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.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

4-5-3...No, It's Not An Odd Double Play

Brandon game

I'll admit that it was a LONG time ago that I was enrolled as a student-athlete in college. I think it was shortly after Dr. Naismith cut the bottom out of the peach basket that I began my illustrious career at Kansas State Teacher's College (the school was so enamored of my presence, they changed the name right after I graduated to Emporia State U.) Anyway, like everyone in those days, I took four years to graduate from college with an actual degree. Having added a second major halfway through, I was forced to take more than 20 credits my last two semesters in order to get out in the requisite four years and avoid the shame of being a slacker...back when that WAS shameful! A full-time load in those days was 16 credits, and most people I knew generally took 18 each semester. It still seemed to leave plenty of free time for my non-athlete dorm mates, though there was no Playstation, Guitar Hero or social networking sites like Facebook to further distract them, and cell phones were but a science fiction anomaly like space stations. What happened?
It seems that somewhere between 1972 and now, a college degree burdened students with five years of mostly tedious lectures and group projects in which at least one idiot refused to be productive and still wanted to get credit with the group. Some have even begun to stretch that into five and a half years though I don't understand why...maybe someone else is paying. But looming like a spectre over the horizon: the three-year degree! Imagine the shock waves this would create! The latest school to propose this radical idea is tiny (I suspect) Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York. Publicists for the school indicate that such an innovative idea could save students a minimum of $40,000! I'm thinking, "Wow! I don't think I spent that much for my bachelor's degree and master's degree COMBINED! And it turns out that this is what ONE YEAR costs: tuition of $32,500 and room and board of 9 grand. That must be some education. Of course, according to the college, the program would be available to only a few students:"the ones who graduate from high school college-ready." Ouch! There's a shot across the bow of high schools everywhere.
This is by no means the first program to attempt this. Upper Iowa University has had such a program on the books for five years; sadly, though, only five students have attempted the rigor of the 3-year program, and none have completed it in that amount of time.
That's why Brandon Jennings is so smart. The NCAA prohibits high schoolers from being drafted these days (having seen how disatrous that was for Kobe and LeBron!), so would-be pros are being forced to attend a year of college...not to graduate, mind you...just to get a year older. Jennings outsmarted everyone and signed for big bucks to play professionally in Italy. However, his paychecks have been highly irregular in their timing, and I'm not sure he'd be a poster child for mass migration of high schoolers, but at least he's getting paid instead of taking up space in a classroom...leaving more room and instructor contact for those five-year students, most of whom probably view the state of the economy as one more reason to go right to graduate school...though probably not a Hartwick College.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What To Sacrifice?

Even those of us not living in N'awlins know that tomorrow is Ash Wednesday...not that I'm walking around, baring my chest, drinking myself into a stupor and strangling myself with beaded necklaces in preparation for the austeriety that is Lent. You may not even believe in the "I must sacrifice something for 40 days before Easter" ritual. Really, it's something like the reverse of New Year's resolutions but with a drop-dead date. On Easter, we can all return to our heathenly (?) ways. Somehow, it's easier if we know there's going to be an end to it. Oh, we know there will be an end to the New Year's resolutions,too, (usually within a week), but that's NOT a good thing. In fact, it may just be the REASON we deprive ourselves for 40 days. And, I must say, it's far better than wearing a hair shirt.
My sweetie once gave up Starbucks frapaccino for Lent, and it was NOT a happy sight. "I'm NOT addicted," she would snarl every day; through incredible willpower, she managed to hold out the requisite number of days, hours and minutes, but I swear we were at a 24-hour grocery store at the crack of midnight on Easter morning. We (that's the editorial "we") awaited the traditional stone rolling celebration in highly-caffeinated bliss.
I'm not usually one to give up things. I figure my dirt-poor childhood deprived me of 'way more than the average person, so I'm maintaining my regimen just to try to catch up. I have, however, run across a novel idea: it seems like many people in the blogosphere have decided to give up Facebook for Lent!
Now, this is an interesting concept, but is it possible? Is there a Facebookers Anonymous to help with a step plan? It IS, after all, addicting. If you think the idea may have some merit, here are some nicorette-like substitutes to try:

1. Walk up to people, poke them in the side and walk away with no explanation.

2. Make a list of 25 things which describe you then put it in your neighbors' mailboxes. See how long it takes them to call the police.

3. Write down all the names of people you hope never to see again.

4. Call your friends on the (gasp!) telephone just to hear their voice inflections. Also, no group to ONE person at a time.

5. Make a list, albeit a short one, of all the people who really give a *#@! about you, and send them an actual card expressing your happiness in their friendship.

6. Start a blog in which you can do all the things you've done on Facebook without the guilt of having everyone read it (since very few people will think you're cool enough to have a blog, anyway).

Don't blame me if none of these is effective. It's YOUR got yourself hooked, and now you have to live with it...and live with all your friends knowing about it!

See you on Easter!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Ken Mink Is No Bobby Riggs


As I continue to slide down the slippery slope of aging, I notice that I can't work as hard (though it feels harder), and recovery is taking longer and longer. No amount of Powerade (no Gatorade due to high-fructose corn syrup), Gu or Powerbars is going to change that...but maybe I'm just too young: older than Bobby Riggs in his chauvinist heydey but much younger than Ken Mink, the latest athlete to have his career short-circuited by failing to do the right thing.
You remember Bobby Riggs if you were around in 1973. He had been a world champion tennis player in 1939 when he was but a lad of 16, but by age 55, he was a mere shadow of his former self. Still craving the competitive edge, he was said to hustle players all the time by playing holding onto a chair and making ridiculous bets. His high point came in the famous "Battle of the Sexes" in which he challenged Billie Jean King, then the world's best female player, to a match in order to prove that men were,indeed, superior. At the height of the feminist movement, this was a HUGE story. Riggs had already beaten Margaret Court, but she was a fading star. King was the real deal at age 29, and getting far less in prize money than were the men in the same tournaments.
More than 30,000 people paid to see the match in the Houston Astrodome, won by King 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. Anyway, Riggs got the publicity and went out in something of a blaze of glory. Ken Mink will just be going out.
Earlier this year, Mink made headlines when he suited up for the Roane State(TN) Community College. He had played last in the 1956-1957 season as a freshman at Lees (KY) Junior College, but his career was cut short when he was expelled from school for being unjustly (according to Mink--all other potential witnesses are dead) accused of soaping the coach's office and filling his shoes with shaving cream. Nobody was laughing, especially the college president who expelled him from school. What, no double secret probation? Apparently, his scoring average was not enough to keep him on campus (purportedly 13 ppg).
So, when he walked on this year and made the team at age 73, it was big news. He supposedly could ball a little, but nobody was going to accuse him of being a ringer. His goal was to score in double figures...for the year. Prior to being declared ineligible, he had scored one-fifth of the total in a contest against Hiwassee...later to be expunged via forfeit for using an ineligible player: Mink. Ageism rears its ugly head? Not really.
According the the NJCAA, the ruling body for such institutions, Mink had failed to complete the required number of credits during the previous semester. Failing a Spanish class, he tried in mid-semester to enroll in a sociology course on ANOTHER campus to make up the credits! Whoa! is this Florida State or what? Nobody told Ken about the Drop/Add dates which are strictly enforced?
His excuse? "Not my fault! The schools in question screwed up. I'm legal. The coach did everything right, and I did everything right." Yeah, except pass Spanish and read the school's policy on timing to drop and add classes.
It would seem that some things don't change over 50 years.
Sorry, Ken; even septagenarians have to follow the rules.
Game over.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Another Brick in the Wall

Let's see how long it takes you to figure out THAT reference!
I think most people believe that the public education system in this country has begun to lag far behind most of the rest of the civilized world. I hear complaints that we spend too much time and energy on the arts and physical education and not enough on math and science. Kids don't know history, geography or civics...there's not enough money, teachers make TOO much money...taxes are too high. The litany is endless...and, in many cases, justified. But here's how difficult it's gotten in the classroom:
Wauwatosa East school district has a policy that prohibits sending text messages while in class...supposedly learning something. Many schools have a policy similar to that. Rules must have consequences if not followed...we all get that. I know of one teacher who would take offending students' phones and post their names on the board in a sort of "put them in the stocks" justice. My favorite moment occurred when an industrial arts teacher, let's just call him "Duane," took a kid's phone and sawed it in half on a band saw in front of the class! When the student angrily announced that he was going to call his mother, "Duane" gave him the two pieces of the phone and said, "Go ahead." This was a GREAT story until we all found out that it was a staged event and that the kid was in on it. But, back to 'Tosa East:
A 14-yr.-old girl was found sending text messages in the classroom recently (though not "sexting" as is the current rage). The teacher demanded the phone, and the student denied even having a phone, not once but several times. Knowing better than to get into a "stinking match with a skunk," the teacher called the "resource officer" who demanded the phone, again drawing stout denials from the student with regard to possession. (all the while, SOME students were probably trying to learn). Being male, the officer could not search the offender so he verified that she was, indeed texting during class by interviewing classmates (depriving them of learning time); at this point, he summoned a female officer who searched the youngster and found the phone hidden in her clothes in the "proximity of her buttocks." EEWWWW! AS a result of the actions of the student, she was cited for disoprderly conduct, fined $298 and suspended for a week from learning opportunities. Subsequently, she was cited for trespassing twice during the next two days for being on campus. AND ALL OF THIS INVOLVED ONE KID IN A SUBURBAN HIGH SCHOOL! For TEXTING! Imagine what else must be happening. And when the phone manufacturer sees the free publicity it got from being named in the article, it will probably pay the fine and make a commercial.
A poll of readers in the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinal asked readers whether they felt the suspension was justified. Predictably, 83% said "yes." Of course, only people who could read would be able to a) read the article and b) read the poll question and respond to it, so it's not surprising that the vote leaned heavily in favor of punishment. I would surmise that few respondents were high school students.
My point is that the distractions in the educational setting have LONG passed boy/girl flirting and macho posturing. Metal detectors, drug-sniffing dogs, police officers and lockdowns have become all too common.Private schools can somewhat avoid some of the pitfalls by being selective about the type of student they "allow" to enroll, but I'd bet they are not squeaky clean, either.
If you agree that texting in class isn't such a big deal, then you must concur that not paying attention and failing to take an eduicational opportunity is acceptable. In that case, I hope you can read the article and take the poll.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Green Bay or Paris? No Difference


If you can let go of your sides for just a moment and regain your breath after a few mirthful moments, you'll see how right I am. One does not have to travel the world over to find that all great cities have certain things in common. Let it be known that I have not actually traveled to Paris (though I was fitted with a cast a couple of times). I've seen all the Inspector Clouseau movies, and I've been to Las Vegas to see the mini-Paris (get an eyeful of that tower! I wonder what they call it?) and I paid to have one of my children visit the city so I think I'm minimally qualified to make some broad statements as well as one very specific one. Here goes:
Every city of any note will have famous architecture, no? oui!
In Paris, there's that famous tower, the arch that the Germans marched under (the French would be speaking German now if it were not for us, though I'd give a shout out to the Resistance fighters ANY day!)and a renowned museum which features some paintings and famous furniture.
In Green Bay, we have one of the most famous structures of all time, rivalling the Roman Coliseum: of course, I'm referring to Lambeau Field. 'nuff said. The Neville Public Museum, the National Railroad Museum and the Oneida Nation Museum are all first-rate, and on Thursdays, the Neville is FREE after six p.m. Try THAT in Paris.
Strolling along the Seine in Paris is truly a lovers' delight as barges and sightseeing boats traverse the waterways offering glimpses of opulence and adventure.
Following the bike path along the Fox River in Green Bay, past the new condos and Titletown Brewery, one might by chance spot an ocean-going transport unloading coal, evincing nostalgia for the Louis L'Amour days of the tramp steamer. Dining on The Foxy Lady for an evening river cruise is about as romantic as anything one could imagine.Just don't look too closely at the water in either city!
And speaking of dining, Paris is known for its fine cuisine with haughty chefs, baguettes and an assortment of wines and cheeses designed to delight any palate. I'll admit, it sounds exotic, but can it compete with The Golden Corral, brats on the grill, cheese curds, string cheese or booyah at a firemen's picnic...with any of fifty different beers to imbibe? I think not.
And, finally, both cities have made a concerted effort to go "green" with regard to transportation. In Paris, the JC Decaux advertising company paid for the priviledge of advertising via bicycle rentals throughout the city. Some 150,000 bikes were spread throughout, and, for a minimal rental, travelers could simply pick them out of the rack and deposit them in a different rack around the city when they were finished riding. Statisitcs show that the bikes were used more than 42 million times.
While Green Bay's system was not so involved: refurbished bikes, painted green and spread throughout the city, available for free with the stipulation that they be returned to a designeated spot for the next rider...the results, sadly, were about the same.
By this time, over half of the bikes in Paris have disappeared: some have reappeared as far away as Eastern Europe and Africa; others have been destroyed by YouTubers performing hazardous stunts (titled "velib extreme").
Green Bay's "green" transportation suffered a similar fate, and in less than a year, few if any of the bikes remained, and many were damaged badly. Most were not returned to their designated spots, and the program suffered a major setback.
Supposedly, other great cities like London, San Francisco and Singapore are embarking on similar programs to ease congestion, enhance health and give locals and visitors alike a serene, inexpensive and "green" mode of transportation to visit the great architecture, thrill to the museums and sample great cuisine each city has to offer.
If only we could keep the vandals in the history books and not on our great cities' streets.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The UFC Couple: I Give Them 4 Months


Valentine's Day has slipped past us again, leaving "The Most Dangerous Day of the Year" yet to surmount. One down, one to's still just over the horizon, looming inexorably like the 500-lb gorilla who, of course, continues to sit wherever he wishes. Of course, I'm talking about prom season, seen as yet another springboard into the pool of romance...well, lust, at least. Andy and Anna can tell us something about where THAT can lead: straight to jail.
It seems as if Andy Somora and Anna Pastuszwska of Lakeside, Michigan, got married recently. True love conquers all, it would seem. Their reception was held in a local art gallery, and promised to be an affair worthy of the society pages. Unfortunately, it was worthy only of the police blotter!
It seems that the party following the vows got a bit rambunctious...if you can call a lamp thrown through a window (remember, this is an art gallery) merely rambunctious. The stunned owner, failing to quell the revelers, finally called in reinforcements in the form of 14 departments' worth of policemen who arrived to see at least one guest swilling from a vodka bottle. The groom was so incensed that the authorities were trying to put a damper on his most memorable day that he began to get abusive, and, as you might imagine, got tasered for his troubles. As a corollary, his new bride was hanging on to him and got the smae shocking treatment: just before both were hauled off to the hoosegow. Allowed out the next day, it took the modern-day Bonnie and Clyde just ONE DAY to resume the altercation with the defenders of law...and were promptly tasered and incarcerated again! There is no truth to the rumor, started by me, that the UFC folks were trying to book the pair in a cage match. I'd say, the future looks dim for these two. Of course, brief marriages are always making the news.

Pamela Anderson/Kid Rock: 4 months
Renee Zellweger/Kenny Chesney: 4 months
Nicholas Cage/Lisa Marie Presley: 4 months
And, less we miss the world record (unless Dennis Rodman has it)
Britney Spears/Jason Allen Alexander: 55 hours.

However, it's just possible that these two can make it, and I hope they do. Dr. Phil-type people always say that couples should feel free to express emotion and that keeping things bottled up is cause for concern.
Good luck, you madcap kids!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Scratch Valentine...Bring On Raphael

"I shot an arrow into the air..."

How about the St. Raphael's Day Massacre on February 14th, 1929? Doesn't quite have the same ring, does it, but, in truth, it may be more accurate. Sad to say, the belief in what was once held sacrosanct has dwindled into doubt. A-Rod used steroids, Phelps smoked pot (hey, who didn' the 70's?), and Jennifer Figge swam oly about 250 miles of Atlantic Ocean instead of the 2,100 miles she claimed this week to have swum. Is absolutely nothing founded on reliability anymore. At least we could count on St. Christopher...oh, no...that's right: the Catholic Church says he's probably not a saint, either. OK, then, St Valentine, the guy responsible for my meeting my sweetie by shooting me with that cute little bow and arrow...uh, not so much.
Word has it that it's really NOT St. Valentine who is the patron saint of those looking for love! This according to Clare Ward, a spokesperson for the Catholic Church in Britain's Enquiry Office. It seems that notion, too, is the stuff of legend. St. Valentine is the patron of those who have already found a soul mate...St. Raphael is the patron saint of those who are looking for the right person. So, how did this get so mixed up? Did he invent the candy heart (said to be made to resemble an upside down...uh...lady's bottom. Seriously, flip it...doesn't it look like yard art?)
It seems that, while in prison and just prior to his execution in 269, Valentine passed a note to his jailer's daughter which purportedly cured her of her blindness. The note was supposedly signed "From your Valentine." There was nothing even remotely romantic about it...maybe that's why he was executed shortly thereafter: she was expecting diamonds and got a blindness cure. There's gratitude. No soul mate, and soon after, no cellmate, either!
Anyway, here's the deal with Raphael: he helped arrange a marriage for Tobias to a woman named Sarah. While perhaps not so notable, the hidden fact is that this Sarah person had been engaged SEVEN times previously, and ALL SEVEN of her betrothed died on the eve of their proposed nuptials. The fact that Raphael was able to keep the guy alive through the whole ordeal qualified him for sainthood, apparently, and cemented his rep as the patron saint of hooking people up. Seriously, though, how smart was this Tobias guy? Seven guys had already died, and he wanted to try lucky number eight? Wouldn't YOU be a little skittish? I mean, love is blind and all, but stupid as well?
This, of course, throws the whole Valentine's Day thing into confusion. Of course, I read about this from the'll notice the domestic newspapers were filled with other, less important things like a stimulus package, Brett's re-retirement, and a woman who lived in a shoe with so many kids...
At least Spring Training started today. That will allow me to forget this romance thing altogether. Play Ball!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Not Into U

I had to laugh yesterday: a columnist went on a rant about how Valentine's Day was nothing but a commercial ripoff concocted by greedy businesses trading on the guilt of those with significant others. Among his major targets was the idea of gifting with flowers; it seems roses were the ONLY acceptable flower to women, and if a person at work got some, there was a question concerning what the guy must have done wrong in order to send flowers. Actually, there was a whole litany of things that women would immediately infer when either they or someone they knew got flowers. I had always reasoned that they'd be dead in a week or so; thus, I don't think I ever sent flowers more than a couple of times, and those for REALLY significant remembrances (which I've since forgotten). Also, buying flowers could get to be expensive, and I didn't want the pressure of having to disgorge huge chunks of veritable wasted money every so often. Gifts like a Blu-Ray disc player would be more my style: useful...something everyone would enjoy, yet still a gift.
The whole thing got me ruminating, though, about lost love and love gone wrong. Imagine my surprise when I searched the internet for music specifically dedicated to the "jilt" songs of yesterday and today and found dozens of sites devoted to heartbreak and anguish. Sites such as,,,,, and even one just for men who've been dumped: Presumably, there's one for women as well, but I was already exhausted so I simply tried my best to compile my list of "favorite" breakup songs.
When I realized that 35% of the people in the 35-54 yr old age group have already been divorced, there's a lot of heartbreak out there. Those of us married more than 35 years have practically NO chance of divorce, according to statistics, and today's newlyweds have a 40% chance of not making it all the way. Daunting statistics, but music gets us through a lot. My list is not as eclectic as it could be. Depending on your choice in music genre, your list will be a bit different. I'd love to hear about it.
Here's my list, in no particular oder:

The Tracks of My Tears I sobbed to the Johnny Rivers version, but I think Smokey Robinson and the Miracles did it, too. (OK I will admit this is my #1, all-time, it-hurts-so-bad-I-can't-feel-my-liver song. I still have the record somewhere, worn out and tear-stained).

This Diamond Ring from Gary Lewis and the Playboys reminds me of just what wusses we guys can be. "Here, take this diamond since it means nothing anymore" is the message of the poor, lonely guy who's just lost everything.

Glad To See You Go by the Ramones. I get the feeling, however, that he's not REALLY all that glad, just blustering for appearances sake. Just like a guy.

Hurt"by Nine Inch Nails and covered in 2002 by Johnny Cash. There may not be another more depressing song in the universe.

For country music fans old and young, there are many, many choices. My favorites are
D-I-V-O-R-C-E and about five others from Tammy Wynette who had her own issues with George Jones and love. I can just hear the pain in her voice.

Friends in Low Places by Garth Brooks is another one of those macho attempts to show up your ex by messing with her new life. Hey, just get over it and get on with it. There's nothing more pathetic than a guy who can't take "it's over" for an answer and continues to hang around like a whipped pup just ASKING for more misery...benn there and done that!

Carrie Underwood looks at it from the distaff side with Before He Cheats, and the Dixie Chicks put out the ultimate get even song with Goodbye Earl. I imagine there were a lot of nervous guys out there when that song came out even though the male-dominated radio airwaves generally refused to play it.

I Hope You're Happy Now is the Elvis Costello contribution to the list while the "other" Elvis gave us Heartbreak Hotel and a host of others.

More recently, Def Leppard had a smash hit with Love Bites, Nazareth scored with Love Hurts, and the J. Geils Band told it like it was with Love Stinks.

Even Beyonce gets into the list with Irreplaceable when she sings, "I could have another you in a minute." Ouch...easy on the ego...just because you CAN doesn't mean it's right! Truth? Let me down easier than that!

Even comedic actors have a dark side when it comes to love. Adam Sandler in The Wedding Singer begs for someone to kill him to avoid the misery that love brings. And, finally, my second favorite: "Wierd" Al Yankovic's One More Minute. Anyone who'd rather clean out bathrooms in Grand Central Station with his tongue than spend one more minute with his ex has really got it bad.

Whew! That's a heavy load for Valentine's Day. To say that this puts pressure on all of us is something of an understatement. Of course, when we fall in love, we expect there to be no bottom to the fall so even when it's upon us, we figure it's an anomaly and go right back to finding it...(country bridge)..."Looking for love in all the wrong places."
Me? I'm an incurable romantic who believes that there is someone out there for EVERYONE. No matter how much pain we feel, there's always The Tracks of My Tears and comfort food.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

It's not that I'm lazy...I consider myself more than industrious most days, but this is just too good to pass on. Apparently, there's a magazine called "Mental Floss" which sounds intriguing. What I've discovered is a blog post detailing why Mr Rogers is the BEST friend ever. Of course, if you don't know who he was (now deceased) ut won't matter. If, however, you or your children sat riveted after "Sesame Street" and/or "The Electric Company" for a journey to his neighborhood, you will love this post:

Monday, February 09, 2009

True Friends Can Spell

Deciding whether or not one's "friends" are true friends or temporary conveniences (for them) isn't always easy. Oh, I suppose there's something on Oprah about it, and I'm certain Dr. Phil has carried on extensively in this area. Advice columnists from Ann Landers to staff writers on "Tiger Beat" (presuming that still exists)have long held forth on the subject of discerning truth from fiction in the friend area. Truth is, I'm not so sure myself, but I have some ideas.
Some basic truths about "true" friends as I see them:
1. A "true" friend keeps in touch.
2. A "true" friend is willing to tell the truth, painful though it might be.
3. A "true" friend understands the hard times one is having and tries to help.
4. A "true" friend gives more than he or she takes in the relationship.
5. A "true" friend is willing to be patient.

So, if we can all at least marginally agree on those particular tenets of friendship, why am I still suspicious of Vince? He seems sincere; he sends me at least three emails a week even if I don't respond; he's taken out television spots just to appeal to ME; he goes to every length to show me what I need to make my life fulfilling; he's willing to give me twice as much as I pay for; no matter how many times I fail to respond, Vince is always there...
entreating me to get a "SHAM WOW." Seriously...
No matter what I don't do or say, my friend Vince is there to assure me how much my life could be enhanced by purchasing a SHAM WOW. He's utterly and passionately convinced that I'll say "Wow!" every time. Is that a friend or what?
Giving me twice the product for the same low price is, indeed, a rarity: only a friend would do that...a "true" friend. He knows I need help with wine stains, pet stains and cola stains, and he's willing to share his knowledge with me even if I'm embarrassed to admit that I stagger around spilling cola and wine and scaring the dog into piddling on the rug. He knows that this fabulous product is not sold in stores so the only way I can redeem myself is through my good friend Vince. What a guy! Absorbing 20 times its weight in water would make ANY product fabulous, and I should get teary-eyed over the fact that Vince is offering it to me, his "true" friend. (and the SHAM WOW would mop those tears right up!)
I have to draw the line somewhere, and, as I often do, I draw the line with regard to correct spelling. When Vince tells me that his product is "...better than a shammy..." I have to turn away, dejected, and begin looking for other "true" friends; a person whom I could consider a "true" friend would know that the word is "chamois" even though its pronunciation belies that spelling.
I'm truly sorry, Vince; I thought it might have been the "real" thing.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Wall

Sorry, Pink Floyd fans, this isn't about music. It is another one of those moments in which I suddenly realize that there is stuff out there (unbeknownst to me) which is absolutely "must-see." The clip noted below is from a BBC program entitled "The Wall," and it portrays Fcaebook as if it were to happen in REAL LIFE! Apparently, the Facebook folks thought it was something of a copyright issue or something, because they took it down. Since this is the web, though, it lives on. Check out the URL and then try to find "The Wall" on your BBC channel.

Friday, February 06, 2009

She Really Ought to Blog

How would you like to be 800 miles southwest of Anchorage, Alaska, right on the Bering see (looking at Russia, I would imagine), trying to make life interesting? Oh sure, there's the footage from "The Most Dangerous Catch" that is filmed on fishing boats from there, but that's a bit too adventuresome for most of us. It seems a logical choice, however, for Jennifer Shockley. After all, she'd been a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon, and she'd trained policemen in Kosovo with the United Nations. It only seems right that she'd end up a police officer in Unalaska, Alaska: a place where recently a person on a bike was stopped who had blood smeared around his mouth and some dripping from his arm. His explanation? His girlfriend was a vampire!

And so it goes for Sgt. Shockley who has the duty of writing the police reports. Her writing style, it seems, has captivated the world. That's right: people from all over the world read her police reports. As you might imagine, they are things of beauty, written with the soul of a literary vagabond and appearing in the Unalaska Advertiser. I can offer no greater tribute than to submit the URL to the "Police Blotter Read Around the World" as it was billed in the Los Angeles Times.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Book 'Em, Dano


More and more of us have read all or portions of the book "1,000 Places to Visit Before You Die." Of course, that has more urgency at my age than for some others, but the idea that travel is a broadening experience is one that has been around since people got too lazy to get a job for a couple of years after finishing school, be it junior high, high school or post-high school. It is accepted in places like Sweden that young people take a year and explore the surrounding world before deciding to settle down to opening a bike repair shop or yoga studio (and I know people who have done both of those things). Of course, for Americans it's a bit more difficult since once can drive for more than a day and not be halfway across the country, depending on where one begins the trek. Americans, though, have caught on to the travel thing, and while few stray from accepted places where English is required, more and more are getting adventurous and heading for uncharted waters, so to speak (NOT the ones off Somalia, I daresay). It is to you that this message is being sent. THERE ARE PLACES WHERE YOU SHOULD NOT VENTURE!
Of course, you know that already: no dark alleys; no wandering off with "teachers" in a foreign country where you know nobody else; no climbing aboard an elephant with no guide in the middle of a foreign jungle; no jumping in a tuk tuk with non-English speakers in hopes of scoring some cashews and Coke; no getting on a boat which will require an outrageous fare both when you get on and before you can, know, stuff everyone knows (and, again, I know people who have done all of these things!). However, I'm talking about places where legal issues can be serious, Turkish prisons and bars in Aruba for high school students aside.
The Los Angeles Times today published an article in which it named the ten places where Americans were arrested most frequently last year...places to avoid like, well, like breaking the law (most of which one only finds out about after being apprehended). In what comes as no real surprise,six of the top thirteen are in Mexico, a country where life is abundantly cheap. But, enough palavering. Here's the list from fewest American arrests to most in the last year. Don't say I didn't warn you.
10. Nuevo Laredo, Mexico
9. Kingston, Jamaica, mon.
8. Dominican Republic (apparently the capital has the same name as the country..?)
7. Nogales, Mexico
6. Tokyo, Japan
5. Nassau, Bahamas
4. Hong Kong (107 Americans arrested last year)
3. Mexico City (142 arrests last year, down from 208 in the previous year)
2. London, England (what the hell? They speak English, for God's sake! Probably still holding a grudge from those couple of wars...NOT the couple win which we saved their butts, though)

And, the number one place you do NOT want to go even for a quick trip...featuring 687 arrests of Americans in the last year...Tijuana, Mexico.
No way, Jose.
Stay safe out there. Go to Iowa this year for your vacation. Or come to Green Bay and visit Lambeau Field...ANYWHERE but Tijuana.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

I'm Not Your Kid's Role Model

The discussion today was why ANYONE would turn down $25 million dollars for playing one season's worth of baseball which Manny Ramirez did this week. To you and me, that's the kind of obscene money we'd do most anything for (like running a companmy into the ground).There was great mystery surrounding exorbitant payments for "entertainers" who, more often than not, make unsavory examples of exemplary human nature. I do believe it was Charles Barkley, but it could have been Ken Griffey, Jr. or almost any other high profile athlete who first denied the role model label. Fact is, they are stuck with it as soon as they strike the fame motherload.
As it is with Jessica Simpson and Michael Phelps these days. Simpson, whose major claim to fame seems to have been her, uh, physical charms, has gone from a size 2 to a size 8 lately, and the media has been howling and snapping photos with reckless abandon. People from all walks of life are flying to her defense and making cryptic comments about debasing a woman's stature, etc. Well, hey, she made a LOT of money by looking a certain way...think folks aren't going to notice and be a tad disappointed when she no longer looks that way, especially now that she might have to depend on actual talent to get by? Understand that for me, people who make a gajillion dollars using no discernible talent really don't rate very highly on my "role model" continuum, but the fact is that the public puts them there whether they want to be or not. So, Ms. Simpson can look forward to being on the cover of every tabloid known to man until she's again a size which time all the tabloids will begin to wonder how she got so thin...bulimia? anorexia? Just ask Oprah how that fat/thin/fat/thin thing goes.
And then there's Phelps: argualbly one of the greatest athletes in the American "hero" and sporting icon. Recent photos show his alleged marijuana use following this past Olympics. The public gasped audibly worldwide. Some rushed to his defense, saying that this was typical adolescent behavior (I mean, he's barely old enough to vote). His public act of contrition swayed some...until we were reminded that following the Olympics in 2004, he got busted for DUI...and promised never to embarrass himself like that again...ever. Feet of clay?
Gary Hall, a former Olympic swimmer, tested positive for reefer following the Olympics and was dropped by Speedo, his sponsoring company. Ironically, both Visa and Speedo are "standing behind" Michael Phelps after his latest brush with the law. Apparently, eight gold medals carries more weight than one might suspect. But, are young kids dropping out of swimming and smoking pot? Unknown. Are would-be starlets continuing to starve themselves or are they becoming "curvier" as a result of the Simpson publicity? Uncertain.
What is certain, however, is that public figures are public figures ALL the time, not just when the camera's the price of fame in a YouTube age. You won't see me there.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Vegas Didn't Have Odds on THIS!

I did not watch the Super Bowl...well, OK, I watched the last ten minutes or so because I was waiting for the new episode of "The Office" to come on. Generally, I don't watch much football though I will more often than not watch a Packers' game: I mean, I work for them after all so I should give them a little love. But the Super Bowl? nah. My theory is this: if 94 million people are doing the same thing at the same time, I don't want to be doing it. I feel more than a little rebellious at the time, but, of course, I've missed some big events by adhering to that policy. To wit:
I missed the famous "wardrobe malfunction" featuring Janet Jackson. Well, I missed it live though there were replays galore (hey, I'm a guy!). All the hilarious commercials are available on the internet now so there's little real reason to watch the game especially when it features two teams in which I'm not really interested. People usually anticipate some kind of excitement or shocking development.
However, this year's shocker wasn't the way the game ended...not even close. This year's "malfunction" made Janet Jackson's quasi-covered breast nearly unmentionable. This year's contest featured an interruption following Larry Fitzgerald's second touchdown of the fourth quarter with a 30-second interruption from "Club Jenna" a porn channel sponsored by Comcast. The only thing that stopped most of us from seeing it was that it was aired solely in the Phoenix area. Comcast offcials are claiming to be aghast that something like that could happen...right! And I could see London Bridge in Arizona, too!
Fact is, Comcast makes a huge pile of money with porn channels, and it would appear that they have just gotten 30 seconds worth of "free" airtime in the Phoenix area...during the Super Bowl! Think of the millions they saved! Also consider the free publicity that's sizzling all over the internet and in print media as we write/read. Believe me, this was no accident. In case you're curious but not interested enough to search the internet for the video, let's just say that "the full Monty" just about covers the action...supposedly.
Awaiting such developments will not convince me to watch more football, though...this in spite of the fact that I am a guy.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

It's NOT New York, but Still...

DA, DUM DUM DUM. I always loved the opeing note to the "Dragnet" theme! "This is the always began. This is MY city:
Policemen mopping? Soirees in town? Quelling TXTing? Yes, it was another busy Saturday night here in Titletown (no matter what the people in Valdosta, Georgia, have to say...or ESPN, for that matter.)
I have to admit that I'm something of a newspaper junkie. I can't explain my need to read except that for a solid year of unemployment I checked the paper everyday. Now, I read at least five newspapers a day as well as monitor the BBC news on the internet. Sometimes, it's fascinating, and sometimes, it's just depressing. The fact remains that I'm generally in the know about things far sooner than most people; as a result, I'm probably one of the few in town that is well-versed on crime in the city.
Back when I was an alderperson in Algoma, a rural town adjacent to Lake Michigan, I got to read the complete police report before every meeting, and it was often interesting though crime was not that rampant, at least back then. And here in Green Bay, we have soirees and police officers don't mind doing a little mopping. Here's the skinny, directly from today's local paper:

"DISTURBANCE: A party in the 1500 block of North Road quieted down about 5 a.m. Jan. 24 after officers talked to a few people leaving the soiree."
HELLO! A soiree, as defined by the dictionary, is a word coming from both French and Latin and means "an evening party or social gathering, especially held for a particular purpose." I'm not sure 5 a.m. qualifies as "evening," but the fact that it was noted as a "soiree" by the beat writer gives it a certain flair, to be sure. Somebody must have been nored at the crime desk!

#2 on the crime beat:

"DISTURBANCE: Officers helped mop up a disturbance at Anduzzi's, 1992 Holmgren Way early Jan. 25. The men involved were trying to leave as officers arrived but were stopped before leaving the area. Both men were provided assistance getting home."
How about that? Cleaning up AND providing a taxi service. You KNOW it's a small city now!

#3 And, finally:

"HARRASSMENT: Officers quelled harrassing text messages to a woman early Jan. 24 with a verbal warning for the man sending them."

Now, I'm not saying that these are typical of what the officers face every week. A lot of what they deal with is dangerous, and I truly appreciate their efforts at keeping me safe; but the knowledge that we're having soirees here definitely has given me a new perspective on my city.