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.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Cubs make the playoffs...The Mets blow a 7-game lead and are out...nuns in Arkansas are excommunicated...Phil Spector trial ends in mistrial...monks get beaten in Mynamar...Shilpa Shetty is still in trouble for kissing Richard Gere. (OK, I get that one, but the others?)
It must be the autumnal equinox has everything messed up. Perhaps someone ate all the karma apples prior to Hallowe'en. Maybe it was that lunar eclipse thing that happened a few weeks ago. Who knows? Maybe it's the Matt Millen Reverse Curse in which nothing happens the way it's supposed to. Fact is, I'm confused.
When a group calling itself The Army of Mary shows up in Arkansas, you know something has gone haywire. I think the largest part of the group resides in Canada ('nuff said), but the ones who got the offical axe from the Catholic Church were living in Arkansas...and they hadn't even read The DaVinci Code yet. Somehow, believing that words from the Mother of God come straight out of some woman's mouth in Canada irritated the Powers That Be, though I have yet to hear from them about the fascinating thing I saw this weekend which made each piece of toast look as if Mary were emblazoned on the side. I actually thought it was crazycool.
Warning to Madonna and Brit: stay out of India. If Shetty can be prosecuted for kissing Mr. Gere in public, imagine what the authorities would say about that tongue thing on the Grammys! You'd be in the slammer faster than you could say "Miss Bollywood!" Seriously, though, how many times in public have you wanted to say, "Hey, get a room!"? I know I thought that just this weekend on the subway in Chicago...more out of envy, perhaps, than moral indignity. It's just that she goes to jail (if apprehended), and he does not. What's that? And you cannot convince me that there is no seamy underbelly in India. How else do you suspect all those peole got there...move from China?
Anyway, be on the alert for more crazy stuff. I think this last quarter of the year will be a dandy.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Unkindest Cut

Parents are known to do some goofy things, 'tis true. In the paroxysm of joy that is having a baby, they've been known to come up with some dandy names, generally variant spellings or that favorite uncle Aloysius. I know I hear it all the time from my son Ryun who constantly reminds me that he takes all kinds of badgering (good thing he's a Wisconsin kid) about the spelling of his name. Folks constantly say "Ry...UN!" emphasizing the letter 'u" like it's from Mars. I'll admit it's my fault...he was named to honor Jim Ryun who, at the time, held the world record in the mile run (now changed to the sissy 1600m run). Anyway, although I thought it was fitting, I should have thought twice. My wife knowingly balked at "Walker" for our second child; not because she didn't like John Walker of New Zealand who held the world record at that time, but because she could only picture our son as an elderly man using a walker for support. Such was the controversy that the poor child lay for days in the hospital with "Baby Patterson" on his little bed because we could not agree on anything, despite the thousands of perfectly good names in the baby book. We eventually settled on something "normal." That's where Paul and Teri Fields should have started.
The Fields couple from Indiana are diehard Chicago Cubs fans, and, as you might already have guessed, named their newborn "Wrigley Alexander Fields." OK, you might not have guessed the "Alexander" part, but you know what I meant.
I can only imagine the angst that this child will have being named after an accursed team. BTW, the Cubs lost tonight, and the Brewers won so the lead is down to 2.5 games in the last week of the season. Think the Cubs will hold on? I'm not so certain; there's a lot of bad karma associated with the North-siders. That's why young Wrigley is in deep doo doo. He will be forever associated with billy goats and Steve Bartman, the term "lovable loser" (Lou Pinella notwithstanding) and famous collapses. The only hope for this young man is that the Cubs don't blow the lead this year...he will be a constant, painful reminder to his parents of what could be but may never be.
Even "Ryun" is better than that. At least it's only painful to one person.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Major League 3

Our family is, indeed, diverse. We have diffreing views on many things, but this year it's been baseball. While not all of our teams are going to make the playoffs, three of them are just about locked in, and that has given us endless hours of email and phone calls celebrating our good fortune. It's been the year of the comeback.
Prior to the AllStar Game, my Yanks were 14 games out of first and falling faster than the space shuttle on re-entry. They are about to record the best second-half record in the league and are within two wins of making the playoffs. The fact that Boston still leads the division is only slightly galling.
The Indians were supposed to win last year and failed miserably. This year, they rebounded to win the AL Central, eliciting fans of that movie featuring the Indians to rewatch it many times. My grandson could not be happier that Travis Hafner and his team were doing well. The youngest family member took in a Cleveland game barely a month into his life. Now THAT says something about the Tribe.
Even the Cubs look like they are on the threshold of winning the NL Central, even though it's because the Brewers blew something like 18 games after leading by three or more runs. Even Rick Ankiel could not resurrect this year's version of the Cardinals. Steve Bartman is NOT in line for Cubs playoff tickets, either.
All of this leaves Cincinnati as our only family favorite totally out of it. Griffey got hurt late but still had a good year so all those rookie cards (about 100 or so) secreted away in my basement might have value after all...he will get to 500 home runs next season, and all will be right.
Even my wife Carol who judges athletic events by the concession stand choices said the other day that she would like to take in a game at Wrigley Field! This after visiting Yankee Stadium last summer. And, of course, next summer will be the last in which games are held in the House That Ruth Built so we might have to journey there one more time. (No nachos there, however...a MAJOR disappointment)
Even though it's football season and our beloved Packers are 3-0 for the first time in forever, it's still baseball season in our family. The games and the teams have brought us together this year like never before, and even though many decry the seeming lack of action, it's our game.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Get One of These Today!

I'm alerting you ahead of time because you'll need some time to get ready. There's shopping to do for the occasion, either online or at your favorite retailer. This is a celebration for all the rebels out there who want one more chance to say "Up yours!" to the man. Yes, I'm talking about the annual celebration of banned books. The weeklong nose-thumbing occurs between September 29th and October 6 this year. You have plenty of time to get that book considered unseemly by the guardians of our morality in this country.
In 2006 there were 546 books challenged for a variety of reasons in this country, either in schools or in public libraries. This number is up 30% from the previous year though down somewhat from the 750 challenges in the mid-90s. Parents are the loudest in their disapproval, according to the American Library Association. I guess I can feel good about that least it's not Tipper Gore anymore. Heading the places with the most banned tomes are Southwick, MA, and Shiloh, IL. with more than 30 books being banned in those places last year.
Looking over the list, there's really only one I've ever read, and most of them seem to deal with adolescent issues.
"And Tango Makes Three" (yes, I know it shgould be underlined, but I don't have that function on this blog for some reason) by Richardson and Pasnell tops the list.
"The Gossip Girls" series authored by Cecily VanZiegerar; the "Alice" series from Phyllis Reynolds Naylor; the "Scary Stories" series of Alvin Schwartz (about time a guy makes the list)and something called "Athletic Shorts" by Chris Crutcher have all been banned for one reason or another.
Toni Morrison gets the nod as the author with the most books on the top ten list: "The Bluest Eye" and "Beloved."
Robert Cormier's "The Chocolate War" was the only one I have read, so I've got to get to B&N soon before all the copies of the rest of them are gone.
So, all you literary rebels out there, you've got a week or so to load up on all that objectionable material and spend a glorious week immersed in literature of the dammed.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

You Want Busy? Try Retirement

I always laughed at guys like my Uncle Al who told me that retirement just meant having more stuff to do...though he always said at least one could pick the time in which to do all of that stuff. I'm sitting here with hundreds of CDs on spindles...waiting for me to find the jewel cases and get them up for sale on EBay. This is part of a plan devised several years ago to keep me occupied, first, during the summer vacations and now, during "retirement." Not a good plan, as it turns out. They may still be there when our kids go through the house getting rid of "junk" left over from when their parents were still living somewhere other than "The Home."
This week's itinerary:
1. work 35 hours at a 20-hr-per-week part time job.
2. take an afternoon and one whole day flying to Cleveland to visit a new grandson
3. spend 75 minutes of that time sitting in traffic to go three miles in downtown Milwaukee!
4. Take 4 students to a museum for 90 minutes then spend another 45 minutes running with a student athlete who missed an appointment earlier in the day. (he did more running than I did)
5. Offciate volleyball for seven hours, assuring that the rest of Saturday would be spent doing homework reading American Lit and Sociology texts.
6. Read Tony Dungy's book Quiet of the best biographies I have ever read, by the way.
7. Announce at a university soccer match which required me to get up earlier than I would have liked on a Sunday.
8. Rue the fact that the lawn did not get cut and pretend I'll get to it next week...early in the week.
9. Iron a week's worth of clothes...I really hate the fact that I have to wear "real" clothes to work now. No more shorts and T-shirts.
10. Fret over the NY Yankees/Boston Red Sox series and anxiously check ESPN for updates.
11. Swear for twenty minutes at the seeming death of my first iPod.

Too much to do...too little time.
This week will be easier!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

I Hope I Die Before I Get Old

It seems that lately, the old age thing has been reinserting itself into my consciousness...this despite the fact that I do not consider myself "old." Retired, yes, but still gainfully employed. If fact, I even got the September call-up from the Packers to do tours on Friday afternoon. So, I'm still useful. But it has been everywhere, it seems.
It started when I was asked by a professor to speak to his Adulthood and Aging class on what being "older" was like. He even invited me back for future presentations...either because I was stimulating or because he wanted to kill time in class. Eiter way, it started me musing.
Saturday, as is our usual custom, my wife and I went to visit her father in the nursing home. This time it was "Family Day" with outdoor eats and musical entertainment. There was also a religious service, but we didn't stay since Humpy said he'd been to enough services as a child to have some grace in the bank. Anyway, the musical entertainment was what I noticed. There were two guys who played a variety of instruments and performed music that ranged from polkas and cha chas to Bobby Vinton Polish love songs. For the flashy costume changes, they changed from lime green derby hats to straw hats to cowboy hats...ALL WHILE CONTINUING TO PLAY AND SING! Their renditions of "Sixteen Tons" and "Daddy Sang Bass" made my ears crinkle, but nobody else seemed to mind. When I wondered aloud if they ever played any other gigs besides this one (I had seen them last year as well), my wife countered with, "Do you have any idea how many nursing homes there are? We'd LOVE to have these guys at some of the functions put on in our county!" I stood corrected.
The food amounted to one hot dog/brat/burger, a bag of chips and sauerkraut. There was also popcorn, unsalted but with no deadly microwave butter flavor, and a cup of ice cream (no wooden spoon).
There was also a guy walking around in what looked to be a wizard outfit. I figured he'd do some magic tricks for the kids or give away trinkets, but he didn't He just stood in one spot giving the "thumbs up" sign and repositioning his wig. He wierded me out, I will say.
Then, I thought what things would look like if this event were to happen when MY GENERATION will be in the home. Here's the plan:
MUSIC: The Stones. Nobody else will do. We'll all be sitting in our wheelchairs or standing with our walkers, tapping our slipper-encased feet as we sing "Satisfaction." Mick will have forgotten the words, but the women will still scream, and the guys will take up the slack.
FOOD: Pizza and beer. Of course, the pizza will have to have a soft crust even though most of us will still have our teeth. Instead of popcorn, there will be taco dip (mild sauce only), and Little Debbie snack cakes will be the dessert item. Those not interested in the beer will have green tea with a little ginseng root mixed in just to liven up the party.
No wizard, but some guy walking around playing musical armpit (or nose flute) would seem to be about right.
The big finale will be the SupportHose Hop. This will occur after Mick collapes. Someone with an old iPod (me, likely) will crank out tunes fifty or sixty years old made famous by The Clash, The Beastie Boys (we wanna fight for our right to paaarrteee!) and Garth Brooks. All in all, it will be a gala affair, and our kids will leave there saying to each other,
"What the hell?"
For a preview, click on the link below. You'll see what I mean.
"Only the good die young!"

Friday, September 07, 2007

"The Sky is Falling; the Sky is Falling"

Every now and then, things happen that convince me that The Apocalypse is nigh. So many odd, unforeseen things happening in one week make me jittery, and I get the feeling that I'll wake up dead very soon. Some of these have happened in the sports world, some in entertainment, and some just defied explanation. To wit:

1. Kohl's department store refused to give me the senior citizen discount the other day, in spite of the fact that I've gotten it before...that it was the only reason I shopped there on Wednesday (15% is a lot to a person on a fixed opposed to my dog that is just "fixed"). The clerk got angry, I suspect, because I was nowhere near the 62 she said I had to be. We retired people are discriminated against a lot! I think she was just upset because I had proven her wrong on a sale price (fixed income, you know).

2. Microwave popcorn has been discovered to be highly injurious to our lungs. Come on, now! Smoking I can understand, but the chemical that gives microwave corn (we call it "maize") its buttery flavor is deadly? Apparently so, though to this point it has been noted only in factory workers who develop the stuff and some guy who eats 2 or 3 bags a day. Criminey! Next we'll find out that sitting too close to a big screen TV is harmful!

3. Whoopi Goldberg has become a regular on "The View." This is better than Rosie? Not only that, but she defended dogfighting as endemic to certain parts of the that makes it OK. Definitely barking up the wrong tree.

4. Jerry Lewis used a derogatory, three-letter word for homosexuals on his telethon. Jerry, buddy! ON THE TELETHON? This is a sure sign of Armageddon.

5. Michigan lost to Appalachian State in football. Most of us didn't even know there WAS a state named Appalachia in this country.

6. Some Vanessa chick from "High School Musical" has nude photos posted on the internet. This is a Disney production, in case you hadn't noticed...almost as popular as American Girl stuff; and now one of the stars has gone full frontal (according to the Enquirer) on the 'net? Jiminy Crickets!!!

7. Someone actually laughed out loud today when I commented about the driving rain: "It was raining cats and dogs out there. I know because I just stepped in a poodle."

The end is definitely in sight, and we'll know for sure if the Eagles beat the Packers this Sunday.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Alexander Kuzmin For President

Is anyone besides me tired of the same old rhetoric spewed out like so much factory pollution from potential presidential candidates? With more than a year to go before the election, I've had it. I'm throwing all my weight behind Alexander Kuzmin for the top job in this country in '08.
Forget for the moment that he's 33 which makes him ineligible to be president anyway. Disregard the fact that he's not a native-born American which also precludes his election; in fact, he's a gol' darn Rooski, for heaven's sake. However, in case you haven't found out yet, the Cold War is over, and even though dismantling the erstwhile Soviet bloc has resulted in poor economic and political policies, Kusmin is one guy who I could readily support for the White House.
He has political experience: he's been the mayor of Megion, a town of 54,000 in Siberia 1200 miles north of Moscow, for over a year. He's in charge of the region that produces more oil than the rest of Russia combined which already makes him a viable candidate since we could get oil without fighting for it. But all that aside, he's a guy who gets things done. His list of forbidden statements has made him my guy. His subordinates are NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES allowed to say, "I don't know" or "I can't." They are eligible to be fired under such circumstances. Also banned are the following: ""It's not my job"; "What can we do?"; "There is no money"; "It's impossible"; "I was sick/away on vacation"; and, my personal favorite: "I'm having lunch." There are twelve such banned statements hung in a frame next to his desk, and woe to he or she who utters the profane.
For Kuzmin, it's all about helplessness or perceived helplessness. His area is booming with the oil trade, but housing is still substandard, and everyone wanted to simply shrug away the blame. He has forced the issue and made everyone accountable. Can you imagine what kind of idyllic life we'd have in this country if everyone were made accountable for his or her actions? No more missing 900,000 weapons shipped to foreign countries; no more politicians ripping the gay community and then being "outed"; no more cheap imports with lead paint just to make a buck; no more blaming other people for our children's misbehavior and coddling professional athletes who don't want to be role models. No more reality TV like Kid Nation (or Kid Nation 2 currently being cast!)Wow! This could be an even greater country than it is. I know I backed Kinky Friedman in Texas, and he lost. Kuzmin may not have as good a chance as Alfred E. Neuman (my usual choice), but by gosh, we need somebody like him running this place though, truth be told, I won't move to Siberia if we get the same old, same old in '08.
I wouldn't even be surprised.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Nectar Debunked...Somewhat

My old buddy Karl, the "Man on the Street" for a radio show I used to do, always proclaimed Sundrop soda was the best soft drink made. "Nectar of the gods" he called it until we got into a lengthy discussion (lasting several weeks!) about the grammatical correctness of his appellation. See, by definition, "nectar" is the drink favored by the gods on Mount Olympus. My contention was that he was being redundant in his description much like the idiots that say "and et cetera." My point is that he was saying that Sundrop was "the drink of the gods of the gods." Eventually, he caved in to my logic and simply called it "nectar." Now, I find out that there is more caffeine in Sundrop than in almost any other soft drink. No wonder the Trojan War took so long: the gods were all amped on Sundrop!
Diet Pepsi Max was the winner in the "most-caffeine-per-12oz.-serving" contest with 69mg. of caffeine. Remember, this is 12 ounces, not the 20oz. containers our kids guzzle! Compare this to Diet Pepsi with 36mg and regular Pepsi which contains a measly 28 mg. of caffeine.
Diet Sundrop contains 69mg. of caffeine as well, and regular Sundrop weighs in at 63 mg.
Diet Mountain Dew and regular Mountain Dew both contain 55mg of caffeine, but only in this country. Strangely enough, that brand has NO caffeine included when sold outside this country. Now THERE'S something to ponder.
It's factual: of the ten soft drinks containing caffeine sold in the U.S. nine of them are of the diet variety: a legal way to speed ones metabolism, I suspect. Of course, there remains the theory that diet sodas also increase the appetite as well...
Coffee drinkers, who have long been pilloried for massive caffeine ingestion, fared only slightly better than soda drinkers. According to the USDA study referred to here, one teaspoon of instant coffee yields 57mg of caffeine. No word on regularly brewed coffee.
Coke drinkers can celebrate a little, since Diet Coke came in at 46.5mg. of caffeine, slightly more than Diet Sunkist orange pop. (yes, it has caffeine NOT juice) Regular Coke contains 34.5mg. of caffeine.
Thus, the cola wars will continue; for Karl and me, however, it's still Sundrop.