Saturday, October 7, 2006

The Scourge of the Earth

Now that the hated Cowboys have been vanquished and all is right with the world (Philadelphia's version at least), let's take on the next in a growing list of earthly vermen:

You probably know one, or are one. If you are one, you are probably feeling the pinch and if you know one you are hearing the complaints. Here in New Jersey, smoking indoors has been banned since the summer, and in nearby Philadelphia it was banned at the beginning of October. They say smoking can kill you.


Lettuce joins spinach as the latest source of the dreaded E. coli. The lettuce scare comes amid other federal warnings that some brands of spinach, bottled carrot juice and recent shipments of beef could cause grave health risks — including paralysis, respiratory failure and death.
Executives ordered the recall after learning that irrigation water may have been contaminated with E. coli, said Tom Nunes Jr., president of the company.

It took about five minutes to put out the spinach ban, and now we are hearing that lettuce could be the latest source of the dreaded E. coli. For the record, E. coli has one of the root words of the family's scientific name, "enteric", which refers to the intestine, and is often used synonymously with "fecal".

Escherichia Coli

It's unlikely that the bacteria in the lettuce fields share the source of the E. coli found in spinach that has sickened nearly 200 people and has been linked to three deaths nationwide, Nunes said. Pathogenic Escherichia coli bacteria, or E. coli, can proliferate in uncooked produce, raw milk, unpasteurized juice, contaminated water and meat. When consumed, it may cause diarrhea and bloody stools. Although most healthy adults recover within a week without long-term side effects, some people may develop a form of kidney failure.

Wow, 200 people and 3 whole deaths. How many people have cigarettes killed? More than 3, I can tell you. And while we are pondering the effects, ask yourself, how long does it take someone to recover from lung cancer? More than a week? Yes.

I know, I've been over this before, but it bears repeating. We go nuts over feces in spinach and lettuce that may be the cause of some deaths, while the world seems to revolve around tobacco.

All the while, legislation is being passed almost daily banning the use of tobacco indoors. Smokers are the scourge of the Earth and they are being slowly pushed from the "smoking section" to the great outdoors in bars, restaurants and places of business nationwide. How long before the only place they can smoke is in the privacy of their home?

We continue to make new laws to regulate something that shouldn't exist to begin with. Cigarettes (man made) go on, but the bacteria (earthly) must be stopped. It's 2006 and we can't stop crapping in the irrigation water, but we can continue to sell something that we know is killing people. I'm at a loss.
And don't give me that tired old argument about how Congress is ruled by the tobacco lobby. I've heard it. Suppose cigarettes had E. Coli bacteria in them. Would that be enough to get us to stop selling them?
Look at them. The E. Coli. They look like little cheese doodles. If we could smoke them, they would probably be legal.

It's Saturday!

NAZARETH, Pa. - A Northampton County elementary school boy will face disciplinary action, including a suspension, and he will have to undergo counseling for bringing a toy gun to school. Officials in the Nazareth Area School District say they found the toy gun during a search of lockers and backpacks Thursday. Two Shafer Elementary students had told their principal they heard a rumor on a school bus that someone had a weapon. They finally found the toy gun and the student's parents were called to the school.
And they probably found out that the kid got the gun from his father's gun cabinet. Seriously, lock the thing, will ya? Just for laughs, I bet the kid filled it with vodka.
The American public is really losing its sense of humor.
PERTH AMBOY, NJ - School officials in New Jersey plan to suspend without pay a middle school gym teacher charged with carrying on a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old student. Amy Burke, 32, of Carteret, was being held without bail on charges of aggravated sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, endangering the welfare of a child and official misconduct.

'Endangering the welfare' ... that sounds like piling on to me. Really, hasn't the woman suffered enough? And what about the kid? If they were really concerned about his welfare, wouldn't they just let him enjoy himself?
Doesn't it seem like a lot of these high school teacher sex stories involve adult females? Or is it just the ones we hear about - because they're so OUTRAGEOUS! How did I miss out when I was in high school? I'll bet the kid is very disappointed. How's he going to find a nice girl his own age once this story starts to circulate? I know it's Perth Amboy, but they have standards, too.

"She's a good girl, but she does her own thing," her father, Michael Haskins, told The Star-Ledger of Newark for Friday's newspapers. "She ran with the wrong crowd in high school. I advise her. That's all I can do."

A "good girl..." Here we go again. Well, Mike, if she did her own thing, she wouldn't be in the situation she's in now. Obviously, she was trying to correct her problem of running with the wrong crowd in high school.
Geez, doesn't anybody get it? You can't bring a toy gun to school and you can't screw your teachers. Do we have to write this stuff down?


"Can you believe this is my life? Will you pity me when you're back in your funky New York apartment and I'm still in Pittsburgh? I need to get more glamorous films and stop with my indie year."

PITTSBURGH, PA - Sienna Miller, who disparaged Pittsburgh in a magazine interview, apologized on Friday, saying her remarks were taken out of context and that she found the city and residents gracious.

Sure, now you apologize. Every jackass who makes a stupid comment says that their remarks were taken out of context. There's the quote, you figure out the context. They must think we're idiots. Guess what, Sienna ... if you hadn't made that asinine comment, we wouldn't know who you are. And, by the way ... I pity you now.

For Lacroix: A model presents a creation by French designer Christian Lacroix du
ring the Spring/Summer 2007 ready-to-wear collections in Paris.

OK girls, c'mon. Would ya?

A model presents a creation by Croatian designer Ivana Omazic for Celine during the Spring/Summer 2007 ready-to-wear collections in Paris.

OK guys, c'mon. Would ya?

That looks like it's "ready to wear". Jump out of bed and throw it on. I'll bet she's not wearing underpants either.

By the way, if you are even remotely politically interested, stop by Pam's blog (it's the one with the girl in the funny headgear) and check out the Keith Olberman commentary that she posted. I'll save you the trouble -- just click here. It's just about the best commentary on the current administration I've heard. He even uses the "L" word.
She thinks Keith is a hunk. You make the call.

Thursday, October 5, 2006

A Fan of the Big Ass

Imagine my surprise.
At regular intervals, at my office, we receive a packet of post cards for products that we are supposed to try, order or otherwise examine. Generally, I throw the packet in the trash, since I have neither purchasing authority nor interest. Today's packet, however, caught my gaze.

BIG ASS FANS it proclaimed - right there on the top of the pile. A marketing tool, I suppose, to get me to open the packet. While I am not necessarily a fan of the big ass, I feel that each ass has its own charm and appeal. It depends upon the torso on which it sits (figuratively speaking) and should be judged on its own merit. One man's big ass is another man's exquisite derrière.

Upon further review, I found that the fans in question were not the noun, but the transitive verb. The third-person singular simple present fan. Like the one that blows air on you, or your big ass. Was that the point? Fans made for those with the big ass? No, dumbass.

It seems that Occam's Razor is at work here. The simple explanation is the correct one. They were merely big-ass fans. The use of our friend Mr. Hyphen
would have saved me a lot of grammatical guessing.

How odd, I thought, that an advertisement would come via the U.S. Mail to a Professional Office proclaiming the Big Ass Fan. Is this appropriate use of the language in such an environment? It must be, and I must be a bit old-school.

What a change in our language has occurred over the last generation that we can not only use the term
"Big Ass Fan" to describe a device that blows air, but we can advertise it as such and even have a web site with the big ass fan in the name.

Imagine the world 20 years from now, when your sons and daughters may be receiving post cards at their places of business with more progressive language than what came today. Assuming that they are not working in an adult book store or strip club, su
ch things that may seem inappropriate today will be acceptable.

Now, I gots to gets me a Big Ass Fan. Maybe Larry David can find one:

Thursday Thirteen v.4

Thirteen Great Evenings of Entertainment

1. Gov't Mule - Electric Factory, Philadelphia, October 10, 2003. The first and best Mule show I ever saw, (up to 5 and counting) and still one of the top 3 all-time, which you will see, is a tough nut to crack. Matt Abts might be the best drummer ever. If you've never heard them, trust me...

2. Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Philadelphia, April 7, 1974. My first rock show. Quadraphonic sound and Brain Salad Surgery. Great showmen of the "progressive era".

3. Journey/Ronnie Montrose/Van Halen - Tower Theater, March 24, 1978. The extraordinary thing about this show was that it was Van Halen's first national tour. We were in the presence of greatness when Eddie played, and Ronnie is no slouch, either. During an acoustic song, someone yelled out, "Turn it up!" to which Ronnie replied, "It is up!"

4. Laurie Anderson - Tower Theater, March 1, 1986. Mrs. Lou Reed is a great monologist and has such interesting ways to present her material, we sat in rapt amazement for 2 hours. That, and she plays a violin-tape player that she bows with recording tape.

5. Michael Hedges. Every show. I saw Michael six times and each one was better than the last. As Steve Vai said, "No one on God's green Earth plays the guitar like Michael Hedges." Sadly, he died in a car crash in December of 1997 at the age of 43. I saw him last at the Seaport Museum in Philly two weeks before he died. Sadly, we can't hear him in person any more, but thankfully there are still CDs and video.

6. Jerry Seinfeld & Carol Leifer - Wilmington, DE, March 12, 1988. What can I say? It's Jerry, before the big TV show and Carol, who I think was the model for Elaine.

7. Frank Zappa - Tower Theater, Upper Darby, PA, May 10, 1980. The band never stopped playing for 2 hours. Frank rapped, the band played. No breaks - the musical equivalent of a soccer game, only much more exciting. It's one of those events I was glad to see before Frank ... you know.

8. Melanie - Philadelphia, May 26, 1978. A gifted songwriter and unappreciated in her time. She played so long, she ran out of material and wound up repeating one for the encore. A charming woman whose music matured from Woodstock to the 1980s.

9. Dave Matthews Band - Madison Square Garden, NYC, December 10, 2005. Many DMB shows, and I picked this one for the outrageous rendition of "Louisana Bayou" with Robert Randolph on the pedal steel guitar.

10. Fiona Apple - Camden, NJ, July 28, 2006. The most emotional and engaging night of music ever. A close second to the Mule show for number one all time. She gives so much to her music and her passion shows. I wanted to go to the Borgata show the following night, but I was in Connecticut at another DMB show.

11. King Crimson - Tower Theater, October 30, 1988. Two shows, 7pm and 10pm. If you never saw them, you missed out on a special event - or two. Bill Bruford vs. Matt Abts for best drummer ever, in my book. I think it's Bill.

12. DEVO - Tower Theater, February 23, 1979. The icons of the era. Complete with film, narration and flower-pot hats.

13. Talking Heads - Emerald City, Cherry Hill, NJ; November 5, 1979. Scrunched up close to the stage, once again in the presence of greatness, in a building that was once a disco and is now a Subaru office building. I'll bet the walls vibrate every once in a while.

HONORABLE MENTION: David Letterman (1981), Robert Klein (1980), Franken & Davis (1980), Elvis Costello (1981), Yes (1979), Peter Gabriel (1978), Linda Ronstadt (1978), Jethro Tull (1978), Chris Cornell (1998).
Before you ask, yes, I save ticket stubs, and most of the shows I listed cost less than $10.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Random Rantings

LONDON (Reuters) - James Blunt's "Goodbye My Lover" is the song most requested at British funerals and remembrance services, closely followed by Robbie Williams's "Angels," according to a survey released on Monday.
I guess that beats AC/DC's "Hells Bells"?

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A canned energy drink called "Cocaine" being sold in New York grocery stores has infuriated the city's mayor who says its brand name celebrates the use of a dangerous drug.
Yes, we wouldn't want to do that. How about if you sold fake cigarettes and called them "Gasoline"?
JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian police have slapped a cordon around a huge landmark Banyan tree in the capital after members of a Muslim youth group attacked it to prove it had no special mystical powers.
It seems to be working. Thousands of people think a tree is mystical.
Jeje Zainudin, chairman of the United Islam Youth, said the group had carried out the attack to counter superstitions surrounding the tree. "It is not a matter of chopping down the tree but this is to counter a popular belief such as if (we) touch it, (we) will get sick or your cleaver will break."
Here's an idea. Chop it down and see what happens. Get back to me on that.
"When you believe in things you don't understand, then you suffer - Stevie Wonder
Here's some entertainment for ya. Gay American former NJ Governor Jim McGreevey was supposed to appear on the Letterman show to read a Top Ten list, but ...

Tomorrow: It's another rousing Thursday Thirteen.

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

The Same-Old, Same-Old

Among the gory details of the Amish school shooting that were released in today's newspaper was a statement from Marie Roberts, the killer's wife.

She described him as a "loving spouse and a caring father, not a homicidal killer". That's odd, since the one thing he is is a homicidal killer. Isn't that always the way with these types of stories? Neighbors, friends and family describe the guy as a good man and an asset to society. Just once, I'd like to read something honest from the people who are supposed to know best.

Here’s a conversation I’d like to see printed in the newspaper:

REPORTER: What kind of guy was he?
NEIGHBOR: He was kind of an oddball. I used to see him in the back yard practicing ax throwing. It seemed a bit strange, since he was legally blind and all.

REPORTER: And you, ma’am, you were married to him for ten years. Ever notice anything out of the ordinary?
WIFE: Oh sure. He used to wake me up at night screaming like a banshee. And, he had an odd twitchy leg. Then, for no reason, he would run through the house yelling, “My pants! My pants!” I never did figure that out.

REPORTER: So, were you surprised to find out that he had planned this?
WIFE: No, not at all. In fact, I’m surprised it took him this long. But, he’s a procrastinator. I never did like that about him.
REPORTER: When did you start to notice the odd behavior?
WIFE: At the church during our wedding. He wore black combat boots and one of those helmets with the big spike at the top. Naturally, we made him take it off for the pictures. I thought about having the marriage annulled, but he wouldn’t have it … you know how those Druids are.

REPORTER: Of course. And you, sir … did you ever figure that your son would do such a horrible thing?
FATHER: Every day of my life. He was tortured from the day he walked into nursery school until he graduated high school. He vowed to get even. He would come home every day with his underpants around his neck and milk in his hair.

REPORTER: Wow. So, with all this latent hostility, why didn’t he ever go for help?
WIFE: We don’t have health insurance.

Now that, I could believe.

Monday, October 2, 2006

What's Wrong With People?

The population of the United States will hit the 300 million mark sometime this month. Thankfully, we are not at all alike. Sadly, the least among us make the most noise. Whether it is petulant football players, whining celebrities, corrupt politicians or just a random nut-case who decides that his life is best lived when acting out in the theater of life.

The details are still coming as fast as the bullets, but the short version is this (from Yahoo News):

NICKEL MINES, Pa. - A milk-truck driver carrying three guns and a childhood grudge stormed a one-room Amish schoolhouse Monday, sent the boys and adults outside, barricaded the doors with two-by-fours, and then opened fire on a dozen girls, killing three people before committing suicide.

At least seven other victims were critically wounded, authorities said.

It was the nation's third deadly school shooting in less than a week, and it sent shock waves through Lancaster County's bucolic Amish country, a picturesque landscape of horse-drawn buggies, green pastures and neat-as-a-pin farms, where violent crime is virtually nonexistent.

Most of the victims had been shot execution-style at point-blank range after being lined up along the chalkboard, their feet bound with wire and plastic ties, authorities said. Two young students were killed, along with a female teacher's aide who was slightly older than the students, state police Commissioner Jeffrey B. Miller said.


The good news is that he committed suicide, but the view here is that he could have done that first and saved a lot of people a lot of agony.

Mostly, though, it makes me question the foundation of religion and what is left of my own faith. Why would a loving God allow something like this to happen to these, of all people? Or, is it the delicate balancing act that God plays with each of our lives? Random nut-cases were created by Him too, and I suppose they are permitted to act like nut-cases if need be, but what's the point?

And we shouldn't rule out the role of evil, which, if you follow politics at all, has been at work for longer than I care to remember.

In the end, I suppose it's just another of those circumstances of life that makes us wonder and ask "why", when in fact, we aren't supposed to know and probably shouldn't even be asking.

Now, I need to hurry and think of something irreverent and funny, because all this reality is wearing me thin.

Sunday, October 1, 2006

My Tube

YouTube is like a big candy store for media addicts. There's a mixed metaphor for you. Type in a name and you'll find a video. I don't know where it all comes from, but it's there for us. They enable my addiction by providing the material. So far, it's free, which makes it even better.

I was searching out a Lewis Black bit about candy corn for kimmyk, and ran across about a hundred Lewis Black rants on all sorts of things - advertising, Rick Santorum, traveling, video games, decency and even hot dogs and rollercoasters.

Then, I found a little snippet of an interview he did on CNN to promote his book. Toward the end, he bitches about something that I've been bitching about for years - the junk at the bottom of the screen. I vented about it way back on April 6.

To his credit, he yelled loud enough that they actually took it off.

It started (as he says) during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. A quarter of the screen taken up by junk. Are we supposed to be reading, watching or listening? It's too much, and it needs to stop. Notice how the host of the show (whoever he is) just laughs and, in so many words, says that there isn't a chance in Hell that CNN is going to stop annoying us with a giant banner and a crawl at the bottom.

Write a letter, send an e-mail. Make it stop.
Maybe Lewis can help.