"Yo Ho, Yo Ho..."

"...A pirate's life for me!"

Spotted some advertising postcards in the mail from a company in Pennsylvania named Channel Craft, which sells American-made toys and games. Surprisingly enough, there still are some out there.

Anyway, this flyer was going to a gift shop in Naples and offered pirate-themed merchandise, which is going to be very timely and very hot in about a week when Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest comes out in theaters. That's the only movie that I absolutely must see this summer. I like the Pirate Flags, and told my partner on the machine that we needed the "Pirates For Hire" one for our machine.


"When the Going Gets Weird...

...the weird turn pro," to quote the late Hunter S. Thompson. And it doesn't get much weirder than this:

Axl Rose Allegedly Bites Security Guard

STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose was arrested in Stockholm early Tuesday after allegedly biting a security guard in the leg outside his hotel, police said.

Rose _ who performed in the Swedish capital on Monday evening _ was being held on suspicion of attacking and threatening the guard, as well as causing damage to the Berns Hotel where the alleged scuffle took place, police spokeswoman Towe Hagg said.

Hagg told The Associated Press that Rose was intoxicated during the confrontation, which broke out around 8 a.m., and would face questioning after he sobers up.

"He was deemed too intoxicated to be questioned right away," she said.

I'm shocked, shocked! Well, no, not really. But I thought Axl was in Guns N' Roses, not the Fine Young Cannibals! Although "She Drives Me Crazy" seems to fit as the background music, since Axl was said to have had an altercation with a woman at the hotel before the security guard became involved, according to another news story I read. I went to the Aftonbladet site, but unless you can read Swedish, you're outta luck there. No English language site, unlike those nice folks at the Norwegian paper in Oslo.


Not Politically Correct

I saw a postcard at work on Monday that was sheer marketing genius. It was for a restaurant that's trying to become a restaurant chain. At present, they are only in Tempe, Arizona, but their goal is to go national. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Heart Attack Grill.

The concept: A simple menu of hamburgers (up to Quadruple Bypass Burger size!), Flatliner Fries (fried in pure lard) and either soda or beer, served in a pseudo-medical setting by personnel dressed as doctors and sexy nurses. Their target demographic: The Alpha Male. Now that is a great T-shirt, isn't it?

Now, the PC food Nazis would hate this whole concept. "Red meat! Bad for you! Fried food! Bad for you! Alchohol! Bad for you! Smirking at political correctness! REALLY bad for you! Off to the re-education camps with you!" That alone would be reason enough to eat there if you ever made it to Tempe, or if the Heart Attack Grill expands to your area.

I'll say it again: Sheer marketing genius. I wish these guys good luck.


And She Didn't Look A Day Over 150!

In the news, Harriet the tortoise has died at about age 176. Now, 176 years is a good long run, far longer than you or I will likely get, even with the advances in medicine and longevity therapies. However, the drawbacks are that to live that long, you have to eat a monotonous diet of leaves and you never get to move faster than about 0.01 miles per hour under your own power. And there's that shell. (Long) life is full of little trade-offs.

Still, it's interesting to think about all of the history that tortoise saw (or didn't see) in her long lifetime. It's believed that she was studied by Charles Darwin himself, before being taken to Australia. In 1830, about the time when Harriet was hatched, Andrew Jackson wasn't on the $20 bill, he was in the White House. The U.S. population in 1830 was less than 13 million; today, we're closing in on 300 million. Harriet lived through a lot of changes.


Spotted In the Mail

A name addressed on a letter: Pamela Phillipe. Off by one letter. Barbara will understand. The rest of you won't, unless you've read Ken Grimwood's novel Replay. Considering that I just re-read that book last weekend, it seemed a trifle odd.

(And if you haven't read it, I highly recommend it. Get thee to thy local library or to Amazon.com!)


Tea and Artwork

First things first: I am not a tea drinker. It's a taste that I've never acquired. However, on the off chance that tea is one of your drinks of choice, I will tell you about an advertising postcard I spotted in the mail last night for The Republic of Tea. It announced the availability of the Darjeeling Nouveau, a prized tea "plucked on April 2, 2006 from the famed Thurbo Garden, which is set amongst the rolling, verdant hills of the Nepalese Darjeeling border." Since I'm not familiar with the nuances of gourmet tea, I probably wouldn't be able to tell it from Lipton Instant Tea mix. It's not cheap; it runs $19 for a 3.5 ounce tin, or $77 per pound. It was the poster artwork on the tin that caught my eye, however. If you click on the "View Larger" window on that second link, you can get a better view of it. What's the woman's name? I'm guessing Eleanor Rigby, and that her face is still in the jar by the door.

If you are a tea fancier, then by all means take a look at their web site. Alas, it's wasted on me. I'll just have a Cherry Diet Coke instead.


"Someone's Been Eating MY Porridge..."

And there he is! Bear Eats Oatmeal in Woman's Kitchen

WEST VANCOUVER, British Columbia - It was a real-life version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears - only in reverse - when a woman came home to find a young bear eating oatmeal in her kitchen.

The bear apparently entered through an open sliding glass door, broke a ceramic food container and started eating, West Vancouver police Sgt. Paul Skelton said.

The bear was allowed to finish his meal and then he left. I found the final paragraph interesting as well:

Skelton said bears in the suburbs north of Vancouver have been coming out of hibernation as hungry as ever but later than usual but this spring because of a heavier than normal snowpack from the winter. The report Thursday was one of six complaints police said they received about bears in the area that day.

Um... I thought Al Gore told us that we were all going to die from global warming. How can there be "heaver than normal snowpack" if global warming is actually occurring? Inquiring minds want to know.


Another Instant Karma Story

After having lunch with my dad yesterday, I was driving home along the back streets. There were a couple of pickup trucks in front of me, and all three of us turned right onto an intersecting street. A motorcyclist coming from the opposite direction turned in behind us. He wasn't wearing a helmet, but did have on a black billed sun visor.

Well, you know how some motorcyclists are: They have no regard for silly traffic rules like speed limits, lanes, stuff like that. And even though we all were going a few miles over the speed limit in front of him, by God, he was in a HURRY and he was going to whip past us. So he did, roaring away noisily.

"Not too smart, dude," I said aloud, knowing that people who drive like that are an accident waiting to happen. Of course, I don't have a high regard for the intelligence of a cyclist riding without a helmet anyway. They don't call it a "brain bucket" for nothing.

And then it happened: I saw something small and black fly up in the air, then tumble to the ground, skittering on the road between the wheels of the truck in front of me. The speeding motorcyclist's visor had blown off his head! I laughed aloud and quickly resisted the split-second impulse to "accidentally" run over it. A couple of blocks ahead, the now headgear-less biker turned in on a side street and was turning around to go back and retrieve his cap. I chuckled as I drove past him.

Although it was mild, it was still "instant karma." I suspect, however, that the cyclist learned nothing from the incident, other than to keep his head down so the bill of his visor didn't catch the wind.


Friday, Friday

"Can't trust that day..." Usually Friday is a pretty good day, but today was the Friday from Hell. It was a Murphy's Law kind of day, when nothing went right, and in the end, it just showed that Murphy was an optimist. Between equipment malfunctions, poor quality mail and general time-wasting required activities, it was a bad day. Fortunately, it is over now, and I can enjoy my weekend. I'm getting together with my dad for lunch tomorrow to celebrate Father's Day a day early. We originally were going to have lunch on Sunday, but decided that the wait at the restaurant would likely be shorter tomorrow, rather than on Sunday when everyone and their father will be out there. And we don't like to wait...


Slogging Through the Week

Thursday: Done. Four down, one to go. I was kind of surprised that my regular partner was back from his vacation. I wasn't sure if he had one more week or not. We had a chance to catch up on all of the recent good news (Zarqawi's demise, the Rove non-indictment, etc.). We disagreed on the news story from Texas about the 25-year-old female teacher who faces up to 20 years in prison for having sex with an 18-year-old male student. I felt that while it was unethical, and probably a fireable offense, it should not be a crime because both participants were consenting adults. He thought that she had abused her situation of authority and should serve jail time, although much less than 20 years.

He also told me an interesting story about his trip through the coastal area of the Carolinas, where he saw a bunch of stands along the side of the road (Highway 17 north of Charleston) where elderly black women were weaving baskets from the local grasses. My helpful search engine pointed me to articles about Gullah sweetgrass basket weaving, which told me that the baskets are among the oldest forms of African-American art, and the tradition has been passed down through generations. Whole families often take part, with the men and boys obtaining the sweetgrass from the coastal areas, while the women and girls weave the baskets. The Gullah people of South Carolina (and some areas of Georgia) are direct descendents of African slaves brought to the area to grow rice, and still speak their own language which combines English and African words. The basketmaking is threatened by urban development, which makes it much more difficult to obtain the sweetgrass necessary to make the baskets.

You learn something new every day.


Some Days...

...you have a lot to say. Some days you don't. Some days you're just happy thinking about someone else reading the news and gritting her teeth when she sees that Karl Rove won't be indicted for anything.

Mmmmmmmmm, schadenfreude!


Zarqawi's Dead, Third Draft

I got the good news at 4:00 a.m. while I was at lunch: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, aka "The Zarkster," was killed in an overnight bombing raid. My response was a loud "Woohoo!" that echoed through the nearly-empty break room. Normally I'm not the sort of person who would take pleasure in the death of others, but in the case of an evil terrorist like the Zarkster, I'm willing to make an exception, much as I did for Yasser Arafat when he died. Some people actively work to make the world a better place, but others can only do so by leaving it.

Good riddance, and I hope that all 72 of his virgins look like Helen Thomas.

By the way, if I was responsible for the Zarkster's final arrangements, I'd put his corpse in a cage in Firdos Square in Baghdad, with the bars wide enough to piss through, and I'd let everyone in Iraq who wants to piss on his body come and do so. After about three days or so, I'd send someone in with a mask and gloves to remove the body from the cage, then sew it up in the untanned hide of a freshly slaughtered hog. I'd then wrap the body with about a hundred pounds or so of chains, then take it up in a helicopter and fly over the Persian Gulf and dump it at sea so that there would be no shrine for the Islamists to visit.

Zarqawi's Dead, Second Draft

No, he's not "pining for the fjords..." Zarqawi is definitely an ex-parrot!

"It's not pinin', it's passed on! This parrot is no more! It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet its maker! This is a late parrot. It's a stiff. Bereft of life, it rests in peace, if you hadn't nailed it to the perch it would be pushing up the daisies! It's rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible! This is an ex-parrot!"

Zarqawi's Dead, First Draft

"I love the smell of dead terrorists in the morning; it smells like victory!"


One More Thought For Today

I've got the latest version of Windows XP, with the new Media Player. There's a new visualization for the music player called G-Force, and it's better than any of the old ones. I mean, this is seriously cool looking. I imagine that the Haight-Ashbury stoners of the '60s would have given their right arms to be able to watch something like this gyrating to the music. Well, maybe not, but stoned people are easily fooled.

Nothing From Nothing

If you recognize that song title, you probably already know that Billy Preston died yesterday of kidney failure after being in a coma for several months. He was 59. You'd probably also recognize "Will It Go Round In Circles" if you heard it. Preston played some with the Beatles on "Abbey Road" and "Let It Be." He also appeared in the campy Bee Gees/Peter Frampton movie "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," singing "Get Back" in a gold suit. Hey, it was the '70s. Be kind. I liked his music and I think it's sad that he died so young. Rest in peace, Billy.

Thought for the day: If it's raining hard enough, it doesn't make a heck of a lot of difference whether you have an umbrella or not. Well, your head and shoulders will stay dry, anyway. And hey, you're not made of sugar candy, so you won't melt. The rest of you will dry off in time. Wet shoes and pant legs: This too shall pass.

Saw a letter last night with the return addressee being "Jesse James." It was going to someone else with the last name James in one of our local jails. Funny; you'd think that Jesse would have been the one in stir. I mean, what were his parents thinking?! Giving a kid a name like that is just setting him up for a life of crime. It's kind of like naming your daughter "Chastity," and then being surprised when she ends up being either a stripper, a nun or a lesbian.


Strip-Mining Psychedelia

You have a Target commercial and Alice Cooper's late night radio show to thank for this post. It's about psychedelic music from the 1960s and the power of the Internet. Let's begin.

The other night, I was watching television and a Target commercial came on, and like many commercials these days, it had a clip of retro music for those of us old enough to remember it. For the young, it's all new, of course. The song was "The Shape of Things to Come," and I was pretty sure that it was from the period of about 1967-69, because of the psychedelic sound. Now, I had no idea who the singer was, but through the magic of Google, I quickly found out that while the song had been covered by the Ramones and Slade, the original version, which was used in the commercial, was by Max Frost and the Troopers. Even more interesting, the song came from the 1968 movie "Wild in the Streets"; it was one of those kooky movies that was kind of like "Logan's Run" on magic mushrooms, without the groovy uniforms. The voting age gets lowered to 15, the squares get "retired" at 30 and sent off to camps for perpetual acid trips. Really.

Later that night, I was listening to Alice's radio show on the way to work. Every night, he digs something classic out of the vaults. This particular night, it was a song I recognized, but not the version I heard. Now, if you listened to rock music in the 1980s, you're probably familiar with the Hooters, and might even have a copy of their "Nervous Night" CD stashed away someplace. One of the songs on it was "She Comes In Colors." That was the song that Alice was playing, but not their version. Instead, this was obviously a late '60s psychedelic version featuring a singer with a weedy voice and a some kind of weirdly annoying pipe/flute accompaniment. It was one of those songs that you listen to it and think, "Man, it must have sounded a lot better to them when they were stoned." An Amazon search told me that this was probably the version of the song by the band Love.

The amazing thing about both of these songs is the amount of information I could find on them via the Internet. All you need is an identifiable line from the lyrics and you have a pretty good chance of finding out what the song is and who sang it. We live in interesting times, if you can survive the information overload.


More This & That

Funniest thing I read yesterday: An interview in Britain's left-wing newspaper The Independent with an American rocker, hunter and firearms enthusiast: Ted Nugent: Off his rocker? The interviewer was a typical left-wing vegetarian type, and not surprisingly, they didn't see eye-to-eye. Best line:

"What do these deer think when they see you coming?" I ask him. "Here comes the nice guy who puts out our dinner? Or, there's the man that shot my brother?"

"I don't think they're capable of either of those thoughts, you Limey asshole. They're only interested in three things: the best place to eat, having sex and how quickly they can run away. Much like the French."


Then there's this somewhat related story I spotted in yesterday's USA Today: Amnesty program takes stab at UK's 'knife culture'

"When knives are outlawed, only outlaws will have knives." Then they'll take away those dangerous forks ("You could put somebody's eye out with that!"), then figure out that spoons can be sharpened into shanks and thus must also be banned, and then Bob's your uncle, everyone in Britain will be back to eating Henry the VIIIth style, with their hands. Really, it sounds almost like something that Monty Python would have come up with.

We had a mailing today from a Florida Democrat politician. I won't name him, since I don't want to give him any kind of plug, but his initials are R.S. The odd thing about this large-sized postcard mailing is that while it extols how much he has fought against "right-wing Republicans" and "right-wing extremists" and for "Democratic priorities" (code for "electing our people so that WE can divvy up the political spoils instead of those nasssty Republicansses! We hatess them, Precioussss! We hatess them forever!"), at no point on either side of the postcard does he tell us what office he is running for! Congress? Governor? Dogcatcher? We don't know, he doesn't say! He's just offering "Democratic leadership for Florida." No thanks, R.S. I don't trust a fellow who won't even tell me what he's running for.

Also, he claims credit for "spearheading the closing the notorious Florida boot camps and opposing physical abuse or psychological intimidation of juveniles." Sorry, R.S., but you are way wrong on this one. This isn't little Bobby or Suzy from the middle school who didn't turn in his homework or forgot to return her library book. These are BAD kids, on the road to a life of adult crime, and I don't have ANY problem with a little psychological intimidation of the little darlings (although killing them is going over the line). It's called "scared straight," R.S. Get with the program.