Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas for me

First of all, Season's Greetings to all, regardless the specific holiday you celebrate. It matters not what day you celebrate or for what reasons, just celebrate! As has been the case for the last couple of years I have been too busy in my head to sit down and make up the usual tissue of lies and unverifiable "facts" which were the substance of my Christmas letters of years past. It's not that I don't enjoy doing it; it's just that it requires a trance like state that I rarely achieve since I left my last job. Boy, those were the days! I remember getting up at an uncivilized hour, driving 15 miles to the commuter rail and then riding the train into Boston to earn a good wage, mostly for putting up with a ridiculous amount of crap from people who were even more unhappy than I was. In the evening I would reverse the commute, come home, eat, complain, go to bed--rinse and repeat. Taking leave of that job, despite the loss of the income and benefits was one of the happier days of my life. I have been busy for the last three years with finding and working on my house. It is an ugly beast, still, but it's my own home--something I never thought I would have. I've not been as happy with life in general as I am at this moment. I spend my days ripping old work out, measuring for new work, cutting things to length, throwing them away and measuring carefully, this time and repeating the process until I get it right (or close enough!). On the days when my gimpy leg and aching left shoulder are being less quarrelsome than usual, I do things like hanging sheetrock, wrestling a pellet stove into position (eight times, two different stoves--first one didn't work properly) making dump runs and so many trips to the local Lowe's that most people who work there know me well enough to greet me--or run to hide when they see me coming!
I've met a lot of good people and some jerks. I am fairly well known as the "guy who takes all the pictures". The camera has been a great tool for breaking the ice with folks--most of them, anyway. I now do some photography for the Chamber of Commerce; I volunteer at the local non-profit entertainment venue, The Oswego Music Hall , photographing musicians and I do pro bono work for any other non-profits that I can help out. I intend to open my photography business in the coming spring and hope that the visibility I've gotten from doing the volunteer work will be my "advertising budget".
As John Lennon once said, "Life is what happens while you're making other plans.". I'm not sure what might have been, but I'm grateful for what is. I was talking to a gentleman, not too long ago, who is a world traveller and has been to some very exotic locales. He and I often chat about geographical, scientific or philosophical esoterica--both of us read omnivourously--and have some fine conversations. When I told him that I had not had the pleasure of traveling as widely as he has he said, "That may be true, but you notice things. If you went down to Minetto (a village five miles to the south of Oswego) you would see something that other people, including the ones who live there, missed.". I think that's fairly accurate. I travel pretty small but I try to see pretty big.
When this time of the year rolls around I do miss my family. It's not that I'm lonely, I don't mind being by myself for a lot of most days--and, yes, I do enjoy the company of friends or friendly strangers--it's more about not seeing and spending time with all my wonderful siblings and their children and grandchildren. I am so happy to be around all the little ones (even though I'm a terrible curmudgeon) and see them and their parents having a good time. Of course being the, now, elderly uncle, I don't gotta worry about changing diapers, although soothing an unhappy baby is something I'm fairly good at doing. The outings and parties with a trainload of sibs, neices, nephews, in-laws, outlaws and scads of kidaloos are really what I enjoy most about going to visit family. I hope that, one day, when my home is habitable--for those with more conventional ideas and traditional notions of what constitutes "suitable for habitation"--that some of you will come to visit, during the summer months when we often have long and lovely days of sun, mild temperatures and friendly breezes off Lake Ontario--a mile or two to the north of my house.
Now then, to the subject of Christmas. This Christmas season has been a good one., thus far. I have gotten some lovely swag from a few friends and a very nice gift or two from some of y'all. The goodies are greatly appreciated, but the cards and letters about what your families have been doing for the last year are what I truly treasure. For those of you who may not have my current snail mail and e-mail information, I'll include it in the copy of this that is e-mailed.
Gosh, I guess it got to be long winded, meandering and full of the usual sort of non-sequitirs--in other words, Mission Accomplished!!
May you all enjoy a wonderful holiday season and a happy, healthy and hopeful 2010. Merry ChrisKwanukahnalia!!
  • N.B.:
About the photos: Some of you will, no doubt, recognize the signatures/card motifs/photos; thereby knowing that your Christmas missives have been entered into the Frigidaire Photo Placement Contest. There are two rules, as per last year, for the contest.
Rule 1.) Cards will be advanced per a very complicated formula (including but not limited to such criteria as: child cuteness, family grooming AND--this is a big one--everyone looking at the camera at the same time! ) at the discretion of the sole judging authority (that would be me).
Rule B.) Inclusion of pictures of deceased American notables, printed in that delicious combination of black, green and now, colored inks on Crane's very best currency paper will, as always, exert some considerable influence on the judge. In the event of a tie, in terms of the more subjective criteria listed in Rule 1, likenesses of Ulyssess S. Grant, Benjamin Franklin, William McKinley, Grover Cleveland, James Madison and Salmon P. Chase will weigh, in inverse order, heavily on the judging authority.
  • N.B.P.S., too, also:
The doggy card is from my pal, Buddy, the around the corner Dachshund/God knows what else mix who spent his summer holiday at my home (he loves a place full of nooks and crannies to explore) and his mom, the nice lady who needed cataract surgery, thus necessitating Buddy's stay during her convalescence.
  • N.B. , Oh, yeah, one more thing:
Those yellow and shiny refrigerator magnets are my nifty german precision levels. They tell me, among other things, how far off plumb and level my finish work will be!
Many of you already go to "The Coyote Chronicles" . Those of you who don't had better do so. The subject of today's post is easily the best Christmas song I've heard in years! Happy Holidays, Mack!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Tolerance is sometimes a vice

Tolerance is sometimes a vice? When I put something up on this blog, or read posts on other blogs, and the comment threads are filled with comments that run the gamut from humorous to toxic--that's okay with me. What's not okay is when threadjackers descend on blogs to push their own narrow agendas and try to turn someone else's platform into their own bully pulpit. Anyone who disagrees with me, here or elsewhere is welcome to do so. When their disagreements are based in honest argument I will either agree, disagree or ignore them. When they are obvious trolls I will do what I can to chase them off. By "obvious troll" I mean those commenters who have no desire to do anything but disrupt the thread to the point of having other commenters give up and walk away. Many of the trolls have their own blogs which, of course, they invite people to visit. This particular bait is not tempting to me. If they had a legitimate point I wouldn't be calling them "trolls" in the first place. Since they are trolls I see no reason to advance their hit counts. Occassionally, readers of my blog will notice that I have deleted a comment. Those comments are deleted because the people who have made them have been told that they would be. So, here's the short rules list. Say what you like when you visit my blog. Profanity, obscenity, personal insults--all fine, as long as you have a legitimate point to make. Personal threats--not so much. Those get screen capped and sent to other folks so that there will be a record. What prompts this post is my visits to a couple of other blogs. Both blogs are written by very intelligent and high-minded ladies who encourage diversity of opinion and do not simply excise those comments that they disagree with. Both of them also allow commenters who are, imo, trolls of the first order. I have no problem arguing, or even being wrong, when arguing with someone who is better prepared and relies on incontrovertible facts to buttress their arguments. When the arguments are based on opinion, anecdote, quote mining and cherry picking there is no point in arguing as they already "know" the truth and are attempting to convert people. That's all I got for the moment.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

This Old Hovel

Well, we broke a record (at Syracuse Airport) recently for the most consecutive days without at least an inch of measurable snowfall--something like 285 days. It appears that we will be getting more normal weather for the indefinite future. The current weather forecast for Oswego, NY and its environs, courtesy this site: Today...Some snow showers early...Then lake effect snows drifting south into northern sections this afternoon. Blowing snow. Accumulation 3 to 6 inches in the most persistent snows across the northern part of the county. Very windy. Early morning highs in the lower 30s...Then temperatures falling into the mid 20s. Southwest winds 25 to 40 mph...Becoming west with gusts up to 60 mph. Chance of snow near 100 percent. Tonight...Lake effect snow and blowing snow. Snow May be heavy at Times. Additional accumulation 9 to 17 inches in the most persistent snows. Very windy and colder with lows around 20. Southwest winds 25 to 40 mph...Becoming west. Gusts up to 55 mph. Chance of snow near 100 percent. Friday...Lake effect snow. Areas of blowing snow. Snow May be heavy at Times. Additional accumulation 8 to 16 inches in the most persistent snows. Windy with highs in the mid 20s. West winds 20 to 30 mph. Gusts up to 45 mph. Chance of snow near 100 percent. Friday Night...Lake effect snow. Snow May be heavy at Times. Brisk with lows in the lower 20s. West winds 15 to 25 mph. Chance of snow near 100 percent. Saturday...Lake effect snow. Highs around 30. West winds 15 to 20 mph. Chance of snow 90 percent. Saturday Night...Mostly cloudy with a chance of flurries. Lows 15 to 20. Sunday...Partly sunny. Highs in the mid 30s. Sunday Night...Mostly cloudy. Lows in the mid 20s. Monday...Mostly cloudy. Highs in the upper 30s. Monday Night...Mostly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of snow showers. Lows in the upper 20s. Tuesday...Mostly cloudy with a chance of snow and rain showers. Highs in the upper 30s. Chance of precipitation 30 percent. Lucky for me I live at the SW end of the county, where we might only get a dusting to a couple of feet, depending on which street you live on! The snowfall amounts measured at the weather observatories are often wildly at odds with what is experienced in areas that are quite close to those sites. Hey, I got my pellet stove (actually the second one, the first one didn't work and I had to swap it out for another unit) and if my back of the envelope math is correct I should be able get the first floor up to a tolerable temp. I'm closing off the second floor to both conserve energy and to keep from having the roof get too warm and have melting snow forming ice dams up there. I think I've got a little record of my own going. I'm approaching a year of having my house be treerat free. I am sitting here listening to some Suzy Boggus and Leonard Cohen. I am also listening to the wind howl. I think the house is finally stiff enough to stop rocking in anything like normal wind. Last year when the wind was blowing this hard I was reminded of that nursery rhyme, "Rockabye Baby". Some fair sized beams, lots of framing connectors and let-in steel wall bracing seems to have helped immensely. Life is good, as long as one doesn't weaken.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Poor, poor, pitiful preachers.

Mr. Jon Swift had a post on his blog ( visit and leave some love. I wrote a comment and realized, after it posted, that the post was done in June and that the most recent comment on the thread was a week old. Hey I ain't wastin' this (it's been edited to be more profane)! Dear Mr. Swift, Sir: This is my first visit to your fine KKKristian KKKonservative blogplace (that would be YOUR fault for having a link to this place at "Jesus' General"). I think some of your commenters are nervous nellies. They think GOD will get umbragificacious with Warren B.? Nothing could be further(farther? whatever) from the truth. Warren is doing GOD'S work. Every dollar that he shifts to Billzebub Gates for doing satan's work is one dollar more that has to be offset by the righteous fundraising apparatus of Mr. Reverend Robertson, et al. GOD'S just havin' hisself a little fun with his peeps' is all. Why look at how he got Oral Roberts to go all jiggy, back when he said, "Oral, son, GOD gots to have some benjamins; 'less of course you wanna get benched." The man worked miracles--IN JESUS' NAME!! Yeah, OL' YHWH is just sittin' out on the glider on his paradaisacal porch, sippin' some fine sacremental Pinot Noir, and havin' a time with Moses, Leviticus, Abraham and the rest of the GOP (GOD'S Own Posse) while David (another oneathem "1 Name" artists) plucks a mean harp--is that "Stairway to Heaven" I'm hearing or just the music of the spheres? Oh, btw, that bit of scripture? It really said. "I'd rather stick needles in my eyes (something JESUS would do from time as a party prank, like changing water in to wine or healing lepers, etc.,.) than be caught smokin' a "Camel Frost". Dudes, it's like kissin' Mary Mags. Gimme oneathem straight, high tar Luckies or, better yet, a Fatima." Those Essenes, what a bunch of kidders

Monday, November 02, 2009

A good cop

UPDATE 11/12/09 4:14 PM EST Brad has informed me that the town has reversed itself and will be granting him a hearing. Notice: My blog's timestamp is screwed up. This is actually being posted at 9:43 PM (EST) on Wednesday, 11/04/09. I have mentioned to a few folks that I was going to put up a blogpost about an issue that I feel is important. That it involves a young man I've know for his entire life, the son of one of my best friends makes it much more personal than most of the things that I talk about here. I've known Brad Jardis' dad about 40 years, and I've known Brad's mom for something like 35 years. I have known Brad Jardis since he was a very young boy. In the time that I have known Brad he has gone from being a curious and very determined child to a smart, hard working, honest and very courageous cop. He's a good son, from a good family, who has always acted as a professional in his LE capacity and who has always been cognizant of the fact that he is first and foremost an officer of the LAW. Brad has been a police officer since he was eighteen years old. He graduated the NH State Police Academy before he was 19. He has served ably and honorably on three different departments. In the ten years that he has been a uniformed officer Brad has worked his share of petty and major crimes, domestic disturbances and drug busts. He has also volunteered his time as a counsellor for crime victims. Brad is currently at loggerheads with his employer, the Epping, NH PD because of his integrity, honesty and outspokeness. He is a member of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) an organization that is made up of law enforcement professionals who believe that the current policies of most law enforcement agencies, re: criminalization and prosecution of drug use is misguided and counter productive. His public stance on this issue is amply documented and it is a major reason, if not THE reason, that his employer is attempting to deprive him of his livelihood and his good reputation. Suffice to say that Brad is being "railroaded" by his department and his union. The charges are trumped up and Brad is fighting them. As is usually the case with fighting city hall, they don't bother to post the rules in a concise and clear way, so that gets added into the mix. Following the links at the bottom will allow you to familiarize yourself with the situation. Brad is a bright, energetic and earnest young man. He and I have had some fairly "energetic" discussions in the area of politics. We don't always agree, but we always respect one another's viewpoint. His positions are never based on anything but logic and his reading of the U.S. constitution and the laws of the United States. He's the only guy I ever met who actually keeps a copy of the constitution on his Blackberry. More to the point, he understands it as well as--and often better than--many people who are older and have made the study of that document a passion of their lives. I have suggested to Brad that going back to school and working toward a degree in law would be a great way to channel his energy and passion about justice. Whether he ultimately remains as a police officer or moves on to another career, he has my total support as my friend and my "nephew". I would be quite happy if any of my readers want to take this post and re-post it. It would be a nice if it went viral and brought the sort of attention to his employers that they are most certainly trying to avoid. Links:

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Good Morning: For those of you who might be unfamiliar with my vital statistics, suffice to say that today has been a long time coming. For the rest of you, I have officially crossed the line; I will be, henceforth, a curdmudgeon, fogie, old fool or whatever it is you're calling men who are the over 59 in your neck of the woods. I share a birthday with some notable folks including Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso (can you imagine what his fucking driver's license must have looked like?!). There are others, including--but not limited to--Georges Bizet, French composer; John Heisman, American football coach; Richard E. Byrd, American explorer; Minnie Pearl, American comedienne and singer; Klaus Barbie, Nazi war criminal; Billy Barty, American actor; Marion Ross, American actress (Richie Cunningham's mom); Bobby Knight, American basketball coach; James Carville, American political operative; Mike Eruzione, American hockey player; Nancy Cartwright, American voice actress (the voice of Bart Simpson); Pedro Martínez, Dominican Major League Baseball player;Midori, Japanese violinist. Now then, with the exception of Klaus B., Bobby Fucking Knight and James Carville, that's a pretty good group. I thought of the accomplishments and achievements of that group of people and thought I could best express my feeling about turning 60 this a.m. by quoting one of them. For those of you who think that just by getting old I will be forced to grow up--"Eat my shorts!". I'm going to boogie till I party and puke like it's 1999.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

For your edification, a recently discovered fragment from Genesis. Mr. Snake: "Honey, I'm home!" Mrs. Snake: "Oh, good, dinner's nearly ready; I just have to constrict a couple of more voles. How was your day?" Mr. Snake: "Oh, you know, same ol', same ol'. I slithered around in the garden for a while, curdled the cow's milk, scared the poop out of Eve--that kind of stuff. Oh, btw, if you haven't already done those voles, hold off. I had a late rat and I'm not terribly hungry." Mrs. Snake: "Oh, that's alright honey, we'll just have them for breakfast (if you don't mange them during the "Survivor--The Neolitihic Dinosaur Era" marathon, tonight). Say, did you take a meeting with the creator and straighten out that whole talking thing?" Mr. Snake: "Yeah, that was a waste of time. He says that it's just not part of the gig. It was a "one time" event, he got what he needed and we get the shit end of the stick. He says that although the downside is that we are feared, reviled and extirpated by those idiot Two Leggers--and have no way to explain what happended-- that there is an upside. We'll never have to tithe OR pay taxes. He thought his little joke was pretty hilarious, what a prick! I just wish I had hands for long enough to flip him off, the asshole!" Mrs. Snake: "Oh, honey, don't do that to yourself; YWHW kicks your ass around enough as it is (it's just an expression--snakes don't have asses). Hey, how about I fix you a nice V&A (Venom and Antivenon), light on teh "A", you kick back and watch some of those cobra/mongoose pornos and we just kick back and twine our brains out? The voles aren't going anywhere."

Monday, October 12, 2009

You can please some of the people all of the time...

This post was written in reply to something someone said over at ScienceBlogs re: the Nobel Peace Prize. The general public seems ambivalent about Mr. Obama's having been awarded the prize and the GOP is of course making hay out of it. I am just weary of it all: Nomen Nescio: The nature of the Democratic Party has always been to fracture into a lot of different, competing groups. The nature of the GOP (at least in the last 40 years) has been to place party unity above principle, integrity and honor. that "nature" has proven to be a game winner, if winning elections is all that one cares about. I accept your criticisms of Obama and the dems as valid. I'm an independent and always have been. I'm left on social issues and centrist on most other stuff. I don't vote democratic tickets because I like them. I vote them because I perceive them to be the party that will do the least damage to my country. I know a number of republicans who told me that voting for Obama would not change anything. I told them they were wrong, because, I said, if Obama got elected my nation would die more slowly. Most of them laughed at my joke; I wasn't kidding. There is a shitload of anger (rage, actually) in a lot of peoples' hearts these days. People who don't know a fucking thing about the process of governance talk openly about killing the man they say is ruining the USA. What would be funny, if it wasn't so tragic is that they are being played like fiddles by the reichwing and the people who stand to profit most by the continued divisiveness. We expect Mr. Obama to be someone who is different from his predecessors, someone who is better than other politicians. We are disappointed that he is not--and we should be. That is OUR nature, to be disappointed when promises are not kept, when we feel we have been lied to and played for fools. Perhaps our disappointment will be fleeting, perhaps it will be profound. Maybe Mr. Obama will suddenly make a momentous change, as did Mr. DeKlerk upon becoming the leader of South Africa. Who knows? Not me, certainly. All I can do is all I can. I will continue to believe that there is purpose in this presidency, even though I don't understand what that purpose might be. I do wish Martin Luther King, Jr. was here to help, to lend his counsel. I won't be around twenty years from now (miracles of modern science notwithstanding) but I'd like to think my country will be. Is that an odd notion for someone who doesn't open his mail because it might hold bills?

Sunday, August 30, 2009


Well, I finally got my kitchen sink installed (temporarily, anyway) in my kitchen island. I was looking for something to do with the produce that I had piling up in the fridge and I thoughgt to myself, "GigundaSalad". Starting with the incredibly sweet heirloom, organic tomatoes I picked up at the Oswego Farmers' Market, a couple of days ago. These tomatoes are old europe at its best. IIRC they are called "German Stripes". They are as sweet as a peach. Chopped them into largish chunks. Then I added about half of a red onion (approximately baby's head size), a pair of cukes, 2 ribs of celery, a handful of calamata olives, 1/4 cup of capers, 1 nice braeburn apple and some frozen corn and peas. Then I opened a can of black beans and a can of garbanzos (drain the garbanzos, RINSE the black beans--unless you like very dark salad). After a thorough stirring of the ingredients, I let them rest in a 4 qt stainless bowl. I then made a dressing with OJ, cider vinegar, white balsamic vinegar, canola and hazelnut oils, GARLIC (yes, that much!!) salt, black pepper, powdered ancho chilies, basil, oregano, a tablespoon or so of brown sugar, about a 1/4 tsp of curry powder and a healthy pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg--quantities are all "to taste". Total volume of dressing was about a pint. It's macerating in the fridge for a few hours. Four days later: Ummm, umm. Good Salad. I ate about 2/3 and gave a couple of friends some to try. It was a little on the sweet side of sweet/savory. Next time I'll use less OJ or no apple. Wasn't it nice that I wrote a post with no overtly political stuff in it? Oh,yeah, fuck Glen Beck.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Compare and Contrast

Ted Kennedy will be laid to rest tomorrow, near the graves of his brothers Jack and Bobby. While I don't believe in an afterlife, I do believe that all three of Joe's boys, each with foibles of his own, did perform heroic service in their duties to their country and deserve to be laid in the hallowed ground of Arlington. Senator Kennedy's life, warts and all, has been thoroughly examined, for at least the last 41 years, so I won't be doing that. What I will say is this. Ted Kennedy has been criticized as a drunkard, a murderer, a serial philanderer, a "limousine liberal" dilettante, a fellow traveller, a terrorist appeaser and a traitor (and that's not an exhaustive list, by any means) by the reichwing idiots who are rejoicing at the news of his death. It is ironic, imo, that so many people who hate the late senator (and, yes, "hate" is the correct tense) are alive because of his tireless advocacy for those who needed help and whose voices could not be heard. So many social welfare programs, which many of his critics benefit from, were championed by Ted. If there IS an afterlife, Ted must be chuckling to himself as he listens to their insults and whining. I look at the role models for the fundies and reichwingers: Frist, Reagan, Falwell, Nixon, Gingrich, North, Dobson, Limbaugh, Coulter, Hannity, Palin and the "Plumber"--a melange of self-absorbed, paranoic, manipulative and delusional opportunists--and all I can think is "give me a boozy womanizer who actually gives a fuck about somebody else, any day." Rest in peace, Ted.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A new Jason Appuzzo film in the works.

What should be in the works is a new Star Trek movie where they go back in time to the mid-21st century where The United State of Godmerica is waging endless war against the Islamosecularists and surviving on Soylent Grayishbrown (having finally settled both the illegal immigration and care for the aging problems--um, hmmm--tastes just like chicken!) to do battle with the Baseborg. I have a great idea for the "deafers" too. They can have this really cool video where a granny, surrounded by her loving family is getting ready to blow out the candles on a birfday cake, while a hearse glides silently up to the curb--a hearse with the logo of the Dept. of Health and Human Services/FDA, Soylent Green Division. We see granny, a surprisingly spry looking 80 year old, with a nice rack, nary a wrinkle and no glasses, preparing to blow out her candles--all 80 of them, by herself. In the background "Happy Birthday" plays; and then, strangely, it morphs into Mozart's Requiem ( We watch in horror as the whitecoated, jackbooted thugs of the SEC (State Eugenics Collective) use a battering ram to gain entry and start to drag the "surprisingly spry granny" (that will be ad copy for the trailer) towards the yawning maw of their shining, black BFI/Deathstar 666, Mark 2 combination ex-sanguinator, eviscerator, compactor and mulcher. We are resigned to defeat; but, wait! The dining room table suddenly rises from the floor to reveal Numchuck Norris in his best "Braddock" headband with his trusty belt-fed M-60 machine gun(call him old fashioned, he goes with what works), dealing death and scowls with equal effect. At this moment, the rest of the family deploy a virtual arsenal of weaponry, ranging from a flintlock rifle to a shoulder launched Stinger missile and annihilate the anti-KKKristian merchants of death as the sound track once again changes to a medley of "Stayin' Alive", "The Electric Slide" and "God Bless th USA". As the dying "Angels of Death" bleed out on the lawn, and their vehicle blazes in the background, granny gathers her brood and says with a smile, "THANK GOD, we clobbered those bastards. Let's go eat some cake." And her grandson says, in pop-eyed wonderment, "Gee, gran, do you think you can blow out the hearse after you do the candles?". Much laughter ensues. I've updated my "deafers" slogan: "You can have my self-determination when you can pry it from my cold, dead--because of being denied coverage/necessary procedures--fingers."

Friday, August 21, 2009

Recycling an old joke & the prescience of good Science Fiction

The "birfers" and "deafers" are beginning to become the blackhole of batshit KKKrazy in our nation. The pull of teh Stoopid is so great that no light--of either scholarship or humor--may escape. To recycle an old joke: So, Satan takes a meeting with the entire GOP leadership and the reichwing's talking shitheads. He shows them a powerpoint of the world gone amok; war, pestilence, famine, endlessly proliferating tv reality shows and says: "This can be yours--and it can be very, very profitable. The only thing I require is the blood sacrifice of your entire base of useful idiots--AND your souls." Newt Gingrich, the group's spokesslime says, "What's the catch?" ----------------------- Watching these people, or reading their rants, is alternately hilarious and disheartening. I recommend reading C.M. Kornbluth's "The Marching Morons" (1951) @ p=1 Which includes this Palinesque line: "the broadcast drama about you and your neighbors, folksy people, ordinary people, real people!" useful idiots, indeed. I added this link: (Thanks to Mack @ Coyote Chronicles-- This is a difficult thing to look at. It is about love and pain and the hell of losing one's child to a devestating disease. What strikes me is not just the emotional aspect but the obviousness of a cold hard fact. The young man in the photographs had what must have been exceptional medical care and still was in agony from his treatments and died far too young. I can only imagine what it would have been like for his loved ones to go through this with no help from the government or (oxymoron warning) a compassionate HMO/Insurer. Please forward this link to everyone who tells you they don't think we need to overhaul our healthcare system.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Who says honesty is the best policy?

Well, it looks like you can fool way too many people, way too much of the time. It appears that without having any verifiable facts on their side, the Liars for Freedom of the GOP, paid industry shills and the credulous boobs who are their useful idiots have scared the president and the U.S. Congress into making healthcare reform as big a failure as possible. I'm not hearing shit from my Senators as a result of sending my letter last saturday; my congressman is someone whose help I would neither ask for, nor expect. I am, quite simply, stunned by the lack of concern on the part of most americans in reaction to this issue. To put it bluntly, most of them just don't fucking care. They don't write letters or have public rallies or DO anything, except complain. Most aren't even doing that. The topic of discussion, in most places I go, is NOT the healthcare crisis. Well, I'm still going to give a fuck, and I'm still going to get all pissy and nasty with assholes who try to tell me that "we can't afford" change. I've coined a neologism (I hope!); "Indignorant". It's for the idiots who rail against a healthcare plan that is not only NOT intended to take away their rights, but is intended to operate in a better way than what we currently have. They're totally pissed and yet have no idea why they should be. Nobody I've talked to who is totally opposed to the plan really has any cogent arguments. It's a lot of hand waving and word salad--they're indignorant, AND DAMNED PROUD OF IT!!

Friday, August 14, 2009

More "I'm mad as hell, and I got a friggin' puter, so there."

This is the text of the letter I sent to the NY Democratic Party's HQ, and my two senators. My Congressman is Rep., John McHugh, who is Obama's pick for Sec'y of the Army and someone I've not got much use for. I realized, after sending it, that I had typed one sentence twice, in different parts of the note. I decided to leave it in, as these people, obviously have very short attention spans. Feel free to use all or part of it. --------------------------------------- Dear (Scumbag congress critter of choice): This oath: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.", if I have it right, is the one that all members of the U.S. Congress swear to when they are seated. Many of your colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, are derelict in those sworn duties. It is becoming apparent, once again, that the congress, one that is--theoretically, at least--controlled by your party is about to roll over and beg. Instead of doing for your constituents what you have promised, in taking your oath of office, to do, you are simply caving to public opinion, threats from the GOP and parties whose only intent in attending your "Town Hall Meetings" is to disrupt them. Stop it. Stop acting as if you don't know how to fight. Stop allowing paid health industry shills, agents provocateur and credulous dupes to dictate the rules of your conduct. Stop acting as if what they are saying has ANY merit whatsoever. Stop conceding defeat to the judases of the GOP and some in your own ranks that are, again, willing to screw not only their constituents, but yours, for their own political gain. Do what is right. Tell the American people, your supposed bosses that you know that they need and deserve a genuine healthcare plan, not some cobbled together piece of useless verbiage that is filled with new ways to squander OUR money while doing nothing to alleviate the suffering of millions of uninsured or underinsured Americans in a time of great need. Stop wasting valuable time by allowing the "deathers" to derail the agenda of a meeting in order to keep any discussion, about the merits of the plan, from being pursued between you and those of us who want to know what the plan is and how it will be implemented. That the GOP is like an asylum being run by its most dangerous inmates is glaringly obvious. I do not expect the party that voted in lockstep for virtually every boneheaded, illegal and immoral provision of the Bush regime's legislative agenda to change their ways; but, you people? For the sake of your constituents, if not your own self esteem, begin acting like men and women who have some faint notion of what true public service is. Stop looking for favorable poll numbers and listening to consultants tell you how you can weather the storm and get re-elected. You know what the truth is and you know what needs to be done. Find your self-respect, your courage and your integrity whether you've lost those qualities, sold them or you have simply discarded them. Earn your goddamned pay and a measure of genuine respect for your party and your office. Do what is right. Help the American people, your supposed bosses; tell them that you know that they need and deserve a genuine healthcare plan, not some cobbled together piece of useless verbiage that is filled with new ways to squander OUR money while doing nothing to alleviate the suffering of millions of uninsured or underinsured Americans in a time of great need. I will not apologize for the tone or the content of this letter. It is the truth and it is indicative of my anger at your party’s abandonment of their principals and their failure to uphold their oath of office on this issue. Don't bother to tell me what you are doing, just do it. Deliver to us, your employers, the service which you swore an oath to perform. Nothing less is acceptable. Good day, to you, Sir.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Enough of this shit!

According to recent news reports on Yahoo! There have been more confrontations at "Town Meetings" on the proposed healthcare bill. One congressman apparently had a swaztika painted on his door. I assume the painting was done by one of the zealots who are led by the people who are insisting that Obama is a nazi. WTF? Instead of standing around and wringing our hands about it, we need to be showing up--in huge numbers, to support the process and let the thugs that are there to shout down the congressmen (almost exclusively democrats) have a taste of their own poison. I'm not advocating violence. I am saying that all polls indicate that there are massive numbers of americans who are anxious to get some sort of program in play, while the far smaller but obnoxious and threatening crowd of idiots who have been raising all the hell at these meetings are doing everything in their power to dreail a process that they don't even begin to understand. This IS the sort of tactical and strategic action that was carried out by the nazis as they rose to power. When they finally controlled the organs of government, including the military, all such activity ceased and was outlawed as traitorous. That we should stand by and watch this happen is just utter fucking nonsense. I really am at the point where when someone starts to tell me about how they're going to resist the Obamasocialization, I have to tell them that they are clueless dupes. I have no problem with doing that; it needs to be done by ALL of us, until this foolishness stops. I am sick and tired of listening to the talking heads--on both the so called "liberal media" and the obvious propaganda outlets like Fox--talk about the disruption of what are supposed to be informative meetings about the healthcare crisis as if they are a genuine groundswell by a sizable portion of the american people. Go to the meetings if there are any near you, take as many people as possible, make placards, SHOW UP AND BE NOTICED. No violence, no confrontation, just a display of solidarity. It worked to help get the Rovistas out of the WH, it can work again, for this. If this is my "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" so be it. Feel free to use this, with or without attribution. Do it.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Meet the new boss.

Good Morning: Meet "Bud". He's about five years old, almost that many pounds and as ferocious as a wolverine, in a five pound ratdog sortaway. His full-time attendant is down for a couple of weeks, recovering from cataract surgery. Since she can't bend over until after her follow-up with the opthalmologist, caring for Bud was out of the question. As aesocial as Bud is with other dogs and some people, I don't think he would have done well at the kennel. He and I went to a concert at the park last night and had to come back home as he was being very disruptive. What the hell, he's a dog, he's gonna act like one I guess. If he was mine, I would train his bad habits out, if possible. Then again, the look he gave me when I had to "dominate" him to get him to stop barking was "Hey, see how much you like it if you go to sleep a guy and wake up without no balls!". He's a lot like a toddler. As long as he can see what's going on around him, he's a lot happier. So, I put his little bed on a bench that gets him about my level when I'm working on the computer and I try to keep track of him when I'm using power tools. He has "food issues", as in he won't eat most of his dogfood. S'okay. I made some grilled chiken with steamed broccoli and brown rice and mashed some up for him. He went to the bottom of the bowl on that one! I'm actually hoping my two weeks with Bud will convince me that I should not have a dog around the house or that I should. Either way, he's having some fun and wondering who the hell the strange "mom" is. UPDATE: Bud no longer has any food, pooping, chasing the ball, barking for no apparent reason, chasing the ball, honking the squeeze toy, chasing the ball and chasing the squeeze toy issues. I on the other hand have taken to laying in the corner on my people pad and snorting from time to time and licking my--oh, never mind. We're fine!!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

We are what we buy

Hey, who's up for buying some shit from Amway? I used to just laugh at the credulous boobs who did business with/engaged in their pyramid sales schemes; then I found out that they were up to their asses in republican politics. That made me think I didn't like them. In the news today, along with the story about another piece of shit coward gunning down unarmed victims in a PA health club and the ongoing mass delusion that is the "birfer movement", there was information about Blackwater (Killers-R-Us) and some really nasty shit they've been engaged in against their own people, as well as Iraqis and other less than good, white american people. How does this tie in with Amway. Well, Erik Prince's sister is married to the daughter of Ralph DeVos, Amway's co-founder. When it comes to cults Amway lies somewhere between Opus Dei and the Church of Scientology, imo. I really, really don't care what anyone BELIEVES; I care a great deal when their beliefs offer, for them, a justification to commit illegal acts. Amway, a major supporter of the GOP since way back, has been involved in shady marketing practices for their entire existence. They are closely held, therefor they have no need to answer to any public, outside organizations. They are aggressive and deep pocketed when fighting legal challenges and have survived numerous investigations/prosecutions for their underhanded sales and marketing tactics. Now, it appears that Eric Prince may have (it is alleged in court documents) ordered or pariticipated in the murder of Blackwater employees that were co-operating with DoJ investigators into the conduct and operation of Blackwater, Inc. Both Amway and Blackwater are aggresively "USA, USA, USA" American, in a reptilican sortaway and dedicated to the preservation of America's (non-existent) CHRISTIAN Heritage. Luckily, for me--and them--, I haven't had to deal with Amway reps, Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons missionaries since I moved to my "dream house". For those of you that do, you might want to remember that these folks aren't just selling snake oil or laundry products, they're using the proceeds to push this country farther and farther in the direction of a theocratic nation. That cannot stand.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

My dinner with me.

So, this is tonight's supper. Tuna was on sale ($4.99/lb) and I got a mucca slab. I sliced a zuke and a summer squish into thirds--lengthwise--sprinkled on some salt, pepper and italian seasoning, spritzed 'em with olive oil and put 'em on the Forman. I took the tuna out of the fridge, mopped up the leftover olive oil and seasonings on the veggie plate and put that on the grill as well. I'm sure I overcooked the tuna (I want to make sure if I get sick from eating undercooked fish that it happens in a restaurant, so's I can sue somebody!)--it was better than delucious. The veggies were gooey-crisp and fab-U-licious. If I hadn't seen "Big Night" a few years back, I woulda put a few shavings of Parmegiano on the veggies AND the tuna, but as per Tony Shaloub's crazy chef from the aforementioned fillum, no cheese with seafood. I threw a lump of butter on the fish, veggies and rice (I loves me some brown rice that has overcooked just enough to have a nice little crust on the bottom--yum,yum) and then poured the olive oil and red pepper flakes, what had been bathing the olives I had for an appie, over the veggies and rice. A nice glass of Aniston Bay, Cabernet (the one I mentioned last week) and I was a happy guy.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Them pesky furriners

This is a comment that I posted over here: ____________________________________________________ Adrienne: You live in a housing development with lots of foreclosures, rundown properties and roach infestations. This is the fault of immigrants, legal or otherwise, who got mortgages from banks that they should not have been eligible for? Uh, you think maybe the bankers might be culpable-as well as the assholes in congress who gutted banking oversight legisation like Glass-Steagall? Why do you suppose "illegal day laborers" piss outside? Is it because they are not allowed in the library or are they animals? If it's because they have no manners than the most expedient course would be to arrest a few of them for public urination or provide some outdoor toilet facilities. You say you can't translate your housing boards documents into spanish? And you don't speak spanish, apparently. I don't know how large a community you live in, but if you've got enough "illegals immigrants", as you like to call them, in your area, there must be at least a few of them who speak passable english and can read same. Have you tried working with them instead of your stupid, lazy, filthy, unamerican neighbors? Actually, I think you do "viscerally" hate those immigrants that you think are somehow "less" than your grandparents were when they came to this country. It's not a reasonable reaction, it's a "gut" reaction and one that you buttress with your facts, figures and complaints against certain members of the group. You ask: "Pssst- here's a question for you. How do large numbers of people coming into the US from *one* area of the world and speaking a single language (not the English language)--and one country in particular--make the US more "diverse"?" Think Germans, Jews, Poles, Italians, Greeks, Russians, Armenicans, Serbs, Scandinavians, Vietnamese, Lao and Khmer (not an exhaustive list). Of course many of their children learned to speak english. In fact, quite a few of them have gone on to have children and grandchildren who are white enough, bright enough and speak the language well enough that they can get theirs and say, "I really, really don't HATE those ignorant, filthy, funny talking people; but none of THEM should be allowed in my country." You can cherry pick and quotemine all of the sources you like. I'm quite sure that if one digs deep enough they can find quotes by someone else with a pedigree of liberalism, like Barbara Boxer whose stance on immigration (as characterized by your quote) is in diametrical opposition to Ms. Boxer's. Cesar Chavez was a great man but hardly a saint. You say: "And yes, I will admit I first became interested in this issue when I started being negatively affected by it directly. But the more I've researched it, the more I've come to realize how deleterious large scale illegal immigration the environment, to the native-born poor, to the economy...the list goes on and on." How, exactly, have undocumented immigrants affected your life? Please be specific. Speaking of environmental impacts; it appears that Mr. Bush's backyard fence is creating some horrific problems for various desert flora and fauna that had no idea that they were either mexican or U.S. residents. IF we could get rid of all the "illegals" then who would do the scut work that is so frequently their lot in this life? Who will clean the toilets at the ballparks, pick up garbage, work at the McDonalds in the "bad neighborhoods, fight our wars--today's native born, white americans? How much do you think trash collection, Big Mac's and tickets for sporting events and concerts will cost if we simply get rid of all of the "illegals". Working for lower wages, paying lots of taxes (sales, mostly) and spending most of their income--because they really have no choice, undocumented workers represent a huge cash bump in the U.S. economy. IF they could be magically swept off the board, do you really think that nothing else would change, and change in ways that you might term as "adverse"? When I worked in Boston, a local chain of coffee shop/cafes was staffed, almost exclusively by foreign born workers. Many of them were Guatemalan and Colombian. Most of them also worked as cleaners in the same high rises from which their clientele descended to get their bagels and coffee. They were unfailingly polite, generally quite cheerful and extremely industrious. I spoke to them (their english language skills were not always great but we managed) about their families and their living situations. They were so happy to be here, for the most part--and they seemed always happy to work on their language skills with me or others who took a moment to chat when their work permitted. One young man became a manager of another store in the chain and when he finished his shift, he would come to the store in my building, pick up his wife and then, together they would go and pick up their children who attended a private, catholic school. After that, they would go their second job, cleaning offices. Lazy, indifferent, uneducated or unkempt--they were none of those things. You seem to view the people you think of as "illegal immigrants" as a horde of invaders. I prefer to focus on the individuals that I meet and interact with. You say that these people have an adverse impact on your life. That has not been my experience in about 95% of the encounters that I have had. I wish I could say the same for native born U.S. citizens. I know you don't care what I think. Likewise, I don't really care what you think. Neither of us is ever going to convince the other that their position is reflective of anything except their own prejudicial thinking. My prejudice on the subject of immigrateion tends in the direction of inclusion, yours tends in the direction of exclusion. Posted by: democommie | July 7, 2009 8:36 AM ___________________________________________________________ I don't think that people really understand how much of a difference it would make if we had the lower end of our service economy jobs either paying much more per hour or simply not being filled. I don't think that most young native born americans are lazy--although they do seem to have a WEE sense of entitlement. I'm quite sure that most of the "illegals" are not lazy, stupid or criminal (aside from any immigration laws they might be breaking). Tell me I'm wrong, but please don't tell me I'm wrong because some of the "illegals" are not good people. We just went through eight years of having a complete moron run this country, a native born complete moron, along with his cabal of native born fellow assholes.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

This is why I have a blog; so's I can do what I want.

I decided to put a few photos up today, because I can. the photos are mine, they are copyrighted and you can download them if you like. Please leave the copyright info on the photos. The photo of the truck in front of the silo and the photo of the farmstead and the flag were both taken near my hometown of Omaha, NE, 3 or 4 years ago. The photo in the middle is one I took from a friends' back porch. He lives on a ridge, at about 1,800' above sea level, approximately 8 miles SE of Half Moon Bay, CA. When the "marine layer" is burned off you can see the town and the coastline going up toward San Francisco.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

That was my dinner. Some nice polenta with basil, peccorino romano, a little butter a little cream cheese, salt and pepper. Served with a saute of peppers, onions, 'shrooms and zukes, and some nice little strips of top sirloin in au jus. I'd suggest a Domaine Weinbach 2003 Gewurztraminer Altenbourg Cuvee Laurence or perhaps Domaine Tempier 2007 Bandol Rosé. In any case I had a Yuengling, that wonderful chinese sounding beer from Pottsville, PA--it was AWESOME!! For dessert? An ice cream sammich! Not too shabby for a single burner hot plate, eh?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

I loves me some summer

It's summertime and the livin' is, well frankly, life is a bit difficult, what with the economy, crazies running way too many countries and the continuing lack of any true governance by most of the government in this country--but I digress. I loves me some summer, because it's warm and sunny, first of all. Secondly, there are items of produce now available--other than cabbage, onions and assorted root vegetables--that were grown within a days drive of my local supermarket. The farmers' markets in CNY fall along an arc of pretty good to spectacular. There are, within twenty-five miles of my house, a LOT of small farms that have wonderful "truck" crops as well as a substantial number of medium to frikkin' huge orchards. Strawberries were slow in coming (both May and June were not conducive to them setting fruit, until about two weeks ago) but now they're being picked and I expect to see some excellent ones at tomorrow's market, after the warm weather of last week. Can the good sweetcorn and tomatoes be far behind? I loves me some summer, because it's baseball season and I loves me some baseball. My beloved RedSox contributed a bit to the history and lore of the game last evening, by blowing a nine run lead over the Baltimore Orioles to lose 11-10. On the one hand I think it's unsettling that the bullpen couldn't hold the lead, otoh, it's a GAME!! I know it's how the players, managers, coaches, agents, sports journalistas, talking heads (no, they are not the same thing), concessionaires, team mascots, souvenir hawkers, sports bettors, ticket scalpers, parking lot extortionists and sundry other professionals make their livings--but it is JUST a GAME!! But, hey, enought about my summerloves. Howzabout yours? Whoops, I forgot one. Al Franken IS the winner of the MN senatorial race.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

GOPants around their ankles

Good morning, my friends: It appears that, once again, we are being treated to an installment of the "I have sinned, been caught after lying about it, asked GOD's forgiveness, got it and moved on with my life" dog and pony and JESUS show of the Party of Hypocrisy. Now, now, I know what you're saying. "But, democommie, he's not doing anything that wasn't done by the likes of Bill Clinton, John Edwards or Eliot Spitzer." That is true, except that he is. I know that Clinton, Edwards and Spitzer have all done reprehensible things during their respective tenures in "public service"--that phrase has so many unintended meanings. However, none of those three were outspoken in defense of DOMA or other anti-gay rights initiatives. And none of them used their religiosity as a badge of honor. Oh, they may have crawled behind the Jimmy Swaggart cringingbullypulpit when they were on the meaculpa trail, but they didn't make a living out of publicly parading their virtue--while being cuckolding, lying, adulterous assholes. I feel like I need to keep saying this, because some people still don't get it. I'm an atheist, I'm okay with christians--and anybody else--believing anything they want to believe. I'm also okay with them being smug about me going to hell when I die--again, whatever floats their boats. What I'm not okay with is them getting in my face or trying to have their beliefs made into law at any level. Folks like that are not christian, they are KKKristian. And I mean that in the most insulting way possible. They are hate-filled, sanctimonious shitbags whose delusional thinking leads them to the notion that they can change me and who knows how many others in the U.S. to come around to holding their view of the world, by threatening, condemning and sometimes killing those with whom they disagree. Their precious time would be far better spent in correcting their own erroneous ways than in their attempting to change me or other people who, frankly, don't give a damn how they think or feel--until it impinges on OUR freedom. When Eliot Spitzer got caught with his hand in the nookie jar, I said, as soon as I saw the newsflash--"he needs to retire". I will admit to not following the Edwards saga as I have some other stuff going on, like trying to finish my house, but if he's unqualified for office--as the reptilicans say he is--because of his "sins" then I say he should resign on the same day as John Ensign. I must say again, though, that Edwards, IIRC, did not make the sanctity of marital fidelity a cornerstone of his political campaigns. With both McCain and Ensign proving that they are liars and scumbags it could be an interesting campaign in AZ, next go-round.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

In memoriam

It has been a pretty long and somewhat sad week for me and my family. My younger brother, Marty, passed on June 6, 2009 and the last week, the last several days in particular, have been filled with a lot of sorrow and the usual mix of the seven steps of grieving. I was not close to my brother (I'm really not close to most of my family) and of course I could never be as close to him as his wife and children are. I learned a lot about him in the last several days and I think, that as sad as his passing was, it was wonderful that all of his siblings, his large extended family and numerous friends were all able to get together to salute his life, share an incredible collection of humorous and heartwarming stories about Marty and bid adieu. My lack of closeness to Marty and to many members of my family has nothing to do with them--it is all to do with me. It certainly does not mean that I don't love and cherish every one of them, even those with whom I cannot spend much time. I am so happy for those of my siblings and their children have had successful careers and raised their children to be the outstanding people that they are. I also feel the sadness of those who have not reached their life's goals. Life is a process of growth and renewal, sometimes filled with joy and at other times so very painful. I do not, as many of you know, believe in any sort of saving god or in a life after this one. That is not to say that I KNOW this to be true, it's just what I believe. For those who believe and take comfort in their belief, I hope that they find solace in their faith in such times as these. I believe that we are, literally, stardust, and that we all live and die and live again in a multiplicity of combinations in the nearly infinite universe. I'm not sure where Marty has gone. If I am, in fact, completely wrong, and there is a heaven of some sort or a process of genuine reincarnation--well, hell, I'm screwed! I think, however that, if such is the case, Marty is with my 'rents and our dear sister, Anne Marie, doing his endearing, infuritating best to be a good brother, dutiful son, doting parent and the President of Huskers in the Hereafter. I'll miss you, little brother, and I'll hold you in my heart, you rascal.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Gutless Soldiers of KKKrist

Today, while attending services at his church, Dr. George Tiller was murdered by a lone gunman. This is the lead paragraphy from the Wichita Eagle online edition. "WICHITA - The 51-year-old man arrested in the shooting death of Wichita abortion doctor George Tiller -- a case that has drawn international attention -- could be charged Monday." "Wichita abortion doctor"; not Wichita doctor who performed late stage abortions, or Wichita doctor who bravely performed abortions that other providers had been frightened or hounded out of doing. Nope. "Wichita Abortion Doctor". Nice touch for the hometown paper of record. Randall Terry (founder of Operation Rescue),being the piece of shit that he is, issued the following statement: ""George Tiller was a mass-murderer. We grieve for him that he did not have time to properly prepare his soul to face God."" By any measure that I would make, Dr. Tiller was a decent human being. He provided a service that is only being provided by two other doctors in the entire U.S. Whether one is a proponent, an opponent or an apathetic bystander to abortion, it is a legal medical procedure in this country. It is not murder, by any legal definition. Randall Terry is, of course, nothing but another liar for KKKrist. He has made himself wealthy and powerful by claiming to represent the unborn. He is lucky there is no GOD. If there was, he and the rest of his ilk would be in the deepest circle of whatever hell there would be. His former business, Operation Rescue, issued a statement of their own: "We are shocked at (Sunday) morning's disturbing news that Mr. Tiller was gunned down. Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice. We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning. We pray for Mr. Tiller's family that they will find comfort and healing that can only be found in Jesus Christ." Lying fucks. They actively sought to demonize, terrorize, marginalize and persecute Dr. Tiller. They have achieved their goal of saving the unborn, by inciting hatred and violence against Dr. Tiller, his associates, his family and his community of faith. I am an atheist these days, not likely to change anytime soon, but I have no problem with people believing whatever comforts them--until it causes them to murder those with whom they disagree. Organized religions have certainly done a lot more damage than disorganized atheism, that's not even open for discussion.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I woke up this morning, to a gloriously sunny, late spring day. Gentle breezes wafted through my open windows and the sounds of songbirds going about their daily business, raising their broods, helping to complete the cycle of birth-death-rebirth put me in a reflective mood. I thought a bit, about the events in the news of the last few weeks and arrived at the conclusion that I have been remiss in my duties. I have not been fucking with enough assholes or bitchslapping the incredibly stupid mofo's that inhabit that nether world of religious fundamentalism and lockstep, kneejerkoff "conservatism" with anything like the sort of frequency that they deserve. The furor over Obama's pending pick for the SCotUS has the senate reptilicans promising to keep the "filibuster option" open. They are saying that "emapthy" (read "reasonableness") is the wrong quality to look for in said candidate and that they want to make sure no "judicial activists" are appointed for lifetime tenure in a venue where they might vote an issue based on their personal feelings rather than relevant law. This, of course, ignores the fact that their darling "textualists", Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Scalia are all men who speak publicly about what they "feel" and, if one looks at the majority of their opinions, vote pretty much the way they feel. The funny thing about "textualists" is that they don't believe in parsing the "feelings" of the Founders, just the words themselves. As someone pointed out, in a piece I read last week, definitions depend on whose dictionary you use. To quote Bill Clinton, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is,”. So, I guess that means that the justices all sorta vote their hearts, depending on whether their "dictionary" of choice is Websters or Conservapedia. The healthcare "debate" is a fucking joke. Big Pharma, Big Insurance and Big HMO "pledged" to cut our costs by $3T dollars over the next 10 years by trimming their costs by 1-2%. Then several days after they made that pledge they started carping and whining about it, explaining why they couldn't really honor it. Of course most of the people I mention this to are against "National Healthcare" because it will mean everybody gets shitty medical care. Regardless of the fact that "Single Payer" is not "National Healthcare" they delight in regaling me with anecdotal stories about people waiting three months to get a broken leg casted or six weeks to get a flu shot (most such stories are, simply, bullshit) in Canada. Maybe they're right. Maybe I'm looking at this the wrong way. Perhaps it makes sense to privatize some stuff that is currently handled by the organs of the state. Howzabout drivers licenses? Let's let the insurance companies issue those. If you're under 25, have been in an accident in the last three years or have defaulted on a scheduled payment--no license. That'll keep the riff-raff from getting behind the wheel; or, maybe they'll just drive without insurance OR licenses and let those of us who are paying for it pay for theirs as well. I hate to be the under-educated churl who has to explain this to people but having approximately 15% of our population uninsured and another 15% (or more) underinsured does not mean that they get free care or care that is subsidized by the skyfairy or Dr. Government. It means that the cost of their care is lumped in with other operating costs of the hospitals and the savings are passed on to us! More on this later. To quote a couplet I just wrote: Spring has sprung, the flowers are here. It's 8:16, I need a beer. Okay. So I got to work after breakfast and got caught up in sorting out 7 or 8 banana boxes full of books and throwing a bunch of the ones I don't want anymore into a box for the Salvation Army. Then I did some rip&tear on the second floor of the house and needed to make a run to the lumberyard for more 2x4's. After I picked up some stock, I stopped at the supermarket to make my weekly investment in the lottery. While I was scratching a "Cash Word" card (the only thing I ever spell is "loser") a guy at the service window was paying his utility bill. First he said that the bill was too high. Then he said that his cousin or someone else in his family lived in some other state in a house just like his and that their bill was, like, $88/month, while his was about $400/month. THEN he said it was because the Democrats and the unions are screwing everything up. Now, normally, I let this shit go--not today. I said "Right, it's all their fault.", with, perhaps a soupcon of snidelevity in my voice. To be honest I don't think I heard what he said next, but I said, "If it wasn't for unions you wouldn't get a vacation. You'd be working seven days a week." He countered with a remark that OSHA would keep that from happening (how the fuck he arrives at that conclusion is beyond my understanding). I let that obvious bit of foolishness go by, and I told him that without the unions there wouldn't be any OSHA either. He then walked away without saying anything else. Good thing, too; he was younger, bigger and probably more capable of kicking my ass than vice versa. I really, truly, find it hard to believe that people are so fucking stupid that they buy into that tripe, but apparently they ARE that stupid. After eight years of a vapid, incurious, dry drunk of a president all such assholes can think of is that it's the democrats' and the unions' fault? Goddamn those fucking fools and their idiotic adulation of the Limbaughs of this world.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pretty Nazi update

Good morning: It appears that things have worked out nicely for Carrie Prejean. Not only does she get to keep her Miss California title (courtesy of Donald Fucking Trump) but her nemesister, Shanna Moakler, has resigned. I think Keith Olbermann does a better job of deconstructing Ms. Prejean's tear streaked rant than I ever could: And Perez Hilton says GOD made him do it: Donald Trump, scumbag that he is, simply overruled his underlings and said that Carrie Prejean will remain as Miss California. Why does anyone pay attention to Trump? He's been bankrupt more times than Liz Taylor's been married. I don't know who the current Trumptrollop is, but if I was her, I'd be watching my semi-nude back. The beauty paegant business, and it is certainly a business, is as corrupt and unreal as professional wrestling--and just as full of phonies. That's to be expected. After all, wherever there are people engaged in the business of exchanging cash for integrity and honesty, they will find a ready market. The thing that irks me is not that Miss California turns out to be a cheap, fake-boobed, whining strumptet. What irks me is the immediate 180 degree turn that her so called "christian" supporters can make in their own ethics and values. Not that I don't expect it. It has been a feature of the folks I call KKKristians for a long, long time. They can forgive anything that one of their "role models" does as long as that person says they have JESUS in their hearts. What a load of shit. As much as I expect it to happen, I still don't like it. I think the best way for me to deal with this is by doing the following: Whenever some KKKristian tells me that poor, poor, pitiful Carrie has been savaged for her christian values and honesty I'll just listen, nodding from time to time; and when they finish I'll say, "Yeah, I know what you mean. All that GOD given beauty and truth and wotta set of headlights!" "

Monday, May 11, 2009

No Whammy Bar or Effects Pedals

Another in a haphazard series of non-inflammatory posts. Gentle Reader: I journeyed to Johnson City, NY on Sunday. The purpose of the trip was to meet a person I'd met on the blogs, William Yelverton, who was playing in a concert at an arts venue there. Bill is a progressive who is both passionate and articulate in his arguments and while he no longer operates his politics blog, I'm quite sure he's not forgotten what brought us to the present. I knew of him first as a blogger and, then, as a musician. He is a gifted (and I'm sure much practiced!) classical guitarist. I am a person who loves music, without being able to play much of anything--when it comes to the guitar I have the musical equivalent of Black Thumbs--or even read a score, so I enjoy it without truly understanding most of it. The pieces that were played yesterday were a combination of classical ,baroque, Latin American and one great Bluegrass inspired piece written by one of Bill's colleagues. It was all wonderful. Just the instruments and the players, no microphones, pickups or other electronic augmentation. Piano alone, guitar and piano, guitar and violin. All of the music was played in a room that held 125 or so people in a relaxed "Pops" concert setting with cafe seating, bevvies, little sammies and lots of desserts! The audience was engaged, attentive and appreciative. Fortunately I did not have my Bic lighter--and I remembered not to yell "Freebird!" when both Bill and the pianist returned for their encores! I am currently listening to one of Bill's albums, "Harpsichord Music On Guitar". The other album that I got is "Music of South America". All the information about the music and Bill's professional creds (as well as his thoughts on his current home in TN--and its environs) can be found at:; give it a look. I think Bill is the seventh or eighth person that I've met on the blogs and, then later, in person. I have been told by numerous folks that I am courting disaster by agreeing to meet with people in this manner. That has proved to be a non-issue. I'm not saying it's impossible to get in trouble that way, quite the contrary. However, my experience has been that most folks I spend some time getting to know on the interntet (through blogs) are who they have led me to believe they are. Granted I have not been aching to meet the trolls, but only people with similar interests and views on important subjects like the arts, politics and food. We live in a VERY large world and it helps, imo, to have folks turn us onto things that they find interesting and informative amidst the plethora of experience that is available. So thanks to Bill, and Dave von Ebers, Claudia, Mack, Nomi, Reverend Jerry Gloryhole, Annti, Richard at "Everyone wants to read my blog" and the rest of the good folks that I've met on the blogosphere. And to those of you whose names are not in that list, or who are on the list but not yet had me "all up in your grille..", your time is coming! Oh, btw, if any of you are into "kink", just remember this--I am the REAL reason that the chicken crossed the road! I'm putting another of my poems on here, today, 'cuz it's my blog and I can! Enjoy. The Lesson From the street, I watched you. Through the window I could see the lyricism of you, the fluent dancer; and the hesitancy of the students, unfamiliar with the language of movement, afraid of uttering a mistake. I saw you standing at ease; in a languid, indolent moment. I saw you, in a moment, transformed, as you moved into a "frame" Silk and satin for the viewer: Whipcord and spring steel for the dancer. That look of effortlessness, that look that costs a thousand, thousand repetitions. The nights of standing in front of the mirrored walls, learning by teaching. making that same, perfect turn; over and over. Until it is no longer a conscious pattern, but, rather, it becomes, like breathing, intrinsic to your being. Giving to the students a way to find the metronome of their own heartbeat. Getting from the giving; the wisdom of experience. Learning by teaching. Learning that every step you will ever take is already in your soul. 7/20/01

Thursday, April 23, 2009

There she is, Miss Intolerance.

Good Morning: Well, in the midst of Pakistan being swarmed by the Taliban that's pouring over their borders from Afghanistan; GM's notice that it will be closing most--if not all--of its plants for two months and the ongoing financial/economic problems that continue to wrack our nation...we have the Miss USA dust-up. Poor Carrie Prejean--she LOST her deserved first place finish just because she admitted GOD's truth. HE don't want no GAYboy wives or GAYgirl hubbies. Shame on those nasty judges, especially that terrible Perez Hilton person, who attacked that poor girl just because she told him what GOD's whispered in her ear (and put in the bible, according to her) about how much he hates the idea of His & His towels. Tsk, tsk. And she is just such a bodacious KKKristian babe, too! I mean legs up to wherever, a nice rack, killer teeth and those beautiful (and eerily vacant) eyes. /snark. Ms. Prejean is not new to the business (and I do mean business) of beauty paegants. She's been at this for quite some time and knows full well what goes on at these events. She says she knew in advance that the question was one that she might be asked and that she prayed it would not fall to her to answer it. I have no problem at all with her wearing a push up bra and showing off her body to the admiring public. I have no problem that she is an idiot who, obviously, misjudged her audience. I'm guessing that, when she saw that she was not going to win the contest, she decided to get some "way of the cross" cred by being a martyr for the cause of anti-gay KKKristian bigotry. Fine. What I DO have a problem with is her and her idiot supporters thinking that her comment is somehow correct while the reaction to it is not. You want to express your opinion to millions? Okay. You wnat to not to have to own the fall-out? Sorry, that's part of the gig--ask the Dixie Chicks. Today's KKKristians seem to have this mindset that says that gays are sinners and abominations in the eyes of GOD. Otoh, it's fine with them that the likes of Carrie Prejean, strutting up and down the runway, being ogled by the audience of men who are not LISTENING to the speeches are disturbingly immodest WHILE they are espousing their KKKristian values. It boggles the mind.

Monday, April 06, 2009

No giant panda winners at the shooting gallery.

Good morning: I think I like to type that because, that way, I can at least SEEM to be starting on a positive note, before descending into the stygian depths of inchoate rage that are stored in the cellar hole 'neath my hindbrain. So, okay, we've tried reason, we've tried accomodation, we've tried balance. Howsabout we try this: "Fucking moron with guns and an inability to deal with, or even articulate, his problems decides to be a coward and kill other folks so we'll all feel bad for him." I am getting pretty worn out reading about folks with histories of abusing others or mental problems, killing folks with easily obtained (legal or otherwise) weaponry that is, to "hunting", what dynamite is to sportsfishing. I don't HATE guns. I like guns. I like the way they look, I like the way they sound and I like the way they operate. They are great, as machines, or implements or whatever you want to call them. What they are not great at, in fact they are quite horrible at, is "getting even" with one's own demons. I know how touchy some folks are about their second amendment rights. I'm that way about the other nine items in the BoR and the rest of the U.S. Constitution, come to think of it. However, when some shithead's "right" to bear arms causes the cessation (with extreme prejudice) of another's "right" to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness--well, for me it's a no-brainer. I'm gonna side with the poor, unarmed schlub, every time. I'm not suggesting confiscating anyone's guns. I am suggesting that current rules for gun ownership need to be reviewed. Current firearms ownership laws, particularly in some states like GA and FL are so fucking lax that people who have histories of violent, irrational behavior are able to easily obtain weapons that are equal to, or better, than those used by law enforcement agencies. Some folks have suggested that an armed populace would cut down on such incidents as; the three policemen murdered in Pittsburgh, the thirteen people murdered in Binghamton or the four police officers killed in Oakland--all within the last two weeks. In those three particular cases, it appears that the shooters were in two cases, duly licensed--the parolee in CA, obviously not. Weapons differed--not to the victims, of course; dead is dead; but, they all had in common, that they were wielded by people who thought that "might makes right". Re: the argument for arming the populace, if carried to its logical conclusion. During the Binghamton incident the police placed a number of individuals in custody while trying to sort out who were innocents and who might have been perps. Had those "suspicious" characters been armed they might have been mistaken for the shooter and been shot by the police. This idiocy needs to stop. Now.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Dance me to the edge...

Good afternoon, music lovers: I've spoken in this space, a while back, about a coupld of Leonard Cohen tunes. I just happened to turn on NPR at noon, today, and was rewarded with a "Fresh Air" program that featured a 2006 interview, by Terri Gross, with Leonard Cohen. I recommend listening to it. Mr. Cohen is currently on tour, for the first time in 15 years. While I will not get to one of his shows, I listen to his music daily. I recommend listening to all of his music, here's a great place to start:

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Just like the third world

Now that a judge in Spain (the same one who indicted General Pinochet a short while ago) has agreed to look at a prosecutor's request that six former Bushco apparatchiks be tried for (according to AP): (giving) "legal cover for torture at Guantanamo Bay, a lawyer in the case said Saturday." perhaps the Obama WH will be willing to something about it at our end. In South Africa, Rwanda, the Balkans and Cambodia--among other, mostly third world countries--there have been attempts at "Truth and reconciliation" style commissions. With varying degrees of success these commissions have attempted to clear away the deliberately obfuscatory layers of camouflage and unravel the reality of criminal or just plain bad government policy in those countries. Policies which resulted in much human suffering and lots of death and injury to those countries' citizenry. Can we do less? Can we fail to follow the example of a country like Rwanda and shine a light on the mechanisms, motivations and identities of those responsible for such horrific depradations? Admittedly, in the case of the U.S., from 2000-2008, most of the dying took place in yet other third world countries. Nevertheless, the people of the United States have suffered as well. Certainly we are not victims to the extent of the innocents of Iraq and Afghanistan, or the extra-legal "prisoners" that have been shoved into the likes of Gitmo. However, these actions were taken, like it or not, in our collective names. I am not suggesting the gallows (although I think it is actually an appropriate punishment for some of the people who were in charge during the Bush era), but if we fail to investigate the excesses; if we fail to identify--publicly--the miscreants; if we "sweep it under the rug", it will be impossible to expiate the collective guilt of our nation for what amounts to war crimes. I and most others were simply bystanders, witnesses to the depradations committed in the name of "The war on terror", but our guilt is, while diffuse, quite real in our own hearts. Without the truth coming out we cannot "fix the problem". Can we not do at least as well in this regard as Rwanda?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Deja voodoo vu

Good Morning: I'd like to think that I'm a sane, reasonable guy (not saying it's true, just that I'd like to think that); the reptilicans make it hard for me to think that way. Between the list of Republican governors who are saying they will turn down stimulus package dollars (only, apparently, those that would extend unemployment benefits) and the likes of Rushbo Limpboy stating that they want the plan to fail I'm having a hard time retaining my civility. I say, fine, let those fucking douchebags do whatever they want to in order to boost their political fortunes. Then, take some small percentage of the money they turn down and use it to run some "public service" ads for their constituents--just so that they understand that it's only a portion of the stimulus money that was turned down. I think that would be appropriate. As for Rushbo? I wish I believed in hell. Unfortunately, I don't. However, if Rush were to contract some horrific disease or die of a self-administered drug overdose I would be less than bummed. It was bad enough when these opportunistic sons-of-bitches joined up with the fundies on the sex and prayer crap, now they're thinking seems to be that propsperity (other than theirs) is also a gift from THEIR GOD, and everybody who isn't in their small, select circlejerk isn't worthy of it. Well, fuck them and THEIR GOD. I don't believe in GOD anyway, but the version they hold in their heads is anathema to everything I've ever learned about a compassionate and loving deity. UPDATE: According to Yahoo.News via AP: "Jake DeSantis, an executive vice president at AIG's Financial Products division, said Wednesday he's leaving the company and will donate his entire bonus to charity." The story goes on to talk about DeSantis' anger at being lied to by his employers, yada, yada, yada. You can guess, perhaps, that I'm feeling no sympathy for Mr. DeSantis. He says he spent the last six months working to straighten out this mess. He says he was promised the money, and that AIG and the AG's of NY and CT are meanies. Why no sympathy from me? Well, because he had to know that the whole thing was a fucking sham--he was after all deeply involved in the ongoing ponzi scheme that began with Paulson's giving these assclowns the first $65B--and yet he acquiesced to doing his bit to keep it all a secret until now, in order to obtain a payout in the 7 figure range. Fuck him. He should have manned up back in September and went to DoJ and spilled the beans.

Monday, March 16, 2009

You CAN'T ever go home anymore

I'm sitting at a Panera bakery/cafe at the moment. The spot where the Panera is, now, was, in my youth a sprawling lumberyard. Across the street, what used to "Houlton's Texaco, is now a Walgreen's. The Village Inn Pancake House (my first hourly wage job was there--I was the best fucking busboy in the WORLD!!) is still a block or so from here. But I found out a while back, from one of my brothers that the building, after numerous renovations was actually torn down and replaced a few years back. Omaha keeps molting like a damned lobster, shedding the old for the questionable new. You really can't go home, anymore; 'cause home ain't there. It's not enough that they've widened streets, moved whole neighborhoods and stopped selling beer at a reasonable price (.25/10 oz "draw"). I go into the bars I used to hang out in 35 years ago and all I see are a bunch of old farts--I wonder where my classmates went?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Good morning, Class: Okay, so here's the deal. Joe Biden said, within the last news cycle, that Afghanistan is getting worse, not better. I agree, completely. How do we solve this problem. A.) We shift troops from Iraq to Afghanistan and use all of the tactics that haven't worked there to the same effect--and, btw, afford the MujahideenAlqueTaliban in Pakistan a terrific recruiting inducement. B.) We kill all of 'em--all the sortabrowns, and let GOD sort them out. C.) We try using our heads. The taliban are very, very nasty people. They are just as nasty as were the Iriquois, the Mohicans, the French and the English (along with their new colonists) in the King Phillip and Revolutionary wars. They're fighting for something that a lot of them believe in--and the ones that don't are probably the top commanders who are your usual messianic, nationalist nutjobs. The taliban have instituted Sharia law wherever they are in control and it is pretty grim living under such a "legal" regime. They outlaw most music and dancing, women being seen in public--without a burqa--and all liguor and drugs. In fact, in areas they've taken over, which include some pretty notorious poppy growing areas, they have eradicated that agriculture and replaced it with the growing of food crops. Oh, what's that I hear? They haven't done that, exactly? Oh, that's right. They initially outlawed all poppy cultivation and processing until they found out that it was a lot better way, than holding flatbread bake sales, to raise money for buying arms and ammo. But why would they do that, don't they know that drugs kill people and cause untold misery? Well, yes, they do. In fact they count on it. See, they know that some Afghans will do drugs (they can be beheaded when necessary--or convenient) but the bulk of their drugs go to other countries and a lot of them wind up here in the USA, USA, USA!!! Due to our War On Drugs, which has even less to do with reality than our War Against Iraqis Who Had Fuck All To Do With 9/11, the street price for good smack is much higher than it used to be. Therefor they get double the bang for the buck. They generate a lot of cash to buy nice things like swords, AK's, RPG's and IED's (not to mention some "weapons grade" plutonium, if the intelligence guys are to be believed) and they get to fuck up our society and create a tremendous strain on already strapped healthcare resources, social services agencies and the legal system. Howsabout we try something really whack, here? I'm just spitballing, mind you; but what if we just decriminalized drugs and treated drug abuse like, oh, I don't know, alcoholism? We could make the drugs which are currently expensive and often very dangerous (no QA to speak of) and untaxed into a product that is safe, reasonably priced and a revenue enhancer. Now, I know that some of you are going to say, "Well, if we legalize drugs like that, everyone will turn into drug-crazed zombies who will steal, rape and kill for their next "fix""! Regrettably that is very true. Addictive, intoxicating substances ALWAYS cause that sort of behavior. Why, I can't even have a couplea brewskis without wanting to off my neighbors, murder their kids and rape their wives--never mind what might happen if I drink a little vino, do a shooter of herradura or smoke a ciggie. It's frikkin' scary what drugs do to folks. Of course the other thing is that, even if you make drugs cheap, legal and safe; the junkies will still want to score their drugs illegally because they're just scum and that's the way they like it. But, damn it, I think it's time we just said the hell with it and cast caution to the winds. I think it's time we started placing more emphasis on fighting the War Against the Drug Profiteers. Whoopsie, I hope that didn't sound like I have an axe to grind with Big Pharma or anything like that. Now, if we can only convince Joe B. that punitive measures against users and street level dealers are a COMPLETE FUCKING WASTE OF TIME AND RESOURCES then perhaps we can get on with doing something positive. I'm not holding my breath.


Monday, March 02, 2009

So, a nice light post about wonderful music.

I saw the most amazing violinist over the weekend: I do some photography (pro bono of course) for a couple of local non-profits and the gig this weekend was to photograph this amazing musician and teacher: Daniel Roumaine is a virtuoso on the violin, no question about that. But, he is so much more. He is a thoughtful, humorous and gifted instructor. Watching him put on two workshops with young people (ages 5 through late teens) was just a joy. He never condescended. He always challenged. And the kids always gave him more than they knew they had to give. What this world needs now is exactly what he has, a love for the process of education and the skill to do the job in such a profoundly uplifting way. Mr. Roumaine is returning to Oswego for a concert on March 21. He and two other composers are going to be playing their works as part of a program celebrating the Hudson River. I look forward to seeing, hearing and photgraphing him again. My photography is not the best, technically. Shit, it's not even close. My favorite subjects are musicians and dancers and I shoot in available light about 99% of the time. What I get are, literally, thousands of out-of-focus, underlit, crappy images. But, on the rare occasion when the gods of chiara-oscuro smile on me; well that's what makes it worthwhile. I'm going to try and put a few photos up with this (none from this weekend--I don't have releases from anyone). They will not be problematic as they will be mostly close-ups of hands and instruments or so blurred that they won't be recognizable. But I just want you to have the idea. If you're subject to motion sickness, take some dramamine. Otherwise, enjoy. The photos will be forthcoming. NB: The second photo was originally on film and when I looked at it the first time I said, "Shit, it's out of focus!". Then I looked at it again and said, "Oh, the microphone is sharp, everything else is moving, COOOOOOOOOOL!" Photo 1: Drums Along The Oswego--The Oswego Jazz Project Photo 2: Jason Quinn, former frontman for the "Blue Hornets"--This band included Jason (who has got a new CD out) and George McCann, an awesome guitar player who, last I heard was playing with James Montgomery. Photo 3: A short, but fiery guitarist (name escapes me) at Glen's Cool Grill and Hot Bar, Newburyport, MA. Photo 4: The sizzling hands of *****, former guitarist with ***** Joel.