Monday, August 31, 2009

"Slap His Sorry Ass In Jail...That Will Improve His Memory Big Time..."

One upside to getting older is finding it easier to have compassion for other's human foibles and failings.

Well, there's also the "not dead" thing, too, but I digress.

If you live five or six decades in this life, chances are that you're going to have been mean, petty, selfish, even possibly violent at least once, somewhere along the way, even if your primary personality is neither mean, petty, selfish or violent.

The road of life is full of twists and turns and unexpected crossroads and we are all human, subject to moments of weakness and acts of meaness, pettiness, etc, etc.

Or, put another way...shit happens.

That's why I haven't, till now, written or spoken about Chris Brown and his physical assault on Rhianna.

First things first.

I dont condone physical violence for any reason, save undeniable self defense.

I've seen the damage, inner and outer, that it causes.

And I dont think there should be a lot of wiggle room for people who let the punches fly.

Having said that, read paragraph four again.

And in that spirit, I put down the stone I was poised to throw and resumed life in my little glass house.

Until today when this little slice of breaking news found its way to my plate.

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Pop star Chris Brown has admitted guilt and apologized for assaulting his then-girlfriend Rihanna in February, but he does not remember hitting the singer, he told CNN's Larry King.

Looking at police reports about the incident makes him feel like he's reading about a stranger, Brown said in his first television interview since the arrest.

"I'm in shock, because, first of all, that's not who I am as a person, and that's not who I promise I want to be," he said in an exclusive interview that airs Wednesday night.

"I just don't know what to think. I'm just like, wow," Brown said. "It's crazy to me."

Brown, 20, said he still loves singer Rihanna, whose full name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty.

But, he added, it is tough for him to look at the photo showing Rihanna's battered face, the one image that might haunt and define him forever.

"When I look at it now, it's just like, wow, like, I can't believe that that actually happened," Brown said.

He now has to keep his distance from Rihanna, because of a judge's restraining order.

What is it about today's culture that makes it necessary to almost ALWAYS follow an act or expression of contrition with a rationalization or, even worse, justification?

What the hell ever happened to just "I was wrong. I'm sorry. Please forgive me."

Chris Brown doesn't REMEMBER hitting her?




Bill Cosby did a very sharp, insightful bit years ago about how his kids instinctively pleaded ignorance when it came to owning up to their behavior.

"Why did you do that?"

"I dunno..."

"Who did this?"

"I dunno."

In the case of Bill Cosby, the story is funny.

In the case of Chris Brown, the story is decidedly not.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

"Abraham and Martin..and John...and Teddy...and John..."

I had a birthday yesterday.

That’s really neither here nor there except, maybe, for the fact that, like the old joke, having another birthday beats the alternative.

I’ve reached the point, frankly, where I’m pleased that I was able/allowed/given the gift of (depending on your personal theology) completing another lap around the track but honestly feel just a little self conscious at the idea of being feted like I just broke the 100 yard dash record in the process.

Don’t get me wrong. I love attention, adoration and a shiny new Wal Mart gift card as much as the next guy.

It’s just that I’ve now ridden the big blue ball around the sun 58 times and have had, already, more than my fair share of the aforementioned attention and adoration.

And would spending a few bucks on a nice Iphone have killed you?

At this point in the life, birthdays have become benchmark as opposed to blowout, an occasion to reflect, take stock, check progress on current goals, set new ones.

In other words, all that self-improvement shit that always seems to come soaking into our brains from the party hats on New Year’s Eve.

This year my journey of reflection (and don’t be misled by the Hallmark hyperbole, I actually only gave it about ten minutes worth of thought before I went back to watching the new season 5 DVD’s of House, MD) found me thinking about two guys who might seem unrelated to each other, literally or philosophically, but who have played a pretty big part in my life, in one way or another.

Ted Kennedy.
John Lennon.

The former came to mind, obviously, because he had passed away, unleashing a 24/7 saturation of news coverage of the life and times of the “Lion of the Senate” and, by association, the Greek tragedy served with clam chowder we have come to know as the Kennedy family.

The coverage was comprehensive, for the most part, respectful and non-tabloid-ish.

And Teddy almost managed to shove Michael Jackson completely out of the spotlight for the first time in over two months.

Not even the passing of an American political icon can outshine a good old-fashioned drug induced homicide, though.

Thanks for nothing, Dr. Murray.

And where, you might ask, does John Lennon enter into my particular scheme of things here?

Fair point.

Beyond the obvious emotional and psychological connections that result from there having been Kennedys and Beatles in my present and past for pretty much all of it, John came to mind, in particular, as I happened across this little Teddy tidbit this morning.

(CNN) -- Shortly before he died from brain cancer, Sen. Ted Kennedy wrote a letter to Pope Benedict XVI. President Obama delivered the letter to the pontiff during his visit to the Vatican in July.

The following are excerpts from the letter as read by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick at Kennedy's private burial service Saturday in Arlington National Cemetery:

"Most Holy Father, I asked President Obama to personally hand-deliver this letter to you. As a man of deep faith himself, he understands how important my Catholic faith is to me, and I am so deeply grateful to him. I hope this letter finds you in good health.

"I pray that you have all of God's blessings as you lead our Church and inspire our world during these challenging times. I am writing with deep humility to ask that you pray for me as my own health declines. I was diagnosed with brain cancer more than a year ago, and although I continue treatment the disease is taking its toll on me. I am 77 years old, and preparing for the next passage of life

"I have been blessed to be part of a wonderful family. Both of my parents, particularly my mother, kept our Catholic faith at the center of our lives. That gift of faith has sustained and nurtured, and provided solace to me in the darkest hours.

"I know that I have been an imperfect human being, but with the help of my faith I have tried to right my path. I want you to know Your Holiness that in my nearly 50 years of elective office, I have done my best to champion the rights of the poor and open doors of economic opportunity. I have worked to welcome the immigrant, to fight discrimination, and expand access to health care and education. I have opposed the death penalty, and fought to end war. Those are the issues that have motivated me and been the focus of my work as a United States Senator.

"I also want you to know that even though I am ill, I am committed to do everything I can to achieve access to health care for everyone in my country. This has been the political cause of my life. I believe in a conscience protection for Catholics in the health field, and I'll continue to advocate for it as my colleagues in the Senate and I work to develop an overall national health policy that guarantees health care for everyone.

"I have always tried to be a faithful Catholic Your Holiness. And though I have fallen short through human failings, I have never failed to believe and respect the fundamental teachings of my faith. I continue to pray for God's blessings on you and on our Church, and would be most thankful for your prayers for me

Two weeks later, Kennedy received a response from the Vatican. McCarrick read the response in part, as follows:

"The Holy Father has read the letter which you entrusted to President Obama, who kindly presented it to him during their recent meeting. He was saddened to know of your illness, and asked me to assure you of his concern and his spiritual closeness. He is particularly grateful for your promise of prayers for him, for the needs of our universal church.

"His Holiness prays that in the days ahead, you may be sustained in faith and hope, and granted the precious grace of joyful surrender to the will of God, our merciful father. He invokes upon you the consolation and peace promised by the risen savior to all who share in his sufferings, and trust in his promise of eternal life.

"Commending you and the members of your family to the loving intervention of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Father cordially imparts his apostolic blessing as a pledge of wisdom, comfort, and strength in the Lord."

A long time ago, after fifty million “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah’s” had been sung and a dollar had been made on pretty much every one of them, John Lennon decided he could best serve humanity by using his celebrity to guide us all politically, theologically, socially, come to think of it, just about every “…ally” there was.

There was the Give Peace a Chance thing and the Free This Guy or Free That Guy thing and the John and Yoko in a bag for peace thing and John and Yoko staying in bed for peace thing.

It was a veritable cornucopia of thing things.

Getting its infamous start in 1966 when he was quoted (yes, out of context but even then media didn’t let that shit get in the way of a good story) as saying that “The Beatles are more popular than Jesus.”

If you were born after, say, 1965, do the Google on that one. It’s a fun story.

I remember something else he said, though, less notorious, but even more perceptive.

“Jesus was cool…it was the disciples who fucked everything up.”

I was reminded of that as I read the story about Teddy writing the Pope.

Cause I couldn’t help but think that John Lennon would have gotten the same impression I did.

The dying patriarch of arguably the most famous Roman Catholic family in American history writes a personal letter to the Pope asking for the pontiff’s personal prayers as said most famous Roman Catholic prepares to die and has said letter hand delivered to said pontiff by the current President of the United States.

And receives, in reply, what basically amounts to a form letter.

What, they spent the whole Vatican budget on robes and those pointy hats and they got nothing left over for a sturdy Bic pen?

The Pope is too busy scheduling his next impression of Madonna doing her impression of Evita waving on the balcony to sit down for five minutes and personally write Teddy a “got yer letter, got ya covered, dude” Hallmark card?

I mean, come on there your Popeness, whatever mortal and/or moral failings Teddy and his posse possessed (and Lord only knows there was a plethora), the Kennedy family, if nothing else on this earth, broke the ceiling that had up until 1960 barred a Catholic from ever having the chance to pick out new drapes for the Oval Office.

It might border on blasphemy (heaven forbid) but in the category of WWJD, I think even the Savior might have found a couple of minutes to personally punch Teddy’s prayer card.

This year, on my birthday, as I reflected on my own life, I realized that while growing up I probably, somewhere along the way, liked to think that I shared some of the positive and life affirming qualities that the Kennedy family represented for a lot of us.

But it turns out that, in the end, I have a lot more in common with the once upon a time Beatle.

A love of, and talent for, music.

An unending desire to perform, in one way or another, for people.

A sense of humor that slices, dices or nurtures, depending on the mood or momentary medication.

And an affectionate, but distinct, disdain for organized religion.

I’m not Catholic, so I haven’t read the manual and I don’t know the secret handshake.

But, I don’t think you need to do as the Romans do to see the irony here.

The Pope, apparently, doesn’t deal directly with those who are heavy laden and in need of refreshment.

He has people who do that for him.

Funny thing is, though, I thought it was Jesus who had people to do that for Him.

Like the Pope.

Monday, August 24, 2009

And Now A Word From Our Sponsor....

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

"There Likely Will Be No 'Angelina Jolie Pitt'...Pretty Sure Jennifer Anniston Pitt Will See To That One Way Or The Other..."

The piece that I wrote before this one, which is on the blogsite after this one (apparently since our brains are now hardwired to scroll down and not up, ever shall it be so) has got me to thinking about names and a “trend” I have noticed in recent days, weeks, months.

And since every thing has to have a name these days (even things about names), I’m calling it “the married women three-name thing.”

Yes, I know it lacks panache, but it explains the concept clearly and concisely, which, I realize, pretty much shreds any hope I ever had, or might yet have, of writing government manuals.

Lately, as I peruse Facebook, Twitter, My Space, LinkedIn and all the other social networking sites I am hip enough to know I need to be hip enough to know (and always, and only, during working hours. See, I told you I was hip…)it has come to my attention that more and more married women are known as and/or are calling themselves by three names.

No, not Moe, Larry and Curly.

Sheesh. Everybody’s a comedian.

The married women three-name thing is defined as a woman, married, who uses her first name, maiden surname (that one will get me some cards and letters, ya you betcha) and married surname.

So, if, for example, the trend had found its way to the culture sixty years ago, we would have laughed each week at the zany adventures of Lucy McGillicuddy Ricardo.

Rob and Richie would have been the loving husband and son, respectively of Laura Meeker Petrie.

Archie and Edith would be the proud parents of Gloria Bunker Stivic.

The easiest and most obvious theory of where this is coming from is simply women deciding that they’re no longer willing to give up their individual identities simply because they choose to take them marital vows.

First of all, and excuse me for living, but isn’t giving up your individual identity a natural and inevitable by-product of taking said vows?

I mean, come on, men weren’t born to choose cleaning out the gutters over playing eighteen holes.

And let’s not even get started on the conflict men experience between their primal urge to wander freely in a shopping mall and having to stop and nod approvingly at every damn pair of shoes in every damn shoe store in the free world.

Uh, yeah, honey, those pumps would go great with your ocean blue dress…so cute.

The phenomenon, if you will, of the married women three-name thing doesn’t seem to have any pattern I can discern, at this point. Of the various and sundry women that I know, not counting ex-wives because all of those women dropped that third name faster than Michael Vick being booed at a dog show, the use of three names seems to cut across a wide socio-economic-age demographic. Older, younger, richer, poorer, the only thing they have in common is that they are married.

This doesn’t apply, by the way, to women who already had three names to begin with.

Like Mary Chapin Carpenter.

Mary Tyler Moore.

Anna Nicole Smith.

Cause it gets really confusing when you go there.

Chapin’s married name, for example, is Smith.

So her name is Mary Chapin Carpenter Smith.

And that conjures up that “John Jacob Jingleheimer” thing that will be stuck in your head for weeks.

Maybe it’s the romantic in me, but I like to think that “the married women three-name thing” isn’t about keeping one foot outside the door of happy ever after, just in case.

I prefer to believe that those women just have an eye and ear for cool names.

And three names can be very cool.

At least when it comes to women.

Men don’t seem to fare as well with the concept.

John Wayne Gacy.

Mark David Chapman.

Sirhan Bishara Sirhan.

I once had a radio station owner tell me that I couldn’t use my real three name name on the air because it conjured up “thoughts of serial killers” like the aforementioned.

I responded that I totally understood.

And was down with the idea that three named men were most assuredly dubious characters.

Like John Wilkes Booth.

And Lee Harvey Oswald.

And John Paul Jones.

And Martin Luther King.

That gig didn’t last long.

Go figure.

I’d offer proof of my “women with three names is cool” theory by sharing some of my friends’ names with you but I respect their privacy, value their friendship and really don’t need any more cease and desist orders clogging up my teeny apartment complex mail box.

Then again, they are plastered all over my Facebook page.

So check it out.

Just don’t tell anybody I told you where to look.

Cause if they got pissed at me, I’d end up being known by one name instead of my own three.


"Sarah, Sarah, Bo Barah, Banana Fanna Fo Farah..."

Just did a quick couple of laps around the news services and didn’t see anything that rose a hackle.

So here’s a fun thing for you to take to show and tell at work tomorrow.

Courtesy of our friends at Mental Floss dot com. All rights reserved. Void where prohibited by law. Lather, rinse, repeat..from sea…to shining…seeeeeea…”

The names of some of our favorite TV characters have undergone behind-the-scenes changes for a variety of reasons, from politics to legal issues to shows on competing networks. Here are seven such examples.

1. “The Mash”
When Garry Marshall was first assembling the show that eventually became Happy Days, he envisioned the local hoodlum as a tall Italian guy named Marsciarelli whose nickname would be “Mash.” By the time the show was cast, what he ended up with was a short Jewish guy (because Henry Winkler tested so well) called Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli (because CBS now had their own series called M*A*S*H).

2. Archie Justice
Norman Lear purchased the American rights to the hit British sitcom Till Death Do Us Part in 1968 and wrote a pilot script called And Justice for All. The lead character’s name was Archie Justice. He filmed the pilot presented it to the executives at ABC. They hated it. Lear re-cast the parts of Meathead and Gloria and filmed a second pilot. ABC passed yet again. When CBS showed interest in the pilot two years later, Lear had to change the name of the show and settled on All in the Family. With a new title in place, the “Justice” pun was lost, so Archie’s last name was changed to “Bunker.”

3. Lucy Lopez
The original concept for I Love Lucy centered around Larry Lopez, a wealthy, internationally famous bandleader, and his actress wife, Lucy. When the pilot was filmed, the concept had been tweaked a bit so that Larry was now a moderately successful orchestra leader with a local following, and Lucy was a housewife with show biz aspirations. When CBS purchased the show, Larry Lopez became Ricky Ricardo, and Lucy Ricardo spent most of the episode in pajamas and a bathrobe to conceal Lucille Ball’s real-life pregnancy.

4. Hoffman/Kessler
Cosmo Kramer of Seinfeld fame was based on Larry David’s neighbor Kenny Kramer. But naming a TV character after a real live human can be a legal minefield, so in the first draft of the pilot script the wacky neighbor was named “Hoffman.” In between the time the script was written, press releases were sent out and the episode was actually filmed, his name was changed to “Kessler.” (The TV Guide listing and early reviews of this episode refer to “Hoffman,” while Jerry himself calls the character “Kessler” in the episode.) An agreement of sorts was eventually worked out so that Kramer could revert to using his rightful name.

5. Barnaby Cobb
Quinn Martin pitched a series idea to CBS in 1973 that starred Buddy Ebsen as a retired private investigator who started working again after his son was murdered. CBS liked the idea, but hated the name Martin had given his title character – Barnaby Cobb. They thought it sounded too “cornpone” (remember, this was the network which had recently cancelled most of their “rural” hits, such as Green Acres and Petticoat Junction), so the P.I.’s name was changed to Barnaby Jones and the series ran for an impressive eight seasons.

6. Zoe Stewart
Hannah Montana was launched as a backdoor pilot on an episode of That’s So Raven. The character’s name at that time was Zoe Stewart, but by the time the pilot for the spin-off series was finished, Nickelodeon a series of their own called Zoey 101. “Zoe” became “Miley Stewart” when Miley Cyrus was hired to play the character.

7. Ralph Hinckley
The hapless teacher-turned-superhero featured on The Greatest American Hero was named Ralph Hinckley. Just 12 days after the pilot episode aired, a deranged man named John Hinckley, Jr., attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan. Producers quickly changed their title character’s last name to “Hanley” wherever possible for the remainder of the first season episodes. However, so fleeting is the memory of the American public that by Season Two of the series, Reagan was fully recovered and back on the job, John Hinckley was just a small blip on the pop culture radar, and William Katt was once again known as Ralph Hinckley

Fun stuff, huh?
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, trivia lovers.
I happen to be knowledgeable on this subject (I’m imagining your surprise at this moment) and can add a few non-de’ plume sobriquets to this collection.

8. Ringo Starr
It’s obviously no secret that the Beatle drummer’s real name is Richard Starkey. But few people know that for a brief period in the early sixties, he became enamored of Oriental culture and wanted to adopt a more Asian name. The other guys thought it was ridiculous and constantly ridiculed the name he chose for himself. Yoko Ono. Ringo finally dropped the name in 1970 saying that he still thought it was cool, but he didn’t want to go down in history as the guy who broke up the Beatles.

9. Al Gore
Although Albert Gore, Jr. was proud to be named after his very successful and much beloved father, he felt early on that America would eventually have a problem electing a guy named “Al” to the Presidency of the United States. Presidents, he knew as a student of history, had to be able to inspire people and “Al”, while a good solid American name, conjured up more visions of plumbers than presidents. Sure enough, his belief was validated in 2000 when the majority of American voters chose him to be President, but insisted on calling him George W. Bush.

10. Ann Coulter
The leggy lunatic from the righteous right felt early on that she would never be taken seriously as a political pundit with such a middle of the road name. Early alternatives she considered included “Eva Braun”, “Evita Peron”, “Gloria Steinhem”, “Tokyo Rose” and “Fran Drescher”. In the end, those were all rejected for a variety of reasons, but the whole renaming issue became academic when the majority of Americans began referring to her by the name she is best known for to this day: Moronic Bitch.

11. Brooke Hogan, Lindsay Lohan, any female named Kardashian
An assortment of alternate names has been considered for any and all of these people, as well as pretty much anyone who is currently the subject of any E! True Hollywood Story or is listed as a cast member of any show that begins with the words “The Real Wives of…” these days. Experts point out, though, that any change of name is totally unnecessary, since the 15 minutes is pretty much just about up.

12. Sarah Palin
A little known historical fact is that during the presidential campaign of 2008, the McCain brain trust, concerned that their boss’s choice of running mate had inflicted a fatal blow to their plans, gathered together and discussed various name changes in hopes that they could distract the voters long enough to pull off the election in their favor. Considered, but rejected, names included Farah Falin, Tara Talin, Michael Palin, Monty Python, Monty Hall and Mitt Romney. The closest they ever came to agreeing was when someone suggested that they rename the lady with the front porch view of the USSR in honor of the only other Republican candidate in history who had the comparable experience, wisdom, savvy and potential qualification to be President of the United States. Ultimately, as we all know, that never happened. Which is probably just as well, because as it turns out, Tina Fey would have found it a stretch to do an equally dazzling impression of…Dan Quayle.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

"Sweet 16 And Never Been.....Oh....That's Very Different....Never Mind...."

Your kids are going to be asking for a new hard drive sooner or later.

I'll tell you why in a minute.

First, breaking news...

( -- It looks like Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth are more than just friendly costars.

Last Wednesday, as Cyrus bid Australian actor Liam Hemsworth goodbye at the Nashville airport, the two kissed -- and were "full-on making out," says Alex Emanuel, a New York actor who was a few feet away from the couple and saw Cyrus, 16, act "as giddy as a schoolgirl."

Hemsworth jumped out of Cyrus's truck with his luggage and headed for the terminal doors when "she jumped into his arms and threw her arms around his neck and kissed him and leaned back and he was dipping her," says Emanuel. "It was like a scene out of an old movie where the guy's getting on a train and they're saying their goodbyes."

Cyrus and Hemsworth recently wrapped the film "The Last Song" (also starring Kelly Preston and Greg Kinnear) in Tybee, Georgia, and attended the film's wrap party together on August 16.

According to Cyrus' Twitter posts, she is maintaining her single status. "I do not have a boyfriend," she writes.

But she says she's been teaching Hemsworth a thing or two about Southern eats. "@mommytish and @auntedi and I are introducing the aussie to cracker barrel!!! Yummyyy :)" Cyrus wrote about taking Hemsworth to the restaurant chain.

She also revealed they like to stay in and nosh in front of the TV. Her August 14th Tweet: "I kinda want to go see 'The Time Traveler's Wife' but I think I'll just sit around and eat sushi and watch "Liar Liar" with Liam :)"

Cyrus' publicist had no comment.

Here's the thing about the thing.

A little quick checking has determined that the picture of Miley and kissee (not the kissee from the story, but lips are lips, n'cest pas?) that I have included here is aproximately 45 kb in size.

Miley Cyrus is 16 years old.

If the paparazzi are going to take a picture that the (and I use the term loosely) mainstream media is going to make available for your kids to download every time Miley Cyrus kisses some guy between now and the time she finally says "I do"......

Yeah, that's what I figure, too.

Your kids are going be asking for a new hard drive sooner or later.

"The REAL Will of the People..."

Today, my fellow Americans, we begin by reading a little tale from the folder labeled “the only thing that surprises me anymore is that things still surprise me.”

Immediately following this story, I would like to introduce you to the cogent and insightful observations of one very astute political commentator who you may, or may not, have heard about.

First, our story…

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- While hundreds of thousands of disability claims lay backlogged at the Department of Veterans Affairs, thousands of technology employees at the department received $24 million in bonuses, a new report says.

A report issued by the VA's Office of Inspector General said the department issued millions of dollars in awards over a two-year period in 2007 and 2008.

"The frequent and large dollar amount awards given to employees were unusual and often absurd," the report stated.

The reports also called the payments "not fiscally responsible."

Four high-level employees received about $60,000, $73,000, $58,000, and $59,000, respectively, according to the report, without sufficient justification. Another employee received a $4,500 performance award within the first 90 days of her employment from a manager who said that she did not even remember her.

The annual average award per employee was about $2,500 for both years, according to the report. About 4,700 awards and bonuses were issued in 2007, and about 5,000 in 2008.

The inspector general said one recently retired official, Jennifer S. Duncan, improperly approved numerous bonuses and "acted as if she was given a blank checkbook to write unlimited monetary awards."

During the two years in question, Duncan received over $60,000 in bonuses, according to the report.

In addition, the report concluded that the Office of Information and Technology managers were fiscally irresponsible when authorizing nearly $140,000 in improper academic degree funding, some of which went to Duncan's family and friends. The inspector general recommended the money be repaid.

The VA said it is pursuing a thorough review of the situation and it "does not condone misconduct by its employees and will take the appropriate corrective actions for those who violate VA policy," according to a statement provided to CNN.
Duncan could not be reached for comment.

Lawmakers in Washington have taken notice.

"I am extremely troubled by the Inspector General's findings," said Richard Burr, R-NC, the ranking Republican on the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. "I believe Congress should use its oversight authority to further investigate these matters," he said in an e-mail to CNN.

President Obama has told Congress it is a priority to reduce the number of backlogged claims at the VA, where claims are coming in at a faster rate than they can be processed.

According to a Government Accountability Office report, the VA processed 60 percent more claims from 1999 to 2008 than it did a decade earlier, but the number of claims still pending jumped 65 percent.

And now a few words from a political commentator who seems to have a grasp on the real world that often eludes everyone else in the profession, from Rush to Ann, from George F. to George S, from MSNBC to Fox and back again.

Things in our country run in spite of government, not by aid of it.

This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.

Alexander Hamilton started the U.S. Treasury with nothing, and that was the closest our country has ever been to being even.

I bet after seeing us, George Washington would sue us for calling him "father."

If Stupidity got us into this mess, then why can't it get us out?

The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn't get worse every time Congress meets.

Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for

On account of being a democracy and run by the people, we are the only nation in the world that has to keep a government four years, no matter what it does.

Can’t speak for you, but I’m thinking that this guy should get out of the pundit profession and run for something.

That kind of common sense, mixed with a sense of humor, is just what the doctor ordered in this perilous period of piss poor politics.

Alas, no chance of that happening.

The observations are all part of the wit and wisdom of a fellow named Will Rogers.

Older folks are smiling and nodding their heads.

Younger folks, Google and learn.

You’ll appreciate it.

As regards him running for office?

Uh, no.

Will Rogers was born in 1875.
And died in 1935.

In a plane crash, by the way.

Sad as that is, there is something positive to be said about it.

He and his fellow traveler were found immediately.

You see, in 1935, there was no FAA or FEMA.

And The Department Of Veterans Affairs had no jurisdiction.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

"Well, He SOUNDS Like Bob Dylan, But, Uh....."

Two things sure, the old saying goes.

Death and taxes.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I’d offer you that there’s a third.

Getting older.

Assuming, of course, that the first of the other two doesn’t get you first.

Or the second of the two doesn’t send you there.

And while there are a myriad of “signs” that you’re getting older, here’s one that will mean nothing to anyone under the age of, say, thirty, but will bring a smile to anyone over the age of, say, fifty.

Rock legend Bob Dylan was stopped in July by police in Long Branch, New Jersey, who were responding to a call about a suspicious person roaming the neighborhood, police said.

According to Long Branch Police Department Sgt. Michael Ahart, Dylan had been peering into a window of a house that was for sale, which prompted a neighbor to call the police on July 23.

One of two responding officers, Officer Kristie Buble, 24, approached Dylan and asked him for his name.

"She recognized the name, she just really didn't believe it was Bob Dylan," Ahart told CNN. "He was soaking wet because it was raining and he was wearing a hood."
So Buble asked the musician for identification, but he had none.

Buble and her partner, Officer Derrick Meyers, 24, then asked Dylan, 68, to accompany them to where his tour buses were parked. Once they arrived, Dylan showed them identification.

"Dylan was really cool about the whole incident," Ahart said. He said he asked the singer why he had been walking in the rain and was told, "I just felt like going for a walk."

Dylan, who is on a national tour with musicians Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp, was in Long Branch on the Jersey shore prior to his performance at a baseball stadium in nearby Lakewood.

Interesting, don’t you think that, while Dylan is obviously not a household face anymore, this little incident was worthy of reporting?

And at the risk of sounding like I’m trying to dodge the old age tag, let me suggest that there are a couple of very good reasons why, regardless of his age or ours, the guy wasn’t recognized right off the bat.

First, let’s be honest, he was never a household FACE to begin with.

Second, regardless of his accomplishments, anyone could very easily have been enjoying his work for decades without paying much attention to what he looked like.

Third, the Bob Dylan that most people have in the optic memory is the Kramer haired circa Highway 61 Revisited Bob Dylan, not the nudging seventy year old, craggy faced Bob Dylan.

And finally, when you get right down to it, it seems like a no brainer that he wasn’t recognized right off the bat.

He is, after all, a celebrity who has never gone off on Anti Semitic rants while being busted for DUI, never flown to Argentina to see his mistress while his wife cooled her heels in the Governor’s mansion, never stolen anything from Jennifer Anniston, let alone Brad Pitt, never turned up in a Paris Hilton sex tape (that alone adds to his uniqueness in the culture, I’m a thinkin’), never had eight kids without so much as a thought about how to support them, never had eight kids and left his wife and TV show to take up with skirts twenty years his junior, never claimed to be able to see Russia from his porch, never been photographed getting out of a limo without his panties and has never, at least to date, been connected in any way, shape or form with Michael Jackson.

I think, more than anyone, Bob himself enjoys the irony and pleasure of finding himself, at this point in the career, a “complete unknown…”

How refreshing it would be if we had as much trouble recognizing any or all of the aforementioned familiar faces.

And wouldn’t you know it?

Bob manages to have a lyric that fits the occasion, a little nod to the
aforementioned aforementioned.

From Positively 4th Street.

“I wish that for just one time / you could stand inside my shoes
Then you’d know / what a drag it is to see you…”

Good for you, Bob.

"Science Fiction...Politics.....Real Thin Line..."

Psst!...To have the most fun with this one, read the piece before you watch the video...

Political pundits come in all shapes and sizes.

You gotch ya Rush Limbaughs and Donna Braziles, your James Carvilles and Mary Matalins.

And then, of course, there’s yer George F. Wills, Gloria Borgers, Keith Obermanns and Paul Begalas.

Oh…and Rod Serling.

Say what?

Well, let’s just stop and think about it for a minute.

Consider some of the political doctrine disguised as sci-fi episodes of “The Twilight Zone”

And, btw, if you’re a fan, you’ll likely nod your head in agreement as I rattle off a few titles here.

If you’re not or you’re too young to remember “The Twilight Zone”, just Hulu or You Tube a few and you’ll join the head-nodding group shortly.

“The Obsolete Man”.

“The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street”.

“In Praise of Pip”.

“He’s Alive”.

And assorted others that were more subtle in their subtext but, nevertheless, timely commentaries on the body politic of the times.

Then, of course, there’s “The Howling Man.”

Short synopsis:

An old man tells, in flashback, the story of how, as a young man traveling on foot in the “old country”, seeks shelter in a monastery on a rainy night, only to discover that the monks have a man under lock and key, a man who howls at night in distress at his plight, a man who begs, pleads and bargains with the young man to set him free, even though the monks, seemingly good guys, have made it very clear to the young man that the howling man is NEVER to be turned loose on the outside world.

Don’t take a Rhodes scholar to see what’s coming.

The young man frees the howling man who….well, the classic payoff to the tale is the video included.

Give it a watch and have a chuckle and then come on back to this place in the blog.

I’ll wait.

Admittedly not one of the more classic episodes, in fact, one of the more ham handed fables from the Serling stable, I nevertheless found this oldie but goodie popping into my head like today’s toast first thing this morning.

Just about the time I checked in to see what the world was up to and came across this back story ala’ Begala.

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Longtime Democratic strategist Paul Begala hammered former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on Friday — calling her "flaky and an intellectual lightweight."

Begala was asked on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer" to respond to a Politico story in which former House Speaker Newt Gingrich outlined several ways for Palin to repair her image.

Although Begala called Gingrich "a brilliant political strategist," he said giving advice to Palin is an exercise in futility.

"Here's the problem," said Begala, a CNN contributor. "He is trying to treat her like a serious person. She is not. OK? She is about half a whack job. She does not have the intellectual heft of Newt Gingrich or almost anyone else in the Republican Party, and I think she has proved that."

He continued: "I admire Newt Gingrich for pretending that she is a serious person. But Sarah Palin has proven herself to be flaky and an intellectual lightweight."

And therein lies, for my money, proof positive that Rod Serling could have held his own with any of the pundits prattling political these days.

Because the story just recently repeated itself.

All it requires is a modern day tweak or two.

To wit:

Until August of 2008, nobody outside the overwhelming but obscure state of Alaska had ever heard of Sarah Palin.

And, if the legend is true, John McCain was warned, even by some of his own, not to turn her loose on the outside world.

John McCain, like the young man in Serling’s story, thought he knew better.


Don’t misinterpret me.

I don’t, for a single second, mean to imply that Sarah Palin is the devil.

Ann Coulter has that locked up for the foreseeable.

But I hold fast to the notion that Serling’s sharing was spot on as it related to what can happen when common sense and good advice get trumped in favor of political expediency.

With one other little tweak.

It ain’t the hottie doing the howling.

It’s a lot of us.

Every time she opens her mouth.

Monday, August 10, 2009

"All That Shouting Can't Be Healthy..."

Regarding this whole business of the shouting and screaming about health care reform going on at "town hall" meetings...

One of the perks of living in the land of the free is the privilege of mouthing off about things we feel compelled to mouth off about without fear of reprisal or retribution.

And while passions can run high when we are faced with issues that hit home, I cant help but think that it's odd that the issue that seems to have people ready to start duking it out is health care.

I wouldn't characterize it as much ado about nothing.

But I'd offer you that it's more ado than the occasion calls for.

A majority of people surveyed in the past couple of days seem to believe that the dust is being kicked up by Republicans whose sole purpose is to defeat the plan, regardless of its merit or lack, as the case may be.

We'll probably never know.

But consider this.

Where was all the shouting and screaming and pushing and shoving and "town hall" debate when the decision was being made to send our troops to Iran and Afghanistan, et al?

Oh, wait...that's right.

That was a Republican plan.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

"...She Can See Korea From Her House, Too...You Betcha..."

When it comes to salient political perspective, I’m guessing that for you, like me, the first name that pops into your head isn’t Hawkeye Pierce.

We would both, I’d offer you, be overlooking a pretty spot on point of view.

Details coming up after the break.

(CNN) — Sarah Palin is accusing President Obama’s health care plan of looking to create a “death panel” that would weigh whether her parents or son Trig were “worthy of health care.”

"Americans delve into the disturbing details of the nationalized health care plan that the current administration is rushing through Congress, our collective jaw is dropping, and we’re saying not just no, but hell no!" the former Alaska governor said in a post on her Facebook page late Friday.

In one of her first public policy statements since leaving office late last month, Palin discounted the administration’s view that the president’s plan would cut health care costs. The only path to lower costs, she said, was less treatment.

"And who will suffer the most when they ration care?" she wrote. "The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil."

Pointing out that Alaska’s version of Ann Coulter is obtuse has begun to feel like making fun of Rosie O’Donnell’s weight.

It’s such an obvious and easy thing to do that it seems cheap.

So let me try, conceding my total belief in her uselessness, to simply offer this suggestion to you.

Re-read the last paragraph of her comments.

And then ask yourself if the current system isn’t already pretty much doing what she describes.

Anybody reading this who has not, or does not know someone who has not, experienced being turned down for one medical service/treatment, et al or another by the infamous HMO?

Yeah. That’s what I thought.

Is Obama’s plan the answer?

Don’t know yet. Jury’s still out.

As far as Tina Fey’s airhead twin in concerned, though, I’m compelled to think that lampooning her and her vapid observations are fair game, as defined by the political manifesto of the aforementioned Dr. Pierce of the 4077th M*A*S*H.

When resident weasel Frank Burns momentarily grew a pair and asked Hawkeye and Trapper why they insisted on treating him with such scorn and ridicule, the good doctor replied…

“You invite abuse, Frank…it would be impolite of us not to ask it in…”

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?


"Toys R Us...Petco...Tomato...Tamahto..."

Here’s a thing…

(CNN) -- Your dog may not actually be smarter than somebody's honor student -- popular bumper stickers aside. But your canine companion might well be smarter than their toddler, according to a growing body of research on how dogs think.

Using adapted tests designed for human children, psychologists have learned that average dogs can count, reason and recognize words and gestures on par with a human 2 -year-old.

"They may not be Einsteins, but are sure closer to humans than we thought," said Stanley Coren, a professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia and leading researcher on dog behavior.

Coren said the average dog can understand about 165 words, including signs, signals and gestures. They can also count to about 5, he said.

"I mean, we're not going to make them an accountant or something," Coren said in an interview with CNN Radio.

The smartest dogs, he calls them the "super breeds," are on par with a 2½-year-old, recognizing up to 250 words.

And, no, not all breeds are created equally.

For his book "The Intelligence of Dogs," Coren asked more than 200 dog-obedience judges to rank 110 breeds based on their intelligence. Border collies, poodles, retrievers, German shepherds and Doberman pinschers were among the dogs at the head of the class.

The intellectual runts of the litter? The borzoi, chow chow, bulldog, basenji and -- finishing dead last -- the Afghan hound.

First of all, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m not much of a pet person.

I didn’t have pets as a kid (hindsight indicates that our parents weren’t all that taken with the idea of three kids let alone adding Fido to the menagerie) and the few adult experiences I have had with animals haven’t converted me to the ranks of the rabid.

Yeah, I know, but it’s good alliteration and moderately clever, so indulge me.


It occurred to me after reading Coren’s conjecture that the more passionate dog owners might be on to something.

So, I gave it a little thought (always a slippery slope) and came up with a few reasons that, truth be told, dogs might not only be a welcome addition to any family, they might even be preferred…

Dogs are easily amused…sparing mom and dad the time and inconvenience of the drive to, and drop off at, the mall every damn day of the summer…

Dogs give affection without condition…which means you don’t have to pop for a Wii or Ipod to get a little appreciation…

Dogs don’t know how to operate a remote, so there is no need to screw up your cable programming by having to install all those parental control dealies…

Dogs aren’t usually fussy eaters, so you don’t have to spend twenty minutes in the drive thru line trying to communicate to the heavily accented attendant that you want “EXTRA cheese but NO pickles on the first one…but EXTRA pickles and NO cheese on the other one…”

Dogs don’t know, or care, who Sarah Palin is, so that debate doesn’t have to ruin a good conversation.

Dogs don’t get busted for DUI, possession or drunk and disorderly, so you can coast through their teenage years without stress…(of course, a dog’s teenage years start just before they turn 2, but, you get the idea…)

Dogs don’t insist that their life wont be worth living if they cant get that driver’s license a nano second after they turn 16 (of course, that would be just AFTER they turn 2, but you get the idea…)

Dogs lick themselves and not each other, so you’re off the hook for that whole “birds and bees” thing that rears its ugly head somewhere around the age of 12 these days…

Dogs don’t know, and don’t care, who Hannah Montana is, so instead of having to mortgage the house for concert tickets you can spring three bucks for a new chew toy…

Admittedly, dogs can ruin your new shoes, damage your furniture, keep you up all night with their noise, piss off your neighbors and leave you vulnerable to any number of lawsuits.

But, then, so can your kids so all of that is a wash.


Looking at the big picture, I have to admit that I have a little better understanding of those people who opt to have Chihuahuas in lieu of children.

What do you want to bet that if she had it do all over again, Paris Hilton’s mom would choose differently?

And go for, say, an Afghan hound instead?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

"Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young Were Right...We HAVE All Been Here Before..."

If I had it to do all over again, I think I would have enjoyed being a history teacher.

Because while I can respect a good healthy “keep your eyes on the horizon” point of view when it comes to life, I think the past offers up a pretty good schematic for those with the wisdom to read it.

George Santayana was one of those with the wisdom.

Oh, by the way, youngsters, that’s George Santayana, the poet and philosopher.

Not the guitarist.

That’s Carlos Santana.

As fate would have it, though, Santayana and Santana both, in their own unique ways, espoused the same generic philosophy.

Carlos sang “you got to change your evil ways, baby…”

George wrote…

“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it….”

This just in…

(CNN) -- U.S. scientists monitoring shrinking glaciers in Washington and Alaska reported this week that a major meltdown is under way.

A 50-year government study found that the world's glaciers are melting at a rapid and alarming rate. The ongoing study is the latest in a series of reports that found glaciers worldwide are melting faster than anyone had predicted they would just a few years ago. It offers a clear indication of an accelerating climate change and warming earth, according to the authors.

Since 1959, the U.S. Geological Survey, which published the study on its Web site, has been tracking the movements of the South Cascade glacier in Washington and the Wolverine and Gulcana glaciers in Alaska. The three glaciers are considered "benchmarks" for the conditions of thousands of other glaciers because they're in different climate zones and at various elevations.

"These changes are taking place in Washington State and Alaska in three different climate regimes," said Edward Josberger, the lead researcher on the study with the USGS Washington Water Science Center in Tacoma, Washington. "So we feel it's definitely something going on, probably on a global scale, and of course, if you look at other such measurements around the world and put it all together, yes, glaciers are retreating and retreating rapidly."

In a telephone interview with CNN, Josberger called the unprecedented glacial melt the "canary in the coal mine."

The half-century record contains measurements of the amount of snow that has fallen on the glaciers each winter and on how much ice has melted off each summer. The data give scientists a sense of whether the glacier is getting more "healthy" or losing mass, Josberger said. They also indicate what's happening to mountain glaciers in other parts of the world, the scientist said.

"We feel it's definitely the signature of global change and climate warming," Josberger said.

The melt of glaciers is resulting in higher sea levels and affecting ecosystems and the rivers that emanate from these glaciers, Josberger said. "In terms of water supply available for people, Anchorage is fed by two glacially fed lakes. There are some very strong impacts that could happen."

The rate at which a glacier melts depends on its thickness and mass and, of course, on the temperature. Even small changes in temperature of only one to two degrees can have a significant impact on the environment, according the the National Weather Service.

"We've been using this 50-year record to interpret the changes or the response of glaciers to climate change," Josberger said. "Basically, in the past 10, 15 or 20 years these three glaciers are wasting away. The melting has far exceeded the amount of snow that falls on them in the winter, so they're retreating far up valley. And this retreat is taking place all over the Pacific Northwest and Alaska."

For example, Washington's South Cascade glacier has lost half its volume since 1960 and is predicted to lose half its current volume in 100 years.

And, if the canary analogy proves true, the ice retreat is likely occurring all over the world, too, he said.

Glacier melt will likely continue and, as it does, sea levels around the world are expected to continue rising. And that could affect people in low-lying coastal communities, forcing them from their homes and further inland, experts say.

I just, this week, came across the movie “The Day After Tomorrow” which special effectingly dazzles the brain with the fictional story of what will happen to the world when global warming finally gets down to bizness.

It’s a pretty cool movie.

So entertaining, in fact, that you actually don’t so much mind that the “star” is Dennis Quaid.

I’m not a scientist or geothermic expert, so I won’t patronize you by offering up my ratification or rejection of the theory of what’s coming.

I’ll just offer you this thought…

Santana sang it, Santayana wrote it, but both of them made a fair point.

Ignoring that which has come before is pretty much assuring the same outcome the next time around.

Wait a second, you’re thinking, what the hell?

We’ve never faced this “theoretical” threat to a planet before.

Au contrare, mon frare’

Action Comics, Issue #182.

Carlos, George…

…meet Jor-El.

"...BTW, The Whole TIT Thing is TMI, AFAICS..."

One sure sign that you are falling behind when it comes to keeping up with culture is not knowing your acronyms.

LOL means laugh out loud.

ROFL means rolling on the floor laughing

LMAO means laughing my ass off.

By the way, if you don’t know where these acronyms are used, don’t waste your time learning them.

You’re already so far behind that the family will be standing around you in a circle with roses in their hands by the time you catch up.

Regardless of your hip and/or savvy level, here’s an acronym I bet, no matter your age or social strata, you know.


Its translation is simple and basic. Its creation, I imagine, was inevitable, a by-product of the need we seem to have developed in the last few years to absorb all the minutiae we can in any given twenty four hour period.

Ironic, given that the acronym itself indicates that, saints be praised, there is still some perception of a limit on the amount of useless shit cluttering up our synapses.

For example…

( -- After starting a new workout regimen three months ago, "The View's" Sherri Shepherd made a splash on the daytime talk show by revealing her new bathing suit body.
But there's one part of her figure she'd never want to change.

"I love my boobs!" says Shepherd, 42, who lost four inches from her chest during her two-month weight loss challenge but still wears a DD cup.

Would she ever consider a breast reduction now that she's getting back into shape?

"What?! No! I would never ever, ever, ever," says Shepherd, whose measurements are 40-33-37. "I don't care how old they get and how long they get, I'm going to love my boobs. I'd never get rid of them."

Not that she's anti-surgery in general. "I have a little muffin top from my C-section," says Shepherd. "I said if I can keep this weight loss up for a year, I'm getting my tummy tuck."

This history-altering bit of information came to me by way of perusing the home page.

And I might not have given it a second glance had it not been for the headline that trumpeted the story:


If you read my work regularly, then you already know where this is going.

For those of you dropping by for the first time, welcome.

And here’s where this is going…

It’s pathetic enough that this kind of information is deemed worthy of being reported as legitimate “news”, without insulted intelligence being added to injury with the approach.

How about…


Even from those points of view, it would be a questionable “news item”.

Millions of people work hard, give up the Drake’s Cakes and lose weight every day.

I don’t see any news stories about them.

Unless the weight loss is over, say, five hundred pounds and a Filipino family is discovered living in the tucks of the former fatty.

I think we all applaud Sherri Sheppard’s success.

And I think we all could cut enough slack, given her minor celebrity, to concede that her efforts to get healthy makes for a nice, ideally brief, human interest story.

But that’s apparently not the news.

She lost some weight.

But the headline cries that she is standing firm on the issue of breast reduction.

That pun was totally inevitable, swear to God.

I object to that approach on a couple of levels.

First, it cheapens what little genuine value there is in the story in the first place.

Second, it denies men a basic human right.

It’s our job to be fixated on breasts, not the culture’s.

I totally get that the 24/7 media world we live in necessitates a need for “news” space to be filled.

And when it comes to somebody accomplishing something many of us envy, the case can be made its worth a few lines on the homepage.

But the whole “keep my boobs” business is…wait for it…TMI.

And when it comes to that kind of crap clogging up my cerebral hard drive, I say that those shoveling it out need to just STFU.