Sunday, February 28, 2010

Thoughts on the Vancouver Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympics are now in their closing ceremonies and the world says goodbye to lovely Vancouver, British Columbia.  My wife and I have been there three times, once to attend Stogie Jr.'s wedding to his Vancouver bride, once to attend a California CPA convention, and once just for fun.  We were blown away by the beauty of Vancouver and of Canada.  British Columbia is one of the most beautiful spots on earth.  Think whales and totem poles, spectacular forests and a beautiful, blue coastline.  Think flower gardens, friendly people and a world-class city, clean and almost devoid of litter or graffiti.

At the CPA convention back in the 1980's, we were actually bused to Whistler, where the 2010 Winter Olympics were just held.  It was June when we visited, however, and there was no snow, but lots of greenery.

It was a little disappointing for the USA hockey team to lose the gold medal to Canada, but let's face it, it was more important for Canada to win it.  Losing the gold on their home ice would have been a real downer, one that would have tarnished the Olympics for them.  For that reason, I do not begrudge them the win.

Congratulations, Canada.  I am off to bed.

Napoleon Dynamite Rocks!

Wife and I went to see my son and his family yesterday.  I really enjoyed playing with my grandkids.

While we were there a movie came on television called "Napoleon Dynamite."  I asked my son, what the heck was that all about.  He started laughing and told me it was a cult film, one of those films that grows on its own to great popularity over the years.  Previous cult films include "Little Shop of Horrors" and "Office Space."  Son and daughter-in-law told me that when they first watched "Napoleon Dynamite," they didn't get it.  They thought the film was odd, unfunny and pointless.  But they felt they had to watch it again, and did so.  They began to enjoy it and see the humor they had missed the first time around.

Cult films are quirky, a bit crazy and a bit weird.  They are also very funny.  I told my son "play the movie!"  He did.  I enjoyed it immensely.

Napoleon Dynamite is a nerd, a student in high school in Idaho.  He's not only a nerd, he brings nerdism to a new level of absurdity.  He is the renaissance of nerds.  Napoleon has very curly, blond hair, wears glasses and bears an eternal expression of irritation.  His bottom lip always droops.  He has the physique of an anorexic.

Napoleon has a Walter Mitty view of the world, always creating fantasies to displace his dull reality.  He tells classmates he spent the summer in Alaska hunting wolverines.  They ask him how many he shot.  He says "Fifty."  They ask, "What kind of gun did you use?"  Looking exasperated at such stupid questions, Napoleon replies irritably, "A 12 gauge, of course!"

Napoleon makes friends with a new kid in school, a new immigrant from Mexico named Pedro.  Pedro is a nice guy, soft spoken and accepts all of Napoleon's exaggerations at face value.  Pedro, like Napoleon, does not understand the cliques and castes of high school, so asks Summer Wheatly (the most popular girl in school) to the prom.  She says no.  So he asks another girl, a nerdy outcast named Deb who has a crush on Napoleon, and she says yes.  Napoleon gets a pity date when a mother forces her daughter to accept his invitation to the prom.  Napoleon's date ditches him at the dance but Pedro allows him to dance with Deb, and their budding romance takes root.

Other interesting characters in the film are Napoleon's Uncle Rico, a weird guy who drives a van and sells Tupperware for a living, continually dreaming of 1982 in high school, where he blew the big football game, losing the state championship.  He buys a time machine off of E-Bay to go back and win the big game.  The device fails to work properly, rendering serious electric shock to the groin area.  Napoleon tries it with the same result.

Then there's Napoleon's brother Kip, who dreams of being a martial arts champion, has a girlfriend that he met online and has never seen, and is an assistant to Uncle Ric in the Tupperware business.  One day Kip's online girlfriend catches a bus from Detroit and shows up on his doorstep, a tall, beautiful black woman named Lafawnduh.  Strangely enough, she's crazy about Kip, who starts wearing head scarfs and fashion from the hood.

Lafawnduh thinks Napoleon could benefit from some hot music, so gives him a tape of her favorite songs.  He likes them so much that he spends hours practicing dancing to the music.

The defining moment of the film comes when Pedro decides to run for class president.  Opposing him is the snobbish blond, Summer, who refused his invitation to the prom.  Napoleon becomes Pedro's campaign manager, making posters by hand urging students to "vote for Pedro." He even gets a T shirt that has "Vote for Pedro" printed on the front.  You may have seen replicas of this T shirt, since they are popular with college and high school kids.

As part of the campaign, each candidate must give a speech to the assembled student body, followed by a skit.  Pedro and Napoleon didn't know about the skit.  Pedro has stage fright and gives a very short speech.  Since no skit was prepared, Napoleon has to immediately improvise.  The principal then announces Pedro's skit, and the stage curtains open to reveal....Napoleon, wearing his "Vote for Pedro" T shirt.   Lafawnduh's music is played at Napoleons' request, and he goes into a wild dance that is surprisingly coordinated if not actually good.  The audience erupts in applause, and Pedro's election chances are seriously improved.  I won't spoil it for you if you haven't seen the film.

Update:  I found the original dance routine on YouTube.  It is embedded below.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Events of the Past Week: a Stogie Analysis

After not blogging for a week (due to a new job), I feel hopeless at catching up with current events.  However, here are some items of interest:

1.  College kids in San Diego are having a racial brouhaha.  Perhaps mimicking their parents of the 1960's, the students took over the Chancellor's office for several hours to protest a noose someone hung in the library.  Apparently, the Black Student Union had recently made 32 demands of the University, including such 1960-ish items as requiring students to take courses in "African-American, ethnic and gender studies."  Black students are less than 2% of the campus population.  The demands resulted in automatic, slavish support from the self-hating, liberal left.  However, they also caused resentment from many other students, leading to the idiotic hanging of a noose, reminiscent of the bad-old days of racial lynching.  A female student admitted to hanging the noose and has been suspended.

More people than San Diego U students are tired of these racial games, wherein people of special color are considered a protected class whose paranoia, racism, selfishness and eternal victimhood must be honored, feted and catered to, beyond all reason.  The noose was hateful, intolerable and asinine, but the 32 demands were an exercise in Saul Alinsky and contemptible.  If you want to be accepted or just tolerated, try fitting in to the larger society around you.  Endlessly underscoring your differences with stupid demands and self-pitying victimhood does not help.

2.  Climate fraudsters (sometimes erroneously referred to as "scientists") announced that January was the warmest ever, in spite of record snowfalls and blizzards worldwide.  In my opinion, anyone who dares utter a belief in man-made global warming should be immediately tarred and feathered and chained to a lamp post in the town square for public derision.  People could then use the tarred offender as a place to deposit used chewing gum.

3.  The Republicans acted like Republicans...for a change.  Many have reported satisfaction with the Republican performance at Obama's "Health Summit," held at the Blair House (next to the White House).  Rush Limbaugh had previously advised Republican lawmakers to stay away from the summit, but admitted he had been wrong.  The Republicans put up a pretty good debate and were united in opposition to Obamacare.  Nevertheless, many observers say the summit was pointless, political theater whose major purpose was propaganda, not results.  Obama wants to be seen as "reaching out to Republicans" just before he uses the "Nuclear Option" of budget reconciliation to ram Obamacare through to passage.

4.  Hawaii, Alaska and California are under Tsunami watch.  A huge earthquake in Chile may cause tidal waves. Hawaii, Alaska and California are considered at risk.  Of course, California has already been hit by a Tsunami of debt, resulting from years of Democrat control and "progressive" politics.

Progressivism, in case you didn't know, means spending far more money than you will ever make in this lifetime, resulting in state insolvency.  If you want to be a progressive politician, carefully figure out what is just, logical, sustainable and responsible.  Then do the opposite.

5.  A lady whale trainer in Orlando, Florida was killed by an Orca, better known as a killer whale, when it grabbed her and dragged her under water.  She drowned.  The whale is known as "Tillie" and is now responsible for three deaths.  Some folks think Tillie should be a source of sushi for the Japanese restaurant trade, i.e., killed.  I don't agree.

Whales don't understand homicide.  Killing Tillie would accomplish nothing.  However, people who play with Orcas, like lion and tiger tamers, take big risks.  What part of "killer" whale do they not understand?

The Pop Quiz of Life: More Ramblings from Stogie Jr.

My eldest son is a very good writer. Here is his latest piece.

by Stogie Jr.

Oh yes the test!

Do you remember walking into 8th grade history class, the bell would ring and the teacher would tell everyone to calm down, and then with a sh*t-eating grin she would say, "POP Quiz!" and you knew you're screwed because you stayed up late the night before watching Happy days, or Laverne and Shirley? If your parents were really cool you were up late watching Three's Company. ...that Janet...WOOOOWWW!!! Any Who that's another story. As the quiz was passed back, the smell of fresh ink, you started trying to remember what the hell the teacher was yakking about the last few days, because you can't remember what you had for breakfast, and you can't get that damn Montrose song out of your head.

Life throws tests at you all the time. I have seen it happen more and more as I grow older. God, Karma, they like to mess with ya. I was out riding my scoot two summers ago. I had just finished putting my Dyna back together and I was headed to Bellingham to see a buddy. I am headed past Lake Samish and there is this kid standing on the side of the road next to GSXR 750. He is on his cell phone and gesturing to the bike, as if the person on the other end of the phone could see him pointing at it. He was obviously a college kid from Western Washington University. Bellingham is a big college town in the Northwest. I was gonna pass him, but I said, what the hell. I pulled up next to his ride and he came running over to me. I said, "What happened?" He says, "It stopped running!" Well that's obvious. I looked down at the fuel petcock and it was on run. I reached down and turned it to reserve. "Crank IT!" I yelled at him. He hit the start button and after several seconds the bike kicked over. "You gotta keep gas in it Professor!" He gave me a big smile and I took off. I never even got off my scoot!

I had a test today that was more than some kid being stupid. It was a test of the heart. The kind of test that God throws at you that really makes you question what kind of man are you. I mean the type of test where you are on one side or the other. You must decide.

I was roaring up I-5 northbound today in a 1983 MINT Olds 98. It's a FREEGIN' Yacht, but it's a really cool Yacht. One of the last of the BIG American cars. I am following this new Audi A4. The Audi is a good football field in front of me when BOOM!! The Audi blows a rear tire. The car starts to go squirmy, and the rear of the car becomes engulfed in white smoke. The driver finally works it to the side of the road and parks it kitty corner on the tarmac and in the mud. I was right behind the Audi so I slowed down, so did everyone behind me. I rolled past the Audi and looked to see who was driving it. A very young woman who was obviously very frantic and scared.

I stepped on the gas and started to pick up speed leaving the Audi in my rear view mirror when all of a sudden it hits you. That sinking feeling in your gut. That little inner voice says. "HEY! aren't gonna stop and help that lady?" I was in a hurry. I was late for a computer job and I needed to roll. "Damn IT!" I pulled the car over to the side of the road and looked in my rear view mirror. The Audi was sitting half on the road and half off. It was in a bad spot. It was hard to see on a downgrade and sitting butt high. I was a good 250 yards in front of the Audi and the only way to get to her quick is to go in reverse. I slammed her in gear and stepped on it. I backed up to the nose of the Audi and killed my engine.

I sat and thought for a moment. I am rough looking guy. Most people can be put off by me until they meet me. I wanted to help this lady, not scare her. I opened the door and got out of the Olds. She looked at me through her windshield and she looked very apprehensive, speaking on her cell phone. She was a very pretty petite blond, and very fragile. I walked to the passenger side window and gave her a big toothless smile and said, "Pop your trunk!" After she popped the trunk I guided her back on the pavement and then started to pull her spare from storage space. I snapped all the lugs loose, shoved the jack under car, cranked it up, put the spare on, started my lugs, dropped the car and then torqued the lugs. I put the spare in the trunk and closed the lid. She stood behind me, thanking me the whole time.

There were two cute beagles in the back seat. They wanted to take a bite out of me. I told her to drive slow and to make sure she had the other tire repaired. I started to walk back to my car and she began to follow me. I turned to her and she had some money in her hand. She asked me to take it, and I said, "No charge..Just pass it on!" She looked at me with a puzzled look for just a moment, it taking a second to sink in what I was saying to her. She then gave me a big smile and said, "I will!" I got back in my car and waited for her to pull back into traffic, and then I sped off!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Work! It Interferes With Blogging!

I am in my second week of a new job and I do notice one thing:  work interferes with blogging.  It also interferes with practicing music.  On the upside, it also inteferes with a condition known as poverty.

In any case, blogging will be light for the rest of the week as I get adjusted to my new schedule.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Ride in a Time Machine: the 54 Oldsmobile Super 88

by Stogie Jr.

I arrived at Hinton’s Chevrolet in Lynden, WA this morning about 11 am. I could see the 54 Oldsmobile Super 88 sitting under the awning beside the entrance to the repair shop. She was dusty and covered in bugs from the truck ride from California. Her rich light yellow and dark metallic green could still be seen despite the road dust and dead bugs.  Her chrome still lit up when the sun shone on her.  I parked our shop truck, “Shorty” behind the building and walked up to the repair shop.  I spoke with a nice young lady and she sent me to the owner’s office to pick up the keys to the 54. I then picked up a couple of nuts and bolts from the repair shop and put the dealer plate on the rear bumper. I jumped in and started her up.

I walked around the car while it warmed, curious to look at all the damage. I must tell you first that this was not some half baked, “My kid and I restored it in the garage!" type of car. This is a numbers matching, Super Rocket 88 V8 Holiday Special Coupe, and was a frame off restoration by professionals. EVERY thing on this car is new or has been totally refurbished. I mean it even has the original glass bowl fuel filter on it. This car looks liked it just rolled off the assembly line. Right down to the authentic white wall tires and battery. I must tell you this so that you will understand how devastating the damage is.

The car was originally to be sold at the Russo Steel auction last month in Southern California. The night before the sale, a bad wind storm came through and knocked down the large canvas circus-like tent that all the cars sat under. When the tent went so did all the poles tied to it, and many a hot rod was lost. The 54, as you can see in the picture above, was damaged by such a pole. It looks like it hit and then the pole was dragged by the canvas tent across the top of the roof. There are a few other small dents in the fenders and hood, but nothing as heartbreaking as the roof.

This is not the story I want to tell you, though. I am giving you a little background on this car in order to tell you my encounter with the Scarred Beauty Queen, and how it turned out.

After I let her get nice and warm I pulled her around the corner and pumped in 20 bucks of Premium. Just looking at that car reminded me of the scene in that old Burt Reynolds movie. “Take Ethyl? Sure! What time does she get off work?” What a beauty queen this car is! That creamy yellow and dark green, big whitewalls and the rear tire skirts……….boys this car is PURE Class!!!

I got her back on the road and she stumbled a bit. Her tranny stuck some and she felt plain tired. I knew it was the crappy gas left in the line and that premium would works its way up to the engine in no time. It took me a good 10 minutes of the whole me-getting-to-know-her and her-getting-to-know-me thing, but getting used to a car like that is very easy to do. I had a few miles left on a country road before I hit the freeway, so I rolled down my window and turned the radio on. I tuned it to the local classic rock station and just cruised.

The sun was shining and staring at the chrome dash was just hard to do. The speedometer and all the gauges were original and totally refurbished. The black backgrounds in the gauges were perfect. The glass showed no signs of tint or age. The orange needles were straight and they moved without hesitation. The numbers and indicators were all perfect bone white. It was like driving a part of history, a self contained time machine.

I thought to myself, “I could die today in this car and it would be OK!” It would be better then dying in some bed alone in some hospital. You would be known as the guy that died in a 54 Olds! …Not today!

I pulled her on to the freeway and headed south on I5 to Mt Vernon. Speed Limit was 70 but I kept her at 65 or so at first. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to have any issues. So for the first few miles we just bobbed on down the road. By the time I got to Bellingham, north of Mt Vernon, I could tell the car was back to normal. This old Dog wanted to run.

I thought a lot about the life of this car when I was back on that Country Road. The odometer reads 48,889 miles. Was this car a cream Puff before the resto or was it a pile that was driven years before the resto? That I didn’t know. I did know this. She was like new and she had been that way for many years. She had been returned to all of her glory only to be pinned to some wall like a wild butterfly on display. Her life consisted of sitting under covers in dark garages, or in a trailer from one show to the next, a commodity to be bought and sold, or pranced around a show ring like some overpriced pony. Never again to be what she was assembled for, to be just a car.

As that thought raced in my head I let go of the leash on the 88. She chomped down hard on the bit and dug in her heels. The secondary kicked in and she took a long deep breath.  I moved her into the fast lane and past slower trucks and cars. The old girl was stretching her legs and people moved aside when they saw her coming. She seemed to do all right on the newer highway, but when we would hit a dip her frame would drop down and flex the suspension and she would float. Whenever this happened I would let off the gas and when she bottomed out I would jab her in the ribs and she would stay down low grabbing the asphalt with her rear tires, and the steering wheel would snap straight like a rattlesnake on the strike.  She was a thing of beauty and grace. 4000 pounds of rolling American cold steel, boys…ain’t nothing like it!

I eased her off the freeway in Mount Vernon and drove her to my buddy's shop. I parked her in the wash bay and gunned the engine one more time. She roared right back at me and I swear I could hear her say, “Thank you!” as the engine dropped to idle. I reached up and patted her dash, “My pleasure ol’ Girl, if not again for the rest of your time, at least today you got to be a rocket!”

Photos:  Top - The Super 88
              Bottom - Stogie Jr, author of this article and eldest son of Stogie

Work! Stogie Mingles With the Rich Guys on Sand Hill Road

My foray back into the work world has been fun, challenging and tiring.  I spent three of the past four work days (Monday being a holiday) doing partnership tax returns for a venture capital firm.  The VC firm is on Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, California, where just about all of the VC firms are located.  Why, I don't know.  It's like a glittering ghetto for rich people.

We need rich people.  They are the ones who invest with venture capital firms.  They provide seed money to new companies with new, untried products.  If the new product takes off, the investors make money.  If  the new product is not accepted by the market place, the investors write off their investments.  A lot more of these seed-money investments are written off then ever make it big.  That's why the investors deserve their profits, when they exist, because they finance new businesses and make innovation possible.

I still have no idea on how I am to be paid -- when and how much.  However, right now I am just happy to be doing some actual, high level CPA style work.  However, sooner or later the $75 left in my checking account will be used for gas and I will need to get paid.

I will spend next week in Menlo Park again, finishing the partnership tax returns.  They won't be finalized until PricewaterhouseCoopers finishes auditing them, just in case there are any changes, but any changes will be easy to make to the tax returns.  The client uses Lacerte tax software, an excellent but very expensive program.

If I have some time next week, I will return to the site of Butterfield's nightclub (where Vince Guaraldi was playing on the night of his death) to see how it is faring.  A year ago it was sitting idle after an Indian restaurant had closed up shop.  If it has reopened, I would like to see the inside of the place.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Express Yourself: the Graffiti Subculture and Blogging

Last night I saw an episode of "Cold Case," wherein taggers and graffiti artists were the subject matter.  I have always thought of graffiti "artists" as human rats who befoul their own nests with meaningless paint splatter and incomprehensible words and symbols.  However, the Cold Case episode gave me something of an epiphany:  there is more to graffiti than meets the eye.

Most of these "artists" are kids who are invisible to society and want to be seen, to be noticed.  So they paint "art" on buildings, bridges, boxcars, billboards and walls.  After a while, the really good ones emerge and are respected by the graffiti art "community."  Competition is inevitable, as well as bitter rivalries and even violence.  As warped as it may seem, graffiti often represents a struggle for meaning and identity in the society of the streets.  Many kids see it as their only means of self expression.  That, of course, doesn't make it right, but it makes it a bit more understandable.  Graffiti is a very human activity.

Bloggers are not dissimilar to the graffiti subculture.  We too want to express ourselves and to avoid being invisible.  We too strive for recognition.  Alliances are formed, friendships made, reputations established, rivalries created.  Nevertheless, the point is this:  human beings have to express themselves in some way, in order to feel whole.  It is all about feeling valued and validated, i.e. that you have somehow contributed to the larger society around you.

If no one sees your street art, or reads your self-published book, or visits your blog or listens to your band, you may feel you have failed.  It is a lonely feeling.  However, many artists, writers and musicians follow a simple rule on the road to success:  please yourself first.  Once you are satisfied with your creation, chances are others will find it pleasing too.  That rule is certainly working for me in music.  My bass playing is unfolding like a flower, and I really am enjoying my art.

Back to Work

Tomorrow I go back to work...I think.  The last time I went back to work it only lasted four days, so I am hesitant to write about the "good news" of finding a job.

I will be working for a financial services consulting firm that works in accounting and tax, and my first duties will be to prepare several partnership tax returns for a venture capital firm.   How much am I getting paid?  I have no idea.  Pay will be based on individual productivity, billable hours, bringing in new business and such.  Whatever it is, it is more than I am making right now, which is zero.  Nevertheless, the position looks challenging.

The only thing I don't like about it is that now I have to get up before 9 AM.  Oh well.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

On Valentine Day: How to Pick a Card for the Wifey

If you are going to get along with women, it is important to realize that they are not like us men.  We men like Valentine Day cards with dogs and cats and grizzly guys drinking beer, watching football or going fishing.  If the card has a crude rhyme that is somewhat insulting and profane, we like that even more.  Har, har, har!  It's what testosterone does to a human critter.  We men like it.  It's who we are!

However, the above rule cannot be used when buying a Valentine Card for the wife.  Women, being delicate creatures, like things that are pink and heart-shaped, with flowers and bluebirds, poems and posies.   They like something called sentiment.  Yes, I know it seems somewhat unnatural, but there you are.  With that in mind, here are some tips on buying an acceptable Valentine Day card for the wifey.

First off, drive to a store like Target or Wal-Mart and look for a big section where they sell cards.  Find the one for Valentines Day and look under a category called "Wife."  Okay so far?

Now be careful here.  Find a big card, preferably a pink one, and open it slowly.  It will be filled with lurid, rhyming prose about how sweet and wonderful your wife is, how perfect, how the angels sing in chorus whenever she comes to the breakfast table in bathrobe, bunny slippers and hair curlers, and how you realize what an unworthy cur you really are and how you don't deserve her.  It will be sickeningly sweet.  If you read the whole thing you are liable to barf right there on the floor, so it is best to shop for your V-Day card on an empty stomach.

Actually, it isn't even necessary to read the card.  If you get the dry heaves within two seconds of opening it, it's a good card.  Buy it, sign it and present it to wifey on Valentines Day.  Okay, now proceed with caution:  you're not out of the woods yet.

Your wife will read it with tears in her eyes (it's a female thing, you wouldn't understand) and then will ask you a critical question:  "Did you mean what it says in the card?"  How you answer is very important.  Do NOT answer, "I dunno, what did it say?"  Women like another crazy thing called sincerity.  A wise man once observed that if you can fake that, you've got it made.  Other answers to avoid:
  • "Yeah, sure, what's for dinner?"  
  • "Beats the hell out of me."
  • "Whoops, I forgot to get it notarized."
  • "Shut up and bring me a beer."
Just answer like this:  "Yes, I know it's a little mushy, but you're my wife and I love you."

There, now that wasn't so hard, was it?  

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Where are the Cowboys When You Need Them? Canada's "Indigenous Peoples" and the Winter Olympics

I had to laugh at Donald Douglas's post today about the "Most Politically Correct Olympics Evah!!"  He and his wife were surprised to see the opening ceremonies feature every "indigenous peoples" tribe that ever ate whale blubber or dined on clamshells in the Great White North.  My wife and I had the same reaction.  Various bands of Indians in feathers and furs, beads and bangles danced and pranced around three great blue totems, while an announcer described their tribe and culture.  So now the Olympics are posing as Anthropology 1A?  Who CARES?

Of course, I don't begrudge anyone their ethnicity, culture and ancestors.  However, I couldn't help but note how liberal/left/PC Canada makes a big deal out of ethnicity, but only if the peoples thereof are nonwhite or are "indigenous" people.  The left has long worshiped the "Noble Savage," the primitive peoples who are somehow wiser than us though less developed, who are more spiritual, more in tune with nature, and closer to the earth.  Even the wondrous blue beings of Avatar could not compete with folks like these.

However, indigenous peoples are more than the high priests of nature and Gaia; they are also sacred victims, whose peace, serenity and paradisaical existence was disrupted, marred and ruined by the coming of the white man, the evil white man, the racist, corrupt, imperialistic white man.  The cigar smoking, Stetson-wearing, whiskey drinking, loudly burping white man....well, you get the idea.

Whoever this white man is, he should be found and arrested.

Being a rather cynical, non-reverent persecutor of Gaia, I was unimpressed by the dancing Eskimos and Indians.  I turned to my wife and asked the critical question on everyone's mind:  Where are the Cowboys when you need them?

Note to Canada:  That was BOOORING.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Going Postal: Professor Kills Three at University of Alabama-Huntsville

Some people just don't deal well with rejection.

A professor at the University of Alabama - Huntsville allegedly shot three faculty members dead today.  Apparently, Dr. Amy Bishop was upset at being denied tenure, so fatally shot three faculty members at a meeting.

A few months ago, an engineer in Silicon Valley was let go from his job.  He asked for a meeting with the CEO, the VP of Operations, and the HR Manager.  He then pulled out a pistol and killed all three.  I assume he didn't think it through before deciding on this resolution to his problem.

A few years ago, another high tech worker in Silicon Valley was obsessed with a pretty co-worker, but she wasn't interested in him.  He came on strong, writing her notes and bringing her gifts.  He broke into her apartment while she was out of town and went through her things.  Finally, he was fired for stalking her.  Soon thereafter, he returned to his former workplace with a rifle and several pistols and opened fire on anyone and everyone, killing people in offices, hallways and cubicles.  After many hours, he finally surrendered to police and is now on death row.

Some people have a self-destruct button.  Like human land mines, they walk among us undetected and unnoticed, until the day they explode.  Cho, the student at Virginia Tech who killed 32 people, is a prime example.  Harris and Klebold, the losers who killed 13 people at Columbine High, are two more.

Going postal isn't the answer, but strong emotions can overrule rational thought, especially if the perpetrator has a brain chemistry imbalance.  Many people do and don't even know it.

Rejection and failure are a part of life.  We all fail or are rejected at one time or another.  In this economy, tens of thousands of people have lost jobs, homes and pension funds.  Years of work go up in smoke and they have to start all over again.  Take heart:  you are not alone.  If others can find a way to survive, so can you.

Someone wise once noted that success in life isn't decided by how many times you fall, but by how many times you get back up.  Of course, that's hard to do if someone decides to shoot you.

Is the Sun Finally Breaking Through the Clouds?

This morning I was feeling pretty down.  However, I was contacted by a financial consulting firm who says they can put me right to work, and I am meeting with the CEO tomorrow to discuss projects.  I feel optimistic after a long phone chat with her.  She's swamped, and I am idle, so maybe we can help each other out.

On Wednesday evening I practiced with a gigging classic rock/blues band in Gilroy.  They play every weekend and get paid for it, and that's what I am looking for.  The band I am playing with now is mostly hobbyists who aren't looking to gig (music term for "playing for a paying audience") on a regular basis.

My age is always a concern.  I show up at a band practice with three guys who are all young enough to be my sons, and we hit it off right away.  The male singer (and band leader) is good; the guitar player competent and the drummer very competent (he has a degree in jazz from San Jose State).  We ran through eleven of their set list songs that I had practiced in advance, on my own.  It seemed like a really good fit, we played quite well together and they were complimentary of my playing skill.  The band leader said I did great and it is obvious that I love the bass.  Yep, it's the only instrument I have ever wanted to play.

However, I don't have the job yet, though they told me I am on their "preferred list."  They are still auditioning bass players.  I told them, "if you can find a better bass player, hire him!"  However, I am still in the running, and that's good.

The drummer was playing on a mismatched set of drums:  all of them red with one yellow snare, and his cymbals and high hat had holes in them -- it looked like a rat had chewed on them, but rats don't chew on brass.  He said he had found the cymbals discarded under a stairwell and appropriated them.  It doesn't matter, he sounded great.

So is the sun about to break through the cloudy skies of my life?  Maybe.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Alec Baldwin Rushed to Hospital for Brain Transplant?

Liberal actor, poseur and pariah Alec Baldwin was rushed to a New York hospital last night after faking an overdose of sleeping pills.  Baldwin wanted to punish his 14 year old daughter after an argument, and threatened to take an overdose.  He then faked being "unresponsive" after going to bed.  Doctors were puzzled about this, since Baldwin always appears unresponsive to stimuli, especially logic and common sense.

Nevertheless, daughter Ireland feared an overdose and called 9/11.  Baldwin was taken to the hospital, where he was found to be normal.  Or at least as normal as a flaming jerk can be.

Rumors surrounding Baldwin's hospitalization was that a brain had finally been found for a transplant.  This raised hopes that the liberal airhead actor was finally to have a functioning brain.  At last, he would replace the helium in his cranium with actual gray matter.  Bolts were to be embedded in his neck to activate the brain using electricity from a lightning strike.

However, the rumors proved untrue:  Today, Alec Baldwin is still completely brainless.  Hollywood moguls were relieved at the news and immediately extended his contract.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I Have Nothing to Say Today

I have nothing to say, but don't I look cute when I'm not saying it?

It's a slow news day and I have to get ready for a job interview.  Check back later.

Update:  The interview was a waste of time.  I was grossly overqualified for the job and wouldn't want it.  The staffing agency did a very poor job of matching candidates with this position.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Ron Reagan Jr: Sell-out, Wimp, Political Whore, Man Without Honor

Pamela Geller debated three liberals over Sarah Palin on CNN.  The show was the Joy Behar Sbow, and the participants were Joy Behar, some young woman called Stephanie Miller, and President Reagan's only biological son, Ron Reagan Jr.

Joy Behar, Ron Reagan Jr. and Stephanie Miller acted like obnoxious teenagers, heaping scorn and ridicule on Sarah Palin without anything passing for rational thought or political analysis.  Like "the View," which Behar created, the Joy Behar Show is an ambush, a collection of raucous leftists ganging up on a lone conservative, whom they shout down and talk over, laughing with ridicule and trying to be as uncivil and incendiary as possible.  It is low-brow leftism, not a pretty thing to watch.

Pamela Geller showed great restraint and self-control; I would have been tempted to meet ridicule and sarcasm with more of the same.  However, that's what the left wants.  The purpose of ridicule is to cause an overreaction that can be used against you.  That's why Behar's weapon of choice is ridicule, employing Saul Alinksy's Rules for Radicals No. 5.  It reads:
Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It’s hard to counterattack ridicule, and it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.
Ron Reagan Jr. is a political whore who sold out to the left years ago.  He is a huge nothing, a nobody who treads on his father's famous name by being a dancing monkey for liberal pundits and leftwing talk shows.  His father would be deeply ashamed of him.  Ron Jr. is a man without honor, and I use the term "man" loosely.  He is unworthy of his father's name.

In any case, this segment (embedded below) underscores what I wrote about Sarah Palin's need to manage her image if she is to gain any traction in the political wars to come.  The left hates her viscerally and will do anything they can to smear, ridicule and undermine her.

Pamela Geller, however, was excellent:  cool-headed under fire, she did not lose her temper, overreact, or say anything that could later be used against her or the right.

Hat tip:  American Power, Gateway Pundit, Memeorandum

Monday, February 08, 2010

Rachel Maddow Criticizes Tea Party People as "Racists in White Hoods"

Rachel Maddow of MSNBC has once again demonstrated the profound absence of professionalism of liberal/left pundits.

Speaking of the Tea Party convention in Nashville last week, she said:
MADDOW: Just for reference here, when Tom Tancredo talks about literacy tests, that`s what they used in the south to keep black people from voting before civil rights legislation and court rulings put a stop to that.
So the convention opened with a clarion call to bring back the literacy tests for voting. And as you could hear, the tea party convention crowd erupted in cheers at the suggestion, although, to be fair, it was sort of hard to tell exactly what the sounds coming from the crowd meant. They were sort of a little bit muffled by, you know, the white hoods.
At least that's what we think Maddow said.  To be fair, her voice was kind of muffled by the business end of a male patron in the dirty alley where she was working.

Read more about it here.

Hat tip:  The Other McCain

Jack Murtha, Pennsylvania Congressman, Has Died

Jack Murtha, an outspoken liberal congressman from Pennsylvania, has just died.

Murtha was put into intensive care at a Virginia hospital following gall bladder surgery on February 2nd.  Apparently he has succumbed to complications from that surgery.

Murtha was 77 years of age.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Tim Tebow's Super Bowl Ad: Watered Down to Almost Nothing

Tim Tebow's Super Bowl ad, paid for by Focus on the Family, was watered down to almost nothing. Abortion isn't even mentioned, which was the original message: Tebow's mom was advised to abort Tim, but she didn't and he grew up to be an extraordinary person. How many such people have been terminated by abortion?  It is amazing to me that being pro-life is so controversial that the ad had to be heavily censored.  What a sick society we have become.

Looking through the YouTube leftwing "responses" to the Tebow ad, I am reminded just how sick and perverted the left really is.  They display foaming hatred for anyone who does not adhere to their anti-life, anti-capitalist, anti-everything-good philosophy.

Tebow's brief Super Bow ad is embedded below, in case you blinked and missed it.  You can view a longer video of Tim Tebow's life at Focus on the Family.

Sarah Palin's Crib Notes on Her Palm (Photo)

Left Coast Rebel discusses the crib notes that Sarah Palin wrote on her palm, for use in her speech yesterday in Nashville.  The left is going ape (again) over this -- imagine, Palin writing three words on her palm as a memory jogger, when Obama has to rely on a fully programmed teleprompter, from which he READS the entire speech.

Saber Point has located a close up photograph of Sarah Palin's palm and the message written upon it.  It is on the right.  We are not sure of the meaning of this cryptic phrase.

How About Them Saints?

Wow, I was expecting a blow-out by the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl today.  In spite of that, my wife and I were rooting for the Saints.  New Orleans had never been to a Super Bowl, let alone win one, and we wanted to see someone new in the winner's slot.  Besides, I like New Orleans, its culture, history, atmosphere, food, music and a lot more.

Before the game, Saints Quarterback Drew Brees was treated as a mere footnote. The pundits fawned over Colts Quarterback Peyton Manning as "the greatest QB who ever lived."  Brees had other ideas, however, throwing pinpoint passes that picked apart the Colts' defense.  Final score in the game was 31 - 17 in favor of the Saints.

Brees is a great guy, very civic minded, and dedicated to getting New Orleans restored to its former glory before Hurricane Katrina.  It was good to see him bring this victory home for Saints fans.

A Grouch's Reaction to Sarah Palin's Speech and Future in Politics

I watched Sarah Palin's speech to the Tea Party Convention in Nashville.  My thoughts are brief:  sooner or later we need to get down to brass tacks and come up with a platform.  Sarah's sing-song medley of happy thoughts won't get the job done forever.  Sooner or later we will have to move beyond stump speeches and rah-rah flag waving to describe some actual policies, e.g., how can we return this nation to fiscal solvency and sanity?  How can we best deal with the Islamic threat?  What policies will maximize American prosperity, opportunity and individual freedom?

Will Sarah Palin run for president?  If she is our candidate, I will support her.  However, I think she needs to adopt a more serious image.  The big hair has to go. It looks wild and woolly and unkempt.  The color should be rethought as well:  perhaps a darker color.  It's time for Palin to hire a better hair stylist.

In the past, Sarah has worn bright red suits; these should be replaced by ones that are well-tailored, dark blue or charcoal gray.  She wore a charcoal gray suit for the Nashville appearance, but it didn't fit her that well.  She can't do anything about those pretty legs, I guess, except to wear longer skirts that cover the knee. She should consider it. The problem is this:  when men look at her they will either think "babe" or "serious person," but they cannot think both at the same time.  Men's brains are not wired that way.

While looking at Palin yesterday, I asked myself, honestly, does she "look like a president"?  I had to say no.  Also, I find her sing-song, happy voice kind of annoying; it doesn't sound serious enough.  She needs to work on speech making and sounding serious and even sad or somber at times. A speech coach is essential. Can you see Sarah Palin ordering men into battle in that sing-song voice?  Making hard decisions that may cost lives?

Image is very important and works on a subconscious level.  Palin needs to work hard on both her message and her image.

Another Black Conservative has extensive coverage of Palin's speech, including video.  Go here to read and watch.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

In Memoriam: Vince Guaraldi Died 34 Years Ago Today

Vince Guaraldi (pic, right) was a famous jazz pianist from San Francisco.  He was well known for supplying theme music for Charles Schultz's "Peanuts."  You can read about his life here.  Today marks 34 years since his untimely death at age 47.   He died on February 6, 1976.

One year ago today, I undertook a trek to the site of Vince Guaraldi's last gig, formerly Butterfield's nightclub in Menlo Park, California.  From there I drove to Colma, near San Francisco, and visited his grave.

Vince died in his room in the Red Cottage Inn, a motel that was adjacent to Butterfield's.  I recently was in communication with someone who claimed to be a former girlfriend of Vince Guaraldi; I haven't been able to independently verify the accuracy of her statements.  However, she stated that she had discussed Vince's death with the band's drummer, who allegedly told her that Vince didn't die alone in his hotel room:  the other two band members were there with him.  According to this former girlfriend, Vince Guaraldi did not die of a heart attack as was widely reported, but from a drug overdose, i.e. cocaine.  The girlfriend stated that Vince's hard drug of choice was cocaine and that he never touched heroin.  Until someone makes Guaraldi's death certificate public, the girlfriend's story should be considered unproven and speculative.

It is highly probable that Vince Guaraldi did come into contact with drugs during his music career.  Living through the Beatnik era of the 1950's, the Hippies era of the 1960's and early 1970's, it would have been a miracle if Guaraldi never smoked a joint.  Drug usage appears common among professional musicians of the gigging variety, though not among orchestral musicians.  The "heart attack" explanation for his death is therefore unverified and even implausible.  He was only 47 years old.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to make the drive today to visit Vince in Colma.  I will be sitting in with a working band in a nightclub near my home.  I will honor Vince's memory by playing music, and playing as well as I can, doing what he did on the final day of his life.  Rest in peace, Vince.

Mark Levin is a Flaming Ignoramus on the Civil War

Mark Levin is an excellent writer and has given a lot to the conservative movement.  However, his increasingly asinine remarks on the radio about the American Civil War and the Confederate States of America compel me to finally call him out.

Yesterday the Irate One stated that the Confederacy represented an "illegitimate form of government" based on "dangerous rebellion."  What a load of happy horse sh*t.  If that is true of the Confederacy, it is also true of the United States, who came into being in the same way:  through secession and a declaration of independence.  Furthermore, the Confederate States were not in "rebellion" to the Constitution or anything else.  They were merely exercising their right to self-government under the very American concept of "the consent of the governed."  They were merely following the legal means of seceding as outlined in textbooks at West Point, as commonly understood since the beginning of the American republic:  sovereign bodies that accede to a union of political states may also secede from the same union when it suits their needs and purposes to do so.  Abraham Lincoln himself stated as much in a speech to Congress while he himself was but a congressman:
Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable - a most sacred right - a right, which we hope and believe, is to liberate the world. 
Any government that forces a population into its fold through force is tyranny.  The Northern states were on the side of tyranny during the Civil War.  They did not fight to "free the slaves" as is commonly and erroneously taught to every third-grader; they fought to force the South back into a union it no longer wanted; the slaves were totally negotiable.  The Civil War was like most wars, fought over territorial control, the right to govern and the right to tax.  Similar situations today:  China's invasion of Tibet and its desire to annex Taiwan; Russia's desire to annex Georgia and its former colonies.

Abraham Lincoln was a flaming disaster to the United States, clearly the worst president in our history.  He started a war of tyranny and subjugation and killed 630,000 people in the process.  Yet, Lincoln is Mark Levin's hero.  It figures.


Friday, February 05, 2010

Musical Performance for the Veterans

Today I will be performing with my band for the wounded veterans and the employees of the VA Hospital in Palo Alto, California.  We've been practicing twice a week for the past month and we should be ready.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Geert Wilders is Western Civilization on Trial

The trial of Geert Wilders is underway in the Netherlands.  He is accused of fomenting hatred and discrimination against Muslims as well as "racism."  How did he do this?  He told the truth about Islam, the most vile of major ideologies in force today.  His film "Fitna" featured quotes from the Qur'an, juxtaposed with actual video and photographic images of recent Islamic atrocities.  At the end of the film Wilders asks Muslims to "tear out" these pages of hatred from the Qur'an.

Note the irony:  Geert Wilders is on trial for telling the truth.  His trial is an effort by the Dutch leftists to install speech codes into Dutch society and to end the western right of free speech.  Muslims will remain a protected class, above criticism or suspicion.

Wilders is being limited in the number of witnesses he can call:  out of 18 requested, only 3 were approved by the court.

As the Gates of Vienna has stated, Geert Wilders is a hero.  It is his head that is on the block, it is he who must undergo the scrutiny of a kangaroo court that is intent on exchanging modernity for barbarism.  But it is not only Geert Wilders who is on trial.  It is Western civilization.

Image:  Geert Galileo from the Gates of Vienna blog

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

James O'Keefe Admits Error in Judgment on Hannity Show

James O'Keefe is a victim of his own success.  He and Hannah Giles infiltrated an ACORN office in the guise of pimp and prostitute to ask for tax and other advice.  The ACORN officials gave them advice on how to get housing and tax breaks without revealing their true "employment."  Unbeknown to the ACORN officials, they were secretly being filmed.  When O'Keefe released the tapes for public viewing, ACORN suffered a firestorm of public humiliation and scorn for their unethical and possibly illegal advice.  ACORN, famous for its support of voter fraud through fictitious registrations, deserved the embarrassment.  They lost a lot of federal funding in the process.  O'Keefe, at age 24, became a conservative hero, feted and featured on shows like Sean Hannity's.  He was the knight who had slain the ACORN beast.

Alas, the ACORN caper was a hard act to follow.  What could O'Keefe do next to keep his fame rolling?  Aha!  He would investigate Senator Mary Landrieu's office telephones to see why they were never answered.  So he and three other men showed up one day at the Senator's federal offices dressed as telephone repairmen and attempted to get access to Landrieu's phones and wiring.  Well, as it turns out, they only wanted to photograph or film the phone setup to determine if it had been wired to shut off calls from Landrieu's constituents, who were phoning in droves to protest Landrieu's support of Obamacare.

Meanwhile, building security figured that four guys impersonating phone repairmen, who were attempting to gain access to a U.S. Senator's phone system, were probably trying to bug the telephones.  It was a reasonable assumption, and one that O'Keefe should have figured out for himself before embarking on such a foolish mission.  (Maybe next time he can test airport security by showing up at the airport dressed as Osama Bin Laden, or test bank security by arriving dressed as a bandit.)

O'Keefe screwed up big time and his prior success does not erase that unfortunate fact.  He as much as admitted that on Hannity yesterday.  There are some lessons to be learned from this unfortunate incident:
1.  If you are not a professional, investigative journalist (but merely an amateur wanna-be), take great care in planning undercover surveillance projects:  consult with an attorney first before embarking on such a mission; 
2.  Brainstorm the possible consequences or downside on how the project could fail, take a wrong turn, be misinterpreted (especially by law enforcement) or spun by the left.
3.  Admit it when you screw up, or if you are merely a conservative not involved, admit it when O'Keefe or others like him screw up.  There is little to be gained by advancing moral equivalences with past leftwing misdeeds.
4. Remember, stupid mistakes like O'Keefe's phone repairmen episode hurt the conservative movement by providing ammunition to our political opponents.   

Punxutawney Phil Sees Shadow of Three More Years, Attempts Suicide

Punxultawney Phil, the famous ground hog from Pennsylvania, comes out every February 2 to look for his shadow.  If he sees his shadow, it means spring will be early.  If he doesn't, winter will continue for another six weeks.

Puxultawney Phil came out early this morning and saw the shadow of trillions of dollars in Obama debt.  When told Obama would be in office another three years, Phil uncorked a large bottle of whiskey, took a big swig and commandeered a car to make his escape.

"But wait, what about winter?" someone shouted from the crowd.  Phil grunted, "STFU" and left in a Huff, which is one of those new green cars imported from Europe.  In olden days, Phil would have left in a red pickup truck, led police on a wild chase, and driven off a cliff.  Where's Bill Murray when you need him?

Monday, February 01, 2010

Zac Brown Band Wows 'Em at the Grammies with "America the Beautiful"

I have mixed feelings watching the Grammies.  It is a show of great talent, great mediocrity posing as talent, Hollywood glitz and glamor and B.S.

The 2010 grammies did feature a great new band, the Zac Brown Band.  They did a great version of "America the Beautiful," my favorite all-time hymn of patriotism.  It is embedded below for your enjoyment.

Later, the Grammies featured "Rap" artists, underscoring once again that:
Rap is Crap
Rap is Crap
Rap is Crap