I said at the outset.

I never cared much for Jay Leno.

Still, credit where it’s due, he has been, for seventeen years, the host of the longest lasting television/variety/talk show in the history of the medium.

Then again, According to Jim is still around, so there may have been some lowering of the quality bar in the last decade or so.

By now, intuitive rascal that I am, I suspect a question has formed in your mind.

Dear God in Heaven, is this guy going to get to the damn point or what?

Fair point.
Here ya go.

The “final” Jay Leno hosted Tonight Show, last night, May 29, 2009, was, according to the hype this morning, much ado about not much.

I think that unfair.

I’d offer that he actually did accomplish something.

The most anti-climactic television event since Geraldo opened Capone’s vault on live TV to find nothing but nothing all those years ago.

If, for no other reason, Jay will “be right back” after the summer on the same station at a slightly earlier time.

From The Tonight Show…
To The This Evening Show.


Seventeen years ago, Johnny Carson did a last week of special shows and then, on his final night, literally bid a “heartfelt goodbye” to everyone who has faithfully watched the show for thirty years.

And we never saw him on the air again.

Picture that kid that you grew up with, played ball with, hung out with, whose dad got transferred and, as you watched the moving van pulling away, you knew that your paths would likely never cross again.

Kind of a teary moment, right?

Damn skippy.

For a lot of people, Johnny Carson was that kid, on that night, seventeen years ago.

“In the news today, Tonight Show viewers, last night, witnessed host Jay Leno’s moving van pull away…and start unloading five houses up the street…(AUDIENCE LAUGHS)…five houses up the street…”

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

..."Uh, Pass The Beer Nuts, There, Rush..."

It took me awhile to figure it out.

But, I’ve got it now.

I know why Rush Limbaugh annoys the bejesus out of me.

But why I understand he isn’t going away anytime soon.

First, the latest spew from the mouth that roared.

Obama has nominated the first Hispanic and only the third woman in history to be the next Supreme Court Justice.

Rush wasted no time.

I haven’t got the time or inclination to cut and paste his blathering crap, so here’s a link where you can read the story.

As Rush likes to remind us, it’s a free country.

And I would vigorously defend Rush’s right to the expression of his opinions.

Here’s the about the thing, though.

I don’t really know how Judge Sotomayor is going to come out of the confirmation process.

I do know that I don’t really care what Rush Limbaugh thinks because, frankly, I’m inclined to pay more attention to legal experts and educators than to a guy whose resume’, when you cut down to the bone, basically reads “disc jockey.”

And Lord knows I have nothing against disc jockeys.

But I don’t look to them for wisdom in matters of jurisprudence.

As to why he annoys the bejesus out of me?

It’s because after all this time, I finally figured it out.

I know who he reminds of.

Cliff Clavin, the postman from Cheers.

The guy who knows everything and has no problem letting you know that he knows everything, even as it remains obvious to everyone that he probably couldn’t find his ass with both hands and a flashlight.

So while my instincts are to feel the blood pressure rise when Rush starts mouthing off, I’ve decided to enjoy him for what he is.

And accept that he wont be going away anytime soon because of what he is.

Comic relief.

Every bar, and every country, has a know it all.

Cheers had Cliff Clavin.

We have Rush Limbaugh.

Monday, May 25, 2009

"..The Gift That Keeps On Giving...The Whole Year Through..."

for all the very nice folks who have been encouraging (daring) me to put together a compilation of "greatest hits" from these pieces, here you go...

my adventures on the planet politics...

it's called "Three Hats...A Citizen's Journal Of Election Year 2008"

and it's available at

and coming soon...."Reflections From A Phone Booth"....a collection of essays and images

read long and prosper...and don't forget to drink your Ovaltine...

"...Bad News Travels Fast...In Fact, Faster Than Ever..."

Nobody can reasonably accuse me of being a fogey.

I may have been alive since Eisenhower was President, but I know what RAM and MP3’s are, I know what a USB is for and where it goes, I know who John Mayer, Amy Winehouse, Dr. Oz and the Kardashians are (keep in mind I know who Kim and her peeps are, but I don’t really care) and not only does my VCR NOT blink 12:00, I don’t even have a VCR anymore because it has long ago been replaced with my combo DVD/VHS player.

Having said that, there are moments when I really do miss the good old days.

Lately I find I long for the days when broadcast television consisted of three network channels and one “educational” channel.

And “signed off” every night.

That’s right. Every night, sometime shortly after midnight, the national anthem would play as soundtrack as fireworks exploded in the background, the American flag waved in the foreground…and then…snow.

For those born after say 1980, snow refers to the gray, fuzzy screen that was purposely caused by the nightly discontinuance of transmission of the local television signal, not to be confused with the blank screen that occurs these days when the cable service that costs four figures annually craps out when the least little thunderstorm rolls through town.

Yes, children, the culture actually managed to survive without twenty-four hour a day television.

And it’s not that I cant appreciate the merits of a technology that allows us to have “Jaws IV-The Revenge” available every couple of hours around the clock, it’s just that there is, as always, a price to be paid for that luxury.

Above and beyond that four figures annually we pay for the service that craps out when the least little thunderstorm rolls through town.

The trade off, in this case, is that the monster has to be fed.

My ex, Melissa, was the first to explain to me about the monster.

She works in local television news and enlightened me one day to that which seemed obvious once I heard it, but had never really crossed my mind.

If television is broadcasting twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, then there has to be something put on that air twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.


Ergo, “Jaws IV- The Revenge” available every couple of hours around the clock.

Hey, count your lucky stars.

There was a period of time when it was “Jaws 3D” instead.

Compared to that one, IV is Citizen Kane.

Meanwhile, back to the monster.

It has to be “fed”, as it were, with whatever can fill the hours.

And the hours.

And the hours.

And, in hindsight, it almost seems inevitable that the result of having to fill all that broadcast air time would be not only the dilution of the overall quality of television (wow, that phrase read oxymoronically before I even finished typing it), but also in a more frantic competition for your attentions.

Hundreds of channels trying to get your finger to remote them makes the “contest” between ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS, back in the day, seem like a Tball game.

Which brings me to the reason I got to thinking about all of this in the first place.

If it bleeds, it leads.

You’re heard the phrase. It means what it says.

The prurient, the salacious, the sensational, pick your adjective. That’s how they come at us to get our eyes looking in their direction.

“Mother of three chops kids heads off…details coming up…but first, coming up tonight on Letterman….”

And the problem isn’t that that approach is a bad habit.

The problem is that it’s not even a habit anymore.

It’s the usual.

And media, in general, conducts business as usual.

Television, print, even the ole’ www.

This link, exactly as it is appears here, was found on the home page this morning of

Susan Boyle shaky in contest's 2nd round

If you read the accompanying story, you find NOTHING that even alludes to “shaky”.

If you watch the video, you see that, in her understandable nervousness, Boyle wobbled one of the first notes of the song she sang and then went on to receive a standing ovation from audience and all three judges.

Yes, even Simon.

And that’s the sad point of it all.

The link line doesn’t read “Susan Boyle gets second standing ovation” or “Susan Boyle wows audience a second time”.

“Susan Boyle shaky in contest’s 2nd round”.

47 years ago, a guy by the name of Newton Minnow, then head of the FCC, coined a phrase not heard much anymore.

He called television “a vast wasteland”.

And that was in 1962. The days of three network channels and an educational channel.

Before twenty four hour, seven day a week programming.

Before the Internet was even a gleam in Al Gore’s eye.

THIS JUST IN….”Thomas Edison curses the darkness…”

Nobody can reasonably accuse me of being an old fogey.

But there are times that I really do miss the good old days.

Signing off now.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

"...Starry, Starry Night..."

The results of this year’s American Idol came as a shock to a lot of folks.

But I suspect they didn’t come as much of a surprise.

At least not deep down in that place we all have that nods our head and purses our lips as we hear a little voice saying “yeah…I kinda had a feeling that’s what was gonna happen…”

That same little place that knew that Bush was going to be re-elected in 2004.

And that O.J. was going to get away with it.

The first time.
Not the second.

And while I stood right there next to those pretty much betting the farm that Adam Lambert was going to “beat” Kris Allen for the title, I was totally aware of the nodding head and pursed lips and little voice that were telling me that Kris Allen wasn’t the sure bet, but he was the smart bet.

There were several obvious signs along the way.

But the sign that should have sealed the deal for all of us was when Gokey got the boot.

And it was about that time that I started verbalizing my bottom line two cents about what I have long suspected.

Randy, Paula, Simon and that songwriter girl who has lucked into a weekly infomercial for her work all go, at one time or another, to great lengths to say that “this is a singing competition….and (INSERT YOUR CHOICE OF NAME OF CONESTANT HERE) you just sang (INSERT YOUR CHOICE OF HYPERBOLE HERE) tonight…”

This year, once and for all, Kris Allen helped prove two things.

First, American Idol is not a singing competition.

It is a popularity contest.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Second, Kris will be my first witness when I stand before the court of cultural commentary and present my argument in the case of SEP v. the Conventional Wisdom.

Your honor, it is my contention, which I will prove beyond a reasonable doubt (and with an occasional pie chart and/or bar graph thrown in for shits and giggles) that despite the blurring of the lines between the two for, literally, centuries, but most egregiously in the past eight years with the advent of the television program American Idol, the true and irrefutable fact of the matter is…

There are winners.
There are stars.

And the two are not necessarily one and the same.

Proving the point would, I think, be a slam-dunk just by invoking the names of Clay Aiken, Daughtery, Taylor Hicks ”et al in the proper order of who won and who didn’t…oh… and, crap, I can’t remember her name…who was that brunette chick that sang “Over The Rainbow” like six weeks in a row and was the “next big thing.”?

But I also offer, into evidence, historical precedent for my assertion that who places first and whose career lasts aint always one and the same.

Exhibit A.

Assorted winners of the Best New Artist Grammy Award.

1963. Winner: Robert Goulet. Nominated: Peter, Paul and Mary.

1971: Winner: The Carpenters. Nominated: Elton John.

1973: Winner: America. Nominated: The Eagles.

1979: Winner: A Taste Of Honey. Nominated: Elvis Costello.

1980: Winner: Rickie Lee Jones. Nominated: Robin Williams.

1993: Winner: Arrested Development. Nominated: Billy Ray Cyrus. (Okay, he’s getting a bye cause of Miley…but what the hell…)

2000: Winner. Christina Aguilera. Nominated: Britney Spears. (Grimace if you will, but I haven’t seen any E! True Hollywood Stories on Christina of late…)

And here’s the smoking gun, your judgeship…

2008: Winner: Amy Winehouse. Nominated: Taylor Swift.

I’d likely rest my case here.

Not so fast, legal eagles.

Here’s the closing argument.

I would submit to you that out of the millions of people who watch(ed) American Idol this season, a massive majority would, put on the ole polygraph, fess up that they understood, even accepted, at some primal level that Adam Lambert is the superior “talent”.

As in the case, for example, of Van Gogh and Norman Rockwell.

Norman had some admittedly solid chops.

Van Gogh was in a league by himself.

But if the two had appeared on “American Artist”, I’d bet the house I cant come close to affording that Norman would win the title.

Because he was skilled…and safe.

Van Gogh was a wack job.

And a star.


Why do you think Don McLean’s song doesn’t go “but I could have told you Norman / this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you?”

We admire and envy and are attracted to wack jobs.

But we don’t give them awards.

Amy Winehouse notwithstanding.

Because wack jobs are scary people.

And we simply don’t have the emotional spine to reward those who frighten us by coloring outside the lines.

Kris is skilled…and safe.

Adam is a wack job.

But let’s meet back here three years from now and see which of the two is painting masterpieces…and which is painting houses.

Kris is a winner.

Adam is a star.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

"Just Dropping In...To See What Condition My Condition Is In..."

Every once in a while, I get the craving for healthy food.

I can’t really figure it out.

A steady diet of Hagen Daas and chilidogs has served me fairly well, lo, these past five decades.

Same thing happens when it comes to the ingestion of trivia, as well.

Every now and then, I actually seek knowledge, as opposed to superfluous superficialities.

Found some interesting stuff today on…the author of the piece is Martha Brozyna.

And it’s called “Actual Medical Conditions Named For Mythological Characters.

What say, have a go, eh mate?

(WARNING: Some of this material will require “reading”, an ancient art form that was commonly used to convey information prior to the advent of You Tube.)

1. Priapism
Few had ever heard of this condition before reading the small print in the Cialis commercial, but priapism is an extremely long-lasting (over four hours), and sometimes very painful erection. The condition is named after the Greek god, Priapus. His mother was Aphrodite (the goddess of love and beauty), but the identity of his father was a bit sketchy. Different versions of the myth claimed different fathers, but he was probably one of the more influential deities – Hermes (god of commerce, boundaries and athletics), Dionysus (god of wine and ecstatic celebration) or Zeus (ruler of the gods and god of thunder).

Despite this godly pedigree, Priapus’ ugliness relegated him to the more marginal parts of the Olympian world. Even his own mother was appalled by his repulsive appearance when he was born, and abandoned him in the mountains. In art, he was depicted as a lusty fiend with a small, misshapen body, and an enormous, protruding phallus. One tradition explained that Priapus’ ugliness was the result of a jealous Hera (Zeus’ wife) touching Aphrodite’s pregnant belly and causing the child to be deformed in utero.

Although he was cast off as an infant, Priapus did not perish. Shepherds found and took pity on him and raised him. When he grew up, Priapus became a member of Dionysus’ entourage and his huge phallus earned him the status of a fertility god.

One of Priapus’ claims to mythological fame was that he upset the nymph, Lotis, so much with his molestations that the gods took pity on her and turned her into a lotus. According to the story, Priapus crept up on a sleeping Lotis, intent on having his way with her. Priapus was unsuccessful, however, because a donkey brayed and woke up the nymph. The frightened Lotis fled from Priapus, but didn’t have to run too far as she was mercifully turned into a lotus tree before he could catch up with her.

It is not surprising that donkeys often featured in the artistic renderings of Priapus. With his plan to ravish Lotis foiled, Priapus came to despise the animal, and encouraged people to sacrifice donkeys in his honor. Another version, however, recounted Priapus’ hatred of the beast stemming from a heated debate he had with one particular donkey (to whom Dionysius had given the power of speech) about the comparative size of his manhood with his rival’s donkeyhood. When a comparison was made, the donkey won. Angered at being second best, Priapus beat the animal to death (with his phallus, according to some versions).

Both Greeks and Romans put statues of Priapus around their homes and gardens. The Greeks often placed him before doorways as a good luck charm, but also as a guardian against thieves. In these instances, Hermes and Priapus became almost interchangeable, as Hermes was the god of boundaries and as such could often be found placed in front of people’s homes with his phallus exposed. The Romans placed statues of Priapus in their vineyards where he served double duty as both fertility charm and scarecrow.

2. Hermaphrodite
According to the Intersex Society of North America, true hermaphrodites are nonexistent because it is impossible for any human being to be completely male and female. Therefore, the word “hermaphrodite,” which traditionally referred to people who have both male and female physical characteristics, is a misnomer, and the word “intersex” is the preferred term for many who have this condition.

The word “hermaphrodite” comes from a Greek mythological figure, Hermaphroditus, the son of Hermes and Aphrodite. He was raised by the nymphs of Mount Ida, and not surprisingly given his parentage, was very good looking. When Hermaphroditus was a teenager, he came upon a lake in Caria, located in modern southwestern Turkey. The guardian of the lake, a water nymph named Salmacis, took a liking to him instantly. She tried to seduce him, but Hermaphroditus wasn’t interested. Instead, the cool, clear water of the lake attracted him, and he jumped in for a swim.

Once in the water, however, Hermaphroditus was on the nymph’s turf, and Salmacis grabbed him and held him as tightly as she could. She then begged the gods that she and Hermaphroditus might stay together forever, and so their bodies were fused. Hermaphroditus thus became both man and woman. In art he was portrayed as having female breasts and male genitals. The only consolation for Hermaphroditus was that any man who also bathed in this lake would suffer the same fate.

3. Fury
The word that describes that uncontrollable anger we all sometimes feel comes from three female creatures – the Furies, or furiae as they were called by the Romans. The Greeks knew them as Erinyes or “the angry ones” and sometimes as Eumenidies or “kindly ones” – in the hopes that flattery might keep them away.

As they were the personification of rage, it’s not surprising that their origins were violent – when the Titan, Cronus, had castrated his father Uranus, the Furies were born out of his blood. Other versions of the myth explained the origins of the Furies as the daughters of Nyx (night) or the daughters of Hades.

The Furies were frightful in appearance. They were winged, had snakes in their hair, carried torches and whips, and had blood pouring from their eyes. Originally their number was uncertain, but over time a consensus emerged that there was a total of three – Alecto meaning “endless,” Megaera meaning “grudging” and Tisiphone meaning “avenging murder.”

Their domain was Hades, but they would often make appearances in the world of the living in order to pursue transgressors. They punished those who broke the taboo of killing one’s parent or other family member, and their chosen form of retribution involved driving the guilty party insane. The most famous episode illustrating the role of the Furies comes from the Greek playwright Aeschylus and his play Oresteia. The Furies pursued Orestes to the ends of the earth because he had killed his mother Clytemnestra in vengeance for her killing his father, Agamemnon. (The Furies finally left Orestes in peace when an Athenian court acquitted him of the charges).

4. Narcissist
Everyone knows at least one. They’re arrogant, selfish, and usually utter bores. Sigmund Freud identified narcissism as an actual personality trait. Narcissus was the son of the nymph Liriope and the river god Cephissus. When Narcissus was a child, the soothsayer, Tiresias, forewarned his parents that their son would live a long life only if he didn’t see his own image. Narcissus was very good-looking and it seems that everyone desired him, both human and supernatural.

In the best known version of the Narsissus myth, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the nymph Echo fell madly in love with Narcissus. She followed him around everywhere trying to get his attention, but Narcissus simply found her irritating. Part of Echo’s problem was that she could only repeat the last word that anyone said. Echo had been a chatterbox in the past, but had got on Hera’s bad side by distracting her with gossip while Zeus was out playing the field with nymphs. Having discovered this treachery, Hera altered Echo’s speech so that the formerly garrulous Echo could only repeat helplessly.

Narcissus finally told Echo to go away. She was devastated, and spent the rest of her life wandering around lonely in the woods and caves until she faded away and only her voice remained, repeating the words of the occasional passerby. Seeing that Narcissus had hurt Echo as well as others, the goddess Nemesis cast a spell on Narcissus to avenge those whose hearts had been broken. One day Narcissus came across a pool and as he started to drink from it, he fell in love with his own image. At first, he didn’t realize he was seeing his reflection. Each time he reached to hold his beloved, the image disappeared. After a while, Narcissus became aware that he had fallen in love with his own reflection and died of despair. In his place, a flower grew—the narcissus. Narcissus did not find peace even in his death. Once in Hades, Narcissus continued to be taunted by his image in the River Styx.

In another rendering of the story, Narcissus came from the city of Thespiae. Again, Narcissus was a handsome man with many admirers he ignored. However, the youth Ameinias became very distraught at being rejected. After Narcissus sent him a sword as a gift, Ameinias used it to commit suicide in front of Narcissus’ house. Just as in Ovid’s version, Narcissus came upon a pool of water, saw his reflection in it, and fell in love. In this rendering, however, Narcissus killed himself out of frustration when he learned he was in love with an image. (In yet another variation, Narcissus drowned after trying to kiss his image in the water). Just as in Ovid’s version, in the place of Narcissus’ demise grew a narcissus flower.

(An alternative theory claims, however, that the name of the flower has nothing to do with the god, but actually comes from the Greek work narko meaning numbness, which is what happens if one ingests the flower).

In a later version recounted by the Greek geographer Pausanias, who was writing in the second century CE, Narcissus had a twin sister who died. Heartbroken, Narcissus took comfort gazing at his own reflection in the water, thinking that he was looking at his beloved sister.

Couple of thoughts.

First, those Greeks would have knocked it out of the ballpark when it came to reality shows.

Second, it occurs to me that there are some present day medical conditions that might be added to an updated list.


CEOism…an uncanny ability to sleep at night after having bilked hard working folks of their 401K funds by accepting insanely out of proportion compensation for merely holding an executive position in any company that can truthfully use the term Fortune 500 in their public relations materials.

Coulterist…a condition in which tall, leggy blonde females are incapable of seeing any point of view save their own. Symptoms include a tendency to think without reasoning, speak without thinking and communicate contempt and scorn for anyone who doesn’t subscribe to the doctrine. Experts believe there is often an underlying thread of Narcissism involved here.

Parishiltonite…a physiological anomaly that exhibits in the patient’s inability to prevent their legs from rapidly spreading apart at the mere hint of possible intimate contact. Associated with this condition is an apparent ignorance of what it’s like to live in the real world.

CarriePrejeanosis…a compulsion to obsessively cling to the high moral ground shortly after parading around in heels and swimsuit in pursuit of material gain. Those affected with this syndrome also often find themselves embarrassed by exposure of their breasts caused by a combination of any slight beach breeze and/or the presence of a camera lens.

Okay, enough of this higher education stuff.

I’m ready to surf back over to E! TV and the 15 Most Infamous Celebrity Axe Murderers special.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

"...On Dignity...and Dipwads..."

Mickey and Sylvia were absolutely right.

If you’re not a pop music loving baby boomer and/or don’t have a clue who Mickey and Sylvia are, let me save you a trip to the Google.

They are the very entertaining voices behind the classic fifties pop hit.

“Love Is Strange”.

And, like I said, I think they were spot on in their assertion.

I don’t think any of us would dispute that particular pearl of perception.

At the same time, I think, if Mick and Syl were still looking for material, I would be inclined to throw the idea at them that a sequel to their hit would also resonate.

“Life Is Strange”.

That thought popped into my head this morning as I found my medulla bouncing back and forth between stories about Carrie Prejean and Farrah Fawcett.

Here’s the necessary McBackstories, respectively.

Carrie Prejean is the reigning Miss California USA who is trying to use her bully pulpit to advocate in opposition to gay marriage and whose crown was in jeopardy this past week because pictures surfaced of her posing in “less than wholesome” attire.

Farrah Fawcett is the former poster girl phenomenon of the seventies who went on to establish some reasonably deserved acclaim as a serious actress and is reportedly, at this writing, mere days away from dying of cancer.

Okay, first, despite my genetic predisposition toward carnality (read: I’m male), I’ve never really been much of a beauty pageant fan.

While I can intellectually appreciate the idea of healthy competition between young ladies who can morph, right before our eyes in the course of a single evening, from environmentally conscious college students to virtuoso pianists mesmerizing us with their Mozart to high heel wearing bimbettes showing just enough T&A to make it A-OK, I’ve just always had the underlying feeling that the whole thing was nothing more than a cattle auction where the cattle happened to have nice asses.

The whole concept, in my eyes, should have long ago been filed away in the folder marked “anachronism”.

As in, “well, it seemed like a good idea at the time, but, these days…”

Like bleeding people with leeches, for example.

Or avoiding the exploration of the seas cause the world is flat.

Or boxing.

That’s a whole other rant. Don’t get me started here.

Historically, beauty pageant contestants have to not only deal with the pressures of competition, but, more and more “these days”, the stigma of the stereotype comic minds have been milking for generations.

”…I hope to work for world peace…to save the whales…to make our schools safer and our dairy products more nutritionally sound…oh…and I am committed to my goal to become a veterinarian because I am passionate about the needs of our returning veterans…thank you…and now, I would like to offer “Flight Of The Bumble Bee” on my alto sax….wearing these heels and this spandex...”

These things have really made American Idol start to look like College Bowl. (you might have to Google that one.)

Now, in addition to the silly syntax and sorry sax playing, we find ourselves faced with a generation of “contestants” who feel the need to offer to guide us to enlightenment on the relevant social issues of our time.

As if four minutes of Prokofiev and perky boobs were all the qualifications one needed to save us from ourselves.

In this case, Ms. Prejean is an outspoken advocate in the cause of banning gay marriage.

Personally, I love a good, spirited discussion on relevant issues with someone who clings with passion and conviction to the moral high ground.

In between events where she struts her stuff to win cash and prizes before dashing off to photo shoots on the beach where the slightest of breezes can inadvertently bare her chest for all to see.
Well, that’s her story…and she’s sticking to it.

Two words come to mind here.


I remain optimistic in my cynicism that anyone with half a brain doesn’t think this girl has half a brain.

So, let me just offer that the real victims in this whole fracas are the folks who are still trying to make a living by putting on these meat parades they still call “pageants.”

I mean, come on, if the goal was ever to make these things relevant to our times, then the continued enlistment of garden variety airheads aint gonna help much.

That said, here’s the other shoe.

And the point I was going to make about that sequel to Mickey and Sylvia’s hit song.

Not so many years ago (and, to be honest, off and on ever since) Farrah Fawcett was symbolic of the stereotypical “bimbette”, long on hair, prolifically perky and short on any apparent ability to understand the difference between veterans and veterinarians.

Of late, tabloid vulture bites aside, she has demonstrated, in what we all instinctively know is her farewell to this life, a class we would all like to think we will possess when our time comes.

And compared to the “like, well, you know, like, gays shouldn’t, you know, like, get, like, married…oh, the wind is, like, blowing my, you know, top off again” cultural contributions of the reigning Miss California USA, Farrah Fawcett is Eleanor Roosevelt.


Farrah Fawcett.

Symbol of grace and dignity.

Trust me, Mick and Syl, this idea is surefire.

Because life, truly, is strange.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

"Forget The President Adressing the Nation...How Bout DRESSING The Nation?"

I’ve noticed something lately.

I often notice things that other people don’t notice.

In fairness, maybe it’s more accurate to say that I pay attention to things that other people don’t pay attention to.

Including dangling participles.

And I’m not implying that this habit makes me better than you.

I’m not Izzy Mandlebaum, after all.

I suppose it’s because the writer part of my brain is hardwired to include a “notice this” detector that takes in raw data and then processes it into captivating and culture altering commentary.

Or I could just be full of shit.

Come to think of it, I’ve heard that opinion offered more frequently throughout the life than any other.

Meanwhile, back at the point.

I noticed the other day how much times have changed.

Now, of course, being me, that revelation wasn’t about to come in the form of anything everyday-ish, like realizing that the current cost of a week’s groceries is roughly the same amount as my parents monthly mortgage payment in 1965.

No, my latest epiphany came all dressed up.

Or not, as the case may be.

The little red light on my “notice this” detector flashed when I came across the picture I’ve included here.

(Actually, my little red light is really a little blue light, but this piece isn’t about red state/blue state stuff, so carry on…)

The President meets with the captain who was kidnapped by pirates and rescued by the brave men and women of the United States Navy.

Mr. Phillips Goes To Washington.

Well, of course I noticed Mrs. Phillips, too.

Didn’t I start out by saying that I pay attention to pretty much everything?
Pay attention.

It was, in fact, Mrs., and not Mr., Phillips that got this whole stream of consciousness thing disguised as captivating and culture altering commentary going in the first place.

And made me realize how much times have changed.

Because the moment I saw the picture I thought of The Price Is Right.

Well, now, that was a sudden, jerking turn you weren’t expecting, I’d betcha.

Here’s the thing.

When you’re finished reading my rambling here, go surfing for as early an episode of The Price Is Right as you can find.

Early means not only pre-Drew Carey, it means pre-white haired Bob Barker, as well.

And pay no attention to Bob.
Pay attention to the contestant(s).

I direct your attention to the lack.

The lack of cut off shorts, the lack of wife beaters, the lack of t-shirts with goofy slogans and, good golly miss molly, the lack of flip-flops.

People who thought they might end up appearing on national television used to actually bother to dress just a bit past the fashion standard we have established for a daily visit to the Wal Mart.

Them days is over.
Times have changed.

I notice things like that.

Happened a couple of Sundays ago when I was visiting a church.

I’m really not that old, but I do vividly remember men wearing ties and ladies wearing dresses to church on Sunday.

The congregation I visited with was quite the haute couture mixture.

A little bit “fill the collection plate”, a little bit “here, take a few bucks out and buy yourself a shirt that has sleeves”.

Disclaimer time.

I am neither a snob, a fashionista nor an old fart fogey who has moved solidly into the “tsk, tsk” years of my life.

Those who see me at work know that my wardrobe of choice is running shoes, jeans and tropical shirt.

With a sport jacket.

Hey, I’m not without a sense of style, you know.

And possessed of that sense of style and, as mentioned earlier, a tendency to notice things, Mrs. Phillips’ choice of wardrobe couldn’t help but set off the red light (blue light, yada, yada).

Yeah, I realize that both the prez and the cap are tie-less in the Oval Office of the President of The United States.

And, just so you know (ladies), I’m not about to wrap all this up by rapping the cap’s Mrs’ ensemble.

Truth be told, I think there’s a level of Americanism, if you will, being displayed here.

We embrace people in this country regardless of race, creed, color, religious or sexual persuasion.

We don’t close the doors to our churches to those wishing to worship God who don’t necessarily shop at Saks.

We don’t deny people the chance to win the Showcase Showdown because they expect to over or underbid wearing the “I’m With Stupid” t-shirts.

And we don’t deny Mr.and Mrs. Phillips a chance to visit the Oval Office and chat with the President of the United States simply because they show up dressed like their “things to do today” list reads “visit White House, pick up caulk for bathroom at Home Depot.”

The “fashionistas”, having seen the picture are, of course, most likely in need of oxygen.

Ah, screw em.

By any reasonable measure, the key word being reasonable, the Phillips look just fine and dandy.

I mean, it’s not like she wore flip-flops, for God’s sake.

Then again, her feet are oddly out of sight in the picture.


I notice things like that.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

No Jokes About "The Supremes"...I Promise....

Here’s your hat.

What’s your hurry?

The words “Souter is retiring” were probably still echoing in the room when the pundits, analysts and experts who make their living telling us what we think started the name game regarding a replacement.

First of all, let’s give some props, shall we?

Thank you, Justice David Souter, for your years of service to the United States of America. Regardless of your “blue state/red state” affiliation or the tone of your personal legal theology, no one can deny that you have done yourself and your country honor by selflessly serving on the Supreme Court since your appointment in 1990.

Speaking of theology, by the way, nice job on proving your detractors wrong.

Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, among others, voted against your confirmation, fearful that you were a conservative cut from the cloth that would have made Barry Goldwater seem like Michael Phelps in a head shop.

When the bio is written, it will show that while you are, and have always been, more “conservative” than “liberal”, you ultimately ended your tenure on the bench in a posture that more often leaned to the left than to the right.

So, I imagine the loudest sound heard when your retirement was announced was the hysterical clapping and cheering coming from Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter.

I can hear them chanting now.

“Get thee behind us, Souter”

And if you don’t think that somewhere, right now, an effort is underway to try and get Sarah Palin’s name on the short list, you simply don’t know how this game is played.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Most of us don’t know how the game is played.

That’s probably because most of us don’t really care.

Most of us (“most of us” being defined as those whose concerns about political maneuvering and strategizing tend to be trumped by worrying about how to pay our mortgages and feed our kids) wouldn’t know how to begin to choose someone to serve as an associate justice on the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

Because the process of choice is so complex and multi-layered that, if printed on paper, would very likely look like those DVD Player Instruction Manuals that come in three languages and make no damn sense to anybody.

Then again…

I’ve been thinking a little about this.
Imagine that.

The definition of insanity, it is said, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result each time.

So, how about this time we take a totally unexpected turn off the well-traveled road of the selection process?

And, yes, I realize the first argument will be about whether to turn to the left or the right.


Everybody’s a comedian.

Seriously, let me run this up your flagpole and see if you feel like saluting it.

How about we dispense with the usual, predictable “qualifications” like legal experience, put aside the need to find someone who will balance the racial, sexual, spiritual and gender makeup of the court, give no thought to placating either the Kennedy/Kerry kids or the Limbaugh/Coulter crew and look for someone who…

…would rule in favor of paying teachers, police officers, fire fighters, et al, six figures while assuring our favorite movie stars they can most assuredly get by on one, and not ten, million per picture…

…would sleep like a baby after locking up greedy CEO’s and throwing away the key…

…believes that torture as a means of acquiring information is, at best, bad public relations, at worst, bad karma…

…believes that abortion is like trying to change the way that rivers flow…an attempt to reverse the plan that God has, no matter how zany we might think that plan is…

…believes that it’s okay to think that God’s plan is zany….

…believes that 55 MPH can mean 60MPH…but not 80MPH…

…would reverse the decision to take prayer out of school because it wasn’t ours to take out of schools in the first place…hey…as long as your praying doesn’t keep anybody awake in study hall, whatever, you know?

…believes that you have an unquestionable right to make a fist and swing your arm…and that right ends where another’s nose begins…

…believes that “fairness” is a much underrated and underused concept…

…believes that the spirit of the law should always pre-empt the letter of the law…

…believes that Kara really was picked to replace Paula but don’t count Paula out just yet…

…believes that the term “pro-life” is redundant…

…believes that ignorance is a misdemeanor, but stupid is a felony…

…agrees that the death penalty is stepping over the “vengeance is mine” line…but totally gets that the parents of the raped and murdered child don’t give a shit about lines…

…believes that common sense really would resolve 99% of the issues brought before the bench..but…

…understands that common sense is no longer common, nor sensical…

…believes that banning gay marriage is stepping over the “judge not” line…but totally gets the two frankfurters in the same bun gag in “Blades of Glory”…

…believes that Yoko really did break up The Beatles…but that it was an accident…

…thinks that we have one, no, wait, two too many “judge” shows on in the afternoons now…

…believes that Simon is really the only one of the four telling contestants the truth…

…believes that you can’t censor one thing without censoring every thing…

…is willing to support a constitutional amendment banning any further paternity testing done by the staff of the Maury Povich show…

…believes that the idea of doing unto others as you would have others do unto you is pretty much a one line summation of every legal text ever written…

As I finished up the list, I realized two things.

First, the whole idea aint really all that crazy.

Second, I think I know who would be perfect for the job.