Aug 29, 2008

Er...please pardon me, but...

...I must take issue with the views of my esteemed co-author and very good friend on his recent posting (It's not a pretty scene down on the floor of the DNC August 27). To judge ones looks, I feel that you should take the subject's appearance in context with the surroundings. The 2008 Democratic Convention from Denver has been a hoorah-fest for all those folks who want to save the planet, feed the hungry (remember the gov.cheese program?), heal the sick (medicaid/medicare), raise the dead (stem cell research, anyone?) and make the little girls talk outta their heads. That's right. He's the one, the one they call...but I'm getting off track here.
We're talking female hotties, or rather the lack of female hotties at the DNC. All these democratic women have had to dress for the show and the show is not a day at the beach. To find what these women looked like away from the stuffy environs of the political arena, we followed them to...where else...the beach.
Now I must agree with my esteemed, yet misguided, cohort on how these women look in this political setting. Pelosi, Senators Amy Klobuchar and Claire McCaskill, Madeline Albright and Hillary all dressed for the ball, so to speak and they might not appear very attractive to the untrained eye. But in the right setting, boys-hold your applause! Let's take a look at some convention shots to illustrate this point, shall we?

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi

I agree that Nancy (may I call you Nancy? No?) that Sen Pelosi looks older, more 'politician=like' in this recent shot.
Now, check her out in this beach blanket bingo setting:

A real hottie, right? Oh yeah! I wish they all could beat California girls!
But enough of the crappy convention shots. Let's get straight to the 'meat' of the matter, so to speak.

How about this babe, Sen Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota. This midwest farmer's daughter really makes me feel alright!

Got your blood boiling yet? I thought so.
Remember that iron lady from the Clinton admin, Madeline Albright? She can sit on my lap anytime like a good secretary (of state) should:

Let's take a look at another fine-assed senator, this time from the great state of Missouri. Sen Clair McCaskell - show me baby!

Now I know why she was cited by the New York Times to be among the seventeen most likely women to become the first female president!

On that subject, the woman who really, really wanted to be the first Femprez has taken up a new pastime since losing to the 'real' savior in the primaries. None other than the queen of the Rose Law Firm, Hillary:

Buff Hillary says "I will not lose to another man ever again!"

But you know that I saved the best for last.
The senator who turns heads, who has all the suitors waiting in line, the senator who will drive you home, none other than:

I think I've made my point.

Aug 28, 2008


Yeti, the Lizard Man, Sasquatch,. Loch Ness, Bigfoot,Elvis sightings and Hillary Clinton.
Images and headlines that have blared out from supermarket aisles Tabloids for as long as I care to remember, UFO babies, Bat Boy, George W.Bush,,the Illuminati and Monica's blue dress. And we believe all the bullshit, buy the papers, cast our votes, invest in our future, wash our cars and paint our houses. Haven't we been told that by 2013 the world is ending? Haven't we been warned about the rapture and it's consequences? Sumerians, Tibetans, Egyptians, Cherokees, Hopi, and Mayans refer to a 26,000 year cycle which ends with the solstice of 2012 (December 21)and the end of time. These guys had to get it right, right? I mean, what are they saying now?
They're saying nothing...nada...zilch...because they're all dead! Well, most of 'em are. They spoke of a time when the world will cease to spin (they knew this?), the heavens will swallow the earth in a cataclysmic ball of fire and spit it back out as a giant turd into the void. Well, excuse me while I go shopping. Let's see, exactly what should one pack for such a journey? "Welcome to The Armeggedon Store, may I take your order?"
"Yes, I'll take a pair of those Doc Marten boots, the 12" bowie knife, box of candles, matches, a lead-lined tent, shotgun with ammo, portable radio with a shitload of batteries, a stack of the Playboy magazines and that Washburn guitar". "Oh, and throw in one of those Elmer Fudd caps cause the nuclear winter might get 'vewy vewy cold'"
My butt!
Look, I'm no pessimist. I carry a 'hope card' in my wallet and use it all the time. Hell, I've even earned reward points! But c'mon. How can I continue to read all this grim news without somehow wanting to cave in to it? Where is all the good news? I'm not talking about Brady Bunch good news where Marsha finally gets her period but news that would give all humanity hope for a secure future. Not happening. eh?
Oh well..."hey dude, throw in another box of candles and that stack of Hustler magazines too"
Oy veh.

Aug 27, 2008

It's not a pretty scene down on the floor of the DNC.

Being somewhat of a political junkie, I can't resist watching the horror show that is the Democratic National Convention. Yet, this post is not political, save to say that it is a safe bet that I won't be voting for their nominee.

That said...I must make an observation and this is it: For the love of all that's good, are there not ANY good looking female democrats. Most of the speakers have railed against the budget deficit; but nary a word about the reasonably good looking woman deficit at this convention? Yikes! I feel like I'm stuck in that Seinfeld episode where the girlfriend is beautiful one minute and a hag the next; but with these DNC troglodytes, there are no good looking moments. No matter how wide the camera angle, it never catches a drop dead, good looking female face or form. And it's not one bit better on the stage either. Pelosi, Michelle, and Hillary are each capable of haunting an eleven room house by themselves. You know you've got problems when Chelsea Clinton might possibly be the best looking woman in the room.

So, what gives? If the beautiful people of popular culture are as Democratic Party oriented as they appear, and in many cases claim to be, then why not shuttle in a few thousand Hollywood grade babes to, at the very least, stand around on the convention floor to help "pretty up" the crowd?

Where are the glamour-pusses when you need them? Julia?, Charlize?, Sandra: Your party needs you! It's frightening down on the floor of the Pepsi Center...and tonight they're moving the show to Invesco Field where there are fifty thousand more seats; and that means fifty thousand more opportunities for camera shots of dour, life-long democrats with hairy legs and caterpillar eye brows.

Where is your patriotism you gorgeous babes of tinsel town? Have you no sense of duty?

Aug 26, 2008

A strange liquid substance falls from the sky!

Up-Country residents cower in fear.

Old Timers identify substance as "rain".

Aug 24, 2008

Re: Funny you should mention McCain...

I knew it! There had to be a reason other than political power for that slimy little crapweasel to rate a classy looking dame like Cindy Mac.

Unbelievable (literally) investigative reporting! And it can be found only at MTH.

And to think that all the times I warbled Bungle in the Jungle along with the car stereo, I was singing along with John McCain... Now that just ain't right.

As I pointed out recently, we're damned if we do either way.

Aug 23, 2008

Funny you should mention McCain...

...and link to Ian Gilliam of the band Jethro Tull on the same post.

Recent background checks into presidential nominees have revealed an interesting fact about the 'real' John McCain. McCain's real first name is not John, but Jethro, a fact he's tried to cover up since his first senatorial bid. And all those missed votes in the senate coincide with a certain band's touring schedule. Last but not least, his wife is a hottie. No woman who looks like this

will be caught dead with a guy who looks like this

...unless he's a rocker!

Recent photos taken by stealth paparazzi have revealed for the first time who the real McCain is and what he actually does for a living:

McCain after a shave and a haircut

Live Update: The Obamessiah chooses Biden:

"ol Joe is snarling in his acceptance speech. I think he looks and sounds a little like this guy.

Biden is serving up the traditional Democrat stew of evil Big Oil, accented with a dash of class envy and garnished with a leaf of white guilt. He's following that up by pumping huge amounts of sunshine up our trousers concerning the One we've been waiting for. To bring it all home he's topping off the frivolities by a telling a poignant but pointless story about Obama . Reid will love this -"Somebody bring me a bucket".

Listening to Biden you would think we are all just one missed dose of Xanex away from total despair; and that BHO is the way, the truth and the life. Are we ready for The One?

If you are confused, take the quiz. Hat Tip to the marvelous Michele.

Good thing we can only see Bob Beckle from the waist up. He's really excited about the ticket.

Now what scum sucking deviant will Uncle Fester pick as his running mate?

Aug 20, 2008

A couple of things from the in basket:

Life indeed has been good...good friends, good family, good times. We're blessed beyond belief.

"Fort Reid" is an awesome place and I was happy to do my infinitesimal part. However, the ultimate hat tip should go to G.T. Reid. He was there for all of the back breaking work. Brotherly love at a high level IMHO. He is pictured here in the middle, sandwiched by a couple of McArthur Street hooligans.

On other fronts: We welcome new fixer/weaver AKA Robbie to the fold. At last report, he was still fighting chronic heartburn owing to his many trips to Tuckers and the consumption of Jack's ubiquitous gravy. We look forward to his reflux induced postings. As an aside, Robbie has a PHD (Parker High Diploma) and was in fact a drummer in that award winning band. I can still hear them playing the Budweiser Theme Song and Tiger Rag.

And, of course, the drummers always got the chicks.

Reid's dredging up Joe Walsh made me think of one of my favorites of his...and being that AKA will be posting from the City...I give you this:

Aug 19, 2008

It's time for an Olympic Update:

Is it just me or do you expect Michael Phelps, after he gets back home with all that gold, to show up in some of those Geico caveman commercials. He is one scary cat. He has a tall man's torso, a short mans legs, big Sasquatch feet, long gorilla arms and just a hint of cro-magnon in the forehead area. So, he ain't as pretty as Mark Spitz, but you got to hand it to him, he did some gonzo swimming over there in Bayjing. Hey Chairman Mao, that's 8 gold medals. Yall got anybody who did anything like that? Didn't think so. Take that you bunch of freedom hating, hieroglyphic writing commies.

The Red, White and Blue still leads in the medal count, yet the Red Horde has the gold lead. It always seems to work out that way when you're competing behind the gulag curtain. Russian judges, Chinese judges, they all sing the same old tune: If you can't beat 'em, cheat 'em.

And lest we forget, here is this from 72. And that was without the common decency of a reach around (about the 4:10 mark).

Keep the pressure on 'em Team USA.

The Brandon File: Sometimes it was an abnormal subculture

It was 1967 and the mills were still humming, but they wouldn't be for much longer. I've always assumed (maybe incorrectly) that the death of the cotton mills was a catapult of sorts for many of the villagers to simply give up; to turn to alcohol, drugs or laziness. And maybe it was. But that wasn't the case with Rob Grumbles. He was a fall down drunk foremost and always, regardless of the economic health of the textile industry.

By mill hill standards Rob Grumbles was wealthy; or, at least, his family was. He lived in one of the very few brick homes on the hill. The Grumbles family wealth came from the numerous rental properties they owned on the narrow streets of Brandon; linthead Rockefellers, if you will. So, Rob always had money and he loved to get drunk. It was the perfect storm.

Rob's liquor store shuffle-three steps forward, two steps back-made for great entertainment. When he needed a fix, he had to traverse the park and walk up the street past our house to West Greenville where the liquor store was. When more or less sober, Rob could make the trip with no problem, even though he had to negotiate a couple of ditches, a railroad track and a pretty steep hill. After he purchased his bottle he would immediately start drinking as he shuffled home. By the time he had made it back to the park, he was pickled. Three steps forward and two steps back: an inebriational travelogue; an alcholics cha cha.

He drank everyday and with gusto. Then one June day in 1967 he would have died had it not been for my brother Mike and our great neighbor, William Donahue, who happened to be nearby. Noticing Rob trip, stumble and fall, William said, "Mikey, we better go get that damn fool up". And it's a good thing they did, for it seems old Rob, while shuffling home from his "grocery run" had fallen face first into a hole filled with water. The hole was made when the light posts that once ringed Brandon Field (across from our house) were removed. A thunderstorm had filled it nearly to the top. Mike and William found old Rob in up to his shoulders, gurgling, unable to get up owing to his high state of inebriation. So, Mike and William saved Rob Grumbles from a likely freak drowning by dragging his drunk ass out of a mud puddle. Veritable angels they were that warm day in June, 1967.

As it turns out, Mike and William's Good Samaritan act bought Rob a few years of life. Rob eventually (unsurprisingly) died of liver ailments in 1970. They found him in the nice old brick house just across the way, "dead as a door nail", as my mom liked to say. "Hell, they probably didn't even have to embalm him", said William.

Three steps forward, two steps back no more.

Life's Been Good (so far)

Life's Been Good
Lyrics by Joe Walsh

Borrowed by Larry Reid

I have a mansion, forget the price
Ain't never been there, they tell me it's nice

Actually, I don't own a mansion. I have a log home. A home built by my own 40 hands. Okay, so it's not actually my 40 hands, but the hard working, sweaty, bloody hands of family and friends. It took all of us 18 months to complete , but it was a blast building it. Laura and I, along with my brother Gary and wife Susan, Jim (Buster) and Mom, brother Bob and wife Barbara, sister Linda and her friends Alan and Larry B., great friends David D'Amelio and Larry D., my son Mike, nephews Pete, Derick, Brandon, Shannon, and a host of others dropped what they were doing and threw their weight behind the project lovingly known as “Fort Reid”. We now live in this house and absolutely love it and are indebted to those who lent their time and talents to build this place. We will always love you guys and never forget you! “Nuestra fortaleza es tu fortaleza”

I live in hotels, tear out the walls
I have accountants pay for it all

No hotels (see above), although I have stayed in a few recently. No accountants either. Oh, wait! I have people! H&R Block. But I pay them. Does this count?

They say I'm crazy but I have a good time
I'm just looking for clues at the scene of the crime
Life's been good to me so far

Crazy? Sure. A good time? Definitely! My job consists of putting people on television – some who really don't need to be seen there. I also shoot models and beauty queens. I audition new talent and decide whose face will represent our company. I try and build business profits with 30 second messages, sometimes achieving this, sometimes not. I work with car dealers, hardware store owners, universities, professional sports teams, dance companies, city governments and talented yet whiny producers. I work with scum-of-the-earth ad agency guys, voice personalities, politicians and preachers. I have shot press conferences, had my box of cookies stolen by the likes of Troy Aikmen while shooting Emmit Smith for an NFL post-game interview, met my childhood hero Joe Namath, and shared a hot tub with Miss America, Miss North Carolina, Miss Kentucky and Miss South Carolina...all together! I recently went to London and Paris and am looking forward to a trip to Italy next year.
Life has indeed been good!

My Maserati does one-eighty-five
I lost my license, now I don't drive
I have a limo, ride in the back
I lock the doors in case I'm attacked

For me, this line should actually mention my 1999 Chevrolet Cavalier. I bought it used in 2001 from a shifty auto dealer, sight unseen. I still have my license, which is how I've managed to put almost 300,000 miles on this little gem in seven short years. I've always spoken of the no-frills nature of this car by reminding naysayers of it's 'stealth' capabilities (knock wood, but I've never gotten a ticket in it).
It's good on gas mileage, pretty low maintenance and gets me where I need to go. I only have to lock the doors when I'm in Columbia working, and only then when I have camera gear inside.

I make hit records, my fans they can't wait
They write me letters, tell me I'm great
So I got me an office, gold records on the wall
Just leave a message, maybe I'll call

No hit records, although a few years ago Larry D and I set upon the task of writing and recording a few songs for our own enjoyment. And, if you leave me a message, 9 times out of 10 I will call back.

Lucky I'm sane after all I've been through
(Everybody say “I'm cool”......”He's cool”)
I can't complain but sometimes I still do
Life's been good to me so far

Okay, so maybe I'm not the sanest person on earth. But I did manage to survive my wife's insane circus of a family for nigh on 17 years and come out the other end a bit scathed but relatively sane. My secret?
Always look at insane situations from a third-party perspective. This allows you to see the humor in the most insane of situations.

I go to parties, sometimes until four
It's hard to leave when you can't find the door
It's tough to handle this fortune and fame
Everybody's so different, I haven't changed

My partying days are over. You know, the kind of parties where you drink and dance and howl at the moon. I remember one particular incident where I thought I was howling at the moon only to realize I was howling at a street lamp. The neighbors aren't quick to forget the night you're on all fours in the backyard, naked and howling like the dickens at a street lamp. They tend to look at you differently after an episode such as this. Hmmm...maybe this is why the local baptist church members started dropping by the house weekly to try and recruit us to their church. Just a thought.
It's been awhile since I couldn't find the door. The door is the first thing that I recognize and find these days...especially when the hour approaches 9pm and my bedtime is drawing nigh. No fortune or fame here either. Never wanted or needed either of these since I wouldn't know what to do with them. Regarding change. I have changed quite a bit. Being in the 'image capturing' business, I have seen far too many back shots of myself and wondered “who's the bald guy?”, realized it was me and accepted the fate of my father's genes. My ass has gotten wider, my wallet is thinner and I don't move quite as fast as I once did. Still, I have survived three heart attacks, stent placement, bypass surgery, tragic losses of family and friends, marital woes and job insecurities. While the losses are still hard to bear, I have realized that for awhile, for a brief period of time, I was priviledged to know those who have since passed. Lucky? I think so. Main word here is 'survived'.
I joined the 'Classmates' website last night. Clicking through old memories, places and times took me to a few photos of old girlfriends and how they appear now. Wow, everybody is different.

They say I'm lazy but it takes all my time
(Everybody say “Oh, yeah”..... “Oh, yeah”)
I keep on goin’ guess I'll never know why
Life's been good to me so far

I like to think that I'm not lazy, just reserving energy for my later years. And the answer to why I keep going? There is so much left to do, to see, to experience. And since my son is soon to wed, I want to be around when my new grandchild makes his or her appearance to the world. It may be a few years before this event takes place, but I need to be around to tell him or her the same thing that my father told my son when he was a boy - “give him as much shit as he gave me”.

Yeah, yeah, yeah

Aug 18, 2008

A fitting tribute...

Lighting the candles for Ruth E. at these grand old churches is touching; and it is a well deserved gesture.

Ruth was special. She radiated friendliness and good will. She was smart too. Back in our Trivial Pursuit days we were all amazed that she could know so much. Good grief, she was only about fourteen!

She grew up right before our eyes. Dwayne, Tony, Peace, Ridgeway and me were part of her extended family. We were always around. And even in later years when our lives diverged, when she saw us, she greeted us with a hug and a familiarity reserved for family.

She had a sharp wit. Her laugh was easy and genuine. When we see her again, I'm sure she will remind us of what a bunch of morons we were; but, there'll be a smile on her face. There always was.

There will certainly be a big grin on mine.

Aug 17, 2008

Paris, the city of lights, the city of love, the city of the euro

"Deux croissant, sil' vous plait". "Deux?" replied the young french woman behind the bakery counter.

"Oui", I replied. She proceeded to pick out two scrumptious looking croissants and wrapped them for me. I held out my hand full of euros and she picked through the coins taking what she needed. "American?" she inquired. "Oui", I replied. She gave me a knowing smile and said "au revoir". And thus ends my lesson in what little french that I had picked up on my first day in Paris.

While I do not consider myself a math whiz by any stretch, I do pride myself on my monetary counting abilities. I've been doing it for quite some time and have grown comfortable in my skin in this respect. The British pound and the euro (to a lesser extent) changed all this. Trying to figure out which combinations of denominations to use, I found that paper currency was my best bet when paying for a souvenir or dinner or admission to a palace, although the coin I accumulated in change slowly filled my carry-on bag.
Kim and I arrived by train into Gare de' Nord station on a beautiful Monday morning after a comfortable 2 hour ride from London through beautiful British and French countryside. I still find it amazing that these two countries agreed to, and then built the channel tunnel. I was thankful too since we didn't have to go through airport hell - train station hell is more to my liking. We headed straight for the Paris Metro, bought a couple of four-day passes and headed straight to our hotel, the Appart City.
Located northeast of the heart of Paris across from the Ourcq metro station, we were pleasantly surprised to find a tidy room with a kitchenette and an in-room bathroom! After the "suite" in London, in-room plumbing was a must. No waiting in the hallway for your turn, only to find strange pubes covering the tub and a wet floor.
We spent our first day at Notre Dame. The rain was falling as we exited the underground metro and emerged above ground to a traffic jam and hoards of tourists (damned tourists). After making our way past beautiful structures (Prefecture de Police, Palais de Justice, Hôtel-Dieu hospital and Tribunal de Commerce, we arrived at the magnificent chapel just as the rain subsided. We fell in line and I began snapping photos while we awaited entry. The church is beyond description and has served it's congregations throughout the ages. The exterior is adorned with carvings depicting the life of Christ, the saints and Kings throughout the history of Christianity. Entering the church, you are struck with what the architects clearly had in mind: a sense of awe and the might of God. When asked by my brother Gary to describe it I could only reply "you gotta see it". Kim and I decided to pay an extra few euros to visit one of the many naves and see one of the pope's garbs, as well as other historical relics. It turned out to be our lucky day. While asking the ticket guy about a certain artifact I noticed a smallish woman standing next to him. He referred our question to her, who turned out to be a church member that gave tours to special groups. Since her group had failed to arrive she agreed to take us on a "behind the scenes" tour and proceeded to escort us behind the velvet ropes to the inner chapel. There, she gave us a history lesson and reminded us of the great historical figures who sat in the very pews where we sat. She guided us past the rest of the tourists behind a gate and described to us the fabulous wall carvings that adorned the center of the chapel. She asked us to sit in the row of seats which had serve as the seats for some of the Knights Templar's. Inspired and humbled, I lit a candle for Ruth E. and we thanked the lady with a 20 Euro donation and headed for the door.

Outside the church, on the western part of the plaza sits a statue of the legendary Charlemagne astride a noble horse. I snapped a couple of pictures here and it dawned on me that this was not the Kid Charlemagne made famous by Steely Dan, but was in fact the real deal.

Exiting the plaza, Kim and I made our way to the Seine across Pont Neuf to the infamous left bank. Pont Neuf, the name ironically meaning "new bridge", is the oldest standing bridge across the Seine in Paris. Construction began in 1578 under the rule of King Henri III and was officially opened in 1607 by King Henri IV. The thing that set it apart from other bridges of the time was that it contained no houses on it's span. The bridge crossing deposited us onto the Quai de Conti where we strolled along the river and took in the beauty of the houseboats and gardens of the area. Getting late now so we headed to the nearest Metro at Saint Michel and headed back to the hotel and a lovely french meal. A glorious first day in Paris behind us, we settled in for a well-deserved rest.

Aug 13, 2008

How could I be so lucky

Hello. I'm Larry and I am a victim of credit card fraud.
I read with interest the story which carried the headline "40 Million Credit and Debit Cards at Risk" and "Largest Credit Card Fraud Case in US History".
How could the internet security guys be so stupid as to let these hackers bust into this many accounts? What maroons! And then I went to the pharmacy to pick up my drugs. "Your card is declined. What other form of payment would you like to use?" said the young cashier. "Declined? No way" I said. "Yes way" was the look she gave as I pulled out my other credit card. After paying for the meds I headed straight for the door and to the house where I could go online and check my bank balance.
Money's there, I thought as I closed the web page. Must have been an error with the pharmacy. Next morning, on my way to work, I stopped to buy gas and received another 'card declined' message from the pump card reader. Hmmm. To the bank I went.
The teller was able to pull my account and discovered there were three pending charges on my card which, when accepted, would take me over my limit. She noted that my line of credit had kicked in and deposited over $500 into my account to cover these charges. Now, what did my money buy? Shoes. Running shoes, tennis shoes, all from Footlocker, FootAction and some outfit named City Blue 8. Did they buy these items in my fair state where at least my tax dollars would go to one of my local politcos? Hell no. They shopped Upper Darby, PA. 69th Street, to be precise. My first question (after freezing my account) was to wonder just where in the sam-hill Upper Darby, PA was located? I had recently travelled to Vegas for a seminar, but came nowhere near Upper Darby Pennsyl-freakin-vania. Did I use my card in Vegas? Once, at a Bank of America to withdraw cash. Maybe that's where they stole my number.
All these thoughts and uncertainties were clouding good judgement so I decided to call my friend Mike and get the scoop on how best to proceed. Mike works in the fraud investigation business and has seen this type of situation before. "Freeze your bank account, contact one of the credit reporting agencies (who report to the other two) and have a fraud alert put on your credit file. Get a police report from your local police or sheriff's department and keep it with your bank information.
I followed his advice to a tee. Hopefully this will help to get my funds back.
Upper Darby,PA is located just a few miles west of Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. Someone in Upper Darby was feeling the love as they visited the Foot Action Store at 8 69th St Blvd. and bought a $150.00 pair of shoes using my money. Satisfied with their purchase, the bums waltzed down to City Blue 8 at 44 69th St Blvd. and bought $40.00 worth of something. They then proceeded down 69th St. past the Game Stop, the theater and Popeyes delicious fried chicken, to the Foot Locker at 88 69th Street and scored $292.00 worth of footwear. I love Google Maps as it allowed me to retrace their steps and see just how close all three of these stores are located to one another.
After speaking with the Upper Darby Police Department officer I learned that this type of theft is not uncommon to the area due to it's close proximity to Philly.
Seems that I was probably a part of the major bank account number theft that made the news and my number was sold to some tennis shoe-wearing idiot who don't need a full time job. Damn. How lucky can I get? Maybe I should have gambled in Vegas...then there would have been no money to steal.

Aug 10, 2008


In the never ending attempt to relive my youth, I give you Traces. Since I've "found" my lounge groove, I thought this Dennis Yost and the Classics IV song would be just the ticket. It encompasses everything a broken hearted lizard pining for the past could possibly need: It has a weepy cat with lots of romantic flotsam and jetsam floating about, a sweet melody, a great sax solo, and an excellent vocal by Dennis Yost. Can't you visualize a leisure suited, side burned, bloke nursing his fifth rum and coke, sniffing away tears just as the horn intro of Traces gives way to Dennis Yost?

Faded photograph
Covered now with lines and creases
Tickets torn in half
Memories in bits and pieces

DY and the C-IV began as a Jacksonville club band. They headed to Atlanta to take advantage of the larger talent pool and ultimately released several chart worthy songs including Spooky, Stormy, and Traces. Original guitarist of the C-IV, J.R. Cobb, said this about the band in a Mix Magazine article:

“We were just a bar band that got lucky and got a record deal! We'd play rock 'n' roll in clubs, and the owners would tell us that we had to learn ‘Misty’ or ‘Fly Me to the Moon.’ Those standards worked their way into our playing and writing, and became part of the Classics IV sound.”

Moreover, Traces was recorded just as the industry was moving from 4 to 8 track recording and was released during a period that featured the soaring guitar work of rock luminaries such as Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townshend. That this somber tune would find an audience surprised the writer/producer of the song, Buddy Buie and Cobb as well:

“Me and Buddy would sit around and try to write a standard,” says Cobb, “We were overtly trying to write a ‘legitimate’ song. We had no idea it was going to be a Number 2 hit record — we were astounded! It was a cocktail kind of music; we knew that.”

Meanwhile, now that every seat within ten feet of him is empty, Mr lonely heart is boring the bartender; and the crying jag intensifies as Dennis Yost continues his inventory of misery.

Ribbons from her hair,
souvenirs of days together,
the ring she used to wear,
pages from an old love letter.

J.R. Cobb would leave the C-IV shortly after Traces only to reappear a few years later with his new band-and totally different sound- The Atlanta Rhythm Section. Dennis Yost continued to tour the clubs and lounges until being seriously injured in a 2006 car accident. According to the Classics IV website, Yost has recovered from the injuries, and throat surgery as well, and has returned to crooning in his unmistakable baritone.

I close my eyes
and say a prayer
that in her heart she'll find
a trace of love still there... somewhere.

Traces of hope in the night

that she'll come back and dry
these traces of tears from my eyes.

The little joint will be closing down any minute now and the bartender pats the weepy fellow on the shoulder, places a cup of coffee in front of him and collects the empty glass from his last rum and coke. "Hey bud, can I call you a cab"? It was the first words the lizard had heard since somebody played Traces on the Jukebox 5 hours ago.

Its that kind of song.

Source Material:

Mix Magazine

Classics IV

Aug 9, 2008

It's Official: I'm a lounge lizard.

No, I haven't purchased a convertible or acquired a 25 year old girl friend; and I haven't taken to haunting the Manor like I did in those young, free, nocturnal days of yore when Ridgeway and me would "crutch" our way out there and hang out till the naked eye of 4 AM. Yes, I said "crutch". We both were sporting a plaster cast. As Ridgeway used to tell curious patrons, "same loan shark".

No, my lounge interest are not of the prurient nature. Unless, you consider jazzy, swing music a lascivious pursuit. Up until now, my interest in music was a lot like most everybody among the 50 something generation; we cut our teeth on rock and roll. We were hip to Frankie and Dean and Bing; it was our parent's music, but we had something new and the standards of the big band era eventually fell from our catalogues.

My re-awakening happened recently. May 14 2008 marked the tenth anniversary of the death of Frank Sinatra. Turner Classic Movies celebrated the event by declaring it Frank Sinatra Month. Interspersed among the Sinatra movies were 4 concerts, one each Sunday evening. I happened to catch the first one...and I was hooked. Not just by Frank's singing, that was fabulous, but by the wall of sound produced by the Nelson Riddle Orchestra. I had never heard it quite that way before.

I casually mentioned my "discovery" to my Cousin Robbie Durham. We routinely chat on Robbie's evening commute from Fort Mill to Huntersville. A few days later in the mail I received 4 CD's. 2 were of Frank Sinatra: a man and his music, one was Louis Armstrong performing various solo efforts and duets with Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Martin and the like. And the forth one was a CD called Swingin Singles: Cocktail Mix Volume III. Good ol' Robbie.

CMV III is a compilation of brassy, ballsy songs that range from Della Reese's rendition of The Lady is a Tramp to Sarah Vaughn's scorching version of One Mint Julep. Instrumentals include a charged up version of the 60's hit, Tequila and a Henry Mancini arrangement called Something for Cat. Also appearing on this swinging collection is Mel Torme, Louis and Ella, Peggy Lee, Rosemary Clooney, Sammy Davis Jr and various others.

So, it is official, I've turned into a lounge lizard. And the best part is that I'm only getting started. A Little Frank, a little Ella and I'm off to discover the brave new world outside of Beatleland.

Somebody bring me a Glendfiddich on the rocks.

Henry Mancini- Something for Cat

Diana Dors- Come by Sunday

Sinatra- Let Me Try Again

Peeeeelion Peeeeeenut Festival

Tamika: "Reporting live from the Pelion Peanut Festival is our very own Harvey Hooper...Harv, what's going on out there tonight?"

Harvey: "Hi Tamika, we're in Pelion for the peanut festival"

Tamika: "Right what's happening?"

Harvey: "They're selling peanuts" (silence)

Tamika: " there a big crowd out there tonight?"

Harvey: "Yeah, big crowd, big crowd...all eating peanuts" (silence)

Tamika: "Well, uh, Harvey, Did you try some of the famous Pelion peanuts?"

Harvey: "Yup" (dead air type of silence)

Tamika: "Er, okay...I'll bet they were really tasty, right?"

Harvey: "Too salty"

Tamika: "Yeah, I'll bet they were delicious. You're just gonna have to bring back some for everyone here in the newsroom"

Harvey: "Too salty"

Tamika: "So Harvey, it looks like another big crowd this year"

Harvey: "My feet are swelling"

Tamika: "The crowds, Harvey. Is that a carnval ride I see behind you there?"

Harvey: "Yeah, it's called the Salt Lick arms are swelling now"

Tamika: "Bands...any bands playing tonight?"

Harvey: "Yeah...Morton and the Old Salts. My foot just exploded"

Tamika: "Well, that was a live report from..."

Harvey: "I feel like the Dead Sea"

Tamika: "er...uhh...reporting live from the Pelion Peanut..."

Harvey: "It's raining...I'm melting...melting...mel"

Tamika: "Thanks Harv. And when we come back, the opening ceremonies in China"

To commercial.

Aug 8, 2008

Live blogging the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics....yawn.

8:45 China: the ancient and the modern. Missed most of the ancient part, hope that the fireworks at the end of this segment don't ignite the air.

Impressive LED screen across the field. People wearing suits illuminated by tiny lights are making bird shapes and the like. Probably very cool...if you're there

One of the talking heads is opining that the modern era of China began in the 1970's. That's the time that "China came out of her shell". Great, if they would only stop forcing women into abortions and ease up on people who have directed their spiritual lives away from the state, then we might really believe it. Cheap goods and a big snow job at the Olympics just don't cut it.

Theme change...uh oh I heard the magic warming, sustainability. All illustrated by tai chi masters and chanting school children. World unity, world peace, man and nature living as one. The talking heads are having to explain this otherwise it would all be just one big choreographed light show, Hi Ho. And don't think for a minute that the Chinese guv-mint gives an imprisoned Tibetan's arse about the environment. They'll do what they have to do to get oil and use it. Count on it.

9:15 Now the Chinese are patting themselves on the back over their space program. They hope to have a man on the moon by 2024. Hey boys, we already did that...IN 1969! What a bunch of clodhoppers. If you guys hadn't gone Commie you'd probably gone to the moon with us. Putzes.

Now we have a big Chinese pop star and a very Yankee looking woman performing a duet. zzzz. Meanwhile Bob Costas is all a twittle over the quality aspects of the presentation. We'll, they spent 64 billion, they damn well better have something more than this One World, One Dream baloney .

9:25 Now the teams are marching in. Greece by way of being the first country to host the Olympics is first. can get out of the way now. Can't wait to see the reception for the USA.

Didn't realize Turkey had such a Soviet looking flag...
Fashion alert: Turkmenistan has some gaudy ugly pigeon crap green outfits on...pitiful
Malaysia has an American looking flag...damn right!
Cayman Islands: Tax haven for money laundering an Olympic sport? Swimming with concrete galoshes?

Bob Costa just had a thrill go up his leg.

Ecuador: you mean they're not all in the states? Surprised they have enough people left to field a team. Most of them live up here in Berea.
Jamaica: ganja will prevent them from cleaning up at these games, but they'll be the most agreeable team there.
Israel: remember 1972
Japan: quiet reception.
Taiwan: They're calling them Chinese Taipe. Yeah right. Stinking freedom loving capitalists.
Hong Kong: big reception.
Cambia: smallest nation in Africa. They wore their pajamas to the show. Nice.
Denmark: been a while since we've seen any caucasians.
Paraquay: Gold for sure in the banana tossing competition.
Panama: Likely to take the gold in tarantula eating.
Palestine: keep 'em out of the doughnut shops and off buses. Check their bags. See Israel.
Cuba: big cheer for their comrades from the Chinese. Casto still living? Heard that the first cell phone arrived there this week. A guy traded his 60 Cheverolet for it; but there is no one to call.
Rwanda: Feed them good lest they start eating each other.
India: pretty quiet reception from their democratic neighbors.
Niger: One can you spare some yellowcake? Maybe Joe Wilson should have carried the flag.
10:10 Ghana: just a few Ghanarians...
Canada: good luck hey. But you guys need to get it together on this.
Spain: May 11 2002. Surrender day for this once great country. Haven't been worth a damn since.
Congo: keep them away from Rwanda at dinner time.
Iraq: Big cheer...alright.
Iran: More ugly green...See ya soon boys...sup to you-signed-the Great Satan.
Hungary: appear to be wearing blood stained clothing...yikes! Lots of big ankled women.

Hurry up USA!

Andorra? Wasn't she on Bewitchted?
Saudi Arabia: no women...they're all back home covered in sacks and keeping their damn mouths shut lest they want to be beaten black and blue. Islam., the religion of peace.
Great Britain. Good luck cuz.
Kenya: protein bars stat!
Venezuela: Hey Hugee baby...You exist simply because we let you. Peace out, brother.
France: The home of Euroweenies everywhere. Surrender monkeys on the stroll. Though Sarkozy not quite the crap for brains that his predecessors were.
Poland: gotta love those eastern Europeans...haven't given in to euroweenyism yet. They love the States...glad to be rid of the Soviets.
South Africa. You mean there's something left. It's been pretty much downhill ever since Mandelas took over?
Russia: Putin is there. Crapweasle extraordinaire.

10:40 The USA: Nice applause.... a little surprising. What's with the berets? Oh, Ralph Lauren inspired duds. Blue blazers and white pants. Not showy...not bad...except the berets. U. S. A.!

I'd like to see us clean up over there in gulag land. It's all political when you get a chance to thrash the enemies of freedom on their own world stage. While the OC was pretty spectacular, beneath the 64 billion dollar facade still exist a regime that punishes those who seek liberty and imprisons people based on their beliefs. They should be universally shamed for that regardless of their expensive propaganda, but they won't be. It's happy, happy joy time.

OK that about does it. I may not see much more of the Beijing Olympics, but if I do, I'll report.

Live from Beijing!

It's the games of the XXIX Olympiad.

Sung to the tune of the official Olympic song, One World, One Dream (sort of)

Grab a gas mask,
check your inalienable rights at the door
and kick back for a love fest
like you've never seen before

One world,
One dream!
Crappy products, no freedom
but we're great on TV

One world,
One dream!
By the way while you're here
we will be listening in.

One World,

Check out the guys in that L.A. Times photo.

They appear a smidgeon suspicious of the fuzzy little foreigners photographing them. LOL!

I might live blog NBC's tape delayed opening ceremony tonight. I seem to remember a wild, paganistic ritual O. C. at the 1996 Atlanta games culminating with Mohammad Ali lighting the Olympic torch. It was surreal.

I can't wait to see what these Shanghai Bolshevik cats come up ought to be a real, unifying, humanistic, slam bang, proletariat celebration of Panda land...that's for certain.

Update -Good one!

Aug 6, 2008

What are the Courts thinking?

This a brutal story:

Lynn Moses will be locked up in federal prison next Wednesday. His crime? Protecting the city of Driggs, Idaho from flooding.

Unbelievable. Read the update too.

Activist court gone too far? Or evil developer getting some smackdown?


Terrible to lose men this way:

SAN FRANCISCO — Nine people are presumed dead in the crash of a helicopter that was carrying firefighters over the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, officials said Wednesday.
The crash happened Tuesday night just after the helicopter picked up firefighters, who had been battling a blaze north of Junction City, from a clearing in a remote, rugged region of the forest, said Jennifer Rabuck, spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service.

Re: The View From Below

First, let me go on the record as being sympathetic to those who want to save the Berkeley coastal oaks. I love trees and far prefer green landscapes to concrete jungles. I think it would be better if another site is found provided it is both environmentally and fiscally feasible. However, it would not be the end of the world if some of these great trees were cut down. The histrionics of the tree sitters and their supporters seem misplaced for reasons I will chronicle along the way. So, from my admittedly right wing, knuckle dragging, reactionary, deep south view:

1) The Burial Grounds: I'm loath to use Wikipedia as a source owing to their renown unreliability, but from their own report was this tidbit:

Kent Lightfoot, a curator at the University's Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology, said that there was no clear ethnic identification of the skeletons, nor evidence that they were part of a larger burial grounds and not simply isolated skeletons. Lightfoot went on to say that the only known artifact recovered near the skeletons was an Mexican coin from the second quarter of the 19th century.

Moreover, I don't find much credibility with this dude. Reminds me too much of this dude.

2) The WWI Site: I seriously doubt those cats in the trees have the dead of WWI on their minds while they're perching up there with their University provided protein bars and bags of poop. I'm thinking reason number 6 would be more to their ideological liking.

However, I am happy to see that Cal-Berkeley honored their WWI dead. Nearby Clemson University, with it's military tradition, did likewise with the "Valley". Though, I doubt that type of reverence for the American fighting man could be found in Berkeley now.

3) The Law: Interesting that a State University would enter into such an agreement with local government. Now they're obviously trapped in the uncomfortable position of trying to wiggle out of it. Personally, I hope they compromise and save the trees, but, as Reid said, C-B is the largest land owner in Berkeley. A pretty strong hand.

4) Shake, rattle and roll: Well, I'm no seis...seism....uh, er...earthquake studier, but I can't see how building the athletic complex down the street is going to make any difference. The whole frickin' state is on a fault line. If a quake occurs that has the destructive power to destroy the stadium where it is now, then probably no place in Berkeley will be safe. Perhaps a site in Nevada might do.

5) The lawsuits: City of Berkeley-check. After all, the impetus behind this whole thing is that pesky don't cut down the trees agreement- in which it seems the city has 'em by the short ones.

The California Oaks Foundation-check. I didn't even bother looking these guys up. Their name alone explains their interest.

The Panoramic Hill Association-I guess the residents of this exclusive neighborhood don't want their gorgeous view further spoiled by a bunch of football hooligans. Here is a comment I found from a PHA resident on the Homeowner's website.

Despite the sometimes oppressive presence (bold-mine) of Memorial Stadium at its base, the hill maintains a remote, unspoiled quality which enhances the presence of its numerous historic dwellings -

I suspect there are many other firmly held beliefs that encouraged the PHA to hop aboard the litigation train. If I lived there I'd probably take that haughty attitude myself.

Save Tightwad Hill-Now I can identify with pin headed college football fans, but you have to wonder what credence a bunch of guys too cheap to shell out the clams for a ticket to the games can lend to the save the trees cause. However, they seem to have saved their vantage point for the time being. Go Bears!

6)The Warming argument: Herein lies the place I diverge from the pack; stray from the fold and take tongue firmly out of cheek. Global warming/climate change does present challenges, but I do not agree that it is "the biggest problem we face today". I am more inclined to see growing, unaccountable, freedom squashing, socialists government, metastasizing, freedom robbing global Islamofacsism and blind allegiance to freedom stealing multiculturalism as far more dire problems for America (and the planet) than a debatable marginal increase in global temperatures. Of course, therein lies the problem. Many of those posing the "climate crisis" are unwilling to debate the issues that may or may not be causing the said problem, and are quick to label dissenters as "deniers". Despite the fact that thousands of scientists have jumped off the "crisis" bandwagon, and regardless of reports that global temps have actually cooled in the last ten years, the mainstream media continues to push crisis mongering with its blame America/Americans/humans first shtick. I think the approach taken by many in government and media underestimates the innovative, creative spirit of American ingenuity to adapt and prosper in a changing environment; but then, perhaps that is exactly their intention given their political proclivities. Get environmentalists and government out of the way and watch what happens. America, with all her myriad problems, is a problem solving country; and, when unencumbered by knee-jerk over regulation, is the greatest purveyor of freedom and, dare I say it, progress the world has ever seen. I sure as hell ain't waiting around on the rest of the world to do anything but punish achievement when it comes to climate solutions.

As far as the trees at Berkeley are concerned, cutting them down would definitely alter the view and violate local sensibilities, and, on the surface, looks like a dumb idea; but, in reality would have little effect on global climate or real quality of life there. After all, residents of the area have co-existed with the stadium since 1923. I think institutions like this (and hundreds if not thousands of others) are where the answers are to be found regarding our (humankind's) use and protection of the environment, and not in a quasi-religion being promulgated by many in the environmental movement. I'm all for conservation and intelligent energy uses, but I'm not willing to worship at the altar of the "isms" mentioned above.

So, in closing, Berkeley: get those idiots out of the trees and focused on REAL planetary problems, find some other place for your football team so as to save those awesome trees, and you Tightwad Hill guys keep cheering on the Bears and maybe you'll see these guys come January.

Aug 4, 2008

The long awaited Larry King interview with Steve Spurrier

Larry King: Monday we'll have the two Barbara's, Feldon and Eden, both looking good and offering up sex tips for septuagenarians. You won't want to miss it.

Tonight we welcome former Heisman winner and national championship head coach at the University of Florida- and current University of South Carolina top banana, the legendary "old ball coach", Steve Spurrier. Welcome coach.

Steve Spurrier: Good to be here Larry

LK: Coach, it has to be tough for a guy like you with all the success you had at UF to have an experience like the Redskins and now North Carolina.

SS: That's South Carolina, Larry. And yeah, it's tough to fail at the pro level and then show up to a place like this with no athletic tradition, really low expectations and a stadium in the warehouse district.

LK: Did you ever consider retiring...its rumoured that you got a pretty sweet deal when you signed on at SC...Augusta National membership and all.

SS: Somebody is full of crap if they think I got a deal like that here in South Carolina. Heck, they still got that flag...which ought to tell you something about this place. Anyway I think I burned my Augusta National membership bridge when I whizzed in the woods off 14.

LK: Wednesday the whole hour with the "Hoff" himself, David Hasselhoff.

So how's the team shaping up this year coach?

SS: Oh, I think we can be pretty good if I can keep 'em from hanging out in 5 Points, getting drunk, fighting and keying cars and the like. But, you know, all teams go through this, they have the same kinda thing up at Clemson; only they get away with it.

LK: Can North Carolina compete in the always tough SEC?

SS: That's South Carolina damn it! And I think we can compete even though we play in the toughest conference in America. We had some good wins last year; we beat Georgia in Athens, Clemson hasn't done that much

LK: We've got a caller from Easley, South Carolina. Go ahead caller you're on with Steve Spurrier.

Caller: Steve, did you really tell that Paulk kid that you'd never lose to Clemson again?

SS: Like I said after that game, Rodney Paulk is full of crap if he said I said that. And then that Clemson fan put up that damn billboard. I think that was a little over the top.

LK: Thursday we'll have Martha Stewart and Joan Rivers...don't miss that one!

Coach, you seem a little obsessed with Clemson...

SS: Well, if we played their schedule we'd be playing in January every year...

LK: Anything to this "chicken curse"?

SS: Yeah, there might be.

LK: We'll have a special Larry King Live this Sunday with Alec Baldwin, Ted Turner, Suzanne Summers...

The view from below

Look up. Do you see them? Look in the trees. Yes, up there in the tall oaks and redwoods of Berkley, California. That's correct, right smack dab on campus. They are camping in the trees. Have been for over 18 months. Why the h-e double hockey-sticks would you camp in a tree for 18 months, you ask? To save those trees, that's why. From what, you ask. From the dreadful, inhumane scum-of-the-earth bastards with chainsaws, that's who! Why would these dudes want to cut down these old-growth trees? Progress? Well, sort of. Allow me to explain.

UC-Berkeley's Memorial Stadium sits astride the Hayward fault and city code enforcers have a problem with this. The school wants to build a new stadium to replace the one on the faultline and the new one would occupy the space now occupied by the coastal oaks with hippies growing in them. Simple enough, right? Read on.


1. It is a Native American burial ground. Native American remains were found at the site in 1923 when the stadium was being built. UC Berkley tried to hide this from the public but documentation was leaked by a conscious UCB employee.

2. It is a World War I Memorial site. The stadium and the Oak Grove are named in honor of Californians who died in World War I.

3. Berkeley City Law prohibits removing mature Coast Live Oaks. Coast Live Oaks are Protected Heritage Trees in the City of Berkeley. If UCB, the largest landowner in Berkeley, doesn't have to follow city ordinances, why should anyone else have to?

4. The new proposed development is adjacent to the (recently active) Hayward Fault. Since the tree-sit started on Dec. 2 there have been seven earthquakes (ranging from 2.0-4.2 on the Richter scale) on the Hayward fault which runs directly under Memorial Stadium.

5. There are four lawsuits against UC Berkeley. A diverse group of institutions and organizations; the City of Berkeley, California Oaks Foundation, Panoramic Hill Association and Save Tightwad Hill are challenging the proposed development as being in violation of various regulations including CEQA (California Envoironmental Quality Air Act), the Alquist-Priolo Act (earthquake fault proximity), and laws regarding emergency access and response requirements.

6. Global Warming is the biggest problem we face today. Cutting down old Oak (and other trees accellerates warming and climate change. Replacing these trees with saplings does not come close to replacing the bio-mass lost.

7. There are other viable alternative sites for the facility. The athletic training facility can be built at Maxwell Field, with the playing surface maintained above. The parking lot at Bancroft/Fulton is another option. A third option is the building at 2223 Fulton St., which is in need of demolition. A further option is expansion at the Edwards Field site. These are only some of the many alternatives to building at Oak Grove.

City Councilman Laurie Capitelli said he was relieved to see the case moving forward, but was concerned about the plight of the tree-sitters, whose food and water were cut off last week when university arborists dismantled all but one of their platforms.

"We've got a volatile situation in the trees right now," Capitelli said. "One way or another, we've got to get them out of there safely. My hope, at this point, is that the judge moves quickly to issue a definitive decision so we can resolve this." Seven protesters remain in the trees, sharing a single platform about 40 feet up a redwood tree. Campus Police Chief Victoria Harrison spent about 45 minutes Thursday talking to the tree-sitters about their food and water supplies and waste disposal. The tree-sitters refused to turn over their waste, which has been accumulating since last week, but did accept bottled water and energy bars on Friday, Mogulof said. "When the injunction is lifted and the legal coast is clear, at that point we will have reached the end of the judicial process," he said. "We hope and expect that anyone left in the trees will, at that point, abide by any and all court rulings." The tree-sitters have said they'll refuse to come down until the grove is protected from development. About 44 trees are slated for removal to build the athletic center, but the university has said it would plant about 130 trees in their place. In a separate project, UC next wants to retrofit Memorial Stadium, which also is likely to provoke a legal battle with neighbors and the city. Most of the plaintiffs want the landmark stadium razed and a new stadium built elsewhere.

The university would like to preserve the stadium, which was named by Sports Illustrated as the best place in the United States to watch a college football game and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The $125 million sports complex will replace the seismically shaky (and already-cracked) Memorial Stadium, and it will also allow the cash-strapped university to bring in big name recruits, football and otherwise, which can translate into millions a year in revenue. Last year Cal was ranked #12 in the nation going into the college football season, something that will bring the university millions in television revenue alone.

Would you cut them down for that kind of money?

Lost Wages

I had the opportunity to attend a management seminar this past weekend in that most decadent of American cities-Las Vegas. Departing from Charlotte Douglas airport on Thursday, I left my wife and my cat to fend for themselves for a few days while I cavorted. Well, cavorting may be a bit of a bold statement for a 51-year-old who doesn't gamble. Actually, I was a good boy. No shows, no nudies or call girls, no gambling. I was there strictly for the seminar and no more. While the seminar focused on new strategies for the e-generation and managing "outside the box" (I despise that term), I took away several ideas that should improve my grasp of the fine art of managing human resources. For example, imagine your office space without a human being in attendance...nothing but expensive, fancy paperweights and a chair that serves no purpose. Elementary, sure. Often overlooked by upper management? Too often! In this throwaway world of ours, humans are often the last resource that a company throws resources at. You can requsition new hardware and software, all the office supplies that you need, fancy phone banks, networking systems...companies don't even blink an eye. Want to add a person to the mix? Whoa Nellie! Now we're talking about training costs, insurance and benefits packages, 401K administration fees, etc. When a company downsizes, it hits the human quotient first. It doesn't look at other ways of creating revenue (which takes people to do), it only looks for short-term savings by getting rid of said people and saving the company money. Silly, I think. I say invest in your people, train them to be revenue generators, allow those that excel the space to do their jobs and provide oversight and feedback to those who are struggling. The only way to grow a company is to provide the proper fertilizer...and bullshit has never been a good fertilizer.
During my downtime I walked around and checked out the sights, ate a couple of good meals and scoped out the myriad of shows that blanket the strip. After a couple of bums approached me for money I decided to head back to the air-conditioned room and check out the local tv scene. The best idea I had the entire trip was going to the room and catching sleep. What a restful few days!
The weather in Vegas was hot, the atmosphere was dry as dust, the tourists were thick as thieves and the thieves were as thick as tourists. Thank goodness for seminars...otherwise I would have never had the desire to visit this sinful city. As it is, I now know that I don't need to go back there. For me, nothing to see here...move along.

Aug 3, 2008

Breaking Away

I spent the early part of this morning watching (for about the tenth time) the excellent little movie, Breaking Away .

BA appeals to me on a couple of levels. First, the plot centers around kids growing up in an area both economically and psychologically depressed by the closure of a local granite quarry. That scenario should sound familiar to those of us, especially the humble authors of this blog, that came of age just as the mills began to close.

The Cutters of Breaking Away remind me very much of the kids of the displaced mill workers of whom we saw many. The sense of loss devastated many folks who simply knew no other way. Life stopped for some, but not all.

I think I can say with some accuracy that your humble authors knew that life on the hill was finished; that the glory days of village life were in their twi-light. Other paths would need to be followed; other trails would need to be blazed and so they were. We were cutters of a sort. Our dreams and aspirations would flourish, but far from the quaint, close-nit life of the hill. But the heart still remains there. Maybe this blog is an indication of that.

I also like Breaking Away on a secondary level. It's a bicycle movie. I spent about fifteen years in the saddle, spinning the back roads of South Carolina. I still have some of the aches and pains to prove it.

Breaking Away: A funny, touching movie, well worth watching if you haven't seen it.