Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Marshall 'n' Me

I'm not a hero-worship kind of guy. I favor the response Bill Russell always used when kids would ask him for an autograph: "Go get your dad's autograph. He's the real hero." I liked The Mick when I was a kid, and Bill Bradley and Jim Ryun were definitely larger than life, but I really didn't stand in complete awe of them. Maybe it was because they were so distant...always in the paper but never right up close. I DID go to the bathroom next to Ryun once, but I can't say it was a peak experience. I also got to interview him for a radio station before a race, and that was definitely cool, but I reached a new level of closeness this week. I got to talk to (and get a picture with) Marshall Crenshaw.
Of course, almost nobody I know has heard of him, but he's a musician who revolutionized music in this country, and I wanted to hear him play ever since the professor in a rock 'n' roll class first played Crenshaw for me in the early 80s.
I could never find him touring anywhere near where I happened to be, so imagine my surprise when he showed up in Green Bay this week!
Here was a guy who led the New Wave revolution in the U.S.A. at the same time Elvis Costello and Graham Parker were being all angry young men in Britain. We'd probably still be listening to "You Light Up My Life" had it not been for these luminaries of rock. In addition to being a rock performer, Crenshaw played Buddy Holly in the movie "La Bamba," a high school band teacher in "Peggy Sue Got Married"; he played John Lennon in a Broadway production of "Beatlemania," and has written a book on rock music in the movies called Hollywood Rock and Roll. He's a musical Ben Franklin (the man, not the store).
It was the perfect "senior" date: free admission and free sodas. It began at 7:30 and was finished in time for me to drive home and get to bed at the usual time (not to be confused with Crenshaw's "Usual Thing." The crowd was small at the casino, but the music was so good that my honey didn't even wander off to go spite of the fact that I was singing at the top of my lungs much of the time!
Following the encore, Marshall stepped out and signed a few things and generally talked to everyone who wanted a piece of his time. We chatted briefly, I got a photo, and my evening was made! He was the last musician I really wanted to see so my life is complete.

Monday, September 25, 2006

On My Way To Rap Stardom

My big moment is just around the corner. As soon as I can get my publicist to start spreading the word...bling, bling: RAP STARDOM!
You may, of course, be wondering how a middle-aged, graying, white guy can be a rap star (Vanilla Ice excepted). It's like this: I have qualifications in that I can make different sounds with my mouth, I actually have something of a sense of rhythm, I own a turntable, and now I have street cred in the form of a series of felony convictions. Everyone knows, except my buddy Paris Corner who is a legitimate rapper (having opened for somebody famous in Salt Lake City recently), that street cred is nothing more than having been arrested and spent time in the crowbar hotel. Li'i Kim was the most recent to gain such credibility...who knew her peeps carried guns? Of course, her outfits (or lack thereof) at awards ceremonies made her even more famous. But back to me.
I worked this summer at a basketball camp at the University of Illinois. In order to get paid, I had to fill out a personnel backgound check thingie. I noted that I was not a criminal and, in fact, had never been arrested for any felonious activity. Today in the mail, I got a notice from the university which indicated that I was not completely truthful in that statement. One Jane Somebody included a twenty-five page document in which my name (even though the crook didn't spell it right either time: Darryl and Daryl) was twice mentioned in a list of sixty-one aliases used by some guy in Illinois and Michigan to commit various and sundry crimes. "I" had been sentenced to prison several times during an illustrious career for disagrements with The Man that included armed robbery, possession of a controlled substance, retail theft and battery. Hence, I am now ready to begin my rap career.
I even have tatoos, it is said, on both arms and my all the time I thought it was hair and that aneurysm surgery scar!
Other things that I discovered about myself thanks to the crack investigators in Illinois was that I had shrunk to 5'7" and lost a hell of a lot of weight: all the way down to 140. The brown eyes were right but the black hair designation was not; or was the race note that mentioned black/white. Mom will never look at Dad the same way again!
I may not go into work tomorrow. Look for me on the street in your 'hood.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Apocalypse Now

I'm a bit nervous. There have always been those who claimed to know when the end of the world was about to commence. "War in the Holy Land" was one I remember. Well, we've got it, and I don't feel like making out my will just yet. Of course, now that the Pope has criticized Mohammed, the New Crusades might just be days away. Can you imagine the Swiss guards trying to chop guys down with halberds? Not exactly the Seven Days' War there...maybe seven minutes. No, those events don't initiate urgent calls to loved ones. There ARE, however, some things that should make you, me and MC Hammer go "HMMMM"!

1. Gas prices have dropped $.75 in less than a month. Seriously, how can you NOT take that as a sign of imminent danger? Yeah, I know that the fall elections will probably mark the end of this bonanza, but I still wanted to go out and buy a big ol' SUV and drive around the state every week! (See what I mean? I'm losing it!)

2. The Green Bay Packers sign Koren Robinson and trade Samkon Gado. That's like getting rid of Rudy, The Rookie and banning basketball and bike racing in tiny Hoosier towns and bringing Charlie Manson home for dinner! Gado was TOTALLY obscure last year until a series of injuries made him the starting running back in Titletown by default. He wowed everyone with his running ability as well as his humble nature and then spent the off-season doing an internship at a local hospital. Are you kidding me? He was perfect for the image of the Packers (still smarting from the Paul Hornung thing in '63 and the James Lofton stairwell incident years later). Instead, they sign a three-time offender of the substance abuse policy in the N.F.L. who is likely to get drunk and run over people at 3 in the morning...OK, OK, I get your point: that could be any number of people in Green Bay. But still...are the Packers that desperate that they would take this guy and not even consider T.O.? (rhetorical question) What starting 0-1 will do!

3. The Florida Marlins might make the playoffs. This team would have made the Bad News Bears look good in spring training. There were only a couple of players left of any value, and only Dontrelle Willis was a marquee player. The manager and the owner get into a shouting match with the manager telling the owner to stop shouting at the umpires. The owner subsequently set up a press conference to fire the manager then backed off when people told him he was being stupid. Thos same Fish are but three games out of the wild card lead now, and Joe Girardi (ex-Yankee) has GOT to be the manager of the year.

4. Tony Stewart is NOT in the Race for the Nextel Cup. Go figure.

5. There is talk of a reunion between Zinedine Zidane and Marco Materazzi. Puhleeze! No way this should happen after Materazzi made those comments about Zidane's mother and sister. The reunion could turn out like a weigh-in at at Mike Tyson/Chump of the Week fight.

6. A college punter stabs his teammate in the kicking leg so HE can be the starting punter (and drives away in a car with the license plate "8KIKR"). This shoots to hell the theory that kickers can't be aggressive...a SURE sign of the apocalypse.

7. Every Segway was recalled this week. It's not only MY balance that has been upset, apparently.

8. Gas is down to $2.45 here. Did I mention that?

I don't know if this has convinced you, but I'm PLENTY worried.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Leave it to the British: those who gave us Monty Python's Flying Circus, "Fawlty Towers" and the original idea for "All In the Family." They must have oodles of time on their hands. Those east of us are widely recognized for inventing badminton, cricket, and probably the early form of Australian football (which nobody understands). Not at all like the Irish game of hurling which is somewhat like legalized murder. The latest sport from those chaps is contested three times a year in places like Thailand, Sri Lanka and Nepal. I know, it doesn't sound very British. There is a reason the game is played in those locales though it WAS invented by two Englishmen (in the noonday sun, one would suppose) in the 1980's in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Yeah, that's right: a couple of moneyed guys with time on their hands decide to have some fun at someone else's expense, and the game of elephant polo was born. If you understand that the basic implement for elephant polo is, well, an elephant, you can also see why the tournaments are played where they are...a plethora of pachyderms who get a few days vacation from hauling logs and hunting tigers; sort of an olympics for the big guys (and girls, too, one might imagine).
The King's Cup Elephant Polo Championships were held recently, and,for the first time ever, there was an American contingent: not exactly the Dream Team, but they were there for the stars and stripes. How does one practice for such an activity, you might ask, there being a limited number of live animals to use outside of the aforementioned SE Asian countries? Well, the Germans practice by sitting atop Volkswagen vans as they swing their mallets. One can almost hear them shout "Fahrfignugen!" as they speed down the course. The inventive Americans practiced by perching on swing sets (ow!). None of that really prepared them for the true experience.
Hanging on for dear life to a charging three-ton descendent of Hannibal's legions while trying to hit a baseball-sized ball with a ten-foot mallet might seem somewhat precarious, but at least the players don't have to drive: each mount has a driver and a player. Common problems involve dodging elephant flop (imagine the mine field THAT must create!) and having the game suspended due to an inadvertant steppage when the mount smooshes the ball deep into the sod. Add to that the fact that the Americans were facing The Dark Horse of Delhi, and you can imagine it turned out to be "a learning experience."
My experience with an elephant in Thailand (no mallet, no ball AND, suddenly, no driver) assures me that I will never be a part of what promises to be a future olympic event. I will stick to mailbox baseball, but if Ralph Lauren ever comes out with a shirt that pictures some wacked-out guy atop an elephant brandishing a mallet, I'm buying one.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Great Caesar's Ghost! A Mystery!

It's not as if I don't like Ben Affleck a.k.a. "Bennifer." I mean, who didn't like that Kevin Smith movie where Alanis Morrissette (as God) explodes his head for daring to think he could get back to heaven after defying the Almighty Power? That's some powerful dogma for you. Just between us, though, whenever I see the guy sitting smugly in his Boston Red Sox cap, I just want to whale on him with a wiffle bat. But, as I implied, this isn't really about him: it's about Superman.
I'm old enough to have watched George Reeves (the ONLY real Superman) every day on TV as a kid. The Man of Steel was the first superhero to get a comic book, and the first superhero to get his own TV show. He could do anything and was immune to Lois Lane's obvious charms...that was good enough for me. I believed he lived...unlike the little kid who approached George Reeves at a celebrity deal with a loaded pistol wanting to find out the truth about those bouncing bullets. I needed no further proof than the 14-in screen on our console TV.
February of 1959 was a bad, bad month. Buddy Holly died on February 3 of that year, and even though I was not going to hear his music for a few years, I anguish over his passing. On June 16 of that year, George Reeves also died...supposedly from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. This is where the story gets interesting.
Somehow, the Kellogg's Company, which sponsored the daily TV show, kept from me the awful truth of the "suicide" of Superman. It's just as well, for I would not have believed it. Now, however, I have begun to see the mystery as it is. Ben Affleck is starring in a new movie called "Hollywoodland" which deals with the unanswered questions surrounding Reeves' death. For example, he was dating a beautiful New York actress, he was taking the first serious role after Superman as the detective in Hitchcock's "Psycho" and had everything to live for. (Could Martin Balsam have done it? After all, he got that role which made him a household face).
Anyway, Reeves had guests, went upstairs and a shot was heard. The police were not called for 45 minutes after the shot rang out! HMMM. The luger which fired the fatal bullet was found on the floor, and Reeves was LYING ON the ejected cartridge after supposedly having put the shot through his head and into the ceiling.HMMM. This incident followed two suspicious car "accidents" and a breakup with a woman who had supposed Mafia ties (you know, the silk ones with little machine guns embroidered on them).
I doubt if I'll see the movie, but I do believe there's a mystery here that MAYBE Ben can help us solve.
Sorry to say, Superman has been supplanted by Doc Savage as far as superheroes in my book, but he's still the Man of Steel...but only as George Reeves.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Forewarned Is Forearmed...Maybe

It all began in 1992 with a woman named Stella Liebeck, a resident of Albuquerque, New Mexico. She wanted coffee, went through the McDonald's drive-up facility, and got some joe. Being the careful driver she was, she then drove off, using both hands for the steering wheel (something my wife claims I need as well). She placed the coffee between her legs on the seat as she drove away. You can imagine the made-for-Dr. Phil-TV result in more graphic detail than I can use to describe it: coffee spill, third-degree burns in sensitive areas, and a lawsuit, not to mention an ambarrassing stain on the seat which she probably felt obligated to explain EVERY time she picked up her carpool. The end result for Americans in general, is that we now have warning labels on EVERYTHING as well as a gaggle of legal experts ready, willing and able to take on any company which dares NOT to affix a warning to its products.
Now we have computerized maps inside our cars with warning labels that read "watching this screen while the vehicle is in motion can lead to a serious accident." Like I'm going to pull over every block just to look at the directions! Fortunately, the expensive ones actually talk to me, but since the voice sounds a lot like the exasperated tone my wife uses when I drive, I usually ignore it. (Shouting "Do YOU want to drive? at the top of my lungs really doesn't affect the navigation screen all that much)
Robert B Dorigo Jones has compiled an astounding array of manufacturers' warnings in a book entitled Remove Child Before Folding: 101 of the Stupidest, Silliest and Wackiest Warning Labels Ever. He even sponsors a yearly contest to find these gems...nothing like having everybody else write your book for you!
So as not to take his thunder, I'll submit a few samples from his entertaining text.

1. A fishing lure with three hooks came with this warning label: "Harmful if swallowed." It's a good thing we have iliterate fish in these parts.

2. A sharp knife posting this caveat: "Do not attempt to catch a falling knife." I've known that since I learned mumbledypegs from a guy named Lefty.

3. A heat-emitting gun which peels paint using 1,000-degree heat points out to potential users: "Do not use this instrument as a hair dryer." Frizz, frizz, frizz.

So, I began to ruminate about other items which might require a warning to fend off the unwary, and I have a few which Ralph Nader should undertake.

1. Outlook Express, Yahoo Instant Messenger et al. really need this warning attached:
"Think before you hit the 'SEND' button. Failure to do so may well cost you your job, a heretofore positive relationship and leave you smacking yourself in the forehead over yet another bonehead e-mail. Loser!"

2. Credit cards of ANY kind should be required to post this warning every time the card gets used: "You have just spent REAL MONEY. We know it doesn't seem like it because this card is plastic, but you WILL HAVE TO PAY at a later date, and the interest rate might just involve your first-born child. Don't be fooled into thinking we can't find where you live if we need to. There is no escape. Reconsider for a moment, please."

3. Red Bull, Rock Star and ALL energy drinks need bigger containers so they can post this notice to would-be consumers: " The major component of this drink is taurine...bull urine! Drink responsibly. Getting your Goose on in combination with this product might well lead you to several poor decisions such as attempting to get the 'real thing' out in some pasture (if it tastes this good in Stoli, how great would it taste right from the "manufacturer"?), giving rise to a new form of cow-tipping; you might well find, too, that the heifers all get prettier at closing time. This, also is fraught with danger. The next thing you know, there's a herd at your house, if you get our drift. Seriously, is being THAT amped really worth it?"

So you see, it's a dangerous world out there kiddies. Don't say I didn't warn you...or as my mother used to say, "If you go fooling around and break your leg, don't come running to me!"