Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Ebola Virus

That's a 1935 National Chicle Beattie Feathers card. I don't know what a Chicle is, but I do know that if I had another $1,397.50 and I'll be able to screw one of those girls in Reno. Ya gotta love people with disposable income. Me, on the other hand ...
Saturday was AIDS Awareness Day, the latest in a round of "Awareness Days" designed to make us aware. I think they waste a lot of good Awareness Days on stuff that we already know about. AIDS, cancer, heart disease ... If you're going to have these Awareness Days, it should be stuff that we aren't aware of, so that when the day rolled around, you would say, "Oh, it's tie your shoes awareness day." For all those kids who buy the $200 shoes and don't tie them. Or, "Your cell phone annoys people awareness day." I had no idea my cell phone annoyed people. Thank you for making me aware of that. I'll change my dorky Star Wars ringtone to something that sounds more like an ... um ... phone. I am aware now. That could be every day.

Somebody tell me why I can't mix whites with colors in my washing machine, yet I can wash my blue and white striped shirt. We get screamed at if we put white socks in with blue pants. Well, you get screamed at - I can do whatever I want. That's why all my socks are kind of grey, I guess. I like grey socks. I can wear them with anything. So, why aren't the white stripes on my blue and white striped shirt grey, too?
Those are the kinds of things I think about.
That, and why somebody would pay over a hundred dollars for a 72-year old square piece of cardboard with somebody else's picture on it? I can't figure out if he just finished throwing a football or a discus.
If your last name was Feathers, would you name your kid Beattie?
Me neither.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Coming soon to a newspaper near you.

Every now and then something in the newspaper strikes me as odd and I dash off a letter to the editor. I'm sure they enjoy hearing from me, a loyal reader and all. I've written to the sports page before, but they generally ignore me. I guess I don't have enough vitriol for the typical Philadelphia sports fan. They usually run stuff about how this guy "sucks" or that one should be deported.
A tiny piece in Tuesday's paper got me to open up the e-mail. The 2008 baseball Hall of Fame ballot was announced, and there are no clear cut choices for the Hall. There are two first-timers on there, but neither of them I would deem worthy of induction. If the Hall and their voters do the right thing, they will elect no one, but the ceremony is hugely tied-into the local economy, ESPN and baseball itself that they will be forced to elect a player who has appeared on the ballot several times before and has not gotten the requisite number of votes.
The likely victor will be Jim Rice, who has fallen short every year since 1995. He may or may not be worthy, but why now? Because they need somebody for the party. Rich Gossage could go too, if they wanted to make a big deal out of it. He has failed to be elected since 1999.
In my opinion, Rice should have been in the Hall by now. What will likely happen this year is, in the long run right, but for the wrong reasons. Jim hasn't played a game in almost 20 years, yet his vote totals will change based on ... what exactly?
So, check your Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer, as I have been promised that my brief missive will appear in the sports section:

Tim Raines and David Justice are the top two first-timers on the 2008 Hall of Fame ballot [Sports in Brief, Nov 27] and neither of them are worthy of induction. That leaves other players (notably Jim Rice and Rich Gossage) to be elected after failing several times, by virtue of the fact that the Hall has a weekend reserved for the ceremony, and a large part of Cooperstown's tourism money comes from it.
How much guts would it take for the Hall and its voters to say that none of these players are worthy of induction? It would take guts that they don't have, which is why Rice may finally be a Hall of Famer in 2008, even if it is not on merit

Thursday, November 29, 2007

House of Cats

I’m a little late catching up with this, but there is an interesting documentary airing on HBO now, called Cathouse, detailing life at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch, one of Nevada’s famous brothels. I was up until 2am on Saturday watching it because, much like a train wreck, you cannot look away.
The original is 5 years old, but there is still a wealth of information for the curious (me) because it provides a fascinating insight into a side of life that is not discussed in polite company, which is why I will write about it here. There is a new batch of shows running now, and I highly recommend it.
Besides all the sex, which goes without saying, I was interested in the financial aspect of it and how the customers arrive at their prices. As it turns out, an hour with one of these women will cost you in the neighborhood of $1,500 for the full experience. Some guys go for less. One girl talked about a guy who paid for 5 minutes. I guess the guy only had $125, which makes me figure that he didn’t know where a good massage parlor was.
The customers are a fascinating lot. There were a couple of couples. One husband and wife celebrating their anniversary, a pair of brothers, a mother with her virgin son and a couple who were swingers and wanted a threesome. In every case, the girls were happy to oblige – if the price was right. The wife figured that the husband was better off getting it there than on the street, the virgin son appeared to be gay which explained the situation, and one of the women wanted a lesbian experience while the husband watched and participated. It was quite a show.
The procedure seems pretty simple. Prospective men walk up to the front gate and are buzzed in by the Madam. A bell rings and the available women are brought out into the lobby and lined up for the guy to choose one (or more) for his fun. They retire to the bar, where the guy is lubed up (in liquid form) and escorted into the room where the price is negotiated. Once they settle on a dollar figure the Madam is called in to close the deal. Generally, the guys are a little put off by the price, but the reason they are there soon takes command, and the little head writes the check or pulls out the credit card.
One particularly wealthy guy (claiming to be a CEO of some company) paid $15,000 for "something". His credit card couldn’t handle the strain, so they had to run two, one for $9,999 and the other for the balance.
The girls are an interesting bunch. They are tested regularly for STDs and AIDS, so one could argue that sex with them is safer than it is with some tramp you pick up at a bar. To me, the money is the thing. There's no doubting the desire of the men, and (at least for the cameras) the girls enjoy their work - perhaps too much - but the idea of $1,500 for an hour of sex leaves me thinking that they soon discover the sensation of sex-buyers remorse.
You can spend hundreds of dollars for a good meal, but soon your appetite comes back. Either you spend more money or you find a more reasonable alternative, because the appetite is relentless. The sexual appetite is similar. Perhaps I'm being too analytical, but I would figure on being satisfied for a short time until the appetite returned, at which point I'd be waiting for my credit card statement with a sense of dread, wondering how I could have spent so much and gotten so little. But, I'm strange that way, always thinking long-range.
There's much more going on than I can detail here. Suffice it to say that I encourage you to tune in for a slice of life that you really only see on TV, which is why - sometimes - it's a fascinating medium, made all the more interesting by the fact that HBO can present the subject both uninterrupted by commercials and unedited for content.
The junk they call "reality" television is like a Disney cartoon compared to this stuff. This is as real as it gets.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The world has changed.

There's Christina Aguilera, showing her pregnant belly and part of her pregnant nana's on the January 2008 cover of marie claire magazine, whatever that is.
I know, it's been done. Most notably several years ago by Demi Moore on the cover of Vanity Fair, but every time I see something like this I think about how much our attitudes have changed in the time I've been alive.
In the 1960s, where I come from, married couples on television slept in separate beds for fear of scaring away their middle American audience who would see it as too risque for prime time TV.
In 1971 Archie Bunker flushed a toilet on All in the Family, and the studio audience erupted in laughter, as though it was the most arrogant (and funny) thing anyone had ever done. Maybe it was.
Lucille Ball couldn't say she was pregnant on I Love Lucy. Certain subjects were taboo and you couldn't say some words (even on the news), where we were shocked and awed every night by images of battle scenes in Vietnam, to the point that showing them was controversial.
At some point (probably passed) the shock value wears off and such things as naked pregnant women on magazine covers just aren't that bold a statement. I don't know, and my women readers will probably have to clue me in as to what the statement is here. OK, she's proud to be pregnant, she's beautiful and she's an attention whore - that I understand. As far as the magazine is concerned, since few of us know who or what marie claire is, it's all gravy for them, and if Christina says she wants to bare her baby belly, they probably can't send a photographer out fast enough. "Hurry, before she has the kid!"
Is that all there is to it or am I missing something?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Questions and ironies

I wish I knew why my nose runs when I eat. Like a mental patient, I have to have a tissue with me at meals. If I’m at one of those fancy places (or a place that thinks they’re fancy) that has the cloth napkins, I’m very uncomfortable.
I’m seeing no end to my Ebola business. Every time I think I’ve run out of things to sell, along comes something else. Recently, I uncovered my old Matchbox car collection. They would be worth more if I still had the box, but I think you’d have to be borderline psychotic to have kept the box. Ebola must be a haven for people who collect stuff like that.
I put up a raggedy old football card from 1935 that someone gave me 15 years ago that I figured would maybe fetch 5 dollars. There are 4 days left in the auction and I’m almost embarrassed by what somebody is willing to pay for it.
Dr. Robert Cade, the guy who invented Gatorade died yesterday of kidney failure. I find that ironic. Some of us are old enough to remember Stokely's Gatorade in that weird glass bottle. For a while, the caps had NFL team helmets printed on the inside. If I still had them, I might put them on Ebola. Since its introduction, Cade said the formula changed very little. Sure, if you say so. I remember that green crap (it only came in orange and green) and it tasted bitter, but we drank it because it was supposed to be good for us. It probably was, at least it was better than that sugary multi-colored junk they sell now. Stokely's sold the rights to Coca Cola and they fussed with it just so that it was sweet enough to be a beverage rather than a sports drink. Like a lot of good things, popularity ruined it.
I don’t fully understand how The Twelve Days of Christmas works. Do you count backward from 25? Is that Day 1 or Day 12? What’s the First Day of Xmas? It’s a stupid song that we have all sung at one point or another, but do we really know what we’re singing? It’s the 'God Bless You' of songs. Most Xmas music has dated lyrics. What’s a bough of holly? Has anyone ridden in a one-horse open sleigh?
Washington Redskins' safety Sean Taylor died last night after being shot in what appears to be an attempted robbery of his home in Miami. I don't think we've come that far as a society if we continue to allow handguns to be owned by citizens. Their only purpose is to kill people. They aren't for hunting or specifically for target practice. There is only one ultimate target, and that is another human being. It's a sad state of affairs when government is powerless to do anything about the sale of handguns because a giant organization believes that a 231-year old document somehow gives them the right to own a device that takes lives.
The guy that shot Sean wasn't in a Militia and chances are, he didn't even know which amendment it was that gave him the right to brandish the gun in the first place.
It's the second one.

Monday, November 26, 2007

For kids from 1 to 92

It’s Xmas season in America, and that means that the Muzak will be blaring traditional Gentile holiday songs non-stop until New Year’s Day. The military could use it as a training device for troops who are trapped behind enemy lines and subjected to torture. If I can withstand 8 hours a day of Xmas Muzak for almost two months, I am probably qualified to serve in Afghanistan.
One of them is the timeless epic, “Here Comes Santa Claus,” which contains the lyric hang up your stockings and say your prayers, ‘cause Santa Claus comes tonight, which artfully mixes organized religion and fantasy. To some, they are one and the same. Are the kids praying for lots of toys? You betcha. Is Jesus bringing them?
Then, there is what I call “synthetic Xmas music.” You know, that Nouveau Riche junk like Manheim Steamroller, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and that Windham Hill jazz that you hear at The Sharper Image, public radio at 4am or on line at your local high-end coffee shop. The kind of song that you have to listen to intently to realize – after a few minutes – that it’s "Deck the Halls" played on a didjeridu and a stovepipe, just slowly enough so that it’s artsy. It also includes the Charlie Brown Christmas stuff by the Vince Guaraldi Trio and that stupid David Bowie/Bing Crosby “Little Drummer Boy”, where it looks like Bowie is going to kill his manager for getting him mixed up in this nonsense, and Bing is wondering, “Who in Hell is this guy?” Those kinds of songs are perfect for playing on your iPod under the plastic Xmas tree.
It’s all part of that post-modern holiday celebration that includes flocked trees, Wassail, those nodding-head Reindeer with the lights and flavored coffee with just enough cinnamon so that your eyes water. Happy Holidays!
There must be a lot of money in Xmas music, or else why would so many heathen musicians participate? Give the people what they want, even if it’s against your firmly held belief system – subject to change. I guess you can’t criticize people for wanting to get in on the gravy train.
Or can you?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

What's a Bourse?

"Romance and Cigarettes is lewd and it's lurid and looks to be a lost pop opera, but it has more vitality than anything else out there." - Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer
I did something today that I haven't done in almost 3 years. I saw a movie in a theater. I don't go, mostly because I find it odd to sit in a theater alone and odder to have no one to talk to about the movie once it's over. Generally, the movies I like are the oddball ones that don't play in a lot of theaters, and chances are when I go to work tomorrow and tell people the name of the movie I saw, they'll look at me in a stranger fashion than usual. It's only playing at one cinema around here, but fortunately for me, I know where it is. It's called Ritz at the Bourse, even though it's really next door to The Bourse. But, The Ritz Next-door to the Bourse is probably too long a name for it.
Romance and Cigarettes is one of those movies that I felt compelled to see. The cast includes Susan Sarandon, Kate Winslet, Christopher Walken, Steve Buscemi and James Gandolfini - and an unbilled cameo by Cady Huffman. If you aren't intrigued by that cast, I guess you really don't like movies all that much.
"Romance & Cigarettes is less a story than a state of mind, and less a musical than a meditation on how we instinctively set our lives to music, if not other musicals; unfortunately, it is just shy of convincing on both counts." - Michael Orange, Village Voice.
Most of you probably won't see it, and I really can't recommend it - unless you're a huge fan of one of the stars. For me, it was more of a venture than anything. I'd like to see more movies, and maybe I just need to start someplace.
I had a nice lunch at a city sports bar, where the bar is huge and the TVs are tiny, which makes for an odd experience. There was a bank of 6 in front, each tuned to a different NFL game. It's good for my short attention span, but bad for my eyes. I fear that spending more time there would have made my eyes begin to work independently like those weird lizards.
I sat at the bar and chatted it up with a couple of guys from Rochester, NY whose kids were in Philly for a ballroom dancing competition. Yep. They break the kids down by age group, and the winners get to go to Ireland for some sort of World Championship. I can't imagine the kids going back to school on Monday and bragging about their big ballroom dancing gig. But, they're from Rochester, so you never know. They were watching the Bills game. I didn't stick around for the end, but I can't imagine that they were happy with the outcome.
One thing that I find a bit odd - and maybe it's just me, but this place has men bartenders. Maybe I'm strange (OK, maybe I am) but I prefer women behind the bar. I figure that a man tending bar is probably working off a gambling debt or something. Maybe in a regular bar a guy is OK, but in a place that caters to sports fans (men) I'd think they would want women back there.
And thus ends my mini-vacation. Five days away from work. I managed to put it out of my head until just now, when I wrote the word "work". That's not too bad, considering. I managed to spend 5 days without going near a shopping center too.
Monday the nonsense resumes.