Monday, February 28, 2011

Seems Like Deja Vu All Over Again

Okay.  So I wasn't losing my mind even though attempting to organize my calendar does sometimes seem like walks into the forest from which few emerge sane.  It's just that the more I looked at March the more it seemed like I was stuck in February.  Then I looked at month over views and realized that at least this time it wasn't me.  It was them.  You know.  The them that makes life seem topsy turvy.
Aside from the fact that March has a few more days than does February, the days and the dates match.  This apparently happens every year except leap years when February gets that extra day and those born on that extra day get life times of being years behind time's march.
This information is presented as a public service in the hopes that it will save others from doubting their grasp on reality orientation.
Besides, it's really neat.

Consider Yourselves Warned

I'm just giving you fair warning. If you come up to me and say, "Guess what," you have just made a commitment. So, you better be prepared, because I am going to run with that, and there are no established safe words.

This Ain't My Last Rodeo

My heroes have always been ... well, heroes.

Please don't think I have anything against cowboys. Some of my best friends have been cowboys. Well, more accurately, cowgirls. But that's another story.

Anyway, Sunday, Feb. 27 was the finale of the Tucson Rodeo's 86th annual go-round. Since my sister and I have a novel out right now, Contrary Creek, that features real cowboys, and rodeo stuff like roping and barrel racing, I thought I might mosey on down and pay my respects to La Fiesta de los Vaqueros, as the rodeo is called.

But Sunday morning came, and Tucson woke up with actual snow on the ground, mountains of white surrounding our valley, occasional sleet, and temperatures that never got above 50 degrees. Listen, I went to school a long time and studied really hard, just so I wouldn't have to be outside in weather like that.

In short, I wimped out.

So this is my attempt to honor the cowboys and cowgirls of my rich, ranching heritage -- if only from a distance.

First, some facts, gleaned from the Tucson Rodeo website. The nine-day event is held at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds where a "who's who" of more than 650 contestants compete for $420,000 in prize money. One of the top 25 professional rodeos in North America, the Tucson event draws an average of 11,000 fans a day.

Even on a cold, rainy day like Sunday. There has never been a rain-out in the history of the Tucson Rodeo, organizers say.

Wimp, they added.

Rodeo cowboys through the years have had colorful names like Trevor Brazile, Ty Murray, Cody Custer, Casey Tibbs, Jim Shoulders, Everett Bowman, and the bull-rider "Tuff" Hedeman.

A glance through the list of the 2011 Tucson Rodeo champions shows that the same tradition of cowboy-soundin' names continues, even if the people wearing the names are different. The All-Around Cowboy was a guy named Clint Robinson of Spanish Fork, Utah. Kelly Timberman was the bareback bronc champ, Josh Peek took the steer wrestling prize, and Jacob O'Mara was the bull- riding champion.

Brittany Pozzi, of Victoria, Texas, came in first in barrel-racing, with an average time of 17.4 seconds for three runs. She would have finished well behind the "16 seconds flat" posted by B.J. Cloud, of Faraway, Arizona, in our novel, Contrary Creek.

But that's only fiction. Kind of the way I like my rodeos.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Not In Our Backyard

Okay.  I get it now.  The world is not confined to what I see in front of me.  In a previous article I made the confident and now I get it grandiose and incorrect statement that no snow had fallen in the greater Los Angeles area.  A more accurate telling is that no snow fell in our front yard.  It did snow in La Crescenta and Burbank and everywhere else in the greater Los Angeles area except in our front yard.  It even snowed in Tucson but that's another story and not my story because I don't live there.  Meanwhile back to me.  It doesn't seem fair that so many other people got to play in the snow and we didn't even get a single imperfect flake.  What have I learned from this devastating experience?  Here's what.  It's not all about me.  I am apparently not the center of the universe.  Shit.  I know that eventually I will recover from this narcissistic wound.  Just don't expect much from me for the next few decades.

I And You

I haven't had to look down while typing in so long that I never really thought about the arrangement of the keys until a few minutes ago. I bet the guy who invented the Qwerty keyboard did it because he was also the first cheesy douche to use the pickup line “If I could rearrange the alphabet, I'd put "U" and "I" together.”

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Welcome to the 51st state, Baja Arizona

This isn't some faraway place like Libya or Wisconsin, but a people's uprising is taking place right here in Southern Arizona where I live.

Or rather, make that Baja Arizona.

There's no crazed dictator railing from the fortress wall, but there is an equally off-the-wall bunch of Republican legislators in Phoenix, trying to usurp the job of the federal government on matters such as immigration and presidential qualifications.

Here are some specifics:
  • In the wake of the Jan. 8 shooting spree in Tucson that left six dead and 13 wounded -- including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords -- lawmakers with lightning speed and sensitivity are moving to designate the Colt single-action Army revolver as the "official state firearm."
  • Another proposal would scrap Arizona's version of Medicaid and replace it with something that would cut the number of low-income recipients eligible for health assistance from 1.3 million to about 100,000.
  • Republican Sen. Russell Peace, riding a wave of popularity after passage of SB 1070 last year, has proposed a new measure to tighten the screws on illegal immigrants, requiring hospitals to demand proof of citizenship before providing non-emergency care and denying birth certificates to children born in Arizona if one of the parents was in the country illegally.

These and other actions by the Legislature and Gov. Jan Brewer have stirred the waters of revolt in Pima County, the Democratic enclave of the state. A group that calls itself "Start Our State" (SOS, get it?) has launched a drive to secede from Arizona and form a brand new state.

Hello, Baja Arizona.

This isn't some lunatic fringe idea. The movement was co-founded by Paul Eckerstrom, former Democratic Party chair of Pima County.

Eckertrom told the Arizona Daily Star that the legislature has gone too far to the right, particularly with the round of measures by Pearce that challenge federal supremacy. "This really does border on them saying they don't want to be part of the United States," he said. "Well, I want to be part of the United States."

With a 2009 population of 1,020,200, Eckerstrom added, Pima County has more people than Montana, Delaware, North and South Dakota, Alaska, Vermont, and Wyoming. And with an area of 9,189 square miles, Pima is bigger than Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island.

Other counties are welcome to join the breakaway state, he added.

The SOS website states their mission: "To establish a new state in Southern Arizona free of the un-American, unconstitutional machinations of the Phoenix-controlled Arizona Legislature and to restore our region's credibility as a place welcoming to others, open to commerce, and friendly to its neighbors."

I'm completely for all those things. But as a native Arizonan, I don't want to give up the name of "Arizona" for my new state. Let all those people who came to Arizona to get away from the Midwestern snows and infested it with their bigotry and bedrock conservatism find a new name.

Maybe something like "Wiscowandiana."

Nothing Like A Little Silly Fun

On Thursday evening, the Other Family Human and I headed out to the clumsily-named Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California, to see the Harlem Globetrotters. You could call them a basketball team, but that's not exactly the game they play. Since 1926, the Globetrotters have been the kings of showy ball-handling and silly fun. You can count on them to dowse an audience member with a bucket which appears to be filled with water, but contains confetti.
 You can count on them to make a few children happy by giving them the chance to make a basket, usually by lifting the kid up till he or she can boost the ball in. They will strip the uniform off one of their opposing players, the long-suffering Washington Generals, until he is standing on the court in a pair of gaudy boxer shorts. They play football with the basketball and make stupid fart jokes.
As we were walking back to our car after the game/show/event, we watched the kids who had been in attendance. Most of their parents had bought them a red, white and blue basketball with the Globetrotters insignia, and they were all trying to dribble the ball behind their backs, or between their legs, or twirl in on their fingers.
Silly fun and exercise, too.
Go, Globetrotters.

No Snowman Today

We here in Southern California were beside ourselves with anticipation yesterday.  The snow level was supposed to drop over the night to 500 feet.  Five hundred feet?!  I heard someone say that someone told her that snow had not fallen that low in at least sixty years.  The elevation of the heliport at Glendale Adventist Hospital is 904 feet.  Since we live not far from that medical center and up in a canyon I figured our house was at least a thousand feet.  Why, we would probably be snowed in for days.  Driving home from work yesterday evening I heard an interview with someone in the public works department of the little town of Sierra Madre.  He was concerned that the city had no snow plows.  "All we've got," he told the interviewer with more than a hint of anxiety in his voice, "is an old road grader."  Sierra Madre, it seems, was preparing for the worst.
Of course, the greater concern for most everyone here in LaLaLand was the Academy Awards Sunday night in Hollywood.  What if the actors got cold walking down the red carpet?  What if it rained?  What if the intersection of Highland and Hollywood was closed because of the quarter inch or so of expected snow?
I woke up in the middle of last night to look out the window and glory at gently falling snow flakes.  I had my camera ready to document the momentous occasion.
Of course, it didn't snow last night.  At least not here in Los Angeles and nearby cities.  It did rain a lot but today the skies are bright blue.
The Academy Awards are safe as is the city of Sierra Madre.
It never hurts, I suppose, to dust off the old road grader just in case.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Secrets Of Physics

I have been busy achieving unprecedented levels of unverifiable, speculative productivity. For example, today I occupied myself through three meetings by trying to figure out if there's a way to mathematically illustrate the fact that, since light travels faster than sound, even really dumb people can temporarily appear bright for a split-second before you hear them speak.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A heartbreaking work of staggering whatever ,,,

WAPA never sleeps. The federal Western Area Power Administration sells and delivers hydroelectric power from places like Hoover Dam to customers in a 15-state region of the central and western United States.

With so much on its plate, it’s easy to understand how WAPA could overlook a tiny thing like the placement of one of its power poles.

Now, when I say “power pole,” I mean “giant humongous hulking transmission tower that’s about sixty feet tall like the mast of a battleship, mounted on a concrete base that’s about six feet wide and buried thirty-five feet in the ground.”

A serious power pole, in other words.

My neighbors and I watched in dismay as these transmission towers went in last year, during a street-widening project in northwest Tucson. Then our dismay turned to amazement, when one of the towers ended up nearly out in the street itself, intersecting the sidewalk.

It was clear that something was wrong. Either the tower was in the wrong place, or the road was. Rumors flew. The county and the feds were battling it out in court, one rumor went. Then the word was that the county had won the lawsuit. The tower had to go.

Only problem was, nothing happened. Finally, I got tired of waiting and sent an e-mail to the reporter who covers traffic issues for our daily paper, the Arizona Daily Star, asking her to find out what was going on.

The answer, from Priscilla Cornelio, Pima County transportation director, ran in Monday’s “Roadrunner” column of the Star. If nothing else, it fairly clearly demonstrates why some people are losing faith in the ability of government at all levels to do much of anything.

According to Ms. Cornelio, the county “will be performing minor revisions to the curb, sidewalk and traffic striping in order to install a concrete barrier as well as to provide additional separation between the travel lanes and the pole to protect motorists.”

Cornelio added that the county has been working closely with WAPA on the project and “there are no lawsuits or any other legal actions pending.”

Well, maybe not yet. But the concrete barrier that the county envisions will have to jut out into the street and into the flow of traffic. If only because of Murphy's Law, someone eventually will crash into that concrete wall, despite the traffic striping. I’m not a lawyer, but I predict there’ll be plenty of lawsuits flying then.

Your tax dollars at work.

Monday, February 21, 2011

As Wisconsin Goes So Goes ---

Screen Actors' Guild -- of which I have been a member for many years -- just sent this out.  I'm sure the Guild won't mind my sharing it with you.

Dear Screen Actors Guild Member,

You may have seen or heard news reports about the large rallies in support of union workers taking place in Madison, Wisconsin over the last week.  You may have asked yourself why tens of thousands of working people are protesting, or why you should care.
Here’s why what is happening in Wisconsin could have far-reaching consequences for you and union workers across the country.  The crowds are protesting because Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has introduced a proposal that will strip most collective bargaining rights from public workers in Wisconsin.  And it is believed that if this action succeeds in Wisconsin, these kinds of anti-union efforts may spread across the country and ultimately could affect labor organizations like Screen Actors Guild.
The right of working people to join together and collectively bargain is enshrined in law. It is fundamental to unionism and allows working people to choose to have a common voice on wages and working conditions in their industries.  Screen Actors Guild was formed in 1933 for exactly that reason: to negotiate with the powerful Hollywood studios to ensure fair treatment for actors.  We believed in collective bargaining then, and we believe in it today.
The proposed action in Wisconsin seeks to deny union workers their fundamental right to join together and bargain collectively. If it is successful in Wisconsin, it could happen anywhere.  In addition to adding our voice of support to other working families around the country, this is why Screen Actors Guild members care about Wisconsin.
And that's also why all of us whether or not we belong to any trade union should worry about what's happening in Wisconsin and support those who are trying to stop the governor of that state from taking away what took so long in effort and blood to obtain.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

"I Have Heard the Mermaids Singing"

I apparently have reached the age where I move too slowly to suit some people. I've been dreading this day.

This realization manifested itself in several ways, just recently.

As I was making my way up to the entrance of an office building, a strapping young total stranger lunged ahead to open the door for me. "Let me help you with that, Old Timer," his patronizing smile seemed to say.

At a coffee shop, a young, balding man stood by patiently while, with trembling fingers, I took the lid off my cafe au lait, poured in sweetener and stirred my brew. "No need to hurry, Pops," his condescending smile seemed to say. "I've got way more time left than you do."

And then just a little later, as I drove down a busy, four-lane city street, I was startled by the sound of a car horn behind me. A woman driving a Lexus was outraged by something I was doing. I glanced down at my speedometer and discovered that I was driving 38 mph in a 45 mph zone.

The horror! The horror! I sped up, but the woman still couldn't get past me, because there was another slowpoke driving beside me. I could see the woman behind me, a portrait of fuming impatience, in my rearview mirror.

After just a few blocks, I reached the place I needed to go, and moved over into the left-turn lane. But apparently I didn't execute that maneuver quickly enough either, didn't careen over like a Daytona racetrack driver, and the woman again started blatting her horn and gesticulating furiously.

Finally, I turtled out of her way and she roared past giving me a final horn and finger.

I know now how T.S. Eliot's poetic hero, J.Alfred Prufrock, felt:

"I grow old ... I grow old ...
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled."

And as for the woman with the middle finger that she was so anxious to show me: Sorry, Sweetie. I'm sure nothing like what I've got will ever happen to you.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Be Angry and Then Write Your Anger

A few hours ago the United States House of Representatives cut funding to Planned Parenthood.  The legislation didn't say we're not going to give Planned Parenthood money for abortions.  We get it that this House will do everything and anything it can to keep women from obtaining abortions.  This measure goes far beyond cutting funding for abortions and if the Republican controlled House could look beyond their spite and fear they might realize that they have also cut funding for birth control, cancer screening HIV testing and many other essential medical services.  Planned Parenthood has prepared letters and urges us to use their wording if we're at a loss for our own and contact every member of Congress or at least our own members of Congress and every United States Senator or at least or own Senators and let them know our outrage.


To the members of the House of Representatives who voted for the Pence Amendment to H.R. 1:

How could you?
How could you betray millions of women — and men, and teens — who rely on Planned Parenthood for basic health care?
How could you condemn countless women in this country to undiagnosed cancer, unintended pregnancies, and untreated illnesses?
Your vote was not only against those who seek care at Planned Parenthood health centers, but against every one of us who has ever sought care there, and against every one of us who knows that when we are healthy, when we are in charge of our lives, we thrive.
It was a vote against me.

To every senator who will soon consider this legislation:

I stand with Planned Parenthood to say to you: STOP THIS.
I stand with Planned Parenthood and the hundreds of thousands of people from every walk of life and every corner of this country who join me in signing this letter to tell you that we will fight this bill and we expect you to do the same.
I stand with and for the millions of women, men, and teens who rely on Planned Parenthood, and I expect you to do the same.

To every member of Congress, know that we stand together today against this outrageous assault, and together we will not lose.

Where's My Hover Board?

I apologize for being a downer. But, I'm tired of being lied to and having to face one disappointment after another. The envisioned futures of "Space 1999" and "2001: A Space Odyssey," along with countless other failed predictions have come and gone. Today, I realized we're only four years away from the future of "Back to the Future II," and I still haven't seen any progress on hover boards.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What Goes Around

The Borders book store chain filed for bankruptcy today and announced that about a third of its stores will close while it tries to bail out financially.  It's sad when any bookstore closes.
On the other hand....
There was a time when small, independent book stores stocked books people wanted to read instead of books the publishing industry giants told them to read.  There was a time when authors appeared at those little book stores to discuss their works even if only a hand full of readers showed up on a rainy Saturday afternoon.
Take, for example, Chatterton's book store on North Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles.  With my catholic (note the small c) reading tastes, I was always able to satisfy my literary whims there.  There I discovered both Charles Reznikoff and Charles Bukowski -- regretted the latter discovery and cherished the first.  And once Chatterton's even took a book I wrote on consignment and even sold a few copies of it.  I traded the books sales for more books.
And then one dark day the giant corporate book stores started moving into neighborhoods, buying out the small stores and even worse seducing their customers away with late hours and places to drink coffee.  Now there are only a few of those independent books stores left.  Chatterton's is not among them.  Of course I blame first Crown Books and then Borders and Barnes & Noble for all of those little book stores going out of business.
Borders blames Amazon for its financial woes.  Maybe another reality to blame is, hopefully, the notion that true readers care about choice and don't like to be told by anyone what to read and what to buy.
If things come full circle we will be seeing the rise of small neighborhood book stores once again.
Or am I just dreaming?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sunday night at the Grammys

The Grammy Awards are my annual, last-ditch effort to catch up on the world of pop culture. So in no particular order, here are 10 things I learned from Sunday night's show:

1. Bob Dylan's singing hasn't improved with age, not one whit.

2. The Avett Brothers' "Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise" is more than just another song with a long title.

3. Take away the platinum-blonde hair and outrageous costumes, and Lady Gaga is a fairly plain woman with an overbite.

4. Eminem is the most likely candidate I've ever seen for spontaneous human combustion.

5. OK, scratch that. Eminem is the second most likely candidate for spontaneous human combustion, next to the frenetic singers, drummers and bicycle riders of Arcade Fire.

6. Winner of the best new artist that nobody's ever heard of award: Esperanza Spalding.

7. Why wasn't Gaslight Anthem nominated for something? Or Carrie Newcomer? Or anyone else I care anything about, other than Train and Neil Young?

8. Neil Young had a new song called "Angry World?" And it won for best rock song? OK, that's something I definitely didn't know.

9. Black jumpsuited Gwyneth Paltrow and Cee Lo Green, looking like a giant multi-colored moth, out-gaga-ed everyone.

10. Of all the Grammys handed out Sunday night, only one went to a group or song that I have on my i-Pod. Naturally, it was Lady A's "Need You Now."

11 (bonus). Justin Bieber, in addition to being a teenage girl's working definition of "cute," plays the guitar left-handed, just like Paul McCartney. Awesome.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bad News From The Bank

I don't like banks.  I approach all bank related activities with a sense of dread.  I assume, when I finally work my way up to a teller, that I will be told the bank is out of money or my meager funds have been allocated without my consent to a more worthy cause.  I fear ATMs for the same reason.  Perhaps it was that Sandra Bullock movie but I expect that either my card will be flung from the machine into my face or my account will indicate that in moments of compromised impulse control I spent all of my money.
Imagine, then, the degree and intensity of my fear this morning when I opened the letter from my bank.  Imagine further my fear when the opening paragraph of the letter read something along the lines of 'we regret to inform you'.  I immediately imagined myself in prison serving a sentence for some financial crime I neither committed nor knew about.
I almost threw the letter away without finishing it.  Come to find out it wasn't about me at all.  It did, though, contain some disturbing news.
The Albertsons' grocery store in Pomona at the corner of Garey Avenue and Foothill is closing.  The bank was letting me know about this because inside that store is a little branch of the very big bank with which I do business.  I often stop at that grocery store, get some money from the ATM, and buy whatever it is I need because the store is huge and has just about anything anyone would ever need.
It's always sad when a favorite business establishment closes.  The closure of this store isn't just about my being inconvenienced or feeling sad.  When that store goes the corner of Garey and Foothill in Pomona will house a big, empty area and that's not good.  Certainly it's not good for the economy of Pomona.  The city will have few if any major stores left in it.  It's also not good for safety.  Pomona hosts a great many homeless men and women and many of those many homeless folk suffer from severe mental illnesses.  Big, empty buildings are wonderful places to hide and live.  I'm all for the homeless having more places to live.  They shouldn't, however, have to hide in empty buildings.  But that's what will happen.
So, yeah, I'm bummed that I have to find another safe place to do my dreaded banking.
The bigger issue is, though, that poor little Pomona can't afford to lose a major chain market.  Of course, the building will probably eventually house a swap meet of some kind.  Swap meets, though, just don't sell a city as well as does a name anything.  Anything,  this is, except more homeless and a higher crime rate.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Legislatard: A word whose time has come

Congratulations to Michael Walker for his newly coined word: legislatard. In my opinion, this word deserves to be fast-tracked into the dictionary.

What does it mean? It's a portmanteau word, blending the concepts of legislator, retardation and illegitimacy. Admittedly, this is a grievious slur against those with mental or parentage challenges. But it is completely apropos for many current political office holders in places like, well, Arizona.

With uncanny accuracy, legislatard describes the species of lawmaker (or governor, or whatever) who would attempt to water down legal definitions of rape, balance state budgets by cutting indigent health care, and waste legislative time and resources posturing about U.S. law on immigration, citizenship, and presidential qualifications.

In fact, Arizonans should launch an initiative campaign requiring each lawmaker to wear a badge identifying him- or herself as a LEGISLATARD. Perhaps this would help restrain the self-important huffing and puffing of politicians like Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, by serving as the slave in Roman times who rode in the chariot beside the conquering hero, whispering into his ear: "Remember, you are mortal."

Sad that they need to be reminded of this.

The Arrival Of The Rat Guy

Okay.  Time to confess.  We've got a rat or two or several living in our attic.  We haven't met in person but we each suspect the existence of the other.  Well, I'm assuming the rats suspect we exist.  I mean, from time to time they must look at the crap in the attic that they're chewing their way through and figure it belongs to someone a little bigger than they are.  We, on the other hand, know they exist because of the racket they make just about the time we're ready to go to sleep.
At any rate, a little rat eventually goes a long way and I called Dewey Pest Control.  On Wednesday a guy named Carlos arrived with traps and a smile to assure us we would be rid of the rats in no time at all.  He set two traps in the attic and said he would return Friday to remove them and their dead rats.  Wednesday night I heard each of the two traps snap and imagined quick deaths.  Friday Carlos was a no show.  When I called him (yes, we've exchanged cell phone numbers) he explained that he had been home with the flu and sounded surprised that the assistant rat guy had not shown up to cart away the corpses.
Today not quite recovered from the flu but apparently burdened with responsibility and work ethic, Carlos crawled into the attic only to emerge rat-less.
"All rats are smart," he said, shaking his head.
We could only agree.  In addition to being smart, all rats apparently really like peanut butter.  Wednesday night I had heard the traps snap shut.  Somehow the rats tripped the traps and then safely dined on peanut butter.
Carlos left four set traps today and will be back Monday.
I worry that when he climbs into the attic on Monday he will find four tripped rat traps and notes requesting bread and jam.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Protest Against Our Insensitive Legislatards

I am appalled by the suggested revisions to the so-called “Rape Bill.” I’m not making light of this, just illuminating the stupidity with a few suggestions: Extremely Rapey Rape. Strangers With Benefits Rape. Rufie Coerced Consent Rape. I Can't Believe It's Not Rape. Your Eyes Said “Yes” Rape. It’s Not You, It’s Rape. Better yet, why don’t we just apply the recently discarded Homeland Security Color Levels.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Los Angeles Snow

The pear tree in front of the house does not produce fruit.  It produces blossoms which, when other parts of the country are watching snow drifts pile higher and higher, float to the ground and sometimes collect in tiny drifts of petals that almost but never will become delicious fruits.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Groundhog Grudge

You may remember that two years ago on Groundhog Day, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had a run-in with Staten Island Chuck, the city's official groundhog. Bloomberg is apparently still nursing a grudge after two years. An article sent to us by A Family Sibling from the New York Post reports that: "A laughing Bloomberg on Wednesday was overheard praising Staten Island Chuck's new cage -- which includes a plunger that pushes the animal out -- as 'much better than having to reach in and let the little son of a bitch bite you.'"

Let's review the circumstances, Mr. Mayor. As reported at the time, you were holding a corncob letting the animal take a few bites, then yanking it away. I have an idea. Let me take you out to dinner, let you start eating and then pull your plate away. Let's see how much you like that.

Huh. I guess the mayor isn't the only one still carrying a grudge.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Walking Her Dog Named Trouble

I just read about poor Lindsay Lohan; trouble just seems to follow her around like an angry Egyptian with a rock. Now, she’s facing criminal charges for allegedly stealing a necklace from a jewelry store. If she’s acquitted, it would be the biggest crime she’s gotten away with since, well, her entire acting career. At least the necklace coordinated well with her alcohol detection ankle bracelet.

Still Quoting Uncle Vanya

'Missed again,' said I this morning when I discovered that someone else had won all the money in the office SuperBowl pool.  It doesn't matter that I never actually bothered to find out who was playing nor does it matter that, along those same lines of thought, I certainly had not the slightest idea who won.  The point is that again I missed the opportunity to be the office Big Cheese.
I'm hoping that the person who actually did win big cared and followed the game.
On the other hand, do winners have to be worthy?
When I ask the really tough questions I see how really complicated life can become.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

His Name Was Jack

Last week at the age of twenty-two years he jumped from a building and ended his life.  His family, friends, and community are devastated and determined to make sure as many people as possible know as much as possible about mental illness.  You see, Jack suffered from Schizophrenia.  It's easy to say that he took his own life.  It's more complicated to consider that an illness which ravages the brain just as steadily and just as deadly as does, say, cancer ravage the body took his life.  It's also far easier to discuss death from identifiable physical conditions than to consider the stigma and the complications of mental illness.  Jack for all intents and purposes committed suicide.  The leap from the building, though, isn't what really killed him.  He died from the symptoms and behaviors associated with Schizophrenia.  We can say that he was ultimately responsible for that leap and we will be correct because, yes, we are all ultimately responsible for our actions even when we believe we have no choice and even when we are not completely in charge of ourselves.  Few things in life, though, are that clear and simple.
Jack's family asks that we educate ourselves and each other about mental illness.
I understand mental illness.  I spend my work days in the belly of the mental illness beast.  However, there's always more work to be done until perhaps some day another brilliant young man named Jack will have an easier landing from his constantly death defying/death inviting disease.

An Open Letter To Egypt

I spend Saturday mornings skimming as many online journals and newspapers as my wife’s detailed weekend cleaning assignments allow.
Today, I've been looking for one item, which so far I have been unable to locate. Somewhere out there, I know there is a simply worded notice that reads something like: “Dear Egyptians: Please do not destroy the pyramids. We will not rebuild. Sincerely, the Jews.”

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Must Be Close To Super Bowl Time Again

Here's how I know. Manuel came by and asked for me to pick a square, write my name in the square and pay my five dollars to participate in the super bowl whatever it's called thing where certain squares win certain things depending on the score at the end of every something or other. Pool! I think it's called a pool. At any rate I've never won it but I'm sure that has nothing to do with the fact that I never even know which teams are playing nor do I ever watch even part of the game. Or I suppose it is possible that I've won it every year and no one has bothered to tell me because I wouldn't know anyway.
Here's also how I know it's close to Super Bowl time again. By the same invisible energy that compels the swallows to return to Capistrano every year, I start thinking of Clydesdales every year at just about this time.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It's Complicated

I can’t believe what a diplomatic hairball the world has become. This morning, Israel changed its FB relationship status with Egypt to "it's complicated.” Lebanon, Syria & Palestine all clicked the “like” button. And, despite the increasingly violent unrest, Egyptian President Mubarak still refuses to step down. He seems to be in denial—which, coincidentally, is where he's likely to be found if he doesn't resign.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Keen Observations On Current Events

I just read that Rock Solid Stability of a Traveling Carnival’s Tilt-a-Whirl Bill O’Reilly says he’s concerned about Snooki Tinted Tear Geyser John Boehner’s emotional stability. That’s like Relapsed Rehab Reject Lindsay Lohan saying she's distressed about Hooker Harem Cocaine Snowpocalypse Charlie Sheen's drug use. (WooHoo-All five at once! Excuse me, I need to go lie down for a while.)