Thursday, January 31, 2008

In a Field Near Bazaar; The Knute Rockne Memorial

March 31st, 1931, a young Easter Heathman heard what he thought was the sound of automobiles on the crude country roads of Chase County Kansas. Instead he was a witness to a tragic event that came to change his life until his death this week at 90.

The local telephone operator soon called and reported that a plane apparently had crashed near their farm. Easter Heathman, his dad and brothers went out to look for the site. 3 miles southwest of the small town of Bazaar they saw the wreckage of a plane, most of it buried in the soft ground.

They found the bodies, 8 in total, and helped load them into a hearse. One of them was a legend in his own time, Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne.

The Fokker F-10 Super Universal was one of the most advanced planes of its time. But its flaw was wooden construction. The laminated wood was subject to water damage and indeed water loosened the glue that held the wing spar together. The wing fluttered, causing the plane to go into an uncontrolled spin. Not only did the crash claim Rockne and set off a tide of mourning, it changed the way aircraft were constructed forever.

Heathman became the caretaker of the site and guided many Notre Dame alum, Rockne fan, biographer and the curious over the years. The site is not public, it is on private property and arrangements had to be made in advance.

One fine summer afternoon probably 1992-1993 I was in Chase County on business, working for a company that had operations there. I wanted to see the place just for the heck of it. The manager of the property there was a long time Chase Countian, knew everyone in the county (easy as there were less than 3,000 total) and soon arranged a tour for me the next day.

Heathman was in late 70's or so, but still agile and friendly. The site is in a remote pasture, flat as all can see, stark and windy. A large stone monument stands with the names of the victims. He recounted the crash for me, much as I wrote it above. It was clear that 60 years later the event still haunted him. He told me then he still could find tiny pieces of glass and wood from the place from time to time. Treating the place with care and reverence, he allowed me to gaze and listen to him recount the fateful day.

I am sure the monument will stand, someone else will ensure that visitors can make the trek to the somewhat remote site. Most will be content with the new sign that is at the Kansas Turnpike Bazaar rest stop. But without Heathman, a connection has been lost, it can't be the same now.

Glad I played "hooky" from work for a couple of hours that day to hear first hand the day Notre Dame football, and aviation changed forever in a tall grass field.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Musical Revoultion

1908 was a watershed year for composer Arnold Schoenberg. His wife had ran off with a painter and had a torrid summer affair. She came back to Arnold and her lover burned his paintings and committed suicide. While his wife was off on her tumultuous affair, Schoenberg put the final touches on the song cycle “The Book of the Hanging Gardens”. As the cycle progressed, tonality slipped away, chord progressions lost their roots. Dissonances remained unresolved. The Second String Quartet, finished after his wife returned, similarly took a more tonally ambiguous path.

Quietly a musical revolution had begun. By the mid 20’s, Schoenberg had created his own tonal system based on the 12 chromatic steps. Under the system known as serialism, music became harsh, dissonant, and rigid to many. To some, it was melody and sound unleashed from the bonds of tonality. To others, it was just a different leash.

Schoenberg’s musical revolution was much like a political revolution. First came the battle with the establishment, sometimes open and bloody, sometimes covert as hearts and minds were won over. Then the final victory after a long struggle. In this case was the final victory the capitulation of Stravinsky to 12 tone music??

As with many revolutions, the victorious oppressed soon become the oppressor and orthodoxy sets in. How many times have we read or even experienced the total rejection and oppression of a musical style other than serialism in schools especially in the 50s and 60s?

A revolution can end violently as it began or can slowly erode and collapse under its own weight. Some may say serialism has run its course and collapsed under its rigidity. I tend to think it still has some life in it.

I do not think the final chapter in this revolution has been written. The revolutionaries in this case have mellowed, allowed some glasnost and perestroika and note that even some of the most tonal and melodic new pieces still benefit from the liberation from strict tonality.

Maybe a new bloody era will come, maybe serialism will peter out completely. Who knows; music sure will never be the same as it was before 1908.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The King of the Blues: B. B. King

Memphis, Tennessee sometime late 1996. My boss at the time scheduled a regional meeting for all of us in his favorite city. The meeting was short, the parties long, as was his style.

We were cruising Beale St after some fine ribs at the Rendezvous and some fun at the Rum Boogie Cafe. We hit B.B. Kings' Place and settled in to listen to the band. A commotion at the back caught our attention. In came B.B. himself. About 72 then but still vital. He waved to us all, sat down and sang and played with the band for about 45 minutes or so and then waved a hearty bye and quickly left. Soon the waitress brought us a round of drinks we did not order. "On the house from Mr. King", she explained. We raised a toast to the "King of the Blues".

B.B. King came to Kansas City last night and I had the chance to see him perform at an 80th birthday bash for the restored Uptown Theatre, just down the street from the Palace. Opening for King was the Brody Buster Trio.

I had not heard Brody Buster before last night's opener and after set in the Uptown's bar. Buster is a 20 something local white boy that can blow a mean blues harp with the best of them (for the uninitiated a blues harp is also known as a harmonica), rivals King on the guitar and possesses a fine blues voice. He was quite impressive and I hope to hear more from him. He apparently started the harp at a young age and has quite the credentials as a blues man.

Anyway, the night was King's and he did not disappoint. Most of his favorites made an appearance including "Let the Good Times Roll", "Rock Me Baby" and of course "The Thrill Is Gone". Quite a bit of the evening (a little too much despite being entertaining) was devoted to his stories of his Mississippi home town and his devotion to the ladies (he supposedly has at least 15 children). Funny and charming, but I longed to just hear him coax some fine tunes from his beloved guitar "Lucille". At 82 and ailing (he is diabetic and must have some vision problems as he was helped on and off the stage and once quipped "I can't see you but I can sure hear you!"), he did play and entertain for almost 2 hours.

I left completely satisfied that I had again seen a legend, maybe not in his prime but sure with a lot of life left in him. As his song went "I am a blues man, and a good man".

Damn straight B.B., and thanks for the drink!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Last Flight of the Gimli Glider

It was one of the most famous or more likely infamous Canadian aircraft ever flown. In many ways just one of hundreds of Boeing 767-200 aircraft built since 1982, C-GAUN is special and will always be better known as the "Gimli Glider". As of this moment, C-GAUN is in Tucson AZ, on her way to retirement and an uncertain fate in Mojave, CA.

Flight 143 was a routine flight for Air Canada on the regular route from Montreal to Edmonton. Just 61 passengers paid the fare that day, July 23, 1983, barely 1/3 of the plane's capacity; plenty of room for them to stretch out and enjoy the flight.

C-GAUN had reached a comfortable cruise altitude of 41,000 ft when, just about over Red Lake, Ontario, warning lights indicated a fuel problem in one engine that soon shut down. A second warning followed indicating another fuel problem. Then an ominous warning, all engines down. A cascade of systems failed as the plane ran out of power as the two engines failed. Only a few battery powered emergency instruments remained. The crew initially declared an emergency and diverted to Winnipeg. With both engines out, it was not likely that the plane would make it to Winnipeg.

One of the pilots was thankfully experienced in gliders and knew enough basics of glider flying to keep the now silent airliner in the air. He was able to glide the big Boeing towards Gimli Industrial Park Airport, a former airbase at Gimli, Manitoba. There was one problem with this; the former RCAF Station Gimli was now a public airport and one of its runways was no longer in use for aircraft. On July 23, 1983 the airport was swarming with people for a sports car race being held on the now decommissioned runway. You can imagine the spectacle the race fans got that day!

Incredibly, the crew landed the plane on the runway, albeit the nose gear collapsed as it was not sufficiently locked in place, with no one killed or seriously injured either on the plane or on the ground. Adding insult to injury, the Air Canada maintenance crew being sent to Gimli from Winnipeg ran out of gas along the highway.

C-GAUN was repaired and flown out a few days later. She flew for Air Canada for 25 more years. Air Canada and the government, as is usual in these cases, investigated everything and blamed everyone. The plane simply had ran out of gas due to improper measuring of the fuel load. A recent conversion from English to Metric measurements had compounded the problem.Corporate training was found to be lacking in many areas, including how to handle an aircraft with no power. Many policies and training procedures were changed for the better after the investigation.

Despite being a blot on the safety record, the event and the plane became a celebrated story in aviation, lucky with a happy ending. C-GAUN became the most followed and photographed plane in Air Canada's fleet. She performed her last revenue service on January 8, 2008.

There is talk of selling her and even placing in a museum. Most likely, as with many elderly aircraft, she will be stripped of useful parts and then turned into beer cans.

You done well C-GAUN. Take care now!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Just Have to Ask

Despite rumor to the contrary, I do shampoo what little hair I have daily. But as one can imagine, I do not splurge on high priced, fancy products... just the basics, generic if I can find it.

At my last trip to CVS, they had VO5 products on sale so that was the one I bought. Again not too picky, I reached for the most convenient bottle. Turns out it is a pleasant shampoo "Vanilla Mint Tea Therapy". Real mint, vanilla extract and chamomile tea. Even though it sounds better than some concoctions I have tried, I have so far resisted the urge to drink it. Some of the other ingredients may make it a tad bitter.

So later on doing some dishes, I note with interest that my new dish washing liquid is made with "Real Lemon!".

So, I just have to ask, why is the lemon juice that I keep for human consumption fake?

Oh, it is all used up for the detergent, silly me.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Boy-Gov, "Mission Accomplished"

Well, it seems Mattie Boy Blunt, soon to be ex-Governor of Missouri, is sticking to his story that he has accomplished everything he wanted to and thus being perfect is heading off to conquer something anew. His news conference today really shed little new light on his decision. Underlying it is still a lot of second guessing that he was not willing to face certain defeat, was not up to a long battle and if there is a smoking gun somewhere involving the Eckersley affair.

Of course he felt he was perfect, had made the world a better place and we should all thank him for his benevolence. Just like his hero GW Bush, he can't admit he was wrong, he has to make everyone look bad instead.

The last time a Republican bellowed "Mission Accomplished", the country was on the verge of entering a bloody civil war of our own making in Iraq.

It will take years to undo what Mattie "accomplished" just like it will take generations to undo Bushie's mess.

God help us all.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bye-Bye Boy Gov!

It must be a biggie for Pato to do two posts in one day but this is great!

Missouri Governor Matt Blunt (aka Boy-Gov) announced that he will not seek re-election!

In his inimitable style, he felt he was perfect had done everything possible and thus was moving on.

So, what does Scott Eckersley have on him??

Funk and Frances

The tangled, bitter and nasty mess revolving around Kansas City park board member Frances Semler has made another turn. Frances Semler is a neighborhood leader in Kansas City North who was appointed to the park board by newly elected Mayor Funkhouser. Almost immediately she became a lightning rod for controversy as it was revealed that she was a member/supporter of the Minuteman Group, a loose organization devoted to battling illegal immigration.

Her membership on the board ignited the racist element in all parts of society. Those in agreement with her lauded her outspokenness and Funkhouser’s choice not to give in to her demands. Some of the more radical minority groups declared war on her and the whole city, giving credence to the notion that the oppressed soon become the oppressor when given the chance. The controversy highlighted the great unanswered question of our time. What right do people have to stop speech and actions they feel are offensive?

While I respect Ms Semler's right to support any organization she wishes, her resignation from a practical standpoint is the correct course of action. This town is a mess, and does not need the divisiveness and distractions her appointment has generated. Streets need to be cared for, my street has never been salted during the recent ice and snow storm. Crime continues to plague the area, jobs are leaving, a downtown is on the verge of being renewed and the bad publicity and pulled conventions do nothing to generate revenue.

As I do not support the Minutemen, I do feel we need to address illegal immigration and but the emphasis back on the illegal part. Setting up vigilante groups and taking laws into our own hands is not the answer. I was also not surprised that Semler's appointment highlighted the fact that La Raza and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (two groups who tried to blackmail the city into firing Semler and are still not happy even though she resigned) are racist and arrogant organizations that feel they are above reproach and can foist their agenda on anyone by crying “racism” when they do not get their way.

Good-bye Frances and good luck. At the very least you made us think and help sow the seeds of Funkhouser's demise.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Kansas City Symphony, Joshua Bell

The stage at the Lyric Theatre was almost inadequate to hold the musicians that presented the latest concert in the Kansas City Symphony Classical season. Music Director Michael Stern directed with Joshua Bell as violin solo. The full program included the rarely heard Silvestre Revueltas “La Noche de los Mayas”, Bell as solo in three works, Corigliano’s The Red Violin: Chaconne for Violin and Orchestra, Chausson Poème for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 25 and Saint-Saëns’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 28. Respighi’s Pines of Rome as finale.

I, and most concert goers, know Revueltas mostly through the short tone poem Sensemayá, his most popular work. Despite his short life, (1899-1940), Revueltas was a major force in Mexican classical music with his vigorous, rhythmically complex and distinctly Mexican oeuvre.

La Noche de los Mayas (The Night of the Mayas), composed towards the end of his life in 1939, was actually a film score for a movie of the same name. Revueltas' score was arranged into a suite for large orchestra in 1960. The score includes a full accompaniment of winds and brass, 14 percussionists, piano and a conch shell horn. The four movements, La Noche de los Mayas, Noche de Jaranas, Noche de Yucatan, and Noche de Encantamiento are all atmospheric tone paintings evocative of the ancient Mayan people. The last movement is a virtual fiesta of percussion, braying horns and driving, primal rhythms. Although the last movement and the piece in general may go on for bit to long (about ½ hour) it is great fun and Stern led a lively, yet controlled performance that pleased the capacity audience, many likely hearing their first but hopefully not last Revueltas composition.

Joshua Bell needs no introduction as one of the major and most popular violinists of our time. His consummate artistry and communication (he actually plays as the many pictures of him show, with an intense concentration and athletic demeanor, a real showman but with the chops to back it up) was highlighted in three pieces, the Corigliano Chaconne from the Red Violin (which Bell played on the sound track) the Chausson and the Saint-Saëns. All were brilliantly performed, showing off the incredible tone of both Bell and the magnificent violin he plays. The Corigliano was of course authoritative, the Chausson (I admit to never being impressed with anything by Chausson, despite a great performance I remain that way) was atmospheric and tonally perfect. Saint-Saëns can often come off as cloying and even a bit pedantic, but the wonderful Introduction and Rondo was alternatively suave and lively. Stern is a frequent collaborator with Bell and their familiarity showed in these spot on, delicious performances.

Respighi’s familiar Pines of Rome completed this full evening. The orchestra’s bright and brassy tone perfectly fit Respighi’s concept. The more contemplative “Pines of the Janiculum” demonstrated the orchestra’s tender side and was marred only by a tentative entrance of the important clarinet theme. The stage was full again, now with organ, piano and 6 additional brass to add heft and grandeur to the final “Pines of the Appian Way”. A sure fire crowd pleaser.

Next season’s schedule was announced last night and continues the stellar programming we are now coming to expect, despite being consigned to the hinterlands. Joyce Di Donato, Daniel Muller-Schott, Dominique LaBelle, Midori, Nicola Benedetti (performing the US premiere of John Taverner’s Violin Concerto), Emmanuel Ax (world premiere of Steven Hartke’s Piano Concerto) and Peter Serkin are soloists. Major works include the rarely heard Mendelssohn “Lobgesang”, Mahler Symphony # 1, Sibelius 5th and David Diamond’s Music for Romeo and Juliet. A slightly more traditionally tinged season than the past few, that should still demonstrate the continued rise of the Symphony.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Burrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr pt 2

A cold weekend... it got down to about 2 deg F or -17 C for the rest of humanity. Puggles has the right idea:

Friday, January 18, 2008


It is 12 degrees outside right now, arctic air has invaded us for a few days. Everything outside creaks and groans in the cold, metal seems brittle, glass seems a touch more fragile. The snow from earlier in the week lingers on, no heat to melt it, even the sun can't put a dent in it. I am sure I will see the flock of doves huddled by the building in the AM. Puggles goes outside and looks at me as if to say "you have to be kidding???!!!!"; potty breaks are quick. Breath freezes, hands get numb, the tears of your eyes freeze. Good time to set a nice bottle of vodka outside, in no time it will be cold enough make a great martini.

Bruce and I were going to see a movie tonight, but decided it was too damn cold. Staying in with a nice glass of wine, some wonderful music (Roger Sessions Symphony # 2, just got it in the mail today from ArchivMusic), Pug settled on her throne. All is well in the warm Palace.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


I could be a good Buddhist. I generally love all living creatures, even some of the more slimy and creepy ones. A notable exception is the spider; they can do what they want outside but get near me inside.... we have a problem.

My favorite creature of the wild are the birds. Birds are so fun. Besides bettering us in the ability to fly and challenging us to finally conquer the air, they are usually attractive. Reds, blues, deep purple-blacks, soft gray, most slim and sleek and usually on the cute side, not like a spider. Their songs brighten the most dreary of day and lighten any dark mood. How can one be sad when the birds are singing?

Even the smallest of these remarkable beings are hardy and vigorous. When I have traveled to Nicaragua in the winter, my poolside lounging is accompanied by the warbles and twitters of the sparrows, wrens and finches that have made the same journey as I, but on their own power and with out a map. As well the largest of the species possess a majesty unmatched by most mammals. Soaring hawks, eagles and condors evoke the spirit of freedom and never cease to arouse awe and admiration.

Soaring eagles did not inspire this post, rather it was the antics of a few of our more mundane backyard feathered friends.

A frosty windy morning dawned on Kansas City last week. Strong north winds blew arctic cooled air, freezing all in its plunge south. The sun was bright and thus on the protected south side of the towers, a flock of doves, too numerous to count had taken refuge on every ledge of the building. Tiny gray bundles of feathers huddled in groups of 3 and 4, basking in the sun and protected from the icy blast on the north. A few flew here and about, but most stayed, softly cooing and waiting out the frigid storm. Smart little guys they, like most animals, have the ability to find the warmest spots. I can only hope they brought their well known ability to foster peace to the towers, embroiled in controversy as always.

A few days later, I noted a bright red male cardinal sitting on the rearview mirror of the pick up truck of one of the construction guys. He was fluttering and flying back and forth, pecking at the mirror and at the window of Chris' car. Chirping wildly, I could imagine he was fighting off the imagined invader of his territory, battling his own reflection.

A couple of days later, he was back at it. It dawned on me that I had only seen this bird do this when Chris' truck was parked there. Other cars park along the street and have mirrors but the bird seems to like his truck.

"Chris, do you keep birdseed or something in your truck?", I asked upon seeing Mr. Cardinal pecking wildly at the car window. "No, but that damn cardinal thinks so. He comes every day I park. I am barely out of the car and he flies over from the tree and starts pecking at the window. He must be nuts".

Chris is not here today. But Mr. Cardinal was spied in the magnolia tree waiting patiently.

Birdbrained? Or is he smarter than the rest of us?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Some Things I have Noted

Some things I have noted:

1) Expect your favorite cocktail or bottle of wine to go up up up in price soon. No, there are no new taxes on liquor, no shortage of grapes and no major increase in production cost. Attribute it to a new university study. Researchers at California Institute of Technology and Stanford University have found a direct correlation between the pleasure of tasting and the wine's advertised price. The higher priced the wine, the better they thought it tasted. That was even true when the test subjects were given the exact same wine but told one sample was $10/bottle and the next one was $90/bottle.

Now really, this was nothing new. Restaurants have known this forever. Just compare the price of a bottle of wine at a store and what you pay for the privilege of ceremony and service.

Some die-hards will dispute this notion. My friend Bruce for example swears his gallon size box wine is better than any chardonnay he has ever had.

2) A couple of weeks ago, a blog called MissouriPulse controlled by Repub power monger John Hancock went off line for a while. According to FiredUP Missouri (see link to the side of the blog page, after a few days a message appeared saying the site was being updated.

It seems MissouriPulse is back online now but...and here is the big but... the site has been altered to change some remarks made on the site about Scott Eckersley, a former state lawyer who was fired for whistle blowing Boy-Gov's deleting of email and violation of records retention laws. FiredUp covers it well, so look at their site for the full details.

Do, however, look at Mr. Hancock's entry of 10/28. He missed something.

Do these people have any shame??? Or brains?

3) In the basement of our house in Decatur sits a vintage 1949-50 Crosley Shelvador refrigerator. Round topped, non-frost free freezer, it was however state of the art in its day. It still works, daily. Never been out of service it seems since it was first plugged in almost 60 years ago. Keeps everything nice and cold. The only thing broken is the handle. Has been as long as I can remember, a screwdriver was inserted in the holes and you pull on the end of the screwdriver to open the latch. Not too far from the Crosley sits a working 1950's vintage Filter Queen vacuum. Testimony to the fact things are not built as they used to be.

I mention that because I am ready to trash my 6 month old GE cordless phone that refuses, even with a new battery, to keep a charge for more than 10 minutes, thus limiting my phone calls, and an unknown brand desk lamp whose switch is gone after about a year.

Both likely made in China and not by Crosley.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Kansas City Symphony: Alberich Saved, plus Janácek and Beethoven

This place is packed! Thus exclaimed my friend Barb as we tried to meet at intermission during Saturday's Kansas City Symphony concert. Indeed I had not seen such crowds at the Symphony since Yo Yo Ma last season. The draw? A triple bill of Janácek, Christopher Rouse and Beethoven. Colin Currie was featured solo in the Rouse "Der gerettete Alberich", Fantasy for Percussion and Orchestra. "Taras Bulba" by Janácek and Beethoven's 7th Symphony rounded out this energetic program. Music Director Michael Stern conducted.

"Taras Bulba" received a warm and detailed performance, highlighting Janácek's often transparent scoring of his large forces. Highlights were an especially elegant opening English horn solo and several excellent string and wind solos. All in all, Stern led with authority and imagination yet allowing the orchestra to faithfully convey the drama of the tale.

Percussion concerti can really sound much the same, especially if the concerto is written for a battery of unpitched percussion. Kalevi Aho's wonderful 11th Symphony, featuring a quartet of percussionists, blends the percussion into the whole fabric of the work as does Ellen Taafe Zwillich's "Rituals" which the KCS performed last year. Some percussion showcases such as Chen Yi's "Concerto For Percussion" solves the problem by using non traditional instruments and mallets to maintain interest and contrast. Christopher Rouse (who was in attendance this weekend) approached this problem by giving the percussion soloist a persona. Thus the inventive and dare I say "fun" Rouse Concerto-Fantasy "Alberich Saved" (sometimes translated "Alberich Unleashed") musically fantasizes on the great unanswered Wagnerian question: what happened to the malevolent dwarf Alberich after The Gotterdammerung?

"Der gerettete Alberich" begins as "The Ring" ends, literally with the final bars of "Gotterdammerung" and "redemption through love motif". Slowly the soloist (in this case the phenomenal Colin Currie, it was written for Evelyn Glennie) makes his way to the percussion battery splayed across the front of the stage in 3 stations. A few raspy scrapes of a guiro represents Alberich awakening from the apocalypse, emerging from the fading rumble of the thunder. As the orchestra enters, weaving other Alberich motives from "The Ring" through the sound fabric, Currie manages to energetically and dramatically (and certainly without needless kitch) portray the devastation and anguish of Alberich's now godless world. A static string and marimba interlude follows; a stunned and speechless Alberich surveys the ruined Valhalla. But Alberich shakes off the gloom, he is now alone god and revels in his domain. As Currie takes a seat at a drum set, Alberich transforms to a god-rock star, laying down as sexy, sophisticated and driving a drum beat as any Gene Krupa, Keith Moon, or any other rock drummer could imagine. Great fun and the orchestra and audience got deep into it!

But as we know, glory is fleeting and Alberich realizes his domain is a ruined one, a mere shadow of its past glory. He descends his mock throne and takes his frustration out on everything he sees. The orchestra and soloist along with the considerable orchestra percussion section create a great driving wall of sound as Alberich descends to his own Valhalla, a few raspy scrapes of his guiro voice fade away to dark and soundless void.

I doubt few contemporary pieces (Der gerettete Alberich was written in 1997) can instantly bring a Midwestern audience to its feet as did this stunning piece. Rouse, Currie, Stern and the orchestra enjoyed and deserved the long and enthusiastic ovation. "Der gerettete Alberich" has been recorded by Evelyn Glennie in an Ondine recording with Segerstam and the Helsinki Phiharmonic, a must hear for percussion fans.

Beethoven's 7th Symphony carried the energetic theme forward, ending the full evening with a taut and elegant performance of this masterpiece of rhythm and dance.

Friday, January 11, 2008

It's the Thought That Counts

Not being critical or overtly nosy, I asked one of the denizens of Faulty Towers why there was a large cardboard box about 1/2 full of sticks between their cars. The box had sat through some rain and weather and thus was wet and sagging. As I was curious as to the contents I looked in it the day before.

"Oh!", shaking her head in amusement, "do you think the trash would take that?" Mrs. S asked. "Well, we can try."

"You know I have a rather crazy sister.... it was our Christmas present. She gathered some sticks and twigs and bark and gave it to us so we can light our fireplace", she said with a straight face. I had to believe her.

I have not checked if the trash service hauled the box away. I guess if not I can take it back to Mrs S and say:"Looks like you have to take it back to the forest where it was gathered. Do you have the receipt?"

I guess the dust cloths my sister gave me don't look as bad after all, at least she bought them.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Primarily Speaking

The fine folks in New Hampshire, possessed of one of the most stubborn streaks of any group around, confounded the pundits and gave a boost to Hillary and Mc Cain in the Primary last Tuesday. Hillary's win and Obama's strong second after a win in Iowa gives the Dems a 2 person race. With Mc Cain winning in New England and Huckabee in Iowa, the Repubs are wide open. Mitt Romney looks weaker and Guliani looks like a joke now. Mc Cain tanked in South Carolina in 2000, will he do it again? Will Obama's courting of Blacks in SC give him the edge? Will Hillary's "cry" gain her sympathy or be the kiss of death, igniting "women are too emotional and weak to govern". Tell that to Maggie Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, Helen Clark (New Zealand) or Benazir Bhutto.

What about NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg? Is he a spoiler in the making?

Damn, we haven't had so much fun in years!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Dag Nabbit and Shoot, no Cussing in Bars

Further example of what happens when Republicans become entrenched in your area: a council person in St Charles, MO (one of the "reddest" of the St Louis suburbs) wants to ban cussing in bars. Dag nabbit, and shoot all to heck, and no table dancing or drinking contests either. Both of the latter are highly unusual due to liability issues.

But of course, this right minded, "for the children and decency and God and Constitution" Republican wants to make a political issue over nothing. Grandstanding to win votes and higher office and being a perfect sop to the church goers who likely are the bar's biggest customers (and cussers for that matter). Who cares if it is in violation of the 1st amendment? The Constitution, like the Bible, can be used to justify almost anything. Who cares if it makes the place the laughing stock of the nation? Being "right" to your loyal constituents is more important.

To show how magnanimous the nice city council man is, read his comment taken from a TV interview:

"I actually think there are things that people wish I was doing that I'm not going to do like shutting down the bars and stuff and that would be being the fun police."

Go back to school and learn how to form a sentence, dumbass. Whoops! Thankfully I am no where near St Charles, or I would be in trouble!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Still Haunted

It is STILL haunting me, that damn number 13. I do not think there has been a day since this past Summer that I have not failed to note a digital clock reading 13 minutes after the hour. I just happened to glance up at my computer screen and it was 8:13AM. Since I awoke at about 6AM, it was the third opportunity of the day to see it, and I took advantage of it. ARRRRRRGH.

I am not alone in this, in response to an earlier post on this, (Haunted) I received two responses from people with similar phenomena. Coincidence? Maybe, as "nuahcerpel" suggested, instead of modeling Devil's Tower from mashed potatoes, as in "Close Encounters", we are receiving a signal from something more powerful than us.

If the aliens, the end of the world, George Bush being proclaimed ruler for life, or other awful events are near, please come quickly. I am getting tired of this.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Virtue of Doing Nothing

It is Sunday 5:30PM.. I have nowhere I have to go...nothing I have to do. No chores I have to do, no anxiety, no deadline, nothing. Well, there is a barking Pug telling me it is supper time for her.. There, that is taken care of, one Pug happily chowing down.

I could do something, but I don't want to. I am officially vegetating. A nice long swim this eve is in order....turn on the steam room to soak some warmth....

Hopefully no one will bother me. If my sister calls, I am not answering.... If you call I am not answering either.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Do All of Us a Favor

Someone, please put this little You-Know-What out of her (and our) misery....

Thank you.

Britney Spears Goes Nuts

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Iowa in The Spot Light

Thankfully, tonight will see the end of the relentless campaigning in the poor state of Iowa. I can imagine Iowans are weary of all the media, hoopla and intrusions by Barak, Hillary, Mitt, John, Mike, Rudy, et al. Tonight, good Iowans, mostly the same ones who did so last time, will meet and decide who gets the delegates to next year's Presidential nominating convention.

I guess in this case it is good to be first, Iowa sure gets a lot of attention, but is it really worth all the fuss? I heard that most candidates spend $200 per eligible voter in Iowa, far more than anyplace else. Money wasted? Something like 5% of eligible voters come out to the caucuses. Most find out it is a drawn out affair, lasting 2 hours and not all that exciting. It is not like going to the poll and casting a vote in 10 minutes. This keeps the participants down to a few diehards and party regulars. The novices, it has been reported, find the process tedious and tend to stay away. Younger "gotta have it now" types just don't make the effort.

With the White House wide open, this year's caucus is even more hyped. The winner comes away broke but with momentum. Frequently that propels them into the nomination. Just as frequently it does not. 2004 boosted John Kerry who went on to win the nomination and then to be robbed of a win by another Bush coup. It spelled the end of Howard Dean and some other minor candidates. With Bush as President, the Republican caucuses were non events.

Could we get a surprise tonight? Will Iowans go for John Edwards as kind of an anti-Hillary, anti-Obama? Will the fundies propel Mike Huckabee forward? What about Rudy?

To me, anyone, that is besides Huckabee and Romney would be better than the blathering idiot Emperor we are saddled with now. I do not see much of a surprise tonight, I can imagine Huckabee will be a hit with the conservatives that tend to get out on these things. I suspect Obama will win the Democrats with Edwards surprising Hillary.

Who do I support? Not telling. Besides, I don't live in Iowa.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Happy New Year!!!!!! From Don and Puggles!