Monday, July 28, 2014

Would You Believe..?

As if there wasn't enough else to worry about in the mid-to-late 1960s, people liked to sit around inventing crazy stories, one of which was that Paul McCartney had been slain in a bloody car crash.  That story amused swingin' London for a week or two in 1967, buttressed by shreds of facts (McCartney's car was in a wreck, but it was being driven by someone who worked for him, and he did wipe out on his moped, chipping a tooth and scarring his otherwise stiff upper lip.  He grew a mustache to hide the scar) and people's natural love of pure bullhockey.

And then came 1969, when a fool named Tim Harper (who had like totally, heard all about Paul being dead from a friend who knew a guy who knew the coroner...) wrote a "news story" which appeared in the Times-Delphic, the student newspaper of the Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. Next thing you know, a DJ who should have known better, one Russ Gibb, on WKNR-FM, took a call from a listener who said that Paul was dead, and if Gibb would simply play "Revolution 9" backwards, everyone could hear the Beatles chant “turn me on, dead man.” And then, someone wrote an article in another college newspaper about this great plot to cover up the death of Paul McCartney, and Russ Gibb, seeking an easier way to turn a quick couple of dollars than doing one more teen dance, produced a radio documentary, laying out all the made-up facts.   For weeks, an anxious nation - yea, the world - awaited confirmation that the man who later wrote "Silly Love Songs" was alive to sing them.  Clues were discussed - he was the only one walking barefoot on the Abbey Road album! - the license tag was 28IF, meaning he would have been 28 IF he had lived! - Lennon mutters "I buried Paul" because who would mumble the words "Cranberry sauce" on a record?!

As was often the case, nothing was clear until LIFE magazine came out in November, with proof that Paul was alive and well and living among many sheep on a farm in Scotland.  In the magazine, McCartney told fans that “Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” paraphrasing Mark Twain. “However, if I was dead, I’m sure I’d be the last to know.”

You can add "the last to know" to the people in our town who choose to believe and spread ridiculous myths, the two most often-repeated of which are that a politician and newscaster got busy and had a baby, and that a ballplayer beat up an actor in a jealous rage.  You ask for evidence, and all you get is "I knew a guy who talked to a guy whose uncle was like totally there!" People who believe and retell these stories always quote a high-ranking police officer as the source of their veracity.

Sergeant Pepper.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday Rerun...from January 2011...Peanut Butter and Traffic Jam

Wow, is all we could say.  On Wednesday, the Baltimore area had a once-in-a-lifetime weather and traffic mess, which will give us something to chatter about in malls, office lunchrooms, hair "saloons" and small claims courts for years to come.

The day dawned with a couple of inches of snow dappling our landscape, and if you haven't had your landscape dappled lately, let me tell you, you're missing out.  The weather people had been saying that it would start to rain overnight and rain like all get-out during the day, so it snowed instead and then the sky turned rather pouty and rainy.  Then the weather people said it would start to snow just about the time everyone left to go home from work, but we took a wait-and-see attitude  toward that.  I get off at 3:30, and when I headed home it was raining sort of hard.  I stopped for gas on the way, and the wind kept blowing my hood off my hooded chore jacket, and then by the time I got back to the Lazy 'C' Ranch here, it was sleeting.

Peggy and I enjoyed a nice dinner and, unable to take our usual 20-minute after dinner walk on the court we live on, we took walks around the house we live in.  I was going up and down stairs for exercise, walking through the house, and had the odd experience of running into Peggy as she left the dining room.  "Hi there, " I said, with an amiable nod.  No, we're not insane.  Really.

So, with nothing on TV, I was idly thumbing through Facebook and started seeing messages from people who were stuck in huge traffic jams on the beltway and other highways.  I mean, it was like 8 o'clock, 9 o'clock, quarter to ten, and they had left their work at 4, 4:30, 5!  Seven hours became the commute home for many people, and no, they were not cheered to think that on another night - most ANY other night - they could have shuffled off to Buffalo in that much time!

What happened was the perfect storm, the one with no Geo. Clooney.  The snow got fierce just as the traffic did, and how are you gonna get a snow plow through to plow the snow off streets already clogged with SUVs? Reports of people waiting two hours on a Beltway exit ramp surfaced.  Our favorite traffic reporter Candace Dold reported that it took her 7 1/2 hours to get to work - a normal 30-minute ride.  Highways were shut down, cars were abandoned, people slept in hotel lobbies.  And one person decided to go the wrong way on a major highway.

And then later, the streets were clear!  Zipadeedoodah!

This seems like a good time to remind one and all living in areas prone to snow of several things. First, sneak out of work early when a big snow is headed your way! (Not applicable to public safety personnel, news reporters, and grocery store cashiers!) Second, in the winter time, keep the car full of gas as much as you can - lots of people ran out of gas on the beltway. And it's a good idea to keep some granola bars, peanut butter doodads and bottles of water in the car just in case.

And also - an empty water bottle.  You'll see why!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Saturday Picture Show, July 26, 2014

Here's an interesting picture from when Dick Cheney was much younger...we call it "Just Two Guys Who Went Hunting By Bicycle"
A lifetime of advice on one simple license tag.  You never know how far it is to the next WaWa.
So many people show those "Keep Calm and Carry On" signs from World War II as the English demonstrated how to keep a stiff upper lip.  But there is always a "but" to these things.  2.45 million copies of the signs - this one, "Keep Calm and Carry On" and "Freedom Is In Peril. Defend It With All Your Might" that England printed were never distributed!  After they were made, the British government decided that the mottoes were patronising and divisive, so they sat in storage until being pulped for other paper uses.  A few copies survived, someone posted one in an antique shop, and millions of copies were made, setting off the craze for memories of things as they never really were.
 I love the name of the "Drug City" drugstore in Dundalk, MD, but this one from Hollywood, CA, from 1965, shows a similar cool name.
A fellow named Bill Holsten took this shot of a Chestnut-mandibled Toucan and you have to say this bird looks happy in his domain!         (
Three cheers for the opera parking lot in Estonia, where they have a sense of humor about the gate blade.  But I also take cheer from knowing that Estonians can enjoy a double-meat footlong BMT before enjoying "The Barber of Seville."

Friday, July 25, 2014

They're not right about your rights

As football training camps open, we find that people who choose to discriminate and make ridiculous statements about others are already in mid-season form, forcing the rest of us to double up on our intake of slurs and innuendoes, just to stay up with the dumb utterances of people such as Lauren Cox and Tony Dungy, the latter of whom I used to respect a lot.

We start with Mrs Cox, the wife of a man with the greatest job in the world, save for Charlie Watts, the drummer for the Rolling Stones.  Morgan Cox is the Ravens' long snapper, which means that he gets a good sideline seat for all the games and only has to get off the bench when there's a kick coming - a field goal, extra point or punt.  When called upon, he uses his natural ability to hunch over and hike a football backwards from between his legs, to the holder or punter a few yards back. Then he blocks opponents as needed and goes back to the seat he only recently vacated and watches the rest of the game, or eats a hot dog, or whatever.

Cox is married to the former Lauren Bell, who writes a blog she calls "The Nomad Notepad."  You might expect that she would write about how great it is to have plenty of money, good health and all the advantages of living in prosperity, but nooooooooo! Last week, she chose to complain about the ESPY awards, and how Drake was making jokes about athletes fooling around with loose women. She was aghast that anyone would make a joke about such things!  Why, she has “shed tears with so many friends over the issue Drake mocked tonight”!

Maybe your friends need to choose better husbands, is all I'm saying.

She writes like a high school kid who just found out about Pearl Harbor ("Some may think that the families of these players just disappear from August to January while our men are hard at work providing your entertainment as we eat our Thanksgiving meals alone, but you are extremely mistaken.") Poor Lauren, pickin' at a wishbone while trying to scrape by on the $630,000 salary her husband makes.  

And speaking of Pearl Harbor, she makes an inapt comparison when she says that Michael Sam is like Hitler and the 9/11 terrorists, because Sam, who only wants to be an NFL player and an out gay man at the same time, believes he is doing what he has the right to do, and so did Hitler as he killed "hundreds of thousands of people" (only off by about 5.5 million there, Lauren) and so did the Twin Towers murderers.  Anyone who believes they are doing the right thing winds up in the same sin bin, to her.

You can read it for yourself if you wish, and even enjoy her unapologetic apology ("I apologize for those that I have have offended") if you want.  You'll think you're back in Creative Writing 11,   I tell you. 

And then Tony Dungy, the former coach and current TV analyst, winds up and opens up his thoughts about how he would not have chosen Michael Sam to play on his team.  "Not because I don't believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn't want to deal with all of it,” Dungy said.  “It’s not going to be totally smooth … things will happen.’’

So many groups, so many individuals, have been kept out of so many things for so many years because "things will happen."  And Dungy is the man appointed by the league to be Michael Vick's personal mentor when Vick got out of prison after serving a sentence for his unspeakable cruelty to animals, and the man who once said he embraced a constitutional amendment making same-sex marriage illegal. 

But in the world where Lauren B. Cox and Tony Dungy live, gay people, Hitler, the 9/11 hijackers and every other sinful thing are all mixed up in this big conspiracy to derail their happy little world where all couples have to be boy-girl and no one gets to live the way THEY want to without checking with the Dungy-Cox Committee On How You Have To Live.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Vested Interest

Mark Ramiro, 30, of Baltimore, will be a guest in the city's hoosegow until sometime in August, awaiting trial on first-degree murder, second degree murder and two gun charges.

Unlike most people charged with murder in The City That Reads, who tend to be murderers who kill rival drug dealers or people who have failed to show them sufficient respect in their day-to-day billingsgate, Ramiro finds himself cooling his heels because he and his late friend Darnell Mitchell came up with the idea, at four in the morning of July 16, to make a "Jackass"-style video.

"Jackass" movies and TV shows are fun to watch because they present talented, idiotically fearless stunt performers snorting wasabi, crawling nekkid through a room full of set mousetraps, and launching themselves skyward on giant human slingshots.  I watch them, I laugh like a ninny, and I have no more interest in recreating those scenes than I do invading France to re-do "The Longest Day."  Most people realize that there is a difference between the PERFORMERS in a show and the AUDIENCE of the show.

Messrs. Ramiro and Mitchell seem not to have understood. When they hauled out the old video camera to capture images of themselves licking a toilet, that was one thing.  But then Mitchell put on a bulletproof vest and announced that he was ready to be shot with a "deuce-deuce" (a .22 revolver, popular with gun lovers who enjoy shooting their friends.) According to city police, Ramiro pulled the trigger as the video rolled, and the bullet he fired missed the vest, but not his friend, whose life ended right there and then.

Apparently, none of the participants watched the warning at the beginning of the real Jackass movies. (left)
Ramiro's attorney, Christopher Flohr, said in court, as bail was denied Ramiro,  "It was a tragic, tragic accident between friends fueled by alcohol and drug abuse," Flohr said. "There's no way to explain people messed up on drugs and alcohol."

Well, there is always the explanation that people messed up on drugs and alcohol operate with impaired judgement...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Inseams to me, pants aren't all that important anyway

Every July, for three of the hottest days since they unhinged the doors to Hell, Baltimore hosts a large outdoor art shindig known as Artscape. There are usually cases of people passing out from the heat, there are free-bottled-water handouts set up 20 yards from the guy selling cold bottled water for a buck a pop, and there are misting stations where you can get even wetter than the sweat has already made you so you can return to looking at the attractions.

Well, this year, the entire mid-Atlantic region was bathed in cooler, drier weather for mid-July, which came in handy to give the local meteorologists something to burble about and something for the wry, seen-it-all news anchor to opine about ("I guess this portends a cool, dry winter, huh, Bob?") while trying to figure out how to pronounce Auchentoroly, as in Auchentoroly Terrace, a street down near the zoo. (It's AWKen-trolley, btw.)

Well, fearing that Baltimore's many art lovers would have nothing but art to discuss at Artscape, a band of people opposed to wearing pants managed to avoid having everything come apart at the seams. You can't hem them in, that's for sure. And as fast as they could, they dropped trou and paraded around in their undies. For a public exhibit which once featured as art a car completely covered in glued-on bottle caps, this was enough to generate some attention.

Justin Bieber?  Mindy Kaling?  You tell me!
The group calls themselves "No Pants No Problem" and you can see their Facebook page right here.  They put together a flash mob, no pun intended, and had a big time at Artscape.

If they were hoping for public acceptance, they got it.  Who really cares if someone is browsing through art while wearing a bikini bottom or a pair of plaid boxers or some tighty-whiteys?  Those who would say it's immoral or improper haven't been to a beach or a high school since The Partridge Family was on.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Jump in, if you know the words

You never know from day to day what's going to happen to you, but you can minimize your chances of falling off a 33-story building by not getting on the roof of a 33-story building and fooling around by the edge.

It's really up to you.

Likewise, if you juggle sharp knives or whirring chainsaws, you stand a much better chance of needing many more Band-Aids than someone who is reading, and needs fear only the occasional paper cut.

Dr. Petty
It's your choice.  Which brings us to Dr John Petty, 63, formerly of Longview, TX.  An educated man, clearly, and a fan of scuba diving and underwater photography.  

I'll bet you a dollar there were lots of pictures of coral reefs and sunken ships and passing angelfish all over the waiting room of his chiropractic office back home in Longview.  Going underwater and taking pictures of what you see - that's a cool hobby.

Last Sunday, Dr Petty added "swimming with sharks" off the Bahamas to the hobby, and after a 64-hour search over 4600 miles, the Coast Guard suspended their search for his remains.  His diving vest and some other gear, shredded by you-know-what, were recovered.

I don't mean to make light of the man's passing, but this was totally preventable.  Some of us seem to get an adrenalin rush from cheating the hangman, running with the bulls in Pamplona, jumping into the lion's den at the zoo, taunting the sharks where they live.

Dude.  It's their ocean.  Jump in, and they might feel threatened, and bite your head off.  It's the underwater version of Stand Your Ground, and that's the only place it makes much sense.