Acknowledging A Debt

I saw in the news yesterday that comedian George Carlin died. I must acknowledge a debt to him: Without his sketch about "The Seven Words You Can't Say On Television," I wouldn't have the vocabulary to deal with the other drivers on the road. Those words, plus their various combinations and permutations, give me ample choices to describe the parentage and sexual habits of the bad drivers around me. Thanks, George, and Godspeed.

How I Spent My Weekend

My two brothers were in town over the weekend to help celebrate my Dad's 70th birthday. It made for a busy weekend, but it's always nice to see family, so I didn't mind. On Friday, I napped in the early afternoon, then went to the airport to pick up Kurt, my brother from Kansas City. We joined Dad for dinner at Pincher's Crab Shack, which was a nice touch of local color. They have good seafood.

On Saturday, I picked up my other brother, Karl, at the airport when his flight from LaGuardia finally arrived. It was 20 minutes late but the video screen claimed that it was "On Time." Yeah, right. From there, we joined Kurt and Dad for lunch at Smokey Bones Barbecue. Mmmmm, pulled pork... After lunch, the brothers and I played a round of miniature golf (Karl won), did some shopping for birthday cards and novelty items at Target and hit Ben & Jerry's for some ice cream. Then we went over to Dad's ex's house for his birthday dinner/party (Dad and Shirley are on very cordial terms). Dad's best friend Dick and Shirley's mother Susan (who is 91) were also there. All I can say is that I hope I'm doing as well as she is, if and when I reach age 91. We had a nice dinner, followed by birthday cake and ice cream.

On Sunday, the brothers and Dad met me for lunch at Iguana Mia, which has a policy of a free meal for people celebrating on their birthday. At the end of the meal, they come around with a sombrero and a bowl of fried ice cream, and take the birthday person's picture. We did this for Karl a few years back, and it was Kurt's idea for them both to be down here to get Dad in the sombrero for his 70th birthday. A good time was had by all (and the food was excellent).

And here's the picture:

Kurt and Karl have threatened to come down when I hit my next milestone birthday in 2010. The bad news for them is that it will fall on a Thursday, so maybe I'll escape the sombrero!


The Anti-Obama

Senator Obama is running his presidential campaign on "change." Well, when I read this story online, I knew that I'd found the Anti-Obama:

Romanian village re-elects dead mayor
Neculai Ivascu, 57, who ran the village for almost two decades, died from liver disease just after voting began -- but still won the election by a margin of 23 votes.

"I know he died, but I don't want change," a pro-Ivascu villager told Romanian television.
Yup, the Anti-Obama! Of course, we are talking about Romania, where Transylvania (Home of Count Dracula) is located. They have some experience there in being ruled by the dead, or the undead, anyway.


Risque Business

This is a post about the winding roads down which the internet takes us.

A while back, I was ripping some of my CDs to iTunes so that I could put them on my iPod. One of the CDs was Aerosmith's Toys In the Attic. I've found that one of the best places to go to find the cover art for the CD is Wikipedia. Most artists have a discography link, with separate pages for each album, and many times, the cover art is there.

Sometimes the page for the album will give interesting information about the album as well. This was one of those times: Wikipedia mentioned that Aerosmith's version of the risque classic song "Big Ten Inch Record" was a remake, and that the original version had been recorded back in 1953 by a rhythm and blues singer and saxophonist named Bull Moose Jackson, who also has a Wikipedia page.

It turned out that ol' Bull Moose and I shared a birthday, and that he was one of the singers known for singing "dirty blues" songs back in the day. Many of them would be rather tame today, compared to the X-rated lyrics of some of today's rappers, but at the time, they were rather controversial.

I went to Amazon.com and found that they had some compilations of his music, including A Proper Introduction to Bull Moose Jackson. It had 26 songs for the low price of $10.98, so I said, "Hey, why not?" The booklet was quite informative and the music was entertaining. The songs were recorded in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and had a Big Band sound to them. "Big Ten Inch Record" wasn't the only suggestive song; others included "Nosey Joe" and "I Want A Bowlegged Woman." Another favorite of mine from this CD is "Big Fat Mamas Are Back In Style Again."

A few weeks later, I was on a web site looking for song lyrics, and I found out that the site had information about various songs. One of the songs listed was "Big Ten Inch Record," and someone in the comments noted that he liked Dana Gillespie's version from her 1982 album Blue Job. Back to Amazon.com I went. A little searching found the compilation CD Blues It Up, which has 23 songs, mostly covers but also some originals by Gillespie, and was available new for $21.98. The songs come from three albums she recorded in 1982, 1985 and 1989. This is good stuff! You can listen to samples on the Amazon.com page linked above if you like. I've listened to it several times over the past three weeks. I think it was well worth the money.


One More New York Pic

Just because...

Background: Kurt and I were walking along Central Park West when we spotted a bicycle locked to a lamp post. Well, part of a bicycle, anyway. That lock did a heckuva job protecting the bicycle frame. Shame about the wheels and the seat, though. So I just had to take a picture of something that was at once both funny and sad.

New York was the first place I'd seen where the ATMs are inside the bank buildings in a room that requires that the ATM card be swiped through a lock by the door in order to enter. They don't need that kind of security around here. I can't speak for Miami or Tampa or Orlando, though.


Happy Father's Day

Best wishes to all of the Dads out there on Father's Day. I got together with my Dad yesterday. We shared a pizza and then went to the movies to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. We had a good time; more on the movie later in this post.

Over lunch, we talked about the untimely passing of Tim Russert on Friday. Last year, I called Dad before Father's Day and asked him if he'd like a copy of the new Tim Russert book about fathers, but he told me he'd rather have a copy of Big Russ and Me, so that's what I got him for Father's Day.

I knew, of course, that Tim Russert was a Democrat, since he worked for both Daniel Moynihan and Mario Cuomo. However, as an interviewer, he was tough but fair, both to Republicans and Democrats. Those are traits that are far too rare in the mainstream media today. The stories that are being told in remembrance of him by his journalistic colleagues uniformly show that he was a genuinely nice man as well. When the President, the presidential candidates of both parties, every journalist in the country and even the sports reporters on ESPN lament a man's untimely death, you know that he must have been a pretty good guy.

Now, to the movie: After seeing it, I can understand why the Russians were so angry about it. The Soviets made dandy villains, of course, but nobody ever looks in the mirror and sees a villain; that's not human nature. We can justify many evil acts by telling ourselves that we are doing them to attain good ends. From our perspective, the Soviets were indeed evil, murdering millions, but from their perspective, they were just doing what they had to do. This just shows that not all perspectives are equally valid and correct.

Cate Blanchett was a deliciously evil Natasha as Irina Spalko, and if you didn't know it was her, you wouldn't have been able to tell; she looked VERY different from Galadriel, for instance. The movie was entertaining, although for me, none of the sequels have quite matched the original, although Last Crusade came close. And with Indy eligible for Social Security, it probably would be a good idea for him to hang up his fedora and bullwhip after this one.


An Irony Supplement...

For the humor-anemic. As Instapundit noted, "SOMETIMES A PICTURE really is worth a thousand words."

The linked Volokh.com story is about Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge, who ruled that Ohio's lethal injection death penalty must be changed because two of the three drugs used "might cause pain." Now, regardless of whether you favor or oppose the death penalty, the picture in the USA Today story is absolutely priceless!

The caption says "Lourain [sic] County Common Pleas Judge James Burge speaks in his office in Lorain, Ohio as posters of Che Guevara and Barack Obama hang on his wall."

Che Guevara, of course, is the favorite poster and T-shirt subject of trust fund revolutionaries everywhere. Unlike the poseurs who just sit around and talk about revolution and try to pick up patchouli-smelling hippie chicks, Guevara went out and did it. And knowing that you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs, he had hundreds of his political enemies executed, only the lethal injection method he favored was the lethal injection of a lead bullet to the back of the head.

So here's a picture of a judge who doesn't want death row inmates to feel any pain when justice is meted out to them, who has a poster on his office wall of a bloodthirsty Communist revolutionary who was responsible for the violent deaths of hundreds of people.

It's as if the judge is completely ignorant of who Che Guevara was and what he really stood for. He's not the only one, of course. If the trust fund liberals walking around in Che T-shirts had any idea who he really was, they'd probably be wearing a Stalin or Mao or Pol Pot T-shirt instead, since those guys were much more efficient at what they did and managed to murder millions of people. Guevara was a piker.

I'm not even going to go into the symbolism of the judge having an Obama "Hope" poster next to Guevera on his wall, except to say that Che was, indeed, an "agent of change." If that's what "Hope and Change" means, then all I can say is:




One thing I noticed while in New York was the frequency of tattoos, even on people who didn't look like bikers, sailors or porn stars. A number of the participants in the Puerto Rico Day parade on Sunday had tattoos. We saw one woman walking in front of us whose "tramp stamp" (the tattoo on the lower back) was a Puerto Rican flag and the word "Boricua." On the subway, I saw an attractive Asian woman in a red dress whose shoulder was covered in a large tattoo involving a couple of butterflies and flower vines. Tattoos, tattoos everywhere.

Speaking of which, Ashley Dupre, the hooker who took down the former governor of New York, has the Latin phrase "Tutela valui" tattooed just above her bikini line. She also has some kind of tattoo on her arm. All of the pictures on the New York Daily News web site are from the front, so no telling if she has a tramp stamp or not. The most amazing thing about those pictures is that the woman pictured with her is her mother, according to the Daily News. All I can say is that is some serious MILF action there; she looks pretty good for a woman in her 40s. She'd have to be on a pretty serious exercise program to maintain thighs like those (look at picture 6; you can see daylight between them). Good on ya, Ashley's mom! And no (visible) tattoos...


Streets of New York

Yesterday was another hot day in New York City. Since it was my last full day in the city, it was my day to do tourist stuff. It's impossible to do New York City justice in one day, of course, so we just hit the highlights. Karl (my semi-native guide) had some things he had to do in the morning, so Kurt and I hit the subways and streets on our own. Kurt has been here before, so he had an idea of where we wanted to go. We ended up wandering the streets quite a bit, taking in the ambiance.

We took the A train south from Karl's neighborhood, Inwood and got off at 42nd and Broadway. We quickly noticed that about half of Puerto Rico was on the streets around us, preparing for the annual Puerto Rican parade. They were a happily boisterous group, with flags and bandannas and t-shirts incorporating the flag of Puerto Rico. They also seemed inordinately fond of whistles. When the cops made an opening, we actually crossed the street through the parade and continued eastward all the way to the East River. We were looking for Central Park, not realizing it was a bit further north and back to the west. We eventually found it, and the Puerto Rico parade again as well. We walked along a winding road that cut through Central Park, and then came out near Central Park West not far from Trump Tower. We sat on a park bench, watching some kids taking an exercise class and other people laying out in the hot sun.

After catching our breath, we caught a subway down to the World Trade Center site and paid our respects, then crossed the street to St. Paul's Chapel, which is the oldest building in New York still in use. From there, I called my friend Mary, who was coming into the city from New Jersey to see me, and found out that she was at the Empire State Building, another place I wanted to see. We caught another subway back that way, met up with Mary and then went up to the observation deck on the 86th floor. When we got up there, we got a call from Karl, who was there but at ground level. While we waited for him to come up, we admired the spectacular panorama of the city stretching out in all directions. Fortunately, I remembered to bring my camera, so I took a few pictures, which I'll go through when I get home and maybe upload a few here.

After a while, we could see that weather was coming in from the north, so we went back down to find some lunch. We ended up eating at the Heartland Brewery & Rotisserie, which is on the first floor of the Empire State Building at 34th Street and 5th Avenue. Kurt, Karl and I tried the beer samplers, which were hit-and-miss; we liked some of the varieties better than others. Mary and Karl talked over lunch about the fact that she taught school for a couple of years in the same neighborhood where he lives. It is, indeed, a small world.

Afterward, we took the subway back north, with Mary getting off a few stops before we did to catch a bus back across the George Washington Bridge to where she had parked her car. I'm really glad I finally got a chance to meet Mary, who is just as nice in person as she is online.

I don't know how many miles I walked yesterday, but my knees were barking at the end of it, especially after going up and down all of the stairs in the subways. I can't imagine how anyone who rides the subways on a regular basis could be out of shape, because those stairs are quite an exercise program.

And this morning, I'm getting ready to head home. I have an 11:25 flight out of Newark to Atlanta, a three-hour layover there, and then a flight home. It's been a fun trip to New York, and I've enjoyed Karl's hospitality and the opportunity to hang out with both of my brothers. I will, however, be glad to get home at the end of the day.


Ain't That A Kick In the Head

We're back at Karl's place after the game. It was a simply unbelievable ball game. The Royals jumped out to a 5-1 lead, then fell behind 6-5, then scored five runs to go ahead 10-6, including a grand slam. But the Yankees came back with two runs in the seventh and two more in the eighth to tie the game 10-10. The Royals hit a solo home in the top of the ninth to take an 11-10 lead, and brought in their closer, but he allowed a game-tying homer and then gave up another run as the Yankees won, 12-11. Karl had to leave before the game ended so that he could get ready for work tonight. Kurt and I are probably just going to kick back tonight.

It was hot as hell at the ballpark, and a lot of Yankee fans left early and missed the seesaw comebacks. Let that be a lesson to them: It ain't over 'til it's over. I think it was the first time I've heard a crowd cheer when a cloud came in front of the sun and cooled things off a bit.

My knees are sunburned. I thought I did a pretty good job with the sunscreen, but I didn't allow for the hike-up factor and didn't put enough sunscreen that high up. Ouch.

It was Cap Day at the Stadium, so all three of us have free Yankee caps. I wore my Florida Marlins cap, though. It might have been a mistake, since it was wool rather than cotton. It did keep most of the sun off my face.

And now, I'm drained. I think I'll have a cold beverage and relax.

Saturday Morning

My wakeup call came at 4:53 a.m. in the form of a car alarm. The brothers both slept right through it, but I'd been mostly asleep since around 9 p.m. I say mostly because Karl came home from his gig and noodled around on the guitar, which woke me up but only for a short time. When you've been up for 24 hours, it doesn't take long to go back to sleep. Anyway, I was caught up when 5 a.m. rolled around.

Then there's the problem: What do you do when you're awake at that hour and it's too early to wake everyone else up? Especially if you're in a New York studio apartment? The answer is, you look through the books on the shelf, you watch the sky lighten outside, you take a shower. I haven't been this far north in a long time, so it's strange to see the sky already lightening at 5 a.m. The view from Karl's apartment is nothing like what I'd expected: There's a forested hillside across the street. The northern end of Manhattan is surprisingly green.

I woke them up at 7:30 and then after a while, we went out for breakfast, then took a stroll down to Inwood Hill Park. It's a really pretty day, but already starting to get warm. We watched kids playing Little League baseball, people playing tennis, walking their dogs or just walking or jogging along the paths. Very calming.

Now we're getting ready to head off to Yankee Stadium for today's game...


Start Spreading The News

Where in the world is Clyde? He's out of town, baby, loose in the Big Apple.

Things have not quite gone according to plan. I was supposed to meet up with both of my brothers, Kurt from Kansas City and Karl from New York, but Kurt has been delayed due to bad weather and, to put it bluntly, poor travel planning. You don't show up at the airport fifteen (correction: thirty) minutes before your flight is supposed to leave. Well, I don't, anyway. Needless to say, he got bumped back to the next flight, via Cleveland and Rochester, and then got stuck there. I think he's on his way to Karl's apartment now (we had to come back here so that Karl could get ready for work).

Karl picked me up at the airport in Newark and then we went to the Ironbound neighborhood by the Newark Penn Station, which is home to a large Brazilian community. We went to a Brazilian barbecue joint for lunch and had grilled chicken, which was very good. Karl has a gig tonight, so I'm just waiting for Kurt to get here and we'll see where we go from there. I've been up since 8:30 last night, so there may not be much gas left in the tank.

Tomorrow we are going to Yankee Stadium for the Royals-Yankees game. It's gonna be hot, with low 90s predicted, and it's just going to be hotter the next two days. Karl says that he usually doesn't turn on the little window AC unit until it gets over 90 degrees. Right now, we have the window open and the fan on, and it's warm but not unpleasant. As a Floridian, I'm spoiled; I'm used to having central air, and it seems very strange to be someplace where it isn't common.

Sunday we're going to go out and do the tourist stuff, since this is my first trip to New York. There are a lot of things I'd like to see, and I'll have to cram them all in quickly, because I have to fly home on Monday. Still, this is going to be a nice mini-vacation, especially with the chance to hang with my bros.

Quick thoughts: The drivers here are insane. The concept of "proper following distance" apparently has never been taught in the local driver's education classes. And boy, do they love to honk their horns! You might have thought it was exaggerated, but I've heard more blown horns this afternoon than I hear in a year in Florida. Really!


The Heat Is On

We're living in interesting times. The first tropical storm of the hurricane season formed yesterday off Belize. The L.A. Lakers and the Boston Celtics are in the NBA finals, just like old times. And today, Hillary Clinton wins big over Barack Obama in Puerto Rico's Democratic primary, by some 140,000 votes. I guess somebody forgot to translate "It's over" into Spanish for them.

Unless, of course, it isn't. We should have some idea tomorrow morning, if Larry Johnson at No Quarter, a Democrat blog, isn't blowing smoke. He claims that he will be posting an explosive video clip featuring Michelle Obama by 9:00 a.m. Monday. It's bad enough when a candidate's preacher says unpalatable things, but if they're seen and heard coming from his wife, that could be the last straw for some people. So the questions are does the video really exist, and if so, how bad is it? Having seen video clips of Mrs. Obama on the campaign trail, it doesn't seem improbable to me that she would be caught saying something controversial.

The key thing to remember is that Democrat superdelegates are not bound to vote for either candidate. They are not pledged delegates, even if they have already taken a stand one way or the other. Neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton will have enough pledged delegates by the end of the primary process to win without the majority of the superdelegates, and if something makes one of the candidates politically radioactive, the superdelegates are free to move to the candidate they consider to be more electable in November. The reality is that sort of thing could conceivably happen to either candidate, so while Obama may look like he's got the nomination wrapped up, it won't be signed, sealed and delivered until the superdelegates cast their votes at the convention in Denver.

Update 06/02/2008 09:30 a.m EDT: So far, no video. Lots of blowing smoke, no fire yet. But keep hope alive! The latest rumors at No Quarter are that the rumored tape includes both Louis Farrakhan and Michelle Obama. Hopefully it will come out before the Obama inaugural.