Friday, July 31, 2009

No more cash for clunkers!

No, that's not a rallying cry for ye deficit hawks . . . though, perhaps it should be.

Rather, it's a statement of a cold hard fact this Friday morning.

A pogrom . . er program . . designed by The ObamaNation to give from $3,500 to $4,500 in cash toward the purchase of a fuel efficient vehicle has gone broke!!

That's right, the same folks who are estimating the cost of nationalizing health care, can't even project a budget on a cash-for-clunkers program.

They set aside one billion of our tax dollars for this little pet project, expecting that amount to last thru the fiscal year. Instead, the program that started just this week has already run out of money.

Worried, yet?

Well, it gets worse.

Rather than realizing the error of their ways (and their projections), the posse of idiots who have control over our country's purse strings is clamoring to funnel even more money into the program.

Kinda makes you wonder (God forbid) what they'd do if a big socialized medicine pogrom . . . er program . . . ran out of money, doesn't it?

The very sad bottom line to this story has nothing whatsoever to do with cars. It has to do with the ever increasing evidence that the economic advisors and prognosticators advising our elected officials in Washington are grossly inept. Their numbers have been consistently proven wrong, and cannot be trusted . . . which should make their forays into tinkering with the marketplace all the more alarming.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Disney is just ahead of the curve

I don't know why ignorance of economic fundamentals never ceases to amaze me.

The latest case is the local brouhaha over the announcement of a ticket price increase down at Walt Disney World.

The local media has included clips and statements from parkgoers who are "outraged."

As of August 1st, a one-day pass to the parks will go up from $75 to $79, an increase of just over 5%.

A kid's pass will go up from $63 to $68, an even bigger increase of 7.9%

And, a 5-day park hopper pass is going up 2.9% to $280. (Still the best deal going at the Disney ticket office.)

Apparently, amnesia has set-in amongst the outraged. Disney raises prices just about every year. They did it last August, too. And, the increases were actually steeper then.

The fact is that WDW execs see what is coming: inflation. And, they have adjusted their pricing now to lessen the blow that will deal to their bottom line. It is this sort of prudent action on the part of corporate executives that keeps them from having to ask for bail-outs . . . what a concept!

And, if the prices seem too steep, no one is forcing anybody to enjoy a day in the parks.

Be forewarned, though, as The ObamaNation's printing presses continue to churn out more of those greenbacks to "stimulate" our economy, ye socks will see higher prices on more than just theme park tickets . . .

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A suggestion to Anheuser Busch

Is it just yours truly, or is there electricity in the air on this Beer Summit Eve?

Now, I know a lot of ye socks have criticized The ObamaNation for hosting this event at all. And, I understand the reasons for believing it is beneath the dignity of the White House to get involved in a petty issue like the scrap between Professor Henry Gates and Officer James Crowley--much less propose to act as referee over adult beverages.

I don't know why folks are getting upset now, since we now have a pretty good explanation why we've seen such interesting behavior in and around the executive mansion in recent months: beer!

Is that whole multi-trillion dollar deficit thing beginning to make sense to you now?

And, you thought they were just drunk on their own power as they went about shackling us and future generations with staggering debt and concocted schemes to hijack Wall Street, Detroit, and the nation's healthcare system!

It was just the beer talking, all along!

But, here's my thought. The problem here isn't too much drinking in the West Wing. Rather, there's not been enough!

If we could just convince a patriotic distributor to commit to delivering a keg or two to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue every day, maybe these jackasses* would get plowed and pass out before they could do any more damage!

(* The term jackasses was not used here to offend, but rather as a reference to the reigning party's mascot. And, no, that's not Ted Kennedy . . . though, he does know a little bit about drinking to excess . . . )

And, while they're at it, maybe they could drop a couple off at the other end of The Mall to keep our illustrious legislators busy, too . . .

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The 3's of Me

OK, apologies in advance, but I got tagged in another one of those survey things. So, here goes:

You have been tagged. You are supposed to write a note with the 3's of YOU.

Three names I go by:
1. William
2. Little Billy (yeah, I know. that one even cracks ME up!)
3. #*()&^#*(

Three jobs I've had in my life:
1. pizza delivery
2. camera shop slave
3. salesman

Three places I've lived:
1. Orlando
2. Springfield, Virginia
3. Lubbock, Texas

Three favorite drinks:
1. Diet Coke
2. coffee
3. Malbec

Three TV shows I watch:
1. Survivor
2. Big Brother

Three Places I've been:
1. Atlantic City
2. New Orleans
3. Mexico

Three people who text me regularly:
I don't normally get texts (because my plan doesn't allow me to respond anymore) but my last three were from
1. Joanna
2. Howard
3. Aunt Diane

Three of my favorite foods:
1. Mexican
2. Italian
3. Chinese

Three things I'm looking forward to:
1. tap dancing on plywood (those who know, know what they know)
2. January 20, 2013 (hope and change!)
3. The end of this recession!!

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Monday, July 27, 2009


It seems the older I get, the more I can put a twist on that old saying, "The mind is willing, but the flesh is weak."

The twist in my case is that the flesh is overwhelmingly willing to go to sleep, but my mind keeps on racing even after my head hits the pillow.

I suppose this is attributable to all the irons I currently have in the proverbial fire.

I was incredibly blessed over the last few weeks to have some of those irons removed.

But, perhaps inevitably, they were quickly replaced with new ones.

The good news is, the new irons are more enjoyable to contemplate. Perhaps, TOO enjoyable?

None of this making any sense? Well, it's no wonder!


Sunday, July 26, 2009

The ObamaNation's New Chief Economist?!

If this brilliant mind didn't already move to DC on January 20th, someone in the White House needs to dispatch Air Force One out to Santa Cruz right away!

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hittin' the bricks

Well, ye socks, I just completed one of my least favorite chores out in the yard: weeding the brick sidewalks.

Sometimes, I wonder if all the little green sprouts only bother me . . . but, after letting things go the last few weekends, I was pretty sure they must be offending others.

So, I made sure I got up at the crack of dawn to tackle this little project. Wanted to get it over and done with before the summer sun became too intolerable.

As it turns out, the sun wasn't so much my enemy as the bricks were themselves.

While, I was able to dispatch the vast majority of the green invaders, I managed to brush up against the brick edges enough times to burn some pretty nasty looking blisters into the first joint of both index fingers, and the corners of both thumbs, and the outside edges of both hands.

Guess this is why smarter gardeners wear gloves?!?

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Friday, July 24, 2009

RIP Frank McCourt (1930-2009)

Yours truly would be remiss if an entire week was allowed to go by without mentioning the passing of one of my favorite contemporary authors: Frank McCourt

Ye socks are probably, at least peripherally, aware of his 1997 Pulitzer Prize winner: Angela's Ashes.

If not, check it out of your local library. Or, if ye must, rent the movie adaptation.

McCourt's masterpiece recounts his own Irish American childhood, which began in Brooklyn, New York. At the height of the Great Depression, with no work to be had, his parents decide to move back to Ireland. But, there they sank in to even deeper poverty.

The resilience of the McCourts is inspiring, Frank most particularly.

He picked up the family narrative in two more books: 'Tis (1999) and Teacher Man (2005). Then, a couple of Christmas seasons ago, he released a children's book: Angela and the Baby Jesus. Unfortunately, none of them achieved the broad popularity of his first work.

Perhaps, McCourt's works play on my Irish heart strings. But, I'd like to think his insights into human frailties, strengths, and faith transcend mere ethnic pride . . .

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

When good things happen to good people

So, I got home from work today to find the regular bunch of junk mail waiting my perusal.

One item very nearly ended up in the trash can, because it was clearly a mass mailing addressed to "College Park Homeowner."

I don't know what made me open it, but I did. Here's some of what it said:

Thank you so much for opening your home for the historic homes tour last November . . . During the tour, I met a lovely young woman who was a docent in one of the houses. I don't remember the address . . . but, it had an enclosed porch to the left of the front door, and there was a beautiful Duncan Phyfe sofa . . . When I laughlingly commented that I had a sofa just like it, the docent exclaimed that she had been trying to get the homeowner to sell her that couch. I gave the young woman my telephone number and asked her to call me about my sofa, but she never called.

If any of you know this young woman, please ask her to call me. [I] need to find a good home for my Duncan Phyfe sofa. I know this young woman will love this sofa, and she will not be able to beat the price . . . I am willing to give it to her for free, because I know she appreciates the history and quality of this type of furniture.

Of course, the letter writer was referring to my house, and my sofa. And, the "young woman" she mentioned was a very good friend who I had suckered into helping me out that day. She really *has* been trying to get me to part with my Duncan Phyfe for years. Now, it looks like she will soon have one of her own as a result of her generosity!

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

15 Books

OK, after getting tagged yesterday, my fellow FHS alum Michelle got me with this one today:

List 15 books you've read that will always stick with you -- list the first 15 you can recall in 15 minutes. Don't take too long to think about it. Here are mine, in no particular order:

1. The Bible. (kinda obvious, but this one gets cracked on a daily basis)

2. Like the Cats of Kilkenny: A True Story of the Civil War. (can't remember the name of the author, but he is a brilliant writer)

3. Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson. (deserved its Pulitzer prize)

4. Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth and World Without End.

5. The Bastard, and the rest of the books in that series, by John Jakes.

6. Clan of the Cave Bear, and the rest of the books in that series, by Jean M. Auel.

7. The Great Brain, and the rest of the books in that series, by J.D. FitzGerald.

8. Undaunted Courage, by Stephen E. Ambrose.

9. Gotham, by Burrows & Wallace. (history of NYC)

10. The Hobbit, and the rest of the books in that series, by J.R.R. Tolkien. (better than the movies)

11. Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell.

12. The Forgotten Man, by Amity Shlaes. (everyone should read this one if they want to understand what really happened during The Great Depression, and how dangerously close we are to going down that road again . . .)

13. Here be Dragons, and the rest of the books in the series by Sharon Kay Penman.

14. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. (dark, but worth it)

15. Personal Reminiscences, by William H. Morgan. (memoirs of my great-uncle)

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tag, I'm it?

Just got tagged by one of those online "getting to know you" quizzes. So, bear with me . . .

1. What time did you get up this morning? 6
2. How do you like your steak? medium
3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? can't remember
4. What is your favorite TV show? Survivor
5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? right where I am now!
6. What did you have for breakfast? skipped it (don't tell Mom!)
7. What is your favorite cuisine? Mexican
8. What foods do you dislike? liver
9. Favorite place to eat? home
10. Favorite dressing? ranch
11. What kind of vehicle do you drive? Chevy Blazer
12. What are your favorite clothes? jeans & t-shirt
13. Where would you visit if you had the chance? Ireland
14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full? yes
15. Where would you want to retire? see #5 above
16. Favorite time of day? morning
17. Where were you born? Williams Air Force Base, Arizona
18. What is your favorite sport to watch? GATOR FOOTBALL!
19. Who do you think will not tag you back? not sure
20. Person you expect to tag you back first? again, not sure
21. Who are you most curious about their responses to this? everyone
22. Bird watcher? yes, especially the water fowl along Lake Ivanhoe
23. Are you a morning person or a night person? morning
24. Do you have any pets? 1 meezer
25. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share? fixin to go to lunch . . . .
26. What did you want to be when you were little? Jedi knight
27. What is your best childhood memory? summer camp at Lost Pines
28. Are you a cat or dog person? cat
29. Are you married? no
30. Always wear your seat belt? yes
31. Been in a car accident? Yes
32. Any pet peeves? yes (too many to list)
33. Favorite pizza toppings? cheese
34. Favorite flower? orange blossoms
35. Favorite ice cream? Publix Premium Key Lime Pie
36. Favorite fast food restaurant? Taco Bell
37. How many times did you fail your driver's test? never
38. From whom did you get your last email? Melissa B
39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? would never do that!
40. Do anything spontaneous lately? bought some cherries at a produce stand
41. Like your job? love it!!!
42. Broccoli? sure, got any melted cheese?
43. What was your favorite vacation? Biloxi (before the storm)
44. Last person you went out to dinner with? Valda & Howard
45. What are you listening to right now? Tim McGraw
46. What is your favorite color? blue, no orange, no blue AND orange!
47. How many tattoos do you have? ZERO!
48. How many are you tagging for this quiz? don't know yet
49. What time did you finish this quiz? 11:37am

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Monday, July 20, 2009

One small step . . . 40 years later

Despite what some of ye socks might say behind my back, yours truly was NOT around 40 years ago when man first step foot on the moon.

But, that's not keeping me from marking the big milestone today.

Living so close to Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center, I probably follow the current launches and missions more than the average joe.

And, I've been worried as the current shuttle program draws to a close, that America has lost its passion for the space program.

It's a shame, really. So much has been discovered over these past four decades to benefit us non-astronaut types.

But, I suppose since the shuttles have been so reliable for so long, that they produce yawns where the Apollo program inspired awe . . .

With all the efforts being made (and dollars being spent) to create "hope and change" in our little corner of heaven, I guess I just wish more was being done to expand our efforts in space.

I mean, it's nice that we have 13 astronauts from around the world crammed into the space station as I type this . . . but, when are we going to start sending them to more exotic places?

Mars, anyone?


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Sunday, July 19, 2009

That empty chair at front row left . . .

. . . I think that's the one they were reserving for yours truly?

Well, probably not.

If I'd been able to make it, and tradition held, I'd probably have ended up in the back row with all the other tall people!

Ah, well . . .

By the phone calls I've gotten over the past few days, it sounds like the class of '89 managed to have a pretty good time even in my absence.

Now, what do we need to do to organize a 25th at Disney World? Anyone? Anyone?

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

An unexpected detour

Well, ye socks, today's busy agenda was thrown out the window not long after making the trek up to check on ye old Lake Hammer chalet.

The details of said derailment aren't really important. I only mention it because I am ever more frequently surprising myself lately how much I let things like that roll off my back.

I guess it's true what they say about mellowing with age . . .

Anyway, yours truly unexpectedly found himself with a couple of hours to kill, and ended up strolling the aisles of a flea market along 441.

I could not have asked for better timing. Just as I ducked inside the air-conditioned portion of the market, we got one of our usual summertime "sunshowers." That not only drove away a lot of fellow junkers, it also cut the July temperatures enough to encourage me to explore the un-air-conditioned section.

It had been a long time since my shadow had darkened a flea market, and I had forgotten the entire subculture that goes along with such places. Bargains seem to be in abundance, though you do have to keep an eye on the fine print (both literally and figuratively). And, even if you haven't a single dollar to spend, it's still a worthwhile place to visit if people-watching holds any fascination for you. You definitely see all kinds.

Anyway, I made it out of there pretty cheap. Got some fresh produce and an old book for my troubles. (Philip Vickers Fithian's journal of life as a schoolmaster in colonial Virginia, in case you were wondering.)

Veering off course can be an okay thing. At least it was today. Hope ye socks are enjoying detours of your own this fine Saturday!

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Friday, July 17, 2009

There in spirit

Well, ye socks, somewhere in a small West Texas town, my high school classmates are gathering to kick-off our 20-year reunion.

Unfortunately, geography and other considerations have kept me in this little corner of heaven.

But, I hope they have a good time and take lots of pictures. I need to do some updating of ye olde photo album . . .

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

That's how I roll . . . er . . . rolled.

Still rehashing old memories from high school in these days leading up to the big reunion.

It got me thinking of my wheels.

Turns out I was WAY ahead of the curve on the whole fuel efficiency thing when I was tooling around West Texas in a little "rice burner." That's right, my 6'3" frame once crammed itself into a '79 Honda Civic Hatchback.

It looked an awful lot like the one pictured here, except mine had an "awesome" orange pin stripe racing down each side . . . those stripes being the raciest thing about the car.

To be honest, I pretty much drove that little car into the ground. I got the odometer to turn over for the third time while delivering for Pinocchio's Pizza in Lubbock.

Sadly, the little work horse had to be put out to pasture right about the time we all graduated, and I "traded-up" to an Oldsmobile Delta 88 . . . aka The Land Yacht. But, that's a whole other story . . .

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Friday Night Football

I don't suppose you can talk about your high school experiences in Texas without at least mentioning football.

Even if you weren't on the team, the weekly games were a central fixture.

At the very least, it was cheap entertainment for a small town that didn't have a whole lot of alternatives. (Wolfforth, Texas, population 1,701, salute!)

All the games have a way of blurring together after this many years, til all you're left with are the broadest strokes on the canvass.

I halfway remember the time the stadium lights went out in the middle of a game. Does that count?

Really, I think I spent most of my time sauntering between the bleachers and the concession stand. (Who can resist a bag of Fritos and chilli?!)

Of course, the real highlight of the evening was beating a path into the "big city" of Lubbock so we could watch the recap of all the area high school games on the big screen tv at Mr. Gatti's.

Years later, when I was in college, I found out one of my fraternity brothers had worked at Gatti's in high school and that the employees there used to dread it when the Frenship folks would show up on Fridays, and insinuated that they may have tampered with our food orders.

I hope he was just trying to get my goat. But, either way, I guess most of us survived. I wonder how many may stop by the old place to swap clearer recollections of those Friday evenings this weekend . . . if it's even open anymore . . . hmmm.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My run-in with a ghost

Reminiscing about high school shenanigans, I cannot gloss over my supernatural encounter during a Spanish Club field trip to San Antonio.

Our intrepid leader, Mrs. Emma Blackburn, booked us rooms in the historic Menger Hotel downtown, within a stone's throw of the Alamo and the River Walk.

At check-in, the lady at the counter warned us that the hotel was supposedly haunted.

According to the tale, a chamber maid had been murdered in one of the upstairs rooms and her sad specter was doomed to roam the halls looking for the long-gone perpetrator.

Needless to say, this is the sort of thing that inspires mischief, and a group of us was determined to find that ghost.

So, after curfew, we organized a posse of sorts and began roaming around the labyrinth of hallways. Inevitably, our group broke-up and went in different directions, and I eventually found myself negotiating one of those hallways all by myself.

As I turned a corner, a woman in a flowing robe appeared at the other end of the corridor. She was walking--more like staggering--straight for me, with her arms extended.

Bravery went out the window at this point, and I did a quick about-face. Bounding down a stairwell in search of the rest of the posse, I lost my footing and took quite a tumble. I'm still not sure how exactly I was able to make it back to my room.

The next morning, my ankle was the size of a grapefruit. And, poor Mrs. Blackburn had to take me to a doctor to have it checked out and get me a pair of crutches.

I never did find out for sure if that woman I saw was in fact a ghost, though I was assured by my peeved Spanish teacher that it was probably just another hotel guest looking for an ice machine or something.

I guess I'll never know for sure. But, my ankle's never been right since . . .

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Monday, July 13, 2009

20 years later . . . I'm still standing

Great, now I'm going to have that Elton John song stuck in my head.

Anyway, during this week leading up to my high school reunion, I thought I might post a few thoughts and remembrances of that bygone era.

I didn't transfer to Frenship High School in Wolfforth, Texas, until my sophomore year. And, I remember my first day of class there quite well.

It was Chemistry. The teacher was Marcia Talkmitt. And, I walked into a classroom full of people who didn't know me from Adam, yet seemed to have known each other since they day they were born.

It was an awkward situation to say the least. But, such is the life of a military kid. And, I suppose everyone's teenage years are full of awkwardness.

The thing that makes this particular day stand out in my mind was the fact that Mrs. Talkmitt's delivery of sitting stools for her lab had not yet arrived. So, after she had gone thru the usual checklist of first day stuff, she suggested we all just sit on the floor until the end of the period.

Well, I wasn't having any of that. I'd just gotten a brand new pair of pants, and I wasn't going to sit on any chem lab floor. So, instead, I just leaned up against one of the lab tables for what felt like an eternity, appearing very standoffish, I'm sure.

Isn't it funny the little things like this that pop into your head when you reminisce about the "good old days?"

Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons (but, primarily geography), yours truly will not be able to make the trip back to West Texas to swap stories with my former classmates.

But, at least I'm still standing. And, I have the clean pants to prove it!

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

The right to dry

So, I was watching my regular Sunday Morning show on CBS today, when I saw a segment on clothes lines.

Apparently, there's a big brouhaha brewing out in Bend, Oregon, because some happy homemaker out there has taken to stringing clothes lines in her back yard.

She's not just trying to take advantage of the fresh summer breezes, but to save money and the environment at the same time.

But, some of her neighbors are seething, sneaking onto the poor woman's property in the dead of night to cut her clothesline to ribbons.

Nice, huh?

I have to confess that I do most of my clothes drying in my conveniently climate-controlled laundry room.

But, I do have a clothes line in my back yard. It's a really cool one, at least in my opinion, because one half of the support comes from a grapefruit tree. And, especially this time of year, I like to hang ye olde bed linens out there so they can capture a little of the aromatic Confederate jasmine that drifts across the street from the neighbor's yard.

So, today, while my socks and other bits of personal attire shall remain indoors, I have resolved to show my solidarity for that poor lady in Oregon by airing some of the other laundry around here . . .

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Taming the jungle

If any of ye socks had asked me twenty years ago about my feelings toward yardwork . . . especially on the weekend . . . the answer would have been far different than it is today.

Back then, it was all about forced labor on a dusty, Texas-sized parcel of land.

The infrequent reward was a ten dollar bill. More often than not, however, I was told to be thankful for the roof over my head and three squares a day.

Oh, how times have changed.

Nowadays, I actually enjoy working in the yard. At least, early in the mornings. Any other time of day, and it's just too hot in this little corner of heaven.

I guess one of the reasons I've grown to enjoy it so much is because it's one of the few times left in this hectic world where I can unplug. I'm no longer the slave of a computer or cell phone, just the unruly botanical encroachments on my (thankfully) postage-stamp sized patch of green.

Lately, I've been trying to fight the war out there with "earth friendly" tactics. I use a push mower and edge with a hoe. Both, are decidedly less convenient methods, but I can use the exercise. And, in addition to the cut in carbon emissions, I'm enjoying the reduced fuel costs and decibel levels around here.

Also, I've been trying to use organic methods to ward off the annoying little sprouts that creep up between my brick walks. Unfortunately, they have been a decided failure, requiring yours truly to get down to the bruising and scraping task of trying to fight the battle mano a mano.

I get a lot of thinking done out there, though. At least until the neighbors start waking up for their morning strolls. They either want to chat or let their canine companions christen my horticultural palate. A few interruptions like that, combined with the growing intensity of the Florida sun, generally drive me back indoors well before lunch time.

Such is the state of affairs on this particular kick-off to the weekend . . .

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Summer has officially arrived

I know, according to the calendar, summer arrived some time ago.

And, according to ye olde thermometer and the humidity it arrived *quite* some time ago in this little corner of heaven.

But, it wasn't official until last night's debut of Big Brother, my summertime guilty pleasure.

I don't know why I can't tear myself away from this train wreck.

Every summer, I get sucked into it--watching it 3 nights a week, even following it online, etc.

Ah, well, I suppose we're all entitled to a little frivolity. Whatever it takes to get thru the dog days . . .

Prediction: the female martial arts expert wins it all this year.

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Thursday, July 09, 2009


Well, after the disappointment chronicled earlier this week, Netflix redeemed itself with tonight's DVD selection: Knowing, starring Nicolas Cage.

Without revealing too much of the plot to ye socks who haven't yet seen it yourselves, the story had the feel of a Stephen King novel meets War of the Worlds.

Okay, the King thing may have simply been due to the New England setting.

And, the ending isn't nearly as positive as WOTW . . . unless you take a *very* broad perspective of things.

But, the special effects are great and the plot is ideologically provocative.

Bottom line: don't miss this one.


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

So, where were you . . .

. . . when the digital display on your cell phone or wall clock flashed the very orderly digits:

12:34:56 - 07/08/09


Well, yours truly was noshing on some fish and chips and Rusty O'Reilly's.

And, yet, the beat goes on . . .


Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Wrestler

Just got done watching this critically-acclaimed film starring Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei.

It was . . . well . . . interesting.

Not that I'd ever have to watch it again.

Trying to be positive here, but it's hard not having much of a basis in professional wrestling "culture."

The best part of the film for me was the soundtrack, because it was heavily peppered with some great 80s metal. (Guns n Roses, Ratt, Quiet Riot, etc.)

In fact, if ye socks simply listen to the *new* Bruce Springsteen song composed specifically to play behind the closing credits, you can pretty much get the gist of the movie without having to waste an hour and a half of your lives.

The Wrestler is a one trick pony. He's not a good dad. He's not a good boyfriend. He's not a good employee or co-worker. He's not good at anything beyond the wrestling ring. And, that's frustrating . . . at least to this viewer.

I kept getting disappointed with Rourke's character. Just when you think he's ready to accept a new phase in his life, one in which he might gain some real self-actualization, he reverts to form.

I guess it was all that disappointment that overshadowed the few glimmering aspects of the film.

Bottom line: skip the flick, stick to the soundtrack.

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Monday, July 06, 2009

Ford should give Emerson a rest

Well, ye socks, yours truly has finally finished reading Richard Ford's prize-winning novel Independence Day.

Kinda appropriate given the recent holiday, no?

Well, as alluded to in a previous post, it took a lot of effort on my part to get thru this one.

Ford's writing is often disjointed. The best dialogues . . . even monologues . . . are delivered over the phone or answering machines.

It's very hard to like any of these characters.

What's harder to like is Ford's fawning over Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882). But, I suppose any apologist for the "great" Transcendentalist is doomed to pratfalls.

Ultimately, Ford suffers the same assessment as his hero, in that he was quite appealing in his youth. But, with age, he became a godless curmudgeon.

I remember thinking a lot of Emerson as a young conservative college student, for a couple of reasons. First, he had a personal connection to Florida, spending his winters in St. Augustine socializing with exiled members of the French imperial family. More importantly, his writings encouraged self-reliance, championed individualism, and dared to see opportunities in adverse situations. He inspired an entire generation of Americans, who deemed his 1837 speech "The American Scholar" to be an "Intellectual Declaration of Independence."

I suppose that's where Ford got the title for this tedious novel, moreso than its actual setting.

Ford was much less-contrived in the prequel The Sportswriter, which somehow managed to speak to me using the same protagonist but with less Transcendentalist clap-trap.

Self-reliance can indeed be a virtue, unless it is taken to extremes. Emerson was an extremist in that he saw no higher power than the individual, and ultimately rejected God. Henry Ware, Jr., pegged him (quite appropriately) for "taking away the father of the Universe" and leaving "but a company of children in an orphan asylum."

This older, bitter, godless Emerson is the figure Ford emulates and celebrates in Independence Day. If ye socks would believe the Pulitzer committee, he evidently succeeded in the former. But, the latter seems more than a bit contrary . . .

Bottom line: skip it.

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Sunday, July 05, 2009

Mass communication, 1776 style

John Dunlap (1747-1812) is rarely included in lists of America's founding fathers, which is really a shame.

The Philadelphia printer may not have been a decorated military hero.

And, he wasn't a member of the Continental Congress.

But, he did take Thomas Jefferson's handwritten original of our Declaration of Independence, and put it into print.

It was on this date back in 1776 that John Hancock ordered copies of Dunlap's broadsides be distributed to all the political and military leaders in the 13 original colonies, to be read to the general public and our service men.

So, remember, ye socks, Benjamin Franklin wasn't the only printer from Philadelphia to help birth our nation.

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Saturday, July 04, 2009

We hold these truths to be self-evident . . .

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Friday, July 03, 2009

Committees can be productive

As evidence, I submit to ye socks the result of a committee created by the Continental Congress.

On this date back in 1776, they returned a draft of the Declaration of Independence that won congressional approval.

Nowadays, it seems an all-too-often result of committee work is stonewalling, foot-dragging, and indecision. Or, worse, if ye examine the shenanigans of committee chairmen like Barney Frank.

Fortunately, our forefathers had the wisdom to appoint some pretty stellar committee members to handle the task of drafting the famous declaration:

* Thomas Jefferson, who did almost all of the actual writing and generally gets most of the credit (deservedly, so).

* John Adams, who made the first round of revisions.

* Benjamin Franklin, who made the second round of revisions.

* Robert R. Livingston, of whom I must confess that I know almost nothing about.

and, finally

* Roger Sherman (1721-1793) the dandy fellow from Connecticut, pictured here in the dryer today. Jefferson once said of his fellow committee member that he "never said a foolish thing in his life." Oh, how times have changed . . .

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

So, he was off by a coupla days . . .

On this date back in 1776, the Continental Congress finally put the great debate to rest and adopted a resolution for independence.

The resolution's most ardent supporter, John Adams, would write to his wife about it:

The Second Day of July 1776 will be the most memorable Epocha in the History of America . . . I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary Festival.

Well, I'm with Mr. Adams. Let's kick-off the celebrations today, and just carry them forward thru the 4th and beyond!

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Great Debate

Forget about your Abraham Lincoln.

Forget about your Stephen Douglas.

The greatest debate in American history was the one that transpired on this date back in 1776.

One one side, you had John Adams, the fierly little patriot from Massachusetts, bristling for an immediate declaration of independence.

And, on the other side, you had this much more urbane fellow from Pennsylvania: John Dickinson.

Like the folks from New York, the thought of outright independence made him nervous.

He was not an altogether unpatriotic fellow. A lot of folks forget that he teamed-up with Thomas Jefferson to draft a resolution to "die free men rather than slaves," declaring the causes and necessity of taking up arms. But, he also wanted to take a more measured approach to the British, proposing a confederation of the American colonies rather than outright independence from King George III.

Fortunately for freedom-loving Americans, Adams won the debate. Wish someone in the loyal opposition had his gifts in the current Congress . . .

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