Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"...You Gotta Wonder How The Strawberry Shortcakes Sold..."

Don't know if Randy Newman has a predilection for cupcakes.

But I imagine he's a fan of bake sales.

If only this one.

Thirty years, or so, ago, Randy Newman wrote and performed one of pop music's most iconic "tongue in cheek" skewerings of those who think prejudice is a proud tradition handed down from grandpappy to pappy, ad nauseum.

At the time, there was a great hue and cry about Newman's callous disrespect of vertically challenged people, the hue-ers and criers, to a person, blissfully ignorant of the fact that those among us who really do dis the dwarfs were his intended, and brilliantly located, targets.

The irony then, and now, is that those who doth protest so much now are descended from the very pointed heads who dideth protest then.

And missed the point.

Does anyone with half a functioning oblongata think, for a minute, that anyone connected with the sweets sale at Berkeley is truly racist?

Only if those half functioners are related to anyone who still believes that Randy sold people short.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

"...Programming Complete...Enter When Ready..."

Those that can, do.

Those that can't, teach.

Those that can't do or teach second guess for a living.

The professional term for it is "critic".

As in, everyone's a....."

And that little specialty sobriquet has never been more prolific than today, owing to the Internet advent and the accessibility that just about every mook on the planet has to offering up two cents about this, that and/or the other.

Present company included, albeit exceptional.

At this hot air inducing high pressure system gives way to cool Northern air time of the year, nothing, with the exception of politics and one or more Kardashians, is using up more cyber-ink than the arrival of the fall television season.

And the opening salvos of the seasoned second guessers.

Present company included, albeit savvy.

Rebel without a pause that I am, though, the opportunity to add two more cents to the already over jingling pile of coins being offered up by the everyday citizens of the blog nation doesn't really float my boat.

Because, the way I figure it, you're going to like what you like and you're going to dislike what you dislike and you couldn't possibly care less whether our likes or dislikes line up.

And that, I think, is what makes me an exceptional and savvy citizen of the blog nation.

Reticence to review notwithstanding, though, I'm up for a little first alternate second guessing by offering up, not wasted words on what's coming into view but, rather a little compare and contrast in the form of what I would have done with the premises of this season's purported next big things...as opposed to what will arrive on your flat screens via the next big thing think tank.

To wit...(or dry wit, as the case may be)

"Terra Nova"
The show begins in the year 2149, a time when all life on planet Earth is threatened with extinction (suggested in trailers to be due to dwindling worldwide air quality and overpopulation). In an effort to save the human race, scientists develop a time machine allowing people to travel 85 million years back in time to the middle of the Cretaceous period of prehistoric Earth. The Shannon family (father Jim, his wife Elisabeth, and their three children Josh, Maddy and Zoe) join the tenth pilgrimage of settlers to Terra Nova, the first human colony on the other side of the temporal doorway. However, they are unaware that the colony is in the middle of a group of carnivorous dinosaurs.

The show begins in the year 2149, a time when all life on planet Earth is threatened with extinction due to mass suicides resulting from psychotic breaks resulting from the one, last reality and/or news talk show debut that finally broke the camels back. In an effort so save the human race, scientists develop a time machine allowing people to travel 138 years back in time, allowing them to lobby the FCC to cancel all reality and/or news talk shows and inoculate the masses with minds saving doses of Walter Cronkite and Leave It To Beaver.

"Once Upon A Time"
The series is loosely inspired by the classic fairy tale stories except set in the present day, hence the series name. The stories hold a key to the mystery that will draw a bail bonds collector and the son that she gave up for adoption 10 years earlier to a New England town called Storybrooke, Maine. This town is actually a parallel world in which fairy tale characters look like normal people and don't remember their true identities or anything about their true lives.

Actually, the premise, featuring the parallel world in which fairy tale characters look like normal people and don't remember their true identities or anything about their true lives, is already airing...every time a politician opens their mouth on C-Span.

The series follows a former Syracuse, New York police detective named Carrie Wells, who has hyperthymesia, a rare medical condition that gives her the ability to remember everything. She is reluctantly asked by her former boyfriend and one-time partner to join his homicide unit after he asks for help with solving a case. The move allows her to do the one thing she has been trying to remember, that of finding out how her sister was murdered

Again...due respect to the think tank, but "House, M.D." coated diseases as a cornerstone aside, I've been married four times and I'm here to tell you...women already remember everything.

Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp), whose real name is Amanda Clarke, decides to move back to the Hamptons to take revenge on the people who caused the destruction of her family and death of her father David (James Tupper). When she was a little girl, Emily/Amanda experienced her father getting arrested and her life getting completely destroyed. She ended up in juvenile detention center and inherited the wealth of her father on her 18th birthday. She changes her name to Emily and decides to take revenge on the people who caused the destruction of her family.

First of all, I'd totally decide on one name. The current "Jersey Shore/Keeping Up With the Kardashians" culture is going to have a hard time sorting out Emily VanCamp playing Emily Thorne whose real name is Amanda Clarke. Then, since this premise is purportedly based on "The Count Of Monte Cristo", why not make it a fun period piece in the Dumas' mold, instead of back-dropping it with the Hamptons, a cliche' and already overused plot location that, frankly, hasn't been the same since Jerry, Elaine, George and Cosmo spent a weekend there to "see the BAY-bee", trapping lobsters illegally and shopping for those big ass tomatoes.

"Pan Am"
centered around the iconic airline Pan American World Airways during the 1960s. The period drama, from writer Jack Orman (ER) and director Thomas Schlamme (The West Wing), will focus on the pilots and flight attendants working for the world-famous airline in 1963.

Save a few bucks on production costs by morphing this one with "Revenge" and having Emily/Emily/Amanda exacting justice on any and all passengers who A)insist on holding things up while they try to cram their Volkswagen sized "carry on" into the overhead compartment, B)insist on reclining their seat back into a position that requires the passenger sitting behind them to endure the aroma of extra hold L.A. Looks for the duration and/or C)ask for additional beverages while seated next to the window, knowing damn well they're going to have to keep climbing out and over their row mates to relieve bladder of the aforementioned beverages.

Again, to each your own.

So, knock yourselves out, tubesters.

Personally, I'll be putting my weekly, hourly time to what I hope will be more productive uses.

Meanwhile, should one or more of the aforementioned purported next big things actually become a next big thing I want to experience, I'll just employ one of God's more practical and majestic creations...

The Complete First Season...on DVD.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

"...They Shot An Arrow Into The Air...It Fell To Earth...NASA Knows Not Where..."

Breaking news.

Or "breaking up" news, as it were.

Miami (CNN) -- Pieces of a defunct satellite that plummeted to Earth have settled, NASA said Saturday morning

The space agency said the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite "is down," according to the space agency's Twitter page. NASA said debris fell to Earth between 11:23 p.m. ET Friday and 1:09 a.m. ET Saturday, but it was not immediately clear where the pieces may have landed.

NASA said the satellite pierced through the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean, but the exact time and location were not known.

About two dozen pieces of the satellite were expected to survive the crash through the Earth's atmosphere.

Late Friday night, NASA predicted satellite parts would pass "over Canada and Africa, as well as vast areas of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans."

The risk to public safety is very remote," NASA said.

The 26 pieces expected to survive the descent -- made of stainless steel, titanium and beryllium that won't burn -- ranged from about 10 pounds to hundreds of pounds, according to NASA.

"The U.S. is very safe from (the satellite) ... It's final orbit did not cross the United States," the space agency tweeted early Saturday.

But reports of suspected sightings emerged from San Antonio, Texas, where a TV photographer caught images of bright objects darting rapidly in the night sky, and from Hawaii, where Robert Jeffcoat saw what he believed were two chunks from the satellite.

Jeffcoat was running errands when the first flying object left a thick, white trail that lingered in the sky for about 20 minutes, he said. A second object followed the same path and was "massive," he said.

"It's was like a comet, but smoke," he said. "I'm guessing it landed in the ocean, the way it was going."

Mark Matney of NASA's Orbital Debris team in Houston said before spacial rubbish fell that there was no way to know exactly where the pieces would come down.

"Part of the problem is, the spacecraft is tumbling in unpredictable ways, and it is very difficult to very precisely pinpoint where it's coming down even right before the re-entry," Matney said.

The Federal Aviation Administration released an advisory Thursday warning pilots about the falling satellite, calling it a potential hazard.

"It is critical that all pilots/flight crew members report any observed falling space debris to the appropriate (air traffic control) facility and include position, altitude, time and direction of debris observed," the FAA statement said.

The FAA said warnings of this sort typically are sent out to pilots concerning specific hazards they may encounter during flights such as air shows, rocket launches, kites and inoperable radio navigational aids.

NASA said space debris the size of the satellite's components re-enters the atmosphere about once a year. Harvard University astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell noted that the satellite is far from being the biggest space junk to come back.

"This is nothing like the old Skylab scare of the '70s, when you had a 70-ton space station crashing out of the sky," McDowell said.

Pieces of Skylab came down in western Australia in 1979.

Jeffcoat said he was amazed his home of Paia, Maui, seemed to be an ideal place to watch hunks of a satellite rain from the sky.

"Off all the places in the world where it could hit, here it was, in Maui," he said. "It was quite weird."

First of all, you'd think that a technology that could get this kind of sophisticated hardware into space in the first place could come up with a system to designate where it would come back down.

Still on the drawing board, I imagine.

If they ever figure it out, though, I have a suggestion for a time and a place to crash that puppy.

Early Sunday morning.

Congressional Office Building, Washington D.C.

Given the emptiness of the building at that time of the week, there would be no danger of harming or killing anyone.

And, let's face it, the building isn't being used for anything particularly productive anyway.

NASA, I'm standing by for your call.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

"...Look! Up In The Sky.....Uh Oh......"

Everything old is new again.

In a moment of irony, I came across, just in the last few days, a recording of a radio talk show I hosted in Maryland ten or so years ago. This particular episode featured a round table conversation with a panel made up of regular folk and celebrities talking about any and all things on our radar at the moment.

At that particular moment, circa 2002, what was on our radar was a tragic crash at an air show that had killed or injured scores of spectators.

The gist of our round table chat centered on what we all agreed was a pretty "common sense" theme.

Why air shows don't simply make it a policy to have the fliers perform far enough away to allow spectators to enjoy the skills and thrills while minimizing any chance that a malfunctioning plane will come crashing down on those spectators.

The panel was a diverse group, all political and personal persuasions, both genders and pretty much all education and/or income levels.

To a guest, we all agreed that it was, at best, foolish and, at worst, criminal to choreograph these shows in a way that had the planes flying directly, or anywhere that could be defined as directly, over the heads of the lawn chairs filled with locals.

The only "devil's advocacy" any of us could offer was the pretty lame argument that the farther away you fly them, the "harder" it is to see them.

And we all agreed...

That was, in fact, a pretty lame argument.

The more obtuse, knee jerk rebuttal to that argument here usually goes something like this.

The roar of the engines and the proximity of the fly by is a large part of what makes these shows such a thrill.

Ten years ago, a nice group of people sat with me in a radio studio and agreed that, in that moment, circa 2002, there were a lot of friends, families and loved ones who would do anything to turn back time and do without some recently experienced thrills.

This weekend, another group of friends, families and loved ones are in the same boat.

Or plane.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"...Sometimes Less Is More...and Sometimes Less is Less..."

Genius comes in all shapes and sizes.

In this case, it shapes up as the size of a kiss.

Hershey has made a pretty big deal out of launching their latest confection concoction, the "air delight".

"Aerated" chocolate.

Available in the legendary bar and, of course, the iconic kiss.

Read about it here.


Now, up front, I have to fess that I'm more of a purist than a visionary, mostly a subscriber to the "if it ain't broke" school.

At the same time, I'm as free enterprising as the next guy and totally get that diversification is the life blood of the consumer product business.

Original recipe begat extra crispy, etc.

And if you're the kind of person who enjoys "light and airy texture" in your chocolate, then you go, girl...or guy.

Hershey's has got you covered.

Here's a thing, though.

Bet your grandma's Christmas candy dish full of original recipe Hershey's kisses that the new confection retails for the same price as the oldie but goodie.

Meaning, of course, that you're spending a chunk of your hard earned junk food allowance on the delicious treat that you've known and loved all your life, now featuring an exciting and innovative new ingredient.


"Light and airy".

As also describes the technique of your more proficient pickpockets.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

"...The Birthday Gift I Could Have Lived Without..."

On August 29th, Ed and Barbara's precocious first born turned sixty.

Blessed with a family second to none, loved ones second to none and health that has defied every attempt to sabotage it with all things fried, I saw the day come and go without a single one of the feelings that stereotypically come packaged as "getting old".

And while I would never be mistaken for Robert Pattinson (a mistake that wouldn't have occurred when I was his age, to be sure), I think it not denial to say that I'm no Regis, either.

I honestly don't "feel" sixty years old.

Or didn't.

Until today.

CULVER CITY, Calif. (AP) — Charlie Sheen smiled through a Comedy Central roast as Mike Tyson, William Shatner, actress Kate Walsh and half a dozen comedians riffed on his high-profile year.

Sheen was famously fired from his sitcom "Two and a Half Men" in March after a very public meltdown during which he claimed to be a "rock star from Mars" who has "tiger blood" and "Adonis DNA."

The 46-year-old actor is the subject of the latest roast, which was taped Saturday night at Sony Studios and will air Sept. 19 on Comedy Central.

Sheen took the stage in true rock-star fashion, as rock 'n' roll guitarist Slash heralded his introduction. The actor, dressed in a black suit, white shirt and red tie, smiled and laughed as roasters jabbed at his famous family, his notorious taste for drugs and prostitutes and his primetime firing.

"Charlie's meltdown was so bad, Al Gore's making a documentary about it," quipped comedian Jeffrey Ross, who was dressed as Muammar Gaddafi in a military outfit with fringed epaulets and a sash.

"The only time your kids get to see you is in re-runs," Ross said.

Comedian Jon Lovitz also took a timely swipe at Sheen: "How much (cocaine) can Charlie Sheen do?" he asked. "Enough to kill two and a half men."

Priceline pitchman Shatner reminded Sheen to "book your next rehab stay through Priceline.com."

Walsh, who is best known for her roles on "Grey's Anatomy" and "Private Practice," gave standup a shot at the roast. "It's amazing, despite all those years of abusing your lungs, your kidneys and your liver, the only thing you've had removed is your kids," she said to Sheen.

The most bizarre performer was Tyson, who got plenty of laughs despite his almost unintelligible delivery. "I'm the greatest poet alive," he said as he concluded his time on stage. "I will eat your children!"

Comedian Amy Schumer joked, "Is his interpreter here?"

Steve-O of "Jackass" fame was also among the roasters. His big trick was running repeatedly into Tyson's fist, which he did until he reportedly broke his nose.

The comics also took digs at Sheen's former live-in girlfriends, whom he referred to as "the goddesses," and ex-wife Brooke Mueller, who was sitting in the audience Saturday.

After the comedians had their say, roast master Seth MacFarlane introduced the night's honoree as "a man with a big heart, because it's been dangerously enlarged by cocaine use."

Sheen jabbed back at his roasters and poked fun at his image.

"It's true I've hung around with a lot of shady people over the years: Losers, drug addicts, dealers, desperate whores," he said. "But to have you all here on one night is really special."

He sipped a drink as he addressed the crowd, who sat in bleachers and at bar tables inside Sony Studios' stage 27. At one point, he seemed to reflect sincerely on his career, talking about how he had "the biggest salary on television" and publicly enjoyed drugs and porn stars before telling off his boss.

"And then it was gone in one fiery public flame out," he said.

"It was only when the smoke cleared I realized just how lucky I am, because even after all that, I still have a family that loves me. That's why they're not here tonight," he continued. "They've seen me in jail. They've seen me rushed to emergency rooms. They've seen me dragged into court. But seeing me on basic cable would kill them."

He said he's done with his catchphrase — winning! — because he feels he's already won.

"This roast may be over, but I'm Charlie Sheen, and in here burns an internal fire," he said, touching his chest. "I just have to remember to keep it away from a crack pipe."

Age, as a concept, is more about perception than it is chronology.

That's the five dollar way of saying you really are only as old as you feel.

My brain and body are sixty years old.

Inside my head, I'm hovering somewhere between twenty five and thirty five, with occasional bursts of five-ten year old.

And even though I have grandchildren between the ages of five and tween, I still think of my own late father as the old, albeit gone, guy.

The old guy who I remember did a fair amount of tsk-tsking when it came to the "current events" of his time.

The old guy who, when in an applicable mood, surveyed the, then, modern culture and lamented and/or lambasted the declining morality, et al of the times.

In other words, pretty much your garden variety "in my day, we..." kind of stuff.

Psychologists often refer to it as the aging process.

Younger people tend to refer to it as old fart fogey-ism.

A condition that I had, at least in my own forever young head, managed to avoid.

Until today.

Charlie Sheen is free to live his life the way he chooses.

I got no stones to throw from this glass house.

The fact that his totally self absorbed and self destructive behavior/lifestyle is worthy of "tribute" in the form of celebrity roast and mainstream smiling and nodding, though, is, at best, proof that the bar continues to sink ever lower and, at worst, one of the seven signs of the Apocalypse.

When I was a younger man, culture had more than its fair share of substance abusing, celebrity rapscallions.

And we acknowledged, perhaps even vicariously lived, their wayward ways.

But we didn't publicly honor them.

That's just not the way it was done....wait for it....

"...in my day...".

August 29th, Ed and Barbara's precocious first born turned sixty.

And he didn't feel a day over thirty five.

Until today.

Damn you, Charlie.

"...O Beautiful, For Spacious Skies......"

Today the air is filled with memories.

And stories.

Some familiar.

And, even after all this time, some not heard before.

Like this one...

An F-16 pilot who scrambled on 9/11 to prevent another attack on the US capital says she was prepared to ram her plane into a hijacked aircraft -- as there was no time to arm her plane with missiles.

Amid fears another hijacked airliner was barreling towards Washington, Heather Penney, then a lieutenant in the Washington DC National Guard, was one of two pilots ordered to take off without delay, she said in a recent interview.

The threat of an attack on US soil was seen as such a remote possibility at the time that the 121st fighter squadron at Andrews Air Force base outside Washington had no fully-armed fighter jets on standby.

With only 105 lead-nosed bullets on board, Penney and Colonel Marc Sasseville took to the skies, while two other F-16s waited to be armed with heat-seeking AIM-9 missiles, Penney told C-SPAN television this week.

The pilots had orders from the White House to take out any plane that refused to heed warnings and land, so the two pilots agreed on their plan.

"We wouldn't be shooting it down. We would be ramming the aircraft because we didn't have weapons on board to be able to shoot the airplane down," Penney said.

As they were putting on their flight gear, "Sass looked at me and said, 'I'll ram the cockpit.'

"And I had made the decision that I would take the tail off the aircraft," she said.

Penney said she "knew if I took off the tail of the aircraft, that it would essentially go straight down and so the pattern of debris would be minimized."

She said she thought about possibly ejecting just before impact.

"I would essentially be a kamikaze and ram my aircraft into the tail of the aircraft. I gave some thought to, you know, would I have time to eject?"

But the young pilot was concerned about failing to hit the target.

"I mean you only got one chance, you don't want to eject and have missed, right? "

When she took the plane down the runway, she said she believed it be the last take-off of her life.

In the end, Flight 93 never reached Washington, as passengers assaulted the hijackers in the cockpit and the plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.

But the F-16 pilots did not learn of the aircraft's fate until later that day, said Penney, now a major.

"The people on Flight 93 were heroes, but they were going to die no matter what," she said. "My concern was how do I minimize collateral damage on the ground."

Later that afternoon, Penney helped escort Air Force One, with former president George W. Bush on board, back to Andrews Air Force base.

A few years later, she flew missions in the Iraq war, hunting for SCUD missiles and backing up special operations forces.

Penney was among the first wave of female fighter pilots and she has since stopped flying full-time. The mother of two girls, she now works as a corporate executive, according to the Washington Post.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, Penney said she was absorbed with the urgent job at hand and had no time for emotions.

"It wasn't so much that I kept my emotions in check. It was that they didn't even exist," she said.

"There was significant adrenaline. It was really just, dear God please don't let me screw up."

Today the air is filled with memories.

And stories.

Not smoke and ash.

For that, and for heroes known and unknown, we are grateful.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

"Well, I Wonder Where The Looosiana Sheriff Went To....."


We seem to spend a lot of time in our lives getting them.

Having just passed the latest milestone on the birthday trail, I've self reflected myself the belief that finding the aforementioned bearings is, despite knee jerk tendencies to complicate things, a very simple task.

Put simply...

I know that all is right in my world on any given new morning if...

The right is blaming the left.

The left is blaming the right.

My next door neighbor continues to annoy the rest of us with his "raised in a barn/ nobuddy in de world but me" lower than the bowels of Hell frequency booming car radio speakers.

PETA is trying to save something.

So, let's see...another new morning...

Blaming? Check.

Blaming? Check.

Booming? Check.


Check it out.

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Animal rights activists urged Philippine authorities on Saturday to return a captured giant crocodile back to the wild, but the mayor of the town where it was caught refused, saying it poses a threat to residents.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said the 20-foot (6.1-meter) saltwater crocodile nicknamed Lolong should be returned to its natural habitat because if it remains in captivity it is likely to develop abnormal behavior and endanger its caretakers and visitors to a proposed park.

Mayor Edwin Cox Elorde of southern Agusan del Sur province's Bunawan township said about 1,300 residents who rely on fishing in the area could be attacked by the crocodile, believed to be the largest in captivity in the world.

Wildlife officer Ron Sumilier, who led the team that trapped the animal last week, said it may have attacked a fisherman who disappeared from the area about two months ago.

Ashley Fruno, senior campaigner for PETA Asia-Pacific, said natural conditions can never be replicated in zoos or animal shelters, resulting in physical and mental stress for captive animals.

"It's clear that the promoters of this park are thinking only of their bank balance, without so much as an afterthought for the animal's well-being," she said.

Elorde said he was hurt by suggestions the crocodile was captured for the financial benefit of local officials. He has announced that Lolong will be the main attraction at an eco park to attract tourists to the remote town.

"We did not capture Lolong for any commercial reasons," he told The Associated Press. "We captured him to save the residents in the area and to save Lolong" because villagers were planning to poison it.

Groups like PETA "are so quick in making demands without even visiting our area," he said.

Elorde said the one-ton crocodile hasn't eaten since being captured, possibly because of stress. Crocodiles can live for several months without eating.

It is being kept in a 8,610-square foot (800-square meter) pen with 4-foot (1.2-meter) -high concrete walls topped by welded wire.

No hypocrite I, here's the straight skinny...

I am an animal liker. Not an animal lover.

I think they are part of God's kingdom and should be treated with the same love and affection all living creatures deserve.

I don't, on the other hand, mistake them, at any time, for human beings deserving of gourmet meals, full wardrobes or the freedom to bark, yelp or meow all day or night long and/or sniff and/or scratch anyone, anywhere and everywhere they please.

Seriously. I promise I wouldn't let my grand-kids stick their noses in your crotch, so, gently but firmly, get your damn dog out of mine.

This brings us back to PETA.

That wacky, fun bunch that (how ironic is this?) is hair trigger ready to stick their noses where they often don't belong.

The "animal entitlement" debate is both facile and futile, so I'll not trip that trigger here.

Instead, let's just leave it at this.

If we are ever set upon by invaders from another world and those invaders turn out to be more animal than human, will PETA be instantly stepping up to protest if we choose to put a cap in their E.T. asses as opposed to laughingly shrugging off their death ray assaults on our humanity and/or crotches?

Gotta tell ya...I wouldn't bet good money either way.

Meanwhile, you carry on, you protectors of animal rights.

All I respectfully ask is that you be conscientious, crotch wise....

...and lovingly calm the barking.

The boom boom pow from the assholes next door is currently filling the neighborhood noise quota.