Wednesday, September 26, 2007

When The Heart Rules The Vocal Chords

If you've been reading this blog for at least a month, then you know I greatly admire Ronnie James Dio's musical talents.

And if you've been reading this for eighteen months, you know that I have little regard for the no-talent dirtbag known as Pink.

It was disappointing, though not really surprising, to read this in a recently published interview:

The first song you wrote with Black Sabbath was "Children of the Sea," which deals with ecological awareness. Do you ever interject any commentary about current environmental issues when introducing that song live?

It's not my job to be a politician, to chastise the audience or the world. My job is to be a singer and a performer. There are times that you write something that means something to you, that has a political agenda that you need to cleanse your soul with. And when I wrote that song [in 1980], I thought I could make a difference: If you're important enough for them to buy your product, you're probably important enough for them to listen to and respect. I learned after doing "Children of the Sea" that nobody gave a damn, so I stopped doing that. I think that Pink song "Dear Mr. President" is one of the coolest things I've ever heard, absolutely brilliant, but I'm not in the game of making those kinds of statements. I'll leave that to Pink, and maybe Tim Robbins, if he put out an album.

Good thing he knows his audience. There are a lot more right-leaning, conservative types who listen to his kind of music than you might expect. We can ignore the politics of our favorite performers as long as they don't go on harping about it. We recognize talent when we hear it.

What's disappointing is Ronnie's admiration for the dumbest song of all time, performed by the dumbest singer of all time. It's fine if he likes music from genres outside of hard rock/heavy metal; everyone should sample a variety of styles. You won't suddenly stop being a metal head if you listen to a little bit of disco or country. But to call Pink's aural excrement "brilliant" and cool is beyond the pale.

The short guy needs his ears flushed, or something. Still -- as long as he keeps pumping out the devil music, I'll keep buying his stuff. I just won't take any of his recommendations!

Holding Hands With Hitler

When I first heard that Ahmadinejad was invited to speak at Columbia University, I was dismayed. I've been around institutions of higher learning long enough to know that colleges and universities attract the fringe, the kook, the radical, and even the homicidal. The president of Iran is all of those, and more.

What, then, was the president of Columbia University? An appeaser? A revolutionary? An islamist sympathizer? Based on what he said at Ahmadinejad's appearance, he's much more clever than his critics seem to think he is. Basically, he called his guest an asshole, a dickhead, a lying scumbag, and a piece of shit, though he couched the sentiment in gentler but no less obvious language. Great. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Get it out in the open. Let everyone hear what Ahmadinejad himself say what he thinks, and respond from there.

Mind you, if Ahmadinejad has shown up on my turf, I would have used more explicit language in introducing him. Plus, I would have kicked him in the nuts, gouged his eyes out, chopped my backhand into his throat, and while he lay on the ground writhing in agony, I would pour gravy on the front of his pants and sic a hungry dog on him. Of course, I'm not in charge of a university. I also don't believe in polite and tactful behavior in the face of an enemy. That's unmanly.

In short, I admire the way that the Columbian president handled things, though I would have dealt more harshly with the situation than he did.

The hive mind at the increasingly more and more demented Pittsburgh Psychosis-Gazette sees things differently. The PG thinks that the host's behavior was "boorish", and implied that inviting Ahmadinejad was little more than a publicity stunt. Well, of course. If there is conflict between an American and someone who wants to kill Americans, naturally the journalistic hive mind favors the latter. If you have any doubts about that, consider this passage from the editorial:

Mr. Ahmadinejad at least gets credit for facing the lions. It is difficult to imagine President Bush making a comparable visit to Tehran. Mr. Bollinger on Monday did not meet the standards of a president of an important U.S. university.
That's not to the credit of Ahmadinejad. It's to the credit of the United States, and to Western Civilization. It doesn't make the Iranian president a better person; it makes America a better country.

I swear, if the PG hive mind had been operating in 1938, they would have been lining up to suck off Hitler.

Friday, September 21, 2007

I Like Him Because He Reminds Me Of Me

Yesterday afternoon I had to come home from work early and caught a few minutes of the replay of the President's morning press conference on C-Span. I rather liked this bit, from the end of the appearance:

Q What is your reaction to the MoveOn.org ad that mocked General Petraeus as General "Betrayus," and said that he cooked the books on Iraq? And secondly, would you like to see Democrats, including presidential candidates, repudiate that ad?

THE PRESIDENT: I thought the ad was disgusting. I felt like the ad was an attack not only on General Petraeus, but on the U.S. military. And I was disappointed that not more leaders in the Democrat Party spoke out strongly against that kind of ad. And that leads me to come to this conclusion: that most Democrats are afraid of irritating a left-wing group like MoveOn.org -- or more afraid of irritating them than they are of irritating the United States military. That was a sorry deal. It's one thing to attack me; it's another thing to attack somebody like General Petraeus.

First, this is from the official transcript at the White House web site. It's been "cleaned up" a bit, by which I mean not that swear words were taken out -- how cool would that be if the President cussed throughout the press conference? -- but that it does not convey all of the hesitation, pauses, and stammering. Anyone who is familiar with the President's public speaking style expects this to happen. I say this not to criticize, but to point out that I wouldn't sound nearly as good if I were in his position. You shouldn't have to be an excellent public speaker in order to hold a position of high authority, though it does help. I just know that I don't plan on speaking in public anytime soon.

Next, I love the way that he says "Democrat Party" instead of "Democratic Party". It pisses off the idiots who pass for viable political opposition these days. They see it as an insult on the level of a racial slur -- which may be accurate, since I am convinced that Democrats belong to a different species than I do. That just makes me want to hear the President use it every day. The left, with its tendency to over-analyze and misinterpret anything a Republican says, goes absolutely bonkers over it. That's why I love it. Because even their men get a PMS attack over it. Democrat Party, Democrat Party, Democrat Party.

(Good old-fashioned "commie" works well, too, but I doubt you'll be hearing that from GWB anytime soon.)

The questioner used one of the stupidest metaphors I have ever heard: "cooked the books". I first heard this when Bill Clinton took office in 1993 and someone -- possibly Leon Panetta -- cried that the Bush (41) administration "cooked the books". At first, I had no idea what they were talking about. It sounded like they were accusing the Republicans of burning literature. Then I wondered if it had something to do with cookbooks, since they White House has its own chef and cooking staff. It made no sense then, and it makes no sense now. It's just as stupid as a term used by my high school Physics teacher: "You fudged your figures". Just say what you mean, damn it!

Finally, I was pleased to hear the President address the topic of MoveOn.org directly, and also to berate the Democrat Party leaders for wimping out in the face of the "progressive" Left. It shows that he's gotten way past that whole "I'm a uniter, not a divided" nonsense. The Left should not be pandered to; it should be marginalized and rendered irrelevant. It's like conducting the War On Terror: You don't coddle and make nice with the people who want to get rid of you. You meet them and defeat them.

Yep, the Democrat and the terrorist: two peas in a pod.

The 2008 Election Campaign Smells Fishy Already

Here's a story from last weekend that I missed about goings-on in my Congressional district:

Dan Wholey, an owner of the Strip District seafood emporium, has announced his candidacy for the congressional seat held by Upper St. Clair Republican Tim Murphy.

Mr. Wholey, 48, also of Upper St. Clair, is seeking the Democratic nomination for the sprawling 18th Congressional District, which has been described as looking like a "sloppily tied bow tie, with Pittsburgh's southern suburbs where the knot would be." Starting from the Ohio border in Washington County in the west, the district takes in a small piece of Beaver County, then swoops under the city of Pittsburgh before taking in much of Westmoreland County in the east.

The guy who runs Wholey's is a commie and wants to run for Congress? I ain't eatin' his fish no more.
Mr. Murphy is now in his third term. Mr. Wholey joins Brien Wall, also of Upper St. Clair, and Beth Hafer, daughter of former state auditor general Barbara Hafer, as candidates for the Democratic nomination.
Brien who? Is he the MoveOn.org candidate? Or is that one of the other two? I heard Tim give a talk in my neighborhood a couple of weeks ago and he devoted quite a bit of time to explaining the smear campaign that MoveOn.org has been conducting against him, and how none of this makes the news because exposing the activities of such an organization does not fit in with the local media's goals of establishing and maintaining the power of the Democrat Party in the region. Heck, all three are probably getting money from George Soros for this run.
"I'm running because the people of southwest Pennsylvania deserve better representation,'' Mr. Wholey said.
Now we need better seafood. His product has been tainted with the stain of left-wing politics.
"Big Oil'' and large pharmaceutical companies have too much influence in Washington, he said.
Down with Big Oil! Up with Big Fish!
"Why does Medicare and Medicaid have to pay top dollar for prescriptions'' when the "same medication in the same bottle from the same factory'' can be purchased for less in Canada, he asked.
Because government has buggered its way into the health care system that, while we do not have a socialist system, we've eliminated the free market aspects of it. Don't expect a Congressman Wholey to do anything less than to continue tampering with health care and making it even worse.
He is anti-abortion, but believes that top issues in this campaign will be immigration and the war in Iraq. Our borders need to be more secure, he said, but "legal immigration creates diversity and success stories.''
Okay, so he's right on abortion and immigration. But what about the Iraq issue?
He advocates a "much larger withdrawal" of troops from Iraq in the next few months than President Bush has proposed, but did not specify a number.
Terrorists love it when an American Democrat politician smiles and waves at them across the seas and oceans. At least he's not offering specifics...yet.
He has never held political office, but said he is not afraid to knock on doors. As a teenager, he delivered fish door-to-door in Mt. Lebanon.
I think I have a package of Wholey fish in my basement freezer that I haven't touched in about four years. I may just let it thaw a little, then bring it to the door if he drops by, smack him on the cheek with it, and declare, "Your fish stinks and so do you!" He's probably used to it, though, it so it wouldn't have much impact.

I am very glad that my grocer carries other brands of fish to choose from.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Hey Baby, I Saw Your Picture In The Paper

It seems that the Pittsburgh Psychosis-Gazette is running singles ads in the form of articles now. The common thread among the desperate singles seems to be "Pittsburgh sucks!" It starts out well, with a couple of beautiful women who shouldn't have any problem attracting any man. Inexplicable. Further down, there are a couple of guys, another reasonably attractive chick, and a beefy lesbian. What does she have to say?

Why isn't the Pittsburgh-area a good place for singles? "I am gay and I think this city is so Republican and archaic it's terrible to meet people."
Well, I am a Republican and I think this city is so gay. It's all a matter of perspective, I suppose. The use of "Republican" as a pejorative is mildly amusing. This city hasn't been Republican in any sense since the early 1930s. Either this lez is a complete ignoramus, or she's being goofy on purpose.

A legal secretary compares our area unfavorably to our nation's capitol:
Worst Pittsburgh dating hang-up: Pittsburgh isn't quite as diverse as D.C. and has poor public transportation.
By using the word "diverse" in the context of The Dating Scene, this chick reveals herself to be sexually adventurous. In D.C., she can make out with people from all over the world, such as immigrant cabbies (apparently a Washington bonus). Here, she gets stuck with the local yokels. The solution is simple: The federal government needs to move to Pittsburgh so she can get a date. Voila! Problem solved.

Another cutie who spend some time in the District of Columbia has a valid complaint:
Worst Pittsburgh dating hang-up: Men don't approach women anymore. "I can't seem to find a man who understands the concept of picking me up at the door, taking me to dinner, a concert, or a museum. I would love to have a date who doesn't call me and say, 'Meet me at Bar Louie around 10.' "
It's called the sexual revolution, hon. As we've grown more open about sexual matters, we've also introduced equality onto the playing field. We can't pick you up anymore. We can't let you pick us up, either. We have to meet on neutral ground. It would be better if men still had a full set of testicles instead of trying to share a common ball sack with a woman. Keep looking.

The most heartbreaking person in the article is a beautiful 49 year old woman who can't meet a man to save her life. She's gorgeous, but comes off sounding desperate. Everyone is either too young, or too old, for her. I almost wish I was around 50 and single just so I could get her out of this fix. But I'm neither, so I can't.

The single man whose perspective closes the article hits the nail on the head:
Worst Pittsburgh dating hang-up: "When someone says they're not finding the right kind of people that's because we're all spoiled. People are used to immediate gratification and if we don't get it, we go home and watch the Steelers. ... If we found the right person right away, it would be too easy and we'd think something was wrong with them."
That's exactly why it took me so long to meet "the right person" (a.k.a. my wife). I didn't have the patience to get to know someone, and if I thought we clicked, it didn't take long for things to click back off (usually a few minutes). When we were courting, my wife-to-be thought that my greatest virtue was patience. For once, I did it right. I didn't try to rush things. My...lack of effort, shall we say, paid off. I found what I was looking for just by letting nature take its course.

And I hope these desperate Pittsburgh singles find what they are looking for.

How Dumb Is Dumb?

How dumb to you have to be to try to hold up a gun shop?

As dumb as this guy, apparently. Be sure to read the unusually fair and balanced article in the Psychosis-Gazette, though I expect an editorial by the end of the week condemning the shop owner for threatening the livelihood of the poor innocent criminal.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Giuliani Man Can Cause He Mixes It With Love

Rudy Giuliani visited Sarris Candies in Canonsburg yesterday. This is kind of cool. Sarris makes the best chocolate in this region. My family's Christmas stockings and Easter baskets are full of Sarris chocolate balls, bunnies, Santas, and whatever other milk chocolate shape appeals to the recipient of this chocolatey delight. It just wouldn't be a holiday without Sarris milk chocolate. My first memory of visiting Sarris -- heck, my ONLY memory of visiting Sarris -- goes back to when I was a child. I was either with a group of Cub Scouts or with other kids from the neighborhood, and I remember being fascinated with what I saw. More chocolate in one place than I could ever have imagined! I have not been back since, and it's probably a good thing. I'd have to sell my children into slavery just to be able to afford all of the chocolate I'd be buying. Or they might sell me so they could buy all the chocolate. We have to satisfy ourselves with taking our pick of what ends up on the Sarris display at the local supermarket. Wait --

Oh yes, Giuliani. I had meant to talk about Giuliani. Well, visiting a well- known and well-loved establishment like Sarris is a smart move on the part of Team Giuliani. Someone on his crew really did their homework with this. An undecided voter who loves chocolate can be easily swayed by something as simple as Rudy's visit to Sarris. As of yesterday, "I love chocolate" may well translate into "I love Giuliani!" Giuliani's insistence on paying rather than accepting the proprietor's offer of candy as a gift was good, too. I don't doubt that it was sincere rather than politically motivated. It was nice of the proprietor, but this isn't the United Kingdom and Rudy's not the king. He has to pay just like everyone else. I respect that.

Getting a little deeper into the politics aspect of the Psychosis-Gazette article linked at the beginning of this post, Giuliani claimed that he has a better chance of winning Pennsylvania than any other Republican candidate. This, I regret to say, may be true. This is a state where Arlen Freakin' Specter defeated a solid conservative Republican in the 2004 primary election, then went on to decisively win re-election to the US Senate in spite of a viable conservative third-party candidate on the ballot. (The less said about Rick Santorum's defeat at the hands of that Casey dweeb, the better.) A moderate-to-liberal Republican like Giuliani does stand a good chance of taking Pennsylvania in 2008. We'll see.

Meanwhile, take a look at the photo accompanying the article on the PG Now web site. First, hubba hubba! Talk about a sweet piece of candy! It'd be worth visiting the shop to see if she looks a good in person as she does in the picture. Second, notice her body language and facial expression. Either she doesn't like Giuliani to begin with, or she's getting impatient waiting for him to make a selection, or he's doing something else to really irritate her. My guess is that it's the latter, and here's why:

Having worked in retail for 10.5 years, I spent a good bit of time behind the cash register. I had to be vigilant about protecting the money that was entrusted to me for a 2 hour shift. Because of this, I would get a little annoyed when people touched my cash register in a familiar manner. Rather than asking to borrow a stapler or a pen, or whatever was on or near the front end of the register, some people would just reach around and grab what they wanted. This was cheesy, and potentially sleazy. By reaching around to the front of the register, they could accidentally bump the keyboard and throw the whole transaction into tilt mode, to put it in pinball terms. and, instead of being a couple of feet away from an open cash drawer, they got their fingers just a couple of inches from the open cash drawer. At that range, they might as well have just dipped in and pulled out a few ten dollar bills. As a guardian of my employer's monetary holdings, I felt personally threatened by that sort of behavior.

Back to the photo, look what Rudy is doing. He's using the cash register as a leaning post. Why would anyone who knows the purpose and function of a cash register lean on it like that? Those machines are not indestructible. In fact, they have become less durable over the years. Leaning on a cash register the Giuliani way can break it. One little *crack*, and that lady is going to be handwriting receipts all day. Anyone who has worked as a cashier should be able to sympathize.

With one photo op, Rudy Giuliani is gaining the chocolate lovers' vote at the expense of the retail cashiers' vote, and I don't believe it is worth it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Let's Just Make It Easy And Raise The Driving Age To 30

Here's one of those "road to hell is paved with good intentions" type of stories.

A Pennsylvania legislator has come up with a way to (supposedly) protect teenage drivers in the first couple of years of their licentiousness...uh...I mean certification. She's a safety advocate and is sponsoring a bill ostensibly promoting adolescent driver safety in PA. Sounds nice, right? Well, read this:

...Mrs. Watson has written legislation, House Bill 163, aimed at reducing "distractions" caused by passengers inside a car that can divert a junior driver's attention and lead to accidents. She also wants to give police broader power to stop cars driven by 16- and 17-year-olds and make sure they are buckled up.
Here's what I have a problem with:
  • aimed at reducing "distractions" caused by passengers -- How? What constitutes a distraction, and how is anyone going to notice it from outside the car? Does a passenger need to be jumping around with arms flailing about? What will give a cop a clue that someone in the car is causing a "distraction"?
  • give police broader power -- This should disqualify any politician from holding office in a free country.
  • to stop cars driven by 16- and 17-year-olds and make sure they are buckled up -- How are the cops going to tell if a driver is 16 or 17 without pulling him/her over and checking the driver's license? This is going to give the police fiat to pull over anyone under suspicion of being young.
Oh, check this out:
Her bill, which also would increase the number of hours of instruction that a junior driver must get, took a major step forward yesterday, getting the unanimous approval of the state House Transportation Committee.
Stupidity is institutional.

Oh, and about that whole "reducing distractions' business:
Limit to one the number of nonrelated passengers a 16- or 17-year-old driver can have in his/her car, such as friends, fellow athletes, school mates etc. The one-passenger limit doesn't apply to siblings, however, meaning a junior driver could take two or more brothers or sisters to a store or school or other destination.
More problems. They're trying to micromanage our driving. You can take your little brother to his school. You can drive your little sister to the mall. But what constitutes an acceptable "other destination"? Are these things written into the bill? Suppose you're 17 and you're taking your younger sibling to a movie show. What if a cop pulls you over and doesn't like your choice of movie? Don't scoff; some municipal authorities are like that.
Increase from 50 to 65 hours the amount of driving instruction that must be given to a junior driver. It must include five hours of driving in inclement weather and 10 hours of night driving.
This is probably the only good part of the bill. Perhaps a Pittsburgh provision would be in order: half-a-dozen charges into the Fort Pitt Tunnel at 50 to 65 MPH.

Wait, how is the state going to know whether the student driver has been driving in the snow or in the dark? Take the parent or the student at his/her word? Or issue surveillance equipment with each learner's permit? Down a dark and dangerous path this will lead us.
Make it a "primary offense" if a police officer finds that a 16- or 17-year-old driver isn't wearing a seat belt. In Pennsylvania now, police cannot stop a car if they merely see the driver or passengers without a seat belt. Only after a car is stopped for another reason -- say, speeding or running a red light -- can the officer cite a driver who isn't wearing a belt.
There's a big "equality before the law" issue at stake here. For some crimes, juveniles can be tried as adults; for others, they are treated less harshly. This bill punishes underage drivers more severely for not using seat belts than it does adult drivers. That's upside-down, inconsistent, insane and tyrannical. Speaking of tyranny...
The state police commissioner, Col. Jeffrey Miller, has urged the Legislature to make driving without a seat belt a primary offense for all drivers. The Legislature has been hesitant to go that far, fearing a possible backlash from adult drivers and voters.
Damn right there will be a backlash. The whole bill is reason enough for a backlash. If the Legislature has any sense, it will tell the head jackboot to shove his primary offense up his ass. In a few years, my kids are going to be old enough to drive, and I would rather not have to tell them that the law doesn't apply to them the same way it applies to grown-ups. That might encourage them to take a dim view of politics and government.

Which, you know...wouldn't be such a bad thing.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Steely McBeam Brings Joy And Happiness To The Lives Of Everyone

On the few occasions when I have mentioned the sport of football (the American kind) in this blog, I made it quite clear that I am not a fan of the game. I can sit down and watch it on TV and understand what's going on, but I just can't get into the obsessive fanaticism that consumes otherwise civilized human beings who make football a big part of their lives. It might be relaxing and entertaining to watch, but the mania of football fanaticism puts me right off. Sometimes it even makes me crabby.

My mood is about to change. And all because of one man.

When Steely McBeam made his public debut a few weeks ago, I didn't really have an opinion one way or t'other. Who cares about mascots? Mascots don't throw passes, catch interceptions, or take down the other teams' little sissy quarterbacks. Mascots don't have stats, or celebrity girlfriends, or lengthy interviews on ESPN shows. They just go out, act cute and/or funny, and stay the hell out of the game.

So why the big stink about Steely McBeam?

After all, he has made the Burghosphere a much more interesting place to visit. For instance, he has provided the Carbolic Smoke Bong with some of its best material ever. ? & Anthony have benefited from Steely's presence. Google search "Steely McBeam" and you'll find plenty of funny (and not-so-funny) people producing some of their most hilarious output, all because of this larger than life black-and-gold figure.

PittGirl, meanwhile, is just MEAN.

It's been a long time since Pittsburgh was blessed with such joke fodder as Steely McBeam. He makes us all smile and laugh! (Except PittGirl.) I even made a Steely McBeam joke in a meeting with my boss this morning. Never has anyone possessed the power to turn a groan, accompanied by an eye roll, into a laugh, accompanied by a big smile, quite like Steely McBeam.

Oh yeah, then there's this:



That, more than anything, justified Steely McBeam's existence in my eyes. Send him out into the communities, let him meet the children, and see how well he plays. If the kids like him, then keep him. If not, then sayonara.

Personally, I like the big dude. I might even watch a few games this year just to catch a glimpse of his antics. And I say "Get stuffed!" to those who, like PittGirl, would prefer to "go and kill the yellow man"(as Springsteen would put it).

Farewell, Maestro

By now you may have heard the news that famed tenor Luciano Pavarotti has died at the age of 71. I must admit that I've never been much of a fan of his style of music, perhaps because I was born well into the rock'n'roll era, or maybe because I prefer songs with lyrics that I can at least try to understand -- say, a German opera instead of Italian. But I liked Pavarotti. He truly cared for people, as evidenced by his charity work, and he also strove very hard to become the master of his craft and to remain there as long as his voice could hold out.

He was a successful "crossover" artist, too, having performed with entertainers better known for styles of music other than opera. One particular favorite of mine, Ian Gillan of Deep Purple, considers his opportunities to sing a duet of "Nessun Dorma" with the Maestro to be one of the greatest honors of his life.



Pavarotti excelled at reaching out and inviting others to try something different. I like to think that it helped keep him fresh, too. he certainly didn't look like a man of 71.