October 30, 2005

Halloween; It's What's For Dinner

Via the Boston Globe:

NEWTON -- When students at Underwood Elementary School walk to their classrooms on Monday, there will be no witches, SpongeBob SquarePants, or Johnny Damons there to greet them.

No skeleton paintings or Frankenstein tattoos, either.

The school's principal said yesterday he acceded to the complaints of a handful of parents who said that because the school's traditional Halloween celebrations offended their religious beliefs, they would not send their children to school if the revelry continued this year.

What in the world is happening to people? Few holidays can get a kid excited the way Halloween can. I mean, a few years ago my nephew had a Halloween party on his birthday -- May 1st -- because loves it so much and didn't feel like waiting another six months for it.

So, all those arts and crafts we did in school -- the huge murals on the door to each classroom; the cardboard skeletons; the dressing up, etc -- is banned from these kids' school. How can something so fun and harmlessly "scary" offend these few parents' religeous beliefs?! It's just ghosts and witches and goblins and pumkins and princesses and batmen and Jedi knights. Are we going to ban books like Harry Potter and MacBeth from the school library next? What is WRONG with people?! ANSWER ME!!!

''Not everyone is going to agree with the decision, and I really understand that," said principal David Castelline, , who last year grew a beard and dressed up as Johnny Damon. ''But I felt the goal was really important to make it a respectful and open and welcoming place for all members of our community."

By spitting on the ages-old tradition of making some of the school-time leading up to Halloween actually fun for the kids.
Castelline, who met yesterday with the Parent Teacher Organization to explain his decision, said three teachers told him they had children in their classes who were not going to come to school if the Halloween celebration was held.

Because their parents are party-poopin' Michael Newdow wannabes, no doubt. How raw does thin skin have to be to force your kid to play hookey over one of his or her favorite days of the year? Are these kids denied by their parents the thrill and fun of trick-or-treating?
Y'know what? I bet they're not.
The celebration, which has been going on for at least 14 years, involves teachers dressing up and lining the hallways and children making Halloween-related arts and crafts.
''When I hear that kids won't come to school because of what we're doing on Halloween, I have a problem with that," Castelline said.

And what do you do about it? Call a truant officer? Have the cops pay a visit to those parents to explain the seriousness of breaking the law over a perceived personal religious offense? No. You fold like an origami Renault R35 until you're all corners and screw the entire student body out of one of the few festive times of the school year all because three (3) students have obnoxious asshats for parents! Appalling!
Of nearly a dozen parents interviewed outside the school yesterday, none supported the decision to cancel the celebration. Several parents said they are considering staging a protest by donning costumes on Monday and standing in front of the school.

''If they can cancel Halloween, what about Columbus Day and Valentines Day? We get Jewish holidays and Christmas off, so what's next?" asked Andrea Newman, whose two sons attend the school. ''All it takes is one person to be offended, and our school will ban it."

Damm straight, Andrea. Show up dressed as Isis, Goddess of fertility. If they try to remove you from your child's school property, fertilize the lawn on your way out.

Nah, don't do that...

Castelline said the school instead planned to hold a ''celebration of fall" next Friday. Later in the year, he said, the school plans a costume celebration in which teachers and perhaps students will be encouraged to dress as their favorite literary characters.

Like the aforementioned Harry Potter? What do want, a class-action suit on yer hands?
No one in Massachusetts is tracking Halloween school celebrations, said a spokeswoman for the state Department of Education, so it is difficult to track how many schools forgo the holiday.

Well, then, clearly there are no rules against Halloween celebrations in Massa', Choose It. At least, not until some local Nazi decides to be offended by something as stubbornly ever-present as religious themes. Up for banning April Fools Day, anyone? (Don't laugh. It's coming...)
Joel Packer, spokesman for the National Education Association, said the controversy is part of a contentious nationwide trend in which schools are trying to shorten or cancel holiday celebrations, either for religious reasons or to put more time into classroom work. Halloween is one of the few holidays that can fall when children are in school, he said, which puts school districts more on the spot.

Er... I thought this controversy was about an elementary school principle caving in to pressure to ban the free expression of happy funtime Halloween day acknowledgement. Dollars to doughnuts that this "contentious nationwide trend" was begun by a group of Russian immigrants in 1992...
A recent survey issued by a shopping mall management company found that 23 percent of Americans planned to take part in a school Halloween party this year.

Wilhelmina Ripple --author of several holiday books, including ''Halloween School Parties: What Do I Do?" --said school districts nationwide are changing the name of parties to make the celebrations more palatable for those who want to avoid having school-endorsed ghouls and goblins.

Then Dog forbid that a school "endorse" schoolyard bullying by acknowledging it's presence...
Parents interviewed yesterday said they didn't mind not being able to celebrate the holiday,.."

...all of whom are uneffected by this. It's the kids who'll not be allowed to celebrate....
"...but they complained that it was political correctness run amok, particularly at a school where one-fifth of the student body is nonwhite and the website is in both English and Chinese.

Wha' hap'n.....?
''The beauty of having diversity is to celebrate different cultures and holidays," said Renee Levin.

''It's not good," said her 7-year-old son, Jake, who is planning to dress up as a Ninja and go trick-or-treating after school. ''Last year we got a Halloween party and it was really fun."

Careful there, Jakey. If you show up at school dressed like a Ninja yer libel to offend two or three people's philosophy of diplomacy and conflict resolution. If you wanna cut something use this sickle. And then rebuild, here, using this hammer.

And stop tryin' to have so much fun, Kiddo. Yer in Amerika, now.

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October 29, 2005

Hey, psssst! Wanna Buy My Blog?

My blog is worth $114,601.62.
How much is your blog worth?

Oh, this is hysterical:

"Inspired by Tristan Louis's research into the value of each link to Weblogs Inc, I've created this little applet using Technorati's API which computes and displays your blog's worth using the same link to dollar ratio as the AOL-Weblogs Inc deal."

C'mon, AOL. I'll go as low as 70 Grand and it's yers!

Tip o'the tam to Pixy Misa.

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Vista D'Agora

D'jever notice that the eggnog you buy in a carton contains no eggs? Maybe it's high time I bottled some authentic kick-ass eggnog. I'd be rich. Oh, yeah.

Well... It's prolly 'cause eggs have a potential to culture salmonella once they're out of the shell and/or out of the fridge. Maybe I'll stick to perfecting my pickled egg recipe.

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It's a chilly day and my window's open

Thursday morning the Connecticut Post said that on Saturday and Sunday we'd have temperatures in the low 60s and sunny skies.

Yesterday morning the paper said that Saturday would be rainy with temps in the high 40s, and that Sunday would be sunny and in the upper 50s.

So, it's Saturday and it's currently 42 degrees with overcast skies. No rain is expected. According to the Post's website, tomorrow and Monday will be partly to mostly sunny with temperatures in the low 60s. Which means, I suppose, that the kids will be prolly be trick-or-treating in a blizzard.

So, why is my window still wide open? Well, I like the fresh air and the hot tea with milk and honey and this sweater are keeping me acceptably comfy.

Now I just gotta figure out how I'm gonna get some oil into my furnace before the winter arrives.

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October 28, 2005

So, who's the most famous person whose ever left a comment on yer blog?

I got one today from Rodney Allen Rippy. Heh.

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October 25, 2005

Rosa Parks


I guess it was about five or six or seven State of the Union speeches ago when President Clinton mentioned Rosa Parks and then motioned to her as she sat in the gallery for the speech. I remember being slightly surprised that this woman whom I've heard and read about all my life -- this legend of American history; the "mother of the modern civil rights movement"; the woman who stood for something by staying seated -- was still alive and live on my TV screen.

And even though she was just sitting still in that gallery, she still managed to look graceful doing it. And she was so beautiful. I thought that she must have been a very young woman -- maybe college age -- when she refused to give up her seat on that bus. But, when I heard that she died yesterday at the age of 92, I realized that she was 43 years old at the time; a year older than I am now.

It's funny to think now about how I still tend to think of segregation in the south as ancient history. I learned about it as a child, back when five years may as well have been a century. That Rosa Parks' refusal to bow to the Jim Crow laws a mere seven years before I was born -- and that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 happened a year after I was born -- makes me realize how recent it all was to all them grown-ups around me. My grandfather, f'rinstance, was seven years older than I am now when the Civil Rights Act was signed into law. To live to be an adult and a grandparent with such practices extant in my own country would make my child-of-the-'70s head spin.

Ah, well. I'm glad that I was born into an America that was coming to it's senses and, as MLK said, to finally live out it's creed that all men are created equal.

Thank you, Rosa. You did good and never even had to get up.

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October 24, 2005

Well, it looked like it might rain

Welp, for the first time since late last week something actually went right for a change. Sorta.

The ground was wet this morning, suggesting that it rained overnight. Or else we had a super dewy morning. So, I grabbed my umbrella and headed for the bus stop.

I ran into my landlady in the driveway and she sorta looked at me with puzzlement. "Is it supposed to rain today?"

"I dunno," I shrugged. She laughed and said "Oh, okay..." It was pretty overcast, but what little of the sky that I could see was blue, and the clouds were white, puffy and high. Looked to be a somewhat clear if chilly day ahead, I guessed.

At the bus terminal two other people asked me if I'd heard that it would rain today. "Nope," I said, noticing that I was the only one with an umbrella.

During the afternoon the sky was half clear blue and half puffy white. Then, at about 3:30, dark clouds came rolling in. The gal behind the counter at Dominoes looked out with semi-amazement. "Does it look like it's gonna rain?!" "Yeah, it kinda does."

At 6:20 I was on the last leg of my trip home and the rain started coming down. I walked the seven minutes home under my trusty umbrella while two others held their coats over their heads.

Sure, it was cold, dark and rainy. But, for a brief shining moment, I, the clueless, was prepared.

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October 23, 2005

Hey, here's an idea!

Since Hollywood seems hellbent on remaking old 60s and 70s TV shows, isn't time we saw a remake of the Munsters?

How's about a cast of Ahnold, Katey Sagal, Jack Nicholson, Jessica Simpson and that kid from Malcolm In The Middle?


Okay, that Malcolm kid is a bit too old nowadays to play Eddie. I spent way too much time putting this thing together in Photoshop, I guess.

UPDATE: Dammit! Dammit! Dammit! The PSD wont upload as an image! Does anyone know how to convert a PSD into a JPEG? First I find out that I have no money to live on for the next two weeks and now this. This sux....

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October 21, 2005

Oh, my...

So anyway, I was standing in line at the checkout counter and happened to glance at the tabloid magazine rack. In Touch Weekly had this cover:


In the upper left corner you'll notice a photo of Jennifer Aniston with the caption "WHY JEN'S KISSING VINCE".
Now, I had no idea if it was Vince Gill, Vince Vaughan or Vince Edwards. But, I later found out that it was Vaughan.

Then I glanced to my left and saw this US Weekly cover:


In the upper right you'll see a photo captioned "MEET VINCE'S MOM". If I'd've been bagging my groceries at the time I might've plopped the package of chicken breasts on top of the loaf of bread and never noticed. The resemblence was spooky. I mean, right down to their eyes and smiles.

Crude photoshop blow-ups:



So, just remember: If yer ever in a room with Vince Vaughan, and he asks you why everyone's looking at him strangely, mum's the word.

UPDATE: Okay, I realize now that that is a picture of Jen, not Vince's mom. The headline over the photo reads "Jen is dating!" and, even though the "meet Vince's mom" line appears on the photo itself, that is not a picture of Vince's mom. Duh.

I'm such a dumbass when I'm sober.

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October 19, 2005

Sad News

Ira was a Munuvian only for a very short time. But, even though his posts were too few, for me personally, they were a joy to read and are a treasure to keep. I am speaking of bbrother of Winter Songs.

I just received an email from his sister Leila which reads in part:

...[A]fter a long and rough fight, Ira finally died this morning. He was stronger than I ever realized and kept that defunked body of his going for way longer than it should have. He never gave in until his body just gave out.

I first met Ira about five years ago. He was one of the most delightful, fun, witty and welcoming men that I've had the good fortune to know. Professionaly, he was a school teacher.

Some months ago, after a near-fatal bout with complications stemming from his myriad physical challenges, he gave up blogging. He, let's just say, forgot how to blog.

His condition improved a bit and he was shipped down to Florida to await the opportunity to get a new liver. The process was slowed by more complications, however, that put him lower and lower on the waiting list once again.

Ira's long fight for more time to enjoy this wild, wacky, wonderful world came to an end this morning. He leaves behind his family and many many friends who adored him. In fact, he was scheduled to appear, via a video conference set-up, at his 25th high school reunion. His old friends will instead, no doubt, recount old stories about him. If nothing else, that'll be a testament to the difference he's made to so many others.

So long, Ira. You will be missed because... well... because you @#$%ing rule, Dude.

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October 18, 2005

Our tax dollars at work:

From the Boston Herald:

BOURNE – Hurricane Katrina evacuees hastily handed $2,000 in federal relief money last month have been living it up on Cape Cod, blowing cash on booze and strippers, a Herald investigation has found.

Herald reporters witnessed blatant public drinking at a Falmouth strip mall by Katrina victims living at taxpayer expense at Camp Edwards on Otis Air Force Base. And strippers at Zachary's nightclub in Mashpee, a few miles from the Bourne base, report giving lap dances to several evacuees.
On Oct. 5, the Herald observed a virtual parade of evacuees from a bus stop in the Wal-Mart parking lot in Falmouth to nearby liquor stores. Some emerged and openly swilled from brown-bagged containers, while others poured booze into jugs or plastic cups and casually sipped drinks at the Wal-Mart bus stop.
Last Tuesday, one 52-year-old evacuee, who told a reporter he was originally from Cuba, stood in the rain outside Wal-Mart for several hours drinking gin and orange juice from a thermos. The same day, a female evacuee bought ice at a supermarket and roughly $30 worth of hard liquor before being driven in a car back to Camp Edwards. Evacuees are banned from bringing booze onto the base.

One Camp Edwards source said evacuees swiped liquor off shelves at the U.S. Coast Guard store on the base and drank it in the aisles.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has issued more than $1.5 billion to 607,000 Katrina victims in the form of individual cash handouts of $2,000. There are no restrictions on how the money can be spent, FEMA officials said.

I don't know if I'm angry, sad or just don't give a dam. Sure, the money is supposed to be going toward neccessities like food, clothing and maybe putting down a rent payment on a room somewhere. But, the way I sees it, they were given the cash to spend as they saw fit and they'll make their choices.

I just hope they know better than to come staggering out when the tempory camp closes, crying that all the money's gone. Sorry, Chumley, but you could've made quite a few cans of tuna salad sandwiches for the cost of that third lap dance.

Full article is here.

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October 17, 2005

Foggy Memories, pt 10: Charles Rocket

Word has it that Charles Rocket died of a self-inflicted slit throat. Hmmm.

I don't know about that -- or much else about him. All I remember is that he was probably the most reviled of the reviled "new cast" of Saturday Night Live's '80-'81 season. I mean, he hosted Weekend Update looking like this:


His smirky I'm-sooo-gonna-make-you-laugh attitude rubbed skeptical viewers the wrong way from day one. I must admit that I didn't watch much of that season, and neither did many other people. The season did so poorly that, I believe, the entire cast was fired after the final episode. Not sure about that, but that's the way I remember it. (Perhaps Robin Duke was in that cast.)[UPDATE: As the fog clears I recall that Joe Piscopo was a late addition to the "new cast" and was a holdover for season 7.]

The futures of that season's cast-members were in doubt and many, including Rocket, were on edge for the season finale.

That final episode became infamous when Charles uttered the f-work during the final segment where the cast is on stage to say goodnight.

Charlene Tillman (was that her name?) [UPDATE: Tilton. Thanks Stevie!] from the cast of Dallas was hosting, and they did a spoof of the "who shot J.R." cliffhanger. Rocket played J.R. and was seated in a wheelchair during the final curtain call.
They ran a little long on time and the director instructed Charlene to "talk to Charlie". So Charlene simply asked Charles (J.R.) who he thought may have shot him. "How the fuck should I know who did it?" he replied.

It's interesting to note how SNL was not seen as a mainstay program then as it is now. The first season squeaked by; the second, third and fourth seasons really hit the mark and later came to be called the classic SNL; the fifth season, after the departure of John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, skated by despite dwindling ratings as the season wore on.

That awful sixth season with the "new cast" cast doubt on whether Saturday Night Live could go on without the original Not Ready For Prime Time Players. Rocket's outragous gaffe at the end of a dismal season created doubts that a seventh season might even be scheduled.

Enter the anti-Charlie: Eddie Murphy. Add Tim Kazirinski, Mary Gross, Joe Piscopo, Robin Duke and the others that escape me now and all was well from the first episode of season 7 and SNL, now 30 seasons on, will need a few Rocket-like disasters to put a nail in it's coffin.

Then again, I haven't been watching recently. Maybe the show sucks these days.

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October 16, 2005

Resistance Is Futile


From this article:

Iraq's landmark constitution seemed assured of passage after initial results Sunday showed that a strong push by minority Sunni Arabs to veto fell short _ a major step in the attempt to establish a democratic government that could set the stage for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops.


But the outcome could further divide the nation, with many Sunnis fearing the new decentralized government will deprive them of their fair share in the country's vast oil wealth. Large numbers of Sunnis voted "no," and some of their leaders were already rejecting the apparent result.

If the Sunni's insist there's a problem then maybe they're it. Civil war shmivil war. Let's get with the program, people...!

I couldn't find what I was looking for -- a painting of Justice-with-a-purpose; sword up and scales forward and maybe with windswept hair. But I stopped looking when I found the photo of the Goddess Justice above. It's by one Chad Awalt. I'd link to how I found it, but that site gave me pop-ups up the wazzoo.

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So, ya wanna destroy the world, eh?

After walking around in the warm sunny non-rainy afternoon yesterday, I went in search of something to write about and spent quite a bit of time here. In short: It ain't easy to destroy the planet Earth.

Tip o'the tam to Debbye who got it from Pixy Misa.

Careful, now. It's a long, interesting read.

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October 15, 2005

And in the obligatory quiz post department...

Robert Heinlein
Robert Heinlein wrote you - you stranger in a
strange land, you.

Which Author's Fiction are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Tip o'the tam to Edith.

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October 14, 2005

Hey, Sky. Enough With the Rain Already!

I woke up several days ago and it was raining. It's been raining ever since! Stop raining, awright?! Take this show to Ethiopia or something -- they could use some of this!

Seriously, Sky, how long is this gonna go on? The animals are atartin' to walk around in pairs! My umbrella can keep my head and shoulders dry, but I'm workin' all day in soaking wet jeans and boots! The ground is so waterlogged that trees are keeling over!

In Connecticut, the ground was so soft because of the steady rain that trees toppled, blocking the railroad tracks in Naugatuck. Commuters were forced to take shuttle buses.

And I haven't even mentioned what's going on in New Hampshire and New Jersey!

Come on, Sky...Why? Just because you can? "I'm the big bad sky and I'll rain as long I want to and you can't stop me!" Fine! Be that way! Go on for a few MORE days with this incessant drizzling droning plippity-plippity shwish-shwoosh, yeesh!

Thunder? Now I hear thunder rolling!!!

Well........ I'm sorry, Sky. You can't help yourself. You're full water and you halfta just let it pour out. Been there, myself. HEY! I got an idea.....

[cue music as I slide across the floor with a umbrella cane and top hat and begins tap dancing and sings:]

Raindrops keep fallin' on my head
but that doesn't mean my eyes will soon be tur-nin' red
Cryin's not for me
I'm never gonna stop the rain by complainin'
Because I'm free-ee-ee-ee,
nothin's wor-ry-in' me-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e....

[Blows kisses to the applauding downpour]

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October 11, 2005

What Are You Doing Here?

If you're looking for a good story go here!

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October 10, 2005

Foggy Memories, pt 9: Caviar

I bought a tiny jar of caviar a few years ago. I'm not sure why. I think that I had some money and wanted to treat myself to something I'd never tried before.

Got home; grabbed a spoon; opened the jar; scooped up some fish eggs; had a taste.


It tasted like everything else that comes out of sea. Salty. Fishy. But even more so. Disgustingly so.

Another taste; same thing.

Note to self: Food with an Italian name is usually yummy. Food with a French name is usually weird.

Does anyone really like caviar? Or is it an emperor's clothes-like thang to say that it kinda jus' tastes like the Dead Sea?

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Another Lame Quiz, YAY!

I'm an apparently intelligent, moderate, not-too-generous, not-too-selfish, relatively well adjusted human being!
What are you?
Brought to you by Rum and Monkey

Aw, that's a nice result. But, not as interesting as Susie's, mheh.

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October 08, 2005

Peggy Noonan on the Miers nomination

Nobody can hit all the angles like Peggy. This column defies excerpting. Er... excerption. Excerpation? Just click and enjoy the ride; it hits all the stops.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 05:57 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Post for a rainy day

RP is under the Chinese curse of living in interesting times, part of which is dealing with the inevitable though hopefully not imminent demise of his beloved grandfather. The question came up about whether it's worse, for those who'll remain, to deal with a sudden death or a long, slow deminishing of the health of those who are passing away. Hard to say -- they both have their positives and negatives. It's hard to watch someone deteriorate to their end, but at least we have a chance to say good-bye.

My maternal grandfather died suddenly when I was 14, and I've been thinking about him on this dreary drizzly day. I wish it would downpour and get it overwith -- I need to walk to the store.

My grandfather was my role model. Growing up without a father around left room for Grampa to do a lot of activities with us kids. Whether it was taking us to the beach or the amusement park, or just going to the airport to watch the planes take off and land and then stop at the A&W Root Beer stand for a root beer and a hot dog, it was always fun to be with him.

He once told me that the clouds make the wind. Huh? Yes. "You see how the clouds are moving through the sky?" "Uh-huh." "They move the air when they pass, that's where wind comes from." Everybody always said I was a bright kid, but I couldn't make sense of this seemingly reversed cause and effect. But, he was Grampa so I believed him.

While driving along some highways that run through steep rocky cliffs we'd occassionally see a sign along the road that read WATCH FOR FALLING ROCK. Grampa explained that Falling Rock was an Indian boy who wandered off one day and got lost. His tribe put up these signs so as to get everyone to keep an eye out for him. I don't remember if I believed that story, but I do remember telling it to my ex- one day as we were driving up to Vermont many years ago -- after which she caught me off-guard.

ME: ....and that's the story of Falling Rock.
HER: Who named him Falling Rock?
ME: His father.
HER: What was his father's name?
ME: [slight pause] Cliff.

I remember when my 3rd grade teacher, Miss Morgan, asked the class to write a short essay about our favorite person. I, of course, wrote about Grampa. She liked it so much that she read it to the class. Out loud. I think I was embarrassed, but maybe that was the day I first thought that I might be able to put two sentences together and make it readable. Still working on that to this day.

Every Sunday was spent at the grandparents' house. After church we headed on over and had lunch. In the summer it always a cook-out. We spent the day there, had a big dinner with various aunts uncles and cousins and great-grandparents, too. Grampa always had a one-liner for whereever the conversation went. Once he walked into the kitchen with a big blonde wig on his bald head and act like everything was normal. And I'll never forget those creepy glasses with the scary eyes painted on the lenses.. **shudder**

Anywho, it was a saturday evening in August of 1977 and Thoroughly Modern Millie was on TV. I'd never heard of it but my mother was excited to watch it. It didn't do much for me, but it had Mary Tyler Moore in it, so it wasn't too excruciating an experience. I sat on one side of the living room, SisterC was across the room on the sofa, my mother was in the "dining room" sitting on her bed.

SisterJ, who was 15 at the time, was in the kitchen on the phone, of course. Then she came over to Mom. "My call was interupted by the operator, she said that there was an emergency call coming in." A few seconds later the phone rang and my mother went back to answer it.

I watched a few more seconds of the movie, then turned to see what was going on. I couldn't hear what they were saying, but SisterJ was in tears, shocked, staring at my mother as if asking if it could possibly be true. Then she ran off to cry in her room; inconsolable.
She, of course, adored him.
After a minute or so my mother walked slowly toward the front living room, put her hands together and bent over slightly to rest on her knees and said -- almost matter-of-factly and with what seemed like a slightly awkward acceptence and inner peace -- "Grampa... just passed away." She turned and walked into the kitchen as SisterC and I just stared at each other for a moment.
I don't remember anything else about that night.

I got the story later. Grampa was sitting on the front porch while Gramma was in the kitchen. My cousin Bri, who was 7 at the time, was spending the day with our grandparents. Bri was in the living room when Grampa walked in through the front door, dropped to one knee and fell flat on the floor. No going peacefully in the night for him; he literally dropped dead in front of Bri.
Gramma came running in from the kitchen and tried to use CPR or something while shouting at Bri to get in the kitchen. Bri was hesitant and Gramma shouted louder "Get in the kitchen!". Bri always called Grampa "Papa" and, of course, adored him.

All I remember about the next day was being in Gramma's kitchen as she kept busy, and my uncle on the phone all afternoon. I can still see him and hear his voice as each call went essentially the same. Understanding that bad news is best delivered straight, he'd say "George? Hi, it's Tom Riley. Bad news, my father had a heart attack and passed away last night." Call after call, all afternoon, as Gramma worked and I sat at the table watching and listening and thinking about how the house seemed so different, as if half of it was torn off by a tornado and where the wall used to be was now the outdoors, wide open and just going about it's own business.

I remember how in the first days and weeks after he died, late at night or in quiet times, I felt like he was there with me. I don't remember how much I doubted that he was, or if I gave it a lot of thought. But I remember shortly afterward when Gramma told me "Sometimes I'm in bed at night and I feel like he's right there with me." I looked at her because I knew exactly what she meant and, maybe concerned that she'd said something creepy, she added "It doesn't scare me; we were close." Perhaps it's hardwired into us to feel the presence of the recently departed loved one. Maybe that's where the idea of afterlife comes from, y'know? Not just a fear of death, but a real sense -- an experience -- that has us believing that the dead aren't quite erased yet.

A blogger recently wrote that the meaning of live is to give life meaning. I think that our lives are most meaningful when we're with those we love; our fellow travelers. And even when the facts of life take away those we've come to know and love we'll always have them with us because they have, by definition, contributed to our own makeup; identity; selves. And often in ways that they, or we, were never aware of.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 04:22 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Hey, a conservative blog directory!

Lefties are encouraged to visit rightie blogs and, with all civility, engage in the comments. I gotta start blogging more politics and up my traffic if I'm gonna get on this list.

Tip o'the tam to Annika.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 12:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 05, 2005

Saw this in a local weekly rag...

...an advice column written by some gal from the Washington Post featured a letter that included the sentence fragment "...and I'm not sure what to make of the signals I'm getting...".

It wasn't the only letter answered in the column, but it was obviously the inspiration for the cartoon that accompanied it:

Two young ladies are in a laundry room and the one on the left is staring blankly at the one on the right. The gal on the right is open-mouthed, cute, has a wonderfully teased curled mane and the caption reads:

UPDATE: Here 'tis:

bob cartoon012.jpg

The look of clueless wonder in her simple pencil-drawn eyes almost made me break down and cry.

Well, that and the fact that I gotta run two letterheads and envelopes plus some business cards in two-color process in two different color schemes tomorrow and one of 'em is so hairline it might well take a spider to produce it in less than ten hours...

Seriously, I'm calling a shop meeting tomorrow. New Boss has eliminated the old system and replaced it with chaos. We had a new client who ordered 12 different items (letterheads, envelopes, business cards, mailing labels, appointments cards, yougetthepicture..). These were all small orders; 500 of this, 250 of that, 100 of the rest, and I had to walk back to our graphics guy for each item piecemeal. WTF? Can't we print out the entire job and put it in a job box and hand it to me? I spent half the day pacing and waiting for the next episode of Oh! Do You Need That Now?

I am trying to construct a pneumatic memory curcuit using stone knives and bearskins. If New Boss even thinks of confronting me about how slow the work is getting done he will in for an earful.
I suppose that I seem like such an enigma to him right now.


Posted by Tuning Spork at 11:28 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 03, 2005


The wild card in major league baseball. Hmmph. When it was first introduced there was much discussion of what it did to pennant races. I recall Bob Costas' book Fair Ball making the convincing case that divisional pennant races were now a thing of the past. But, at the time, I didn't know just how right he was.

The Yankees and Red Sox finish the season tied in the Eastern Division at 95-67. Do they have a one-game playoff a la 1978? Will there be a Bobby Thomson / Bucky Dent moment for the fans to cherish or rue?

Nope. Since the Yanks and Sox both were guarenteed post-season seeding, a playoff for the division title was judged unneccessary. The New York Yankees were declared division champs and the Boston Red Sox were declared the wild card team based solely on their head-to-head confrontations during the season. The Yankees won the head-to-head games 10-9.

Now, of course, when two equally talented teams play an odd number of games there's bound to be a "winner" of the head-to-head match-ups. That the Yankees won 10 of their 19 contests doesn't make them the obviously better team. The Red Sox finished with an equal overall record which means that they did better against some other teams than the Yankees did.

Baseball isn't like football where the outcome of a single game can be anticipated right down to a half-point. Baseball's season is 162 games long, not 16. Obviously a one-game playoff wont decide which team is better, but it'll at least, as far as the standings are concerned, give us a REAL division winner, not an arbitrary one.

They finished the season tied, yet one is the division champion and the other is the wild card. I think they should have had to play this afternoon for those honors regardless of what difference it wouldn't have meant to the post-season match-ups. But I'm just an old "purist", I guess.

x-Yankees 95-67
y-Red Sox 95-67


Posted by Tuning Spork at 10:50 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 02, 2005

and on the flip side

In the dark ages, back when we bought vinyl 45s, it was the A-side that sold the record. But half the joy of the single was flipping it over and listening to the B-side.

Usually it was a piece of crap, but sometimes the B-side was actually better than the A-side.

I'm listening to a CD a burned a few years ago when I was selling my records online and wanted to record some of 'em before I shipped 'em off. Lots of these songs are '70s B-sides -- songs that weren't included on the album that the single was pulled from.

I liked Fleetwood Mac's Go Your Own Way alot, but it was the B-side -- Silver Springs -- that I wore out on my turntable. It wasn't included on the album Rumors. Rumors have it that Stevie Nicks wrote as response to Lindsay Buckingham's Go Your Own Way, so it's only fitting that they should be paired on the single.
Everybody knows Silver Springs nowadays, but there was a time when it seemed like I was the only one who ever turned that record over.

Elton John's duet with Kiki Dee, Don't Go Breaking My Heart, was a huge hit. But it was the B-side -- Snow Queen -- that I fell in love with. Neither song appeared on an Elton album at the time. If you ever get a chance to pick up a copy of Don't Go Breaking My Heart b/w Snow Queen, grab it. Elton and Kiki do a wonderfully delicate number that'll make ya swoooon.

The Ramones put out a single in '77 of their cover of Do You Wanna Dance. It'd never been played quite like THAT before, but it's the B-side -- Babysitter -- that is a truely wonderful listen.

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers had a hit in '80 with Don't Do Me Like That. But the non-album-track B-side -- Casa Dega -- is the real gem on that record.

Any other great non-album B-sides I've missed?

Posted by Tuning Spork at 07:55 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

sad news

airman jacobson.jpg

A few days ago Airman First Class Elizabeth Jacobson, aged 21, became the first and hopefully last female airman to lose her life while serving in Operation: Iraqi Freedom. Slaglerock has the story and is collecting thoughts and prayers in the comments.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 05:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 01, 2005

Y'Know What The World Needs Now?

Canned Grapes.

I was chowing down a fruit cocktail yesterday afternoon and noticed that I was less interested in finding the scarce half-cherries as I was in the yummy grapes. "No big whoop." I thougth. "I'll just pick up a can o'grapes on the way home."

Y'know what? They've got canned and jarred peaches, pears, pineapple and even cherries, but no canned or jarred grapes.

There are canned oranges, grapefruit, mango and papaya. I've even got a large can of plums in my cupboard that I bought a few months ago and have yet to open. I only bought them because I'd never seen canned plums before.

Fresh is usually better, but there are some exceptions in my book. I prefer canned pineapple and pears to fresh. And grapes. Canned grapes. That's what these troubled times call for.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 01:01 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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