Friday, August 31, 2007

Who owns you Americans?

This video by George Carlin pretty much explains why things will not change in this country.

It's Carlin, so if you are offended by the "Seven Dirty Words" don't watch.

Hello! I hope I haven't confused anybody by changing things around.

For a few months I've been thinking about doing something like this and finally decided to give this background theme a chance. Please let me know if you like it or want me to try something different.

Also, if you check down at the bottom you'll see a 'live headline feed' has been added. This may or may not remain so give me some input on that as well.

By the way, really love the way Shot's Shack looks, as it already has a kind of 'western' feel to the theme. Unless I really something striking don't expect to see many changes over there.
I do hope you've tried the link to TWISTED KAIJU THEATER at the bottom of SS. I'm still working my way through twenty + seasons of material over there. Reminder again that some of the stuff might be PG13 so don't say you haven't been warned.

Okay, I know I'm going to catch flack for posting this, but I had to.

First off, as a man I was offended (but I did snicker a bit) after reading it. This was sent to me by an online cigar dealer that I'm not going to name. I think it demonstrates the fact that these dealers assume that their customers share their somewhat chauvinistic viewpoint, although there are women who do smoke cigars and I suppose frequent this site.
A cigar is much like a good woman. If you take the time to prepare her properly, pack her gently, light her off evenly and enjoy her in a leisurely manner, she will bring you many moments of pleasure. However, if you pack her before she's willing, light her off before she's ready, and rush her through the experience, she will get mean, nasty and develop a serious bite. In addition, if you put her down or ignore her for any length of time, she'll go out on you! (Sign posted in a South Florida tobacco shop)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

From today's USA TODAY:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon is sending a team of investigators to Iraq because of the growing number of cases of fraud and other irregularities in contracts involving weapons and supplies for Iraqi forces.
"The (Defense) Department is concerned with the number of contracting improprieties" that have been uncovered, department spokesman Bryan Whitman said Tuesday

Meanwhile, the Bush Administration is going to request additional funds for the Iraq war over and above the billions already well spent.

We shall also not mention (since the mainstream media has not) that one officer may have committed suicide over his part in all this. Although there does seem to be some question about his death and the Army continues to investigate. Seems he was pointing fingers at private contractors with whom he had been ordered to work. Questions of money and missing weapons (about 200 at least) came up. Hmmm...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I have decided not to talk about Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Senator Larry Craig or Michael Vick except to say that all three dug the holes into which they finally fell. All three have lied about their deeds with only Vick finally coming out (too little and too late) to admit his wrong doings.

Public figures always seem surprised when the public pays attention to what they do. As if once in a position of power, authority or influence we are just supposed to turn a blind eye to what they do privately. Yes, we all deserve some privacy, even those who make their livings in the public eye, but you have to expect to have every little thing thrown back at you when you misbehave.

I try to have sympathy for Britney, Paris and all the rest of the 'celebratards' (TM Stephanie Miller), but when you love the spotlight you better know that it will show the shadows just as well as the bright spots.

Ah, face it! I love seeing these folks getting dumped on. Who am I kidding?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Concerts I've Attended, pt. 2

Like the first part of this reminiscence of my concert going experiences, there is no particular order or relevance. I just started jotting down those that I remembered attending, and let myself recall anything about that experience that might add to it. There is certainly no chronological order, especially for those shows I saw in the ‘70s.

I was serving onboard the U.S.S. Shreveport when we hit the port of Copenhagen for several days. Our visit coincided with a celebration of Copenhagen and some U.S. city being declared “sister cities”, and one of one of the celebrities was Danny Kaye, who actually visited the ship and spoke to us briefly. But since we are talking about concerts, let’s move on.

I don’t know if it was the first concert by a ‘name’ performer I saw, but it must have been one of the first. Tivoli Gardens was a large amusement park in the city and was hosting outdoor concerts. One of the nights we were there happened to be the night that Elton John was performing. This was probably in 1971, and John was backed by Nigel Olsson & Dee Murray. I can’t recall if Davy Johnstone was also playing with him at the time, since we were pretty much just paying attention to Elton. He came out dressed as Mickey Mouse, even with the big, giant white gloves that he quickly cast aside to begin playing. This was before many of his huge hits, but he already had several Top Forty singles and his show was lots of fun.

I don’t recall if it was during the same North Atlantic cruise, but either the same year or the next when the Shreveport hit Portsmouth, England for a few days a handful of us went into London for a weekend. We were actually near the pier at which Nelson’s HMS Victory still sits, which we found very cool. Anyway, we stayed at a Bed & Breakfast and one night got tickets to a rock ‘n’ roll show at some club. There were some hairy moments as the place was filled with guys who looked like they had been extras in “Rebel Without a Cause”, but all sounded like they had taken the ferry cross the Mersey (if you know what I mean?).

A couple of bands played some really good covers of American pop stuff from the ‘50s, but then we were hit by a surprise. Screaming Lord Sutch came out and the place erupted! I only had a dim idea of who he was but it was a wild show to say the least. The guy was actually scary with skulls, flames and all sorts of stuff. The British Alice Cooper, I guess.

Joe Walsh was touring with his “Barnstorming” band when I saw him in Virginia. This was after splitting from the James Gang and before he actually produced his first solo album. I know he opened for either Yes or Emerson, Lake & Palmer, but my memory of those years won’t allow me to definitely state for which.

The second time I saw Yes, was in the mid-70s at an outdoor concert in California, I mentioned them last time out, but there were also several other groups that played that day. Little Feat (during the Lowell George era) opened the show but folks were still coming into the stadium so I don’t have any strong memories of the group; they were followed by Gary Wright who was getting lots of air play for “Dream Weaver”; next up was Peter Frampton who was a big draw back then in his own right with “Frampton”, this was where I saw how his “guitar box” effect worked. By the time Yes hit the stage I was pretty drunk and the place was rocking. It was also the last outdoor concert I attended.
It was also in California that I got to see Gordon Lightfoot. He was as good as I had hoped and definitely had the crowd very happy, except for one brief moment. This was in the mid-1970s and Gordon made a comment about how he felt sympathy for Patty Hearst for what she had undergone. The audience, for the most part, did not agree and I think he was surprised to be booed so loudly. He quickly recovered and went into one of his better-known songs, which got the crowd back behind him.

I also caught Carlos Santana during this same period, which (until the Jefferson Airplane concert at Radio City) had to be the loudest show I ever saw. My friend and I actually left our seats on the floor to head up to the balcony to save our hearing. Believe it or not, Lee Michaels (“Do You Know What I Mean?”) was the opening act. He was by himself on stage playing piano and did at least a half dozen songs. I thought he was good, but it certainly wasn’t what the crowd wanted to hear. Carlos Santana was moving into a jazz phase at this time, but still played the hits that everyone wanted to hear. Next to hearing Eric Clapton play, I can’t remember being as moved by a guitarist as I was by Santana.

Jumping back to Virginia in the mid-1970s, several of us decided to take in a Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival show. Chuck Berry was headlining the event, which was around the time that he was still getting lots of radio play for “My Ding A Ling” and “Reelin’ & Rockin’” of all things. Some local retro band opened the show, followed by The Dovells (The Bristol Stomp), The Shirelles (Soldier Boy and dozens of others), then Chubby Checker (The Twist, Limbo Rock, etc.) looking a bit older but still lots of fun. Next was Bo Diddley and we all know what he did! Chuck Berry finally came out and to our surprise, Bo Diddley played the drums for part of the set. That was totally amazing and the first time that I found that he had been a drummer at one point in his career. The concert was long but even after three hours the crowd wanted more. That was a great time!

A funny story about this night. My buddy Lee and I got to the concert hall a few hours early to pick up our tickets. We were sitting on the steps on the side of the building when this black guy in a black hat and a guitar case comes up to us. He asked us if we knew how to get into the building and we directed him around the side where they took deliveries and there was an entrance. When he asked us if we were going to the show we said we were. He laughed and said he hoped we had a good time. Naturally, just as he rounds the building and goes out of site Lee and I look at each other and say (Wait for it….) “Bo Diddley!!!” Yeah, you had to be there, I guess.

When I was in college at Eastern Connecticut they had a couple of ‘name acts’ play the gym each semester. Frankly, most were acts I had no interest in. I did get dragged to see Pure Prairie League and if you remember anything but “Aimee” you’re doing better than I was even then.
On the other hand, somehow somebody on the student activity committee must have found some extra money somewhere because he was able to get Harry Chapin. That evening his brother’s Tom and Steven were also with him. It’s sad knowing that only a few years later he would die in a car accident. He was an amazing songwriter and although he didn’t have the greatest voice it was perfect for what he did.

The only other show I saw was with Elayne when we went to see “Weird Al” Yankovic
in the Village. It was a lot of fun, with Al doing just about every one of his hits and doing so many costume changes it was remarkable. The fat suit he had for ‘Eat It’ was amazing. I’d love to see him again.

I’m sure that I’m missing a few concerts and several acts that I’ve seen. There were probably acts I saw in clubs or opening acts for others that went on to be names, but nobody comes to mind right now. This may not be the last of these types of posts, but it won’t be for a while probably unless somebody reminds me of something.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m the Obit librarian here at the library. It is always fascinating, if sometimes sad, to browse through the papers during a particular search.

Today I was going back further than I have before, looking into the death of someone in 1916. I found the article, relating to a fatal accident, but was taken by some of the other things going on at that time.

Seems that President Wilson was at his summer home in Long Branch, NJ. He had recently been filmed and his appearance was going to be edited into a movie called, “Civilization” which was going to be offered for his use in his up-coming re-election campaign.

The Boston Red Sox were playing the Brooklyn Robins (later to be known as the Dodgers) in the World Series. Some young pitcher nicknamed “The Babe” was playing for Boston in Game Two of the series. Not sure what became of him. (That's President Wilson tossing out the ball at the first season game, not the WS in case you were wondering.)

The first wartime submarine to make a trans-Atlantic trip, the German U-53, delivered documents to the German Embassy in Newport, R.I on Oct. 7, and was then ordered to leave due to the Neutrality Act. Meanwhile, Wall Street was reacting to rumors of Germany bringing ‘peace proposals’ to the President, with most of the reaction displaying distrust of the story, while others ‘give it credit.’

There was heavy fighting reported in the Balkans on two fronts between Russian and Bulgar-German-Turkish forces, while Italian troops fought with the British, French and Serbian allies.

Finally, the papers reported the collision of two ships off Newport News, VA, but the number of casualties was unknown.

All this from the Orange Daily News, “the only daily covering California’s two-million dollar frostless Valencia Orange District.”

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Okay, I've been called on the "chicken hawk" comment in my previous post, so I might as well say something here. I don't know how many folks read the occasional 'comments' that folks make and probably fewer read my replies hidden back there. I have to admit that I don't always read the 'comments' on most of the blogs & news sites I read unless I'm going to comment myself.

Despite being a Vietnam Era Vet myself, I don't expect everybody who runs for political office to have served as well. I voted for Bill Clinton and for quite a few other folks who never enlisted, as it's not the defining reason I support any candidate. In fact, there have been times when I've voted for the non-veteran running against a vet. Military service is only one element in deciding who I'll support in an election.

My sole point in that post was to say that I feel that if you purposely went out of your way not to serve in the military, you should be extremely careful in putting others who have made a different decision in harm's way. It is especially disgusting to hear the VP talking about sacrifice and urging continued involvement by our Armed Forces when he is publicly quoted on record as having said he had 'more important' things to do during the Vietnam War than to serve. That to me it the definition of a CHICKEN HAWK. "My life and desires are more important than the lives and desires of the thousands of men and women I can order into harm's way."

This isn't going to change your mind about this, nor did I expect it to. I'm sure that if I was a tad more articulate I could better express myself, but you get what you pay for. (In this case, nothing but your time online.)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Don't even get me started on His Smugness making comparisons between Vietnam and Iraq! The only lesson G.W. & Darth Cheney learned was how NOT to go over and fight.

Also, video has come out (where was it back when?) with Cheney talking in 1994 about why the U.S. didn't go after Sadam back after the First Gulf War. It seems that removing the dictator would have thrown Iraq into turmoil and it would have become a "quagmire" according to the then Secretary of Defense. Hmmm.

I can't believe that some Democrats are siding with some Republicans urging the Iraqi military to oust Malaki. Talking Points Memo has a story on some GOP connected lobbyists working with old CIA buddy Ayad Allawi, the one-time Iraqi interim Prime Minister. Whether you like how Malaki is doing his job or not (and I certainly can't say that I am) I REALLLLLY don't think that pushing for the Iraqi military to make a move is a wise thing. Hasn't the US been down this street before? Do we never learn from the past?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Donna and I spend the weekends I have free doing things, so I rarely get online except to check my e-mail. Even that sometimes gets put off if we have plans to head off to San Manuel, shopping or the movies. Due to the usual I didn't get a chance to blog and yesterday was busy at work so I'm a few days behind on reading and posting.

It seems hard to believe that it was a year ago yesterday (8/20/06) that Donna and I boarded Jet Blue for a one-way flight to Long Beach, to start a new life in Ladera Ranch.
So much has happened in the past year (good, bad, happy and sad) that I wouldn't know where to begin. Our families and friends have suffered deaths and illnesses, but have also witnessed pregnancies, births, new jobs and weddings. Donna and I both like our current jobs and are beginning to dig ourselves out of the financial hole that months of unemployment created. It's nice to actually have a bit of extra cash to enable us to get out and about.

The next few months will see us back playing bingo, perhaps heading out to Catalina Island for a few days and then in November a cruise on Carnival to celebrate our anniversary.

Nothing major to report, but I just wanted to take a moment to thank those of you who have sent us e-mail, called us, gone to dinner or have done something to make our new life out here a pleasant experience. We both send our love and hope you'll drop by the new Chez Chaput for dinner sometime.

Friday, August 17, 2007

New York’s Congressmen Charles Rangel brought up the idea of a return to a draft a couple of years ago. At the time he started taking hits from both the Right and the Left for even hinting as such a thing. As all things come around in circles so to has his idea. Now he’s not the only one hinting that it might not be such a bad idea.

It may come as a shock to some folks, generally those who don’t know me from years ago, but I don’t think a Selective Service or ‘draft’ would necessarily be a bad thing.

I grew up in the 1950s & ‘60s when every male had to go down to the Selective Service Office within a week of their 18th birthday and sign up. In this period, with the Vietnam War going full swing, it was accepted that everybody had a pretty good chance of being called up. I knew folks who were able to get deferments for college or for medical reasons, but only a couple guys who actually filed as “conscientious objectors”. I also knew guys who vowed they would take off for Canada if called up but lost touch with them, so have no idea what happened if they did get the notice.

Personally, I walked out of the SS office and down the hall to the Navy recruiter, end of story.

I know as well as anybody that the same type of folks who pulled strings or knew people who could will do exactly that. The Bush, Cheney and Limbaugh’s of this generation will be just as ‘chicken hawk’ as their elders. Still I do think that if there were a draft our representatives in Congress might be a bit more careful before giving the next President a blank check for military adventure.

I also believe that both men and women should be made to sign up for SS. If not military service, then working in hospitals, doing work on our infrastructure or performing in the public sector in some capacity for a minimum amount of time. I also think that the deferments allowed for non-medical reasons should also be limited and not of the type you can get multiple times. Like jury duty, your turn will eventually come up.

I haven’t totally thought this through and I know that there are probably really great arguments for not bringing it back, still it is not fair for the folks who did volunteer for whatever reason to be the only ones to repeatedly have to make the same sacrifices.

Just my two cents.
I read the news today, oh boy!

There could be over 600 people killed in the earthquakes in Peru; over 400 in recent attacks & bombings in Iraq; three rescuers were killed trying to find the missing miners in Utah; Texas is suffering from flooding with a powerful hurricane possibly heading there next week, after moving through the Caribbean. I also understand that there are concerns about the space shuttle on its return to earth, due to problems with the heat tiles.

That's all pretty serious stuff I guess but, Holy Crap!!!

I was shocked to hear that the National Enquirer writes that Siegfried & Roy will announce that they are "gay" in an up-coming book. Damn, that threw me for a loop!
Who saw that coming?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Have I mentioned before that I'm the 'obit' Librarian here? It kind of falls to the person in charge of microfilm to also handle the requests we receive for obituary searches. We probably receive a couple of requests from around the country every week. Folks in the area are welcome to come to the library and do their own searches, but out-of-town requests seem more frequent.

The job sort of came to me by default since when I was hired I mentioned that I had worked with microfilm & microfiche for years at both public and academic libraries. Be careful what you put in those resumes, kids!

On a political note, does anybody buy Rove's "wants to spend more time with his family" thing? Who would want the creepy guy hanging around the backyard all day? It should also be obvious that even out of the White House he'll still be calling a lot of the shots through former staffers and go-betweens.

Personally, I'd rather see the Attorney General hitting the road, but as he knows where the skeletons are buried (and may have put a few there himself) I don't think he'll be leaving until G.W. climbs aboard the helicopter in Jan. of '09. That is of course, if we still have elections next year!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

I know zip about economics so I'm probably the last person to say anything about what has been happening the past few days. Still I find myself agreeing with Jim Cramer, the host of CNBC's MAD MONEY. There are two different economies, one Wall Street and the other the 'real world' where most folks operate.
It's wonderful to see the Fed bailing out those poor banks and financial institutions, while the average American is loosing his home or is a paycheck away from loosing everything.

The Orange Republican Club is meeting in the Library's Community Room this morning. I'm going to keep any comments to myself, since you never know around here who knows whom.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

This from Talking Points Memo from this morning's G.W. press conference:
At home, Bush ruled out any bailout of homeowners hit with foreclosures in the form of direct assistance. But he said "enormous empathy" is in order for such people and indicated he was open to some federal help for people to refinance and keep their homes.

"The word bailout _ I'm not exactly sure what you mean. If you mean direct grants to homeowners, the answer would be no," the president said.

Should we bring up the assistance His Smugness received when his various business ventures failed? I thought not!

Just to ease the mind of some folks back east, Donna and I actually slept through the 4.0+ quake this morning. It was situated north of us, so you might have had to be up to have noticed anything. The local stations were up and about searching for damage, but it seems that only some Ralph's supermarket lost some ceiling tiles.

Babie did wake me up a little after 2:00am but this seems to have been an hour after the tremblor hit.
Looks like the folks back in New York had a rougher time with the storm yesterday.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Dave Kellett is running a week of Shakespeare jokes over on his SHELDON strip.
The running gag is that ol' Will created hundreds of words that have become part of our common vocabulary.
You can't go wrong with Shakespeare humor. My ex will back me up on that. Right, Elayne?

Monday, August 06, 2007

The city of Cornelia, GA has 3,674 residents. It is located in Habersham County, the apple growing area of the state. The giant apple, which is located in the center of town, was created in 1925. It weighs over 5,200 pounds and is seven feet tall. It honors the apple growers and pickers.

According to the Associated Press 3,674 American military personnel have been killed in Iraq since the invasion.

Should the city of Cornelia cease to exist would Congress and the President notice?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Concerts I have attended: part 1

I was sitting in a doctor’s office the other week, waiting for my appointment and listening to the music being pumped in. Mostly stuff from the Seventies & Eighties which was pretty much when my musical taste stopped expanding. I’m not saying that there wasn’t anything in the past twenty years I didn’t enjoy, but I think your choice of listening is formed by the time you hit your thirties.

Anyway, while sitting there I started thinking about all the concerts I’ve attended and some of the performers I’ve had a chance to catch live. I started writing down the list which triggered a lot of memories. Don’t expect any great insights, just some random comments amidst the names.

I saw Jefferson Airplane twice: once with Betsy at an outdoor concert & once with Elayne at Radio City Music Hall. That first concert also featured Hot Tuna (w/ “Papa” John Creach) and Commander Cody (George Frayne) & His Lost Planet Airmen.

Betsy and I saw Bette Midler at the old Hartford Civic Center on her “Divine Miss M” tour, with Barry Manilow as her pianist & arranger. While Midler took a break Manilow sang several songs from his first album, plus some of his commercial jingles, which were fun. Who knew that in a few years he'd be making more than Midler on tour and packing in the halls?

Sadly when I went to see Joe Cocker, he was totally wasted, came on late and forget some of his own lyrics. People who set through the two opening acts actually started leaving during his set. I saw him in some hall in Virginia while stationed down there. About a month later he actually collapsed on stage during a performance and I believe ended up in rehab.

Redbone, best known for “Maggie” and “Witch Queen of New Orleans”, opened for Cocker the night I saw him. I think more folks will have good memories of them then the headliner.

Eric Clapton, during his “Derek and the Dominos” tour promoting his “Layla and other assorted love songs” album. Incredible concert! There were four of us who went to a Blood Bank to donate so we'd have enough money to buy tickets for the show that night.

Saw his ex-Cream partner, Jack Bruce years later with surprise guest Phoebe Snow. They opened for the Moody Blues at Madison Square Garden. Snow was good, but I'll always remember her almost getting in a fight with our friend Dorian at a 'wrap party' following a performance by the Firesign Theatre.

Moody Blues, one of my all time favorite bands. I had tried to see them a few years before at an outside concert, but it was rained out after Elayne and I stood around for hours.

Yes, who I was lucky to see twice in the early to mid-70s. The first time with Rick Wakeman on keyboards was in Virginia and then several years later with Patrick Moraz replacing Wakeman. The second time was at a outdoor stadium with my friend Larry Driscoll while we were stationed on the U.S.S. Waddell in San Diego. One of the highlights of that was watching a guy fall from the upper deck above us onto the bleechers. Nasty!

Emerson, Lake & Palmer who were promoting “Pictures at an Exhibition” were absolutely incredible, both musically and in the show they put on. I really don't recall who opened for them, but seem to remember that it was a band that did go on to have several hits and fans of their own.

Chicago, I caught twice in concert, first back in the early ‘70s with Rick Neese a shipmate from the U.S.S. Shreveport and later in Atlantic City (which I talked about in an earlier post last year). When they started they and Blood, Sweat & Tears (who I never saw) were two of my favorite bands.

The Beach Boys, one of the most fun concerts I’ve attended in the past ten years, even if it was at Trump’s Marina in AC. Donna and I attended with Pete and his late wife, Bella.

At a two day “folk” festival in Virginia I saw:

Linda Ronstadt (post Stone Poney’s) looking terribly cute, barefoot with cut-off jeans and a halter-top. Richie Havens and “Country” Joe McDonald, both performed solo sets on acoustic guitars. McKendree Spring, who I hadn’t heard of up to that point but whose set made me run out to pick up their album. There were many other artists some of whom I should remember but sadly can’t at the moment.

I caught Dave Van Ronk, a great folk singer who sadly died a few years ago. He headlined a small folk concert with mostly local artists back in Virginia, and I can’t recall any of the other artists.

One of these days I’ll get around to finishing this.
I just find it hard to believe that this Administration can still do things to surprise me. Aided by the usual suspects, it seems that the blame for the bridge collapse is being placed at the feet of the Clinton Administration. Haven't we gone down this route too often before? Is there anybody but the remaining 28% who will even believe it for a moment?

Despite the talk about impeachment and other happy thoughts I stand by my conviction that they'll be no change until January of '09 in Iraq or elsewhere.
About four years ago there was a bridge collapse in Connecticut, while we lived there. The local and state media brought out the same studies and professionals to say at that point that things were bad nationally. We're hearing all of it again, as we did after Katrina and the recent steam pipe explosion in NYC.
Where are the billions of dollars we need to do these repairs?
Oh, that's right! We're building permanent bases and an embassy in Iraq. Much more important than our infrastructure, isn't it?