Thursday, September 28, 2006

It Can Happen To You, It Can Happen To Me

Learned Foot had an interesting phone experience recently.

The same thing happened to me the other day when an identical robot pollster called to ask my preference in the Pennsylvania US Senate race. When I hit the button for "definitely Santorum", the robot went silent.

My only guess is that it was some kind of Moonbat droid whose programming could not allow it to comprehend that someone would vote for Rick Santorum. Is this how all phone polls operate? Are the polls that show Santorum several points behind Casey (and Swann many points behind Rendell) rigged to ignore pro-Santorum responses?

(Incidentally, my post-phone call experience mirrored that of Foot, as well.)

Thursday, September 21, 2006


This is from a 3 Musketeers bar wrapper:

Whipped Up,
Fluffy Chocolate-on-Chocolate Taste

Oh my. I could say more, but I would rather not go there. Good candy bar, though!

The Gold That Falls

No, I didn't understand the whole reasoning behind the Pork Authority's rebranding as "Port Authority Gold" a few years back. The whole thing seemed silly and pointless, and had nothing to do with providing cheap, efficient, reliable service. Apparently the Porkers agree, since they are dropping the whole nonsensical "gold standard".

Everything is going to be uniform, just like in the old days. No more "Welcome to the neighborhood" paints jobs in foreign languages. No more expensive decals covering the windows. No more "who the hell is that?" pictures of old-time Pittsburghers no one ever heard of on the buses.

It's not a fare reduction or a service increase, but it's a start. At least it shows that the Pork Authority is beginning to take its services seriously.

One other thing:

Old promotions also included public appearances by "Gold Pan Dan," a character costumed as a prospector of the mid-1800s Gold Rush era. The costume has been placed in storage.

Gold Pan Dan? That sounds like shorthand for local sports hero Golden Panther Dan Marino. I never heard of this prospector character, and I am glad I never saw him. He sounds a bit too much like the bums who wander through city buses asking riders for change.

Those guys always get kicked off of the bus. Just like the "gold standard".

This Is A World Where Dogs EAT Horses

Uh oh. Something bad happened a little ways north of my present location:

Charges could be filed by the end of the week over an incident Tuesday in which two dogs belonging to Steelers linebacker Joey Porter -- a pit bull and a mastiff -- got loose from Mr. Porter's Pine home and killed a miniature horse at a nearby farm.

Just how miniature was that horse?
The 6-year-old American miniature horse was 29 1/2 inches tall, probably smaller than the two dogs. Mastiffs can weigh more than 200 pounds and stand nearly 6 feet on their hind legs.
The dogs managed to escape through, over, or under an allegedly six-foot high secure fence on their way to attacking the horse. The pit bull and mastiff have had bad reputations for years, and most people are familiar with what those dogs can do with only the slightest provocation. These mini horses, if you've never seen them before, are absolutely adorable. It's saddening to read about a tragedy like this.

Which is why I almost feel guilty for being reminded of one of Kenneth Branagh's finest moments. If you've never had the pleasure of viewing the BBC documentary Walking With (Prehistoric) Beasts, I strongly encourage you to rent, borrow, or buy the series today. My kids are enthralled by the CGI renditions of prehistoric creatures, most of which are now long extinct, and the situations in which the filmmakers have thrust these extraordinarily lifelike animations. The best episode involves activity around a bubbling swamp somewhere in what is now Germany. We meet giant ants, early monkeys, the earliest know ancestor of Shamu (ambulocetus, or "walking whale"), and of course, miniature horses. The latter come in for some rough treatment in the lush green forest, where they are stalked by scary looking Chickenosaurus things call Gastornis. Several members of a herd of little horsies manage to flee from the carnivorous avian attacker, but one among them is not so lucky.

The Chickenosaurus grasps the small mammal in its giant beak, thrashing and shaking it about before finally smashing it out onto the ground. The feathered fright then commences to chomping and chewing the meat from the bones of its now deceased prey.

Narrator Branagh, in the most dramatically uttered line that ever emanated from his vocal cords, sums up the said truth: "This is a world where birds EAT horses".

Somehow, I can't help imagining that Branagh would describe the Joey Porter dog attack the same way.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


(This one's for my IMOB brother, Learned Foot.)

The other day I went out and bought a copy of the new Iron Maiden CD, A Matter Of Life And Death. I have big a Maiden fan for over twenty years now, and one thing that I can say about the band is that it has stayed true to its metal roots while slightly altering its sound with each album release. In other words, Iron Maiden is quite the "progressive" metal band. Having listened to the new CD a few times, I'm not so sure that this is a good thing.

With a couple of exceptions, the songs begin with very slow, very drawn-out intros. "Plinky", "strumming", and "tinkly" are words that come to mind. The Irons are trying to sound more mature, and somehow it sounds like they are trying to turn into a chick band.

Here's the song-by-song analysis as seen through me. Keep in mind that my lyrical interpretation is based on first listen and I have tried not to be influenced by what the songwriters' actual meanings may have been.

"Different World" kicks in! Great hard-hitting sound to start the album. Bruce sounds good; his voice hasn't changed in the almost 25 years since he first joined the band. Lyrically, a kind of Everyman philosophy of life.

"These Colours Don’t Run" has a "plinky" intro. Very modern Maiden, which as I said above isn't necessarily a good thing. The lyrics are definitely not pro-war, but not radically anti-war either. It's more of a respectful tribute to those who fight and die.

"Brighter Than A Thousand Sons" has a sizzling-plinky intro leads into a killer heavy riff that, unfortunately, doesn’t last long enough. Nuclear warfare is the theme, in case the titular reference escapes you. The song references both Einstein and Oppenheimer. Religious overtones are evident throughout – though, given the subject matter, I would just as soon listen to Black Sabbath's ancient post-nuclear vision "Electric Funeral".

"The Pilgrim", as you might expect from the title, is also loaded with religious imagery – it's apocalyptic, but in a personal way. Good, but not exceptional.

"The Longest Day" begins with another slow-sizzle intro. Enough already! It’s about D-Day, of course. Maiden has always fallen back on World War II for material. Bonus points for throwing in references to Valhalla and valkyries, lest anyone forget that Maiden is an early 80s heavy metal band.

"Out of the Shadows" is obviously a tribute to Sir Cliff Richard! – no, not really. Seems to be about making an impact on the world before you die. The intro sounds like “Invaders” (1982) slowed down a few notches. Like playing a 45 RPM record at 33 1/3. The song slows down even more from there. Are the Irons getting old? At long last, are they slowing down?

"The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg" is the song that has had a lot of people talking this past summer, partly due to the video being released early to You Tube, and partly due to the mysterious Benjamin Breeg web site. Whatever. Mainly about experiencing death in life, from what I can tell. Very introspective. And yes, there is another slow, long, drawn-out intro. Enough already! I’m tiring of the mood music. If IM is going to be a chick band, then just be a chick band, okay? To be fair, though, when the riff finally kicks in, it’s good headbanging shit.

"For The Greater Good Of God" gives us...another slow, boring intro. You don’t need to keep doing that to prove how sensitive you are, guys. We get it. The lyrics are about the role of religion in war. It would appeal more if the lyrics weren’t so vague. The only thing that reminds us in any way of Islam specifically is a line about “bodies in the sand”. Normally I prefer Maiden songs to be not so relevant; in this case, however, it’s not nearly relevant enough. Oh, and the slow outro reveals a Christian sentiment, for what that’s worth.

"Lord of Light" Tinkle, tinkle, strum…it’s like Maiden has forgotten how to do a proper HM intro! About Lucifer, the (former) bringer of light. The imagery is so dense as to be incomprehensible. Or am I reading too much into this? More introspection, I suppose.

"The Legacy" end the album. So…the inevitable result of the tinkly plinky intros is…lullaby music??? More than three minutes into the song, we finally get some kind of riff. And lots more religious imagery. I don’t recall an IM album that relied so much on religion for lyrical inspiration. Overall, it seems to be a “state of the world” address. And I’m not sure whose side Maiden is on.

My conclusion? This is not an album of just songs; it is a symphony in ten movements, performed on rock instruments by an experienced heavy metal band. It tries to be progressive, but simply shows the age of the band. The only reason that this is not a concept album is that the band probably could not find a way to link everything together like they did for Seventh Son. Good thing Maiden has so many older albums of classic material to fall back on, because I can't imagine that many people would be going to their shows to hear the new material.

A Hamburger?

Okay, this search is just weird. Who thinks of this sort of thing? Someone in Atascadero, California, apparently.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Friday, September 15, 2006

Up Yours, Tony

This morning's vicious anti-family piece (of you-know-what) by the PG's Tony Norman is certainly the most despicable thing I've seen in a newspaper in a long time, possibly ever.

The one time I met Tony was about sixteen years ago. He was a newish, fresh-faced reporter covering the local music scene. I liked the guy. He seemed like a really nice dude. Somewhere along the way, he was "promoted" to the columnist job, from whence he spouts political opinions on newsworthy topics. Usually I disagree with everything he says, but I've been able to respect the way he presents it.

Until now, that is.

Tony tells us (in the form of a snarky letter of complaint to Children, Youth & Family services) that Senator Rick Santorum is "truly evil" for putting his children in a campaign commercial. That, in and of itself, would just be annoying. But Tony doesn't stick with that point. Oh no. He goes on to verbally abuse each of Rick's kids for their roles in the TV spot, essentially referring to them as hellspawns. He expects the kids to grow up to be ashamed of their father. He implies that the inclusion of the Santorum children in the ad was "cynical" on the part of the Senator and possibly a violation of child labor laws.

I can understand that Tony Norman is largely being sarcastic and trying for a few laughs here; it's what columnists do. What I can't understand is why he would turn his hatred of Rick Santorum on the kids. Demons? Overworked?

Tony often refers to his own children in his columns, and it's obvious that he loves them. So does Rick Santorum love his. You would think that a guy with kids of his own would know better than to go after someone's relationship with his offspring.

This is a good example of why the PG needs to be sold, folded, moved out of town, or whatever, and all of its scribblers forced to seek honest work for once in their lives. We might see considerably fewer letters like these from other family-hating anti-Santorum critics.

Wanna Buy A Cheap, Soggy Old Newspaper?

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is covering developments regarding the impending sale of its long-in-the-tooth rival, the Pittsburgh Moist-Towelette (or Post-Gazette, for those of you who feel that the rag is worthy of respect). How soon would such a transaction take place?

Owners of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette threatened Thursday to sell the newspaper if new contracts aren't reached with the paper's 14 unions by Dec. 31.

"The Post-Gazette's financial condition reflects, more than any other factor, the failure of current labor contracts to address the issues of rapidly rising costs and declining revenue," Post-Gazette President David Beihoff said in a statement. The company said it has lost $23 million since 2003, including $12 million so far this year.

Well, pardon me if I don't shed a tear. I have a lot of respect for what the PG once was, but in the early years of the 21st century it has become a sounding board for the most insipid left-wing commentary that you'll find outside of places like coastal California.

I haven't paid real money for a print copy of the Moist-Towelette in years, and I see no reason to part with fifty cents for one now, or in the forseeable future. I've grown tired, bored, weary and pissed off about things like:

  • Recycled editorials that seem to say the same thing over and over again (Iraq is a disaster! Everything is Bush's fault!) without any clear purpose.
  • Smug, self-righteous arsehole columnists who inexplicably get paid for their crap when most bloggers could write a better piece (in particular, this guy, this guy, and more than ever this guy).
  • Democentric reporting and editorializing that makes you wonder how anyone to the left of Hillary Clinton could take this paper seriously. If this paper really reflects the values and opinions of Pittsburgh, it's no wonder the city has been turning to shit over the last few years.
  • Lots of other things, if I had the time.

As much as the PG might wish otherwise, Pittsburgh is not a one-newspaper town. At least we still have the Trib for local coverage. The PG continues to call itself the oldest paper west of the Alleghenies. Sadly, the Pittsburgh Gazette was overwhelmed in the merger morass years ago.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Early Returns

The Moist-Towelette has an interesting new daily guide to politics relevant to western Pennsylvanians called "Early Returns". It's essentially a lefty blog without the usual formatting and feeds, but it looks like an excellent resource for the latest developments in this year's hotly contested races, from Governor and Senator on down to the municipal level.

There is also a bit of an anti-incumbent sentiment contained therein. Of course, it's always wise to keep pressure on those in power, since they are the ones who serve us.

News From The Home Front

From my home front, that is. Things don't happen very often in my neighborhood, but when they do, they're quite newsworthy, like the illegal alien who drowned in the pool.

This morning I awakened to learn that a suspected drug dealer made a rooftop escape from the police -- less than five blocks from my house! If the chase had led them a little closer to home, I could have watched it all from my sons' bedroom window.

WPXI, channel 11, has the guy's picture. He wears earrings. One would be bad enough, but he has holes poked in both earlobes. Forget the drug charges; the sight of those earrings would be enough to get me chasing the S.O.B. off of my lawn with a splintered broom handle if he ever showed up.

Also, his name is a cheese. I will never sprinkle that cheese on my spaghetti again. I prefer Parmesan anyway.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Next Best Thing To A Live Blog

When I was at the corn roast the other night, I wondered whether there were any media people in attendance. I certainly didn't see any TV news crews. I also wondered whether there might not have been any other bloggers in the room. This isn't Minnesota, which seems to be packed with righty bloggers who all know one another and rub elbows with politicians at events like this.

As it happens, there was another blogger in attendance -- and his name is Rick Santorum.

He even mentions me a couple of times:

About a hundred folks listened intently as I discussed the destructive enemy we face ...

Many people left the Corn Roast...after wolfing down their hot dogs and corn...

I guess he didn't get my name. Oh well.

What's In The News Today

In which I read the newspaper:

  • The Pork Authority wants to raise transit fares. Again. And again and again. That federal highway money that was supposed to have nothing to do with public transportation dries up at the start of next year. How could Fast Eddie Rendell, the savior of public transit in Pennsylvania, let this happen? Could it have something to do with the fact that the federal subsidy will last almost two months past election day? Way to play with taxpayer money to get yourself re-elected, jackass!
  • Gas sure is cheap these days, isn't it? Well, compared to what it's been for the last few months, it's cheap. Here's an article about it that is refreshingly free of moonbat conspiracy crap.
  • A popular nightspot near my old stomping grounds burned the other night. I hadn't realized that it wasn't Callahan's anymore. I went there once for a rather tame bachelor party and twice for slightly more feral kids' birthday parties. It seemed a nice place, and the owner of Callahan's was in my typing class in high school. I wonder if he still owns the new place.
  • Some moonbat wrote a piece of moron mail about the current controversy over the timing of the next Pittsburgh mayoral election. He concludes with a gratuitous swipe at President Bush. (That guarantees that a letter will be printed top-of-the-page.)
  • This is intellectual masturbation. Like Osama Bin Laden would have given up if Gore had done anything differently. As if Gore would have taken action. Keep fantasizing, if it makes you feel better.
  • Minnesotans live longer than Pennsylvanians. Well, of course. The cold air preserves humans well. It's nature's cryogenics lab.

I ought to make plans to move.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Nothing Corny But The Food

Well, that was actually kind of fun. First, let's get the dining review out of the way: The corn on the cob was sweet and delicious; the hot dogs were the plumpest, juciest, meatiest franks I have ever tasted; the baked beans were, to my joy, NOT the kind with the disgusting brown sugar tang; the potato salad was good; and the chocolate/peanut butter brownie chip things were worth the price of admission, as promised. There was a small selection of pop in cans, but no beer from what I could see. The hot dogs didn't pass the kids' taste tests, which meant more for me. Four wieners nearly killed my appetite for dessert; but if you don't go for the dessert, why bother?

This actually wasn't my first choice of things to do on this particular Saturday night. Given extra time, distance, and money, I would have gone to the MOB party in Minnesota. However, given that this is an election year, who would I rather spend time with: Learned Foot or Rick Santorum? Not a difficult choice. I'll do the bloggers another time.

The higher ranking the elected official, the tighter the schedule. Tim Murphy (who does have a campaign site, after all) was in attendance from the start, sitting down to supper with our town's mayor, and leaving shortly after concluding his talk. Those of us who subscribe to his email updates know that, as a Doctor, one of his pet issues is health care in America. Saturday night he focused more on terrorism and energy sources. He's very big on reducing if not eliminating our country's dependence on oil from unstable countries. The last time I heard him speak, he was very much in favor of eliminating environmental laws the prevent us from drilling domestically. This time, he made the case for coal. It's here, it's plentiful; let's use it.

Rick Santorum, on an even tighter schedule, dropped by partway through the Congressman's speech. As you might expect, he gave the stump speech that seems to have inspired the President to beef up his rhetoric, what you might call the "Islamic fascism" speech. In so doing, he showed that he has a good grasp of history. I, for one, have long believed that this war did not start in 2003, or in 2001, or in 1979; it's been raging on and off for hundreds of years, and the Senator is one of the few elected officials honest enough to talk about this publicly. The conflict has heated up in recent years because of the Middle East's oil reserves, which have brought power and wealth to the Islamic world. That is what fuels the war. George Bush didn't start it, and it's not likely that he will end it.

Speaking of the President, Rick said that even though his Senate race is going to be decided based on issues important to Pennsylvanians, the rest of the country is going to see it as a referendum on President Bush. Why? Because of the media. The media is funny that way, especially about Republicans, and super-especially about Republicans named Rick Santorum. There's a lot of "hate Santorum" sentiment going around these days, and it affects a lot of people. As the Senator said, if he believed everything that the Post-Gazette said about him, he wouldn't like himself very much either.

He also made mention of his first run for Congress in 1990. He went door to door in this neighborhood letting everyone know who he was and what he stood for. He fondly recalled that his first campaign office was right down the street. Coming to the corn roast brought back some good memories for him.

He's also running for Senate Majority Whip later this year -- but only if he gets past Bob Casey and the rest of America returns a Republican majority to the Senate. Get out and vote!

The Jedi chick, as I predicted, did indeed speak on Lynn Swann's behalf. I missed most of what she had to say as I had to accompany one of my young sons to the men's room. While I stood in the lobby waiting for the kid to finish, Rick Santorum came out. I thrust my hand into his and said "great speech!" It was "Islamic fascism" that did it for me. Love him or hate him, no one needs to tell Rick to say exactly what he thinks. Having thanked me for my support, he walked out into the warm September night.

The town mayor also got up to make a few remarks but he had finished by the time I got back with the kid. Finally, State Rep candidate Bill Ogden came forward to speak. He had spent most of the evening standing at the back of the room writing on a notepad. Whether he was taking notes on the other speakers or perfecting his remarks, I can't say. What I do know is that he made the same impression on my wife that he did on me. When I pointed him out to her, she exclaimed, "He looks like one of those wrestlers!" (She wouldn't know who Nikita Koloff is.) I was really looking forward to hearing what he had to say. He began by explaining how he got into fitness. Like "Mac", the guy in the old Charles Atlas ads, Bill Ogden had problems with tough guys at the bus stop when he was a kid. "Thank God for bullies," he said. That would look funny on a campaign ad next to his picture. He ought to do it. Then, just as he was about to tie his life experience into his involvement in politics, I had to get up and take another kid to the bathroom. When I returned, Bill had finished.

Several door prizes later, the event ended. We didn't win anything, but the mayor and his wife were nice enough to pass their winning tickets onto my kids. Baseball caps were their prizes. All the expensive fancy prizes went to other people. These are nice caps, though. Better that the ones I've actually paid real money for over the last few years.

The kids were pretty calm, considering. I'm already looking forward to next year's shindig.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Politicians On A Spit

Long time readers (all two or three of you) will recall the very special event that I went to around this time last year. As you can see, it had its ups and downs for me, personally, and if nothing else was good fodder for one of my better blog entries.

The local Republican committee is hosting another one this year -- and it's tonight! Not only that, but I will once again have the wife and kids in tow. It's very awkward. My wife is a Democrat, and I worry that she may feel uneasy around so many Republicans. (That is as opposed to feeling very easy around one particular Republican, as evidenced by our 4 1/2 children.) My kids might like the food, as long as it lasts, and the balloons, if the Balloon Man returns. Otherwise, a bunch of people standing around talking at the podium is not their idea of a good time, so they occupy themselves by getting up, running around, and making noise. I shall therefore do what I can to work off their energy by getting them outside to play later this afternoon, right up to the time that we go inside for the corn roast.

As for the adult stuff, there are a number of important races being contested in our area and this sort of event always brings out the candidates en masse. These include:

  • Senator Rick Santorum. He has a major challenge from Pennsylvania Dishrag Treasurer Bob Casey, so you can be sure to see Rick show up in all corners of the commonwealth, including right here in the area where he got his start in politics as a Congressman. It will be interesting to see if any Moonbats show up to heckle him. I just hope he shows up in the same casual clothes that he wears to county fairs; some of the speakers last year just stood out a little too much from the crowd in their suits and ties. (Be sure to check out both the official campaign blog and the unofficial supporter-maintained SantorumBlog.)
  • Congressman Tim Murphy. He was at the corn roast last year, in suit and tie. A couple of months after that appearance he was injured in Iraq. He is not one of the most high-profile people in Congress, so there are no blogs for him, no blogs against him, and not even an official campaign site (unless it's hidden from Google).
  • Bill Ogden, candidate for the State House of Representatives (seat currently held by Tom Petrone). He's the guy who looks like Nikita Koloff. His web site has changed a little since last Spring. The html has improved a bit, and his opponent is no longer "politics as usual"; he now mentions Tom Petrone by name. That helps a bit. Actually, it helps a lot. Challenging the incumbent directly is better than saying "vote for me because I'm not the incumbent", despite what the folks who condemn "negative advertising" have to say. He has the toughest chance at winning, but he's well worth voting for.
  • Lots of local folks. You wouldn't know who they are. I don't know most of them, but that's okay because most of them don't know me either.
The one big name who is not expected to attend is gubernatorial candidate Lynn Swann, which is too bad. He seems like a really super guy and has been all over the state meeting voters this summer. However, don't be surprised if the Chick Who Thinks She's Qui-Gon Jinn shows up on his behalf. She works for the Swann campaign now.

If anything "interesting" happens tonight, I'll post something later. Just remember what they say about "interesting times".

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

She's A Blonde, She's On MySpace, And She's Legal!

Sometimes the title of an article on a newspaper's web site is just too good not to click on. After all, what was I to make of a Tribune-Review article titled "Blonde attorney seeks new clients", without having read a single word thereof? What is the relevance of some lawyer's hair color, and why is it news that she is looking for clients to represent? The title sounds like the start of a singles ad. I needed to click and read.

As it turns out, there is indeed a blonde attorney who is seeking new clients. Like many lawyers, she is soliciting these new clients through advertising. Her methods are, however, very 21st century in their approach. Rather than buying advertising time on the evening news or the business section of the newspaper, she is using Craigslist and MySpace, as well as blogs, to reach out to young people in need of representation.

Her specialty is bankruptcy, which is also pretty popular today.

If you were wondering about just how "blonde" she is, check out her MySpace page. She cute, huh? Too bad she's taken -- sorry, single guys!

Now if you will please excuse me, I'm going to go see if the Mpls Star-Tribune has published an article entitled "Italian lawyer seeks new Iron Maiden CD".